Friday, November 26, 2010

Brand Busting

A friend was invited to the engagement party of a rising star in Bollywood. She came back after the celebrations, raving about the arrangements and the food. There was only one rider. She couldn’t click any pictures. Why? Because the actor and his family didn’t want any snaps that had him smoking. I found the whole thing rather absurd until she explained how all the film stars in Mumbai were positioning themselves as’ Brands.’ And the actor in question was clear he wanted to be projected as squeaky clean and politically correct in all respects. Any evidence of him engaging even in a minor vice was not something the public at large was privy to.

The X-Tapes are like the snaps my friend would have liked to click. If any of the public personalities involved in the 2 G spectrum mess had known the income tax department was taping the conversations of a certain Ms. Radia when they were on line with her, it goes without saying the sacrilege would have never been permitted, let alone find its way in the public domain. But some intrepid soul refused to play by the party rules and the damage has been to some of the most enduring brands of rising India.

We know now that our Prime Minister is not the honest and upright leader he was ‘branded’ as but a wimp. Just yesterday I read an article on him that described him as ‘effete.’ The tapes also tell us that the chairman of the leading corporate house in India looks down on anything it the black tie affair or the dark complexioned Raja. He and his PR executive are caught giggling about Raja being able to blush despite the handicap his complexion poses.

I personally found that section very useful as it proved to me once and for all why that dubious product “Fair and Lovely” sells like hot cakes in our country. All the “Kaalas” in this country including me, would like to blush in certain situations and we want our blushes to be noticed. So the plan is we use a fairness cream. That should also improve our employment prospects considering such prominent corporate personalities like their ministers ‘fair’ and square.

We also know the dapper long distance runner Anil Ambani has inherited none of the business acumen of his legendary father and foolishly gone and lost all his wealth in the stock market. From one of the richest businessmen in the world, he has turned into a “Kadka.” When another friend heard me joking about this he chided “Even in his Kadka state, he has more money than you can ever dream of.” I retorted it didn’t matter as he was “Kadka” by his own standards.

Barkha Dutt is no longer the feisty journalist we knew her to be. She is found famously asking Radia “Tell me, what should I tell them now?” From the heights of Kargil to the depths of being an errand girl, somehow the fall of Ms. Dutt is rather Greek tragedy like. I am sure whenever she walks into a party of late, all the guests look at her from the corner of their eyes and snigger. As for the suave Mr. Sanghvi, the same media peers who envied him for getting invited to the best of hotels and spas in the world are now calling him a “Steno” and “PA” to Radia.

Niira Radia herself is no power woman and a feminist icon as I imagined her to be. Initially, when the scandal broke out, I was quite impressed by this woman who was stringing the most powerful men in India like puppets. But now we learn, she joined the ‘Big Boys’ club by being ‘very close’ to the BJP politician from Karnataka- Anant Kumar. So it is the same old story.

Karnataka politician reminds me of our own Yedurappa, and how despite impeccable credentials he did not figure in the tapes. But the aftermath certainly featured him prominently. His brand was the only one not to get busted.

He was and remains the clown beyond compare!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Diwali night inspired a resident of the building to set up an impromptu bar on the terrace and persistent invitations over the intercom forced me to join the gathering. We got into trouble with the ex-president of the association about the party the next day. But that’s another story.

As it usually happens in middle class apartment blocks, only the men found it comfortable to join the single malt party. The women wisely stayed away. And just as typically as in all male gatherings, the conversation was abysmal and stupid.

This time most of the drunks had a single point agenda. Let’s collectively take on our favourite punching bags- the Muslims. No prize for guessing. The gang was all Hindu. “Look at their history...they always came to power by killing their fathers and brothers,” pontificated one. Everyone present nodded their heads sagely.

Nothing new about that. We always do this. Rake up the history from the pre-Mughal times to illustrate how senselessly brutal people bearing allegiance to Islam can be. And from that silly starting point, it’s easy to make illogical leaps of faith and tar all Muslims as cruel, fundamentalist, terrorist etc.

Why do we Hindus forget that the immediate past of India is littered with enough and more Hindu families burning brides for bringing in inadequate dowry? Burning someone alive must count as one of the most barbaric and savage acts. And by all accounts, entire families are known to participate in this shameful ritual whole heartedly. And at stake is not even a throne, but a few hundred rupees.

