These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The End of the World

The End of the World - Sushma Joshi. 8 short stories. 2008.

the sweetness of
could not save Nepal
from Civil War


and in the south
even in Calcutta
the British Empire
was under siege

in a world of black monsoon clouds streaked with silver

in a black world of Maoist blockades
without the silver

thoughts of world ends
a special kind of


foreign cheese

Cheese is the first short story in this collection.
It spins a surprising tale of cheese from Switzerland.
Gopi dreams of tasting this cheese for the first time.
For many years he dreams, but then, when the moment comes
it felt almost as if it wasn’t him who had eaten it — it had eaten him. p.23


  The End of the WorldThe End of the World by Sushma Joshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The End of the World is the title of one of the 8 short stories about late 20th century Nepal and those who live there. But, as the title of the whole collection of stories, it suggests that each story symbolises some kind of ending in progress - without the relief or satisfaction of closure. The people struggle with new tastes - Cheese, unravelled friendships - Betrayal and the dark side of power - Law and Order. The monsoon season could almost be a welcome distraction. There is little time to get to know any characters. There is just the ragged moment mirroring little sign of fulfilment. The collection could represent a negative view of this world, struck down by shifts in political circumstance. But then there is the enigma that we hope, we keeping hoping that such chaos of personal identity and purpose must tire, must end sometime.

View all my reviews

Cameo Dramas in Nepal 
Imagine when cultures collide in political mayhem, what chaos and confusion follows, the emerging questions of right and wrong and the sticky web of values. These short stories are like an inside glimpse of a remote mountain country smudged by the modern world. The characters are like lost souls wandering some wild future desert, seeking some comforting sign of who they are and what they could be. Who can possibly imagine that cheese from Switzerland could become a prize, a gift, a quest, a nightmare. The first short story leads the way into the lives of disillusioned Nepalese. For those of us who know little of the ways and cultures of the people in this high country, there is simply not enough in each story to appreciate the how's and the why's of these worlds.

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