All entries by this author

Gentle Giants of Gujarat

Gentle Giants of Gujarat

“My first memory of whale sharks is when I was 10 years old, traveling from Mombasa to Bombay via Porbandar on a ship,” recalls Mike Pandey, an Indian wildlife filmmaker who was born in Kenya. He had seen these majestic creatures—the world’s largest fish—swim alongside his ship during the week-long journey in the Indian Ocean. Decades after, when a middle-aged Pandey drove along the Gujarat coastline asking people about the “big fish”, which did not have a local name, no one knew what he was […]



What Is Desi Mentality – Life of Dr.Desi

What Is Desi Mentality – Life of Dr.Desi by Ramesh Mahadevan Warning : Dr Roy, Please hit ‘n’ now! WARNING: Any kind of stereotyping is bad and uncivilized, we are told. But most of us have conjured up an abstract concept called the ‘desi mentality’ that seems to exist out there. While reading the rest of this post, you must remember that ‘desis’, like the designer underwear, come in all shapes, sizes, colors and moral bents. Mister, rather Dr. Desi, is an embodiment of ‘desi […]



The Ramachandran Plot

The Ramachandran Plot

The double helix is, perhaps, one of the most iconic structures from the world of science. In Chennai, not far from the banks of river Adyar, there’s an auditorium in the heart of a national research centre that appears wholly unremarkable, but for its name: Triple Helix. The name of the auditorium, Triple Helix, holds the key to a David and Goliath story from the rarified realms of research. The plot, set in the early 1950s, involves a puzzle in structural biology. The cast spans […]



My Aunt, the Matunga Mami

It is more than a year since Ramesh Mahadevan passed away. I am so afraid some day his writings will vanish too. So I am going to put up the best of his writing on my site unless it violates some law or the other. To newbies who never knew RM and will never have a chance to meet the man – just enjoy his writing. It stands the test of time. My Aunt, The Matunga Maami by Ramesh Mahadevan “Mr. Mahadevan Ramesh, I have […]



Men Peeing

So why don’t men just sit down and pee like we women do? This will be especially helpful when they are house guests. A beautiful Lara Vapnyar story “Deaf and Blind” in this week’s New Yorker asks this question too, in a hilarious way. A deaf and blind person is going to be a dinner guest and this raises concerns. “Is he neat with the toilet?” was my grandmother’s next question. “Please, stop!” my mother begged her. But my grandfather thought this was a valid […]



Growing Mushrooms in New England

Growing Mushrooms in New England

“The lion’s mane does not like to be dripped on,” Julia Coffey informs me, “so it sits on the top shelf of this greenhouse.” The founder of Mycoterra Farm, a leading small-scale, year-round mushroom farm in Massachusetts, knows exactly what makes her edible fungi tick. When she first started bringing her quaintly named native mushrooms to farmers markets, people didn’t exactly line up to buy them. She had to work to build a following. Coffey also took her mushrooms to restaurants for chefs to sample. […]



My Friend from Islamabad

My Friend from Islamabad

Summer vacation never meant days off for international graduate students in the United States but in those warm months we could take longer-than-usual coffee breaks without feeling guilty. Pocket Park, our campus coffee shop, was a tiny glass house wedged into the farthest corner of this small, open-air hangout. Tables, chairs, benches, stairs, the steps of a small wooden stage — we could seat ourselves anywhere. In the summer, the place was deserted and we usually picked a table under the trees. That day another […]



Kannathil Mutthamittal

Another Tamil movie reference (title of a maniratnam movie), another Bharathiyar poem. I wish I had been this kind of daughter to my dad. சின்னஞ்சிறு கிளியே கண்ணம்மா! செல்வக் களஞ்சியமே! என்னைக் கலி தீர்த்தே உலகில் ஏற்றம் புரிய வந்தாய்! Oh juvenile parrot, my Kannamma! You are the repository of all wealth! You brought me immense happiness and prosperity, you came to elevate my stature in this world! உச்சிதனை முகர்ந்தால் கருவம் ஓங்கி வளருதடி! மெச்சி உனை ஊரார் புகழ்ந்தால் மேனி சிலிர்க்குதடி! When I plant a kiss onto your forehead, my pride […]



Annaya’s Anthropology

Because I am afraid this story by A.K.R will vanish into the Internet once again, I copy and paste it right here for my ready reference in the future.   Annayya’s Anthropology   by A. K Ramanujan translated from Kannada by Narayan Hegde   Annayya couldn’t help but marvel at the American anthropologist.”Look at this Fergusson,” he thought, “he has not only read Manu, our ancient law-giver, but knows all about our ritual pollutions. Here I am, a Brahmin myself, yet I don’t know a […]



The Young Indian Scientist’s Dilemma (1966)

(From an old essay of R.K.Narayan’s — from 1966. Not sure where it was published. I find some of the word choices strange. Hard to believe he could be so tone deaf.)    A young scientist from Madras, who arrived in New York only a week before, met me at my hostel and introduced himself as one longing to hear an Indian voice. He confessed that he found life in America unbearable. He could not make out a word of what his MASTERS (???) or […]