Category Archives: MultiCuturalism

Steampunk India Interview in DESIblitz Magazine

The Steampunk Universe anthology, edited by Sarah Hans, is gaining momentum; more news to follow very soon!

Meanwhile, I spoke to Fatima Farah of Indian magazine DESIblitz about my background and what inspires me when writing inclusive Victoriana fiction: Suna Dasi Talks Short Stories and Steampunk India 

 

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Filed under Articles, Articles by Others, Books, Culture, Diaspora, Diversity, Hidden Exclusion, History, India, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, MultiCuturalism, Music, Steampunk, Uncategorized, Victorian, Victorian PoC, Victoriana, Women, Writing

Truancy Issue 2 Release 

It was a true pleasure to be part of the Roundtable: Intersections between South Asian Folklore, Myth and Lived Experience feature in Truancy Issue 2.
  
The questions and answers begetting more questions and answers provided challenging, wonderful food for thought. It was fascinating, moving and inspiring to read my fellow participants’ replies. Some of the resultant ponderings and conclusions didn’t make it into the (already blissfully long) article. These were the more personal ideas regarding diaspora, identity and place, coupled with the perceived legacy of folklore, myth and legends from various cultures that, for me, ended in the following.

Though I am nostalgic for something unexperienced when I yearn for being part of Indian culture in a way that was denied to me when I came into the world, I am simultaneously very aware that this is a type of… romantic affectation. 

There is no conflict of identity. I am very happily myself. Or rather; it has been my privilege to have had the space to become so, by trial and error, through joys and woes. That is solely the result of growing up with the cultural freedoms I enjoyed. Had I been born and raised within my own culture, bound by what I know to be the stifling constraints of my heritage, I would most certainly not have been able to become a touring singer, nor an all out, woman-loving equality activist, embodying nothing resembling religion, though you could argue I have an abiding, possibly worshipful wonder for science and nature. As a friend affectionately said once: You are a Sagan pagan. I’ll take that.

I adore being a fusion of cultures, a true citizen of the world – much overused as the term is. While I may not speak much Hindi at all, I speak three languages comfortably and a further two adequately. This roundtable, while actually being about folklore and inherited myths, has been excellent for crystallising some thoughts that have been swimming in the bottom of my mind like little blind fishes. I have long wondered whether all this superimposed angst of cultural belonging, or the judgment from people both Western and of countries you are ‘really from’ (recognise that question anyone? Folk always seem dissatisfied when I say The Netherlands!) may partly be a strange type of jealousy. Why not have it all? Why not have cake and eat it? 

Why not?

Nothing has been taken from me in that respect, rather a melding of cultures that has given my life that many more dimensions. Including the rich veins of mythology, fairy tales and folklore from more worlds than just one. I hope the roundtable gives insight and enjoyment of the different minds and backgrounds coming at those questions.

Plus, this issue contains wonderful fiction and artwork. Enjoy!   

 

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Season’s Greetings from Steampunk India

Christmas is close, how lovely! It’s nearly time to wrap up for the holidays. 

The last deadline of the year is looming: an article about Indian Steampunk for the next edition of SciFi Romance Quarterly. 2016 will see the release of the Steampunk Universe anthology edited by Sarah Hans, featuring my latest story, Internal Devices. I will be contributing to The SciFi and Fantasy Network and am excited about my involvement in a writing project instigated by fellow Steampunk Hands Around the World participants, which has been brewing for some time. February will of course see the 2016 edition of Steampunk Hands Around the World itself: the annual global effort to connect as many people across as many cultures through Steampunk as possible by local events, blog tours, themed articles, exclusive artwork and interviews and much more. Keep a weather eye on the Airship Ambassador’s site for details.

Work is ever ongoing for the Steampunk India-verse itself; short stories – and ,eventually, a book – are mapped out. I will delve into other genre writings as well as ongoing music projects. I will continue to work towards gender -and LGBTI equality in all creative industries

So please, keep your aural induction oscillators tuned to the aether, thank you for your support and enjoy the festive season, however you may celebrate! 

Merry Days from Suna Dasi.  

 

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In Pictures: Indian Women through the Ages’

An extremely evocative cross section of Delhi’s photography exhibition ‘Indian Women through the Ages’, taken between the 1850s and 1950s, is available on the BBC website .

The image below shows a Muslim dancing girl, taken in 1900. I can only wish the full range of pictures are available online or at least in a book of the exhibition.


So many Victorian writings and imagery from the Raj focus on the men of the culture. It was partly because of selective and biased writing, though there was a plethora of intrepid British women travellers who broke with convention by going into the Deep Interior by themselves and writing about their experiences. It was also common for Western photographers to not be allowed entrance in women’s quarters, daily affairs or sections of a household.

Fred Bremner, another famous Victorian photographer from Scotland, captured hundreds of people and daily Indian situations. Some of these were on display in a Scottish National Portrait Gallery exhibition ‘From Lucknow to Lahore’ in 2012-2013. They were fascinating, but it was his wife who let into several courts and zenannas to take images of the women and there was only one photograph taken by her in the exhibit. My keenest wish is for all of Mrs. Bremner’s photographs to become available one day!

 The Begum of Bhopal, photographed by Bremner’s wife, as featured on the Portrait Gallery’s exhibition poster.
From the ‘Picturing India with Bremner’ article on the Traveller’s India website: “Fred Bremner married around 1902, and his wife — he does not disclose her name — ‘gifted with good taste, was greatly interested in the art of photography and gave every attention to reception room duties as well as applying her hand to use of the camera on the occasion of photographing a Purdah [i.e. ‘behind-the-veil’ lady whose face… men are not allowed to look upon’. She even assisted Bremner in photographing noblewomen. ‘The Begum of Bhopal was visiting Simla and Her Highness expressed a wish to Mrs. Bremner that she would like some photographs of herself to be taken at Bhopal. All arrangements were made and during the summer… we found our way to Bhopal, which was a long and somewhat weary journey from Simla. However, all went well, resulting in my wife securing some photographs of Her Highness in State dress which gave her every satisfaction’. Bremner also noted that ‘on several other occasions Mrs. Bremner had the pleasure of photographing Indian ladies of the Harem’. “

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Happy 150th Birthday, Anandibai Joshi! 

Happy 150th Birthday, Anandibai Joshi! Born on this day in Kalyan near Mumbai, she was the first Indian woman to get a Western medicine degree in 1886.

  


She was born in 1865 in an extremely orthodox Brahmin family in Maharashtra. As a nine year old girl she was married off to a widower who was almost thrice her age. However, he appears to have been a more forward thinking fellow than his peers at this time (and aside from the deeply problematic custom of child bridehood): Gopalrao Joshi was a postal clerk. When his wife at age fourteen expressed she wanted to study medicine he supported her. It seems her drive to do so came after their first child died, ten days after birth, because proper medical resources were not available.

This was a time when women’s education wasn’t thought of or if it was, sneered at. Gopalrao seems to have been an exception to the rule: he married Anandi specifically on the condition that his wife be educated, whether her family had traditional misgivings or not.

She sadly died at the very young age of twenty-one, yet she opened the gates for many young women in India who wanted to move beyond solely dedicating their lives to a domestic status.

  

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