Dear Reader,

One of the biggest cliches in my line of work is to call Indian football a ‘sleeping giant,’ a patronising statement made by a white man that several million Indian bloggers latched onto. Some became journalists and wrote of it as their own opinions. Their colleagues in PR picked it up, and passed it on to such experts as Nita Ambani and Ranbir Kapoor, who then passed it off as their opinions, therefore awakening several million Indian YouTubers, who also (“wazzapppp mah fam!”) now believe it.

There are two reasons that phrase has been on my mind.

Firstly, because of our story of the week, which is about a time when India was, in fact, a tumbling, flailing, apprehensive giant. It had just been born – or awakened, to stay with our theme – from that big event that still produces heat, fighting, and several innovative career avenues if you’re the ruling party. The partition story is one we’re familiar with, at least to the extent that from it came a rivalry that will outlast all of us.

As political glamour dolls wrestled for a spotlight that would immortalise them in history books, the background work of drawing up these partitions fell to committees with bureaucrats, cartographers, and geographers. One such geographer,  an Australian called Oskar Spate, has a particularly fun recollection of the process. He had asked Jawaharlal Nehru, for instance, why India shovelled Jhansi into Uttar Pradesh? And he talks of how India briefly contemplated a secret passage between Amritsar and Pakistan.

 

It’s Spate’s stories collected and woven together by Sidin Vadukut, that will lead our line-up this week. A quite enjoyable short article, which is quite in contrast to Johnny’s depths from our last edition. There is no illustrated story, but I’ve found a fun photo story on China’s propaganda machine to make up. Sitting alongside them is a story an American boy whose school thought he might be the next shooter, a warm essay for the introverts about eating by yourself, and a humorous account of an Indian girl who was secretly swiping on Tinder while her parents were groom-hunting.

But before you dig in – the second reason.

For the most part of the last 15 days, I have been asleep. An ignominy brought about by the time zones in which cricket is being played. It is why there wasn’t a newsletter last week and I’m sureyou’ll understand. But who will tell my maid, who has invariably found me unfurled on the bed during both her morning and afternoon shifts for two weeks?

Does she reckon I’m an alcoholic?  Does she (most definitely, one hundred percent) curse the privileged brat in A-307? It’s caused me some anxiety.

 

When I woke up to open the door for her the other day, I found myself trying to create a scene that was occupied by an awake adult ten seconds ago: which, according to my mind, would best be captured by my picking up a newspaper.  It might have worked too, if I hadn’t tripped halfway through my pirouette, and connected, plush, with the edge of the coffee table, both my knees.

I’ve been awake a couple of times after that, but eye contact is out of the question. I’d settle for it if the YouTubers christened me Sleeping Gent. It’d be more than my maid thinks of me.

 

Yours,

Varun

 

 

Articles:

Story of the week – Oskar Spate and the madness of Indian maps

The quest to stop the next school shooter

On eating alone

Photo story: China’s propaganda game

I was secretly swiping on Tinder as my family tried to arrange my marriage

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