Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

In an excellent inter-community educational initiative, the Bengaluru based Rahmath Group has initiated a Mosque visit for people from other faiths. This visit is to Modi Masjid, Shivaji Nagar.

Bismillah e Rehman e Rahim.

Here is me in my Amanullah avtar. 

Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

it was my privilege to share stage at the Bangalore Literature Festival with Navdeep Suri, Manreet Sodhi Someshwar moderated by Preeti Gill.

Please see here a report on the panel discussion, follow the link …

Dear Friends,

I found myself hosting a panel of six eminent writers, psychologists and psychiatrists at the Bangalore Literature Festival 2019.

I am providing the link to the session descriptions here, please have a look …

Here is the recording of the session, please click here …

However, I am placing Dr Ajit Bhide, a beloved psychiatrist of Bangalore and my own doctor too here:

“Most wretched men are cradled into poetry by wrong
They learn in suffering what they teach in song…”

Attended a panel discussion at the Bangalore Literary Fest, titled ‘I’m OK You’re OK’ , dealing with Mental health and more specifically mental illness. Amandeep Sandhu, currently in the literary news for his new book on Punjab, (and whose first autobiographical novel Sepia Leaves dealt with his own mother’s illness and how he as a young lad, an adolescent and a man learnt to deal with it – and with life) was the effective and empathetic moderator. Others on the panel were Jerry Pinto (Em and the Big Hoom), Anna Chandy, Himanjali Sankar, Gayathri Prabhu, Roshan Ali, and Shyam Bhat. Shyam elaborated succinctly the importance of the narrative in the practice of mental health. The narrators themselves came from the raw to the mature but with crystal clear sincerity.

The panellists shared their angst about their respective disquiet, the youngest (Ali)about his discovery of his own turbulence, and two about their mothers’ illness (Pinto and Amandeep, the latter minimally, as he was a most conscientious rapporteur/ moderator). Sometimes there was the awkwardness of spilling the beans, making private matters blatantly public and the guilt that comes almost always with it.

Anna’s ( a much sought after and respected therapist) sharing of her personal perspective led to familial and social ostracism, and unexpectedly her clientele stood by her through this. She rightly brought home the point of equity between therapists and clients (I still prefer to call them patients); a truly humane stance, well appreciated by those who seek help. This resonated with the chosen title of the session: I’m OK; You’re OK.

Sometimes there was a cavalier air to it all, the note of the author being strident and rabble rousing. But in a forum dealing with the perceived ugliness of the mind of someone close, and the sensitive nature of the entire realm it is I guess, to be expected. Gayathri’s reference to her letter to her deceased father, was to me very intriguing and that is one work I want to read. Admixing fact with some fictionalising seemed to have found many takers, and Shyam also made the often missed point of the need to seek the subject’s permission to share her/his story.

The width of the coverage and the systemic method of the entire discourse rendered it a useful hour and half. Not an easy task given the tendency of delicate content to turn maudlin and meandering. This session teetered that way at times, but was saved from dropping off those cliffs.

For this credit must go in great measure to the seasoned moderation by Aman; and to the panel’s overall ‘stepping out and stepping forward’ approach. The auditorium was packed from the start and I believe so were most listeners’ minds by the end of the session.

Dear Friends,

poet, writer, and critic writer Manash Firaq writes on a Facebook post:

Amandeep Sandhu writes on his lack of belonging to the land of his foremothers in, ‘Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines’: “Unlike people born in Panjab who have a direct connection with, and hence a memory of the land, I have no liminal or tangible marker of belonging to Panjab. While my family did hail from Panjab, I was neither born here, nor do I live here. I have no address, bank statement, Aadhaar card, passport or land ownership to prove my connection with Panjab.”

This is a fascinating point of entry, for a writer who wants to write about his not-so-imaginary homeland. Sandhu does not prioritize his identity as a reason behind his embarking on this project. Identity is an umbilical cord that is not merely physical, or even psychic. Identity is sought, self-contested, found and lost, in time. It is never to be taken for granted. Identity is a condition of being in the world. Like Dr. Anirudh Kala said, from writing on his schizophrenic mother in ‘Sepia Leaves’, Sandhu turned his attention to his schizophrenic ‘motherland’. But the schizophrenia in the passage quoted above is not of intimate memory. It is the schizophrenia of systems – “bank statement, Aadhaar card, passport or land ownership” – that territorialise belonging.

Sandhu, in a radical move, disinvests himself from those schizophrenic markers of belonging that the state thrusts upon us. Those markers too are fault lines through which you claim your relationship to a land and the land claims you. To be outside that claim is risky, and a danger, if you are still claiming a relationship. How to claim a relationship from the “outside”? We have been living this predicament since the 20th century, of how an identity that is part insider and part outsider, undergoes a partial sense of apology. It is also inflicted upon them by so-called “culturally rooted” people, who force them, in the words of Zygmunt Bauman, “to prove the legality of their presence”. It’s a fiercely political question of our times.

Sandhu makes an even bolder confession that may disinherit him from any claim to Panjab: lack of memory. Memory, we thought, is fundamental to belonging. Sandhu claims –and proves through his book – that it isn’t. This is another radical move by a writer who is writing about the land he historically belongs to. If not memory, then what is it? By writing the book, Sandhu has given us the answer: labour. Sandhu reconnects with his roots, not through memory, but labour. And labour is as much about love, as memory. This idea is very liberating for any understanding between writing and belonging and the relationship between belonging and history. Refugees and migrants, who belong to places through labour, have equal claims to belong to a place as natives, who simply sentimentalize identity. It is not that labour does not have memory. But labour does – adds – something more to memory. Labour “makes” memory. This is how we must henceforth understand our relationship with land and place, and claim it. It is time we stopped prioritizing the colonially constructed, nativist theories of belonging.

