My One-Eyed Ayah

My One-Eyed Ayah

“We felt truly sorry for the nanny-children,” writes M. M. Kaye in The Sun In The Morning, a memoir of her magical childhood in India. While Mollie Kaye was cared for by native ayahs, most of her English friends were supervised by governesses or nannies. “The...
Pugree People

Pugree People

In the third week of April, a Norwegian YouTube video with English subtitles bounced off of Facebook walls. It showed two Sikh males unreeling yards of fabric in the hall of a railway station on “Turban Day” in Oslo. On offer for those who signed up to sport a turban...
Not a Techwallah

Not a Techwallah

As he graduated with a double major in computer science and cognitive science a few weeks ago, our son made it clear to us that unlike his father and some of his own ingenious classmates at Berkeley, he was not the typical techwallah. He enjoyed programming and...
So Suave with Shampoo

So Suave with Shampoo

shampoo, noun. < from Hindi chāmpo, from chāmpnā to knead <1755-65; earlier champo to massage < an inflected form of Hindi cāmpnā literally, to press “But who am I to pass judgement on today’s girls?” my aunt asked when I stopped by to visit her during my...
A Wholesome Congee

A Wholesome Congee

During my long stays in Chennai, the taste of kanji powers my day. When I return home from my morning walk at Jeeva Park, six slices of salted guava or a seasonal fruit await me on the table at breakfast. A tiny two-pronged fork pokes from a wedge of the fruit like a...

Delhi Coolie

“To C. R. Park,” I said to the old auto driver. I was waiting outside Hauz Khas village in Delhi looking for a way to get back to my apartment. But Ola cab’s servers were down. “80 rupees, madam?” the auto driver asked me, a trifle warily. I hopped in and we sped off...