Visual Diary: Once Upon an Afternoon in Sofia

“To me it is the melancholic beauty, abandon, and loneliness of Sofia’s backyards, with the narrow, often dilapidated balconies hanging above. And the trees, the lindens above all. In early summer there are whole streets lined with them, and the smell of linden blossom can make your head spin. Then, there is also Mount Vitosha, with parts of the city creeping up its slopes. Of course, a mountain can hardly go unnoticed, but I remember that as a child I used to believe that every city had a mountain, so natural it seemed to have one so close.”

— Bulgarian writer Elena Alexieva, when asked to name an extraordinary detail about Sofia

Continue reading “Visual Diary: Once Upon an Afternoon in Sofia”

Colonialism, War and Exile: The Little-Known History of Indians in Myanmar

This is an excerpt from my piece that was originally published on Atlas Obscura on March 12th.

On a bright morning in August, 1965, a young man named Gurumurthy ushered his parents and sisters out of their home in the Burmese capital of Rangoon. They shut the wooden gate behind them, glanced at the stark-white façade of their house for a final time, and began to carry their modest belongings to the nearby port.

Continue reading “Colonialism, War and Exile: The Little-Known History of Indians in Myanmar”

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”

Nostalgia in a Glass of Boza

A slightly modified version of this article originally appeared in The Hindu Sunday Magazine, which can be viewed here.

The setting sun casts a golden glow over the otherwise nondescript street in the residential neighbourhood of Vefa, Istanbul. Not far from Sultanahmet, which is famous for its numerous historic attractions including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, Vefa is quieter and calmer, but its weary streets are steeped in a different kind of history. During Ottoman times, this quarter was home to scholars and aristocrats, and it remains the home of a 142-year old boza shop, Vefa Bozacısı. Continue reading “Nostalgia in a Glass of Boza”

Dispatches: Roots of a Fragmented Middle East

This piece has been published on The Hindu thREAD.

Nearly eight years have passed since that fateful December in 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself alight on the streets of Sidi Bouzid to protest repeated mistreatment by local police and the impossibility of earning a living wage in the country. That event kicked off the Arab Spring, which spread rapidly to other parts of the Arab world and led to millions of people demonstrating against oppressive, authoritarian regimes and the ineffective governance that had prevailed for years. Continue reading “Dispatches: Roots of a Fragmented Middle East”