On Funeral Rites and Getting Fucked Over

Although I’m extremely comfortable with ambiguity and open-endedness in film, I’m still wrestling with the women characters in Thithi, the recent Kannada film set in Nodekopplu village. First let me say that the film is, as indicated by the number of national and international accolades, a “must watch!” (thanks Aamir). It belongs to a growing … Continue reading

The not-so-discrete choice of being a pedestrian in Bangalore

When the program director explained that discrete choice economics was part of the PhD program my first thought was no big deal. See, I assumed he meant ‘discreet’, as in we’d learn economics in an unobtrusive kind of way, and then I had this train of thought where my mind replaced ‘choice’ with ‘charm’ and … Continue reading

What does Modi mean by ‘women led growth’?

Women are the latest target in Modi’s attempt to regain his political mojo. While Modi is not the first politician in or outside India to call attention to the societal benefits of women in leadership roles, his justification is seasoned with that distinctly Hindu right, BJP ideology: “A country is always empowered by its women. … Continue reading

Wheels and Tracks

Same destination but different mode. Why one would chose train over bus travel in India–anywhere for that matter*–hardly warrants explanation. But let me try. I finished Paul Theroux’s The Grand Railway Bazaar while traveling from Delhi to Bombay, down the coast of Maharashtra and yes, eventually to Goa. It was a mixed modes approach of … Continue reading

Dream Spheres and Urban Development

When she first told me her apartment complex was off NICE road I thought I heard ‘a nice road’. “Oh, great!” I replied, trying to show enthusiasm for surface pavement, “But what is the name?” “NICE”, she said again, “The toll road, about 3 kilometers from Electronic City.” There is a lot of ambiguity in … Continue reading


The word heritage use to make me yawn. I associated it with visiting my grandparent’s house as a child where the perfectly preserved 1950s interior was equally dull as it was formal. Almost all socializing took place in the dimly lit front living room; I’d stare out the window, to the street, and wonder how … Continue reading

Subjective Scale

Scale has different meanings according to disciplines, trades, and livelihoods. Thanks to words such as capitalism and globalization, scale is increasingly prevalent in everyday discourse. ‘Scaling up’, ‘scaling down’, and ‘scales of influence,’ are all phrases that help us better imagine and produce dichotomies such as global and local. Scale is a crucial word in … Continue reading

We’re on the Road to Nowhere

I know in my last post I argued there’s no such thing as developed and undeveloped, which, as Vince Carducci rightfully observed in his comment, is more an attempt to think beyond that particular dichotomy than suggest that some kind of global quality of life has been achieved. I’d like to take up this theme … Continue reading

India Revisited

I’ve decided to take my distrust of linear narratives to heart and not care about the backlog of comments I want to transform into posts. So, I skip my follow up on Oslo waterfront development (which has the makings of a seriously juicy update), my thoughts on the recent conference of Critical Heritage, backtrack from … Continue reading

Simulated History: Sidewalks and Streetscapes

One of my favorite moments of urban life is walking down a quiet street and listening to my shoes hit the pavement. The sound is a softer version of the clop clop I associate with horses and I’m inevitably transported to the 19th century; I imagine walking on down an uneven, dimly lit sidewalk that … Continue reading