In this exclusive series in partnership with Penguin Random House India, we will shine a spotlight on two compelling contemporary voices each month, individuals who are reshaping the landscape of Indian literature.
How do ancient and moving epics reach the world through translation?
Join Michelle and Tara for a very special episode of Books & Beyond in partnership with Penguin Random House India, where they have some exciting conversations around translations with two language connoisseurs, Nandini Vijayaraghavan and Catherine Thankamma!
They talk about Nandini Vijayaraghavan’s four-part translation of Tamil legend Kalki’s epic myth, “Sivakami’s Vow” and Catherine Thankamma’s translation of the Malayalam bestseller, "Susanna’s Granthapura" by Ajai P. Mangattu. Michelle and Tara, with their guests, uncover the process and politics of translation, talk about fidelity to original texts and understand the fall back in time to learn about the world of myths!
Tune in to learn the secrets of translation and mythology!
Produced by Aishwarya Jawalgekar
Sound edit by Kshitij Jadhav
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‘Books and Beyond with Bound’ is the podcast where Tara Khandelwal and Michelle D’costa uncover how their books reflect the realities of our lives and society today. Find out what drives India’s finest authors: from personal experiences to jugaad research methods, insecurities to publishing journeys. Created by Bound, a storytelling company that helps you grow through stories. Follow us @boundindia on all social media platforms.
Welcome to Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara Kundera. I am Michelle D'costa. And in this podcast, we uncover the stories behind some of the best written books of our time and find out how these books reflect our lives and our society today. So tune in every Wednesday to enter a whole new world with a new author, and a new idea. Yes, and after three years and 2 million listens, we are back with all facts season five, with hard hitting questions and life changing books. So let's dive in.
This episode is part of our branded series with Penguin Random House India. Hi, everyone. We are super excited to speak to very talented translators from the south. Their historical fiction novels have transported both Tara and I back into time. Yeah, so the first translator that we're going to talk to is called an Anthony Vijayaraghavan and she has translated one of the most famous writers of Tamil literature Kalki, and she's translated as Shiva kameez bow, which is set in the seventh century. And it covers this amazing intense battle between the Jolokia Dynasty and the pearl Avaaz and you must be wondering, who is the Shiva Kimmy? Well, she is the greatest Dancer of the empire. And she's also a fictional character. And she is the person who the pallava Emperor son Nerissa, falls deeply in love with so across four books, and Anthony has woven and gotten a live Kalki state of war and love and so much else. Yeah, and on the other hand, we have Catherine Tonka Ma, who's actually taken us back into history of literature itself with Susannah grant, the pura and this book was originally written in Mariana by Ajay manga to in 2019. And the book actually revives our love for reading and it makes us nostalgic of the very first stories that we knew like Arabian Nights, Brothers Grimm fairy tales, because you know, this grant of fura that we talk about, it's actually a library with over 5000 titles. Wow, I just wish I had this Gomorrah in my own house on so the story actually begins as a mystery. There are two protagonists, Ali and Abby who actually go in search of an unfinished manuscript, and where do they end up? They end up in this grand ACOTA. But what do they find? Yeah, so let's find out about that. And let's find out about how the South Indian stories have now reached the world through translations. And let's learn about the nuances of Tamil, Malayalam and much, much more. So let's welcome our language connoisseur is Nanduri. And Catherine, thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah. So both of your books, they actually bring out the richness of South India, you know, while Kalki Sivagami is wow shows us dance music art, on the other hand, addressed Susannah grant pura shows us Kara's love for reading and books, right. So we both think that these books will sort of break the stereotypes that the West has about India, because we do know there are a lot of stereotypes, right? And especially about South India. So how do you vote see these books sort of shatter those stereotypes for the best? Actually, I it was accidentally I had no
active role in getting this particular book to translate. It was at the start of COVID that Ajay Mangart called me up and asked if I could transfer translate the novel. He said it was his debut novel. And he said that Priyanka Goswami had suggested my name. Now, I knew Priyanka from the time when I was translating culture at four o up. So I said yes. And before I he sent me the book, I read up on Google. And I found that the book had undergone 14 editions within the year of publication, it came out in 2019. And it has undergone 14 editions by then this in fact, this year, the 25th edition is coming out. So that really intrigued me, you know, I mean, I know the Malayali reader, have an affinity tanks. It is one of the rare benefits of having a communist government that books were always considered, you know, a part of the Malayali society we had, you know, libraries even in the smallest villages, rural areas. So people have a love for reading and very rare they and there was a lot of translations even at the beginning of the 19th century.
So Malayalees are familiar with European and Russian fiction, especially Russian fiction. And you find resonances of it in manga, you know, now, and when I got the book, you know, as you said, it struck a chord in me also, because hear reading is not just, you know, it's not the tangible physical presence of a book, but your, you know, the, all the nuances, all the things that are connected to it, like the scent of books, one of the characters, just a minor character was mentioned just once refers to the scent of books. And another, and ally himself speaks about the entire process of reading, sitting huddled from head to foot,
which I also have done a lot of times, it adds to that, you know, richness of the reading experience.
And reading, and this is something that he continues even into adulthood. So all those things, you know, which not just bibliophiles, anyone who's who is, who has a passion for reading, will, at once, you know,
respond to this novel. So that is the experience that I that is what I experienced when I translated the novel. And I hope that is the experience that has come through in the transmission. Yes, yes. And I also want to add to that, I think this is the biggest stereotype over here that we're trying to address is the fact that, you know, modality, readers are avid readers of world literature, and not just that, especially Russian literature. I think that's a very interesting thing to note. Because even as you know, growing up, we will not really, I would say exposed to Russian literature, it was mostly British and American, at least for me, what about you? Were you aware of any Russian titles? No, I was, actually, it's very interesting that, you know, and I want to get to this later that the book, even within one year of publication has gone through 25 editions, you know, and I wonder why that is. When I when, when, you know, when we were researching about colicky even that book has so many editions. So why do you think that, you know, these books, which are essentially the same story, get issued time and time again? What is it about, you know, these kinds of stories, what is it about these readers that are, you know, making this phenomenon happen?
for me, translating Shiva Cummings over them was,
was instinctive, it was an emotional decision, because,
you know, my grandmother had read this novel to me as a kid, as an adolescent. And, you know,
like, multiple generations, on the maternal side of my family, you know, like, like my mother's a professional president's award winning musician, my grandmother was a very good
you know, amateur musician and violinist my grandfather had graduated with what is called a Sangeeta Beecham anomala University in Carnatic music. People like to care and that child revolt is Guru stage. So when she read out the story to me a of course, her camera was impeccable, be you know, culkein has this way of narrating where he would include the into our cursors. But the drums he would include the recorder, he would include Subramanya burpees poetry, and my grandmother would set it all, you know, to tune and sing it to me. So that level of narration I haven't yet experienced even from the professional audio books thus far, and this is not an affection granddaughter's speaking. So, you know, her voice would drop down a few octaves, if she's, you know, speaking.
