Reem Khokhar

Independent Writer

India

I contribute to various publications on travel, culture, health and wellness, social trends and issues, corporate culture and personal narratives. My words have appeared in Al Jazeera, Atlas Obscura, The National News UAE, The South China Morning Post, Mint Lounge, Vogue India, National Geographic Traveller India and more.

Portfolio

Featured

The National
10/09/2021
Cluttercore: the interior trend that has people filling their homes with stuff

Tangerine, hot pink and lemony yellow walls; mismatched cushions heaped on a plump sofa; framed pictures, knitted ornaments, wall art and painted plates; leafy tendrils cascading from bright hanging planters; hand-painted tables, trays and even a dishwasher; and vibrant mugs and pans strung and piled higgledy-piggledy around the kitchen.

Al Jazeera
Indians step up to the plate to cook for COVID patients, families

A growing community of home chefs, caring neighbours and good Samaritans helping to feed the sick and their attendants. New Delhi, India - Concerned by a spike in COVID-19 infections in her gated community in Noida, a city bordering New Delhi, Plaksha Aggarwal wanted to help and started cooking for the patients and their families.

Atlas Obscura
03/25/2021
Two Women Are Trying to Make India's Bad Words a Little Less Bad

It was 15 years ago when they first started talking about dirty words. Tamanna Mishra and Neha Thakur often discussed how uneasy popular Indian expletives made them. Mishra, a communications consultant in Bengaluru, and Thakur, an Airbnb host in Mumbai, noticed increasingly casual use of these profanities in mainstream entertainment.

Al Jazeera
03/14/2021
32,000km, 655 screens: Documenting India's endangered cinemas

Single-screen cinemas have been a feature of the Indian entertainment landscape for more than 100 years. One photographer set out to capture them before they are gone for good. Looking back, it was fortunate that Hemant Chaturvedi cut his visit short to the Kumbh Mela, a major Hindu festival and pilgrimage, in the north Indian city of Prayagraj (earlier known as Allahabad) in January 2019.

Vogue India
11/29/2020
How hula hooping became the dance of empowerment and a tool to subvert gender stereotypes

Sometime around September, the internet broke into a smile with the video of a young woman hula hooping in a saree and sneakers. Carefree in her short tumble of curls and unfettered by her attire, flow artist Eshna Kutty turned into a viral sensation as she skillfully whirled the hoop off and on her body to the sound of "Genda Phool", making the ring seem like a joyful and seamless extension of herself.

Verve Magazine
08/26/2020
A Sketch In Time

Rohan Chakravarty, the award-winning creator of Green Humour, a series of eco-focused comics and illustrations, looks back on a decade of being one of the most engaging voices within the sphere of environmental conservation and stresses on the need to participate in the conversation

Reader's Digest Australia and New Zealand
09/01/2020
Cooking my way through lockdown

In what was a confusing and fearful time, trying out recipes brought memories and good times into my home

National Geographic Traveller India
09/01/2019
Watch Horses Perform Ballet in Austria

50 kilometres from Vienna, an elite range of horses pull in crowds from across the world, when they take centre stage at the annual Lipizzaner Gala. Read more on Nat Geo Traveller India.

Latest

Mintlounge
05/09/2022
Covid and the rise of the boomerang employee

Gaurang Menon (41) started a new job in March 2022-but the word new may be slightly inaccurate. Menon rejoined BC Web Wise, a Mumbai-based digital marketing agency, as chief creative officer after previously working with them between 2005 and 2008.

Mintlounge
04/11/2022
The importance of having a best friend in the office

Close friendships are often formed when we are in school and college. The opportunity for meaningful and long-lasting connections becomes rarer as we enter the professional space. Schedules get fuller, and our time is reserved for family and the close friends we already have.

Mintlounge
03/29/2022
Why the great return to office is more challenging than expected

After almost two years of working remotely, many people have returned to the office, adapting to the workplace routine, structure and being around colleagues again. There is a new appreciation of this environment, free from pressure-cooker whistles, incessant doorbells, pets traipsing through Zoom meetings and jostling for space with family members.

Mintlounge
02/15/2022
It's perfectly normal to hate phone calls

The most universal ambient noises are arguably the trills, pings, whooshes, plops and solemn vibrations from mobile phones. While we manage much of our lives on our phones, it is ironic that making or receiving phone calls is not the primary use of this device for everyone.

