behenji's bookcase is bursting....hooray!

behenji has just ordered some books, courtesy of bohemian bhai's generous birthday gift certificate.

what did behenji order:

"White Teeth: A Novel" by Zadie Smith

"Snow (Vintage International)" by Orhan Pamuk

"The Cinnamon Peeler : Selected Poems (Vintage International)" by Michael Ondaatje

"The Apple's Bruise : Stories" by Lisa Glatt


"How to Breathe Underwater (Vintage Contemporaries)" by Julie Orringer

As a birthday gift to herself, behenji bought "The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. read an excerpt on amazon.com and was hooked, reeled in, caught.

here's a little taste (and no, behenji is not shoving a samosa down your throat):

How does it feel?

It feels exactly like one of those dreams in which you suddenly realize that you have to take a test you haven't studied for and you aren't wearing any clothes. And you've left your wallet at home.

When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true.

Is there a logic, a rule to all this coming and going, all this dislocation? Is there a way to stay put, to embrace the present with every cell? I don't know. There are clues; as with any disease there are patterns, possibilities. Exhaustion, loud noises, stress, standing up suddenly, flashing light-any of these can trigger an episode. But: I can be reading the Sunday Times, coffee in hand and Clare dozing beside me on our bed and suddenly I'm in 1976 watching my thirteen-year-old self mow my grandparents' lawn. Some of these episodes last only moments; it's like listening to a car radio that's having trouble holding on to a station. I find myself in crowds, audiences, mobs. Just as often I am alone, in a field, house, car, on a beach, in a grammar school in the middle of the night. I fear finding myself in a prison cell, an elevator full of people, the middle of a highway. I appear from nowhere, naked. How can I explain? I have never been able to carry anything with me. No clothes, no money, no ID. I spend most of my sojourns acquiring clothing and trying to hide. Fortunately I don't wear glasses


chocolate anyone??? breakfast of underdogs!

from willy wonka, of course. as behenji waits for hari puttar to come flying through her door (the ups owl seems quite busy today), she is taking delight in those authors who cater to little bohemians. just read a wonderful piece on roald dahl, of charlie and the chocolate factory fame, in the new yorker (click on title). the author of the article went to visit dahl's house in england and describes dahl's writing place or writing hut rather:

'The walls, lined with Styrofoam, were stained sepia from all the cigarettes Dahl smoked; there was a grotty wing chair; and wires for a jury-rigged heating system dangled from the ceiling. “You’d expect it to be grander,” one woman said. But the kids saw more possibilities in a musty old hut of one’s own. They liked the fact that Dahl, unsatisfied with desks, had designed a baize-covered writing board, to balance on his lap just so. And they loved that he kept, on a side table, a jar containing gristly bits of his own spine, which had been removed during an operation on his lower back. Next to the jar was a waxy-looking knob that turned out to be Dahl’s hip bone, along with a titanium replacement.'

if you haven't read charlie and the chocolate factory, behenji highly recommends it. the language, the imagery, the plot, the triumph of the underdog...dare behenji say better than a 70's hindi movie;)


waiting for harry, reading about lemony

like millions of others, behenji has ordered the latest harry potter book, harry potter and the half-blood prince, to be delivered at her doorstep on saturday. if you call before monday, behenji will tell you who died, who didn't. yes, behenji can be a spoiler.

it is so fascinating to see how children's authors like j.k. rowling and lemony snicket (aka daniel handler) manage to sweep both children and adults alike with their prose. came across a profile on lemony snicket (click on the title), who lives not too far away from behenji, and enjoyed (as i always do) learning about how an author's life and likes/hates come into play in their work. in the case of handler, it's the darkness and humor of authors such as roald dahl, judaism, and the opera among other things. what a wonderful, heady combination.

so, my pretties, what have you been reading this summer??? behenji wants to know (before saturday and after monday).

so you think you're a poet...which one???

behenji took this quiz, courtesy of about.com :

You are Adrienne Rich, feminist poet who explores
the depths of the lesbian female soul. You
believe real poetry delves into the real self.

