Sandip Roy

There are ten official plagues in Exodus: Gods and Kings. But there’s an eleventh unofficial one plaguing the Ridley Scott film.  The Nile might have turned red in the Bible but the cast in the film has turned white. And that’s no visual effect.

  In a village in northern Bengal there are no silver bells or cockle shells. But there are pretty maids all in a row. Some 50,000 of them including 17-year-old Monica Burman. She grows bottle gourds, spinach, hyacinth beans. But this is no ordinary kitchen garden. It’s drawn the attention of an Oscar winning filmmaker Megan Mylan.

She won an Oscar for a short documentary called Smile Pinki the same year Slumdog Millionare swept the awards.  Her new short film "After My Garden Grows" brings her back to India.

Sandip Roy met Mylan and Monica at a hotel in Bengal.

In America, Sandip discovered coma-inducing lunches of all you can eat chicken tikka masala, saag paneer and naan for just 9.99. 

Well, what goes around comes around. The great American-Indian buffet has come - to India - with a vengeance.  

This post first appeared on Nov. 14, 2012

Nov. 19 is World Toilet Day, And India leads the world in open defecation. Over 630 MILLION Indians lack toilets. 65 pecent of villagers defectate in the open. For over 40 years one man has been leading a sort of toilet crusade in India. Sandip Roy spoke with Dr. Bindeswar Pathak, the toilet missionary.

Sandip Roy: Dear Rahul

Nov 12, 2014

The US Congress is now in Republican control. Pundits wonder what that implies for contentious issues like immigration reform, the war in the Middle East, and Supreme Court judges. But some in India are wondering whether it’s going to hold up the confirmation of the new American ambassador to India. 

Rahul Richard Verma would be the first Indian American to be Ambassador to India. Sandip Roy channels the thoughts of ohh... about a  billion Indians.

Sandip Roy: Upaj

Nov 5, 2014

One dances dances in tap shoes.

The other on bare feet with bells tied to his ankles.

One danced on Sesame Street. The other comes from the streets of Calcutta

When they started performing together one was 26, the other 62.

One is New York’s Jason Samuels Smith.  The other is Bay Area’s Pandit Chitresh Das.

 

Sandip Roy looks at the story behind "Upaj."

  Sandip Roy tries to call his mother, but it proves to be more challenging than one would expect.

oxfordsikhs.com

It's Diwali this week and that means India is lit up like a Christmas tree.  Diwali is often described as an Indian Christmas and New Year rolled into one. Just supersized and made whole lot louder.

And I'm not kidding, when millions of people burst firecrackers together it means  your options are limited – join in, go deaf or invest in a good pair of ear plugs.

First Post

 

Even as the armies of India and Pakistan talk tough and lob shells at each other across the border, the Nobel Peace Prize committee decided to do their version of marriage counseling.

A joint Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi – a Pakistani and an Indian. Now if that doesn’t embarrass the two belligerent armies into a ceasefire, what can?

Some 60 widows in white saris from the town of Vrindavan made thier way to Kolkata for the festival of the Goddess Durga.
Something many of them have not seen in decades. Sandip Roy went with them.

India's Mangalyaan orbiter has reached Mars, but the mission means as much for the women of India as it does for science.

Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust

Scotland  will not be independent just yet. Great  Britain will be held together by Scotch tape. But thousands of miles  from Edinburgh in the heart of Kolkata there remains a piece of land that is indisputably Scottish.

It’s a relic of the British Raj. But it is the SCOTTISH cemetery.  

Sandip Roy

Every time we hear about Jews and Arabs it’s usually a story about conflict – about suicide bombs and land occupation and historical hostility. But the first time Sandip Roy went to a synagogue in Kolkata he found something odd. Muslim caretakers of Jewish synagogues. Generations of them.

Ashok Sinha

A Jewish museum just opened in Kolkata. Not a brick and mortar museum. There are only some 20 plus Jews left in Kolkata. 

But Jael Silliman, with the help of a Nehru Fulbright scholarship she’s the brains behind Jewishcalcutta.in, the first digital archive of Calcutta’s vibrant Jewish history.  

Rice Bucket Challenge Facebook page

Journalist Manju Latha Kalanidhi in the city of Hyderabad. Says the ice bucket challenge left her cold. Kalanidhi, who works for a rice research website decided instead of aping the Ice Bucket challenge, she could do something a little more Indian and a little less wasteful.

