Character of The Month: January 2014: Vikram

.We gota' start to love.

Image from here

‘I haven’t visited India for decades, but I know the gods are still there, plastered on posters, looking out from shop displays as squat little mannequins, their serene faces curved around tea lights and candles, on calendars, sweets and tiny sculptures in wayside shrines. Even now, their names are like music to me. Kali, Shiva, Parvati, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Ganesha… just saying them aloud brings back such strong , strong memories.

If I close my eyes, I can almost see my village, as if I’d never left. I can almost see my father’s old bicycle, the red dust roads, the cows meandering sleepily around the hawkers and the chai wallahs serving out cups of thick dark tea. I can see the large, inky black eyes of the cows and the garlands of vivid yellow flowers about their necks as they cropped placidly at what little grass we had. I can see it all. Memories, memories, slipping through my fingers like sand, but I’m almost there, I can almost taste it.’

-Extract from ‘The Ghosts’ Wedding’ from The Ghosts’ Feast, copyright Eleanor Keane

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George Harrison and Ravi Shankar with sitars (originally from here)

Happy New Year, readers! To celebrate, let me take you to a place full of excitement, colour and culture…India! If I could get a plane ticket for you all, I would, but sadly not. Instead, close your eyes and sink for a moment into Vikram’s world- as he puts it, ‘I can see it all’- the vivid colours of the saris, the bright and exotic food, the tiny statuettes of gods and goddesses. Vikram is, of course, also a vampire. I named him after the folk tale of King Vikramaditya, who was set riddles by a malevolent spirit- know in Indian culture as a vetāla. But Vikram wasn’t born a vampire, he was born mortal just like the rest of us, devoted to his father and a devout Hindi. He grew up in the Sixties, with gleaming black hair and unusual green eyes, in a tiny dusty village somewhere on the outskirts of Northern India.Blessed with a gift for music, Vikram was-and still is, to some extent- an apt student of the sitar, and as a teenager he listened raptly to his old, worn radio churn out the music of Ravi Shankar and the Beatles’ songs.

BEATLESINDIA3

Feel the love: Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Boyd, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Jane Asher. (Originally from thebeatlesordie here)

John, Paul, John, Ringo: his own personal mantra, with London in the Swinging Sixties his own personal dream.

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Image from here

 Through a dark twist of fate, Vikram was Turned into a vampire, and cruelly seperated from his new wife, a lovely but mysterious girl named Vennela. Thrust into the hustle and bustle of London life, he had to learn to survive without her and the rural comforts of his village. Heartbroken and alone, Vikram wandered through the London streets, seeing the place he once longed to visit with his new vampire eyes. In those first lonely nights, Vikram was a stranger in a strange land, slowly acclimatizing to his new life as a vampire. Slowly acknowledging that, in order to live, he had to kill.

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Image from here

Somehow, he managed to scrape and living and survive, eking out his life in the moonlit hours, sometimes hoping for a glimpse of a sari or the curved wall of a temple. Now Vikram owns The Blood Moon, a glamorously Gothic bar set in the heart of a graveyard, where vampires congregate like bats. A statue of the Hindu god Ganesha sits on a shelf behind the bar, and his sitar is propped in a corner.

Haunted temples, heartache, love, sorrow, loyalty and change: Vikram knows each of these as well as the strings on his cherished sitar.

But who Turned Vikram into a vampire? Was he reunited with his great love, Vennela? And did he ever get his own happy ending?

To find out, read The Ghosts’ Feast. Vikram also appears in The Breathing Ghosts and The Blood Witching.

…But if the thought of India has you off into an exotic daydream, how about this? Tumblr is full of image boards bursting with colourful, bewitching images of India- from the Ganges to the Temple at Amritsar. (Try here for starters.)

Want to go there? Check out Lonely Planet’s guide to India. Or, how about staying in the luxurious Kesroli Fort in Rajasthan, or the Oberoi Udaivillas in Udaipur? (click here and here)

Take your inspiration from musical prodigy Vikram, and listen to:

Raga Jog by Ravi Shankar

Love You To by The Beatles

(note the awesome sitar at the beginning!)

Indian Summer by Tori Amos

Still not satisfied? Swot up on Kali and Lakshmi and browse this guide to Hindi gods and goddesses and even learn Hindi– listen to audio clips and get to grips with common phrases! Finally round it all off with a yummy curry and maybe, just maybe, a toast to January’s Character of the Month? 😉

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