My New Kids' Book--Rinku & the Silver Wings!

Hello on a frigid Midwestern day! It always amazes me though, that no matter how cold it is (it was 2 degrees F earlier) that radiation from the sun—93,000,000 miles away!— still melts icicles…I’ve always loved the winter landscape. I feel that through their lithe, sinuous limbs, the bare trees are striving to tell us something…if only we made time to be still and listen…Naturally, trees figure prominently in Rinku, which is set in the world of birds. They decide— since humans aren’t doing anything about cleaning up the earth— they will take up the challenge and take back their planet! Please have a look; click on Rinku.

I am ALSO delighted to share a link to an Emmy-nominated documentary short produced by HEC-TV in St. Louis on our classical Indian dance company, Dances of India. Dances of India, now in its 42nd season, is one of the oldest classical Indian dance companies in the US. My mom, Asha Prem, is the Artistic Director, and she and my late father, Dr. B.N. Premachandra, began the company in 1976. For the past several years I have been writing and narrating originally-scripted productions which I and Theckla Mehta—my mom’s best friend and former student—put to music. In this documentary, we were preparing for our 38th annual performance in 2011, for which we created the production The Magic Grove, based on one of my favorite Indian folktales.:

https://youtu.be/crMRzpc0xmo

And here’s my YouTube channel. In addition to clips of me reading from my work, you can also see clips from other Dances of India productions, which I wrote and narrated.

Nartana Premachandra You Tube Channel

Our 2018 production was entitled The Tale of Urmila, the Sleeping Princess. It gave voice to one of the least-known characters in the Hindu epic The Ramayana, who sacrifices 14 years of her life for her husband, sister Sita, and Sita’s husband Prince Rama.

Lastly, I’m delighted to mention that a couple of my essays will be published in the St. Louis Anthology, a collection of essays on the Lou to be put out by Belt Press in June 2019.

Please click on St. Louis Anthology to have a look!

At the ticket desk at our 42nd Annual Performance Sunday Matinee, November 2019. My dad manned this desk for 37 years!

At the ticket desk at our 42nd Annual Performance Sunday Matinee, November 2019. My dad manned this desk for 37 years!


New Writing! Well, Actually Kind of Old That's Once Again New...Rinku & the Silver Wings.

Hello there, and happy last month of 2018! Well I haven’t written in quite a while. On my blog that is. But I’ve been writing—a children’s book—which could also pass for a fable for adults— entitled Rinku & the Silver Wings. (There is so much dark writing out there, adults need to be reminded of the fragile-yet-robust wonder of our very incredible natural world—and, our deep interconnectedness with it.) I started it in 2011…got completely stuck, gave up on it, and then it surprised me by flying into my mind this spring…

…much as the swans fly onto the Vltava River in Prague…here is a photo from that most enchanting and dreamlike of cities from summer 2018….

IMG_4609.JPG

Prague

Just down the street from the State Opera House…

New! Published Piece in Panorama, The Journal of Intelligent Travel, and Invitation to Speak at the Missouri History Museum.

I'm delighted to announce that an essay of mine about my dad, his Cadillac, and growing up Indian in St. Louis has been published in a really beautiful, new U.K. based journal entitled Panorama, the Journal of Intelligent Travel.  It's entitled Dr. Premachandra's St. Louis Pilgrimage. Here's the link:

http://www.panoramajournal.org/seen-dr-premachandras-st-louis-pilgrimage/

The day we had to sell my dad's beautiful 2010 Cadillac DTS....it's the subject (well, one of the subjects) of my piece in Panorama, Dr. Premachandra's Pilgrimage.

The day we had to sell my dad's beautiful 2010 Cadillac DTS....it's the subject (well, one of the subjects) of my piece in Panorama, Dr. Premachandra's Pilgrimage.

I am ALSO delighted to announce that the Missouri History Museum has asked me to speak about Mohandas Gandhi and his influence on Dr. Martin Luther King for Martin Luther King Day in January 2018. Details will be forthcoming soon. Please come and join me!

New! Talk on the Silk Road at the Saint Louis Art Museum & Interview on YogaBuzz

I am giving a talk on August 31 at 11 a.m. and September 1 at 6 p.m. in the Saint Louis Art Museum entitled: An Iridescent Exchange:  Fashion & the Fantastic Along the Silk Road. It's free!  Do come! For more information please visit www.slam.org.  And I was just interviewed on YogaBuzz about our dance company, Dances of India. Here's the link:  http://www.yogabuzz.org/blog/dances-india-st-louis/

On a recent trip to France; this is taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris where I spent hours as a student, studying, reading long letters from family, friends, my pen-pal....and writing long letters back, of course. France was the first country in which I lived on my own; I'm so glad I did it without email and smartphones!   

On a recent trip to France; this is taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris where I spent hours as a student, studying, reading long letters from family, friends, my pen-pal....and writing long letters back, of course. France was the first country in which I lived on my own; I'm so glad I did it without email and smartphones!

