Mumbai Standstill

Who owns this day? This town? Nobody. The rains come across the bay, halt awhile, move along. They leave behind a soaked humanity, anonymous. The brightest among us are alien. Forbidding.         ##  

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Writing for Children

HarperCollins India, Avid Learning, and Mumbai children's book promoter Lubaina Tyebji Bandukwala put together an informative workshop on writing children's literature this weekend. As I begin the search for a home to publish my own middle grade novels, I thought I'd confirm my take on the genre with people who actually know what they're talking about. A … Continue reading Writing for Children

The Elephants’ Thunder

Every night I hear the drums. Out there, on the fairgrounds in the dark, the big drums throb and the high snares crackle. Two weeks from now Ganesh will march the streets, Gunpatti’s thunderous procession to the sea shaking the city’s windows and doors. Hordes will carry idols of the elephant deity in waves across … Continue reading The Elephants’ Thunder

Twinkle for Gents—A Close Shave

I ask around about haircuts. Authoritative Mumbai sources say: Twinkle for Gents. Five weeks into our stay, haircuts are essential. But am I to test Twinkle for Gents? I take a 2 and 3 across the sides and top. My sons buzz down to 4 and 5. Not haircuts, so much as a few quick strokes … Continue reading Twinkle for Gents—A Close Shave

Another One Bites the Dust

All in one Mumbai day we enjoyed these musical interludes. At Malabar Hill we toured the Hanging Garden (The Cure, Pornography, 1982). It doesn’t hang so much as stand upon a series of reservoirs that hold—depending on who you ask—30 or 90 or 300 million gallons of water. The garden’s benches and clocks and topiary fill the paths, … Continue reading Another One Bites the Dust

Mumbai Physics

I could be anywhere. Low in this cab the wall of traffic rises above and around me, looks the same and moves the same as it would in any other part of the city, dense and fixed. Rickshaws motorcycles Eicher lorries Uber sedans Suzuki Marutis Hyundais busses—including double decker busses—mopeds bicycles pedestrians  vendors traffic cops … Continue reading Mumbai Physics

The Sunday Straphanger

We hopped a train at Bandra Junction toward the old Victoria Station, now called Shivaji Terminus, ten stops away. The tidy compartment carried just a handful of passengers scattered about on a few padded benches. Overhead the silver handles shook as the train departed. I offered the window seat to my boys. Turns out it … Continue reading The Sunday Straphanger

Elevatorwala

Mumbai has a wallah for everything, no task too big or small. Outside my 14th-story flat, one of four elevatorwalas pushes the button that takes us to the street and back again. The other night we ate our first dinner at a Parsi restaurant called---this is all one word---Sodabottleopenerwala. It’s a chain. Derived in part … Continue reading Elevatorwala

Posting from a New Home

After five years posting from DC, BenEastBooks moves on to Mumbai. Expect the same focus on craft and reviewing serious books by independent authors. Expect new writing invigorated by travel and adventure. Expect postings flavored with the exotic, the ancient, the extraordinary, and the very new. I welcome contributions, requests for reviews, and sensible observations. When … Continue reading Posting from a New Home

Maximum City

We are neither here nor there. The carpets are up and the curios down. The boys are packed and shipped off south for a week with Naniji. A week from tomorrow the packers arrive. They'll invade for 3 or 4 days to box up several categories of shipment: 700 lbs of air freight; 7k lbs … Continue reading Maximum City