A Test Drive of India’s New Electric Car

The boxy little Mahindra e2o I drove around Bangalore back in January.

Back in January, I got the opportunity to test drive the Mahindra e2o, the first new electric car to be built in India in more than a decade. This wasn’t something I expected. On a visit to the new Mahindra Reva factory [...]

Moving Through India’s Traffic at a Whisper

For Americans, the automobile horn is emergency equipment, deployed to avoid collision or express road rage. For Indians, the horn is more of a conversational tool, used by everyone — and I mean everyone — as they jostle in traffic. The racket is deafening. One wonders if the Indian motorist is some sort of terrestrial bat, navigating with ears instead of eyes. [...]

How India’s Solar Plans Miss the Mark

Today, the New York Times published a story I wrote about the state of the solar industry in India. This is an issues I’ve been keeping a close eye on since arriving in Chennai, India last month. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, and Tamil Nadu is Exhibit A in what can go wrong when a government takes a hasty and haphazard stab at something as complicated as solar energy. [...]

Die, Bloodsuckers, Die

The most unwelcome sort of wildlife here in South India is the mosquitoes. They are tinier, stealthier versions of their American cousins and are far more dangerous, carrying as they do malaria and (most recently) an outbreak of dengue fever. This emergency calls for…the mosquito bat! [...]

To Be Young and Cosmopolitan in Chennai

The Raintree is a high-rise luxury hotel on St. Mary’s Road, just a few dusty streets away from where I stay. From the polished lobby, one boards an extraordinarily quiet elevator and emerges onto a rooftop bar with a swimming pool, dining tables, and a perimeter bar underlit by blue neon and with an airy view of the city. The effect is striking because the bar is sleek and modern, while the street is strewn with piles of rubble. I was here to meet a new acquaintance, Ben, an thirty-something American who has been living in Chennai for a year and who took eagerly to my suggestion of the Raintree as a place to meet — a little too eagerly, I thought, considering that I had suggested it only because I knew of nothing else. I figured Ben would know of grottoes and pubs much cooler than a hotel bar. [...]

India, the Extended Remix Edition

It is my good fortune to be writing to you from southern India, where I will be stationed for the next two months or more. On the coast of the Bay of Bengal, near the tip of the subcontinent, in the bustling city of Chennai, home to 4.5 million souls, your correspondent will be ensconced in a cabana overlooking a pool and an aggressive flock of pigeons. [...]

The Little Wind Energy Center that Could

While in South India last month I had the chance to visit the charming offices of the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, the Indian government’s brain trust on wind power. [...]

If India’s Energy Woes Were America’s

A thought experiment to help an American understand what it would be like to be an Indian, in terms of the energy we use. [...]

The Weekly: Deep Ignorance in the Deep Ocean

From this week’s summary: Our Gulf of knowledge about the oil spill, Indonesia’s rainforests held for ransom, big news from Nissan and Zipcar, and some welcome news for the food movement. [...]

A Visit to India’s Largest Wind Plantation

At the southernmost tip of India lies the Muppandal Wind Farm, the biggest source of wind energy in India and one of the largest in Asia. I drove through it by accident a few days ago and and can report that Muppandal is as curious and multilayered as India itself. [...]