The Enduring Relevance of Liberal Arts in India: Henry Derozio and the Bengal Renaissance

In 1852, the Indian mathematician Radhanath Sikdar became the first person to accurately measure Mount Everest, known until then as Peak XV, which the British had been trying — and failing — to do for decades. Two years later, Harachandra Ghosh, Sikdar’s friend from college, was elected judge in the Small Causes Court, the first … Continue reading The Enduring Relevance of Liberal Arts in India: Henry Derozio and the Bengal Renaissance

Chai Stories from the Pandemic

In December 2019 as Delhi broke into a series of anti-CAA protests, the city came unstuck in time. It was a small way for Delhiites to reclaim their city, streets, and culture. As crowds pulsed down the KG Marg and Barakhamba Road outside my then office in Central Delhi’s Connaught Place, I stood at the … Continue reading Chai Stories from the Pandemic

The Language of Puthis: Dubhashi and the Bengali Muslims

Muslims in the region of Bengal, like other Muslims in the Northwest of India, viewed that different languages in the space social space was natural and by God's design. This was the way it always was after all, and pointed to Qur'anic ayats, such as the one above , to argue that the wise person had to know and communicate in many languages. It also means sometimes people would mix different languages as they saw fit for their pupose in single utterances. This view can be seen in the way the puthi genres made use of dubhashi (a language made up of Bangla, Hindustani, Farsi, and Arabic). Their writers and performances only thought about ways to best communicate Islamic ideas and views, not whether what the language they used was proper or not.

বন্দে মাতরম VS জনগণমন

লিখেছেনঃ উত্তম কুমার রবীন্দ্রনাথ না বঙ্কিমচন্দ্র? জনগণমন আর বন্দে মাতরমের ভীষণ যুদ্ধ! রবীন্দ্রনাথের বিরুদ্ধে গুরুতর অভিযোগ, রবীন্দ্রনাথ ব্রিটিশদের পক্ষে লিখছেন, জাতীয়তাবাদের বিরুদ্ধে লিখছেন, এমনকি স্বয়ং ভারতের জাতীয় সঙ্গীত লিখা হয়েছে বৃটিশ সম্রাট পঞ্চম জর্জের উদ্দেশ্যে উৎসর্গ করে! আর সবচেয়ে বড় অভিযোগ তিনি এই জনগণমন গানটি রচনা করেছেন শক্তিশালী “বন্দে মাতরম” কে কাউন্টার করে। অভিযোগের সবটুকু … Continue reading বন্দে মাতরম VS জনগণমন

আড্ডা :Adda (Gossip) — Ekla Bolo Re

Nothing as essential to Bengaliness or Bangladeshiness as Adda, which this post provides an easy definition for. Addabaaj had a pejoritive ring to it when I people use it, but that is envy. Adda at its best, as the great Syed Mujtuba Ali espoused, is liberation. https://www.youtube.com/embed/Aq5smWgbcmk?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent Adda -the Popular Bengali Gossip or a fine … Continue reading আড্ডা :Adda (Gossip) — Ekla Bolo Re

City Eyes

I wanted to tell him that I read those words in a novel for class. In it the speaker - in one of many equivocating asides - expounded on how living in a city in India makes everyone develop a type of cataracts. Beggars, in all their motley shapes and forms, are so natural to our cities that they have become invisible. The are the unsubstantial beings, cloaked like poltergeists or djinns, that our minds filter out as we navigate the city.

ProPublica piece on Climate Refugees

Our modeling and the consensus of academics point to the same bottom line: If societies respond aggressively to climate change and migration and increase their resilience to it, food production will be shored up, poverty reduced and international migration slowed — factors that could help the world remain more stable and more peaceful. If leaders take fewer actions against climate change, or more punitive ones against migrants, food insecurity will deepen, as will poverty. Populations will surge, and cross-border movement will be restricted, leading to greater suffering. Whatever actions governments take next — and when they do it — makes a difference.

An Elegy of a Piece: Review of Pico Iyers’ Falling Off The Map

The name alone is enticing enough. It is the neatly packaged moniker which perfectly hooks the reader – in this case, me – who might be interested. I pointed at it for the boy minding the store. He labored out of his seat, and seeing what I was pointing at, said: “Do you really want to see it? Are you going to buy it? It’s really stuck in there; will be hard to get out. Why do you want it anyway?”

Looking for Shah Jalal

The avenue leading up to the mazaar was much wider than any other road I had yet seen in Sylhet. Cars were parked in a row along the middle of it as apposed to the side: it used a system of parking completely different than what I was used to. Stalls stood on both sides of the avenue, which gave the place the look of being more a peddler trap than the ascetic shrine the word mazaar conjured up in my mind.