1. “Actor Mammootty slaps fan,” Times of India, pointing to the below YouTube video as evidence of the arrogance of the Malayalam film star:

(OK, video won’t embed, so follow this link. And enjoy the rocking music.)

2. “MLAs see ‘vaastu dosh’ in MP Assembly,” The Indian Express — following the death of a local minister, legislators in the state of Madhya Pradesh are calling for vaastu experts to study the building and address any anomalies (vaastu shastra, for those of you not in the know, is vaguely reminiscent of feng shui in that it is an ancient science for determining the appropriate layout of towns and buildings — another contested space in the battle between tradition and modernity, “backward” and developed)

3. “After 14 years, dead railway employee’s kin yet to get compensation,” Times of India — ah, bureaucracy, isn’t it grand?

4. “Bird flu may kill badminton grand prix,” Times of India — I know I shouldn’t joke about the bird flu, but really, the first two grafs of this story struck me as absolutely absurd:

The bird flu outbreak may now cost India its first grand prix badminton tournament. In a formal letter sent to the Badminton Association of India this week, the International Badminton Federation (IBF) has threatened to cancel the India Open, thanks to the acute shortage of shuttlecocks in the country.Bird flu outbreaks in China had made India ban import of all premium goose feathers of Chinese origin to manufacture shuttlecocks.

5. “Lalu shifts three over bad food,” Times of India — again, the lead says it all:

Upset with a slew of events during his hectic visit to Karnataka on Monday, railway minister Lalu Prasad transferred two senior officials after giving them a dressing down.  The two officials … were punished because the minister was not satisfied with the food served on a special train from Tumkur to Bangalore.


According to New York magazine, Equinox (a chain of fitness centers) has signed a deal with Pure Yoga and will debut a 20,000-square-foot space on East 86th St. come spring.

“‘Yoga is in great demand, and that continues to grow,’ says Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak. (It’s currently a $3 billion industry.) Spevak says the new club will be ‘design and amenity driven,’ which means the usual Equinox high-end gloss, five rooms simultaneously offering classes in different styles, and an emphasis on customer service, including the ability to book the exact floor space for your mat online.”

I’m sorry. I love going to the gym as much as the next person, and I understand that yoga is good for the body and soul. But “yoga” as it is imagined in the U.S. seems quite different from yoga as understood in the daily lives of those in India. Have trouble breathing? Assume a certain posture. Depressed, and need to be uplifted? Go to a neighborhood yoga camp. Incorporate small changes into your daily life, and gather with others seeking a more organic solution than those traditionally offered in urban centers.

Doesn’t neurotically planning every second of the experience somehow undermine the calming benefits of mindful movement? Doesn’t insanely posturing for the best mat space, months in advance, make the whole thing a bit less about fitness and healing, and a bit more about cultural cache, money, and unenlightened attachment to the trappings of modern society? Bakwas.  

(Picture is from when I taught at a journalism school in Kerala. I took a weekend trip to a town called Aranmula, which is famed for a particular type of metalcraft mirrors; we stopped by this river to get a drink of water and happened upon this man quietly meditating under his umbrella. After about 20 minutes, he stood, bathed with his buffalo, and walked off down the road.)