Saturday, 16 January 2016

White Christmas Brown





We spent December in Goa - and I promise to tell you all about that. But here's something first:

I’ve just had my non-fiction 'White Christmas Brown' published in the rather fine Irish journal The Bohemyth. It's a personal piece that travels from my school in Kolkata to life in England. It’s about identity (and what the hell that even means). And, it’s about being brown in a British Christmas.


I'd love for you to read it:
http://thebohemyth.com/2016/01/15/pia-ghosh-roy/

As always, I look forward to your comments and thoughts. Have a wonderful year, my friends! Here's to more days of sharing this crazy, old space with you.


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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Dancing in the Drawing Room / Fiction





Hi, everyone!

Remember Structo - the lovely journal where my short story was published a few months ago? Well, the issue is now online and free to read, so here's me giving you a shout as promised!

It's a story about a single evening, a fraction of a moment, about secrets. (Don't keep your thoughts on it a secret, though! Drop me a note, tell me know what you think.)

Here's the link to the story:

Dancing in the Drawing Room

I hope you enjoy reading it!
Much love,
P


PS: In case you missed the earlier post on the Structo publication and my reading, and are wondering what I'm talking about, here's a rewind.


Monday, 16 November 2015

Tolerance


Soon after we moved to the UK, I started working with an ad agency where I was commissioned to write a limited-edition book, to be produced and published by a high-end brand. They wanted a book that would embrace people, celebrate individuality and differences.

James Stroud photographed the project, and I was left to respond to each image as I wanted - with a single word, a sentence, a page, an instinct. The photographs were stark, intense portraits of people. I worked from home: shut myself in a room with the photographs strewn all over the floor, and just wrote. Ma and Baba were visiting us that summer, and I remember Ma knocking on my door, putting a cup of coffee by me and slipping out again. I love that memory.



Last week Chotto-ma was sitting and flipping through the book and it made me think of how, since that time, so much, and so little, has changed. We became parents, I left my job to mother a little person who consumed my thoughts, we traveled, made friends, I wrote the first blog post, opened my Etsy shop, Chotto-ma started school, I started writing fiction, went back to work. Life expanded in directions I had not foreseen.






But there was something that, unfortunately, has not changed: the need for a book that urges people to accept others, to live and let live. In fact, there seems to be an even greater need for it today. It's heartbreaking, it's frightening, yet it spreads on and on. This cancerous intolerance everywhere you turn, in every newspaper you open. Sometimes subtle and under the skin, sometimes searingly overt. People dying for being different, being shot for the colour of their skin, or cursed for the religion they follow. Last month, a man was lynched to death in India for eating beef. What's holy for me must be holy for you. What I know to be right can't be wrong. On Friday night, so many innocent lives were lost in Paris, lives ended in a single evening. And days before that in Beirut. Baghdad, Kenya, India, what does geography matter? It seems like the darkest of times in many ways.


My heart has been heavy. And I've wondered many times this weekend what we're unleashing, and leaving for our children.

I had written a poem for that book seven years ago. A book more commercial than literary, but with truths that still hold. And I thought I'd share it with you today.






TOLERANCE


I see you.
You're foreign
Yet strangely familiar.
I may not understand you
I accept that, I accept you.

You are interesting
Because you're different.
You have your own truth,
Sing your own anthem,
Follow your own tribe.

But our roads meet
Our stories merge.
We dance the same dance
Laugh the same laugh
Die the same death.

It seems so simple,
This thing called tolerance.
Funny how there isn't more of it
On the street, in the shops
In our sitting rooms,
in our blood. 
 


© Pia Ghosh-Roy







Wednesday, 7 October 2015

You at Seven

I can see the three of us standing under the horse-chestnut by the river. The leaves are brown. They float down softly on our heads and toes, they tickle a little. Above us, squirrels leap from branch to branch making conkers fall around us like stars. And as we stand on the crunchy floor of rusted leaves, you jump, and turn seven.

Seven. Today. 

Seasons are easy to sum up, but not you at seven. I often see your thoughts whirling round and up and up like leaves in the wind. My autumn child. Not summer, not winter, but the in-between. You're the in-between. There are two of you, so many of you. One, for the people you love: goofy and loving, nonstop-talking. Another for the rest of the world, in which you hold back, observe, keep your thoughts to yourself. I took out my paintbrushes and tried to draw your world today, you at seven, but I didn't draw your eyes; I can never do them justice. They say so much. You're deeply independent, unflinchingly honest. You can be positive about the greyest cloud. Never conflicted about what you feel. And when your questions come, they're as sharp and clear as raindrops on blades of grass.

