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The Caravan

The Caravan August 2018

The Caravan is India’s first narrative journalism magazine. Stories are reported in a style that uses elements usually reserved for fiction—plot, characters, scenes and setting—to bring the subject to life. Like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Granta, the context of a Caravan story is something more substantial. In India, this niche—one for the intellectually curious, the aesthetically inclined and the upwardly mobile, has remained vacant. That is, until The Caravan.

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Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pte LTD
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12 Issues

in this issue

8 min.
dogs’ breakfast

Late one night this June, a worn down Hyundai Santro made its way through the deserted streets near South Extension in Delhi. A large polythene bag was perched rather precariously on its roof. As I followed the car in a taxi, a number of shadows emerged from the dark. The streets began to come alive. Once we came to a halt, dozens of stray dogs converged on the car. Some weaved their way through parked cars, others jumped over drains, but the ones who knew best were already waiting in anticipation of their nightly treat. A well-built man, over six feet tall, emerged from the car and was immediately surrounded by 20 dogs. It was enough to frighten me into keeping my distance, but Rohit Prem greeted them with a wide…

5 min.
unflagging enthusiast

In Hyderabad’s Sanjeeviah Park, on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake, a flagpole stands 88 metres tall. Atop it flies one of the largest Indian tricolours in the country, measuring 22 metres by 33 metres. The flag, which frequently tears in the windy conditions, is repaired every week and replaced with a new one every month. Each replacement is stitched by the same team, headed by Kambhampati Sanjeeva Rao—a 55-year-old man with a passion for flags. “I was completely in awe of the Indian tricolour, even as a child,” Rao told me. His fascination led him to “notice the flags of other countries as well,” he said. “I came to admire the ideals and struggles they stood for.” Rao wanted to start an international flag collection in the 1990s, but purchasing the…

6 min.
wind and waves

Payola’s real name is Paola Isabel, but the nickname that was given to her in high school is now the name she goes by. It has an additional significance too: she works as a DJ and radio presenter, and in the music industry “payola” refers to an illegal practice by record companies, where payments are made to broadcast recordings on commercial radio. But at Radio Red, the radio station that Payola founded in Puerto Rico in 2015 with her partner, Etienne Car-dona, they do not need payola. “Radio Red is not a commercial radio station that only transmits pop and reggaeton,” Payola told me when we met at the radio station this April. “It is something new that did not exist in Puerto Rico. We give space to local artists. They…

5 min.
tough luck

The Hellish Game of Life, a Japanese variation of the American board game Life, starts with a spin of the wheel. The spin assigns players a number from one to ten, which represents how many spaces they will move on the board. After the first spin, the players land on a square, draw a card and find out whether they will be a teacher or white-collar worker and be financially stable throughout the game, or be the manager of a coffee shop, dietician or flight attendant—jobs with decent remuneration but less stability. The original version of the game, of which there have been 62 variants, was a wholesome family activity where players move through the conventional stages of adulthood. It was first brought to Japan in 1968, with no changes beyond…

7 min.
sacred games

In the wake of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat, Narendra Modi, then chief minister of the state, was under attack from all sides. Several leaders, even within his own Bharatiya Janata Party, held him responsible for the violence and wanted him to step down. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee advised Modi to perform raj dharma—the duty of a ruler—a remark many construed as a reprimand. The national executive meeting of the BJP, scheduled in April that year in Goa, was seen as a “make or break” affair for the controversial leader from Gujarat. At this critical time, the Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray sent two of his senior members of parliament, Chandrakant Khaire and Mohan Rawale, to Gujarat to publicly back Modi. Known as the Hindu Hriday Samrat, or the…

10 min.
change of tune

The 2014 Oscar-winning drama Whiplash, about a jazz teacher’s turbulent relationship with one of his students, seems to argue that great art is a product of great fear, sacrifice and total surrender. In one scene, the teacher, Terence Fletcher, furiously hurls a chair at an ambitious first-year jazz student, Andrew Neiman, learning under him at the Shaffer Conservatory in New York City. He then whacks the boy in the face and abuses him in front of the entire class. The pupil is shown being pushed to perfection through constant humiliation. The brutality of Whiplash, which makes it such a captivating film, would perhaps tame in comparison with some of the famous stories about the guru-shishya parampara, the centuries-old tradition of teaching classical music and dance in India. For instance, Alladiya Khan,…