The world according to Amitav Ghosh

first_imgBook ExcerptOn the day of journey, when I boarded the aircraft, I was aware, for the first time in many months, of a pleasurable sense of anticipation. My seat, with its console of buttons and its elaborate entertainment system, was all that I could have asked for; I settled in contentedly, intending to make the most of the next seven hours.But just as I was about to try out the noise-cancelling headset, I caught the sound of an excited conversation across the aisle: an elegantly dressed blonde woman and a suntanned man in a business suit were loudly exchanging words like ‘fire’ and ‘evacuation’.I thought, at first, that they were talking about a film (they looked like Hollywood people). But then, as others joined in, it became clear that they were concerned about some sort of emergency that was currently unfolding in Los Angeles. I had not kept up with the news that week. Now, looking at my smartphone, I learnt that massive wildfires had been raging around Los Angeles for several days. Thousands of acres of land had been incinerated and tens of thousands of people had been moved to safety.Startled by the news, I rose inadvertently to my feet… but no sooner had I stirred than two uniformed members of the crew came barrelling down the aisle to tell me, very brusquely, that I couldn’t get up, the fasten seat belt sign was on, and the plane was about to start taxiing. ‘Sir! You need to lower your voice… ‘But I just saw this…’ I held up my phone to show her a news item about the wildfires. In the process my forefinger inadvertently touched an icon on the screen and suddenly an eerie, keening sound burst out of the overhead luggage bin, filling the whole cabin and turning every head in my direction….advertisementSuch was my state of mind that I did not immediately recognise the sound that was pouring out of the luggage bin as one of my favourite pieces of music, a passage from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ‘Allah Hoo’. Although I loved this recording dearly, no sound could have been more unwelcome to my ears at that moment, especially when I saw its effect on the people around me.”…Instead of tapping my phone, to turn off the app, I panicked and leapt up to reach for the luggage bin – and the stewardess in turn leapt to intercept me. There followed a short scuffle. It ended with me collapsing on my seat while the stewardess stood in the aisle, hands on hips, glowering at me. ‘Sir, if you don’t calm down immediately you will be removed from this aircraft.'”I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I’m sorry…””In the meantime, ‘Allah Hoo’ was still blasting from my Bluetooth speaker… As my gaze rose, trembling, from my phone, it encountered ranks of faces staring at me with expressions that ranged from bewilderment to terror.””I shrank into my seat, mumbling abjectly: ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…’- Excerpted from Gun Island By Amitav GhoshPublished by Penguin,Rs 699Author Interview:Amitav Ghosh’s new novel is being spoken of as the book of the year in India’s literary circles. Gun Island takes its protagonist Dinanath Dutta on an adventurous quest across the Sunderbans, Venice and Los Angeles chasing the legend of the ‘Bonduki Sadagar.’ Although some parts of the book read like a thriller, the author also revisits some of his familiar tropes along the way, think etymology, seafarers and penguins who beach themselves. Days after receiving the Jnanpith award, in an exclusive interview to Aasheesh Sharma, Amitav Ghosh speaks out his heart to discuss climate change, right wing politics, Boris Johnson, his love for racquet sports and his writing rituals. Edited excerpts.Although you say fiction shouldn’t be didactic, you’ve often said that novelists need to critique the world around them. This was an argument in your last work of non-fiction. Do you think Gun Island is an answer to the questions you raised in The Great Derangement?I suppose you could say that. At least my work is attentive to the world around me and that’s exactly what I tried to do. I’ve tried to write a book about the real world we live in and a world that doesn’t get the attention that it should.How different was setting your new novel in this century, a break from your Ibis trilogy?It sure is a departure from the last three novels that I’ve written, but I have written a number of other books set in the here and now. The Calcutta Chromosome that I wrote in 1995 was very much involved with the way the Internet works, even artificial intelligence. The Shadow Lines and Circle of Reason were all contemporary works. But Gun Island is attentive to the emergent reality that we see around us today, this incredible climate disruption, the weird events that are happening around us. One of the roles of a novelist is to be attentive to things around and put them in our books.advertisementYou’ve said about Cinta’s character in Gun Island, “The more I wrote about her, the more important she became.” How did her character evolve? Yes, she is a standout character for me in this novel. Sometimes, when you are writing a book, certain characters assert themselves over the book and you can feel their presence growing stronger and stronger. That was really the case for Cinta. She became