"Ma, why does extraordinary mean something really special when it's extra + ordinary, more ordinary?" you asked yesterday.




Happy birthday, our Chotto-ma! You're seven. That's seven whole years of making our lives a little less ordinary. We love you more than all the leaves that fall in autumn.




 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

A dark pint of Dublin

It's a city of song; at every turn, buskers sing their souls into upturned hats. It's a city of writers and poets. Of bridges over water, and history scribbled all over. It's a city of men with boyish eyes and thick beards. Of quiet humour and a laidback energy. It's a city that likes to brunch. Where food comes in hearty portions. Smiles too.



Dublin stands sure in its skin - old and modern and uncomplicated. Its parks very green, its art very edgy. Its buildings are often painted a deep red, a screaming pink, clover green, old-lady-purple.




There's a certain New-Yorkness to this wee city, especially when you zoom in through the lens of a camera. Parts of it reminded me of Williamsburg in Brooklyn: the red-brown bricks and art-splattered streets, the large loft-like spaces converted into cafes, derelict buildings with funky shops, feet in clean canvas shoes.


With all it's history hugged tightly to its chest, Dublin seems to have marched headlong into the Now. You could walk into a 12th-century pub for a glass of Guinness and some beef stew, or lunch at a restaurant where modern Irish cooking bends expectations, often blending fresh local ingredients with Middle-Eastern flavours.



And if you're lucky (as we were), you could be sitting in an old, old pub with your dark, dark pint, when suddenly, a group in the corner takes out their guitars and breaks into unprepared song. Strong and clear. Their acoustics bouncing off the wood-lined walls. And everyone cheers and claps and they sing one more song, and then another. And you leave Dublin humming the city like a well-worn tune.



 ***


The Nitty Gritties: where we slept and ate and drank, and the places we loved in Dublin.



Where we stayed:
The Dean Hotel. Very retro-chic, complete with vinyls in the room. And a rooftop restaurant and bar that's hard to beat.






Where we ate and drank:
We tried lots of lovely places, but there were some clear winners. I've put them together in one perfect day of eating and drinking.

Morning

The Fumbally. It was one of our favourite places in Dublin; try their fantastic brunch, and enjoy the gorgeously haphazard space!


Noon

O'Donaghue's. A pint of Guinness at this pub, amidst that impromtu jam of guitar and song, was one of my best afternoons in Dublin, and one that I'll remember for a long time.

The Pig's Ear. Modern Irish cooking at it's best, and a short walk from O'Donaghue's. The restaurant also sits near the National Gallery of Ireland where we really enjoyed the Sean Scully exhibition.





Evening

Sophie's at The Dean. That's the rooftop restaurant I mentioned earlier. Have a cocktail by the wall of glass and look down at the city and the mountains beyond as the sun sets. You can't do better. The pizzas are great, as is the rest of the food.



Coppinger Row. A Mediterranean restaurant in the hub of Dublin. Our meal here was faultless, fresh and full of flavour, and all whipped out of a busy, open kitchen. (Oh, Beyoncé and Jay Z dined here, if that counts!)





Dublin for kids:

Dublin is very child-friendly. People would bend down to have one-to-one conversations with Chotto-ma as if she were a solo traveller, and we weren't there at all!

There are great galleries and museums to keep kids interested, to learn a bit about Ireland and the influences of other cultures that passed through this island country. Chotto-ma loved these -
The National Gallery of Ireland
The Chester Beatty Library
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology


In good weather (which we amazingly had almost everyday of our stay) head to -
St Stephen's Green is one of the loveliest city parks, with a duck-filled pond, fountains, gazebos and nooks and cranies to explore.




Merrion Square has a wonderful playground themed on The Selfish Giant. Chotto-ma had finished reading Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince and Other Stories just before the holiday, and had loved The Selfish Giant, so she especially enjoyed this park. (It's also very close to the National Gallery of Ireland).



***


(None of the places mentioned above have sponsored this post. They're just mentions of things we enjoyed, so others might enjoy them too. I don't do reviews on the blog.)