Bulletin Archives

Jan. 1, 2000 - Dec. 21, 2000

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Dec. 21, 2000

The big news is, of course, that Sweet Like Saltwater has won the 2000 Guyana Prize for Best First Book. I've known for a week now, but was unable to officially announce it until the ceremony this past week in Georgetown.

The ceremony marked my return to the land of my birth after a 20 year absence. I made it down there and back in one day. Must be a new record for intercontinental travel.

Click on the photos link in the navigation bar to see some pics of the event. The President of the republic himself, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, conferred the awards unto me, the grand prizewinner David Dabydeen, and drama winner Ms. Mohamed.

I'm writing a travel feature about my trip for the Globe and Mail newspaper. It should be available in the first week of January, 2001.

In other news, my reading with CBC Radio is finally available for download in MP3 format from this website. Just click on thedownloads link and follow the instructions.

Dec 1,2000

Hey, I just found another review of Sweet Like Saltwater! It's on the MyBindi.Com website. I have no idea how long it's been there.

Also, another of my early Podium articles ("Milestones") has been reproduced at Chowk.Com. The readers' comments are always the most interesting things.

Nov 27, 2000

There's a new look to my website. How do you like it? Really, comments are quite welcome.

I'm still in the process of converting my CBC reading to MP3 format. But when I do, it will be downloadable from this site.

This coming Tuesday (Nov 28), I'll be reading as part of TSAR Books' launch of its 2000 line-up. The collection of Indo-Caribeban writing called Jahaji includes my short story "Far From Family", hence my involvement. The launch will take place at the Faculty Club of U of T.

Speaking of anthologies, the South Asian Professionals Network is publishing a collecion of writings by 2nd generation South Asian immigrants. The tome, titled Bolo!Bolo! includes my short story "Motheland". The primary editors, Zenia Wadhwani and Gurbir Jolly, had to purchase the rights to the story from TSAR Books, and for that I thank them. It'll b a fine collection, and will be launched Dec 10 a the Elephant & Castle restaurant, 212 King St W, in Toronto.

And lastly, the countdown continues to my PhD defence...

Nov. 17, 2000

Well, what a rollicking past few weeks, eh? F*cked-up American elections aside, it's been a fun time for little ol' moi. First, I spent an unscheduled week in Cuba, thanks to my good friend Natalia. I'll be posting photos any day now. As a result, however, I missed the national broadcast of my schtick with CBC Radio on the 30th. That's okay; you can still hear the broadcast in RealAudio if you click here. I will try, in coming days, to convert it to MP3 and have it upload-able from this site.

Plus, I just got back from Ottawa where I attended the annual international meeting of the Canadian Society for International Health. I'll also be posting photos from that event soon.

But the big news is that I've finally submitted my PhD thesis. All that remains now is the defence, which will probably take place Jan. 24, 2001.

Visit The Podium!!

Oct. 26, 2000

Sigh. All kinds of recent publicity. For a full list, click here.

To summarize, there was a brutal review of Sweet Like Saltwater in the Danforth Review. I'm not taking it too personally since the reviewer, Patra Reiser, seems to have a lot of preconceptions about some ethnic literature, as in her review of Elizabeth Haynes' Speak Mandarin, Not Dialect .

Since she begins her review of my book with an admitted expectation that it would allow her to "smell the flowers and spices, the ocean, hear the tigers and different tongues", I'm not surprised that she found it disappointing.

Patra, my book was not intended to satisfy your stereotypical expectations of the cliched exotic.

Enough of that. On a kinder note, Ela Dutt of India Abroad and EStart online magazines has done a wonderful profile of me. You can find it reproduced here.

Don't forget to tune in to my CBC interview Monday night!

Oct. 22, 2000

The P.R. machine rolls along. There's a fantastic interview with me, and review of Sweet Like Saltwater, by Preeti Thandi in The Weekly Voice. The article is reproduced here without the photos and images. You may recall that the interview was actually conducted back in August!

On a similar note, I just finished being interviewed by Ela Dutt of India Abroad and EStart online magazines. Hopefully we'll see it print soon.

