In September-October, 2017, Coldnoon celebrated six years of publishing, and travelling with you. To mark our anniversary, we got together with writers, intellectuals and stalwarts of the art of thinking (and travelling). Here is an interview with Anjali Purohit.

 

We believe, in making travel arrangements, we subconsciously tend to eliminate possibilities which we deem unfit to perceived etiquette or norms, or occasions. Our understanding of travel is based on premises that define what traveling is not. Is writing for you a similar activity, where you are conscious of what writing is not? If so, what according to you is not writing?

A collection of words that communicates nothing to a reader is the only thing that I would say is not writing. Everything else, from the dhobi list and pulp fiction or doggerel verse to the finest works of literature are all writing. After that, one can perhaps, proceed to say that there is good and bad writing according to the yardstick one chooses to use.

 

Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?

I would also like to be known for being a painter who sees painting and writing as only different ways of expressing a thought, feeling or concept. Writing and painting serving as a medium of self-expression where the practitioner chooses the medium that she feels will best be able to communicate a particular idea. It could be on the canvas or on paper. Thereafter, I would like to be known as a vagabond who can’t seem to give up her illusion that it is important (especially in today’s world) to recognize the strength that a community of practitioners of an art, craft or discipline can lend to individual artists and writers.

 

In 1794, the French author, Xavier de Maistre, wrote the renowned book, Voyage Around my Room, during a month and a half of solitary confinement, in consequence of a duel. Besides being a satire on the contemporary literary culture of voyages and adventures of colonial sailors to prospective new worlds, the book proved to be a demonstration of how an individual is almost always travelling, but perhaps does not recognize the value of their domestic travels, mobility or even touristic acquisitions. How do you see or understand travelling? Do you think it is a necessary activity for a writer?

It is absolutely spot on to say that an individual is always travelling – physically moving from one place to another, of course, whether it be his routine commute or his vacations but then also travelling from moment to moment in his consciousness about the world, about himself and in his relation to people. His ideas, his ideology his perception about himself and his reactions to where society places him in the course of his life. All of these, I believe, are voyages. Voyages where the individual discovers his identity, his ‘home’ and his allegiances. Further, just as there are journeys that a person goes on to roam the world, there are other journeys that he undertakes to travel inwards into his mind. It is these latter explorations that often result in many unexpected discoveries. A writer needs these journeys and moreover, a writer goes not only on his own voyage but also on the journeys that his characters and his words take. In that sense then, he travels beyond his own limited life to live out the many lives of that which he writes about. These are the journeys of the imagination into realms that are not tangible, roads that are obscured and which, perhaps, might lead to a sort of perception that the writer will then put into her words. With the help of these words the writer attempts to take your hand so that you can accompany her on this journey.

 

Your favorite or most striking lines by another author; or if you will, any composed by yourself?

This is a sentence that I heard far too many years ago, if I remember correctly, in a film about plantation workers in the Carribean but I don’t recall the name of the film. It has stayed with me all my life – “It is better to know where you are going and not know how than to know how you are going but not know where.”

 

Do respond to the following words:

“Wit is the unexpected copulation of ideas.”— Patrick O’Brian.

…and poetry is the unexpected copulation of words and images.

 

What do you think of Coldnoon?

I love the way Coldnoon is put together. It is remarkable the way it focuses on travel not in isolation as ‘visits’ to places but underlines that journeys are meaningless without an experience and understanding of culture, history and the society itself. Following from this the cross genre content is outstanding and makes Coldnoon one of the finest journals that I follow. Thanks to the editorial team for this exceptional journal, Congratulations for completing six years of publication and best wishes for many many happy returns of the day.

 

Anjali Purohit

Anjali Purohit is a writer and an artist. She writes poetry and fiction. Her story, ‘Bitter Harvest’, was a winner in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition 2008-09.

Her book Ragi-Ragini: Chronicles from Aji’s Kitchen was published early 2012 by Yoda Press, New Delhi. She is presently finalizing her manuscript of the complete translations of the 19th Century Marathi poet Bahinabai Choudhari. Her writing has featured in several anthologies and literary journals including Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry II, International Gallerie, Four Quarters Magazine, The Bombay Review, Antiserious, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Desilit, Indian Cultural Forum, Chowk, Teksto, Indian Writing from Around the World, Urban Voice India and Suvarnarekha.

Anjali is the founder and curator of ‘Cappuccino Readings’, an initiative aimed at promoting a literary cafe culture in Mumbai, that has held bi monthly poetry sessions in the city since 2014, for the first three years at the Tata Starbucks, Fort and, since this year, at the Kitab Khana bookstore.
She was a part of the Guggenheim Lab Mumbai (January 2013).

Anjali has curated an interdisciplinary event called Holding up Half the Sky on the lives of women during the 100Thousand Poets for Change (Sept 2013), Mumbai Moulting: Erasures and a Palimpsest, a ‘Conversation’ between Art, Poetry and Music at the Godrej India Culture Lab (December 2013), Vasundhara: Dialects in Dialogue, a dialogue between, Poetry, Art, Music and Dance at two shows in Mumbai (January 2015) and Recording Erasures: Reflecting Memory – an exploration in words, verse and image at The Asiatic Society (December 2015).

She holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Bombay University and lives in Mumbai.

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