Celebrating India: A book review

What makes India a nation? What gives a common Indian identity to its billion plus population? Is it religion? Is it race or ethnicity? Is it language? Or is it something else altogether? In his essay on “The Invention of India”, Shashi Tharoor says that the answer for a common national identity, unlike in other countries, is neither religion nor race nor ethnicity nor language, but diversity.

India is never truer to itself than when celebrating its diversity. (in Celebrating India, p.14)

Celebrating IndiaThese particular lines in Tharoor’s essay sets the context for Celebrating India (2012, Nivasini Publishers, pp. 152, Rs. 200), an anthology that aims to celebrate this diversity and the “India in each of us” through memoirs, poems, short stories, travelogues and art. A special feature of this book is that all the contributors have waived off their fees and have agreed to contribute the profits of the book to the Yamini Foundation, Hyderabad.

An initiative of the publishers themselves, this anthology has contributors from various backgrounds — journalists, engineers, editors, academicians, film personalities, students, bloggers… In fact, nearly half the contributors have blogs !

The contributors are a mix of well-known names like Tharoor, Gulzaar and Deepti Naval and unknown writers (for me at least) and have attempted to elaborate on the theme of the anthology in their individual pieces. And do the contributors succeed in communicating this? Let’s see.

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The Roman theatre in Verulamium: My second guest post

About a month back, I wrote a piece titled “Discovering Roman Britain“. It was meant to be a guest post for Shadows Galore. But…

I had a certain idea of what I wanted the post to turn out like, but like many of my posts, it had a mind of its own and turned into a rambling post rather than the focused one that I wanted it to be. So, I rewrote it and tweaked it and edited it. After all this effort, it did read better. A teeny-weeny bit better, but not enough to pass muster (in my eyes) for a guest post . So after much deliberation, I posted it on my own blog.

And immediately got down to working on another idea for the guest post. And that’s how I wrote about the ruins of The Roman Theatre in Verulamium. It is a post that thankfully did turn out almost the way I wanted it to be that is, more focussed and less rambling than the earlier one. And before I got into another cycle of editing and re-writing, I sent it off to Puru of Shadows Galore, who liked it enough (I guess :-) ) to publish it almost immediately.

Click on the screenshot below to read this post. You will let me know about what you think of this post won’t you?

Picture1Puru, thank you so much for hosting me on Shadows Galore. :-)

A book lover’s Narnia

The Guest Post Series on “My Favourite Thingshas contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, photography, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. Though the guest posts are not always by fellow bloggers, the guest authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest author is Deepa of Deepa’s Kaleidoscope. An engineer by training, but a writer at heart, Deepa writes fiction and on social issues with equal parts passion and reflection, which results in a unique perspective on a particular topic. Currently based in Melbourne, this guest post is a result of her exploration into the bewitching world of the many bookstores in the city. An exploration that has just begun and one, I suspect, is a never-ending one. :-)

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so they say. This morning, I found a sweet little image that said, ‘The way to a woman’s heart is through a bookstore’. And if you’re here reading this blog post in the middle of your workday, night or while on the road, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, the saying probably applies to you too!

Melbourne, where I am currently based, is well-known for its Arts Precinct, a part of which also includes the Literary Arts. And when we think of literary festivals and fundraisers, how can books be far behind? Walking through the streets of Melbourne, you would be pleasantly surprised at how you encounter a bookstore every 2–3 blocks. Some of them are the typical run-of-the-mill kinds boasting of sales and specials, some are steeped in history and every one of them has a story behind it!

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Museum Treasure: Jewellery from Tamil Nadu

Though I don’t wear much jewellery, especially gold, it doesn’t stop me from admiring it. I love to look and trace the stories conveyed through the jewellery designs with my personal choice veering towards traditional designs in jewellery. In fact, more traditional a piece, the more I like it and feel a connection to it.

So imagine my delight when I came across this jewellery collection showcased at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

South Indian Jewellery at the V&A The information plaque revealed that all the pieces exhibited in this showcase were acquired through private collectors. Made in various parts of Tamil Nadu, they ranged in age from mid-eighteenth to the early 20th century.

Lets see what each ornament has to say about itself:

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Mumbai Lens: The war memorial at Ballard Estate

♦ This blog post was featured in the “Around the Blog” section of the DNA newspaper published on January 14, 2013 (pg.6) 

At a road junction in the busy Ballard Estate area of Mumbai, and near two landmarks of the area — Cafe Britannia and Old Customs House — stands a memorial.

World War I Memorial at Ballard Estate, Mumbai

World War I Memorial at Ballard Estate, Mumbai

This memorial commemorates the employees of the Bombay Port Trust (now Mumbai Port Trust) who fell during World War I (1914-1918) and also Port Trust’s contribution to the war effort. A brass plaque on the memorial reads:

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My “now” song: Daya ghana

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

These days, I have been listening to a lot of both film and non-film songs based on Raga Puriya Dhanashree. And one of those songs has become my “now” song: Daya ghana, sung by Suresh Wadkar to lyrics by Sudhir Moghe and music by Hridayanath Mangeshkar for the 1981 Marathi film, Sansar.

I am a great fan of Suresh Wadkar and, in my opinion, this is one of his best renditions ever. A highly underrated and under appreciated singer, no one else could have sung this song.

Daya Ghana is a song about the futility of this life and is directed towards God asking for the explanation of the reason behind this entire existence. The song is dark, questioning and sombre and quite reflects my own reflective, inward-looking mood these days. Whenever I listen to this song, the existential angst conveyed by the lyrics touches a chord, while the calming music soothes me.

Does your music reflect your mood or does your mood choose the music?