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The Liberation of Sita

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'The Liberation of Sita' by Volga is translated from Telugu by T. Vijaya Kumar and C. Vijayasree. It is a collection of five short stories and an author interview. This short read of 125 pages comes under the foray of 're-visionist myth-making'  - the act of looking back into an old text with a new critical eye, here it is through a women's perspective forging bonds of sisterhood between Sita and the sidelined almost-mute women characters in Ramayana.  "Through their retellings, women not only break the hold of tradition but free tradition from its fixity and take it to a free zone where multiple mutations and trans-mutations become possible." The women here - Urmila, Renuka, Surpanakha and Ahalya, have their own voice, re-present their story from alternative points of view, and convey their life's experiences to Sita providing her the strength to break free from the mortal relationships, and find true liberation.  "You belong to this whole world,

Ruminating on dreams and the purpose of life

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  I first read about Aanchal Malhotra in the newspaper or in an online magazine, on how she had dedicated half of her twenties to her project of documenting oral histories from the partition. Now it is almost a decade, she is still deeply absorbed and as dedicated to this project of collecting individual accounts and stories. She deals with the memories of the surviving few from the times of the partition of the subcontinent, in her book Remnants of a Separation. Her next book is already announced for 2021, Reading her is a joy. She is collecting next generation accounts of the times of partition, the ones that have been passed down orally to the sons and daughters of the migrants, the inherited memories and experiences. Partition has been experienced over the generations, through all these years, and still it is in our living memory – alive, not just a thing of the past. I wonder, how does one dedicate a decade of one’s life and still continue doing so, for a cause the importance of

On Reading Newsletters, The Queen's Gambit, Blog Analytics and StoryGraph

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The StoryGraph I am floored by the analytics and insights they have worked to provide. It is clear they have used AI and ML techniques for annotating the various moods associated with the books, from audiences around the world – like a manual crowd annotation of sorts. This is great since it is manual effort yet, labelling of the dataset, but the people on the platform are many, and I can only see the platform grow. Goodreads is really old, 2000s. In 2020s we need StoryGraph . I want to do certain recommendation system, like this website does with respect to emotional moods, but a bit different. Catering to Reading Challenges prompts. Like, you get book suggestions for prompts like ‘a lady of the cover’, ‘deals with Jewish traditions’ or ‘won JCB Price in last 10 years’. So, that is the idea. May be I’ll make it, hopefully I can, and leave a website for you to try. The Enneagram Type The Enneagram Personality Type – this is the recently trending personality system, a pointer o

October Wrap Up - Audio and Watch Lists

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Now that October has ended, I'm satisfied with the regular writing habit I have created through #MyFriendAlexa 1. And Then There Were None Agatha Christie's novels are a treat. Sometimes I feel the urge to consume a suspense packed thriller but do not have the patience to read an entire book on it. I am a rather slow reader. So a mini-series suffices. And oh the thrill, the bated breaths, racing hearts and jumpy me. As I await the movie on 'Death in the Nile' (I have already read the book years ago, but you forget the mystery somewhat), I indulged in the BBC 2015 mini-series based on the novel of the same name 'And Then There Were None'.  It has a rather strange premise. An ensemble of characters meet in a secluded island, on receiving a letter from a certain Mr. and Mrs. Owen. Some are recruited, some invited for a party. But the sinister announcement after the first days' dinner reveals that they all are guilty of murder. Some justify the deaths, some conf

IGNITE - An Online Exhibition of Art and Poetry

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Thanks to technology, the world is prepared to have its employees work from the confines of their homes. Theatrical experience is brought to home through several OTT platforms, that stream top-notch content from several countries to the world-wide audience. This time even the Jaipur Literature Festival was held online, covering so many author interviews, bookish discussions, and everything under the hood of humanity. With multiple workshops, campaigns, orientations, seminars, book club meets, and even dinner dates being held online, artists around the world are not far behind. Coping with the pandemic, and churning their creative juices, 8 artists and 8 poets have geared up for an Online Art and Poetry Exhibition, IGNITE. In total they present 40 artworks and 40 poems. Such a treat! It includes lockdown Diaries, a community to help writers through Writers' Block, to infuse inspiration through art and poetry, dialogues to inspire, to connect with the world at large through creativit

The Family Upstairs By Lisa Jewell

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Firstly, great book cover. Almost alluring. I just had to read this book. After reading Then She Was Gone , I was enamored by her narrative style. It is very fast paced, doesn't give you time to breathe before throwing one after another surprise. And before long you realize your eyes are bulging out, you have goosebumps and your heart is racing. Yes, it's that gooood! Believe me when I say this, because I am a rather slow reader, yet I managed to finish this one in 2 days. The fastest read by far in months. But I would say that the explanations for a few characters' story towards the end was a bit unreasonable and a tad boring for me. But that can be excused, of course. It is difficult to come across thrillers these days that actually do thrill. Being able to predict and just waiting for the story to go in that direction isn't thrilling. This book, we wait with bated breathes so as to know what happens next. The family, the people that come into their lives, the power s

A Suitable Boy - The Miniseries

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  Vikram Seth’s  1993 mega novel has finally been adapted on screen. Mira Nair has created a post partition India, that’s believable but also is right from the dreams. The background is 1950’s India, in the cities of Banares, Brahmpur and Calcutta. We see the political parties fight to abolish the zamindari law, and give the lands back to the poor farmers, as the opposition fights against it. We see India gearing up for its first public election, for people to exercise their right to vote. We come across characters who aim high for the society at large, and contribute their own part to the making of progressive India. And we see women going to the university, aiming high and wishing to marry a man of their choice. The setting draws the audience in, completely into the story. The first episode starts with the marriage of Lata’s elder sister and her realizing that she is the next in line. Her mother wouldn’t give up until she finds a suitable boy for Lata. She meets prospective grooms

Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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