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Showing posts from January, 2012

Migrant Workers in Kerala

On Sundays, Gandhi Bazaar in Perumbavoor, a small town in Kerala, is thick with crowd upon crowd of migrant workers from India's east. It’s a kind of meeting place for migrants employed in different parts of Kerala and they congregate here with a week’s wages bulging in their pockets. The small make-shift stalls of the bazaar spill out on to the road as the people throng to buy clothes, Bengali beedis and other stuff from way back home or simply hang out. An Oriyan bhajan in a CD shop competes with Assamese singer Akashdeep in another store, creating the exciting cacophony of a fair. Tucked away in a corner, Rihaj from Orissa runs a tailoring shop offering special designs while City Hotel serves hot bhai biriyani, samosas and Bengali sweets. As for the postal name Gandhi Bazaar–it has slowly withered away in references and has been replaced by Bhai bazaar or Bengali bazaar.
22-year-old Ajis Khan, a mechanic from Assam turns entrepreneur on Sundays. He does a brisk business by selli…

Hermaphroditic Times

Book Review: Spring Flowers, Spring Frost I began this review at the start of the Arab Spring-that is near a year now- and yet it remains in a state of incompletion. I now think it is fitting that it remains so. Like the times… we have no clue how things will turn out. And the moment-it is neither here nor there: a transitional phase that is quite out of character with the normal times. This moment cannot be defined by the behavioral traits of a given period and we epileptically grapple for a definition and fail-we don’t know how to quite put it. Albanian author Ismail Kadare is not so confused. He’s been there and he calls it a hermaphroditic moment, or to use the old language of the Albanian people: a bitch and a dog. Kadare’s novel, Spring Flowers, SpringFrost (Random House 2002), attempts to capture this peculiar time when his country, Albania, is in the throes of transition from a manacled communist state to a new-found freedom that turns into a Frankenstein monster with an ancient…