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.
Award-winning actor Irrfan Khan and noted comedy collective All India Bakchod presents Every Bollywood Party Song [more inside]
After sixty-eight years, Cooch-Behar is no more. At midnight on Friday the almost-fractal boundary between India and Bangladesh was rationalised, erasing 162 enclaves and counter-enclaves, including Dahala-Khagrabari, the world's only counter-counter-enclave as well as what was, at one time, the world's only part-time enclave. [more inside]
The computerisation of calligraphic fonts has damaged the livelihoods of the remaining few calligraphy artists or Katibs in Urdu Bazaar, Delhi.
The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use. The main sourcebooks cover ancient, medieval, and modern history. Subsidiary sourcebooks cover African, East Asian, Global, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, Lesbian and Gay, Science, and Women's history.
Shared Prosperity, Common Wealth, National Equity and a Citizen's Dividend: Nirit Peled takes a look at social experiments in basic incomes for VPRO Tegenlicht, a Dutch public television documentary series. Starting with a German crowdfunded UBI chosen by raffle -- kind of like the opposite of Le Guin's Omelas (or Shirley Jackson's Lottery in reverse) -- the focus moves on to Albert Wenger who wants to disconnect work from income not only as automation progresses but to accelerate the process. Then it's on to Guy Standing who has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia (pdf) and is trying to get one off the ground in Groningen (Utrecht apparently is also a go). Finally, a stop in Alaska to ask some of its residents about their views on the state-owned Permanent Fund. This last part brings to mind the question: just what is wealth anyway? [more inside]
He was a prophet without imprimatur in his own city. Charles Correa, who passed away late on the night of 16 June, was among the great architects of our times. His institutional buildings across the world are all iconic. Yet, Mumbai, his lifelong home, boasts just one* residential tower designed by him – an irony as much as a travesty. Though the cubist Kanchanjunga is eye-catching, it’s still high-rise: a genre caustically savaged by this patron saint of low-slung architecture.[more inside]
One of the most intriguing items in the British Library Persian manuscripts collection is a small unexceptional looking volume which contains a personal record, written in his own hand, of 37 dreams of Tipu Sultan, Sultan of Mysore (r. 1782-1799). [Complete translation.]A figure of continuing interest, Tipu Sultan's depiction in a 2014 parade float was the subject of a minor controversy, revisited expansively this year in a TV news report. A video history lesson for children offers a brief portrait of the ruler, sometimes remembered for his use of rockets against the British and his anti-British mechanical pipe organ (examined carefully here, but here used to play two tunes, including "Rule, Britannia!"). [more inside]
The Root Bridges of Cherrapunji In the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren't built — they're grown. [more inside]
Yet to tell the diffusion of Indian influence at this period as two separate processes partially obscures a still more extraordinary story. For it is now increasingly clear that between the fourth and twelfth centuries the influence of India in both Southeast and Central Asia, and to some degree also China, was comparable to the influence of Greece in Aegean Turkey and Rome, and then in the rest of Europe in the early centuries BC. From the empire of the Gupta dynasty in the north and that of the Pallava dynasty in the south, India during this period radiated its philosophies, political ideas, and architectural forms out over an entire continent not by conquest but by sheer cultural sophistication.
Unravel ‘Maybe the water is too expensive to wash them’: a short documentary on how Indian women recast and recycle the clothes the West throws away
The Los Angeles Times in 1943 further declared that “Only an old-school Southerner who thinks Appomattox was a shocking bad show could go for Pakistan.” The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India And Pakistan, the latest book by long-time Middle East observer Dilip Hiro, is a grim assessment of the current state of relations.
"Post Hurricane Katrina, a whole new American dream was designed for some [South Asian] Indians — how to get trapped in a guarded labor camp by an American company".
"Why the hero of my YA dystopian novel had to be an angry young Indian girl." [Guardian Books]
Laxmi Hariharan challenges the domination of dystopian western worlds in teen novels, why not a dystopian Asia or Latin America? And how it’s time for the stereotype-busting Angry Young (Indian) Girl to claim centre-stage.
12 minute video on India’s Experiment in Basic Income Grants "cash transfers given to all citizens to ensure that they have a minimal income". [more inside]
A very Indian reply about ... nothing, after Jerry Seinfeld cancelled a show in Mumbai because of parking issues.
It was at this moment that the East India Company (EIC) ceased to be a conventional corporation, trading and silks and spices, and became something much more unusual. Within a few years, 250 company clerks backed by the military force of 20,000 locally recruited Indian soldiers had become the effective rulers of Bengal.
