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De Taali Nehraji Ft Ashish Nehra: Breakfast With Champions

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Storyteller par excellence, Ashish Nehra is the ageless warhorse. Through injury and pain, he’s played for India for almost 2 decades, quite an achievement for a fast bowler who’s undergone 12 surgeries. There is never a dull moment with Ashish Nehra in the house.

Ready for yet another international comeback, veteran Ashish Nehra is hardly bothered about the doubters and cynics as he revels in the feeling of being a sought after pacer for India at the age of 38.

Nehra has been recalled to the side for a three-match T20 series (the only format that he plays), having last competed for the country against England, earlier this year. He had suffered an injury during the IPL after the England assignment at home.

“Who isn’t happy if he is playing for India? I have never been bothered by criticism. The Indian dressing room knows what I bring to the table. The skipper knows it, the selectors know it. If I am in the team, definitely, I must be contributing something,” Nehra told PTI on Monday.

Click here to watch the full interview with Gaurav Kapur.

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Khushwant Singh: Sparking Change Through Literature

Celebrating the 108th birth anniversary of the writer, journalist and diplomat, Khushwant Singh, who left a legacy of excellent written works.

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Khushwant Singh, Train To Pakistan

“Not forever does the bulbul sing,
In balmy shades of bowers,
Not forever lasts the spring.
Nor ever blossom the flowers.
Not forever reigneth joy,
Sets the sun on days of bliss,
Friendships not forever last,
They know not life,
who know not this.”  

Khushwant Singh, Train To Pakistan.

Khushwant Singh was a man of many thoughts. He was a renowned Indian author, writer, journalist, diplomat and a social critic. The Indian writer passed away at the age of 99, in 2014. Today marks the writer’s 108th birth anniversary. Singh’s writing was emblazoned with sarcasm and humour through which Singh brought out the fabric of the socio-religious elements that pervaded our society, which, more often than not, have influenced our past, and continue to influence our present and future. On his birthday, let’s take a dive into his personal early life, and his literary works.

Khushwant Singh: Early Days, Education And Growing Up

Khushwant Singh was born in 1915 in Hadali, Pakistan, to parents, Sir Sobha Singh and Veeran Bai. Many people might not know this but his birth name was not ‘Khushwant.’ His grandmother gave him the name ‘Kushal Singh’, which means, ‘Prosperous Lion’. His father, Sir Sobha Singh was a contractor and a builder. He was indeed born in a wealthy family.

Khushwant’s education was from reputed institutions. He did his schooling from Delhi Modern School in 1912. Afterwards, from 1930 till 1932, Khushwant did Intermediate of Arts at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi during 1930-1932. He got his BA degree from Government College, Lahore, in 1932. Next thing on his list was LLB. For this, he travelled to London, and studied law at King’s College. By 1939, Khushwant started working as a professional lawyer at Lahore Court.

Post 1947, owing to partition, Khushwant and his family migrated from Pakistan to India. The grief and sorrow of separation from his hometown, the place where he was born and grew up, was seldom felt in his myriad writings. His most acclaimed work, ‘Train to Pakistan’ was in fact based on the partition of India and Pakistan, and is, quite understandably, categorized under, ‘Partition Literature.’

Literature and Journalism: Khushwant’s Archives

Along with being a lawyer, Khushwant was an avid writer. He wrote both fiction pieces and critical newspaper articles. After the partition, Khushwant initially worked as a diplomat for a new independent India. A few years later, in 1951, he founded and edited ‘Yojna’ which was an Indian government journal. Throughout the next years, from the 1960s to 80s, Khushwant worked as an editor for numerous well-reputed newspapers of India. He was the editor of the Illustrated weekly of India, Bombay, Editor-in-Chief of National Herald, New Delhi, and the Editor of the Hindustan Times as well. His Saturday column, “With Malice towards One & All” in the Hindustan Times was a well-read and much liked columns of the newspaper.

When it comes to literature, Khushwant has an enormous shelf. Some of his most legendary books (fiction and non-fiction) are, ‘Train To Pakistan’, ‘I Shall Never Hear a Nightingale’, ‘The Portrait of a Lady: Collected Stories’, ‘Why I Supported The Emergency’, and ‘Delhi: A Novel’. These works display Khushwant’s wit and wisdom, humour, simple narration, and his sharp observance of the society.

His written works contributed to the Indian literature and its culture, and for this service, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974. In 2007, he was awarded with the Padma Vibhushan. In 2010, he also received the Sahitya academy fellowship award by the Sahitya Academy of India.

Khushwant breathed his last at his residence in Delhi. His last remains were buried in Hadali School (now in Pakistan), his birthplace. On the marble plaque installed there are the words, “This is where my roots are. I have nourished them with tears of nostalgia!” inscribed.

