Story reading sessions at Singapore Writers Festival

swf 2017Kannan and I went to Singapore Writers Festival today at the Arts house, here in Singapore. In the previous year, I had attended this event in 2015, in which I had a chance to listen to a panel discussion that involves novelist Jeyamohan and lyricist Na Muthukumar. (It was first and last time meeting Na. Mu)


swf 2015

This time I was not sure about the experience, as I bring Kannan as well. Unfortunately events for kids in Tamil is comparatively lesser. It is pretty much difficult for him to stay muted, while his father was listening to stupid Tamil literature or philosophy!

swf 2017 1

We attended the story reading session ‘Tales from Moominvalley’. Kannan had a chance to listen to Paula Parviainen, Ambassador of the Embassy of Finland in Singapore, as she reads her favourite Moomin tale. We have been invited by the moomin doll in the Book Shop. Kannan was not so involved in the reading session but he was so interested in the activities. He was interested in getting moomin story books. I suggested him to try at library first. I promised him that I’ll buy for him if he likes it.

Photo: Moving Moomin photo by SWF Instagram

Photo: Moving Moomin photo by SWF Instagram

After a short break, we attended a book launch function New Titles by Epigram Books featuring Jennani Durai and Shelly Bryant, Singapore based fiction writers. Books of Singapore based Authors It was not for kids, so I hooded Kannan with a Tinkle comics, to save myself from his teasing after he lost his patience. We got a science fiction Launch Pad in this event. Once the attendees started throwing questions to authors, Kannan was so desperate to take part as well. I controlled him by saying it may not be the right session.

swf 2017 4

After another short break, we had a book launch session – Aiden Finds A Way– a pleasant story reading session by Leila Boukarim and illustrator Barbara Moxham. Kannan sat in the front row unlike me, yawning badly in the 3rd row. No one to control him, so he started questioning and conversing with the author and illustrator. I was so surprised to see, they engaged him so well. We got two of their publications Aiden Finds A Way and All too much for Oliver.

Leila Boukarim and illustrator Barbara Moxham in a story telling session. Picure (c) SWF official instragram

Leila Boukarim and illustrator Barbara Moxham in a story telling session. Picure (c) SWF official instragram

Later we had an interesting and long conversation about the event on our way back.

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Jeyamohan’s Yayati and Fellow Indians’ Shah Jahan

While we are debating about Taj Mahal and Shah Jahan like never before, I came across an interesting novel Maamalar by Jeyamohan. This fiction work, based on Indian epic Mahabharata, portrays the character of coward Chandravamsa King, Yayati.

We all know about Yayati’s story in our childhood days. He is son of King Nahusha and an angel Asoka sundari.

About Yayati’s Lust

Although he was a kshatriya, he has been personified as a coward and lusty person in Indian puranic stories. Though he was married already, he accepts to marry Asura princes Sharmistha. Later, He marries Devyani, daughter of Shukracharya, the guru of Asuras. Devyani brings Sharmistha as her maid, with whom Yayati fall in ‘love’ and got Druhyu, Anu and Puru as sons.

When Devyani realized that he deceived her, she went back to her father’s ashram. This is an mind-blowing episode in Maamalar. As per this feminism fiction of Jeyamohan –  Yayati accepts his fault by saying, he went behind his lust of his uncontrolled senses. Neither he deny as if he is an ideal man, Nor he justify as a kshatriya king. He became totally submissive and accepts being cursed by Shukracharya.

Though he was cursed to be a old man, he gave his curse to his son Puru and gets his adolescence to enjoy more women. His love or lust or whatever it is, is fulfilled with Asrubintumati, another lady, before he took back his curse and died.

Shah Jahan’s love!

Shah Jahan is a great lover – thats what I’ve been taught in Indian schools and stories. His love on his wife Mumtaz is not something we can explain easily. We need to write as beautiful as Taj Mahal, don’t we?

