If you ever had the dal tadka or the Club Sandwich and wondered who to thank, you may want to look at our Colonial Rulers and their second big gift: the Dak Bungalow. More on colonial food from the British Raj. Recipes. Old recipes. Controversy in Portland. What came back Home. Comparisons. Hang on, deliciousness aside, what is a Dak Bungalow?
Photographer Ritayan Mukherjee documents Kolkata's deteriorating historical mansions in the neighborhoods of Shovabazar, Bagbazar, and old Chitpur, once home to the Bengali economic and culture elite, and the stage for the city's intellectual renaissance of the 19th and early 20th century.
The Story of India, written and presented by Michael Wood for the BBC, is a six episode documentary that serves as an entertaining and solid introduction to Indian history. All six episodes are available in full (6 hrs). [more inside]
Mumbai is home to an estimated 20 million people ... and 21 leopards. The 250,000 residents with homes inside the boundary of Sanjay Gandhi National Park find a way to live with their big-cat neighbours.
Newsfilter: India just set a new all-time record high temperature — 123.8 degrees
Free Basics: Facebook's Biggest Setback From Zuckerberg’s vantage point, high above the connected world he had helped create, India was a largely blank map. [more inside]
... at the same time that Chicago was creating House and Detroit was forging ahead with what would become Techno, the roots of Trance were being sawn on the beaches of Anjuna and Vagator. And just as Chicago had Ron Hardy and Detroit had The Electrifying Mojo, Goa had a DJ called Laurent. If it wasn’t for him, it’s quite possible that the music played at parties in Goa would have been little more than a carbon copy of what was going on back in Europe and America. Unveiling The Secret: The Roots of Trance - before Goa was Goa, it was "new electronic music coming out of Europe and America," sliced and edited by Laurent to make one long, constantly morphing psychedelic groove. [more inside]
Celebrated Indian recording artist and playback singer Usha Uthup, AKA Usha Iyer, has performed many different musical styles during her 47-year career: smokey jazz and pop on the 1968 album Scotch and Soda, funk and disco on 1978's Usha in Nairobi (song: Fever), disco and new wave for numerous films, and across the spectrum in this scene from the 1972 comedy Bombay to Goa. (Yes, that's Amitabh Bachchan in his first leading role.) Uthup is also not afraid to embrace the unusual, as shown on her weirdly wonderful 1984 album, Blast-Off. [more inside]
The Lure of Everest
With their empire in tatters, postwar Britons were desperate for a source of renewal to pierce their collective mourning; they needed grand projects to restore national pride. They looked eastward, and up. Starting in 1920 the lexicon and tactics of war were applied to the attempts to scout and conquer Everest. Vast expeditions — the first in 1903-4 had taken a load so hefty that 88 porters died of exhaustion — made their way across the Tibetan plateau.- writes Holly Morris in the NYT review of Into The Silence, a book by Wade Davis of the National Geographic Society covering the British Everest expeditions of 1921, '22, and '24. [more inside]
Tushar Lall arranges Indian classical music versions of well-known pop culture soundtracks. The latest release is Star Wars; there's also Harry Potter, Interstellar, Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean and BBC Sherlock.
The mysterious and useful Vegetable Lamb of Tartary: a plant whose ripe seed-pods yield tiny live lambs. Or was it a plant growing in the shape of a full-size lamb, but with an umbilical tether to the ground? (Oh, and do you know about the barnacle goose?) A tale from the medieval science grapevine. [more inside]
A short story by Shrilal Shukla, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell. Wherein a politician enters the real world of his constituents.
I was made to recite the story of my greatgrandmother, to the extent that I knew it: Her name was Sujaria, and this was her village. The British took her away in 1903 to work their sugar plantations in a place now known as Guyana. She sailed on a ship called The Clyde. My grandfather was born on that ship.Gaiutra Bahadur traces the story of her great grandmother's singular journey as indentured labour meant for the sugar plantations of the Caribbean, shedding light on the lives of women in British India over a hundred years ago.
The 6-Pack Band, a collaboration between Bollywood composer Shamir Tandon and Indian tea brand Brooke Bond Red Label, consists of 6 women from the hijra community in India. They have two singles out: Hum Hain Happy, a remix of Pharrel Williams's Happy, and Sab Rab De Bande (with playback singer Sonu Nigam) based on a central Sikhism tenet of "we are all children of God".
