“Kashmir: A Tragedy of Errors” by Tavleen Singh

When I mentioned that I was reading her book, “Kashmir: A Tragedy of Errors” the noted writer Tavleen Singh regretted that the book had not been printed after that first edition way back in 2000. For most of India, and this is my educated guess, the image of Kashmir is that of a strife-filled state which has been at the heart of bitterness between India and Pakistan ever since Partition took place in 1947 and the British walked away leaving the two newly founded countries to figure out what to do with disputed territories on their own.

I found Tavleen’s book quite fascinating because as an experienced journalist she has the knack of getting straight to the point and though at times the book tends to become a bit repetitive, there is a lot of new insight on Kashmir to readers. I, for one, had not realized the importance of a few events described in this book, such as :

  1. When the Pakistani raiders first attacked the State of Kashmir, most of the Hindus fled and it was left to Sheikh Abdullah’s party to stem the tide till the Indian military forces stepped in.
  2. That Dr Farooq Abdullah was a fun-loving medical doctor settled happily in the UK till he was pulled back home by his ailing father Sheikh Abdullah to take over what was his legacy in difficult circumstances
  3. That the Central Governments in Delhi had a huge role to play in mis-governing the troubled State, bringing matters to a head through the act of vengeance by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in dismissing Farooq Abdullah’s Government in 1984 or the widespread rigging in the elections of 1987.

Events like these led up to the major problems that erupted in the Kashmir Valley in the late 1980’s. It is surprising that the then Government did not forsee how some of the actions they took, like the Farooq-Rajiv Gandhi Accord of 1986, were doomed to fail the way they were designed and implemented.

It was troubling to read in this book that the media too was terribly biased and wrote only what the powers that be wanted them to write. Most major journalists ( Tavleen was an exception) didn’t go to Kashmir at all but wrote up their reports sitting in the comfort of Delhi based on inputs sent in by local stringers, many of whom were biased or incompetent, Not surprisingly, the rest of India had to settle for what appeared in the media or what they conjectured could be the real situation in Kashmir.

An interesting book and I wonder if Tavleen will write a sequel now that we are in 2016, or are things in Kashmir still the same as they were in 2000, or earlier, or even going back to 1947? Highly recommended for history buffs and anyone with an interest in contemporary Indian politics.


2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

“Life In The City” Work In Progress After NaNoWriMo 2014

I am delighted that I successfully completed NaNoWriMo 2014 where the challenge was to write a novel of 50,000 words during the calendar month of November.

” Life In The City” is a collection of short stories, 14 in all, which capture different aspects of life in a city in contemporary India. Since I live in Bengaluru ( recently made the official name for the erstwhile Bangalore) most of my stories tend to be set here. I guess the issues are the same in different cities of India. While the stories are largely a figment of my imagination, I must confess that the inspiration for at least a few of them came from real life incidents as reported in the daily newspapers.

The stories feature a wide variety of characters and situations which I hope most readers will be able to easily relate to. They involve, amongst others, an elderly woman who gets a fresh lease of life; a bored housewife caught up, thanks to her addiction for the internet, in a net of deceit; and, a couple who settle down in Bengaluru to come across ghosts from the past.

This is now work in progress and I hope to share more details of this project with time.

Military Characters I Have Admired From Fiction

I gave a talk recently on “The Joys of Writing.” In this I dwelt on the immense pleasure, which is hard to describe, that an author gets when he creates a character in a work of fiction. There are so many memorable characters from the pages of fiction: Sherlock Holmes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Tom Sawyer from Mark Twain,  Jeeves and Bertie Wooster ( and indeed a host of others) from P G Wodehouse, Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell and closer to our times, James Bond from Ian Fleming spring to mind. Continue reading “Military Characters I Have Admired From Fiction”

W for Writing Tips

As a full-time writer, W for me today is for Writing Tips. Since I became a writer by choice some four years ago, I have benefitted from thousands of writing tips, thanks to the internet. I am deeply grateful to so many who have contributed such tips which hopefully have helped me become a better writer. Writing is a skill and the only way you can improve your writing is to write more, and more.

Continue reading “W for Writing Tips”

Working On Scrivener: My First Lessons.

Some days ago, I posted about how I got on to Scrivener, at last! I want to build on that theme and let you know what I have been up to and how I have fared. My objective in sharing this is to help newbies (newer to Scrivener than me, which isn’t saying much anyway) with tips so that they don’t make the mistakes I did.

Continue reading “Working On Scrivener: My First Lessons.”