Abundance

Dusk seemed to excite the avians, flocking in hordes to the mango tree. Life was abundant, energetic, and vocal, threatening to burst out of its green shelter in a cacophony of sounds, colours, and shapes. The mango tree seemed to pulse back and forth with the activity within, like the very core of the planet it inhabited.

In a world consumed by the doomsday complex, with a ubiquitous lost paradise narrative, I imagined I should let them know of this wondrous exuberance of life. There were no ominous prophecies, no visions of smoggy, barren landscapes strewn with human debris, no mass migrations of dense and diseased conglomerations of society, and none of the desperation of a struggled existence. Certainly this packed and rising city couldn’t have escaped the fumes. It had held strong, thrived even. The birds in the tree were an ode to the resilience, not of the people but of the planet.

I had my paradise, for now.

Author Bio: Rahul Shingrani, is an Entrepreneur and a Biomedical Devices Pioneer who lives and works out of Bangalore.

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Whether you call it Bengalooru, Bengaluru, Bangalore, or the Ooru – join us in our protest against the elevated corridor.

Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

Sign the petition here.

Note: If you’re in town you can also participate in the rally against the elevated corridor slated for this Saturday, 16th March. Details here.

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Tale of the trees

Once there flourished
A garden city
Its occupants stood
Tall and proud
Magnanimous by nature
They sheltered
All under their broad canopy

Birds and bees of every kind
Frolicked amidst blooms
Varied, multi-hued
Neither too hot nor too cold
It was perfect in every way
As Goldilocks would say

Word about paradise spread
Humans soon swarmed
Upon vacant squares,
they erected tall towers
Stealthily the species claimed
spaces they never owned

Beauty met a ghastly end
Butchered in very possible way
By beasts, oh, so many!
This is no fairy tale ,
She lamented and cried

The green warriors perished,
In a battle one-sided
Pay heed, mend your ways,
Screamed their battle scars
Before vibrancy gets replaced
By deathly, sombre greys.

Author Bio: Uma Chellappa is a freelance content writer who discovered her writing bones by accident. Books, travel, music bring her alive. A trained singer, a hands-on mother, a decor enthusiast, she likes to wear many hats.

Care about Bangalore city?
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Whether you call it Bengalooru, Bengaluru, Bangalore, or the Ooru – join us in our protest against the elevated corridor.

Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

Sign the petition here.

Note: If you’re in town you can also participate in the rally against the elevated corridor slated for this Saturday, 16th March. Details here.

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Nostalgia

“Is it true?” Ramanappa uncle asks,
His voice trembling
with the weight of the looming death
That awaits the memories he has
nurtured and raised over the years.

I walk as slowly as I can
Listening to the music of the
rustling leaves beneath my feet,
He walks as fast as he can
His body swaying with every step taken
with the aid of his vintage walking stick.

He knows the answer but asks
the question in a hope that
Someone would tell him it’s a rumour,
that
There’s no corridor – elevated or flat
His Cubbon Park will remain intact.

We stop at the Silver Oak tree,
Like we do every Saturday.
He places his hand on the trunk
and murmurs her name.
He begins his story as usual,
‘We would sit under this tree
and talk for hours,
Her head on my shoulder,
Our fingers entwined like creepers.’

Today, however, he ends it
on a different note,
‘It’s good you are not here, Sarada,
There’s a storm coming.’

Author Bio: Rajni Mishra crafts tech stories with data-driven plots and fictional tales with real characters. Her stories and poems have appeared or are upcoming in the Breadcrumbs Magazine and the Bangalore Review. She lives in Bangalore in a home built of books.

Care about Bangalore city?
Comment. Like. Share. Spread the word.

Whether you call it Bengalooru, Bengaluru, Bangalore, or the Ooru – join us in our protest against the elevated corridor.

Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

Sign the petition here.

Note: If you’re in town you can also participate in the rally against the elevated corridor slated for this Saturday, 16th March. Details here.

