Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

David Stairs “May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in […]

Death in India
Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

David Stairs Gone, but not forgotten (image courtesy of Deepa Mohan) Although the idea of reincarnation may have arisen independently in several places, India is justly famous as the land that most fully embraced the concept. All of the major Indian religious traditions embrace some form of the idea. In Hinduism, the cycle of transmigration […]

Lorry Land
Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

David Stairs I thought I knew trucks. After all, growing up in America, land of monster 56′ long behemoths, every boy wants to be a truck driver at some point. I vividly remember a trip along Interstate 80, the most intense truck route in the U.S., when there were so many trucks and seemingly only […]

The Unbearable Messiness of Commons
Monday, March 19th, 2012

Sumandro “Commons are forms of direct access to social wealth; access that is not mediated by competitive market relations.” – Massimo De Angelis, The New Commons in Practice: Strategy, Process and Alternatives, Development, 2005, 48(2), 48-52 Men gathering cattle fodder, Yelahanka In the interview with The Ugly Indian published previously here, the explanation of the […]

540 rupees = $11.00
Sunday, March 11th, 2012

David Stairs I thought it was malaria. I had all the symptoms: headache, chills, fatigue, fever, sweats, dry cough. My first three weeks in country I’d been living near a swamp, and the incubation period seemed right. No matter that Bangalore is not in a malarious zone, my son was alarmed. We’d lived in Africa […]

Brushin’ Up B’galore
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

David Stairs “Indians do not have the same civic sense as, say, Scandinavians. The boundary of the space you keep clean is marked at the end of the space you call your own.” —from Maximum City by Suketu Mehta The Commons are a topic of concern to contemporary Indians. Whether talking about road safety or […]

Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

David Stairs Anantapura Road Demarcating property lines, that most European activity, has taken over the world. When I was a child in the ’50s, the adjoining backyards of my neighborhood were open. I remember running with my friends through the neighborhood like wild horses, viewing the world from an interior point of view unimaginable from […]

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

David Stairs Cement trucks parked along Doddaballapur Road Every environment has its signature building material. In Africa, rammed earth and thatch were, for centuries, the default until they gave way to bricks and mortar. I’ve always thought of North America as the wood construction capital of the universe, due to its wealth of forests. The […]

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

David Stairs Editor’s Note: With this posting we launch our Indian Journal category of D-A-P India. For over thirty years, ever since seeing Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy in the 70’s, I’ve dreamed of being here. As is often the case, I made it elsewhere first, to Africa, which was a good buffer. Uganda has many […]