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The enigma of the dark

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Avni Doshi Author

New Delhi, Dec 2 : “I like exploring the unconscious drives that my characters undergo, do something that’s truly out of their character. Those are always the interesting things for me – in my characters and the real people I come across,” smiles author Avni Doshi, who was in Delhi recently.

Talk to this author of the recently released ‘Girl in White Cotton’, published by HarperCollins India, that the book took eight drafts in seven years to finally reach its destiny, and she tells IANS, “Now, it’s difficult to even think about that. I have amnesia, while I liked some drafts, many I can barely remember at all. I think they all were a learning process and important to the final product. Now, if I had to set out with the thought of spending that much time on my next book, I don’t think I would be able to as it seems like a lifetime. In retrospect, I can see the kind of mistakes that I made and I have definitely learnt so much and I don’t think the subsequent novels would be so time consuming.”

During the lengthy writing process, it was ‘the voice’ that proved to be her clue that she had hit something right. It was that of the daughter, with something very bare, raw and almost cruel about it. “The moment it came about, I knew instantly that it would carry me to the end of the story and beyond.”

An art historian and curator by training, Dubai-based Doshi, who grew up in the United States is busy turning her drafts into an artwork. She laughs that her husband and she excel at failing. “He at golf, and me at writing. So, I took his golf balls and covered them in my manuscripts, so they kind of looked like garbage. I have placed them in a grid and framed it — a grid-like calendar of our daily failures. It’s hanging there…a constant reminder for us.”

Insisting that her favourite parts of the book have come out of mistakes or experimenting with something that she was not sure of succeeding, Doshi adds, “Frankly, I feel that it is in failure that the most interesting and creative moments lie.”

The kind of attention the book is receiving, with Doshi being invited as a panelist at major literature festivals, is she now comfortable calling herself a novelist?

“Can I? I keep looking around for permission. And at festivals, I have to keep pinching myself when I am sitting with writers who I look up to.”

However, it is being a writer that she identifies most closely with and not an art curator for she has always felt much outside the art world.

“Maybe because I was lacking the passion for the subject and also, I feel I have a desire to make and create. Now I have found what I have always wanted to do. Writing allows me to be deep into the creative process on my own terms, have a real sense of control. There is something about writing that you can be a control freak, because it is you and the page. I like having a sense of control although there is always a gap between what you want to say and what finally comes out on the page. It’s never perfect. Once in a while, you get it perfect and that’s a great pleasure.”

Doshi is quite comfortable with the loneliness that comes with writing. Admitting that she does fall into bouts of depression and sadness, especially when the work is not going well; but the moment things start working well on paper, alienation seldom comes close. “Also, I try to maintain as full a life as I can. I used to live a very hermit life while writing the last draft – locking myself up, distancing myself from people – wake up at 4 in the morning and go to sleep at 6 p.m. But now, with a little child, I am learning the many new ways to write, with him sitting at my feet, playing and making a mess.”

The author who has started writing fragments of her next novel says she did try writing some short stories but “all were terrible”. “I am in such awe of people who write brilliant short stories. It’s such a talent to have that economy with sentences and words. I just don’t think I can do it yet, of course I am going to keep trying.”

All praise for young debut women writers including Madhuri Vijay (‘The Far Field’), the writer believes in sparing herself the torture of giving herself timelines. “What’s the point? I once wanted to write 5,000 words in a week. What turned out were 5,000 words of nonsense! I am not sure if timelines can get me anywhere faster.”

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Covid-19 corollaries on the dairy sector: CRISIL

Overall, demand for milk and dairy products would be lukewarm in the near term, so prices are unlikely to boil over, according to the report.

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New Delhi, May 26 : Supply chain disruptions in the early weeks of the nationwide lockdown, and bread-and-butter issues for hotels, restaurants and cafes, have materially reduced demand for dairy products.

This is despite supply of most dairy products continuing during the lockdown, since they are categorised as essentials.

The shuttering of hotels and dine-ins has also dried up off-take of skimmed milk powder and khoya.

According to report by CRISIL Research on the state of dairy industry and supply chains, products that can’t be made at home easily – such as cheese, flavoured milk and also khoya – haven’t found their way back to the dining table in the same quantities as before the lockdown.

