Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Hip, cool, vivacious and a li'l confused. It's difficult to slot the youngsters in one particular category; and so Penguin Books India's INKED, an imprint focusing on
Young Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction, hopes to connect with youngsters by giving them a chance to pick up books from a wide variety of genres.
The three inaugural titles, to be available in bookstores later this month, include Eliza Crewe’s Cracked — the first book of the Soul Eater trilogy — is a tale of the war between good and evil. Karma by Cathy Ostlere, is the story of how a young girl facing the demands of two cultures endures personal tragedy, and yet learns to forgive, accept and love. Vibha Batra’s Seventeen and Done (You Bet!), sequel to Sweet Sixteen, is set in high school and taps into emotions like romance, fashion, friendship and longing.
Talking about crafting content for youngsters, Ameya Nagarajan, says, “The dominant theme of the introductory titles, and those in offing, is that of the lives of young people – whether fantasy, sci-fi, or ordinary teenagers going through a difficult period. I kept an eye out for manuscripts that would meet the format. I kept browsing through fantasy and sci-fi forums, and when I met people who had writing talent and an interest in the genre, I asked them if they had thought of writing a book.”
However, Ameya is reluctant to call the new titles as the voice of young adults.
“I don’t think the genre lends itself to such sweeping statements, because teenagers are the hardest segment of people to categorise! The reason we chose these books was because each had a strong voice that we felt spoke to us and was something that young people could relate to.”
The INKED titles which hope to cater to readers between the ages of 13-21 seem a little wide-spread. This group is also heavily into gaming and chatting. Ask Ameya how the imprint will manage to hold their attention, and she makes her point with, “At the end of the day, whatever the age, a great story will capture and hold interest.”
Ameya also spills the beans on the name 'INKED'.
“The name is a play on words: Ink conjures up images of writing and printing but also in modern slang refers to tattoos. That’s how great words are; they can have secret meanings depending on the angle from which you’re looking at them. They can be a window to expression and creativity—just like tattoos are.”

Forthcoming titles
* A science-fiction novel by Shiv Ramdas
* Story of how Unmukt Chand made his mark on Under-19 cricket in India
* A poignant coming-of-age novel by award-winning author Ranjit Lal
* Best-selling novelist Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s hit high school drama

A chat with S Husain Zaidi

A few pages into S Hussain Zaidi's Dongri to Dubai – Six Decades of Mumbai Mafia – and you know this isn't a frothy work, like several Bollywood potboilers trying to decode the gang war for the viewers.
This depiction of the mafia in mainstream cinema becomes our talking point with the senior crime journalist who was in the city for an event.
Zaidi's pithy style of writing also dictated his choice of words, “Bollywood is the PR machinery of the underworld. It tries to glorify and gives their protagonists a heroic touch. I disagree with that.”
What separates the serious from the froth is the research. Explaining the way he goes about gathering material for his non-fiction books, Zaidi says, “I dig into old police records, I cull the details from there. I also chat up old timers and try to get an entire picture. I don't go by rumours or hear-say. I back up the information with facts.”
His no-nonsense credentials are known. But what does he have to say to about his tribe who might have to rub shoulders with unsavoury elements to get the truth?
Zaidi prescribes doctor-patient relationship to keep this malaise in check.
“I have always got in touch with the mafiosi only for work-related queries. I have not invited them to my shaadi nor have I attended theirs. My equation with them is like a doctor-patient relationship.”
And, yet the cinema continues to be charmed by the underworld. Zaidi agrees and also tries to bring a degree of authenticity to the films, when he is asked to collaborate as a writer. That said, Zaidi is trying to steer clear of underworld in his latest work. He is writing for Kabir Khan's next movie with Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif. Declaring that the film is under wraps, all that he chooses to reveal is, “I am working on an espionage thriller based on 26/11. No depiction of underworld in it.”
Meanwhile, he has co-written a book with Rahul Bhat on David Headley episode, Headley and I, that is touted to be made into a film.
For Zaidi, words have always metamorphosed into images.

From the other side

This is a book review of "A Restless Wind."

