The Sport of Kings: My Latest at No Man Walks Alone

Polo - vintage

The word “polo” is inextricably linked to menswear, but there’s more to the connection than a ubiquitous clothing brand with an easily recognizable logo. The game of polo, one of the world’s oldest and most venerable sports, has given us classic and iconic additions to menswear. My post exploring three of polo’s most important contributions is now up at No Man Walks Alone:

The button-down shirt collar, that most quintessentially American classic style detail, was actually borrowed from English polo players, whom John E. Brooks saw using buttons to keep their collars from flying up during play. In 1896 he introduced this new button down collar in his family’s New York shop, Brooks Brothers, and called it the polo collar. Style icons from Fred Astaire to Andy Warhol to Gianni Agnelli were famously devoted to the polo collar.

You can read it all at ‘The Sport of Kings: Polo’s Contribution to Menswear.’

Indian Sankranti Sidewalk Art

Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival in India. It marks movement in the zodiac calendar. Today, January 14, is a holiday from work. Many travel to their native places over the three day weekend.

There are two particularly charming features of Sankranti. The most immediately visible are the kites that fill the skies. Children—and others—fly kites throughout the city. Of course, many meet their demise in the dreaded kite eating trees.

Another tradition is the decoration of doorsteps and sidewalks with elaborate drawings. These are mostly done by the women of the neighborhood, and are all the more special because of their temporary nature. You will find these in residential areas all over the city. It is a beautiful Indian folk art.

Yesterday I came across a blocked off street—two blocks worth—where a neighborhood competition was being held. The street was divided into squares, teams of artists were assigned to each, and detailed Sankranti sidewalk art was pitted against one another.

A man saw me taking pictures and invited me to step across the barrier to take more detailed pictures. My ride was waiting so I only had a few moments. Here is a small sampling. There were dozens more I didn’t have a chance to see.

Happy Sankranti!


Southern Cuisine: Hyderabadi Paradise

Your humble correspondant wishes a very Happy New Year from the Asian subcontinent. Over the last eight years or so I have made more or less annual visits to Hyderabad, India.

Hyderabad is a major city in south central India, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. It was once ruled by the Nizams. A hundred years ago the Nizam of Hyderabad was the richest man in the world.

Taking our order

The Nizams were Muslims, and brought with them the cuisine of the Mughals to the north, often called Mughlai. Hyderabadi food is a blend of Mughlai and south Indian, and one of its most popular restaurants is the aptly named Paradise. As in the US, southerners are proud of their food.

Over the past couple of years my friend Benson, a native of Hyderabad, and I have gone to lunch at Paradise. He orders and teaches me about Hyderabadi food. I eat and enjoy the education.

chicken kebabs

Hyderabad, and Paradise, is known particularly for its kebabs and biryani, a spicy rice dish. We started off with garlic chicken and mutton malai kebabs. These would be the most immediately palatable to Western taste. It’s really hard to make clear how good the kebabs are.

naan & butter chicken curry

Next came the butter chicken (a curry) and buttered naan. I am not as skilled as Benson in eating this with my hands (you use the naan to scoop up the curry), but I gave it a go. The curry has a pretty strong kick.

Finally was the mutton biryani. Biryani can also be made with chicken or as a vegetarian dish. It is served with traditional gravies that are mixed in with the rice. Benson remarked how much better this biryani was than what you can get at the hotel. I asked him what makes the Paradise biryani better: “The taste,” he told me. Ah.

Famous Paradise Hyderbadi biryani

Needless to say, I chose to forego supper later in the day. If you ever make it to Hyderabad then welcome to Paradise.