Mintlounge
01/31/2022
As incomes rise, young professionals give back

Seventeen years ago, Deepa Bansal made a resolution from which she has never wavered. "No matter how much my husband and I earned, we decided to donate a minimum of 10% of our salaries towards philanthropic causes," says Bansal, 43, an independent marketing and consumer insights professional based in Gurugram.

The National
01/13/2022
Why the humble Indian khichdi enjoys superfood status

Naveen Madan disliked khichdi as a child, associating the rice and lentil porridge with upset tummies and illness. But he changed his mind a few years ago after a week-long cleanse recommended by an Ayurvedic doctor. "I had some health and digestive issues. After eating khichdi for a week, I felt great.

The National
09/06/2021
Water, juice and dry fasts: pros and cons of not eating for extended periods

Floris Estourgie's legs hurt for several years, a problem that doctors were unable to cure. After some research, he tried a 21-day water fast in 2017. "I felt like a different person after the fast, with better sleep and digestion, a calmer state of mind, less irritability and more confidence.

Mintlounge
09/06/2021
Can we live in an email-free world?

Email was never the primary communication mode at Samrata Salwan-Diwan's publishing company, Family Fables. Specialising in personal and institutional histories, the team's work involves extensive research and interviews. While pre-pandemic travel was frequent for in-person interviews, March 2020 caused the shift to remote working.

Travel

Mintlounge
08/30/2021
Comedy and culture on the walls of Penang's George Town

A steel rod cartoon sculpture on a wall catches my eye, an animated piece showing two men talking, a bus and a bullock cart in the background. My mouth is agape, partly from the samosa but mostly in delight at the artwork.

Mintlounge
08/23/2021
Relive childhood memories at Singapore's land of vintage toys

I walk by some beautiful sketches of Beatrix Potter's mischievous Peter Rabbit; a collection of Archie comics, Beatles memorabilia and a vintage set of rocking horses hitched to a wagon. A poster of that honey-loving wise bear, Winnie the Pooh, draws my attention with a quote, "It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"

The Humming Notes
10/29/2020
From hand to home: The treasures of Sanganer - The Humming Notes

You may not realize how crooked your perspective is until you try your hand at block printing. Steady hands and precision are challenging when holding a wooden block dipped in vibrant dye, over a pristine white stretch of fabric.

Travel and Leisure India
08/01/2020
A Tale of Two Houses

Two gloriously restored mansions in Georgetown, Penang, encompass the exciting multiculturalism of the region

The Hindu
03/05/2020
Aged to perfection

Explore the world's longest cave systems. Scuba dive in pristine rivers. Waft through the clouds in a hot air balloon over lush terrain. Glamp in a plush tented colony within the forest. A peek into the lifestyle of the indigenous communities, an example in sustainable living.

Vistara in-flight magazine
12/01/2019
Tales from Taiwan

Each page of the journey through this East Asian island, throws a whimsical twist

The Hindu
09/20/2019
History in a teacup

Crowded around a polished wooden table, we peer closely at a teapot and tiny cups clustered by it. The young man opposite us deftly fills each cup with a pale gold brew, passing it around. It has a delicate taste, fragrant and light.

The Hindu
07/18/2019
This choir from Delhi adds of a dash of Bollywood to Scotland

We disembark from our coach in sun-drenched Haddington. A cluster of beaming faces welcomes our choir group - The Capital City Minstrels. After the initial enquiries about our flight, a slightly awkward pause ensues. As if on cue, a bagpiper emerges, welcoming us with a lusty tune.

The Hindu
05/02/2019
Four great day trips from Washington DC

Virginia is home to several 18th and 19th-Century plantations, many of which are open to visitors to give them a glimpse into the life of Southern plantations, slavery and aristocratic landowners. One of the most famous estates, just 30 minutes from Washington DC, is Mount Vernon - George Washington's plantation house.

