Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Friday, 20 June 2014

Hindi kaise ich bolne ka yaaro?! Or How is Hindi To be Spoken?

Sindhu - Hindu - Hindustan : Aryan - Persian - Mughal 
Ye India hai jalfrezi: thoda global, thoda local.

India gets its name from the river Indus, which the Indians knew as the river Sindhu, which the Persians, struggling with the initial ‘s’, called Hindu. From Persia, the word spread to Greece and thereupon the whole of India became known by the name of the river. The Mughals made it Hindustan. The ancient Indians, however, knew their sub-continent as Jambudvipa (the land of the jambu tree). - Source: AL Basham

Today, the river Indus/Sindhu is mainly in Pakistan. Which begs the question, in tune with the current Indian government’s note to ‘give priority to Hindi’: should we change the name of India to Jambudvipa, and Hindi to Jambudvipi/dvipani/ ... 

And some clarity from the PMO on the exact form of this ‘Jambudvipi Hindi’ will be helpful: will it have the salt of Bhojpuri Hindi? the masti of Mumbaiyya Hindi? the hybrid riot of Hyderabadi Hindi? the vowel-snuffing of Punjabi Hindi? ... 

Hindi kaise ich bolne ka yaaro?!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Pabulum for the Toothless

Today, 3 June, is the 30th anniversary of Operation Blue Star. I was a teenager when it happened, housebound because of perennial curfews, battling adolescent hormones, arguing, arguing, arguing, with my parents, siblings, the neighbours, friends, anybody who had a point of view on what was occurring. Cradling the radio, fiddling with its knob for clarity, I listened to BBC Radio, distrusting the official media, finding nothing to glean from the redacted newspapers. It was an obscure, anxious time, time in which I wished to cohere what was happening into the black and white of textbooks that I grew up with and found so comforting.

But sense and sensibility had forsaken my world. A storm, worse than any Punjabi haneri, tossed us about in the manner of King’s horror-stricken protagonists, even as it drew up partition lines afresh. My world changed.

Thirty years later, I sit at a remove from my old town but the reel in my mind is fresh. I have wrestled with the demons in a book, specifically, and in others, at a tangent. I have been to readings where the post-Blue Star generation has looked at me with mild curiosity and enquired, why don’t you write a, -umm, lighter novel? As if a novel was a thing of silk, to be advertised in the manner of Thai airways as smooth. 

We write in order to memorialize. The day I come across silk I shall write light, la haul vila kuvvat. Meanwhile, it’s three decades later but don’t you think, for a moment, that the demons have gone away. They acquire power via the abysmal memory of those who choose to look the other way. Or the unsullied young minds in search of light-reading. Pabulum, rightly, is meant for the toothless. For the rest of us, there is a bloody battle and its unattenuated aftermath.