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A New Fire
Many ancient religions look upon fire with reverence, but no other religion has elevated it as high as Zoroastrianism. Atash, or the Holy Fire, is not only a hallowed medium through which spiritual insights become available to humans, but it engender (More)
The Art of George Darby
Capital cities of large empires throughout history have been melting pots. Traditions and people have blended and braided with each other to give rise to new peoples and novel traditions. Calcutta, in the gas lit era, was no different. One of the mos (More)
Fanning an Eastern Breeze
A new Indian nationalism gradually began to take faltering baby steps around the 1870s and 80s and as the newly nationalistic Indians looked around them for inspiration, many of them embraced Japan as a model. Here was an Asian nation that had rapidl (More)
The Promethean Parsi
When Prometheus stole fire from the gods, we do not know in what form he actually carried the fire. Most denizens of gaslit cities, however, carried fire in their pocke (More)
The First Cigarette
The 1860s and 70s were a difficult time for the old and noble families of Delhi. The changes ushered in after the rising of 1857 had precipitated the decline of the city that had begun with the invasion of Nadir Shah over a century ago. The grandeur (More)
A Calcutta Christmas
It was in 1843, only five years after the then-young Queen Victoria first sat on the throne, that the modern Christmas Card made its debut. Sir Henry Cole and his artist friend, JC Horsley, devised the first Christmas Card. The postal rates had just (More)
The New Year Murders
Amitav Ghosh's poppy trilogy has done much to illuminate the world of the seacunny It (More)
Glamorous Gauhar
Born as Angelina Yeoward in 1873 in Azamgarh, Gauhar Jaan, was one of the greatest stars of the British Raj. One of the best exponents of classical Hindustani music, Gauhar Jaan, like most other classical musicians before her, sang for kings and quee (More)
Smoking Stars
The world of gaslights was made ever more mysterious by the swirling balls of cigarette smoke rising from the fashionable new objects (More)
A Curious Picture
I bought this little poster a few years back at an old book store. The image caught my attention for two reasons. First, notwithstanding the central focu (More)
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