Which 20th Century Poet Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

this quiz is so dead on...not. although i do admire rich. behenji, however, lives in a different closet;)


my kinda poem

ted kooser, poet laureate of the United States, wrote this wonderful poem which i think really captures the contradiction in art: the pursuit of it, the hope that it will touch someone, the meaning and unmeaning of it in the greater scheme of things. it came in my mailbox as part of the writer's almanac for July 8th. behenji likes small surprises;)

Poem: "Selecting a Reader" by Ted Kooser, from Sure Signs. © University of Pittsburg Press. Reprinted with permission.

Selecting a Reader

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.


unlucky 13

behenji has written way more posts than 13, but sadly, her profile wishes to show that number, and only that number. behenji is not superstitious, but...? i must ask peer syed saheb, of zee tv fame. maybe he can help me?

if you thought oboists had boring lives

you are sadly mistaken. now here is something behenji would love to read. it's called 'Mozart in the Jungle 'by Blair Tindall, who played the oboe with the New York Philharmonic. she writes about how her oboe got her into playing the instruments of other musicians, if you know what behenji means

a snippet from the article (which you can read by...clicking on the title):

"she describes leaping naked into a hotel pool with a leading member of a touring Andrew Lloyd Webber production who subsequently made love to her in his hotel suite as “exuberantly” as he performed music. He then lit a postcoital cigarette and offered her a job on Lloyd Webber’s new Aspects of Love in New York. “Why, I thought, did I bother with an answering machine?” Tindall writes. “Between XXX and my former oboist boyfriends, I got hired for most of my gigs in bed.”

who needs chicklit this summer???

found between the newsprint

this interesting article in the guardian (click on title) on ten overseas writers (not from britain, at least) to be read. three cheers for ismail kadare who won the Man Booker prize, joining Rushdie, Roy and many other fine, fine writers.


deconstructing the pitt

is this for real?

the 2005 Western Literature Association Conference in Los Angeles is asking for proposals for a panel on the film icon, Brad Pitt. Why 'the Pitt?' here is their reasoning:

As one of this generation's most popular actors, Pitt has explored many of the cultural tensions of our emerging postmodern era.

after taking the earwax out of her ear with her pencil, behenji is getting ready to write her proposal too. i mean seriously folks, do we have that much time on our hands. i know, i know. bring on the bricks. i'm waiting...


therouxly enjoying my vacation...hopefully

behenji's jaithji (husband's older brother for those unfamiliar with northern india familial titles) brought up paul theroux yesterday, i.e., how his latest book, blinding light, is about writer's block, etc. now theroux is one of those authors behenji has wanted to to read...but like all bibliophiles who read more and then feel so infinitely puny on realization that books are multiplying faster than india's population, behenji has added theroux to her longer than santa clause's list of books to read before the final chapter...behenji's final chapter. ok, bad joke.i apologize.

anyway, on visiting theroux's website (cannot provide links folks. alas, apple and blogger have not decided to be friends yet. hence, no hyperlinks. behenji will have to defect to another browser soon), and reading an interview in salon.com (http://www.salon.com/weekly/interview960902.html) behenji became very intrigued with how theroux weaves autobiography with fiction, even keeping the names of people the same. i think it's like dali or escher, where the real meets the unreal, to create some sort of hyperreality. behenji thinks the concept is beautiful and has, out of the kindness of her heart and curiousity of her mind, moved up theroux on the must read list to summer 2005.

although theroux has been doing this for awhile, behenji wonders if this might push magical realism into the corner. is this the literary wave that south asian writers could/should/would/ride? or is this another form of magical realism? and while we are at it, where does the magic come in? come from?

let it be known the behenji has spoken-under the influence of ginger tea.