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When We Are Gone

“Ayyo! It’s right there. Look where I am pointing. Yes! That bunch, get it down.”
“Just a minute, Sir, I will need to climb higher. Almost there. Got it!” Ranga’s feet finally found its footing and he added the mangoes to his sack.
“Perfect! That’s the last of the lot I guess. Thanks Ranga. You must be tired from all the climbing Ranga. Come in for some coffee. And yes, feel free to take a few mangoes with you. I know your children love it.”
“Illa, Sir, I better get going. I have promised the children a trip to Cubbon Park. I will take three mangoes with me. Thank you, Sir.”

As Ranga left for home, Mr. Rao advanced towards me and gave a pat on the bark.

I could see satisfaction in his smile and admiration in his eyes. I wondered what I had done to achieve this. Was it the yield? Or the green canopy of my leaves which had grown considerably over the last few years and now was towering over a good part of his house? I did not know. I did not want to speculate. I was glad that he had finally stopped talking about getting me chopped and sent away.

I keep recalling the one thing he told Ranga, “I am glad we did not get rid of this tree. It has given us so many mangoes in the first yield!” I would like to believe that he will stick with his decision.

Last year, he was worried that my roots will destroy the compound wall and was determined to cut me off. Mrs. Rao came to my rescue. Otherwise, God knows which furniture shop I would be in by now.

I have been a part of the Rao’s garden for over 10 years now. Jackie says my birth was a result of Mrs. Rao’s yearly prayers for having a mango tree in her garden. Jackie says that the year I was born, the jackfruits he bore had gotten big and heavy, and his branches had started to sway towards Rao’s garden. That’s how he had seen Mrs. Rao empty a plateful of mango seeds into a small pit, right where I now stand, cover it, and pour some water on it.

He had ignored this detail since he had seen her do this every year and she would desperately wait for a mango sapling to show.

The next day, the Rao family had left for a vacation and when they had returned after several weeks, Mrs Rao had seen my first leaves spring out of earth and exulted. At first, she put a fence around me to protect me from the bandicoots which came during night time. Once my tender branches had started to turn brown and strengthen, she had cleared more space for me to grow.

When I was growing up, I had many friends outside the garden who had shared water and stories with me.. Most of them are now taken down and cleared out for houses to be built.

Now, when I look around, I only see buildings with potted plants, which don’t even wave back at me. Not every plant gets a home like Rao’s to live and branch out in. I feel lucky for I receive enough space, nourishment, and water from the family at all times. When they are not at home, Ranga and his wife tend to me and all the other plants here.

Jackie and I keep discussing which of the seeds could I have possibly come from. Am I a Badami? A Raspuri? A Mallika? Or worse, a cross? Even if I am a cross, I would like to know who my two halves are. This identity crisis has spurred since my first conversation with the corner house Badami. When I was five years old, I had tried to make friends with her. She had asked me which variety I was, and I did not have an answer.

Badami has her whole family spread out in the empty plot opposite the Rao’s garden. I wish that one day, my branches will grow and entwine with hers. I am tired of having to communicate through the other plants and trees here. But I highly doubt that the colony people will let that happen.

It was only yesterday that I heard two gentlemen speak about clearing the plot and selling it to a builder. I feel bad to have given shelter to people conspiring against my Badami. But what could I do?

Poor Badami, she bears one of the finest variety fruits which are eyed and enjoyed by the entire colony. But I am sure no one will come to her rescue, especially not after I saw what they did to Banya.

Banya was easily the biggest tree in the entire colony and was at least a hundred years old. He stood majestically in the farthest corner of the colony and all trees here looked up to him and aspired to become like him one day. His enormous branches, spreading out in all directions were preferred homes to most of the birds and animals here. It was only when the cuckoos and the parrots came crying to us that we found out Banya was being taken down. The birds needed a new home and were desperately looking for one. They had no choice but to distribute themselves among the few of us. The squirrels chose to stay in Badami’s compound and now visit me once in a while to feast on the fruits. Poor Mynah even lost her family when the lopper took down one of Banya’s branches, which had her nest. She was inconsolable for months and now lives in my topmost branch. It took them one whole week to clear Banya out. The noise of chainsaws, axes and stump grinders, employed day and night, replaced the calm and occasional rustle of leaves. Truckload after truckload of timber was taken out of the colony as we watched in horror as the mighty Banya was reduced to a stub. It is at times like these that I wish we could just lift up our roots and run. It is unfair that the only way we can respond to torture is to cry our juices out or discolour in pain.

