Essays

Improbable Cargo

Improbable Cargo

I am an early riser. During the dark winters of New England, I am up even before the sun, and that, you’ll agree, takes some doing. But though I am up, I am, usually, not about. Venturing out before the neighbors have had a chance to shovel the sidewalks is unwise, I’ve discovered, and I don’t bother getting out before 8 AM. In my South Indian hometown, Chennai, getting a head start on the day made practical sense because the sun could turn the outdoors […]



Of Math & The Monkey God

Of Math & The Monkey God

Centum is Latin for hundred. I don’t know if Italians use the word anymore, but some people in India still do. To them, centum is what a smart kid would score on a math test. In the middle class neighborhood where I grew up, many adults seemed to believe that math scores were a perfectly good indicator of a child’s I.Q. – the equivalent of a Mensa rating. Read the entire essay. pdf. PhotoCredit: Jaybee



M.S.Blues

M.S.Blues

On the last day of school, no matter which city we lived in, we would be on the evening train to Madurai. The overnight train journey was always fun–but our annual destination–we were a little less excited about that. Madurai was my father’s hometown and my grandparents still lived there. The heat, the mosquitoes, the bathrooms a slippery tenth of a mile from the house, the sheer lack of things to do – these were some of the reasons we might have cited – if […]



Definitely Not Shakespeare & Co.

Definitely Not Shakespeare & Co.

    I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges, “Poema de los Dones”             Supermodel Padmalakshmi is in Chennai. Southern India’s oldest newspaper, which clearly knew its readership, reported that the celebrity was visiting her grandmother. I too am visiting my hometown, but I plan to stay clear of relatives. Other than them, I know so few people here anymore. Most things I liked in my neighborhood are gone too like […]



A Spicebox & Cookbook Got Her Started

A Spicebox & Cookbook Got Her Started

When I set off to graduate school in the US, the Internet had not yet taken over the world. I actually spoke to people to gather information about life in America in general and my destination, New Orleans, in particular. So, I was delighted to find a woman whose son was an undergraduate at the university I was headed to. “My son had some problems initially with the food, but you should be fine. You are a girl, no?” she said to reassure me. Biting […]