Month: April 2015

The Life of an Indian Cucumber

21 April 2015 – Lucky Peach


When I want to buy cucumbers, which is often, I don’t need to go more than twenty-five steps from my front door. At the end of my dead-end lane there’s a guy named Pankaj who mans a pushcart loaded with vegetables, one of the 420,000-odd hawkers working the streets of greater Mumbai. From his cart, I can buy cucumbers and bottle gourds and eggplants, sweet limes and carrots and bunches of fresh dill or coriander. I can get bell peppers and string beans and, when I’m lucky, deep purple amaranth to fry with garlic and fresh coconut (ingredients, alas, that I have to buy elsewhere). It’s a quick, easy transaction. I rarely spend more than two hundred rupees in one go (about $3.20 US), or buy more than I’ll use in the course of a day. I don’t need to; I can just come back tomorrow. If I don’t have exact change, I can always bring it back later. Pankaj knows me—he’s my vegetable guy, my subzwalla—and that’s still how these relationships work. (more…)

The Cost of a Drink

10 April 2015Lucky Peach

Not too long ago, I found myself doing some work for the wife and unofficial business partner of a wealthy Mumbai real estate mogul, the sort of mind-numbing, ego-bruising work that freelance writers pick up in slow periods and disown immediately afterward. At some point toward the end of the project, when my patience and pride had both worn thin, we ended up chatting inanely about Bollywood (which is probably the only way to chat about Bollywood). She said she thought the worst thing about the industry was the way it glamorized drinking and drunkenness. (more…)

Peek Inside Raj Mahal Palace

20 April 2015Travel+Leisure

Jaisal Singh and I were installed over whiskies in the jasmine-scented Polo Bar of the Suján Rajmahal Palace (doubles from $500), the newest palace hotel in the Indian city of Jaipur, when a pink-turbaned attendant glided over to tell him that the maharajah, the city’s young king, was about to arrive for dinner with friends. Jaisal, whose hospitality group Suján manages the hotel, gracefully excused himself, returning moments later with a slight young man in mud-soiled polo whites: the maharajah, 16-year-old Padmanabh Singh. Aside from his impeccable manners (and the glass of champagne dangling from his fingers), he might have been any high school kid returning home after a game. (more…)