She's doing the male characters parts, and her voice would become different if it's a young female character like Shinigami. And if it's a middle aged female character like Bergen, Amma Devi, her voice would, you know, sound different? So she was an excellent record. But what she did was she changed the climax. And I didn't realize that at all, and it was only like years later, you know, when it was almost 20 When there was this discussion, you know, among, you know, there was a gathering in the family, the conversation invariably went to books and then mature come in, some of them was being discussed. You know, somebody said, the climax is gut wrenching. And I kind of mutter to this to my father saying, trust this man to speak nonsense. And he like dropped
This boils down even further and said Don't undo for change is not. So, you know, he's right about it. And I was very confused because my grandmother had changed the climax while reading and I didn't even realize it. I mean, that's how good a storyteller she was. But I forgot about that incident and, you know, almost a decade later when
much more than that I when I chance to read the book, it was gut wrenching and you know, Shiva kami. And, you know, nursing Werner and Mahindra Verma red noggin, and the big shoe and Casey, turn our cursor. All of them won't believe me. So I started
you know, translating it as a blog. And then, of course, now she's a friend, Anita Ramkumar, then I, she dies with hilarious blog called under the banyan tree, she got in touch with me and suggested it should be made a book, and then it was published by a niche publisher. And a decade later, Penguin picked it up. So that's the story of shortcomings of wisdom. And you know what, I do believe, but you're putting up the story as a blog was an invaluable experience. Because I realized that it's appealing to multiple nationalities. So I have a Japanese friend and her grandmother wanted to speak to me. And she called and she said, I and this lady was over 100 And she said, I want to come and see Kanchipuram I want to see the big dam outside Kanchipuram and there is now no demos.
And of course it is a bustling temple town but not quite unlike what Kalki had described it during the color.
Of course, there are
you know, still
you know, the purpose or most emollients will know that country, the present country, Purim still have a sub wish to Karachi which has a concentration of Vishnu temples and Shiva country which has a concentration of Shiva, Shiva temples, but what they don't know that is that the country had a Jain Potter to
and it was for Jean Acconci and it lay across the back of the vehicle at the river and to this day, there, there are there is a Jain temple with you know, an ancient Jain temple and the Talmud JD community has dwindled. And the last surviving members of Camilla James are actually doing the prayer service
at that temple, so these are the kinds that Buddhism and Jainism flourished,
you know, in Partha, and
the fact that, you know, these four major or you could even say five major religions. So you the vice Ninevites were Vishnu worshipers were different from the Shiva worshipers. And then there is there were stalkers or those who worship Shakti. And
once again, there are the Buddhists and the James and Kalki beautifully describes how, you know at one point of time across what is called the Indian continent of Baroda, the tender mint continent in terms of how these religions flourished and how they wax and wane. So, so there, there is a lot of history which we don't read in our daily centric interpretation of history which is provided in a school textbooks. But ultimately, Shiva means however them is a story that touches
people's hearts. So whether it is my Japanese friends, grandmother or another German friend or people from the UK and US, it's, it's it's seems to cut across nationalities and touch people's heart people relate to different parts of the stories and also realize the more things change how
similar they are. So it is just one small observation before I conclude answering this question, in Shiva come into the Chalukyas invade the Pallavas, the Chalukyas are much stronger force they have pushed back Hashem as the now who was, you know, reigning supreme in Uttar abarca. And Charlotte has word reigning, the Medea Bharata on central India, and then you come production about where the Pallavas
and pandas are jostling for supremacy and
and the chakras are a spent force and they will rise again after a minute
Yeah, but that's when ponniyin Selvan happens. So anyway,
even into the comments about them, yes, the Chalukyas are much stronger, but where human will and citizens are very strong. You cannot vanquish them. Sounds familiar? The Russian invasion of Ukraine.
I mean, you hear press reports that, you know, Putin expected it to be finished in two weeks, he expected the president of Ukraine to play etc. No such thing happened more than a year has passed. Ukraine is standing strong defending its territory and that's exactly what happened. Historically, Mahindra perma palapa with the smart, smaller force managed to trend back the Chalukya invasion, the Pallavas lost border territories, and are some of Burma invades the childcare Kingdom a decade later and arranges the loss of territory, he kills police, Casey. But I mean, the takeaway is, your kingdom may be smaller, your army may be smaller, but what comes on top is the strength of human will. That is one of I mean, I could find striking similarities between the current situation and
I can see that you also got your grandmother's storytelling chops, because I was totally engaged. You know, within that context.
That's a compliment. Yeah. And so, you know, could you also speak as to, you know, these stories are being told time and time again, and it's quite amazing that, you know, both of your journey, these are stories that
you know, what already around, and then Penguin has actually sort of, you know, taken them and brought them to the mainstream, giving them to readers, like me and Michelle, because it, you know, the way that we look, we look at bookstores, we sort of buy from mainstream publishers, and so, you know, readers like me, and Michelle, we would never have sort of, you know, even been introduced to these kinds of stories, and it's very sort of eye opening and expanding our minds. So, yeah, just wanted to know, you know,
how sort of, you know, why these stories keep getting told again and again, and, you know, is there a difference, what is the fascination with that phenomenon? So, in fact, when they were speaking, I, you know, two things struck a chord, one, her grandmother, relating the stories, you know, we have the tradition of to retelling My mother was a wonderful storyteller. And she used to read, in fact, when I was called, you know, we used to buy provisions they used to bring in, have you seen those peanut packets, which they roll the newspaper in a cone and fill it with peanuts. So yes, one kilo, two kilo rice and pulses would be brought that way. And my mother was such an avid reader, because most of these things will be covered in thicker paper, that magazines which we we didn't subscribe to. So she used to unfurl them, and roll them and keep them straight. And later, after lunch, she would lie on her bed and read these little bits. They were incomplete. You know, but she was an avid reader. She studied only till the nine standard, but she was an avid reader. And she used to tell stories so wonderfully, that now that she's, she's no longer alive, I miss, you know, things that I took for granted. If I had only listened to her stories more, if I that asked, I'm a writer as well, I write short stories about the Syrian Catholic community of Kerala. So I feel that you know,
I could have learned much more than
what I did from listening because at that time, when she used to talk, I dismissed it as something very boring. The other thing that man that he said was, she was, you know, it was a very specific history that we these two books are, you know, two sides of a coin in Shiva Kashmir.
Shaivism Salukis book. It's a very historical, very localized listing. But I Ajay manga, I don't know whether he was conscious of it or not, but he has deliberately shifted the the local is very much there. But he makes it a you know, a universal experience of reading which can bring
people together. And you know the way different people there are, of course, the there is also the negative side, because those who don't, who have no interest in reading can almost be hostile in there.
