India

Isha Devi hails from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, built by a grieving king for a beloved queen. Isha now lives three hours and a world away from any such romantic ideals.

Renting a small dingy room, this mother of a 12- and 14-year-old has come to the outskirts of New Delhi to live close to her fertility clinic. Isha, 30, is six months pregnant with someone else's twins. Her room opens onto a noisy alleyway of families in similarly cramped quarters all sharing a single bathroom. Isha groans, shifts uncomfortably on her cot and rearranges her pink floral sari.

A legendary South Asian dish has suddenly found itself in the midst of a war in India. Made up of layers of meat and rice and cooked with fragrant spices, the dish is the much-loved biryani. And the latest battlefield is in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

A steady rain falls on velvet green terraces, releasing a powerful scent of newly harvested tea. A ripple of voices tumbles down the hillside as a man barks orders.

The tea pickers, all women, many in bare feet, expertly navigate the leech-infested slopes. Balancing hampers on their backs loaded with freshly plucked tea leaves, they descend for their morning tea break.

People in India know the Sundarbans as a beautiful and dangerous patchwork of mangrove islands covering nearly 4,000 square miles extending into Bangladesh. It is also home to a variety of rare and endangered species and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now, this watery landscape is getting international attention for a different reason.

Some of these islands are disappearing, swallowed up by rising tides. Tens of thousands of people who live in the Sundarbans have lost their homes in recent decades.

In Hindi, the saying goes that to survive, you need three things: roti, meaning bread or food, kapda or clothing, and makaan, shelter.

India has a roti problem. While the country has catapulted to No. 3 in the world for obesity, it's also the hungriest country in the world.

Waiting quietly in the living room of a home in an upscale New Delhi neighborhood are a dozen people of all ages — maids, security guards, construction workers, all of whom earn at most a few dollars a day. The elegant, plant-filled room is hushed except for the sound of coughing.

Over in the next room, Dr. Gita Prakash is at her dining table with a stethoscope pressed to a pregnant woman's chest. Prakash has been treating indigent patients here for 30 years, six nights a week, in the evenings after she finishes her rounds at the local hospital where she works.

Early morning light filters into the cavernous gymnasium as Neetu lunges, climbs and contorts her body into impossible positions. She shimmies up a thick rope that dangles from the two-story ceiling, her heavily muscled arms propelling her upward. She races through calisthenics with 25 other young women in the boot camp atmosphere of Chhotu Ram Stadium and Wrestling Center, in the Indian state of Haryana, known for its wrestling tradition.

The grueling twice-a-day practice– 4 hours in the morning and 3 1/2 in the afternoon-- is her ordinary routine.

Courtesy of Kamna Shastri

I’m the black sheep in my family.

Scratch that - I’m actually more of a white sheep.

Here’s what a family photo would look like: my mom, dad, and brother, each with their own wonderful shade of brown. And then there’s me: pale, white, and blond haired.

Emergency crews are scrambling to reach people trapped when an under-construction elevated roadway collapsed onto a busy street in Kolkata, India, on Thursday. More than a dozen people have died, local media say, and dozens more are trapped.

News of the number of dead or injured is still emerging, and those reports are currently fluctuating. Citing police, Asian News International reports that at least 14 people are dead, with more than 70 wounded.

When I was a child growing up in India, once every year my father took my two siblings, my mother and me to the village where he grew up. He thought it was important for us kids to see rural living and to learn how basic life could be. He often said, "City folks are lucky to have cooking gas cylinders. You'll see how food is cooked in the village."

It's evening rush hour at a street market in the city of Pune, India. Fifteen-year-old flower seller Aniket Sathe is in his element — bargaining with customers, catching up with friends who drop by. They gossip about school, check out the motorbikes whizzing past and dream up crazy schemes. Like, what if they could get ahold of the balloons that the woman next to Aniket is selling?

Aniket points to a nearby building and grins. "If we took as many balloons as would fit in there and tied them to your hand you could fly in the sky," he says.

This was the second Storywallahs event; the theme was Coming Home.
KUOW Photos/Bond Huberman

The 24-year-old man didn’t have a home.

So he came up with a bold plan: Go to the nicest neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, knock on the doors of 10 mansions and ask if he could move in.

Conjuring images of a dystopia, the shroud of bad air blanketing New Delhi in recent weeks has intensified global pressure on India to curb its greenhouse gas emissions.

India will arrive at the climate change summit in Paris next week as the third biggest generator of fossil fuel pollution blamed for warming the planet, after China and the U.S.

Half of India's emissions come from burning coal. A visit to the coal-rich northeastern Indian state of Jharkhand reveals how this stands to get even worse.

Aziz Ansari and I both look Indian, but there is a difference of day and night in our upbringing. He was born in an American hospital, and I was born 10,000 miles away in a small hospital in Lucknow, India. He grew up in America, and I moved to America when I was 30. He is a comedian, and I couldn't have dreamed of choosing comedy as a career growing up in India. According to my parents, it is not a respectable enough profession.

A U.S. recovery team has returned to a remote part of India to try to retrieve the remains of troops killed in World War II. Family members say a border dispute between India and China has delayed recovery efforts for years.


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