I so wish Badami could stay and we could grow old together. But I know the chainsaws will come for her soon.

I am glad that the first showers have helped me grow new leaves in her direction. I want them to grow faster so I can embrace her just once before she is taken.

Author Bio: Raksha Rao is an avid reader, an aspiring writer who doubles up as an engineer to make money. 

Care about Bangalore city?
Comment. Like. Share. Spread the word.

Whether you call it Bengalooru, Bengaluru, Bangalore, or the Ooru – join us in our protest against the elevated corridor.

Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

Sign the petition here.

Note: If you’re in town you can also participate in the rally against the elevated corridor slated for this Saturday, 16th March. Details here.

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Adjust

There once was a city named Bangalore,
Which swalpa adjusted more and more,
When they came for the trees,
They confused the bees,
And the garden city is now folklore.

Author Bio: Sarita Talwai is a full-time reader, part-time writer, and a reluctant homemaker in Bangalore.

Care about Bangalore city? Comment. Like. Share. Spread the word.

Whether you call it Bengalooru, Bengaluru, Bangalore, or the Ooru – join us in our protest against the elevated corridor.

Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

Sign the petition here.

Note: If you’re in town you can also participate in the rally against the elevated corridor slated for this Saturday, 16th March. Details here.

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Priya Doraswamy on Publishing a Book in India

Priya Hi resPriya Doraswamy founded Lotus Lane Literary in New Jersey in May, 2013. She has been an agent for a little over five years and has sold books globally. Priya represents bestselling and award winning adult fiction and non-fiction authors. Prior to her agency career, Priya was a Deputy Attorney General, with the State of New Jersey, prosecuting securities fraud. Priya was born and raised in Bangalore and relocated to the NY area twenty four years ago, but travels to India every year for work and pleasure.

In this interview, Priya shares insights on publishing a book in India.

This may seem obvious, but, when should a writer reach out to a publisher?

I would recommend that a writer reach out to an agent and not a publisher. More and more, authors are going down the agent route for all the obvious benefits. Publishers are also looking to agents more, although in India it’s still possible to approach publishers directly. For fiction manuscript, the book must be written in its entirety before querying agents. For non-fiction, either a detailed proposal (with synopsis, introduction, three chapters, chapter outline, and author platform) or the manuscript written in its entirety along with the proposal.

Would you recommend that writers get in touch with agents rather than publishers directly?

Absolutely. There are several agencies in India now and I would recommend authors finding an agent for their books.

What do you look for in a synopsis of one’s novel or collection of stories?

A synopsis narrates the story succinctly. Writers must take time crafting synopsis as it’s crucial in attracting the agent or publisher’s attention. Keep it in present tense, with simple language, and include only MAJOR plot points including ending. Personally, anywhere from 450-1200 word synopsis in a query letter works for me. When querying agents and publishers authors must follow submission guidelines as mandated on their website.

How important is it for an aspiring writer to have a contract? How can a literary agent help in this regard?

By definition an agent is a person who acts on behalf of another (client), to further the interests and goals of said client. A simplistic definition for a literary agent would be a person working on behalf of their clients (authors), in placing manuscripts with publishers. However, in reality, it’s much more complex than just the ability to place manuscripts with publishers. There are many facets to the business of successfully agenting an author. Agents know editors in publishing houses. They have a track record of working with publishers. Publishers trust agents to bring them solid manuscripts. While there is no guarantee that an agent will get an author a publishing contract, it’s better than the alternative for several reasons: an agent has a pulse on the book market and will likely be able to negotiate a better book deal than the author acting on his own. From a contracts standpoint, an agent undertakes the contract negotiations and guides the author to make best informed decisions. With many territories and subsidiary rights at stake (film, audio, foreign, electronic, derivative, to name a few) and money attached to these territory and subsidiary rights, it’s to the author’s advantage to have an agent who is knowledgeable in the nitty gritty to negotiate best contract. Notwithstanding contract negotiations, because the agent works on author’s behalf, the agent will help smoothen the entire process of the book’s publication. Every agent has their unique way of working with their authors. For me, I like working collaboratively with my authors to necessitate a book sale. Patience is a very valuable and necessary commodity in publishing. I am happy to work patiently until the sale is made , even if it takes several months. I am a very hands on agent and value substantive and meaningful dialogue with my authors.

