An old family photo, and an older family photo

My lineage, as far back as we have photos

My Indian lineage, as far back as we have photos

Five-and-a-half years ago, I took this photo of two photos. The mini-collage hung on the wall in my grandparents’ flat in Nigdi, Pune.

I had taken a semester off from school a second time to go back to India, for three weeks with Mom and Sis and an additional eight on my own. Much of that trip was spent wrestling with my father’s death a little more than a year before.

At the bottom of the cut-out photo, that’s a 10-year-old me, with Dad right above. And directly above 42-year-old him, in the black-and-white still, the boy with the hesitant look, that’s Dad again, also about age 10, with his parents, six brothers, one sister and a sister-in-law.

He died seven years ago today.

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I’m not kidding. I think I’ve fallen in love.

My lady, my goddess, my love

My lady, my goddess, my love

I’m not gonna lie. I have a problem. Call it an addiction. Or better yet, an obsession.

Since moving to Delhi, I have fallen, and fallen hard, for the chicken tikka roll.

Grilled skewers of marinated chicken with sliced red onions and masala wrapped in romali roti. It practically haunts my dreams.

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The other side of Mumbai

The human traffic on Mumbai roads

The human traffic on Mumbai roads

India’s economic development is evident in the high rises of Mumbai, the Western stores, the fashions, the clubs, the growing comforts of the middle class, the increasing number of cars on the road, the jobs, the development of tech hubs, the improvements in infrastructure. The idea of “India Rising” has become almost a cliche catchphrase.

The World Economic Forum here in Delhi trumpeted high growth rates and continued economic expansion; a new India is indeed flexing her muscle globally.

But there remains a major question about just how much of that trickles down to the other half (or truthfully vast majority) that still lives on less than a dollar or two a day.

A poignant reminder, as I cruised the streets of Mumbai: a brother and sister begging from motorists at a stop light. The sister never looked up; she just murmured and held out a hand. A man, presumably their father, barefoot and covered in burns, asked for alms a few cars up.

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Nothing like a little sea breeze in your face

drivesea

The ocean at Mumbai from the back of a Harley Davidson

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New India knows how to party

harleyparty

Tote, at Mahalaxmi Racecourse

I went to an American product launch party in Mumbai this weekend, for an assignment that deals with India’s economic ascension. I’m not giving more details, in part because I’m still chasing this story.

But you get an idea of a high-end Mumbai shindig and India’s new money.

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The end of Bombay? Or the beginning of a new chapter?

I'll let you decide what the tagger means...

I'll let you decide what the tagger means.

Mumbai is India’s cosmopolitan, metropolitan First City. Delhi is the country’s Washington, D.C., but Bombay (as Mumbai was formerly named) is New York.

I’d argue that nowhere are India’s economic development and cultural changes more evident than in Mumbai. It showcases the new India — modern, Western, affluent, influential — morphing out of the old India — impoverished, chaotic, colorful, British.

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Taking off the headphones

I spend a lot of time listening to music — from Decemberists to Blackalicious to James Blunt to Dispatch. I have noise-blocking headphones, so I can usually tune out the din of Delhi, and in particular, the city’s carsmotorcyclestrucksscooters whose drivers honk incessantly.

But every now and then, something breaks my reverie. Usually, I’m annoyed at the loud offender. Not so, yesterday at Lodi Gardens, when I was pleasantly interrupted by a chorus of birds at dusk chattering in a bamboo grove.

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Hit Play

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Here, kitty, kitty, kitty… (photo)

My best safari photo

My best and favorite safari photo

I’ve been editing more photos from several days spent in and around the Maasai Mara.

This leopard was close enough that it could have eaten me (or at least nibbled for while) if it had wanted.

Sammy Mwai, our safari driver, was very good and put us directly in the big cat’s path.

F5.8, 1/200th of a second, ISO 100.

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Multimedia re-cut: Tourism, friend or foe to Maasai facing drought?

You haven’t watched this one yet. Re-cut and reposted with new audio, photos and narration to make it better, faster, stronger. Longer, too.

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Of drums and elephants

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elephants1

The wedding party breaks up

On a recent evening while I was transcribing in my room, drums exploded outside my window (hit play above). They echoed through the neighborhood here at Tutti Chowk, Paharganj, and by the time I got down to the street, what I believe was a marriage procession had turned down enough alleys that I couldn’t find the drum gang and only heard the banging in the distance.

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