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Book Review: The White Tiger By Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize. Here is a short review of the socially-charged satirical novel.

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The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga, Netflix, The Talented Indian

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga was published in 2008 and won the Man Booker Prize in the same year. The book garnered mixed reactions from the readers for Adiga’s humorous portrayal of the social and class system in India. The novel partakes in quite the dark humour. A journalist by profession, this was Adiga’s very first novel. He was 33 at that time.

The Man Booker Prize committee emphasised on the novel’s humorous take on “a different aspect of India.” The committee also commented, “The book gains from dealing with pressing social issues and significant global developments with astonishing humour.” In a nutshell, Adiga tells a story of a man deprived of the riches belonging to the ‘darkness’ of Bihar’s poverty and decline, who climbs up the social ladder and becomes a part of the ‘light’ and ‘civilization’.

Summary

The White Tiger is a sultry, sarcastic, socially charged story of India in its binary of “dark” and “light”. We’re introduced to Balram Halwai, who refers to himself as a self-made man who knows the “real India” and must inform the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao about it, who is to make an official visit to the country. The story is told through a series of letters Balram writes to Wen Jiabao, narrating his life story.

Through the series of letters we learn that Balram Halwai was born in the village of Laxmangarh, Bihar. After the death of his father, Balram learns to drive and, through his skills and flattery, gets a job for the village’s landlord’s sons: Mukesh and Ashok. The story then takes forward in a new cityscape, where our narrator comes face to face with the corruption and social binaries that exist in the fabric of modern cities as well. For the sake of keeping it a spoiler-free review, we will not spill the ending of the novel, or one of the many crucial scenes that unfold in the story which forms the crux of Adiga’s goal.

The White Tiger: Social Commentary And Dark Humor

In The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga has used realistic and quite descriptive words and sentences to visibilise the social strata of India, which has been normalised in the country to the point that it is invisible to the naked eye.

Adiga compares the oppressed, lower class of the country with a ‘rooster coop’. The following lines, which are quite evocative, graphic and despairing, are a response to the unchanging social fabric of India, which is marred by poverty, hunger and unequal opportunities.

Go to Old Delhi, and look at the way they keep chickens there in the market. Hundred of pale hens and brightly colored roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they are next, yet they cannot rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with humans in this country.” 

The lower class, economically oppressed, stamped upon, and blocked from entering the spaces of the rich and the well-off, have accepted their downtrodden destiny and have been made unconscious of even any rebellious thoughts in their mind. Unless, of course, like Balram Halwai, you take into the sludge of corruption, deceit, and crime to make your way upwards.

The Ending Of The Man Booker Prize Winner: A Question To Be Asked

There are far too many descriptive scenarios of the plight of the poor and the working class in The White Tiger. These scenes are an eye-opener to realistic perspectives of the people coming from underprivileged backgrounds. Moreover, Balram’s character is quite intriguing. There can be reasons why one might not like the character, or absolutely love him. His thoughts are malign, sometimes sympathetic, and Adiga forces the readers to understand his psyche.

Aravind Adiga leaves the novel at an intriguing end since it emanates both a success and a failure. The success is Balram Halwai’s triumph at making it upwards on the social ladder. He came from the ‘dark’ and the ‘uncivilized’ to the ‘light’ and the ‘civilized’ tech city of Bangalore. However, this prosperity and lavishness had come at the cost of washing one’s hands with the same corruption, greed, and deceit he has been criticising, mocking, and been a victim of since the start. The White Tiger leaves us with a question: will Balram Halwai become the perpetrator of the same corrupt scheme?

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Odia Cuisine: A Food Paradise For Vegans

My fellow vegans, here’s your chance to indulge with us in some lip-smacking Odia dishes to aid you in taking the veganism lifestyle forward!

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Odia Cuisine

Veganism is a lifestyle movement that has taken over the world in recent times. It is a concept termed by Donald Watson, an English man. But Indians have followed this diet for ages. One state in particular that stands out for its vegan diet is Odisha. Odias thrive on a diverse cuisine that is almost always easy to make. They have some lip-smacking non-vegetarian dishes but their vegan game is not a joke either. Fun- fact many Odias that I personally interacted with were not even aware that their regular diet has a name, i.e., Veganism!   

What Exactly is Veganism?

Before we delve further into the delicious cuisine that Odia people thrive on, let’s get the basics out of the way. Veganism in dietary terms means abstaining from eating any products derived from animals (yes that includes cheese, milk and other dairy products as well). Although veganism does go beyond just food habits and is an entire lifestyle in itself, here we will focus on just the food part. 

What comes to your mind when I utter the words Indian food? There is a high chance that your answer is either, chole, biriyani or paneer, or idli and dosa. There’s no way that Dalma or Santula will invade your thoughts unless as a kid you dreaded it will show up for every dinner but have started yearning for it day and night as you have grown up.

