T r e a d Softly... YOU MIGHT TRIP ON TEXT

Monday, November 07, 2011

Launching THE BUZZ

A couple of months ago, I made a one-day trip to Coimbatore at the behest of Archana Dange, a dynamic and sensitive person who is doing great things in the field of children's education. If you agree that education covers more than sitting in class and staring at the teacher, then you'll probably also agree that there are worlds to be discovered, and each new discovery is an essential part of a child's necessary education.

 Archana brings together organisations to do what she does. The Helen O'Grady International Drama Academy and Eurokids are two outfits she's involved with. The Academy, in association with Long Long Ago, an online lending library for kids, has started a book and theatre club for children named Buzz. and that is what I was in Coimbatore to inaugurate. It was a fun evening, and this report from The Hindu will give you an idea of how it went.

In the morning, I held a literary workshop in a thatched terrace above Archana's office. The participants were from the Helen O'Grady Academy and Archana's friends, and probably a couple of others. Archana also participated, as did Shobhana Jayaraman, a wonderful girl with an amazing capability to connect with children. I enjoyed every moment of the workshop, and I think they did too. We had theatre too, instant skits that were imaginatively and enthusiastically performed.

I still don't know what Archana and Shobhana thought of the whole thing, though!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The work

The work that has happened.

First, the play. It went on day and night,
not continuously, but it struggled through
uneasy dark hours, and often I went to sleep past
three a. m. When the subject is about a social aberration
and the genre is murder mystery, night-time writing can be
eerie as well as immensely effective. And thus was born
CAST PARTY. It's with the Madras Players now, and they'll
arrange its upbringing.

Next, The Axe of Parashurama. 
[That had to be in red! You'll understand once you read it.]
First, I'll have to finish writing it and they've to publish it
and I'll be fortunate enough to hold
it in my hands and then I'll sign a copy for you.


So what are these two pictures all about?
Amish Tripathi & Ashwin Sanghi.
They are two of the hottest bestsellers today.
Simple narratives, new perspectives and reinvented marketing initiatives.
That's what has made them tick.
I moderated a discussion on myths with them at Landmark a couple
of months ago.
Please take a long and careful look at both photographs.
In the first, I am seriously participating in the proceedings.
In the second, I've made a breakthrough. That's me pointing out (to myself, mostly)
that I've been launching, discussing and
promoting other people's books for far too long!
After this moment of enlightenment, I rallied around and the result was
a completed play, nonsense pieces for an anthology, and renewed input and energy
for my novel, which is now finally beginning to make sense.

So there. The epiphany triggered an epic high like epic feni and the result
is some long-awaited industry.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Just remembered this that happened many months ago...

Author Shreekumar Varma, buys new books to donate for Aviva Great Wall of Education presented by The Hindu in Chennai on Monday. Photo: S.S. Kumar


We will not look at the chronological order.
The first pic happened when my MA classmate Namasivayam's son got married and we had a grand reunion of dear friends, including Bobby from Bombay and Chengu from Thrissur. It was one of those scintillating moments that happen once in a very long while.

The second pic was taken when my college professor George K. Mathew's debut novel was released. It was once again a roomful of nostalgia, and everyone spoke about GKM who more than a month earlier had held the first copy of his book in his hand and died the next day--- as though he'd been waiting only for that. 20 years ago, he'd called me one day and said I'm retiring from college and I would like you to take my place for a year until a professor who's on a sabbatical returns. And that was how I taught Literature at MCC. This time the publisher of Helios Books, Gitanjali, called me and said I wanted GKM to read from his book. Now that he's no more, will you take his place? And I did. For the second time. CPI (M) Gen Sec Prakash Karat, one of GKM's old students, released the book, and I co-ordinated and read from the novel. It was a great evening.

The third pic was---you won't believe this!-- again full of nostalgia and classmates. This time it was a slice of school life. Thirty years after we left school we'd had a reunion where we released a CD. The songs were written in Tamil, English, Malayalam and Hindi by me. Music was by a classmate and songs were sung by all of us. I sang the Malayalam song. Now, this one was forty years after passing out, and we again released a CD, with even more songs--- other songs in Kannada and Telugu were written by others and also translated from my lyrics in English. It was great fun. The photo shows an aside during the meet in the school auditorium.

At  a meeting at the University of Madras' Malayalam and Hindi Depts, I released a book of poet A. Ayyappan's poems translated into Hindi from the Malayalam by Santosh Alex, who's a gifted and prolific translator. That's pic no 4. Somehow, I have been involved for the past three or four months in both literary as well academic events. So I've been able to meet several interesting people.

Like Sangeetha Shinde Tee, for instance. Who's with me in the fifth pic. I released her book of short stories, A Moral Murder & Other Stories. The stories are set in the Nilgiris, Coonoor to be exact, and cover many subjects including love, mystery and ordinary life. Sitting with her in the pic and reading from her book is Jamie who I met for the first time at a dinner when he walked all the way from Mandaveli to Boat Club Road after arriving in Chennai on a train from Bangalore. It was his second day in India! Sangeetha and her husband David are a dear couple.

And, finally, the sixth pic. Chronologically too, that's the latest one. It was at the showing of a short film in Malayalam where I was part of a panel discussion. The leader of the panel was famous Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi director K. S. Sethumadhavan. He made memorable films like Odayil Ninnu, Julie, Marupakkam and Jeevikkan Marannupoya Sthree. The moment I came up he said: Do you remember the last time we met in the Chandamama office? Did anyone make a film out of your story? I thought he'd forgotten! It had been more than 20 years ago. I'd just published a story for The Heritage, published by the Chandamama group and edited by noted writer Manoj Das. Mr Sethumadhavan had wanted to film the story then. My friend Viswanatha Reddi was the publisher. Time passed, and we'd gone our separate ways, as it often happens. Well, this pic too unleashed a mini typhoon of nostalgia.

Which probably is the basic characteristic of this post. Wouldn't you say?

You might have wondered at the significance of the title. It's just a way of telling you that I haven't abandoned my blog, and I'm back again. Ahaaa!