Author Archives: Anisha Sridhar

About Anisha Sridhar

Anisha Sridhar is a writer who writes all day and sometimes gets paid for it.
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In awesome news, I won first prize in Talk Magazine’s short story competition! I’ve never won ANYTHING in my LIFE before so this is supermadexciting for me.

So, the story is about a young girl junkie navigating the streets of Bangalore looking for her next fix. It’s pretty gritty. As usual because it’s a story about heroin abuse, it may not be suitable for ALL audiences.

It appears also that I have made the damn cover of this magazine which is like totally rad. After the last couple of weeks I’ve had (what with losing my entire life to Hurricane Sandy- we were part of the unfortunate lot that got flooded out of our apartment pretty bad and after being ‘homeless’ for 20 days, we signed a new lease on a new apartment yesterday, so whew!)… anyway, given all that bullshit, all of this is making me smile.

The magazine is based out of Bangalore. If you’re in India- go buy it!!! It’s only Rs. 10/-

Or read it online here.

Below is an excerpt:

“Frequently, I’d buy half a gram only to find that it had been hastily cut with unknown crystals, sugar, pharmaceuticals and, according to rumour, even mosquito coil ash. There was an ever-revolving door of dealers who came to meet me with this questionable stash. They all gave me the same story, “Kareem’s gone mad.” A scramble for power ensued and, if rumours are to be believed, Kareem was thrown out of his own hovel. Where he went crawling to was anybody’s guess.

Unfortunately, these small-time dealers possessed neither Kareem’s business sense nor his charisma when it came to dealing with the Law. Dealers started to disappear only to re-appear as four lines of a story in the crime section of newspapers: “Man caught with 1.5 kg of heroin at Michaelpalya” – that sort of stuff.

The business of being a junkie was becoming extremely hard. Whenever I’d find my dealers missing or see their guilty mug shots peering out at me from a newspaper, I’d take a trip down to Shivajinagar.”

Review: The Watch by Joydeep Bhattacharya

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 Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya tackles the uncomfortable topic of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In telling the story of a young Afghani woman who only wants to claim her slain’s brother’s body so she can give him a proper burial, he draws out the real heart of the conflict: who is the enemy and just who is the defender? I like this book, despite the heavy Antigone references (which, I’ll admit, I had to look up) because it feels real. Not just in terms of dialogue- which is peppered with Army slang, American slang and, of course, those long passages where Lt. Nick Frobenius quotes directly from Antigone; but also, in the way that the soldiers, both American and Afghani, deal with ethical and moral dilemmas. We see, for instance, how the Americans mistrust the Afghani soldiers, the cultural complexity that is Afghanistan, the difficulty of telling the Taliban from other Afghani fighters.

Actually, now that I’m writing about it, I’d really like to read a story from the Afghani perspective. If you have any recommendations, let me know. 🙂

The Watch will make you dizzy with a narrative that circles a central event but spirals off every now and the into these hallucinatory nightmares, dreams and fantasies of the characters who are suffering in their own way. There is loss of life, love and limb- and in the end, we are still no closer to understanding the war or the events that are taking place inside it but what we do get a glimpse of is the humanity that survives even in the desert.

Below is an excerpt, click here to read the full review at Hyphen Magazine:

“When Nizam, a crippled Afghani woman, arrives at an American military base looking for her brother Yusuf’s body, she sets off a chain of events that tests the convictions of the soldiers. As they speculate over whether she’s a Trojan horse, a spy sent by the Taliban, or whether she is simply what she says she is — a sister who wants to bury her brother’s body — Nizam holds her ground, refusing to leave without Yusuf’s body. Meanwhile, the war, or rather, the waiting and watching that characterizes the war in Afghanistan, is taking its toll on the soldiers. In many ways, The Watch is a classic anti-war narrative. Bhattacharya takes great pains to paint a realistic portrayal of war, the camaraderie between the men, and the emotional support that they so badly need from one another.”

Here is the book trailer, because it’s a thing people do these days. I may be the last person left on earth who’d rather skim a written review than watch a trailer unfold second by second… ha.

Published: Short Story, ‘The Black River’ in the anthology ‘Behind The Shadows’

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‘Behind The Shadows’ is a collection of short stories from writers in Asia and Africa, edited by Rohini Chowdhury and Zukiswa Wanner. The theme of the collection is ‘outcasts’ and every story in the anthology touches on this theme and digs into the insider-outsider dichotomy that exists in the world and I’d say, in each one of us if we look deep enough. The anthology is now available for sale on Amazon. So click here to buy Behind The Shadows.

My story is called The Black River and is about Devika, an orphaned teenage girl who lives in a slum with an old woman and her granddaughter- Raveena. When the old woman dies, Devika suddenly finds herself thrust into an adult world where her sexual awakening collides with her maternal love for Raveena and where she turns to prostitution as much out of a desire to experience love as to make a living.

I wrote and workshopped at http://www.zoetrope.com sometime in 2011 or 2010. It’s one of those stories that began with the last line and I worked my way backwards trying to understand why this happened, to whom, when and how. In retrospect, the process is a lot like what Stephen King describes in his book On Writing. He says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that writing is kind of like unearthing a fossil. That this story is already there and we’re just excavating it slowly bone by bone as it becomes visible to us and finally we have the whole thing: this skeleton, this a-ha! moment where we SEE how everything is connected!

While I was developing it, I realised also that I didn’t want to write this stereotypical story of a whore who is coerced into prostitution. Not that that doesn’t happen; but it just wasn’t the strand I wanted to explore. So what came out is this piece about sex, love, loss and longing. Oh yeah, it’s a pretty sad story.

