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Cutting for stone; the jali in India
Cutting for stone; the jali in India
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Available Episodes

EPISODE 254

"If you look at late 19th century photographs or sketches of Delhi, it is empty and treeless. It's a historical fact that the city's greenery has come with the development of urban ... Read more

"If you look at late 19th century photographs or sketches of Delhi, it is empty and treeless. It's a historical fact that the city's greenery has come with the development of urban settlements... My favourite Delhi garden is Sundar Nursery because there are always new trees to discover there" – Swapna Liddle and Madhulika Liddle, co-authors of Gardens of Delhi talk to Manjula Narayan about the capital's wonderful green oases from Lodhi Garden and Qudsia Bagh to Buddha Jayanti Park and The Garden of Five Senses, among many others. Read more

EPISODE 253

"Social comedy usually has a very short span because it gets dated. For people to laugh at the same silly jokes, for social comedy to survive means that it's hit some enduring spot ... Read more

"Social comedy usually has a very short span because it gets dated. For people to laugh at the same silly jokes, for social comedy to survive means that it's hit some enduring spot. I was trying to write a literary novel. It was a take on the Gothic novel and was about the relationship between Paro and Priya. In a way, Paro was Rebecca (in the eponymous novel by Daphe du Maurier), the beautiful and ruthless woman, and Priya was the archetypal counterpart, the woman who is more discreet and strategic perhaps, one who is more cunning and at the same time entranced by the freedom that someone like Paro represents. When it first came out, it got great reviews outside India but the Indian literary establishment spat at it. It took me by surprise how much they hated the book. I realise now that they hated it because it did not fit their idea of the exalted role of English literature. This was not the language of the rulers; it was the language of the users, the people who use English every day. They just didn't get it." - Namita Gokhale talks to Manjula Narayan about her first novel, Paro; Dreams of Passion, that's just been issued as a Penguin Modern Classic Read more

EPISODE 252

"As a writer and art critic Rudolf von Leyden was able to mentor artists in a certain capacity but for artists to live, to sustain a life as an artist, they need to sell their work ... Read more

"As a writer and art critic Rudolf von Leyden was able to mentor artists in a certain capacity but for artists to live, to sustain a life as an artist, they need to sell their work. They need patrons. Because of his corporate job, Rudi was able to support the work of the artists he liked – Ara, Husain, Hebber, Souza, Raza of the Progressive Artists Group" - Reema Desai Gehi, author, 'The Catalyst; Rudolf Von Leyden and India's Artistic Awakening' talks to Manjula Narayan about the man who promoted some of India's most eminent artists of the post Independence era, helped them through tough times and ensured they continued to produce great art. Read more

EPISODE 251

"You can't leave caste behind but you can change religion so why won't you get attracted to another religion for whatever reasons? We are now paying too much attention to religious ... Read more

"You can't leave caste behind but you can change religion so why won't you get attracted to another religion for whatever reasons? We are now paying too much attention to religious conversions. There are so many histories which run parallel within this one big history of the country and that's what makes the nation" - Nusrat F Jafri, author, 'This Land We Call Home' weaves the history of her family – her Bhantu maternal great grandparents who became Methodists, her grandparents who were Catholic, and her Shia Muslim parents – with that of India during the colonial period, the post Independence era and right down to the present, to present a view of a nation in flux. Read more

EPISODE 250

"In 2010, I totally got wedded to Indian aesthetics. I decided to view art through the lens of the rasa theory. I went back to the Natya Shastra because that is where it all starts ... Read more

"In 2010, I totally got wedded to Indian aesthetics. I decided to view art through the lens of the rasa theory. I went back to the Natya Shastra because that is where it all starts. When I look at art, I find a sense of immediacy, through emotion, through rasa. When you look at the work of Manjit Bawa or Swaminathan or Raza, our great modernists, why are they all still so relevant? Raza's way of looking at abstraction came from very Indic principles. From Raja Ravi Varma and Amrita Sher Gill to contemporary artists, there is an unbroken tradition. You see it even in our digital art. In India, the parallel trajectories of tradition, modernity and the contemporary are still continuing. We can't have a break with the past. Our traditions and roots are still present" - Alka Pande, author, '108 Portraits of Indian Modern and Contemporary Art' talks to Manjula Narayan on the Books & Authors podcast about being rooted in Indian aesthetics, new developments in Indian art, the role of the artist as a catalyst and a conscience keeper, museums as the new patrons and more Read more

