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Quotes From Here And There

Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
Dylan Thomas
I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.
Eddie Cantor
It takes twenty years to become an overnight success.
Edward Abbey
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
e e cummings
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting.
Eyler Coates
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Without music, life would be a mistake.
Gustave Flaubert
The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.
Going to the Opera is like making love; we get bored but we come back.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If I love you, what business is it of yours?
John Steinbeck
Only through imitation do we develop toward originality.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.
Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring;
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything;
That's how the light gets in.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
Paul Sweeney
You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
Peter Altenberg
I never dreamed of being Shakespeare or Goethe, and I never expected to hold the great mirror of truth up before the world; I dreamed only of being a little pocket mirror, the sort that a woman can carry in her purse; one that reflects small blemishes, and some great beauties, when held close enough to the heart.
Robert Frost
In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money.
Satchel Paige
Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
Thomas Mann
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
V S Naipaul
The writer has only to listen very carefully and with a clear heart to what people say to him, and ask the next question, and the next.

My Personal Library

Let's Talk Haiku!

There's good news for me. And haiku for you. Actually, there was good news... A couple of months ago, I submitted some haiku to World Haiku Review. I got a good feedback from them - a nice mail which explained what I was doing wrong and where I could improve. If you've been around for some time in this business of sending off things on spec, you know how difficult it is to come by a thing like that. Then I all but forgot about it and hence had the pleasant surprise of finding my haiku in that magazine a few days ago. It's been over a month since they've out. Without further ado...

World Haiku Review, Volume 6, Issue 4, October 2008
Shintai (New Style) Haiku



in shadow

the moth stills its wings

leaving dreams to fly

Marie Shimane



after lunch he adds

the stork

John Bird


A fallen gulmohur bud:

An incomplete story but

A complete poem.

Abhinav Maurya


(In no particular order)

night alleyway...

my floodlight shadow

breaks into two

zinovy Vayman

even his trees

stay inside the fence

unseen neighbour

Ann K. Schwader

(A favorite!!!)

working lunch

haiku scribbled

on my napkin

Carmel Lively Westerman

each day continues

a journey of loneliness

crows screech overhead

Marie Shimane

dawn childbirth

when the door opens

a cock crows

Elizabeth Howard

a week of rain

new appreciation for

the nuance of gray

Claudia Coutu Radmore

reprinting the thesis

leaving the mistakes


Owen Bullock


(Zatsu-ei in no particular order)

year's end . . .

the bedding piled up

in the motel

Bruce Ross

vinegar bath

mother's diamond ring

regains its sparkle

Peggy Heinrich

noon church bell ...

how her dress

traces her

Tyrone McDonald

on grass she shone

under the vast sky-

bare and alone

Aju Mukhopadhyay

morn breeze

the trees filter light

and bird songs

john tiong chunghoo

posh café

the first bite of the plum cake

sends me back home

Rafal Zabratynski

a lady's voice

"your poor mother's grave," she says

needs your attention

Howard Lee Kilby



sunny day -

why not get

the divorce papers?

Owen Bullock




the mortice joints

on his coffin

John Bird


adoption center

she colors her mom black

her dad no face

Victor P. Gendrano


(In no particular order)

In the morning,

The suit, the tie, the watch…

At night, only you!

Abhinav Maurya

Season of mellow

Yellow fruit; ripeness is all

Too tired to die

Frank Corcoran

Gathering firewood

One life giving up their soul

For another's warmth

Kristin Reynolds

relationship's end:

he calls the baby

his fuck trophy

Richard Stevenson

Swords to bombs:

At war with one another,

At war with ourselves

Abhinav Maurya

a tiny twig trembles

in the blast of wind

first marital quarrel

Victor P. Gendrano

I told him, "Good boy."

His curled tail wagged one last time.

The vet said, "He's gone."

Elizabeth Ewing




winds thrash the trees,

no rains- whatever it is!

Aju Mukhopadhyay

Trepidation spills

From your every orifice

Revelation lost

Kristin Reynolds

All haiku are under copyrights of their original authors.

Received via email from Peter Griffin:-

Suketu Mehta in NYT - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/opinion/29mehta.html

Dilip D'souza in the Washinton Post - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/28/AR2008112802247.html

Naresh Fernandes in The New Republic - http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=4ef869a4-0c91-4a83-8d3e-2b7ca1501996 See also http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=8e4fc4e9-5298-4f0c-bf66-980c253c43e0 - his piece on Jews in Bombay.

And these pieces, on their blogs, by Amit Varma, Sonia Faleiro and Rahul Bhatia.

And these by Prem Panicker: http://www.prempanicker.com/index.php?/site/respiro_ergo_sum/ & http://www.prempanicker.com/index.php?/site/an_officer_and_gentleman_and_a_moron/ & http://www.prempanicker.com/index.php?/site/end_game/ (the latter two link to some excellent stuff as well)

And this, by Ingrid Srinath - http://citizensforpeace.in/blog/2008/11/29/this-is-not-indias-911 (Read also Priyanka Joseph's comment to that post)

Winner Of The First Australia-Asia Literary Award

"There's a huge change coming very fast and this prize is giving a glimpse of that future." Nury Vittachi, judge and founding board member of the Asia-Pacific Writing Partnership.

