Kalpana Sunder

Kalpana Sunder

Kalpana Sunder is an independent journalist based in Chennai, India. She writes on travel, environment, gender, architecture, culture, lifestyle, food and fashion. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera and the National Geographic Traveler.

Latest from Kalpana Sunder

India’s ‘Everest Twins’ have conquered it all – and they’re still only 30 years old

Sisters Tashi and Nungshi Malik were not only the first siblings and twins to climb the highest mountains on each continent, they were also the first to reach both the North and South Poles.

Sisters Tashi and Nungshi Malik were not only the first siblings and twins to climb the highest mountains on each continent, they were also the first to reach both the North and South Poles.

India’s ‘Everest Twins’ have conquered it all – and they’re still only 30 years old
17 Oct 2021 - 3:00PM
India’s ‘ghost pepper’ chilli is so hot villagers use it to repel elephants. Will Britain be able to handle it?

Its heat is so ferocious that Indian villagers use it to repel wild elephants, while the Indian military uses it in smoke grenades.

Its heat is so ferocious that Indian villagers use it to repel wild elephants, while the Indian military uses it in smoke grenades.

India’s ‘ghost pepper’ chilli is so hot villagers use it to repel elephants. Will Britain be able to handle it?
17 Sep 2021 - 8:36PM
Mumbai’s humble snack Vada Pav gets new attention after British High Commissioner’s viral tweet

The dish has its roots as an affordable, filling food for Indian workers, but is also connected to the politics of the state of Maharashtra.

The dish has its roots as an affordable, filling food for Indian workers, but is also connected to the politics of the state of Maharashtra.

Mumbai’s humble snack Vada Pav gets new attention after British High Commissioner’s viral tweet
13 Sep 2021 - 5:51PM
How India’s tiffin went from British colonial legacy to everyday lunch in a box

The term tiffin refers to a light meal eaten during the day, or the containers of home-cooked food packed for office workers and schoolchildren.

The term tiffin refers to a light meal eaten during the day, or the containers of home-cooked food packed for office workers and schoolchildren.

How India’s tiffin went from British colonial legacy to everyday lunch in a box
22 Aug 2021 - 2:38PM
From garam masala in India to spices in China, Japan, the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus, how home and professional chefs blend them to bring out the best in their dishes

Home and professional chefs around the world, from Asia to the Middle East, southern Europe and North Africa, create blends of up to 40 spices that give flavour to their native dishes.

Home and professional chefs around the world, from Asia to the Middle East, southern Europe and North Africa, create blends of up to 40 spices that give flavour to their native dishes.

From garam masala in India to spices in China, Japan, the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus, how home and professional chefs blend them to bring out the best in their dishes
20 Aug 2021 - 4:22PM
In India, wearing jeans can be liberating – or deadly – for women

Indian women are often shamed for attracting attention by wearing foreign attire in a country with a deeply patriarchal and misogynist culture.

Indian women are often shamed for attracting attention by wearing foreign attire in a country with a deeply patriarchal and misogynist culture.

In India, wearing jeans can be liberating – or deadly – for women
12 Aug 2021 - 9:07PM
MasterChef Australia finalist’s ‘peasant food’ rice dish delights Indians, Bangladeshis

Kishwar Chowdhury’s ‘Smoked Rice Water’ is a modern reimagining of ‘panta bhat’, a type of centuries-old comfort food known in Bangladesh and India as a cheap, filling source of energy and hydration.

Kishwar Chowdhury’s ‘Smoked Rice Water’ is a modern reimagining of ‘panta bhat’, a type of centuries-old comfort food known in Bangladesh and India as a cheap, filling source of energy and hydration.

MasterChef Australia finalist’s ‘peasant food’ rice dish delights Indians, Bangladeshis
23 Jul 2021 - 7:56PM
The battle over basmati rice: why India and Pakistan may both claim the trademark

The fragrant rice is a staple in Indian cooking and has historically been grown in the Himalayan foothills, but a dispute has been bubbling over.

