‘The Business of Dreams’ features the powerful portraits taken by Suresh Punjabi—the owner of Suhag Studio in the small town of Nagda, Madhya Pradesh—in the 1970s and 1980s. We stumbled on Punjabi’s work thanks to Somak Ghoshal’s excellent profile in (which is a must read). Then we went down a wonderful rabbit hole when we found the entire . FYI: Bangalore folks, his extensive archive is available at the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP).
FARMER PROTESTS: THE AFTERMATH Rifts among the unions: Two unions for the agitation: India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu). But neither is associated with Samyukt Kisan Morcha—the umbrella organisation which is leading the protests. The leader of one was chosen by the Supreme Court for its committee, and the other is also seen as close to the government. March cancelled: The plan to march on Parliament on Monday has —as the unions took moral responsibility for the violence. They will hold a one-day fast instead. SKM leaders said: “We erred in not singling out those who had infiltrated our movement, and we are taking ownership of our mistake.’’ FIRs issued: The Delhi police has 19 people and detained 50 on charges of rioting. As of now, 25 FIRs have been filed—which name who were present during negotiations with the government. in any of them Deep Sidhu, the man video-taped hoisting the Nishan Sahib at the Red Fort. An official said, “we have not reached any conclusion, the investigation will reveal the conspiracy and other aspects of the case. This is the primary stage of the probe.” Deep Sidhu is MIA: He seems to have gone into hiding—not from the police but from the farmers who are enraged by his antics (SKM has dubbed him an ‘RSS agent’). See of him escaping an angry crowd. also has an interesting recap of Sidhu’s yo-yoing rhetoric—which has veered from defending Khalistanis to accusing “communist unions” of infiltrating the movement. The government: is : > “The government has got the upper hand in the negotiation table now. We are pointing out that farm union leaders who have been > engaging in talks with us have lost control over the agitators, and they should use this opportunity as a graceful exit and > agree to the offers the government has made.” Also on the agenda: To unleash a campaign to “expose the differences among farmer unions”. Related reads: Indian Express has a profile of and reports on expressed by the Delhi police before the rally—and which were overruled. on how young radicals hijacked the protest. has first-person accounts of the day’s events from the farmers—which have been missing in the last couple of days. A must watch: This at the Red Fort in the midst of live coverage of Mirror Now. THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * San Francisco researchers that a cancer drug called plitidepsin that is 30x more effective than the more commonly used remdesivir. In even better news, it can neutralise even newer variants. The reason: It targets the human protein that the virus needs to replicate, and therefore just stops it in its tracks. * It was bound to happen, and unsurprisingly, it’s China that’s chosen to go first. Yup, we now to test for Covid. The reason: They are more accurate, according to Chinese doctors who say they detect Covid in the lower digestive tract even when throat and nose swabs test negative. The citizens are understandably unhappy. * In other strange China news, Wuhan has unveiled a Madame Tussaud-like tribute to the pandemic. Think wax figures in PPE suits, army medics with masks and fumigation teams. has lots of photos of this strange bit of propaganda. * No man is a hero to his wife—not even hapless Dr K K Aggarwal, a Delhi cardiologist and Padma Shri honoree. below. TIKTOK BIDS A FINAL GOODBYE ByteDance has finally read the writing on the wall—writ large in capital letters (and underlined by ongoing “border skirmishes”). It’s laying off the vast majority of its staff in India. There is no official number, but Entrackr estimates it may be as high as 90%, as 1,800 employees—across TikTok, Helo and Resso. Most of the other 58 Chinese apps banned by the government have shut shop already. Let’s spare a moment for millions of Indians who truly found joy (and in some cases, decent earnings) on the platform. Meanwhile, Beijing has the ban as a violation of World Trade Organisation’s rules. () TWO KEY HEALTH STUDIES One: A growing number of lung cancer cases in the US are ‘never smokers’. Now, don’t get us wrong: smokers still account for the vast majority. But scientists can’t understand why