Saturday, September 06, 2014

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO DIED

A version of this appeared in the World Literature Today in 2010. THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. The story does not represent any moment that occurred during the real civil conflict in Nepal. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The little girl is a metaphor for all the innocent people who died in the crossfire. 

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO DIED
SUSHMA JOSHI

Major Krishna Basnet jerked his bitten hand back, as if stung. Tooth marks, where the seven-year old girl had bitten him, left dark indentations in the hollow between his thumb and forefinger.

The Major stared at the tear-stained face of the little girl. Then he spat into her defiant eyes. “You should have learnt to respect your elders, you bitch.”

  A cold moon glittered in the black sky. No wind stirred the leaves. The Major’s voice carried upwards, towards where Ambika lay, hiding. Ambika could hear and see everything from where she was—a recessed ledge of rock embedded in a cliff above the village. Respect, spat out from the Major’s throat, floated up with a strange resonance.

Ambika felt like a little girl below, held hostage by the Major with his gun on that brilliant moonlit night. How many times had she been told to respect her elders? The rage rose in her with the same uncontrollable force as when she had been a child.

She closed her eyes and remembered the moment, years ago, when she had fallen from a cliff, hunting for wild honey, and almost broken her neck. A little keyhole to death had opened up in her mind as she lay on the ground. Then she had heard sounds of the next world, the atonal moans echoing through red, cloudy vision, the sighs of terror and despair from unseen beings. That’s when she had known, on a visceral level, the certainty of death. Ambika felt her finger tighten on her trigger. “Perhaps I’ll die today,” she thought.

Ambika looked through her viewfinder. Major Krishna Basnet’s head looked like a black blob from where she lay, about twenty meters away. It would be easy to put a bullet through his back. Would paralyzing him for the rest of his life be more fitting than death? Ambika would die in the return volley of gunfire. But death would be worth the price to rid the earth of this torturer. As her finger tightened around her gun’s trigger, she was jerked out of her single-minded intention to kill the Major by a sound. Gita, her youngest cadre, sixteen, lay on the rocky ledge along with her. Gita shuddered as she breathed. This was her first battle. 

Ambika became aware of her five comrades—the clove-laden breath of Comrade Nepali, the warmth of an arm pressed close to hers, the huddle of bodies behind in the deep black corners. Shame took the place of the adrenaline that coursed through her body seconds ago. How could she have imagined putting her comrades in danger? Justice would have to wait. Ambika forced her tense finger to slacken.

As Ambika lowered her gun, a single shot rang out. Ambika could not have said whether the terrified scream of the little girl came before or after the gunshot. Or perhaps she screamed twice—once, seeing death hurtle towards her, and twice, when the bullet hit her between the eyes.

The gunshot, and the scream, appeared to richot around the enclosed valley where the small village nestled. A ghostly gunshot and a ghostly girl-scream magnified and echoed, then fragmented into a thousand pieces of broken sound. An eerie silence followed. Ambika put her forehead down on the cool limestone, and closed her eyes. She felt a wetness on her cheeks and realized she was crying.

* * *
 The little girl died one hour and thirty-two minutes after Ambika spied the soldiers running down to the village.

“They’re coming.” Ambika was terse as she looked through her binoculars. Blurry figures streaked downhill. They seem to carry heavy loads. The Royal Nepal Army, the guerillas had heard, now carried sophisticated weapons.

“How many?”

“Twenty-five soldiers. Maybe more.” Cold metal pressed around Ambika’s eyes as she strained to count.
“We have to…have to…kill them.” Gita, who’d joined the Maoist People’s War at the age of fifteen, was on the edge of hysteria.

“If you shoot now, you’ll reveal our location,” Ambika looked back and saw the young girl stand up. Her legs astride, she held her gun up, as if ready to shoot. “Sit,” Ambika commanded. Her voice was harsh, with the slightest hint of a tremble.

Comrade Nepali’s semi-automatic gun had served him well during Mangalsen battle. Ambika carried the same model. The two had killed a fair number of policemen with those two guns. But then the police in Mangalsen had just been armed with outdated .303 rifles. Today, it appeared, they would have to face a Royal Nepal Army force armed with sophisticated weapons. But what tipped the scales was the armament their comrades were carrying—the four new cadres, recent recruits, had homemade muskets. They had learnt to clean it, and shoot it, but the muskets did not fire well.

 “What do we do, comrade?” Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, Rama, the other female cadre, scared Ambika with her phlegmatic innocence. 

“I am ready to die.” Gita sounded combative. The command to sit infuriated her. With her childish face, and her red band she wore like a fashionable hair band, she was the youngest girl that Ambika had worked with. She appeared to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“Up!” Ambika commanded. She did not need to deal with a nervous breakdown right now—the single most useful thing her cadres could do was to hide themselves. The rocky ledge they had scoped out earlier, carved into the cliff, was their hideout. “Wait for us.” The two girls, frightened, ran. The two boys, eighteen, followed close behind. All of them had been recruited two months ago. This was their first battle. 