Outlook Traveller Getaways - Girls on Holiday
01/01/2019
Wish upon a Shooting Star

A guide to a girls vacay in Sitla, Uttarakhand

Vistara Airlines in-flight magazine
11/01/2018
Belfast - Where walls reflect history

Murals and graffiti, bustling weekend markets and raucous pubs, home to the most famous television show in the world and the most famous ship that was, Belfast is fierce and fascinating

The City Story
10/09/2018
How To Spend 48 Hours In DC | The City Story

WORDS BY REEM KHOKHAR Neo-classical architecture, historic landmarks, quirky neighbourhoods, malls, museums, cultural cauldrons, and culinary hotspots... the capital of the United States of America is all things to all people. Conscious of its history and confident in its modernity, the city's identity as seat of political power is understated but omnipresent.

The Times of India - Times Life
09/02/2018
Towering above the rest

The beautiful and a touch of the bizarre in San Gimignano

The Hindu
08/02/2018
A slice of the unexpected in Shimla

A siren slices the evening air, stopping us in our tracks. Our host, Amish Sud, explains, "It signals the end of the work day in Shimla. 5 o'clock."

The City Story
07/02/2018
5 Things To Do In And Around Pragpur | The City Story

WORDS BY REEM KHOKHAR Two abandoned brick mansions rise up in a mustard field of green and gold. The light filters through the broken panes, dancing across the silent, empty hall, walls heavy with conversations long concluded. As the sun sets, it looks like a film location.

The Times of India
06/02/2018
Made in Firenze - Times of India

Losing your way in the bylanes of Florence is perhaps one of the most romantic things that could happen to you.

Vistara Airlines in-flight magazine
05/01/2018
From Liverpool to Rishikesh - 50th anniversary of the Beatles' visit to India

The Beatles are iconic. Any site associated with them is bound to draw fans and visitors. Rishikesh is where the band spent a few weeks in 1968 and 2018 marks 50 years of their visit. Rishikesh and Liverpool, their hometown, celebrate this significant period in the lives of The Beatles.

The Hindu
04/19/2018
As it is in heaven

It's not everyday that one gets to be taken around Vienna by a Vienna choir boy! Rishan Bhatnagar is the 1st Indian in the renowned over-500-years-old choir and was our cheeky guide over a few days in the Austrian capital.

The City Story
02/06/2018
Head To The Mountains: 5 Things To Do In Shimla And Naldehra

WORDS BY REEM KHOKHAR Shimla used to be firmly off my "places to visit" list - I'd heard of a concrete jungle spilling over the hillside, "tattu tourism" with grown men stuffed on ponies waddling around hairpin bends, and a riot of multi-cuisine restaurants serving Mughlai-Chinese.

The Times of India (Times Life)
01/21/2018
Blue Trails

Walking the gorgeous Cinque Terre

The Hindu
08/31/2017
The light in high places - travelling through Sitla, Kumaon Himalayas

"If you see a leopard, just keep doing what you're doing. If you're singing, keep singing. If talking, keep talking...". Solid advice from long-time Sitla resident and owner of Sitla Estate, Vikram Maira, who patiently responds to my rather silly question on the sensible thing to do if one were to bump into the big cat.

India Perspectives
11/29/2010
Treasure trail in Shekhawati

Shekhawati is a cultural treasure trove with its frescoed havelis, because of which the area has been dubbed the "largest open air art gallery in the world"

India Today Travel Plus
09/15/2010
Culture curry

A quaint mix of old and new, and filled with art and architecture, Liverpool makes for a great weekend break if you are in London.

India Today
05/01/2009
Springing a surprise

A trip to Wales - utterly surprising and highly recommended.

India Today
03/01/2007
The Sound of Music

Home of Mozart , the Sound of Music, grand architecture and a scenic landscape make for a charming visit to Salzburg

Rough Guide to the World's Best Festivals - World Party
01/01/2007
Holi

Holi, one of India's vibrant festivals, features in this great guide to some of the world's biggest festivals and celebrations

Social trends and issues

Al Jazeera
05/31/2021
As COVID overwhelms India's hospitals, housing societies step in

Residents' welfare associations in urban areas provide critical medical aid as country's healthcare system buckles. New Delhi, India - When Shonalika Ghosh's father tested positive for COVID-19 in India's capital New Delhi, she had to monitor his symptoms and coordinate remotely from Dubai, where she lives.

