Chaicopy Offline Issue Vol. 2 October 2018

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Chaicopy Vol. II | Issue II | October 2018 Published by MCH Literary Club Manipal Centre for Humanities, Manipal, Karnataka-576104 Only the copyright for this collection is reserved with the Chaicopy, Individual copyright for artwork, prose, poetry, fiction and extracts of novels and other volumes published in this issue of the magazine rests solely with the authors. The magazine does not claim any of those for its own. No part of this publication may be copied without express written permission from the copyright holders in each case. The magazine is freely circulated on the World Wide Web. It may not be sold or hired out in its digital form to anybody by any agency whatsoever. All disputes are subject to jurisdiction of the courts of the Republic of India. © Chaicopy, 2018 Cover Art - Manasvini S.N. Cover Design - Sneharshi Dasgupta Layout and Page Setting - Sneharshi Dasgupta & Vaishnavi Editorial Board Editors-in-Chief : Tanushree Baijal & Tanvi Mona Deshmukh Fiction & Poetry Team : Amulya Raghavan, Anushka Chatterjee, Diptoroop Banerjee, Francesca Fowler, Gauri Sawant, Kartik Mathur, Krutika Patel, Serene George, Shweta Anand Non-Fiction Team : Abhiram Kuchibhotla, Ajantha Rao, Anamika Das, Arush Kalra, Bidisha Mitra, Komal Arcot, Srikar Raghavan Visual Art Team : Akanksha Majumdar, Meghali Banerjee, Míša Krutská, Neesha K. Thunga, Pavithra S. Kumar Design Team : Sneharshi Dasgupta & Vaishnavi P. R. Team : Brinda Mukherjee, Elishia Vaz, Laya Kumar, Pawan Kumar, Sania Lekshmi, Shinjini Majumder


Editorial Hello, and welcome to another issue of Chaicopy! Our seniors founded Chaicopy, here, in Manipal, three semesters ago. Born out of a collective love for art, literature, and everything in between, this creative journal was the first of its kind to be nurtured in the academic space of the Manipal Center for Humanities. Over the span of its subsequent publications, Chaicopy has grown beyond imagination, owing to the people who have committed to its cause and vision, and the entire spectrum of brilliant contributors, some of who have been with us from the start of Chaicopy’s story. When our founding members graduated last year and we took on the role of Editors-in-Chief, we knew that we had mighty shoes to fill. As a team, we agonized over the theme for this issue, because we knew we wanted to bring something new to the table without compromising on the essence of what Chaicopy represents. When we finally decided upon “Offline” as the theme for our fourth issue, we aimed to capture the experience of existing in a world increasingly determined by our online presence. What emerges from the experience of negotiating between the online space of our social media profiles and the offline space of our everyday life? In fact, are the two spaces distinct, or are they invariably connected given that everything in the world today is connected (or can be connected with, at the very least)? These are the questions we set out to ask. Interestingly, as Chaicopy, like many of its modern counterparts, is an online journal, we were curious to see what kind of affect it would create for its readers, as they engage with myriad experiences and accounts of a world, unplugged. We hope that some of these musings can perhaps be grappled with, transformed, and articulated artistically, into another body of work. Who knows what the next issue will have in store for all of us! In the following pages, we present to you fiction, poetry and visual art by truly talented minds. We begin our sojourn with Saniya Rohida, as she takes us on a nostalgia-inflected journey, in her piece titled,


“Notes on the Zero Mile.” Poornima Laxmeshwar captures the simultaneous ennui, excitement and liminality of the public transport spaces in “Ladies’ Compartment.” In our Visual Art section, Shazia Salam presents to us an acutely intelligent visual art piece on the internet’s ‘limitlessness,’ and what our interaction with such a medium means for art. Dr. Vaishali Sharma’s “What Began as a Simple Conversation . . . Ended as a Dream,” is a delicately constructed triptych that captures innately human experiences moulded by technology, and questions what such an encounter would mean in retrospect. We are so happy to showcase Manasvini S. N.’s art once again, on our cover page. In it, we found a moving representation of our theme, unlike any other. We would like to thank Shreya Srivastava and Kandula Pradeep Kumar for collaborating with us once again, and each of our new contributors for sharing their beautiful work with us. Over the past three semesters, MCH has had the privilege of interacting with and hosting esteemed writers, artists and scholars. We would like to thank Dr. Easterine Kire, who visited Manipal in January 2018 as a Writer-in-Residence under the Dr. TMA Pai Literature Chair, for her thoughts on the intersections of identity, location and art in a globalizing world. We are also very happy to have Priyanka Chhabra, artist and filmmaker, releasing this issue. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude toward the people who make Chaicopy possible. Mariam, Abhimanyu, Michael, Tanima, Abbas, Srividya, Maithilee, Srinath and Malvika: Thank you for giving us this opportunity to learn and grow with you. We dedicate this issue to you. To our newest team members: Welcome. It has been a pleasure to have you onboard and we look forward to our work together. As always, we are indebted to Dr. Gayathri Prabhu for her support, insight and encouragement. We also thank Dr. Nikhil Govind, Director, MCH, for providing Chaicopy with a space to take root and flourish. Our team has had an insightful experience, witness as we were to the brilliant body of art that features in this issue. We hope that reading it is as much a pleasure for you as putting it together was for us. Warmly, Tanushree Baijal and Tanvi Deshmukh | Manipal, October 2018



Ingredients Chai Expressions Notes on the Zero Mile | Fiction| 3 Saniya Rohida The Catch-Up Dance | Poetry | 7 Darshita Jain Circle | Poetry | 9 Hridi Ladies Compartment | Poetry | 11 Poornima Laxmeshwar Keypad Loves | Poetry | 12 Roshni

