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Sitting at yet another job interview for an NGO, the question arises again. After hearing it repeatedly over the past three months, I am prepared for it.

“But, what are you doing in India? What made you move here?”

The interviewer is curious, perhaps because she hasn’t come across many like me. We, the children of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), who want to live and work in their parents’ respective countries, are a rare breed.

“Honestly, I am here because I see a real need for education reform in this country, but also because I really love India.” The former, a statement that would help me land me the job. The latter, intended to satisfy curiosity.

The interviewer moves on to the next question, but after hearing the second part of my answer, most people press onwards.

“You love India? Compared to America?” they ask, as if it is unfathomable. More… “Going the Right Way”

Kanan Gole has written for Table Matters (on, ironically, her inability to cook) and The Smart Set, and enjoys writing about her Indian heritage and her travels. She currently works and writes in Pune, India.
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The election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States has come as a shock to America’s bipartisan establishment. Trump is clearly unqualified for the highest office in the land. He is not related to any former president, either by blood or marriage — and yet he won anyway.

How could this happen? More… “DONALD TRUMP, REGICIDE”

Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.
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Backyard Hercules, 2009, from the Homeland series

You can smell the photographs of Larry Sultan. My wife noticed this before I did. She is a Western person (she grew up in Las Vegas). That’s to say, she’s a desert person, as am I (Los Angeles). So it makes sense that she could smell Sultan’s pictures. Most of the photographs of Larry Sultan (currently on display at LACMA’s retrospective Larry Sultan: Here and Home) are thick with the San Fernando Valley in North Los Angeles, where Sultan grew up.

Larry Sultan: Here and Home” at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Through March 22.

The San Fernando Valley, otherwise known to Angelinos simply as “The Valley,” is Ground Zero for West Coast suburbia. There are tract homes, model housing developments, vast stretches of concrete highway stretching out into the horizon. But if you look… More…

And not just into apartments

It was the house. Bats flew in. The basement was crawling with snakes. The day I stumbled down there in the dark holding a laundry basket, my heart froze. Conversely, the stove was electric and not very good at maintaining a temperature. I was always burning things. The house caused multiple losses. If I were asked to imagine the attributes of the lot it was built on, I would describe the mound of an old baseball field, sullen with weeds, where the most frequent pitches were change ups thrown at seventy-five miles an hour. It didn’t have leaky faucets or peeling floor tiles. We had a really good landlord. It was in the middle of the block. It was free standing. We didn’t know any of the neighbors, which isn’t atypical for people who don’t own dogs or walk them past neighbors patrolling the grass, at their very most wretched…. More…

From Technicolor to Topeka

Salman Rushdie wrote an amusing little book in 1992. The title of the book is The Wizard of Oz. It’s about the famous movie with Judy Garland’s Dorothy and Toto and the Wicked Witches, East and West. The movie The Wizard of Oz is celebrating its 75-year anniversary this month. For three-quarters of a century, this unusual movie has been infecting the brains of young people all over the world. Rushdie was one of them. At age ten, Rushdie wrote his first story. He called it “Over the Rainbow.” Strange to think that there is a direct line from The Wizard of Oz to Rushdie’s now-classic tale of the partition of India, Midnight’s Children (1980). 

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New… More…

Home to treasures, gems...and horrors.

Like many of the pieces I write for Foodstuffs, this is a combined story of love and revulsion.* But unlike those pieces, this doesn’t reach back into history to pluck out Victorian funeral cookies or pre-microwave bachelor foods. No, this month I’m writing about recipes that are much more recent, but still forgotten — the recipes that fill locally produced cookbooks of the 70s and 80s.

I own a small collection of these cookbooks; I purposefully keep it small, because for every good recipe I find in them, there are usually three more that simply amount to mixing a canned soup with something else from a can and putting cheese on top. You’ve probably seen the cookbooks I’m talking about — you might even own one. Produced as fundraising projects or to celebrate a particular town’s “cuisine,” these typewritten or dot-matrix printed, spiral-bound collections… More…

F is for "feminist video installation."

Imagine yourself as a child, frolicking through your parents’ back yard and digging up worms. Your mother calls you in from the kitchen for dinner and you bound in through the back door, smelling the roast she’s been tending to for the past few hours. At the table your father sits reading the newspaper, your sister fidgeting with a bow in her hair. Before you is the same familiar spread: off-white plates, clear glasses, spotless silverware, uniform serving utensils, and of course, the butter dish. You think nothing of the materials off of which you shovel food into your mouth, moving as quickly as possible to resume your outdoor activities. For hours your mother slaved over the stove to prepare your meal, but that won’t cross your mind until present day when, as an adult, you prepare meals for yourself and maybe even your own children. Now is a time… More…

 

I hate living in Los Angeles, but I’ve been told that my film career will be best nurtured here. Another place calls me home, where I might suffer for my art in comfort (suffering aside). Should I suffer all the suffering there is here in LA to better tempt my destiny? Do poets ever have this problem? — Mark B., Los Angeles, California

Ah, suffering. The most appropriate answer to your query would use a poet who wrote in L.A., and by most accounts, suffered there: Charles Bukowski.

the words have come and gone, I sit ill. the phone rings, the cats sleep. Linda vacuums. I am waiting to live, waiting to die. I wish I could ring in some bravery. it’s a lousy fix but the tree outside doesn’t know: I watch it moving with the wind… More…

Site of a deadly battle between ancestral lands and a golf course.

 

In the mid-1990s, a group of developers in search of a place to build a golf resort cast their gaze upon the 7,000 islands that form the Philippines. Golf course development had thrived under then-President Fidel Ramos, an enthusiastic player who saw the game as an integral part of tourism, and when the developers located a place called Hacienda Looc — a pristine coastal village whose wide plain separated pastoral hills — they thought they’d hit pay dirt.

The plains could be flooded to create a yacht marina. A luxury beach resort would include residential subdivisions. The surrounding hills would be fashioned into four championship courses. Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus were on board. Hacienda Looc would be the next hot spot. Everyone loved the plans.

Everyone, anyway, who didn’t already live in Hacienda Looc.

No one had bothered… More…

Of a life as a writer.

 

The summer I turned 18, my parents went away to Europe and I lived with my grandmother in our family’s rambling summer home in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. It was an unusual housing scenario. My grandmother was the grande dame of an elite summer colony that had begun hosting cocktail parties and picking blueberries in the New Hampshire hills even before her own grandparents had bought the house in 1905.

Meanwhile, I was there in the house expressly to escape the confines of the upper-crust world. A bony, scowling, and acne-pocked iconoclast, I’d never fit in at my prep school back in Connecticut. But there in New Hampshire, hanging out with my friends, year-round residents all, I’d been able to flourish — to recast myself as a wry comedian and a sort of visiting scholar capable of leading… More…