Call for submissions: “Here and There: The Diaspora Universe”

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UPDATE: The special issue on diaspora living, Here and There: The Diaspora Universe is now up at Cafe Dissensus.

Note: This submission call is on behalf of Cafe Dissensus.

About five years ago, I came to embody the etymology of the word diaspora, which comes from the Greek diaspeirein, meaning to scatter about or disperse. Marriage brought me to Western shores – first in balmy California and later to the Canadian shield in southern Ontario.

I find it interesting that the concept of diaspora has its roots in the earthly act of scattering, because the process of migration is one of dispersal on more levels than merely the physical one.

The drift across different points on a map can’t happen without cross-pollination – of habits and habitats, mindsets and memories. One learns to imagine the koel’s morning call in a robin’s song and see the blaze of gulmohar flowers in crimson fall colours. Diaspora islands germinate amidst fast-paced and crowded world cities even as the islanders strain to tread the tightrope between integrating and preserving.

I will be guest editing a forthcoming issue of Café Dissensus focusing on diaspora living. We will seek to explore through fiction, creative non-fiction, and audio-visual expressions:

1) The reality versus illusion of boundaries with respect to identities.

2) Inter-generational conflicts and contradictions in diaspora universes.

3) The challenges of “settling” in a new territory – societal, cultural, emotional.

4) The rewards of diaspora living – embracing new cultural mores, wider exposure to issues facing other communities, interconnectedness.

5) Translations of fiction and non-fiction work on diaspora.

Along with the written pieces, we are also open to audio-visual content. If you would like to do a short interview (5-15 minutes) with an author, a scholar, a faculty etc., please feel free to send that to us. Please send us an edited copy.

We are also looking to include photographs and artwork that explore this issue’s theme.

Your submissions should not exceed 1500 words. Please email them to infocafedissensus@gmail.com and bhashwati@gmail.com. Also, provide a brief bio at the end of your piece. This issue is planned for online publication on 1 July, 2014. Submissions will be accepted until June 25, 2014.

General guidelines are here.

Cafe Dissensus is an alternative magazine dealing in art, culture, literature, and politics. It’s based in New York City, USA.

On Durga’s Migrant Trails

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Note: This personal essay appears in the December issue of The Four Quarters Magazine, which I had the honour of guest editing. 

A group of children–between six to eight years in age–sat on a dusty rug on the ground with drawing sheets on boards before them. After drawing out scenes depicting one of the three theme choices provided to them, they furiously pushed crayons over the penciled sketches. My brother was one of the contestants of this on-the-spot- painting competition, interestingly called “boshey anko protijogita” in Bengali, literally meaning sit-and-draw contest. He drew a Christmas scene, having chosen the theme, “Your favourite festival.” A couple of hours later, when the results were out, he had real reason to celebrate– he had won the first prize.

There was nothing unusual about this except his choice of festival; the contest was part of a Durga puja celebration. Given that most of the festival entries depicted the ten-armed goddess and her rejoicing devotees and a few portrayed Diwali, which would approach in less than a month, the judges must have been either too brave or too liberal to adjudge a Christmas image as the best entry.

Was this because the venue of the puja and therefore the contest was outside mainland Bengal, in Delhi? I can’t really tell, for I was born and raised in what bonafide Bengalis call probaash–a sentiment-laced word for foreign land.

Photo source: Hinduism.about.com