Indiwords Journal

The Journey of Voices, Old & New

It is the start of 2015 and in keeping with the time of year, the first book we are publishing this year is an anthology of short stories penned by a group of new and talented young writers. Some of these writers have been previously published, while the larger majority is being published for the first time—hence our title—Voices Old & New.

Voices Old & New encompasses the scope, values and aspirations of Indireads as a publishing house. The genres of stories are in the realm of popular fiction, the space that we occupy and aim to excel in and ultimately revolutionize by creating homegrown Sidney Sheldons, John Grishams, Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts. Romance, Drama, Crime & Mystery and finally Paranormal, the anthology provides something for everyone in all these popular categories.

Some of the stories are by writers we have come to know via our 1st Short Story competition, some are by writers and bloggers with whom we have developed ties over the past months, but fittingly, most are by new writers whose enormous talent we have been delighted to discover. All these gifted and passionate writers reaffirm our own faith, in our commitment to uncover new voices and showcase them to a global audience.

Finally, the winners, and this year we had two winners for each category, were offered the chance to work with us to challenge themselves and move beyond short stories to create a full-length novel. We salute them in this endeavor and commit to support them with all the learning, craft and experience we have garnered in working with over 40 new authors, some who completed the journey and others who found that they could not.

We begin the New Year with this brave new group of writers and hope that they will make it all the way to the top. And we present to you this year, an exciting new line-up of books by those who have already made the journey and have emerged victorious in this labor of love. Thank you for your support and we hope that you will show your love and appreciation to the new and exciting stories that will be emerging from our press—for you and your enjoyment. We toast you all, writers and readers and celebrate the New Year with voices, both old and new.

News & Events

Lines in the Sand – An Introduction

A brief introduction to Indireads’ anthology, Love Across Borders, which will be released on midnight, August 14th.

Short Stories

Anjum & Vandana – Unlikely Friends

My first instinct on hearing about the Love Across Borders anthology was to write a story based on the Wagah border. Dividing the two strife-torn neighboring countries is this fascinating place where, paradoxically, some semblance of unity is found. The audience sitting on either side of the fence bear the same complexion and features with the only obvious difference being the style of clothing. This place holds immense potential, and not just for story-telling.

Surprisingly, when I actually sat down to write, my story took on a mind of its own. Away from the border and the parade, it started talking of Anjum, a Pakistani girl who lived in Bombay. That caught my attention. I had never heard of a cross-border migration in urban India, not in the recent times. Vandana, the narrator, was Anjum’s neighbor and after her initial guardedness about a Pakistani padosi, gradually lowered her defenses and took to Anjum like she never had to any other neighbor. While I was bent on knowing how Anjum was ‘smuggled’ to India—this was before the Shoaib-Sania alliance—Vandana could not probe beyond the point of decency.

Nevertheless, she was struck by Anjum’s simplicity. Strife, anarchy, political unrest did not exist for Anjum. She had grown up in a secure background amidst relatives, food and festivals and thought that the rest of the world was an extension of that warmth. That was how she disarmed Vandana.

And that was something! Having known Vandana all my life, I knew how hard it was to be her friend. She was in a constant hurry to accomplish her tasks; her tutorial was her pilgrimage and her students her pilgrims. She knew no life beyond them. As the eldest of three siblings she was equally adept at household chores and went about them with the professionalism of an event manager. It was a joke among friends that if we were to go to Vandu’s house unannounced, she may ask us to do our dishes because it was not on her agenda!

For someone as rigid as her, marriage was difficult. She detested the fact that she had to follow Vineet to Bombay, giving up her lifeline—her tutorial. It did not help that Vineet was her exact opposite. He was laid back and relaxed and lived for the moment. Vandu disliked him at once, but she was practical enough to know that she could not remain a spinster all her life. As she was convinced there was nobody who would be compatible with her, she said yes to Vineet. One alliance was as bad as the other, why waste more time!

