Anjum Hasan's writings have in some ways been inspired by the neighbourhood
The website of acclaimed poet and novelist Anjum Hasan says that she “lives in a house with a yellow door”. Learning that her home is in Sanjaynagar was serendipitous. Around 11 years ago, Anjum moved to this busy neighbourhood in north Bangalore after growing up in the verdant environs of Meghalaya's capital, Shillong.
The writer says, “I appreciate that Sanjaynagar has accepted me and that I can call it home. I love the fact that I can buy thatte idlis with Madras sambar from a hole in the wall, that when my watch breaks I can get it repaired by a knowledgeable old watchmaker, that the itinerant vendors offer strange things like car covers and suitcase repair!”
Although the area has undergone some changes like all other neighbourhoods, Anjum feels that its pace has been incremental. “The small traders and family-run shops, the green cover, the middle-class housing colonies with their simple, modernist houses built in the 70s and 80s — some of this still remains,” she observes.
Anjum has penned verses about life in Sanjaynagar and Bangalore. Her second novel, Neti, Neti (IndiaInk/Roli Books), is the witty and warm narrative of a young woman who relocates to Bangalore. According to the author, “It is partly about housing colonies, nosy landlords, real estate greed and guru worship. Although it is not based directly on Sanjaynagar, it is inspired by it in some ways.” This book was long-listed for the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize and DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2011 and shortlisted for The Hindu Best Fiction Award in 2010.
At present, Anjum is finalising the manuscript of her new short story collection called Difficult Pleasures. Married to popular writer and theatre person Zac O' Yeah, Anjum is the Books Editor for the English literary magazine The Caravan.
Anjum sometimes gets “fed up” of Sanjaynagar. “Some evenings, it is impossible to cross the main road. And the constant racket from all the new construction around me drives me crazy. But after I visit any other part of Bangalore, India, or the world, I am dying to return to good old Sanjaynagar!”