Author Archive for: ‘Karim’


Reflections on the Two Fisherman

W. Somerset Maugham was, according to many accounts, the most widely read novelist since Charles Dickens. I first became interested in Maugham in the 1980’s when I was taking a film class with artist Janet Echelman at Harvard. As Janet mentions in her interview with me (click here for the my interview with Janet), she recalls seeing my film on the “Sadhu” …

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The British Toast Rack


JOQ Contributor Brett Scott’s thoughts on The British Toaster Rack: I think the British toast rack is the epitome of pointless and counterproductive control. Why bother to stoically present toast in a rack when you can just ambush it with butter as it pops out of toaster. Strangely enough though, I do know of British people who are uncomfortable with hot melted butter …

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Everything Starts Somewhere

Everything starts somewhere. I grew up in the oral storytelling tradition and my paternal grandfather told me many stories about his Kuchi Kathiawar village in Gujarat, India when I was growing up in East Africa. My paternal grandfather also told me stories of his travels as a young man to Rangoon, Burma. Note: In the next chronicle in this series, Toasting my Grandmother, …

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Toasting my Grandmother

The following is a toast – a tribute – a salute – a homage – to honor my Indian (maternal) grandmother, Shirin Hassanali Gwaderi, a pioneering Nairobi schoolteacher and school principal. – Karim Forward by Paola Gianturco It is possible that the stereotypical “grandmother” never existed? For many people in the Global North, the word calls up the image of a …

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Chapter One: Miss Teacher

Jonathan Pupil collected answers to questions. He always had a lot of questions to ask people. When people gave Jonathan answers to his questions, he methodically and meticulously placed the answers in his Answer Collection. Jonathan was known throughout Country Village for his Answer Collection. Miss Teacher was Jonathan’s favorite teacher. “Bonjour, Jonathan,” said Miss Teacher on this crisp and …

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The Two Fishermen of Mahabalipuram

Editor’s Note on the Reflective Narrative The following is a story based upon the tradition of Classical Sanskrit folklore and mythology. The story is told by utilizing the ancient Indian storytelling technique of the responsive or reflective narrative, beginning with a venerated tale or myth. The narrative of The Two Fishermen of Mahabalipuram is handcrafted in a way that is meant to add …

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The Pencil Tree

by Karim Introduction by Kim Maha Akhtar One of the most wonderful aspects about mythology and the stories that have come to us from the ancient world and classical times is their ability to transport us back in time. I have always been fascinated by such stories especially because they jump-start the imagination and transport me into a world that is …

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Buddha’s Thoughts

Richard Gombrich was born in London in 1937. His father, Ernst Gombrich, moved to England from Vienna in late 1935. He was an historian whose book - The Story of Art,  has been translated into more than 30 languages and made the family fortune. He died in 2001 as Sir Ernst Gombrich, OM, CH, after having lived for over 50 years in …

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Frugalis Satyagraha

Non-violence requires much more courage than violence. – Cesar Chavez Frugalis in Latin means “frugal” and satyāgraha in Sanskrit means “insistence on truth” (Satyā means “truth” and Agraha means ”insistence”), often as it related to civil disobedience or non-violent resistance. For Mahatma Gandhi, the ultimate symbol of frugalis was the khādī, the Indian homespun cotton cloth which was a satyāgraha, a non-violent protest against the exploitative British Empire’s …

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Introduction to Badgers

Why write the Badgers stories in pidgin English? It all began in Mr. Patel’s shop on Ngara Road in downtown Nairobi. The heady, exotic scent of ugerbati incense swirled and twirled and enveloped you the moment you walked in, and all the pictures of Hindu mythology and gods and goddesses that decorated its four walls was a cacophony of red, …

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