But I guess since these brides are not “blood relatives,” they don’t count. Besides they are women. Why should their deaths, however senseless and savage count? They are not Babur or Shahjahan.

As for the charge relating to killing blood relatives, what about our own brand of honour killings? Do we spare our own sons and daughters if they marry within their own “gotra” or not within the same caste?

I contemplated putting across these arguments and then realized in talking about the blood thirsty nature of another community, the gang had started looking pretty blood thirsty themselves. I gulped down my drink and left.

Evil has nothing to do with a particular religious affiliation. Look at what we are learning about the good Christian deeds of the American army in Iraq thanks to the web.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Holiday Hangover

It was a long one, spanning eleven days and five destinations. Apart from air and rail, there was plenty of road travel thrown in too. Dipti tells me I don't know how to relax during long journeys by car. I am invariably found staring fixedly at the road ahead. That's true. I am petrified of the sight of the careless dogs run over by speeding vehicles. Apart from grossing you out, there is also something heartbreaking about the sight. This time the driver in Rajasthan had an unique insight. He told us when dogs are running across a highway and sense a running vehicle close to them, instead of speeding like other animals do, they turn around and inevitably get hit by a car or a truck coming from the other side. That's why you are bound to come across one badly mutilated dog in any longish journey you embark on a highway.
Jodhpur was the quintessential small town. There isn't as much of blue as one expected but from the top of the fort, you get an aerial view of the whole place and notice the colour is restricted to the old and the less affluent section of the town. Those who are accusing Arundhati Roy of sedition may like to pay some attention to the royal family of Jodhpur. The history they have proudly displayed in their museum in the palace seem to indicate the pre independence Majaraja was more loyal to the British than the British themselves and earned special privileges from them. Even now, most of the locals we came across referred to the current incumbent as "His Highness." One of the waiters in the hotel we stayed in told us sadly that he had to change his name once he came to Jodhpur because "Highness ka naam bhi wahi hai." The prince is getting married in November and the whole city is gearing up for it. Well, whatever grouse one may have about Indira Gandhi and her emergency, she did ensure India was left with just one royal family- the Nehru-Gandhis.
From Jodhpur, we went to a desert camp set up by Manwar Resorts. The camp bang in the middle of Thar desert offers five star stay at exorbitant rates. Yet, the experience would be worth it, if the staff hadn't been trained to be so blatantly racist. They are polite enough but clearly discriminatory, reserving their best for the white tourists. I dashed off a mail to the owner Mr. Moti Singh after a particularly unacceptable incident and his reply came all contrite and apologetic. He offered to refund the entire amount but I declined. All I asked for was a hard copy of the invoice be mailed. But that is yet to arrive. This seems to be a racket in Rajasthan. When you are booking, they ask you to deposit the amount in their bank account and you learn later that the account belongs to an individual rather than the organization. Afterwards they look puzzled at the reception when you request for a copy of the invoice. I am sure there is some tax evasion angle to all this.
Jaipur was just a night's halt and apart from the stay at another heritage hotel with an imposing door, all we did was visit Crosswords the next morning. I am sure if we had stayed longer, I would have encountered some more discrimination in my own country and gotten all worked up about it.
Our best experience in Rajasthan was in Ranthambore. The staff at "Pugmark" resort were simple and gentle folks. More importantly their service did not vary depending upon the colour of your skin. The jungle safari was good fun but we didn't spot any tiger and may have to go back for it some day.
We got back to Delhi and stayed with friends for a day. They took pity on us and took us the Delhi zoo where we finally saw the tigers!
The best part of the holiday came at the end, when we arrived in Landour from Delhi. The place is around 4-5 Kms from Mussoorie and has a breathtaking view of snow clad peaks. It is relatively unspoilt and thanks to the language school you find a lot of foreigners struggling over Hindi text books. It also has Ruskin Bond, a childhood hero of mine and we met him briefly.
On meeting Bond, I also remembered there is a pile of writing waiting to be done once I get back home. And that's what I am going to do starting today.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Two Love Stories

I have been devouring movies over the weekend, now that the elective I used to offer in IIM Bangalore on Saturdays is over, save the fifteen term papers I have to evaluate. The last two days have been particularly rewarding- “The Japanese Wife” on Friday night followed by “A Single Man” on Saturday. Both these films would now rank somewhere near the top when it comes to compiling my list of the best romantic films. They are suffused with such tenderness and ripe with such vivid imagery that I am finding it difficult to disassociate myself from some of the scenes that play again and again in my head. They are like poems captured with a camera.