Which also, which is also something that we see in contemporary India, where reading and books and literature and philosophy are looked at with suspicion by the powers that be, because they think that it might disturb the status quo. So, that's something that struck me when I was listening to them the other thing underneath there as you said, Tamil is the mother language and Malayalam is a derivative. And marianum is actually a mixed mixture. In fact, we the origin of Malayalam is something called money problem, which was a mixture of Sanskrit and
Tamil. So we have a, you know, mixed heritage just like a VL curry. So, that is one thing. And I was born in a town, which I mean, I lived in a town, which had a similar cosmopolitan, you know, mixing of cultures. So, when she mentioned music, I was thinking, I used to sing Carnatic music, I still play the V now, I studied VEDA for 11 years. So, it was very nice listening to you, and then the
time, Thanks, Catherine. Thank you very much. And, in fact, it wasn't I who said, you know, Malayalam was good.
Camera, I think
it was me. Yeah. No, that is historic, in fact, that
you know, but in this day and age, you have to be very, it was very bold of them.
You know, no, no, no, it is it is a fact. And it affects have to be acknowledged. Yes. So I just have one request. I don't know whether, I mean, please consider it. Catherine. It's, it's just that when he was speaking, you said that, you know, it was it is local. But the area of where she would come in some of them happens, you know, kind of the novel unfolds is Magda. Bharata and dakshina Baraka, Central and South India. So we do the Deccan below the Deccan, isn't it?
including the Deccan? It? Yes. So could you consider just and if you could utter the word, I mean, this is just a suggestion. You can disagree say regional and
Local with regional? Yes, yes. Yeah. I think I think maybe in just one line, instead of repeating the whole answer, Katherine, probably you could say that. Not the nice book sort of focuses on the regional and then we can just add it there. Yeah. No, it's a regional and historically, we have.
Yeah, it's a it is, it is a region. It is a regional history. Talking of an area which is greater than Germany and France put together its Yes, yes. Yeah. novela Yeah, I understand. I understand. Yeah. Yeah. So Thanks, Catherine. It was indeed I completely
relate to this reading the snippets of paper, because we used to go for a summer holidays to this town called Kumbakonam, which is where my parents lived and it's on the backs of family and their groceries used to be delivered. You know, in bullock carts and wrapped in paper cones, the way you will see it, and you will be actually used to
you've got all kinds of things, I mean, I've even seen newspaper from the 1950s and crossword puzzles and etcetera, etcetera. So, it was very interesting, I relate to it a lot.
Okay. calking is multiple editions. In fact, the government of Tamil Nadu nationalized his works, so any publisher can pick it up and publish it. And I think it is the universality of the themes and the story, the novelist Kelpies
ability to suck the character into the novel and sometimes you're playing Narasimha Varma sometimes the leader becomes person over mother either the capture calm you are not going in the opposite Casey is the universality of the team and the ability of the author to
to get the reader to play. Can you feel as though you're amidst all that is going on. I think, though
Which is why you know the multiple editions and many Krishnan you know who's a wage of course in commissioning translated works in India, a proponent of national literature she used to head oxford university presses translation division used to say you put the word colicky, and then leave it on the bookshelf no promotion is necessary. The books will say,
That is really, really satisfying. Yeah, Catherine, what about what's your observation?
So again, it's a variation of the same theme. It is how a particular writer now, Kalki was a
is of a different generation, RJ menard is in his 40s I think. So, write down each generation of writer be respond to the reality around them. As you know, as the time demands, it's the demand of the day for any conscious writer for any committed writer to respond to reality as he sees fit. Now colicky was referring to that very rich tradition of rip off the southern part of the subcontinent. But in Susannah grant up there, you find something totally different happening here the universal comes from a group of people who hailed from various cars and regions across Kerala because Kerala is you know, in a way K Taylor is as multitudinous as India itself, there are parts of Kerala, who's aware that you can't understand the Malayalam of one part of Kerala cannot be understood in another part of Kerala. So, that is also there. So, what I'm saying is that, you know, there are some things that hold people together. And this thing that he approached that he used as late motif for the text is once love for reading, which can cut across generations, which can cut across
religions, which which can cut across people have two different social backgrounds,
whether someone is a
a cook, you have all these people they come together and the thing that unites them is reading. Now, this I told you, I was you know, I was intrigued when I heard that within one year, there the book had undergone 14th edition, and people continue to read it, why it appeals to the younger generation, which is sort of disillusion with the two party Government of Kerala, where there is a lot of
corruption going on the communities as are as
corrupt as the others. And so, here he what he has done is that, and recent very disturbing trend that you see in Malayalam books, is, you know, a lot for grounding, a lot of an increasing obsession with sex and violence. Now, I'm not a prude.
And I have nothing against sexaholics female protagonists and masochistic cystic male protagonists. But the thing is, you know, the writing is so formulaic that after a while you get fed up.
And that's what is so unusual and refreshingly, that is what as Mandy said, mini Krishna and I sent a copy to mini Krishna is my first editor. So we have a very
close bond. So I sent her a copy. And she said, capsuled is an unusual novel, it's refreshingly different, and that is what makes it you know,
compared to the masochistic sadistic, you know, very male chauvinistic type of Malayalam heroes that you see in fiction and cinema these days, who seem to be dripping testosterone. This this character, this character, Ollie, he's an introvert, insecure, very often an of silence spectator, and one who needs to be prodded into action. In fact, he's almost a wimp. And it is around this character that the entire story is a
built up with the help of books and the use of boxes. You know, it's a unique anyway crafted novel because
You know, books,
and writers? They are they're not just to show that my God has a wonderful reading. He is very well read, they are an essential they are the skeleton of the book. They are what takes the book forward. So yeah, yeah, no. And I write two very interesting points that you mentioned that I could relate to Katherine's the fact that you know, these detailings with these new additions are always sort of our are the younger generations response to our surroundings, right? Yeah, like, how did you know Tara and I also interviewed Tasha Sutter, or Chitra Banerjee. Divakaruni. But, you know, you also see, there are basically the same stories, the same epics, but now it's retold from another character's point of view, right? Or let's say, you know, from dropper, this point of view, which you usually don't see, and I think what I like is that, you know, these other characters get space as well. And, and, and to just add to, you know, the character early and as you mentioned, he's almost a wimp. That was one of the reasons that I actually, you know, that kept me going because there is a scene in the book where you know, Ali's love for books are shown. So Indira Gandhi's assassination, and he actually makes his own newspaper out of out of paper, and I was just checking how many people or how many children would do that today, right? Because I do remember, you know, when I was younger, I was trying to make pamphlets, magazines on my own, like cutting up papers, and it just reminded me, it was very nostalgic. And I think that's what your book does very well. But, you know, coming to both of your books, I think there was a very interesting common thread while yes, one is about books and one is about a battle. I think both of them are you know, sort of journeys that these characters take right while in Shiva commies. Wow. You know, we have an ordinary youth parent God and there's a big shoe, you know, who both of them go on a journey to country. On the other hand, you know, in Susanna friend, the Buddha aaliyan, RB actually traveled to Morocco, you know, in search of this unfinished manuscript, right. So both of these are very interesting journeys. So can you both please shed a little light on this aspect of the novel? And if you could share one very important scene from this journey, which sort of changes the tone of the journey? I think, for our readers, that would be great. Okay, I'll leave it to them then and wait for her response.