Name: A Restless Wind
By: Shahrukh Husain
Pages: 350
Published by: Picador India
Price: Rs 499

My first thoughts while reading this book was that it's very topical. Communal tensions are on a simmer and we read about the 'victim' stories ever so often. You will find all this in the 'A restless wind'. The only difference is that it's being narrated by a Pakistani woman – who was raised in India and the country of her birth.
Husain's protagonist, Zara Hamilton, was born in Karachi, but raised in Qila, a fortress in Trivikram, in Gujarat.
Zara's aunt (mother's sister) is a part of the Ramzi order, pirs, who are the Gurus of Hindu king of Trivikram. The royal lineage is the direct ascendant of Vamana (Lord Vishnu's avatar) and their association with the Ramzis is a symbol of communal harmony.
When she is urgently summoned by Aunt Hana to Qila, Zara decides to give her floundering marriage to Peter, little breathing space. Besides finding out what Aunt Hana wants her to discover, Zara has another mission. A lawyer, specialising in helping immigrants and asylum seekers in London, she wants to find out if there's a safe home for women destitute, unwelcome in the countries they have approached for asylum.
But her return rattles several skeletons and Zara's personal demons – secrecy surrounding her mother, Nyla, who had abandoned her when she was 8. She's also in conundrums about her feelings for the present day Maharaja of Trivikram, Jayendra Singh Vamana. They were madly in love when they were students at Oxford University, but the Maharaja had left without giving her any reason. The reason, becomes clear to her when the Ramzis are witch-hunted, was that their marriage would have cracked under the pressure of communal forces, besides causing irreversible damage to the Ramzis-Vamana relationship.
Being weighed down by her ancestry and her present, Zara's story is her journey in search of her identity – existential as well as the one mapped by geography. At the end of this journey, Zara learns that even though the social fabric has worn, some threads can't be snapped. Also, she finds all the answers to her questions in the Qila.
What doesn't work in this lyrical story, is the unnecessary clash of East vs West and another love story between Zara's niece and her cousin. In her attempt to tie up the loose ends, Husain also gets Nyla to connect with her daughter. Tightly packed with characters and overlapping stories of their own, it succeeds in distracting you briefly away from the core of the story – the war between races and religion become profound when it gets personal.

The Translated Work

I had attended a session on translated works at Sudarshan Rangmanch. This is the report.

Every language has its own nuances shaped by the community speaking it. There are those little jokes, imagery and references to socio-political and economic context used with a flourish by those speaking it.
The moot question before a translator is if these cultural references resonate within a speaker of a different tongue. Kalasakta Pune and Kelyane Bhashantar had recently organised a festival of translated literature which saw the reading session of 'Rabindranathanchya Sahwasat'. It was translated from the Bengali original - Mangputeche Rabindranath – by Vilas Gitay. Excerpts from Milind Champanerkar's, 'Lokshahivadi Ammi's, ek dirgha patra', translated from Saeed Mirza's, 'Ammi: Letter to a Democratic Mother', was also read out at the three day festival.
While chaste Marathi can sound a little harsh on ears, Gitay succeeded in retaining the original Bengali sweetness in the chat, banter and the poetic exchange between Tagore and Maitreyee Devi (author).
Gitay, who translated the book in 1988, says, “When I translate from Hindi or Bengali into Marathi, I use the syntax of Marathi. The reader should feel that the original author has written the book, not in Hindi or Bengali, but in Marathi.”
In fact when Gitay read a paper on 'Tagore in Marathi Translation' and also recited his Marathi translation of Tagore's poems at the Tagore Festival in 2010 organised by The Asiatic Society of Mumbai he received positive feedback from non- Marathi speakers.
William Radice, a Professor of Bengali in England and the translator of Geetanjali and Martin Kaempchen, a German scholar who speaks Bengali and lives at Shantiniketan, told Gitay, ' You successfully brought the rhythm of Tagore's poems in Marathi.'
Besides written and oral command over the two languages, as aforementioned, it is equally important to get the socio-political context right.
Milind Champanerkar, who was enthralled after reading Mirza's book, says,
“Translating this book was a big challenge as it required understanding of international politics, of several ideologies, subjects like economics, philosophy, orient culture, history, trends in literature… to theatre, film-making, scripting to Beatles music. But these had been subjects of my interest too and so I decided to approach Mirza to seek his permission for translating the book.”
But, before getting in touch with Mirza, Champanerkar debated with himself if he had understood Mirza's intention and reason behind penning that letter.
“Mirza has interwoven other forms of literature like a novel, a fairy tale, an autobiography, a social essay, musings on culture and politics, a travelogue, character sketches, film script and created a literary work, which defies conventional classification. It's a collage of incidents from his and his parents’ lives, historical events, Indian politics, stories of Mulla Nasruddin, poetry of Mirza Ghalib, works of Sufi saints, and poet saints like Namdev and many more. So it was important to co-relate the narrative formats. Once I was sure I could do that, I wrote to Mirza,” says Champanerkar.
Mirza had liberally used Urdu and Pashto in his work, so Champanerkar had to work on
translating and then confirming from experts if the usage was correct.
“The task before me,” says Champanerkar, “was to maintain the tone - one of respect, what they call tehzeeb, in Marathi. I also experimented with Pashto and Urdu words .. to give semblance..particularly in conversations of rickshaw pullers and goons.. to retain the original flavour of the language.”
The importance of translated works is that it widens the reach of the author's thoughts and possibly helps the readers to identify the commonalities between their world and that of the others. If the translator succeeds in achieving this, then the purpose is served.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Lowland

