This piece first appeared in gal-dem’s UN/REST print issue

One night early in the new millennium, I was tearing through the streets of central London, running so fast it felt like I was flying. The black starry sky was melting into the purple streaks of early morning. I was breathless and lost and looking for something just out of reach. I stopped and squeezed my eyes shut. When I opened them, I was looking down the street I grew up on, in a quiet suburb of London.

Then the knowledge poured into my brain, like the first burst of rain…


The late Leila Alaoui’s work looks back at you. Her subjects’ eyes gaze out and lock with yours from frames and screens made on a much grander scale than the little boxes on Zoom. At the start of November 2020, I went to see an exhibition of her photographs and film at Somerset House, just before the second lockdown came into effect.

I have the place to myself. I can’t avoid my reflection in the shiny black backgrounds of the larger-than-life Les Marocains portraits, and I can’t avoid the eye contact with her interviewees on the enormous TV screen playing…


As the world locks down, podcasters are reaching out for our stories.

Combate, Puerto Rico, by Ariana Martinez, Field Recordings

We’re in the midst of the first pandemic of the internet era, the most anxious moment of our extremely online age. Unsurprisingly, there has been a surge in the number of podcasts about the coronavirus. All the usual big names have started one to keep us up to speed with the news: NPR (Coronavirus Daily), ABC (Coronacast), BBC (The Coronavirus Newscast). Many more existing podcasts are devoting episodes to discussing the many angles of the situation, often bringing in experts to delve into the epidemiology, economics, and end-time scenarios of the fast-moving virus.

There’s another side to the coronavirus situation…


A forum for young orphans to grieve together thrives on the world’s most popular messaging platform

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

My parents both died in the early 2000s, before my 20th birthday. Becoming an orphan long before anyone else you know is incredibly isolating. People who have not had the experience find it hard to understand you; all too often, they’re frightened by the depth of the loss. And it is difficult to find other people who can relate. I never thought that I’d eventually find them on WhatsApp.

Over the past two months, I have chatted daily with about 60 other people in a WhatsApp group chat for young orphans. …


The media obsession with — and recent mockery of — teen climate activist Greta Thunberg show how we’re failing future generations

Greta Thunberg addresses the National Assembly In Paris on July 23, 2019 in Paris, France. Photo: Micah Garen/Getty Images

In Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1973 dystopian short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” the eponymous city pays a high price for the happiness of its inhabitants: the constant torture of one child kept in perpetual filth, darkness, and misery.

Everyone in Omelas knows about the child: “This is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve,” Le Guin writes, “whenever they seem capable of understanding; and most of those who come to see the child are young people, though often enough an adult comes, or comes back, to see the child.” …


Yep it’s a long name and it’s fine if you don’t quite get it first time

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Sending me out into the world with the name Suchandrika Tia Chakrabarti was a bold move by my parents. It’s a gift, on many levels. For one, it makes every introduction to a new person a chance for me to get the measure of them. Occasionally, just a Suchandrika Chakrabarti, or even just a Suchandrika (Sue-CHAN-drick-ah), is too much, too long, too unusual to even be tried out. It’s tossed away with, “Got a nickname?” Sure, try Suki, even though my official nickname’s Tia — but that’s a whole other thing we’ll get into, later.

I’m careful not to share…


Reader, if you wanted five pictures of me, today is your lucky day!

Public speaking is utterly terrifying, right? The fear starts the moment you take on the assignment. Your boss tells you it’s good for the company, or you’ve got to stand up in front of the board, or you’ve been approached and aaaargh don’t they understand that you know nothing?! * hyperventilates *

Strangely, I’ve never really felt those things. Ask me to memorise a script and pretend to be someone else, and yes, I’m running screaming off that stage. Ask me to go up there as myself and speak for 10 minutes plus about something I know? I’m there. …

Suchandrika Chakrabarti

writer | comedian | buttondown.email/suchandrika

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