About the Rabindra Sarobar Series
I originally watched the Twin Peaks television series, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, when it aired in 1990. I was 11 years old and my older brother would be responsible for setting the VCR to record the shows on VHS tapes. Though my suburban Ohio life was nothing like the anachronistic Northwestern universe Lynch brought to life, the show became a touchstone for me. The mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, the town’s illicit love affairs, the dark depths of the Red Lodge—these all became embedded in my childhood memories. This was the kind of story I wanted to be told.
Since that original viewing, I watched the show again at different times in my life and Lynch’s melodramatic, symbolic style of storytelling became a lens in which to view the world. I was drawn to spaces that seemed “Lynchy”, or filled with the possibility for strangeness, dark glamour and magic. For instance, I love a bar on Guerrero Street in San Francisco for it’s eerie neon sign and white tablecloths, next to the convenience store that housed the world’s biggest rubber band ball. It was easy to use the Lynch Lens in the United States, but I never tried it in my own work since it would seem too similar to what Lynch has perfected.
But spending a year in India seemed like the right time to take my obsession and turn it into real inspiration. So, I began a blog—Uncanny India—where I would post writing after watching each episode of Twin Peaks in India.
I made two interesting discoveries. 1. America is Lynch’s landscape. His palette is made up of diners, pine forests, and in his more recent films, the conundrum of Los Angeles’ urban glory. India was free from anything that seemed too familiar. 2. As an Indian immigrant coming to live in India for the first time, everything here seems shockingly foreign, but also oddly familiar. The whole world, then, is doused in Freud’s Das Unheimliche, or uncanniness—one of Lycnh’s main tools of storytelling.
I found my writings focused around the artificial Rabindra Sarobar Lake near my flat in South Kolkata, where a mystery has begun to evolve. In order to continue the lifeline of this work, I took my writings and handed them off to illustrator Susanna Kwan. Her illustrations highlight the living beings peppered through my writing’s own surreal world. Rabindra Sarbobar is a work-in-progress, which I hope to continue the series through the thirty episodes of the series.
Neelanjana Banerjee is a poet, fiction writer, blogger, editor whose creative work has appeared in the The Literary Review, World Literature Today, Asian Pacific American Journal, Nimrod, A Room of One's Own, Desilit, the anthology, Desilicious, The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (HarperCollins India, 2011) etc. She is a co-editor of Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry (University of Arkansas Press, 2010). She has taught writing and media skills to youth through the San Francisco WritersCorps and YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia. Neela was an editor and blogger with the Asian American magazine Hyphen.