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orbit

Posted: February 22, 2020 in Uncategorized, writings
Tags: , , , , ,
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image: via pinterest

she turns
her center still,
in an age-old hula
with an invisible hoop.
to her soundless gaze,
concealing her
wild-whispered seeking,
dawn speaks
a languid language
of merlot and gold and
borders smudged.

© Anuradha Prasad 2020

Why dissent FIN

My piece “Why Dissent Is Important to Lead an Authentic Life” is out on Feminism in India. It talks about the role of resistance and dissent in everyday life, as well as nurturing hope during these times.

Follow the link to read it –

https://feminisminindia.com/2020/01/30/dissent-is-important-to-live-an-authentic-life/

© Anuradha Prasad 2020

On India’s 71st Republic Day, protests across India which started on 19 Dec 2019 continue against fascism and to protect the democracy. (Oh, and the adoption of the constitution and I share the same birthday. November babies like their freedom the most-est!)

 

“The Boy Who Saw More” is a short film by Faraway Originals. This is the story of Nordan who explores Ladakh with a microscope. My favorite part is when he explains how “when we look at mountains, we see them as a whole…but within those mountains are so many little things that make them.” It is about engaging with our environment in new ways, going beyond the obvious. Less about what we’re taught, what we know, and what we think we should experience. More about allowing awareness and curiosity to lead the way.

 

Tough cookie of a year. Of many endings and completions. Of the losses, one merits grief because the love was such. The rest, bah.

Heartbreak: Losing Rosa. My spiritual path has taught me that love doesn’t die. But how do you serve love which has no form anymore? I can’t serve her food, I can’t rub her nose, I can’t spread the fleece blanket out because she loved kneading it. So, how then do i keep the love alive?

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protest poster by shilo shiv suleman

India: It has been the season of protests as the threat of fascism got realer and realer. Dissent is still on, still strong despite the internet shutdowns, police brutality, and the narrative being controlled. Plenty of courage and love to go around for takers, any.

Men-on-pause: Mon dieu! Stalkers! Creeps in the garb of friends! Unwanted advances! Unimaginative brain picking and plagiarizing! Mon dieu again!!

Question 1: What’s the better/worse deal: a wolf or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

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new yorker cartoons

Question 2: If you steal my coat, add a ruffle here and a rip there, and walk in to meet me in the stolen coat, twirl around and say, what do you think of my new coat, does it mean you haven’t stolen my coat?

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new yorker cartoons

Laughter: Nothing quite like a witchy cackle to ease things up and the New Yorker Cartoons as always gave me plenty of that!

Fun Things: Zine-making | Trekking | Cooking (!)

Kitten Rescues: One – a fierce, blue-eyed ginger, the size of my palm

Writing: I got a lot of writing and reading done. A few short stories and articles were published. I also completed the manuscript of short stories that I had begun in 2018. I had completed a children’s picture storybook about compassion toward animals, inspired by own time with animals and at cat shelters, which I am reworking.

Read: Apart from my regular reading, I also beta read manuscripts and dipped into several collections of short stories and essays by Lydia Davis, Monique Schwitter, Carmen Maria Machado, etc. It has been a failing game of catch-up as I continued to buy more books than I could read. Over a 100 new books now call my bookshelves and Kindle their home.

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image: goodreads

My love for Japanese literature continued. I began the year with the strangely captivating Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman – what’s normal, what’s not. Old lovers reunite in Yasunari Kawabata’s Beauty & Sadness which is tender and dark. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa is a series of short stories that are interlinked. I also indulged in psychological thrillers and crime novels with Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman, Kiego Higashino’s A Midsummer’s Equation and Newcomer, Ian Rankin’s Rather Be the Devil, Shinie Anthony’s The Girl Who Couldn’t Love, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer, and Samuel Bjork’s I’m Travelling Alone. Paul Aster’s The New York Trilogy is a set of detective novels with variations, which reminds me that I must get the Red Notebook. A favorite was Natsuo Kirino’s Out in which the violence of death brings alive what’s dead.