EPISODE 249

"The mytho-epic imagination is an integral part of the structure of our culture. The religious character of the mytho-epic imagination in the Indian subcontinent provides a shared ... Read more

"The mytho-epic imagination is an integral part of the structure of our culture. The religious character of the mytho-epic imagination in the Indian subcontinent provides a shared collective unconscious," Manoj Kumar Jena, editor, 'Ways of Being Indian; Essays on Religion, Gender and Culture' talks to Manjula Narayan about the country's cultural diversity, death rituals, ways of mourning and the shift to public and shared mourning online, changes in matriliny among the Khasis, ideas of masculinity and the male sex worker, the African diaspora in India, and discrimination against queer individuals despite the recognition of other genders in ancient texts among other fascinating subjects that form the focus of this book. Read more

EPISODE 248

"The history of tourism is intricately connected to colonialism. Travel writing is a direct descendent of colonial exploratory writing and even today, modern tourism has that DNA. ... Read more

"The history of tourism is intricately connected to colonialism. Travel writing is a direct descendent of colonial exploratory writing and even today, modern tourism has that DNA. Modern tourism, in its internal logic, has a colonial gaze. This idea of "discovering" other places is built into the idea of why we travel" - Shahnaz Habib, author, 'Airplane Mode; A Passive Aggressive History of Travel' talks to Manjula Narayan about everything from wanderlust as consumerism in another form, vacations and the history of work, and medieval Ethiopia to former colonisers sheltering their citizens from their own history of violence and plunder, and how travel is now about the Fear of Missing Out Read more

EPISODE 247

"Stories leave a deep impact on how our thinking is shaped. These stories are challenging some very traditional ideas that still exist heavily in society. There is a power in terri ... Read more

"Stories leave a deep impact on how our thinking is shaped. These stories are challenging some very traditional ideas that still exist heavily in society. There is a power in terrible representations. Somehow, we have representations where the disabled woman is a burden to family, to society, and to her partner. As a teenager you think, "Oh, somebody will have to sacrifice a lot to fall in love with me". Then, the more you grow and learn about yourself, you're like, 'What are these ridiculous representations?' It's almost like how we do funny representations of aliens!" - Nidhi Ashok Goyal, editor, 'And They Lived...Ever After; Disabled Women Retell Fairy Tales' talks to Manjula Narayan about the discrimination and simultaneous ungendering that disabled women face, being infantalised, the fatigue of sensitisation, the neglect and isolation that are often everyday experiences, and the great power of stories to change how people think about themselves and others. Read more

EPISODE 246

"Villages are complicated entities. There's always a power game. Now, money values have come in and villages are also changing. The lives between the village and the city are start ... Read more

"Villages are complicated entities. There's always a power game. Now, money values have come in and villages are also changing. The lives between the village and the city are starting to merge. I don't know what that means for the country. Villages and cities are both equally important for us. Some kind of continuity is what the village offers. People who live in villages and don't want to move or change may have something to tell us in the long run" - Mamang Dai, author, 'In Search of the Indian Village', talks to Manjula Narayan about the powerful stories of OV Vijayan and Mahashweta Devi, the writings of Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar on rural settlements, and the place of the village in the Indian imagination on the Books & Authors podcast. Read more

EPISODE 245

"While we must read histories produced by historians who have different perspectives on the past, it is very important not to get trapped in any particular ideological framework. F ... Read more

"While we must read histories produced by historians who have different perspectives on the past, it is very important not to get trapped in any particular ideological framework. For me, it is important to move beyond them" - Upinder Singh, author, 'A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India', talks to Manjula Narayan on the Books & Authors podcast on everything from the implausibility of the Aryan invasion theory and the place of forests and their inhabitants in the political history of ancient India to the Harappan script, war elephants, the faulty periodization of Indian history and more. Read more

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