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A Wonderful World

Exploring Colours

On 26 th January, 1950, India was declared a republic, an independent entity with the complete withdrawal of colonial support of any kind. The country adopted an independent constitution. The Republic Day celebrations conclude on 29th January with ‘Beating the Retreat’,where more than seven decades ago the British withdrew all armed support from India. 

In this edition, we will explore how the idea of an independent India has evolved over the decades. We have poetry by Asad Latif that celebrates the Indianess across borders. On the other hand, Beni S Yanthan from Nagaland explores the republic in the shadow of displacement, which makes one wonder if cultural hegemony can help make a country? Ukraine is faced with a war over it.

Tagore’s poem builds empathy around human suffering as does Premchand’s story, translated by C Christine Fair — these are texts written at the start of the turn of the last century. Have we come out of that suffering? Perhaps, the answer can be found in Bhaskar Parichha’s review about a book that spans almost the whole of twentieth century in India. He tells us the author, “MA Sreenivasan (1897-1998) lived through almost the entire 20th century and was among the very few people who witnessed at close quarters the enormous changes that took place in India during this period.” This has been recorded in his book and its review. Rhys Hughes’ humour winds up this edition where he recounts the differences in the cultural ethos of India and a region of the country that despite losing an empire where the sun never set, still retains its sense of humour! 

Poetry

An India like You by Asad Latif. Click here to read.

What if I Uproot You by Beni Sumer Yanthan. Click here to read.

Ebar Phirao More or Take Me Back by Tagore, translated by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Prose

Pus Ki Raat or A Frigid Winter Night by Munshi Premchand has been translated from Hindi by C Christine Fair. Click here to read. 

Bhaskar Parichha reviews MA Sreenivasan’s Of the Raj, Maharajas and Me. Click here to read.

In Some Differences Between Wales and India, Rhys Hughes makes some hilarious comparisons. Click here to read.

Courtesy: Creative Commons

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

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Contents

Borderless, December 2022

Art by Sohana Manzoor

Editorial

It’s Only Hope… Click here to read.

Conversations

Shantanu Ray Chaudhari converses with writer Gajra Kottary, a well-known writer of Indian TV series, novels and stories. Click here to read.

A discussion on Samaresh Bose’s In Search of the Pitcher of Nectar, a book that takes us to the heart of the Kumbh Mela, a festival recognised by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, with the translator, Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee. Click here to read.

Translations

Nazrul’s Why Provide Thorns has been translated by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

Mercy, a story be P. F. Mathews, has been translated from Malayalam by Ram Anantharaman. Click here to read.

Even A Simurgh Cannot Change Destiny, a Balochi folktale translated and retold by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Confessions, a poem written by and translated from Korean by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

The Sun on the First Day, a translation of Tagore’s Prothom Diner Shurjo by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Pandies’ Corner

Songs of Freedom: Vikalangta or Disability is an autobiographical narrative by Kajal, translated from Hindustani by Janees. These narrations highlight the ongoing struggle against debilitating rigid boundaries drawn by societal norms, with the support from organisations like Shaktishalini and Pandies. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Rhys Hughes, Asad Latif, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Santosh Bakaya, Phil Wood, Sharanya B, George Freek, Saibal Chatterjee, Jonathan Chan, Sutputra Radheye, Shambhu Nath Banerjee, Michael Burch

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Some Differences Between Wales and India, Rhys Hughes makes some hilarious comparisons. Click here to read.

Musings/ Slices from Life

Near-Life Experiences: Hiking in New Zealand

Keith Lyons escapes city life to find his happy place while hiking in New Zealand. Click here to read.

The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Saeed Ibrahim introduces us to Native Indian lore from Canada and shows its relevance in the current times. Click here to read.

Dismasted in Bass Strait

Meredith Stephens takes us for a sailing adventure with photographs in the Southern Hemisphere. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Of Mice & Men, Devraj Singh Kalsi talks of his encounters with rats. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

In A Clean Start, Suzanne Kamata tells us how the Japanese usher in a new year. Click here to read.

Stories

Annapurna Bhavan

Lakshmi Kannan closes class divides in Chennai over a meal. Click here to read.