Call it What You Like | Fiction | 13 Shreya Srivastava identity x null ft. worthless | Fiction | 15 Abhiram Kuchibhotla Mind Game | Flash Fiction | 18 Muhammed Salih


Kaapi Sessions Dr. Easterine Kire in Conversation with Diptoroop Banerjee | Interview | 25 Offline is the New Luxury | Digital Art | 28 Prasanna Chafekar Liminal | Illustration | 29 Neesha K. Thunga Take Two | Illustration | 30 Neesha K. Thunga Terracotta Box | Sculpture | 31 Kandula Pradeep Kumar What Began as a Simple Conversation... Ended as a Dream | Visual Art | 32 Dr. Vaishali Sharma Connected | Visual Art | 36 Priyal Sethi

Evolution | Digital Art | 37 Abhiram Kuchibhotla Sans Tech | Painting | 38 Manasvini S.N. Serendipity | Painting | 39 Manasvini S.N. Holding a Balance | Visual Art | 40 Shazia Salam Log into Denial | Illustration | 42 Mayurakshi Acharyya

Contributors | 44 The Teatotallers |48





Notes on the Zero Mile

Saniya Rohida

Where I come from, when children turn two-and-a-half years old they are put in a nursery school, after which they graduate to kindergarten, which has two levels. When I turned two-and-a-half, I was directly admitted to Mother’s Pet Kindergarten, the best one in the city. It is more of an exurb than a city. All the buildings spread out rather than rise up and none ever block out the moon at night. The roads are wide and the traffic minimal. Wealthy people have built their enviable mansions and now they frequent British clubs for cheap liquor and karaoke. It does not take more than twenty minutes to reach one end of the city from the other. All food is handmade by humans and a teller still takes a few minutes to let you know your account balance. My earliest memory from Mother’s Pet Kindergarten, and one of my earliest memories in life, is of me descending down a metal flight of stairs that led deceptively straight to the exit, a shortcut from the KG-I classroom that circumvented the toddler traffic from the nursery school. On days when my autowallah would not show, Mum would send Ajay, an employee from my father’s office, to fetch me on his Chetak: the mechanical iron steed he proudly rode around town in forty-eight degree summers. I would hurtle down the duplicitous staircase, my square backpack flapping against my red and white checked uniform. Each step was a familiar clangourous melody with the exception of one stair that was loose enough to let a kindergartener’s foot through. The fall was not as bad as the disappointment and acceptance of the fact that nothing that clandestine comes without a price. Ajay would let me call my Mum from his chunky phone with a retractable antenna so that I could cry to her for the entire five-minute ride back home. Where I come from, we remembered each other’s landline phone numbers because there were not many to remember. Our landline number was two five four four five five five. I still rattle it off sometimes when someone asks for mine. Our landline number was one digit different from the landline number of a police station in the 3

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neighbouring town. On bad days, we would receive at least six to seven misdirected calls asking for the police station. The first two or three were always taken in jest by whoever answered. My then-jovial grandfather would effortlessly joke and explain the mix up, and then get back to watching the third rerun of an episode on our CRT television. He did not believe in smacking the remote control to make it work. There was no other way back then. My mother, on the other hand, who was almost always answering these calls while also answering various other calls from the kitchen and from the dining room, would respond with a curt and workaday, “Sorry wrong number bhaiya/madam.” On the days I was allowed to answer a call, Mum would tell me not to engage and to keep it simple. But I wanted to be like my father and grandfather: the storytellers, the stellar orators. One day, I waited by the Beetel landline phone with the curly cord. When it rang, I answered in my finest operator lady voice, “The number you are trying to reach is invalid. Please check the number you have dialled,” to let at least one caller know that they were not to call here again and victoriously slammed the handset down. When a friend of mine parted with her lover recently, she removed him from their shared Netflix account, indicating all that ended was not well. Instead of taking down his photographs from her bedroom wall (which always leave behind a sticky, bare spot where the paint starts flaking away) she deleted their joint Instagram account and posted sad typewritten poetry on her Finsta – Fake Instagram account. A bathroom mirror and a shower head usually hear more secrets than a padre in a confessional. But now social media accounts that only a select few and their fake accounts can follow are digitally furtive. Two years after I left the Mother’s Pet nest, my childhood friend and neighbour, who was named after a character from a family-favourite Bollywood flick (as most parents did then,) became a Mother’s Pet baby. One balmy afternoon as per usual, when her autowallah did not show, her grandfather and I buckled up in their unsteady Fiat and set out to pick her up. Her grandfather, an eccentric man, struggled with our building’s elevator, which often made him cry out in frustration. If 4

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someone pressed the button to call the elevator (it was an old-timey lift with two metal gates instead of sliding doors), and someone else pressed it at the same time, the elevator would come back down without stopping at the floor it was first called to. My friend’s grandfather, Dadu, was never quick enough to make the elevator halt by opening the outside gate ever so slightly once it reached his floor. He usually slid in when someone else called the elevator, but the days he was stranded were audible throughout our four storeyed building. I liked travelling to Mother’s Pet with Dadu because he bought us softee ice cream swirled out of a colossal steel machine that made your cheeks cold if you stood close enough. We could hop onto the ledge with the signboard of the ice cream parlour long before the neon-lit ones took over and the ledge was torn down. When we reached Mother’s Pet to fetch my neighbour, I realized that she too had discovered the metal bypass that led one to the exit. Dadu and I watched her zoom down and stick her foot through the same wily opening that had changed my outlook towards life. As though a rite of passage, her expression too was uncannily like mine. About seven years later, when my sister started kindergarten at Mother’s Pet, there was an elevator with sliding doors and a fan inside. The metal staircase had been torn down and the area was converted into a parking lot. If my sister’s autowallah did not show, my Mum would zip down in her swanky Santro and pick her up in a jiffy. My sister used to come home from kindergarten and get up on my parents’ bed with her school socks still on and dance to the music playing on the TV. The CRT had been replaced by a flatter screen with brighter colours. Around this time, my friends had started asking their parents to buy cell phones for them, while I still answered calls on the landline, telling people on the other side that “Inspector Chaudhary does not come in today.” If I needed to use a cell phone, I would share my Mum’s funky Nokia XpressMusic. The first time I owned a phone that was not passed down from my father to my mother and then to me was when I graduated college. I possessed a screen larger than most people’s faces. I could read books with actual page-flipping sounds and watch TV on this nifty thing. My sister, ten years younger than me, also got her first 5

