March 6, 2012 |
Sima enters the small storefront in Kamathipura, Mumbai's red-light district, and hands over some money she had hidden in her bra, then adjusts her fake Prada T-shirt. It was a national holiday the day before and business was good, so she's deposited two days of earnings, about $66. Along the wall, other women sit on cheap plastic chairs, chatting, in a bank with an unusual mandate: It serves only prostitutes. "My dream is to save a lot, go back to my village, build a house," says Sima, 25. "Well, maybe someday.
February 15, 2012
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity Katherine Boo Random House: 266 pp., $27
February 15, 2012 |
When a big bank goes bust in Manhattan, forcing a thriving construction site in Mumbai to shut down and the price of recyclable scrap to plummet, entire families in the slums of India go hungry. This is the butterfly effect of the harrowingly interrelated global economy described in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo's first book, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. " This narrative nonfiction work catalogs a period of three years, beginning before the global market crash of 2008, of the Husain family, supported by a teenage trash-buyer named Abdul, and others who scrape together a living in a slum called Annawadi on a half-acre of polluted land beside the gleaming Mumbai international airport.
December 19, 2011 |
Pawan Kumar is looking for a job. Not just any job; he wants to be India's newest hangman. Kumar, 50, an apparel salesman from a family of executioners, says it's in his DNA, demonstrating with well-callused hands how to slide a hood over a condemned person's head, grease the noose and wrench the lever so the floor parts like a wave. He acknowledges that he's never performed a hanging, India's preferred execution method, but says he's witnessed several and practiced using sandbags.
November 11, 2011 |
Danish-born actress and filmmaker Dina Rosenmeier attempts to square her mother Jessie's seemingly obsessive need to aid the world's underprivileged children — while regularly leaving her own six kids back home — in the stirring, if inconclusive documentary "A Journey in My Mother's Footsteps. " Jessie Rosenmeier, 75 when this film was made, is dubbed here "The Mother Teresa of Modern Times" for her four-decade devotion to the welfare and international adoption of children in such countries as Kenya, Haiti, Korea and, especially, India.
October 28, 2011 |
Sushil Kumar's job entering data into a computer earns him $120 a month. His 50-year-old home is in serious need of repair. His family owes $8,500. But his life, so similar to the hardscrabble existence of fellow Indians, has taken a decidedly Bollywood turn for the better. The rags-to-riches story that unfolded in the 2008 Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" came to life this week when the struggling government clerk from eastern India won $1 million on a TV game show.
September 19, 2011 |
When three bombs tore through Mumbai in July, the blasts scattered scores of diamonds being carried by traders as they rushed to safe deposit boxes on their way home. After frantic panning of drains, sewers and monsoon puddles, about 65 were recovered. The industry plans to auction off any that can't be returned to their rightful owners, with the proceeds going into a fund for victims of the blasts and their families. The coordinated bombings, which killed 26 people in the biggest attack against India's financial capital since late 2008, when a three-day siege killed 166, also staggered the country's diamond-cutting and polishing industry, the world's largest.
September 5, 2011 |
This city of 20 million people, the frenetic embodiment of India's energy, ambition and chaos, doesn't do quiet very well, even as it pauses for a few hours after midnight to rejuvenate. Tonight, monsoon rains from the Arabian Sea are forcing its thousands of street dwellers to retreat to dank hallways and dimly lit underpasses. Mahesh Suresh Kamble and his co-worker, Sangpal Sitaram Bachate, wait for the rain to ease before heading to a complex of four-story apartments in the heart of the city, aware that their prey prefers indoor comfort in such weather.
July 20, 2011 |
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday offered India continued U.S. support in its fight against militants as the two nations signed a preliminary agreement on cyber-terrorism less than a week after three bombs exploded in the city of Mumbai, killing 20 people. But strains remain between the partners in an area some have characterized as a cornerstone of their relationship: a civilian nuclear agreement signed in 2008 aimed at easing India's perennial energy shortages and opening markets for U.S. suppliers.
July 15, 2011 |
India's home minister said Thursday that it was too early to blame any particular militant group or individual for the deadly blasts that struck Mumbai at rush hour a day earlier, but that the coordinated attack was the work of terrorists. He also defended the intelligence services' record in the run-up to the three explosions, adding that they had no information that an attack was coming. "Whoever planned this attack worked in a very, very clandestine manner," Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters Thursday morning.