As you may know – here at PageTurners we are producing an anthology of writings on the topic of culture. You may or may not have been beaten around the head with this information, if not: I hope you feel more informed, if so: hopefully these blows don’t land too hard.
We have been working on the PageTurners anthology since mid September (and planning it a fair while before that) now the project is really speeding up; we have selected the successful entries, the compilation and formatting is well under way and our final file is waiting to be sent to the printers. In less than a fortnight our one-hundred-and-forty debut work will be sitting in the PageTurners store ready to be picked up by anyone who is interested.
Due to to the strict limit in length we are imposing on the work (to achieve the best quality) and a tight focus on the stories rather than the authors, we will only be including the names of the people who have written our included entries. And hey, who cares about the author? Who cares about the background to the story? You do? Excellent – read on for a post dedicated to the authors and their motivations (not to mention tantalizing snippets from the book itself!).
The City of Lights
This is not a city
that does not sleep.
Drive by its boulevard
and you can listen to it slumbering
under midnight blue skies.
Prarthana Banikya is a content writer based in Bangalore and is the founder of Poets’ Nook, a community of poetry aficionados. She studied Sociology in Miranda House and her works have appeared in Songbook Circa, Asia Writes, Danse Macabre, The Nether Magazine, and Pratilipi. Currently, she is working on her collection of poems and short stories.
“The City of Lights” was inspired from sundry experiences in Bangalore, which the author now calls home. It was written one breezy summer evening from the top floor of a terrace apartment.
Days of Being Wild
…In my country, summer is the season of dreams. As the languid afternoon shudders to a halt, just before it morphs into the sweltering heat of the grey evenings, time passes by in slow motion and one cannot but dream with open eyes…
Siddhartha is a writer, a quizzer, and a student, and someone whose solution to the entire world’s — and his own — problems is a cot, a mattress, a blanket, and silence. He lives and studies in Bangalore. However, if you catch him unaware, you will always find him referring to Lucknow as his real home.
Days of Being Wild started off as a single sentence — “In my country, summer is the season of dreams” — and the rest of it just tumbled out in one jumbled bunch. The piece is a rather dreamy take on the summers in North India. It is an album of several of the author’s fond memories — mostly fact, but a few fictional — from countless summer afternoons that he spent on the plains, growing up and learning.
Siddhartha moonlights as a contributing writer at Helter Skelter, an online journal focusing on independent and alternative culture in India. “Shelf Life” was one of the top ten entries in a short story competition organised by the Desi Writer’s Lounge — an organization committed to furthering literary awareness and growth in South Asia — in August, 2012. These ten stories will be published as an anthology. “You’re Mine”, a short story, was published in February, 2012 by Grey Oak Publishers in Urban Shots – The Love Collection, an anthology of urban love stories.
Siddhartha hopes to be able to continue writing for it is one of the few things that gives him happiness. On more gallant days, when he is feeling exceedingly confident, he thinks about doing a PhD.
…’Tis true that home has a glow
that the unhinged may never know,
No matter the smut
or dirt-ridden glut,
The carousel’s a cyclical show….
Nitish Nair currently lives in Bangalore. His poem: “Carousel” is about the yearning for all things Indian that popped up after he spent 6 years in America. While the US provided the opportunity for a job, being away from home and its idiosyncrasies left him dreaming about could-have-beens. Now, he is working on becoming a published poet in the gothic genre.
On Going to the Dogs
Night is still the best time to court a city which has seemingly fallen out of love with itself…. if I have one bit of advice for you from my experiences, it is this: look for beauty. Look for beauty so that you may still find it. Because beauty, like anything else, will be lost if it isn’t engaged, if it isn’t looked for. It’s still out there; you just have to train yourself to look for it…
R. Rajkumar is a British-born writer and photographer who currently divides his time between Bangalore and Coimbatore. His short piece “On going to the dogs” was inspired by his late-night walks around south Bangalore, when he is invariably befriended, after a short customary interrogation, by the stray dog communities which rule and manage over the streets at that time. He has an abiding desire to observe and document their lives, even if never quite able to shake the feeling that it is he who is being followed, observed and, ultimately, judged by them.
His work has appeared in a number of journals and magazines, and he is a regular contributor of satire to ESPNCricinfo. He is working on his first novel.