DAVID MALOUF has won the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award for his short story collection The Complete Stories.

The AU$110,000 award, which was created by the former Labor government in Western Australia, is worth AU$10,000 more than the next richest, the Prime Minister's Literary Award, and is given for fiction by writers resident in, or outside Australia, writing primarily about Australia or Asia.

Malouf was "very pleased to be the first recipient". He welcomed the award, and praised it as unique among state literary prizes.

"There is certainly no other literary prize where Australia is the initiator which takes in Asia like this does, so it's a very good thing that we're looking outwards rather than inwards as we tend to do" he said.

The Complete Stories won from a very strong shortlist, including The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize), The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser (longlisted for the Booker), Blood Kin by Ceridwen Dovey, and Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital.

The longlist, culled from 111 entries, also had plenty of dazzle, including the Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee (Diary Of A Bad Year), Haruki Murakami (After Dark), Rodney Hall (Love Without Hope) and Alex Miller (Landscape Of Farewell).

"It's a wonderful piece of writing, a combination of decades of work, and it captures the human condition in such a deep and intense way," said Nury Vittachi, a member of the judging panel, along with the Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie, and the Australian critic Peter Craven. Vittachi is also a founding board member of the Asia-Pacific Writing Partnership.

"His characters are very ordinary people and he captures the intense joys and sadness of ordinary life."

Vittachi agreed the decision to award the prize to a book of short stories was unusual.

"It might usually go to a novel. But there's an ancient story form called a bracelet, where you have a sequence of stand-alone stories which when read together have as much power as a single, united novel. We thought this book worked as just such a bracelet."

Vittachi sees the award as a means to divine the region's literary future.

"This award is special as it has a focus on a particular region, a region where there are 4 billion people," Vittachi said.

"The future of our cultural entertainment will be here. We're looking for a new Asia-Pacific flavour, as that is a good pointer to what the new literature will be. There's a huge change coming very fast and this prize is giving a glimpse of that future."

Malouf said he hoped "booksellers, publishers and the media get behind the prize in the way they do for the Miles Franklin Award".

Australia-Asia Literary Award Shortlist

  • Michelle DE KRETSER The Lost Dog Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Mohsin HAMID The Reluctant Fundamentalist Publisher: Penguin
  • David MALOUF The Complete Stories Publisher: Random House
  • Ceridwen DOVEY Blood Kin Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Janette TURNER HOSPITAL Orpheus Lost Publisher: HarperCollins

Australia-Asia Literary Award Longlist

  • J.M. COETZEE Diary of a Bad Year Publisher: Random House Group Ltd
  • Matthew CONDON The Trout Opera Publisher: Random House (Vintage)
  • Michelle DE KRETSER The Lost Dog Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Ceridwen DOVEY Blood Kin Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Rodney HALL Love without Hope Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Mohsin HAMID The Reluctant Fundamentalist Publisher: Penguin
  • Mireille JUCHAU Burning In Giramondo Publishing
  • David MALOUF The Complete Stories Publisher: Random House
  • Alex MILLER Landscape of Farewell Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Haruki MURAKAMI After Dark Translator: Jay Rubin Publisher: Random House Group
  • Indra SINHA Animal’s People Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
  • Janette TURNER HOSPITAL Orpheus Lost Publisher: HarperCollins
-from The Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 2008.

Nadine Gordimer's Coming To Bombay!!!

We've a chance to witness a book reading by Nadine Gordimer in Bombay. Nadine Gordimer has won the Nobel for literature, the Booker, James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for the best book from Africa. The details are reproduced below. Thanks to Peter Griffin of Caferati for the tip.

Ministry of External Affairs (Public Diplomacy Division),
Sahitya Akademi & The Asiatic Society of Mumbai

cordially invite you to a book reading
Dr. Nadine Gordimer distinguished South African writer and Nobel laureate
Sunday, 9 November 2008
At 10.30 a.m.

Venue: The Durbar Hall, The Asiatic Society of Mumbai Town Hall,
Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg, Fort, Mumbai - 400 023.

Judith Hall Presents A Poem By Reetika Vazirani

Ghalib Speaks of His Poet Friends:-

All my life I’ve been amending their verses.
Now that I’m ill they write,
“You have not replied to my letter.” As if I
could make their couplets rhyme,
or rhyme slightly better.
Do they think I should live only
to correct their verses!
Shah Alam Sahib and Tufta, they’re peevish
to the end: they think my ill health
is a poetic exaggeration.

Without me they can versify or not versify;
it’s not for me to prod grown men
at the eleventh hour.
If I’ve lost my tact, I’ll offend them,
but all my life glad comments on loose verse
offended me. Now in pleasing myself,
I’ve lost the pleasure. But hell with these grudges
of the day, these small sentiments.
Let the newspapers print that I’m near death.
I’m not up to correcting the ghazals of a Tufta.