South China Morning Post
05/16/2020
For urban Indians, lockdown brings a new challenge - no domestic help

For many middle- and upper-class Indians, help with household chores is deemed a necessity. When the country closed down to stem the spread of Covid-19, they were forced to reckon with the realities of cooking, cleaning and caring for their families.

Scroll.in
03/11/2019
The truth about polyamory in India - 'it isn't about sex and fun'

Basit Manham was in his mid-teens when he first felt attracted to multiple partners. "Dating was not an option [then]," said Manham, "but I...had an emotional intimacy with several people." At 19, when he did begin to date, the thought of this simultaneous attraction lingered.

Quartz
07/01/2018
"It is a pretty nasty world": Why more Indians choose not to have kids

"Am I an antinatalist?" I thought out loud, after coming across the term in an article. My husband responded, "Antinationalist? Aren't we all supposedly antinationalist nowadays?" I corrected him-it is a philosophy that believes it's cruel to bring humans into this overburdened world-while continuing to think about the idea.

Scroll.in
07/23/2018
Many Indians are deciding not to bring children into this overpopulated, unkind world

"Am I an antinatalist?" I thought out loud, after coming across the term in an article. My husband responded, "Antinationalist? Aren't we all supposedly antinationalist nowadays?" I corrected him - it is a philosophy that believes it's cruel to bring humans into this overburdened world - while continuing to think about the idea.

Quartz India
01/22/2019
The stigma around retirement communities is slowly fading in India

For Alakananda Bhattacharya, a 37-year-old freelance writer in Delhi, ageing is not a "favourite subject to think about." She avoids it fervidly, but when her thoughts do turn to the inevitable, they centre on "moving away from the city's pollution and crowds to somewhere with more nature and less concrete."

Culture and lifestyle

Verve Magazine
12/18/2020
For the Record

It began in 2015 while she was listening to her grandmother recount stories from her life. Govardhan Bali was brought up around the jungles of Chamba, far from the madding crowd, because of her father's role as the Chief Conservator of Forests in the '40s.

Atlas Obscura
12/03/2020
An Elegy for India's Single-Screen Cinema Palaces

It was an unplanned detour that started the whole thing. On a lazy winter afternoon in January 2019, photographer Hemant Chaturvedi walked over to Allahabad University, an architectural landmark from the 1800s in the northern Indian city, to take a few images. En route, he remembered that there was an old, single-screen movie theater in the area.

Verve Magazine
07/27/2020
Creative Control

The social constraints of the pandemic appear to have drawn more children to pen and paper (or keyboard and screen for that matter). For them, the act of writing can provide an escape, an attempt to control the narrative amid instability, as well as serve to document this dark, historic period.

Reader's Digest India
08/30/2020
Five Lessons In Harmony

Voices ring through a cold winter evening, singing a mellow song. A thread of 'oohs' interweave before a section of male voices begin to utter the lyrics. A few seconds later, an additional layer of voices chime in, amplifying the richness of sound. I am at rehearsal with a choir I have performed with for nine years.

The Hindu
10/31/2019
The BOYS are back

"We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day." Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie's iconic song from the 80s rang through a packed Kamani Auditorium in Delhi on Monday evening.

The Hindu
05/10/2019
Life is a test; fly it

"One of the greatest charms of test-flying is that you can fly any aircraft!" says Group Captain Ajit Agtey (Retired), the pleasure behind his words palpable over the phone. He and my father were friends from the decades they spent in the Indian Air Force - both were fighter pilots - but also part of a smaller group of elite aviators.

Hindustan Times Mint Lounge
11/30/2018
On the road to Rishikesh

Fifty years ago, in February 1968, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh received its most famous visitors-The Beatles. They came looking for peace and quiet, and answers. But if it was not for one of the women in their lives, the Fab Four may never have visited India.

Serenade
05/03/2019
It's been quite a journey

Rishan Bhatnagar is the first child from India to be in the over 500 year old Vienna Boys' Choir. After spending four years with the group, he is set to graduate in a few months and looks back at his extraordinary journey. "This last year has been different from the first few.

The Hindu
Curtains down at Udaipur's international storytelling festival

Turmeric wafts through the audience, hanging in an amber cloud around the woman on stage. In a purple sari, hair in a fierce swirl around her shoulders, she breathes heavily, eyes wide with defiance. A rousing applause begins. Actor Smita Tambe has just performed, through narration and dance, a tale called Jogwa, about a young girl who dreams of becoming a dancer.

