Author Archives: indiraganesan

About indiraganesan

Writer. As Sweet As Honey:A Novel (NY: Alfred A. Knopf), February, 2013 Inheritance: A Novel (NY: Knopf), 1998 The Journey: A Novel (NY:Knopf), 1990 All available from Vintage & Beacon Press

Small Big Things

Indira Ganesan, Trillium, 2021

The garbage trucks never stopped picking up the weekly trash in my neighborhood. When we moved into semi-shutdown and mask-mandates last year, the third week of March 2020, the guys still picked up the garbage. This small act of normalcy lifted my spirits. Back then, when we knew so little about Covid-19, and how it might be transmitted, the garbage workers continued on. I am still amazed by this act of routine efficiency: I make trash; it gets hauled away.

Likewise, I love clearing my search history. This is probably a lot less efficient that the weekly garbage pick up, but after I explore the internet down myriad rabbit holes, I can wipe away the history with a click. But of course, it isn’t really wiped away, and I will be bombarded by the facedbook bots (see how I did a typo there, as if I could outwit the team?) with ads for hair-growth oil, etc. I leave a trail of scattered stars in my virtual footpath.

Meanwhile, death rates from covid climb in India. Here is Arundhati Roy’s heartbreaking take of the situation.

Of the two mourning doves born in the first batch this spring on my balcony, only one survived. It flew away right on schedule, though still clothed in baby feathers.

It takes seven years for a trillium seed to germinate, create a tuber, and sprout. The one I planted years ago has been flowering for the past two years. It might take another seven years for a companion to grow alongside.

Today, as fog misted over the trees breaking into bloom, I drank my morning coffee, listening to birdsong; yet another small wonder in this time of covid.

Writing Classes

Indira Ganesan, form vs content, 2019

I am lately appreciating the quiet satisfaction of reading new work to strangers, and listening to theirs. I am enrolled in two writing practices. One is Natalie Goldberg’s online Way of Writing class. More than two thousand students are enrolled, and together, on Saturday mornings, we write with Natalie for ten minute stretches. We are then bundled into groups of four by the computer, and read our work aloud to our small groups. At the end of the course, with classes taking place twice a week, ideally, I will have read aloud to forty-eight different people, and will have heard stories from the same forty-eight. I will have written about forty new short pieces, and have listened to 120 pieces by other writers. Adding up the numbers is energizing, somehow.

So far, we have written about colors, numbers, and death and suffering. We start and end with meditation practice, and the work is refreshingly good. Sometimes I have been moved to years listening to others read, and I know I am not the only one to have such a response. We do not know anything about each other, except we are mostly in our fifties, from all around the world. Somehow, we gather to read our work to one another, to validate ourselves for the moment, to be less in a vacuum.

Blustery Days

Indira Ganesan, Ocean watching Laurie Anderson Take a Break, 2021

The spring seems slow to arrive despite the persistance of the sun. The trees are still bare, though I can see a faint red blush of new buds on the branches in certain light. The colors are muted; outside my window, the shingles of neighboring home are brown, white, and grey, like the tree branches, and the sky is a smokey blue suffused with white.

I am having ahard time imagining what is to come. Of course, there will be tulips, followed by bleeding heart; a carpet of sweet woodruff, and tiny ferns poking their heads out soon. But how will we, I, change? How will we take all that has happened to us, the news of murder and hate, of voting suppression, of the invisible plague that is actually getting worse, not better, despite the slow supply of vaccines? People are getting their shots, but must remember to wear their mask, that a vaccine is not a golden ticket but a step.

I am on a party-planning committe for a community-birthday for 2022. A year from now, I feel hopeful that a party of people can congregate in close quarters, share food and laughter safely. But I can’t imagine it this summer. Maybe small backyard barbeques will happen this Fourth of July if enough people are vaccinated. But what of children, of the young adults? I am having a hard time visualizing it.

But we must visualize it, we must see over the fence.

The mourning doves have laid at least one egg, and are taking turns to sit on it.