“Why did they send these raw recruits?” Comrade Nepali muttered. “They’re useless.” Last week, seven cadres, experienced fighters of the People’s Army, had headed up to meet them. They slept at a widow’s house. At three am, a low whistle awakened them. They didn’t need to hear the knock on the door to know that a cordon of soldiers surrounded the house. Blindfolded and handcuffed, they were taken in a black jeep. The soldiers took them to the army barracks of the district headquarters, Ambika was certain.

Ambika thought about her seven comrades, the ones with whom she had shared many battles, and felt an impotent grief. The three women were almost certain to face rape, and the men would be tortured. Some, or all, could be killed. The precious cache of guns, bullets and bombs, meant for this crucial battle, had been seized, and would be paraded to the cameras of TV journalists, for all the world to see.

A teacher from a Ramechap village had informed the police, they heard. The teacher was now strung up in a tree, dead. His tongue had been ripped out as a warning to others.

Ambika followed her cadres up the rocky cliff, pulling at roots and clinging vines to pull herself to the shallow, recessed ledge. The entry was narrow, but inside it was cavernous, with enough room for the five to stretch out. Ambika laid herself flat on the ground, and raised her binoculars, to her eyes. The warm, rich smell of harvest rose around her. She inhaled – drying stalks, the glorious smell of seeds thrashed on the ground in the fields below rose to her nostrils. In her binoculars, she saw the soldiers running downhill, getting closer to the village.

* * *
Flat on their stomachs inside a rocky shelf inside the limestone cliffs, out of eye line of the settlement below, the six guerillas waited. Ambika, at the very edge, her navel pushing into rough ground, had a clear view of the village. More than a dozen soldiers, weighted down with arms, arrived soon after. They bashed the wooden doors down with the butt of their rifles. The sharp barks of dogs, howling at the intruders, rose to a crescendo. A couple of bullets flew past, lodging themselves on the wood of a porch near a howling dog. The dog ran off, hiding its tail between its legs. 

The yellow beam of the soldiers’ flashlights lit up the smoky corners of the cottages. Faded lamp-black walls. Sooty rafters. An uncleared cobweb. Here was a young mother, hoping a pile of firewood would hide her. There an old and toothless man, a resigned look on his face, on his bed. A soldier seized the mother by her hair and shoved her, infant cradled in her arms, on the ground.

“Shoot anything that moves!” a voice commanded.

A dog, snarling, appeared from beneath a bed. A swift and well-aimed kick from a soldier’s boot sent it fleeing out of the door and across the yard.

“Shoot!”

“Yes, Major.” A short burst of gunfire. The dog fell, and started to whimper. There was the sound of another gunshot. The dog’s body twitched, then became still. A dark pool started to collect around the body.

This voice, with its polished and modulated edge, belonged to Major Krishna Basnet. The Major was now posted to Ramechap. Ambika raised her head to catch a good look at his face. This was the man she had come to kill. And now, because of an informer in Ramechap, her goal remained unfulfilled tonight.

The Major was handsome, with fine bone structure, and regal poise. He grew a thin black moustache above his lips. Ambika caught a glimpse of him as he moved towards the door. Even in the darkness, she saw his grace, his commanding presence.

A seven-year-old with a dirty face and a wispy pigtail, frightened by the sudden invasion of men, clutched her mother. The move annoyed the Major. He grabbed the little girl’s hair. He pulled her head back and forth. Her head lolled on her head like a broken doll. Over the child’s sobs, he asked: “Where are the terrorists? Speak, you bastards. Where are the terrorists?”

Ambika felt bound, as if she were inside an airless room with hands and feet tied. Comrade Nepali was still, as if he had stopped breathing. The two girls huddled in terrified comradeship. 

“We don’t know. We don’t know!” The mother pressed her palms in plea.

“Please, let my daughter go!” Major Basnet let go. The child’s face was smeared with snot. She sniffled and wiped it with the back of a dirty hand. The sniffling annoyed the Major—he found the child dirty and repulsive. The Major looked up and around the village—the darkness of the surroundings warned him guerillas, as ugly and as repulsive, were lying in wait to ambush him. The moon was bright and cold, but he couldn’t see anything. This sense of helplessness, which he had felt many times in the past few months, infuriated him.

The Major bent down, and picked out a rubber band with a rose from the child’s hair. He held it up to his nostrils, close his eyes, and inhaled with exaggerated enjoyment. “Ah, a beautiful rose,” the Major said. The child stared at him with a dirty, tear-smeared face, petrified.

The mother’s face, pleading for mercy, angered him. Is this how I look when I am afraid?, he wondered. The Major cocked his revolver, aimed at the center of the mother’s forehead, and squeezed the trigger. The mother’s brains splattered the red sari of an old woman behind. The old woman crumpled to the ground in a faint.

Nobody moved.

“Hatyara!” The child’s shrill accusation echoed across the valley. The Major was surprised, for an instance. He hadn’t expected this snot-smeared girl to know such a complicated word. A murderer? He considered this verdict for a brief instance, then grabbed the girl’s chin. “What did you call me?”

