Becoming Radha

 My boss and I spent another weekend in our favorite village in Firozabad district, and this time, free from meddling journalists, we were free to stay as long as we liked, sleep outdoors, and try our best to blend into village life (perhaps more challenging for me than her).

After a… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 13, 2010 3:24PM

Pressed into Prostitition in a House of Worship

I have written before about the widows of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, who must sing temple services to earn a few morsels of food for their tables.  On my first trip to Mathura, I interviewed only elderly widows, but I had heard that many widows residing in the ashrams were young (some… Read full post »

This summer, my blog swiftly shifted from being a place where I prattled on about the intricacies of samosa-making to a daily dose of depression, a blog where the average comment is some variant of "oh, how tragic!"

 Today, I shall try to lift your spirits for a change. 

About… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 10, 2010 9:04AM

Price of Industrialization II: "What will our children eat?"

 

grains

 In my last post, I gave a short overview of the history and current situation in the Karanpura Valley, where thousands of villagers are being forcibly evicted from their homes to make room for coal mines.   During my stay in the Valley, I spent some time focusing… Read full post »

farmer
A farmer plowing his fields
 
cattle herds
Women tending cattle
 

Last week I found myself in one of the more unlikely places to find a white woman: in the Karanpura Valley, Jharkhand state, squarely within the so-called "Red Corridor," the part of India with the… Read full post »

JULY 21, 2010 2:24PM

Attack of the Delhi Belly

Alas my friends, I've been felled by the fabled Delhi Belly. 

In vain did I suppose my immune system could handle any toxin thrown its way.  Cut short are my hopes of surviving the monsoon untouched by the plethora of new contaminants breeding in the stagant water.  It was not… Read full post »

JULY 20, 2010 2:09PM

Checks and Balances of My Universe

This past week, I traveled for a few days with my boss and a female journalist, a (now former) friend of hers.  We spent our first day in a village near Firozabad and had intended to stay the night there with the villagers. Our journalist companion had other ideas, however, and… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 19, 2010 9:16AM

Abused and Abandoned: India's Forgotten Widows

widows walking

Some of these women come to Mathura with their families on religious pilgrimage, never knowing the family plans to -- and will -- slip off and leave them behind.

 

Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, is home to some 5,000 widows, all living in ashrams.   The NGO I work for… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 16, 2010 1:37PM

Child Workers of the Glass Bangle Industry

 

kajol baby

 This child might have little time left before he must start earning.

 

“After this trip, I might have to throw away all my glass bangles,” I told my boss ruefully.

“Don’t throw them away!” She replied sternly.  “Throw them away and… Read full post »

I should probably preface this entry by saying: Ladies and Gentlemen, I have not had food poisoning yet this summer.

To be sure, there are certain health risks associated with chowing down indiscriminately in India.  You’re always apt to find a dead ant stuck to one of your jalebis when… Read full post »

JULY 7, 2010 8:01AM

At Home Not At Home

A few days back, a man worshiped me.  I was walking alone down the street behind my office; he was walking towards me on the same road, an elderly gent with a great flowing beard.  Turning to me, he pressed his palms together, touched them to his forehead, then chest, forehead/… Read full post »

JULY 5, 2010 8:06AM

Be Still, My Impatient Soul

I dislike being told what to do.

While I hesitate to call this a particularly American trait (though it very well may be), it is decidedly true of me.  The first time I came to India, I realized this would be a problem for me when it became apparent that… Read full post »

JUNE 10, 2010 12:27PM

Delhi Days: Literally a Melting Pot

I can't imagine how the population of India ever got so high.

About a week in to my stint in Delhi, and I still dread human contact.  It's hot, ladies and gents.  Hot like hell.  So hot the breeze can fry your skin right off.  So hot, when I washed my… Read full post »

JUNE 6, 2010 3:54AM

Bharat, baby, yeah!

Myself, Pranay, Pranay’s elder brother (my bhaiyya), and sister-in-law (my bhabhi) crammed into the back of a teeny tiny taxi to get from the airport to Gurgaon, where Pranay and I are staying with Bhaiyya and Bhabhi for the summer.  The taxi’s gas tank had inexplicably been placed i… Read full post »

MARCH 16, 2010 5:55PM

The Hollywoodization of Bollywood

"Radha Kaise Na Jale" from Oscar-nominated Lagaan.

 

I was a bit unsettled finding this article in the NY Times this morning.

For economic reasons, I can see why it would be desirable to have Bollywood flicks be more marketable to the western world. … Read full post »

FEBRUARY 8, 2010 5:23PM

Superbowl Samosas

"Samosas are a tricky devil. All those folds...the art of the samosa is mysterious," was my friend Apratim's analysis when I told him of my scheme to make samosas for my Superbowl party.  He nevertheless agreed to bring tamarind chutney. 

I wanted to liveblog the experience, but my laptop… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 5, 2010 12:44AM

My inability to speak Hindi

[I feel a little childish on OpenSalon.  When I sign in, I'm regularly greeted by half a dozen articles entitled "In defense of..." some deep and serious topic.  But all I want to write is silliness.]

Lately, I've begun to fear I will never be able to speak, and certainly never… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 1, 2010 9:38PM

Because I'm proud of my new pantry

One of my new year's resolutions was to blog more frequently this year...we can see how well that's working out.  Second semester law school has commenced with a vengeance and it seems all my new year's resolutions (among which are "improve thy cooking" and "betake thyself to the gym") are doome… Read full post »

DECEMBER 31, 2009 3:07AM

Nine yards of silk + One small woman

I am not a fat human being, nor am I particularly tall.  But I must admit I dwarf a huge percentage of India's women.  How on earth they wear saris is beyond me.

My boyfriend's mother and aunt each sent me a sari. Now when you see well-tied saris, they… Read full post »

DECEMBER 30, 2009 8:01PM

Om shantih shantih shantih

Radha and Krishna

 Radha I've taken as my patron saint of this venture, though I imagine they don't have patron saints in Hindusim.  Radha, primary consort of Krishna, and pictured above with him, has beauty, intelligence, grace, and clarity among her characteristics.  All things I'll need, I'm… Read full post »

DECEMBER 30, 2009 4:45PM

The Project

I am:

-- A New Yorker

-- Of Italian descent

-- Decidedly Protestant

He is: 

-- Indian, born and raised

-- Decidedly Hindu

--  Dating me!

The Goal:

-- Convincing future mommy-in-law that I'm serious about her son

The Method:

-- Becoming Indian

That's right, you heard me.  Somehow, in th… Read full post »