The Spider & The Blue-Throated God – 1/2

3b61d0f59f5d346dca653f1df20c1727I owe a colossal debt of gratitude to a woman I shall call Grace, whose kindly face, hennaed hair, hooked nose and elfin green eyes still come with great affection to mind. I met her over a decade ago, at a friend’s potluck dinner in Eugene, Oregon—a fairytale town where I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a hobbit or two frolicking down the road, yodeling a hey-ho-happy-to-be-alive kinda song.

Instead of enjoying this slice of paradise, however, my thoughts had begun to stray obsessively into the future—specifically on the looming prospect of having to leave Eugene for south India, where I’d set in motion the construction of a beautiful home for myself. Whew, was I mad at myself for taking this big step! My radical ways had taken me way out of the Indian mainstream…and when, for God’s sake, had I ever fit into my conservative community? But now it was too late—huge amounts of money had already been paid towards this dream dwelling, and this time I had no option but to suck it up and go with the flow. Continue reading

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Brian Feinblum’s Interview with Mira Prabhu

e86345da08c09d1879f0e7eda3a5e911What inspired you to write your book?

Krishna’s Counsel is the second of a trilogy of novels whose theme is moksha(Sanskrit word for ‘liberation from suffering’). (Please see here). My first novel, Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India, is set in a civilization reminiscent of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and my third, Copper Moon Over Pataliputra, is set in 300 BCE. I intended to stick with historical/mystical fiction, but way back in 1999, my Manhattan-based literary agent suggested I write a contemporary novel about an Indian woman who had moved from East to West. Nothing happened until many years later when I found myself marooned in a guest house in Rishikesh in northern India: a wild festival raged all around me, keeping me captive in my suite, and so I decided to sink my teeth into something that would engage my monkey mind; in six months, I had written the first draft of Krishna’s Counsel. Continue reading

Me & Bobby McGee…Live!

That spooky stage....

That spooky stage….

This post fits bang into the “mundane” aspect of our blog title…but it also deals with the greatest foe we each must duel on the long and winding road to freedom — voila, Monsieur EGO! 

I made my debut as diva at the age of four. Garbed in virginal white, I stood brave as a soldier on the auditorium stage of our lovely school in Bangalore, run by British, Scottish and Indian nuns. I resisted the urge to flee backstage as the curtains rose and the spotlight focused on my terrified little face—and, according to my mother, burst into a faultless rendition of an old hymn known as Immaculate Mary.

Other kids followed my opening act with a variety of performances—for an audience comprising a vast throng of parents who clapped and cheered decorously at the end of each piece. This was Parents Day, and obedient kids that we were at the time (I changed radically), our chief desire was to impress our anxious elders.

10270747-high-jumpI was also the top athlete in my class: high jump, long jump and the hundred meters sprint. Never a team player, I did not succeed at playing basketball or any sport requiring cooperative effort; today I suspect my debut on that dark stage spoiled me—after that, nothing would do but to shine as the lone star in my own constellation. Continue reading

Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 4/6

sati-artOn the street parallel to our home lived a Rajput family. Rajputs, as you might know, are a fierce and beautiful race, originators of Sati, the practice of urging a wife to leap on to her husband’s funeral pyre—for what is a woman worth without a man, anyway? Better to burn baby burn, and get all the endless vicious abuse a widow is subject to out of the way, once and for all. Never mind that in thousands of cases the husband is a doddering old fart, and the wife a young girl led to marital slaughter by virtuous parents. Duty and honor were considered paramount in those days, and a “good” woman was urged to end her life when her man was gone. Those who refused were drugged, thrown onto the funeral pyre, and drums were beaten loud and hard to drown out their shrieks.

Now Lakshmi, youngest of three graceful daughters born to this particular family, committed the mortal sin of falling in love with Shaukat, the attractive son of a local Muslim building contractor. Traditionally speaking, the Rajputs and the Muslims are arch enemies; so, when some spiteful gossip leaked the information to Lakshmi’s parents, her father—an important man in the Rajput community—went stark raving bonkers: Lakshmi was instantly pulled out of college, given the whipping of her life, and placed under house imprisonment. And since neighbourhood elders supported her parents for disciplining their wayward daughter in this drastic manner, not one adult attempted to ameliorate the poor girl’s fate. Continue reading

Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 3/6

freedomCall me the family adventuress: during long summer holiday afternoons, while the rest of my family was taking their siesta or reading in bed, I’d creep out the back door and scale a wall or climb a gate to avoid being seen, in order to pay impromptu visits to my girlfriends in the hood. Inside their bedrooms, with the fan going full blast, we’d giggle and whisper and gossip as we gorged on sweets and savories.

One family I befriended had settled in Bangalore a generation or so ago. The man of the house belonged to a Brahmin landowning family somewhere up in Himachal Pradesh. For as long as I knew him, he spent his time seated cross-legged or slumbering on his favorite couch, perusing the papers or some crappy thriller. His wife was a very different kettle of fish; a good-looking and hard-working woman, Hindu fanatic and Sanskrit scholar, she ran the household with iron efficiency. And yet, if her indolent husband were to crook his little finger at her—demanding chai, a snack, or someone to clean his ears or trim his finger and toenails—she, or one of their two lovely daughters, would run to obey. Continue reading