And.... this is one I'm very excited about. An interview with me, and a production of me reading my story "Seasonal Youth", will air on CBC Radio 2 nationally on Monday October 30, 11:05 pm. Check the CBC website for frequency information in your area.  For my friends abroad, it might be available on the CBC website in RealAudio format or webcast, too.  I'll try to snag reproduction rights to post the piece here, as well.

I must say, I was very impressed by the professionalism of the CBC staff when we taped the segment. I had no idea a 7-minute bit could be so complicated and detailed!

Lastly, my thesis is completed! Looks like I'll be defending the dang thing in the first 2 weeks of January. Way to start the new year off right. Visit The Podium!!

Oct. 5, 2000

Well, quite an eventful few days. Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau died late last week, and the outpouring of grief from this country has been nothing short of inspiring and staggering.

Trudeau was personal hero of mine, and I took his death very poorly. Even now, the gloom will settle and the eyes will mist if I let myself consider how much he and his ideas meant to me.

I've written about the time I met him, back when I was a schoolboy just learning about politics. The article appears in the columns section of The Podium.

For those of you outside Canada who are curious about all the hooplah, you can view/hear much of the media coverage, including a nice eulogy from Trudeau's son Justin, on the CBC website.

It's important to understand that our grief is not just for the passing of a great man (whom I would rank with Mandela, King, JFK and Gandhi in terms of influence, depth and legacy), but for the end of an era. What he represents --honesty in leadership, reason, vision and compassion-- is sorely lacking on the modern leadership panorama. That, I believe, is why we grieve.

Sep 26, 2000

Good news! I'm going to be interviewed on CBC Radio. For those of you outside this country, the CBC is Canada's national media outlet. CBC Radio is, for my money, the finest radio broadcaster in the world --except maybe for the BBC. Back in 1995, I had a one-shot stint as a political commentator for CBC Radio in Ontario, but, um, was never asked back. (I thought I did a good job, but I guess others disagreed.)

Anyway, they're going to be broadcasting my short story Seasonal Youth which, of course, is available in my book Sweet Like Saltwater. And it seems that the broadcast will include a few philosophical and no doubt erudite comments from yours truly. Taping will occur Oct 13th, and it's scheduled to be broadcast Oct 30th and/or 31st. I'll see if they'll let me reproduce the segment here for downloading.

Also, it seems that another of my stories is being included in a new anthology called Jahaji which, I think, is a collection of Caribbean writing. It's to be launched this coming Sunday, Oct 1st, at the Tropical Nights restaurant in Toronto (3114 Danforth Ave. at Victoria Park). Apparently I'll be doing a reading or saying a few words. I dunno, it's all news to me.

That's all for now. Hopefully there will be some more specific good news coming soon...

Sep 16, 2000

A new "review" of Sweet Like Saltwater has just been published in New York's The Caribbean Voice. I use quotation marks because the "review" appears to be nothing more than a reprint of the back of the book. They even spelled my name wrongly! Take a look at it here.

Right next to that bit, thy had a glowing review of Grenada Ghost by Lloyd Hollis Crooks. Guess I'd better check that one out.

Speaking of other people's books, this week I attended the launch of the first novel by legendary playwright, and my old friend, Allan Stratton. His book is called The Phoenix Lottery and is sure to be a big hit pretty quickly.

Tomorrow, I'm doing the Terry Fox Run for cancer research. For those of you outside Canada, Terry Fox is one of our national heroes: a one-legged man who ran across Canada to raise money for cancer research, but who died before finishing. The 10km annual run in his name is now a tradition in many countries. I can't promise I'll finish the 10 km, but I'll try.

Sep 5, 2000

I tells ya, you haven't lived (or died) 'til you've been to an ex-girlfriend's wedding. For photos, courtesy of Andrew Currie, go here. 'Nuff said about that.

My reading at Harbourfront was also a minor disaster (though I might be exaggerating a tad). The turn-out was very poor, due, I believe, to a hard-to-find venue and insufficient marketing. But I'm not complaining; I'm thankful for any degree of exposure.

The funny part was that, half way through my first story, the fire alarm went off! The evacuation allowed me to meet many of the attendants, though. Here is a photo of me and some friends (Barb, Tracey and Sean) pouting over the interruption. Then, near the end of the second story, I almost fainted from lack of oxygen. Got to learn how to breathe.