Jaggery and Tamarind
…Will someone tell the Railway administration that Chennai’ites will not accept any worldly happenings unless and until it is reported by “The Hindu”? It is imprinted in their DNA and hence do not brandish alien newspapers in their midst…
Currently employed as CFO in a Creative Technology Company in Bangalore. Lived in Europe and Far East for 15 years before returning to India.
Jaggery and Tamarind is a humorous take on the ‘travel culture’ of travelers. As a frequent traveler, between Bangalore and Chennai , his story is an attempt to share his experiences in the lighter vein.
Anand Raghav is a short story writer, playwright, director and actor. He has published over sixty short stories in leading Chennai based magazines and has won several prizes. His story “Chaturangam” was adjudged the best story of 2010 by a prestigious Chennai based literary association. He was also long listed for the Hindu Metro Plus Playwright award for 2012. He has written and staged 4 plays.
He has two books to his credit– The first, a collection of his short stories and the second, titled “Ramakien” is a comparative study of Indian Ramayanas with South East Asian Ramayanas.
The Boy in the Blue Bucket
…His heart beats louder. Alarmed, he looks around,
He shuts his eyes, to open his heart,
He lives in his memories, his life’s most lucent part.
He learns to unlearn, he finds to lose,
The sweetness of permanence, the thrill of stillness…
“Holding on to a blue bucket, a little boy smiled a toothless grin at me one day. Wherever he went, he never failed to take that blue bucket with him. People may come and people may go but blue buckets stay forever. This was how he reasoned it. He changes his home, his ways and his life as he goes from one city to another, one life to another ever few months. He watches his mother life stones that could break her back and his father break them all day long, in order to build homes for strangers to love, to learn and to live in. Yet he will never taste the sweetness of rising up to the gentle whisper of the same trees, the impatient bark of the same hungry dog, the friendly call of the same friend or even the same roof above his head.
This little boy represents the children of construction workers in our community. Each moment of their life is so transient and every step ahead so unpredictable that they begin to fear familiarity. Even so, the sense of joy and wonder with which they live their lives is truly admirable. Expect nothing and accept everything seems to be their way of living. However, children regardless of who they are or where they come from deserve a childhood of relative permanence by which they can derive strength to face life and her pranks with boldness. They deserve more, more than a blue bucket. This poem attempts to delve into what runs in that little boy’s mind as he rests in his blue bucket.
And yes, the toothless grin was the inspiration.”
Monisha read this poem out to the little boy; he didn’t understand a word but continued to give her his toothless grin. Eventually she got him to come out of his bucket and treated him to a game of football and vanilla ice cream. It turns out that he prefers chocolate flavor. I intend to get him chocolate ice cream and to help him live in the present and make the present a worthwhile present.
The God Electric
… Although most of Bangalore remains dark at night, lit only by hearth fires and flickering oil lamps, this is my first taste of life here: the voices of men and women, babbling in a torrent through the city like a river freshly burst through a dam. I will have to wait yet, but this is a beginning…
Freddy Rochez is originally from Chichester, West Sussex but has since moved to Cardiff
‘The God Electric’. was inspired both by the history of India in general as a country of numerous and vastly different deities and religions, and the association with Bangalore in particular with the growth of the Information and Technology industries. The more he thought about it, the more he realised that, from an external point of view, the global obsession with technology could be viewed as a kind of religion, with the newest, most expensive pieces of equipment gaining a kind of cult status in society.
This is the first time his work has been published internationally. He is currently in his second year at Cardiff university, studying English Lit. And an active member of both the university’s creative writing society and student media.
…Who watches actions
Who whispers whistles tune in air
Who is watching there,..
Sri Ramesh submitted his poetry by hand, written out and stapled to a covering letter thanking PageTurners for the opportunity to submit and mentioning that he is regularly published in some local newspapers and literary magazines.
As far as we are aware, Ramesh is reachable only by post and has not given many details of his earlier life but he is now retired and says that it is his dream for his writings to be published in anthologies.
Three Days in a Week
… What strikes me as the most compelling thought of my new year is how self-absorbed we all seem to be in this first week. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s ideally supposed to be a flag, this first week; a brochure that outlines everything that’s going to happen this year….
Shomprakash Sinha Roy is currently Residing in Bangalore. Three Days in a Week revolves around the thoughts in the author’s mind right after the onset of the new year. He has just gone through a breakup and staying alone appears scary.