Yeah, thanks, Catherine. Yes, so
in fact, the very first volume of Shiva campaigns
is called Parent duties journey. So parent Jyoti is this rustic youth he comes to country and to learn, you know, sculpting and
you know, saivite scriptures and pummeled from tryna with penicillin and of course, I came from Shiva coming Stoddard. Aina. But as you know, it's just a key rescue Shiva coming from an elephant which has an her father either from an elephant which has run amok and fate takes him on a completely different track. And,
you know, it is
this entire where he runs into bacha Baku, this warrior and you know go into kind of
rescues him from the Chalukya arming camp, that oh no parent God has a very important role to play. In the, in the novel, if you
if you see an argument it is introduced the Nagaland evictions, he introduces literally all Kalki introduces all the characters in relation to current duty this document the bumps into parent Jyoti when they both walking towards country, parent God comes to Karachi and rescues eyeliner. You know and Sheila come and then parent Jyoti meets much about who you know he goes to Nagarjuna mountain to learn about the indelible paints and meets much about who they are. And then he needs PKC and he arrives at the polymer army calm and realizes that Mahindra was more pallava has already reached the cap. So he added the second volume he meets Narsimha Varma Pandavas as the general of the country for time in my environment pallava appoints him as a general a young teenager and sends him to the country for over port. So from a Malaysian perspective.
You know, it is this young, brave rash loose.
You know, who comes to country in search of something he's completely unsuited for, and standards on his to go
Keisha? So I mean,
so that but everybody has their journey I mean from my hangover Amapola realizing thinking that he can do no wrong to realizing that he's human after all, Shiva camis transition from you know, a love loan talented dancer to an evolved person, NASA webmaster transition from a crown prince to an emperor and foreign jothee from
you know, a draw has to take you to warrior to working becomes at the end of the novel. So, the novel is about
about voyages and some are physical, like paren Jyoti's voyage and some are
metaphysical. So, yeah, so, to me, that is
the voyage part of look, I mean,
that's very interesting and and building here in Susannah. There is this voyage, oneness, the personal voyages of Ali, and all the characters that he needs. And then the metaphysical voyage, the spiritual voyage in which each person learns to understand and come to terms with reality. Now,
while actual historical events
are integral to alkies novels, here in Susana, it's the book books and writers are integral to the narration progression of the novel.
They hold together, the you know, it has the novel has a very loose episodic structure.
At the same time, it's the books that meets so intricately crafted in one. If you look at it in one way, it's a quest narrative, where Ali and RP go in search of an unfinished manuscript written by a by a
once popular detective novelist, and the title of that book, I don't want to be a spoiler, but the title of the book male anatomy of melancholy, it has nothing to do with either the unfinished manuscript or with Robert Burton's medical treatise. But the word melancholy is very important in understanding the human condition. It's in the reach Susan has house insert
in search of that manuscript, and this is where the title of the novel itself you know, becomes significant Susan as Brenda querier. Now, while I was trying to translate the title, I wondered where I mean, the easiest way to do as soon as library but the problem is you know,
I'll be very national and very integral integrated and say the Tamil Malayalam heritage, of you know, language is grand purpura
and compared to both Tamil and Malayalam agglutinative languages, and
English is not. And so Granta Pura, Granta is of course book. But Pooja is a word which has a lot of quantitative significance. For example, Pura can stand for home, its asylum, its safety, its security, its belonging, all these meanings resonate in that word. So, I have to retain that title Grantham. And in the course of the novel, what brings these characters together is of course they love books, but through them, you know about individual people, you meet up, he is left for a ship with his daughter, then there is another there is a burl. There's car maker who wanted to marry Susanna. And finally, there is Maddie. So, all these characters are they just appear
in the cause, some, you know remain as a cause, some continue to reappear, but
what you realize is that
and melancholy are intrinsic to the human condition. And one has to come to terms with this realization to achieve a better tool.
Each year sort of you know?
What do you say inclusive acceptance of the spell and the word.
So that is what I wanted to say.
Yeah, what I really loved that was actually one of our questions is that you know, why did you keep the word grant the Quran? Actually, it adds so many layers as you said to the book. Anthony, you have a handout, you want to say something? Yeah, I do. You know, you
first of all, I should congratulate both of you for deciding to pair Katherine and me. Because, you know, though, the plots are very different. You know, once again, timeless stories
and then ability to touch readers hearts. So if you remember in Shiva Cummings have them. You know, Michelle,
there is this. I think it's in volume four, that
a Kalki says he caught Subramanian, Bharti and says what we consider as paid may not be pain at all. And what we consider as happiness is not happiness, it's
because if that was so then why is it that when Rama Sita, when she was pregnant, what do you want to do? You know, what can I do to make you happy, she says, I want to go back to the forest where we spent for 13 years of our life roaming around in the forest. So I mean, they were banished, and they were in the forest. And they had to do everything from the scratch and building a hut to fetching water to plucking fruit to it, it couldn't have been comfortable. And it couldn't have been comfortable for commoners like us and certainly not comfortable for oil. Yet that what what you wanted to do. So you your perception of joy and sorrow. Probably it's a perception so
and how we take it and so it's there in Brenda CUDA. And it's, it's there, and she'll come in some of them. So
that probably explains the appeal of these novels. What I also really like about both of the books is that they're rooted in reality, but you also have these fictional elements, right? So in Anthony's book, you know, you spoke about in the Carnegie version, you spoke about the war, you know, these are characters that we see in history. And however, Shiva Kumi is a fictional character,
you know, and what does she symbolize? I want know more about that from you. And Catherine, you know, you talk about this fictional ratnapura to tell a story about, you know, reading culture in Kerala story and to show us, you know, these very real reading rooms that I absolutely was fascinated by. So why use a fictional data Buddha to tell a story about books? Yeah. So, as I said earlier, he's an introvert, it's only after he needs a be that he
starts to open up. So he tells a variable to suicide, you must have read that remember, you might remember that part about suicide he witnessed once. And then he says, sometimes you have no means to check the reliability of a memory, except the memory itself. While waiting for the bus, I would often go and stand next to him and watch him roll the BDS a woven tray restaurant, his lap, moist leaves, neatly cut would be placed on one side of the tray, tobacco on the other, the loose end of the fine red thread. That's the tree the ball tucked away beneath the seek. His fingers moved fast as he rolled the babies, the gentle swaying movement of the body, talking, watching smiling thinking all synchronized smoothly with his work. After his death, my eyes would stray towards the door, on the way to school and back. It became a landmark in the pathway of my eyes. years later, the building was demolished, and the only link to my memory was lost forever. I felt bad about it. I wondered if anyone other than me, remember that young man? One day I mentioned this at home. But my father stated firmly that no such depth took place around that time. He asked me from where I got the information. And I began to wonder whether what I till then thought was a memory was a creation of my
Imagination. Wonderful, isn't it? Yes, I think I think this is the like, I've highlighted a lot of passages in the book. And this was definitely one of my favorites, you know, this, this whole genre of historical fiction, right. So it is based on real incidents that have happened in the world. It's based on real people. And you know, while in Anthony's book, there's also sort of, there's just one character, which is fiction, whichever kami is actually a fictional character, and the other people actually exist in in history. So, yes, sorry, nada. Nothing is also fiction and Oh, nice. Okay, so that's also just two characters versus the others, right? Similarly, in Katherine's book, you know, this Gundam Pura, which is sort of a fictional place, sort of a repository of stories. Why do you create the sort of fictional universe in order to tell us about real things in life? Yeah, it is. Actually, it is not a fictional world. There is a room at the back of Susan as house of witches, which has more than 5000 books, as Tara was say.
