Friends, today is a historic day for Punjab. Whoever wins or loses the election, half a century after it was created, the fortress called Punjab is breached.
My piece in The Hindu along with Gurdeep Singh’s excellent picture.
Friends, when I came to Punjab to observe the elections I was surprised. Aam Aadmi Party which we all saw bungling over the last year and half seemed to have regained lost ground and is very much in contention.
Here is a story from a few days on the AAP trail.
Friends, it was lovely to meet Mrs & Mr Kiran Doshi at The Hindu Lit for Life. The charming and gracious couple make one feel absolutely at home. The morning after Kiran Doshi won The Hindu Best Fiction Prize 2016, we have breakfast together. My report.
India does find it hard to understand Punjab. That is why I like it when journalists travel and come back and seek to understand issues by talking to who they think are experts. At least, there is an attempt. Recently the Hindustan Times team travelled and asked me for my comments on their experiences. Now I am no expert but as a learner I am able to figure out a few things which I suppose can help them.
For example, the word agency. It is used everywhere in Punjab when the matter of politics comes up. Politics comes up everywhere, anyway. ‘The word agencies originates in the 80s and reveals deep-rooted mistrust in shadowy government officials and outsiders. It signifies death, disappearances and unclaimed bodies.’
This was an article on sacrilege that rocked Punjab in October/November 2015.
Friends, it is a matter of immense satisfaction that almost a decade after this book came out, it still evokes interest. The lovely and talented Sheila Kumar came to the recent book reading at iBrowse, Catholic Club hosted by the gracious Marianne Furtado De Nazareth.
Sheila wasn’t fully satisfied by the interaction because it veered towards the subject of the book – mental illness – which is critical but was less about the craft of the book and the author position. So, as she does, she wrote a review but also interviewed me. Frankly, I was quite blown by the questions. There were about a writer’s relationship with a story. We hardly talk about it. I loved answering them.
‘Also, though I am a writer and like to connect with the world, (I even seem extrovert and warm to friends, readers and strangers), I am actually very private and shy. I am very hesitant to single out myself with a ‘why me, God’ kind of question or use the first person narrative: the ‘I.’ I constantly ask myself: doesn’t the world suffer much more than me? Aren’t there much bigger issues to talk about? Why would someone read what I write? Yet, all my writing is first person. The inflection point is: when I know that the story is no longer about my emotions but taps into a universal consciousness, then I put it out for readers. Then they earn the epithet you just gave them – honest.’
Friends, Mini Anthikad-Chhibber from The Hindu covered the White Swan event last month on Literature and Mental Illness. She quotes my controversial remark:
Amandeep, on the other hand, said there is no such thing as non-fiction, as everything one writes is coloured by what one chooses to highlight and what one ignores. “We should open stereotypes instead of perpetuating them, literature should be used to build bridges rather than exclude.”
Thank you for the event White Swan Foundation for Mental Health, Pavitra Jayaraman, Manoj Das, C K Meena, Dr Ajit Bhide, Subrato Bagchi, Dr Prabha Chandran and others.