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SPARROW SOUND & PICTURE ARCHIVES FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN Publication Number 83 Published by Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women. ‘The Nest, B-101/201/301, Patel Apartment, Maratha Colony Road, Dahisar (E), Mumbai: 400068 Phone: 022 2828 0895, 2896 5019 E mail: sparrow1988@gmail.com Website: www.sparrowonline.org CONTENTS tors Note Reviews: Monsoon Diary: A Memoir ith Recipes By Shaba Narayan Soma Tika Tine Thar /Eators: Vila Mehra and Vatika Nanda Editor: CS Lakshmi Publication Co-ordination: Pooja Pandey ‘Homage: Sumati Tikekar, Dr Shobha Abhyankar, Rajam Krishnan, ‘Malati Jhaveri, Sitara Devi, Veenapani Chawla, Nayantara, Padmaja Phatak, Zarin Daruwala Sharma, Jasodhara Bagchi, eae Sarita Padaki, Umadevi Nadgonde, Mrinalini Mukherjee, “Meera Kosambi, Krishna Kale, jyakanthan, Usha Shrish Trivedi, DrJyotiben rived, Priyanka Daal, Suchirs Bhattacharys, ‘Arana Stang Soha shops Nota Chandy, Dr Mahan Sarde eBloya “CStakaboni & Vibhuti Patel ‘Mouj Prakashan Griha, Khatau Wadi, Goregaonkar Lane, Girgaum, ‘Mumbai - 400 004 Phone: 022 2387 1050 Gators Note] Silver Jubilee year is over but the the joy and sense of satisfaction we got from the activities and celebrations have lingered ‘on along with a strong determination to continue our work with the same vigour and passion. ‘The Silver Jubilee events brought the SPARROW team together in many creative ways and we discovered many more things each one of us is capable cof. The coming years will be faced with this knowledge about ourselves and our capabilities. One thing we are sure, as we asserted in ‘one of the events, is that sparrows may become extinct in a crowded city like Mumbai; but this SPARROW is here to stay. Sometimes books that are old have to be reviewed because they need to be re-read and contextualised. Two such books are in this SNL. One is Shoba Narayan’s Monsoon Diary and the other is Krishnabai Narayan Surve's Mastaranchi Savli. Monsoon Diary to the “memoirs and recipes” theme that has become popular in the last decade and we fet that it has to be seen for what itis. ‘Mastaranchi Savit is the kind of book that needs to be written about every now and then lest people forget women such as Krishnabai ‘Surve. There are also reviews of other more recent books. ‘The Silver Jubilee year events were many and we have shared with you the details of all of them. The one event that made the year really one that showed us silver linings amidst dark clouds was the Prince Claus Fund award event in Amsterdam and in Mumbai. ‘This SNL carries details of both the events. Violence against women and censorship issues have always been issues we have been concerned about. This issue has an article ‘on this issue, Death is inevitable and no one is immortal; so in this SNI. too we have stories of women who have made our life worth living and. ‘who have now become history. Do write to us and do visit our website and also join us on our Facebook page. Book Review Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes By Shoba Narayan SHOBA NARAYAN Monseon Diary Book details: Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes ‘Author: Shoba Narayan Publisher: Penguin India, 2004 (Pages: 223) (Price:Rs. 299) hoba Narayan is a freelance journalist who, according Swe her website (shobanarayan.com), writes about food, travel, fashion, art, and culture. Monsoon Diary was her first book, originally published by Random House in 2003 and written while she was living in the United States. As such, like the first works of many diasporic South Asians, it dwells on her childhood and her coming-to-America story. (Her second book is Return to India: An Immigrant Memoir (Jasmine Publishing, 2012), its title evoking Santha Rama Rau’s Home to India (1945). Shoba’s writing is fluent and engaging, directed primarily towards a non-Indian audience, it seems, given her lengthy descriptions of foods that need little introduction in India, such as ghee, rasam, idlis, and pav- bhaji (although she eats the pav-bhaji on a stall in Camden ‘Town, London). The first half of this episodic “memoir with recipes” is set in the author's “TamBram” (Tamil Brahmin) childhood; the second half, in the United States, where she pursued her post-secondary education and settled for some time after her marriage. In each of the chapters, the narrative is loosely focussed on a particular subject or episode in her life, and followed by one recipe, occasionally two or three. Monsoon Diary closes with the author's early married life, a year or so after her wedding, when the author is frantically preparing authentic Indian dishes to please her new husband, who doesn’t care for her experimentation with fusion cooking ‘The title, although evocative, is rather misleading in that it has little or no connection with the monsoon, which is discussed in only one chapter. (Monsoon Diary is reminiscent of Indian American director Mira Nair’s film ‘Monsoon Wedding which was released in 2001, a couple of years prior to publication.) Like many young women, Shoba comes into conflict with her parents over the restrictions she faces after coming of age, and insists on going to the United States for further studies, despite her parents’ opposition. She (ory agrees to complete her bachelor’s degree in Women’s Christian College but secretly applies to the all-women’s ‘Mount Holyoke College in the U.S. as a Foreign Fellow. When her parents learn of her admission on a full scholarship for a year, they are terrified to let her go, for fear that she will marry outside of her caste and religion. According to her narrative, an uncle suggests a solution to the deadlock: if she can cook the family a vegetarian feast that they all like, she can go to