more and more interesting and I found myself really drawn into that.One of my favourite phrases in the book is “From the origin salvation comes…” As an anthropologist and a wordsmith, how important are the origins of words and the linkages between languages for an author?Vey important…Every word in itself has a story. You need stories to tell the stories of how words go from language to language. If you take an object as simple and ubiquitous as a “baalti”, all of us think of it as a quintessentially Indian object, but it is a word that actually comes from Portuguese. That’s true of so many words that we use.Right wing governments are resisting the influx of climate refugees around the world, including Italy, where parts of the book are set. Are climate change and migration, subjects close to your heart, the biggest challenges staring at us?I would say we are facing multiple interlocking crises. For example, 15 years ago, if someone had said to me that the issue of immigration will completely change the politics of England, Europe and America, I would have laughed at them. But I am just coming from England. When one thinks of a well-run government, one thinks of the UK. They have had this stability and continuity for hundreds of years. But today, it is all gone. They are in a complete crisis that has been brought on almost unnecessarily, a crisis caused by an imaginary threat of mass immigration, which hasn’t actually happened there. After all, the migrants were not taking boats to England. You know, societal sensitivity to climate disruption is much greater than we thought. Simply because they are so complex, our societies are much more vulnerable to disruption than we imagined.Trump’s visit to the UK evoked protests there. How crucial are such voices of sanity for our society? That [the protest] was one of the encouraging things. You mentioned Italy, even though the right wing government gets much more attention than anything else there, there are many, many people there who speak the language of compassion and humanity. Of course, the most powerful voice of compassion, humanity and common sense is Pope Francis. It is not fair to identify all of Italy with the government. But sure, we do need to pay close attention to Italy, because it has been Europe’s political laboratory for a hundred years. The precursor for Trump was Silvio Berlusconi and if Boris Johnson does become PM, we’ll see an acceleration of this trend.advertisementThere is talk of an ontological turn in Gun Island with incidents that can best be described as chance. How important is it for us to accept facts that can’t be described by reason, science and rationality?I think it is very important to acknowledge the limits of reason. That’s one of the most interesting points Pope Francis makes in his encyclical on climate change. If everything were rational, everything were reasonable, we wouldn’t be where we are. He is speaking as a man of God and I am speaking as a storyteller. Stories have always been about things out of the ordinary.Are there any routines and rituals that you diligently follow while writing a book?I am from that generation that bridges the typewriter and the computer. I wrote my first couple of books on my typewriter. My first drafts are usually in pencil and then my next draft is in ink with a fountain pain. Once I am satisfied, that is when I move to the computer and type it in.You travelled extensively across refugee homes in Italy for Gun Island. Are you an incorrigible note taker in real life like your protagonist Dinanath?I am very much an incorrigible note taker (laughs). I like to talk to people and I take notes all the time.What explains your fascination with merchants and seafarers?Bengal is unique in the way that its myths and folklore feature merchants. If you are brought up as a Bengali, you hear these stories about Manasa Devi and Chand Sadagar. In some way it must have lodged deep in my conscience.There were long queues at Stein Auditorium for your launch. Should book launches or literary festivals be ticketed?Book launches may lead to people buying books, so those shouldn’t be ticketed. But literary festivals should be ticketed and writers should be paid. I constantly get invitations from litfests writing ‘we have 60,000 people there’. They seem to think it is some sort of an incentive. For me it is exactly the opposite. I don’t want to meet 60,000 people! Even the number is inconceivable to me. If you ask these 60,000 to pay half the price of a cinema ticket and if that scares them off, they are obviously not serious about literature.Goa or Brooklyn, where do you feel most at home? Home is where my desk is. I write in two places, Brooklyn in New York and of course Goa.You follow racquet sports closely, we hear…I follow racquet sports because I like to play racquet sports. Most people who like to watch cricket or football don’t play them. I really enjoy watching badminton on You Tube. PV Sindhu is just mesmerising. The kind of energy she brings to the sport is just wonderful.How else do you unwind?By listening to qawwali. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a wonderful qawwal but there are others. Aziz Warsi’s qawwali Maula Salim Chishti in Garm Hava is a beautiful moment in a beautiful movie.last_img read more

