Lessons in Humanity

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~Mother Teresa “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” “There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The…

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The Presence Of Absence

The Armenian church is in Georgetown, the chaotic trading quarter of Chennai that I don’t ordinarily frequent. The last time I ventured into the area was in search of a particular shade and texture of hand made paper for invites to my stone furniture sale! That, I am ashamed to admit, was over a decade ago. An exhibition to commemorate the Armenian…

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The Magen David In Kolkata

With the dwindling number of Jews in Calcutta – just over 20 by last count –  unable to summon up the minyan, or the requisite ten men to hold a service, their shuttered places of worship stand mute witness to the once fabled diversity of their adopted land. They arrived in search of better prospects to a thriving metropolis. Their descendants opted out…

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A Walk Through The Mullick Ghat Flower Bazaar

No wordy post today. Just an early morning stroll through the hustle and bustle of the Kolkata wholesale flower market, overflowing with reams of brilliant marigolds strung into garlands. While I love the vivid yellow and orange blooms and always have bowls of them lying around my house, the ones that grabbed my attention here, were these less showy lotus buds. Don’t you think there…

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The Grand Dame Of Chowringhee

After expertly navigating the impossibly clogged route from the airport, our taxi coasted to a halt in front of a colonnaded arcade teeming with what seemed like half the population of Calcutta. “This can’t be it” I muttered to R in dismay, while he peered out with equal skepticism. Then a pair of wrought iron gates…

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Calcutta Street Scenes

No other Metropolitan city in India conjures up past urban memories quite like Calcutta does, its squalour and decay notwithstanding. Which makes for eminently fascinating walks through its distinctly dissonant neighbourhoods. Here are some (more!) evocative street scenes from the ‘City of Joy’ that was once upon a time, a ‘City of Palaces’! Early morning fog: The contrasts…

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Echoes Of The Raj

“Oberoi Hotel, Jawaharlal Nehru Road”  we repeated helpfully, as our cab driver frowned at his job sheet. He bobbed his head vigourously in response, “Yes, yes, yes…..Grand Hotel, Chowringhee”.  Turned out they were one and the same. The trend of our interactions with anyone we stopped to ask for directions in Calcutta followed a similar vein: “Anandilal Poddar Street?”……Blank…

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A Graveyard Of Colonial Memories

Bitter memories of conquest and subjugation are most commonly expunged, post independence, by appropriating the edifices and symbols of a conquering power and imbuing them with national identity. Successive governments then milk political mileage by eradicating vestiges of colonial association from cities, streets. and maps.  Even in stubbornly resistant cities like Calcutta. But how does…

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Chai On The Road

I confess to being a bit of a chai snob. Having consumed flavourful high grown Nilgiri tea at its source for decades, and brewed the propah English way, it would be an understatement to say I am picky about my tea. I detest the thick, sugary, milky cha/chai served in homes across India and when…

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