The Joy and Secrets of Indian Literature
My first newsletter
Hello everyone! Welcome to my first newsletter. In this newsletter, I will write about the books and articles I read, my recommendations, what I am up to and my general thoughts and musings. I hope you find it interesting and would love to converse with you on any of the topics I put forward.
I am living in Goa this month, with my grandparents who have a house here. And I have been able to read a lot more than I was in Bombay because of course, of the space and time. So, over the past few weeks I have read a wide variety of books- starting with Arundhati Roy’s The God Of Small Things. I then moved on the The Course of Love by Alain De Botton, The House of Jaipur by John Zubrzycki and then Heer and Ranjha by Manjul Bajaj, followed by Dutch House by Anne Patchett and Girl Made of Gold by Gitanjali Kolanad.
Out of all these very different reads, I enjoyed the House of Jaipur, Heer and Ranjha and Girl Made of Gold the most. Lately, I have been finding the themes in ‘white’ literature bland and colourless, while the stories, descriptions of food, jewels, traditions and culture in Indian writing full of colour and richness. While the books written by ‘white’ authors were brilliant in terms of character studies, the other books sparked more of my imagination- they were juicier.
I often feel I know so much more about America, what with all the documentaries, limited series, movies and books about politics, history, NASA, even cheerleading. There is so much to exploit within India - and so many stories that need to be told. So many histories, cultures, traditions, folk-tales, myths, issues yet to be packaged and sold to an audience. I can just imagine all the amazing content that is yet to be created here.
So on to the books: Heer and Ranjha is a novelised version of the famous Punjabi love story - Heer, a daughter of a rich landlord, who has already been promised for marriage, falls in love with a cowherd who has separated from his illustrious family. Much like Scar, in the Lion King, their lives are manipulated by an evil uncle. Probably one of the most evil characters I have come across in a while. I had never been exposed to this folk tale before, and I really liked how it was told form multiple points of views-other than the protagonists. By telling the story from different perspectives (the pigeons, the uncle, a crow, Heer and Ranjha themselves), the plot propels forward, bringing light to traditions, landscapes, traditions of the region and the obstacles to their story.
Girl Made of Gold is also told form multiple perspectives, and in doing so, more aspects of the mystery and plot come together. In this story, one gets to know more about the rich traditions and lives of devdasis. Traditionally, devdasis are said to have belonged to God and had high status in society. Dance and song were a big part of their lives, and the author of this book is a dancer herself. We enter the world of temples, priests, dancers and landlords, love, lust and loss.
House of Jaipur is about the royal family of Jaipur right before and after independence. I didn’t know too much about Gayatri Devi, Jai Singh and other royals, and so it was very fascinating to read about their customs, relationships and larger than life personalities.
Lessons in creative entrepreneurship:
In this newsletter, I am also going be sharing some insights or thoughts about work and entrepreneurship.
As many of you know, I run a ‘skill-building for creatives’ organisation, Bound. Well, we conduct online classes like these, and have a podcast called Books and Beyond with Bound - this is especially dear to me as I get to interview all the authors I love and ask them about their creative process. In this season, we interviewed Samit Basu, Ira Mukhoty, Anmol Malik. So the main challenge this month was finding out how to record the podcast from Goa. Goan houses have so much reverberation that some of the episodes we recorded were rendered useless. So after many many trials, I finally found a spot outdoors and we continued as usual.
Another lesson I am learning is how to be direct about employee performance. It’s always better to address red-flags right away, rather than letting things build up. Having simple and effective conversations and letting your expectations be known is very important. I often shy away from doing this, as I fear losing the colleague or causing unnecessary drama. But after some guidance, and reading lots of articles, I have started making my expectations more obvious, and that has only boosted our team’s performance.
That’s it from me. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for your time.