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phone around the same time because she did not feel safe walking to her friend’s house around the corner from ours. On one of the last few days before I left for college in a different city, my Mum, sister and I visited the local mandi to get some coconut water. We were around the area sipping on surprisingly cool coconut water that felt like my last one as a small town girl, marvelling at dragon fruits and mangosteens. We paused at a vegetable seller’s stall, with bright bell peppers displayed almost ornamentally. My sister turned to us in awe, and said, “They look like 3D printed sabjis, no?”

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The Catch-Up Dance

Darshita Jain

I am stuck to my phone, glued in; skipping worlds on my fingertips, mapping lives under a minute: The world almost too easy to get through to. Books read in 15 seconds news under 90, what’s up in the world – in less than a page diary entry in a sentence or less. Days, just a scrollbar away, glued in together you cannot see through. I have learnt to scroll my way through three-year-olds being raped, scrolled through my childhood best friend’s bachelorette, scrolled my way, all the way to the first time we met, feasted upon the speckled sunshine in your eye (for under a minute).

overjoyed ‘content.’ can

My fingers slowly learning to scroll through time; almost muscle memory. They scroll up in their sleep. My mother is often too to point out my lack of My eyes have learnt to speed read, to grasp whatever I

in a minute, or two; Now they try to play catch-up with my fingers skipping to an unknown rhythm. Information in a snapshot picture of all I can read – in under a minute, Before my fingers scroll through: “You have 1068 friends – 7

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Caught in a landslide under the cave – Recorded testimony of a 3-year-old refugee – Made 13 new friends this month – 7 jailed on the charges of rape – 15 signs you're with a good man – How to play spades: a thread – Murder in the neighbourhood I grew up in – Wikipedia Added US Border 'Detention Centres' to the List of Concentration Camps – The psychological implications of (what they have been through) yet to be undermined – (Name an actress) brightened our feed while silly dancing in the rain – Power dressing in Alexander McQueen – All surprised, of course, and ultimately saddened by the charges pressed – Oliver Sacks, born on this day in 1933, and the art of choosing empathy over vengeance – UN refugee agency: Search. Rescue. Disembarkation – My killer was never found – Are you taking submissions now? ” 8

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Circle

Hridi

It is the third day of the year and my circles call out again. Beyond the forest, The lights in the horizon Northern colours in my bloody south sun pretence of perfection and red haloes. I know all about your secret miseries and confectionaries; You cannot deceive me. My circles are back and it is only the third day. What do I do? My circles are back, Round circles, oval circles, Galaxies, ponds, or bottle caps Rounder than ever, Worn out edges Of a defaced polygon; I want stars all over again. The garland needs be circular because circles burn Ever heard of rings of fire? I once saw a man who jumped through one Lame circus. I challenged him to stay in. He was drunk out of his wits, flirting with the girl on the needle So he took my money and walked straight in While I watched on, bored really. It wasn't as much fun as I'd thought; Burning would have been fun had it not been so outdated. Let's do something new once, Like stun 9

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Beyond wits Half-sucking lactating geese and buck teeth grinning nitwit. Stun a bear, or an elephant. A kangaroo mouse. Mad shot. I'm mad too, too mad for apology; Take me for a ring, Pay for the gold, and I'll teach, once again, how to draw perfect circles. Declare the artist, and it was only plane geometry, A string and a pencil Halve the world: Molten lava inside of a circular sphere. It's idiotic how geometry repeats Again and again, To perfection. Circles. Circles. Red, green, blue, pink circles, Again Circles again, again, again and yet again. Falcons Circle. Helicopters and honeybees Circle. And one last circle, Cut in half and sold for nuts.

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Ladies Compartment

Poornima Laxmeshwar

It is a space within a space Of pro-vitamin shampoo odours, of fairness cream market Shares, of Lakme 9 to 5s, of fashion disasters, Of classes – now face-to-face, crammed and breathing On each other’s neck. You can see an eye bordered with thick, black kohl Staring into nothing in particular, unable to settle, Restless as if a glance can become a language, Telling stories of inner horrors consumed by mediocrity. You can see an ear strutting two swans with ruby vision, Emerald wings frozen to the meter of Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do, shifting to Ik Vaari Aa; You can see a pair of hands with coloured nails Neon, red, blue, mixed-up the way life’s priorities are, Mixed-up like the multi-tasked days or a friend’s own Cocktail recipe, some galloping universes with George Orwell Some trotting intellect with Chetan Bhagat Some blindly following with Sudha Murthy. You can see feet clad in ballerinas, open toes with rings, Oxford shoes, some bought in cheap online deals, Some bought by the footpath, anklets thick as chains Clinging, creating a rhythm that is nothing but noise, As harmless as a starved identity. You can see screens showing Korean faces, English subtitles, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Dance India Dance videos, Gaana apps, WhatsApp pings: A world drowning alone in loneliness. You can see sleep, exhaustion, fight, resentment, Compassion, smiles, hanging to bodies Struggling to exist While a little voice, excited on the first ride, sings Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You 11

