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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.

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For decades, a tiny Catholic nun in her signature blue and white sari cared for the sick and dying in the slums of what was then called Calcutta.

Mother Teresa's work drew donations from around the world. After her 1997 death and 2016 canonization, the group Mother Teresa founded in India, the Missionaries of Charity, has grown into one of the most recognizable Christian charities in the world. It has continued to fundraise globally to pay for the hospices, soup kitchens, leper colonies and orphanages it operates across India.

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As you try to decide whether a French red will pair well with gingerbread cookies or if a California white could stand up to latke, this holiday season, we wanted to revisit a story about the biggest winemaker in India. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports.

KOLKATA, India — When Tony Liu was a child, a series of police raids in his hometown made him realize that some people saw him and his family as different from their fellow Indian citizens.

In 1962, Indian authorities went door to door, rounding up people of Chinese descent in his neighborhood of the city then known as Calcutta. The former British colonial capital remains one of India's most diverse metropolises, home to the country's largest Chinatown.

KOLKATA, India — When Ahmed Khan fled to India from his native Afghanistan three years ago, he left behind the constant din of rocket fire and a desperate search for work in a broken economy. He also acquired a new nickname: "Kabuliwala."

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Why did a helicopter go down in India, killing the country's top military officer, along with 12 other people, including his wife? Here's NPR's Lauren Frayer.

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GHAZIPUR BORDER, New Delhi — Every day for the past year, a sugarcane farmer in a bright-green turban has been chanting prayers inside a bamboo tent erected in the middle of a highway on the Indian capital's outskirts.

When comedian Vir Das performed a monologue entitled "Two Indias" on stage at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center last weekend, he spoke of two drastically different sides of his native India: rich and poor, united but also divided over politics, women's rights, Bollywood films and cricket teams.

His gig ended up eliciting two pretty drastically different responses too.

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India's capital is under a partial lockdown amid a health emergency but not for COVID-19. NPR's Lauren Frayer has more.

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NASHIK, India — India's Supreme Court is calling for a lockdown in the capital, New Delhi. It's because of a health emergency, but it's not about COVID-19. It's about air pollution.

At a hearing Monday, justices ordered authorities to halt all nonessential travel on roads in the national capital region. They also told them to close offices in the area, shifting tens of millions of people to work from home.

KOLKATA, India — Strings of flags showing one woman's smiling face zigzag back and forth above the old colonial streets of this city formerly known as Calcutta.

The same face appears on the side of Kolkata's city buses and on posters along the banks of a Ganges River branch. It even shows up in graffiti, as the face of a 10-armed Hindu goddess — and as Mother India, banishing Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the Bay of Bengal.

MUMBAI — At a coal depot tucked away in an urban slum, Abdul Moeed Chaudhary surveys his workers. Wiry men wearing flip-flops shovel heaps of coal into mounds that reach the rafters several stories high. Clouds of black dust billow up. Nobody is wearing a mask.

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KOLKATA, India — When Sharmistha Chaudhuri decided to get married in her native India, she faced a dilemma.

Chaudhuri, 35, is a PR professional in Austin, Texas. She's independent, educated and has traveled the world. She wanted her wedding to reflect her liberal values and the equal partnership she has with her American fiancé.

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NEW DELHI — Inside a former army barracks, Simran Sagar sings a Hindi love song as she makes tea for her fiancé on what they hoped would be their wedding day. But their marriage keeps getting delayed.

Her voice echoes off the cold cement walls. "Like a shooting star that falls from the sky, our lives fell apart, darling," the lyrics go.

This is not how they imagined their first home together: a mattress on the floor, a hot plate to cook on and a police guard stationed out front. It's a secret safe house in India's capital, 200 miles from the village where they grew up.

When President Biden hosts the leaders of Japan, Australia and India at the White House on Friday, it will be part of a push, analysts say, to reorient U.S. foreign policy away from long wars and traditional alliances in Europe and instead focus on countering a fast-rising foe: China.

The four leaders will be meeting for the second time this year as part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, founded in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami. In recent years, analysts say the group has emerged as the most important democratic bulwark against China's burgeoning power.

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