Many people avoid India during the monsoon, or rainy season—which is starting now and runs through September. But the heavy rainfall, which is vital for crops, offers its own charms for visitors: lush, verdant growth and a romantic tranquility devoid of tourist crowds. Here, our top picks for where to go during this under-the-radar time. (more…)
When I first moved to Bombay a few years back, I spent an inordinate amount of time bitching about the generally abominable quality of the produce available in local markets. Tomatoes were small and flavorless; cauliflower was soft and gritty; herbs were shriveled and limp; and many of my favorite ingredients—leeks and radicchio and fennel, to name a few—were non-existent, save those produced at significant cost by a couple of specialty growers.
But when I stopped rolling my eyes and lamenting my ill fortune, I started to notice some of the stranger-looking ingredients stacked at the local veg stalls: indigenous ingredients that, as it turned out, were both cheaper and more flavorful than foreign cultivars introduced over the last few centuries. Below are a few of the most notable kinds.
LIKE MANY AMERICAN KIDS, I read SE Hinton’s angsty Bildungsroman The Outsiders in middle school. First published in 1967, the book features teenage characters with names like Ponyboy, Sodapop and Cherry, who drink and smoke and get into knife fights. The boys belong to two rival gangs, divided along socio-economic lines: the Greasers—the eponymous “Outsiders”—characterised by their long hair and leather biker jackets; and the Socs, short for “Socials,” who have “good grades, good cars, good girls, madras and Mustangs and Corvairs.”
“Madras” here refers to the Socs’ predilection for clothing made of madras check, a fabric that was, and is, a powerful metonym for preppy fashion—that whole peculiar complex of styles and affectations with its roots in the Ivy League and Country Club cultures of the north-eastern United States. The Official Preppy Handbook, an obscenely popular satirical guidebook first published in 1980, used madras checks on its dust jacket, as did Christine Nunn’s Preppy Cookbook, published over 30 years later. The book Tipsy in Madras is not a long-lost Graham Greene novel, but rather, as its subtitle proudly proclaims, “A Complete Guide to 80s Preppy Drinking.” In 2011, a website called Ivy Style launched its summer season coverage with what it called “Madras Week,” and in July 2013, the New York Times published a story titled “Preppy Drinks Never Go Out of Style” featuring a cocktail called—you guessed it—The Madras. (more…)
The Byculla Restaurant faces a particularly furious Mumbai streetscape in the once upscale, now decidedly down-at-the-heel, neighborhood of the same name. One of the city’s many elevated roadways (known euphemistically as ‘flyovers’) touches down at street level here, disgorging its blaring traffic at the feet of once elegant apartment buildings. Across the overpass, behind the faded stepped-pyramid façade of the Palace Cinema and the hawkers selling pomegranates and oranges and watermelons, the corrugated tin roof of Byculla railway station seems to rattle every time a local train screeches through, which is often. Pedestrians cluster together to maneuver their way into traffic, eyes straight ahead, palms stretched defiantly toward the windshields of the cars that have overrun the city like rats.