Longform Wednesday – River Stealing, Lost Musicians, Socialism, Istanbul, and a Short Story

I read a lot on the internet, and I want to encourage myself to read more longform articles, because they are usually well-researched and take the time to get to the heart of the story rather than just describing the surface.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to irregularly update this blog with links to articles that I’ve enjoyed during the week, either because they’ve taught me something new, or just because the writing is so great.

There might be some bias towards India-focused articles and travel-focused articles, but that’s because I’m Indian and I’m a traveller.

Welcome to the First Episode of Pritam’s Longform Wednesdays!

How To Steal a River – The New York Times Magazine

India is growing at a crazy rate, and that crazy rate, demands a surplus of, among many other things, construction materials. At the heart of those things is: sand, which this article covers wonderfully, examining the corruption, necessity, and recklessness that is leading to the destruction of India’s rivers.

When you say something happens illegally in India, it always seems to mean that there are poor people being taken advantage of, and there is a callous disregard for the environment. Both are true in this case.

Finding India’s Lost Musicians – National Geographic

My country is made up of many, many ethnicities and races, each with its own unique traditions, customs and music. In many places, these traditions are dying down, unknown to the horde that is marching forward into capitalism and modernity.

If we only took a little time to reflect and understand, we would see that there is so much to protect. I have no doubt that we would preserve these wonderful folk music traditions, and more importantly, give them the respect they deserve.

Why Socialism – Albert Einstein

The Monthly Review calls themselves an “Independent Socialist Magazine”. Now, I know little of Socialism other than that the main goal is to distribute wealth across all layers of society, and that there are many practical hurdles to achieving this goal, such as the reluctance of rich people to give up the wealth that they believe they have earned fairly.

Einstein argues that the problem with capitalism is that its very nature makes the owners of the means of production unreasonably richer than the labourers that make the production possible, thus inevitably leading to a situation where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. He says the inequality that arises from this situation disadvantages huge sections of society. Both these observations seem quite prescient to me, considering today’s world.

I’m obviously not a politician, but it seems useful to me to understand at least the basics of these things. Plus, Einstein is such a great writer. If someone told me that letter was written today, I would see nothing out of place.

My Shattered Istanbul – The Big Roundtable (Medium)

This is just a lovely, sad description of Istanbul. I felt like I was in Istanbul, watching it slowly destroy itself by violence and closed-mindedness.

Last Night – James Salter (New Yorker)

I came across this short story in a writing course that I’m taking. Even though (both) the ending(s) is (are) predictable, it is a worthy inclusion here just because of the writing. All the little details and descriptions, that I never even think to include in my writing, make this story much more than the sum of its parts.

I’m saving this story more as an example of good writing, than as an example of good plot.

If you have a thought on what you read, leave a comment below!