Things of note in my little life, from the past couple of months, in reverse chronological order:--- The Times of India ran a feature called Almost Famous last Sunday (nov. 19) highlighting emerging Indian writers. "Reaching for the stars, but not yet there, these are promising writers, who've got what it takes to make it big." Two were picked from a number of languages, including English, Hindi and Tamil, and yours truly was one of the writers in English picked. The story ran in all 11 editions of the Times. My parents in Delhi said that one uncle called them in the morning with the news, while another came by, excitedly brandishing the paper. I've also gotten a note from a friend in Bangalore. The eminent writer Githa Hariharan picked my name and that of Rana Dasgupta for English. Although I write for the world, the Indian audience is crucial to my work, so recognition from one's compatriots is particularly welcome. Among the Hindi writers is the much lauded Neelakshi Singh, who seems to be a fellow Bihari, and I'm going to track down her work...--- two astronomical events turned out to be damp squibs, literally and figuratively. The transit of Mercury and a particularly productive Leonid meteor shower were both not visible to Massachusetts residents due to bad weather. For the first one I'd gotten my students all worked up, given them a special assignment on Mercury, found a room in the Humanities building where we could set up a solar telescope... all to no avail. Ah well. --- right now I'm obsessed with prime numbers and also intrigued by recent reports on the existence of dark matter as established by pictures of two colliding galaxies...--- We have been going to concerts and other art events as a family. It is good for all of us, and even more so when we take friends along. Highlights from October include an early music concert in which my husband's lute teacher, the inimitable Olaf Chris Henriksen performed, a visit to a special exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, featuring Indian miniatures, an Indo-Persian fusion concert featuring the group Niyaz, and a mini-film festival at the aforementioned MFA. The film festival featured the movies of one of Bollywood's most sensitive filmmakers, Muzzafar Ali. We made it to two of the movies. First was Anjuman, which is about a young Muslim woman in Lucknow and her emancipation in the backdrop of the struggle for embroidery workers rights --- one of Shabana Azmi's early films, and a fine rendition of the notion that the personal is political and vice versa (with some lovely music too). The second was the classic Umrao Jaan, about the Lucknow Courtesan that the Urdu writer Mirza Ruswa immortalized in his novel. A lush visual and musical treat, the film has been described as a feminist tragedy. What made both occasions special for us was that the director, Muzaffar Ali, was present to answer questions. He turned out to be a tall, striking-looking man with a mane of white hair, unexpectedly humble and not given to (or incapable of) blowing his own trumpet. He spoke at length about Rekha's eyes and his love for textiles and period clothing. The film made Rekha's name as an actress. He talked about the language of the eyes, and that Indian women are adept at that language, although actresses of Rekha's calibre are few and far between. My husband and daughter enjoyed both events, even asking the great director some questions. Their intelligent appreciation meant a lot to me, especially as we don't make it to many Indian cultural events.
posted by Vandana 8:43 AM
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