Aparna Sen has this thing about endowing her characters with the right accent. So we had Jennifer Kendall doing a great job with the Anglo Indian diction in “36, Chowringee Lane” and then of course the otherwise talented Konkana Sen Sharma hammed it up as Mrs Iyer. Her Tamil laced English accent was more caricature than Mylapore. However both Rahul Bose and Chigusa Takaku get it right as the school master from Sunderbans and his Japanese wife. The quaintly worded 645 letters between them fly fast and breathless through the entire course of the film; tender and increasingly pathos ridden as the story progresses.

Imagine the suave and urbane Bose declaring over the phone to his wife that he struggles with his spoken English, but when it comes to writing he can pass muster thanks to the dictionary. The poignancy of the scene illuminates the innocence on his face with a strange glow, so much so that even a hardened cynic like me felt a lump in my throat. There is another gem. It has Raima Sen transforming herself from a timid widow to a self assured companion while on a shopping expedition. Inside the “cheap rice hotel,” she pushes her plate of fish curry towards her patron. “They haven’t realised I am a widow,” she remarks quietly and manages to pack an entire social commentary in that one statement. Sen is such a natural and only Bengali directors seem to have recognized her talent. What a pity that Bollywood is stuck with Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.

The film ends with a shot of both the Indian and Japanese widow in the room of the dead school master and you know instinctively that the director is hinting at yet another love story. The acting is uniformly first class, but it is Moushmi Chatterjee as the loving aunt who manages to outshine all the others. The film, as all good films must, speaks a universal language but those who can understand Bengali, like yours truly, have an edge. It is easier to get into the sub text.

“The Japanese Wife” without doubt is the best film made by Aparna Sen, a rare treasure to be cherished for decades. I initially borrowed a copy from Habitat but after watching it, bought the DVD for my private collection. It is a film I would want my son to watch when he grows up.

“A Single Man” is based on a literary masterpiece by Christopher Isherwood just like “The Japanese Wife” derives from the delightful short fiction by Kunal Basu. The film has been directed by a first timer who is a designer by vocation. It is an intimate work, mostly confined to the interiors and yet one of the most aesthetically conceived and shot film in recent times. Colin Firth as the grieving middle aged gay professor makes you privy to his pain and anguish like he is your best friend and you have known him for years. By the time the film ends, the grief is all yours. Such is the empathy the actor develops with the audience.

Julianne Moore is also very good as the fag hag, lusting over an indifferent Firth. But for me the two characters who lingered on were the guileless Nicholos Hoult as the earnest graduate student who adulates his professor and the Spanish model Jon Kortajarena who makes a brief appearance as a hustler. They are both jaw droppingly handsome and have stunning screen presence. Kortajarena preens that he resembles James Dean in one of the many memorable moments in the film. “You look better,” Firth tells him and of course he is right. Some of the aesthetics of the film I am raving about owes to these two good looking actors.

Watch both these films. Go grab them from the nearby DVD store.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Travel Bug

A corporate assignment had me travelling to remote locations like Saharanpur and Munghyr in Northern India. I had no clue about these places when I started. But once I landed up in these "hot" (I am deliberately not using "warm." Warm is when Bangalore turns 35 or more!)places, I was pleasantly surprised.

Saharanpur is known for artisans specialising in wood work as well as its carpenters. People from all over the country come here to get their furniture made. Munghyr is identified with Maoists now. But it also has the world renowned "Bihar School of Yoga." The town has the Ganga surrounding it on three sides and there's a place called "Peer Pahad" that houses a bungalow used by Tagore and Sarat Chandra as a writing retreat.

The long travel by air and rail also allowed me to catch up on my reading. One of the books I had picked up months ago "Lost Souls" by Michael Collins had me enchanted and enthralled. It was as James Hadley Chase as it could get but had the honour of being nominated for the Booker prize in 2004.

