Welcome note from Kitaab’s new editor, Mitali Chakravarty
Surrounded by the grandeur of the Himalayas in the Doon valley, it strikes me that the mountains only serve to unite with their allure of serene remoteness. People find the aloofness of mountains attractive and set about exploring and conquering them as they do the raging seas; thus, advancing the human race not just by exposure to geographic or cultural novelties but also intellectually, by challenging their own comfort zones. Words do similar things for writers. Writers get drawn out of their comfort zones to generate ideas that stimulate.
In a world connected by clouds and birds that do not accept geo-political barriers, thoughts and ideas waft from region to region, sometimes gaining local colour but always creating a sense of interconnectedness. To harness these ideas into a stream, writers need an easy access to a forum that reaches out to the rest of the world. This forum would have to be a confluence where words from writers reach out to unite, probe, create, describe and move all mankind.
The hills that connect countries and lands take different forms in different regions. The Pamirs, ever since I read Marco Polo’s travels, haunt with descriptions of beauty and mystery. The Himalayas stretch out in endless ranges and snow peaks. The mountains in Vietnam are scenic but come as a surprise. In Xian, the Li Shan from where Qin Shi Huang created the legendary terracotta warriors to guard his grave, the mountains look almost like grassy pyramids. In Guilin, they have the ethereal quality of Chinese paintings. As I fly over Japan, Mount Fuji creates a sense of awe, as do the volcanic peaks across Indonesia and Philippines. And yet, we see them all as hills to be explored and conquered. Writings across these lands are as varied and sometimes as ancient as are the hills that connect.
It has always been my dream to live in an interconnected world where an open exchange of ideas leads to a better future. Writing that identifies the existential dilemmas of life, that captures dystopias and utopias, bleakness, hope and happiness all move towards creating a better future that rests beyond borders drawn by mankind battling through centuries of history. Writers for eons have used their skills to influence mankind generate thoughts that lead to progress and they still continue to do so.
To have a forum for capturing this huge kaleidoscope of ideas with an open invitation extended to writers and readers from a plethora of cultures and ideologies to move towards a world beyond manmade borders and barriers is a part of the dream of reveling in diversities in an interconnected world. I perceive Kitaab.org as the plateau for these varied thoughts, stories and ideologies, bringing together the best and the most innovative. I feel privileged to be part of this attempt to channelise words to help expand man’s horizons, hopes and vision.
I would with the help of all writers and readers hope to create a caucus of words and ideas that will forge forward like an organism with a life force of it’s own, beyond borders, beyond individuals, beyond walls, towards an ideal which will thrive with hope and optimism, perhaps somewhat along the lines of what has been visualised by a favourite poet, Rabindranath Tagore, a world
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls...”