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Keypad Loves

Roshni

The unremarkable ellipsis standing alone on the screen Elevated suddenly from being a subject of disdain in prose, Became desire or awkwardness, a world in itself; My version of quickly gazing into your eyes and looking away. A pause maybe, and at times a breath held. Stories emerging line, by line, by line; The app announces “typing…” and co-opts the ellipsis. I wait and wonder what it is that you keyed in and then erased. Soon, the stories vanish. Intimacy appears: Our attempts at being footnotes in the other’s biography. Soon, shorthand kicks in. :* is meant to be a kiss, but feels like a quick reassuring pat on a pup’s head. Soon, I want this last full stop to be piercing and final. But the phone is treacherous, it knows that the heart is fickle, Refuses to accept the finality of an ending; The material and analogue I could burn, toss, destroy Leaving behind only memories of a gaze both searing and gentle, The caress of a voice, husky with desire and cautious with uncertainty. But image back-ups? “Last-year-this day” reminders? Silly poetry immortalised through WhatsApp and anonymous blogs? Memories as screenshots? Forgetting the fleeting was never such an exercise in diligence.

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Call it What You Like

Shreya Srivastava

Khala plunged her bad foot into the water she had boiled for fifteen minutes on the new electric stove Jameel had procured from the black market. She hissed through her teeth, arched her back from the stabbing burn it gave her, and withdrew sharply, splashing water all over the bed. “Haramkhor.” She cursed in the air. It meant nothing. It was nothing. A long minute passed in waiting. She plunged her foot into the water again. This was better. The pain was a ticklish sensation unknotting the sinews of her foot. She dipped a mug into the water and poured it over her knees. Warm and wet. “Nusrat.” She called her niece in her quaint croaky voice that lingered on long after what had to be said was spoken. Nusrat emerged from the kitchen holding a blackened aluminium vessel in her small, plump palms. “Ji Khala?” the girl asked, her rosy-red lips pursed in breathlessness. “Take some rest.” Khala said in the accented British English she had learned at the Convent of St. Joseph’s, a place of much privilege that she had attended as the only daughter of the Nawab of Darr. “Aapne toh bola chai bana do?” Nusrat questioned irately as the tiny hair above her upper lip quivered. “Nahi peeni oh, jaake soja!” The Punjabi seeped in and broke the edges of her voice, the quaint croak loudened to a rip. Nusrat, whose life was buried longitudinally in the various strata youth has to offer, was always happy to find free time which she spent in settling a lock of hair behind her ear, tightening her bra around the voluminous breasts she had been endowed with, and rubbing, if not shaking with force, the tender red skin between her thighs. 13

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With a clang, she dropped the stove and ran to her room. She found her phone beneath her school books. “You are beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, attractive female. Aap apni photos bhejo.” Bunty Singh on Facebook had sent a message. For Nusrat, whose confidence had been jostled and stamped upon by ridiculing family members, teasing friends and condescending advertisements, it was a matter of an outsider whose words of appreciation had supplanted all the misery with desire, even if lecherous. Nusrat pulled the neck of her suit to a level that exposed the firm tops of her voluptuous white breasts. She hugged her belly in and pulled the phone to a safe distance. Her face struck, her eyes hungry and her heart pumping, she clicked several pictures of herself. This was not enough. This would not be enough. She got up, dizzy for the speed which had pulled her off her feet, ran to the door, clasped it shut in a jiffy and laughed. She would do it. Today. She undid her pyjamas, her suit, her flowery bra and her panties. The stark darkness of the room astonished her, her yellowing nakedness screamed rampantly and the pink of her flesh collapsed. “Nusrat,” The quaint creaky voice that followed long after what had to be said was spoken. “All day on the phone. Are you online or should I switch off the modem?” Nusrat stared at the floor where her clothes lay indecently. “I am offline Khala, switch it off if you want.” Outside, Khala alias Bunty Singh took her niece through another day of innocence.

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identity x null ft. worthless

Abhiram Kuchibhotla

I wake up. Alexa greets me by name. My alarm tells me that I have 240 calories to burn today, tells me my girlfriend called 15 minutes ago. I make a mental note to change it to ex-girlfriend in the profile section of my alarm’s application on my smart-phone. My smartphone unlocks after scanning every inch of my face. YouTube says that it knows what kind of videos I like, tells me I should check out more videos. How convenient. The packaging on my cereal asks me to download an app to receive a cash-back prize. I give the app my address, name, photo, and Aadhaar number. Modi tells me to link my Aadhaar to my bank account. My bank account needs my debit card number. Alexa locks my door, switches off the appliances, watches the house, plots the murder of my apartment’s watchman because she can do his job better. She waits for Amazon to take over the world. She worries about how the Apple Homepod in my neighbour’s apartment keeps sending her death threats. My debit card number also needs my pin number which the browser on my computer also needs, along with my 2 factor authentication, so that I can send it to yet another payment portal over an unsecured 128bit connection. That Nigerian scammer needs my CVV because he already has everything else he needs. My Smartpen records my handwriting and tells me that it has sent the documents to my boss. Also, I just received another OTP which I never wanted in the first place, but it’s alright, because the server has crashed anyway. All it has is my IP address and my computer’s remote access capabilities. My personal WiFi breaks down so I switch to the WiFi unit in my office’s air-conditioner. How impressive. My bank account tells me to update my passport number. My passport says it needs my fingerprints. My office says my fingerprints are not accurate enough, so they need my iris scans. My shoes are uploading my heartbeat and walking pattern to my Smartwatch, which also analyses my speech pattern, so that I can talk to the AI installed on it. My car knows my favourite music and can drive without me on 15

