Singapore through ‘Makan’ in India

Food is a national pastime for Singapore. Makan is culture, and as a former Singapore resident who studied and worked there- Singaporean/Malaysian cuisine is close to my heart, through the stomach. Where ever, I have lived in India or in the Gulf, i have always tried to search for food from the Nusantara. In Dubai- Streetary in Jumeirah Lake Towers area to the Asian Box at Lane 6 at Koregaon Park, Pune where the food is as authentic as it can get outside the region.

Nasi Lemak, Char Keow Tay to Dimsums made one feel in a good court in the Kopitiam in a cold Saturday evening here in Pune. The flavour palate and taste buds are a repository of memory. The engagement with Singapore is through food and CNA on YouTube as of now. Singapore educated me on a scholarship at NTU, gave work at NUS and made me the professional I am. My heart is still at the Block 708A Food Court in Clementi next to Sunset Way lah.

The Char Keow Tay as Bourdain mentioned is a meal originally meant for Chinese workers for breakfast as it is very heavy. The explosion of flavours which the flat noodle had brought out in my mouth transported me to a different reality sitting in an upmarket restaurant here in Pune. The dimsums were divine, the condiments were terrific. The Nasi Lemak was quite an ensemble, of flavours which was dense.

The meal for two was pocket friendly and left me emotional. Singapore is an emotion.


Where there are neon hoardings

A shadow lurks somewhere

What does the shadow say

Or is content with the obscure?

Is the neon shedding light to the street only

Or does it know the shadow too

The neon itself has a shadow inside no one knows


CAA is Different from NRC

NRC is perceived by a particular community as targeting them and as seen from the Assam experience can be a tool for othering. The issue with NRC is not that it is a tool for documentation, which in all countries is a legit exercise for allocating public goods but can be an instrument for fear as many Bengalis in Assam have taken their lives. Already people asking for identity proof renewals are being asked questions which were not asked before. This can create panic. Documentation is a reality the world over, although people can fall through those gaps. CAA is a law to support the persecuted. The secularism lens is pretty bogus there.

#ESG as a Connector

#ESG will connect the activist fringe to the boardroom. The climate zeitgeist is changing politics and that is the best solution  to have happened to environmental issues in a while. It is no longer in the Amazon Forest, it is rather in the backyard now along with disrupting supply chains, public health, resource quality and access and the vote at the ballot box.  The distant is imminent, and in the face. #ESG will be the analytical bridge interconnecting all these disconnected subject islands into an archipelago of cohesive action.  Access to climate finance to build climate resilient infrastructure embedding the #SDG indicators is the silver bullet. Every project shall need ESG data for the smart beta to grow value through value capture. ESG also needs to be translated on the  ground. #climatechange #esia #climatefinance

It’s time to teach Writing.

I have been reading the masters of writing such as Amitava Kumar, Amit Chaudhuri’ and Teju Cole to hone my writing. I have been writing since high school and always loved the craft. I never had an opportunity to attend a writing workshop or a MFA to formalise my craft.

As a trained ethnographic researcher, I have picked up some skills in the social sciences to translate it into writing. Fieldwork through the body as an instrument/site of osmosis, teaches me the fine texture of life, and the silences/articulations of the text, the culture and the politics of writing.

Where does the narrative go after the cacophony of the media, or journalistic writing as the first draft of history. What do we silence in our head, while amplifying another data point to craft our arguments ?

As a writer, where is my voice from all the research articles one reads to write an article, paper or a book proposal? Why don’t we teach critical thinking or creative writing at school or university where we need to converse every minute on email, text or a memo at the least. Whoever calls the future ‘post text’ is reading too many listicles and consuming meme’s.

Rest in Power The Sultan

The passing away of Sultan Qaboos has left many gasping for words. I have lived in Oman for more time than in any country, and Masqat is my home, even after my parents moved back after a quarter of a century there. His photo graced our living room for decades, and is a personality which has been an overwhelming presence in the lives of desi Masqatis. From Khasab to Salalah to Stone Town to Chabahar/Gwadar and many towns and cities across the world, this palpable loss would be dearly felt. I grew up singing the Royal Anthem in the Indian School in Darsait.

Although he was unwell for years, the country rejoiced every time he came back from treatment and prayed. The late Sultan was educated in India and the UK and served in the British Army in Germany. A renaissance man with a vision, he rebuilt the country. The Royal Opera House in Masqat is a monument to his cosmopolitan vision. May the country recover from this massive loss and move on to greater heights.

Gulf in Pune over Biryani

Jummah Dum Beryani. I consult for an Omani firm so Friday is an off as has always been having grown up in Muscat. Having it in an Irani Cafe in Pune which has become a personal favourite as well. There is a Gulf in South Asia as well, with trading links over the centuries. Pune has a big Arab/Iranian Student Diaspora which makes it a vital site for Gulf -South Asia Relationship. The recent tensions in the Middle East Impact thousands in South Asia too as remittances feed families back home. There are 8 million Indians in West Asia, and 40 billion dollars in remittances. More useful than the OCI card holder Liberal Arts Prof in a North American Campus.