There were a couple of non-fiction books. The Hungryalists by Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury was about the Hungryalist literary movement in India. In The Possessed, Elif Batuman walks the path of Russian authors. In the graphic novel, Dare to Disappoint, Growing Up in Turkey, Ozge Samanci recounts her life as a young girl and woman in Turkey. I went for a talk by naturalist and conservationist Paul Rosolie which was brilliant and it led me to pick up his first book, Mother of God, which is largely about his time in the Amazon. I also read two essay collections about what we avoid and mustn’t: What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About edited by Michel Filgate and Burn It Down: Women Writing about Anger edited by Lilly Dancyger.

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image: book depository

Out of the norm, I read two plays Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest, which had me laughing till I cried, and The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. I also read a dystopian novel, a genre I generally avoid, but this one was brilliant and joined the dots of technology and social media and how they are killing us: Dave Eggers’s The Circle. Purity by Jonathan Franzen was not dystopian but speaks of crossed lines, divided Germany, charismatic whistleblowers, Assange-style. I read my first book by Mahashweta Devi, The Armenian Champa Tree. Surprisingly, I didn’t read much poetry this year. I had to pick up a copy of Tenzin Tsundue’s Kora Stories & Poems after I heard his reading. I also read Ecstatic Poems by Mira Bai, which is Bhakti (devotional) poetry.

There was good old Margaret Atwood with Lady Oracle, a woman who wants a fresh start. Mumbai’s drug dens come alive in Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis. Cassandra grows up in I Capture the Castle. Steven Rowley’s The Editor has Jackie O playing editor. Andrew Martin’s Early Work follows the early days of a writer and the desires that play out. In Kayla Rae Whitaker’s The Animators, two friends start a business until drugs and conflict enter the mix. Milan Kundera’s Laughable Loves is a short story collection and smart and hilarious in equal measure. Another short story was Sylvia Plath’s Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom, which was interesting to read as a precursor to her more well-known work. A novella told as a set of stories, Janice Pariat’s The Nine-Chambered Heart is sparse and poetic. Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint is a litany of complaints. Leila Slimani’s Lullaby explores what drives a nanny to murder. There was more horror and abuse in Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I loved Mohammed Hanif’s first book and that led to Red Birds about what war does to people.

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image: goodreads

Finally, my favorites. Ottessa Mosfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation has made me bookmark her next novel which will be released in April this year. There was Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I am no Jean but this could just be the prime of my life. I was on a diet of Mary Gaitskill. Bad Behavior is a collection of short stories about navigating through desires and friendships. The novella This Is Pleasure published by The New Yorker is about the #metoo movement and tries to understand dynamics and patriarchal notions as the protagonist is left confused and angry when her friend is accused of misusing his relatively powerful position in publishing to misbehave with young women. Mona Awad’s Bunny is one of the most original, dark, funny, and genius novels that I read this year. It is based on a group of writers in a writing workshop and a misfit who undervalues her own abilities but that is oversimplifying it.

Watched: It was the year of second seasons of some my favorite shows, so binged and then binged some more. There were a few movies too.

  • Parfum: Yes, inspired by Süskind’s novel.
  • The Young Pope: Jude Law puts the pope back in the pope.
  • The Little Drummer Girl: When you can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not, espionage.
  • Sex Education: Refreshing.
  • Lizzie: Borden!
  • The Tale: #MeToo. Jennifer Fox’s real-life story reenacted by the fabulous Laura Dern.
  • What Keeps You Alive: A couple’s vacation turns into a nightmare.
  • City of Tiny Lights: Riz Ahmed. I love this man.
  • Dirty John: Based on a real-life story about a man who chases wealthy women.
  • Tully: Mommyhood ain’t always pretty.

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    image: imdb

  • Searching: You see the entire movie unfolding on screens.
  • A Simple Favor: Turns out to be not so simple.
  • BlackKlansMan: What happens when a black man becomes pals with KKK?
  • Fleabag Season 2: A hot priest, a fox, and trademark fleabag.
  • American Psycho: Very psycho.
  • Quicksand: About a school shooting and how it unravels.
  • Colette: How the author reclaimed her work and her self.
  • We Need to Take about Kevin: Another one on school shooting from a mum’s perspective.
  • Delhi Crime: How the Nirbhaya case was solved.
  • The Frozen Ground: Another killer on the loose.
  • Booksmart: Fun.

