Month: May 2015

  • Flood of Fire: The Ibis’s last tumasher

    Flood of Fire: The Ibis’s last tumasher

    Flood of Fire Amitav Ghosh Penguin India Rs 799, 616 pages It seems just the other day that a ship called the Ibis, “like a great bird, with sails like wings and a long beak”, set sail with a company man, a coolie woman escaped from suttee and the opium trade, a zamindar turned prisoner, […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Slow Reading

    Speaking Volumes: Slow Reading

    For years Laszlo Krasznahorkai has been explaining that he does not use long sentences. Every second review of his work mentions those long sentences, but he would not agree. He writes the way people speak (or think, or imagine). The full stop – “the dot”, he says dismissively – is an artificial convention, like apostrophes, […]

  • Journal: The elsewhere rains

    Journal: The elsewhere rains

    Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever become a) less absent-minded b) more practical and when I put this question out to the Universe, all I get back is a belly laugh. Unlike almost everyone who’s in Delhi this summer, I haven’t minded the heat, because I was absent-mindedly waiting for the monsoons to roll in […]

  • Journal: Checklist, useful skills

    Journal: Checklist, useful skills

    Below a list of what the well-educated Indian might have learned in the days of Nalanda. I’m a high scorer on toy-making, composing poetry, filing up blanks, using figures of speech, knowledge of lexicons (though not the rest), talking in riddles, conversing in finger-signs; hopeless at deceptive make-up, needlework, embroidery, weaving, fancy-weaving; can cook, have […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Beyond Human

    Speaking Volumes: Beyond Human

    One way to find out what an elephant is saying to you is to drop by the Elephant Gestures Database. Is the pachyderm in your life attentive, ambivalent, defensive; soliciting play or simply asking you for more spacial proximity? Joyce Poole and Petter Granli started the online database in 2009, based on over three decades […]

  • Writers on writing

    Erica Jong, writing in 1988: “Perhaps the literary artist is born like a woman with all her eggs present in their follicles; they have only to ripen and burst forth -and ripeness is all. But sometimes it takes half a lifetime for them to ripen.” Susan Sontag in 1961: “The writer must be four people: […]

  • Imaginary places: The Wildings map

    Imaginary places: The Wildings map

    I wish I’d learned to draw properly (more School of Gunter Grass, less School of Edna O’Brien). I blame some of my woeful inability to sketch anything at all on the art teacher who made us draw apples for three months straight after which I a) nursed an aversion to drawing b) still associate apples […]