Two Faces of a Mirror

Tulip Chowdhury gives us a story set in a Bangladeshi village. Click here to read.

The Slip

Sushma R Doshi takes a look at the pandemic against an Indian middle-class set up. Click here to read.

Till Life Do Us Part

Devraj Singh Kalsi explores a strange new trend. Click here to read.

Essays

Orangutans & a School at Sarawak

Christina Yin, a conservationist, travels to Borneo in an attempt to create awareness for conserving the Orangutan. Click here to read.

Taiping of the Raj Era

Ravi Shankar explores Taiping in Malaysia with a camera and words. Click here to read.

Ivory Ivy & Stephen Dedalus

Paul Mirabile explores James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus and his passion for words keeping in mind the hundred year old Ulysees & the even older, A Portrait of the Artists as a Young Man. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An excerpt from Radha Chakravarty’s translation of Tagore’s Farewell Song. Click here to read.

An excerpt or two short narratives from Rhys Hughes’ Yule Do Nicley. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Somdatta Mandal reviews The Shaping of Modern Calcutta: The Lottery Committee Years, 1817 – 1830 by Ranabir Ray Chaudhury. Click here to read.

Rakhi Dalal reviews Freny Manecksha’s Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley: Stories from Bastar and Kashmir. Click here to read.

Basudhara Roy reviews Manoranjan Byapari’s How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews In Search of the Divine: Living Histories of Sufism in India by Rana Safvi. Click here to read.

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Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

You are all welcome to the book talks of our first anthology

Categories
Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

Some Differences Between Wales and India

I am from Wales but now I live in India. I am therefore in a very good position to note any differences between life in the two different countries. The first of these differences concerns food. Indian food is the main kind of food in public eating places in both locations. But the food itself isn’t quite the same. Indian food in India is Indian by default. In Wales no one knows whose fault it is. I fell into a curry in Wales once. I slipped on discarded laddoo peel (we peel laddoos over there because we think they grow on trees) and into the pot I went. It was a good curry and might be considered authentic. After I fell into it, ‘in authentic’ was the correct term for it. I wiped myself clean with a large naan bread. Later I wore the naan bread as a cloak. Waste not, want not.

So much for food. I am writing this short essay at the end of November. India is especially different from Wales at this time of year. Here I am playing badminton in shorts and a t-shirt. Back in Wales it is so cold that the sunbeams have frozen solid and I would be hanging my washing on one of the horizontal rays. In the afternoon, here in India, I will probably read a book of poetry under a banyan tree while drinking mosambi juice and listening to sitar music. But in Wales, I would be snapping off that frozen sunbeam and using it as a long lance while riding my yeti[1] over the misty mountains.

Traffic is another difference. In India the roads are choked with cars, autos, tuk-tuks (yes, I know that autos and tuk-tuks are the same thing but I need more wordage in this essay), trucks, buses, bicycles, wheelbarrows and cows. Wales doesn’t really have roads and the only traffic consists of crows. A crow perched on the back of a cow would make a perfect official emblem for a Welsh-Indian Friendship Association. If there are no roads in Wales, how do we get about? It is a pertinent question. We jump, is the answer. This not only enables us to reach our destinations but keeps us warm in winter.

In India there are monsoons but in Wales they are never soon, they are here already. The only time it stops raining in Wales is when the clouds go on strike for more pay. Lightning also goes on strike. There are puddles everywhere, even on the surfaces of lakes and ponds. Because we jump everywhere, there is a lot of splashing in Wales. This splashing puts most of the moisture back into the air where it forms clouds and perpetuates the cycle. I once perpetuated a cycle. It was a bicycle originally but I sent it away to get an education and it came back as a unicycle. I connected it to a motor powered by a rainfall gauge. Off it went on an endless journey around Wales. I would never attempt something like that in India. So there’s another big difference.

India is actually a very advanced country in terms of technology. Based in Bangalore, I am able to order anything I like with an app on my mobile phone. If I want food or drink or a bicycle, I just have to tap a few keys and a delivery guy will turn up with the ordered stuff. I once ordered a delivery guy using one of these apps and a different delivery guy turned up carrying the first delivery guy over his shoulder. But then I decided I didn’t really need a delivery guy so I sent him back and obtained a full refund.