The fragrant rice is a staple in Indian cooking and has historically been grown in the Himalayan foothills, but a dispute has been bubbling over.

The battle over basmati rice: why India and Pakistan may both claim the trademark
17 Jul 2021 - 6:02PM
How coronavirus helped India’s mom-and-pop kirana stores beat Amazon and Bigbasket at their own game

They may be cramped and operate with budgets just a fraction of their big-name competitors, but the neighbourhood stores know their customers, can supply just about anything and deliver the same day.

They may be cramped and operate with budgets just a fraction of their big-name competitors, but the neighbourhood stores know their customers, can supply just about anything and deliver the same day.

How coronavirus helped India’s mom-and-pop kirana stores beat Amazon and Bigbasket at their own game
5 Jul 2021 - 12:00PM
Female biker’s solo India odyssey to show it’s safe for single women to travel and explore the country

In male-dominated India, where many women do not feel safe outside their homes, Indrani Dahal stands out. The biker has made a trip of 18,000km and counting across the country to prove to single women it’s safe.

In male-dominated India, where many women do not feel safe outside their homes, Indrani Dahal stands out. The biker has made a trip of 18,000km and counting across the country to prove to single women it’s safe.

Female biker’s solo India odyssey to show it’s safe for single women to travel and explore the country
21 Jun 2021 - 7:03PM
From Udupi to Hong Kong: how an Indian temple town’s vegetarian cuisine spread across the world

Vegetarian restaurants serving haalbai, sambar and rasam in India and across the world can trace their origins to food prepared in the kitchens of Udupi’s Lord Krishna temple.

Vegetarian restaurants serving haalbai, sambar and rasam in India and across the world can trace their origins to food prepared in the kitchens of Udupi’s Lord Krishna temple.

From Udupi to Hong Kong: how an Indian temple town’s vegetarian cuisine spread across the world
17 Jun 2021 - 2:21PM
He walked the length of India’s Ganges river and was shocked at what he found

Siddharth Agarwal spent two years trekking along India’s holiest river and everywhere he went he saw the impact of climate change and human interference.

Siddharth Agarwal spent two years trekking along India’s holiest river and everywhere he went he saw the impact of climate change and human interference.

He walked the length of India’s Ganges river and was shocked at what he found
1 Jun 2021 - 9:54PM
‘Death all around’: bereaved Indians search for solace amid pandemic as coronavirus rages on

Few in India have been untouched by the deadly second wave of coronavirus infections. In the absence of physical outlets to grieve for their loved ones, many have turned to virtual communities, helplines and tribute sites.

Few in India have been untouched by the deadly second wave of coronavirus infections. In the absence of physical outlets to grieve for their loved ones, many have turned to virtual communities, helplines and tribute sites.

‘Death all around’: bereaved Indians search for solace amid pandemic as coronavirus rages on
1 Jun 2021 - 11:33AM
India Love Project aims to celebrate diversity, from intercaste unions to LGBT couples

The India Love Project features stories of couples who have overcome different backgrounds or resistance from Indian society.

The India Love Project features stories of couples who have overcome different backgrounds or resistance from Indian society.

India Love Project aims to celebrate diversity, from intercaste unions to LGBT couples
3 Jun 2021 - 2:01PM
How Japan’s tiny forests are helping cool India’s heat islands in major cities like Mumbai and Chennai

Japanese botanist and ecologist Akira Miyawaki pioneered the method of cultivating pockets of green space in urban environments around the world.

Japanese botanist and ecologist Akira Miyawaki pioneered the method of cultivating pockets of green space in urban environments around the world.

How Japan’s tiny forests are helping cool India’s heat islands in major cities like Mumbai and Chennai
19 May 2021 - 1:49PM
Canelés, bebinca and queijadas - nuns invented these desserts, but how did convents become ‘laboratories of creation’?

The French have canelés, the Portuguese have queijadas and the Italians have ‘virgin’s breasts’ – all invented or perfected by nuns. There are a few reasons why so many desserts and candies originated in Catholic convents.

