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Showing posts from April, 2016

The House of Inbetween - Play Review

Theatre Royal Stratford East, London (8th to 30th April 2016)
‘The House of In Between’ virtually transports you to the by lanes of Patna, Eastern India where a Hijra clan survives. Hijras or Chakkas as they are popularly known are India’s third gender who attained legal recognition only in 2014. This is their story.
The opening of the play is captivating as the use of light, dance and narration of the mythological origin of the Hijra is made known. This scene is both empowering and energising.  We are then introduced to the leader of the Hijra clan, Uma (a very convincing, Esh Alladi) who is seen directing a Hijras’ dance sequence in what appears to be their home, in preparation for an event that her clan will soon grace with their auspicious presence.
The d├ęcor on stage to depict the humble abode of the Hijras has been done with great finesse be it the stainless steel vessels, a jute cot or trunks which hold their belongings. Also, the use of classic Bollywood in both music and dance…

Weather Permitting & Other Stories - Pratap Reddy

The image of snow depicted on the front cover of the book immediately jostled a memory of my first experience of snow. Coming from a hot tropical climate, snow was only seen on television, the internet and of course read about in books! So when I saw snowflakes drifting along the window pane of my university accommodation, I was ecstatic with joy! I ran outside to experience this beautiful form of nature. It should be noted that I had on a very thin jacket and no gloves and it was in this state of pure excitement that I gathered the now fast accumulating snow in my glove free hands brrrr. Yes, that’s the first and last time that I have braved the snow without properly “dressing up for the occasion” if you like. This experience almost sums up the themes explored in “Weather Permitting & Other Stories” by Pratap Reddy – stories of newly arrived immigrants; only this time we are given a glimpse into their lives in Canada.
The book is a collection of 12 short stories whose themes expl…

Kalyana - Rajni Mala Khelawan

The beach……bougainvillea, frangipani, hibiscus; these words transport me from my home in rainy London to the seaside. I have always been fond of the sea and I must admit I blush a deep pink when my parents reminisce about the times when I used to run into the crashing waves as a tubby toddler. I can only imagine their experience of mixed emotions on seeing their child revelling in the joy of Mother Nature and at the same time feeling a tad anxious as a result of their instinct to protect.
‘Kalyana’ is a coming of age novel about a young girl (named Kalyana) who lives with her parents, older brother and aunt in a Fijian town. Khelawan is a wonderful storyteller who draws you into the experiences of life of an Indian family in Fiji spanning the late 60s to early 90s. She blends facts with fiction very well - be it the references to Fijian independence, the turbulent reign of the Indian political party or the rise of feminist influences.
I loved the descriptions of life in the Fiji Islan…

Many Fish to Fry - Abha Iyengar

It is heartening to see the recent rise of women entrepreneurs in India foraying into jewellery making, clothes and accessories, food and arts/crafts. I am honoured to personally know a few of these amazing women and they never fail to inspire me, be it their creativity, vision or persistence. ‘Many Fish to Fry’ by Abha Iyengar has at its centre one such woman – Reena Rajan. This is a story of her own aspirations as an entrepreneur and surprisingly, of another skill that she soon discovers through her encounter with a private detective Harinmoy Banerjee.
This book makes for light reading as the style of writing is extremely pleasing. Iyengar uses colloquialisms and humour in equal measure which lends a distinctive flavour to the narrative. There is a good sprinkling of Hindi words and phrases and a glossary is available in the appendix for easy reference. I particularly enjoyed the banter between Reena Rajan and Harinmoy and wanted to read more! It would be fair to say this for the re…

The Black Taj - Mohini Kent

It’s the early 1990s, I’m sitting in my classroom, Section III C, Bandra, Bombay. It’s noon. Suddenly, there is an announcement over the school intercom and the headmistress informs us that school will be closing for the day. No explanations given. We cheer and clap at this unexpected good news. But then, we see panic across the faces of our teachers, scurrying around to ensure that we don’t wander outside. I remember very clearly the events that follow – harried parents coming to pick up their children, rushing  out to get home safely, me wondering when my parents will come along and then being pleased to see my best friend’s mother who leads me and my friend to her car. We then drive along chaotic roads where shopkeepers are shutting shop, a mob is pelting stones at a bus, and people are running amok. We are safely home but then how secure are we really? Yes, we are in the midst of a city torn by communal riots between Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists.
Although ‘The Black Taj’ is no…