The Hindu
11/14/2018
Tell us a story

Udaipur Tales is an international storytelling festival that brings together storytellers and performers from all over the world

The Hindu
06/30/2018
Schubert and Shakuntala

An ancient text. One of the great masters of Western classical music. An Indian choir. A celebrated Kathak dancer. An orchestra from Austria. What do they have in common? This is a unique artistic alliance that will culminate in a staging of Franz Schubert's opera, Shakuntala, in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata this October.

Serenade
01/23/2017
Sing like everyone's watching

Rishan Bhatnagar is the first child from India to be a part of the 500 year old Vienna Boys Choir. The ensemble is a renowned group of young male choristers who are an Austrian institution, performing in Vienna and across the world.

The Hindu
05/28/2016
Break forth and sing for joy

Music has always been an integral part of my life. I was an abysmally poor clarinet player, a reasonably good dancer, and a singer with a choir. I was a chorister for five years in school and another five with the Capital City Minstrels (CCM) in Delhi and have been performing in India and abroad for 22 years, with members from across the world.

Health and wellness

Mintlounge
08/23/2021
Would you like some chlorophyll water with your smoothie?

'Chlorophyll water' and other forms of supplements claiming to have chlorophyll as the primary ingredient are becoming increasingly popular, with health, skincare and wellness enthusiasts using them for potential benefits like improved digestion, more energy, weight loss support, clearer skin and fresher breath and body odour.

Mint Lounge
05/24/2021
The problem of positivity

While the pandemic rages on and anxious thoughts pervade our days, there are quiet moments of joy as well. Why, then, do we feel guilty about expressing positive emotions?

Corporate culture/Business features

mint
02/18/2021
Bringing a touch of minimalism to work

From limiting the use of streaming and social media apps to including work they truly enjoy in the daily list, people are trying to declutter their professional and personal lives and find a better way of living after the experience of the pandemic

Mint - Hindustan Times
10/15/2020
The death of small talk

"I struggled to sustain a conversation. Before lockdown, this wouldn't have happened. Small talk came naturally and these chats often led to bigger ideas at work. Now I couldn't think of things to say," says Noida-based Kumar. Her experience is not uncommon.

mint
12/11/2020
The work-from-home productivity hacks learnt this year

Whether it is keeping the hardest tasks for early morning or late at night when the children are asleep, using a standing desk or going for a walk while taking calls, or doing yoga midday, professionals from across India share productivity and self-care hacks they learnt this year

Mintlounge
12/31/2020
What makes a manager naughty or nice?

As 2020 winds down, we ask professionals to reflect on what made their bosses effective and empathetic, or incompetent and stress-inducing, and how they affected their mental health in this unusual year

Livemint
08/13/2020
Why mom's office presentation is the one that has to wait

For women particularly, lockdown has challenged professional productivity, with the paucity of space, mental and physical stress and, in many cases, inadequate family support. Let's talk about sharing Traditionally, women in India have always done more unpaid work-an average of six hours daily compared to less than an hour a day by men, shows a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Livemint
04/07/2020
Building skills while managing home and work

On social media timelines, pictures and videos abound of home-cooked meals, indoor fitness routines, virtual soirees of friends in a video chat screenshot, and parents doing art and craft projects with their children. Working from home is a new experience for many Indians, carrying on their professional work within their personal space at this time of mandated social distancing.

Mint - Hindustan Times
03/03/2020
Work smarter, not harder

The idea of deep work, or working smarter rather than longer, is slowly catching on among corporates and startups, as employers and employees realize that they’re capable only of a few hours of really focused work

Hindustan Times Mint
08/28/2019
The little gestures that can heal big rifts at work

Sameer Guha keeps his social media accounts free from work connections. But after ignoring friend requests from few colleagues, he realized some of them had taken offence at his dismissal. "I sent out messages explaining my preference after a senior colleague got upset and was passively hostile," says Guha, who works as general counsel (India and the Indian subcontinent) for Mars, a global FMCG company.

Hindustan Times Mint
05/22/2019
When one name has myriad challenges

Tired of questions that followed whenever she introduced herself-"Neha what? No last name?"- a five-year-old replied, "Only Neha", when the local butcher asked her name. He found her response very amusing, and three decades later Neha's family in Bengaluru still jokes about calling from "Only Neha's house" when they order from the butcher.