He has tried to put those thoughts together as an expression of mixed emotions. Bangalore- the city in itself is a beautiful, yet mysterious place- a huge contrast to the small town of Bhilai, where he spent his adolescent years. If explored at the right length, the city of Bangalore offers a glimpse into many nocturnal wonders. What happens to an observer, is recorded in “Three days in a week”
Shomprakash is a Technical Consultant at Dell International- who enjoys writing more than any other finer pleasure. Besides this anthology, he has been published in “The Youth Express” and is an aspiring novelist with two manuscripts in the pipeline. He blogs regularly atwww.roykiduniya.com . His objective is to showcase his work across platforms and improvise through feedback.
Any concerns/feedback can be mailed to him – email@example.com
Where My Heart Lies
… I stand at the brink of three cities,
Waiting to belong somewhere, someday.
The place where I am is home;
The place where I wish to be is not…
Shloka was born in Mumbai, currently lives in Bangalore, and completed her graduation and post graduation from Madras Christian College, Chennai.
Her poem is titled ‘Where My Heart Lies’, and focuses on the three cities that are closest to her heart; Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. The poem was inspired from a sort of cultural angst that she found herself going through, and a search for the place she can finally call her own.
Shloka’s poems have been published in tjells.com, ‘Cornucopia’ – literary magazine, and the writer’s blog of Kalyani Magazine. Shloka also won second place in the Ekphrasis India Poetry Contest 2.
She works as a freelance content/creative writer in Bangalore, and hopes to study further by pursuing her Ph.d in English Literature, sometime in the near future.
How We Used to be
…I remember jumping over school walls and running to Gangarams. There were no malls then. Bookstores were our hideout. What is now ‘Bangalore Central’ used to be the grand Victoria Hotel. Built in the 1950’s, the hotel was broken down back in 2000 to pave way for change…
Punished for no crime
… Mumbai had been hit again. The city had been torn apart repeatedly only to emerge from ashes and rebuild itself. Resilience had weaved itself into the culture of the city; not by choice but rather the lack of it…
Writing since the age of 5 for various children’s magazines, Ankita is an engineer with a management degree who fills up her spare time exploring the amazing world of words. Ankita currently lives in Bangalore but has led a nomadic life thanks to her father’s career in the Indian Army. Living in various parts of the country has not erased the special place Bangalore holds in her heart. Returning to the city after a long time, she observed the changes in her favorite city. This inspired her to write the piece – How we used to be.
Being the daughter of an army officer, terrorism and war have left a deep impact on her. Infuriated and saddened by the constant news of terrorism she was inspired the pen her second piece.
She hopes to continue her affair with words and someday write a novel.
An Accidental Death
… A happy procession, stood in ruin.
The day was auspicious,
The death; calamitous,
“Can this even happen?”
Nanda Kishore is a 25 year old true-blue Bangalorean, a software engineer by profession, and a part-time Math tutor as well. He has been a regular writer who blogs his works at anduwantedto.blogspot.in since 2008. He writes mainly in verse, though a few short fiction stories, sketches and animations too appear occasionally. In his works, he focuses on “seeing” the extra-ordinary in the ordinary. He is also a marathoner and a mountaineer.
His poem “An Accidental Death” featured in the anthology is a take on the Indian Hindu culture in general. Though the poem was inspired by scenes experienced on a visit to Hyderabad, it could easily have happened anywhere else in the country.
Apart from awards in creative writing and publications in school/college magazines, this is his first major debut.
The Brown Sahib
…He was an “angrez” which meant “English”; a British educated doctor who spoke accented English like a toff. Now that I look back I find his exclamation about the British ironic, “they stole everything, our Koh-i-Noor diamond, our cotton, they collected taxes for nothing in return,” went his grumbling as he tapped the Meerschaum pipe with Cavendish tobacco, and sipped on his “Chota Peg”…
Balay Iyengar lives and work in Toronto/ Bangalore/San Francisco Bay Area
He has been a part of the eternal rat race the world over. Born in Bangalore he carries it as a giant chip on my shoulder. He is not a writer but a novice who has found a suitable perch in the Write Club’s lofty literary crags.I am yet to discover my muse but I thought I should make a foray into the land of Wordsmiths and seek inspiration.
