Saturday, August 28, 2021

"2 + 2 = 5" a must watch film

Dear  Readers,

I hope you are all well and healthy.

This past fortnight, I've been a busy bee: participating in a poetry workshop, (more details in a later post) where one is expected to write a poem a day. Writing a poem is not an issue. It's the fact that as a poetry lover, I get stuck on the examples that are shared. I read and reread and then read the poem aloud and sometimes (as was the case on the day of e.e. Cummings, I got so sucked into the vortex of his words, that it took me two days to surface back up and realise I was lagging behind spectacularly! It didn't matter. The organisers are poets themselves. They understand our need to burrow deep every now and then.

As a means to dust off my stupor, I decided to watch a series on Netflix that came highly recommended by a friend. It's called: "How to become a Tyrant".

It is very well made. It's uncanny to watch history on screen while witnessing history repeat itself in real life. It's surreal.

Do watch it if you have the time or the inclination.

But, if you can't or won't. Then, I urge you to spend 6 minutes of your time to watch this gem from Iran. It says, with minimum production costs and time, everything that needs to be said. In my opinion, "2 =2 = 5" says it better than the Netflix series.

Personally and as a poet, this film also answers the question that often nags me (especially about political satires): "why write?" in the last 30 seconds. 

In less than 10 seconds, the last shot says it-- LOUD and CLEAR:

The pen/pencil is mighty. 

So, I reckon I will write for as long as I can.


Wishing you all a safe, peaceful and healthy weekend.

Till we meet again,

take good care of yourselves and if possible, practise freedom.

Arti 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Slaves can never be FREE

In my 2018 diary, I've copied Yamini's words and dated it June, 19th, 2021.

Wise words or phrases or chunks of text that inspire me, soothe me, intrigue me or the ones that leave me powerless to resist, I copy: giving due credit to the writer, of course. I take out my favourite pen of the moment and write them  out in old, unused notebooks. 

If you were to look at my writing desk, book shelves, cupboards, plant stands, you'd spot a notebook or two lying around with words from various bloggers, authors, poets, written in no particular order of date or genre. 

Yesterday, I was all set to share my latest spoken word piece on my blog but something was amiss. The news of Kabul had stripped me of the need to blow my own trumpet. 

Why do we bother to write? What's the use? Does poetry matter? All those grey doubts would've drowned my day had I not met two seven-year-olds.

A dear friend visited with her twins. I had planned to blog in the morning and keep the rest of the day open for my young guests. The twins love sorties and I adore reading to them. It's a win win. I was excited to show them my book. They chose the one they wanted me to sign. 

When it was time for them to leave, K said, "You know I'm going to write a book, too."

"Wow!" I enthused " What's it called?"

We were at the garden gate when this conversation started. The sun was beating down on us. Her mother had turned the car on. 

K shared the title and every detail of her story. The three of us stood perspiring in the hot and humid Doha afternoon. In all of ten minutes, K had described her characters and the initial plot with such vivid details and clarity that I could see her story like a film. Suddenly, she stopped. She'd spotted a gap in her plot. 

Unperturbed, she put her finger to her forehead and thought for a few seconds.

"I'll think about it." she announced confidently and strode towards her waiting mother.

"I love it K. When do you plan to get started?" I asked.

"Today, when we get home." She offered matter-of-factly.

She saved my day.

Why do we, as adults , put so many obstacles in the way of our creative energies? 

My guests left. I took a nap and attended a poetry zoom meeting. That's when I noticed the 2018 diary lying next to my laptop. I picked it up and there they were: Yamini's wise words:

"Deep within us is a region unaffected by the tumultuous uproar of our daily lives."

My day had been rescued after all.

**************

Sharing my latest spoken word piece here. It's a commentary on personal freedom. 


Thank you for reading and for listening.

I wish you a peaceful day wherever you are.

 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Real. Trust yourself. Persevere.

This sculpture is called Seattle Cloud Cover and the artist is Teresita Fernandez. 


"much like the sensation of walking on a moving escalator, the 'sculpture' is in fact a series of unfolding, continuously shifting views that are activated by your passage as you cross the walkway, propelled and animated by the rumbling energy of the trains below..."

