newyorker: Susan Orlean tries the latest fitness craze: Zumba By the way, while you were sleeping, Zumba took over the world. This is not just my idle observation; according to, the fitness program’s official Web site, in the mere three years since Zumba launched internationally, it has spread to 110 countries, offering classes in 90,000 locations. About 89,999 of the locations seem to be within walking distance of my house. In fact, in these dreary economic times, the one growth industry in upstate New York seems to be Zumba. There hardly seems to be a gym, a community center, a town hall, or an empty warehouse that doesn’t offer a Zumba class a few days a week. What is it? Basically, even though the press material describes it as a “revolutionary new fitness concept” and “the single most influential movement in the industry of fitness,” Zumba is really just an hour-long dance party to Latin music. Nothing wrong with that, of course—dancing for an hour is great aerobic exercise, plus it has the additional virtue of not seeming like exercise, which is what drives all great workout crazes (see, to wit, Jazzercise, Cardio Salsa, et al.). Susan’s reaction to her first class. Check this! ;)


Times of India 24 Oct 2010: winning entry submission for “Signs of the Times”



DAYTON, OHIO: Jeremy was on his bedroom floor, the pieces of the dismantled Playstation surrounding him. He would fix it if it took him a year, he would sign in; other players relied on him, and they were waiting, he thought.

Our mango tree was harvested the other day by a neighbor and two young men — one climbed 3-4 stories high in the tree, the other received the mangoes as the climber threw them, quite adeptly, like oblong baseballs pitched over the roof-top-deck wall. Only a few were dropped, falling to the ground like rocks narrowly missing the car parked below. We were given as many as we wanted, and we proceeded to pass many of them on as gifts to friends and neighbors. These are ordinary mangos (sāḍe āṃbe), not the coveted Hāpūs/Alfonso, but they are really quite tasty when ripened. Traditionally these mangos are pickled or juiced.

Ripening mangos is a rather mysterious art, one which traditionally involves straw/grass/hay and crates kept at high temperatures (above 47 deg F, we hear). We went to our local market, and after buying our produce, asked if they had any empty mango boxes with straw, which they did, and we thus created our own little ripening system. The first round took 6-7 days to ripen, but the second round will be much shorter as the remaining mangos ripened in the bag we were keeping the mother-load of them in. Less than a dozen remain, most have been given away, a few we lost to mold.