This is my review of 'The Lowland' by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Umbilical ties cut deep and bind together. Udayan and Subhash Mitra, born 15 months apart in the lowlands of Tollygunge, Calcutta, are alike and yet dissimilar. The elder brother, Subhash, is placid, eager to obey and fall in line. Udayan is bold, impulsive and idealistic. Quite predictably, you know what's in store for them.
The placid brother makes a success of his career, but his personal life is in shambles and the younger one's idealism snatches him away far too soon. Lahiri's fluid, visual lucidity and layered writing vouches its presence in this book too. But, one can't ignore the melancholy tone trying to consume the characters. The story builds up very slowly, from the detailed Naxalbari movement which takes Udayan's life to the very picturesque depiction of Rhode Island, in USA, where Subhash makes his home.
Lahiri takes almost 250 pages (of the book) to give us a very comprehensive picture of how Udyaan's shadow is omnipresent in his brother's life. Subhash has married Gauri, Udayan's widow, and also decided to become a father to his daughter, Bela. From the very beginning, it's evident that the marriage won't work. Not because they are incompatible, but because the husband and wife are unable to sever ties with their past – Udayan.
It is in the last 100 odd pages, that the story jumps, rather jarringly, to cover the aging and now separated Subhash, Gauri, and their academic success), Bela, and their granddaughter, Meghana.
The only character, who shines and is not willing to let the dark circumstances surrounding her birth to overwhelm her, is Bela. Her father steals some of our sympathy, because Subhash, despite his perceived weakness, has spent his entire life trying to correct the wrong.
Gauri is perhaps more grey, than simply being labeled black or white. Lahiri's Gauri is fallible, guilt-ridden, has made more mistakes than the other two protagonist and that makes her more humane. She also gets some beautifully written lines to depict her angst and loneliness.
Guilt, little hope, idealism, sorrow and courage – results in letting a family bond together or break – and that's what you will find in The Lowland.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Spot the animal in your boss!

Most professionals today spend their waking hours at work or in activities related to work. Invariably, your relation with the boss is a critical factor in defining the work experience, says Manjiri Gokhale Joshi. In her third book, Bosses of the Wild, Manjiri has likened boss personality types to 10 animals, providing insights into their behaviour. Ambika Shaligram finds out more

