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Author Topic: PC195: Lavanya and Deepika  (Read 4022 times)
Talia
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« on: February 07, 2012, 08:42:50 AM »

PodCastle 195: Lavanya and Deepika

by Shveta Thakrar.

Read by TCA Lakshmi Narasimhan.

Originally appeared in Demeter’s Spicebox. Read the text there.

Once upon a time, in a land radiant with stars and redolent of
sandalwood, where peacocks breakfasted on dreams salty with the
residue of slumber, a rani mourned. On the surface, the rani had
everything: a kingdom to care for, fine jewels to wear in her long
black hair, silken saris threaded through with silver and gold, and a
garden of roses and jasmine to rival that of Lord Indra in his
celestial realm. When she rode atop her warrior elephant, her subjects
bowed before her in awe and love. But one thing remained out of
reach–an heir. She longed for a small, smiling face to call her own.

Gulabi Rani consulted midwives, healers schooled in the art of
Ayurveda, and magicians. Knowing better than to refuse a monarch, they
plied her with charms and salves, medications and horoscopes. She ate
the roots and leaves of the shatavari plant as they recommended, and
drank creamy buttermilk while fastidiously avoiding the color black.
Yet her belly stayed flat. At last the healers admitted that, without
a husband, there was no hope.

But the rani did not want a husband. Nor did she suffer from a lack of
hope. After dismissing the healers and her servants both, she readied
a place in the garden. If no one else could help her, she would find
the answer herself. Surrounded by her beloved roses, garnet and pink
and ivory, Gulabi meditated for weeks on end.


Rated PG.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 10:14:46 AM by Talia » Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 12:16:59 PM »

I liked the passage at the very beginning of the story where all of her wise advisors are proposing ways to help her conceive, and each method fails one after the other.  Until finally, when every single method has failed, someone finally suggests "It might help if you had a husband."  This poor queen has apparently not found out where babies come from, and her advisors are too scared or too embarrassed to explain the usual process to her and instead go on wild goose chases which they know will end in failure just to put off that moment.

After those initial scenes though, I didn't really get into it.  I listened most of the way through, but my mind kept wandering.  It seemed very like a fairy tale, but a rather distant one.  I'm not sure if that is more to do with the story or with the narration--I appreciate the narrator being familiar with the pronunciation of names but with that accent the narration sounds very flat and emotionless.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 09:55:24 AM by Unblinking » Logged
Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2012, 08:53:36 AM »

I liked the passage at the very beginning of the story where all of her wise advisors are proposing ways to help her conceive, and each method fails one after the other.  Until finally, when every single method has failed, someone finally suggests "It might help if you had a husband."  This poor queen has apparently not found out where babies come from, and her advisors are too scared or too embarrassed to explain the usual process to her and instead go on wild goose chases which they know will end in failure just to put off that moment.
THIS. (But I fixed your spelling mistake).
But then, when she was finally able to reproduce (autogamically?) with the flower stuff I realized that the rules for this world are quite different. (Also, unless I missed something crucial, she gave birth minutes or hours after performing the lotion ceremony?)
I couldn't really get into this story though. I appreciate having someone with the proper ethnicity reading the story, to help flesh it out, but something just went wrong there. I don't think it was the accent, as I had no trouble understanding what was being said. I can't put my finger on it, but this story failed to engage me.
It might be because of the difficult (to my ears) names, that I had trouble remembering which character was whom and therefore couldn't connect to any of them.
It could be because of the unanswered questions (How did the guests get a tour of the rose gardens if they were given to pay for the shoes and lotion? How come we never heard about the transfer of ownership? How come Gulabi never paid the price for not following directions? In fairytales there are dire consequences to that).
Whatever it was, this story fell flat.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2012, 10:53:45 AM »

It took a bit of work, but I ended up really enjoying this story. Admittedly, I had the extra time for a second listen. When in the right mood, I love fairy tales like this where the stakes are high and everyone has a little bit of magic. So many elements were present without needing any explanation: Lavanya's thorns can elongate into spears, Deepika's yarn can turn into a magic bridle, and so on. As for Max's dire consequences, I think that having a rose daughter was supposed to be that consequence.

The second half was initially difficult to follow because the transitions in location were not really fleshed out by the writer (as opposed to the reader not putting enough of a pause between sections). It seemed like one moment they were in the forest and the very next they were in the far away country, and then after a few scenes they were immediately back in their home country.

And I must add that the narration was great! Unlike Unblinking, to my ears it was expressive and musical. Smiley
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2012, 12:17:43 PM »

As for Max's dire consequences, I think that having a rose daughter was supposed to be that consequence.
I'm not sure about that. In fact, I think that she might be the originally intended daughter.
Consider:
She was born first, and thus the intended daughter, or the one created first.
She is a rose, the lotion was clearly made from flowers...
The whole deal to give that guy the rose garden and then having a daughter born as a rose smacks of a "deal with the devil" trope, but we never hear about it. So, it isn't?
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Gamercow
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2012, 04:17:44 PM »

She was born first, and thus the intended daughter, or the one created first.