 

Dances of India's 40th Season! (Please keep scrolling down for the essays Dear America, Letter to Ireland, etc.)

Well it's our 40th season! My mom and dad started the company in 1976, and put on their first show in 1977. Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined the company would keep going for 40 years.

My parents named the company, Dances of India--a very simple, clear name--because up until the 1990's, if you said you were Indian, people here always, but always, thought you meant "Native American." We'd always hear responses along the lines of, "Indian! I'm a quarter Cherokee myself!" Or, "My grandmother's Cherokee!" Or, my absolute favorite response, which I've retold dozens of times, "Indian? I played bingo once on a reservation in Oklahoma!"

The times have changed, have they not? Well, in some ways. Now I meet people who are surprised I'm not a doctor. Or work in IT.  The more things change...

In addition to dancing I write and narrate our performances. We always give...unexpected spins to our stories.

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, which is certainly a home, but India is as well a home.

The picture on my right is from Bhoganandeswara Temple, an exquisite 8th-century temple near Bangalore.

And in addition to India, France has always been a home.   I lived there for a while, as I began studying French at age 12 and kept going all the way through university.

Versailles. The palace is overrated, but the gardens...haven't the words.

Versailles. The palace is overrated, but the gardens...haven't the words.

 

I

 

 

Dances of India 40th Anniversary Flier.jpg

Letter to Ireland

I just returned from a seven-day tour of Ireland, which was fantastic. I'd lived in England for three years, but never realized how different Ireland is...I found it enchanting. And thus, here follows, my Letter to Ireland:

LETTER TO IRELAND

 

Dear Ireland,

I walked upon your shores for one week, no more, breathing in your green melodies (such a harmonic range of green, each tone a meticulously crafted capture of rain-spun air), stepping upon earth soaked with the same water that sails through the vessels hidden just beneath my skin, believing in the fairies that inhabit small apartments of bark in fairy-tale old oaks, accessible only through tiny brightly-painted doors.

Yet my stay upon your island feels much longer than seven days; time is a long-standing song that fades away in the reality of the present, and will then suddenly reappear to declare, I am here.

And yet I know there is no time. What else have you shown me Ireland, as I wandered through the grounds of a sixth-century monastery, and then embraced an eight-century Celtic cross? What is time—much less space--when I am only seconds away from being swept into harrowingly hungry wind that will never long to know my name, its only true desire to show me my jeweled insignificance?

You have also shown me this: the only language worth learning is spoken in water. The only runes worth studying are those carved of rain. Seventy percent of my being is water, and what else but fog---the steady dance of condensed water-drops---can make the grand Atlantic, disappear?

Much like my father, lost behind the veil separating worlds. But oh, how I felt him in your songs, Ireland, in your determination to drench the world in ephemeral, fluid, music—the rhythmically beating heart, of joy.

And so, Ireland, you have not simply asked me to dream, not simply reminded me to dream, but indeed have demanded me to dream. In the fragile space of seven days I have seen so many astonishingly beautiful births, of the earth: a vibrant horse with a heavenly mane, a swan bearing a silvery name—she was so majestic I know she was the vehicle of Saraswati, the gently wise, wildly intelligent Hindu goddess of creativity. And the earth laughs as well----oh, how she laughs--through miniature horses, irritable ponies, the intense focus of a border collie, on duty.  And then there are the hooting owls, hundreds of cows, so many sheep I must be asleep---but indeed I am not lost in a dream, but rather am completely, daringly, awake.

As you must know, only someone who has mastered suffering can command another to dream—for a master by definition is resilient. And you are resilient, Ireland, after years and years of suffering—winds lash you and storms love you because you simply will not give in, nor give up.

Your rivers flow black during gales, as black as the ink upon old texts, upon tossed-away sheets of creators refusing to stop creating. My only difference with you, Ireland? I hardly take alcohol. My only drink is mixed of the thoughts created, then released, by ink. You should understand—your entire island, is a scriptorium.

 And so,  to the land whose heart is nothing less than a harp, to the island veiled in the most musical—and monastic—of mists, I now bid you farewell, with an emerald kiss…

Until we meet again. 

After writing this I realized I didn't mention any Irish people! I actually didn't meet very many, as I was on a tour. But the ones I met were mostly grand (an Irish expression I love!)--a particularly proud-of-his-city Dublin cabbie named Roderick especially stands out in my mind.

 

 

 

 

Summer Poetry!

Summer's here! And I adore its stillness. Which we all need in this world steeped in incessant action, and inane distraction. Two poems:

 

summer still   

 

 

                                                look

 

here. black butter

 

                        blue     dragon

 

flies.

 

                        look                            

 

                                                here.  wet green

 

                                                                        drips.  swift summer storm.

 

gray still

 

squirrel.

 

look                             where?