******

I was 15 when I found out that Ruskin Bond's first novel, 'A room on the roof' was published when he was 17 years old. 

Being a true believer of dreams, I dreamt I'd be publishing my first book by the time I was 19. Life at home had been unusually challenging. So, I gave myself an extra 2 years to follow in the footsteps of my literary hero. 

The year I turned 19, my life became an upside-down pineapple cake, stuck to the sides of the baking tray. The only option for survival was to scrape out a living: one day, one nudge at a time. Every time the effort seemed unsurmountable,  the sweet and tangy promise of what lay at the bottom of the pan would entice me to carry on and I did. A few years of struggle later, I  managed to taste the spoils of a secure job, enough money to afford food and rent and even fell in love. It all happened at the same time. I got married, became a mother, moved cities and countries and somehow got lost in the mundane with such abandon and passion that my dream of writing and publishing lay forgotten like a recipe gone out of fashion and use.

'And all the seasons in between' was first published in May 2021: thanks to @Blogchatter's E-Book Carnival.

My dream became my reality more than three decades later.

Then more magic illuminated my world.

Ukiyoto Publishing, an international traditional publishing house, contacted me via Instagram and expressed their interest in my book. 

Anyone who knows me knows what this message must've meant to me. 

I replied enthusiastically. They needed a synopsis of the book, their next message said. I was about to get on a flight to Seattle, my first travel after 17 months, when I read that.

A few days later, I was reading a congratulatory mail from them informing me that they'd be going ahead with publishing my book!

So, my dear readers, all I'd like to share today (apart from the links to the book, of course) is that Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Real. Trust yourself. Persevere.

Magic happens.

I came across 'Seattle Cloud Cover' and the words (of the artist) on my recent visit. And even though the artist is referring to the landscape, it struck me that this sculpture was a metaphor for life. We move through our days with shifting views, circumstances and sometimes discover, re-discover our blurred truths, realise our old, forgotten dreams, dream up new ones and all this happens while the throttle of life rumbles on-- to its own rhythm. 

I'm sharing all the links for the book here. It's available in paperback, hardcover and on Kindle.  


If you've read it already (on Blogchatter) then, please leave your review on the sites above. Your reviews will help the book to be seen and picked by new readers.

For those who haven't read the early reviews of the book, you can read them here: 

Now that the trip to Seattle is over and the book is truly born, I hope to be more present on my blog. After all, this is where my writing journey re-started after a gap of two decades.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2021

A bowl of frangipani


Last week, for the first time, I attended a poetry workshop.

I've always dreamed of enrolling into an MFA programme, of living on campus once again and of soaking my days and nights in poetry, literature, reading, writing and reciting. Years of waiting for the right time when the children are old enough, when I have enough money, when I'm not working rolled on and on and brought me to Doha, Qatar.  I've lived here for over a decade. My children are adults now. They don't need me any more. I quit my job four years ago to pursue writing full time. And if I really wanted to, I'd be able to gather sufficient funds to pursue my so called dream. But. But. But.

Isn't assigning some life goals to dreams more attractive than putting them into plans? Plans are concrete. Dreams are fluid. Plans push you to do something about them. Dreams don't have any such requirements. Plans are realists. Dreams are romantic. 

There are many who plan and achieve and become successful. Then there are a few like me; the ones who let life's flow guide their plans. 

In my experience, at least, life's flow has a wonderful rhythm. Unknown to me, it syncs with my dreams and together they guide me into spaces where poetry lives, in pastures where words roam free, into orchards where all trees are ripe with fruit of ideas and creativity and suddenly, I am left executing plans that I never had the courage or the discipline to make.

That's what happened last fortnight. Sonia, a dear blogger friend, shared information about a poetry workshop on zoom.  I logged on. And promptly entered a live MFA class -- the kind I had imagined in my dreams:)

It was an hour long session.

One of the exercises involved looking at a picture of an urli (bowl) filled with frangipani blooms.

Below are some of the poems that came to the page that day.

I'd love to know which one holds your attention.


One:

In a bowl 
I know my limits

On a branch
I'm free

Two:

Refugees for a day
plucked from our birth-branches
You arrange us
so beautifully.

