Friday, June 21, 2013

Blogger and Writer Braja Sorensen

by Shalet Jimmy
published in The Sunday Magazine of The New Indian Express
May 2013

Where nothing is taboo - Braja Sorensen




In 1993, Braja Sorensen, a native of Australia, came to India. What prompted her to do so was her deep reading of the Bhagawad Gita. Braja was attracted by the philosophical, spiritual and cultural aspects of “exotic” India.

“I was living here for so many years and I wanted to say something about this country as seen by a person who lived here, and not be someone who visited and thought they understood something, and blurted out all sorts of pseudo-wisdom,” says Braja.

She has toured almost all of North India. She lived in Jaipur in the late 1990s and has also spent time in Delhi, Vrindavan, Agra, Mussoorie, Dehradun and Mumbai so far.
“But my favourite place is West Bengal. I have spent 12 years there,” she says.

And all these years she was unknowingly accumulating the ingredients needed to write a book on India. Thus was born her debut book, Lost and Found in India, published by Hay House India.

The book lays bare the daily lives of the people. As author and playwright Farrukh Dhondy says, “The book does not analyse India, it suffers and enjoys it. It is breezy, light and descriptive, with funny meditations by a voluntary citizen of India.”

It was her daily posts in her blog that eventually got compiled into the book. “I started blogging in 2008,” says Braja. “As I had been living in India for some years and also wanted to write a book, I thought a blog would give me an impetus to write daily. Besides, it was a daily push to write, knowing I had to post something. Obviously, it was going to be about India. I was tired of all the books written by westerners about India.”

Ask Braja about her favourite writers, she says, “I love William Dalrymple’s work. It is so understanding of all aspects of India. And he has inspired me a lot.” Braja feels that one has to love something ardently to write about it authentically.

“You have to love India, to be able to write about it properly. Many think they love it, so they come and live here, and then leave a couple of years later with their romantic ideals shattered by the reality that is India. And that is the thing about India: it is so real. Too real for most.”
In the book, Braja has also written about the recent rape cases which have traumatised the nation. “It happens everywhere in the world, though. The thing about India is that its heart is an open, realistic, and honest one: it does not hide anything. Death isn’t a taboo subject like it is in the West. In India, nothing is taboo. India shows its face no matter what, and I think the publicity and the public reaction to the recent rape incidents is just another facet of this honesty and openness, a fresh approach that the West just does not do. So, I don’t think it is necessarily worse here than anywhere else. It is just that India is not embarrassed to put it out there. The same is the case about the poverty and untidiness. Everything is public.”

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