shantarm bowls over bohemian bhaiji

my brother, only 18 months younger (how did my mother handle 2 little bohemians at once...), whom i will refer to as bohemian bhaiji, just got back from india. along with an upset stomach and massive jetlag, he also brought home shantaram. an enthused bookworm bhai, he told me how he came across shantaram in a bookstore in bombay and couldn't put it down, and that as long as it is, it really holds the reader. now apparently johhny depp is making the film, except bohemian bhai says shantaram could be six films, behenji is about to start reading it, as her alchemy of desire wanes...sorry mr. tejpal. to learn more about shantaram and its author, click on the title. now shhhh! behenji is reading.


alarcon stalks behenji

for the past three days, daniel alarcon has popped out of various pages, as if almost saying, go read my book. first i came across someone's list in amazon, where they have listed his book as a must read, then i saw his book review in an old issue of O magazine and then i chanced upon him on moorishgirl.com. his set of short stories is called 'war by candlelight.' what a haunting name. apparently he lives a few suburbs away. behenji must pay him a visit, at least through the page. his website, should you like to visit, dear reader, is www.danielalarcon.com


a call for newness in indian writing

ok, so behenji is still giddy from her trip to disneyland but not giddy enough to not type. word of caution: do not climb tarzan's tree house on a full bladder;) no, but seriously, folks, why is jonathan safran (want to write saffron) foer getting such a beating for his latest book. have not read it yet, but amitava kumar, in an op piece in the hindu, uses it as a springboard to dive into the question:

How is newness to come into the world?

of course kumar is talking of literary newness and safran foer has, according to many of the literary minded, used gimmicks to make his novel appear different. although the article (again, click on the title folks) was a little too short and sweet for behenji, it definitely rang a bell. i wholeheartedly agree with kumar and eagerly await more innovation in south asian writing. wonder what kumar thinks of tejpal? i think he is doing something new too...no folks have not finished it yet. got sidetracked by other books that got sidetracked by other books.

the other day, as behenji's little bohemians stomped and romped in playful violence at a place called 'the jungle,' behenji was drinking coffee elsewhere while reading drinking coffee elsewhere by zz packer. packer is a former stegner fellow. whereas behenji is a future stegner fellow...inshallah. her language was heralded as sparkling, witty, and innovative by, again, those usual suspects--the mindfully literary minded. my experience so far: packer is smart, edgy and knows how to work with plot. The language is driven by the story and can at times be awfully plain, but imho it works. i was not as bowled over as i thought i'd be...but that's ok. it will be interesting to see how packer evolves into a novelist.

my friend has been raving about gregory robert's shantaram. that it is the most compassionate book on india she has ever read. and yes folks, she is indian. shantaram, with its glossy orange-red cover stares at behenji from her bookshelf in all its 1000 paged glory. behenji's friend says, put down all your other books and read this.

what say you, dear reader?


towelhead on a small island, a review by modern mummee

Mummee is seriously displeased. She spent four hours on Alicia Erian’s Towelhead. She wasn’t planning to read it and only did so because she wanted to see what sort of a novel was called Towelhead, a racial slur for our Mid-East bhais and behens as well as for others who wear turbans in these days of baseball caps.

Towelhead is about thirteen year old Jasira and her parents, who may as well be thirteen years old too, for all the complexity they show. Jasira’s mother is divorced and dating Barry, whose roving hands lead him to shaving Jasira in unmentionable places (at least for mummee). Much is made in this novel of the act of shaving and alas, Mummee did not come away with any new insight into perhaps a fresh look at shaving and its pickings.

On finding out about this, Jasira's mother sends her to live with her Daddy, a once Iraqi native, now an American residing in Houston. He listens to NPR, is accordingly upset when Saddam invades Kuwait and battles his Americanism out with his neighbor, army reserve dude, Mr. Vuoso. Mr. Vuoso has a ten year old son whom Jasira baby sits and who calls her Raghead, Camel Jockey and Sand Nigger, all alussions to the title. The novel, which could have been named anyone of these slurs, decides to rest its haunches on the slur 'Towelhead,' without any particular justification. Mummy wonders why and is saddened that neither Erian nor Jasira deigns to enlighten.