“Hatyara, hatyara, hatyara!” The girl, overcome with rage and grief, lunged forward and bit the Major’s hand.
* * *

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The jyotish astrological analysis of Robin Williams' death


I took a look at Robin Williams birthchart through the jyotish system of astrology today (note this is NOT the same system as the horoscope people read in the newspapers, which is sun sign based astrology.) There is really nothing surprising about his suicide once you see the chart.

Williams has a formation that’s common for celebrities: His Moon is with Rahu, in lagna, or ascendant. Rahu signifies great fame, glamor, and also electrical lights and methods of communications. Together with Moon, it often signifies mental illness as well. Rahu matures, or shows its full strength, at age 42. Actress Catherina Zeta Jones, who came out saying she had bipolar manic-depression at 42, is one of many other celebrities who manifest this. In South Asia, actress Manisha Koirala came down with cancer at age 42—since lagna or First House is the house of the self and body, Rahu and Moon can also show itself through bodily illness.
When Rahu is placed in House 1, Ketu falls in House 7, the house of marriage and relationship (Rahu and Ketu are always 7 houses away from each other). Ketu is a signifier for detachment and separation. Often the spouse can be “different,” or the partners remain together but separated by one factor or another. Ketu can often lead to a feeling of separation and alienation from marriage partners but also other relationships. The only solution to Ketu’s isolation and alienation is spirituality. Ketu shows its peak power at 48 (and it continues to shows it effect from 48-54). This is for everyone, not just celebrities. Here you can see a post about the maturity of planets:

AGE WHEN PLANETS GIVE THEIR FULL EFFECTS
http://www.venoastrology.com/maturityplanetshouses.html

 Take Brad Pitt, who has a number of planets with his Ketu. At 48, when his Ketu matured, you could see him physically moving away from his marriage partner and children. But it appears he still took advice from his psychic (the spiritual life becomes heightened.) Johnny Depp, whose Moon is with Ketu, separated from Vanessa Paradis at age 48. Most painfully, Tom Cruise, who has the classic celebrity placement of Rahu in 1 and Ketu in 7, faced a painful divorce from Katie Holmes at age 48. Cruise had not just Ketu, but also Saturn, in the house of marriage-and Saturn commonly denotes grief. Cruise separated when Saturn was exalted, which only happens once every thirty years, so his grief was magnified to great extremes. 

Not all Rahu in 1, Ketu in 7 people kill themselves, of course. Other factors have to be at work. In Williams’ case:

11.  Maraka (killer) House Two, has Jupiter in it: In June, Jupiter, his killer planet, became exalted in Cancer, which rules his house of ill health.

22.  Maraka (killer) House Seven, has Ketu in it: On July 12, Ketu moved to Pisces, his second house, to align with natal Jupiter. 

33. Saturn, which was the depositor of his lagna or the  self, is in House Eight, mrityu bhava/house of death: jyotish astrologers commonly look for the cause of death in house 8th. In Williams’ case, the significator for the self lies in 8th house, meaning there was a high likelihood the self would become the cause of death. Saturn is not just getting an aspect from Mars, a violent planet, from House Five, but also an aspect from Jupiter, his functional killer. Saturn is also exalted, meaning its showing its fullest power in 30 years.

44.   To top it off, Rahu also moved to Virgo, his Mrityu Bhava, on June 12th. House Eight had Rahu conjunct natal Saturn when he died: Saturn/Rahu is thought to bring about suicide. Rahu brings the kind of sudden violent death that Williams experienced. 

Often after a high profile Hollywood death, there appears to be a lot of discourse around how selfish the actor was to kill themselves. Their addictions and mental illnesses are cited as causes of selfishness. But through the lenses of Jyotish astrology, you can often see the extreme fame and talent are often the same planets that can cause mental illness, addictions and the like at certain points in life. I should stress that not all people with these planetary influences end up dead from addictions and suicides. There has to be other factors at work to create that possibility. 

Often the only way to control Saturn’s grief, and Rahu/Ketu’s abrupt termination, is to focus on spirituality to bring the mind in balance. And the classic Hindu/Buddhist solution—do good deeds to clean up your karma. Often by detaching from the Self to the Other, the ego lessens and so does its pain. Take Pran, Bollywood’s beloved villain who lived to be 93. Pran had Moon, Rahu and Mars in lagna, in Libra. Mars signifies violence, but his was only on the screen. He apparently had people lining up outside his house  even till the end, and he would try to help all people. Nobody was turned away.  Social work can lengthen your life! His Saturn is retrograde in Eleventh House, which also signifies friends and networks. Saturn is very auspicious for Libra. 

Saturn in Eighth House, interestingly, could also have led to a long life. But then Williams would have had to have led a humdrum, ordinary life in order to escape the excitements of Rahu, which he lived to the full.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Do you own a Nook, and read in Spanish? If so, download my play!

And in case you own a Nook, here's my play  Maté al padre de mi mejor amiga in the Barnes and Noble website for you to download.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Where does the magic realism come from?




After reading Francisco Goldman’s tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I wanted to know where the magical realism came from.

So I went to my trusty astrological chart calculator and plugged in: March 6, 1927, Aracataca, Colombia

And this is what I got. 

