Monday, March 31, 2014

My warm, lively friend Guilie—who I first “met” on Practice group at IWW where all good things happen-- well, Guilie tagged me on her blog. 

These are questions re my writing process, and I’m being as honest as I can.  To begin with, the word “process” makes me squirm…I don’t think I have a process per se. Writing for me is like whittling away at the words, revision after revision, a chip there, a  bit of sandpapering there…

What are you working on?

Two things, actually.  Or maybe three. I put writing in two boxes—translation and “own”

Box One currently has the longer term stuff, the translation of an important memoir, a tome in two parts, where I’ve finished the rough, handwritten word by word draft of HALF the book. I need to finish this as quickly as I can, but typing it out, making changes as I go along, is going to take what it takes. Meticulous, laborious WORK—but it chronicles an important decade in my country’s history AND I quite enjoy the challenge of a personal narrative as versus the fiction I’ve translated before. Plus this is a paid assignment, and cash appeals to the Gujarati in me. I also need to revisit Bharat Trivedi’s verse and translate the ones left out from the book—Since that’s the only way we can reach poetry journals.

Box Two, labeled OWN, has three things primarily. One is the PRACTICE group stubs.  This is something I MUST do, maybe two times a year I allow myself a pass. Most of these are “inspired” from the newspaper. The second is working and reworking (after rejections) longer stories built from these practice stubs. The third, which I should do more of, is writing poems and CNF.
As you can guess, I’m  perpetually trying to balance out Box ONE and Box TWO.  That I write Indian English, that I write sentence fragments and have the attention span of a frisky sparrow, doesn’t really help.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Box One: Not too many people work on translations from Gujarati. For translations I prefer to work on one author, one poet … instead of flitting about from one masterpiece to another. This gives me a certain comfort with style and nuances, a sixth sense of sorts that lets me go beyond the printed word.

Box Two is mostly newspaper-inspired and Mumbai-inspired. Not sure how it is too different, other than the form—mine are short stories, even the murders are crisp and elegant.

Why do I write what I do?

Box One: Because I can. Also because the next generation cannot or will not read Gujarati, perhaps this is the only way to preserve our heritage.  Most of this work has been gratis—only now bits of it are paying off.

Box Two: I don’t know. Sometimes stories nag you, itch till they’re out in B&W. Also, because as I invest time in BOX ONE, this tiny voice prods me—so what did you do for YOU?

How does my writing process work?

Box One: Translate by hand, word by word.  Type out, changing, whittling as you go. Print and revise. Incorporate Author comments and revise. For a book, send final version to ALICE, get her comments, revise.

Box Two: Read newspapers, keep a radar scan watch for anything that seems unusual. Cut pages that seem interesting. Save news from online city papers. WRITE a PRACTICE stub with suitable story. Extend stub. Polish, sub, rework, sub… endless cycle.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Her mail said she was a sr. citizen, it didn’t say she was a swimmer, techie, a trekker (Everest base camp, Kailas Mansarovar). Age just got trashed. Inspiring.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

“must notice the small miracles in my day….”  What a thought, first thing in the morning…. 4.30 AM. A cuckoo trills in the distance.

Iyer aunty’s insistence that I watch this TV discourse first thing in the morning… means I now get up at a decent hour. No more 7.30 AM sluggish wakeup.

Bauhinia. Nagkesar. Kailashpati. Blooms not as profuse, but I take delight in showing them off. Sunlight showers on green. On my skin.  I think of the wonder of energy, of nourishing food and GI villi...and the magic of ATP= ADP +P.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Harper Collins (ahem!) has just published a condensed ebook of my forthcoming translated NOVEL,
* Hon’ble Minister Jagubhai*

Friday, March 21, 2014

Suddenly my couch perch with large window does not look too bad.


The heat is building up terribly this year, the park is drying up much quicker than in previous years. This morning I noticed fruit on the Midas tree – a tree that I walk under every morning, but eyes and no eyes! The Kailashpati are a beauty too. Very sad re the snow and hailstorm in interior Maharashtra... horrible losses.

RIP, Mr. Khushwant Singh. The end of an era.

I remember reading *Train to Pakistan* in secret, class 9, was it?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yesterday was Holi, the festival of colors, but my celebration started a month ago with fresh colors on the trees; something different about the light.

Walking around the holika the previous evening, the ritual bonfire that marks the festival was somber and scorching, as it usually is.

Our park association held a Holi Milan function, a random get together of assorted souls who walk in the park and were ok with the @150/ fee… major learning for me when I escorted a bent, shaky, aged gent home. He transformed from an old man with no family to a man too fond of the bottle, with a caring family—four sons—his wife who worked a vada pao stall, the real bulwark of the family. Reminder to self not to go by what is apparent!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Delighted to announce  publication of an essay I’ve been working on for quite some time:

Remembering Awe is up on Pure Slush; an essay about walking with my father to an early 1st century Buddhist monastery and why I must not let this memory go :

Today is a landmark day. For someone who is conditioned to adjust till the cows come home, speaking up can be taxing and tearful. But I'm glad I stood firm. Nothing left to salvage.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Yesterday was so grilling a day that…that I booked tickets to go work in the mountains in Sept. Made arrangements, bought tickets etc etc. Today I packed my backpack—the first time ever-- for the April GHNP trip, much longer walking than I’m used to but not going as high, so breathing should be far easier than Leh. Plus when nature is overwhelming, anything else just does not matter….

To worsen my mood in the evening I received a story back with feedback/comments. I had ASKED for comments so I can’t fault them. No way I’m going to write complex unending sentences, though. This once I have no option but to accept changes and live with it. Did you tell Pamuk that his lines were brittle?

Good news this morning--the book with my essay on  journaling is available!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Images from Sunday's tree walk. Renee and Dr Usha do an amazing job...sharing their knowledge, insight so generously, taking the time, energy and effort to document this living heritage; scientific name and all...all gratis. Only in Bombay can this happen.

The third image-- deadly Datura, so pretty and fragile, every damn part of it a killer
The second image- Cordia, a happy tree..mildly hallugenic
The first image? The gate at Heritage Park, just because I liked it

Images that are dying to prompt a nasty tale or two.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Charcoal and glitter is a tribute to a loved aunt.  
She made our chequered childhoods somewhat normal. 
She rushed in to help in a crisis, sometimes assisting in an emergency in the middle of the night.
Charcoal and glitter is also too little, too late… yet.

Am delighted that the essay will soon be published in an anthology, Aspiring to Inspire.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Her gets the best screenplay Oscar… Dallas Buyers Club gets “Mr. Woodroof” the best actor award… what brilliant movies both. Dallas Buyers that I saw on Saturday midnight show was the censor-edited version, I was glad I’d read the script, else continuity would be difficult. But what brave movies, both…

Samvidhaan on Rajya Sabha TV is v good... Govind Nihalani at his usual best.

Today I got an acceptance on an essay that I feel v good about… allows me to repay my karmic debt to my aunt in a small way…

Some time back my uncle, now 88, mentioned some spiritual books that had inspired my village grandfather ages ago.. thanks to the big www I was able to trace the place and check, will place an order now…they had offered me a discounted version but I don’t want that debt please…