I wish I had read it before I wrote the piece for The Hindu on different types of writers. "Lost Souls" illustrates beautifully the point I was trying to make. The writing is pacy and effortless like Adiga's "White Tiger" and not as tiresome as these pseudo literary works by the "tele-marketeer" variety of self styled literary writers. Talking of whom, their shameless double standards were once again on display last month. The last issue of Caravan pathetically tried to sell a few more copies by announcing on its cover a blurb on Chetan Bhagat that read as if it belonged to "Stardust" rather than the literary status it wants to accord itself.
"Ekdum Bakwas magazine hai Sahab. Koi Nahin Kharidta," commented the disgusted news vendor when I bought my copies of the Outlook, Open, India Today and Tehelka from him.

I don't think the poor vendor would be burdened by this "non-selling" phenomenon for long. It's bound to disappear from the stands before folks realize it even existed.

Went for a matinee today. "Raajneeti" passes muster as a masala film but the hype is exaggerated. It keeps you entertained enough while it lasts but it doesn't come close to Benegal's interpretation of the Mahabharat. "Kalyug" was a masterpiece. This one is strictly time-pass.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Divine Coorg

If you live in Bangalore, there is no dearth of hill stations within easy driving distance. There is Ooty and Coonoor, there in Wayanad, there is Masanagudi and then there are places in Coorg from Kushalnagar to Madikeri. Coorg has something very untamed about it. It has not yet been corrupted to the extent Ooty and Coonoor have been by the tourists. Not that they aren't trying. The towns in Coorg abound with homestays and resorts. I am writing this from a resort in Coorg so I guess I am as much to be blamed as the rest of them.

I love the room we are in. It is surrounded by trees giving the impression that we are in the middle of a forest. We have a day left here and it seems the visit was all too short.

I am sure sooner than later, we will have some kind of a home in Coorg. And I will also build a writing and theatre residency here.

If wishes were horses...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Columns and Sikhs

I usually write a column a week. I treat it as work. A certain number of words have to be belted out and I usually rotate between four broad topics- Books, Films, Politics and what I like to loosely refer to as “General Stuff.” It’s another way of making the writing pay. For the materialistic approach I have towards writing columns, the response to my recent one on Sikhs has come as a pleasant surprise. The column was written for a Bangalore publication but appreciative feedback has flowed in from places as distant as North America and Europe.

It has taught me two things. Technology breaks all kinds of barriers including that of time and space. I decide on paying good money to watch a Hollywood film in a multiplex based on the review by Roger Ebert that appears in Chicago Sun Times. So why should it be surprising that Sikhs in other parts of the world have read what I have to say about them and commented.

The other thing I have learnt is I was right about the community. Sikhs are generous, spontaneous folks quick to forget unnecessary slights. One gentleman wrote he has forgiven all those who made fun of him in school after reading my column. That made my day.§id=36&contentid=2010031020100310193156415fd301a73

Monday, March 8, 2010

Evil Summer

I think of global warming only during this part of the year. Bangalore gets to be unbearably hot in these two or three months. It’s not the temperature. I am sure there are other cities in this country that beat us hands down but something about encountering the relentless sun in our otherwise pleasant city, day after day, is an unwelcome paradox to live with. Maybe it’s the low humidity but that’s like saying Chennai has pleasant weather because of the sweating that comes with the heat.

A couple of years ago I met these folks from Amritsar who were visiting Bangalore during March. I started complaining to them about the heat. They were quite offended. “Amritsar touches 47 degrees,” they complained in an injured voice. “Sure, Bangalore just feels like it’s touching 47 right now,” I said brightly. But they weren’t appeased and didn’t speak to me for the rest of the evening.

When I can’t bear the heat, I think of all the cold places I have been to. I was in Kent in February one year and the town had snowfall for the first time in ten years. I loved the snow. One evening I walked to the store to stock some food and on my way back slipped and fell on the snow that was turning into ice. It hurt a lot and for some time I couldn’t get up but the thought of dying in the cold was bearable.

Unlike the time I was in NID, Ahmedabad as part of their interview panel for the selection of students immediately after the Gujarat riots. I was told about all the folks who were burnt alive by other members in the panel. I couldn’t sleep for weeks after that visit. I would dream that a mob had set me on fire and wake up sweating. I just couldn’t figure out how anyone could commit such an act of bestiality on other human beings. Especially in a place like Ahmedabad that can be unbearably hot during summers.

