016 - Seeking and Finding


Last year, I made an agenda early on to read exclusively Indian fiction, preferably the more mainstream ones. After about six to seven months of that I was happy and disappointed in equal measure. Once the best sellers were done I was particularly keen on reading some books on Bombay that came out last year. But I didn’t read any of them. I didn’t want them to colour me because I was trying to write a novella based on the city last year. It was to be called Bombay Daak. :)

Anyway, I have set that idea aside and now you are reading all this here.

But I am now getting back to Bombay. I’ve started with Low, that I loved, and also read the Black Dwarves of Good Little Bay, that could have done more with its theme and idea which were very interesting. Goodreads certainly disagrees with my view.

What should I add to the list?

Meanwhile after three seasons reading some classic literature, I have decided to go back to the wider Indian writing. My season of Indian reading began this month with Annie Zaidi’ essay collection slash memoir Bread, Cement, Cactus. I am reading it along with Bihar is in the Eye of the Beholder. They are written twenty years apart but deal with the heartland, and it is strange how much they have in common, despite very different writing styles and content.

Seeking some other fiction -

This past week I veered towards Science Fiction. It is a genre that I really like but read too little of. Maybe it is time to change that.

I have a list of authors I want to read, but not sure of which books to go with. Could they match the news from our very real world?

This story of a treasure hunt is so strange. Hard to imagine that this can happen in our day and age. A millionaire art dealer, buried a treasure chest of gold and wrote down its clues in a poem about its location. After attempts by almost a quarter of a million people, The treasure is now discovered.

What lesson do we learn here? Read poems and books by art critics, I suppose. (via Samit Basu)

I was wondering about Indian science fiction writing when I stumbled over Basu’s newsletter. And subsequently his interview with Anuya of Books on Toast. Maybe I will start of with his Chosen Spirits then.

From finding treasures to finding resilience

Charley Zheng writes about taking part in an expedition trip to map and document trekking trails in Big Pamir in Afghanistan. Last year in August I was trying to scale my first 14k + feet trek summit. So I was nodding and smiling and sighing through it all. She summed up the experience with:

One walks away from an expedition with more questions than answers, and I like to think that’s a good thing. I left the experience not with a bolstered sense of self, but perhaps a more expansive one that now stretches into more directions, open to further exploration. 

Finding past treasures of a different variety -

Some good things come when you who don’t seek it. I mean I was completely convinced to turn to books based in India for the rest of the year. And a page I bookmarked half a decade ago pops up again. Junot Diaz’s reading list for his undergrad class at MIT (from back then). There are two things guaranteed. It is not what you expect it to be. And that you will find some gems in it.

If I am seeking anything, then mostly I am seeking a place like this -

An update over on @designmilktravels: ✈️ For many of us, travel is not an option in the near or maybe even distant future, which is why we've paused this channel since March. But, this too shall pass and we're excited for the time when we can experience the joys of exploring the world again. Until then, we'll be (virtually!) touring the world through your lens. Be sure to tag your #tbt #travel photos with #designmilktravels so we can fulfill our own wanderlust and share it here! \\\ Photo by the one and only @carleyscamera of @thegaslightjoshuatree in #JoshuaTree, #California (you can also buy her beautiful prints over on @designmilkeveryday!)
August 13, 2020