How Tea Got Its Name. Seriously!

 For the last two months, I have been trying to write a piece to announce the launch of the rehearsal for the uprising. However, in spite of written two or three such pieces, they all lie in the Work in Progress folder. Perhaps one reason for that is the complexity (insane is always complex) of the thinking behind it. Then - this guest post from Rickie Khosla showed up, a followup from a long forgotten conversation. I could think of no better way to introduce our fine tea catalog (see link in first line of post) than with this.

Contemporary Indian writing in English is, to be kind, a minefield. Duds abound. The blogosphere is no exception. When I chanced upon Rickie's (measurement and information) writing, the first thing that struck me was his precision with narration time, narrative and dialog. The next thing was his totally weird sense of humor. Much of his writing revolves around popular culture, and his gothic irreverence comes through with an insider glee that is hard to describe. The richness of his wisdom and the depth of his knowledge are finely balanced with an Aragonesesque darkness (quick, light, irreversible, piercing) that is all his own. Knowing my fondness for rambling, he has provided an introduction to this Georgian delight himself. Without any further ado, SJD gives you - Rickie Khosla.

Deride without Prejudice

Hundreds of years ago, a plain Jane English writer called Jane Austen wrote an epochal novel called ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Quite miraculous that she would achieve that, for, the woman had heard nothing of Blogging in her day. Despite that, how she procured the clarity of thought, the grasp of storytelling technique, the dry wit and humor, attributes that all Indian Bloggers are naturally blessed with the first time they hold aloft a pen, we shall never know.

Anyway, my research has shown that Miss Austen may not have found it that facile to produce her seminal work, as proven by the multiple versions of Chapter 47 that she wrote longhand, one of which I have reproduced here. Moreover, I found it quite interesting that this particular trashed piece alludes to a certain beverage that +Subhorup Dasgupta has great affinity to – making this a remarkably serendipitous find! Read on to find out more.

I wish Miss Austen had retained this passage in the book instead of the inferior one that she ultimately went with. Had her writing been of the Blogosphere born, that lapse of judgment would have never occurred.

Ah, well.

Chapter 47

Draft 4

Mrs. Bennet woke that morning with a start. Forthwith upon doing so, she was dismayed to notice that her right eye was fluttering recurrently. “Oh dear, this is not going to be a good day!” she exclaimed to herself. Yes, as her past assays of similar harbingers portended, the omens had aligned for this to not be a good day at all. The fluttering left eye one could cheerily contend with. But the right one? That was to cause nothing short of dread! Each of Mrs. Bennet’s flights of fancy, for her mind was wont to vigorous ones at a moment’s notice, flung her to similar and thoroughly tragic consequences.

National Poetry Month: Red Leaf Poetry Evening

Linda and Nivedita are two amazingly enthusiastic poet friends of mine who spearhead a movement that I am proud to be a part of, Red Leaf Poetry. The objectives of this group are to reclaim the creative arts and bring it back to where it belongs - among the masses. They have been mixing memory and desire to come up with activities to commemorate National Poetry Month. The regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Saturday, April 13, at the usual 2nd floor corner at Landmark Somajiguda. (Hope to see you there.)

Our guest speaker this month is Anand Vishwanadha who describes himself as an (allegedly) unemployable copywriter and corporate communications professional who spends most of his time looking up into trees and photographing birds, and also writes the occasional poem. He has published two well-received volumes of poetry.

surjodeb basu
One of the outcomes from the last Red Leaf workshop merging poetry and photography.
Recently, the group was covered in a Times of India article on how poetry groups in Hyderabad were creating a new awareness among the people. Here is what they had to say. You can click through and download a full res image if you wish.

In addition, Red Leaf is also conducting Poetry Appreciation workshops for young people (class 6-12) at various schools in and around Hyderabad. Confirmed workshops are at Delhi Public School, Chirec Public School and Mosaica International School. If you would like Red Leaf to help organize an event at your location, please send an email to hyderabadpoets (at) gmail (dot) com.

Zero Sum: A Song for Kashmir

Zero Sum (aka Mount Despair)

Come sit with me and rest a while, come drink my salted tea.
Smell the hills, the open skies, in all you'll know of me.
Take off your bunting, your hurt, your creed; what good come from these?
Wash your hands in the silent warmth of our samovar of grief.

The Bugloss flowers brightest blue; its roots red as blood.
The lotus stem holds forth the truth from ancient beds of mud.
Paisley prints the stolen beats of witness protected lives.
My valley isn’t twice cooked meat for your sharpened carving knives.

March 9, 2013

[Uncredited image found across several Kashmir related blogs and site. If it belongs to you, please let me know, will gladly credit.]

Babul Films: Because It Matters

How did we observe Earth Hour 2013? On March 23, I met Gangadhar Pandey, the person behind Babul Films, an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable lifestyles. We met on the occasion of a painting competition organized for children to observe Earth Hour. Earth Hour is the 2007 campaign created by Leo Burnett for World Wildlife Fund that asks you to turn off the lights for one hour on a March Saturday evening. The next morning, however, you are free to return to your life of consumption and wastage. A couple of us had been invited to judge the contest, and since I have never been asked so nicely, I didn’t say no. It took a few misplaced emails (true to his style, his email handle is admn without an "i," another clue to the mind behind the face) before it was confirmed. It turned out to be one of the most life-affirming decisions I have ever taken.

babul films earth hour
Participant at the Painting Competition organized by Babul Films on the Occasion of Earth Hour 2013. Photography by Bhavana Nissima

Who is this Gangadhar? We bussed our way down to the outskirts, and took an auto for the last mile. Much of habitation, both affordable and high end, now implies places which are not serviced by public transport. We walked into the community we were supposed to reach, and looked out for Babul Films. We were met by Renu, the man behind the man, as she bustled around managing more than two dozen kids in the basement of an apartment. She led us to where Gangadhar was struggling with stubborn wiring to set up the screening area. We soon realized that Babul Films was really a one-man army. Two-man actually, since Renu’s contribution to this movement is as critical as Gangadhar’s. Later we learned that after they packed up the event for the evening, they needed to pack up their home, since they were moving to a more accessible location the next morning! Then I figured out a possible explanation for the name of their endeavor; it was a misspelling of Bubble Films, since the two of them were constantly bubbling with enthusiasm about their role in creating a better world.

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