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    image: town and country mag

  • Fair Game: When power overpowers.
  • Made in Heaven: Big old Indian marriages among Delhi’s elite, pff.
  • Crazy Rich Asians: Made the good old Bollywood movie-style.
  • Big Little Lies Season 2: The performances!
  • Killing Eve Season 2: These two.
  • Titli: On escaping abuse and starting new.
  • Unbelievable: Based on a true story, how empathy is crucial when dealing with sexually abused people.
  • Mystic River: A child goes missing. Whodunit.
  • The Spy: Another true story about the Israeli spy, Eli Cohen.
  • The Politician: Brilliance! There’s Lange and Paltrow and Midler.
  • Ingrid Goes West: The troubles of social media.
  • The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch: A young Jewish man stands up to his mum.
  • End of the F*** World Season 2: It was nice to meet James and Alyssa again.
  • My Happy Family: A woman leaves a marriage because she wants her solitude.
  • Don’t F*** with Cats: Hunting a Serial Killer: How animal activists help in finding a killer.
  • Wanted: Australia’s Thelma and Louise continue to evade the cops and kick sex trafficking in its butt.

New year, new vibes:

© Anuradha Prasad 2020

anuradha prasad

From my unpublished short story collection ‘Confluence’ – which speaks of loneliness and emotional isolation, love and seeking, death and depression, appearances and deceptions, life and art – that i began in 2018 with gili haimovich’s mentorship. It is the first writing project that i actually completed in June 2019 and shared with one or two readers for a generic and broad feedback. Maybe it will get published, maybe it won’t but gladder for finishing what i started.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

I walk slowly while moving the prayer wheels, large metal-plated cylinders containing sacred mantras,  clockwise. Behind me, shuffling feet. An old Tibetan man barefoot, muttering prayers, a rosary running through his fingers. Soon he is past me. With every turn of the prayer wheel, karma is meant to be burned and good karma created, someone had said. I don’t know if that is true but why miss the chance?

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

My friend, the Buddhist, has brought me here, what is my second visit. Her happiness to be in a place she considers home is contagious. The first time that I was here, I was battling choices made, good and bad, and what in retrospect I see as a spiritual wake-me-up which was none too pretty, no halos, no hallelujahs. The second time, I am wary of what losses the visit will bring, forgetting the gains that are on the other side of every loss.

I stop to take in the open fields with occasional trees held together by strings of colorful prayer flags. It is a different world. Just four hours out of Bangalore. It is a world of the displaced. I am here in Bylakuppe, en route to Mysore and Coorg, the largest Tibetan settlement in India after Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama has found a home after the Chinese occupation of Tibet. A country uprooted that has laid roots here, made a home. Only the old perhaps still remember a home of another name, of mountains, of leopards, of snow, of earth where they may have scraped a knee.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

At another turn, there is the window of a monk’s room. On the sill, a pot of money plant with lush heart-shaped leaves creeping up the grills. One more turn, monks are playing football. There is a smattering of tourists. Seekers of sights or spirituality, who knows. The path has taken me around the Namdroling Monastery. It ends and we enter a surreal silence. Unlike the main areas of the monastery, here it is quiet. A row of white stupas and one that stands apart.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

My friend, the Buddhist, tells me that the stupa possesses healing energy. Dainty tea cups are placed around it and bottles of pills. I rest at the gazebo. Large black bowls that are placed in the hand of the Buddha are drying in the sun. An old Tibetan woman gives me a toothless smile. Some monks are teasing a kitten, purring and rubbing itself against ankles beneath maroon robes. Their laughter is easy.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

I walk past the Tara temple, the replica of the Palyul Monastery in Tibet, the turkey strutting on the lawns, monks debating, and the Dharma Wheel and the portrait of His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. I walk past the highlight of the monastery, the Golden Temple. Where three Buddha avatars – Buddha Amitayus, Sakyamuni Buddha, and Guru Padmasambhava – rise up to sixty feet. Where they stand resplendent in copper with gold plating, from within them emanating, the energy of relics and scriptures. Where snow lions stand guard. Where deities of peace and wrath war. Where dragons twine around pillars. I walk past the temple that rung with the vibrations of gongs and chants, now in silence in the late afternoon of a high sun and a wheeling hawk.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

There is a strange kind of feeling in my heart. The past and future are hushed. The heart is still, still but aware, still but alive. I realize it could be peace. On the other side lies wrath.