One pleasant surprise, though, was the identity of the second reader on the bill: Jennifer Duncan, author of Sanctuary & Other Stories. You see, Jennifer and I went to the same high school many many years ago.

Aug. 29, 2000

Sigh. Summer is almost over. My apologies for the slowness of the server over the past week. This site and The Podium have been difficult to access, I realize. Hopefully, the days of slowness are over. If not, I'm ready to move shop to urname.com, a new faster free server.

Many many new photos are now posted, including some from my recent reading at Toronto's Free Times Cafe. I think you'll also enjoy the new addition to the squash scores page.

Speaking of readings, I'll be doing a big one this coming Monday (Sept. 4) at Harbourfront in the Brigantine Room at 5:00 pm. It's part of the Blueprints festival of young Canadian artists. That's me!

Aug. 10, 2000

Lots of good news to go around. The Toronto Arts Council has given me a hefty grant to help finish my half-written novel.

Just did a fun public reading at Toronto's Freetimes Cafe, organized by Loreli Buenaventura of Pagitica magazine; photos to appear shortly on this site. I had the opportunity to present chapters from my newest book, Folktales of Ancient India, which is currently under consideration by a publisher. I think it went over well.

Also, last week I was interviewed by The Voice, a local Indian-flavoured culture-news magazine. Can't wait to see it in print. Speaking of print, chapter #2 of the aforementioned unfinished novel, a stand-alone story titled Bucephalus, appears in this month's issue of India Currents magazine where it won honourable mention in their big fiction contest.

This weekend is my 33rd birthday. Sigh, so old and so much yet to do!

July 23, 2000

There's an excellent review of Sweet Like Saltwater in this month's India Currents magazine. I have reproduced a copy of the review here.

Conveniently, chapter #2 of my unfinished novel will also appear in next month's issue of India Currents. The chapter is called Bucephalus and won honourable mention in the magazine's global Indian-American fiction contest. (Sounds rather oxymoronic, no? "Global Indian-American". Oh never mind.)

July 17, 2000

Nothing big to report these days. I'm trying a comprehensive new workout recommended by professional wrestler Lance Storm. So far, I'm liking it... but that's until the laziness sets in.

My publisher has recommended Sweet Like Saltwater for the The Guyana Prize, one of that country's highest literary honours. Nope, I haven't got a chance... but it's cool to be considered.

As of four hours ago, I finished writing the second (and hopefully last) draft of my monster doctoral thesis. Listen... can you hear it? Yes, 'tis the songs of angels...

And lastly, my good friend and co-owner of The Podium, Herr Edmund Wong, has announced his engagement to the lovely and talented Meiling Hu. I'm thinking of adding a special guestbook on The Podium for well-wishers and detractors alike to mourn the couple's passing from the ranks of singledom. Check it out in a few days.

June 18, 2000

Well, Desh Pardesh has come and gone. I think it was a success, and my small part in it was particularly satisfying. I must say, I don't get nervous often --in fact, I revel in public speaking. But this time, I was sh**ting bricks up there, man.  Something about the size of the venue and having had one's parents on-hand made this event quite consternating.  But I think the book was well received, and some sales were made.

Some photos from the event, and from the parties surrounding it, are available in my Photos section.  Many of the shots are taken (with permission) from the MyBindi.Com website.  More photos will be available once I get the film developed.

I've upgraded the Downloads section of this site.  On it, you'll find a link to my interview with Arman Mirza of CHRY radio's literary show Covered & Bound in RealAudio format. I'm sorry that I haven't mastered server-side multimedia yet, so the audio cannot stream. You'll have to download the entire file first (about 1.6 MB) and then play it. In coming days, I'll convert it to MP3 or WAV format and compress it further.

June 1, 2000

Well, interesting week.  I was interviewed by The Toronto Star for about 30 minutes.  The next day, I saw the result: a friendly little piece with my photo and details about my likes and dislikes.  However, the reporter (who, I must say, was doing a difficult job: summarizing a stranger's life in a few sentences) had simply strung together poorly quoted snippets of our conversation, certainly misrepresenting the way I speak.