She came up with the Rice Bucket challenge. Take some rice. Give it to a needy person. And challenge your friends to do the same.
Sandip Roy investigates the latest social media challenge and finds out what all this 'Rice' is about.   

The Twitter account "RushdieExplainsIndia" has attracted 13,000 followers in a very short time. However it isn't owned by Salman Rushdie, but by Rohit Chopra. Sandip Roy asks Mr. Chopra to explain "RushdieExplainsIndia."

webneel.com

Sandip Roy's Dispatch from Kolkata  for Aug. 20, 2014: the anniversary of Indian Independence Day was Aug. 15th. Sandip Roy reflects on the meaning, and sound, of India old and new.

Sandip Roy discovers the long lost sounds of Indian, visiting the Archive of Indian Music

 

(This is a rebroadcast, as Sandip Roy's Producer is off for two weeks to have a baby. A new Dispatch will be sent on Aug. 20th)

Sachin Soni

(Sandip Roy's Producer is off for two weeks to have a baby. A new Dispatch will be sent on Aug. 20th)

Once if you owned a car in India, chances are it was an Ambassador car.  Rotund and roomy, it’s been described as a bowler hat on wheels – it could easily fit four adults, five kids, a dog, and some picnic hampers. It was the 'everyman car' and it's making into its last slow cruise around the block.

Marzena Pogorzaly

A recent tongue-in-cheek blog post on the website Publishing Perspectives listed some 17 must-haves in diasporan South Asian fiction published in the west – arranged marriage, identity crisis, wise grandma, abusive father, colorful fabrics. Writer Prajwal Parajuly says his book The Gurkha’s Daughter checks some of those boxes....

Sandip Roy's Dispatch for July 23 2014: The Archie comic book character is as American as it gets. But in July of 2014 (Issue No. 36 of "Life With Archie") Archie dies. His death reverberates all the way around the globe to Kolkata, India.

Sandip Roy

July 16, 2014: Monsoon has always been the most important season in India - whether it's from the point of view of the economy or the Bollywood rain dance. But coming back to India after years in America, Sandip Roy finds the memories of monsoons past don't always live up to the realities of monsoons present.

This post originally appeared July 23, 2014. Mr. Roy will return with a new post next week.
 

Sandip Roy

July 9, 2014: World Cup fever is infecting the entire world... including Kolkata, India!  

July 2, 2014: R.D. Burman would have turned 75 last week and Bollywood threw a great birthday bash. 

Sandip and Kronos Quartet violinist David Harrington remember the great Burman.

Sachin Soni

 

June 25, 2014: Once if you owned a car in India, chances are it was an Ambassador car.  Rotund and roomy, it’s been described as a bowler hat on wheels – it could easily fit four adults, five kids, a dog, and some picnic hampers. It was the 'everyman car' and the Ambassador is making its last slow cruise around the block.

In May 2014 Narendra Modi was elected the Prime Minister of India. His sweeping victory made for a watershed election in India. But unexpectedly the reverberations of that election are being felt all the way over in Sunnyvale, California.

Coolie Woman

Jun 11, 2014

When it comes to women going out by themselves in India, Gaiutra Bahadur comes from a family where the bar was set pretty high.

Bahadur's Grandmother was a "Coolie woman."  

Last week India was shocked by a picture that looked ripped out of the American south from decades ago. Two young women, raped and strangled, and then dangling from a mango tree in a village in the Badaun district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

But the pictures shocking as they are are not worth a 1000 words because they cannot begin to unravel the context behind the story.

Modi and Nehru

May 28, 2014

This week Narendra Damodardas Modi became the 15th Prime Minister of India.
Ironically this week also marked the 50th death anniversary of Jawarharlal Nehru – the first prime minister of India. Modi defeated Nehru’s great-grandson and became the first Indian prime minister to have been born after Independence. That’s an important moment for India.

Sandip Roy

The village of Mewat a couple of hours outside Delhi looks very unexceptional.  I’d never even heard of it till I passed through it on the Indian election campaign trail. It’s sunbaked. The land stony and dry. Trucks rumble past on the highway Buffalos doze. There’s no reason to stop in Mewat. Except in 1947 a very famous Indian did stop here. And changed history.

Pages