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A brief analysis of my learning through the reading done during

this semester
South Asian Fiction
I read a lot of South Asian fiction this semester through a course on
South Asian Fiction in English. It was composed of short pieces of
prose and pieces of poetry as well. The overarching theme uniting
all the texts in the course was food.
Many facets of food and related things were explored during this
course, like hunger, Diasporas, restaurants as a modern space, the
kitchen, caste and eating rites. I learnt to think about India and its
culture and the many problems facing its people in ways I had
never been able to think of before. I will try to list out some of the
concerns that stayed with me
First and foremost is the concern of caste. That these problems
exist so widely and are so deep rooted in modern India as well
came as a huge shock to me. I understood why reservations by
caste were necessary. I understood Indian castes from a Marxist
point of view and through food customs where taboos still exist
despite our claims of not being castist. The commonplaceness of
these events was shocking to me and made me realise my position
of privilege and need to never prematurely form an opinion.
Something that may seem outright as the truth may in fact turn out
to be a lie.

Another concern that struck me strongly was the sheer disregard of


our colonial rulers for us and the racism we in return practiced and
practice till date. Our obsessions with fair skin went as far as to us
being racists in Africa. I realised how prejudiced, narrow minded,
scared and manipulative the structure of our society makes people.
I learned from this course to close read and managed to use
mathematics to look at poetic structures in detail. I was introduced
to gazals, first in English and then read Ghalib on my own.
I have a certain idea that I might be able to bring more of an Indian
flavour to my writing and be more honest with it now that I have
something to look up to in that department as well.
Camus
I read quite a few of Camus essays including the Myth of Sisyphus
and some from the Rebel. I think I have been deeply troubled and
maybe inspired by them. They left me conflicted and came into my
life at a crazy moment. That can turn out to be fortunate or
unfortunate; only time will tell.
This has turned into something way more personal as opposed to
an analysis. That is because I think I am in a conflicted place and
these readings have contributed to that so that now everything is
mixed up in my head. I can close read my life but my information is
incomplete and my senses are flawed and communication seems to
change meaning irreparably at times and it makes everything
difficult.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Reading Kundera, I think, is a thing of light joy and intellectual
stimulation until it just goes over the edge into boredom. I love the
things he does with his novels, turning them into these kitsch works
of part essay, part story, part surreal fantasies, part pure opinion. I
think we must look beyond sexism, beyond the fact that his
concerns are not worldly, beyond his ideas of European culture into
the things that he does with the novel itself: the way he breaks it
apart and puts it back together as more than a story.
I remember once Neha Maam asked me why I wanted to write
what I insisted on calling a novel and not a long story. I guess I
have ambition that I am embarrassed about. After reading Kundera
I have a bit more of an idea of where I want to go, what kind of
things are possible and what kind of things I want to try doing.
I have trouble with ambition, with hope, with navigating society,
with laziness and actually writing, but somebody out there has
already done this and as an expression of his dissatisfaction and
disenchantment, at that. Then it is possible.