India and Pakistan Wagah Border Closing Ceremony A little explanation : "The lowering of the flags, or the Beating Retreat ceremony at Wagah border, is a daily military practice that the security forces of India (Border Security Force) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959.The drill is characterized by elaborate and rapid dance-like maneuvers, which has been described as "colorful" .It is alternatively a symbol of the two countries' rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations." from the Wiki.
"It was Asian enough for my immigrant parents and American enough for my sister and me." In the PBS feature documentary, Off The Menu, filmmaker Grace Lee traverses the US into the kitchens, factories, temples and farm of Asian Pacific America that explores how our relationship to food reflects our evolving communities. Food Republic spoke with Jonathan Wu and Wilson Tang, whose NYC restaurant, Fung Tu, is featured in the film.
An unexpected revival for the ‘bard of empire’. [The Guardian] ‘Vulgar rabble-rouser’, ‘rootless cosmopolitan’, ‘mouthpiece of the empire’ Rudyard Kipling has had his share of detractors. But, 150 years after his birth, interest in India’s greatest English-language writer is growing.
They are not alone. Kipling, the “bard of empire”, has always been difficult to place in the cultural pantheon. Britain, too, has done remarkably little to officially mark the sesquicentenary of its first winner (in 1907) of the Nobel prize for literature (and still the youngest ever from anywhere). Indian-born, yet British? We are already entering the muddy field of contradictions that sometimes bog down the reputation of this mild-mannered man. Yet it is these that make him uniquely appealing and that, belying top-level institutional indifference, are sparking an unexpected revival of interest in him, and in particular in his role as a commentator on the origins of an integrated global culture.[more inside]
Rather than a simple scam, Vyapam appears to be a vast societal swindle—one that reveals the hollowness at the heart of practically every Indian state institution: inadequate schools, a crushing shortage of meaningful jobs, a corrupt government, a cynical middle class happy to cheat the system to aid their own children, a compromised and inept police force and a judiciary incapable of enforcing its laws.Aman Sethi writes in the Guardian on the so-called Vyapam scam—allegations of high-level and systematic corruption in the administration of the state professional examinations that determine entry into medical schools, state colleges, and entry-level civil service jobs within the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The scandal has been connected with 48 suspicious deaths involving people implicated in or investigating the scandal. The Indian Express has a timeline of events, while the Times of India has an extensive archive of further coverage.
The paintings commissioned by Akbar and Jahangir were a blend of Western iconography with Indian and Islamic elements. [more inside]
There can be few more contentious subjects than the empire, and few artistic legacies more explosive. Now, Tate Britain is to hold the first major British exhibition of masterworks from the colonial period – and the results are revealing - William Dalrymple writes
Asha Leo of Refinery29 travels around the world to learn about international fashion subcultures and the way fashion affects society worldwide. So far she's met Gothic (and other) Lolitas in Amsterdam, Moroccan expat culture, hijra in India, Hasidic designers in Brooklyn, Korean matchy-matchy fashion for couples, and the highly colorful world of Japanese decora.
Called "2g Tuesday, Facebook will give employees super slow internet speeds once a week so they can better understand markets like India
Indian comedy group All India Bakchod teams up with dating site TrulyMadly to present the Creep Qawwali (a form of Sufi devotional music), lamenting online and offline creepy guys. [more inside]
An influx of Indian users ruffles Quora. Responding to the question “What turns people off about Quora?,” the user David Stewart wrote, in 2013, “The large, and steadily increasing, Indian presence.” The answer has earned him over 3,400 upvotes. [more inside]
Who Owns Chicken Tikka Masala? Complicating a popular origin story.