Sandhu also, again quite politically, refuses to situate identity within a security network. Identity, we thought, was also about securing for oneself, every marker of citizenship. Sandhu tells us, identity that is free of security networks is also identity. Identity, in this liberating sense, is outside the very idea of security.
Identity is not LIC (Life Insurance Corporation). It is not insurance for security. Identity is free. It is as insecure as being in the world. And something else – it is being in the world as other. It is to “risk” one’s identity: the oldest, ethical argument to be in the world. Sandhu writes a book on Panjab as other.

[At the Conference Hall, Bhai Vir Singh Sadan, New Delhi, 16/11/2019.]

——

For now I am basking in the kind reading by Manash. I will discuss more with him soon.

Dear Friends,

here are my views on the Ayodhya verdict. Thank you Puttezhath Sunil Menon from Outlook India for seeking them.

‘An important aspect of the Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid court order—itself not signed and, hence, unattributable to any one judge—is that it quotes the Sikh Janam Sakhis in great detail to establish that the disputed 2.7-acre land of Babri Masjid was indeed the place where the mythological Lord Ram was born. In the order, Guru Nanak is mentioned 14 times.

A common charge levelled until now on the Janam Sakhis is that because they were written at least half a ­century after Guru Nanak left for his heavenly abode, they are hagiographic and mutually contradictory. How then did the honourable Supreme Court overnight decide they are among the most reliable evidence?

The intent is even worse: using one minority religion’s sacred texts to ­refute a claim of another minority and establish the claim of faith of a third majority religion is insidious to the secular fabric of our nation. The Janam Sakhis should not have been used ­because Sikhs are not party to the claim. The court needed to test the grand Hindu faith against archaeological evidence. That it did not do. Instead it has now sowed further seeds of ­discord between the Muslim and the Sikh communities.’

For this I owe thanks to Kulveer Singh and Ch Monsoon who flagged the issue.

For more comments read…

In the 1950s, the city of Bengaluru decided to create Jayanagar – Asia’s biggest housing colony. On a square grid, the 9 blocks of Jayanagar came up with tree-lined roads as crosses and mains.

In the 1970s, the Bengaluru Municipality decided to create a beautiful market complex in Jayanagar. They built a concrete multi angled shed roof shopping complex, with glass covered awnings for ample light; a four-storey office complex with arterial corridors, and a huge single screen cinema theatre called Puttanna, named after Puttanna Kanagal, who is known as Kannada cinema’s Chitra Bramha – God of Films.

On November 11, 1976, the first shop in the arterial corridor, next to Puttanna theatre’s parking lot, was allotted to a bookstore named Nagasri. When I arrived in Bangalore over two decades back, I started frequenting the Jayanagar market complex to buy flowers, stationery, masalas, and occasionally meat. Each time I would stop at Nagasri, buy a book or two. It was a lovely bond.

About a decade back, with the rise of multiplex cinema, the Bengaluru Municipality decided to pull down Puttanna theatre and build a multi-rise shopping centre to relocate the original market complex. The decision was to redevelop the market complex, read make a Mall or some such ugly building. The arterial corridors were covered. The multi-rise was ready five years back but was not inaugurated because first the complex shop keepers did not agree to be re-located, later political squabbling on who would inaugurate it. All this while, Nagasri being the first shop on the arterial corridor suffered blockade from two sides and the third side was taken over by footpath vendors who too had nowhere to go.

Today, when Nagasri sent me a picture of my book arriving, I went to meet Mr Venkatesh and Mr Guru Prasad
. The multi-rise is now occupied, the barricades are off, the shop looks restored to its pristine glory. Mr Venkatesh congratulated me for my book, and told me, ‘In this digital age (reference to Flipkart, Amazon and their discounts), we survived 8 years thanks to our clients and patrons. People who found it difficult to approach our shop, kept coming, kept buying, we stayed on.’

I wished them Happy Birthday. It is a pleasure to be at Nagasri Book House. Do visit. Do patronise small book stores. You matter, they matter.

 

October 2, 2019 was the 58th day of the Kashmir lock-down and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Some of us who are questioning the government – which on the one hand claims Kashmir is ‘normal’ and on the other hand keeps Kashmir’s people deprived of food, medicines, essentials, access to modes of communication – decided to undertake a 12 hour Cyber Satyagrah. It was to experience a lock-down and write the experience.

Please read my note here …

The Quint recently published my Facebook comment on how the blockage in Kashmir reminds us of 1984, Operation Blue Star.

“As Kashmir is cordoned off, no Internet, no landline, no news coming in and out, I am reminded of a similar clampdown on Panjab summer of 1984 – Operation Blue Star. A wound on the nation’s conscience that has still not healed. Then we had 1990 Kashmir and now. We have learnt nothing. As a nation and as Indians, we have all failed Kashmir”.

Please read more here …

 

My musings in the wake of how some people are parties are behaving over abrogation of Article 35A and 370 in Kashmir.

Please read here …

My brief musings on what seems to me the final frontier of democracy.

Please read here …