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Stepping on Human Skulls in Bangalore’s Black Magic Graveyard Holy Curiosities 

Stepping on Human Skulls in Bangalore’s Black Magic Graveyard

As I stepped over the leg bone, I laughed. I’m no bone doctor, but it looked human to me. Orthopaedist, is that what it’s called? I’m no orthopaedist. Must be from a cow, or maybe a dog. Do dogs get that big? Not a human. Definitely not a human. But then I tripped, and I stepped on a skullcap, that really nailed it for me. This Bangalore graveyard was covered in human bones. “Maybe the dogs dig them up,” suggested Kaveri, as she led the way to the high priestess…

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India’s Charlie Chaplin-branded Potato Chips Copyright Carelessness 

India’s Charlie Chaplin-branded Potato Chips

Okay, they’re not really potato chips. They’re about as far from that as you get — offerings like papad chivda, soya chips, sev puri, and mari banana wafers. They’re tasty. And the bags are all stamped with Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. I loved them so much I bought every kind the supermarket sold. I think this might be my new favorite Indian snack.

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Photographing India, Then and Now Historical Wonders 

Photographing India, Then and Now

In London, I found the old box of slides. It was hidden in the back of my parents’ closet. I had to move fifteen other boxes to get to it. It hadn’t been touched in decades. I bought a slide scanner immediately, and went to work. Going through the treasures inside, I keep gagging at the photos that I’m retaking 30 years later. Some are awfully obvious, like these crackers of the Taj Mahal… and Humayun’s Tomb… But these are the de rigeur shots. Of course Dad shot them in…

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Goodbye Telegram / Hello Telegram Historical Wonders 

Goodbye Telegram / Hello Telegram

If you’d asked me, I’d have confidently told you the telegram service was long gone, relegated to dusty 1930s spy thrillers, retro New York hipster bars, and awesome games I’m building. I would have been so completely wrong. It turns out India actually still uses telegrams. Barely. The service is closing in days! When I read this, I sent Woo an urgent SMS. “We’ve got to send a telegram. Pronto.” I looked at the note, and added one word to the end: “Stop.” And I knew, this was going to…

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Dr Shankar’s Wonderful Collection of Brains and Other Medical Obscura Devoted Obsession Offbeat Museums 

Dr Shankar’s Wonderful Collection of Brains and Other Medical Obscura

It came up over a bowl of brain stew at Karim’s, Old Delhi’s famously-dingy 1913 eatery. “Tasty,” I said, wiping my mouth. “By the way, did I tell you about the brain museum in Bangalore? The architect told me we should go.” Michelle tore off a piece of naan, and sopped up a wet chunk of brain. “We have to go,” she said. And this weekend, we did.

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Murder, Incest, and Fratricide led to The Taj Mahal? Historical Wonders 

Murder, Incest, and Fratricide led to The Taj Mahal?

Well, we made it to the Taj Mahal last weekend. Huge. Overwhelming. Magnificent. I wiped away a tear or two. Shah Jahan built it in memory of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. That’s like the awesomest romantic gesture, ever. But I was also reading William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi at the time. It’s a great book. And according to it, Shah Jahan wasn’t just a mad romantic. He was also the head of one seriously fucked-up family — a generation plagued by incest, murder, harems,…

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Another Little Bangalore Boat Church Holy Curiosities 

Another Little Bangalore Boat Church

53 weeks ago, I posted about my first boat church. The other day — deep in Bangalore’s Austin Town — I found another. So what does this represent? St Thomas coming to Kerala? Or Jesus and Mary coming to India? Is the boat a little Fisher of Men? Or the stormy trip to Gerasenes? How many of these boat churches are there? And when will I find one that’s not empty?

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Antilia: The Most Gratuitous House in Mumbai Other Obscura 

Antilia: The Most Gratuitous House in Mumbai

When you’re in Bombay, a great way to get some context is start in the alleyways of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. About a million people live here, crammed into 0.67 square miles. “It’s like mainlining gratitude for how much we have to be thankful for,” said my old pal Chris. I couldn’t agree more. But there’s no time to ponder that — hop in a Premier Padmini cab, and zip the few miles downtown to Mukesh Ambani’s 27-floor, 40-storey, $1bn single-family house Antilia,

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Amazing Old Bollywood Poster Shops Great Posters Sweet Movies and Wild Books 

Amazing Old Bollywood Poster Shops

Somewhere on Mutton Street, in Bombay’s Chor Bazaar, sits a cave of musty sweetness. It’s filled with old movie posters, piled almost six feet high. “You know V. Shataram, yes?” says the pint-sized operator, Khalim, who looks to be about twelve years old. “He’s fantastic, amazing,” he says, flailing his arms. “You must see his movies.” He dives into the center of a thousand posters, and flips through four before he lands on a Shantaram poster. “You must buy this. It’s beautiful!”

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Hindus Are Buried…?! Holy Curiosities 

Hindus Are Buried…?!

I didn’t know Hindus were buried. Like, they’re always cremated, right? And then we stumbled on our local Hindu graveyard. And realized how wrong we were. The Bangalore architect laughed at me when I asked him about it later. “That’s the great white myth,” he said. “You Westerners still like to romanticize us Indians like the colonialists. But it’s not true. These days, most of us Hindus prefer to be buried.”

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