In 1992-1994 and 2005-2009, Yuka Makino studied the lopping practices in the oak forests of Garwhal, Himalaya. Her PhD dissertation (PDF) contains a fascinating prologue describing the practical and ethical issues for conducting ethnographic research in an area where distrust of outsiders runs high and where gender and caste norms are strictly enforced. One afternoon, several children came and were chatting with us when a 10-year-old girl joined us. Though she still took part in the conversation in a loud voice, she stood at the edge of the veranda, far away from the door. (...) I realized that she was a Scheduled Caste girl and if she had stood at the doorway her shadow would have fallen into the room and may have touched my assistant’s plate of food, contaminating or polluting it. I let her stand there so that neither she nor my assistant would feel uncomfortable. [more inside]
The tragic tale of Mt Everest’s most famous dead body is part one of a two part BBC article centered around the story of Tsewang Paljor, known as "Green Boots", whose body has remained for 20 years near the summit where he died. Part two is Death in the clouds: The problem with Everest’s 200+ bodies [more inside]
Dabbawalla: Fast, efficient, and proud, Mumbai’s teams of home-to-work lunch couriers connect families through meals cooked with love. [more inside]
Vankadarath Saritha, Delhi's first female bus driver - "Women have been to space so why can't we drive a bus?"
Why Has India's 'Beef' Lynching Sparked No Remorse? Ravish Kumar writes for NDTV about the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq: We are not understanding what is happening around us. We are not being able to make others understand. The sparks have been spread across our villages. Young men with their half-baked sense of history want me to pose with them for selfies, but are not willing to even consider my appeal that they give up their violent ideals. [more inside]
Baobab Trees I was not aware that baobab trees grew anyplace but Africa, so it blew my mind to find out that they also live in India and Australia. They were likly introduced by Africans in both cases.
"Whether it is the covering of breasts in Southern India or the wearing of burqas in Afghanistan, women's comportment and clothing have offered an emotionally powerful shorthand for all that is wrong with native culture and all that must be corrected by the empire." Rafia Zakaria for Aeon: Clothes and daggers. [more inside]
The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps is filling in gaps by starting a new podcast feed [iTunes link] dedicated to the history of philosophic traditions other than the one that started with the Ancient Greeks. The first tradition covered will be Indian philosophy, but the series will move on to Africa and China, and perhaps elsewhere as well. The primary author of the India episodes is Prof. Jonardon Ganeri but Prof. Peter Adamson will co-write, present each episode, and probably come up with illustrative examples involving giraffes, Buster Keaton, and his non-existent trapeze-artist sister. [Adamson's main History of Philosophy podcast previously and subsequently]
Rudimentary stepwells first appeared in India between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D., born of necessity in a capricious climate zone bone-dry for much of the year followed by torrential monsoon rains for many weeks. It was essential to guarantee a year-round water-supply for drinking, bathing, irrigation and washing, particularly in the arid states of Gujarat (where they’re called vavs) and Rajasthan (where they’re baoli, baori, or bawdi) where the water table could be inconveniently buried ten-stories or more underground. Over the centuries, stepwell construction evolved so that by the 11th century they were astoundingly complex feats of engineering, architecture, and art.
Taxi Fabric - connecting designers with taxi drivers – turning seat covers into canvas’ for young Indian designers to show off their design talent and storytelling skills. [via Art Radar]
If cuisine drives (or helps) you decide your travel plans, USA Today's list of food favorites covers Best Farmers Market, Best Food Trail, Best Food Factory Tour, Best Al Fresco Dining Neighborhood and Best Local Food Scene. All those lists are pretty self-explanatory, except for the food trails, which aren't even fully described in the more verbose slideshow of the top 10. And of course there are more than 10 food trails in the US (not to mention abroad), so let's dive in. [more inside]
Breakfast -- Eating the World Every Morning is a series of dispatches about breakfast around the world. [more inside]
"Along with their ancient perfumery, the villagers of Kannauj have inherited a remarkable skill: They can capture the scent of rain." [more inside]
Kiran Gandhi has attracted a certain amount of attention for running the London Marathon while menstruating without using a tampon, pad or otherwise "cleaning up" her period. Meanwhile, in Nepal, menstruation is dirty, and a menstruating girl is a powerful, polluting thing. A thing to be feared and shunned. [more inside]
- 100 Years of Fashion in 2 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Fashion in 3 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Swimwear in 3 Minutes (women's)
- 100 Years of Fitness in 100 Seconds
- 100 Years of Female Dance
- 100 Years of Music
- AFI's 100 Years ... (youtube playlist from American Film Institute)
- 100 Years of Black Beauty
- 100 Years of History in 2 Minutes
The Indian Government will pay 3000 Mumbai beggars to sing about its initiatives. All-India Radio will help with training, though most singing beggars are apparently trained in music, up to degree level.