Post-Anjum, Vandu was a different person, though. Anjum opened up a part of Vandu’s life that she did not think existed.

Read about Vandana’s journey with Anjum and decide for yourself if the fence between the two countries is just a mental block, or are friendliness and love actually hostage to geography?

Andy Paula, India


Blessed are the Peacemakers

When my grandparents talked about Partition, the focus of their stories was a divide between religious ideals. As much as our rational selves will argue that there were political and economic realities to the divide, generations of Pakistanis and Indians have grown up believing that our differences are as basic as Hindu vs. Muslim. Volumes have been written on what, why, and why not Partition, on both sides of the border.

But we’re not here to talk about Partition. We’re here to recognize that both countries are a reality, they exist; the deed is done. Let our governments quarrel; it’s been a long haul of one step forward and two steps back for them. For the people, however, opportunities to change mindsets abound. From the distance of time, we can stop looking back, stop dwelling on differences, and start focusing on what we have in common.

Let’s start with the tenets of each of our religions: Blessed are the Peacemakers. The line itself is from the Bible; Matthew 5:9—”Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” Both Muslim and Hindu texts have similar references, though, so Indireads felt that this was a wonderful place to begin our journey to Love Across Borders.

Surah Baqarah 11:15—”Do not make mischief in the earth, they say. Verily, we are in fact peacemakers”

Bhagavad Gita—”Without meditation, where is peace? Without peace, where is happiness?”

News & Events

Lines in the Sand

Once upon a time, a line was drawn in the sand, and suddenly two nations were born, each creating a new divided history.

Have you ever wondered what the people across the border are like? How they live, what they think, how different from you they are?

Well, we asked the same question of our authors. The result? Twelve, intriguing, insightful and inspiring stories about people making connections, building bridges and yes—even falling in love—across borders.

labOur authors gave us Sejal and Saleema, two brides-to-be who meet at the Novelty Emporium where the master craftsman Panditji is creating their wedding dresses. We also meet Anjum, a bride from Pakistan and Vandana’s new neighbor. A bride who settles in better in her new environment than the woman whose home it is.

There is Dilip who, now in his sixties, searches unceasingly for ‘a friend’ on Facebook. And Suresh, who searches for clues online of his lost love from his college days in Karachi’s DJ College.

Another story features two upwardly mobile desis  meeting in Boston. Both are far from home, but carry their pride and competitiveness with them. And we even envision a dystopian future in which both countries have become a nuclear wasteland and two youngsters must strive to understand the past and build a new future.

These and many more stories will be available for download from August 14, 2013, exclusively from Indireads’ website, Love Across Borders. Stories of people from India and Pakistan coming together in some way or the other, despite lines drawn in the sand.

Journal News & Events

Reaching Across Borders

One of the most amazing benefits of starting Indireads has been the opportunity to interact and become friends with authors on both sides of the India-Pakistan border.

Talking to them I came to two realizations, first the reinforcement of my belief in how similar we are (after all we are the same people and no line drawn in the sand can change that), and secondly, how little each side knows of the other.

My parents were born in Hyderabad Deccan, and while they moved to Karachi, they still have family there. Aunts, uncles and cousins regularly go across to attend weddings and visit on both sides, and we are all very much one big family. And in my own travels across the world, some of my best friends have been Indians, of all faiths and backgrounds.

Having been privileged to have both family and friends across the border, I feel strongly that it is important for people to begin to connect across this real border, but imagined divide, to see that the person on the other side is reflection of oneself.

If we all just begin to connect, we will see how much we have in common—music, food, colors, clothes and wise sayings—are all part of our shared culture and heritage. That’s what Indireads books celebrate and that is the inspiration for Love Across Borders, our first anthology, a collection of short stories to mark the Independence Days of these two neighboring countries, by teaching us how much we have in common to celebrate.

What are some of the things common across the sub-continent that you enjoy?