Friday, May 09, 2014

Not Carved in Stone: Sculpture as a Metaphor for Writing

Another guest post on

Last February I spent three wonderful weeks in South India. The best part of my morning routine was a walk up a nearby mountain to visit a little ashram where I could sit and meditate in silence. On the way up, dotted here and there along the cobblestone path, sat a few of the local sculptors, selling their work and creating their next piece. Always I stopped to watch, fascinated.

These were simple men. They sat on the bare earth, their basic tools laid out before them. In one hand they held the stone they were working on, either soapstone or marble; in the other hand was the chisel. With all the patience in the world they carved away, scraping and sculpting to mould from the stone their works of art: effigies of gods, or elephants with babies in their innards, or ornate lampshades, candlesticks, incense holders, jewelery boxes, and, in one case, a snarling tiger. Each piece was perfectly formed.

They had no blueprint or model to work from. Each sculptor knew innately, with an uncanny surety and minute precision, how much to remove and at what angle, and did so as naturally and confidently as you and I would tap a keyboard. Sometimes he held the stone with his toes, and hammered (hammered!) away to get it right (see photo). A millimeter to the left or right would have ruined the finished product; but it never did. Symmetry and balance flowed from those sculptor hands, perfection in stone. It was as if the final product was already in the stone, waiting for the sculptor’s thought, the chisel’s touch. Some of these artworks may have lacked the sophistication of their expensive lookalikes in the boutiques of Chennai Airport, but each one was a miracle in stone. I was spellbound, hooked. I was probably their best customer in those three weeks; I bought several pieces to bring home as gifts.

Sunday, May 04, 2014


The Old Crone:

There is something about the experience of reading a good book; that like a well-brewed cup of coffee, stays with you long after it is finished.

A little over a month ago, I had the opportunity to read Of Marriageable Age by Sharon Maas, in exchange for an honest review on a popular reading and book review website.

I don’t know what I was expecting, when I began–but it certainly wasn’t to find myself in the middle of the night staring entranced at the laptop, feverishly swishing at virtual pages; blatantly ignoring the loud, throbbing sleep signals pulsing in my forehead.

The next morning my husband woke up a little alarmed at what must have been my demented, unblinking expression; and suggested, a little gently, that it might be healthy for me to stop reading after midnight.

But good books, often by definition, tend to command your attention; and though I spent the next 24 hours walking around like a catatonic zombie, it was worth it. Read More...

Svetlana's Reads and Views:
What does a boy living in 1940s training to be a doctor in in Tamil has in common with a girl living in 1950s in British Guiana as well as another girl living in India during 1920s? This is one secret I will not reveal. I found Of Marriageable Age to be a beautiful and enchanting story of culture, forbidden love, hidden stories and secrets as well as secrets of philosophy to be written. Instantly I was drawn to the characters, although at times I had slight frustrations because every chapter alternated from a different point of view and in many cases years and years have passed when we meet the characters again and again, which also has caused me a few times to forget the family relationships.

My favorite character has to be Savitri, for strangely enough she has really nestled inside my heart, a caterpillar seeking to become a beautiful butterfly. The images I often recall from the book include Savitri as a young girl finding a soul-mate in her playmate, or else being compared to a butterfly. The butterfly as well as the title do play a huge role within the story, although I often thought that as a child, Savitri was already a butterfly, sort of a reverse of coming of age story I guess. Of Marriageable Age, the title, refers to the other two characters, Nat and Saroj, in particular when a girl turns to a woman, I believe. There are lots of twists and turns within the book, and what did impress me is that she begins to drop some hints early enough, although one cannot be certain until the very end of how three characters with three different backgrounds become linked. Read More...