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Archive for the ‘Social issues’ Category

Book review: Come, before Evening Falls

29 July 2016
Posted in: Books, Reviews, Social issues, Writeside | No Comments

Yesterday, at the Scholastic Writing Awards ceremony in Delhi, I ran into the author Manjul Bajaj. We were only introduced to the each other just as we were leaving, but we had a nice walk down the stairs talking about a mutual writer friend, Monideepa Sahu. Anyway, I digress…

Meeting Manjul reminded me of a book of hers that I liked very much and had reviewed, but in one of the design updates, it had got culled from the reviews section. So here it is again, a review of Manjul Bajaj’s Come, before Evening Falls, a haunting story of forbidden love, set in the Rohtak in British India. Though the story takes place in the early 20th century, what is terrifyingly disturbing is that, take the dates away, and it would ring just as true in the present day.

Click here for the full review

~PD

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Book review: Asmara’s Summer

2 June 2016
Posted in: Books, Reviews, Social issues | 1 Comment

Is there anything more important to a teenager than her street cred? No, at least not for Asmara. So when her Canada plans are cancelled and instead she has to spend a month with her grandparents in the conservative and definitely un-posh part of town, it is instant social disaster.

So Asmara does the only thing that seems reasonable: she pretends to her friends that she is in Canada and settles down to turn up her nose at Tannery Road.

What happens next is something that takes her by surprise.

Read the full review

~PD

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Week #36: Stories from Okhla

10 September 2014
Posted in: Books, Social issues | No Comments

52 weeks of reading and writing

my-sweet-homeWhat’s special about your home? That was the question that filmmaker and fellow writer Samina Mishra and her friend Sherna Dastur asked about two dozen children in Okhla, Delhi. In reply, they wrote and drew about their lives and their homes, about ‘the terraces, mosques and train tracks that lead to the villages that their families came from’. And the result was My Sweet Home, a book that explores this ‘busy, congested area that is teeming with stories that the newspapers and television don’t bother with’.

Once upon a time, Okhla was a small village on the outskirts of Delhi, which was eventually swallowed up by the gluttonous expansion of the capital. This is also the area that houses Jamia Millia Islamia, the historic university, established in Aligarh in 1920 during the nationalist struggle, moved to Delhi five years later, and to its current location starting in the late 1930s. The area developed and more and more people moved in. Today, there are mostly Muslim families, many of whom have moved here because of communal tension and intolerance, which makes it hard to find homes in other parts of Delhi. The growing population has led to infrastructure problems, but people still ‘throng to this “Muslim area.” In September 2008, Batla House, a locality in this area was the site of an “encounter” between the Delhi Police and some young boys who the police claimed were terrorists. The much-televised encounter thrust Okhla onto the national centre-stage and the area became synonymous with the image of a Muslim ghetto harbouring terrorists and fomenting fundamentalism, if not separatism.’

The My Sweet Home project began when Samina, who has lived in Okhla, started to wonder about

what was missing that could connect Okhla’s story to the story of other neighbourhoods in other cities and so let people interact with each other in ways that the television and news stories did not let them. The answer I felt was — everyday life… in which people go to work and children go to school, in which birthdays are celebrated and kites flown, in which exams are taken, friendships made and broken, cricket matches played. Stories of everyday life tell us what we have in common with this space and what is special about it.

It was these stories of everyday life that the children in the workshop wrote and drew about, and from which resulted the book My Sweet Home: Childhood Stories from a Corner of a City. The book is currently in production, but you can find out more about this amazing project here.

~PD

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