Why did you choose to write about boss-employee relationship and use the analogy of animals to explain personality traits?
Well, I have worked in different fields. I began my career as a print journalist, then moved on to e-learning and IT. What I have learnt is that even if the workplace has a good system, the technology used is advanced, state-of-the art, all this comes to naught if there is people conflict. The boss types are similar in almost all fields and so are the employees. There is conflict if both the parties have different expectations from each other. The key is to manage the expectations, know what your boss wants from you, while the boss should know what to expect from his team.
I chose 10 personality types and matched them with commonly known animals. I don’t mean to humiliate anyone or portray anyone in a derogatory light. I just intend the book, which I’ve written in a lighter vein, to help reduce and resolve conflict.
What kind of research was involved in writing this book?
I began with the basic species like lion and elephant. At the same time, I was also identifying business processes, and organisations requiring specific skills. I also picked names which were easy to remember and had fascinating stories about them. When I identified my boss types — animal and humans — I got in touch with the animal experts to glean more information about their behavioural traits. I have featured 11 animal boss (including male and female) in the book.
In the human workplace scenario, it’s assumed that the male and female boss operate differently. Does this apply to the animal world too?
Yes, of course it does. Take the case of lion and lioness. Lion is this majestic beast, whom everyone is in awe of. No one can really be pally with him. The lion is focused and protects his team. Lioness, on the other hand, is good at multi-tasking. She will hear out her team member, even when she has got pressing tasks to finish.
Similarly, the female rabbit cannot be a good leader, whereas the male is over-enthusiastic about his work. He feels the need to justify his presence in the work place — sending mails late into the night, holding meetings. The male is extremely susceptible to changes, alerts in the work zone. Remember a rabbit’s ears are always standing!
A male hyena is good with the team, but isn’t really helpful when things aren’t going too great. The female of this species makes no bones about the fact that she expects obeisance. If her team members want it in any other way, then they are in trouble!
This actually sounds like a work place Sun Signs book. Should the HR team refer to it when it comes to hiring employees?
Sure! Hiring the right person for the right job will make the workplace much better.
Who is the best/perfect boss according to you?
Well, someone who is secure and mentors his team and allows them to grow. If you ask me, which is the best animal personality boss, I would say that all the species have something to offer. Right from the frogs, to the dolphins, to sloth bears and of course the lions and elephants. Pick the right skills and traits from all of them.

A boss on the book!
“A good CEO cannot afford to have a single style of leadership. So it’s best that an owl from Manjiri’s book also adapts traits of the eagle or lion. Bosses of the Wild will help the employee’s identify their boss’s traits and their own too. I would also like to add that to become a boss, you have to like people, and realise that no two persons are going to be the same. If you accept this, then you cannot lose sight of your objective.”
— Dr Ganesh Natarajan,
Vice-Chairman and CEO,
Zensar Technologies

About the author
Manjiri Gokhale Joshi has earlier co-authored Inspired with Dr Ganesh Natarajan. Her second book Crushes, Careers and Cellphone was for teenagers and parents. Its Marathi translation along with Bosses of the Wild, Lessons from Corporate Jungle, was released by Dr Mohan Agashe and Dr Ganesh Nataranjan on August 1

Friday, June 21, 2013

If you are happy, show it!

This is an interview of Jyoti Mate of Swalay, who has kick-started her new initiative on June 21 - Plant a JOY (Just Open Yourself).

There are two kinds of people in this world --- those who know how to express themselves fluently and spontaneously, and then there are those who hesitate to open up and choose to stay in a shell. If you belong to the second category, Jyoti Mate is here to help.
Founder of Swalay, Mate helps you express yourself and eventually discover 'self-rhythm'. Explaining the concept, the 43-year-old Kathak dancer, says, “Swalay or self-rhythm stands for four concepts. The first concept is 'expressive art therapy', which is conducted through music, dance, rhythm, colours, craft and painting. The next is 'art appreciation', for which, I invite masters/ maestros in that particular field to discuss their art. That said, it is equally important for the audience to participate in the discussion. The third concept is 'giving existing knowledge a different perspective'. This is mainly directed at teachers, who, if they think a little differently, can impart so much joy in teaching and the learning process. The fourth process is 'movementation', which is 'mediation on the move' or 'dynamic meditation'. It also includes variations like 'sufitation'.”

Let yourself go
Mate, who has been teaching self-rhythm for almost two decades, is launching her new initiative 'Plant a JOY' as part of Swalay. Here, JOY stands for Just Open Yourself. Says Mate, “I have always felt that most of us carry emotional baggage from the past that weighs us down and prevents us from exploring things that we have always longed to do. With Plant a JOY, I want people to become aware of the possibilities that they can explore; to take one step into the unfamiliar territory and let yourself go,” says she.
As part of this new initiative, which kickstarts this morning, Mate and her team will be spending a few hours with the children of Eklavya Nyas at the Bholagiri centre in Rasta Peth. The evening will be spent playing 'creatively crazy' games and listening, and swaying to junk percussion.