Summer for me is a reminder of all things evil like riots and mobs turning into animals.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hosting Parties

On an impulse I decided to host a lunch for friends. Holi provided the excuse. So the last two days were spent on cooking and cleaning the kitchen afterwards. Cooking is a bipolar pleasure. It’s fun to rustle up dishes and get praised for your culinary talents. It’s always a pain to clean up afterwards. So invariably you end up falling back on the good old domestic help to wash, dry, swab and clear all the mess afterwards. Something that ought to make you feel good for making your friends happy ends up making you feel guilty instead.

We Indians are a spoilt lot. We have cooks, drivers, part time helps to slave for us. But once we migrate to lands that frown on such indulgences we do all these chores in addition to mowing the lawn. The first time I went to US was on a corporate assignment. The chairman of the organization accompanied me to my farewell party when it was time to leave. He came to fetch me in his limousine, driving the car himself. It took me a long time to get over that shock.

I suppose we got the maids and chambermaids as a legacy from our feudal past and the British validated our exploitative ways. But it is anathema in England to employ servants anymore. So if they could give up their unpleasant ways, we should be following suit soon.

I guess that would be the end of the impromptu parties I host for friends.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Theatre Addiction

While working with a group of adolescents on a school theatre project, one of the students who comes from an artistic lineage gurgled happily “Theatre is a nasha. Once you are addicted, you are finished.”

That’s true. For over two years now, our theatre group has been lying dormant but I have been getting my fix from working in educational institutions. I help out in my son’s school with a couple of productions every year. And I am also called upon to do a course on theatre and management by the premier management institute in India which culminates with the students writing scripts and staging plays as an end term requirement.

Both the experiences have been extremely gratifying this year. The school production had Class XI students, a bunch of hyper active, intelligent and talented brats. They brought with them an acute perception of adult follies and were forever testing the facilitators. But in the last three days, they were magically transformed and put up a scintillating show. They staged their play almost a month ago but I still wake up on certain mornings missing the bachhas and missing the rehearsals.

Surprisingly, the management class was not very different. They too brought in energy as well as scepticism when we started. They too made it clear that they didn’t have unconditional respect to offer. Needless to add, they too kept their blossoming for the last minute. And to put an end to the familiar story, they too put up a great show for their final performance even though they were weighed down by work pressures, end term exams and the placement season.

There is something akin to magic in theatre. It transforms individuals from within and without. I plan to do a couple of plays for the public this year.
The addiction is back.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cozy Delights

Just love them. Starting with Agatha Christie.
I finished reading all her books sometimes in the 80’s. And then I chanced upon Ruth Rendell and P D James. That’s when I figured there is some serious, mind blowing fiction here so what if it is genre.

Innocent Blood by PD James can easily qualify as a literary work. There are so many layers to the novel. Then there are all those books by Rendell written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine. My favourites among them are A Dark Adapted Eye, The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy, Gallowglass, A Fatal Inversion…all of them actually, including the latest The Birthday Party.

I am such an avid fan of James and Rendell that I track when they are releasing their new cozy and start hounding the local book shops as soon as it is published in UK. The problem is it takes at least six months for the Indian editions to be out and that’s always a bitch. Sometimes understanding friends who live or are travelling there, oblige.

Inspector Morse used to be a personal hero and then Colin Dexter decided to do away with him. But BBC is ingenious enough to carry with his sidekick Lewis. I was thrilled when I discovered the DVD’s of the Lewis series in The British Library.

I also have to thank the library for helping me to shed my ambivalence towards Reginald Hill and his two detectives Dalziel and Pascoe. For some reason I was never sold on Hill as an author. Until I started watching their DVDs that the library stocks! Now I have added Hill and his obnoxious Dalziel to my list of favourite cozies.

The latest discovery is Elizabeth George. She’s an American but her books are set in England. I used to think of her as a lesser writer. Sometime back I picked up a book of hers called What Came before He Shot Her. I was expecting the usual page turner and end up discovering this gem that is in the same league as A Dark Adapted Eye and Innocent Blood.

Some interests always take you to a circle. You begin from where you thought it ended.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writers and Writing

“They don’t get someone like you,” said my editor. She was referring to the fraternity of Indian writers. I suspect some of them had heaped scorn on my non literary pretensions in her presence. We were in the hub and din of the Delhi Book Fair and I am not quite sure whether what she said was intended to be a compliment.