In short, I sound like a moron in that article, and my friends aren't letting me forget it.  So, in this space, I officially disassociate myself from the piece (with no derision directed toward the writer who was simply doing her job), and ardently declare that I am not as big of a retard as The Star makes me out to be.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Of course, I'm also a blatant egotist.  So, for your viewing and laughing pleasure, I've included the article here.

In other news, I'll be interviewed on CHRY radio (105.5 FM) on the afternoon of Monday June 5th.

May 19, 2000

Well, Invisible Worm Communications is officially on hiatus. While the bank accounts and business registration are still active, I've decided that the name no longer adequately describes my various consulting and freelance activities. Therefore, I will now engage in such activities under my own name (which is Raywat Deonandan in case you haven't been paying attention.)

My scheduled reading in Ottawa, intended for May 26, has been cancelled for a variety of reasons. No word yet on when and if it will be re-scheduled.

However, I will be one of the featured presenters at this year's Desh Pardesh arts festival in Toronto. The festival will take place June 6-10 at the Buddies In Bad Times theatre in downtown Toronto; it's famous for its themes of alternative lifestyles and marginalized communities. In recent years, it's tended to focus on Gay/Lesbian themes and South Asian themes... I fit into the latter category, in case you're wondering.

For a full schedule of Desh events, visit MyBindi.Com and note that I'm up on the evening of June 7th. Come on down... there will be film, music, dance and literature.

April 4, 2000

Congratulations to Brian Panhuyzen, a remarkable local writer, whose first book was listed by January Magazine as one of the best of 1999.

In the land of Raywat, I guess I can now legally say that I was a jury member for this season's literary prize deliberations of the Ontario Arts Council. It was quite the educational experience. Congratulations to all the writers who were granted hefty cash awards, and a hearty "better luck next time" to those who were not so fortunate. God knows I'm familiar with the feelings of the latter group.

New stuff at The Podium. Please read it.  Exciting new activities in the Upcoming Events section!

I finally printed out a complete physical draft of my entire doctoral thesis: 220 pages, 1.5 spaced. Quite the monster. It ain't quite done yet, as much editing and committee-driven revision awaits, but much of the psychological toil is over.  I cannot adequately describe the sensation to those who've never undergone such stress.

In other comparably good news, I begin a new job in a couple of weeks, my first full-time traditional job in over five years. I'll be an Associate Scientist at a research unit of the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. This is an ideal temporary path for the next 12 months or so until I can tie up all loose ends in Toronto.

This position allows me the flexibility to complete and defend my thesis, and the stability to pursue my consulting and literary activities. Speaking of which, chapter #2 of my unfinished novel, repackaged as a short story titled Bucephalus, was just selected as one of the winners of India Currents magazine's international American-Indian fiction contest. It didn't take a top prize, so no cash is forthcoming, but the judges appreciated it, and that's all that really matters.

Mar. 10, 2000

The Podium has a new look, and some new articles.

And Sweet Like Saltwater has been reviewed by Pagitica Magazine. You may read the review here or there.

Thanks to a couple more buys, the book has shot up 700,000 points to make Amazon.Com's top 1 million list. Small potatoes, I know, but I'll grasp at what I can get.

March 21, 2000

Joseph Evenor Paul Louis Vigoureux, metrologist: born 12 February 1903; ISO 1967; died West Molesey, Surrey 15 April 1999. He was one of the fathers of metric system, and a true Renaissance Man.

I find myself missing India. Don't know exactly why. I was there only once, with the Shastri Institute and CIDA back in 1996 (see the photos section). But now that the US news is broadcasting images of President Clinton's trip to South Asia, I realize how much the place got under my skin. Gotta get back... but not as a tourist.

I suppose these are understandable thoughts given my impending return to the world of full-time work (I'll elaborate later), and my lengthy eschewing of one of my first loves, international development. In the meantime, I must console myself with writing about my angst. My review of Eric Margolis's book, War At The Top Of The World, about Indo-Pakistani unrest, will appear in California's India Currents magazine next month.

I also have a review of countryman Harrichand Itwaru's book, Morning of Yesterdays, appearing in The Toronto Review.

