Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged India

Chai, Chai: Travels in Places Where You Stop but Never Get Off

Good travel writing is hard to come by because it requires a convergence of several elements: a catchy hook, entertaining prose, historical context in just the right doses, and a keen eye for what is interesting about people and places visited. The ability to impeccably execute these essential components is what separates the sacred from the profane.

Designs Inc Jewelry

For all the traveling I’ve done in India, I haven’t yet managed to make it to Goa. The Southeast coast of the country was colonized by the Portuguese (and the Dutch and the French), and—from the architecture of massive churches to the spice blends in the cuisine—that influence is still felt in South India today. Goa is a hotspot for travelers who want a reprieve from ‘traditional India’.

A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta

Here’s the thing about reading a book that’s set in the place you live: it obliges you to scrutinize the setting, the authenticity of the dialogue, and the accuracy of the story in a way you may not have done otherwise. This effect becomes magnified when the place in which you live is not the place you are from, and when your own situated existence in that un-rooted place resembles that of the author’s.

An Endless Winter’s Night: An Anthology of Mother-Daughter Stories

When it comes to works of literature, one key element that can make or break the brilliance of the creation is translation. Indian literature, specifically, has a history of poor translations. This has led some writers (Salman Rushdie, for example) to write nearly exclusively in English in order for the essence of one’s work to reach a broader audience.

Elizabeth Gilbert (01/25/2010)

I fell in love with Elizabeth Gilbert’s smart, poetic, humorous and utterly authentic voice while reading Eat, Pray, Love.

One Amazing Thing

One Amazing Thing is one amazing set of well-woven characters and stories.

Pheasant Skirt

Before I moved to India, a friend of mine joked that I should send her a full wardrobe at the start of every season. She was more than a little jealous of the items I'd picked up on a trip before—particularly the scarves with sparse silver threading that are difficult to find in the States—where I made my way East to West across the subcontinent from Kolkata to Varanasi to Delhi. My sister made me promise to buy her a few stylish hippie-cum-hipster skirts while my boss hinted at her desire for intricately designed jewelry.

Winter Dreidle Dress

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, a number of Western counter-cultural icons traveled to India in order to broaden their knowledge of art, music, literature, and philosophy by speaking with some the country's intellectual and religious figures.

India Exposed: The Subcontinent A-Z

The dust jacket of the enigmatic picture book India Exposed displays row upon row of bright blue Kali figures prepared for a festival. Nude goddesses sticking out their intense pink tongues, each statue garlanded with human heads (all male, as far as I can tell), dwarf the lone craftsman at work among them.

The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman’s Memoir

At the end of her memoir, The Weave of My Life, Urmila Pawar writes, “Life has taught me many things, showed me so much, it has also lashed out at me till I bled. I don’t know how much longer I am going to live, nor do I know in what form life is going to confront me. Let it come in any form; I am ready to face it stoically. This is what my life has taught me. This is my life and that is me!” People write memoirs for different reasons.

Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language

Katherine Russell Rich never dreamed she would leave her job as a tough-skinned editor in the edgy world of New York City’s magazine publications. Then she was faced with two rounds of cancer—the second bringing her to the brink of death. Just as she came out on the other side of her illness, she was handed a pink slip. A firm internal voice urged her to seek a more artistic life. Little did she know that this voice would take her halfway around the world. Russell Rich’s first visit to India came by accident.

Censorship in South Asia: Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction

There is no use in burying the head of an ostrich in censorship and imagining the enemy knows nothing of what we are doing. — S.C. Lind Censorship in South Asia dissects the history and socio-political dynamics of censorship in India, which have been transcribed into the public culture of the South Asian society over the years.


This short film was Sushrut Jain's final project at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He plans to expand the character study into a feature length film. Shot on the street in a Mumbai suburb of the same name, Andheri does an exceptional job of communicating what it feels like to walk down the street in urban India. Every movie with an Indian scene seems to have a few crowded streets where the camera jostles and token cows, beggar children, and colorful saris move through the frame.

East of the Sun

East of the Sun follows the journey of three young women and their quest for love, life, and self-discovery in the autumn of 1928. The story begins in London with Viva Holloway, an orphan and aspiring writer who takes on the responsibility of chaperoning three young adults—Rose, Tor and Guy—in traveling to India.

New York Times 'Half The Sky' Issue

In July, I wrote a post about Nicholas D. Kristof's announcing a "special issue" of the New York Times Sunday Magazine that would cover women in the developing world. Well, that issue is now available online, and will be arriving to the doorsteps of NYT subscribers in a few days.

Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal

Rochona Majumdar's firmest statement in Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal is that the Western conception of arranged marriage is dated. The portrayal of arranged marriage as immoral suited the Western sense of superiority over the “Hindoos,” despite the fact that Western courtship was riddled with its own problems. Arranged marriage is obviously the creation of a certain cultural condition and sought to fulfill certain perceived needs.