An Aries moon: Aries is the first sign in the zodiac. People born under Aries are fire. They embody  the start of new things, and they blaze new trails. They can often be great leaders. President Obama is born under an Aries moon as well.

Mars in second house: Second house is the house of speech (and also material wealth). Mars  is the planet of passion and energy. Those with Mars in second house often have powerful, almost militaristic abilities in speech. Mars and Saturn aspect each other. Saturn confers discipline and the ability for hard work to the fiery energy of Mars. Without this combination of Mars and Saturn, no great works come to fruition.

Rahu in third, in Gemini:  Rahu is the planet that rules worldwide fame. Right here, he’s sitting in Gabo’s house of communications. Rahu gets an aspect from Jupiter, the planet of wisdom. Rahu magnifies to extremes. If Jupiter, the planet of good fortune and material prosperity, and Rahu combined in 3rd house of communications, it also means he got filthy rich.

The fifth house of creativity again gets an aspect from Mars, Sun, and Jupiter. These three planets work well together as a trio, and also hint towards a great interest in truth and justice. And the fifth also gets an aspect from Saturn, ensuring discipline to the fiery rush of creativity.

Saturn in eighth in Scorpio: Those with Saturn in eighth house live a long time. Marquez died at 87. Saturn in eighth ends up delving into all the eighth house topics that nobody wants to talk about—death, despair, loneliness, alienation. The fourth from the fourth, ie; eighth house, is also the house of the maternal grandmother. This house obviously had deep impact on Marquez's entire chart--Saturn, as Jyotish astrology says, is the "planet that gives everything." And: "What Saturn gives, nobody can take away."

Exalted Venus and retrograde, "neechbhanga" Mercury in twelfth house in Pisces: And here are the planets that caused him to enter that space of magical realism. The twelfth is the house of dreams and fantasies. Pisces is the watery sign of liberation. In this house, all boundaries are dissolved, and the space of the real and the imagined lose their perceived separateness. Venus, the planet that rules the arts, is exalted in Pisces. The twelfth house is also the house of retreats and sanctuaries—bounded spaces, just like the house that Gabo grew up in. Mercury, the planet of quick wits, is debilitated in Pisces. Debilitation often signals that a planet is super powerful because  it is receiving a “neechbhanga,” or cancellation of debilitation, which leads to the extraordinary facility with words.  Einstein’s Mercury receives a cancellation of debilitation as well. The retrograde energy of Mercury may be what people seize on when they decide the magical realism is “not smart enough”—Mercury is the planet of smartness, and often people whose Mercury is going backwards can appear too simple, on casual encounter.  

 Sun and Jupiter in the eleventh house in Aquarius: Jupiter is the planet of wisdom. The Sun is its friend.  And the Sun confers fame. Both are in the eleventh house of gains (and incidentally, also thought to rule publishing.) Aquarius, ruled by Saturn, also imparts a strict disciplinarian ethos, as well as great interest towards humanitarian philosophy.

Ketu in ninth, in Sagittarius. Ketu is the final and most mysterious planetary force in Jyotish astrology. The ninth is the house of spirituality and philosophy—many philosophical writers have planets placed here. To have Ketu, that planet of ultimate spiritual dissolution, in ninth house of destiny, signals his readiness to enter the world beyond this one.   

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Future books: A historical novel about Nepal

A young man from England who I recently met sent me this email after reading my book:

Sat, Apr 19, 2014
I very much enjoyed reading your short stories in the Prediction. Most of all I liked the historical ones, the Promise and the Prediction. Rana-era Nepal was vividly realised, the characters seemed very true to the period and to their social station, and the synthesis of traditional Sanskritic forms of belief and practice, such as astrology, with modernity -- as represented by democracy and revolution, intruding on the feudal court-politics of the late Ranas -- made for a highly satisfying parable of Nepal's rites of passage through the twentieth century. It occured to me that I've not come across any other examples of Nepali historical fiction, in English at least, and this would be a very fruitful genre for writers to take up. I would love to see you turn your hand to a historical novel, maybe one that features astrology as a major component, since you seem to know a lot about the subject. Is this something you've considered?

And the answer is:
Glad you liked the historical stories. Interesting that it seems to
appeal to a broad range of readers. Usually I get a male/female split
on my stories (men like some stories, women like some stories) but
these two seem to appeal to a universal group of readers. Yes, maybe I
should write a historical novel! One has been
percolating in my mind-its a family saga/Hundred Years of Solitude style
Nepali novel. Obviously astrology would play a big part.
I was just reading a book on Saturn and realize Western astrologers
and philosophers, quite respectable ones too!, have a lot to say about
the subject. Carl Jung and Mircea Eliade being prominent ones.

(Author's belated addendum: I just realized Gabriel Garcia Marquez died on 17th April. Perhaps his spirit was hovering around when I wrote this email. An homage, either way.) 



































Monday, April 14, 2014

List Challenges: "End of the World" in Read the World Proportionally

Once in a while, the Internet sends you a delightful find. 

