Oct 112016

Conde Nast Traveller - Priyanka Chopra


It is deliciously funny. Someone, i am guessing, in the management said “we need to do something about refugees. Something classy, but shows we care. But, how do you do this without featuring  poor, ugly, people.  ” (i kid you not, this is a phrase i have heard used in media houses. We don’t want no poor, ugly, people on our shows/papers/magazines) .

Someone else said, how about Priyanka Chopra taking up the cause of refugees, immigrants, and the page 3 jet set – by wearing a men’s banyan (or whatever the posh name for it is).

Someone else said “Let us do it”. A voice piped up “but, that is Nike”.

Conde Nast Traveller, put up an explanation this morning, that is just as funny as the original cover (if not funnier)

It’s time we demand better, and stand against the building of walls, literal and otherwise. We must demand a world free of racism and bigotry and prejudice, so that we—and generations after us—may enjoy all the abundance that travel offers, the beauty of a world that is open and rich and diverse in its people and cultures and geographies. And we must, in the midst of our many differences, find and celebrate our commonalities, our oneness. We must recognise that we are all on a journey. Whether we are moving across oceans or just a few kilometres, or in our mind’s eye, into a completely different world, whether we are doing so due to free will or circumstance—we are all travellers.

And this is why Priyanka Chopra—a star at home and abroad, who has experienced firsthand the opportunities that travel offers—is the perfect ambassador. It’s not about her being a refugee or immigrant or outsider; it’s about her, like us, recognising the power of travel, and joining us in asking everyone to do better for each other. 

We can start this journey by ensuring that gated communities, where most of Conde Nast Traveller audience lives, welcome the poor, hungry and dispossessed (within their own city and country) into their limits. I am looking forward to Conde Nast’s support on this campaign 🙂

Oct 092016

Bhimsen Joshi

A lovely little documentary (about an hour), on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, by Gulzar.

One lovely bit, where Panditji says, just call me Bhimsen. Mujhe Pandit se nafrat hai, aaj koi bhi pandit ban jaata hai. He is referring to the tradition, where a master singer /musician earned the title Panditji (if Hindu) or Ustad (if Muslims). That tradition had been diluted, when new comers are given the title almost after the first concert.

Another lovely moment in the documentary, refers to his jugalbandi with Manna De, in ketaki gulab juhi. Both men, shot at different times and spaces, recollect. And, Gulzar puts together a great edit (including them singing this together in differnet spaces). Bhimsen Joshi ends the piece by saying — Manna de ne mujhe hara diya (Manna De defeated me).

Favorite ragas: Todi (in the morning) , Multani in the afternoon. Yaman /Darbari/Puriya at night. No wonder these are my favourites too, i ended up hearing him sing his best ragas, at his best – all through the time i have been listening to music.

And, the origins of the Kirana Gharana – near Gurgaon, the village where Karna settled . It denotes purpose, do or die, he says. and, it shows in his journey. His favourite students – lots of names, he says with a smile, but only three who can sing. Featured is a little clip with him singing Todi – langarka kariya jin maaro – with a student (a young Anand Bhate). Watch out for him, he says. And, Anand Bhate is one of my favorite new singers. He sang extensively for the Marathi Film Balgandharva 

And, my favorite piece – when do you figure which song you will perform? when i get the tanpura in my hand.

If you have an hour to spare, watch it.


For those interested, My Bhimsen Joshi playlist on youtube.

Sep 152016

I wrote this for She the People, earlier this week

Many years ago, I read Margaret Atwood’s, dystopian novel, Handmaid’s Tale. Set around a plausible tomorrow, it looks at a world where fertility has plummeted, and there are a special category of women   who are kept especially for reproductive purposes. As I read the “Politics of the Womb” by Pinki Virani a frightening today began to emerge. Where there are women, whose only value to the world seems to be the eggs that she produces, the uterus that she has, and the womb that she rents.

A riot, in very slow motion, is being engineered on the woman inside her body; to take her apart, part by profitable part.

The slow rampage is in the name of God – for hers is the womb and she shall conceive.

In the name of science – for hers is the hostile uterus and medical evaluation must arbitrate. ……The world over, the combined might of religion and science has converged to martial many a uterus with a child. At any cost; to the woman, to her baby.

The opening lines of Pinki Virani’s long hard look at the surrogacy industry, hits you in the gut, and pulls you into a narrative structure that takes you into the universe of uterus pimp; the woman (who is the walking uterus; IVF clinics that charge, and charge, and charge;  the desperate, would be,  parents who want to have a biological child; and the mad rush for designer babies. Politics of the Womb – The Perils of IVF, Surrogacy and Modified Babies is both a behind the scenes look at the new industry that seems to have grown without regulation;  the ethics of such work; and a normative framework for regulation. It is also a manifesto of the rights of the unborn child. Someone has to speak for the child, and Ms Virani makes a very strong case for children born of IVF.


The books looks at how expensive  IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatment  is being pushed as the first option, on desperate parents, when there are a gamut of other options, that could spare the prospective parents both an expensive bill, as well as physical and mental trauma. There is between 72-80% failure rate per IVF cycle. Less than a third of people who start the IVF treatment, come away with a baby. The costs-  financial, physical and emotional – are seldom publicized or discussed. And, all this in the backdrop of an  industry that sells a myth of fertility, and downplays the medical risks both to the mother and those that may occur to the child. Virani  looks at the data surrounding IVF and birth defects, that leads to children being born autistic, and  with mental retardation. The risk of babies conceived through Ivf or Icsi (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is 37% higher than babies conceived naturally. “Collateral damage” says a doctor, on the side effects, and birth defects.

Virani’s anger against the commoditization of the uterus, and its commercialization, is palpable. When she quotes doctors, involved in the baby making business,  she lets their callousness and utter disregard for the woman’s body, and the reproductive process , stay there unvarnished. “What is a uterus, it is like a room. Repaint, redecorate any number of times”’, Virani quotes a doctor saying.

Surrogacy is in the news of late, because of the bill being discussed in Parliament, as well as the Government’s banning of commercial surrogacy. In light of the high pitched conversations around this topic, it might be worthwhile to read the “Politics of the Womb” to look at the issue in a holistic manner.


(Politics of the Womb; The Perils of IVF, Surrogacy & Modified Babies; by Pinki Virani; Viking; Rs 599; Pages 304)

Aug 232016



🙂 world class athletes reduced to “hotties”. And, i don’t see a single hot male here…..

I am yet to make up my mind whether it is sexist towards women (by portraying them as mere ‘hotties’) or discriminatory towards men ((not one makes the list of ‘pin ups’).

Also, apart from Natasha Richards, not a single person of colour — i am assuming, darker variants of skin are not hot #justsaying

Your view ?

Aug 222016

This is the front page of the Mumbai Mirror.


What Lakshmi, who represented india in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, actually  said “Sindhu has what i didn’t have back then – my husband as a coach”

I know readership is an issue. I know clicks are difficult to come by. Maybe the reason is that editors play around with the truth. And, maybe, just maybe … that is why readership and clicks are a problem.

This kind of salacious stupidity really, really, bothers me. Really.