There is a supposed element of war in the novel as well as one of racism and Mummee, who likes to read about such topics, as long as neither inflicts her directly, found the novel to espouse on neither shrewdly. Saddam invades Kuwait and Jasira’s Dad doggedly continues listening to NPR, battling with Mr. Vuoso and being mean to Jasira, though we never really know why Daddy is such a mean bastard. A little bit of backstory into who the hell Daddy is before he decided to be from Houston might have made this a richer and perhaps more political novel, but again neither Erian nor Jasira will tell.

Mummee did glean, however, that Daddy was not mean because Jasira was dating a black boy, because Daddy’s meanness began long before that, only dating and Daddy’s disapproval bring us to the racial element, a bold step perhaps on Erian’s part for letting us intuit that an Arab can look down on a fellow dark skinned man. The interracial dating between teens is depicted through more shaving and picking. Why this stupid fascination with pubic hair? Granted there is this general consensus around the world, that there seems to be too much, but i don't think that is the point Erian is trying to make.

The good guy and gal are the liberal couple living next door to Daddy. When the going gets really crappy they aid Jasira in remarkable ways. How? Now if Mummee telss you everything, she wouldn't be Mummee. Go read it, Beta! If you need some incentive, let me tell you that Jasira’s sexual exploits and exploitations make up a good chunk of the novel and though the forced sexual awakening of a thirteen year old is handled somewhat deftly, it is also handled somewhat too soft-porny for Mummee's intellectual taste.

However, if this interests you, Mummy says go ahead, read it, Barnes and Nobles wants you to. The Barnes and Nobles Discovery Writers pamphlet features Alicia Erian as a writer to be discovered is baffling enough but it is even more distressing for Mummee to find an author the caliber of Andrea Levy lumped within the same pages. Levy’s Small Island won England’s literary prizes Whitbread and Orange in 2005. She is certainly anauthor worthy of American discovery and not just because she won prizes, but because Mummee has read Small Island and has loved it. Small Island is set in pre and present 1948 and moves between Jamaica, England and India as deftly as the four narrators who tell their interweaving tales of class clash, racial schism and love affairs. Levy’s characters are full bodied and blooded characters engaged in way more than indulgent sexual shavings and pickings and instead of the characters listening to NPR, they are the people whom the news reports of. Race is handled particularly elegantly and at one point Levy compares the palm trees dotting the edge of Jamaica, so congenial to tourists, the bars of a prison to the Island’s residents.

Mummee’s Verdict, if there must be one: Go to a Small Island without a towel on your head!

introducing modern mummee

behenji is honored to have a guest reviewer grace her blog. she's a bookworm, a mother of two rambunctious yet adorable kids, and a versatile wife who knows more than two uses for a frying pan. and she weilds a pen mightier than a sword...she is modern mummee, and boy does she have opinions. mummeeji will hopefully be paying us a weekly visit and share her wit and wisdom on books she's read. let us give mummee a big behenji welcome;)


dappled postmodern apple and two theives

okay, so i want to write about so many things, hence the strange title. if you can figure out 'what' from the title, i will give you an autographed copy of my debut novel...what's that you say? i have to write it first? behenji promises to write so much her hand develops inkitus. until then, you will have to be satisfied with 'it was a dark, moonless night. shyam was peeling the sugar cane stick with his good front tooth...'anyway, before i say anything else: !@$%^&*()_+ and :"?><~?><. yes folks, behenji can now emote, shift, control, salsa dance and chachacha across her keyboard. it feels great!!!!! behenji is the proud owner of a iBook G4. so that's my dappled apple-white with fingerprints and probably a few cookie crumbs.

now on to the post-modern. i got a mail from one of my beloved friends asking me this, "what the fuck is derridean deconstruction? 'now i couldn't tell her how most of us so called theory-savvy people ask that question amongst ourselves, but in secret. i told her it was about breaking literature down to its neutrons, protons, and electrons. and then i came upon this article.
or many contemporary academics, especially those who bought into postmodern theory in the last few decades, the idea of the "real" raises serious problems. Reality depends on those who are perceiving it, on social forces that have conditioned their thinking, and on whoever controls the flow of information that influences them. They believe with Nietzsche that there are no facts, only interpretations. Along with notions like truth or objectivity, or moral concepts of good and evil, there's hardly anything more contested in academia today.