Bouchra Hajij elected head of Volley Ball federation

first_imgSalé – Bouchra Hajij was elected president of the Moroccan Royal Federation of Volley Ball (FRMVB) during the elective general assembly held on Sunday at the royal institute of training for sports and youth executives.Hajij, the only one to stand as a candidate, was unanimously elected for a four-year mandate (2014-2018) in substitution for Mohamed Aziz Benchekroun who did not finish his mandate (2012-2013).Bouchra Hajij becomes the first women to lead the Moroccan Federation for Collective Sports.last_img

Postseason approaches for Ohio State mens basketball

Depending on a team’s record, playing in a college basketball conference tournament can have a variety of implications. For some, it’s a final opportunity to attain an unlikely spot in the NCAA Tournament. For others, it’s a chance to improve seeding or tune up for a deep tournament run. This year, the Big Ten tournament could serve as something else: a tiebreaker. Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State each finished with a 13-5 record in the Big Ten, forcing a three-way split of the regular season conference title. Would winning the Big Ten tournament, which will be played Thursday through Sunday, give one of those three teams an unofficial title as the conference’s best? “These tournaments, the regular season champion, tournament champion, they’re a big deal,” said OSU junior forward Evan Ravenel. “It kind of sets you apart from the rest of the pack as far as within your conference.” Although a Big Ten tournament championship by one of the top three teams might offer some clarity within the conference, it might not have a significant impact on the national level. Despite the Big Ten being widely regarded this season as college basketball’s top conference and having five teams ranked 15th or better in the AP Top 25 Poll this week, many projections don’t have a Big Ten team receiving one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tourney. OSU coach Thad Matta said that should the Buckeyes, Spartans or Wolverines win this weekend’s tournament, that team should receive a top seed for the national tournament. “From what I’ve just gone through, I would say yes,” Matta said. “Now you can say, ‘Hey Thad, how would you guys do going through the Big East?’ There’s probably too much hypothetical involved in it, I don’t know the answer. But I know, just lobbying for the Big Ten, the different styles that you face from night to night, the arenas that we play in, that sort of thing, it’s a great challenge. But yeah if one of the three of us wins the conference (tournament) championship I could see validity in (getting a No. 1 seed).” Unlike last season when the Buckeyes went 16-2 in the Big Ten en route to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the strength of teams in the Big Ten this season ultimately prevented a team from pulling away in the standings. “We did a nice job of beating each other up throughout the course of (this season),” Matta said. “You didn’t have that dominating performance by anyone in the league. I mean 13-5 won it, so it probably just speaks more to top to bottom how good the conference is.” Based on tie-breaking procedures, Michigan State is the top seed, Michigan is the No. 2 seed and the Buckeyes are the third seed in this weekend’s tournament. OSU will play Friday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Thursday’s game between sixth-seeded Purdue and No. 11 seed Nebraska. Matta said conference tournament games give the younger OSU players a preview of what NCAA tournament games are like. “You’re going to a neutral site, you’re playing in a nice arena, you’re playing great competition obviously, and there’s that heightened awareness of second half, score tied, ‘Hey, if we don’t get it done we’re going home,’” Matta said. “So without really saying it, they have that understanding and appreciation for what we have to do at that time. “I will be anxious to see how this team plays in this setting.” Tip between the Buckeyes and either the Boilermakers or Cornhuskers is set for 9 p.m. Friday at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. read more

Gomes doesnt want to leave Barcelona

first_imgAndre Gomes was struggling at Barcelona after moving there from Valencia but he has finally found his old form during the last couple of weeks – and he insisted that he doesn’t want to leave the club at all.Manchester United have been said to be interested in the midfielder but the player himself denied that he wants to leave Catalonia and he claimed that he is just happy to be finally meeting the expectations.The Portugal international spoke about his future as he said, according to Goal:“Right now I do not think about that.”“I am enjoying myself and living the dream that all children want to live.”Fati and Suarez shine against Valencia at Camp Nou Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 15, 2019 With a mesmerizing first half from Ansu Fati and a brace from Luis Suarez in the second half, Barcelona demolished Valencia at Camp Nou.Valencia…“The first six months were pretty good but then things changed.”“Maybe it’s not the correct word but it turned into a bit of a hell because I started to feel more pressure. With pressure, I feel fine, but with pressure on myself, I don’t. The feeling that I have during games is bad.”“There is only one Busquets.”“I work as hard as I can so that the manager knows he can count on me.”last_img read more

