Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Triumph and Tragedy

The year 2021-22 marks the sesquicentennial of Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali. His remarkable life, caught between many worlds, was chaotic and turbulent, with its triumphs and tribulations, and a lasting legacy.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali (licensed from National Portrait Gallery, London)

In December 1953, six months after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, London experienced another severe winter. The same time, previous year, the city had suffered the Great Smog. Wednesday, the 9th, was freezing cold. Movement was difficult. In the evening, in Trafalgar Square, Westminster, the police found an old man in tattered clothes, destitute and disoriented, on the steps of a house. He had a suitcase full of papers, but no money in his pockets. They admitted him to the Westminster Hospital, which discharged him the next day. A London City Council home for the elderly, in nearby Dovehouse Street, Chelsea, took him in. The same day he suffered a heart attack, and was rushed to the St Stephen’s Hospital. He died soon thereafter. Continue reading “Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Triumph and Tragedy”

Reading in times of Covid-19

I read in today’s (4 April 2020) Mint, the financial newspaper (unfortunately behind a paywall, so not giving the link), what different authors are reading during the current corona lockdown. That inspired me to make my own list. My region might not lift the lockdown so soon given that the government is going in for a phased exit. I have, therefore, a modified list. Continue reading “Reading in times of Covid-19”

A Case of Two Lullabies

This article was first published in Business Standard on 16 March 2013. It is a comment on the controversy around the lullaby in the film Life of Pi. It was alleged that the lullaby was plagiarised from a 200-years old lullaby in Malayalam, composed by Irayimman Thampi in 1813 on the occasion of the birth of his nephew, Swati Tirunal, already anointed the ruler of Travancore. The original lullaby continues to be very popular even today in the State of Kerala, India, where Malayalam is spoken. Continue reading “A Case of Two Lullabies”

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