Why I Watch The World Cup in Spanish

The reasons are quite straightforward, and as might be expected, not exceedingly deep. They are only interesting because, I, like many others who watch Spanish-language broadcasts of the 2014 World Cup, do not speak Spanish. (At least, my Spanish has never risen above some minimal fluency.) First, the most superficial reason of all. The SpanishContinue reading “Why I Watch The World Cup in Spanish”

Being ‘Appearance-Challenged’ When Looks Matter

Many years ago, an uncle of mine was talking about one of my distant cousins:  about how hard it would be for her to get married, because she was, you know, kind of, how do you say it, “ugly”? He didn’t use the word, of course. He said something like “Her face is a little,Continue reading “Being ‘Appearance-Challenged’ When Looks Matter”

Helping Writers Through Social Media

A very smart writer friend of mine wrote something on her Facebook page today, which I think makes a lot of sense and is worth reproducing widely. Comments and feedback from writers welcome. Here goes. The first status: I think we’ve reached the point at which a Like doesn’t necessarily mean Liking, or endorsement, orContinue reading “Helping Writers Through Social Media”

April Bernard on Margaret Drabble as Moral Psychologist

In reviewing a selection of Margaret Drabble‘s novels, April Bernard writes: Drabble, as a moralist, seems to believe that it is less important what and why we do what we do, than how we think about it—before, during, after….If the reason that a man always sins is that he is sinful, what matters can onlyContinue reading “April Bernard on Margaret Drabble as Moral Psychologist”

Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ and Post-Apocalyptic Literature

There comes a moment, as the reader moves through Part Two of Ian McEwan‘s Atonement, of sensing something familiar and  recognizable, a deja-vu of sorts, in the sparse yet rich, brutal, unsparing descriptions of physical and moral catastrophe on the long, hot, bloodstained road of retreat to Dunkirk. They are all here: the dead–animal andContinue reading “Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ and Post-Apocalyptic Literature”

On Not Failing the Soccer Tebbit Test

A few days ago in a post on the US men’s soccer team, I wrote: I find myself cheering for the US when it goes up against a European soccer powerhouse. When they play South American, Asian, or African countries, my underdog sympathies kick in. Well, on Sunday night, the US was most certainly upContinue reading “On Not Failing the Soccer Tebbit Test”

Teach Them Yo Damn Self

Tim Egan writes, in the midst of some sensible commentary on Walmart and Starbucks’ role in combating inequality: It’s a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education… But there is a certain kind of education–especially in the technology sector–for which it makes eminent sense to “look to corporations for education.”  ToContinue reading “Teach Them Yo Damn Self”

The US Information Service and the Power of Air Conditioning

Shortly before my teen years commenced, my parents arranged a library membership for me at the American Library in New Delhi. (The library was administered by the United States Information Service; its membership rules only allowed adults as members, but my parents spoke to the librarians, signed up for two library cards, and handed themContinue reading “The US Information Service and the Power of Air Conditioning”

Iraq and the Pottery Barn Rule: Don’t Break It Any More Please

As turban-wearing hordes ride down on their stallions from the hills, their sharpened scimitars gleaming in the bright Mesopotamian sunshine, threatening to add to the steadily growing mound of heads separated from their now-twitching bodies, should the United States saddle up, lock and load, and ride out to meet them? Should  it crush its enemies, see them drivenContinue reading “Iraq and the Pottery Barn Rule: Don’t Break It Any More Please”

Does the Left Hate America? The Case of Soccer

Yesterday, as the United States struggled to hold on to its 1-0 lead against Ghana, the rumblings on social media grew: Ghana were surely due to equalize any moment now. When they did, the jubilation on Twitter timelines and Facebook feeds was palpable. But it wasn’t just Ghanaian fans that were cheering for that 1-1Continue reading “Does the Left Hate America? The Case of Soccer”