Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Raja Ravi Varma’s Feast of Wonders
We are so very excited to invite you to join us for a unique Onam dinner in Mumbai. The experience will most decidedly live up to its title: ‘Raja Ravi Varma’s Feast of Wonders: An Onam Like No Other’. Before we jump into the details, please note seating is extremely limited. So please book early if you’re interested:) On to the event…
The dinner isn’t just a nice meal with an author but a vivid and visual experience that blends historical storytelling, experiential dining and AI art. I can say with great confidence that it is the first of its kind in India. Helping us deliver that promise are the formidable talents of Chefs Manu Chandra and Hussian Shahzad, historian Manu Pillai and AI artist Ari Jayaprakash—who are coming together for the very first time. Our event page has lots more details (and images) and booking information. We leave you with this hint of what to expect:
Psst: This is the inaugural event of our new baby—True South—created in partnership with two of the most respected names in the fine dining business (more on the event page). And it is the epitome of all the reasons why you’ve supported splainer: our commitment to always offering quality and substance—but in an entirely new and delightful way. We will be bringing future editions to other cities in the months to come.
Also this: Yes, this is a pretty expensive meal. We are working on a range of events of different kinds—based on the results of our survey. Which reminds us: Have you taken our big fat survey yet?
Canada’s terrible wildfire season
Massive wildfires swept across the Northwest Territories over the weekend. As of now, 20,000 people have been evacuated—and 35,000 more have been ordered to leave their homes. Half the population of the province has been displaced. PM Justin Trudeau has deployed the military to assist with the operations. Data point to note:
Canada has seen a record number of wildfires this year—contributing to choking smoke in parts of the U.S.—with more than 5,700 fires burning more than 137,000 square kilometers (53,000 square miles) from one end of Canada to the other.
Meanwhile, in California: Tropical Storm Hilary has moved into Southern California. San Diego will face the brunt before it moves on to Los Angeles—where more than nine million people are under flash flood warnings. Experts have warned of the risk of "catastrophic and life-threatening" floods to parts of California and Nevada. (USA Today)
Russian lunar mission ends in disaster
The country’s first lunar mission in 47 years failed when the Luna-25 spacecraft crashed on to the moon’s surface:
Roscosmos earlier reported an “emergency” as it was trying to enter pre-landing orbit ahead of a planned Monday moon landing. After Roscosmos lost contact with the unmanned spacecraft, and efforts to locate it failed, the agency added that a preliminary analysis determined that it “ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface” and that an interdepartmental commission will investigate the cause.
Russia was hoping to become the first nation to soft-land on the satellite’s south pole—beating India’s Chandrayaan-3 whose soft landing is scheduled for Wednesday (lots more on our mission in this Big Story). However, unlike the Indian mission, the Russian one did not include a rover that would traverse the surface of the moon. CNN has more on what this means for the Russian space program. (Reuters)
Spain wins the Women’s World Cup
Both Spain and England battled hard in their first-ever Women’s World Cup final. In the end, La Roja prevailed over the Lionesses 1-0—with the winning goal scored by captain Olga Carmona. A tragic afternote: Spanish football authorities announced that her father died just hours after scoring the winning goal. It isn’t clear when she received the news. Also marring the loss: the open rift between the players and their coach Jorge Vilda. Making it worse: Spain's football federation president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips—of which she later said: “I did not enjoy that.” New York Times via The Telegraph has a stirring account of the match. The Ringer has more on why this is a bitter-sweet victory for the team. Watch Carmona’s stunning goal below. (BBC News)
Netflix aur Jio ki jodi
Two Jio prepaid phone plans will now be bundled with a Netflix subscription. The Rs 1,099 rupees includes a mobile-only Netflix subscription—while the Rs 1,499 rupees plan offers Netflix Basic. Reminder: Jio’s postpaid and fibre plans already offer a Netflix sub. This latest move, however, gives the streaming service access to 450 million Jio prepaid subscribers—a far larger audience in India. As for Reliance, this is another potential nail in the coffins of its rivals—Airtel and Vodafone. (TechCrunch)
A big fat onion tax
The government has slapped a 40% duty on the export of onions—to curb prices that have been rising recently. To be clear, the price of pyaaz is nowhere close to the over-valued tamatar—ranging from Rs 10 per kg in Madhya Pradesh to Rs 63 in Manipur. The reason for the preemptive move: the government is worried that the upcoming festival season will send prices soaring. That may still happen despite the duty hike because of this:
Despite ample stock of onions in the country, a high proportion of bad quality onions due to a prolonged period of excessive summer heat this year has made good quality onions expensive.
Mercifully, the uptick is not expected to be as extreme. OTOH: Dal prices are expected to spiral as the acreage of land sown by farmers this season is almost 10% lower than last year. For more on pricey tomatoes, check out this Big Story. (The Hindu)
A Dalit identity controversy over ‘Made In Heaven’
Writer Yashica Dutt called out the series for one of its characters who is inspired by her—an author who becomes famous for ‘coming out’ as a Dalit. Dutt attacked the creators for not giving her credit:
Dalits have a long history of being taken from, erased, ignored, obliterated from our own stories. Dalit women in particular are the easiest to take from, what’s the worth in the labour they’ve created anyway.
The creators pushed back by pointing out clear differences in their character and Dutt—and said they were inspired by a variety of Dalit stories and sources. A number of Dalit scholars have now criticised Dutt for making “proprietary claims to ideas and stories.” And the episode was directed by Dalit director Neeraj Ghaywan. (Scroll)
More scheduling woes for ODI World Cup
The context: The Indian cricket board recently moved up the India-Pakistan match in Ahmedabad by a day. The reason: “security” issues involved in holding the match on the first day of Navratri. This had a domino effect on dates of eight other fixtures.
What happened now: The Hyderabad Cricket Association says it can’t host the Pakistan versus Sri Lanka match on October 10—one day after it hosts the NZ vs Netherlands match. The local police say they don’t have the resources to provide security for consecutive matches. FYI: the Pakistan vs England match in Kolkata also had to be rescheduled because it coincided with Kali Puja. Reminder: Sri Lanka had to step up as a co-host for the upcoming Asia Cup because India claimed the Indian team would not be safe playing in Pakistan. (Indian Express)
Three things to see
One: Ahmedabad traffic cops are ahead of the curve in prepping for a warmer world. They are testing “AC helmets”—equipped with fans to help them stay cool and air filters to protect them from pollution. FYI: this is a global trend. US college football teams recently debuted a somewhat fancier version of these helmets. (Indian Express)
Two: Researchers have discovered a 20-tentacled creature in the depths of the Antarctic Ocean:
Resembling an alien or a Lovecraftian horror, the Antarctic strawberry feather star (Promachocrinus fragarius) is one of four new species of crinoids that scientists found at the bottom of the ocean. Crinoids are a group of eerie, perfectly symmetrical creatures that include sea lilies and sea feathers.
Why these creatures are especially notable: 95% of crinoids were wiped out in a mass extinction 251 million years ago. As you can see, it looks far less appetising than its name. (Live Science)