Live on, Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager mostly hangs out in the upper canopy, making it a rare sighting for hikers in the Shenandoah National Park. This one visited us in the lower canopy, hunting insects for his mate or flashing his red plumage to make her love him. Mohan later rendered it in pen and color pencil. It … Continue reading Live on, Scarlet Tanager

An Indian King from the East

Every year brings new challenges to our myths. This year, astronomers turn our attention to the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn low in the night sky, an event said to have occurred two thousand and twenty years ago at the birth of Jesus Christ. The three wise men, we are made to understand, found … Continue reading An Indian King from the East

Poe’s Pigeon: “Poop Galore”

My son asks how my satire of The Raven is coming along. It’s stalled, I say, and explain the problem. The first seven stanzas, more than a third of the poem, have nothing to do with the bird. Yet the inspiration to write this satire flaps all around me, every day, unavoidable reminders of their own absurdity: … Continue reading Poe’s Pigeon: “Poop Galore”

Lockdown Countdown

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night announced a nationwide lockdown, freezing 1.3 billion citizens in place starting at midnight tonight (coinciding with Ugadi, the first day of the New Year on the Hindu calendar). What a relief! For weeks I’ve been grappling with the lack of an end to coronavirus anxiety. Now we know. … Continue reading Lockdown Countdown

The United States Department of State

Referred to as the State Department, State, and DOS, the U.S. Department of State has recently been called by an unfitting new label. I don’t care about the insult. Hearing it called “deep state department” glances off as a meaningless jab. I’ve long inured myself against the public bluster. What concerns me more is the … Continue reading The United States Department of State

Gandhi at 150

It's been 150 years since Gandhi's birth, initiating a circle that goes round today. This year Gandhi Jayanti falls on the fourth day of Navratri, and so we've made his iconic ashram part of our annual display. It's nearly finished, this replica of his simple home on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Gujarat. … Continue reading Gandhi at 150

Holidays Upon Us

It's that time of year! The lights are out and the home is warm. For the next weeks and months we'll enjoy the soft glow of string lights. Here in Western India Navratri begins tomorrow. It lasts nine nights. Throughout the period, in this part of the country, we'll recognize the victory of good over … Continue reading Holidays Upon Us

Swipe-N-Wipe?

The Internet can solve a lot of problems, but not this one. Spotted this sign in heavy traffic on the stretch between Navi Mumbai and Mumbai proper. Never did spot the facility itself as promised, 100 meters on. Or was that the place where all the cyborgs were lined up, that most human of all … Continue reading Swipe-N-Wipe?

It Rains, It Pours

Tuesday I flew to Delhi, this kitchen knife concealed in my shoulder bag. Security missed the 5-½” blade. Wednesday my phone blew up during a seminar I was conducting with 90 colleagues, a deluge of messages from Mumbai, much of the city underwater, including the 5km stretch between my son’s elementary school and home. A … Continue reading It Rains, It Pours

Ground Control to Chandrayaan

To India's space scientists today: Keep your eyes toward the heavens... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNuSD49chY8 Your efforts these last eight years, culminating in a profound silence from Lunar Lander Vikram moments before touchdown, share a vast and spirited company. Brave adventurers have gone before you and not returned. Their sacrifices line our memories. Their endeavors fire our imagination. Your vision … Continue reading Ground Control to Chandrayaan