And none more so than this one, on Nepali New Year's day. "The End of the World" is listed in this incredible list compiled by Ng Yi-Sheng, who decided to compile a list of 100 books that reflects the world as it is, demographically.

The list is available in List Challenges, and it is a list than any author would be honored to find himself/herself in. Not just because its a list of books that I would love to read (all of them), but also because there's a certain sense of comfort and "coming home" to a list that does include the breadth and diversity of the world, as it is. I say this beats any "100 books" list compiled by TIME.

Of course, that's a bit on the self-promotional side, you may say. Well, even if I wasn't on the list, I'd still say it's a better list than any compiled by TIME! Just click on it, you'll see.
In his interesting blog "Around the World in 80 Books!", Ng Yi-Sheng, who appears to be based in Singapore, says:

I recently got ticked off over a "Read the World" list that was still really centred on Western books. Then I started thinking: what if there were a reading list of 100 books that reflected the actual demographics of the world population right now?Behold:19 books from China;
17 from India;
4 from the US;
3 from Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan;
2 from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Japan and Mexico, and
1 each from the Philippines, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Turkey, DRC, Thailand, France, UK, Italy, Burma, South Africa, South Korea, Colombia, Spain, Ukraine, Tanzania, Kenya, Argentina, Algeria, Poland, Sudan, Uganda, Canada, Iraq, Morocco, Peru, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nepal, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, Ghana, Mozambique, Australia and Taiwan.50 are by men. 49 are by women. 1 is a work of divine revelation. Authors (roughly) reflect the ethnic makeup of their nations.Because if you're gonna read the world, you might as well do it RIGHT.


Friday, April 11, 2014

"The Prediction" in Himalaya

My story "The Prediction" is now out in Himalaya, a journal of the Association of Nepal and Himalaya studies published by Yale University. You can download it here.


Monday, March 03, 2014

"The Prediction": Book Launch at Image Ark Gallery, Patan on March 4th

  Dear Friends: I will be launching my book at the Image Ark Gallery on March 4th at 5pm. Hope to see you there! Here's the poster of the event.

Vedic astrological predictions, wet-nurses, the Internet zeitgeist, tantric goddess worship, love stories that transcend age barriers, Buddhist philosophy, references to Susan Sontag and Walter Benjamin—you can find it all in "The Prediction."

 As to why the nineteenth century world of tantric worship is juxtaposed with the Internet zeitgeist—time, in many ways, is not as linear as we think it is, and all these aspects of lived lives, from belief in tantric goddesses to starving child brides, from childcare workers neglecting their own children to nurture those of the wealthy, to people who pursue astrologers for accurate predictions, can and does co-exist with modern people engaged in the search for material wealth and an elusive spirituality.  So where does all this lead us? This is uncertain, unless like the character in The Best Sand Painting of the Century, it is towards the essence of Buddhist philosophy and practice. 

Books will be on sale after the event.
The Prediction, Sansar Media, Price Rs.325
Discount if you buy a pack of 5 books. Come buy some for your family and friends!

Women's Week events at Image Ark Gallery, March 2-9th

Dear friends! I am launching my book on March 4th at the Image Ark Gallery, Patan, on the occasion of women's week. We will do a short reading, followed by book signings. I would be delighted to see you there.

Here's the Image Ark's address. Its a five minute walk down the tiny alley from the Krishna Temple in Durbar Square:
http://www.image-ark.com/contact/

Understanding-Genderfacebook

How do we define and experience gender?

How does society and culture define gender?


How does gender affect our lives?



From March 2 to March 8, both galleries will hold exhibitions on the
theme: "Understanding Gender".

On March 3, a discussion on "Understanding Gender across generation"
will take place at Artist Proof Gallery.

Sushma Joshi's new book, "The Prediction", will be launched at Image
Ark in the presence of the author, on March 4.

March 5 will see the screening of the movie "Who does she think she
is?" by Director Pamela Tanner Boll, at Image Ark.

A round table on "Being a Woman Artist in Your Part of the World" will
be held at Image Ark on March 7.

And to end this colourful week, on Saturday 8 March, from 11am to 4pm
Image Ark will offer art workshops for children, music and dance
shows, and zumba at Kulimha Tole. And at 5pm, there will be an Award
Ceremony at Artist Proof Gallery, with the support of WAGON. Fathers
will be rewarded for not having made any differences between their
daughters and their sons in terms of education, inheritance, etc.

Organizers: Image Ark & Artist Proof Gallery

Location:
Image Ark (Kulimha Tole, Patan Durbar Square)
Artist Proof Gallery (Jhamsikel)


Dates:

Sunday 2 March, 3pm, Artist Proof Gallery: Opening in the presence of
the artists and members of the jury.

Sunday 2 March, 5pm, Image Ark: Opening in the presence of the artists
and members of the jury.

Monday 3 March, 4.30pm, Artist Proof Gallery: Discussion with all
artists on "Understanding Gender across Generation".

