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 [...]

Lessons in Patience from an Eco-Octogenarian

Last month I sat down with K.S. Sivaprasad, an Indian engineer and entrepreneur, to hear about his plans to bring a waste-to-energy factory to India. I learned that this sprightly 80-year-old had been at this effort for quite some time. Forty years, to be exact. [...]

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. [...]

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. [...]

Three Perspectives on Climate Change

Last weekend was all about global warming. First, on Saturday, I attended the Washington, D.C. premiere of “Chasing Ice,” a new adventure documentary in which nature photographer James Balog attempted to capture glaciers in their death swoon.

See my review, and don’t miss the trailer:

On Sunday, I rode my bike to a theater [...]

The Great Weight of Asia’s Megacities

A “megacity” is a metropolis of 10 million souls or more. Back in 1950, the world had exactly two: Tokyo and New York. As of 2010, the world had 23 megacities, with 12 of them located in Asia. By 2025, according to the U.N., that number may rise to 37, with 21 of them being in Asia. How are countries like China and India adjusting to such an epic migration? [...]

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. [...]