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’”

Preserving Indian Democracy in the Face of Rising Hindu Nationalism

This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence.

After the Indian government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, people across India answered a nationwide call for protests issued by left-wing parties on Aug. 7. Article 370 had provided the state with considerable autonomy and was one of the conditions for its accession to the Indian union in 1947.

Shabnam Hashmi, social activist and co-founder of the non-governmental organization Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, or ANHAD, livestreamed the protests from New Delhi.

She panned her camera to show protesters restricted by barricades at Jantar Mantar, a site where regular protests occur in the capital. “As you can see, the space — which has already been confined so much for protests — even in that area we are not being allowed to enter,” she commented. “This is the state of Indian democracy now.” Continue reading “Preserving Indian Democracy in the Face of Rising Hindu Nationalism”

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”

On Fashion & Feminism

An excerpt from my piece titled ‘The Economics of Fashion and Feminism’ that appeared in the pilot issue of MUJER!, a bilingual feminist fashion magazine.

Our obsession with female beauty – with rearing, celebrating, enhancing, preserving and recapturing it – has inevitably led to the beauty industry being valued at billions of dollars. Contrastingly, the idea of embracing our natural beauty, evidenced by initiatives such as the Dove Real Beauty campaign, and the clever marketing of products using feminist ideals – a concept aptly named ‘femvertising’ – have opened up further avenues for profit. But why bottle and sell confidence to adolescent girls and women when we could be raising self-assured girls who know better than to tie their worth to their appearance? Continue reading “On Fashion & Feminism”