… Abruptly, the series of floor tiles were broken by a pair of stiletto heels.
She looked up—past the expensive designer clothing she’d ogled in fancy boutiques—catching startling blue eyes.
It was a girl two years her senior; she sported thick mahogany curls, highlighted by golden blonde strands. And on her tanned face lay a glossy smile…
Phoebe moved from Nigeria to a small commercial-centered town in the UK at the age of 5-6.
The piece published in the cultural anthology was ‘Her Culture’, which deals with social pressure after immigration. Unlike Phoebe and many others, some people get the brunt of discrimination against their race, their accent and anything that marks them as different. However, pulling through is greater than giving up. She believes that you can’t compromise yourself and who you are for the shallow wishes of others. Onto lighter subjects, she had an image in her head all throughout writing this, before mixing it with her most-read genre (YA fiction–which shines through in the icily glamarous bully) and her Christian faith.
Phoebe has had short stories and poems picked out in both competitions and anthologies, ranging all around the world in online and print format. She also blogs, reviews books and she is an avid reader. As for her future in creative writing, She is aiming to publish a teenage fiction novel, a dream that she is supernaturally bound to make reality.
… Inside her a frozen sea traps furtive sunshine,
It’s always this way in the kingdom of promise,
It’s always raining grey.
Swathed around her shoulders
Heavy wraps of battleship-grey,…
Jessu John lives in Bangalore, India and has spent some time in the UK and Germany. Her poem ‘Battleship-Grey’ focuses on a very European experience – grey weather for most parts of the year. The title of the poem sprung out at her from the pages of J.M. Coetzee’s ‘Dusklands’. She borrows a little from his descriptions of all the grey in the life of one of his lead characters. The weather and a few elements of ‘developed country’ culture as some Asians around her experienced them is reflected here. Jessu is currently working on her first collection of poetry. She also writes for the mainstream Indian daily ‘The Hindu’ and is an amateur long distance runner.
A Cold December Night
… He walks the streets, a tear in his eye
Much changes, much remains the same
London on a cold December night
Noise fills the air, he smells smoke
People cry out in wonder, in joy
He remembers that other December night…
Nicholas McDermott grew up in Gloucestershire and currently studies at Cardiff university
‘A Cold December Night’ is written about London and London’s past. It tells the story of an old solider that has lived through the Blitz and seen the millennium and is considering the cold December nights of the future. The idea of the similarity in some ways between celebration and war came to him while writing the poem, resulting in the comparison between different kinds of ‘fire in the sky’; bombs and fireworks. The two couldn’t be further apart but crying in joy or crying in pain, both can seem the same. The poem is about these similarities and ends with thoughts of the future.
Nicholas has had poems read out in Gloucester Cathedral remembrance service, poems printed in the Cardiff University news paper and a children’s tv show concept contracted. He is currently the the president of the Cardiff Creative Writing Society and has plans to expand the society, making it more active in events and competitions on a local and national level.
A Leap Year
…We left our familiar town, stomachs tumbling.
But, you found the city too green, too similar to home.
Shortly afterwards, you crossed the border,
and we spent our time on rickety trains,
reminiscing, dreaming and wishing…
Natalie Louise Moore lived in Cardiff while studying for my undergraduate degree and have now moved back home to West Wales.
‘A Leap Year’ was written in response to Ezra Pound’s poem, ‘The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter’, where long-lasting relationship is depicted. In a different way, my poem describes a deteriorating relationship, which struggles to survive the test of time. The vibrancy of Asian culture is contrasted with the slow pace of the Welsh countryside and presents Bangalore as an enticing city, full of potential, far away from the couple’s familiar hometown.
This will be the first time Natalie’s work will have been published on an international level but creative writing has always been a hobby of hers, although, she intends to focus on poetry more specifically over the next few years. She is aware that writing is a craft, which can only be fine-tuned with hard work and determination. At this moment in time, her writing is very much a work in progress!
… My morning routine – wake and wonder where I am, drag on clothes that seem out of place and appropriate at the same time, then, plunge into a place where thirty-foot light-up billboards pale in comparison to the casually painted…
Robin Lord has spent most of his life in England and the last three years studying in Wales. He came to India as part of a publishing internship with PageTurners; two months – he wishes it could have been more.
