Other writing

 

Profiles

 

Feifei Ruan - Illustrator

Feifei Ruan's work is a reflection of herself - it merges the rich culture of her Asian heritage and the chaos of New York City where she lives. The result is deeply layered and highly nuanced. In this interview, Ruan speaks to me about her artistic process, and her love for visual story-telling. Read about it in Issue 27 of 3x3 Magazine. Click here to buy. 

 

Brian Stauffer - Illustrator

Award-winning illustrator Brian Stauffer has worn many hats over the course of his professional career. In this interview, he spoke to me about transitioning from an art director to an illustrator, his early influences, and his attempt to steer clear of labels. Read all about it in Issue 26 of 3x3 Magazine. Click here to buy a copy!

 

Yusra Mardini - Olympic Swimmer

In 2015, Yusra Mardini, having fled war-torn Syria, was on a boat trying to make the dangerous crossing from Turkey to Greece. In 2016, she was in Brazil, competing in the Olympic Games as part of Team Refugee. I did a piece on her incredible story for the Feb 26, 2021 issue of Forbes India. 

 

Veronica Grech - Illustrator
Veronica Grech's work has a certain whimsy to it. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, she is able to illustrate everything from book covers and ice cream packaging, to stories about finance, travel, fashion and politics. I spoke to Grech about her versatality, & the rigorous standards that she demands of herself for Issue 25 of 3x3 Magazine. Buy it here!
 

Jules Julien - Illustrator

Jules Julien's portraiture is unique. Not only because of the colours that he chooses to use to depict his subjects, but also in the way that the mouse replaces the traditional paintbrush. I spoke to the Frenchman about how he uses illustration to capture the very essence of his subjects for Issue 24 of 3x3 Magazine. You can buy a copy here!
 

Melinda Beck - Illustrator

Melinda Beck is an illustrator who pushes the boundaries. Her illustration isn't polite and her art isn't polite. It's probably what makes it so effective. I spoke to Beck about her decades-long illustration career, her early influences, her penchant for open-water swimming and more for Issue 23 of 3x3 Magazine. You can buy a copy here!
 

Charlie Duke - US Astronaut & Moonwalker
Charlie Duke is one of just four humans alive to have walked on the moon. In 1969 Duke became the 10th and youngest person to set foot on the moon. In this interview for OneLife Magazine's May 2019 issue he spoke to me of what his journey to the moon and back, and what each day since, has meant to him.
 

Hemali Vadalia & Shuchi Muley
"Loving Vincent" is the world's first feature-length hand-painted film. I spoke to Hemali Vadalia & Shuchi Muley who were part of a team of artists who painted each frame of this film tribute to Van Gogh. Story in Forbes India's Oct 13, 2017 issue. 
 

Zack Rock - Children's Book Author & Artist

American picture-book artist, Zack Rock, believes that anthropomorphic animals can help change the world. In this story for the Mar-Apr 2016 issue of ForbesLife India, he spoke to me about creating picture books with stories that appeal to both grown ups and children alike. Plus bonus gallery here!
 

Thierry Noir - Berlin Wall Artist

Thierry Noir is the first artist to have painted on the Berlin Wall as a mark of protest. Since then, his iconic "Big Heads" have propelled him to global fame. In this piece for the Nov 27, 2015 issue of Forbes India, Noir speaks of how the Cold War had a profound impact on his life and art. 
 

 

Lifestyle

 

All Aboard - People who live on Boats
What do an associate editor of a magazine, a shipwright, a couple of teachers, and a motorsport journalist have in common? They all live on boats. I spoke to this ecelectic bunch about the perks and pitfalls of life on the water for Forbes India's Jan 29, 2021 issue. Read here.
 


Human Interest

 

Covid19 - Locked Down in Berlin
Berlin, besides Bombay, is the most energetic city I've ever lived in. But in April 2020, as cases of Covid19 began to rise, the city went into lockdown. There was an eeriness to the city once it was devoid of its customary crowds. I wrote about how disconcerting it was to come to terms with a lifeless Berlin for the Mar 8, 2020 issue of Forbes India. Read here.
 

Christmas at a refugee camp in Berlin

In December 2015, the influx of refugees from Syria to Germany had reached a peak. In the Tempelhof refugee camp, ensconced in Berlin's bright lights and Christmas carols, Syrian refugees spoke to me wistfully of their homes and lives left behind, possibly forever. Their stories made it to the Jan 22, 2016 issue of Forbes India. Read it here. 
 


