Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yes, it's been fixed:
TIME: 7 pm.

No invites needed, please just come.

(misch? Just so you know, this is directly because of the comment you posted a couple of weeks ago!)


... and here's the OUTLOOK review -- it's passionately negative. It's what I characterize as a GOOD bad review: it's not a personal attack against me or whatever I may have said in my interviews, but is instead the reviewer's sincere beliefs about what he thinks is wrong with the book. Fair enough! I'm all for informed dissent. Go read the review ...

Monday, November 24, 2008


This appeared in the INDIAN EXPRESS (Sunday, 23rd November 2008) -- and is what I would call a GOOD review. By Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta.

Here's the opening passage:

Future Imperfect
Who needs women when there’s genetic engineering?
by Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta

Interviewer: What term would you use for annihilating two-thirds of your population?
General: Drain-clearing. Our world was suffocating in its own excrement. No one could face the solution — and why? Because of a tired old myth called the ‘Sanctity of Life’!”

Manjula Padmanabhan’s Escape is set in a dystopian future, in a wasteland presided over by Generals who reject uniqueness and individuality as well as the natural processes of birth and death in favour of genetic engineering and cloning — or, as they call it, “regeneration” — and who, therefore, see no need for women (whom they call the “Vermin Tribe”) in this artificially controlled world. Even language has been stripped down and shaped to suit the requirements of this new world — the past is the “Time Before”, distortion is “sculpture”, and even proper names are strictly limited to an approved list.

In this particular domain served by manufactured “Drones” and guarded by packs of vicious “Boyz”, the General has managed to get rid of almost all the women, including the little girls — which is why it is so important that Meiji, the young female protagonist of the novel, should be safely taken away from this land ...

Meanwhile, here's a BOOK READING UPDATE for CHENNAI:

DATE: 30th NOVEMBER 2008
TIME: 6.30 pm
PLACE: "PASHA", The PARK, Nungumbakkam High Rd.
No invitations necessary, just come.

Comment Piece
And this appeared on Nov 25th in Business Standard in Nilanjana Roy's book column. A gentle reminder that gender-experimental writing has been around for a while ...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nepal, Cartoons, Mountains, Book Launch

HIMALCHULI with Manasalu beyond and behind it
Patan Durbar, Kathmandu
So -- here's evidence of my trip to Nepal last weekend! It was most enjoyable and I hope eventually to post a link to the talk entitled DANCING WITH DEMONS that I gave at the start of the two-day event. However, in lieu of that here's a link to
Sadanand Menon's piece about the Cartoon Congress, in Business Standard.

I would love to post the names of the peaks* in the pictures but I haven't got positive ID. Kunda Dixit very kindly IDed the peaks in two other pix I sent but these are different pictures and I was probably not well positioned to get a clear profiles of their Regal Immensities, the Peaks of Nepal. If/when I get names to post, I will. I am sure we saw EVERYONE on the way in to Kathmandu, but alas the pilot didn't announce the peaks and that was SOOOOO disappointing. They were in full view, clear as an array of splendid dishes on a buffet table, but NO NAME TAGS. I felt very annoyed with myself for not making a little sketch for myself in advance of travelling, but I didn't so ... that's that.

[instant update! I HAVE now got the correct names -- and have also updated two bits of misinformation regarding who was ed of which mag!]

HIMAL SOUTHASIAN provided an excellent platform for discussion -- the Dixit brothers (Kanak Mani Dixit, editor HIMAL, Kunda Mani Dixit, editor, NEPAL TIMES) were wonderful hosts and the event was successful, I think, in raising consciousness about cartoons, southasian humour (such as it is! Hmmm) and cartoonists. Here's a link to visual evidence of my presence there and if you click around you'll get more news and pix connected to the occasion. I look forward to staying in touch with the magazine and the friends I made there.

And so to the book launch at Gurgaon's OM Book Shop -- aside from the nearly two-hour ride from Friends Colony to GG, it was really quite enjoyable. I read a chapter from the book -- finally choosing the terrace scene in Ch 03 -- then there were a few friendly questions, followed by book-signing. I think both Picador and OM books were pleasantly surprised at the brisk sale and I signed a whole stack of copies with the AUTHOR AUTOGRAPH INSIDE sticker -- naively, I imagined they would be unable to sell books that had the sticker but no autograph -- only to be told the stickers were easy to remove, in case they were unable to get my scrawl on the front page!

Two more readings sched, in Mad and Bom, but after this one Picador is seriously considering a couple more. Bangalore's on the list ...

One last item of interest: I chose this week to change my cellphone number -- naturally, I'm not going to post it here, but in case anyone's been wunnering why the old one appears to be permanently off-line well ... it IS! Though it's still an active account at this moment, it'll eventually fade out altogether. Friends desiring the new number will need to send me an e-message pref with THEIR numbers, so I can SMS the new one.

... and it's a medium nasty one!! How delish. Here it is, in India Tonight

Meanwhile, here are interviews that have already appeared (they're part of what the reviewer used as sources for quotes in her review): Avtar Singh in TimeOut DELHI, MUMBAI and JaiArjun Singh in Business Standard and again at his blog. First City published a review-cum-interview but sadly there does not seem to be an online version.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


ESCAPE cover artwork
pic by DrEKSNarayanan

Three readings have been scheduled. I'll send out e-invitations to friends and family in the relevant cities but I've realized, after sending out the Delhi invites, that there are a number of friends whose e-addresses are mysteriously unavailable on my Gmail contact list. Hence this blog-post. Please feel free to circulate the information here to anyone who you think might be interested in attending one of the readings.

Here are the dates and venues (time details for Mad & Bom to be confirmed):

Friday, 21st November, at 6 p.m.

MADRAS: THE PARK HOTEL, Anna Salai, Chennai
Sunday, 30th November, (not sure of the time)

Thursday, 18th December (not sure of the time)

I'll read from the book and I suppose there will be a few moments in which to exchange pleasantries before and after. It may be fun. And then again, who knows? It may not. My plan is to read one whole chapter. It should take about 15 minutes but my friend Sunita tells me that people feeled cheated if they get anything less than 20 minutes. Really?? I need to know! At this moment I plan to read Chapter 17 which is a good in-between moment, involving a character I liked a lot (Windseeker), who doesn't reappear. But I'm open to suggestions, if anyone has some to offer.

There's ANOTHER event too -- over this weekend (i.e., 14th to the 16th). I'm going to Nepal, to attend the SOUTH ASIAN CARTOON CONGRESS organized by Nepal's HIMAL magazine. So I'll be out of e-range for the next couple of days, but I'm hoping to have something substantial to report when I get back on Sunday evening! It'll be my first visit ever to Nepal, and I'm looking forward to it. Annapurnaaaaaaaaah!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Smile Heard Around The World!

My sister sent me this link to a sequence of pictures in Boston.com, of which I've posted one here. Like millions of other earthlings, I woke up at three a.m. Wednesday morning to watch CNN and the election results coming in -- what a rare and wonderful experience it was! To actually watch something go RIGHT.