Archive for November, 2008


Rourkela invites me …

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

Yesterday, I suddenly got emails and calls from Bombay and New York because Bobby Sharma from Bangalore found my book at Crossword and posted the link on an internet group. The friends who contacted me belong to An internet group on Rourkela. Wow. So nice to see us bond, its been active since 2002, almost when I started writing Sepia Leaves!

Here is my response:

Hi all,
thank you for inviting me here.

I did not study in REC and I did not do my Class X or XII in Rourkela. Still, I was born in Indira Gandhi Hospital and I walked the sector roads and got bird droppings on my shoulders in Rourkela One. I saw movies in Konark and Apsara and ate rasogullas in Ambagan and cholle bhature at Renu Menu. I once even sneaked into the plant lying under a seat in an ambulance. Dr Bose, the secretary to the CMO was our neighbour.

For personal reasons which Bains uncle’s son Harrit mentions I had to keep returning to Rourkela but it stays in my heart. I learnt Oriya in its streets, Hindi in its markets, Punjabi at home, and English in its schools.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who works in PR asked me to find a Rourkela group and announce my book. I was tied up and am very glad you found me out. Today I was a bit surprised at Capt Raj’s mail, then Lalit called (Happy Birthday!), then Anand (I think) called from New York. Thanks Bobby for putting me up here. Yes, I owed it to all of you to tell you about the book earlier, apologies for not doing that. Sepia Leaves has a lot of Rourkela in it, it is a Rourkela story. Hope you like it; please let me know if you do not. I will keep reading news about you here, and participate when I can.

One of the reviews:

PS: For propriety reasons I have changed some names and some minor details. Hope you do not mind the changes. I hope I have been able to capture the spirit of the city. Please respond if you wish to exchange views, and do let me know when you plan a get together in Delhi or Bangalore.

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A Dentist …

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

I read Sepia Leaves and I found it really moving. The reason I wanted to read it was because I wanted to relate to the protagonist of the boook. I had a mother who was schizophrenic and she is no more now. While reading the book I could see the past unfurl before me. Lot of incidents that have been potrayed have happened in my life too.

I apppreciate you writing this book and maybe the social stigma associated with this disorder can be partly, if not fully, removed. Once again, hats off for taking this bold step and as it is said in the book I too carry the genes of my mother. :)

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Readings …

   Posted by: aman    in Roll of Honour

Those who know me also know that I have been obsessed with a set of events in my life which I am trying to fashion as a story for nearly twenty years. I have written many drafts, but do not feel satisfied. Recently, I decided to read books written on a similar concept, to see how those writers had tackled the subject.

I read The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima. It was a fantastic analysis on the mind of a neurotic. Its fundamental tenant being: I do not want the world to understand me. In one sentence Mishima upturns the entire argument of the human race. Not wanting to be understood can be so fundamentally different from anything I have known, we all want someone or the world at large to understand us.

I read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and that book does not belong to anything I have read until now. It is a book about the breakdown of a mind, and is structured as a breakdown. It is located in a space between the white and brown population in Jamaica and I have not known another book to be so edgy.  The whole story revolves around one change in point of view in the middle. The beginning and ending sections are the woman’s point of view; the middle is the man’s point of view, except for one intervention by the woman. That is how fragile a work of this nature can be, and how solid.

Any books you want to recommend to me?

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A doctor …

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

I just finished reading Sepia Leaves. It was unputdownable. The only break that I took was for coffee. A-single-sitting-read!!! Well, I am a doc in California who wants to pursue Psychiatry. I have worked in Psychiatry and have taken care of schizophrenics.

Your book was an eye-opener. I always thought that I was a compassionate doctor who wanted to bring peace to the troubled minds.

The very word Paagal infuriates me and I have always tried to convince people that every patient of Psychiatry can be made to have a normal social life with the help of meds, counselling, etc. But, I never saw beyond the patients. I never saw what it did to the families. All I was bothered was about making sure that the patient took the right prescription, came for regular follow-ups and went back to being normal till the relapse occured.

Your book gives me a newer perspective of things and strengthens my resolve to be a Psychiatrist.

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Chiroti says …

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

I read Sepia Leaves. It was like as if I watched a movie, the narration was very very realistic and very touching. At places, I felt the story was getting brutally realistic, and one needs a lot of courage to speak up personal experiences that have been so hard on you. This book talked about courage, patience, and acceptance of harsh realities of life, which probably most of us deny or are so scared to acknowledge. Hats off, wonderfully written, and God bless.

People mention Sepia Leaves to me over mail, sms (text), phone, and in person. I must start putting them here. I start with this one. Click to see Chiroti’s own blog site.

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A mention

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

When I was writing Sepia Leaves I was concious that Rourkela was an artificial place built entirely out of the dream of one man – Jawaharlal Nehru – and with no sense of history because a lot of people, the tribal communities living there, were wiped out to create the town.

Reading Sanjitha’s review clarified the thought to me a little more. How do you describe a display window located in the midde of a marquee? She said Rourkela is ‘little India’, the kind you see when you travel abroad. In Sepia Leaves you are travelling within India, across the dreary plains of Orissa, into a place outside, into madness, into Rourkela, the display window of India.

See review here:

Yes, Sepia Leaves does not do what most books on India do. Exoticise India. That is because it is located in exotic India, gone mad :)


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