Life on a Finnish Island

There we were, the three of us: Vera, her daughter and I. The sauna was as unlike anything that you’ll find assembled in India: it looked rough and hand-made, and would have looked completely out of place in a spa at a five star hotel anywhere in our country. It was ten metres from the…

Food and War in Sri Lanka

The best way of starting a war in Sri Lanka, is to ask a group of housewives the exact recipe of curry powder. It’s something that every kitchen on the island contains, because it goes into a wide variety of dishes. But, as I found out soon enough, it’s akin to asking a bunch of…

On a coffee estate in Coorg

The lunch that was hosted by Sagar and Kavita Muthappa at their well-appointed estate bungalow served as a house-warming for the Muthappa’s family and friends. Coorgs or Kodavas (“But please don’t go calling us Coorgis!” Sagar Muthappa warns me, mock-threateningly) are a close-knit community, with members of each extended family thinking up excuses for periodic…

With love, for Kashmir

I was delighted when a shopkeeper in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul called me Hema Malini. Not, I hasten to add, because I am a fan of that actress, nor indeed because I have any pretensions of looking like a star, but because it was one more point to chalk up on my ‘Kashmir’ board.…