Mourinho has been believing in Baker since 2014

first_imgFollowing the announcement of Lewis Baker’s departure for Leeds United from Chelsea, which is his fifth loan deal, one might easily wonder if he is really that precious.Which he is, indeed – at least according to Mourinho. Back in 2014, he was looking to sign Baker at Stamford, while he was still a teenager, alongside the other English hopes Izzy Brown and Dominic Solanke. In the process, throughout the duration of which his decisions were doubted on more than a few occasions, Mourinho has made some bold claims.“If, in a few years, Baker, Brown and Solanke are not national team players, I should blame myself,” Mourinho said, according to the official website of Leeds.“They are part of a process the club started without me, during that period before I came back.”Jose Mourinho is sold on Lampard succeeding at Chelsea Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho wanted to give his two cents on Frank Lampard’s odds as the new Chelsea FC manager, he thinks he will succeed.There really…“But now I have players who will be Chelsea players. And when they become Chelsea players, they will become England players, almost for sure.”“I’m not saying we’re doing it just for English football, because it is also about us.”“Chelsea is seen as a ‘graveyard’ for young talent. But at the moment, officially in the first-team squad, we have Andreas Christiansen, Nathan Ake, probably Baker, because I want to have one more English player.”Four years later, even though things have not gone exactly as predicted by Mourinho, Solanke made his English debut this year and Brown and Baker are still owned by Chelsea, despite being loaned out quite a few times.last_img read more

Gracia I prefer to speak about the penalty

first_imgWatford manager Javi Gracia deflated talks on the controversial decisions that marred his side’s 1-1 draw with Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday.The Hornets came from behind to secure a draw on the south coast, which saw Gracia’s side climb above Manchester United into seventh on goal difference in the Premier League.“I prefer to speak about the penalty,” the Spaniard disclosed to Sky. “It was first when there were more than 30 minutes left, it could be the second yellow card for that player, a penalty and after that, maybe the game could change.“I didn’t see it from my position, it’s impossible to know what happened.What to expect from Watford V Arsenal? Taimoor Khan – September 8, 2019 Arsenal are set to take on Watford this weekend and the game is definitely going to be quite a peculiar contest between two sides…“But after asking Chalobah he told me it was clear and maybe changed the game from that moment. But I prefer to support the referee’s decision, it’s difficult their job.”Gracia thought it was a fair result after his team rallied round for a point.“We have won a point,” he said. “It is true, we were improving and at the end of the game we created some chances to win. But I think a draw is fair and Southampton created some chances to score in the first half as well.“And we tried to compete and in the second half we showed character and ambition to get this point and it is important after the game we played today to go back home with one point.”last_img read more

Benjamin Pavard denies Bayern Munich move

first_imgVfb Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard has denied agreeing a summer move to join Bayern Munich.The Frenchman has been linked with a move to the Bundesliga champions all season-long and recent reports claimed an agreement over a transfer is already in place.However, the 22-year-old insists his future remains uncertain.“I’ve not signed anything with Bayern,” Pavard said, according to FourFourTwo.“The interest of such a club makes me happy, but I’m focused on Stuttgart today. I don’t think about next summer.”Pavard also said he wanted a Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or award, after Luka Modric pipped Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane to the award.RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich, Robert LewadowskiMatch Preview: RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich Boro Tanchev – September 14, 2019 RB Leipzig will have the chance to prove their title-winning capabilities when they host Bayern Munich today at 18:30 (CET).“I’d have liked a Frenchman to win it,” he said. “Players like Raphael Varane, who’s the only one to have won the World Cup and the Champions League in the same year, or Antoine Griezmann had a great year. They would have deserved it.”Pavard says his own stock among fans in his homeland has increased significantly since his performances in Russia.“In France, and especially Paris, I can’t take the metro. I have to put my hood up. But it’s a fame I live with well,” he added.“When I was little, I wanted to become a professional player. Now I’ve done it, I want to win trophies. I have already won the most beautiful trophy. I hope there will be others. In any case, I won’t complain about being recognised.”last_img read more

