Column: The Good Life: for Mint Lounge
Taj Wayanad and Environs
Wayanad symbolises all that is romantic about Kerala. The region’s fragrant musk turmeric or kasthuri manjal is supposed to restore skin but finding it isn’t that easy. I go on a trip with my mother to find out if we can snag this wonder root.
A taste of India on Australia’s Tweed Coast
A piece I wrote based on a visit to the Tweed Coast of Australia. I wonder why I hadn't heard of this place before. It is an hour north of Sydney, in New South Wales.
The Wine Geeks of Silicon Valley
Wine is a combination of history, geography, geology, people, chemistry, all resulting in a product that the ancient Greeks and Romans attributed to the God who was a giver of ecstasy: Bacchus and Dionysius.
Make Mozart and Beethoven rock for you
To become a connoisseur—of the arts, ideas, food, wine, languages, movies, sports, economics or history—is ultimately a selfish exercise. You begin because you cannot help yourself; because of an abiding interest, one that will not let you go. Digging deeper becomes self-perpetuating after a while: The more you know, the more you want to know. At some point, you reach a crest and flip over. Once you pass that stage, beautiful things happen. You will hear a snatch of a Bollywood song and be reminded of a symphony. You will make uncommon connections that are ultimately the gift and pleasure of learning something new. A butterfly’s flight will look like an adagio, which refers to slow tempo in music.
The dark and mysterious side of the moon
As the weather warms up, I have been sitting on the balcony and watching the moon at night. This one is about the moon, about Japan, and watching the sky.
Does your wardrobe make others pity you?
Does your wardrobe make others pity you? When I took my teenage daughter for her first trip to Mumbai, I was pretty expansive. Wherever you want to go; whatever you want to do, I offered. She had one word for me: Zara. Which was how I found myself at the Palladium Mall on two consecutive days, shopping and people-watching. Ever since I saw the movie, ‘Pretty Woman,’ luxury stores intimidate me. Remember that scene where Julia Roberts walks into a posh store on Rodeo Drive and the snooty saleswoman basically shooes her [...]
There is more to a name than you know
Today, I read in the paper about a chess prodigy whose name is 100% a result of numerology. I find this weird spelling names especially in Mumbai folks. Film stars....Ajay Devgn for instance. Another tangential remark is that I found a bunch of Mint columns that are not on this website. For comprehensiveness, I am slowly uploading them. Reading them.
Why isn’t Ahmedabad the seat of design?
I am visiting this 600-year-old city that Sultan Ahmed Shah founded, for the first time, and I love it. I didn’t expect to. Indians are funny that way. Each of us is intensely proud of the region we call home, and, truth be told, there is enough in each place to be proud of. Talk to a Goan and they will act as if the good life or Sussegado originated in Goa. Talk some more and it becomes hard to argue otherwise. Talk to a Tamilian and they will act as if culture begins and ends in Chennai. Visit Chennai in December and you will become convinced. Talk to a Bengali and they will make your head spin with their literary and intellectual allusions. All Bengalis think Kolkata is the center of the universe and once you get into the ‘adda’ mindset, you will feel the same way too. And now, Gujarat. Deep breath.
Your city determines how grumpy you are
Recently, I read a book called “The Geography of Bliss,” by Eric Weiner. In it, Weiner, a radio correspondent who calls himself a world-class “grump,” visits about a dozen cities around the world to answer what, to him, is a fundamental question: why are some places happier than others? Why, for example, do countries like Puerto Rico, Switzerland and Denmark score higher on the “happiness scale” than African countries like Burundi, Sierra Leone and Togo? Compiled by Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven, India scores a respectable 5.5 in this World Database of Happiness. So do Hungary, Russia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan. We score higher than the African countries with a score of 2.5, but much lower than the “happiest” countries of the world that score at least 8.0.
What luxury means in 2021
If you ask your mother or grandmother what their idea of luxury is, you will probably get an answer that’s a variation of one of these: “A double ikat Patan patola.” “A diamond addigai (necklace).” “A Kashmiri silk carpet or a shahtoosh.” “A Mughal miniature painting. Or a Srinathji pichwai.” “Listening to Sawai Gandharva on a full-moon night on the banks of the Ganga.” Indians of earlier generations know luxury in a visceral, sensual way. Every product I have mentioned above is hyper-localised, linked to region, personal history and provenance. Often, each of these luxury objects is made by an artist or craftsperson who has worked with the family to custom specifications. It is purchased for a high price by an aesthete who has been following the sector for generations. If that isn’t luxury shopping, what is?