Book your date
Every month, Swalay will be conducting programmes for a larger audience. On July 21, the team will be conducting an art appreciation course titled 'Stories of Songs' for senior citizens, wherein the audience will be educated about legendary singer Kishore Kumar's compositions and the nuances of his singing.
On August 21, Mate has planned a musical soiree for ex-servicemen at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre, Khadki. Swalay will hold a musical programme of old Hindi songs. Dr Anand Joshi will intersperse the popular ditties with anecdotes about the singers and actors as well.
On September 21, Amruta Satbhai will perform a one-act play Me Majhya Gharchi Rani.

Experience, explore & evolve
These activities and get-togethers can initiate exchange of ideas and contribute to finding solutions, feels Mate. “For example, when one of our members said that he buys plastic sheets and distributes them among pavement dwellers, the other members felt that they could chip in too. Suggestions like this spur more ideas and a willingness to reach out to the community and do social good,” explains Mate.
Learning to give and helping spread joy can be very rewarding. It may not always have tangible benefits but you will feel good at the end of the day.
Recounting an incident, Aashiesh Ghate, who is Mate's colleague, says, “At one of our 'Movementation' programmes for senior citizens, a 60-year-old woman, who was initially very reluctant to participate in the activities, opened up as the evening progressed. As we were drawing to a close, the woman started vigorously beating a plate with a spoon. She had successfully overcome her inhibitions and started enjoying herself, which was fascinating.” It's not always easy to open up and let go, but what's the harm in trying?

Join in the activities
To Plant a JOY and spread happiness, spend your morning with underprivileged kids at Eklavya Nyas' Bholagiri centre, Rasta Peth, today.
Or head for Kala Chhaya, Senapati Bapat Road for an evening of creatively crazy games and junk percussion.
For details, call Jyoti Mate on 9822597321 or Aashiesh Ghate on 9158882346.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Service dreams

This is an interview with Ravi Pattanshetti, who came 47th in the recently declared UPSC exams
In September 2008, Ravi realised that he wanted to become part of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), a job with endless opportunities and challenges.
And, so he quit his job at Infosys and joined the Dnyanprabodhini's civil services coaching center. Mentored by Vivek and Savita Kulkarni and I P Singh, he gave his first shot at cracking the UPSC exam in 2010.
Ravi cleared it, but did not score enough to be selected for the IAS. He joined the supplementary services – Indian Corporate Law Service attached to Ministry of Corporate Affairs – in 2011.
A little disillusioned with the result of his first attempt, Ravi again sat for the exams and failed. Ravi, who is an Electronics and Telecommunication Engineer, says that “all work and no play” affected his second chance.
He decided to take a crack for the third time, with a more relaxed approach.
There were weeks when I wouldn't touch my books. I watched films, went swimming and read a lot,” he says, adding, “I could take time-off because I had already put in three years of hard work.”
Being a part of the service had also changed the 28-year-old's psyche.
I had a job and being a part of the service changed my perspective. I realised that the UPSC panel was looking for decision-making skills and if that was reflected in your answers in the written and the interview round, then you can have some hope,” explains Ravi.
Hold on. All the advice and suggestions and mantras that are thrown at civil services aspirants come in retrospective. There's no clear-cut path or a predictable formula for entering the services.
Success is a combination of several factors like hard work, consistency, and luck. Everyone is intelligent, hard working and consistent, but what you do on that particular day clinches the dream job,” says Ravi.
And, what was it that Ravi said or did that worked in his favour?
I was honest in the interview round. The panel wanted to know why I had opted for Anthropology instead of Public Administration, which was my optional in the first two attempts. I told them that Anthropology is a scoring subject and also because I had
developed an aptitude for it,” he adds.
Ravi, who expects the order to join IAS by September, will till then exercise his duties as Assistant Official Liquidator attached to High Court of Karanataka. In his service, Ravi wants to focus on health and education sectors.
His primary objective, as Ravi puts it, “Is to ensure efficient delivery of services to the people. There are many good policies in place; all we need is an efficient system and I want to be a part of it.”
Quiz him about the cynicism prevalent in the minds of citizens when it comes to implementation of polices and Ravi retorts with, “If you are cynical, things won't move. Good things take time. But they do happen.”
On that note we take our leave of the man, whose clear thinking is what we need.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thrills without frills

I had reviewed this children's book for the Sunday supplement.