Food

 

Dreaming of Mum's home-made Bread Rolls

My mother has always been the pervading influence on us, and our tastes: When I try and trace how I came to learn anything at all about food, my mind goes straight to my mother’s orchestration of mealtimes. Sitting 4,000 miles away from home and family, I wrote about how I long for my mother's bread rolls for Food 52. Click here. 

 

Exploring the best Jewish food in Berlin

From a bookstore that serves the best bagels in town, to pastrami on rye sandwiches the size of one's face, to Russo-Jewish stews and the rise of Levantine cuisine, the German capital has become the go-to place for Jewish food. I went on a gastronomical trip in search of the best Jewish fare that Berlin has for Forbes India's March 13, 2020 issue. Read here.

 

The boozy delight that is the German rumtopf

The Germans have a great way to preserve spring and summer fruit and it involves lots of rum and a large ceramic crock called the rumtopf. My quest for an authentic rumtopf recipe led me on an exploration of friends' cookbooks, and I wrote a piece about it for Food 52. Click here to read.  
 

Exploring the Island Cuisine of Mallorca
The Balearic Islands have a rich cuisine that includes delicacies such as ensaimades, plenty of seafood, the unique sobrassada sausage, the tombet - a Mallorcan ratatouille - and much more. Accompanied by a Mallorcan gastronome, I took to exploring the island's best food. I wrote about it for Forbes India's Feb 2, 2018 issue. 

 

Exploring Berlin's Best Streetfood Markets
Berlin is a cultural melting pot. The city's many streetfood markets are a true reflection of exactly this. From pani puri and butter chicken, to empanadas and pastel del natas, to kofte - these markets have them all. I wrote about it for Forbes India's Jul 07, 2017 issue. Read the story here. 
 

An Ode to Sambar: the Ultimate Comfort Food
When I first moved to Bombay, the food that I started to miss the most was my mother's onion sambar. So I wrote an ode to that very dish while quite hungry. A few years later, in Berlin, that craving only intensified. And a tweaked version of that story was published in Indian Express' FoodIE section. Here's the link to the full story. 
 

Craving Anjappar Biryani at the Arctic Circle
In 2016, I spent three months in North Sweden, 100km south of the Arctic Circle. After eating Swedish meatballs and reindeer steak aplenty, I was hankering for some biryani. I made it with elk meat as a mark of respect to the land I was in at the time. Wrote about it for Indian Express FoodIE. 


Travel

 

Boating in Berlin City

Is it possible to find a way to relax right in the centre of Berlin City? I didn't think so, until I discovered the joys of boating on Berlin's many canals. It allowed me to relax without having to head into the countryside, and it allowed me a chance to discover a side of the city I never knew existed. I wrote about it for the Dec 2020 issue of Waterways World.
 

The Berlin Bowie Trail
When David Bowie was at his lowest, he sought refuge in Berlin. The city provided him with solace and creative energy, and his Berlin Trilogy - Low, Heroes, and Lodger - was a testament to just that. I took a trip through Bowie's Berlin for National Geographic Traveller India's July 2019 issue. Read the full story here. 
 

A Winter Market Above the Arctic Circle 
Jokkmokk's Winter Market has been held every single year since 1605. It is a celebration of the culture and tradition of the Sami people, and includes arts and crafts, local food, and rousing reindeer races. I braved the -25 deg C temperature to do this story for National Geographic Traveller India's May 2019 issue. Read it here. 
 

Bobbing around on Lake Garda
Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake, is the perfect place to go for a relaxing weekend. There's the option of bobbing around on the lake, bathing in it, or  exploring the lakeside towns, such as Sirmione, which is chocful of history and gelato shops. I wrote about the benefits of a lake trip for National Geographic Traveller India's Mar 22, 2019 issue
 

Can Serendipity be Found on the Road?

The open road brings with it the promise of adventure, untold mystery, and surprise aplenty. It's something I thought about a lot when I stumbled upon a Buddhist temple in snowy North Sweden. Wrote a column about the allure of road trips for the September 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller India. Read it here
 

Exploring Madrid's Barrio de la Latina 
Winding streets lined with tapas bars and quaint restaurants, dimly lit tavernas, and ham shops with whole legs of jamon hanging from the eaves. An exploration of Madrid, written for Forbes India's Aug 3, 2018 issue. 
 