The Question is the Question: Dilip D'Souza on the competitive sport of 'Quizzing' in India. "Quizzers branch out like fractals, into the minutiae, looking for questions in the interstices of knowledge.” [more inside]
What's It Like To Live Without Electricity? Ask An Indian Villager One study has found that India’s indoor pollution contributes to disabilities and early death to a greater degree than tobacco, high blood pressure and heart attacks. “It disproportionately impacts those who are indoors a lot, which is women and children” [more inside]
The Secret History of South Asian & African American Solidarity. South Asians and African Americans have been standing up for each other for over a century -- and continue to do so. Race politics, shared heritage, and issues of caste and class are among the few examples of interconnected history that largely go untaught in the U.S. [via mefi projects]
It's summer in Australia and that can only mean one thing: lots and lots of cricket! (Some previous discussions of cricket on Metafilter.) Cricket has long had a reputation as a "gentlemanly game", which quietly ignores the increasing popularity of women's cricket that has existed since 1745. Times change and some substantial technology is now being used to assist the umpires and referees. As the sport becomes more professional and attracts more money, controversy is increasing in these less genteel times. However, there is now one great ethical dilemma facing cricketers: should the batter voluntarily walk (dismiss themselves) when they know they are out, even if the umpire fails to give them out? [more inside]
The Government of India in the last week of 2014 asked Internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites including code repository Github, video streaming sites Vimeo and Dailymotion, online archive Internet Archive, free software hosting site Sourceforge and many other websites on the basis of hosting anti-India content from the violent extremist group known as ISIS. The blanket block on many resourceful sites has been heavily criticized on social media and blogs by reviving the hashtag #GoIblocks that evolved in the past against internet censorship by the government. [...] After agreeing to remove anti-India content posted by accounts that appeared to have some association with ISIS, some were unblocked.via Global Voices
The Indian wedding that exploded in violence: a short story by Ranbir Singh Sidhu
Today is the 10th anniversary of the tsunami that changed life in South and South East Asia. Aceh bore the heaviest losses and the ASEAN remembers the toll of destruction. This event changed the way global agencies coordinate large scale disaster relief. Many lessons were learnt. Other regions which felt the impact hold memorial services too.
India's New Comic Book Hero Fights Rape, Rides On The Back Of A Tiger
She's a not a superhero in the comic book tradition. Her power is the power of persuasion and the power of an idea. She's riding the tiger all over India and creating a movement [to] deal with sexual violence.
How Ambi became Paisley: "It began as a teardrop in Babylon. Where the sunlight came from Astarte, shameless goddess of the fecund feminine. The boteh. Stylized rendition of the date palm shoot, tree of life, fertility symbol. It danced through Celtic art, until the heavy feet of Roman legionaries tramped over the Alps. Then it fled the wrath of Mars and Jupiter, dove underground as Empire rose ." From Shailja Patel's Migritude. Here's a short film about the Migritude project (book on Amazon).
There is little trace of the presence of the South Asians who lived and worked in Mexico during the colonial period except for one woman whose legend lives on even today. She was purportedly born Mira in the kingdom of the Gran Mogol, or the Great Mughals, where she was captured by the Portuguese who eventually sold her to the Spanish at the port of Manila.The 'Mughal Princess' of Mexico: At the South Asian American Digital Archive, Meha Priyadarshini briefly explores the myths and realities of Catarina de San Juan (1606-1688), a religious mystic/visionary who sailed on the Manila galleon to Mexico nearly four hundred years ago and over time became associated in popular legend with a well-known style of dress. The etymological complexity of one keyword involved should not be underestimated and itself tells another story about the history of colonialism.
Hindu ki bas eik khasusiat: Baghl mein churi, moen par Ram Ram. My Urdu, at the time, was idiomatically sub-par. I had recently moved from Doha, Qatar, to General Zia ul Haq’s Lahore and his 9th grade Social Sciences textbook was nearly incomprehensible. The teacher read the line with a sneer. I intuited from his body language, and from the twitter that ran through the class, that this was a derisive remark, but I couldn’t quite follow: If someone had just been stabbed in the side with a knife wouldn’t he be crying to the gods in pain? What’s the shame here? I went home and asked my mother. She explained the idiom: Baghl mein churi does not mean a knife in the side but a knife concealed in the armpit of a garment. Moen pay Ram Ram is not a gesture towards pious invocation (like my grandmother’s recitation of Ya Rahman Ya Rahim)—it is meant to stand as insincere. The Hindu has only one characteristic: He conceals a knife, ready to strike, even as his lips intone Ram. I remember wanting to see or speak to a Hindu, to corroborate or defy this assessment, but Lahore in the mid-1980s held only bare traces—a place name, the legends of a boarded-up building, a strange spiral shape buried in the horizon—of its Hindu past. The city of Madho Lal or Chandarbhan had disappeared even from memories. Our teacher was a history enthusiast and he quickly warmed up to my hesitant question: Sir, why are Hindus never to be trusted?Also in Urdu [PDF]. Manan Ahmed writes at Chapati Mystery [more inside]
"The psychology behind why (the God tiles) work is complex. It could be a combination of fearing the wrath of God (especially when one’s pants are down, or even just open) and wanting to seem RC (religiously correct)... I’ve since learned that god tiles aren’t only deployed to stop public urination. In some office buildings, for example, god tiles have been installed in stairways to keep people (OK, mostly men) from spitting on walls. They’ve also been used to prevent people from throwing garbage in certain places."