Look Who We Have Coming to Vogue

Vogue India’s August issue features designer bibs (like the Fendi bib the child in the photo is wearing), handbags, clutches, umbrellas–all modeled by the aam aadmi. Of course, considering that prices for  brands like Hermes Birkin and Burberry can range between $200 and $10,000, this is the only time they will ever get near them. Luxury brands have usually been accused of ignoring the average person in India. This, apparently, is Vogue’s answer to that. Vogue’s logic according to this story:

Vogue India editor Priya Tanna’s message to critics of the August shoot: “Lighten up,” she said in a telephone interview. Vogue is about realizing the “power of fashion” she said, and the shoot was saying that “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful,” she said.

“You have to remember with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously,” Ms. Tanna said. “We weren’t trying to make a political statement or save the world,” she said. (emphasis mine)

Seems to me like she’s contradicting herself a bit there. Are we supposed to believe in the ‘power of fashion’ which is going to elevate these poor people and save their lives with $100 Fendi bibs? Or are we supposed to ‘lighten up’ about poverty and have a good chuckle?

One way of looking at it is that this was an earning opportunity for these people. In which case, I’m curious to know whether they were paid as much as regular models or not. I haven’t seen the magazine so I don’t know if the editors have put this in some sort of context or are tying this up with any social programmes. But it’s a little telling that the shoot does not name the models / people in the captions. Only the brands of the accessories.

What do you think?



Filed under Culture, Media

Two Things

Upcoming writers, photographers and musicians, the annual Toto Funds the Arts awards are here again and anyone below the age of 30 can apply in these categories. Here are the details on the writing awards. If you want details on the other awards, write to me and I’ll forward them you can just click here.

TOTO FUNDS THE ARTS (TFA) invites entries for its fourth annual TOTO awards for Indian creative writers in English. Two cash awards of Rs. 25,000 each will be given in January, 2009. Entries are only invited from young people — over the age of 18, and who have not celebrated their 30th birthday before 1 January 2009. The spirit of the Toto Awards is to identify promise and encourage young talent. Therefore, do not submit an entry if you are already an established writer.TFA is looking for entries in three genres –– short plays, short stories and poetry.

The submissions should not exceed 7,500 words. You can submit any combination of your writing in the above genres, as long as the entire submission is within the stipulated word limit. Entries should reach TOTO FUNDS THE ARTS (TFA) by 4 October 2008 at the latest. There will be no extension of the submission date. Address:TOTO FUNDS THE ARTS (TFA), H 301 Adarsh Gardens, 8th Block, 47th Cross, Jayanagar, Bangalore 560 082, Phone: 080-26990549

Entries should be sent in soft e-mail copy to totofundsthearts@yahoo.com as well in hard copy form to the above address. Please address queries to the same e-mail ID.


Entries must be accompanied by a signed statement confirming the applicant’s date of birth, whether the applicant’s work has been published in print (give details), and also affirming that the submitted work is original. Please ensure that the hard copy does not carry your name on it. Submitted entries will be given code numbers to protect applicants’ identities from the jury during the judging process. Submitted material will not be returned. The decision of the TFA jury is final and cannot be contested in any forum.

Also, Caferati and LiveJournal are inviting entries for Quicktales, their flash fiction contest. Details here.

UPDATE: Toto Funds the Arts has just started their own blog. If you’re in Bangalore, it’s a great way of staying updated on readings, events etc. See here.


Filed under Poetry

bLooDy bRilliAnt

So Orange Jammies at Wisdom Wears Neon Pyjamas has, in all her infinite wisdom, decided to give me this. And because I’m such a generous soul, I am getting over my love of shiny things and actually passing this on. Well, actually, because the rules say so. 😀

The Brilliant Weblog award is a prize given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.

  • When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back.
  • Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
  • Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with the Brilliant Weblog Award.
  • Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
  • And then we pass it on!

So the Brillante Weblog Award goes to…

1. Iz for Audacious: She’s pink. She’s gutsy. She’s hilarious. She writes about family and love and dogs (and often love for dogs) with equal aplomb. She does the personal post with such style and she’s more fun than cheesecake.

2. Anita Bora for Just A Little Something: Travel stories. Food stories. And great photographs of places all over India. She’s a window into the life I wish I was living.

3. Gopal for Which Main, What Cross: He captures my city so lovingly, frame by frame. His images get the soul of this in-flux, traffic-weary, often confusing city and I go back to them to remind myself of it.

