Archive for the ‘Punjab’ Category

Dear Friends,

Art, any art, is a matter of seeing, experiencing the representation of reality. I have a simple definition of strong art – not good or bad art – but powerful art.

It is this: the experience of art causes a shift in the reader, audience, recipient from how they feel/think before they encounter the art to after they encounter the art.

Though many readers and reviewers have mentioned this earlier, in this super short review of ‘PANJAB: Journeys Through Fault Lines’ by Richa Mendirtta states this upfront. For better or for worse, PANJAB has caused a shift in how the reviewer now sees Panjab.

‘The only regret I have is, I would never see Panjab in the same way anymore.’

Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

I love it when an iconic bookstore such as The Bookshop, Jorbagh, New Delhi recommends my book on Instagram.

I love it that the shop has chosen to highlight the book as one talking about Conflict Zones. That is the central argument of the book – a need to acknowledge Panjab’s multiple conflicts and re-orient ourselves to look at Panjab as a post-conflict zone and adopt a humane process to engage with the region, people and state. The Bookshop gets PANJAB.

I am not on Instagram so thank you Guneet Kaur for pointing it out to me.

Dear Friends,

I love it that St Joseph’s College, Bengaluru, is conducting Meta 2020 – a month long series of talks and interviews with writers, poets, editors. This helps students and staff interact with literature in small doses and gives each of us ample time to communicate, hold conversations.

Last evening, I was in conversation with the lovely and razor sharp Arul Mani at the Loyola Hall in the Joseph’s Auditorium Block. It was such a long way from when I used to audit Arul’s sessions on film studies in the late 90s.

Thank you Arul and St Joseph’s. Notice the poster in the background: that is about Jamia students protest against CAA/NRC. Me likes the student solidarity.


Dear Friends,

I am so thankful that today Scroll carries PANJAB’s review by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar.

Manreet, thank you for picking on my ‘owing a debt to a land’ and discharging it through the book. I feel fellow Panjab companion Karthik Venkatesh, the editor of the book, too has done the same with PANJAB: Journeys Through Fault Lines – discharged a debt.

Even if I have to say it, this is perhaps the most comprehensive review of the book and sets it up in the context of current protests against NPR/NRC/CAA.

Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

I have some news to share. Amazon Editors have picked PANJAB: Journeys Through Fault Lines as one of their top 25 non-fiction books for February 2020. Marked in red.

For link, click here …

Dear Friends,

I am placing this text here because to me the website serves as an archive of responses to my books and my own writings. On February 5th I heard from Mr Jean-Baptiste Joly on PANJAB.

A bit of the background: In the summer of 2015 when I was conceiving the book project as a Fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, I spoke to Mr Joly who was the Director at the institute. I said I foresee many many issues, especially of narrative integrity. He had said: ‘Treat the book like a mission, not religious, but for generations to come to know Panjab. Make the work bigger, much bigger than yourself.’ I kept that in mind, often remembered it when it drove me to depression.

After reading the book, Mr Joly responded:

Dear Aman,

my last email was sent a while ago, so I reconnect today with you after having been navigating through your Panjab. What an adventure, not only for you, but also for the reader!

Even though I was missing many technical words, acronyms, historical knowledge and Indian expressions I got a clear feeling of what Panjab means, where it is coming from, what the pending problems and contradictions are and what a possible (not really positive) future might be. Beside the information itself I admire most the tremendous work and dedication of the author (you!), your engagement, your sincerity and your desire to embrace (sometimes with Lakshmi!) this whole, enormous, complex topic. And you succeeded in this! What an incredible obstinacy you needed to achieve this project and also an unshakable believing in your mission and in yourself!

You found an extraordinary balance between the necessary distance to the object of your observation (like an historian), your own subjective involvement (through your family history) and your empathy and love for the people you met during theses years. Only an authentic writer can combine these different elements in a genuine literary text that makes the reading enormously enjoyable, even for a foreign reader.

So, my dear Aman, congratulations for this great work and book,

and much love to both of you


I feel so validated. I replied:

Dear Mr Joly,

yesterday was my birthday. When Lakshmi wished me at night, I said, ‘I do not know what is there to wish. So many years of our lives have gone by. Yet, today the world is an even more batterted place than in our childhood.’ We held silence for a minute. Perhaps making a wish for the world to somehow, miraculously, turn over a new leaf.

Today I received your beautiful email. I read it thrice and by the third time I was crying. I was alone at home. I cried shamelessly. My tears are a testimony to the promise I made myself when I was in wonderful Solitude. I promised I will remain worthy for what what the residency gave me, what you offered as guidance. Today, I can say, I lived up to my own promise to you. Thank you so very much for your kind words. I know I deserve them.

Yes, Mr Joly, the travels for this work were indeed arduous, not only physically but emotionally, mentally and psychologically. The travels took a lot from me, but gave me so much more. As you say, I remained ‘obstinate’. I am glad this book came together and is now accepted by the various factions of Panjab – the Left, the Radicals, the Hindu voice. It is serving as what was intended: a biography of a state, a region, a people.

I will now strive to complete the novel I started composing at Solitude. One draft was done when I was in residency. At some point, perhaps through DAAD or any other such Fellowship, I will come to Berlin and I will meet you. I see it possible.

Lots of love to you and family. From both of us.


Dear Friends,

last evening, I made a post on social media on how I feel returning from Bhubaneshwar/Odisha after attending the SOA Literary Festival.

I am thankful to The Samikhsya and Kedar Mishra for carrying my yesterday’s post on my experience. Odisha continues to shower its love upon me. Grateful!

Bahut Bahut Dhonyobaad!

Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

On February 1st evening, I was gratified upon gifting my new book PANJAB to Mr Aurobinda Behera, retd Chief Secretary, Odisha.

When Roll of Honour released at my friend Sujit Mahapatra’s Bakul library in Bhubaneshwar in 2012, Mr Behera had walked up to me to ask if my parents had lived in Rourkela. Then he told me, in 1984, he was ADM Rourkela. At noon on 31st October, upon noticing vulgar graffiti and sloganeering, he had decided to shift the Sikhs to the Gurdwara. Police vehicles were deployed for the task. Hundreds of families were evacuated.

That is how my parents and thousands of Sikhs were saved. I do not wish such circumstances on anyone. But by simply following protocol, by doing the right thing, doing what a civil servant would do, Mr Behera became my hero. In the past few years Mr Behera has called me from time to time asking me about the progress of PANJAB.

I am forever obliged. Salute!

Dear Friends,

these days we know The Telegraph for it’s excellent headlines, but here is something more: a review of PANJAB.

‘Magnum Opus’, says the paper.

Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

last evening I saw a documentary film, Landless by my friend and guide Randeep Maddoke. It is truly an eye-opener but I was disappointed to note it is not being screened in Panjab.

I wrote an appeal to Panjab which Punjab Today has very kindly accepted to publish.

‘Being ignored is the worst fate an artist can face. That the artist’s work is not acknowledged at all is worse than even being censored or boycotted. In censor and boycott, at least the artist’s work is acknowledged. When ignored, the artist is consigned to the dungeons of pubic space without even a hearing. It is erasure of the artist, it is death.’

Please read here…