I think she was slightly annoyed at my enthusiasm. I was unable to conceal my glee at the invitation from my publishers to spend a couple of days in the capital just browsing in the country’s largest book fair and luxuriating in five star comfort afterwards. I have been hosted enough and more times by organizations in my role as a consultant and coach. But that’s because they want me to do some work for them.

To be hosted as a writer without any agenda felt really good. Almost as good as fraternising with 30 writers from all over the world in the International Writers Program at Iowa. Or bagging two prestigious residencies in Kent and Pittsburgh in the span of two years. For a non literary writer, I am doing fine. Thank You.

To gloat further, a German scholar wrote to me recently asking for permission to reproduce one of my essays published in a newspaper in her academic compilation on Indian Writing in English. It is the same essay that had drawn the ire of a couple of “Establishment Writers” in India when it was published.

A week later I had lunch in Bangalore with a writer from UK who I had met in the Delhi trip and she told me she always turned down invitations to literary meets in her own country because of all the grandiose egos parading around. I don’t quite remember what she said exactly but there seemed to be gentle affirmation about the way I had turned out to be.

I guess the pompous affectations are not restricted to Indian writers. World over they believe in conforming to a certain type. With notable exceptions like Zadie Smith who was one of the first to champion publicly it’s not an either/or. You can be a writer and a decent human being.

Writers have attitude and say clever, cruel things to others in public dinners. I prefer to restrict the cruelty to my writing.
When I am not writing, I like to make friends and cook for them. I go to my son’s school sometimes and help out with theatre related activities. I also sleep a lot.

Writers are supercilious and prone to make lofty statements like “I am not my writing.”
I wonder what I will be without the writing.

Most writers turn silly after some public acknowledgement for their work has happened.
I am silly enough to see through that trap.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Name is Khan

The film is silly. Although I cried during a couple of scenes in the first half.

There is something about the way Shahrukh Khan says for the first time “My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist.” It brings a lump to your throat. But that is at the start of the movie. Before you learn about all the manipulations Karan Johar is going to unleash on the unsuspecting audience to get the tear ducts going, including the death of a child in a freak soccer accident that passes off as a hate crime. If that sounds complicated, the film is defined by such knotty twists and turns. The writers and the director are unable to make up their minds whether the film is about 9/11 aftermath or a hero who suffers from asperger’s syndrome.

It definitely is a Karan Johar film. For some time now we are being fed by the media that Johar as producer and a director wants to be associated with more worthy ventures. If by a serious cinematic venture he means a "Kurbaan" and "My Name is Khan," then he is certainly not serious. Johar caricatures everything in the film including a disability and the enormous hurt suffered by the Muslim psyche for being isolated and branded.

I have always liked Shahrukh Khan as an actor. Irrespective of the role he is playing, he gives you the feeling that off screen he is a man with a sparkling, wicked sense of humour. His latest avatar is no exception. This is good as well as bad for the character he is playing. Rizwan Khan needed to be essayed with a lot more honesty and integrity and that would have meant discarding the goofy grins that Khan rewards his fans with. On the other hand, you are riveted to the screen until the very end of this maudlin movie only because you hope he would grin one more time.

You can watch this one when they telecast it. Nowadays they show them fairly soon after the theatrical release.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Catching Up

I have wanted to do this for a while now. The last time I blogged was during the Royal Court Workshop in 2006. But that was a group thing and didn’t last.

2010 augurs well. I have my first non fiction “The Boss is Not your Friend” being published by Hachette India this year. I went for the Delhi book fair last week and there is some buzz around the book already. Most people get a smile on their faces when they hear what it is called. I guess they have learnt their lessons the hard way. I also finished a novel last year. Hopefully that would also get published by the end of this year or early next year.

However what I enjoyed writing the most in recent times was a short essay for an anthology Pradeep Sebastian is compiling. Fifty contemporary Indian writers are writing on existing literary works. I chose “Sunlight on a Broken Column,” by Attia Hosain. It is a brilliant book, woefully underrated. Hosain was one of the earliest Indians to write and make a mark in English. A space that is falsely arrogated by some who came after her. I love the book. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in India and Indian writing in English.

Hope to meet friends and like minded folks here.