Elixir of Odia Cuisine

I am pretty sure many people are still trying to understand what in the world are Dalma and Santula. A new cooking technique? A utensil? Probably some indigenous vegetable? An exotic dish maybe? No, no, somewhat yes and NO. 

Dalma and Santula are two such dishes that are so diverse that it will make you question whether they really are Odia dishes or not. They include some indigenous vegetables but the dishes are so open-minded that they won’t mind a bit if you switched out the quintessential veggies with the ones sitting in your fridge. 

Apart from Dalma and Santula the must-try Odia delicacies we also have Ghanta, and just like the previous two dishes, Ghanta is open to any change you want to bring in. And guess what all these three are super nutritious. Packed with just veggies and lentils they are the perfect pair for anything, be it rice or bread, they will never disappoint. 

Drool-Worthy Vegan Odia Snacks

When it comes to Odia cuisine all you ever need is the right blend of spices and the rest just falls in place. As much as we love healthy nutritious food there is always a part of us that does wish to indulge in those greasy sinfully delicious street food. Proper main course worthy food being vegan makes sense but street food being vegan is unimaginable… or is it? And what if I tell you that these vegan delicacies are even devoured by non-vegetarians with the utmost glee?

From Chaula Bara and Ghugni to Thunka Puri (a seasonal delicacy made specially during Bali Jatra, one of the most awaited fairs for Odias) and Aloo Matar Chaat (does include curd as a topping but it’s optional) these are just a few dishes that make every Odia salivate with contentment. 

For all those vegans who have a sweet tooth worry not, for Kakara Pitha, Manda Pitha, Podo Pitha, and an assortment of many other sweet Pithas are there to cater to your taste buds. Traditionally all these sweet Pithas are made using Ghee but nowadays many people prefer using oil making it totally vegan-friendly. After all this eating how about washing it down with some Bela Pana? A refreshing vegan drink made using Bael on the occasion of Odia new year or Pana Sankranti.

The Vitamin B12 Crisis

The best thing about many of these Odia vegan dishes is that they solve the no. 1 crisis of any vegan, i.e., acquiring Vitamin B12 from natural sources. From eating different kinds of Saga Bhaja to indulging in different variants of Ghanta depending on the vegetables available in your fridge at the moment, an Odia meal is well balanced for any vegan, plus no veggie gets wasted! Ever!  

Afterword

There’s a reason an Odia is never jealous of any other cuisine, if they choose to be a non-vegetarian they have an array of dishes to choose from, want to switch to being vegetarian, will still have a lot of options, thinking of being a vegan, well don’t think, go for it! Odia cuisine has got your back! Still conflicted about Odia cuisine, give it a try and see it for yourself! 

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Editor's Pick

K. S. Narasimhaswamy: Mysore Jasmine of Kannada Literature

Poets help bring out the hidden beauty in the world. K. S. Narasimhaswamy’s works were just that and much more.

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K. S. Narasimhaswamy, Kannada poet, poet

The world of poetry is filled with mystery. Poems are the veil that when penned down brings to notice a world that hides in the crevices of the reality we live in. Poems bring out expressions and perspectives that help one make their voice heard. The diversity in poetry is what makes it so cathartic and bewitching. But sadly, poetry wasn’t always this diverse or cathartic. Followed by a string of rules and regulations the poetry world was very very strict. But then there are always a few such poets who usher in a new genre by just expressing themselves however they wanted to. One such poet was K. S. Narasimhaswamy.

The Journey

Born in Kikkeri in the Mandya district of Karnataka on 26 January 1915 K. S. Narasimhaswamy was a prominent Indian poet who wrote in the Kannada language. In 1934 he enrolled in Central College in Bengaluru and successfully obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. His marriage to Venkamma in Tiptur in 1936 is what set in motion his life as a poet.

His wife was his muse. She was the art and he was the artist. And his love for her was clearly visible in the poems he wrote about love and marital bliss. At a time when many writers were still busy writing about nature and the natural world, Narasimhaswamy found his peace in love. His works were highly inspired by Robert Burns, giving his writing style and technique a unique touch.

Apart from being a poet at heart, he was also a translator. He translated a lot of work during his time. Some of the major ones are- Media (1996), Robert Burns Kaviya Kelavu Premageetegalu (1997), and Kelavu Chinee Kavanagalu (1997). It is true that the true essence of literature can only be appreciated once it becomes accessible, and by being a translator Narasimhaswamy aided in this particular sphere.

Such ones do not just come once and leave;
does the earth only momentarily turn heaven?
Her saying that he will come again is not untrue,
the rain, the grain, all life itself happens from them.

