Monday, June 14, 2010

The thrill of the long-list

Delighted! My piece on police brutality in India made the long-list in the Guardian International Development Journalism Contest. You can read ‘Killing India’s Poor With Impunity’ here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Birthday wishes to a blogger in prison


On her 26th birthday, Shiva Nazar Ahari, is in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Her birthday celebration happened thousands of miles away in London, outside the Amnesty International headquarters. At 1 pm on June 10th, Amnesty staff came together with cakes and candles to sing her a birthday song. At the end of it they yelled into the camera, with a message meant for the Iranian regime, “Release Shiva, NOW!”

Shiva is a journalist and blogger and a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR). She was first arrested in June last year for three months before being released on bail.

But she was re-arrested in December 2009 and has been in jail ever since. When her family spoke to her on the phone in February 2010 she told them that she had been transferred to a “cage-like” solitary confinement cell where she ‘couldn’t move her arms and legs.’

The charges against her are in keeping with the worst traditions of lunacy and insecurity that this Iranian regime displays. They include, “causing unease in the public mind through writing on the CHRR’s website and other sites” and the more predictable “acting against national security by participating in anti-government demonstrations” on 4th November and 7th December last year. Shiva says she was at work on both those days.

So today, from one female blogger to another – Happy Birthday! And more power to you in this fight.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Eavesdropping on marriage counsellors in the Tube

Its rare to overhear an interesting conversation on the tube. Most people either look preoccupied with the days business ahead or glum at the days business behind them. Or, of course, they read.

I wasn’t paying attention to the two women seated opposite me on the tube till they started saying something about marriage and babies. This sounded interesting. With my curiosity thus piqued, I fixed my eyes on the bottom half of page 92 in ‘The Age of Kali’ and began listening really hard.

The woman speaking, did so with tremendous authority; almost as if she was a marriage counsellor, operating a mobile service on the London Underground, dispensing little gems of advise to anyone in distress. The woman listening seemed to hang on to every word.

The marriage counsellor, and we'll just call her that, was a trim older woman in a printed skirt, red blouse and big black beads around her neck. She said, “Too many people live entirely for their children.”

(This was when, I stopped reading and started shamelessly eavesdropping.)

“Yes… yes…..”, said the younger one, a little uncertain but in agreement nonetheless.

“The women start living for the children and ignore their relationship with their husbands. The kids… they grow up and leave home and then the parents find that their relationship has a big gaping hole. Its suffered because they stopped paying attention to each other when in fact that is the most important relationship in your life!”

“Yes!”, said the younger woman, much more certain now.

“Don’t get me wrong. You obviously love your kids, but you actually spend most of your life with your husband.”

“And the kids are watching your relationship. They can see when it is strong and secure…. that you have your own life. And they take it forward into their relationships,” she continued.

“Children are a gift. You bring them into this world but you shouldn’t stop living your life.”

With that, unfortunately, we reached the last stop and the two walked off with the marriage counsellor still going strong.

* * *

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Travel Blog Launched!

Dear Readers,

I've just launched a separate travel blog because I felt this space was getting rather confused. One day I was writing about international affairs, the next day about my fear of birds and on the third about a trip to the Czech Republic. All very muddled. Thats how the idea of a separate travel blog was born.

Besides, I've been wanting to switch to Wordpress for a long time... well ever since I heard it works much better than Blogger. Initial impressions confirm the same. This blog will continue to remain active and everytime I post to the travel blog, I'll be sure to direct you there. For now, hurry on to!

Friday, June 04, 2010


I've been feeling terribly guilty about not updating my blog more often. I will be back.