Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bookin' it

I was thrilled to read that Katha, an Indian publishing house dedicated to culture and literature as a means of empowering the poor, was launching a book club -- and better, an online book club, which I'll be able to track regardless of the hemisphere I'm in. I particularly covet their collections of short stories translated from the panopoly of India's mother tongues -- I can't read Malayalam or understand Bengali, but these books take me to people and places I would otherwise remain ignorant of.

The only problem with the book club? Although they've apparently written a press release for it (which The Hindu, the Press Trust of India, The Times of India, and Zee News have faithfully transcribed), there is no mention of the club on their Web site. I know my initial five-year membership will cost Rs 500, and I know my money will benefit slum children in Delhi and Arunachal Pradesh, but I have no idea to whom I give the money or how to transfer it to them.

The only site that even broaches the question of how to get involved (why would anyone want contact information if a story is about a service being provided or an event being held?) is TOI, which directs readers to e-mail for membership information.

If you're trying to stimulate interest in a new program, isn't it of the utmost importance to eliminate every possible entry barrier? I'll still probably find a way to sign up, but if the goal is to bring the best of translated India to the masses, shouldn't it be ... a little easier to participate? And if it's really an online book club, shouldn't priority No. 1 be creating online infrastructure?


Rochelle said...

This is too funny. Some things in India make no sense to me, either.

On a similar note, last Fall my now-husband took me to a benefit concert held in Chandigarh the night before Diwali. His client/business partner had sponsored this event and found a company to get the artist, a very popular Bhangra singer named Gurdas Mann, to sing at the concert. This company was also contracted to market and sell the tickets for the concert.

Because of his relation to his business partner, we got some VIP tickets. After the concert started, it was evident that the VIP section was the only full section. Nobody was in the "general" section. Not one person.

After the concert, his business partner discovered that the marketing company never bothered to market the concert. They never sold a ticket--not one. They only promoted their own company.

I thought the saddest part of the whole fiasco was that those who were to benefit from this concert (war widows) never saw a rupee.

I was quite astonished at the whole thing. I never heard of something like this happening in the U.S.

Zoey said...

Ay yi yi, that's quite the story. Sometimes...nay, most of the time...I just don't understand.

My husband's family has a house in Mohali! Such a small world. I love Chandigarh, much moreso than Delhi; one of my favorite places in all of India is the quirky Nek Chand garden.

Rochelle said...

Small world, indeed! Chandigarh is also one of my favorite Indian cities and partly why we live here.

Last Fall we must have taken about 100 photos of the Nek Chand Rock Garden. If you're interested, here's a link to the flickr page with the (many) photos:

Update on the Gurudwara certificate: we visited the Gurudwara today where we married, with the requested statement and passport-sized photo from our wedding day, and brought along an older good friend who had attended the wedding.

My husband fetched and found one of the gursikhs who had performed the ceremony. It seems their office, when open, is unattended.

First, he had a problem with the photo we brought. We chose a photo easy to shrink to passport-size, a photo taken by our photographer during the wedding photo-shoot. The man didn't like that my husband and I were actually touching each other on the shoulders for the photo. He wanted a photo with us just standing "regular" next to each other--which we don't have. Hubby was able (I hope) to convince him that there is nothing wrong with the photo provided, as you can see our faces clearly.

Then he told us that my hubby's father must also sign the application, even though he'd signed the gurudwara's register at the conclusion of our wedding. Because his parents live in Ambala, and have for the past month been visiting his brother in Gurgaon (and soon plan to visit his nanna-nanni's house in a village 2 hours from Delhi), it will be a big pain to make his father travel all the way here just to give them a signature of approval that they already have. He argued with the guy for a few minutes, then asked him to ask the gurudwara secretary. If he says "no," then we'll have no choice but to fetch his father for the signature, or see if there's a way he can send something via courier.

What fun.

Zoey said...

well, how dare you touch in your wedding photo! so uncouth! shocking! shocking! where are the police in a case like this?!

but ah, think of being able to tell the story for the rest of your life. it's great fun, once you get past the uncomfortable immediacy....