Oftentimes the hard thing about being a writer or pursuing any art is that creations can languish for years in your various storage devices and the beauty is that they can suddenly be discovered by great editors. This is what happened with this travel piece. Thank you to Sumana Roy and Aruni Kashyap for sniffing this out and giving it a home it truly deserves – the Northeast Review. This piece is from 2005 when I had quit my job to travel in the North East to get a sense of what was this place which was often in the news but no one really knew about. This is a piece on one of the most dangerous roads anywhere in the world, it is a bit long.
‘A friend said, “Go to a far corner. Tawang.” I had liked the sound of the place. Any travel is about seeing a place with our own eyes but often we let our ears shape our itinerary.’
More here …
Tags: Arunachal Pradesh, Asssam, Bomdila, Guwahati, North East, Tawang, Tezpur
My joint review of the two translations of perhaps one of the most censored Urdu text of the previous century – Angarey. In their time, the writers had refused to be cowed down by the ban and had created the Progressive Writers Association, one of the post influential literary associations ever in history from our sub-continent.
So few people have read the original text that one would expect the publishers and translators to collaborate to create a book which will give us an insight into the politics of the times. Alas, that is not the case: ‘when put together the two versions do not multiply the original text but subtract from it’.
Do read the review, even the translations, but do not miss the sub-text: how politics of publishing robs the reader of the spirit of the original. Read here …
Tags: Angaaray, Angarey, Khalid Alvi, Penguin, Rupa, Snehal Shingavi, Vibha S. Chauhan
On June 6, 2014, as the world watched the Sikh community mark the 30th anniversary of the Army attack on Golden Temple, Operation Blue Star, factions pulled out swords and there was a free for all in the holy premises for one and a half hour. My piece in Tehelka on one of the deeper reasons behind this event.
‘Though Punjab has largely been peaceful after the violent 1980s, it remains a land with deep fissures. One of the reasons is that the Sikh community’s management body, the cash-rich SGPC, has over the past two decades been converted into an extension of the SAD (Badal). Instead of practising inclusive Sikhism, solving the community’s problems, furthering education and healthcare, and raising and solving the identity issues that had led to the separatist movement, the SGPC has become rife with nepotism and dynasty politics. It manipulates Sikh sentiments for political and commercial gains.’
Read more here …
Tags: 1984, Akal Takht, Army, Bluestar, Khalistan, Punjab, SGPC, Simranjit Singh Mann
Thanks to Margerie from Ireland for chasing me to to this interview. It has come out well.
‘I battled my own self for the longest period, even went through clinical depression for a few months. There are issues like masculinity, sodomy, gay sex, my own views on the events of 1984, the code of honour among schoolmates, communal violence and so on. All of them troubled me when I wanted to write about them. I felt I will earn enemies. It is best to stay silent rather than invite criticism. But I could not sleep. I felt I was cheating by not writing. This is my truth of communal violence and of public schooling in our country. I needed to write it, put it out, to gain some semblance of equanimity in my life. I am very thankful the people have accepted my truths. The book has been lauded, nominated for awards; I have earned a good scholarship from it. The acceptance is a validation of my effort. I feel, in our world, we have space for truth. Let us work to bringing out those truths.’
Read more here …
Tags: 1984, Bluestar, Khalistan, military school, Mrs. Gandhi, Punjab, Roll of Honour, schizophrenia, Sepia Leaves
So, the book is getting around. Around the 30th anniversary of the attack on Golden Temple, Operation Blue Star, I received this review of my novel Roll of Honour from a US based Sikh website.
‘Sandhu’s story is full of shocking brutality, and definitely not for younger audiences. Unfortunately, so are many of the stories of 1984. For those who are willing to give this book a chance, however, Roll of Honour offers a lesson that readers are not likely to forget.’
Read more here …
Tags: 1984, Bluestar, Khalistan, military school, Mrs. Gandhi, Punjab, Roll of Honour, schizophrenia
My recent piece in Tehelka on the four seats that AAP won from Punjab in the General Election 2014.
‘For a party that was contesting the Lok Sabha polls for the first time, Aam Aadmi Party has done quite well. The only regret is that it set its own target so high that it fell massively. In Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party’s tally is equal to that of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and one better than the Congress’. Yet, before we congratulate Aam Aadmi Party, we need to look at the context of this victory.’
Please read …
Tags: 2014 General Elections, Aam Aadmi Party, AAP, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Punjab, Sangrur
Very happy that Sepia Leaves lives on and on. Nirupama Dutt covers it as part of the three important texts on mental illness in India. Others being Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto and Echoes in the Well by Belinder Dhanoa. The article made the lead story in The Hindu Literary Review.
Please read …
Tags: Belinder Dhanoa, Echoes in the Well, Em and the Big Hoom, Jerry Pinto, madness, Mental Illness, Nirupama Dutt, Sepia Leaves, The Hindu Literary Review
One May 16 the Indian General Elections Results were announced. On that day Tapasya Mitra Mazumder from Bangalore Mirror did an article on the end of the viscous and sometimes virulent discussions on Facebook. She quoted me too.
‘The political drama draws to a close today, but the eight months (or so since Modi’s candidature as PM) have taken its toll on friendships in both virtual and real space. The 2014 general elections in India would be the story of its social impact and that of ‘unfriending’. ‘
Read here ...
Tags: 2014 General Elections, AAP, Bangalore Mirror, BJP, Narendra Modi
On the thirtieth anniversary of Operation Blue Star my piece in IBNLive.in.com.
‘Democracies are based on a system of ‘social contract’ between citizens and a state. This social contract implies the citizens elect their government and expect the government to take care of their safety and well being. When a nation state attacks the sanctum sanctorum of its community, it hits the community’s centre of faith. Whatever is the intent, the message that goes out is: the state is against the religion. When Blue Star is backed by another Operation Woodrose in which hundreds of Gurdwaras in the state are raided and innocents captured and killed, the message becomes even louder. These events and the November pogrom brought about a change in the way the majority Sikhs, the moderates, now viewed the idea of Khalistan.’
Read full article here.
Tags: Operation Blue Star, Punjab
At The Hindu Lit Fest, Chennai I met senior journalist Ziya Us Salam who hosted the panel of nominees. He said some very nice things to me personally and publicly. At the Delhi edition of The Hindu Lit Fest I was taken aback when he asked me to catch up with him. A few days later I got a text message on my mobile phone: Cafe UNO, Shanglri-la, Janpath, 2.00 pm.
I am the kind who is happy just anywhere talking about things that matter – like Ziya’s family migrating to Delhi from Lahore during Partition and he growing up as part of the only minority community family in a pre-dominantly refugee neighbourhood in Delhi. These are the kind of stories that challenge the divisive, parochial configurations of our society. Respect! I wanted to know more about him. My listening, empathizing appetite was on a surge so I did not realize I needed to order food. That evening, a friend told me I was supposed to order food, this is a food-cum-writer talk column. I wondered how budhoo I am and how I had spoilt the hotel’s chance of getting featured.
Yet, to my surprise, the article has come and the senior journalist shows us how he can turn a no frills intense interview into a worthy piece. Here is the article on how a book is received, lost, nominated, read, talked about, and more. Please read.
Tags: Cafe UNO, Roll of Honour, Shangri-la Eros, The Hindu, Ziya Us Salam