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Into A Tennis Time Machine – Revisiting The West Side Tennis Club In Forest Hills.

Posted by on Sep 8, 2012 in Features | 0 comments

(An shorter version of this article was published in the Queens’ Courier on 4th September 2012.)

(On the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, the former venue of the US Open – and what’s happening there today).

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A House For Mr. Rao.

Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 in Personal | 8 comments

(Photo: Harald Hoyer,


Apartment hunting in Manhattan, they warned me, wasn’t for the faint hearted. Many spoke of ‘Craigslist horror stories’. A friend said ,”My roommate’s boyfriend has moved into our apartment – he just got released from prison. I’m moving out now.”

Others pointed out links to micro-studios, shoebox apartments and more. Still others pointed out rent numbers. I wondered if I’d have to live on the streets.

Armed with this knowledge, I ventured forth gamely in my quest for shelter.


(Photo credit: )

The first house I saw had the ambience of a 70s Hindi movie brothel scene.

There were peeling, flaking walls. The wooden staircase felt like it’d fall apart any moment. A belly-scratching, nose-picking, banian clad middle-aged gent showed me the ‘room’.

The ‘room’ was only slightly larger than a closet. A refrigerator, microwave, a wash basin and small stove were squeezed into the space. I’d practically have to jump into bed – there wasn’t any walking room inside.

750 dollars a month. “Plenty of sunlight”, the landlord announced. “No thanks.”, I said.


I walked up the second house’s winding, ancient staircase. It felt like crawling atop a dark, lightless tower. The door of the fourth floor apartment was far, far away from sunlight.

The two women who opened the door squealed ,”Hellllllooooo! We are really glad you could make it”, like they’d known me forever – and ushered me in. “Two of us stay here now. Three of our housemates have just moved out – and we want to fill those rooms.”

I was gratified by the warmth of the reception. Surely, a dark, old, decrepit apartment would be livable if it had warm housemates? I’d sent a detailed email response to their Craigslist ad about who I was, and the kind of house and housemates I was seeking. Clearly, I told myself, they had the good taste to recognize a great fit when they saw one.

I found myself escorted along a long, narrow corridor, which made the apartment feel much darker than the door had made it look.

The room had hardly any space for my belongings – no surprises there. “Hey, this room doesn’t have a door!” I exclaimed. Pat came the response ,“Oh, that’s because this is our living room. Don’t you worry – we’ll cover the entrance with a curtain so you’ll have plenty of privacy.”

Just 800 dollars a month.”

“So I’d like to know you guys better to see if you’re the kind of persons I’d like as housemates.”

“We really don’t have time, dude. We’ve asked everyone who replied to our Craigslist ad to come and see the place.”

“Didn’t you read my email saying I’d like to talk to you guys before committing?”

“Umm, I don’t remember. We got some 100 email responses – we really didn’t have time to read all of

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The doorbell rang.

One of the girls went running ,”Helllllooooo. I’m really glad you could make it.” and welcomed the new aspiring tenant inside. The other girl distractedly asked ,”What did you want to know?”

While I debated whether to continue the conversation or not, the doorbell rang again. The girl muttered ,”Sorry, hundreds of people seeing the place today.” and ran towards the door.

She let out a hearty ,”Hellllloooo! I’m really glad you could make it.” – and the new visitor came in.

I stepped out.


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Apple, Big.

Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in Personal | 1 comment

So I moved to New York city yesterday.

Later this month, I’m joining the City University Of New York’s graduate program in journalism.

Leaving India was harder than I thought. The last month was full of “damn, last time in Sawantwadi”, “damn, last time in Pimpri Chinchwad”, “damn, last dosE in MLTR” and “damn, last Gandhi Bazar walk” moments.

Somehow, going 10000 miles away from everything familiar has a feeling of permanence, a finality about it. There is a sense of leaving something behind forever, of losing a place forever, of knowing that even if I come back, it’ll never be to the same place.

Such is the traveler’s existential dilemma – there never is time to do all he wants to do – which can feel Sisyphic at times.  The answer, perhaps, is to stop thinking and contemplating – and go out there and see the city and the world – and make my peace with the fact that while I won’t see everything there is, I’ll appreciate all that I do get to see.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a mini-Broadway performance and a Central park walk to go to. I ‘ll see you around.


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