4. Karthik and Doz for Etcetera: As they say, their blog’s got a point, if only you can find it. While you’re at it, there’s heaps of interesting stuff to read.

5. Shilo for Across the Universe: Illustrations, photographs and other flights of imagination — all of it charming.

Okay, I know it says 7 but I’m going to stop here. Have fun checking out the links. Ta!


Filed under Personal

You’re invited…

So, this Saturday, some of us will be reading / performing poetry. The event has been organised by Unisun to showcase the poems in their upcoming anthology. Jeet Thayil will be performing some of his poems. I will read one of Meena Kandasamy’s poems and two of my own. The Rajas will be performing some of the other poems featured in the anthology. Should be fun. Drop by if you can.


Filed under Bangalore, Personal, Poetry

Poetry and bombs

These are poetry days and I’m swimming in it. The Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) monthly poetry reading happened yesterday and Keki Daruwalla read. (For those who don’t know, TFA organises poetry readings once a month at Crossword book shop.) The other poet who was supposed to read with him, Trina Nileena Banerjee, couldn’t make the trip from Kolkata and had to cancel. So three of us, who are participating in Keki’s writing workshop, read some poetry instead. More about the workshop later but first, the reading.

Keki read a range of his poems — environmental, political, personal. What strikes me most about Keki’s poetry is his variety of subject matter. He has tackled such diverse themes and, while doing so, varied tone and style so comfortably. He also used some interesting techniques during the reading to make his poems more accessible to a listener. (And the key word here is ‘listener’ as opposed to reader.) He started with the shorter poems and then moved on to longer poems. It makes it easier for the listener to “digest the poems”, he said. He explained context often, sometimes even interrupting himself in the middle of poems to do so. He repeated lines that he felt he hadn’t read well the first time. During the discussion session, he was firm about his beliefs without being abrasive. And he quoted extensively. Entire poems. In this rhythmic, foot-tapping way with a beatific smile on his face.

You can read some of his poems online here and here.

My reading went off smoothly enough. I think. Which basically means that I’m getting more used to it. There is something to be said for the more immediate experience of reading out poetry and having people respond to it there and then, as opposed to just writing it and sending it out into the void.

The other readers were Parvati Sharma and Madhulika Desai. Parvati’s a friend and it was lovely to see her read her poetry. At her last reading, she read an extract from her short story and both times, she connected with the audience in an amazing way. Her writing is clear and honest and says unexpected things without being gimmicky about it. Madhulika was very confident considering it was her first reading.

Now, the workshop. It’s being conducted by Keki and Anjum Hasan (another poet I admire a lot). It’s over three whole days and there are about twelve of us. I’m exhausted after the first day but have written three poems in a day after a long time, which is the power of writing on tap. It’s commonly said that nobody can teach you how to write and I believe that but having a space to flex your writing muscles is a terrific thing. It clarifies. It concentrates. I wish I had the luxury of doing this more often.

But also, this was not an ordinary day of workshopping. You know what happened in Bangalore today so here’s another, slightly refractional view of it.

A little after lunch, one of the participants passed a note to Anjum and almost immediately, as if on cue, our phones started ringing. The note said there had been bomb blasts in the city. Of course, there was some fluttering — phone calls (which didn’t go anywhere much because all the lines were jammed) and some discussion on what we should do. We were stuck in Centre for Social and Cultural Studies in Jayanagar, which is a fairly quiet place, and there had been no bombs blasting nearby. But the sense of general panic could not be ignored. And everyone was worried about how they would get home.

Finally, unanimously, we decided to go on until 5, which is what we had scheduled. What surprised me is how we went back to the workshop almost seamlessly. I don’t know what this says — that writers are used to isolating themselves from what’s happening around them, that they thrive on stress and tragedy, or simply that when people have no other way to respond to a crisis, they will continue with life. Later, we discussed Yehudi Amichai’s Diameter of a Bomb

The Diameter of the Bomb

~ Yehudi Amichai

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making

a circle with no end and no God.

Outside, there was chaos for some time but by the time we came out at 5, things were calmer. At least, outwardly.


Filed under Bangalore, Personal, Poetry



Filed under Bangalore, Photography

A poem…

of mine in the latest issue of Quay Journal. Do read.

1 Comment

Filed under Personal, Poetry