It’s not like that in Wales. We only acquired mobile phones very recently in history and they are of a decidedly primitive sort. We started with parrots that one keeps in a pocket and speaks the messages to before releasing them to land on the shoulders of the recipients, where they recite the messages. This meant the pockets of our trousers had to be enlarged but we felt it was worth the cost. The parrots didn’t like flying through the endless rain and the messages usually went astray. So we progressed to a more advanced model, which consisted of riders on bicycles holding tin cans connected by string. You can’t order food on our mobile phones or even new trousers.

Wales is behind the times in other ways too, in fact in all ways. Wales is so belated in every respect that when the end of the world finally takes place, the country will continue for a few more years as if nothing has happened. I suspect that very slow processes, such as continental drift, evolved in Wales. I suppose that even evolution evolved in Wales, considering how slow it is and how long it takes a dinosaur to change into a chicken. I can change into a chicken with a great deal more efficiency, but I prefer pretending to be a gorilla or a chimp. It’s a very relaxing thing to do. Why not try?

Also in India you have holy men, but in Wales we only have holy socks. A holy man can open himself to the secrets of the universe. A holy sock is open to the weather, which is generally wet, and not much else. Holy men can levitate if they are sufficiently pure in spirit, or so I have been told. I once saw a flying sock, but it had been lobbed at me by a neighbour and wasn’t pure at all. That’s not the only thing I have seen rushing through the atmosphere in Wales. Parrots with sad expressions, of course, but also gloves. Why this should be so was a mystery for ages but recently the enigma was solved by an enigma machine and the answer is that “glove is in the air, everywhere I look around”. Or perhaps it is just the wind. Yes, I think it’s the wind.

The Enigma machine was used in the early- to mid-20th century, especially in WWII, for commercial, diplomatic, and military communications. Courtesy: Creative Commons

An enigma machine, incidentally, is a device invented in Wales that looks like an abacus, but it has small onions on wires instead of beads. Crows perch on the wires and peck the onions and move them into different positions, which gives the answer to any question. But the answer is cryptic and must be studied by a druid, who will interpret it. Druids are common in Wales. They aren’t holy men, strictly speaking, but are highly respected because they wear intact socks. They also wear cloaks made from naan breads but if you ask them, they insist they are made from wool and cobwebs.

You are probably beginning to ask yourself, is this a serious essay? And at this point you might be harbouring doubts that it is. There are many harbours in Wales, which has a convoluted coastline, but not many in the interior of India. That’s another difference. I have already mentioned laddoos and the fact that we peel them (and I mentioned it in brackets) but we also peel bells. I don’t think bells are ever peeled in India. They are rung instead. The peel of Welsh bells is used to make the tall hats that old women wear, conventionally on their heads, that you might have seen in vintage photographs. Bell peel is more enduring than satin or any other kind of fabric. It means that every old woman always knows what the time is when their hat bongs.

India is full of palaces. Not long ago, I visited Mysore Palace and found it truly impressive. In Wales we have nothing quite like that, but I often mention Mysore Feet after all the jumping I have to do to get anywhere. And now one final difference before I go. In India, the essays that writers write are generally detailed, comprehensive and lengthy. In Wales they often end abruptly in the middle with three dots, as if the writer was eaten by a yeti unexpectedly… but not this one. No yeti. Not yet anyway.


[1] The Welsh yeti, Abominablis Boyo, is only distantly related to the Himalayan species.

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Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

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Poetry

Epistle to Ms Austen by Phil Wood

Phil Wood
EPISTLE TO MS AUSTEN 

Dear Jane, although I do not have your mind,
A mind that makes a moral choice so clear,
Now clear enough for me to right my wrongs,
The wrongs that take refuge in daily muddles,
For muddles marinade in solitude;
Yet solitude gives thought for humankind,
A humankind in which we both belong,
Belong because we live not for our puzzles,
Those puzzles are a solace only for fears,
For fears will offer no solicitude.
I learn solicitude from you dear Jane.

Phil Wood was born in Wales. He studied English Literature at Aberystwyth University. His writing can be found in various places, including recently : Ink Sweat and Tears, Noon Journal of the Short Poem, and a collaboration with John Winder at Abergavenny Small Press.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles