Asia Society Staff Picks: Podcasts for the Quarantined Soul
Friday, 19 June, 2020
While quarantined at home like many others, our days are consumed by household chores, attending back to back Zoom meetings, following Covid-19 updates, and binge watching everything on this list. But all that screen time can be draining and certainly isn't any good for our eyes. But if you're like us, and looking to stay engaged, informed, and entertained during this quarantine, podcasts may just be the move for you. The right podcasts can offer you education, inspiration, information, comic relief, and even a soothing distraction during a stressful day. If you are unsure about where to start, here are our recommendations:
It can be tempting to start the day by going through your Twitter timeline and news apps on your phone while lazing around in bed long after snoozing your alarm clock. Instead, tune into this short yet comprehensive podcast from Newslaundry to get your ‘Daily Dose' of national news.
This pandemic has shown that now more than ever, global events can have a significant impact on our daily lives, no matter how far away they appear. BBC Global News Podcast gives you a good idea of what’s happening in the world with comprehensive reports from its international correspondents in 30 minutes. It has a morning and an evening edition, so you can choose to tune in whenever it’s your turn to do the dishes.
- Special Mention: The Daily by the New York Times doesn't give you a quick recap of the news, but chooses to focus on contemporary issues with insightful analysis and interviews. Their episodes on human interest stories are not to be missed, and Michael Barbaro’s voice will make this podcast a permanent feature on your everyday playlist.
- Other options: CNN’s Daily Briefing, FT’s New Briefing, The Intelligence by The Economist
Pandemic or no pandemic, the daily and at times hourly updates in the policy world can be hard to keep a track of. What is often lost in the flurry of reactionary perspectives is the larger picture that can only be obtained with thorough examination of nuance and context. Milan Vaishnav’s Grand Tamasha podcast looks at Indian politics, foreign policy, economics, society, and culture from multiple lenses courtesy his influential and accomplished guests. The conversations often demand a fair share of your attention, making this the perfect background score for your weekly meal prep.
- Other options: All Things Policy by The Takshashila Institution, The Pragati Podcast, The Seen and the Unseen by Amit Varma, In Focus by The Hindu
If this lockdown has left you with too much time on your hands and itch to learn something new, perhaps a specialised subject based podcast may interest you? Options include everything from history, to philosophy, to science, and more. Our favourite is Echoes of India by Aniruddh Kanisetti, which explores ancient and medieval Indian history and features themes like the evolution of Indian languages, the rise and fall of prolific kingdoms, and some truly riveting battle sequences. Kanisetti’s masterful narration transports you to another era, and will leave you with enough inspiration to make you pick up a book or two on India’s rich, intricate past. This is the ideal laundry playlist for the isolated individual.
Arts & Culture
The information overload on recent events in the past few weeks could overwhelm the strongest among us. Staying informed in a lockdown is important, but at times it's best to sit back, relax, and tune into conversations on the finer things in life – be it art, literature, film, or design. Our favourite pick in this category is The Lit Pickers – a podcast dedicated to literature and co-hosted by Supriya Nair and Deepanjana Pal. The two journalist/ writers take on different genres and anthologies in each episode, dissecting ideas, themes, narratives and their contemporary relevance with thoughtful insights and lively humour. Friendly warning: your reading list will grow considerably long by the time you reach the finale.
Who doesn’t love a good story session at the end of the day? If you are not in the mood to pick up a book but still wish to escape the drudgery of quarantine life, fiction podcasts might just be your cup of tea. Kahani Suno, narrated in Hindi by Sameer Goswami, features the work of Premchand, Anton Chekhov, Khalil Gibran, O Henry, and other authors in episodes between 5 minutes and 2 hours. It's simple, no frills storytelling – but tranquil enough to make you forget your worries, even for a little while.
Asia Society has a range of podcasts on Asian and world affairs – featuring interviews and commentary by leading experts in arts, culture, policy and current affairs. Asia Abridged offers a the most memorable moments from our global programmes, Asia In Depth features interviews deep diving into some of the continent’s most pressing issues, and Asia Inside Out, as the name suggests delivers an insider’s view on Asian matters beyond the usual policy headlines. Do check them out as well!
About Summer Fridays
Summer Fridays is a brand new blog series by Asia Society India Centre, profiling established cultural influencers and rising stars in various fields. Each week we feature conversations, interviews, recipes, playlists, and more—on art, food, music, literature, and film.