Paperwallah

Column #27

In the middle of June, I am dreaming of snow. Snow that is qanik — big, almost weightless crystals that fall in stacks and cover the ground with a layer of pulverised frost. It’s a word I learned from Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, Peter Høeg’s strange, quietly beautiful novel about an… Read more

Column #26

Often, I’m asked why I write. And I’m never quite sure how to answer. I’m tired of dull hackneyed phrases about “expressing oneself”, “reimagining the world”, or “telling the stories only I can tell”. Lines repeated so often, at interviews and readings and literary festivals… Read more

Column #25

Dear William, We have taken the liberty to write to you in the hope that we may suggest certain revisions regarding the plays in which we feature. It was pointed out to us, by a few others, that this could be seen as an audacious, even imprudent, move on our part… Read more

Column #24

In the course of writing this paragraph, I have checked Facebook twice (two new notifications, a friend request, an event reminder), opened Twitter (a new follower mysteriously named “The Stranger”), clicked on a link listing reviews of new bars and restaurants… Read more

Column #23

What does it mean to lead a writer’s life? There’s a self-help book on the matter (what isn’t there a self-help book on, one wonders?) that, in its own words, “addresses issues that face writers”. Including writer’s block, rejection, and self-discipline. Apart from that, “established authors… Read more

Column #22

There isn’t a doubt that reading is good for you. Yet although we may be readers, how many of us are re-readers? One of the main reasons for our aversion to rereading books is most obvious (and perhaps superficial?): Time. Easy enough as children or young adults to indulge in rereading… Read more

Column #21

I am tired of governments. I am tired of this one, and the one across the border. I am tired of borders. I am tired of governments that bomb Gaza. So my love from Palestine cannot speak her language in the streets of Jerusalem. For fear that she too, like her 21-year-old brother… Read more

Column #20

Not long ago, a friend and I indulged in a weekend movie marathon. A Wes Anderson movie marathon. We were very methodical about it. Beginning with Rushmore (1998) and moving on to The Royal Tenenbaums (2001),The Life Aquatic (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007)… Read more

Column #19

This month, my books and I are reunited. We’ve been apart four years. Me, studying and living in the UK; they, stacked dutifully in my parents’ house in Shillong, patiently awaiting my return. When they arrived at my flat in Delhi, I felt I was welcoming home old friends… Read more

Column #18

It’s a debate as old as the movies. One I’ve been hesitant to broach. Books versus their film adaptations. An endlessly looping discussion — like Kim Kardashian or the meaning of life, is there any point? Admittedly, I’ve enjoyed many films without knowing there were… Read more

Column #17

Somewhere in the Dorset countryside we came across a painting. In a butter-cupped field, against a backdrop of trees and early summer sky, a horse. Like something by George Stubbs, a 19th-century English artist famous for his portraits of equine creatures. “What shall we name him?” Read more

Column #16

It began in school, this mild obsession, sparked by a picture in a poetry textbook. A sketch of John Keats, head tilted and crowned with curly hair, hand supporting his chin, clad in a cuffed white shirt, dark eyes staring into the distance. To be honest, there wasn’t much to choose from… Read more

Column #15

On the same morning, two people shared the Jeremy story with me. And the link, I noticed, had been running riot on the internet for a few days. “We all have our one Jeremy,” some proclaimed dramatically. Or “Who is your Jeremy?”queried others. Jeremy’, according to Jordana… Read more

Column #14

Each year, when April faithfully comes around, my newsfeed clogs. That one verse, on Twitter, Facebook, et al, repeated like a mantra. “April is the cruellest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.” The beginning of TS Eliot’s… Read more

Column #13

I am bereft of words. Empty as a leaky cauldron. All talk it has been the past seven weeks. An endless carousel of literary festivals and book launches. Where everything must be explained, answered, described at length, spelled out, explicated, clarified. It was exhilarating, exhausting. Read more

Column #12

Being a writer I am inordinately fond of pens. Either metaphorical, the ‘pen’ with which I type-write, or literal, the fountain pen I carry with me to book signings. “You’re the only person I know who still uses an ink pen,” said someone at a recent launch. Lately, pens have been… Read more

Column #11

My long-standing affection for Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol began with a well-thumbed Ladybird Classics for children. The cover featured a suitably Dionysian Spirit of Christmas Present, robe spilling open, holly entwined in his locks, exuberantly perched on a mound… Read more

Column #10

Lately, I have been thinking about book trailers. You may roll your eyes, and mutter, Jonathan Franzen-style, about your profound discomfort with having to use moving images to promote the printed word. “To me, the point of a novel is to take you to a still place,” he says in… Read more

Column #9

This is a memory trail. Prompted by leaving. By moving from place to place, city to city, across countries and continents. And at the edge of that journey — a new beginning, an old end — always the questions: how do the places you’ve lived in mark you? How do you mark them? Read more

Column #8

Virginia Woolf greets you at the door. Sepia-tinted, larger than life, wrapped luxuriously in fur. Like a good hostess, she seems indiscriminately pleased to see everyone. Her face, delicate, emotive, carries a small, ceaseless smile. In the image, taken by an unknown photographer… Read more

Column #7

If Pindar, Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes, were alive today, he may, for a day job, work as chief sloganeer for an advertising agency. “Become what you are,” he wrote in a Victory Ode in the 5th century BC, long before Nike brainstormed over what would… Read more

Column #6

Earlier in 2014, I began this book column with great hope. A piece on literature and borders — rather, literature that questions and dismantles geographical boundaries. I was inspired by artist Francis Alÿs performing ‘The Green Line’— holding a can of leaking paint, he strolled along the… Read more

Column #5

Some years ago, in the sliver of time after graduate school and a first job, I was considering, quite seriously, the prospect of a PhD. In English Literature, of course, and in one of two (not entirely unrelated) topics: the poetry of Philip Larkin, or dystopian fiction. More precisely, the manner… Read more

Column #4

Hanif Kureishi has just been called a d**k. We are at a weekly literary evening organised by the School of English at the University of Kent, and the remark elicits some nervous laughter, and polite, if uneasy, silence. The indicter teaches at the university’s Centre for Creative Writing… Read more

Column #3

To write a protest poem you must live in times like these. The season of Light. The season of Darkness. When our winter of discontent threatens to linger as long as the one coming to Westeros. Our fleeting spring of little hope. To write a protest poem you must expand—not your possessions Read more

Column #2

It started, as revolutions are wont to do now, with a hashtag. Early this year, London-based designer and writer Joanna Walsh tweeted cartes de voeux for her friends with illustrations and 250-odd names of women writers. #readwomen2014 has become a terrifically popular trend… Read more

Column #1

In 2004, Belgian artist Francis Alÿs performed The Green Line. He held a can of leaking paint, and strolled along the armistice border in Jerusalem – effective until 1967, after which Israel occupied Palestinian-inhabited territories east of the line. His “line-making” was a playful act Read more

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