Lauren Frayer | New Hampshire Public Radio

Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

Before moving to India, Lauren was a regular freelance contributor to NPR for seven years, based in Madrid. During that time, she substituted for NPR bureau chiefs in Seoul, London, Istanbul, Islamabad, and Jerusalem. She also served as a guest host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

In Europe, Lauren chronicled the economic crisis in Spain & Portugal, where youth unemployment spiked above 50%. She profiled a Portuguese opera singer-turned protest leader, and a 90-year-old survivor of the Spanish Civil War, exhuming her father's remains from a 1930s-era mass grave. From Paris, Lauren reported live on NPR's Morning Edition, as French police moved in on the Charlie Hebdo terror suspects. In the fall of 2015, Lauren spent nearly two months covering the flow of migrants & refugees across Hungary & the Balkans – and profiled a Syrian rapper among them. She interviewed a Holocaust survivor who owed his life to one kind stranger, and managed to get a rare interview with the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders – by sticking her microphone between his bodyguards in the Hague.

Farther afield, she introduced NPR listeners to a Pakistani TV evangelist, a Palestinian surfer girl in Gaza, and K-pop performers campaigning in South Korea's presidential election.

Lauren has also contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the BBC.

Her international career began in the Middle East, where she was an editor on the Associated Press' Middle East regional desk in Cairo, and covered the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Syria and southern Lebanon. In 2007, she spent a year embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, an assignment for which the AP nominated her and her colleagues for a Pulitzer Prize.

On a break from journalism, Lauren drove a Land Rover across Africa for a year, from Cairo to Cape Town, sleeping in a tent on the car's roof. She once made the front page of a Pakistani newspaper, simply for being a woman commuting to work in Islamabad on a bicycle.

Born and raised in a suburb of New York City, Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, rusty French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi.

Firecrackers erupted Sunday in a tiny village surrounded by lush green rice paddies in southern India, where Kamala Harris' maternal grandfather was born. Residents wrote in colorful rangoli powder on a dirt lane in front of their homes: "Congratulations Kamala Harris. Pride of our village."

Harris will be the first Asian American elected vice president in the United States, in addition to becoming the first Black vice president and the first female vice president. Harris was born in California. Her late mother was born in India, and her father is from Jamaica.

Sometimes the call comes from a teenage girl.

She is pleading for help, "saying her parents are trying to get her married but she wants to stay in school," says Vijay Muttur.

He's the child protection officer in the town of Solapur in south-central India. After India went under a coronavirus lockdown in late March, his phone has been ringing off the hook. He's hearing from girls under the age of 18, from village elders, from social activists and child-care workers.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper are both in India's capital today. They signed military agreements and pushed the Trump administration's anti-China message. NPR's Lauren Frayer has details.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPETS)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Visitors are capped at 5,000 a day. Everyone must wear a mask and have their temperature taken. Tickets are digital. Selfies are allowed, but no group photos. And no touching the gleaming white marble.

Those are among the new coronavirus-era rules at India's Taj Mahal, which reopened to tourists at sunrise Monday for the first time in more than six months. The monument shut on March 17, just days before India imposed the world's biggest coronavirus lockdown, when infections were still low in the country.

With nearly 98,000 new coronavirus cases confirmed Thursday, India again broke the record for the highest daily tally of infections for any country since the pandemic began. It is on track, within weeks, to become the worst-affected country in the world.

India's parliament reopened Monday for the first time in nearly six months, but at least 25 lawmakers were barred from entering the chamber after testing positive for the coronavirus.

With the coronavirus spreading faster in India than anywhere in the world, the Indian government on Monday announced the country's biggest economic contraction in 24 years.

Every year in Mumbai, India, as the monsoon abates, the city resounds with chants praising Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom and luck, and the remover of obstacles. But this year, city officials have to find creative ways around a huge obstacle: how to allow faithful to celebrate one of India's biggest festivals safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many Indians are tweeting support Wednesday for Kamala Harris, celebrating their connection to the new presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president, whose mother was from India.

Harris is not only the first woman of color to appear on a major U.S. presidential ticket, but she is also the first person of South Asian descent.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STACEY VANEK SMITH, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

One of the most famous actors in India has COVID-19. Big B, as he's called, is Amitabh Bachchan. Bollywood fans are praying for recovery, as NPR's Lauren Frayer reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Will schools reopen in the fall? Parents, teachers and students are all craving an answer to that question. Yesterday, the White House weighed in. At a roundtable on education, President Trump had this to say.

India reported a record spike in coronavirus cases Thursday, even as the prime minister ruled out a new nationwide lockdown.

With 12,881 new infections registered, it's the first time India's daily tally has exceeded 12,000. For most of this week, only the United States and Brazil have been adding more new cases daily.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

When novel coronavirus cases first emerged in India, authorities acted swiftly. They halted public transit, scrambled to stockpile medical gear and ordered more than 1.3 billion residents to stay indoors. Everyone braced for the worst.

Cowering in the grass, a young Muslim man begs for his life.

He's shaking. His hands and face are bloody. His attackers beat him and threaten to douse him with fuel and set him on fire. They accuse him of intentionally trying to spread the coronavirus.

Under threat of "retaliation" from President Trump, India earlier this week reversed its export restrictions and some companies are ramping up production of a malaria drug Trump has touted as a potential game-changer for fighting COVID-19.

For centuries, Hindus gathered to burn corpses on funeral pyres along the Ganges River. Jews received condolences at home during a seven-day mourning period. Muslims huddled together to wash the corpses of loved ones in Iraq and across the Arab world.

But global burial rituals are being dramatically changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under lockdown, well-off Indians isolate indoors, work from home and get groceries delivered.

But outside their windows, it's a different story: Poor laborers amass in the streets, hungry and homeless.

In a video posted on Twitter, a woman calls down to a crowd of people gathering below her window. They yell back up to her, desperate: "There are 400 of us here without food. We need help. There are lots of children."

With a fraction of the hospital beds and ventilators per capita of developed countries, Indian doctors and public health experts warn an explosion of coronavirus cases could overwhelm their hospitals on a greater scale than what's happening in Italy and the United States — and lead to many millions of deaths.

Not enough toilets – and the ones there are often dirty. Beds crammed together. The only way to shower is with water from a bucket that everyone has to share. No soap or hand sanitizer.

Pages