Time Magazine

I did a number of pieces for Time magazine. Here they are.
You can also find them at the Time magazine Search site here

The Parent Trap
By Shoba Narayan May 31, 2007
How do you warn your kids about child predators without sacrificing their innocence?

Being Mohandas
By Shoba Narayan Apr 12, 2007
A new biography on Gandhi provides a tantalizing glimpse into the man inside the saint

Building a Greener World: Architects: Natasha Iype and Jeeth Iype
By Shoba Narayan Apr 27, 2007
In India, building green can mean promoting a return to traditional living arrangements
| view cover

The Oil Boom
By Shoba Narayan Jun 24, 2005
Forget the Med. Some of the world’s best olive oil comes from farther south

Whey to Go
By Shoba Narayan Apr 16, 2005
New Zealand’s cheesemakers have lifted their game

Time Traveler
By Shoba Narayan Apr 16, 2005
Waterworld. Like Eleanor, you’ll fall for this rainforest marvel

Malaysian Sensation
By Shoba Narayan Apr 04, 2005
The new Four Seasons Langkawi brims with local flavors

Amuse Bouche: Food Fight
By Shoba Narayan Feb 20, 2005
Singapore helped kick-start fusion cuisine—now it leads the backlash

Amuse Bouche
By Shoba Narayan Aug 16, 2004
Their Daily Bread: When in Turkey, try some gozleme

Nothing Doing
By Shoba Narayan Apr 12, 2007
At Maia, it’s all sleep, eat, spa, sleep

Cruise Control
By Shoba Narayan Mar 01, 2007
Small liners and private charters allow you to sail Asian waters in sedate style

India’s Lust for Luxe
By Shoba Narayan Apr 03, 2006
India’s nouveaux riches are spending like never before, and high-end retailers from Hermès to Tiffany are eager to oblige

Thread Of Hope
By Shoba Narayan Feb 09, 2006
Indian weavers say they have a wearable cure for skin ailments

Game Show
By Shoba Narayan Oct 30, 2005
African game lodges are modernizing their act

The Smell Of Success
By Shoba Narayan Sep 04, 2005
Slick restaurants are mushrooming in the Indian boomtown of Bangalore

Hidden Gem
By Shoba Narayan Mar 14, 2005
Hard bargaining for precious stones in Santiago

The Reds Are Coming
By Shoba Narayan Feb 07, 2005
N.Z.’s white wines are popular, but the other sort are the ones to watch

Their Daily Bread
By Shoba Narayan Aug 15, 2004
Preparing gozleme the traditional way

Christmas in the Maldives

Christmas in the Maldives
I spent Christmas in the Maldives which is sort of surreal for someone who has spent the last 15 years enjoying a white (or gray) Christmas in the Northeast. The Maldives is a toy country, a group of atolls really which is geography-speak for tiny islands speckled across the Indian Ocean. The capital, Male has around 70,000 people and is about the size of say, JFK. The people are mostly Muslim but progressive and the streets are orderly and clean. Most tourists however don’t even touch Male. They get into a speedboat and go directly to their resort.

There are resorts aplenty here, catering to every budget, lifestyle and language. Some are 98% Italian, others are favored by the Brits or Germans and some are diving havens. The rates too swing wildly. Paradise Island charges $275 a night even during Christmas time. At the other end are the Soneva Fushi and Gili, the Taj Exotica, the One & Only Reethi Rah and the Four Seasons, which charge over $1500 per night during Christmas season.

I stayed at the Taj Exotica because some European friends who were to join us insisted on it. They had heard that the resort served spectacular Indian dishes. The Malabar prawn curry was a particular favorite as was the zesty Pav-bhaji, which is Indian street-food but thankfully, still tasty in its five-star version. The menu however isn’t all Indian. Besides a couple of dishes, you can get everything from sushi to steak.

When I heard about the rates that the high-end resorts charged, my Socialist sentiments were outraged. But after I spent a few days at the Exotica, I can sort of understand why. I am not justifying anything here but consider. Every single thing in the resort is imported. The Frette linens come from Europe; the organic teabags come from the Seattle Tea Company; the Punch coffee is from Papua New Guinea; the jams are from Tasmania; the produce from Australia; the china is from England and the wine glasses from Germany. Getting the best stuff from all over the world is what luxury hotels do, of course, but most luxury hotels are not set in a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. I asked our waiter what they would do if the Riedel glasses broke or if the ship carrying Tasmanian jams was cancelled. He gave a strained smile and said that their current watermelon crisis was an example. The watermelons hadn’t arrived from Australia and so fresh watermelon juice had to be taken off the breakfast menu. They could only offer carrot, papaya, orange and apple.

We had dinner one night at The Deep End, the Taj’s in-house Mediterranean fine-dining restaurant. The Deep End is new, recently opened after the tsunami. Tables encircle an open hole in the middle which allows you to see the water as you dine. My friends loved the octopus, lobster and reef fish dishes. I enjoyed the champagne risotto with shaved truffles. The wine list, though pricey, would put a London restaurant to shame. When we playfully asked for the Petrus, the sommelier told us that he had just sold it to the neighboring table. Apparently, the English gentleman who was entertaining a large party had asked for a Burgundy. When told that they were out of it, he said, “Oh, then bring me the Petrus instead.” The sommelier still seemed stunned by the whole encounter. They were selling the Petrus was $2500, he said, and the original Burgundy that the gentleman had asked for was a mere $200. Such are the ways and vagaries of the super-rich, I guess.

The Balinese massage at the Taj Exotica in Maldives was okay—nothing special—but the setting was spectacular. I’ve had beach massages in Kerala and the sound of lapping waves while your body is being slapped and swaddled induces, shall we say, somnolence. The Jiva spa gets many things right but not all. The masseuse washes your feet in the beginning and then leaves you cold to get into the massage table. I think spa professionals should be trained to treat every guest as a baby or an invalid– guiding them to the massage table, helping them disrobe, handing them a robe and gently laying them down on the table. The spa at the Oriental, Singapore does this, by the way. Another simple thing is to put a bowl of flowers below the massage table so that when you lying face-down, you have something pleasant to look at. But then busy professionals might ask for a blown-up screen of their Blackberry to multi-task while getting a massage.