Tuesday 6 March, 5pm, Image Ark: Launching of Sushma Joshi's new book
"Prediction". The author will be reading a selected part of her short
stories and exchange with the audience on her work.
(Sushma Joshi is a Nepali writer and filmmaker based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
End of the World, her previous book of short stories, was long-listed
for the "Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award" in 2009.
Art Matters, her book of essays on contemporary art released in 2008,
was supported by the Alliance Francaise in Kathmandou, and Don
Messerschmidt, Associate Editors at ECS magazine at that time, wrote:
"...the book is inspiring and fun to read".
Her non-fiction reportage has appeared in Utne Reader, Ms. Magazine,
ZNet, Irrawaddy Magazine, Himal South Asia, Bertelsmann Future
Challenges, The Kathmandu Post, Nation Weekly magazine and other
publications. In 2004, she was part of the Nation Weekly Magazine's
staff. Since 1997, Joshi has worked and consulted with international
organizations in the fields of social change and human rights,
including the Harvard School of Public Health (Harvard University),
UNDP, UNICEF, Integrated Center for Mountain Development (ICIMOD),
Chemonics/USAID, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and
others.)

Wednesday 5, 5pm, Image Ark: Screening of "Who does she think she is"
by Director Pamela Tanner Boll.

Friday 7 March, 5pm, Image Ark: Discussion with Women artists on
"Being a Woman Artist in Your Part of the World".

Saturday 8 March, 11am to 4pm, Image Ark: Party at Kulimha: art
workshops for children, dance performances by Nag's Dance Group, music
with New Generation (who recently opened at the momo mania for Mukti &
Revival), Zumba with The Core Fitness Studio (come dressed for Zumba).

Saturday 8 March, 5pm, Artist Proof Gallery: Award Ceremony, supported
by WAGON, rewarding fathers who have made no differences between their
daughters and their sons in terms of education, inheritance, etc.


Saturday, March 01, 2014

And a small note about reviews that completely miss the point

Ms. Joshi would like to clarify what she thought was self-explanatory but apparently can and has been misinterpreted: a recent media review implies Ms. Joshi's book is all about identity. Ms. Joshi, however, is least interested  in identity--but highly interested in questions of space and time. Especially time. Just a little note to put things in context.

And oh by the way, "aragula" is not a typo but a real word. It refers to a salad green.

"Weird" I think is self-explanatory. Did I write "wierd"? Oh well.

Cheers!

Monday, December 16, 2013

In memory of Mandela: my story in a South Africa journal

issue 6 cover gomori
 Issue 6 of I

I was moved to see all the Mandela memorial events this week.

And it reminded me that I'd had a story published in ITCH, a South African journal, in 2010. So, in his memory and with South Africa on my mind, here's my story titled "The Promised Land."

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Muncha.com now delivers "The End of the World"


If you'd like to get my book outside of Kathmandu (in Biratnagar, Dharan and four other locations), please order through Muncha.com.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Twentieth issue of \'Of Nepalese Clay\' launched

PAN Asia: Promoting literature and art, defending freedom of expression 

The twentieth issue of the literary publication 'Of Nepalese Clay' was launched amid a special event on 30th November 2013 at the premises of IACER, Old Baneshwor, Kathmandu. It was  released jointly by Professor Dr. Mohan Lohani, Professor Dr. Padma Devkota, and Professor Dr. Amma Raj Joshi. This issue of the bi-annual literary publication of the Society of Nepali Writers in English (NWEN) contains a collection of poems, short fiction, essays, criticisms and memoirs by noted authors from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Slovenia, Australia, Haiti and USA.

With this issue, 'Of Nepalese Clay' marks its thirteenth year of publication. The first issue of the publication was launched in April 2001 and has included significant literary creations over the years, thus becoming one of the longest-standing English literary publications in the country. Along with the regular creative contents, the highlights of the twentieth issue are critical contemplations about literature in English published from Nepal. The 20th issue of ‘Of Nepalese Clay’ was  edited jointly by Bal Bahadur Thapa, Keshab Sigdel and Prakash Subedi. Sigdel and Subedi are also  members of PANAsia Creativity Group.
During the launching programme, different poets and writers, including Basanta Lohani, Laxmi Devi Raj Bhandari, Rabi Thapa, Sewa Bhattarai, Avinashi Poudel, L.B. Chhetri, Chirag Bangdel, and Iswar Kadel, recited their poems and short stories.
'Of Nepalese Clay' is the brainchild of the Society of Nepali Writers in English (NWEN), a writer's forum dedicated to promoting the literary creative writing of Nepali writers writing originally in English. NWEN was conceived on December 9, 2000, and formally registered on February 9, 2001. It was established by a group of writers and academicians as an organized body of Nepali writers writing originally in English to achieve the objectives of creating a sense of national identity through literature, cultural interaction and activities and promoting international understanding and amity through cultural exchanges.
To achieve these objectives, NWEN organizes regular poetry and other literary reading sessions, talks, symposia, writing workshops and competitions. Its most popular feature is the monthly poetry reading session, which takes place on the last Saturday of every English month, in which  poets and audience gather to listen to and savor poetry. In line with its aim of publishing anthologies of creative and critical works in English, apart from its regular biannual literary journal, NWEN has published anthologies of individual authors. Besides this, NWEN also facilitates the publication of poets and writers in English medium journals, magazines, and newspapers.


