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Will New Delhi rape change India?

January

2013

Chastity Begins At Home, And Ends In The Dorm

December

2012

At the IIT Delhi campus I am judging the ‘Mr and Ms Rendezvous’ competition, where students from all over India participate to win the coveted title and be declared the most eligible bachelor and bachelorette on campus. Here I meet Prayag, who wins the title and steals the show with his rapturous, albeit heavily accented, rendition of Michael Bolton’s When a Man Loves a Woman, which would have made Bolton proud. Over the next few weeks, by spending time with this bright, young mathematician from Nagpur I realise that along with complex numbers and rigorous coding, sex is festering on every brilliant IIT mind.

On a sunny winter’s day in Delhi, I sit with Prayag and his new girlfriend, Priya—a 3rd-year IIT student of computing and mathematics—at the canteen. A pretty girl strolls by, she has bright blonde highlights in her hair, and she is dressed Read More…

TED 2013: The case for arranged marriages

June

2012

Shades of darkness

May

2012

The Beautiful Forevers is a sunshine-yellow wall plastered with an advertisement of ceramic tiles which are “beautiful” and “last forever”, that separates the squatter settlement of Annawadi, bordered by a toxic sewage lake, from the streets of suburban Mumbai and the gleaming international airport.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo’s first book. Boo, a staff writer at the New Yorker, covers poverty issues in the US. She explains in the author’s note how an injury at her home in Washington DC, which led to a punctured lung and three broken ribs, brought her to the slums of Annawadi in Mumbai, “a place beyond my so-called expertise, where the risk of failure would be great but the interactions somewhat more meaningful.“Over the course of the three years that Boo spent in the slums, she combed through more than 3,000 public records to supplement the years of taped interviews. Read More…

Voice of the Generation

March

2012

The Butterfly Generation is the second book by talented author Palash Krishna Mehrotra (son of renowned poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra). His first was a well received collection of short stories, Eunuch Park which explored the changing face of urban Indian youth.

The Butterfly Generation is divided into three sections. The first is titled One-on-One. Here, Mehrotra paints a vivid and incisive picture of his personal interactions with characters as disparate as a call centre worker from Bhopal, an auto-rickshaw driver from Dehradun, and a young bank executive who Mehrotra has a brief romantic dalliance with. What is most striking, and also a dash disturbing, is the prolific and casual drug and alcohol abuse of the author and the people he writes about. Read More…

A Geek Tragedy

March

2012

The make and break of a corporate honcho Hitesh Shah is stuck in a dead-end corporate job. He works deadly hours and does not have a life to speak of. He is the laughing stock of his colleagues; he is ignored by women and chastised by his parents. Just when life seems to have reached the deepest of the pits, Hitesh is presented with an unbelievable opportunity to work as the CEO of a startup backed by the failing automobile company, Supreme Motors.

Hitesh is well aware of the shady political connections of the proposed venture, and the sleazy reputation of the company promoter, but he is so fed up of his job, (and it doesn’t help that he gets dumped by his recently acquired girlfriend) that he decides to quit and take on the new job where he will be starting a Meru-cabs type of taxi company. Read More…

Ira Trivedi’s Love Story

March

2012
I have vague memories of pink, lots and lots of pink people, Holi revellers with silver faces, only their white teeth intact from the blitzkrieg of colour. I remember plastic bottles of milky-green thandai, I remember frantic dancers shimmying to the most raucous of Hindi Holi tunes, next to stoned gazers. I have a hazy memory of a brown-pink pool of water where a few people lay as still as cadavers. And lastly, I remember a man, a handsome man, who may have simply been a figment of my imagination surfing a cannabis high.

Read More…

Obsessed with the Occult

January

2012

My brush with the occult began when my best friend’s birth chart, or janam-patri, was matched with that of her fiancé’s upon the insistence of her parents. The unfortunate alignment of her partner’s stars made him a “maanglik,” an astrological leper, and a battle ensued in the family. She finally convinced her parents of her husband-to-be’s merits and they reluctantly agreed to bless the star-(un)crossed lovers. I was utterly fascinated. Could a mere alignment of the stars at the time of our birth dictate our future? What made my best friend’s parents – two of the most intelligent, scientific people that I know, both professors at top universities – take this astrology mumbo-jumbo seriously? It all seemed desperately retrograde. Human beings have literally touched the stars, how could we then let the inter-galactic universe be the arbitrator of our destinies? Read More…

There’s A Whole Lotta Lovin’ Goin’ On

December

2011

At a secluded farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi, on the serpentine NH8, a handful of couples come together fortnightly for what are popularly known as swinging parties. At these soirees, couples—all married and in the 35-40 age group—meet to explore their sexuality with and amongst each other. Following a light dinner, the host, a demure man named Vaibhav, with a gentle, almost feminine nature, introduces the couples to each other, all of whom he has handpicked for the evening after probing interviews. The couples then interact freely with each other in play areas such as the dressing room, the film club, and the ‘grope wall’. Read More…

How to Marry a Millionaire

November

2011

Weddings among India’s wealthy is the ultimate spectacle of splurge

It isn’t called a big fat Indian wedding for nothing. It is when families – regardless of their social or economic standing – apply the full force of their bank accounts and social networks. It is when even the most tight-fisted and austere loosen their purse-strings. It is often a show of pomp a family prepares for years to put up.

But, among the wealthy, a wedding is all this, and much, much more. It is as much a social event, as a business gathering; the price tag of lehengas is as important as the finalising of multi-crore deals; the itinerary of wedding events needs as many organisers and planners as a convention of business leaders. And over-riding all this is sheer opulence. It is that ultimate statement of wealth, power and social standing. Read More…