Three:
(Inspired by Rumi's words)

Reflected in the water
of this urli,
I see 
the East before my birth
the West after my demise
clearly.

Four:

Captured for a day,
you held us prisoners.

You called us beautiful.

You murdered us
for your pleasure.


The photo above was clicked in 2017. 

The photo below was made yesterday.

Wishing you all a fragrant weekend.

Stay safe.

See you soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Chaunsa is a mango, they say.

Dear Readers,

Hope you're all well and happy and healthy.

A short post today. Sharing an extract from my e-book to drum up more interest. Even though it's free to download, it still requires reading. 

So, here's a juicy piece to get you salivating for the book;)

Trust me, 4 minutes of your time is all it takes to savour the flavours of this chapter of my childhood memoir:


You can download the book here: And all the Seasons in between

Have a restful, beautiful Sunday.

Warmly,

Arti

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Sewing Symphonies with Threads of Love and Strength -- a book review for #blogchatterEbookCarnival

A collection of Poetry that attempts to connect the dots of life.


Title:
 Heartfelt Symphonies

Author: Chinmayee Gayatree Sahu

Format: PDF E-book

When a book cover matches the contents of the book as perfectly as this one, it makes me wonder what came first - the cover or the poetry? The cover art of 'Heartfelt Symphonies' is the perfect artful representation of the author, Chinmayee Sahu's poetry.  

'The poetry collection is a debut attempt by the author to showcase varied emotions that may capture the reader's attention to moments, memories, or musings in their own life." states the Author's Note at the beginning.

Arranged in four parts, namely, The Supreme Power, Nature, Fire and Life, the poetry flows from the divine to human love as effortlessly as the seeping pigments of the watercolours on the book's cover. Despite the distinctions, the flavours mingle together to create a melodious symphony.

The strength of Devi (Goddess representing the female form) and the fierceness of Shiva, the Adiyogi, set the stage as you step into Chinmayee's world. Her acknowledgments at the beginning of the book hint at the strength the author draws from her family. This first part confirms the source of her resolve and creativity: her belief in the Divine and her family.

As I moved from poem to poem, section to section, I had a sense that I was watching the poet threading her gentle needle of words through many pieces of fabric and patches of her life lived thus far and sewing them together into a tapestry that was HER--the divine and the human mixing in the knots and threads of hope and disappointment, hurt and betrayal, strength and doubt, sadness and joy. The thread, however, stays the same. It's love with a capital ell. And despite the heartache that is palpable in the longing in her lines of poetry, it's her resolve to carry on and to do so with grace and humility, in 'silence' more than in show, that shines through.

A romantic's heart that has felt the pain of human love and yet looks to the skies and the oceans to be one with the source is on show throughout this weaving. Its strength shimmers in its vulnerability. And that connects the reader to the poet for she has managed to write about ordinary, everyday emotions we have all felt at some point in our lives.

In her poem, 'Dried Petals', she says,

"the dried rose flower,
stands as a testimony,
of the promises that were,
made believing the dream,"

And then moves on to these lines a few pages later in 'Flying Puzzle':

"fragile, yet so soulful,
just like me,
isn’t the Dandelion, an intriguing puzzle?"

As I continued to read, one thing became clear. To the reader, the poet is not a puzzle. To me, as I base my idea of the author on this book, she's seeking the balance that seeker's seek--the one between living a life according to societal norms and expectations and looking towards a life of a lover, a sage, a hermit who wants nothing more than to become as light as a feather.

'Grow in Silence' brings the poet's vision into sharp focus for the reader when she says,

"To look deep within ourselves
Till we grow into our best selves
Away from the noise of comparison
To constantly strive & shine on life’s horizon!"

'My Red Lipstick' caught my attention. It's perhaps one of my favourites of this collection.

I'll refrain from sharing any more lines from the book for it's a much better experience to immerse in the book from start to finish. It's a total of 64 pages-- a good one to read over the weekend. And what's more? You can download it for FREE here : Heartfelt Symphonies

PS. This book is part of #BlogChatterEbook carnival in which my book, And all the Seasons in between  is also a part.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

He carried dirt under his fingernails

Many of you vising this blog may already know that I published my first e-book recently. Yay! The book's been getting a lot of love and some fabulous reviews. I'm chuffed to bits. I've been dancing and singing like the bulbuls all week. It's a happy time in a writer's life when her words find welcoming hearts.

