Category Archives: Good Ideas

India and Pakistan: A Matter of Taste

Imported from Karachi, Shan masalas are a hit in Delhi. They make sure anyone can make good Biryani or Korma. Photo taken at a grocery store in south Delhi by Shivam Vij
Dabur Chawanprash at a grocery store in Lahore. The Devnagiri script on the pack would be a rarity in Pakistan! Photo credit: Shiraz Hassan

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the union maid: Dean Baker

A little-reported fact of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case is that his accuser is a union member – with rights the IMF opposes, says Dean Baker in the Guardian.

But do listen to this song first!


“The reason that this is an important part of the story is that it is likely that Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim might not have felt confident enough to pursue the issue with either her supervisors or law enforcement agencies, if she had not been protected by a union contract. The vast majority of hotel workers in the United States, like most workers in the private sector, do not enjoy this protection.

Received via Mini Mathew

“Two friends who have but one life”: Hope from the 19th century

I came across this delightful piece of information in the historian K P Padmanabha Menon’s History of Kerala (vol.3, AES reprint,2001, pp.498-500) which was written in the early 20th century. He quotes from “a paper published in the Madras Review (vol.2, p.250)”; we do not know which year this was published, but there is good reason to think that it was in the early 20th century. The paper is about a truly exciting institution – ‘marriage’ which produced not a heterosexual conjugal couple, but a same-sex  (male) couple bound by ‘friendship’! Continue reading “Two friends who have but one life”: Hope from the 19th century

Nandi’s divine wrath strikes BJP leader: Rukun Advani

This is a news flash from rainy Ranikhet, from RUKUN ADVANI of Permanent Black.

Balbir Punj owns a hotel called ‘Windsor Lodge’ on Ranikhet’s outskirts. (When it comes to personal money-making, BJP ideologues seem to have no problems naming their properties after the Queen of England.) Last week Punj came to his Lodge and went to the Kalika temple opposite the property. He did not notice a large bull there, but the bull noticed him: it charged straight for him and before Punj knew what was happening he had been thrown up in the air and gouged in the front. His arm is now in a sling. It being specially embarrassing for a BJP Hindu to be thus cast aside by a cow, Punj has been desperately downplaying his injuries. However, he asked Khanduri to immediately pen the bull, and the bull has been removed from the Kalika temple.

Truly important questions

On another first day, with its inevitable attempts to divide things into new and old at the end of all the “rapid change” that the world apparently is going through at every second of every news channel’s life, a [to me, lovely] reminder that times have not changed all that much:

Google reports that urban Indians top “how to” search in 2008 was “how to lose weight.” But, at number two, shyly sneaking in was: “how to kiss.”

now there is something worth learning in 2009.

Mera Joota Hai Iraqi!

With utmost seriousness, the news clip replays the incident twelve times for our viewing pleasure, while the ‘LIVE’ on the top right-hand of the screen glints promisingly. Ah yes gentle reader, if wishes were horses…  The Guardian helpfully accompanies the clip with cultural commentary for its readers, just in case we were in any doubt as to the symbolic significance of the action:

In the Arab world, throwing shoes at somebody is considered a serious insult, as is even showing them the soles of one’s footwear, as demonstrated by jubilant Iraqis towards the statue of Saddam Hussein as it was toppled in Baghdad during the 2003 invasion.

Always good to be up on native customs in the global village.

Continue reading Mera Joota Hai Iraqi!