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.

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.

India's Wall of Noise

May 15, 2014
sandip Roy

India is noisy. But at election time the noise reaches a different level. Democracy in action in India is spirited,  Raucous. And not always harmonious. We’ll know the results by the end of this week. But for now our ears are still ringing with the sounds of Election 2014. 

This is a soundscape from the greatest show on earth.  

The Road to Amethi

May 7, 2014
Sandip Roy

Amethi is the pocket borough of India’s most powerful family, the Gandhi's. Usually, the political top bosses get a pass in the elections. The opposition rarely puts up strong candidates against them in their home. Sort of parliamentary etiquette. This time it’s different.

sandip Roy

The Times of India newspaper called this Indian election a "Dance of Democracy." But for Sandip Roy it's more of a 'Disco' Dance of Democracy.

Sandip Roy

An Indian election campaign is not entirely unlike a Bollywood film. The heroes and villains might flip flop depending on your party preference.  But the script has all the ingredients of a good old Bollywood masala film.

Welcome to  Indian elections 2014 – the musical hits.

Sandip Roy

Whenever India goes to the polls the world takes notice. Some of the wonder is just about the sheer  mind boggling scale of it.  The election going on right now from April 7th  until May 12th for example will involve 930,000 polling stations across India.

Sandip Roy goes to the polls.

A queer thing is happening in India. India is going to the polls with the usual fanfare of the world’s largest democratic experiment. But this is an election with a difference.

For the first time ever gay issues are part of the election debate.

Rahul's storm

Apr 2, 2014
Sandip Roy

Rahul Gandhi, the Indian National Congress leader, just can't seem to catch a break this election season. At this recent rally, it seemed as if even the Gods are against him.

These days, thanks especially to television, journalists have become celebrity pundits in India. They opinionate, bloviate and pontificate on TV all the time. Khushwant Singh became a celebrity long before cable television. He was sometimes callled "the dirty old man of Delhi" because he spoke without much attention to social formalities.  Singh was 99 and still writing when he died in Delhi last week.  

This is a story about two films that are in the eye of a peculiar storm in India.

One is called Gulaab Gang. The other is called Gulaabi Gang with an "I." But in that single "I" lies a world of difference.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle / sfgate.com

The controversy over Tibetan independence won't likely be over anytime soon, but is the Middle Way, promoted by the Dalai Lama himself, any way to go about it?

Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin's films deal with the row over Tibetan-Chinese relations. "The Sun Behind the Clouds" and "Dreaming Lhasa" will screen at CAAM Fest 2014, see the schedule here.

IIM, Calcutta

I have to admit when I heard the Rev. Jesse Jackson was in town, my first thought was “What’s Jesse Jackson doing running around Kolkata?” 

Rev. Jackson made the expected stops – mother teresa’s grave. School for poor children. But then he headed to the IIM, the Indian Institute of Management, one of India’s most coveted business schools, charged with minting the next generations of CEOs and COOs. 

It may have been passed over for an Oscar nomination, but the New York Times calls The Lunchbox a Bollywood anomaly - a  quiet movie of unexpressed anguish and yearning instead of movies that clutch viewers by the throat and assault them with glamour, pizazz and dancing.

But what’s really surprising about  The Lunchbox is it actually really made a splash in India with a love story so low key, so subtle, one can hardly call it a romance. The lovers don’t meet. They just exchange notes in a lunchbox. Real handwritten notes . About life. And food.

Penguin chickens out

Feb 19, 2014
Bhavin Patel

When the publishers Penguin and Random House merged, it called itself The world's first truly global book publishing company". Sounds powerful. But it turns out it just took a dogged 84 year old man named Dinanath Batra to turn Penguin into a chicken.

Bring the Noise!!

Feb 12, 2014
thehindubusinessline.com

The first thing I notice when I come to Kolkata from San Francisco is not the heat. Or the smog. But the noise. A survey a couple of years ago found that at 10 major crossings the horn count  average per day was a whopping 107392 per day, that’s over 70 honks per minute. Cars and buses loudly flout No Horn signs around hospitals and schools.

Some drivers are honking because a pedestrian, or a cow is jaywalking, or another car is turning without a signal or just because.

Why is Kolkata so loud?

Stray or Great?

Feb 5, 2014
India Today

Vikram Seth, maybe India's most well known writer, is a very private man. But sometimes one just can not keep quiet.

satsumabug.com

Sandip Roy meets Oakland, CA author Nayomi Munaweera at one of the world's greatest literature festivals, in Jaipur India.

She was there to read and sell her new book, "Island of a Thousand Mirrors."

Official Disapproval

Jan 22, 2014
DreamActivist

India's “official” seal of disapproval of Gay activity is important especially for an immigration judge..  It now has inadvertently provided asylum seekers the documentary evidence they need to apply for refuge in the U.S.

A Big Screen Must See

Jan 15, 2014

Satyajit Ray is India’s most acclaimed filmmaker.  But from Friday, January 17th, film lovers in the Bay Area will be able to see something people in India don’t really get to experience anymore. The films of Ray, restored and cleaned, on the big screen.

The Pacific Film Archive will screen the films of Satyajit Ray starting Jan. 17th.

Battling Images

Jan 8, 2014

The image of India has changed in American eyes, yet so has America's image... in Indian eyes. 

On December 8th the Indian Supreme Court reinstated Section 377 of the Penal Code making sex against the order of nature a crime again. But India seems to have changed, without their Supreme Court.

The Sound and Fury...

Dec 11, 2013
Sandip Roy

India is always noisy but being in Delhi in the middle of an election campaigns means it’s just noisier. Waaay noisier. For two weeks all I have heard is election noise... 

I smell onions!

Dec 4, 2013
Sandip Roy

It's election week in New Delhi and politicians are in a soup. An Indian onion soup to be precise. Onion prices have been so high the opposition party has gleefully plastered pictures of Onions on billboards and bus stands to remind the voters where it’s hurting.

Hell at Tehelka

Nov 27, 2013
ndtv.com

When violence against women was big in the news in India, an investigative magazine called Tehelka did an explosive sting operation. Its reporters went undercover to 23 police stations around Delhi and got cops talking about rape.  The results were shocking. Most cops were happy to blame women for wearing skirts that don’t cover them fully. For having a drink.  For going out with a boyfriend and his friends. Real rape they said was rare. And those who  were really raped would never complain anyway. This year the magazine produced a special issue on sexual violence

The Magnetic Manna Dey

Nov 20, 2013
www.pinkvilla.com

Immigrants often feel much lonelier mourning the far away death of someone who was dearly beloved – a writer, an actor, a sportsman. But a singer is different. In the days before the Internet,  singers were the only parts of our growing up that we could carry with us into small towns across America. They were portable. They came on cassettes, the plastic covers cracked by the weight of our journeys. 

Beyond All Boundaries

Nov 13, 2013
khelnama.com

Do you find the sport "Cricket" to be baffling?  As the documentary Beyond All Boundaries , the definitive Cricket documentary, can help. In fact, it's easier to relate to than you might think. Sandip Roy takes to the pitch.

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