William Dalrymple on Benazir Bhutto

William Dalrymple, travel writer, historian and sharp observer of South Asia, has written an excellent piece on Benazir Bhutto for the Guardian: Pakistan's flawed and feudal princess -- take a look at the very interesting comments as well.

A Glimpse of Kalakshetra in the Seventies

I just read a terrific article by a woman who studied bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra in the seventies -- as I did: Sleeping With Movie Stars, by Gitanjali Kolanad. My experiences were not exactly the same (I didn't sleep with any movie stars, for example), but she made me remember that time and place very vividly.

I also admired the dancer who played Lakshman, though I never tried to do anything about it. I also remember Rukmani Devi saying that a dancer is a dancer not only in class or on stage, but always... although I haven't benefited much from that piece of wisdom. Small kids called out 'vellakarchi' ('white girl') when I passed, as they did to her. I thought I might die before I completed the 'tat adavu' ...

Thanks to India Outside My Window for the link.

Chennai Superstars

This is hilarious -- it's a TV ad for the new Indian Cricket League, for the Chennai team. It's a spoof on the superpowers of Tamil film superstars. Thanks, Viji!


Last night I went into the kitchen. As I turned on the light a big bandicoot came out from under a counter and appeared to be charging at me. Though it might have been trying to get out of sight. But still. I uttered a kind of groaning sound and ran, or walked very fast, back through the dining room and into the drawing room where R was doing Sudoku. I said dramatically, "There's a big bandicoot in the kitchen!" He looked up briefly, said, "Go call Mary," and went back to the puzzle.

I went out back to Mary's room and apologetically woke her up. She got up enthusiastically, though, and grabbed a mopstick, hoping for a chance to bash the rat. We went inside together, I strewed poison cakes around, she tapped everything with the stick, but nothing emerged. Mary went back to bed and I returned to R.

He looked up again and said, "What happened?" I told him, and he said, "So, did it hiss at you?" "What??" "The little chuchunders don't hiss, but the big ones, if you turn on them they'll open their mouths." I said, "I didn't turn on it, I ran in the other direction." He gave a condescending laugh: ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. So I did the same to him: ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

In the night I dreamed that the Mongol hordes had come and were rampaging around upstairs, while we cowered in a small room. I had a bunch of very knobby, odd-looking jewelry, which I concealed about my person -- not a good idea, probably, with hordes of any kind. Eventually they left.

In the morning I came downstairs. A pipe that had been blocked was now wide open -- the bandicoot had discovered it somehow, and chewed through the blocking material, and escaped. I stood with Mary and Lakshmi, pondering over the giant droppings, sharing details of the exciting story, and wondering how the thing had gotten into the house in the first place.

Here endeth the wildlife story of the day.


Eating/admiring cape gooseberries ('geuzbrees'). Orange/green/yellow gleaming spheres enclosed in veined onionskin paper. Sweet-sour. Sweet.