Essay / Creative Nonfiction / May 2016

Economy Class

“Imagine you have a rich millionaire boyfriend, and he is whisking you off to Paris for a long weekend,” my husband says from the beat-up couch we got via Brooklyn Freecycle. He is filling in my French visa application form. It’s a prettyOctober day, and I am four months pregnant… Subscribe to read more» more

Essay / The Guardian / April 28, 2016

The Vegetarian Traveller

In India, where I grew up, I was never considered vegetarian enough. I do not eat fish or meat, but I do eat eggs, which meant outing myself as a “non-vegetarian” when someone asked if I am “pure veg”. After all, this is a country where states have passed laws banning beef.» more

Essay / Brevity / September 2015

Hospitality

…and now you pour her and you a cup of mint tea and sit at her table and she drops a word into the conversation that you seize with impatience, your eyes glistening in the glare of the harsh overhead light, and the word is colonialism and now you do not have enough time to tell her everything, you tell her about studying in Paris and you imitate the cop with the frozen voice at the corner of every street asking you for your ID, how you learnt, early and automatically, to go all over the world and live in every corner as if you were invisible… more» more

Essay / The Guardian / August 19, 2015

Skipping the Iconic

A lot of travel can be about pretending. I should know – for years, I have been pretending to enjoy monuments in various countries. I have spent perfectly sunny mornings in museums that I did not care for and I have sat in cute trolley cars and I have thrown coins into wishing wells.» more

Essay / Afar Magazine / January 31, 2014

Sadya: Kerala’s Slow Food

I wrote the to-do list on the plane from New York: Show husband the river we played in during summer holidays. Walk in the rubber orchards with our 2-year-old daughter. Eat sadya…
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Profile / The Caravan - October 2013

Blue Like Her: What Identity Means to Siona Benjamin

When I asked Benjamin about the influences on her work, she sighed and gave me a long, breathless list that included Islamic calligraphy, Buddhist thangkas, calendar art, Amar Chitra Katha, Andy Warhol, Persian miniatures, Bollywood posters, and feminism. “I like ornate.» more

Obituary / The Guardian - March 20, 2013

Ganesh Pyne

Towards the end of his life, Pyne painted a series depicting the characters of the Indian epic the Mahabharata. Instead of depicting the grand moments, Pyne chose to paint peripheral characters, such as the archer Ekalavya, who cut off his thumb to please his teacher, and the princess Amba who was reincarnated as a man so that she could take revenge on the warrior who kidnapped her.» more

Book Review / The New Yorker - March 26, 2012

Watergate / by Thomas Mallon

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/brieflynoted/2012/03/26/120326crbn_brieflynoted4
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Book Review / The New Yorker - January 2, 2012

Noon / by Aatish Taseer

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/brieflynoted/2012/01/02/120102crbn_brieflynoted4
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Obituary / The Guardian - December 21, 2011

Indora Goswami

Perhaps it is this complex and compassionate vision of conflict that also inspired Goswami to offer herself as a negotiator between the government of India and the United Liberation Front of Assam, a separatist movement. With her mediation, the banned group conducted three rounds of talks with the government, a considerable achievement considering that the crisis in Assam has been running for decades.» more

Short Story / The Caravan - September 1, 2011

Authentic and Hospitable

Jaya had indeed found Kamala after many battles. There was the village girl she hired who had no idea how to clean fish. Another maid, hired through an agency in town, would only cook the things she liked to eat. The last one before Kamala had been caught red-handed washing whites with reds.» more

Obituary / The Guardian - April 7, 2011

Anant Pai

In 1967, while watching a television quizshow in Delhi, Pai was scandalised that Indian children could reel off the names of the gods of Olympus but could not name the mother of the Hindu god Rama. He was inspired to start a comic-book series recreating stories from Indian epics as colourfully illustrated, child-friendly narratives.» more

Obituary / The Guardian - December 5, 2010

P. Lal

Decades before the current publishing boom in India, and the rise of Indian writing in English as a literary force, Lal pioneered a model for alternative publishing. The printing took place in a neighbour’s garage, the selling from a storefront attached to Lal’s home.» more

Book Review / The New Yorker - July 5, 2010

The Promise / by Jonathan Alter

This chronicle of the first year of the Obama Presidency argues that Obama took charge well before he was elected, when the economy imploded, in September, 2008.

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/brieflynoted/2010/07/05/100705crbn_brieflynoted1
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Book Review / The New Yorker - May 10, 2010

In Pursuit of Silence / by George Prochnik

Prochnik’s quest for the many meanings of silence takes him on an adventure of profound listening. A Trappist monk says that silence offers a “radical confrontation with ourselves”…

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/brieflynoted/2010/05/10/100510crbn_brieflynoted2
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Book Review / The New Yorker - April 26, 2010

The Devil and Mr. Casement / by Jordan Goodman

In 1910, the British government asked Roger Casement, a consular official, to investigate reports that a British-registered rubber-trading company was exploiting Barbadian workers in the Amazon.

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/brieflynoted/2010/04/26/100426crbn_brieflynoted3
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Personal Essay / Harvard Divinity Bulletin - Spring 2010

Inside Outside

I hunt down prayer rooms in airports. It began a few years ago, at Kennedy International Airport in New York. After seeing a friend off and feeling at loose ends, I tracked down the airport’s prayer spaces—a synagogue, a church, a mosque, and an interfaith space, wall-to-wall next to each other in Terminal Four.» more

Obituary / The Guardian - June 18, 2009

Kamala Das

In the 1980s she dabbled in painting and politics. While she attained some acclaim as an artist, her political career did not take off. She stood unsuccessfully for the Indian parliament in 1984 and later launched a short-lived political party, Lok Seva (public service).» more

Personal Essay / The Guardian Online - July 2, 2008

How IKEA ruined my slice of New York

I was, of course, one of the new people who had nothing to do with the maritime history of Brooklyn, yet today that does not stop me from shuddering at the thought of “new people”. Red Hook has been my home for two years now.» more

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