Archive for the ‘Sepia Leaves’ Category

Dear Friends,

I love it when friends and readers respond to Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. As a gift in the new year, Sheila Kumar responds to the book. Sheila is an old Panjab hand. She was in Panjab in the early 80s. In fact, in Kapurthala, when I was in school there. Thank you! Means a lot!

I open my New Year account of book reviews with a book I read slowly, attentively, absorbing everything it had to give.

Amandeep Sandhu`s PANJAB is many things to many readers.

There are those like me, who was once familiar with the pinds and the jind of what Sandhu calls the outlier state (and you must read the book to know why he does so). For us, the book is an updated ready reckoner, albeit in prose, of how things were and how things are.

Then there are people for whom the state stands for paranthas and lassi, juttis and parandis, bhangra and Lohri bonfires. This is based partly on perception, partly on stereotyped images. The book is an eye-opener for them, debunking several public perceptions and exposing the grim reality. On how bad the drugs situation is, on the ground. On the Land of the Five Waters being severely strapped for clean water. On its various deras (socio-religious organisations), the people who flock to them and the powers that control them. On the Khalistan movement, on Operation Bluestar, the last a sorrowful refrain which the author keeps returning to. On the Dalits of Punjab. And much more.

The past, historical and political, impacts this frontier state like few other states. Sandhu, who is a Sikh, yet stands at one remove from Punjab, trains an impartial but deeply compassionate gaze on all issues concerning the faith and the faithful.

Such an informative read. At the end of it, one wishes to unknow what one has just learned, to go back to dreaming of mustard fields, a boisterous people and a land of plenty. But reality is alas, reality.

A special hat-tip to Orijit Sen’s stark and compelling cover design.

Note: Below the review, look for Sheila’s review and Q&A with me on Sepia Leaves. This is a triple treat. 

Please read more here …

Thanks to friend Suneetha Balakrishnan, I found this article on Scroll.in by Gayathri Prabhu. It is a lovely list of memoirs and distinguishes them from autobiographies. It mentions Sepia Leaves glowingly.

Please read here ….

Friends, I am very happy that my in-law state Kerala has featured me in their leading newspaper Matrubhumi. Thank you Suneetha Balakrishnan for the effort. The article features my books and thoughts on writing. This is so lovely.

Please read more here …

Friends, for some good reason the Indian Women Blog interviewed me recently on my writing, my thoughts, my past and next work. Here is the interview. I feel flattered to be featured here.

‘Even after writing those hundreds of pages, I feel even more uncertain about myself. The more I explore myself, the more my way of describing myself through labels dissolve. Yet, I feel satisfied with my attitude to life. It is this: do not be defined by anyone else, seek your own language and ensure it cannot be appropriated.’

Please read …

Friends, I have known Asha Mokashi for so long but we have seldom met. Today she reminded me of this piece from a long time back. It is such a delight. Thank you Asha. Promise to meet soon!

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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.’

Please read …

Friends, sometimes it happens almost magically that you discover a person from a completely different geography and connect with them through a primordial tribal kinship of experiences, thoughts, and practice.

I met Cristina Vidrutiu through the Schloss Solitude Blog and discovered her work with illness narratives. We conversed and she asked me questions which made me probe my own practice as a writer – shed light on what I am trying to do with my life. Upon seeing them published, I can now say that these answers are my credo as a writer.

Thank you Akademie Schloss Solitude! You make possible these wonderful connections.

Please read …

Thanks to DailyO and the publisher Speaking Tiger Books here is my story ‘My Mother’s Breast’ from Jerry Pinto’s the anthology on the accounts of mental health care givers ‘A Book of Light’.

However, do buy the book. It has 12 more such stories. Publishing houses, when graceful and open with subject matter, still need people to buy books. It is a matter of survival. This story is the epilogue to my novel ‘Sepia Leaves’. If you haven’t read it, and like this story, maybe buy and read that one too. Both books are available on Flipkart, Amazon.

Meanwhile, here is the story …

“My mother lived in a world where I was the President of India and married to someone called Vivekta and she was the heiress to a fortune that ran into many crores; Rajiv Gandhi and Giani Zail Singh were paying guests in her father’s home. We, the sane, call this world schizophrenia.”

Lovely Nirupama Dutt has introduced A Book of Light a collection of 13 stories by care givers edited by Jerry Pinto in Hindustan Times.

Please read …

Friends, in the end of March I got Sukant Deepak’s call when I was driving to Barnala. He said he wanted to talk with me. I was very curious because India Today had never spoken to me. A few days later, Jasdeep Singh and I were on his Bullet mapping the dry SYL canal when we found ourselves in Ambala. We met Sukant.

The interview tilts towards the immediate because I am mid-project but then that is how it is: ‘On the surface, it might be about faultlines, but deep down, all the miles accumulated are a hunt for identity and sense of being.’

Please read here …