A Different Approach to History

I bring from the East what is practically an unknown religion’. This is what Max Arthur Macauliffe wrote in his Preface to The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors, first published in 1909. While the Sikhs and their religion are no longer unknown as a result of worldwide dispersal of the Sikh community and the distinct markers of identity that they carry with them,

Daring to Dream

You must learn to stop being yourself. That’s where it begins, and everything else follows from that.’ Raj Kamal Jha uses this most apposite quotation from Paul Auster’s Mr Vertigo to preface his second novel. I call it apposite because the entire book follows from that. Let me say that this is not a book for those who prefer to stay within their own skins or constantly want to feel the solidity of the walls that surround them.

When Theory Clouds the Eyes

Sociology has not gone to Indian movies very often, and that needs to be corrected. Consider that in India today we breathe movies as a key element of the national atmosphere, second only to oxygen, ozone, bottled mineral water, satellite TV and the internet. Bollywood, the world of Hindi moviedom, is also a big, sprawling social fact—in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and among the South Asian Diaspora in the West.

Connoisseur Activism?

Reviewing an interesting, somewhat idiosyncratic compilation of articles, poses a challenge, as it escapes the usual taxonomic classification for writings on the subject. It is clearly not a scholarly work in the formal sense. As is the case with most compilations, the various topics it encompasses form too broad a spectrum and though some footnotes and other references have been provided, they are sparse and infrequent.

City on the Plain

We Allahabadis grew up carrying our own mythology in which fact, innocence and provincial arrogance mingled in equal proportions. But let me get to the facts. The city of Allahabad, a dot on the map like a mustard seed placed exactly where the spidery, hairline-blue veins of two big rivers meet, was not just another nondescript settlement in the great Indian outback. It was a prominent administrative hub during the Raj, with a high-profile cultural identity all its own.