Alternative views of the world around us, through tinted glasses. Break down contradictions in the human condition, or plumb the depths of popular culture. By The Way is what you may have missed in the mainstream.
November 27, 2014 Sowmiya Ashok
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A screenshot of a map showing key locations in the story. A screenshot of a map showing key locations in the story.

I am 18 minutes and 27 seconds into Episode 9 of 'Serial'. I needed to pause it. I was getting too nervous over the discoveries Sarah Koenig had made in Adnan's case over the last week. And, I was hungry.

I have been the 'Serial girl' all week. Talking about these "amazing set of podcasts" I have binged listened to any chance I got. Last night, my flatmate walked away as I brought it up again. She had had enough. I spoke about it to her over cake on Sunday, over tea on Monday and over email with my crime reporter-colleagues on Tuesday. I have been listening to so much of Sarah that I think I can do a pretty decent impression of her now. I also know I can 'Send Better Email' if I just register on 'MailChimp'.

If you have no idea what I am talking about then look here: for more. But this is a "big red fluttering flag" of a warning that if you are anything like me -- a sucker for a fabulously told story -- then you will get hooked and end up having a marathon listen.

Serial is a re-examination of a murder that took place in Baltimore in 1999 of Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior who disappears after school one day. Six weeks later her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, is arrested for her murder. So Sarah, my BFF this week, goes back 15 year later to unravel this story over nine episodes (she has taken off for Thanksgiving this week) scratching the surface a little more each time and throwing her journalist net over pretty much everything and everyone.

I love 'Serial' because it is so normal. Sarah is so normal. Like many journalists: she has a heart and right up in the first episode she says she feels bad about asking undignified questions to ex-teenagers about their teenage years. She swears, she laughs, she is confused and like many of us in the profession who get glued to a story for a time period: sometimes, she sounds like she just wants to bang her head on a wall because "she doesn't get it!" And, her sense of humour is as "cute as a chip munk".

Sarah's journalistic rigour is utterly ace. I feel like I am doing an evening course in investigative reporting which I had previously wasted obsessing over Meredith Grey's mommy issues. What 'Serial' does to my brain is a bit like what Sarah says cell phone signals do to cell towers. It "pings"!

Apparently, a heinous murder in Baltimore can teach me so much more about human interactions than a book on sociology. After nine episodes averaging 40 minutes each, I sort of had to ask the question: Who would I call if I ever murdered anyone? Like, Sarah says, most of the people I know are pretty useless at such things. I probably know ONE guy who could perhaps get me out of trouble as long as the trouble happened within my hometown. But Facebook tells me he has relocated to Canada. Hmph.

'Serial' averages over 1. 5 million listeners an episode and I can perhaps take credit for one. Though I think my flatmate might crack and have a listen too. She was inquiring about iTunes yesterday. So this one listener I recruited to the 'Serial Club' is a filmmaker and he woke me up at 4 AM on Monday after knocking down five episodes in one go to ask if maybe, I'd like to do something like this in India.

Maybe, maybe not.

November 25, 2014 Nirupama Subramanian
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November 1, 2014 Sowmiya Ashok
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Visakhapatnam, October 13, 2014 Nivedita Ganguly
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Giving a minute-by-minute account meant that you are a witness to each moment in the disaster as it unfolds. »
October 10, 2014 Arvind Krish Bala
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May 15, 2013

Living in a non-English speaking country, you hardly end up learning the local language well enough to work/volunteer. That is why a posting to an English-speaking country brings so much cheer... »

May 13, 2013

A tribute to Sir Terry for his Discworld books that combine philosophy, fantasy, satire and all things wonderful »

May 13, 2013

Versatile, self-effacing director-screenwriter who created some of the most intelligent, thoughtful films of the British Film industry in the 1960s; hailed as the British film establishment’s ‘Renaissance Man’. »

May 10, 2013

The embarrassed manner with which Indians treat sex education is pretty ridiculous considering the sexual violence against children we hear about everyday. These examples from around the world ought not to shock as much as they probably will. »

May 3, 2013

Oh, the vicissitudes of moving! So many things could go wrong - and do if you're moving from somewhere in Europe to a cacophonous, unabashedly sweaty Chennai. But when you realise you're not in a house but at home... bliss. »

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