howz that for some critical thought...

and now on to theives. panditji and i are looking forward to seeing bunty aur babli, shaad ali sahgal's much anticipated second movie. after saathiya, expectations are running very high. the story revolves around a young woman and man, who want to bust out of kanpur (the same place panditji busted out of, but don't tell him i said that), and become an unlikely team of crime, rhyme and disguises. big dreamers with empty pockets, the story of our lives;)

and on that note, a very goodnight to those in north america and good morning to those rising in the east;)


even the beautiful can write...and struggle with it

Was everyone obliged to write a novel? Could I write a novel? Did I want to write a novel? What the hell was a novel, anyway, when you came right down to it? A really, really, really long short story? I hoped so, because that was the only thing I knew for certain that I could manage, sort of, to write.

a handsome, pulitzer-winning writer wrote this in an introspective, honest, self-indulgent essay for the NYRB. click on the title to find out who, what, where, when and why.


behenji quote of the day

and no, its not by me. am not 'that' self-indulgent. picked this up from an old newspaper article.

'she looked so domesticated that she would have given the worst behenji a run for her money. '


identity-i dent it easily

talk about idenity theft and the world becoming flat-a very fascinating article about a vicar in england, who wrote under a pseudonym 'rahila khan' and published stories about south asian identity in england. once the publishers caught on, they canned the book. the irony is that the stories, apparently, are quite authentic. again, click on the title folks.

a snippet-

The vicar’s understanding of the tragic world of Muslim girls living in British slums, caught between two cultures and belonging fully to neither, possessing little power to determine their own fates, seems to me to be equally accurate. Indeed, he explores this world with considerable subtlety as well as sympathy.
The girls are vastly superior, morally and intellectually, to their white counterparts. Their problem is precisely the opposite of that of the white youths: far from nihilism, it is the belief in a code of ethics and conduct so rigid that it makes no allowances for the fact that the girls have grown up and must live in a country with a very different culture from that of the country in which their parents grew up. In the eyes of their parents, the girls are easily infected with, or corrupted by, the dream of personal freedom, and since the only result of such personal freedom that the parents see around them is the utter disintegration of the white working class into fecklessness and slovenly criminality, where every child is a bastard and families are kaleidoscopic in their swiftly changing composition, they become even more rigidly conservative than they might otherwise have been. They cling to what they know, as to a plank in a storm at sea.


if you feel gulity about not writing enough, read this

a fun article that behenji stumbled across about the so-called 'prolific' writer. here's a glimpse-

then along comes a chap like Alexander McCall Smith, who seems to regard book writing not as some rarefied art but as a form of daily exercise, like sit-ups or squats. Where most authors sweat to produce 1,000 words a day without self-mutilation, McCall Smith has been known to bang out three times that in a single sitting. He’s a living rebuke of the notion that novel-writing is the least bit arduous.

i feel marginally better now, about not having written my novel. the link is above in the title folks, until my shift and ctrl keys start working again....and now as the clock nears midnight here in the west coast, bon nuit, as they say in paris.

whatcha readin...

is it me, or are there others who read multiple books at a time. sometimes i really do feel that ADD-attention deficit disorder-is not codswallop. but i do know quite a few bookworms, who have multiple books going and somehow they get finished...if they are good. despite the books gathering dust on my shelf, couldn't help but go to the local library and pick up some more to read. currently languishing on my bookshelf are v.s. naipaul's 'magic seeds, ' nadeem aslam's 'map for lost lovers, ' gregory david's 'shantaram' and uzma aslam khan's 'tresspassing'-all fine books. what did i get from the library, you might ask-well, i got anita rao badami's 'hero's walk' and 'tamarind woman,' adrienne rich's 'arts of the possible' and a book called 'giving their word- conversations with contemporary poets.' i am so excited to metamorphose into bookworm behenji.