As we drive away, past a nunnery, past slender trees arranged uniformly and cutting space into narrow bars of sky, I turn back. Up in the green canopy, I see a white crane, hunched, in contemplation.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

rosa

Posted: October 19, 2019 in mixed bag, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,
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rosa © Anuradha Prasad 2019

Free spirit. Braveheart. Mama’s girl. God’s child. Killer of mice and squirrels. Lover of chicken liver. Stretcher of limbs. Sun dozer. Calico saint. Mewer of plenty, for plenty. Slayer of door mats. Endless love. Endlessly loved. Into the big sleep and awakening and somewhere across the rainbow bridge : : Rosa Maria, from god-knows-when to 17 Oct 2019 on earth, now beyond

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sending loads of love and light to rosa

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Somewhere past Magadi, there’s Uttari Betta. Shrubs heavy with yellow blooms appear as the road, its tar peeling like old scabs, winds up the hill to a village. Goats scamper. Sheep walk in herds.

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Old fort walls stand upright in places. The trail moves through seven gateways, narrow paths of uneven stones squeezed between huge boulders, narrower paths hidden by tall wild grass.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

The summit is all boulders – some covered with pale green lichen resembling peeling wallpaper, grass, and shrubs.

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And there is the view of swathes of green, only a fraction of which was visible on the way here that was paved with the stench of fumes, sewer, and cow dung.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Clusters of shade are few. Flies hover and buzz over the grass that bends to the breeze, nearly grazing earth but not quite.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019


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“You Beneath Your Skin” is a literary crime thriller that is equal parts whodunit and whydunnit. Set in smoggy Delhi where male aggression is just a snap away, the narrative explores crimes against women – specifically acid attacks, while cutting through patriarchy, corruption, and relationship dynamics.

“Anjali loved her face. She spent hours dolling up. He had never seen her without make-up, not even at five in the morning when she came to meet him.”

Anjali Morgan is a single mom to a son with autism and she is vain about her looks. She is Jali to her friend and landlord, Maya. She is Jelly to Maya’s brother Jatin, the assistant police commissioner who is willing to do what it takes in a skewed-up system to get ahead. On the brink of a scandal, Jatin is eager to work on a case to look good in the media. The case involves slum women who are found raped, disfigured with acid, and dead. The case gets personal when Anjali gets in the line of fire.

“Now she had Jatin: part closet-poet, part patriarchal jerk, enthusiastic bedmate and best friend: exasperating and endearing in equal measure.”

It is the exploration of human behavior that lends the novel its strength and sets it apart from other crime thrillers. The depth attained from the character development, however, doesn’t deter the pace of the novel. Biswas hasn’t shied away from the gritty details of acid attacks and the trauma of it. Her characters are flawed and very human. Anjali and Jatin struggle, especially with their experiences as children of tyrannical parents and now as parents to kids who challenge them and their beliefs. While Nikhil revolts against a perfectionist mother, Varun seethes about his father’s betrayal. Fiery as she is, Maya is always reminded that she is just a woman who needs to be protected by her brother.

“A woman must know what places to stay away from. Didn’t I just say you can’t go?”

The author also brings out the aggressive and male-dominant culture in Delhi – the novel begins in a mall where packs of men roam and can attack women in a beat. Delhi’s smog and traffic along with the contrasting cultures of poverty and power form the perfect backdrop for the novel.

“Delhi put you through extremes: be it with its weather, or its people.”

The author’s interactions with acid attack survivors and her work with NGOs have helped her portray their experiences realistically and with compassion. This, combined with masterful storytelling, makes “You Beneath Your Skin” both an engrossing and substantial novel.

Title: You Beneath Your Skin
Author:
Damyanti Biswas
Genre:
Fiction, Novel, Crime Thriller
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster India
ISBN:
9386797623, 978-9386797629

Note: All proceeds from book sales will go to the NGOs that the author supports.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019