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fairly straight roads. I give all my phones’ information to Google Drive. Everything I have said on messaging services has been backed up to a central vault. Pornhub needs my email account and my credit card details to initiate a one-dollar transaction every month and a discount system that works through a set of achievements that are based on a regular monitoring program that recognizes my IP address from the time it was leaked by the government’s website that was made in the 1990s. Achievement unlocked. Pop-up windows take me to e-commerce websites that already know my name and show me links to some clothes I might like. Instagram shows me some accounts I might like. Tinder tells me about my low self-esteem. Facebook tells me it might be stealing my identity soon because it knows what I like, how I behave, what I say, what my habits are, and who my friends are. People say that they’re funny because they have all the qualities of the influencers they watch on Netflix, Twitch and Vine. My PayTM account wants my government ID. My results from the hospital need my financial details, my next of kin’s details and my DNA. My school’s application needs my previous school’s details to give them to my college. My bicycle and motorcycle connect to my phone to put it on silent mode. The local medical shop needs my phone number. The greengrocer needs my phone number. No, I do not want your rewards plan. The service provider needs a backup number in case my number gets lost. My email needs a rescue email and two questions about my private life to see whether the information on the internet about me is safe or not. Apple and Microsoft need diagnostics to see if I’m just another diagnostic. My phone has another virus but this time it’s just a key-logger. The Cloud knows what I look like. The Cloud knows my birth date. The Cloud knows my passport number. My mixer is smart. So is my coffee maker, toaster, fridge, and stove. Spam. More spam. Unsubscribe. Even more spam. My camera tells me I look better than the last time I took a photo. It tells me where I am. It tells me where I should be. It tells me where my crush is. It offers me a free car based on a lucky draw on registering for a newsletter from the smart-phone manufacturer. Calls. I answer each one of them, like the desensitized fool I am. Sorry to bother you. No, I’m happy to be bothered. No, I don’t need coaching. No, I don’t need a visa. No, I don’t need Viagra. 16

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How do you know how I’ve been doing in bed? Are you a subsidiary of Fitbit? No, I don’t want any discounts. Someone who cares for me? Wrong number, sorry. I try to change my password. Wrong password. Verify using OTP. OTP not received. Verify using email. Verify email first. Verify mobile number to prove identity. Mobile number not registered. Customer service hangs up on me. Hello Sir, would you like to change to our service? We already have your details because your current company sold them to us. I come home. My treadmill scolds me for not exercising in the morning. My shower light changes colours as I eat something prepared using a smart-phone app for health and fitness as a robot cleans my floor. Siri talks back to me in my own voice as I speak back to her. I lay on my bed as my Google Homepod plays soothing music while it hypnotizes me into sleeping. Sigh. Incognito mode has my dignity and my anonymity does not have its virginity. I sleep. But I’d say I’m totally off the grid, yeah. The internet isn’t taking over anytime soon.

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Mind Game

Muhammed Salih

AVATAR ONLINE. NAME: FATHIMA AHMED "Born into a diverse world, your avatar must overcome the impediments put forth by the Real™ Simulator to successfully complete the game." She marvelled at the text. She had been waiting for this game since forever. “The Ultimate VR experience”, that is how the product was to be marketed. But her father had kept it under wraps for so long and the hype around it was killing both of them. So when Luce showed her how to bypass security, they went along with it without even thinking twice. They were pretty good gamers and well, they were only human. Humans are curious creatures. SKIP TUTORIAL “Fathima!” “Wear your Niqab everywhere.” But, I don't want to. “Fathima!” “Don't raise your voice.” But, why not? “Fathima!” “Your place is at home.” But, there's so much to see. “Fathima!” “You will bring dishonour to our family.” 18

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But, I didn't even do anything. “Fathima!” “You're getting married.” But, I'm only 17. “Fathima!” “This is what Allah would want. This is what we want for you.” But, what about my wants? “Fathima!” “Obey your husband.” But, I am my own person. “Fathima!” “I need this relief.” But, please. Not today. Please. “Fathima!” “Talaq. Talaq. Talaq.” But... “Fathima!” “Why didn't you obey him?” But... “Fathima!” “You're pregnant.” But... “Fathima!” “What have you done? Why?” I'm sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. AVATAR OFFLINE. 19

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She screamed at the top of her lungs. Luce was nowhere to be found. But their father now stood over the both of them. "Didn't I tell you both not to come here?" He asked, towering above them. "I thought you said this was a game." She said to her father, shivering. "It is." he said. “What kind of game is this? It doesn't even let you choose your own Avatar or as a matter of fact, anything.” She asked him, disappointed with the design of the game. "Therein lies the beauty of it all. You need to make do with whatever the game gives you. The most elaborate mind game ever created. My Magnum opus. I think I'll name it, 'Life'. And now, I’m afraid you both have to be in it, forever.” Adam, Eve. The characters in this game, however real you may find them are fictional characters created by the Real™ Simulator whose only purpose is to throw hardballs at you. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The game assigns religion, gender, caste, name and everything at random to make it more challenging. So, the religious undertones you come across here are only because of entropy. The purpose of this piece is not to demean or discriminate against any religion but only to make you think.

