Rabindranath Tagore (1961), A Documentary on a Great Literary Figure

Rabindranath Tagore

Whenever I learn about Indian history, I am always surprised by the long history of interconnectedness between India and the West. Well before America was a country, India was influencing Europe and Asia in ways that would eventually make it here.

This tradition continued in the life of Rabindranath Tagore. He was born in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1861, during the time of the American Civil War, and died in 1941 during the second World War. This movie didn’t go into what impact the American Civil War might have had on his life, but as I learned when I went to visit the Star of India, this was a huge growth period of trade for India, as Europe could no longer reliably expect supplies from America. Tagore’s grandfather amassed great wealth with investments in coal, indigo, silk and sugar, and he established the Union Bank in Calcutta. The world’s great wars, on the other hand, would deeply affect Rabindranath Tagore.

Bhel Puri Recipe, A Menagerie of Flavor and Texture

Bhel Puri recipe by Indiaphile.info
Bhel puri is another fun Indian snack food from Gujarat. It is a fun treat made from a balance of sweet, tart, salty and spicy, a common combination in Gujarati food. Gujaratis love to add sugar to savory foods. The other brilliant thing about bhel is the texture. It has just the right combination of softness with crunchiness, of dry with wet.

Junglee – Hindi Movie Classic

Junglee movie poster

Who is junglee (uncultured, wild)? Is it the mannered, wealthy people who live lives according to the rules of society, who suppress all joy and happiness in exchange for great riches. Or those of less wealth, who are less restricted by society, who are capable of experiencing joy, happiness and love?

Junglee means ill-mannered or wild. The english word “jungle” is a cognate given to us by the Hindi (and Sanskrit) word, jangal (pronounced the same as jungle). In hindi, it jangal just means forest.

Movie Review: Well Done Abba!

Well Done Abba movie poster

Well Done Abba is a delightful farcical comedy about corruption in India. Armaan Ali (Boman Irani) is a chauffeur in Mumbai who returns to his village near Hyderabad to get his daughter married. He planned to go back for a month, but ends up staying for three months. When he get to his village, he learns there is a water shortage. So he has the idea of building a well. (Hence the name of the movie, Well Done Abba, which I just put together now).

Movie: Hippie Masala

Hippie Masala Movie Poster
In the 1960s, many Westerners flocked to India on a spiritual journey. Most left after weeks or months. Hippie Masala is about the ones who stayed.

The sixties were such a defining period in American history, sometimes it’s easy to forget that it was a movement that happened worldwide. The hippie counterculture really peaked, as many in the Western world searched for a new kind of spirituality apart from or in addition to the Judeo-Christian constructs. Famously, one place people turned to for guidance was India.

Movie Review Monday: Arjun: The Warrior Prince

Arjun: The Warrior Prince

About as long as I’ve known Puja, she’s shared with me stories of the Mahabharata and tried to explain Hinduism to me. Years ago, when we drove from California to Virginia, she passed much of the time telling me stories from the Mahabharata. These stories are deeply ingrained in her from her childhood. She always gets so excited about telling the various stories of gods and battles from the great epic. I’ve always struggled to follow along because the names are so foreign to my ears and many of the stories don’t fit the narratives I expect.

Death Valley Road Trip and Spicy Trail Mix

Death Valley

There was a lone white cloud in the sky ahead of us. We watched it struggle against the heat of the sun, as it transformed from one shape to another. “A bird,” “An elephant,” “A frisbee,” Puja and I called out the shapes we saw as we watched it change. Each transformation threatened to obliterate the cloud. Death by evaporation. But somehow that little cluster of water particles stayed together, unwilling to give in.