Granny Tales 101: Chapter 4

So the reason I said I knew what was coming up in this chapter was because I knew there was going to be an article of mine coming out in the newspaper soon. It was a piece I wrote on Tamil poetry for The Times of India, Chennai. I mention this because a lot of my interest in writing developed because of dadi.

Dadi was an English teacher and she would sit for hours teaching me poems, grammar and narrating granny tales when I was in school. Before exams, she would sit with me and listen as I read out lessons loudly and interjected only if she wanted to add a point. Even at 90, she knew what gerunds and clauses were better than anyone else. I owe a lot of my knowledge in the language to her. She loved reading my English answer papers to see if the teaching sessions paid off. But my humble sweetheart that she was, she never took credit for it, simply praised me for being talented.  Continue reading


Chennai: Amid the chaos of big and small black guitar cases, a neatly wrapped dotara (Baul instrument) hanging from a pink wall, traditional dry grass mats and a cot, the distinct and melodic tunes of the rare Mohan veena reverberate. Swiftly running his fingers on this 20-string instrument is Poly Varghese, a Kerala-born musician known to be among the niche group of artists who play the modified Archtop guitar which was handcrafted by his guru Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Varghese’s long journey as a Carnatic mridangist slowly ended after his chance encounter with the unique instrument. Continue reading



Razia Begum at work.

CHENNAI, March 31: Seated on a rickety wooden stool, near a pile of rubble, looking through an eyepiece, Razia Begum carefully resets the time of a gold-plated wrist watch using a pointed tool called a hairspring collet lever, from one of the many boxes stacked in her pale-white wooden cabinet.

Wanting to carry on her father’s legacy, Razia took over his watch-repairing business after completing her tenth grade at the Murtuzaviya Oriental Higher Secondary School, an Islamic school [madrasa] in Chennai. Continue reading