Junior Firpo reveals Real Madrid connection

first_imgReal Betis defender Junior Firpo revealed his father is a Real Madrid fan and they always used to watch the games together, amid reports of a potential moveThe Spain U-21 international’s impressive displays at Betis have caused reports to emerge of a potential transfer to Real.It’s understood that Los Blancos are willing to pay for Firpo’s €50m buy-out clause to sign him from Betis as a long-term successor to Marcelo.“I’m closer to Real Madrid as my father is a Madridista,” Junior told Spanish TV channel Cuatro, via Football-Espana.FC Barcelona, Valencia CFMatch Preview: Barcelona vs Valencia Boro Tanchev – September 14, 2019 Is derby time in La Liga, as Barcelona welcomes Valencia to the Camp Nou Stadium tonight at 21:00 (CET).“We watched them on TV when we first arrived in Spain and for that reason I’ve always felt stronger about them.”Firpo is contracted at Betis until June 2023 and has scored three goals in 15 La Liga appearances.Premier League champions Manchester City along with Arsenal have also been linked with moves for the 22-year-old.last_img read more

Xavi tells Joshua Kimmich You would be perfect for Barca

first_imgBarcelona legend Xavi Hernandez revealed his admiration for the “versatile” Bayern Munich star Joshua Kimmich, who he believes could even eclipse him as a playerThe Germany international first rose to prominence under Pep Guardiola at Bayern in the 2015/16 season before the Catalan coach left for Manchester City.While his normal position is at right-back, Kimmich’s versatility has won him many admirers with the 23-year-old being deployed in a central midfield role at Bayern this season.Due to this, Xavi is convinced Kimmich would be a great coup for Barcelona.“I spoke to Pep Guardiola, my ex-coach from Barcelona, about him,” Xavi told Bild at Bayern’s training camp in Doha, Qatar, alongside Kimmich.“Pep said: ‘I have a player in the team who can play in every position!’“I asked, ‘Who is the boy?’ He told me something about a man named ‘Kimmitsch’, whom I honestly had never heard of before.“Since that day, when I talked to Pep, I have followed your career. After all, Pep says that for a reason.“I knew right away, when I saw you playing, that you could become a great player. And that’s you today!“Joshua is the present and future of FC Bayern and the German national team. And you really can play in any position.”He added: “You would be the perfect player for FC Barcelona!FC Barcelona, Valencia CFMatch Preview: Barcelona vs Valencia Boro Tanchev – September 14, 2019 Is derby time in La Liga, as Barcelona welcomes Valencia to the Camp Nou Stadium tonight at 21:00 (CET).“In my career, I have always kept my eyes open to find players who would suit Barca well.“As previously with Philipp Lahm, Joshua Kimmich could without any problems play at Barcelona. That would fit well.“But Bayern Munich play on the same level as Barca, and you can achieve a lot there.”Before joining Doha-based club Al Sadd in 2015, Xavi was regarded as one of the planet’s greatest playmakers after managing 85 goals and 181 assists in a staggering 769 games for Barcelona.The former Spain international has won many honours throughout his career, which includes a World Cup, two European titles, four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga crowns.But the 38-year-old, who could retire from playing football this year, reckons Kimmich’s versatility could make him an even greater asset for Barcelona than what he used to be.“I thought before I met Joshua that he wanted to be a defender,” said Xavi.“But he already told me that he has another big wish. Joshua can play perfectly in midfield as a number six.“Definitely [he can be the next Xavi]. He can make the difference.“He can be one of the best players in world football in several positions, maybe he already is.“That distinguishes him from me: I could play in one position, he is versatile.”last_img read more

Politano talks ahead of Sassuolo game

first_imgOn Saturday, Inter Milan will host U.S. Sassuolo Calcio as the Italian Lega Serie A 2018-2019 season restarts action.The Italian Lega Serie as is back into action.After a small winter break, the Italian competition will restart this weekend, and Internazionale Milan will host U.S. Sassuolo Calcio.Matteo Politano was quoted by the Inter official website about what this means for his team.Romelu Lukaku, Inter MilanLukaku backed to beat Ronaldo in Serie A scoring charts Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Former Inter Milan star Andy van der Meyde is confident Romelu Lukaku will outscore Cristiano Ronaldo in this season’s Serie A.“We’ve seen that they’ve put everyone in difficulty so far, ourselves included. It will be a difficult game, especially because we don’t have the help of our fans. It will be a very complicated game,” he explained.“I’ve played in a lot of games and I wouldn’t have expected such a start. I’m very happy, but I still have a lot to improve on.”“For me, there’s the extra motivation of looking to always do well in order to convince the coach and club to continue on this journey together,” he added.“My aim is to give my best in the week in order to earn a place in the team with this prestigious shirt, to keep playing and perhaps to score a few more goals.”last_img read more