Today, I'm here to share a poetry recital of a spoken word piece which is also the last chapter of the book. 

You can download the book for free here : And all the Seasons in between


I'd love to hear what you think of the poem and of the book. You can leave your comments here or on theblogchatter.com 

If you'd like to read a review before you make up your mind to download and read, here's one that'll convince you:-) Book Review

Have a wonderful Friday. Till we meet again. 

Monday, May 31, 2021

How to save a Story when lightning strikes the laptop it's stored in -- a book review for #BlogchatterEbookCarnival

A great guide to life and writing.
Title: The story of Story

Author: Ravish Mani

Format: PDF E-book

When I read Tomichan's review of this book, the fact that the author's original submission was lost because of a lightning strike, struck me. Coincidence? Fiction? I had to find out. So, I downloaded the book.

"Ravish Mani is a life adviser and story consultant." reads his Bio on Blogchatter. It goes on to say, "People in writing community say that he has an acumen for reading in between the lines."

After reading Ravish's bio, my resolve to carve out time to read the book strengthened even more on two accounts: Firstly, as a poet, I tend to stare at the spaces in between the lines as much as I stare at the words. So, perhaps here was a kindred sprit who did the same. And secondly, because this was the first time I had come face to face, page to page, with a bona fide story consultant. 

The five star reviews at the beginning of the book pushed me to grab my notebook and pen to  be ready to take notes. For those who know me, know about my wish to write that elusive story I've always imagined I'd write one day, the one that will make me famous! Yes, that one. This book may be the ticket for me, I thought and settled down like a student settles down in a classroom; alert and with a resolve.

But, the very next page stumped me.

I put my pen down. And read more closely. A large, kind heart and two giving arms sprawled out on my laptop screen like a vast field of mustard, sarson ke khet, inviting me to run through them, to frolic and pick anything I wish to pick because the author tells the reader that he believes 'in the Law of Giving, which says that the return is directly proportional to the giving when it is unconditional and straight from the heart.' 

He also mentions that this work of his is 'uncopyrighted.' Urban vegetable gardens  in inner cities come to mind. Imagine walking through an inner city street in New York or London and you spot a patch of green with a sign on it that says, 'take what you can.' You can't believe your eyes but you go ahead and pick a few beans, a couple of juicy tomatoes and put them in the cloth bag you have hanging on your shoulder and walk back home filled with positivity and a renewed belief in humanity. That's how you'll feel by the time you come to the end of this book.

"As I see, morality cannot be forced. It comes from within. For being moral, introspection is needed. No law can make you morally right. It can only instil fear of punishment in you. The day this fear vanishes, you will go beyond."

Yes, lightning did strike. It took out the author's laptop and other electrical appliances but left his phone and resolve intact. He started writing this particular book on his phone two days before submission deadline. The author asks the reader to forgive the book for any omissions and editorial glitches. When I read that I thought how courageous. 

"Ravish believes you don’t read a book, you read a mind."

To be able to put a book up for public scrutiny on such short notice when one's job entails editing, shows that this author is comfortable in his space. He's brave and not too hung up on perceptions. That is a sign of a secure writer.

I have a long way to go still.

"Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is often the result of bad judgment. He continues to fail & learn until he learns to close the gap between his perceived reality & the actual reality."

As I continued to read, Raj and Simran emerged from the mustard fields, carrying a bunch of reasons of why people read. I smiled at the synchronicity of our thoughts. The mustard field analogy had been scribbled on my notebook much before I came to the DDLJ part. The reasons why people read listed in the book made me reflect upon why I write.

The analysis of story is done well. The story structure and all the elements that make a story worthy of a reader's time are explained with the right amount of detail so that if anyone wants to use this book as a starter guide or as a quick brush up on the art of story writing, it is available.

