Episode One: Why We Write pt.1

This is the first episode of the Zanaan Wanaan Podcast: Season 2 titled ‘Why We Write.’ For this episode we were joined by three brilliant upcoming Kashmiri writers:

Samia Mehraj, Master of Public Policy, University of Oxford. Samia is working on a book of interconnected short stories set in Kashmir. These stories attempt to witness how the lives of Kashmiri women and children interact with their cultural milieu, be it on streets, households, or their relationship with Kashmir’s rich natural tapestry. Currently halfway through the book, Samia is a fellow at the South Asia Speaks mentorship writing program, collaborating with Mirza Waheed on her literary venture.

Aashna Jamal, MA in International and Development Economics, Yale. Engaged in the South Asia Speaks Fellow 2022 program under the mentorship of novelist Karan Mahajan, Aashna brings a unique perspective shaped by her desire to rediscover places and their sentiments. Trained as an economist, she is currently working with the governments in Somalia and Timor-Leste. Her journey from economist to writer is marked by a dedication to exploring Kashmir through stories, starting with short stories and features and currently working on a coming-of-age novel set in the region.

Sadaf Wani, M.Phil. in Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. She is a senior communications professional specialising in impact-oriented feminist communication. Her academic focus on digitality and visual cultures in Srinagar and Hong Kong adds depth to her research and writing. Author of a commissioned biography of Srinagar, her debut book is set for release in July 2024 by Aleph Book Company.

In this first part of the podcast, Sadaf, Aashna, and Samia delve into their unique journeys as writers, shedding light on the diverse paths that led them to the world of storytelling. They discuss the challenges they faced while growing up in Kashmir, where pursuing creative interests often clashes with societal expectations. They share personal anecdotes, providing a glimpse into the circumstances that inform their writing and the various modes of expression they explored along the way. The discussion offers valuable insights into the intersection of language, culture, and creative expression.

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