On the eve of my Class 10 Gujarati examination, I sat with my grandmother, who read out the poems of Meera Bai and Narsinh Mehta to me from my textbook.
Sanket Joshi, founder of Syahee.com and e-magazine, Shabd. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Once I graduated, and took up French as a second language in college, I could no longer write or read fluently in my mother tongue. This is true for many youngsters, who continue to converse in their mother tongue but lose touch with reading and writing.
To bridge the gap, and bring young as well as seasoned writers on one platform, 37-year-old Sanket Joshi, son of renowned Gujarati poet and writer, Anil Joshi, launched Syahee.com, a blogging and social networking site that promotes quality Indian literature, last year.
This October, he launched a Gujarati e-magazine to promote quality literature and translations of Indian and international works in gujarati. “Every edition has a selected mix of short stories, original works, poems, articles and translations.
The idea is to give readers a glimpse of the world where language is not a barrier. In the first edition, we published works of Gujarati writers Tarak Mehta and Vinod Bhat,” says Sanket, who moved to Mumbai from London last year to launch Syahee.com.
Language no bar
Editor of the magazine, Anil Joshi says, “Writer Umashankar Joshi once said: ‘I am a Gujarati-writing Indian poet.’ This means, that Gujarati may be your mother tongue, but that doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to the works of great litterateurs in Tamil Nadu, Kashmir and Punjab.
On the international front, too, we want readers to know Anton Chekov, George Orwell and Leo Tolstoy. In our third edition, we introduced our readers to translated excerpts from I Am Malala, the autobiography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai,” says the editor. The 23-30 page magazine is also available as an Android app.
Read, write, share
The idea for Syahee.com, which has 10,000 followers today, struck Sanket while he was working as a banker in Rochester, London. “One day at around 4 am, I switched on my laptop and jotted down a few thoughts on how and why I wanted to build a community for Indian literature.
When I returned to Mumbai in 2013, I started working on Syahee.com,” he says. For now, the site has writings in Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi along with translations in English. “We bring writers and readers on one platform to ‘read, write and share’ as our tagline goes,” says Sanket. The site allows members to post their writings in the form of blogs, and network with other members.
“According to a statistic report in a magazine, 90 per cent of Indians who use the Internet do not read or write English. Taking both these points into account, Syahee is an attempt to make the rich heritage of regional writings easily available to everyone. To add to that, members can have chat discussions, share their thoughts and reach out to like-minded people,” says Sanket.
Today, the site features the works of renowned authors such as Raeesh Maniar, Kajal Oza, Jay Vasavada in the Gujarati section, while on the Hindi, actors Bani Sharad and Deepti Naval are members. Soon, Sanket also plans to introduce a Hindi version of Shabd and promote books and author interactions on Syahee.com.