One Foot ON the Ground
Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | English Non-fiction
One Foot ON the Ground
One of the finest and most unusual autobiographies written in contemporary India
In this unusual, extraordinary autobiography, Shanta gokhale—writer, translator and one of India’s most illuminating cultural commentators the arc of her life over eight decades through the progress of her body, as it grows, matures and begins to wind down. Starting with her birth in 1939—in philosophic silence, till the doctor’s slap on her bottom made her bawl—she recounts her childhood, youth and middle and old age in chapters built around the many elements and processes of the physical self: tonsils and adenoids, breasts and misaligned teeth; childbirth and fluctuating weight, cancer and bunions. And through these memories emerge others, less visible but just as defining: a carefree childhood growing up in a progressive Marathi household in Mumbai Shivaji Park; the pleasures, in adolescence, of badminton, Kathak and hairdressing; the warmth of friends and an almost love in cold England; finding and losing a mate—twice—and bringing up her children as a single parent; the great thrill of her first translation from Marathi into English; nursing her mother, dying of cancer, as she would a baby; surviving cancer herself, and writing her second novel through the recovery. Told with effortless humour and candour, one foot on the ground is the story of a life full of happiness, heartbreak, wonder and acceptance. It will rank among the finest personal histories written in India.
Shanta Gokhale was born in Dahanu and brought up in Mumbai. She has worked as a lecturer in English at Elphinstone College and H.R. College of Commerce, as a sub-editor with Femina, as a P.R. Executive with Glaxo Laboratories and as arts editor with the Times of India. Gokhale has written two novels in Marathi, Rita Welinkar and Tya Varshi. Both won the Maharashtra State Award for the best novel of the year and have been translated by her into English. She has translated Smritichitre: The Memoirs of a Spirited Wife by Lakshmibai Tilak and the novel Kautik on Embers (Dhag) by Uddhav J. Shelke. Apart from these she has also translated plays by Vijay Tendulkar, Mahesh Elkunchwar, Satish Alekar, G.P. Deshpande, Premanand Gajvi and Makarand Sathe. She has also translated from English into Marathi the play Mister Behram by Gieve Patel and the novel Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto. She is the author of Playwright at the Centre: Marathi Drama from 1843 to the Present; and the editor of The Scenes We Made: An Oral History of Experimental Theatre in Mumbai, Satyadev Dubey: A Fifty-Year Journey Through Theatre and The Theatre of Veenapani Chawla: Theory, Practice and Performance. She has been a culture columnist with The Independent, The Sunday Times of India, Mid-Day and Mumbai Mirror.In 2016, she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her overall contribution to the performing arts.