Akshaya Pillai

Akshaya Pillai

Journalist, Features Writer (mail4akshaya@gmail.com)

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Personal Essays

A Room of One's Own

A personal essay for the Times Of India about living alone in a small town.

Times OF India / February 2017 / Personal Essays

First in line with a prayer

On Republic Day, Jamida Beevi led the Friday prayers at a mosque in Malappuram. The threats haven’t stopped since, but Beevi is not one to be cowed down

Hindu Business Line Ink / February 2018 / Characters

Searching Questions

As a fishing village in Kerala mourns its dead and awaits news of those missing at sea in the wake of cyclone Ockhi, it demands to know why official help was so little, and so late

Hindu Business Line Ink / December 2017 / Reports

The Wind in The Tea Bushes

Munnar resembles the scenery sketches from a five-year-old’s drawing book. It takes you back to an era when you believed that the constituents of a dream home were mountains, streams, coconut palms, and a thatched hut, adjacent to which stood three stick

Outlook Traveller Magazine / April 2014 / Travel

Handy Guide to Muziris Biennale

To be a spectator at the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, you must be aware of two things. One, that everything on the wall, floor and ceiling has a history that connects you to the past. Two, that everything is already a part of something el

Mans World Magazine / December 2014 / Art

Retracing Kerala’s first bus trip

Behind me, the white of the fort safeguarding the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple – the richest temple in the world – and beside me, men in stiff, white shirts pinning up red event badges that read “Bus Day”. People on their way to work pause, inspect the bal

National Geographic Traveller / February 2015 / Travel

Water Baby

Swimmer Sajan Prakash won a bagful of medals at the recent National Games, smashing a few records along the way. As an Indian swimmer, though, his professional future remains lined with doubt

Mans World / April 2015 / Characters

Arabian Knights

Hit Malayali TV show Pravasalokam has done more for Indian immigrants in the Gulf than governments and law enforcement agencies put together!

Mans World Magazine / October 2014 / Celluloid

Breathing History

Camouflaged by grass stubs, guarded with spiked fences on which villagers have left their lungis to dry, I peep and peek in vain to see the names engraved on the two tombstones that are visible from the granite platform of the Anjengo Fort. “That is the B

Indian Express / June 2012 / Travel

Power of Cuts

Through a dark and deserted street wafts in familiar Kishore Kumar melodies, sung out of tune but coated with glee. Trace it to reach Govind Nambiar’s house. It is the half an hour load shedding and Nambiar’s family is sitting around the candle light on t

Indian Express / April 2012 / Reports

Liquid Cartography

The weather in Kochi is predictable. The sun stretches itself like a second layer on your skin, which could be one reason why the Aspinwall Coir godown resembles a cave. Darkness is a momentary blanket until the wall on the farther end jump starts with pr

Himal South Asian / May 2015 / Art

the Snake-Catcher of Thiruvananthapuram

Underneath the chair I am seated on, there is a plastic jar containing a cluster of snake eggs. Seven such identical jars with red lids, each home to a hundred distorted-looking snake eggs, are strewn across the 100 sq feet that makes up wildlife conserva

Caravan Vantage / April 2015 / Characters

Smoke and Mirrors

Woody Allen’s refusal to screen Blue Jasmine in India citing the country’s intrusive anti-smoking health advisory revives an old debate over whether art must lead society by example or be left alone by it

Open Magazine / October 2013 / Celluloid

Sharp, Blunt and Interactive

A boy tugs his mother’s shawl and puts forth his right hand. He is holding a toy, a Ben 10 with its head missing. He is standing ahead of me in the long queue for tickets to the puppet play Hilum at the 6th International Theatre Festival of Kerala. His mo

Open Magazine / March 2014 / Art

The Accidental Genius

George Saunders, who suspects he won the MacArthur genius grant through an error, on his ability to write anywhere and the importance of doing the dishes

Open Magazine / February 2014 / Books

French elegance under Indian Sun

Marjorie Moreau sat on a rock boulder, her feet caressing the coarse sand as milky waves dashed on the shore. She leaned onto Benjamin’s shoulders as the sun sunk deep into the sea. That was the exact moment when she decided that if she had to settle, it

Indian Express / May 2012 / Characters

‘Writers these days write to be seen, not read’

Anees Salim’s office resembles a blank page. The walls are bare, the desk uncluttered, and there is a comfortable silence, unbroken even by the door’s swinging open. It is 10 am and Anees Salim has just made his 10 km drive to work. On Facebook, Salim has

Open Magazine / December 2013 / Characters

Book Review : The Mythmaker

Ravi Shankar Etteth’s The Brahmin evokes the nostalgia of the early 90s when television embraced history and an entire country waited to watch tales of shrewdness that helped save a kingdom.

Open Magazine / June 2018 / Books

Film After Life

In Thiruvananthapuram to shoot his new film, Paul Cox talks about his ‘near death experience’ and what it has meant to his art

Open Magazine / April 2014 / Celluloid

A Passage to India

Tracing the Indo German Dance connection

Motherland Magazine / July 2014 / Celluloid

Un Photographer, Une Poet, Un Polaroid

As the sun shifted above the white-washed church and the cemetery at Puducherry, Pascal Bernard rotated his Polaroid lens and focused on Mathew, the tourism secretary. He stood next to a grave with a solemn expression on his face as the camera went click-

Indian Express / July 2012 / Art

The Lullaby That Led to a Dream

Inside a rented Ambassador cab parked halfway through a playground in Kollam, somewhere behind the makeshift stage where she is scheduled to perform in another half hour, 34-year-old Chandralekha Adoor finally finds some time for my questions. The convers

Open Magazine / January 2014 / Characters

Pain and Net Gain

Draped in a gold rimmed saree, fifty five year-old Saraswathy lights an oil lamp in front of the sandal-clad deity. Tip toed, she rings the temple bell. It is an every evening routine. Her prayers have been the same for five years. She is hoping to see he

Indian Express / May 2012 / Reports

To Pop Or Not

The blanket lay at the foot of the bed like a crumpled orb. Ammu woke her guy with a kiss, drew the curtains apart, poured herself a glass of water and rummaged in the bedside drawer. She took an empty emergency contraceptive packet, aimed it at his head

Indian Express / April 2012 / Reports

Piracy By Choice

Rahul honks his way into the shabby street. Bleating goats cross the road as he parks his car near the pink mosque and walks past the narrow lanes eying matchbox sized shops showcasing CDs and electronics. His fingers slide through the dust clad racks st

Indian Express / April 2012 / Reports

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