I’ve been spending some time in my childhood home in Santiniketan (Bengali for ‘Abode of peace’), a small town in the state of West Bengal, India. The best introduction to what it’s generally like for North Americans can be found in this New York Times article from earlier this year. Aside from being a quaint (by Indian standards) university town, Santiniketan is also home to a surprising number of art and architecture snobs and treehugger types (I say that in the most-loving way possible – my mom is one of them), and sometimes, Amartya Sen. This creates a milieu of discourse very difficult to find in the rest of India. It’s unique in that the university administration has significant influence over any urban planning initiatives, often at odds with the ambitious desires for luxury apartment and condo developers from Kolkata and elsewhere. Santiniketan’s appeal to arty environmentalist types as well as urban vacationers cannot be summarized in one (last-minute) post such as this, but I will try my best to encapsulate the gist of the drama as it unfolds in my upcoming few weeks here. The photographs I have taken so far of this place are available here and I hope to capture more of this intriguing (and rapidly changing) place in my upcoming two weeks here in mid-January. Tomorrow, I’m off to visit the Western Ghats.