And this room, Susana keeps it locked, she never unlocks it. I won't say more about it, because that will be a spoiler. Anyway, this book is both a metaphor and
what you say it tells you about you the human condition, it is you know, on one level reading in fact, this book is actually a treatise on reading know, people who love reading that is the importance of Granta poorer, in the figurative metaphorical sense, it's an actual Granta pura okay. But nothing really, what it is is that it is that repository, the place where you have your memories, where you have your, your personal very intimate things in this case and the characters in the case of the characters in the novel, its looks, so, these are specific to an individual, but they need not be understood the same way by people who do not share that love, who do not
understand who are for different kinds of you know, mental makeup. So, for such people, now, we have heard about the burning of libraries, from ancient times from Mesopotamia and all those times. So, books have always been treasured, and they have always been a threat. Now, in despotic situations, when when the in the
there is a need for control books can become a threat, when somebody wants to establish their dominance over another reading books, that not just books, whatever internal thing that gives you happiness, it can be music, it can be dancing, now,
as an Shiva number this book, so these things that which you which you consider very precious for you or to yourself to your well being can affect those who are similar minded, who have a similar kind of psyche to come closer to you, but it can put off people, others who cannot identify with this kind of thing. So that's what that's my response. I hope you at least it
because it was a you know, yes, yeah. Yes, yes, sure. What about you and Anthony? See,
to me, this is my view. So others may have different views, but Kalki uses his introduction of the fictional characters of course, you know, this, this novel came to him he described in his biography, how he was sitting in mount on the beach of Mamilla to Ramona or Mahabalipuram, as it's called these days,
you know, which is on the outskirts of Chennai, with his friends on a full moon night when
you know, when this entire
cast of Shiva carmenes have with them and it's
sequel Parthiban carnival which I which I've also translated part as part of a dream for another publisher at my books.
You know, appeared in front of me speaks about how you know, Shiva kami and I, Mahindra vana Impala Massimo Verma
pretty Casey. And now other than the past event and becoming, who are the characters of participants D, all appeared in front of him. One after the other and the beauty of the human mind.
The plots of both the novel's occur to him simultaneously. And the first novel he wrote was the sequel as a single volume or Thebans G. And even there, you can see, you know, the basic plot of Shiva coming in Saba. And
and then he writes, Shiva coming up with them, which is the frequent apartments. But when I read it, I thought he the introduction, consciously or unconsciously, the introduction of the fictional characters was was essential for, you know, for storytelling, and that's how it occurred to him. But also it gave Kalki a handy tool
to explore the socio political motivations for his historical events. So, for example, you know, of course, yes, a decade after the Pandavas lost border territories to the childcare, nursing Obama, you know, invades
you know, the childcare kingdom, he raises Botha feet to the ground, and he kills for the casing. And one of his title is, you know, about RP Condor nurseryman, which means the nurseryman, who conquered Bata, which is present day by them, but you introduce Shiva coming who is a commoner, and then the child who cares? I mean, of course, I know and Shiva come in, literally walk into the arms, I won't say why. And, you know, and Shiva camis, abducted. And then when my hand
tells his son that, you know, the pride of the pallava Kingdom is in the enemy territory. And as long as she is there, you know, it is it is a stir, so go and bring her back. And when he goes, what does she say? She says, you know, had I been a princess, would you have come in the pic of the night, along with nine other people and try to split me out of the four? No, you would have come with an army and conquered and waged a war. So you're not so you come back with an army defeat KC and take me back now. If it were not for that impassioned outburst?
You know, she's coming out with a with just another tale, of course, you could have had a, you know, a dramatic representation of a historical event, which is equally engaging. But here, you're talking about gender, you're talking about the social divide, and hence the socio political motivations for historical occurrence.
Yeah, absolutely. You know, so I love the story about when he was sitting Mahabalipuram, and these characters came to him. And it reminded me of, you know, interview that I listened to with JK Rowling, where she said that, you know, she was sitting on the train, and the entire plot of Harry Potter just flew into your brain. So you never know where inspiration comes from.
What I really hear, what I also was very interested to know is, you know, we learned a lot about what each of your books are about how, you know, there are some similarities, are there some differences, but both of you might work very differently. So these are both translations. And we know that the earliest, you know, you've mentioned in your book that the earliest translators of Tamil actually the British, and it's not a very easy language to translate. And then, you know, you had that added layer of it. And then you were translating a book that has been written in the 1940s by this prolific writer of a time period, that was a millennial. And Catherine, you know, we've heard Michelle and I were discussing and people that colloquial Malayalam is very different from RIDGID Malala. And since both most of the book reads like a conversation with the reader, was that an issue? So can you both talk about your writing process in terms of sorry, can you both talk about your translating process? What were the challenges? How do you go about them? Okay, now, play.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So,
you know, here I'll, I'll have to mention Hi. Came into translation very accidentally, because I was a lecturer for 33 years. I just didn't have the time to do anything rather than write an article or report
or review a book or anything for the for the newspaper.
when I try I began translation, when,
by because in a smarter and I, it's a long story, I won't mention that but I translated a short story of in the smartphone was a very well known Malayalam writer, and
it did not get the Qatar price. But
in a smarter way I happen to read through a mutual friend, that trans my translation. And later he told me that, you know, she couldn't relate to the award winning translation. And he preferred mine. And after that, he asked me to translate about half a dozen short stories of this for the literary magazine when I was in Delhi.
So there I learned a very important lesson. And that was fidelity to the source text, it is not your text, you are like, as I mentioned in your, in my introduction to the novel, it's like surrogate motherhood,
you go through the labor pains of translation, but that said, the idea is not yours, the book is not yours. So you have to be 100% sincere to the text to the both the nuanced and the text, the subtext of the novel, as with a lesser,
the, you know, literary style of the novel. Now, English and Malayalam being totally different languages, you cannot often
copy the translation, it's not a one one to one translation, it's not a one to one approximation, so you have to make your choices.