am currently savoring tarun tejpal's 'alchemy of desire' like a glass of cabernet sauvignon or bottle rather. speaking of cabernet, i have yet to see the ending of SIDEWAYS. woe is behenji...in a good way. sorry i can't provide links to any of these books. behenji's keyboard refuses to cooperate, mainly the shift and control keys. a new computer is on the way, courtesy of panditji. until then, go check out your favorite bookstore or else...what else...the library.


rushdie's pen

a few sundays ago, rushdie had an essay in the NYT, which sadly, i only got a hold of today. a quote that leapt out at me:

In many parts of the world -- in, for example, China, Iran and much of Africa -- the free imagination is still considered dangerous.

something to think about, bhaiyo and beheno...


a knot in the plot

behenji, in the hopes of trying to write a novel--much like tarun tejpal's 'secretly maligned by the media' protagonist--has been sputtering, starting then fizzling as far as anything remotely close to a plot goes. for inspiration i have called on mj rose's blog backstory. i really enjoyed reading about the genesis of a novel by various writers and can see that it takes a few, before you hit the right/write note. behenji thinks she is better off polishing her poetry at the moment. but nonetheless, she is armed with pen, paper and an open mind for whenever the novel writing muse wishes to pay a visit.


swimming in shit, the french way

came across this review from the folks at http://www.about.com/ i've always loved gay paris and love reading about ex-pats, from hemingway to...well, to this guy, whoever he is. the book is called 'a year in the merde.' and for those of you, not literate in french, merde means shit, crap, doodoo, poopoo...you get my point. its written by stephen clarke, an english businessman, who while working in france, was inspired by his own experiences to write a fictional memoir of an ex-pat. the reviewer, who seems to be of french descent, if not french, by the sound of his name, says the following-

'Merde recounts the fictional adventure and misadventures of Paul West, an English businessman sent to Paris to create and open an English tea room as he encounters the language and culture of Paris. This is not A Year in Provence,nor does it have the sweetness of Under the Tuscan Sun or its progeny. Clarke's full bodied approach (think smelly French cheese) makes this novel all the more delightful. '

'Merde is both real and metaphor. Dogs deposit 15 tons of poop onto the streets of Paris each year, resulting in the hospitalization of 650 people after a slip and fall. Clarke's account of learning to cope with the omnipresent poop provides one of the many hilarious learning opportunities. Of course, the metaphorical merde runs throughout the novel. One finds oneself deep into it in business, sex, or buying a house in the country. Curiously, West's boss intersects across each of these areas as Paul learns the nuances of French life. '

now, behenji is a french ex-pat wannabe, as pretentious as that may sound. the city definitely has many things going for itself, despite its paradoxes-cultural or otherwise. you can read more about paris and live vicariously through amardeep's blog post at http://www.lehigh.edu/~amsp/blog.html, look under may 08, as i did, a few days ago. and then go out and read a year in merde. or else you can try and snag a last minute flight and send behenji a picture from in front of le towering eiffel.


a box of one's own

has it come to this--the hobo-ization of writing? read an article in the nyt today, from yesterday--yes behenji reads day old news-- in which the private and public spaces of writing are tested by 3 authors, who are under deadline to write a novel by june 4, within the creepy confines of white plastic panels-resembling shoji screens- all of 140 sq. feet. the goal, you ask-

'to constantly consider the relationship between life and art.'

behenji just has to twirl once, before her hips knock down those screens. and yet hip, hip hooray to those brave yet pretentious souls, who will toil before realizing 'you can't box art.' buying boxed art, however....ah, now there's another story.

miss me, miss me...now you have to...

ok, so the last thing you want to do is kiss behenji...especially since she has gone into hibernation. but behenji's ego was recently stroked by a friend, as she reprimanded behenji for not updating this blog. 'you have fans,' she said. 'yes,' i said. 'one, over my dining table. hahaha.' behenji's friend was not amused.

anyway, behenji is slightly shame-faced but ever obliging. so here goes...