A Guide to Road Tripping Through Europe

Road tripping across Europe is a very convenient way to travel and to holiday all at once. But in spite of the great roads, there are a few peculiarities to each country that are helpful to know. So I put together a list of tips for people making cross-country dashes across Europe for National Geographic Traveller India's July 2018 issue. Read it here. 

 

A Walk Through Budapest

To take a stroll through Budapest is to take a stroll through time itself. The twin cities, separated by the river Danube, are full of surprises. Beautiful marketplaces, lovely monuments, quaint bookstores, and thermal baths, all find place next to each other. I wrote about my walk through Budapest for Forbes India's Jun 22, 2018 issue. 
 

48 Hours in Berlin
If you've only got 48 hours to spend in Berlin, you can still get a feel of what the city is about, provided you know where to get the best currywurst, and go on a Trabi tour of the city. I put a list of things to see and do for Mans World back in 2016. Read it here. 

 

Floating Away - The Enduring Allure of Venice
Back in the 5th century, the deft Italians turned a motley collection of uninhabited islands into a city of canals, waterways, masked splendour and more. As I wandered through the city on stilts, I found myself startled by just how many surprises it held around each corner. I wrote about it for the Jan-Feb 2017 issue of Forbes Life India. Click here to read. 
 

An Insider's Guide to Berlin
While Berlin's a great city for tourists, it's especially great if one moves off the beaten path. Watch a movie at an old-school "kino", grab a meal at Markthalle Neun's Streetfood Market, and go to the fleamarket at Mauerpark. I put together a list of eight things Berliners would do in their free time, for Mumbai Mirror. Read it here. 
 

The Silence of the Swedish Lappland
Arvidsjaur in North Sweden is a town with a population of 4000 people. But during the winter, when the car testing industry descends on the town's frozen lakes, things become more lively. I spoke to the local Arvidsjaurians about what life is like in the remote reaches near the Polar Circle for ForbesLife India's Sep-Oct 2016 issue. Read here. 

 

Another County - A Curious Berlin Bookstore

Berlin's Riemannstrasse houses the city's most unique bookstore. Within it is an eclectic collection of books, and taxidermy birds and dressmaker's mannequins. It's also where Berlin's English-speaking literature lovers meet. I wrote about it for ForbesLife India's July-Aug 2016 issue. Click here to read. 

Miscellany

 

Why I Love My Raketa Alarm Clock

I spent the better part of two decades searching for a little blue alarm clock, that belonged to my mother, that went missing when I was young. The quest led me to fleamarkets, antique stores, and the depths of the internet. The clock eventually helped me reclaim a sense of home, even while far away. I wrote about it for Home 52. Read it here. 
 

Masking Up for a Pandemic Movie Date
In summer 2020, movie theatres in Berlin opened just long enough for me to watch Christopher Nolan's Tenet. It was the first time since December 2019 that I'd set foot in a cinema, complete with masks and sanitiser. I wrote about it for Film Companion.
 

Classic Companion: Anchor's Aweigh
Gene Kelly dance sequences are either phenomenal, or unforgettable. Anchor's Aweigh has both - Kelly dancing with Jerry Mouse. And Kelly dancing with little Sharon McManus. Add Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson into the mix, and Anchor's Aweigh is a feel good movie that everyone must watch. Click here to read the piece for Film Companion. 
 

Classic Companion: Miracle on 34th Street
Can it really be Christmas if you haven't watched some version of Miracle on 34th Street? Although, the original with Natalie Wood as the grim Susie and Edmund Gwenn as a delightful Kris Kringle is the very best version there is. Click here to read why I think so in this piece for Film Companion. 
 

Classic Companion: Divorce American Style
What happens when you take Debbie Reynolds and Dick Van Dyke, two powerhouses of comedy, and make them act out a marriage falling apart? Well, if Norman Lear's writing the screenplay, you get a poignant account of the reality of divorce. Here's the link to the piece in Classic Companion. 
 

Classic Companion: The Best Man

Gore Vidal's The Best Man is a movie that demonstrates in full the dirty business of politics, and the wheeling and dealing needed in order to win an election. With flawless performances from Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, and especially Lee Tracy, the movie is a must watch. Here's more reasons why in the story I wrote for Film Companion. 
 

Playing a Movie Extra Zombie
In June 2015, I got tricked into playing a zombie in a German language children's film. That it was happening the very day after I got married was particularly puzzling to me, especially since it was my spouse that tricked me into this. I wrote about this somewhat traumatic, if amusing experience, for Man's World. Read the story here. 

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© Vaishali Dinakaran - Writer & Journalist