Malayalam at times has a habit of having very short sentences, at times a sentence can go on till for for almost a page. Now, manga style was the short sentences. So I had Moshe telling it editing when she edited she said, Katherine condensed make it into one sentence or I mean, it has to retain, you have to retain the flavor of the original and the reader who reads the translation should feel that he is reading the origin. At the same time, he is very conscious of the fact that this is not the original This is a translation. So, a translator is just media mediatory it is a mediation
position, you do not have the right to take
you know to
do things with the text, because that is not ethical. Because it is not techie or text. If you want to do something right and all of yours, your own or a short story of your own, you have no right to. So this feeling that you owe a certain committed commitment to the text and to the writer is one that has always largely
remained at the
bottom level of my translation. Otherwise, it is very easy because particularly this text. My other texts that have translated have been difficult. But manga sticks was literally relatively easy to translate. Yeah, it reminds me of and we also interviewed Coronavirus, and who dances from Bengali.
And you know, he also mentioned talking about how it's about sort of, you know, keeping as close to possible as the original story and it's not sort of your own novelization and it's very, very different from, you know, the retellings that we see. And underneath what about you what, you know, there's so many sort of layers in your translating work, right, because you're translating somebody who's so prolific and was also written something that is set so long ago. So there's so many sort of, you know, historical layers to what you were doing. So what was your process?
Because I like Katherine, I'm not a translator. I'm not a
this was accidental. Okay. As I said, the novel just consumed me and I had to put pen to paper on the laptop. So it wasn't, so the translation was spontaneous, but of course,
multiple readings and read I think happened. So with the benefit of hindsight, I can say that translation to me
you know, for me, it was a it was important that the word Calkins voice was heard. And the characters speak for themselves. And also, with all due respect to all other translators,
you know, the reader feedback, especially those who are, I mean, those who have read, both books would say, oh, but it's not like the origin. So translators, you know, fight a losing battle. But
the translation is not for those who read the original, but those who are incapable of printing the origin. And to me, the My aim was, I should recreate at least a fraction of the impact Kalki had created, you know, for his tutors. And
with the benefit of hindsight, I can say that my translation was a combination of transliteration because, you know, certain words like tulasi is not basic.
They may belong to the same genus, but they're different plants. And to me, you know, say, the basil plant grow in the courtyard
reminds me of a kitchen garden for for a very intimate Italian restaurant and not a priest house attached to the temple. So, so certain words, you you have to, of course, have Seema Verma could have called out to param Jyoti as genuine, but when he when he calls out,
say naughty puppy,
it is legal, it
demonstrates the beauty of Tamil, but of course, it is subjective. If another translator picks up this book, he or she may decide what
to translate rate and what to translate. And there are certain words, which can never be translated.
You know, Catherine might appreciate the word because she's Malayali more like, how do you translate to colinearity you know, the flowers blossomed, and you know, the branch under the weight of, of the flowers kind of Bob back and forth.
That is what those two words indicate. Now, how do you translate it in English or when the characters in a very caustic, so, tone siara Hidin, which literally means that beautiful,
you know, it doesn't make sense. So there you have Costa Rican. So, you know, a translation a translator must have some masochistic trait is that because you have a giant who has narrated a novel, and then you take it up and try to retell it to,
to a different audience, knowing fully well, that
you will create only a fraction of the impact, but the novel at some level moves you so much that you cannot help but
cancel it. So yeah, so that that I suppose is macros? Yeah, it was very, very, yeah. Catherine want to add something. Yeah. So I was just saying that it's very interesting to hear both of your processes and it actually reminded me of this Canada translation captured Bucha by Vivek Shan well, because gutter gutter is actually a made up word in the novel. And it was quite interesting to know that when she nonpayroll wanted to translate it he was in to sort of like, you know, confused about whether he should find an English equivalent or he should just keep it and finally, they actually kept that word and to the gutter gutter has become really famous because of that word. Oh, yes, yes.
Yes. And you know, talking about the larger effect of of these translations, right. As both of you mentioned, some texts are difficult, some texts are easy to translate. However, what is really optimistic is that they are being noticed, right? I'm really happy that there are prizes like the JCB prize, you know, for example, especially in Malayalam literature, you know, you have Benjamin's book, you have s Hareesh book and then we get to see different sides of the Kerala society while in Benjamin's book to get to see the diaspora of people living in the Gulf in Harry's book mustache you also see how cast is looked upon right with society. So what I'm interested to know is you know, while these books are getting the spotlight, do they actually represent you know, Kerala as it is like would you call it the, you know, the great character novel? Because I'm very sure that there are loads of other books that are written in the language right, but there are only few that managed to make it to the limelight. So for example, with Tamil literature nominee, you know, I'm often curious about you know, why aren't they
enough English translations because right now the most renowned Tamil writer is Perumal Murugan. Right? We have heard so much about his works, but are his works representative of the whole culture or other other books? So I really like to know what you both think.
So just like that is no.
Like, this girl from work from
rural us asked me, Do you all speak Indian at home? And, you know, I told her there's no language content here and there's no Indian cuisine, you know?
There's a continuum of cuisines, but you know, it is also very distinct and our language, so, there is no unified
Tamil culture. So, you know, they might write about Southern Tamil Nadu. There's a accusation about Kalki saying that in his historical novels, you know, he dwells on the problems of the royalty which I don't agree with, which is what I have,
you know, clarified in my translators note saying in Shiva Cummings, other than he does two very important things. So Shiva, kami is a commoner. Einar is a commoner right? And their,
their problems are their challenges, you know, from the focus of the language of the novel. And also,
I mean, here is a strong woman character, who, who stands
in front of the emperor of the child of chaos, and then negotiate for the release of the women captured
from children. And so it shows, you know, very strong female characters. So, in fact, in my view, Shiva County, in Shiva, Cummings AvoDerm, is much stronger than Nandhini in panini.
Because she, I mean, she could have escaped, you know, and gone back to the comfort of home, but what does she do, she says, I will go to bottom D, and bodipy, and let all the women left behind their children and their husbands and their parents, you don't go back to follow another. So, I mean, it shows both strength and, you know, a certain selflessness. So
it is representative of a very,
you know, strong woman, and a common woman in the sense that there is no unsaid understanding that if you abduct a princess, then this is the way you treat her. Luckily, for Shirakami, she's treated well. But, you know, it's a lot of risks.
She puts herself
negotiating, she negotiates with the Emperor and even secures the release of the woman whom the child cares have.