Lots on the go these days. Check The Podium's new free food section for new listings of free events in the Toronto area.

Feb. 13, 2000

Today we mourn the deaths of two media stalwarts. First is Jim Varney, that annoying Ernest guy who got his start in the "Hey, Vern" commercials.

Second, is the much beloved creator of the Peanuts comic strip. In fact, he died this morning, on the same day in which his farewell strip appeared in newspapers. I'm sure that all of us have special memories of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, heroes to all of us shut-ins and losers.

In more pleasant news, we have a new columnist at The Podium. Andrew Hui's first article is titled, "Why Feminism is Evil," and is sure to spur a number of letters to the editor. I feel the need to reiterate that opinions expressed on The Podium are those of the authors, and are not necessarily shared by the owners. As always, dissenting opinions are welcome, especially if submitted in the form of counterpoint articles.

Feb. 27, 2000

Man, am I pooped. Was up for 30 straight hours a couple of days ago, completing a document for a client. Now I'm paying for it with a cold!

Got some good news. I'm a juror for the Works In Progress Award for the Ontario Arts Council, which means that I and three other local "artists" will choose this season's recipients of one the OAC's biggest grants. It's quite an honour, but also time consuming, as it requires that I read a box-load of manuscripts in the next few days. Ack.

We're very excited to have a new columnist at The Podium. Loreli is an excellent writer and the arts editor of a great new literary magazine called Pagitica. Please drop by the The Podium and read her first article. As always, comments are welcome in the form of letters to the editor.

Feb. 1, 2000

Exciting news! Sweet Like Saltwater was given a positive review by The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's two national newspapers. You can read a copy of the review here.

Also, The Jan. 20th issue of NOW Magazine had a nice ad for the book on page 28. There's a graphic of the ad here. I know this sounds petty of me, but this is my first book and every little taste of glamour is exciting. So bear with me.

I'll be doing some publicity work in Ottawa and London in coming weeks. Watch this space for details. And, in other news, Ed Wong barely squeaked out a squash victory this weekend. I'm biding my time, paying my dues, scoping him out for weaknesses...Just you wait, Eddie Boy...

Jan. 21, 2000

Just been watching the big lunar eclipse. Makes one think about all the folklore than has evolved around this simple astronomical event. Heck, empires have fallen and virgins have been sacrificed because of it. (What the moon needs with virgins I'll never know!)

That sneaky Ed Wong used his Jedi mind tricks during our last squash game. I hope Ed is familiar with Joseph Campbell's hero motif, 'cause he's due for some comeuppance!  (As the writer of this here fable, I get to cast myself in the role of "hero").

Lotsa movie reviews at The Podium. Please keep 'em coming! I'm afraid we may have to start advertising on the site to offset its operating costs. Hope it's not too annoying.

Here's some good news. I've finally written (what I assume to be) the final chapter of my thesis. Now all that remains is tinkering, appendices, smudging facts here and there, and satisfying the Inquisition.

Jan. 14, 2000

At last, some new contributions to The Podium! I'm pleased to announce a book review by Ottawa University's Linda Morra, and several movie reviews by new individuals, including the first peep out of The Podium's co-owner, Ed Wong (who is soon to lose his squash title!)

I'd also like to say hello and offer sincere thanks to Dr. Amir Ravandi, this site's most frequent visitor. Amir has singlehandedly increased my hit count to 4 figures.

Jan. 17, 2000

Darn that Ed Wong! Somehow he hypnotized me on the squash court, and managed to retain the title despite his supposed "illness". The new stats are now up.

Movie reviews have been streaming into The Podium non-stop.  Keep 'em coming! There are also new photos up in the booklaunch and 'E' sections.

I also want to let people in the Southern Ontario area know about an exciting show that's coming soon to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. It's a very large tour of Egyptian antiquities. I encourage everyone to enjoy the collection and support the ROM's continued programmes of culturation and education.  (Did I just make up a word?)