the percentage of people who have never lit up jumped from 8% in 1990-95 to 14.9% in 2011-13. The bad news for women: > “Worldwide, 15% of male lung cancer patients are never-smokers. But fully half of female lung cancer patients never smoked. And > women never-smokers are twice as likely to develop lung cancer as men who never put a cigarette to their lips.” has lots more on this alarming trend. Two: In happier news, a new study found that taking a regular afternoon nap is associated with better locational awareness, verbal fluency and working memory—especially in people above the age of 60. () OLD CAR OWNERS GOTTA PAY If you own a vehicle older than 8 years, you will soon have to pay ‘Green tax’ to hold on to it. Or at least that’s the union government’s plan—which will be sent to the states for consultation. has all the details. VIRTUAL DATING IS HERE TO STAY! According to a new Bumble survey, 40% of Indians will opt to date from a distance in 2021—despite dipping Covid counts. The reason: Younger people now prefer to take it slow and form meaningful connections: > “Through 2020, millennials have discovered an impatience with entertaining dead-end connections, and are instead truly investing > in the one with potential. The practice of social distancing has set in a void leading to a strong impulse and a real desire to > fill it by connecting with new and interesting people." has a lot more on the near-future of (not) hooking up. APPLE ISSUES TWO WARNINGS One: The electromagnetic fields emitted by the MagSafe technology inside the iPhone 12 can mess with pacemakers and defibrillators. Solution: Keep iPhones and MagSafe chargers at a “safe distance”—i.e. more than 6 inches/15 cm apart—when charging your device, or more than 12 inches/30 cm apart if you’re using a wireless charger. () Two: Apple is urging iPhone and iPad users to promptly update their operating systems to fix security bugs. The reason: three security flaws that "may have been actively exploited"—but the company won’t say any more. has details. AN ‘OFFENSIVE’ FEMINIST MURAL Spain’s far-right party launched a campaign to destroy a government-commissioned mural—which features an array of awesome women, including Billy King, Nina Simone and Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo. The reason: The 60-metre mural bears the slogan “Your ability doesn’t depend on your gender”—which the local council agreed is “a political message.” The good news: After many protests and petitions, the mural has been saved. has more. See below: JOE SAYS SORRY TO KAMALA The US President was in the middle of a speech, how he planned to build support for his policies. Then he turned around to his Veep and said: “I apologize.” Watch to see why.
Did you check out the fab French series ‘Call My Agent’ like we begged you to? No? Ok, we’ll let give you more reason to reconsider.
Na jao saiyan, chhuda ke baiyan… Say hello to Einstein—he can likely say ‘hello’ right back! You know what you did, right? Sure you do! (h/t subscriber Indrani Chakraverty)
READING HABIT BOOK EDITOR’S NOTE ‘’ by Jane Austen was first published today, in 1813. Two hundred-odd years on, it is one of the most loved and re-imagined books of all time. Wonder what Charlotte Brontë—who thought it a bit of —would make of it now. It also made me wonder: would we know if a book released today is destined to be a classic for centuries to come? A LIST OF NEW RELEASES Keeping in mind the fickle length of a book’s shelflife, here are some fantastic new ones, and may they enjoy a long, loved lifetime. Fiction: * ‘’ by Anoushka Khan: Described as “part road trip, part existential thriller”, this is a visually stunning tale of a reclusive wife who sets off in search of her husband when he goes missing. Asking questions around love, loss and isolation, this extraordinary debut is bound to highlight graphic novels from the Subcontinent in a market dominated by the West. Firstpost has a selection of some of the beautiful artwork in the book . * ‘’ by Raza Mir: I love it when a real historical figure plays detective in a fictional murder mystery, and this is a worthy addition to an excellent, albeit niche, oeuvre. It is 1857, and India is on the brink of a war that’ll change everything. In the midst of the undercurrents of a revolt, a poet is found stabbed to death in the culturally overflowing Delhi. As tensions rise, poet laureate and amateur detective (!) Mirza Ghalib is recruited to find the culprit. * ‘’ by Samantha Shannon: The fourth book in the Bone Season series was long overdue, and fans of the dystopian