Contributors to Clay 20
Poems:

Ammaraj Joshi, Anuja Ghimire, Avinashi Paudel, Barun Bajracharya, Basanta Lohani, Bhuwan Thapaliya, Bina Shrestha, Chirag Bangdel, Dan Disney (Australia), Daya Dissanayake (Sri Lanka), Diane Smith (USA), Gopal Prasad Bashyal, Gopi Sapkota, Gregor Preac (Slovenia), Han Soun-Boh (South Korea), Hem Raj Kafle, Himanshu Keshav, Ishwar Prasad Kadel, Jiwan Kshetry, Kaiser Haq (Bangladesh), Keshab Sigdel,
L. B. Chhetri, Laxmi Devi Rajbhandari, Mohammad Nurul Huda (Bangladesh), Niran Khanal, Prakash Mani Dahal, Prakash Subedi, Sachendra Manandhar, Santosh Lamichhane, Saraswoti Lamichhane, Sewa Bhattarai, Shreedhar Lohani, Sunita Lama (India), Toru Kiuchi (Japan), Toshio Kimura (Japan), Vinay Jha, Yew Suhng-Gyou (South Korea), Youe Hansa (South Korea)

Short Stories:
Ajeet Caur (India), Bal Bahadur Thapa, Deepak SJB Rana, Khem K. Aryal, Marie Ange (Haiti/France), Mimi Rana, Prabhassorn Sevikul (Thailand), Prawash Gautam, Rabi Thapa, Sushma Joshi

Essays:
Ananda P. Srestha, Greta Rana, Govinda Raj Bhattarai


Interview:

Samrat Upadhyay


Critical Essays:
Anita Dhungel, Atindra Dahal, Bal Krishna Sharma, Chandra Mani Chapagai, Komal Prasad Phuyal, Krishna Sapkota, Mahesh Paudyal, Mohan Lohani, Nitya Pandey, Padma Devkota, Phatik Prasad Poudyal, Richa Bhattarai, Saguna Shah, Sanjeev Uprety, Sarita Bhattarai


Further information about the Society can be found in http://nwen.org.np/ and http://on.fb.me/194sjzo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book review of "The End of the World" in Kitaab.org

My book "The End of the World" reviewed in Kitaab, a portal of literature.

An excerpt from the review:
Another recurring theme is something that cannot be avoided in present-day Nepal: the ten-year Maoist insurgency from 1996-2006, that claimed the lives of thousands of people, particularly in the countryside, and that ultimately contributed to the abolition of Nepal’s monarchy in 2008. The titular story is one of the shortest, and gets to the heart of peoples’ dreams and desires, what they would do if they actually thought the world was ending.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

This is kind of funny: Dhanistha energy

And before I head off, here's a funny little description of females born under the Dhanistha nakshaktra, which was rising as I was born:
"This is a talkative and interesting person,
particularly successful in lecturing and debating.
  • She is capable of writing mystic novels
  • and is good at story telling.
  • She will be happy in domestic life.
She loves nice dresses,
  • especially blue, pink, and purple,
  • and likes curios and antiques."

    • Shil-Ponde. (1939). Hindu Astrology Joytisha-Shastra. p 100

      Not sure about the mystic novels (maybe I should try my hand at them?) but I can vouch I am wearing a pink dress.

      Stay warm on this cold November day! :-)

The Prediction: Watch out for it in the bookstores!

My book The Prediction will be out in two weeks in Nepal. Watch out for it in the bookstores. Here's a sneak-peek of the cover!



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kitaab review: Hotel Calcutta

I just reviewed "Hotel Calcutta". Read the review on the book portal Kitaab.



You can visit Kitaab here: www.kitaab.org


Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Man Booker prize 2013, and a few Vedic astrological quibbles

I was delighted to see that a book featuring astrology--my favorite topic--won the Man Booker prize. Plus thanks to the judges for selecting a non-commercial publisher. Now we know its not just a prize meant to sell books but also to judge literary excellence.

The Man Booker team may be up on literary excellence but their astrological knowledge leaves something to be desired. For instance, this paragraph from their website:
"Was Eleanor Catton's victory written in the stars? Quite possibly. She was born 28 years ago, "the time that Saturn takes to orbit around the Earth" and an important astrological number, in 1985, the year of New Zealand's only other Man Booker win--Keri Hulme with The Bone People."

Any basic book on astrology would have told the Man Booker weekly roundup writers that Saturn takes 29.5--not 28--years to do its roundabout.

But they were onto to something when they mentioned Saturn--Saturn is exalted in Libra right now, which means it is the strongest it can be in 29.5 years. Eleanor's 10th house of karma, or action (in Western lingo, 'the house of profession") is ruled by Libra, which has Ketu, a mystical sign, in it.

They were also onto something when they mentioned the age 28--but its not Saturn, but Mars, for whom this number is significant. Mars matures to its full power at 28. No surprise Mars is in 8th house with Venus, the significator for the arts. So Eleanor's Mars had a strong hand in her getting this prize. Her Saturn is in 11th house of great gains (and incidentally, also thought to be the one that rules publishing), in the sign Scorpio--Scorpio, of course, is ruled by Mars.The combination of Mars and Saturn is needed for any work of significant achievement-without Mars' passion, and Saturn's dedication, great works never come to fruition.


