Gargi Shivanand is an aspiring researcher and poet based in Hyderabad, India. When not pursuing research, she spends her time divining the stories behind people’s smiles by trying to put herself in their shoes because she regularly loses/breaks her own. She also enjoys gabbing with her father and discovering how logical fallacies often make the most humorous and witty sitcoms. You can follow Gargi on Twitter and Instagram. Their piece, ‘The Transition on the Banks of the Musi’, is in Epoch Issue 4, Transitions.
‘Transitions’ is such an evocative theme, what compelled you to submit for this issue?
Transitions is an extremely evocative theme because I associate it not just with change. For me, transitions have connotations of positivity, a sense of overcoming, and the relief of seeing a new dawn. To transition means to have gone through the stages of grief and to accept like a fruit or flower accepts the diktat of seasons.
There is a loss and a hope that my piece also reflects upon. What stays when everything changes? When a city changes under the guise of development, gentrification, or neglect, sometimes the change is most strongly felt by the child who grew up only to grow apart. This sense of disillusionment and the joy of finding the remnants of some memories and a sense of kinship with the city’s residents all underlie my piece. There is no better way to think of transition, than as a banyan tree which is a relic of some past century but breathes to this day as part of some neighborhood and somebody’s story.
Do you have a routine for writing? If so, what is it and how has it evolved?
I do not have a set routine for writing but I prefer to write in the mornings and under the shade of a tree. The twittering of birds makes for a great background score for ideas that I seek to flesh out. I have seen how I have evolved steadily from spurts of writing to getting some semblance of regularity. I hope the more I write, the better I will get at harnessing the power of the creative energy-time dynamic.
Do you find that CNF comes easy to you as a writer and/or what is challenging about it? For poets: What is most challenging and most rewarding about using real-life in your poetry?
The genre of creative non-fiction is perhaps the easiest and the most challenging. While writing fiction, one deals with a world nobody has seen; in CNF, one writes of the world one knows or has researched, that everybody or somebody has seen, and yet as a writer, has taken up the onus of having people see the same world- differently. Philosopher Suzanne Langer said that, “Most new discoveries are suddenly-seen things that were always there,” this for me sums up the mandate that any writer of creative non-fiction has been given. There is a certain apathy that is engendered by the pace of the world today, writing that causes one to pause even for a moment in this journeying at break-neck speed, I think is effectual. There is beauty and meaninglessness in everything if one chooses to pause and reflect, for just a moment. I have found that relating personal experience, be it in the form of memories or emotions evoked to any idea is enough to conjure up a vividity and vivacity that persists. Keats said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, creative non-fiction in my humble opinion, is a tool which in the hands of a master can gift one with new vision.
What is song is on repeat for you right now?
I am currently enthralled by the song, Jhini by the Berklee Indian Ensemble ft. Indian Ocean.