Obviously, there is some sexual description and strong mature themes in the story. You have been warned.

Below is an excerpt:

 

” “Ehh, what do we need money for? We need food. We need clothes. We need … lots of things. Whatever we want, we just tell him and he’ll bring it for us. Listen,” Mala says. She leans towards me, winks and then drops her voice to a whisper. 
“You want a little Old Monk, he’ll get it for you. You want some ganja, he’ll take care of it. He knows where to get everything, yaar, at the best price. So why worry about the money?” she adds.

It’s starting to rain outside but it’s dry inside here while my tent in the slum will be dripping. In my tent, I’ll have to curl up into a ball in a corner to avoid getting wet but here I can spread out and sleep. In my tent we might get flooded again but here…

“I have a daughter,” I tell Mala. “Can I bring her here?”

Mala’s eyes go round and she lifts my shirt up to look at my belly.
“What lies! Where are your stretch marks?”

“Her name is Raveena. She’s eight years old.”

“Kusum, look at this. She gave birth and she has no scars.”

Kusum barely glances at my stomach before she says, “Yeah right and my name is really Kusum.” 
Everyone breaks into laughter and then Kusum comes over to show me her stretch marks. They’re long and white as if the baby clawed its way out of her belly. Her skin is wrinkled and it sags and jiggles when she moves.

“Where’s your baby?” I ask her and she shrugs.

“I gave her to Tony,” she says and quickly looks away.

A silence falls over the room and then Kusum says, “Leave it, Mala. She doesn’t want to stay. She wants to play mommy to some beggar child. Let her and that child starve.”  ”

 

Review: ‘The Newlyweds’ by Nell Freudenberger

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Nell Freudenberger was 28 when she was published at The New Yorker. Since then, her rise to the top (she made Granta’s ‘Best Young American Authors’ in 2008 and The New Yorker’s own ‘20 Under 40‘ list in 2010) has been inspiring and, to use the oft-abused metaphor, “meteoric”. (It’s late. I’ve been reading psychology texts all day. Metaphorically, I’m not very good this night.)

Anyway. I have not read her debut publication- a collection of short stories titled Lucky Girls but I DID get to read her utterly enchanting second novel, ‘The Newlyweds‘. I reviewed it for Hyphen Magazine.

‘The Newlyweds’ was inspired by a Bangladeshi woman that Freudenberger met on a plane to Rochester. The narrative follows a young Bangla woman named Amina who meets her American beau through on online dating service and consequently flies to Rochester to marry him. Expectedly, this cross cultural romance is about culture shock, love across borders and all that. But what I liked most about the book was that it was a pretty realistic portrayal of an immigrant woman’s experience in the U.S.A. I guess, I could say, that I identified with Amina’s story- especially her struggle with finding employment and the fact that it didn’t matter how educated she was, she still ended up with a minimum wage job at Starbucks.

Such is life.

Below is an excerpt of my review. Click here or on the picture to read the full review at Hyphen Magazine.

“On a surface level, Freudenberger is literally telling someone else’s story: that of Farah, a Bangla woman whom she met on a flight to Rochester, with whose consent and approval she developed the narrative. On a deeper level, Freudenberger places herself in an alien context. As a white, Jewish, American woman she is writing about a brown, Bangla, Muslim woman’s immigrant experience in America. Does she have the right to do this? More importantly, does she succeed?”

Published: Short Story ‘Edge of Her World’ in Queer Ink’s Anthology called ‘Out!’

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My short story, ‘Edge of Her World’ is finally out! The anthology called, ‘Out! Stories from the New Queer India‘ is available now at Queer Ink’s website. Click on the link or the pic to go to QI’s store and order the book. The anthology was edited by Minal Hajratwala– author of the highly acclaimed ‘Leaving India‘. I’m totally stoked to have been a part of this anthology and I can’t wait for my copy of the book so I can read everyone else’s stories!

Watch this space for information on when it’ll be available digitally, in bookstores and also when the official launch is etc.

Below is an excerpt from my story:

“Rosa,” Kaavya began. “Have you ever been in love?”

Rosa felt herself redden. She lowered her eyes and dipped her fingers in the water below. Her tongue felt heavy in her mouth and without warning tears began to flow down her cheeks. She covered her face with her hands and turned away from Kaavya. Her movement rocked the boat gently and Rosa felt Kaavya’s arms around her. She felt her soft kisses on her neck, her chin and when their lips finally met, Rosa broke away.

“No,” she said. “This… is wrong. It’s… it’s a sin, isn’t it?” she asked and wondered how many Hail Marys she would need to cleanse her soul.

“When did love become a sin?” Kaavya asked, dismissing Rosa’s fears and despite everything, Rosa let the thrill of that first kiss sink into her lips.

It’s easy for Kaavya, she thought later, because there were temples full of naked women holding each other.

Video: Dakini’s Theme

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Music from KuruCircus Event at CounterCulture, Bangalore! And Ari managed to do something cool with the shitty video I shot.

Dance interpretation of our protagonist Dakini’s descent into the darkness, her illumination by the Aghori philosophy and her eventual return to Calcutta to fulfill her destiny.

Dancer Extraordinaire: Swapna Shree Bhasi.

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The Kuru Chronicles@ Time Out Magazine Bangalore

Old news. But in order to properly chronicle the Chronicles, I must post. Late but at least never, right?

I remember being STOKED as hell that we were featured in Time Out!