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Dr. Easterine Kire in Conversation with Diptoroop Banerjee Dr. Easterine Kire is an author, scholar and jazz musician, and the first writer from Nagaland to have been published in English. She is also the recipient of the Hindi Lit Prize (2015), the Free Voice Award by Catalan PEN Barcelona (2013), and the Governor's Medal for Excellence in Naga Literature (2011). She visited Manipal in January 2018, as Writer-inResidence under TMA Pai Chair in Indian Literature, to deliver a series of lectures on her work, and to interact with the students at Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Diptoroop Banerjee (DB) is a second year BA student at the Manipal Center for Humanities. He had the opportunity to correspond with Dr. Kire (EK) and to discuss her influences, background and journey as an artist. DB: You are the first writer from Nagaland to publish both a book of poetry and a novel in English. What inspired you to start writing? EK: I have always loved reading, even as a child. The progression from reader to writer happened naturally for me. Life in Nagaland in my childhood was inspiring: we come from a storytelling culture, so my grandparents bequeathed to me a treasure of stories of the land. At university, I was introduced to the works of the African writers like Chinua Achebe, Amos Tutuola and Ngugi wa Thiong'o and these made a lasting impression on me. I was very inspired by them to attempt writing novels on Naga life. DB: Your work talks about the oral narratives and the folklore of the Naga region. How important is folklore, in your opinion, in providing an understanding of the culture of a region? Do you have any particular Naga folktales that you favour? 25

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EK: I really don’t want to be slotted as a folklorist or someone whose writing is based only on folklore. I have used folktales twice as the core of two of my novels, but readers should not always expect that from me. Having said that, I can state that the knowledge of folklore is good as folk narratives contain so much cultural information. Young children should grow up with that knowledge as it gives them a sense of their identity; it also gives them an understanding of their cultural practices. I can’t say that I favour any particular folktales. All folktales seem to have some valuable lesson to teach. DB: What has the response been from the Naga youth towards the literature of the region? Do you have any particular writers, poets or artists from Nagaland that you look forward to seeing more of ? EK: Many young Nagas are becoming avid readers. The transition our society has made from orality to writing was not so long ago, so the youth’s interest in reading is very encouraging. They like to read books by Naga authors as they can relate to such books which are located in Naga settings. I hope to read more from young Nagas who have been publishing a few volumes of both short stories and poems. I would like to read more from Tonaili who was published by Manipal University Press. DB: Which medium do you prefer to express yourself in, poetry or prose? Could you tell us a little bit about Jazz and Beat poetry, both as influences on your work and as mediums of expression? EK: Depending on the mood I am in, I write poetry or prose. I have no preference for a particular medium as it all depends on the appropriate use of the medium. If a subject is better suited to poetry, I write accordingly. If a subject is better expressed in prose, I write in prose. 26

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Our brand of Jazz poetry incidentally has been described as a project that "transcends the conventions of jazz and poetry‌an experience that at the same time is fresh, fragile, light-hearted and soulful." This is what jazz poetry means to us and I love performing it because it always engenders very good vibes. DB: In your novel "Bitter Wormwood," you write about the big words aired on the radio the meaning of which the character, young Mose did not know. One of those words was "nationalism." What does the idea of "nationalism" mean to you? EK: As a young person, I used to feel very strongly about my nationality, as I belong to a generation that has seen the sorrows of occupation by both India and Burma. But the lesson that life has taught me is that my awareness of my identity as a Naga, as an individual, and more importantly, as a member of a global society is very important and should not be allowed to be damaged by political or intellectual arguments. I see myself as a person with a responsibility to contribute positive thought into my society, and into the wider and more global arenas that I have access to. It is a responsibility all of us, as members of human society share, and we all need to make sure we are giving good things back to society, and not just taking all the time. Today the meaning of nationalism has been perverted and misused to such an extent that I really do not want to be associated with it. It meant something worthy in a former period; one can only hope that the real meaning will eventually be restored to it again.

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Digital Art

Prasanna Chafekar

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Liminal

Neesha K. Thunga

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Take Two

Neesha K. Thunga

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Terracotta Box

Kandula Pradeep Kumar

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Triptych

Dr. Vaishali Sharma

What Began as a Simple Conversation‌ Ended as a Dream

This piece was originally constructed as a continuous triptych. However, for viewing clarity, each composite part of the triptych has also been separately published on the subsequent pages.

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Triptych I

Dr. Vaishali Sharma

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Triptych II

Dr. Vaishali Sharma

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Triptych III

Dr. Vaishali Sharma

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Connected

Priyal Sethi

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Evolution

Abhiram Kuchibhotla

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Serendipity

Manasvini S.N.

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Sans Tech

Manasvini S.N.

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Holding a Balance

Shazia Salam

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Holding a Balance

Shazia Salam

Questioning the value of easy tech, Holding a Balance explores our culture of insatiable scrolling and decontextualized ideas. Although one can argue for the importance of free access of information and opportunity – what are we losing out on between the pixels? Borrowing from the renowned imagery of Woman holding a balance by Johannes Vermeer, the photograph reiterates the balance we must hold onto when venturing into a “limitless” environment. Vermeer’s painting may now be available to more people than those fortunate enough to visit the National Gallery but Holding a Balance leaves viewers with a disfigured and decontextualized interpretation of what they might actually be getting.

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Log into Denial

Mayurakshi Acharyya

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Contributors Abhiram Kuchibhotla (Refer to The Teatotallers' section) Darshita Jain Darshita Jain calls herself Quixotic. Recently migrated to the US, she finds herself floating in sort of a void, battling with displacement and trying to figure out if there is a place where she belongs. She feels like her poems give unapologetic words to feelings people often seek validation for. Growing up an introvert, she often could never ask a friend or family if what she felt was genuine and often guilted herself for asking the difficult questions. Art just became a way to bring those feelings to fruition and poetry the medium. From talking about her PTSD to complicated relationship with her family to loving someone unconditionally yet not knowing what’s wrong with it all; she is trying to build a place for herself on paper. Hridi Hridi is a poet and a painter. She is a nature lover who is trying to seek the world anew, dew-fresh from a unique perspective, getting beyond the traditions of corsets and blinkers. Her poems have been published once before in the online magazine The Bitchin’ Kitsch. Kandula Pradeep Kumar Kandula Pradeep Kumar completed his Master’s in Fine Arts in Sculpture from Jamia MilliaIslamia in New Delhi. He works freelance in Garhi regional centre from Lalithkal Akademi in New Delhi. He primarily works with ceramics, terracotta, stone, wood, and waste material from his surroundings. He is attracted to observing waste materials and thinking about how he would use them in his work. He is captivated by the paper form, by the way that a gesture can speak to us. While his sculpted forms convey authentic paper crush feelings, they serve as archetypes that transcend the context of their naturality. Through contemplation of his imagination and contemporary 44