 

no                    white cotton

 

tails; heat beats.  hearts beat                           slow

 

ly. 

 

rain strains;  restrained.

 

so dry. yet all life

 

is liquid.

 

**

 

look                 here

 

            here

 

                                                there.

 

 

                        flying

 

fire.

 

 

**

                                    look up.           the       sun

 

 

                        eight                minutes

 

ago.

 

 

nothing speeds as fast

 

 

as stillness.

Light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach the earth

 

Here is another poem, quite recent. I've been reading Roberto Calasso's Ardor, hence the reference to Vedic thought...

Plenitude

My temple tonight

is crafted of chattering

crickets; their guttural night hum the invocatory Vedic verse hearkening the arrival of---

 

I open the sky, ring the bell

of the moon; its vibrations

of light fall upon the driveway as I fall

 

 

in prayer. I kneel upon the driveway,

my sanctum sanctorum—(not a soul is outside in our lane)—

 

the Sanskrit of crickets permeates nocturnal being

with meaning. I light night-incense---

 

a firefly flame erupts. Shining here                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                there.

 

I circle it in front of the dead idol

of my oak.

 

I offer

to this enchanted chapel

my nocturnal truth

my sensuously sacred lunar secret--

 

and I ask:

 

Why isn’t this, enough?

 

 

 

Welcome to the Official Launch of my Website!

 

Hi there! It's the 18th of January 2016 and  I just put up a new updated excerpt of my most recent novel, The Palace of the Seven Stories. It's a whimsical, philosophical, tale, where a 12-year old French-Afghani girl and a 12-year old American boy find themselves in an adventure where they have to bring an end to Kaliyuga, the age of discord and strife in which we find ourselves. Other characters include a French archaeologist, Buddhist historian, quantum physicist, and philosophical terrier named Jacques.  Oh--there are also historical Chinese Buddhist monks (Fa Hsien & Hsuan Tsang, for those of you interested in these incredible men who walked their way from China to India in the 5th & 7th centuries A.D.)  a French concierge and her monstrous cat, a sarcastic contemporary young Chinese-French Buddhist monk, three Hindu goddesses who have incarnated into some drop-dead gorgeous brilliant ladies...  Please click above!  I will add more of my other work soon.

Previous Post:

Hi everyone! Well, I am officially launching my website today, December 20th, 2015--exactly one year since the death of my father. As you will see in the page Poems on Loss & Magic, 2014 was a year of almost incessant loss for me---family friends and relatives passed, and then in swift, unexpected order, my grandmother, my dad, and a beloved professor of mine.

I have been writing for years, and dancing--classical & folk dances of India--since the age of 5. I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and grew up at a time when being "Indian" meant being "Cherokee" as in, "You're Indian, really? I'm a quarter Cherokee!" We heard that for years, up until the software boom of the mid-'90's, when Indians started arriving in St. Louis in greater numbers. Please click on About to learn more about me.

I grew up in a very special sliver of time--when I was just 'me', not Indian, Indian-American, or any of these group identifications we use. I love the following quotes by Albert Einstein on individuality:

“It is important to foster individuality, for only the individual can produce the new ideas.” 
AND

“The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. Life is sacred, that is to say, it is the supreme value, to which all other values are subordinate.”

I love reading about physics---no matter how much I read, there is so much more to read, because no matter how much I understand about the universe (which is so incredibly little!), there is so much more to understand. I am fascinated by science---so much intrigues me, from the microbes in our cells to the incomprehensibly ancient rocks of this earth, to, of course, the chimerical, magical, dancing cataracts of light which color each and every one of our days.

I am also fascinated by art---where do I begin? Music enchants me--from ancient Sanskrit slokas, to Rimsky-Korsikov's Scheherazade and Gershwin's gorgeous Rhapsody in Blue (among many, many, other classical pieces), the intoxicating beats of quawwali, bhangra, classical Carnatic rhythms which are as familiar to me as water. (And, as I have discovered when I lived away from home, as necessary).  Of course there is also homegrown jazz, bossa nova, flamenco....and then there is  painting from around the world, whether Odilon Redon, the pre-Raphaelites (whom I just adore), absolutely dreamy Japanese prints...literature...too many books to mention right here, I will create a separate page for that in a little while...sculpture...Rodin's creations, the phenomenal statue of Nataraja ---Shiva as the dancing deity par excellence--which never fails to elicit within me pure awe at the pristine uncontrollable power of his dance---(and to think, we will never know the names of the anonymous sculptors who rendered this dance into a figure which still staggers us with its dynamic movement thousands of years after its creation--)...poetry...from Rilke to e.e. cummings (whose somewhere i have never traveled is the more gorgeous love-poem in the world, I think) to the exquisite writings of local poet Marjorie Stelmach (from whom I was fortunate enough to learn writing in junior high and high school).

This world is an absolute wonder!!! And that is what I write about.

Please, enjoy, I appreciate any feedback at all.