So, it shows it shows both the finer aspects of human character and also the darker aspects. I mean, if you
remember, you know, the darker aspects of publication, even Narsimha Varma when he
you know, when, when he hears that, she will call me volunteer, he goes with the Chalukyas after securing the release of women of color nada, his reaction is not very admirable, but the nuanced character development, you know, nobody is and remember what Mahindra Velma pallava says when he says, Thank God, she will come we didn't come back with you, because the key and then I would have had to do something else. So I mean, when you leave that portion
in I found it very
You know, question is motors, so, yeah, so if I can just jump in here. And underneath what I'm trying to understand, see? Yes, you know, both of your books show was a very different side of camera, right? Just to give you an example. So there are a lot of books, let's say about Kerala, right for Katherine. Yeah. So for example, you know, we recently read Dr. Abraham versus the covenant of water, which is the thick of it. Oh, yes. It is, like knowledge me at the end. Well, lovely, lovely, wonderful. Yeah, like we really love that you know, and I think it like sort of will give despite reading a lot of books based out of Kerala, right, because it has a very different
sort of thread to it. And you know, Tara also earlier had read the God of small things, but I mean that you know, and we all
So, know that that gives us another side of the Atlas also, you know why my question is yes you have all these books coming out of Kerala and especially translations because you know, venue means books are pretty well known for showing the diaspora you have Heidi's book moustache, which also is about caste and all of these right? What are books sort of like representative of what Kerala is and you know, why are just these books sort of making the limelight? Like are there other books because we want to know, what is the true picture because as you know, right as, as Andre mentioned, people, you know, think that we speak Indian
there are many sides or to our culture, there are so many different aspects. So, are there other books that sort of deserve deserve this limelight? And, and you know, Nanny Bureau speaking especially about Tamil books, or we have often seen Paramon Moroccans are translations, right? It's become pretty famous among English readers, but are there other reps? They're sort of give us a wholesome view of chin. Yeah. So complete that. Yeah. Oh, and then. Yeah, so as I mentioned, their mammograms were dwell on the south of
Tamilnadu. And then you have je content. I mean, if I'm not mistaken, he translated his his own works, but it's not encircled. And he deals with the problems of, of the urban middle class. You have Ashoka Mitchell, who,
you know, who, whose works, you know, have been very admirably translated by Alejandra, who talks about what the Brahmins in Tamilnadu go through. And so, you know, so, yes, some of them like Ashoka veteran has been, well, chance. And he also reviewed all four volumes before his demise. So I'm very grateful to him for that.
So, so you do have writers, but more conversations like these are necessary and, and I hate saying this, because, except for very few books, like doctors, and movies like Dr. Zhivago, where the movie kind of, you know, I related more to the movie that the book, but usually, because human imagination is so fertile, you know, you read the book, and then you watch it. In my case, I'm, I'm usually disappointed, but
unless, you know, books are translated and also short into
I think that's the easiest way of us understanding each other to conclude, if it hadn't been COVID.
You know, and this understanding of each other's cultures, I don't think a film like Contacta would have had the kind of reach and response it commanded. So over to you get,
I agree with Nandini. Now, that is, it does not none of the books that come are translated or RG are, you know, there is no such thing as a text that is universal effector which something that can have is Hmong arts novel because it doesn't have people divided on the basis of caste and car and space. Because scared like for example, you have writers like empty Vasudeva Knight, who's writing about the old 19th century
nylgut Knight terawatts, which you know disintegrated after the few when the fuel system came to an end, then you have
there are the upper caste writers. Then you have marginalized writers, for example, you have Narayen, who translated Kucera, who wrote culture at in fact, Nara in sculpture at and my translation, and Aruna was translated translation of 17 won the 2011 we share the 2011 crossword award. Now, now kulturecity is about a tribal community, which even lost its language because of people coming from the plains and taking over the
the Hindi rich theory to to grow rapper. Now that is a much less audience, just like piramal Morgans. Then another novel that I wrote that I translate was plethora, which is about the elite Christian experience, because the Dalits
convert to Christianity to escape the caste system that they you have
Again, you are neither here nor there. The elites who are who are not try who haven't converted will not take you as I will not will consider you different and ostracize you. While the Christians among the Christians, there is caste ism, and that classism prevents you. And finally, the solution that Dalits found was they found their own church.
So what I'm saying is that there is no one such one, for example, mustache is about
one particular part, it's actually about a religion. The characters are merely, you know, they are they give the local a local habitation and a name. That's all. It's actually about cook dinner, a co pinata, a LAN, which is below sea level. Yes. So there's but in the case of writers like Nara clarity, in the case of plethora, and even in the case of Susan as Grinda, which I feel is very relevant to our times, where we have to find commonalities that has Nandini said COVID made us realize, just like the 2018, floods made Kerala realize that you have to come together, you know, forgetting divisions of religion and caste. Similarly, translation was in desert, it does that it brings marginalized writers into the limelight. And so in that sense, translation is a political act.
Yeah, for example, kulturecity is now taught in university in Canada, and it was translated into French, it was translated into Assamese in the end a variety and a number of languages. And it's,
taught in both French and France and
many US universities. So, it would, if it had not been translated, it would have just remained, you know, an unknown text by a people who need to be heard.
Yes, yes, totally agree. And I really like, you know, the, you know, the kind of titles that both of you mentioned, it also sort of made me think about, you know, because we are talking about Kerala, and Chennai, and the South, you know, so Tara and I are based out of Bombay. And we have also seen so many books written about Bombay, and we often also, you know, sort of think about is that, you know, is it enough, but I think what's, what's interesting is that every writer, even though you know, they're writing about the same place, they always find a different angle, like, like, you know, for example, Jane Burgesses book, permeable chalk talks about a particular community. And then Amirtha mahadi. Her book, you know, basically focuses on another community. So I think that's what we've also seen with these books about Kerala or about Chennai, that, you know, there's a very different aspect of society that is covered in each of these books. And I think that's what makes it very interesting. Yes, yeah. So yeah, the another book that comes to mind is, we interviewed her Angela mandarins own Amina 90,
you guys, it's because I listen to your podcast, oh.
I bought the ebook and read it and hugely enjoyed it. Yeah. So that's such a great book about sort of, like traveling within your backyard. And it just makes me think of publishing in India, you know, because we're speaking about,
you know, we, in this conversation, we spoken about epics, we spoken about history, mythology, we spoken about libraries, literature, regions, different kinds of cultures, languages, people, I just feel so happy to be working in the publishing industry, because what a great place to be, you know, what a great place to publish books, where you have all of this wealth of culture and stories in front of you, who is just amazing. And I think that, you know, the fact that publishers like Penguin, you know, and HarperCollins, etc, are taking out, you know, books like The both of yours, where we are really getting these, as you said, you know, we're getting these Asian of stories with readers like me, and Michelle wouldn't have, we don't have access to these regional languages, right, your readers, your Japanese, your Japanese brand, you know, people in the West, you know, English is a language of sort of, that connects the sort of readers and the fact that these cultures and regional languages, which are very close to the text as you guide as you as both of you, you know, positioning and translations are getting to a wider audience that itself is so interesting and so amazing and I just can't wait to see more of these kinds of books, you know, from the both of you and from, you know, other writers writing in regional languages and other points that I want to make is and, again, you know, we see a lot of
and and you know, there's a lot but I think also, you know, South Indian translations and the culture within South India and bringing that to the world that is also, you know, so interesting because every single state is essentially its own country.