bestseller can finally breathe easy. In this instalment, dreamwalker Paige Mahoney is planning a revolution with her former enemy Arcturus Mesarthim by her side. Her quest to keep the world free from a growing Scion takes her on paths both dangerous and adventurous. * ‘’ by Mike Chen: Superpowered individuals leading relatively regular lives is my jam. Jamie, with his ability to read and erase people’s memories, and Zoe, with heightened speed and strength—both having forgotten their pasts—meet in a memory-loss support group. As a threat to their world unfurls, the pair will have to rely on their friendship—and themselves—to truly become the heroes that they are. * ‘’ by Syed M Masood: Perfect for fans of Mira Jacob and Mohammed Hanif, this debut takes us from 1990s Pakistan and Iraq to 2016 San Francisco, following the lives of Anwar and Safwa. Walking the line admirably between dramatic and funny, Masood takes an irreverent look at familial relationships, identity, and the immigrant experience in America. Non-fiction: * ‘’, edited by Nilanjana Roy: this volume asks each of its contributors—Menaka Guruswamy, TM Krishna, Perumal Murugan, Romila Thapar, Annie Zaidi and many more—the same question: what does freedom mean to you? The result is a must buy! Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to . * ‘’ by Mehr Afshan Farooqi: Ghalib seems to be the star of the day, and fairly so—he began composing verses at a very early age, wrote both in Urdu and Persian, and had a rare far-sightedness when it came to the changing cultural landscape around him. This authoritative biography looks at his extraordinary life and the subcontinent’s cultural and literary tradition at the time. * ‘’ by Biswajit Jha: If you’re looking for an inspirational, heart-warming real-life story, look no further. Padma Shri awardee Karimul Hak was a tea garden worker who saved thousands of lives by starting a free bike-ambulance service from his village to the nearest hospital when he realized the healthcare services available around him were seriously lacking. * ‘’ by Karl Ove Knausgård, tr. by Martin Aitken: A collection of eighteen essays by Scandinavian legend Karl Ove Knausgård, writing on Laurie Anderson, Edvard Munch, the Northern Lights and a number of other visual artists and writers and more. * ‘’ by Claire Chambers: This amazing anthology came out about a month ago, but with its essays on Awadhi cooking and qorma, samosa with chai, taar roti, and the perfect ‘nadroo yakhni’, it was too delectable to pass. The kitchens of South Asia come alive through the writings of Nadeem Aslam, Rana Safvi, Tabish Khair and many more. QUICK FIXES, AKA A FEW VARIED RECOMMENDATIONS What I’m reading: I began ‘’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia a couple of days ago, and it is giving me serious ‘Rebecca’ meets ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ vibes. It is atmospheric and creepy and I’m on the edge of my seat as protagonist Noemí Taboada goes to visit her sick cousin at the latter’s secluded, mysterious marital home of High Place, full of strange relatives and ghoulish events. A childhood fave: ‘’ by Cornelia Funke was perfect for 13-year-old me, looking to go on an adventure. What’s better, then, than a gang of street children in the beautiful alleyways of Venice and their mysterious leader who happens to be an extraordinary thief? Book-adjacent rec of the week: The London Review Bookshop is a real place, but it also has a hilarious . Not only are they there for you in case you’re looking for real book news and recommendations, they also have exceptional takes on the , and conspiracy theories involving . Underrated author of the week: writes unique, immersive speculative fiction. I fell in love with ‘’, which is told exclusively through journal entries, scrawled notes, recovered security footage, letters, audio recordings, complicated ciphers, and even advertisements. Bookish adaptation to watch out for: ‘’ on Netflix was pure entertainment and so much fun. The French series is based on the books by Maurice Le Blanc, created as something a counterpart to Sherlock Holmes. has the character’s delightful history. Note: Reading Habit is curated by our books editor Anushree Kaushal. Want to send along recommendations, feedback or just say hi? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org Na jao saiyan, chhuda ke baiyan… Say hello to Einstein—he can likely say ‘hello’ right back! You know what you did, right? Sure you do! (h/t subscriber Indrani Chakraverty)
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