Name: The Lu Quartet
Super Sleuths and Other Stories

By: Nalini Das

Translated by: Swapna Dutta

Published by: Hachette India

Pages: 417

Price: Rs 399

I have grown up on Nancy Drew mysteries, like several other teenagers, wishing I could idolize a desi girl detective pitting her wits against unscrupulous minds. Well, I learnt pretty late of a team of four school girls, who were a perfect foil for each other, in solving cryptic clues.
The four school girls had impressed the readers of Sandesh, a Bengali magazine for children, with their intelligence and presence of mind, throughout the 60s, 70s and early 80s.
Kakoli Chakrabarty (Kalu), Malabika Majumdar (Malu), Bulbuli Sen (Bulu) and Tultuli Basu (Tulu) – together referred to as Gandalu (in Bengali) or Lu Quartet – are boarders in a residential school at Kanchanpur.
Their first case, Lu Quartet - Super Sleuths - is innocuous enough. Malu hears some mysterious noise in the night, which Kalu and other two dismiss as “fanciful”. But, Malu is proved right and they solve the case with surprising results. The characters, they meet in this first case, also pop up in other mysteries, the girls decide to crack.
Since the girls are boarders, they usually encounter mysteries, in their holidays or in their hostel premises. That might seem a little tame to those who are used to hi-flying, jet-setting girl and boy detectives.
But, these girls were growing up in the late 1950s, and so their initial cases are about detecting mysterious noises in the deserted mansion, tracking down hidden treasures and fighting off non-existent spooks. Once the girls enter high school they graduate to tackling criminals involved in adulteration of pharmaceutical drugs, smuggling and kidnapping. And, helping the quartet, when they need it the most, is Angad, the chimpanzee. Quite a departure from a canine friend, often featured in most of the children's detective novels!
The credit goes to the author, Nalini Das, who succeeded in getting the Indian flavour right. The locales, where most of the mysteries unfold, are refreshingly new to the urban readers – Shillong, Cherrapunji, McCluskiegunj, Darjeeling, Guwahati and Mandu – to name a few.
Das also needs to be applauded for envisioning how the future generations of Indian girls were going to be – independent, courageous, wise, with a sense of fun – and portrayed her characters accordingly.
The book is also enlightening in the sense that it has references to the Burman crisis, around Second World War, and how the ethnic Indian population had to flee the country on foot. Now, when was the first time you read about this? In history textbooks?
And, what does one say about the quality of the translation except that the stories seem to be written originally in English language?
If you anticipate the delicious sense of thrill when all the puzzling pieces are falling into place, then this book is for you.

Portrait of a poet

This has already been published in the Sunday supplement.
Krishnaji Keshav Damle also known as Keshavsut

Poetry never really appealed to me. And, so it was with great reluctance that I agreed to my husband's plan to visit Keshavsut Smarak – a memorial raised in memory of 'Father of Modern Marathi Poetry', Krishnaji Keshav Damle – in Malgund.
We were in Ganapatipule at that time and decided to go to Malgund, a 10-minute drive (a kilometre) from the popular tourist destination. A sign-post told us to take a left turn and what greeted us, at the end of the lane, was tranquil silence. No security guards, no tourists, just a plaque announcing that Damle, popularly known as Keshavsut, was born in the red-roofed house, surrounded by green shrubbery.
Keshavsut's house in Malgund

A poem by Keshavsut

The house, renovated in the old style, was near-empty, except for Keshavsut's portrait that was hanging from the wall in the front room. In the tiny lettering on the portrait were mentioned Keshavsut's birth date – October 7, 1866 and his death on November 9, 1905.
A second door led us into another smaller room that displayed vessels in use in Keshavsut's time (i.e in 19th century). The utensils didn't belong to the poet's family, but to Limaye's of Malgund that were donated to the Smarak in 2001.
This was a little disappointing; now that we were at the Smarak, I was eager to know more about Keshavsut's life. In fact, some of his poems that I had found tiresome in school and college, were slowly seeping back into my memory. But, sadly, that was all we could find in the house.
The real surprise, we discovered, was in the backyard, in the small garden that had erected marble slabs with Keshavsut's poems etched on them.
One particular poem, titled Ghadyal, caught my eye...