The French have canelés, the Portuguese have queijadas and the Italians have ‘virgin’s breasts’ – all invented or perfected by nuns. There are a few reasons why so many desserts and candies originated in Catholic convents.

Canelés, bebinca and queijadas - nuns invented these desserts, but how did convents become ‘laboratories of creation’?
6 May 2021 - 6:53PM
‘Age is only a number’: the Indian women defying old-age stereotypes to live life to its fullest

Bollywood legend Waheeda Rehman and 81-year-old fitness guru Usha Soman are just two of the Indian women redefining what it means to be in their age group.

Bollywood legend Waheeda Rehman and 81-year-old fitness guru Usha Soman are just two of the Indian women redefining what it means to be in their age group.

‘Age is only a number’: the Indian women defying old-age stereotypes to live life to its fullest
10 May 2021 - 10:11AM
‘Our profession is at stake’: Mumbai’s ‘dabbawallas’ fear for their futures as coronavirus shuts down age-old food delivery network

Lunchbox deliverers, or ‘dabbawallas’, have been feeding India’s financial capital since the 1800s, but almost all are now out of work thanks to the pandemic and its associated disruptions.

Lunchbox deliverers, or ‘dabbawallas’, have been feeding India’s financial capital since the 1800s, but almost all are now out of work thanks to the pandemic and its associated disruptions.

‘Our profession is at stake’: Mumbai’s ‘dabbawallas’ fear for their futures as coronavirus shuts down age-old food delivery network
2 May 2021 - 11:09AM
Stunning photos of Mumbai’s public clocks reveal how the Indian city is changing over time

Chirodeep Chaudhuri’s black-and-white images recall a pre-tech era and highlight the changes that have taken place in the Indian city.

Chirodeep Chaudhuri’s black-and-white images recall a pre-tech era and highlight the changes that have taken place in the Indian city.

Stunning photos of Mumbai’s public clocks reveal how the Indian city is changing over time
9 Apr 2021 - 6:57PM
Indian migrants flock to Canada as Trump-era rules make US less attractive

Around 30,000 Indian nationals become new permanent residents of Canada every year, making them the third-largest non-European immigrant group in the country after Chinese- and Filipino-Canadians.

Around 30,000 Indian nationals become new permanent residents of Canada every year, making them the third-largest non-European immigrant group in the country after Chinese- and Filipino-Canadians.

Indian migrants flock to Canada as Trump-era rules make US less attractive
31 Mar 2021 - 12:30PM
Bringing saris back: the Indian social media influencers celebrating ‘six yards of freedom’

Who said saris were staid and restrictive? These women are wearing it for everything from hula-hooping to skydiving.

Who said saris were staid and restrictive? These women are wearing it for everything from hula-hooping to skydiving.

Bringing saris back: the Indian social media influencers celebrating ‘six yards of freedom’
7 Mar 2021 - 11:02AM
How the bindi, dot on forehead of Indian women, became a fashion accessory for K-pop idols and other stars, and the young women reclaiming it as retro chic

The bindi, a dot placed on the foreheads of Indian women that denotes their origin and status, is no longer ubiquitous in India. Meanwhile, foreign celebrities such as Madonna and Blackpink’s Jennie have adopted the bindi.

The bindi, a dot placed on the foreheads of Indian women that denotes their origin and status, is no longer ubiquitous in India. Meanwhile, foreign celebrities such as Madonna and Blackpink’s Jennie have adopted the bindi.

How the bindi, dot on forehead of Indian women, became a fashion accessory for K-pop idols and other stars, and the young women reclaiming it as retro chic
1 Mar 2021 - 8:15PM
This amazing food art gets picky kids to eat new and healthy dishes and has turned the talented parents into Instagram stars

From plated meals to bento boxes, talented parents are taking food presentation to extremes with creations of full-fledged edible art that’s worthy of being in a museum.

From plated meals to bento boxes, talented parents are taking food presentation to extremes with creations of full-fledged edible art that’s worthy of being in a museum.

