Notes from Skopje, Europe’s ‘Capital of Kitsch’

This piece was originally published in The Hindu Sunday Magazine.

The cobblestoned streets of Skopje’s Old Bazaar are lined by barbershops, grocers’ and Ottoman-era inns, offering a portal to another time. Nearby, the 6th century Kale Fortress overlooks the city, and the historical Stone Bridge connects the Old Bazaar to the main square. As you make your way across the bridge, however, authenticity becomes increasingly harder to spot, obscured by newly erected buildings with classical facades, shiny bronze statues and marble fountains. Continue reading “Notes from Skopje, Europe’s ‘Capital of Kitsch’”

Dispatches: Who Makes the Clothes on Our Backs?

In 2010, I travelled to Bangladesh with the rest of my graduate school cohort to study various developmental approaches implemented in the country. Bangladesh, in many ways, is a prime example of the success that locally pioneered methods of just and sustainable development can achieve. And yet, this development is accompanied by its own set of problems, particularly with regard to the country’s massive garment industry.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest exporter of readymade apparel, second only to China. Garments constitute 80% of the nation’s earnings from exports, and in 2018, Bangladesh exported clothing worth over $32 billion, mainly to Europe and the United States. Continue reading “Dispatches: Who Makes the Clothes on Our Backs?”

Notes from Mostar

This piece was originally published in The Hindu Sunday Magazine.

The bus rolls slowly into the central station in eastern Mostar, the familiar crunching sound of gravel under the tires signalling the end of the ride. The journey from Sarajevo had taken just a little over two and a half hours, and we’d got to enjoy the sight of the enticing emerald-green waters of the Neretva river along the way. Continue reading “Notes from Mostar”

Dispatches: Delhi’s Neglected Urban Villages

The area beneath the Barapullah flyover, just behind South Delhi’s INA metro station, is congested, with vehicles, cows and pedestrians colliding as they make their way through the chaos. The honking is incessant; cows are sprawled on the middle of the road, with motorists often pushing them out of their way. Nearby, a sea of bricks and an excavator marks ongoing construction, while the air is pungent with the smell of sewage. Continue reading “Dispatches: Delhi’s Neglected Urban Villages”