(Photo courtsey: Man Booker prize website)

Now that you have me started on astrology, here's the full reading: Her Jupiter is debilitated in Capricorn--except not really, because when it is in the lagna, or ascendent, it receives a "neechbhanga", or cancellation of debilitation, that makes it extra powerful. Not to mention the fact it is retrograde as well--making it three times as powerful.

Sun and Mercury, forming a "budha-aditya yoga", or combination for intelligence, is in the 9th house of destiny. As to Rahu in 4th--a restless mind and a troubled home life and trouble with mother, which can of course aid in pushing people towards the solitary act of writing.

Ketu in 10th can often give a career as a priest, or spiritual counselor--but that won't mature till she's 48. So book your tickets to New Zealand in 20 years time, folks. Because your Man Booker author may be leading spiritual writing tours then!

Now for Jhumpa. Born July 11, 1967, the much lauded Ms. Lahiri, surprisingly, has a very similar chart. She is even born in the same town--London--although her London is in the UK whereas Eleanor's London is in Canada. Jhumpa's third house of communications is ruled by Libra, where Saturn is exalted right now. And it has Mars and Ketu in it--showing that very similar planetary forces were at work on her side as well. Her star sign is Leo, by Vedic astrology, and her Moon is with Venus-the significator for the arts. She TOO has the "budha-aditya yoga" (don't get too excited, this is a fairly common yoga since Mercury lies close to the Sun) in the 11th house of gains. Her Mercury is retrograde--and as before, retrograde can make a planet more powerful. Mercury, the planet of quick wits, going backwards, however, can lead to that feeling that the prose coming out of an author with retrograde Mercury is a bit "dull."

The reason why much lauded Ms. Lahiri dropped out of the race is three-fold: first, she is going through something called the Sade Sati, or the seven and a half years of Saturn. Although the Sade Sati ended for Leos on November 14th, 2011, unfortunately for Ms. Lahiri there was a retrogression of Saturn into Virgo right around now. Meaning Saturn's not quite done with exacting his grim course of truth, law and justice yet.

Secondly, her Jupiter is sitting pretty in Cancer, where it is exalted. Exalted Jupiter, although admittedly impressive, is not the same as "neechbhanga" Jupiter. Planets whose debilitation are canceled, as with Ms. Catton's Jupiter, are considered to be even more powerful than exalted ones.

And thirdly, unfortunately for Ms. Lahiri, her Saturn is in 8th house. The good news is that she will have a long life. The bad news is that Saturn in 8th is rarely considered good--the dreaded astamshani, when Saturn transits the 8th house, is considered one of the worst periods of a person's life in Vedic astrology. So to have your natal Saturn there, especially during the time when Saturn is showing its full power, is probably not a good time to be running for the Man Booker prize. And here's the clincher--Saturn hates the Sun, who is his father. Leos, needless to say, are ruled by the Sun.

Did I mention Ms. Catton is a Capricorn by Vedic astrology--and Capricorn, of course, is ruled by Saturn. Capricorn is also where her Jupiter lies, next to the Moon. And right now, Jupiter is receiving a "neechbhanga" not just from being in the ascendent, but has its debilitation twice cancelled because Capricorn's ruler, Saturn, is exalted.

The Man Booker team were right in one way--everything does, ultimately, go back to Saturn.

Thanks for reading, folks--and remember, all of Saturn's lessons are only to take you towards the higher spiritual good. 

(For more on Vedic astrology, you can start off by reading Dr. David Frawley's "Astrology of the Seers." But to fully understand its complicated mathematics and even more complicated calculations, you'd need a good grasp of geometry and arithmetics and possibly trigonometry. See my story "The Prediction" below for more information!)
Was Eleanor Catton's victory written in the stars? Quite possibly. She was born 28 years ago, "the time that Saturn takes to orbit around the Earth" and an important astrological number, in 1985, the year of New Zealand’s only other Man Booker win – Keri Hulme with The Bone People. - See more at: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/feature/weekly-roundup-was-eleanor-cattons-victory-written-stars#sthash.6D65ZW5c.dpuf
Was Eleanor Catton's victory written in the stars? Quite possibly. She was born 28 years ago, "the time that Saturn takes to orbit around the Earth" and an important astrological number, in 1985, the year of New Zealand’s only other Man Booker win – Keri Hulme with The Bone People. - See more at: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/feature/weekly-roundup-was-eleanor-cattons-victory-written-stars#sthash.6D65ZW5c.dpuf
Was Eleanor Catton's victory written in the stars? Quite possibly. She was born 28 years ago, "the time that Saturn takes to orbit around the Earth" and an important astrological number, in 1985, the year of New Zealand’s only other Man Booker win – Keri Hulme with The Bone People. - See more at: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/feature/weekly-roundup-was-eleanor-cattons-victory-written-stars#sthash.6D65ZW5c.dpuf