Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Hindu review

Click on the link. For some reason I couldn't make the link work in the launch post itself.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A photograph of the rapt audience

...well you really can't tell from this photograph of the backs of their heads...and the darkened room. But trust me they were rapt. Yup! :-)

Here's another one

I really love the big banner with images of the cover and my name. Wish I had stolen it :-)

Photograph from the launch of The Burden of Foreknowledge

This launch was at The Attic in Delhi. It was weird though still kind of cool to have someone else do the reading, to hear my characters come to life in someone else's voice. This is very different from the US at least, where authors always do their own reading. Ghazala Amin, media-personality (as she seems to be referred to, so I decided to follow tradition :-) and my brother-in-law's sister did the reading...and did very well.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy Birthday....

to me. When I was a child they told me that all the republic day stuff in Delhi was actually in honor of me. Then I grew up. Now...I'm even older. Waaaaah!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday Poe

...and yes, he got his rose and his bottle of cognac yet again, as he has year since 1949. I love this little tradition of the unknown man who visits Poe's grave and leaves him presents. But I do wonder who drinks the cognac every year? Are there some drunk cemetery groundsmen in Maryland? Here's a toast...to Poe.

Short snippets of conversation with Anees Jung

So Anees Jung came to my book launch and actually bought a book and I signed it for her. Me signing a book for a famous author. A strange world indeed!
I didn't catch her name when she first introduced herself to me and when I asked her to repeat her name she said, "I'm somewhat famous, but we won't go into that." I wanted to crawl under a rock. Of course I know who Anees Jung is. She's a famous writer, author of such books as Lost Spring: Stories of Stolen Childhood, Beyond the Courtyard, Unveiling India and Peace in Winter Gardens, Seven Sisters, etc. Her father was an advisor to the last Nizam and she is from Hyderabad though she lives in Delhi.
After the launch when cocktails were flowing freely, she asked me, "kya piyogi. Whiskey chahiye?" I am so not a whiskey person!

As the evening came to a close she asked my my husband's name. I told her.
"You married a Hindu. Good for you. Good! If I had ever got married I would have married a Christian. Yes."
"Why?" I asked.
"There's something about Christians and Christianity that just attracts me."

Well, that's as good a reason as any. I'm just sorry I didn't spend more time with her. She was utterly fascinating and refreshing. I've ordered a bunch of her books now and hope to read them all. I've been remiss. I've only read parts of Unveiling India and I feel utterly uneducated.

And now, Anees Jung is holding my book in her hands, turning the pages, reading my words. Part of me feels connected with the literary tradition in India, a member of the sisterhood of Indian writers. The other part is just mortified and insecure. What if she hates it? Even if she does, at least I can say, I signed a book for Anees Jung and she actually read it. So there!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Launch Part I: The Attic in Delhi, Jan 10,2007

This is a long overdue post.
I arrived in Delhi from Allahabad (i'd be been delayed there since my dad fell quite ill) the morning of the 10th. Slept on and off since I was quite exhausted and picked up some clothes I'd given for sewing. I wanted to be at the venue early to collect my thoughts and figure out how I was going to use my 5 minutes before Ghazala's reading. I was so stressed about my dad and the upcoming event. However, about 20 minutes away from CP, my sister's car died. It just died at a red light. Luckily there was a garage across the road and so a bunch of guys pushed the car (with me in it) out of the way.

So then I took an auto and inhaled fumes all the way to CP during rush hour. Charming! Then I couldn't find the damned building. Hey, I'm not from Delhi, what do I know? One guard at a store directed me up some rather dodgy looking stairs whcih led to some some shady looking offices but no attic. Down I came and found the right stairs.

The Attic is a small (ok, very small) space, which is still quite cool looking and very artsy. Rough walls, wooden floors, etc. No one I knew from the publisher was there but there was a table with my books and others. I sat for a few minutes and then they arrived. But just as I was going through the book trying to collect my scattered thoughts they arrived as did the reporter from The Hindu.

I talked to the reporter for a while trying to sound appropriately literary and composed but feeling like a total fraud. Still that's me. Then Ghazala arrived. I hadn't seen her for close to 16-17 years. Ok, now I'm stressed, feeling like a fraud and old. OLD!

Ghazala Amin is my brother-in-law's (Shahid Amin, married to my sister Bano) sister and a big media person in Delhi. While asking her to do the reading my editor (in trying to place me) said I was Shahid Amin's sister-in-law and did Ghazala know Shahid? Weird, small world huh?

Anyway, the room filled up. I was feeling incredibly alone. It was great to have people there but no one I loved was there. B had to be back in Geneva and my sister had rushed to Allahabad to be with my dad. Add weepy and sad to that list.

Ghazala had them light candles all around the room. We sat on two chairs at the front of the room. A candle burned on the low table in front of us and a cool looking uplight lantern also sat on the table. Very mysterious and cool looking ambience.

I realized how much of a reclusive writer and how not a media type person I am. Not the greatest time or place to make this definitive realization.

Ok, if you come back in a day or so I'll have Launch Part II and maybe even some photos up here!

More later

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Business Standard: click on it to read it fully

The Indian Express (click on it to read the whole article)

Memories start to fade

After being assaulted by sight and smell and sound., slowly slowly, my memory starts to fade. I try to grasp them but my fingers close upon themselves, grasping nothing but air. The house feels like a big, sterile tomb. I scream aloud and then run to the window. There is no one outside and nothing seems disturbed. Am I dead? Are they?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bilkul solid

The plane circled over Delhi for close to 2 hours. The heavy fog kept us from landing. At one point the pilot informed us she might have to divert us to Ahmedabad. I made hazy plans about how I would get back to Delhi even as I nodded off again. I had stayed up the night before and registered the goings on in that twilight zone between sleep and awareness.

Then we got a window of opportunity and the plane swooped through the sky, tearing through the clouds and the fog. The runway lights glowed in a haze. As the wheels touched down the passengers broke into applause. Not just becase they were glad to be finally down but because the landing was perfect, smooth and masterful. The man sitting next to me said to his friend sitting on the aisle seat, "kya solid landing...bilkul sold. Kya baat hai."

And I thought how far India has come and how divergent are the lives of its women...still. Yes, there is dowry and deaths and rapes and tears at the birth of daughter. And then, there is a woman, who flies through the air, effortlessly handling a plane, landing it gracefully as she holds the lives of over 150 people in her hands. And a man, with paan in his mouth, who if I saw on the street would assume to be a typical desi male. And yet, he said in a voice full of wonder and admiration, "kya solid landing hai."

2007 is shaping up nicely already, I think.