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presentation, he creates sculptures that explore spiritual truth through simplicity and beauty. He wrestles with paradoxical themes of suffering and redemption. Manasvini S.N. Having Art as one of her subjects in school, Manasvini got to use her love for painting and sketching on a daily basis. Avid-reader and painter, she loves to people-watch and sublime the ordinary creating abstractions of reality through her art, with a pan of watercolours and a sketchbook. Now that she has finished school, she is taking a year off to work a couple of internships, do some volunteer work, gain some experience and strengthen her portfolio. Currently, she is working as a visual designer with ArtsPositive, a registered non-profit organization with international outreach. She is a Collector (of notebooks, art supplies, and literature), an ocean lover, and a music junkie who is always willing to exchange her extremely confused and varied recommendations in music for yours. Mayurakshi Acharyya Mayurakshi is a student of sociology, but not much of a talker. She loves art, books, animals and thinking about death. Pretty generic. Oh, and reading about the psyche of psychopaths and their M.O. Muhammed Saleh Salih has always felt more comfortable writing than talking out loud. It could be because he’s an introvert of the highest degree. Or at least that’s what he thinks he is. People rant to each other. Salih rants on paper and Microsoft Word mostly. He thinks ranting is fun when there’s no feedback. You might think he's a misanthrope, but he's not. Apart from that, Salih is a second year student pursuing an arts degree in Media and Communication at School of Communication, Manipal. He hails from Kannur, Kerala. 45

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Neesha K. Thunga (Refer to The Teatotallers' section) Poornima Laxmeshwar Poornima Laxmeshwar resides in the garden city Bangalore and works as a copy writer for a living. Prasanna Chafekar For Prasanna, art is the pursuit of existentialism. His day job is that of an architect, but evenings are dedicated to making illustrations. He hopes to squeeze out the twistedness in our everyday lives through meditations with Illustrations. Priyal Sethi Priyal Sethi is a 19 year old Visual Artist. For her, Visual art is a medium of soul-searching; it is therapy, a window to the soul. It reminds her that in the end we are all human: flawed and beautifully so. In her opinion, our understanding of each other is directly proportional to our understanding of the self. In her art-making process, she delves into her subconscious mind to answer questions like: what makes us feel uneasy or peaceful or excited and how much? And what are these threads of thoughts which make us feel this way? Memories shape perceptions and cause our minds to associate particular emotions with particular images. We see only a part of the bigger picture at a time. We are all unique and constantly changing. This compels her to use ambiguously evocative elements, as she hopes that this quality lends her work a new life each time a pair of eyes rests on it. Roshni Roshni works in the space of development communications, when she isn't nose deep in children's books or day dreaming about an evening in Delhi when strolls don't poison her lungs. She is surprised to have found a few poems inside her. The last time she found them was over two decades ago. She promptly dictated them to her convent school class mates who diligently copied them out onto valentine day cards. She was paid in samosas. 46

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Saniya Rohida Saniya is a 23 year old editor. She enjoys writing poetry for herself, reading postmodern literature and occasionally consuming too much caffeine. She has battled a conflict between saving the world and saving herself, but on most days she tries to make at least one person smile. Shazia Salam Shazia Salam’s curiosity for materials and designed objects comes from her background in Architecture. With a keen interest in contradictions – she shifts the functions of familiar architectural or ready-made objects to make power structures that are camouflaged within society, visible. By using a range of media, including sculpture, installation and works on paper, her practice aims at making objects that the viewer is invited to interact with. Shreya Srivastava Shreya Srivastava is a quirky medical student who likes to swim, dribble the basketball and play the role of an occasional writer. She loves to read and when she is not suturing people from stolen surgeries in Wenlock she is found laughing her intestines out in shady restaurants. Dr. Vaishali Sharma Dr. Vaishali has been putting her emotions and experiences in drawings much like a visual diary. The art work is largely drawn from her relationships, experiences, emotions and ideologies to make explorations into the human psyche. The mediums of her choice are pencil colours, water colours and various other materials. She has also written comprehensive and insightful analyses of the art of prominent Indian and International Artists, published in their individual exhibition catalogues. Many critiques, exhibition reviews and artist profiles created by her have been published in the eminent Art Magazines of India like: Art India, Artconcerns.com, Art & Deal, Indian Contemporary Art Journal. She is also an Anthropologist and Visual Designer.

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The Teatotallers Editors-in-Chief Tanushree Baijal Tanushree is currently pursuing her M.A. in English Literature at Manipal Center for Humanities. So far, her work has appeared in The Bombay Review and Warehouse Zine. She participated in India’s first National Youth Poetry Slam held at Bangalore. She also received a chance to open for spoken word poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye during their performance in Pune alongside other spoken word poets from the city. She lives for poetry, books, tea, Studio Ghibli movies, Frank Ocean’s music and sunsets. Tanvi Deshmukh Tanvi Mona Deshmukh is a part-time writer and full-time cat. She is an intersectional feminist, likes her tea without sugar, and never says no to sunsets by the beach. In an ideal world, she would like to write poetry every day and get paid for it too. She has worked with the Pune Mirror for two years during her undergrad, and has been published in online journals and collectives such as Persephone's Daughters and Berlin ArtParasites.