Hindustan Times Mint
03/13/2019
Be passionate about part-time pursuits

Those who are committed to a passion will make time for it despite a hectic work schedule.Having something in your life which is just for you, which isn't geared towards paying the bills or getting a promotion, brings you joy

https://www.livemint.com/
12/24/2018
Promise to value personal time this holiday season

Jonathan Marques' Instagram page is filled with photographs of his recent holiday to South Africa, an annual break, which he plans along with a few shorter getaways through the year. Marques, 32, is a business and research analyst with a global accounting firm, and like many in corporate India, has a demanding work schedule.

Scroll.in
01/17/2019
No more stigma: Why retirement communities are finally growing in India

For Alakananda Bhattacharya, a 37-year-old freelance writer in Delhi, ageing is not a "favourite subject to think about". She avoids it fervidly, but when her thoughts do turn to the inevitable, they centre on "moving away from the city's pollution and crowds to somewhere with more nature and less concrete".

Column

The Hindu
03/29/2020
Doggy Prattle | No time to be a social bug

"Why are those two dogs standing at our doorway?" asked Reem. Sid shrugged his shoulders, as the two pooches brushed past his legs, walking away from their apartment. Letting themselves in, they found me sitting on the sofa, my front paws soaking in a tub. "Oh you're home, hello!

The Hindu
02/14/2020
Doggy Prattle | Time to get bit by the karo-na-virus

"What's going on here?" asked Reem, walking in through the front door. "Where are the dogs? I'm used to almost breaking my neck each time I come in because of the whirl of fur at my ankles." "I heard some sounds from the bedroom. I'd rather not know."

The Hindu
12/20/2019
Doggy Prattle | All I want for Christmas is glue

"What are you two doing?" chirped Reem, bouncing into the room. I winced at the high decibel level, the egg nog from the night before still glugging in my bloodstream. Everything seemed much too bright and loud this morning. "We are making the naughty and nice lists so that we can plan our Christmas shopping lists accordingly."

The Hindu
10/08/2019
Doggy Prattle | Pet peeves of privileged pets

"What is this brown sludge?" I growled, pushing away the bowl placed in front of me. "Don't fuss, Mia!" scolded Reem, shoving the bowl back towards me, "It's a wholesome nutritious bowl of ragi porridge with lashings of dahi and just a drizzle of honey. It's delicious, now don't be fussy."

The Hindu
08/21/2019
Water to wine? Climate change is barking up the wrong tree

"Look at that street dog lapping water out of a slimy puddle," I said, my snout wrinkled in disdain, whiskers grazing the window pane. Taking a long sip of chilled cucumber water, I sprinkled a few drops on the head of the white and brown dog sprawled next to me in a cool air-conditioned reverie.

Personal Narratives and Blog

Mintlounge
03/23/2021
How I danced my way through the pandemic

I teamed up with friends and family for the 'Lockdown Boogie' project, and sometimes I danced solo. Dancing provided comfort and sanity during a tough time

The Hindu
08/20/2020
Relieving the Coronavirus bogey with some Lockdown boogie

Is it now Unlock 2.0 or Lockdown Number I've-lost-count? Life outside may have resumed in some form, but with the virus raging on resiliently, those of us who have the privilege, continue to stay in. Routines are on a loop and the days have all blurred.

Reader's Digest
05/12/2020
The Lockdown Boogie: Come, Dance with Me

Reem Khokhar Updated: May 13, 2020 13:10:42 IST Every evening, around 7:30 p.m., my phone screen lights up with the same message. "Do you want to dance?" It isn't code, or a bored prankster looking for inroads to "make friendship" with me. I respond by quickly tapping on the buttons to make a video call.

Asiaville
02/13/2019
Letters from my father

My dad's handwriting reminds me of a more personal, connected, and handcrafted time.

Reemspeak
ReemSpeak

My blog, which is a humorous (mostly) take on relationships, life and celebrating the ordinary in the extraordinary. Mostly featuring my husband, Siddharth, and my dogs, as muses, the posts also include some travel pieces, interviews, and tribute pieces to my wonderful father who I miss every day.