Tag Archives: litmus


“For how long do these two plan to waste my time?” the cranky bookstore owner thought, as he glared at the two men browsing through titles of the same section for the past half an hour. They seemed to be well dressed and conversed in soft whispers, grinning occasionally. He finally heaved a sigh of relief when they walked towards the counter. They nodded at him once and exited the shop, leaving him fuming. He shook his fist at them and turned. Only later would he realize that half of his expensive pen collection was missing.

A cool wind blew past them, spreading earthy fragrance carrying the promise of rain. One of them caught a pamphlet and stared at it until his friend finally cracked and asked.

“Well I’m knackered. This man here looks like you Sanjay, don’t he?” They read and re-read the paper fluttering in their hands and smirked. “Looks like we’ll have some more fun today.”

A light drizzle made them smoothly steal umbrellas from passers-by without a break in their gaits. Soon, they reached their destination. A large tent swayed in the breeze over the trees laden with flowers and fruit. Much of the audience was already seated. The journalists directed their crew hither and thither, arguing with the security guards, trying to secure all angles for the tardy minister. They had a hard time pacifying other dignitaries on stage, most of who claimed to have pollen allergies and grumbled until they received refreshments. The two swindlers adjusted their disguises and delicately coughed at the harried security guards outside the venue.

“Do you realize how long you have made me wait?” Sanjay began his tirade. “I’ve been sitting in my car waiting for God knows who to come receive me. I’ll not tolerate this shabby treatment any longer,” he shouted with an air of unmistakable authority. The organiser profusely apologised for his oversight and led him onto the stage, flattering him all the way until his righteous anger had cooled. As Sanjay delivered a generic speech, peppering it with false promises and unachievable targets, Amar had a field day pocketing purses and accessories. He chuckled when a garland of folded currency was graciously presented to his companion.

The real minister finally arrived with his entourage and shouted at the flustered organiser who was too shocked to apologize. It was almost dusk and tiny stars had already started peeping out of the sky. Sanjay and Amar were long gone. Later when the press reported the incident, one of the people interviewed answered, “What difference does it make?”


Written by Tript Kaur
Image by Sanna Jain



If you were to write something, would the person you dedicated it to
Be the person who makes you laugh a lot?
Can you tell if someone is being earnest, in jest?
If you can hear the same joke over and over, and still laugh,
If you can hear someone tell the same joke over and over,
And still listen, and still laugh, each time,
Maybe you’ve found dedication,
Because I read a book on the psychology of humour, dedicated
‘To Myra, who keeps me laughing.’

Written by Anushmita Mohanty
Image by Kanishka

I Made a Thing

The making of the thing didn’t happen without provocation. A certain gathering had been made, and people try to impress people in gatherings, particularly those of the elite kind. In any case, the thing being made had intricacy involved, references were made within it, and the overall effect, in the end, was quite funny.

“What did you make?” someone asked the maker, laughing.

“Just a joke, you know,” laughed the maker right back.

Within the community, it was quite a masterpiece of a satire, when all was said and done.

They all chuckled, laughing, grinned, giggled and looked at the thing.

It was a small rock, one populated with green stuff (the maker called them trees). There was a vast amount of blue, and apparently, that was water. Somewhere in the corner of the rock, a species of animal was busy with fire, as if it was the most interesting concept in the world.

When asked, the maker said, “It’s funny now, but give it a few thousand years, it’s going to be hilarious.”

Down on the green rock, the species of animal was busy with the orange flames and the fact that you could grow plants to suit your purposes.

Quite a clever little joke.

Written by Tanvi Chowdhary
Image by Sanna Jain


My aunt laughs a whole lot,
And half the time it is glad.

A reluctant chuckle at a silly joke,
A grin cracked at her sheepish child,
Laughter that shakes her frame
Dissolving into giggles and breathless gasps.

My aunt laughs a great deal,
And only half the time is it glad.

A self-effacing smile attends her silly little opinion
Which goes out dressed like a sillier, littler joke.
(These are important matters, and she wouldn’t know.)
Prefaced appropriately by one of those softening grins,
The sharp edges of her rage have to be smoothened to a nicety
And the whole thing is so hilarious
That she then joins in, in their laughing away of her,
Dissolving into embarrassment and studied silence.

My aunt ‘laughs’ a great deal,
But she laughs a whole lot less,
And certainly,
Not half as much as my uncle does.

Written by Swathi Gangadharan
Image by Stuti Pachisia

Pre-Litmus Series: Tenzin Tsundue

The English Literary Association began the Pre-Litmus 2016 events on an exciting note, with a talk by Mr. Tenzin Tsundue, the Tibetan poet and activist renowned for his stirring poetry and staunch activism for the Tibetan nationalist movement.

The subject of the talk was “From Shangri-la to GPS : myths and legends of Tibet. Mr Tsendue asserted that the very idea of the Tibetan revolution in which many second and third generation activists are involved, who only know the country they are fighting for through it’s legends, traditions and stories is founded on the myth of hope that sustained their struggle against political apathy, colonial subjugation, and the tragedy of exile.

He also explained the various symbols and figures that make up the repertoire of Tibetan myths. These include Ling Gesar, the hero born of Maya Devi’s armpit, the Avalokiteshvara Dalai Lama, and the Snowlion which made it’s way from the Tibetan flag and currency to the unlikely ruins at Mahabalipuram. He introduced the concept of Shabala, a higher paradise.

Mr Tsendue talked about the symbolic ‘R’ which all Tibetan children in India seemed to carry with them, painted on their foreheads, which distinguished them as refugees. ‘R’, notably is also the first letter of ‘freedom’

The talk cast light on the formation of myths, the transference and reinterpretation of mythical figures across geopolitical zones, and the plight of being uprooted from one’s native land. To quote Mr Tsendue’s poem, “My Tibetanness”,

“I am Tibetan,
But I am not from Tibet.
Never been there.
Yet I dream of dying there.”