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How Cities Inspire, Create and Influence

Feb 2016

How Cities Inspire, Create and Influence

If you stay in a city for a long while, it grows on you.

You discover new mentalities, thoughts and cultures and this session delved deeper into four such cities which have influenced four authors majorly.

The first session of the last day brought together authors Zac O’ Yeah, Tulsi Badrinath, Arathi Menon and Bishwanath Ghosh, to talk about how much the city, which acts as the backdrop in their books goes on to shape the story. The session was moderated by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey, a senior assistant editor of Times Of India.

Zac O’Yeah, being asked about a city in his books “Scandinavistan”, he said that cities are somehow a work of fiction which reflect the dreams and mentalities of its residents. This is also what makes a city appealing and so intriguing at the same time. Also having been a travel writer, he’s discovered that detective novels set in that particular city reveals more than travel guides do. Funny bit about Zac O’Yeah? His accent has completely transformed and become a typical Bangalore accent, so its not just his books which have borne the impact of a city.

“That Bangalore has a large Bengali population is probably why it is now called Bengal-uru” he said.Day 3 S1

Tulsi Badrinath while talking about Chennai, says she encountered a whole new world in Chennai as she is originally from North India. She’s written her books in connection to Madras, because it shaped her as a person in many ways. The experiences in Madras, like the water problem, has found expression in certain ways in her writings.  Also the city opening up to male dancers in the dance form of Bharatnatyam played a key role in the plot of her book.

Bishwanath Ghosh, who is like an outsider in his own city, Kolkata with the number of cities he’s stayed in discussed how travelling so much gave him an attitude of looking at everything from a fresh point of view.

Arathi Menon, whose books feature Mumbai as almost a person, said that Bombay is like a grumpy monster, which is also very kind. For example, the housing problem made her move into a small 1bhk which had a huge impact on her life. The city, she said, lets you be who you are.

About Kolkata, Zac O’Yeah said that the city might feature in one of his books as he views it to be the melting point of various cultures. Bishwanath talked about nostalgia being an integral feature of Calcuttans and he has found similarities between Kolkata and Chennai.

They also discussed rural settings and urban settings, unusual settings and others. Its also the quality of writing and the truth of a story that matters more.


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