Demand for ice creams, which usually peaks in summer (accounting for 40 per cent of annual sales) has just melted away. Rural areas, which are feeling the income pinch more, seem to be staying off butter and ghee, the report by global analytics firm has said.

To be sure, since the third week of April, supply chains have turned smoother, so demand for staples such as milk, curd, paneer and yogurt are expected to see a quick rebound, leading to on-year expansion in sales, CRISIL said.

The pandemic, however, may sour the business for unorganised dairies because of pervasive contamination fears.

Conversely, as consumers shift, revenues of organised dairies and packaged products should fatten.

Overall, demand for milk and dairy products would be lukewarm in the near term, so prices are unlikely to boil over, according to the report.

Large brands such as Amul and Mother Dairy had already hiked retail milk prices by 4-5 per cent last fiscal. They may not serve an encore.

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445 people died from Australia bushfires smoke: Experts

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

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Arogya Setu App

Canberra, May 26 : Smoke from Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires killed at least 445 people, health experts revealed on Tuesday.

Fay Johnston, a public health expert from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, told the bushfire royal commission on Tuesday that her team estimated that 445 people died as a result of the smoke that blanketed much of the nation’s east coast, reports Xinhua news agency.

It takes the total death toll from the 2019-2020 bushfire season, which has been dubbed the “Black Summer”, to nearly 480 after 34 people lost their lives directly.

According to modelling produced by Johnston and her colleagues, 80 per cent of Australians were affected by the smoke at some point, including 3,340 people who were hospitalized with heart and lung problems.

“We were able to work out a yearly cost of bushfire smoke for each summer season and… our estimates for the last season were A$2 billion in health costs,” Johnston said.

“There’s fluctuation year to year, of course, but that was a major departure from anything we had seen in the previous 20 years.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

Commissioners also heard on Tuesday that the increasing frequency of significant bushfire events in Australia meant that survivors no longer feel safe during the recovery phase.

“Disasters are no longer perceived as rare events, they are often seen as climate change, and they’re part of our new reality,” Lisa Gibbs, a child welfare expert from the University of Melbourne, said.

“We don’t know how that is going to affect recovery because the seeds of hope are a really important part of people’s ability to deal with what has happened and to get back on track.”

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Rising urbanization likely cause of heavy rainfall in South: Research

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

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IMD heavy rains predict

Hyderabad, May 26 : A team of researchers at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have discovered a link between heavy rainfall in several parts of south India and a growing urbanisation in the region.

A team led by Prof. Karumuri Ashok from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad, examined whether a common factor, the changing ‘land use land cover’ (LULC) in these states, has any implications for the heavy rainfall events.

Over the past few years, many heavy rainfall events have been reported in cities of south India. Prominent among them are the extreme rainfall that created havoc in Chennai and nearby areas of Tamil Nadu in December 2015, the heavy rainfall over Hyderabad and adjoining regions in Telangana in September 2016, and the extreme rainfall event in Kerala in August 2018.

Notably, these three states differ in their geographical locations, and also the season in which they receive rainfall. Kerala, located on the southwest Indian coast off the Arabian Sea receives heavy rainfall during the summer monsoon from June-September.

Tamil Nadu, off the Bay of Bengal, receives rainfall mainly during the northeast monsoon (October-December). The land-locked state Telangana receives the bulk of its annual rainfall during the summer monsoon season.

A UoH statement stated that their study showed the precipitation during heavy rainfall events in these states has significantly increased from 2000 to 2017. Using the LULC data from ISRO, and by conducting 2 km resolution simulation experiments of twelve heavy rainfall events over the states, the researchers found distinct LULC changes in these three states, which led to higher surface temperatures and a deeper and moist boundary layer. These in turn caused a relatively higher convective available potential energy and, consequently, heavier rainfall.

The study also suggests that increasing urbanization in Telangana and Tamil Nadu is likely to enhance the rainfall during the heavy rainfall events by 20%-25%. Prof. Ashok feels that improving the density of observational rainfall and other weather parameters may help in forecasting extreme rainfalls at city level.

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

Prof. K. Ashok and his Ph.D. student Mr. A. Boyaj who is the first author, are both from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad. The work was done in collaboration with Prof. Ibrahim Hoteit and Dr Hari Prasad Dasari of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia.

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