Thursday, December 29, 2005

a little respect

Yes, I've done it too - let my perception of "chick flicks" and "chick lit" be faintly colored with disdain. I plead guilty, sistahs, and abjectly beg your pardon. It took this post and then this article for me to realize how the condescension was as oppressive as "universal" feminism snootering black, lesbian, third world women.

Genrization is necessary and inevitable in this age of information & sales. But genres can oppress, and we must, as thinking people, deploy them only after some thought, some questioning.

Fine. Go ahead and snooter works that do not qualify as "great" art, "great" literature. But be aware of that unconscious snigger - it's popular among women, ha! ha!

Equating women with frippery, with the laughable, pinchable, ignorable - they're not central, not "us", so what if they're half of the entire?

Here's the avowal - I'm a feminist. In all its broad, queer, non-postfeminist glory. Thanks, Ratna, for teaching me what can lie beyond the limiting definitions of feminism.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Never Sufficient

On Wednesday, driving madly from Rajpur Road to IHC, trying to make it for at least ten minutes of Samit's reading/launch, long lines of cars and commotion extending before us and the thought of deadlines whooshing past blaring in my head, I turn to A. and say, "Writers' time is what we need."

Marquez, in an interview, on writers' time: "...a desert island in the morning and a big city at night. In the morning I need silence, and in the evening a few drinks and some good friends to chat to. I need to be in constant contact with people in the street and know what's going on in the world. This all fits in with what William Faulkner meant when he said, 'the perfect place for a writer was a brothel, because it's very quiet in the morning but there's partying every night.'"

A few hours to write and a few to read. A few to be with yourself, thinking or dreaming, and yes, a few to be with friends.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Ignore the writing,
Ignore the blog.

Compose bagatelles
of sms-es.

Delight in them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


On the editorial page in The Hindu today, an article exhorting that there be no 'unnecessary "coyness" about celebrating Christmas in a Christian country [Britain].'

The author completely misses the bus. It's not how many Christians there are in Britain or how strong the religious traditions are, but what Christmas stands for that makes it important to claim it from pseudo-secularists. The "spirit of Christmas", which is as pervasive in its good cheer and kindness as, I imagine, the air of Goa. Santa Claus, gifts, secret santa. Trees, decorations, mistletoe. Reds and greens, chocolate or plum cake. Christmas stories, Christmas movies, and above all, universal goodwill and generosity that you cannot but help respond to, get seized by. This is what the British and American kidlit of my kid days told me, and the odds are still is telling to kids everywhere.

Certain myths, like this one, are so beautiful in their innocence that you have to fight to keep them alive.

Trade tricks

It must be the oldest trick in a writer's book: when you can't express your displeasure openly, fictionalize them, put them down in your novel.

Without a qualm, I'm thinking of incriminating someones like this in the prose piece I'm writing for the Sarai workshop. You'd cheer if you knew how nervous I was before it --

"For the past couple of years that I have thought of myself as a writer, poetry has come much more easily to me than prose. I like working with its elusiveness and its precision, its ability to transmute experiences into half-familiar, half-forgotten beings and landscapes. Using its devices, I can leave behind straightforward narration or discourse and explore the oblique. More and more I find my poetic voice reflecting undertones of my political engagement with feminism, but not, I believe, in an unsubtle or unpleasing fashion.

Being an avid reader of prose, I know it is possible to attain with it similar effects, right from metaphors and imagery to sound patterning. The form of the prose text does not impose limits on its aesthetics.

The limitation, then, is in my own head and practice. A writer should be able to override the externals of form and structure and I think it would be of great benefit to me to take a deep breath and venture into the territory of imaginative prose.

So then, I want to attend this workshop to counteract in me the anxiety engendered by, and to instill in me the discipline of, prose writing, in a supportive environment with peers..."

I'm quite pleased to have finished two pages to read tomorrow. To be continued. Short, but they're there and not half-bad.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Better Man

Writing poetry in a man's voice is not coming as easy as I thought it would. While I can pull together all the parts of me-woman into vital writing, I seem to have lost that dual eye so necessary for an artist to give detail to the "other".

The men I know well, I know as people I love, and I can't/don't want to take over their voice from them. The men I don't, I don't want to cannibalise to caricature.

Okay, this is sounding a bit feverish. But writing it down might help open some valves!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Winter, Delhi, December 2005

My third winter in the city. Hopefully also my last for some time to come - I'm telling everybody around and promising myself that I'll be out of the city for the next one. But applications haven't been happening, and evenings seem to vanish and with them the opportunities to work.

I texted him last week: time seems to move differently in this winter light.

And then again, yesterday, about the sun drenching one half of my bed. If I lie on the foot of the bed, the sun falls all warm on my face.

I'd spent an afternoon at home after such a long time.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

This room

The last time we met, S had posed this as a “what if”: “What if I ask you to write a description of this room?” I’d taken in the room in an arc: the horizontal slats of the Venetian blinds, the grey and black photograph that insinuates their relentlessly parallel pattern, and thought, of course I’ll write about these.

When I walked in today, I noticed the circular table round which we sit had been shifted a tiny bit to the right, elongating the space that opens up, clear, on the other side. This meant I could not sit on what I think of as my usual seat: it would be too close to the wall for my liking. I have occupied the seat I’ve come to think of as my usual only twice during the four meetings we’ve held so far. S’s books are lying to its right, and since I can imagine a round table exhorting a staggered filling up, I walk up to sit opposite my usual spot, facing Sarai’s backyard.

In our second meeting, I gazed across the glass of the doors from my usual place to find the sun lighting up one half of a tree, one half of the lawn.

This afternoon, the blinds across me were drawn, a slitted wall of grey. Just as I am on the brink of feeling cheated, S opens them. The backyard has a tree. There is no sun.