“Different” was the result of attempting to properly understand his experience of India in a way that meant more than simply listing the things that stick out immediately. The fact that he was trying to avoid something similar to the “Royale with cheese” conversation at the start of Pulp Fiction may be why he makes a slight reference to that film half way through the piece.
Robin’s work has been published in two consecutive issues of the Cardiff University annual creative writing anthology but aside from that, his work has been mostly private so far.
He plans to find an agent for his third novel (the first that he is happy to send) and pursue a continuing career in publishing having found this experience particularly interesting and encouraging.
… Rarely did anyone take a bath at home, even though my grandfather had installed pipes for the river water supply; how could a bathroom tap ever replace the cool, refreshingly sweet water of the Tambiraparani, or its irrigation anicut – the Kannadiyin kaalvaai, which snaked through Kallidai?
A Post-graduate in English Literature, Vasanthi Natarajan lives in Bangalore. A homemaker, her interests are varied, ranging from classical music to reading and creative writing. She likes writing short stories for children and humour pieces. Her features and stories have been published in Deccan Herald and the Chennai based magazine Eves Touch. Her pet dog Betsy has been the protagonist of most of her stories but a recent visit to her native village triggered nostalgic memories which resulted in this piece. The village was dying and Vasanthi decided to pen down her feelings before the culture and traditions associated with the place became extinct. About the piece, Vasanthi has this to say, “ An elderly and eminent person belonging to Kallidaikurichi who passed away recently, read this feature shortly before his death. He conveyed to me the pleasure and thrill he had experienced on reading it. This is something which I shall always cherish”.
“Reading and writing are very satisfying pastimes. They keep me going”, Vasanthi concludes.
… phonetic tricks
uh aa, e ee, oo ooo
ka, kha, ga, gha, na
our tongues performing
all of us partaking
in this linguistic
going for the gold…
Poems: LINGUA FRANCA, DADAJI & PINEAPPLE PASTRY FLASHBACK
These poems are autobiographical snapshots of my life as an immigrant. They are about family legacy, assimilation and exploring culture through language and experience. Duality in words and worlds become part of a larger whole, making the personal more universal.
Shikha Malaviya is a poet, writer and teacher. She is director of The (Great) Indian Poetry Project, an ongoing online initiative of Modern Indian Poetry. She was born in the U.K., and raised in the U.S. and India. Shikha holds degrees in Creative Writing and Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota, USA. Her work has been featured in the24project, Drunken Boat, Water~stone Review, Switched on Gutenberg, Riding the Meridian, In Posse Review and other fine journals. Shikha’s poetry was also included in the anthology Bolo! Bolo! and is upcoming in Paint It Brown (Cognella Press). She founded Monsoon Magazine, one of the first South Asian literary magazines on the web. She also organized the ‘100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bangalore, 2012’ event. Her first book of poems is forthcoming in 2013. She currently lives in Bangalore with her husband and two children.
Notes From Our Balcony
…A sense of peace filled me, replacing the loneliness that was there about half an hour back.
A ‘home’ can be built anywhere in the whole wide world. It is all about finding your place in your surroundings, and your peace. Isn’t it?
Priya Iyer is a passionate lover of books and travel, music and cooking. A big-time foodie, she works as a content writer and editor. Perpetually enchanted by the world around her, Priya is a dreamer. She lives with her beloved husband in Bangalore, and is loving learning about the nooks and crannies of the city.
Priya moved to Bangalore 3 years ago from Ahmedabad, after marriage
Notes from our balcony focuses on the spirit of home and finding it in a place that is relatively new. The thought struck her one morning as she was just relaxing on her balcony while her husband was away on work – she realized how much Bangalore and her house had become ‘home’ (she had always thought Ahmedabad would be home for her, and nowhere else!)
Priya has been been working as a content writer and editor since 2005. She is a regular blogger and loves writing fiction and non-fiction.
Priya can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
PageTurners was established in 2009 on the principle of cultivating a love for literature. Since then the store has been host to many events and a number of books have been published under the PageTurners name. However, this anthology is the first Creative writing project for PageTurners to publish and hopefully represents the first in a long line of similar such projects. Almost every member of the PageTurners team has been extensively involved in producing this anthology and we couldn’t be happier about it. To see more of the store click the link below for a look at the Facebook page and the quick tour film that we’ve put together!