Kanchivaram: A Communist Confession

There are two times in a Hindu's life when one is supposed to wear silk: at one’s wedding and at one’s own funeral. In the village of Kanchivaram (Kanchipuram), the silk weavers are only ever able to have enough silk to tie the toes of the dead together, and no daughter of a weaver has ever worn a silk sari on her wedding day. Kanchivaram tells the story of a man of change. Weaving silk for a pittance, as his father did before him, Vengadam wants nothing more than to weave his daughter a silk sari for her wedding day.

Karma Calling

Director Sarba Das has taken the stomach-churning subject of credit card debt and used it as a hilarious plot device in this endearing romp of a screwball romantic comedy. Watching Karma Calling is definitely non-stop farcical fun as the maxed out Raj’s, a Hindu family living above their means in Hoboken, are pestered by credit card call center collectors based in India. Ingenious scenes highlight the absurdity of our hyper-globalized world as the Indian collectors learn how to sound American and choose fake names based on popular American sitcoms.

The Hindus: An Alternative History

Wendy Doniger, currently the most outstanding American scholar of Hinduism, serves us a feast of tasty historical events and interpretative myths in this rich curry of a book, covering social and cultural developments in the Indian subcontinent from prehistoric times to the modern day.

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

Many well-meaning people and organizations throughout the world have had grand visions for African and Indian aid over the years, but many of these projects and initiatives have not had a lasting impact for the poorest people. Author and Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz has written a book that will change the way you think about Africa, India, philanthropy, and probably your own life. Novogratz, who had been an international banker, knew she wanted to make a difference in the world. Like many of us, though, she wasn’t sure how.

Trivia: Voices of Feminism, Issue 9

What a journal! Trivia: Voices of Feminism, Issue 9 is a beautiful and inspiring electronic resource. Thinking about Goddesses is this edition’s theme. Editors Lise Weil and Hye Sook Hwang present fourteen articles made up of personal essays and poetry complete with moving artwork and pictures. What is Goddess worship?

Sita Sings the Blues

As an independent woman struggling to experience life for myself instead of through a man, I’m always looking for inspiration from other women who develop identities beyond being appendages or servants to men. As I was already familiar with the story of Sita, a Hindu goddess, I was curious to see how Nina Paley would present the story in her animated film. Simply going by the graphics, the movie is a fantastic exploration of the parallels between the ancient mythological world and modern day.

City of Victory

Anita Saran’s short story, City of Victory, is one of the best crafted stories I’ve read in a long time. She has a knack of bringing the setting to the forefront without intrusion. To call this piece of work a short story is an understatement. I find it to be more of a novella. The story is set in sixteenth century Vijayanagar, a city in South India known as Hampi today. Jehaan is a gypsy girl, who is forced to be one of the maids of honor to the queen.

Yi As Akh Padshah Bai (There Was a Queen)

Yi As Akh Padshah Bai (There Was a Queen) is a documentary that tells the story of women in Kashmir, the northwestern region of the India currently controlled by Pakistan, India, and China. The directors dub it "the world's most picturesque conflict zone". India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, and conflict has been a constant in the region since the 1990's when Kashmiri separatists began clashing with both Pakistani and Indian forces.


Nesrine Malik’s scathing review of the ITV drama Compulsion got me thinking a lot more about modern day adaptations of pre-twentieth century literary works featuring ethnic Indian actors.

Hollow Bodies: Institutional Responses to Sex Trafficking in Armenia, Bosnia and India

In Hollow Bodies, Susan Dewey travels to Armenia, Bosnia, and India to look at the institutional responses to sex trafficking in the three different cultural and governmental contexts. Armenia is plagued by poverty, unemployment and a poor quality of life that encourages migration. Bosnia is recovering from a violent war in which many women were victims of rape and forced into prostitution.

Shalom India Housing Society

Shalom India Housing Society is an apartment complex formed in the wake of the shocking riots of 2002 by Erza, an Indian Bene Israel Jew and a contractor by profession. The Society is formed to allow Jews to maintain a separate identity in multi-religious India. The Bene Israel communities trace their descent to Jews who escaped persecution two thousand years ago and were shipwrecked in Alibaug in Mumbai. Since then they have made India their home.

Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult

Don’t be fooled by the somewhat whimsical title of Jayanti Tamm’s memoir Cartwheels in a Sari; this account of a young woman’s life as "growing up cult" couples the childlike innocence of a cartwheel with the feeling of inertia and tumbling; she sums this up in a passage from the end of the book: "The inversion of my body, losing track of gravity and direction, was disorienting and delirious.

No Country for Young Girls

No Country for Young Girls is a twenty-five minute question posed to India: "How can this country move forward while there is still profound gender discrimination against females?" Director Nupur Basu introduces twenty-seven-year-old Vyjanthi, a mother of a three-year-old daughter. When she becomes pregnant with another girl, her husband and in-laws pressure her to an abortion. She flees to her parents’ house to weigh her options. Should she leave her husband and raise her daughters on her own?

Slumdog Millionaire (or I Want to Sue the Indian Government: Memories of Gods, Lovers, and Slumdogs)

An old Native American curse goes like this, “May all your dreams come true!” For many years, I had a dream; I wanted very badly to visit mysterious India. Last month my wish unexpectedly came true. Forbidden Sun Dance, my most recent documentary, was selected to compete in the Tri-Continental Human Rights Film Festival in India.