When I needed to find a local actor in Delhi to play Vish Puri, I called a veteran film director friend of mine. Arun assured me that finding a suitable amateur thespian wouldn’t pose a problem. “Gentlemen of that build are not hard to come by in these parts,” he said. In the event, only a few candidates came forward. The most suitable was Mr. Ashok Bajaj. His ‘manager’, who I suspect was his nephew, assured me that Mr. Bajaj was a big thing in Haryana soap opera (Haryana being a state abutting Delhi with a TV industry that enjoys huge audiences, though the production standards have room for improvement). There was just one thing Mr Bajaj was missing: a […]
My Sunday Times review of Koh-i-Noor The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand You’ll find the original here. The file in the foreign office containing international claims to ownership of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, the “Mountain of Light”, has been growing thicker of late. In 2015 alone, a consortium of Indian businessmen and Bollywood glitterati threatened legal action if the diamond wasn’t removed from its display case in the Tower of London and handed over to their country. In Pakistan, a certain Mr Jaffrey, after writing dozens of letters to the Queen claiming the priceless gem for his homeland, finally approached the High Court in the city of Lahore for help. And the Taliban announced […]
Read my three-part series on the challenges facing India as its population growth continues unfettered here.
My latest review in the Sunday Times is of Sam Miller’s “A Strange Kind of Paradise: India Through Foreign Eyes”. You’ll find the original here. Or here’s the text. A Strange Kind of Paradise India Through Foreign Eyes by Sam Miller Cape £18.99/ebook £9.99 pp421 Ringo Starr couldn’t stomach Indian food. In 1968 he arrived with his fellow Beatles at the Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh in northern India lugging a suitcase of Heinz baked beans. Paul McCartney’s reaction to India’s poverty was “stoical” — he insisted that handouts to beggars were not the answer. George Harrison was instantly enamoured of the culture, and referred to naked sadhus in the holy city of Varanasi as “really spiritual”. After the Maharishi made a […]
Piers Moore Ede of Indiaphile.com interviewed me recently and also wrote a short, very complimentary review of the Vish Puriseries. You can read it here. But also check out the site. It has some great features.