Ranjani Iyer Mohanty's Blog

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MAY 5, 2014 10:34AM

The Spring of Our Discontent


The epic task is well underway. The first week it happened in Kerala, Haryana, and some of Assam. The second week it happened in Karnataka and parts of Bihar, Kashmir, and Maharashtra. Last week it was the turn of Tamil Nadu and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. And soRead full post »

AUGUST 31, 2012 8:33AM

Merida vs. Anastasia

Every summer I come away with a memorable movie and a memorable book. This year both were fairy tales.

In Toronto, I went with my 15-year old daughter and 12-year old niece to see Brave, an animated movie by Pixar. It’s the story of… Read full post »

AUGUST 13, 2012 11:10AM

Baring the Soul: the Dosa



You can discover a lot about a person by how they eat their dosa. Crepe-like and deliciously savory, this seemingly innocuous and traditional South Indian dish has the potential to reveal not only a person’s cultural lineage, but their deepest darkest personality traits.

I say tRead full post »




Once upon a time in France there was a poor man named Valjean who stole because his family was starving. He was caught and put in prison. After his escape and many tribulations, he became a successful business man – and more importantly, a veryRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 14, 2012 11:35AM

The Power of the Word


After enduring years of house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi won a landmark victory in recent by-elections. But before she could take her seat in Parliament, she had to take an oath. The oath required her to ‘safeguard’ the constitution. Because she would like to someday change the consRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 9, 2012 2:58AM

India's Many Godfathers

Last night I was watching a favorite movie of mine, The Godfather, with director Francis Ford Coppola’s commentary. One thing he said seemed not only incisive but relevant. Near the beginning of the story, when Bonasera comes to Vito Corleone to ask him for a favor, Coppola explainsRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 18, 2012 7:55AM

For a Tumbler of Coffee

The making of coffee is the day’s opening ritual for many families in South India. In my grandmother’s home, Arabica and Peaberry beans were first roasted separately. Then they were mixed and a small daily portion freshly ground using a hand grinder. The grounds would be placed into the uRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 12, 2012 5:13AM

The Fanciful World of Foreign Aid


The recent revelation of India's finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s comments that India doesn’t need British aid has raised some shackles in Britain and led to some proud strutting in India. And that’s very understandable. Why should Britain continue giving aid to India? AndRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 1, 2012 10:50PM

Mr. Shyam, the Subzi-Wala

When I was about five years old, I visited my grandmother in the Southern Indian town of Vellore. Apart from the traditional-style house with a large open courtyard in the center and sneaking pickled lemons from the big earthen jar in the store room, my other abiding memory is that eachRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 13, 2012 4:40AM

Made for each other: India & flash mobs


During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the cigarette company Wills ITC had advertisements with a very memorable tagline: “Made for each other”. I don’t know if they were referring to cigarettes and smokers, filter and tobacco, the attractive man and woman pictured,Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 21, 2011 5:22AM

Kolaveri-Di: India's New Youth Anthem?

If you still haven’t heard of the song Why this kolaveri di?, you haven't been anywhere near India nor Indians these last six weeks. Since its release on November 16, this song has gone viral on the Internet and been reported in all the Indian newspapers. Why is this song so immeRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 1:31AM

UN Palestine vote: the wisdom of crowds

Once upon a time there was an orphan boy who was shunted from foster home to foster home, very badly treated along the way, and often had his lunch money stolen. Then one day he met a big strong older boy who was class valedictorian, a straight-A student, captain of theRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 10, 2011 5:42AM

Turning 50

It’s been done. By the famous and the unknown. Barack Obama, George Clooney, Melissa Etheridge, Nadia Comaneci, Wayne Gretzky, me, all of my classmates, and several million others the world over. We all turned 50 years old this year. It’s an arbitrary line in the sand that we step over anRead full post »

JUNE 10, 2011 10:08PM

Awaiting the Monsoon

This article was printed in the IHT/NYT at exactly time last year. And now, once again, the heat is intense: the head aches, the eyes burn, and the stomach feels a touch queasy. While the Commonwealth Games are over and work on the Metro is finished, once again the main streetRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 26, 2011 4:39AM

Fashion Week Fasting


Once a year I get dragged along to the Delhi Fashion Week because I’m needed to chaperone my teenage fashionista daughter and her like-minded friends. I live far from the fashion world both physically and mentally, so this event is a stretch for me. And yet it is intriguing experiencingRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 8, 2011 5:37AM

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: The Cricket World Cup


The young boys in the village behind our house run home from school, quickly eat their lunch, and, hardly able to contain their excitement, limber up bowling a few balls in the street until their mothers call them in for the start of the match. A small group crowds aroundRead full post »

FEBRUARY 23, 2011 11:17PM

The Jaipur Literary Festival

I attended the Jaipur Literary Festival last month. It was a wonderful experience -- colorful, crowded, and chock-a-block with writers -- and I wanted to share some of it in the article below (recently published in Confluence magazine).

(By the way, I'd love to include a couple of… Read full post »

JANUARY 27, 2011 10:49AM

Words of Wisdom

Are the words of authors, or even just plain writers, more important that anyone else’s?

Last week, I was at the Jaipur Literature Festival in the exotic Pink City. For five days, from 10am to 6pm, readings and discussions were held simultaneously at four venues within the… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 20, 2011 12:01AM

Writing in Tongues

What happens when your mother tongue no longer is? There’s an expectation that the language you first learn, often from your mother, and the one that represents your native culture, is the one you are most proficient in ... but that’s not always so. The first language I learnt was Tamil.… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 13, 2011 12:26AM

The Clarity of the Day

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The following piece was published in the IHT/NYT a couple of years ago, and while much has changed, many of the issues discussed still seem current. On the personal front, our daily rituals and the weather today in Delhi are surprisingly th… Read full post »

DECEMBER 29, 2010 7:53AM

Unfamous Last Words

“Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words: Nitwit; Oddment; Blubber; Tweak. Thank you.” Thus spake Aldus Dumbledore, the wise old wizard and mentor of Harry Potter. Short and sweet, and perhaps a bit loopy, or maybe just profound. Writer Ingrid Bengis said, “Word… Read full post »

I was proud to know that last week, when push came to shove, India quietly stood its ground. For a short while, BRIC was split down the middle and it became just BI. Brazil, India, and some 40 other nations attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, while some 19… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 9, 2010 12:14AM

What Is WikiLeaks Really Telling Us?

There has been some surprising news recently. No, not the WikiLeaks story of what U.S. diplomats said in their private communiqués but rather the story that diplomats of other countries are shocked by the contents. If that’s true, they must be the only ones. Most of what’s in these… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 29, 2010 11:13PM

You Can’t Judge a Newspaper by Its Cover

If you had seen the front page of the Times of India on Oct. 2, you wouldn’t have found the expected article on Gandhi Jayanti but rather a full page “cover” spread of Vidya Balan advertising for the department store Big Bazaar. On the front page of the TOI on the… Read full post »

AUGUST 18, 2010 1:17AM

Summer Sisters

Each year during school summer holidays, many Indians living abroad, particularly in the US or Canada, return to India to renew ties with their families and their home country. The same thing happens in our case, only different. Each summer my daughter Kalpana returns to the country of her birth, Can… Read full post »