This amazing food art gets picky kids to eat new and healthy dishes and has turned the talented parents into Instagram stars
26 Feb 2021 - 2:30AM
He can’t fulfil his travel wish list but his black T-shirt can: furloughed Indian ropes in others to video sights around the world wearing the same T-shirt

Furloughed from his marketing job, Siddhant Agarwal sent one of his black T-shirts around the world and asked wearers to film their surroundings, to give people hope and the feeling of being connected to one another.

Furloughed from his marketing job, Siddhant Agarwal sent one of his black T-shirts around the world and asked wearers to film their surroundings, to give people hope and the feeling of being connected to one another.

He can’t fulfil his travel wish list but his black T-shirt can: furloughed Indian ropes in others to video sights around the world wearing the same T-shirt
15 Feb 2021 - 2:11PM
Study buddies: South Korean YouTubers take cram sessions to new level

With gongbang or ‘study broadcast’ videos, Korean students offer virtual partners in hitting the books, in a trend that has caught on worldwide.

With gongbang or ‘study broadcast’ videos, Korean students offer virtual partners in hitting the books, in a trend that has caught on worldwide.

Study buddies: South Korean YouTubers take cram sessions to new level
14 Feb 2021 - 2:02PM
The dogs on the front line of wildlife conservation, from sniffing whale droppings and detecting invasive species to fighting off predators

Dogs work with humans to protect wildlife, using their amazing sense of smell to sniff out rare or invasive species, animal contraband and poachers. Their protective nature helps when protecting animals from predators.

Dogs work with humans to protect wildlife, using their amazing sense of smell to sniff out rare or invasive species, animal contraband and poachers. Their protective nature helps when protecting animals from predators.

The dogs on the front line of wildlife conservation, from sniffing whale droppings and detecting invasive species to fighting off predators
2 Feb 2021 - 10:04PM
Benefits of vetiver oil, used in Ayurvedic medicine, from diet and skincare to pain relief and stress management

In Ayurvedic medicine, vetiver oil has been used to treat mood swings and anxiety for hundreds of years. It is also used to give skin a boost, for soothing massages, and has antioxidant properties.

In Ayurvedic medicine, vetiver oil has been used to treat mood swings and anxiety for hundreds of years. It is also used to give skin a boost, for soothing massages, and has antioxidant properties.

Benefits of vetiver oil, used in Ayurvedic medicine, from diet and skincare to pain relief and stress management
21 Jan 2021 - 10:44AM
Memories in jars, letters saying sorry: why Indian museum dealing with conflict won an international award

Avni Sethi, the daughter of social workers, designed the Conflictorium as part of her student thesis – a museum to encourage conversations about conflicts of various kinds. It became a reality and has won an international award.

Avni Sethi, the daughter of social workers, designed the Conflictorium as part of her student thesis – a museum to encourage conversations about conflicts of various kinds. It became a reality and has won an international award.

Memories in jars, letters saying sorry: why Indian museum dealing with conflict won an international award
18 Jan 2021 - 4:06PM
Cliff Richard is one, so is Ben Kingsley: Anglo-Indians were known for fun and fusion food, but their communities are slowly fading

A product of intermarriage between Indians and British colonists over the centuries, the Anglo-Indian community long stood out in India but has become almost indistinguishable from its neighbours.

A product of intermarriage between Indians and British colonists over the centuries, the Anglo-Indian community long stood out in India but has become almost indistinguishable from its neighbours.

Cliff Richard is one, so is Ben Kingsley: Anglo-Indians were known for fun and fusion food, but their communities are slowly fading
18 Jan 2021 - 8:26AM
Tying the knot during Covid-19 lockdown? In India, live-streamed weddings and home-delivered feasts are all the rage

A recent Tamil wedding has gone viral on social media, with images of the traditional wedding meal served to guests while the ceremony was broadcast online.

A recent Tamil wedding has gone viral on social media, with images of the traditional wedding meal served to guests while the ceremony was broadcast online.

Tying the knot during Covid-19 lockdown? In India, live-streamed weddings and home-delivered feasts are all the rage
10 Jan 2021 - 8:39PM