When Bokaro Steel Plant and America almost had a date…

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about many interesting things during his tenure as US Ambassador to India. The snippets on Bokaro Steel City (where I was born) caught my attention. All Bokaro residents are aware of the Russian collaboration and the ‘many things Russian’ about Bokaro (stations inside City Park, Russian Colony, etc.) What will …

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A Quiet Violence (view from a Bangladesh village) – an excerpt

In Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s book, Poor Economics, they reference the following story from Betsey Hartman and Jim Boyce’s book – A Quiet Violence (view from a Bangladesh village). The story describes two neighboring families, one Hindu and one Muslim, that were not particularly close to each other. The Hindu family lost its main …

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Second batch of friends arrived a few months ago

Bringing 15 boxes of friends home – the post that started it all off. This post recounts the voyage of our second batch of friends, henceforth dubbed as Part 2 of the series. In Dec 2011, my brother-in-law brought the second batch of books — to Chennai. So far so good. Since his parents were going …

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Beirut in April (circa 1961)

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about his 3-day layover in Beirut, enroute to India — where he would begin his tenure as US Ambassador to India.  Below are selected extracts from April 5,6,7 journal entries. We arrived in Beirut about 7:30pm, were met by a formidable delegation from the Embassy and went to a pleasant …

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What motivates most amateur marathoners?

Haruki Murakami, famous novelist and marathon runner, this question in his memoir What I talk about when I talk about running. Marathon runners well understand what I mean. We don’t really care whether we beat any other particular runner. World-class runners, of course, want to outdo their closest rivals, but for your average, everyday runner, individual …

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Diplomacy 101 – blast from the 1961 Galbraith archives

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith shares a Diplomacy 101 aphorism (“don’t do anything”) in his February 18, 1961 journal entry. February 18-Washington-Cambridge … (skipped several paragraphs) … Thursday night we were guests of the Indian Embassy at The World of Appu, by Satyajit Ray. It needs cutting but is obviously a superior film. Afterward there was …

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John F Kennedy’s Presidential Desk

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about the origins of JFK’s presidential desk in his February 14, 1961 journal entry. Yesterday the FBI invaded Cambridge. If my loyalty is imperfect, it will be one of the most dangerously delayed discoveries in modern history. Meanwhile my diplomatic career continues to be subordinate to the price of hogs. …

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When hard liquor was served at a White House party for the first time

I recently started reading Ambassador’s Journal – John Kenneth Galbraith’s personal account of the Kennedy years. It’s a 500+ page heavy tome but my pal (@zenrainman) tells me why it should be a fun read: https://twitter.com/#!/zenrainman/status/187195027158609921 After the first 20 pages itself, I can see that he’s right. I’ve transcribed the Jan 29, 1961 journal entry where …

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Lessons from Under the Banyan Tree

R.K. Narayan is my favorite Indian writer. I don’t know who is second on my list… in any case it’s not germane to this blog post. Under the Banyan Tree is a collection of short stories, arguably one of his finest books. It was the book that made me go buy every other book R.K. …

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Go on! Challenge that bully!

A friend and running fanatic (Partha) once told me a story about one of his friends (let’s call him Jake). Jake is one of those annoyingly gifted athletes — excellent at whatever sport he played. Needless to say, he routinely beat Partha at every sport they played. When Partha moved back to India and sometime …

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