Tag: Hindi

July 1, 2018 /

Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, artist and author of the autobiographical Finding My Way (2016), found himself at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London speaking on 21 June at a seminar on “Indigenous Media, Self-Determination and Cultural Activism”. This poem came to him then as he first typed out Hindi in Roman script on his phone and sent it to his friend and accomplice S. Anand, publisher at large at the small Navayana. Anand felt impelled to find the words in English just like he did when working with Venkat on his autobiography. Venkat’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including at Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, in 2013.

June 28, 2018 /

At a book reading in Kolkata, about a week after my first novel, The God of Small Things, was published, a member of the audience stood up and asked, in a tone that was distinctly hostile: “Has any writer ever written a masterpiece in an alien language? In a language other than his mother tongue?” I hadn’t claimed to have written a masterpiece (nor to be a “he”), but nevertheless I understood his anger toward a me, a writer who lived in India, wrote in English, and who had attracted an absurd amount of attention. My answer to his question made him even angrier.
“Nabokov,” I said. And he stormed out of the hall.

November 14, 2016 /

Yesterday was the birth anniversary and the beginning of the centenary year of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh (1917-1964), beloved Hindi poet, fiction writer and critic, who should count among the greatest of thinkers and culture personalities of modern India. His impact on Hindi literature was as transformational as that of Ghalib in Urdu or Pushkin in Russian literature. One can only remember him with great sadness and wonder what he would have thought of the situation we are in today.

June 28, 2016 /

I am in Calcutta. At least I think this is Calcutta. I was told that I would be journeying into the heartland of the bhodrolok and the East Bengalis of Shillong coloured my expectations and bias. Upon arrival though I feel as though somethings have been missed. Like the city, the information hardly seems fresh. It is not current.

June 27, 2016 /

For a significant period of my youth, I used to live in the United States of America. While I was there, I, a Bengali from West Bengal, was exposed for the first time to real people from East Bengal, as opposed to their caricature that I was exposed to when I was growing up. The eastern part of Bengal, whose political form is the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, is where a greater proportion of my people live. A significant minority lives in West Bengal. While I interacted with “them”, I became close very fast, for, to be accepted and welcomed, I did not have to participate in Diwali (quite an alien thing to Bengalis in West Bengal), Holi (another such alien thing), Hindi antaksharis or be conversant with the latest Bollywood films in a distant language, their heroes-heroines or contort myself in other ways into something I was not. I felt strangely liberated.