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A schizophrenic’s guide to Mumbai

Published @ The Bengal Post
Just as when you thought that Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay, Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City and Gregory Roberts’ Shantaram had, between the covers of their voluminous homage to the megapolis, had cracked open the city, comes Gyan Prakash’s Mumbai Fables, one more splendid and unputdownable ode to the city. But does this quartet close Mumbai to the hack-and-the-schlock writer forever? Hope not. Because Mumbai will always be open to multiple interpretations; because in the post-industrial, post-urban, post-Cold War and post-factum modernity of the 21st…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: City, Homage, Travel | Read More

The shifting strand of Pottertown

Published @ Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Lion in the making. Kumortuli, Calcutta. Autumn of 2009. Photo by author. Kumortuli’s fame is in its transience. Like the Spring Flower, it bursts into activity, fame and business for no more than three months in a year. Only that it does so during autumn and not spring. But in that short span, it enjoys a lot of attention. Or so has been the case for the last two centuries or so. So much so that over the years, Kumortuli…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Art, Festival, Travel | Read More

Driving across the USSR

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
It was the summer of 1956. No one outside the Eastern bloc had much of an idea of what exactly was going on inside the Soviet Union. The superpower was hidden from the Western gaze by the Iron Curtain. And it had to be checked out. With the help of lots of luck and some totalitarian whimsy, two Parisian journalists — Dominique Lapierre and his colleague and photographer Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini — got permission to travel to the heart of Soviet…

On the trail of Renzo Piano

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Henry Fuseli, Titania Caresses Bottom with the Donkey’s Head, 1793-94, oil on canvas.  Kunsthaus, Zurich. On a trip to Switzerland, organized by Pro Helvetia, Sayandeb Chowdhury finds that the Alpine country is not just about clocks, wine and chocolate. But also art, music, dance, theatre and cinema. And finds them anything but neutral. Renzo Piano is not a musician. But he plays music in glass and steel, brick and mortar. As I stood in front of the Zentrum Paul Klee,…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Art, Travel | Read More

Geneva on my mind

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Photo by Karim Ben Van on Unsplash Switzerland, for Indians, is a vintage picture postcard–the splendour of the Swiss Alps lording over designer villages with pretty houses that stand in sunny glory watching glass-topped trains passing by in silent admiration. So when most Indians visit this small central west European country they are invariably reminded of Yash Chopra couples in shawls and striped sweaters drooling at each other and at nature beyond. But there is more to this…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Art, Travel | Read More

Feasting from dusk to dawn

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Photo by Habib Dadkhah/Unsplash We have heard about Fleet Street in London, the media hub that spawned so many stories. But meat street? Across much of urban Arabia, there are food streets where pieces and pieces upon meat of various shapes and sizes are piled, in various hues, smelling of the ‘mystic’ East’s typical flavours, hung on iron hooks dangling from intertwined ropes in dusty bazaars. For a month in autumn, Mumbai’s otherwise nondescript Mohammed Ali Road swipes…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: City, Food, Travel | Read More