– Reetika Vazirani (1962-2003)
from The Antioch Review, Winter 1996, v. 54, no. 1

Note by Judith Hall

In 1995, I entered service as poetry editor of The Antioch Review. Much to my relief, my predecessor, David St. John, had already accepted poems for issues well into 1996. Vazirani’s is one of his I claim.

Her “Ghalib” is surely the 19th century poet who wrote in Urdu under that name. “Ghazal”, an intricate Arabic form, is probably familiar to BAP readers; the word also means, according to Agha Shahid Ali, “the cry of the gazelle when it is cornered in a hunt and knows it will die.” Form follows word here, and while a romantic editor would link this image to this poet. I will not. The complaints and witty tittle-tattle of Vazirani's Ghalib charm and need no justification.

For the next several weeks, I will be your Sunday editor, succeeding the estimable Bruce Covey in this role. I hope you will enjoy the Antioch poems coming your way.

Song Of The Little Road

A blogpost after a very long time. All things, one at a time.

I recently fished out page 11 of DNA Sunday dated August 10, 2008 that I'd preserved for the purpose of reference. Here's quoting from the article Mostly Pointless, Incessant Barking by G Sampath:
There is a famous New Yorker cartoon on blogging. It shows two dogs in conversation. One of them is telling the other, "I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking." It would appear that a sizeable number of the world's bloggers are following the lead of this New Yorker dog. According to a Gartner estimate, by mid-2007, about 200 million people were 'ex-bloggers'. Make no mistake, the landscape of the World Wide Web is littered with the corpses of dead blogs. [..]

Before you can make a transition from pointless, incessant barking to a level of communication that gets you some returns in terms of either attention or money. But until that happens, you can't help wondering at some point if you aren't barking up the wrong tree. And that, by the way, is all it takes to kill a blog.
I do not agree with the above opinion for the most part. I believe that blogs have immense use, potential, and capacity for change. In the small time for which I've been acquainted with blogosphere (as compared to stalwarts like Peter Griffin), I've seen blogs defy all set limits of expression - most of these were blogs on writing, but there were also blogs on current affairs, technology, medecine, cinema, music, prostitution, sex and sexual deviousness, drug addiction, travel, cuisine, politics, blogs in remembrance of someone, blogs acting as public dairies, as professional journals, blogs with sponsored content, etcetera. I think blogs are a great thing to have happened to us and for these reasons, I would not want my blog to be 'dead'.

However, it's very restricting for me to keep this blog thematic and yet blog regularly. Writing is such an intensive and time-consuming activity (what with all the planning and research and plotting and dishing it out); blogs on the other hand need not be planned, need not have their grammar right (though it helps). All that a blogger needs to do is wear his heart on his sleeve. I'm not a professional blogger and I blog for the fun and joy of blogging. Hence, I've decided to nor restrict myself to reviews and literature but to blog about anything I care about. That way, I would have a lot more fun blogging and the blog would not 'die' out.

If I'm going to change the focus of the blog altogether, the earlier name .::The Reluctant Writer::. doesn't stick. So I have thought of renaming it to .::Song Of The Little Road::. 'Why?' you say. Because I'm in love with punctuation marks, but more importantly because Song Of The Little Road is the English name of Pather Panchali (a legendary movie by Satyajit Ray, the granddaddy of Indian cinema), the one movie that has singularly defined and redefined my notions of art in general and cinema in particular. Immensely delicate, poignant and humanistic, to the point of being Tagoresque. BTW, I also thought of The Life And Times Of A (A for Abhinav, just in case) and Midnight's Child (because I was born on the brink of midnight) but I think that Song Of The Little Road means much more to me than the others. So there you go... this blog is my Song Of The Little Road.

I've decided to take the plunge and go for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Actually, it should be InNoWriMo (International Novel Writing Month), and the organizers agree. But InNoWriMo is simply not as much pronouncing as NaNoWriMo, so there you go. It seems very unlikely that a person of my temperament should even think of attempting the herculean feat, let alone of finishing it. And mind you, I'm under no illusions about my inability to go all the way. But as Chandler from Friends puts it, you never know! And besides, I could do with some discipline to get started on a novel, the module of my creative writing course that I've putting on the backburner for months. So if you participating in NaNoWriMo, let me know and perhaps we can egg each other on towards that distant finish line as writing buddies.

Facebook seems to gel well with me for SN (even though apparently it doesn't for many people I know). I've been on it for about a year and unless Zuckerberg thinks of screwing up the design and layout in a irredeemably unlikeable manner (of which he showed us a rather unpopular trailer recently), I think I'm going to stick to Facebook for a long time. It's extremely user-friendly, sleek, and intuitive - no frills - SN at its best. In short, it's cool. I hate that amorphous, imprecise word and I must love Facebook a great deal to use it.

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