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My 5 favourite podcasts this holiday season

Winter, even without the cold, is a special time of the year. As a kid in Delhi, the months from October through December were rife with family birthdays, anniversaries, Diwali, Children's Day, annual visits from our grandparents, and Christmas – all of which involved food and cake and people. It's different now; I've moved away, and things changed, but the seasonal feeling of warmth and cosiness and taking stock of the year remains. I'm going to start watching and reading and baking Christmas-y things soon, but this year, there's one more thing I'm adding to the traditions: uplifting podcasts. I'm new to this. For some inexplicable reason, I had never listened to a podcast until a couple of months ago, when I read on a friend's blog that she uses them to brighten up her chores. Cooking and cleaning can be repetitive and dull, and though I sometimes listen to music or make a call while doing them, it always felt like they were taking too long. But storie

A Goan monsoon sequel

One year ago, we escaped from the craziness of Mumbai to the rains of south Goa – my second visit, and second monsoon there . The trip was a pastiche of our interests, from architecture and long walks to distilleries and bakeries, with a few (mis)adventures and changes of plans (for the better) thrown in.    Beaches look very different in this season. My favourites were a private beach in Varca and the small beach at Cavelossim, where I largely loitered taking photos of creatures and people.  I spied bright blue things amid the shells, which I later discovered were called blue buttons, with the scientific name Porpita porpita . I've never encountered them before, though admittedly I've been to relatively few beaches in my three decades of existence. There were so many in some places that a whole part of the beach appeared blue. I didn't get too close  – instinct told me otherwise – but found this discovery quite fascinating.   One of the highlights was the Paul John whi

Revival

At the beginning of the lockdown – well, at the beginning of the year, really – one of my goals was to write more. In the last few years, since I started working in editorial teams of various publications and organisations, I've had limited control over what I write. And when there's time left over, writing is the last thing I want to do. Yet I know that I should, and that it makes me feel better when I write for myself.  The way I think about blogging has changed too. I have themes, essays in mind, long-form writing that is still personal but not random or rambly, but it seems too daunting when (and if) the time comes. I'm not sure when this shift happened, but perhaps social media has something to do with it – Instagram sometimes feels like a micro-blog, and why post on a blog that very few people read and which requires more time if you can share quick texts (and watered-down images) on a platform that gets instant responses? But it isn't as satisfying, and I'm t

The botanical imagination (excerpt)

I was recently commissioned by the Serendipity Arts Foundation in India to write an essay for their platform Write | Art | Connect on the theme " ex natura " and intersections between art and science in a South Asian context. After researching a bit, I thought something on botanical art might be interesting – I didn't know a whole lot about it, but I was thinking of Anna Atkins and found some interesting contemporary artists using these motifs and ideas in their work. It was also around this time that I visited the exhibition Osmosis at TARQ Mumbai, and here I came across the work of Samanta Batra Mehta, which tied in nicely with my theme. Below is an excerpt from my essay, published on Art | Write | Connect  on 25 September 2019. Samanta Batra Mehta, Return to the Garden, 2019, ink drawings made with hand-dipped stylus, vintage/antiquarian photographs, book pages, map (20 parts), installation variable, approx. 75 x 75 inches. Photo courtesy the artist and TARQ, Mumbai I

Stepping into the past in Chunar

In February 2016, my grandmother and I went on a long train journey. It was dark and uncomfortable, and at one point there were cockroaches on me and I read fan-fiction to forget them. View this post on Instagram Train view...15ish hours ago. Still not arrived at our destination 😒 #India #travel #journey #train A post shared by Kriti Bajaj (@kritibajaj21) on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:18am PST Eventually, though, our train made a one-minute stop at our destination at 4 a.m., and we hopped out into the extreme cold. A frigid auto ride later, we were in the warm glow of my great aunt's living room, sipping coffee and eating plum cake. This was the first time that someone called me "my girl." I like to think that this was where it all really began . I had always been curious about the place where my grandmother would disappear to once a year, the place where my mother used to pluck fruits from trees during s

On the road: 10 hours

On 29 December 2019, a fine Saturday morning, we drove to Panchgani, the land of strawberries. We started before the sun came up, and I diligently selected one photograph to represent every hour from 7 am to 5 pm.  The first hour was an orange sunrise amid butterfly street lights, and the second was a brief blue pause.  The third hour was a commercial breakfast, the fourth barely picturesque.  By the fifth hour, I was struggling to find subjects to photograph, but there was a lake to drive by.  In the sixth hour, we were thwarted for a while near our destination by a broken down bus,  And in the seventh hour we made it to our container-room.  The eighth and ninth hour were lunch and then dessert overlooking a strawberry field.  The tenth hour was a vision.