What homework do the authors need to do to get their work published?

Read and research. Lucky for us that we live in the age of the internet! Google is a wonderful resource for authors to help navigate the complex and murky land of publishing. I know it sounds banal to mention Google, but it really is a fantastic research tool. Additionally, authors must visit publisher websites, blogs, Twitter to observe their trends. Many published authors have websites which are also very resourceful. Some literary agents in the UK and US have very dynamic websites that offer great writing tools and tips to writers.

Do the authors have a say in design of the cover page, distribution, type of publicity they would have to do for the book, and the way the book is marketed?

Yes and No. It varies from book to book and publisher to publisher.

What’s your advice to people who want to start small and independent publishing companies in the city/country?

Go for it!

Has it become easier these days to publish books in India? We see all sorts of writing—mostly bad writing—being published today. What are your views on this?

Appreciation for books is so subjective and thus what’s bad for you might be great for another. It’s like anything in life: food, fashion, movies, TV shows etc. There’s something for everyone to love or not, and to each his own! Getting published is an achievement no matter where you are published. The Indian publishing scene is very vibrant and when compared to other territory, is bullish. It’s great to see publishers taking on debut writing in all genre. If you visit any bookstores (sadly the few that remain) you will, at once, notice the strong presence of Indian writing.

Reach out to Priya here: www.lotuslit.com

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Lavanya Sankaran’s advice to aspiring writers

Lavanya SankaranLavanya Sankaran is the author of the celebrated short story collection The Red Carpet, which spent two years on the best-seller lists and collected praise world-wide. Her debut novel The Hope Factory, just released, has been selected by Amazon UK as a Top Pick. Compared to Charles Dickens by the British press, Lavanya’s writing has won several awards, including Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers, and Poets and Writers’ Best First Fiction Award.

Lavanya met and shared her views with the BWW participants. Here is her advice for  aspiring writers:

  1. Read as much as you can. Read widely. Promiscuously. Read books that relax you and books that challenge you. Linger over beautiful sentences and say them out loud. Let them make love to you.
  2. Write in a regular fashion. Make a commitment to writing on a schedule and stick to it. Even if it is something you can do only once a month. Do not “wait for the mood”. Create the mood.
  3. Writing is a high energy performance played to an audience of one (yourself). Don’t come to it tired, distracted and exhausted. Come to it fresh. Give your best to it. Have fun. Entertain yourself. Make it zestful. Flirt with words. Shriek. Whisper. Dance. Sing. Shout.
  4. Read your work out loud.
  5. Work on your craft. If you don’t master craft, you will not be able to convert your moments of divine inspiration into art.
  6. Take the long view. This is an unpredictable journey. There are no  clear markers, signposts and speed limits. Try not to set any. They are usually worthless. Have no expectations beyond your best effort.
  7. Writing is both the goal and the journey. Getting published by a big-name publisher is not writing. Getting published is, at best, an administrative task with lifestyle benefits. It belongs to the part of your life that deals with non-writing things – like earning money, paying bills, eating dinner, deciding who to sleep with, and gossiping over a drink.
  8. Be careful who sees your new-born writing. Don’t rush for feedback. Guard your writing life as you would a candle in the wind. It is easy to discourage, easy to blow out. Guard the flame and allow it strengthen into a strong fire that will burn the fucking house down.
  9.  The right critic is a gift. Choose them carefully. They will encourage what is good in your writing, and highlight what is weak. Their job is not to bolster your ego. Or to love you. A good critic is not your mother.
  10. Do listen to feedback. Do learn from feedback. But don’t let it drown your inner voice and thought process. You are the final arbiter of your writing. No one else. The longer you write, the harder you work, the stronger your inner voice will be.
  11. Writing is three things: a mental act, a spiritual act, and a physical act. Ergo, stay healthy.
  12. Keep reading. Keep writing.

Know more about Lavanya Sankaran here: http://www.lavanyasankaran.com/

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