Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The heart of the republic

Freedom is not simply a matter of being fed. The technical lack of a cage also does not define freedom. She may be trained to perform on stage through a judicious mix of fear, pain and food, but a lioness balancing on a chair and being ridden by a clown cannot be called free.

Hunting and killing also do not necessarily translate to freedom. A lioness must also be free to not hunt and not kill when she chooses. One who is expected to tear into a gladiator, or an unarmed Christian convert, is no freer than the human she will kill.

Freedom, then, is a form of self-determination. Being able to make one’s own choices is vital to the process of achieving it, and inhabiting it. And what is the republic if not a human attempt towards self-determination?

Some thoughts on the republic, freedom and Born Free today in the Indian Express: 


A first review for City of Incident

"Short sketches are meant to be packed with detail, not a word out of place, and this is exactly the vividness that characterises this collection. And yet there is a sense of universality about the sketches as the reader will instantly recognise such characters in their lives too. The empathy with which she writes is at the heart and soul of every story. The stories linger with the reader after the book is closed.

The universality of her characters is also played out by the ordinariness of their roles. Community, caste, and religion are not the identifying features of these stories. These scenarios can belong to anyone. It comes as a shock to the reader to realise this. Everyone has a story to tell. This collection proves it as long as one is prepared to look beyond the nameless faces and make the effort to understand."

A review by Jaya Bhattacharji Rose

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Another extract from my new novel, 'City of Incident':

Another extract from my new novel, 'City of Incident' has been published and is free to read on Do buy the book either online or in your favourite local bookstores.

This woman is so transparent, the evil eye cannot fall upon her. Perhaps the evil goes right through her body, falling on the person standing right behind her in queue for the renewal of a second-class pass.

Not that she travels second class. She travels first class, bindaas. Who can challenge her? She wears sleeveless tops and big dangly earrings, just like a college girl. She has an office job and a faux leather handbag with a Hello Kitty clasp that she polishes once a week with Brasso. Nobody would look at her and say that she doesn’t look first class. Besides, in the terrible crush of the morning, no ticket examiner dares enter the compartment. No commuter could be expected to reach into her purse to extract a ticket or a pass. All arms are trapped, pressed, and pinned down by a dozen other arms and shoulders. All the ladies must suck in their bellies and squash each other’s breasts as they make their way from seat to aisle to door. There is safety in such crowds.

Even so, she is aware that luck is on her side. Night after night, she travels in the first-class coach when it is near empty. In four years, not once has any ticket examiner shown up and asked to see her ticket.

Read more at:

Monday, January 10, 2022

Strange little security problems

Something odd has been happening with Facebook/Meta for me. Since I've not given FB permission to take all 'cookies', and since I do not accept the prompt asking me for permission to use my display picture instead of my password, it has been putting me through a 3-step login security process. Ordinarily, I wouldn't mind the extra security, but this has been disconcerting lately. First, I sometimes find that the security code shows up as wrongly. Second, I keep getting the message that this 'device' is not recognized, no matter how many times I log into the same device, and clear 'security'. 

Third, and most disconcertingly, I am offered the option of clearing security by identifying my own recent comments. A few times, I do so successfully. More often, FB informs me that my choices are incorrect even when I can swear those are the only correct choices possible. Worse, this has the effect similar to cognitive dissonance: I see a generic comment like 'many happy returns' and sure, that could be mine, but also, maybe not? Did I, or did I not, remember to wish a particular FB friend this year? It makes me very uncomfortable too, seeing comments made by other people on the walls of mutual friends, people I don't know and whose comments I would not otherwise have read.

A fourth reason I have been annoyed is that FB keeps telling me that my access is restricted when I try to comment. I am then prompted to click 'disagree with decision', which I do. I am also encouraged to go figure out why this is happening, but when I go to the relevant page, I see 'no violations'. There is no explanation for why my reach or access should be restricted when there are no violations. There is no clear and easy way of figuring out why these things happen, and I am getting very sick of 'disagreeing with decision' each time I have to say congratulations, or happy new year, or even respond to someone's comment on my own page.

I know, logically and through reading investigative news reports, that we users of social media have very little control over what we see, or how it impacts us. Knowing doesn't make it less distressing. We have all noticed already that posts involving links, or things that are shared, get little or no traction. The whole point of being on social media is that you get to share stuff that matters to you. Photos matter little to me, sharing ideas, articles, etc matter a lot. So this limited reach for 'links' is doubly infuriating. 

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that, if my reach is further restricted, please know that I have not violated anything. Or, if I decide to deactivate the account myself, as I have done before, don't be too surprised. I have zero desire to live in the metaverse and a sub-zero desire to embed fb/meta deeper into my life.

I do maintain this blog/site, and while it is no longer so active, I shall be making more of an effort to keep it updated viz my work.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

An extract from City of Incident

Here is an extract from the first chapter of City of Incident. Please read, and then please go find the book and buy it and read the whole thing. 

They carry knives, some of them. He has seen them squatting on the train floor, chopping up beans and shelling peas into plastic bags while on their way home. It is more likely one of these ladies who carry a knife while travelling than an urchin who doesn’t even have a bag to hide it in.

What else could a woman use? A hairpin, possibly. A thin, black metal hairpin. He had scratched his forearm against one such pin and had been startled at the sliver of blood it drew, for he hadn’t noticed any sharp objects on the cluster of heads surrounding him. Or perhaps it was a needle. Those are quite sharp too and the ladies do knit and crochet in the train. Or a safety pin. Yes. That is just the sort of thing a lady might do if she was sitting by herself in an empty coach. Her restless fingers would take a safety pin to the teal-blue rexine. Stick it in. Gouge. Rip it up with a wrench and a twist of her wrist.

More here: 

New book

I have a new book out. A novel about 12 characters in a metropolis, seeking balance, love, repair. 

Please buy it, ideally at a bookstore, but if you can't go out on account of the pandemic or if you want a soft copy, it is also available in both formats online. Link below. 

Buy on Amazon:,aps,205&sr=8-1

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