Only when he has enormous love on his wife, he can build such a beautiful monument for his dead wife. Though he was jailed by his son later, he spent his last days by looking at the monument until his soul departed.

shah jahan mumtaz (c)

But you may know this earlier, as many hinduva guys used to say this. But it was written by some Dr Irfan Zafar in his article It was never Love.

Leave our bed time stories and badly written Indian history text books apart, It is interesting to know that Mumtaz was Shah Jahan’s 4th wife out of his 7 wives. So he was married before he marry Mumtaz, He married even after Mumtaz.

Mumtaz was not Shah Jahan’s bride. He was wife of someone else. Jahan killed him to marry her!

In other words, he was dating Mumtaz for a long time and finally murdered the poor husband to satisfy his hunger (Lust). Ever heard the word morality? Making babies, as we all know, is our favorite sport.

Mumtaz live through the pain for fifteen years, until she died in her 14th delivery. Interestingly Dr Irfan makes a wit by saying, Shah Jahan married Mumtaz’s sister, as a final ending of his wife with Mumtaz!

Love 💕

It is not scarce to hear love stories in our youthful India. We have pairs from Ambikapathi-Amarapathi to Elavarasan-Divya. The number of unaccomplished romantic missions are increasing everyday. Right or wrong – is a different question, but we see people, even commit suicide for their love.

While all these political discussions make a debate cloud all over, I recall about one of our Tamil women of Muthollayiram, who says the following about his lover.

My dear elders, with a garland of blooms in hand!
You are saying, ‘It’s morning already. Open your eyes’

Even if I loose my soul, I won’t open my eyes. Maran made my bangles to fall off from my hands. Such a ruthless man, he came in black elephant and entered in my eyes last night. He is inside my eyes. If I open, he will run away. No dears, I won’t open my eyes.

Please bear with my poor translation. Have a good weekend. See you in another interesting post.


Oru puliya marathin kathai | Sundara Ramaswamy

Oru puliya marathin kathai (Tale of a Tamarind Tree)
Author – Sundara Ramaswamy
Publisher – kalachuvadu 20th Edition.
Reserve your copy at Connemara, Chennai
Reserve your copy at NLB, Singapore

puliyamarathil kathai

All of us are playing our characters in our life. Life is mixure of ups and downs, sweet and sour. Such a short life, but  the emotions, fluctuations, vengeance we have is endless. We have our own mouna-sakshi, silent spectator. A tamarind tree located in a junction of a town is such a mouna-sakshi. This story is soft spoken societal criticism .

Damodara aasan is a older man who portrays the story of the village in the pre-independence and independence period. His story portrays a peaceful, backward village of India. Later, the younger generation takes lead and run the political and commercial entities of the same town.

puliyamarathin kathai

Such a peaceful village, how is it changed after independence – is the story background. What do we loose because of development? How the political, commercial, selfish thoughts influence the society.

Tamarind tree is a symbol of what we loose, because of development, as Writer Jeyamohan says.

They cut down all the trees, to develop a park. Children of economically backward classes, had full freedom in the trees. They used to jump and play after leaving their cattles in the empty fields. But the same children lost all their freedom, after the park is created. They are in queue to play in the children’s play area of that park. We could see the intolerance due to class diversity.

The story also shows how someone’s political wish was transformed as a communal issue. How media persons are accompanying such nasty thoughts. They story was written long back. Still it is applicable for 2017!

Damodara aasan, Abdul Khadar, Accountant of Khadar, Dhamu, Isakki, Joseph, Kadalai thatha are some of the beautiful characters, portrayed in this story. How many characters we could see!

This is a litmus test for our society.

Kratham | Jeyamohan

Kratham is the 12nd novel in the Venmurasu series, the modern rewriting effort of ancient epic Mahabharata by Tamil writer Jeyamohan. This portrays the spiritual journey of Arjuna, to get mighty weapons and  from the directional forces.

This journey has connection with the previous novel Kandeepam. After he lost his one-to-one fight with Krishna, the king of Dwaraka, Arjuna scared to taste the bitter of defeat and vengeance concealed in their invaluable friendship. So he starts his journey to search and equip himself with mighty arms and spiritual wisdom to win Krishna.

