This is about a Tamil literary meeting I attended, so if you are not tuned into contemporary Tamil literature, skip it and be happy.
The first anniversary of Uyirmai magazine and the inauguration of their website uyirmmai.com was celebrated in the Book Point auditorium opposite to Spencers Plaza on 31st July.
I reached the function a little late and missed the introductory speech of the editor Manushyaputhiran. He is an accomplished poet too, I had mentioned one of his hard hitting lines here. The stage was a literal who's who of Tamil contemporary literature - Indira Parthasarathy, Sujatha, Asokamithran, C. Mahendran, S. Ramakrishnan and Jeyamohan. All of them were called to talk and felicitate the magazine, and they spoke at various levels and about the little magazines scene in Tamilnadu. But one thing common to all of them was nobody spoke much about Uyirmmai :-).
Indira Parthasarathy spoke in brief about the importance of the Little magazines and told how James Joyce's Ulysses was refused by big publishers and was bought out by a little magazine.
Sujatha siad that he was going to talk as a technologist, not a writer. The speech was in his characteristic humorousstyle. One of his points about internet was that it provides immortality to a writer. A writer may die, but his works will be stored in some memory space somewhere in the world. He also compared blogs to the handwritten managzines brought out by budding writers. One quality of his speech was the effort taken to use proper Tamil words for technical terms. Once he said PDF format and immediately corrected himself to "PDF vadivam".
Asokamithran delivered the speech of the day. I have read his books that have a gentle humour running through them, but couldn't believe that the serious looking man had written with such humor. But when he rose to speak, he shattered the image of a serious man. He had the audience in laughter about his experience in running a little magazine. Sample this. "The biggest quality of a little magazine publisher then was to learn how to tie the bundles properly and despatch them at the lowest cost". He also truthfully declared that he had read only a few copies of Uyirmmai magazine and not all the 12, so he would not offer any comments on them.
Then came C. Mahendran of Tamarai magazine and a communist leader (I think). His tone was that of a politician and he felicitated the publisher for trying to broad base the magazine instead of getting tied down to one school of thought / ideology.
S. Ramakrishnan has been known to me through his essays in Ananda vikatan. He spoke of the ills / negatives that plague the little magazine scene in Tamilnadu and bemoaned the lack of indexing of Tamil works and translations.
Last came Jeyamohan, the current superstar in contemporary Tamil literature. He spoke with the confidence of a succesful writer. And he spoke in his natural language without any rhetorics. His focus was that the little magazines have given the writers a lot of freedom to experiment, but were getting bogged down in ego issues. He also felicitated Uyirmmai for catering to a broad readership, and giving space to various schools of thoughts.
After the meeting met a group of bloggers, mainly who write in Tamil.
There was Lazy Geek, who cornered Jeyamohan after the meeting and literally forced the writer to start a blog. And N.S. Ramnath of Economic Times and Coffee House. The Tamil bloggers included Desikan, Suvadu Shankar, Chithran , Rajini Ramki. Had a good discussion with them on tamil blogs, and may be I will start writing one too. All in all a refreshing evening.