The short third person version…
Anjali Vaidya is a writer of environmental non-fiction and fiction, currently based in San Diego, California, where she lives with her husband and toddler. She was recently named the Pen Parentis Fellow for 2019-2020 for her short story, “The Storyteller.” Her non-fiction has been published in venues such as Orion Magazine, The LA Review of Books, Boom California, Public Books, Dissent Magazine, The Wire and Khabar Magazine. She also has a children’s book on the water cycle out with Pratham Books.
The longer first person version…
I am a freelance writer currently based in San Diego, California. Before that my home base was Bangalore, India for twenty years, and Pullman, Washington before that, with a stint for college in Philadelphia in between. My writing work includes a combination of non-fiction and fiction, much of which tends to deal with science and the environment. But I write about anything that draws my interest. Two decades in the 10 million-strong city of Bangalore left me fascinated by urban spaces and all their contradictory parts. The combined five years I spent in grad school, studying population dynamics in fruit flies, and then Indian environmental history, filled my mind with all sorts of cross-disciplinary tools that help me out as a writer. I’m drawn to write about the natural world not as a place of seclusion, but for everything nature tells us about human beings. Lately I like writing about water, in particular: I love the stories that water is able to bring out.
This website is an attempt at collecting all my writings from around the internet in a slightly organized fashion. I will also keep putting up 100 word stories as I write them, a form I started playing around with two years ago when my daughter was an infant and making a full story out of a hundred words was the most I could manage while she napped. And who knows, if I can think of something to blog about in the future, maybe I will actually blog. (Most likely about books. Possibly movies. Perhaps one day I’ll even write up my analysis of how Christopher Nolan cannot make movies without dead girls as plot points. But in order to write that particular piece I’d have to be jobless in a way one never is around a two year old, so most likely not.)
Below, a few projects I’ve enjoyed working on most recently…
“The Storyteller.” Dreamer’s Magazine, short fiction. Winner of Pen Parentis Fellowship for 2019-2020. Two children wander a deserted beach, in a world transformed by a storm. August 2019.
“Festivals: My Grandma’s Ganesha.” Khabar Magazine, memoir-type essay. I am sorting through the past, as Ganesh Chaturthi approaches and, once again, I am doing nothing to celebrate it. August 2019.
“Breaking the Frame: The Narratives that Help us Fight Climate Change.” The Los Angeles Review of Books, non-fiction essay. Paying attention to communication is particularly important in the case of climate change, because how you tell a story decides how you’ll solve it. July 2019.
“Catch a Ride on Raindrops.” Pratham Books, children’s book. Illustrated by Sayan Mukherjee. A group of kids go on an Alice-in-Wonderland-style adventure with the water cycle. April 2019.
“Musings: Unpacking.” Khabar Magazine, memoir-type essay. We live in an immigrant world but not a rootless one; across borders we carry objects, and the stories they hold. April 2019.
And a few selected pieces from longer ago…
Review of Harini Nagendra’s Nature in the City for H-Net. How can we foster an urban community that has a sense of agency over its surrounding environment, and that works together across differences of language, religion, class, and caste to rejuvenate and protect that environment? January 2018.
“Native or Invasive.” Orion Magazine, creative non-fiction essay. On lantana, invasive species, and being multiracial in an increasingly walled-off world. March 2017.
“Bridging the gap between humans and elephants: from anthropology to ecology.” Current Conservation, non-fiction feature article. Exploring the new discipline of ethnoelephantology, where anthropologists and ecologists work together to find new ways of thinking about elephants in the Anthropocene. November 2016.
“Unnatural Disaster: After the Chennai Floods.” Dissent Magazine, non-fiction article. Last December’s floods in Chennai illustrated the devastating consequences of a development model that puts profits before people. But they also hinted at what a democratic response to climate disaster might look like. April 2016.
“COP21 Diary.” The Wire, non-fiction articles. December 2015. Two weeks of daily dispatches from the 2015 Climate Talks in Paris. December 2015.
“Ghosts of architects past on the Indian Institute of Science campus.” IndiaBioScience, non-fiction article. Repurposed World War II-era buildings give a glimpse into India’s scientific history. August 2015.
Other places to find me on the internet: I sporadically post on Twitter and Facebook, and try to keep Porterfolio updated with all the non-fiction I publish. You can reach me at anjali DOT p DOT vaidya AT gmail DOT com.