The entire novel talks about Arjuna alone. Journey of Arjuna is not new to Venmurasu readers. He had his journey earlier to north eastern states of Modern India. He loved and married Ulupi and Chitrangkatha during the same.


But this journey is of a different kind, as Arjuna is much more matured now. It has been delineated as a journey of wisdom, truth and spiritual thoughts.

The storytellers are few travellers, those who are searching for their own way of spiritual life. Their conversations and controversies are endless – The wit, philosophy, vision are enjoyable, though I couldn’t understand many! Arjuna’s journeys were told as flashbacks, performances of traditional poets. Jymini, Sandan, Vysambayanan and Ukran – every one of these travelers are spinning this novel as a tasteful philosophical feast.

Arjuna tries to win the Gods of all directions to get their mighty arms. He approaches Gupera of the north, Yama of south, Varuna of west and Indra of east. Though it looks simple, Jeyamohan’s fiction brings spectacular visuals in our mind.

Arjuna’s meeting with Gupera is such a tasty laughter for the reader. I was literally smiling during my morning commute.

Varuna is hidden inside a dead sea (salt lake of Jordan?). Arjuna’s travel is so hectic in this desert. While reading this episode, you would be thirsty and long for a rain.

His meeting with Indra is like a dream on top of Indrakila mountain. Indran’s vengeance on Krishnan and his Narayana veda, Bali’s connection with Ramayana are interesting branches of Mahabharata epid, has come out well with Jeyamohan’s fantasy writing.

Volare Digital Camera

After getting the weapons and mantra from all directional drivers, Arjuna lost again to Kinnara God aka Krishna in the land of Kinnara Janya. He felt depressed, as all his efforts did not get him what he wanted. As directed by Kinnara Janya priest, he was directed towards Kailaya to get Pasupada.

Arjuna recognises Shiva and surrenders to him. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma, 19th century.

Arjuna recognises Shiva and surrenders to him. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma, 19th century.

Again, another interesting fiction – Arjuna’s meeting with Kaalan (Lord Shiva) and Kaali (mother parvathi) of Jeyamohan’s fiction. This dalliant and charming episode portrays the love between them, their parenthood towards Arjuna, Komban (Ganapathi) and Kumaran (Murugan). Kailaya episode was so charming. It was beautifully narrated in all it’s kind.

I am helpless to understand the philosophical conversations fully. But that doesn’t force a lazy reader like me to get away from this.

A visit to Tampines Regional Library

Tampines library

On a sunny sunday, I took breakfast at Little India and left to Tampines library to resume ‘Ini naan urangattum’ – Tamil translation of a classic Malayalam novel ഇനി ഞാൻ ഉറങ്ങട്ടെ. I’ll write about this novel later in a weekend.

It was a coincidence, to read a story of Karna, beloved son of Kunti with Surya deva, I need to travel in a hot sun. With shrinked eyes due to glaring sun and a google map, I walked from the bus stop, crossed Tampines Square to reach Tampines library.


Tampines Library

Tampines would be part of the extension of DownTown line towards Expo. So I need to cross the heckles of construction signs, Cranes resting on a weekend like a shy parrot.

Way to Tampines Library

I crossed this place many times. But this is the first time I’m visiting it for reading. Though this building speculates your mind as if it is too old unlike the shiny AMK or Woodlands libraries, you need to realize that this is the first Regional library started in 1994.

Tampines Library

It has 3 stories. I went to the Childrens’ section on L1 first. This is the most energetic place in any public libraries here as vandoo-s would be roaming around, suspiciously watching a book, crying as if it was caged inside :). Surprisingly I saw a visible sign for Tamil Childrens’ books. I was so happy and I was digging into those books for sometime.

L2 has the racks for adult reading, Information Technology section and a reading room of normal size. It was fully occupied through the day.

Sad, No cafe inside.
We may need to go out of library to the nearby wet market. Of course, I did.