America. Needless to say, she is successful in producing “tasty, authentic Indian fare?” although she has “never cooked a full meal for anyone (p.106). Pethaps this story is true, but it seemed to this reader to be rather far-fetched. Although Shoba writes as a strong, self-motivated young woman, Monsoon Diary is neither a feminist memoir nor a postcolonial one. its not clear exactly when she leaves for the U.S., but apparently it is only at Mount Holyoke that she first hears about feminism. Similarly, her description of her “East-West” encounter characterises India and America in rather stereotypically orientalist terms (“India's fatalism” vs. America’s “flux” (p.124)) and, at least at this stage in her life, her understanding of the global is limited to the international foods she tastes at Mount Holyoke. After her post-graduate studies in the US. end without her receiving a degree, she returns to India and after some time, without further discussion of her professional career, agrees to a traditional arranged marriage, albeit one arranged by caring and enlightened parents. As she sets out to prove to her new husband— and to herself—that she can cook, she writes, “I took to the challenge with the fervour of a graduate student. I missed the goals and achievements that marked student life and transferred all my energies into cooking. Cooking well became my goal, and when I succeeded, it was an achievement. At least for me” (p.194). By 2003, when Monsoon Diary was published, cookbooks had long been including personal narratives with their recipes, with several by U.S.-based Madhur Jaffrey prominent among the Indian ones. However, in the past decade or so, the “memoir with recipes” has become popular and lucrative for publishers, and has even been given a name: the Foodoir. Monsoon Diary fits neatly into this genre. —Josna Rege Worcester State University Congratulations! ‘The Maharashtra Foundation award function 2014 was held on 10" January 2015. Pushpa Bhave received the Jeevan Gaurav Puraskar. SPARROW congratulates Pusha Bhave for receiving the award. WE ARE PROUD OF YOU PUSHPA JI! Book Review Tinka Tinka Tihar Editors: Vimlaa Mehra and Vatika Nanda (Pages: 135) (Price: Rs 595) Inow know Death is better than life. In life, none drew me close All who are sitting beside my corpse. In life, none talked to me. (‘Inow know’ by Aarti) his is from a poem by a prisoner in Tihar jail. Vimlaa ‘Mehra, the former Director General, Prisons and Vartika Nanda, a journalist, with the help of Neeta, the jailor, have compiled poems of four women inmates of Tihar jail: Rama Chauhan, Seema Raghuvanshi, Ria Sharma and Aarti, which have been translated by Mondira Moitra. A brief profile of each woman leads us to their poems and photographs. We learn about their family background and present relationship with them; we are not told about their crimes; we have to suspend our judgement. ‘To read the poems, we have to “free” them, to physically cut through the pages; the book is “modelled after Tihar, designed to keep things in’. The poems may not have the polish and sophistication and subtlety of more “literary” poetry but they are eloquent nonetheless. They express the pain, grief and struggles of women who have found themselves in captivity, their lives turned topsy-turvy because of a single incident. Besides the pain of incarceration, there are other tragedies they have to bear—abandonmentby their families, separation from their little children. Many of the poems are, unsurprisingly, about lack of freedom, loneliness, struggle, hopelessness and death. Yet there are poems with lines like: Together let us laugh/ Join our hearts/ Relive, recreate/ ‘The moments gone by (“Beautiful World” by Ria Sharma) and Come when the sky is overcast/ ‘The scent of the raindrops caress/Make us blush. (“Meeting” by Rama Chauhan) and You beckon me on moonlit nights/ Your thoughts crowd my being every moment/ The wait, 0.3 the longing is for you only/ It seems like the thorns to the flowers/ All look towards those moments of joy in life. (“Your thoughts” by Seema Raghuvanshi) ‘The women were also given cameras to capture the world inside the prison with their photographs which give us an insight into their daily life. There is an interesting juxtaposition of their raw, colour photographs with the more sophisticated black-and-white portraits by Shovan Gandhi, a professional photographer. Vartika Nanda writes, “This book is the beginning of an effort to understand the thoughts of women who are behind bars... These poems have the strength to say—TI was, I am, I will be...” The book is a good endeavour reminding us that the voices of women behind bars, too, must be heard. —Priya D'Souza Mastaranchi Savli ‘Author: Krishnabai Narayan Mixiterachi Savi (in the Shadow of the Master the memoirs of Krishnabai Surve, wife of the celebrated Marathi poet Narayan Surve, gives you a glimpse into the life of a feisty woman who stood by Surve through thick and thin and who was his muse. Narayan Surve, a foundling, born around 1926, was raised by a mill-worker of Girangaon, Mumbai. Having known the working class life closely, Narayan was drawn to progressive thought and communism early on. He studied only up to the fourth grade but he became known as an effective party worker and public speaker among the mill- workers while he was still very young and they began to address him as “Master’, a common term of address for a teacher. Krishnabai Talekar, a Maratha girl of fourteen- fifteen from the same Mangaldas Chawl at Curry Road where Surve lived, was drawn to this activist Master. Krishnabai and Narayan shared a lot between them. Krishnabai too had lost both her parents when she was very small and the grandmother under whose watchful eye she had grown up had died suddenly, leaving an illiterate