‘It Happened This Way’
K. S. Narasimhaswamy
Translated by Madhav Ajjampur

He was part of the Navodaya movement in Kannada literature. Navodaya movement, also known as the renaissance in Kannada literature was a period in which many writers took it upon themselves to not only express but also nurture modern Kannada literature by translating many pieces of literature from English to Kannada. From poems and short stories to essays and novels, it encompassed everything. This period showed the influence of Western modernity, literature and education on Kannada literature. 

Though he is an expert translator, his masterpiece is a collection of poems- Mysooru Mallige (1942). Owing to its huge popularity this collection has received more than thirty-two reprints. Apart from publishing a huge collection of poems and translating some works, he has also written many proses such as Maariya Kallu (1942), Upavana (1958), Damayanthi (1960), and Sirimallige (1990).

Afterword

Although his popular work made him stand out from the crowd he always remained rooted and was very down to earth. This quality is especially highlighted in his essay titled, Basavanagudiyalli (In Basavanagudi) when he decides to get down from a bus so that a couple can ride the bus together. He has received a lot of recognition and honour for his work. From Sahitya Akademi Award to the Asian prize for literature, he has bagged them all with his sheer talent and hopes to usher in a new era of Kannada literature.

Credits: YouTube (KARNATAKA INFORMATION)
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Throwback Thursday: Madhusudan Rao A Odia Language Pioneer

Odia literature has had its ups and downs. For the longest time it wasn’t even regarded as a language. But Rao decided to change that.

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Madhusudan Rao, TBT, Odia literature, Odia, Odia language

Many people love a language, but how many go so far as to ensure that it gets its due recognition? With the arrival of British Colonisation, many people decided to just give in and accept the English language as their fate. Many revolted by holding on to their language but how many actually helped it develop? How many actually ensured that it had such a solid foundation that it can never be shaken? When it came to the Odia language though Madhusudan Rao clearly did.

The Beginning

Born on 19th January 1853, Rao came from a family with a modest status. His father used to work for the Odisha (then Orissa) Police department, a job that came with a lot of transfers to different places. As a result of this Rao did his schooling at different schools in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, etc. It was in Puri that he shined the brightest by winning award after award for his brilliant academic performance. 

After finishing his matriculation exam in 1869, he received his FA in 1871. As there wasn’t any scope in Odisha for pursuing B.A. so he wanted to pursue the same in Kolkata but his father was not ready to send him so far away. Hence, he started working as a teacher and ended up teaching at various schools during his entire lifetime.

Teaching and Literature

While working as a teacher he realised how hard it is for students to grasp new knowledge in a foreign language. He decided something needed to be done. The lack of teaching in one’s mother tongue was stunting the potential of a lot of children. 

During that time there were no textbooks available in Odia. Many didn’t even consider it a language. But that all changed when Rao with Shri Radhanath Rai wrote the first textbook in Odia for beginners. This helped bring about the change which made Odia the medium of instruction in many schools. 

He came up with “Barnabodha”, the prized possession of every young Odia. Published in 1895, this workbook for beginners is still prescribed by the education department and has sold millions of copies since its release. Because of his constant efforts to help students in their learning, he published many children’s magazines such as, “Sikhyabandhu”, “Asha”, “Utkal Sahitya”, “Utkal Darpan”, etc. 

Apart from being a teacher, he was also a great writer. He was a poet and an essayist, some of his best poems include, “Rishi Prane Devavataran”, “Basant Gatha”, “Kusumanjali”, and “Himachale Uday Utsav”. Given his deep faith in god, he is widely recognised as Bhakta Kabi (Translation: Bhakta- a religious devotee, Kabi- poet) in Odisha.

Social Work

Apart from trying to cement Odia as a language, Rao was also deeply involved in improving the status of the Odia community. He became a part of Brahmo Samaj at a time when it focused on social reforms. Rao vehemently opposed the ideas of untouchability and casteism. He broke the caste system by marrying the girls in his family to men hailing from different castes. By giving examples from the holy scriptures Rao debunked the origin of these practices.

He tried his level best to bring god closer to the common man by delivering whatever was written in the Vedas, Upanishads and Gita in simple language for the common man’s ears. He believed that God rested above, the soul is somewhere in the middle, and the material world is below the soul. True happiness blossoms only when the soul surrenders itself entirely to the divine.

Afterword

From establishing an institution called the “Alochana Sabha” in Cuttack in 1890 — which was later renamed to “Utkal Sahitya Samaj” — to ensuring that Odia literature had a strong unshakeable foundation with books like “Barnabodha”, “Sishubodha”, “Balabodha”, “Sahitya Kusum”, etc. Madhusudan Rao’s contribution to the development of the Odia language is commendable. 

Apart from providing the stepping stones for the Odia language to bloom, he also enriched its literature with his immortal masterpieces.

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