An Evening of Alchemy

A big thank you for everyone who attended the  event for Alchemy: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories 2 at Aicon Gallery on March 27th!  We had a kind introduction from the ever-delightful Ken Chen of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (our co-sponsor for the evening), five awesome readers (Abeer Hoque, Amitava Kumar, Mohan Sikka, Ranbir Sidhu and yours truly), a ‘Sex for Samosas’ quiz which demonstrated Amitava Kumar’s second calling as a quizmaster extraordinaire, and 65 of the best audience members anyone could ask for.  It was also a family affair, my lovely cousin behind the book table, my dapper brother-in-law serving refreshments, my husband taking the photos (he also wrote the quiz.  For all of you trivia mavens, the questions are at the bottom of this post).  There was a wonderful (dare I say alchemical?) synergy between the readers and the audience; a few people told me it was the best reading they’d ever been to, and these are people who’ve been to a hell of a lot of readings.  I’ll take that as a compliment.

Alchemy is now available as an e-book on Amazon!  Download it here:

Some photos from the event:

Mohan Sikka reads from his story Matinee

Mohan Sikka reads from his story Matinee

Ken Chen of the Asian American Writers' Workshop

Ken Chen of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop

My turn.

My turn.

Amitava Kumar reading from his own work and from Hansda Sowvendra Shekar's story, Semen, Saliva, Sweat, Blood

Amitava Kumar reading from his own work and from Hansa Sowvendra Shekar’s story, Semen, Saliva, Sweat, Blood

Abeer Hoque reads from her story F is for Fire

Abeer Hoque reads from her story F is for Fire

Ranbr Sidhu reads from his story Sanskrit

Ranbr Sidhu reads from his story Sanskrit

audience participation

the audience

the audience

laughing at the quizmaster

laughing at the quizmaster


The quiz questions (they all had visuals to go along with the answers, but I’ll leave that to your imagination)


1. What’s common to the splitting of a bamboo, the fixing a nail, the jumping of a tiger and the rubbing of a boar?

2. She achieved notoriety when she posed topless with the initials of the ISI (the Pakistani intelligence agency), printed on her arm. Also famous for her takedown of a Mullah on questions of morality on prime time TV, shortly after she participated in an Indian version of Big Brother. Who’s this sexy lady?

3. This disease was first diagnosed in the mid eighteenth century by a

French physician, MDT Bienville. According to Bienville, the warning symptoms of this disease were dwelling on impure thoughts, “secret pollutions” (i.e. masturbation), reading novels, and eating too much chocolate. What was the disease?

4. The leaf is a yoni, the piece of nut placed atop it the lingam, the white caustic lime paste made from crushed shells is semen, the blood red catechu paste is menstrual blood. What are we talking about?

5. S’adat Yar Khan “Rangin” (1755-1835), true to his takhallus or nom-de-plume, was a “Colorful” character; “A mercenary, a horse trader, and a poet.”  He lived and worked and traveled extensively in late-Mughal India. In the days of his youth he used to spend a lot of time with khangis [married women from respectable households who surreptitiously practiced prostitution], and he used to “pay close attention to every eloquent speech in that community.” He named and was one of the first writers of a new genre of poetry, written by men in women’s voices, which purports to be ethnographic documentation of women’s speech, rituals, beliefs, emotions and sexual practices. This genre of poetry is known for its frank portrayals of female homoerotic desire and lesbian sex. What is this genre of poetry known as?

6. Over the course of ten days in his Honolulu penthouse, he put a check mark in his Daytimer every time he slept with a girl. After those 10 days there were 23 checks in the book, which would be rate of 2.3 women per day. He divided that number in half, to be conservative and correcting for degrees of variation. He then multiplied that number by the number of days he had been alive at the time minus 15 years. What infamous number resulted?





  1. They are all sex positions in the Kama Sutra.
  2. Veena Malik
  3. Nymphomania
  4. Paan. The act of eating paan is loaded with Tantric sexual imagery—coded as the consumption of sexual discharge
  5. Rekhti poetry
  6. Wilt Chamberlain’s claim to have slept with 20,000 women

1 Comment

Filed under Erotica, Writing

One response to “An Evening of Alchemy

  1. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

    Thank you, Sheba. I think the quiz was the highlight of the evening. :-)

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