Monthly Archives: March 2014

387 Short Stories: Day 112: Story 112: The New Regime by Krishna Sobti

India Partitioned

Title: The New Regime
Original Title: Sikka Badal Gaya
Author: Krishna Sobti
Translator: Jai Ratan
From the Collection: India Partitioned

Today’s story was set during Partition and written by the highly talented Krishna Sobti. She is 89 years old as of this year and all that I have read of her, I cannot wait to meet her the next time I am in Delhi. Coming back to the story though.

“The New Regime” is of an old woman named Shahni who is being asked to leave her haveli of many many years which she lived in with her husband, children and alone as well, after her husband died and her children left. The story is of her plight and at the same time her pride – which she does not want to let go of. She is being asked to leave the village she provided for and was a mother to – the story moves rapidly of course and yet it is so impactful, given the theme and the writing.

I do not think there can ever be enough of Partition writing or reading. We need a constant reminder, lest we forget.

The story originally was written in Hindi and I have read it in the two-volume collection on Partition and its writings called, “India Partitioned”. The story is translated by Jai Ratan.

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387 Short Stories: 25th of March 2014 to the 30th of March 2014

Day 106: 25th of March 2014: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiiyun Li
Day 107: 26th of March 2014: The Dead Fish Museum by Charles D’Ambrosio
Day 108: 27th of March 2014: Diving Belles by Lucy Wood
Day 109: 28th of March 2014: The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek
Day 110: 29th of March 2014: When it happens to you by Molly Ringwald
Day 111: 30th of March 2014: The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte

Panty by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay

Panty by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay Title: Panty
Author: Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay
Translator: Arunava Sinha
Publisher: Penguin India, Hamish Hamilton
ISBN: 9780670087020
Genre: Literary Fiction, Translated Works
Pages: 263
Source: Editor/Publicist
Rating: 5/5

I had a lot of eyes staring at the cover of this book as I was reading it, and me being me, I could not care less. That is all there is to it in our society I think. A word or a picture that titillates to get people to stare and perhaps even pass judgment. “Panty” also did that in a quiet way and I knew I would get the stares as I would remove it from my bag in public and read it with great delight and joy. To me the book was all about shedding inhibitions and being the person you are – or rather trying to find who you are.

“Panty” by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay is a collection of two novellas – Hypnosis and Panty and each of them is all about love, longing and sexual desire that runs deeper than we know or care to admit. The two novellas shook me for a long time after I finished the book. It was not like the way I felt when I finished reading “Abandon” by the same author, but it was bittersweet and I loved the feeling that came over me. I cannot explain it but I will try – the feeling of melancholy, of utter hopelessness and yet so much hope and positivity lined with it. That is what great books do to you.

Hypnosis is about a woman trying to reach into her past, to confront her doomed love affair with a well-known musician by undergoing hypnosis. In Panty, we meet a woman who has moved into a guest house and finds a panty there – it is soft and silky in leopard-skin print (this is the cover of the book – though it is not soft or silky as I would have liked it to be). She starts imagining the life of the woman who must have worn it and suddenly their lives intermingle and reality blurs from fiction.

Bandyopadhyay’s voice is bold. It is unique. It is also raw. It is also a whole lot of other adjectives that people might use for it, but for me it was just honest. It comes from a place that does not believe in hiding. The writing makes you keep turning the pages for sure, but it also makes you pause and think about life in general and also about it – when it falls in love, when it is lusting for a body and when it wants to be consumed, no matter what. I think the book stops being about gender and just is about human experiences.

Arunava Sinha’s translation only makes it possible for readers in English to experience this rich and almost lush piece of Bengali literature. It is for such translations and more, that publishers should take more efforts in bringing this to readers the world over. “Panty” is a book which should be read without fear of being judged or being made fun of. It is most beautiful and stupendous work of Indian literature I have come across in recent times.

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Conversations with Waheeda Rehman by Nasreen Munni Kabir

Conversations-with-Waheeda-Rehman Title: Conversations with Waheeda Rehman
Author: Nasreen Munni Kabir
Publisher: Penguin Viking
ISBN: 9780670086924
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 256
Source: Editor
Rating: 5/5

So when you read about a legend, you just continue turning the pages. It does not matter. Their life has so much to offer and give insights about every aspect of life, that you cannot stop reading. The same happened to me while I was reading, “Conversations with Waheeda Rehman” by Nasreen Munni Kabir. I finished it in less than a day and then I could not stop thinking about it.

“Conversations with Waheeda Rehman” is a book which is just what the title says. It is a set of conversations with the legendary actor – her life, her times, her movies (select and not all are mentioned), her friendships, her family and the way she views life and how it was so easy for her one fine day to give up Bollywood and start living her life and creating a family and world of her own.

Waheeda Rehman has always been one of my favourite actors and continues to be, so I was only too eager to read this book and I could not stop gushing. From the experience of her first movie as the lead to the way she stuck to her decisions when it came to showing skin for the camera or not doing certain scenes, because she did not see the logic in them, she has stuck to her belief and faith throughout her career.

Nasreen Munni Kabir has managed to bring out the best in these conversations that spanned over two years in Waheeda Rehman’s Bandra house. The conversations are clear, polite and candid. Ms. Rehman does not shy from talking about things – she says what she has to and that is that. Munni Kabir is a great inducer of conversation. She throws open a question and lets Ms. Rehman say what she has to. I love that style and subtlety of questions, and of course one cannot forget Waheeda Rehman’s grace and style. I felt as though she was sitting right next to me, and I could hear all of it in her voice.

“Conversations with Waheeda Rehman” is a testimony and a very frank account of a celebrity who probably never behaved like one. She was always the odd one out – who proved time and again through her movies such as Pyaasa, Guide, Kaghaz ke Phool and many more as to what it really takes to be present forever – a great sense of cinema and acting. If you are an ardent lover of good cinema, then you should not miss reading this one.

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387 Short Stories : 17th of March 2014 to the 24th of March 2014

Here is a quick look at the short stories read in a week:

Day 98: Story 98: 17th of March 2014: The Diary of a Goose Girl by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Day 99: Story 99: 18th of March 2014: The Dream by Ivan Turgenev
Day 100: Story 100: 19th of March 2014: What Sami Sings with the Birds by Johanna Sypri
Day 101: Story 101: 20th of March 2014: Returning Home by Anthony Trollope
Day 102: Story 102: 21st of March 2014: Ginger and Pickles by Beatrix Potter
Day 103: Story 103: 22nd of March 2014: A Short History of Hairdressing by Julian Barnes
Day 104: Story 104: 23rd of March 2014: The Skating Party by Marina Warner
Day 105: Story 105: 24th of March 2014: The Toys of Peace by Saki

Here’s to more stories. Always.