Fiction & Poetry Editor Amulya Raghavan Amulya is a lover of the universe, books, music and tea. (and occasionaly fancy jewellery) Anushka Chatterjee Anushka is not a muggle, for real. She is a dreamer, over thinker, and tea-drinker. 48

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Diptoroop Banerjee Diptoroop believes he is approachable, and inquisitive. He is adventurous and often finds him singing along to the Beatles, "I don't know, I don't know." Francesca Fowler Francesca says eccentricity is an understatement when it comes to her - one man's sanity is another's insanity. She is passionate, hopeful, and curious. Gauri Sawant For Gauri Sawant, life in general is a gruelling ordeal. And so was travelling from Mumbai to Manipal where she is currently pursuing her Master's in Arts. She is a perpetually bemused cat fanatic who chases after random animals and is needlessly enthusiastic about walking. She is more loyal to the combination of [good] food-sleep-music than she ought to be. In addition, she believes words are absolutely wondrous. Kartik Mathur Kartik Mathur is like fine wine or champagne because he is an acquired taste. That is why not everyone likes him, but those who do, cannot get enough of him. Like his favourite liquour he calls himself crazy, eccentric, and wild. Krutika Patel Krutika tries. She describes herself as skeptical, cynical, and tired. Serene George Serene likes working with words. She likes exploring the different voices within them. Books make her happy.

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Shweta Anand Shweta Anand hails from the city of Thrissur in Kerala and is currently pursuing her M.A in English at Manipal Centre for Humanities. She completed her B.A in English Literature from Wilson College, Mumbai and has written for the college magazine, 'The Wilsonian’. She has also interned as a content writer for a few companies in the last three years. Apart from enjoying writing and reading, she is also an avid fan of the T.V show F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and loves to occasionally daydream over a cup of coffee.

Non-Fiction Team Abhiram Kuchibhotla Abhiram Kuchibhotla is a realist who hopes to accomplish something worthwhile before the Earth melts in 2030. descensus averno facilis est. Ajantha Rao Ajantha is a sarcastic Potterhead, who is perpetually sleepy. Anamika Das Anamika is always confused, and she loves to make sense of the confusions by reading, writing, travelling and talking to people. Arush Kalra Arush would rather not write about himself because he believes that a book cannot be described by its cover. Under pressure though, he would call himself charismatic, patient, and insightful. Bidisha Mitra Bidisha is someone who hopes to be an influence and make a difference. She is passionate, attentive, and agreeable. Komal Arcot Komal is recklessly optimistic and is determined to live the best years of her life exploring the world's natural wonders and acquainting herself with its most curious inhabitants. She often gets distracted by birds and 50

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daydreams about sunshine. Srikar Raghavan Like the shape-shifting octopus, Srikar tries to casually blend into whatever situation he finds himself in. Srikar is lazy, spontaneous, and weird.

Visual Art Team Akanksha Majumdar One would usually find Akanksha in areas stacked with paints, and brushes. Meghali Banerjee Meghali underestimates herself on a regular basis. She listens to Korean pop, and crushes on her pet plant KOCHU. Meghali is the most nonBengali Bengali one will ever come across. Her biggest failure till date has been to write three serious lines about herself and her so-called sunny disposition is dimming with age and assignments. Among all this, she also tries to study Sociology. Meghali talks too loudly and curses too much for her size and likes to believe she is funny as fu-oops! Míša Krutská Míša is a smiling and caring lover of art, with an addiction to theatre and a flair for photography. Apart from many art activities, she has joined several volunteering projects and is enthusiastically interested in everything connected with the Operation Anthropoid. She is currently pursuing her MA in Sociology at Manipal Centre for Humanities. Neesha K. Thunga Nessha is a texting-calling-emailing-avoiding-actual-contact kind of girl, but also nice. She is sleepy, but punctual. Pavithra S. Kumar People ask Pavithra how she manages her hair, and she laughs in response because she doesn't. She is a dancer, procrastinator, and 51

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a dog owner.

Design Team Sneharshi Dasgupta Sneharshi Dasgupta was born and raised in the beautiful city of Kolkata. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Humanities at Manipal Centre for Humanities (MCH). His research interest includes caste/class, issues of marginalisation, and postcolonial theories. Sneharshi spent his summer working as an Intern at The Partition Museum, Amrtisar recording and documenting oral narratives by individuals who migrated or experienced the 1947 and 1971 partition. Apart from academics; he is equally interested in graphic design, photography, filmmaking, and theatre. Vaishnavi Vaishnavi has no surname. She is fascinated with all things pretty, inside and out, loves hiding in nooks and learning stories of the world. She is arty, enthusiastic, and has fantastic hair.

PR Team Brinda Mukherjee Brinda is a second year undergraduate student who is interested in reading fiction novels. She appreciates art and creative work as well as socializing with people. Elishia Vaz Elishia Vaz is a homebody through and through. She’ll face the world if offered fish, South Indian food or a good trek. Laya Kumar Laya is a second year undergrad student in Manipal. She is trying to find her own voice by exploring different forms of expression. 52

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Pawan Kumar Pawan is generalized to the level of compulsion. He describes himself as a Eudemonic Gina Linetti. Sania Lekshmi Sania is currently pursuing her undergraduate in Humanities at MCH. A staunch admirer of Elizabethan poetry and theatre, she is interested in exploring the crossroads between philosophy and literature. She has been recently introduced to regional theatre and is working on it at present. Shinjini Majumdar Shinjini is the ideal interstellar travel companion. She is a mellow and hungry opsimath.

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