Gadbad ghai, jagaat chale,
Aalas dulkya deto pan,
Gambhirpane ghadyal bole,
Aala kshan-gela kshan.

Ghadyalala ghai nahi,
Visavahi to nahi pan,
Tyache mhanne dhyani ghei,
Aala kshan-gela kshan.

Easy to read and even easier to comprehend, right? It's how most of us speak Marathi today. But, these free-flowing, simple lines, were penned somewhere in 1890s! No wonder than that Keshavsut, who died at an early age of 39, was crowned as the Father of Modern Marathi Poetry.
Another slab caught my husband's attention. It was the poem, Tutari, that's widely acknowledged as Keshavsut's clarion call to throw away the yoke of foreign rule and instilling national pride amongst the people then.
The lines of Keshavsut's most popular work are thus:

Ek tutari dya maj aanuni,
Phunkuni me jya swapranane,
Bheduni taki sagali gagane,
Deergha tichya kinkaline,
Aashi tutari dya majalaguni

June jau dya marnalaguni,
Jaluni kinva puruni taka,
Sadat na aikya thayi thaka,
Savadh! Aika pudhlya haka,
Khandyas chala khanda bhidvuni...

After having read few more of his poems, we were eager to know more about the poet, whose verse were posthumously published by his younger brother, Sitaram. Our curiosity, we thought, would be quenched by the people we saw flitting in and out of the two adjoining halls beyond the garden.
We were right. One hall was a public library, which subscribed to newspapers and magazines. A couple of junior college students made use of the facility, poring deeply over their books. The other hall was a tribute to the litt̩rateurs of Maharashtra - right from Keshavsut, Veer Savarkar, Vinda Karindakar, Indira Sant to Mangesh Padgaonkar Рthat had their enlarged photo frames and excerpts of their work.
An initiative of Konkan Marathi Sahitya Parishad, one could also buy books of these writers, if one so wished. We found a compilation of Keshavsut's poems and came away happy. Rounding off our literary retreat was a peek into a small open air amphitheatre, which hosts plays, book-reading and poetry recital sessions.
On our way back, we realised that the Smarak, was the best tribute one could have paid Keshavsut. An unostentatious memorial for the man whose simple lines enriched the language.

Monday, January 7, 2013

House of Curiosity

This is an interview of Fizzah Shaikh, a ceramic artiste.

Plain ceramic crockery and pottery give her food for thought. So the moment Fizzah Shaikh sees a ‘ceramic canvas’, she immediately starts visualising the design and colours that can enhance the piece of pottery.
Before I start working, the final look is already etched in my mind. I exactly know how the ceramic art will look after I complete my painting job. Depending on the size and shape of the pottery and intricacy of the design, it takes me anywhere between one to four days to complete the artwork,” says she.
Fizzah, who has always been dabbling in creative pursuits, took up ceramic painting five years ago. She tells us why: “I took it up because painting makes me happy and of course it is challenging and interesting to paint on irregular / odd shapes, as against a canvas, and at the end, ceramic art does make a pretty picture!” she says.
But to make a pretty ceramic canvas, Fizzah has to put in a lot of hard work, time and energy. “Also, I have to meticulously plan my day so that I can run my home and work efficiently. So, I paint the outlines of my art in the morning, and then let it dry. After completing the household chores during the day, I fill in the ceramic colours in the evening,” says Fizzah while sharing her day’s schedule.
The inspiration for her artwork mostly comes from nature and fabric designs. “I love to paint the radiant colours of flowers. What also greatly intrigues me are fabric prints and designs,” says Fizzah who calls her collection Curiosity.
For those who want to take up ceramic art, Fizzah says, “Besides having a flair for painting, you must also know that ceramic painting is an expensive art because you have to spend quite a lot on ceramic and glass paints, and outliners. And secondly, to hone your skills, you need to keep practising on various ceramic canvases like glass jars, candle stands, tea light holders, kettles and so on.
The efforts, however, are recognised by buyers because there’s a lot of demand for beautiful ceramic artefacts. “The sales are good during the festive season,” says Fizzah, who holds regular exhibitions of her craft.
Those interested in buying candle stands, or stringed kettles, wine glass stands, can call Fizzah on 7588277147.