Life story

Sunday long reads: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s life story, Christopher Alexander’s timeless architecture, Saeed Naqvi’s The Muslim Vanishes, and more.

In the early 60s, during a musical baithak in Calcutta’s Dixon Lane, in the living room of Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, a brilliant and up-and-coming musician, Bhimsen Joshi, then in his early forties, surprised his audience with his breath control during taans, an immaculate grip on the ragas and almost breathless phrase iterations. All while his grip remained strong on the Kirana’s distinct imprint gharana, known for his passionate interpretations in the upper octaves. And yet it was a different style, with nuances of other gharanas also infused. It was brilliant and yet unheard of until then.


What makes Christopher Alexander’s vision of architecture timeless?

If the scientist in Alexander was deeply concerned about the state of this planet, the artist in him wanted to make the world beautiful to live in.

Christopher Alexander, architect-writer, mathematician and scientist, who died on March 17, aged 85, at his Sussex home, symbolized a lifetime of belief that architecture was not an obsessive, indulgent creation of form , but could bring integrity of life, full of beauty, by his act.


And then there was none: The Muslim Vanishes by veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi imagines India without its Muslim population

Half a world: Muslims offering namaz at Fatehpuri Mosque in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi (Source: Express Archive)

Imagine what will happen if one fine morning India wakes up with the disappearance of its 200 million Muslims. Not only Muslims, but their sculptures, their literature, their culture, their language – it’s all gone – poof, up in the air!

Saeed Naqvi’s new play, The Muslim Vanishes, explores just that.


Dr Saroja Balan It’s your baby is essential reading for every new parent

Dr Saroja Balan book It's your baby, it's your baby book review, parenting guide, parenting guide, baby weight loss, baby's first years, parents, eye 2022, sunday eye, news Indian Express It’s Your Baby: The Indian Parent’s Guide to the First Two Years; By Dr. Saroja Balan; HarperCollins; 428 pages; Rs 499 (Picture:

Warnings first: Like many parents in South Delhi, I propped myself up in Dr Saroja Balan’s room 10 days after giving birth, my eyes cloudy from lack of sleep and panicked at the rapid weight loss that my baby of almost 4 kg at birth seemed to be undergoing. The jumble of information on the Internet and from older parents added to our perplexity – a bit of weightloss was normal for the course, it seemed, but how much was just enough and not too much? And, more worryingly, was a “big” baby actually a sign of neonatal diabetes, as some had pointed out?


In his book JNU: Nationalism and India’s Uncivil War, Professor Makarand R Paranjape fails to understand the essential irreverence that characterizes the first university

    Jawaharlal Nehru University Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. (Case)

Jawaharlal Nehru University is a dreamy and irreverent idea, challenges stereotypes, breaks traditional moorings, is Leninist in its thought process but Gandhian in its philosophy and this makes it mystical and intriguing, and in some ways spiritual. To a foreigner, JNU is intimidating but to someone who has lived on campus as a student, not a teacher, JNU is endearing. I know this because I spent eight glorious years on campus as a student and was not a communist. And, of course, I wasn’t anti-national either.


Rebuilding Lives: In their book Muzaffarnagar Diaries, Sandeep Virmani and Tanvi Choudhari describe how people displaced during the 2013 riots were rehabilitated through a multi-agency project

muzaffarnagar logs Muzaffarnagar Diaries: Post-Riot Resettlement Story; By Sandeep Virmani and Tanvi Choudhari; Hunnarshala Foundation for Building Technology and Innovations; 159 pages; Rs 900 (Source:

Muzaffarnagar Diaries describes its aim to highlight ways in which responsive rehabilitation could be served, with Muzaffarnagar as a model. In 2013, a riot in the area displaced several people and they were struck with the choice of returning to their devastated homes with memories of violence or resettling elsewhere.


Who can horrify with his laughter or make you nervous with his howl?

Pied Starlings (Mynas) having a conversation (Credit: Ranjit Lal)

To what extent do the sounds made by animals – their calls, growls, squeals, screams and the like reflect their characters and personalities? Here, we’ll take a sample of broad-spectrum animals and see if their vocalizations match their appearance and character; good listening !


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