The Literary City

Shakespeare, Joan Didion And Amrita Shah Walk Into A Bar. And, "No Loos In Texas".

February 02, 2022 Explocity Podcasts Season 1 Episode 6
The Literary City
Shakespeare, Joan Didion And Amrita Shah Walk Into A Bar. And, "No Loos In Texas".
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Most, if not all of us, who studied English in school will recognize the opening passage in the podcast…which are the opening lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Ol' JC was in the curriculum.

That passage is a favourite of my guest on this latest episode of my podcast , journalist and author, Amrita Shah.

She says she picked that one to read, for its humour.

When I was in my late 20s I was burning to write for a national publication. My target was… let’s call it “the Gentleman’s magazine”… Debonair.

Debonair was India’s Playboy. You read it for the articles. No seriously. You did.

Debonair—by design—had some of the most literary writing in the country. I figured that if I was published by Debonair, it would improve my street cred. 

But what could be more WOKE back then than the fact that Debonair had a woman as editor. And that was Amrita Shah.

I wrote goofy sexual humor pieces for her that I thought were witty. Happily, so did she. I'm assuming...because we’re still friends.

Among other things, Amrita Shah is known for her groundbreaking investigative pieces on the Bombay underworld. She interviewed the infamous Varadarajan Mudaliar in an exclusive cover story scoop for Imprint. And in her noteworthy career, she has authored three books to considerable acclaim. By the illuminati.

Best-known for her pioneering series of articles on the Mumbai underworld Amrita Shah has edited features magazines Debonair and Elle and been a Contributing Editor with the Indian Express. She is the author of three non-fiction books: the award-winning Ahmedabad: A City in the World (Bloomsbury, 2015), Vikram Sarabhai: A Life (Penguin, 2007) and Telly- Guillotined: How Television Changed India (Sage-Yoda, 2019). She has also been a fellow with the Fulbright, New India and Homi Bhabha foundations, Institutes for Advanced Study in Nantes and Johannesburg and the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. She is currently writing a book on an ancestral journey across the Indian Ocean.

Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in the segment titled "What's That Word?", or titled in whichever way Ramjee mauls the title, to peel back the meanings of the word COBBLER that Shakespeare used as a pun in the opening of Julius Caesar.

And joining us on the phone from Texas, caller and fellow word geek, Shashwat Sirsi. We discuss the nether side of the word, LOO.

If you have a word or phrase you would like to explore, join us live on the show. Reach us by mail: or simply,
Or, you can visit:
Or you can go to our Instagram page
If your word or phrase is selected, we will call you.

Join our Facebook group, Bangalore Literary Society. It does not matter if you are not in Bangalore. This group is for anyone interested in language and words.

The Literary City encourages you to give to those children who struggle to get an education.  We ask you to contribute whatever you can to The Association of People with Disability. The link to donate is: Visit their site and take a look at the wonderful work they do and find it in your heart to, well, teach a child to fish.

What's That Word?! - LOO
What's That Word?! - COBBLER