Category India

Stories Left Behind in Asia

I WRITE THIS FROM the last frontier of Asia, Turkey’s eastern half, before flying over the divisive Bosphorus River into what is securely the First World, and the second half of this four-month journey. I have a few thoughts leaving Asia, where V and I spent the last two years living and travelling; mostly I […]

Kolkata’s Street Food Walkers

THE TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR DETERRED US, but nobody surrendered: at 6 p.m., as scheduled, our food tour guide met us on a busy Kolkota corner, in front of a meek electronics store surrounded by scaffolding. I wasn’t sure you’d make it, she told us. We thought the same about her. In the end, it turned out, […]

The People Around the Taj Mahal

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE TAJ MAHAL AND AGRA FORT there is a quiet little town—quiet by Indian standards—and somewhere therein live quiet people, normal people, people not out to get your money or impress you with Mughal legends but rather who are interested in speaking to you. These are friendly people, too polite to be easily […]

Varanasi: Dodge The Cow Shit And It’s Actually Quite Charming

VARANASI IS A PROFOUNDLY DIFFERENT PLACE, spiritually bombastic and alive. Chants echo through dusty stone alleys and schoolchildren, in striped ties and checked skirts, sing and tease each other in the backs of colourful rickshaw trucks. The walls surrounding everything have been crumbling for so long that it seems unlikely that they have ever seen […]

How We Spent Ten Dollars On Scarves in Varanasi and Why We’re Okay With It

EVERYONE AND HIS BROTHER owns a silk shop in Varanasi. Walk down the street and you will be personally invited to one every few paces, told “No pressure” and “Just take a look” when you hesitate, persuaded when they explain the secret to proving real silk from polyester knockoffs (the threads burn into ashes) and […]

The Two Indias: Of Rules and Chaos

THE THING ABOUT INDIA that travel magazines ignore is its fetishistic addiction to bureaucracy. If something takes place in a large building with air-conditioning, rest assured you will be helplessly drowned in endless spools of red tape—yet the streets outside are inevitably a manic free-for-all. The schism is symbiotic and outlandish, and in either case […]