Depends on if it was a FIFO or LIFO system.  [/nerd]

Aaaaaanyway...I liked this one a lot.  I'm a big fan of Hindu mythology, and this story very much fit into that world.  The characters were magical, things happen without much explanation, and the focus of the story is in getting the tale across, rather than having things make sense or be logical.  My only gripe was with the shoes.  I think that the power in the shoes(speed) should have been explained earlier, so we would understand that since the sisters only had one each, they did not possess the magical speed bestowed by the pair. 
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2012, 04:54:59 PM »

She was born first, and thus the intended daughter, or the one created first.

Depends on if it was a FIFO or LIFO system.  [/nerd]
Yeah, I had wondered about that, and then decided that it was a FIFO system.
Look at the mechanics of it: she was impregnated by rubbing lotion on her womb. Now, I can only assume that this was applied topically to the epidermis outside the womb, and whatever magical properties the lotion had were then absorbed through the skin into the womb. Then the next dosage of lotion landed a new baby on top of the other one. Then the babies popped out the bottom, in order. A classic queue. </geek>
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 01:18:45 PM »

She was born first, and thus the intended daughter, or the one created first.

Depends on if it was a FIFO or LIFO system.  [/nerd]
Yeah, I had wondered about that, and then decided that it was a FIFO system.
Look at the mechanics of it: she was impregnated by rubbing lotion on her womb. Now, I can only assume that this was applied topically to the epidermis outside the womb, and whatever magical properties the lotion had were then absorbed through the skin into the womb. Then the next dosage of lotion landed a new baby on top of the other one. Then the babies popped out the bottom, in order. A classic queue. </geek>

I presume you're right that the conception happened due to transdermal absorption, but I don't think implies FIFO or LIFO.  I don't think it's necessarily true that the absorbed reproductive seed will enter the womb on the surface normal vector--the circulatory flow could shift it in any direction as well as gravity.  And even once the seeds have entered the womb, it may not depend only on the location of the seed, but probably also on the location of the eggs (assuming that the seed is acting as sperm and must combine with an egg).  And even then, I don't think it's clear that the locations wouldn't change after fertilization before birth. 

I can only conclude that the determination of LIFO or FIFO remains undefined.  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2012, 05:59:23 PM »

I love this conversation.

As for the story...it took a second listen to understand it all, but I thought it was very pretty, in an undefined sort of way.  I would love to see a picture of a rose girl as I can't form a clear one in my head.  I bet she does smell wonderful.

I did appreciate that the narrator brought an authenticity to it.  But, like I said, I did have to give it a second listen and will read the text in Demeter's Spicebox.  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2012, 10:06:58 AM »

I love this conversation.

Me too.  I think this is the first time in my life that I have been able to talk about "LIFO", "reproductive seed" and "normal vector" all as part of one concept.
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2012, 11:41:24 AM »

It was my understanding that in the epilogue, it was hinted that the man in the  black and red turban was not an evil wizard, but a good one that got exiled by the evil raja and his wife.  I could be getting fuzzy about the story at this point. So therefore, he would want the good queen to be happy.  OR, knowing that people will be people, he knew that she would use the potion twice, ensuring twins, and knew how it would all turn out, more or less.
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 06:22:28 PM »

This was enchanting, absolutely loved it. The reading was great and suited the material well, the story flowed like a musical piece, it was full of mysterious happenings like a fairy tale or a myth. Honestly, picking on the story for being a little illogical is like asking how Atlas could carry the weight of the heavens.

This is my favourite 2012 story thus far. Captivating! Beguiling! Wonderful!
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« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2012, 06:13:37 PM »

I loved this story.  It reminded me of many of the myths I grew up with and the writing sort of reminded me of Salman Rushdie, with the lyricism and unexplained magic.  It was sweet and adventurous at the same time and that really went down well with me.

I loved the narration as well.  I find that sort of clear Indian accent with a hint of RP so easy on the ears (although I think the audio recording could have been a bit clearer).  It might help that I grew up with the language (I'm British-Indian) and knew what to expect with the pronunciation (even if my own is very poor - I can understand it, but English is my first language).
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 11:47:36 AM »

So lush and lovely!

I had a bit of trouble listening to it at the beginning, not because of the narrator (who did an awesome job of keeping me enthralled) but because of the audio quality. Luckily it smoothed out 5 minutes in.

I loved the magic in this story and that nothing is conventional. A female ruler wants to get pregnant? She rubs a special oil on her belly. Her daughter? an actual rose girl. The other daughter? Flips off the prince and runs off with his sister. And the writing? So lush I could smell the flowers in Galubi's garden.

What a delicious story. Thanks for running it!
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 02:21:44 PM »

So lush and lovely!

I had a bit of trouble listening to it at the beginning, not because of the narrator (who did an awesome job of keeping me enthralled) but because of the audio quality. Luckily it smoothed out 5 minutes in.

I loved the magic in this story and that nothing is conventional. A female ruler wants to get pregnant? She rubs a special oil on her belly. Her daughter? an actual rose girl. The other daughter? Flips off the prince and runs off with his sister. And the writing? So lush I could smell the flowers in Galubi's garden.

What a delicious story. Thanks for running it!

I totally agree! I thought it was going to basically be a classical Hindu mythology story, but there were lots of fun updates!
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