Sandip Roy's Dispatches from Kolkata

Wednesdays at 7:35am and 4:45pm

Sandip Roy, former host of Your Call and  New America Now, is back on KALW, bringing you a little bit of the story of the new India every week – a letter home from his other home.

A lot has been written about the changing India, says Roy. But reporting about a changing India is one thing. Living in it and dealing with a country where newspapers are still being launched instead of folding, Internet rumors spark mass exoduses, and cricketers advertise skin-whitening creams called Fair and Handsome is another thing.

Sandip Roy’s "Dispatch from Kolkata" can be heard Wednesdays at 7:35am and 4:45pm during KALW’s presentation of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Once if you wanted to be an Indian city of any standing, you were measured by flyovers, specialty hospitals or multiplexes. These days you are measured by literary festivals.  

  Sandip Roy is at the Jaipur Literary festival in Kolkata, India's old capital, speaking with Rana Dasgupta about Delhi, India's new capital...

Remembering Debika Ghosh

Jan 14, 2015
Sandip Roy

The end of year issues all over magazine stands in India all carry photo spreads of the icons we lost. Famous people from the world of politics and music and film.

None of the year-enders listed my great aunt Debika Ghosh. She was notorious in her day as she  once told me. Any scandalous affair all over Calcutta was blamed on her bad influence.

The restless boy is finally still. Kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das passed away on Jan. 4, 2015 in Northern California
 

jaredpeace.hubpages.com

When the 2004 Christmas tsunami swept through the Indian Ocean, it left devastation in its wake. Buildings, hotels, shipyards all laid to waste. Thousands dead or missing, and along with them ancient languages and cultures.  

• Nightie (plural nighties)

A woman’s nightgown or nightdress; a dress-like garment worn to bed.

Example of usage: I was too embarrassed to answer the door in my nightie.

Obviously, the entry was not written by an Indian....  

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.

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