And there's so much to it. Oh, yes, yes, yes. I just said, I just want to add one thing, because you're talking about South India, you know, representation. I'm also very happy that Pushpa being a you know, Telugu movies sort of transcended boundaries. And now, you know, he's also won the national award. I'm just happy that, you know, even movies being made in regional languages, stories in regional languages are sort of gaining India's recognition. Right, let alone International. I also feel that within India, you know, within states, it's often that stories get stuck within our states, right. So for example, Konkani literature, we also we interviewed Damodar, Moussa for his stories, and he had mentioned how there are very few people sort of reading in company, so then it doesn't get doesn't move beyond. Yeah, yeah. Yes, and just one, I mean, to repeat a cliche, right, right. Now, India is in the quest for dominance. And
if a small island like Britain came
to rule, you know, a significant chunk of the world, you know, that it is, it is not just their mind, but also the soft power, you know, they exercise 10, which, which made it and look at it, you have, you know,
1 million 10 million and, you know, I won't say to Hindi speakers, so,
but, you know, you also speak Hindi, I mean, all of us are conversing in English, and this is the kind of soft power, you know, for our own sakes to understand to to assimilate the kinds of soft,
you know, the witches while translations, you know, it is a challenge to replicate the impact of the original, it facilitates, you know, better understanding, and also the spread of soft,
soft power and just like a cuisine, and
you know, our literature needs to be read more. And when we look at, you know, book bugs 100 greatest historical novels of all time, and then we not because I translated to Tommy covered them, but really the 100 greatest historical novels of all time without
that, that is because it's very west centric, just like our history textbooks are deadly centric. Yeah, very true. Yeah, exactly. I think I think that's what in today's episode, I think what, like as a, as an interviewer, as an avid reader, what's also happened is my, my mind has sort of expanded, you know, to sort of, I would say, absorb the kind of stories that are rich stories that are coming out of India, like, I mean, I want to put to make it a more conscious decision to read more translations, especially after reading both of your books. So I'm really, really excited for that. I just want to add that I really liked the fact that you said that it's, you know, not only about bringing it to the west, but about bringing it to India.
Right, yeah, like that line a lot. And that's certainly good or not. Okay, great. So now, this brings us to the last section of the interview. It's a fun, fun round, it's called a rapid fire round. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna ask you a question and then both of you can reply in just one word or one sentence and no thinking aloud. Okay, all right, okay. One common misconception that everyone has about Kerala that is for Kathryn and one common misconception that everyone has about Tamil Nadu financial
that Kerala has a common culture it is as diverse as India
I love that What about you and underneath
Tamilians I mean in Tamil Nadu people speak only Tamil.
So, what else do they speak?
Well, if you do you know that dominant I mean if you leave out Bombay you know, because it is the financial capital
it is a state where English is spoken most widely.
So, if you make that adjustment if you if you take a census and remove Bombay the number of English speakers in Bombay because all documentation I'm a banker, that's my day job. So,
so you just pick up Bombay and uh
compared to the states, then the state where English is spoken most widely is Tamil Nadu while it might, why Kevlar certainly more diverse than, you know,
than Tamil, that's evident when, you know protagonists of films, it is perfectly fine for them at will you find Christian protagonists you find Mr. protagonists you find Muslim protagonists falling in love with I think your protagonist in chimney. So, all that happens in Tamil Nadu and what Tamil Nadu is fighting for is has been fighting for is
the right to choose what languages to learn and not
you know, one of the mistakes while while I am an admirer of Gandhi, where I disagree with him is when he came to Madras, which is now Chennai and said, It is the karma of all South Indians to learn Hindi. So that we can be united as a nation. So, nowhere, whether it is Spain or India,
you know, you impose a language, it's going to work. So, what Tamilians are fighting for, is, is the right to choose, which
I'm sorry, I sound very divided, but that may be translators are political, which in these peoples have.
But which successive governments across the political spectrum, you know, seem to deny, and not just to sow, but also to the northeast. So, you know, so that is what the millions are fighting for. And I may have my disagreements with the late MK carnality, as the chief minister, but his role in ensuring that India had a federal structure cannot, I mean, you have to applaud him for that.
Yeah, I think it's very interesting. And, you know, this whole language and what language we should be speaking is such a huge topic that we can get into, but anyway, coming back to the rapid fire on what is okay, so this is for both of you, Catherine, maybe you can answer first and then underneath you can answer next, describe your day as a translator in one line. It is not a day, it's even night. Because sometimes, early in the morning, at three o'clock, I get up and think this word, this word is not right. I'll do this should be the exact alternative. And then I go off to sleep, I forget the word. So what I do now is that when I remember, the minute I wake up at the night at night, and I remember a word, and I think of a sentence structure, I write it down on my phone.
So it is a 24 hour thing that even when you're doing your housework, even when you're doing something else, it's always there in the back of your mind. Because it is a transmission is also a creative process. Yes. And it is a roller coaster.
You you live the lives of the characters. And as Catherine says, you you translate something and when you're in the middle of a meeting, you're your number crunching on an Excel spreadsheet much worse you're in the toilet and then you say oh my god, what have I done? So yes, the mobile for all its disadvantages. The handphone has its advantages. You immediately no doubt how you would like to
rewrite it and I don't know who said it the first draft of whatever you like, it's rubbish, but I agree with him. And yes, so it is a roller coaster you you go through all the emotions and you read it multiple times. Yeah, I love that. I think for Catherine the line is that it's not just say it's night.
It's a roller coaster. Love that.
All right, if you could translate from another language, what would it be?
I would love
Palestinian novel in English
Wow, why don't you honey Yeah.
I think the North East
there are several languages but
it is it is it is one region of India that is least known, least understood. least recognized.
Okay, awesome. So this is a last question in both of you could translate a book together
Oh, which would it be?
I have no idea.
I mean, it has been done before, but it could collaborate with Katherine, I would like to take a shot at me, because I see she is as political. Okay, both of us are political. And it will be an interesting discussion of collaboration agree.
Oh, nice. Okay. So, we are waiting for that to happen. Yes, yes, I think I think there's so much food for thought on this episode. And not just for me and Tara, as interviewers, I think even for both of you, I it was so much fun to see the sort of similarities in your thinking, like you said, you know, it's not just a political sort of, you know, viewpoints. I think it's also your passion for your own languages, which is very, very difficult to come across, right? Because we are all sort of Euro trying to speak in English and that, you know, how do we preserve our own languages that I think you guys are doing a very, very good job. Here. I'm just waiting to see more translations from both of you. It was such a such a delight talking to you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you so much. Yeah, thanks, Catherine and Tara and Michelle, very well thought of blushing. So it was a it was a total joy to be on your show up.
So here we are, where the end of yet another journey into the many worlds of Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara Knievel. I'm Michelle D'costa. And this podcast is created by bout a company that helps you grow through stories find us I found India are all social media platforms. So tune in every Wednesday if you live, eat and breathe books, and join us as we discover more revolutionary books and take into the lives and minds of some truly brilliant authors from India and South Asia. And don't forget to keep your love for stories alive for books and beyond.