Jan. 12, 2000

Am I a favourite target for computer viruses? Yep, got another one. Luckily, my anti-virus software caught it. But I still stupidly ran an executable file that someone had emailed to me (I was expecting a compressed document from this same person, so I wasn't being entirely reckless). The virus isn't really a virus, but is called a Trojan Horse Worm infection. Worms infiltrate themselves into your computer's system and take it upon themselves to email copies to people on your address list. This particular worm is called Happy99 and comes as a New Year's fireworks display. If you've been infected, learn how to get rid of it here.

The manuscript of my second book, Folktales of Ancient India, was rejected by the publisher after a 7-month contemplation period. Sigh. It seems that no one knows how best to market Asian folktales that are written for adults instead of kids. Another publisher is now looking into it, so stay tuned. (Editor's note - No one dare steal this idea or I'll sue you every way possible!)

The lesson here is that most artistic successes occur after multiple disappointments. Come over sometime and I'll show you the stacks of publishers' rejection letters I keep for ego control. I still have confidence that there's a role in the Western literary scene for the new book.

Movie reviews have been coming into The Podium steadily, and I've recently posted a brief article on the novels of Charles Pellegrino, one of the least celebrated but most intriguing of 1990's science-fiction writers. I'd really like some more women to contribute content to The Podium. So far, Katie's movie review is the first and only female contribution.

Jan. 7, 2000

A week into the year 2000, and still no flying cars, Messiahs, UFO's or re-surfacing Atlantis. Geez.

Yesterday, I donated a copy of Sweet Like Saltwater to Hart House Library. It was a particularly meaningful gesture since Hart House (a community centre of the University of Toronto) has meant a lot to my writing career. They published some of my early work, and awarded me a couple of their literary prizes. In the past, they've launched the careers of such stellar names as Rohinton Mistry. They've also got a pretty keen library that is great for midday naps.

A new angle to The Podium: I am now soliciting reviews of current first-run movies. Email the editors (at editors@podium.on.ca) your score (out of 10 points) of a current movie you've seen, and include a 1-2 sentence review. Sounds easy, right?

The idea is to build up a resource of viewers' picks so that no one ever has to spend money on Hollywood schlock again.

This week, I re-read my diaries for the past 19 years. (Yes, I'm a records freak.) The lesson learned: I've been whining about the exact same personal issues for the past 2 decades. People don't change, it seems.

Jan. 3, 2000

Man, it felt weird to type "2000" just now. Where's my flying car? Where's my video phone? Science-fiction sold us a bill of rotten goods! Darn you, Isaac Asimov!

Well, no Y2K events transpired (as of this date), so I'm feeling rather foolish for having dug a bomb shelter. But you can never be too safe!

Now I'm going to talk about something I hadn't planned on mentioning. There are a lot of naive web surfers out there who seem to think they're anonymous when visiting websites or signing guestbooks. About once every couple of months, I get a porn spammer, or some 40 year old virgin who thinks he's funny, trying to be clever in my guestbook. If it's genuinely amusing or creative, I'll leave it in. Usually, I delete it within 24 hours.

What these individuals don't realize is that almost all websites, including this one and The Podium, track visitors' origins and identities. I do it so that I know which of my pages are getting the most attention, and thus can direct my design attentions accordingly. At present, the CGI-scripts that I use automatically trace your IP address, the type of operating system your computer employs, the kind of browser you used, and a few other tidbits. If need be (and need has arisen at times), all it takes is a phone call to your system administrator, with the time and date of your login, to determine your identity.

I do not want to take the additional step of having my website dump cookies onto your hard-drive every time you visit me, just so that I can know even more personal things about you. But anyone who leaves an obscene message on my guestbook will encourage me to take further security steps. I take great pleasure in having abusers' Internet accounts erased by their providers; I've done it before, and I'll do it again... I'm talking to you, AOL people.

Enough of the heavy stuff. I don't have any official stats, but book sales seem to be going well. It's getting harder to find copies of Sweet Like Saltwater in Toronto and Ottawa bookstores. There are also some very encouraging consumer reviews on the Chapters and Amazon websites... some of which, I'm sure, were written by friends.

If you've read the book, and feel like contributing a review (positive or negative) to one of those sites, I'd be thrilled to see it. Amazon and Chapters employ editors and quality checkers for all submitted reviews, so insincere reviewers will be wasting their time.

That's all for today.


July - Dec.31, 1999