stats right now-

bookworm behenji-currently reading the alchemy of desire by tarun tejpal. and yes, it is every bit what the critics say. it's definitely ' sex and sensuality,' or rather a new sense and sensibility for the new millenium. sorry if i've ruffled jane austen's petticoat for saying so.

bawarchi behenji-currently exploring moroccan cuisine and tapas

sufi behenji-listening to rabbi, who is not jewish, sing 'bullah ki jana main kaun'

bmw behenji-yes, she drives a beamer. all by herself. behenji finally got her license to roam the roads of california, after 32 years of road fright. and that too on the first attempt. now behenji parks between the lines...and reads between them too.

and hopefully behenji will write more lines too..in the very near future.


susan sontag: above the obits

a topic which soniah and i have discussed : the various obits of susan sontag and how many praised her or booed her. i found this article very interesting because it talks about how the media can manufacture a life after death.


burning the midnight oil....environment friendly ofcourse!

a wonderful article in the washington post about writing at night, in one shot, or atleast trying to ride the wave of inspiration till one is knocked down.

God of Small Inspirations, are you reading this? behenji needs something fast and furious;)

(cosmic chuckles then the sound of a pin dropping)


behenji on men

its raining and behenji has some time to ruminate as she listens to water slip, slide and gurgle.

so what is it about men and words? i mean men in terms of emotion and writing down their feelings. while men can be emotional in person and promise you different parts of the universe (the stars, the moon, one of saturn's rings) try getting something in print (electronic or otherwise). and if you are one of those unlucky men that do commit your feelings to paper, your sexuality is questioned.

i guess i'm recalling a discussion on an online literary group regarding michael ondaatje and his poem the cinammon peeler. i post it here for your reading pleasure:

The Cinnamon Peeler

If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under the rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbour to your hair
or the crease
that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler's wife.

I could hardly glance at you
before marriage
never touch you
- your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers...

When we swam once
I touched you in the water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grass cutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume

and knew

what good is it
to be the lime burner's daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in the act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of a scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler's wife. Smell me.

this is one of my favorite poems, for many reasons-the sensuality, the language, the awakening of our olfactory senses through ondaatje's images. one is almost envious of the cinnamon peeler's wife.

but how did some south asian men react to this? questions such as 'is ondaatje gay?' comments such as 'this prose is too flowery to be written by a straight man.'

behenji asks you this: can a straight man not feel passion like this and articulate it? or is it fear? of confronting one's own feelings? is there such a thing as a male ego? and if so, how does that affect a man's writing?

behenji needs a cup of chai now;)

no more juicy, juicy mangoes please!

happy happy, joy joy. 2005 is here. a little older, a little bolder, may the new year bring us a little kick in our coffee, a little more whiskey in our bailey's;) its raining here in the bay and i feel like belting out 'barkha ritu aaiee.'

anyway, behenji has had it up to here (hand right under my nose), with 'easy exotic' south asian literature. they either roll out the magical realism carpet, trying to imitate the two great R's (Roy & Rushdie) or else the characters and plots are crazily convoluted to up the cool quotient. its been a long time since a South Asian book has come into the scene quietly and gently swept me (and probably others) off my feet. or made me fall off my chair, jump out of bed, or sit on the toilet for hours for that matter. where are the experimentors of language? the outlaws of plot ? the genre benders? someone who is being touted as the literary offspring of R&R and the god child of Kundera is Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi . while I haven't read the book, I have heard mostly negative comments from other South Asians along the lines of 'not original,' ' language too flowery,' 'magical realism copycat' or else 'Siddharth who?'. Which really does make me wonder what is going on? I went to Shanghvi's website and was suprised by the pink in it, the glorious peacock on the left of the page, and this photo of the author. what I wanted was an excerpt of the book, a flavor of this much touted author's prose that could not be had through peacocks, turbans or that killer silver necklace around Shanghvi's neck! a summary of the book can be found here. somehow, a line from The Beatles' song 'Baby You're a Rich Man' comes to mind:

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?