Hampi: Of Gods And Kings

The history that we come from is rich, and often has a sense of mystique around it. This is especially so when places like Hampi fall into the list. The city in ruins, and UNESCO World Heritage site, Hampi is home to hundreds of monuments in ruins. From beautiful pillars to the pristine river and the majestic hills around, Hampi has a sense of magic that surrounds it.

In his coffee table book, Bharath Ramamrutham brings together tens of pictures of Hampi. The audience had a glimpse of the pictures that went into the making of the book, and each of it is one that certainly tickles the wanderlust in each of them. The raw, almost unbelievable views from atop the hills, the architecture, the abandoned and perfect irrigation systems, the sky’s generous touch to the spectacular city below, all of it has been skillfully captured by Bharath Ramamrutham. While the pictures rolled by, and the audience marvelled at the colours and yearned to be transported, Bharath’s reading from the book equally captivated them all. It was the perfect background to the awe of viewing the pictures.

Bharath, in conversation with Shama Pawar, one who has been dedicated to the conservation and development of Hampi while residing in the little historical site for 20 plus years now, toured through the initiatives in Hampi that keep the hub alive. Shama’s Kishkinda Trust helps the local community in Hampi in its socio-economic sphere. The community and its involvement in guarding the space have become a reality through various programs run by the trust.

This thriving historical site was captured by Bharath, and the book aptly named Hampi: Of Gods and Kings to bring in the vibe of magic and royalty into it. No visitor comes back without a longing to go back again, and Bharath views the site as a sacred one. The book has no pictures of people, an unconscious decision, he says. The place was to be captured for its natural beauty, its landscapes, and warranted no distractions!

While many books are today available on Hampi, with academicians and photographers in tow, these books become far more educational than artistic in nature, he says. The book celebrates the place itself, and as is. For those of us longing, and wanting to travel to Hampi, this book might just be that extra reason we seek.

 

About the Author: A believer in the subtlety of magic in everyday living, and Shobhana seeks the same from the books she reads, and the poetry she writes. Immerses herself in music, literature, art, and looking out the window with some coffee. She curates her poetry, and occasional verses in her blog Thinking; inking. She currently writes for Bookstalkist.

Lives of Girls and Women

The session ‘Lives of Girls & Women’ witnessed an interesting conversation between the author of the book ‘Rulebreakers’ – Preeti Shenoy and the author of the book ‘Nine chambered heart’ – Janice Pariat and was moderated by Kiran Manral. These two books and their plots, characters and narratives were discussed in a simple yet explicit detail. Kiran remarked that these two books were extremely lovely but brought out entirely different styles of writing.

Kiran opened the discussion by asking both the authors if they as female writers felt the need to focus on the feminine experience and write through the feminine gaze in their writing. Preeti responded by saying that people have never looked at books differently based on the gender of narration or considered her books as feminine literature. She went on to say that out of the 11 books she has written, some are also written from the male point of view. She said that people have never not taken her books seriously because of them being told from the feminine point of view and that all her female protagonists were strong.

Janice said that it’s really important for her to realize that many types of feminine experiences exist in the first place, to have and be had. She says that every writer has their own trajectory travelled through which they write what they write. She says that each of us has different ghosts inside us and these ghosts constantly tussle and that she writes about the ghosts which are at the surface.

Kiran then asked Preeti what she essentially wanted to say through her protagonist Veda who gets married early in her life and her journey. Preeti started off by stating statistics regarding the legal and average age for marriage in India and mentioned that the current average age for women to get married in India is 25. She then spoke of statistics from a poll she held in her Instagram account where she asked her followers if they would marry a person their parents suggested who ticked all their boxes and a high percentage of them responded positively. In the next poll, she asked them how many women who were married at an early age were now unhappy and 65% of them said that they were unhappy. She said that all she wanted Indian women to have was that one thing just for themselves apart from their husband and the kids, which would stay with them forever. It could be gardening, writing or anything else. She spoke of how there is power in financial independence.

Kiran then asked Janice the reason behind the kind of narrative in her book where the protagonist is only described through the gaze of the men who were in love with her. Janice started off by comparing her book to a galaxy where there’s sun which is the protagonist who is viewed in the eyes of all the planets which form are the other characters. She says that she chose this structure of narrative because it is the closest to life and went on to explain how we always can only view people through tiny slivers and moments but never know someone in their entirety. Many had even asked her if the protagonist of her book was a silent victim to all the male gaze and while she agreed that it could be one interpretation, she thought that silence is the most powerful narrative. As she said that, she revealed how she considered her narrative more of a whirlpool than a galaxy. She said that the book’s narrative talks about being able to exist between multiple perspectives.

Janice then spoke about how women have always had to create a room of one’s own in their mind to get away from the world. When Preeti was asked about what she would do if she were in Veda’s place and asked to marry early, she spoke of how women mostly never speak their mind and said that if she were in Veda’s place she would speak her mind and talk to her parents directly. The stage was opened to an enthusiastic audience for further questions.

 

About the Author: Bhargavi Komanduri is a final year student at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad. She has profound admiration for writing, reading, theatre, dance, movies, chocolates and chai. Being a seeker of good art in all shapes, and forms; Bhargavi also strives to be on the creators’ side of creation. Her journey has just begun as she unleashes her poems and thoughts every week. Find her foray into this new found creative spirit, on Medium, here – https://medium.com/@bhargavi2497. She currently writes for Bookstalkist.