A few months ago, I had received a rather heart-breaking  review of a story I'd written.  The reviewer had mentioned that my story lacked an arc, a tension in the plot. My memoir based story was very dear to me. The review stung and I ended up shelving that story. When I came to the 'story template' section of this book, I decided to plot my 'discarded' story in a flow chart, using the author's  suggestions.

His tips on motives and needs like "the one that wants the desire to be fulfilled and the other that opposes the fulfilment of the desire." as well as technical aspects like character sketches, "True character of a person is revealed through his choices & actions at crucial moments. His daily activities may present a wrong image of the person. " made me look at my story through an analytical lens. It helped. I'm eager to put the tips into practice and give this story of mine a re-write. We shall see.

"The words 'history' & 'story' both are derived from the Latin word 'historia' which means 'to learn' or 'to inquire.' On looking further, it appears that they are derived from the Proto-Indo-European root 'weyd' whose meaning is 'to see.' The Sanskrit words 'Veda' & 'Vidya' share the same root."

The book will make you see the world in a kinder light. How many people are ready to share their ideas for free? And if, like me, you're new to plotting stories on arcs and need to add tension to your plot lines so that literary magazines or publishers will take notice of your work, read this book. It'll help.

The title of this post is a question: How do you save a story that you think you've lost? Well, you see it first and then, well, then you do what you must to show (and tell) it to the world because "Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning."

This book was a meaningful read indeed. I'll recommend it to anyone who's ever felt intrigued about stories to check it out.

The book is FREE to download here: The Story of Story

PS. This book is part of #BlogChatteEbook carnival in which my book, And all the Seasons in between is also a part.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Hope, Nostalgia and a Big Blue Sky -- a book review for #BlogchatterEbookCarnival

This is a brilliant read.

Title: She and other Poems

Author: Huma Masood

Format: PDF E-book

The eye-catching artwork of the cover attracted me to pick this book. It held promise and I'm glad to say it didn't disappoint. Like any good book or film, I was left with the lingering feeling of wanting a bit more, not ready for it to end. 

The dedication page is a poster worth sharing widely. 

This collection of poems is divided into 4 sections: She, Dilemma, Inspired and Random Thoughts. There are a total of 33 poems. Each section has been designed with its unique and aesthetically pleasing colour scheme.

"Colours have the power to

change our mind and mood"

The art on the pages preceding each section has been picked with such care that if I was holding a physical copy of this book, I would've stared at these pages for long periods of time before diving into the next section. 

Born out of the poet's self-isolation, the poems delve into challenges faced by one and all in these times of the pandemic and yet, a sense of rejuvenation, hope and belief in the transformative powers of human endurance keeps the reader company throughout.

"We are like little birds in different types of cages."

Despite the isolation which is palpable in some of the poems, the book looks to new beginnings like night looks to day; quite sure of the inevitability of light after dark.

One poem that stood out for its power to connect is Black &White Pictures: 'A poem inspired by the Turkish resistance movement by the women against the prevailing extreme domestic abuse.'

It shows just how effortlessly poetry can connect causes, responses and  humans despite isolation and distances. The skill of the poet lies in the fact that she manages to do all this in just a few lines.

 "Stereotyping often leads people to make unfair

decisions based on poor

reasoning and gossip"

Leads you to another gem: They Chatter. In five short lines, Huma instils confidence in every heart that was ever hurt either by their own family/friends/ lovers or by the unknown trolls of social media. Brilliant.

I'm sharing one of Huma's poems here to illustrate the power of her words. It's called The Scarpbook and it appears in the 'Dilemma' section of the book.

"The forgotten nook

And that old xanthic scrapbook

Smelling oh so good"

As you continue reading, Haikus paint colours of Autumn and blue skies open you up to the peace that dwells in Huma's poetry. The reader feels tranquil while she reads and re-reads the lines on her laptop screen.

Nostalgia and hope will keep you hooked till the very last page. I read this book in one go and then went back to read each section separately.

As a lover of the written word, I'm drawn to poetry and often try my hand at crafting poems myself.  I'm verbose by choice because I love words. They say opposites attract. So, when I come across poets and writers who's carefully chosen few words not only speak volumes, but do it so gently and effectively that their thoughts and passions linger beyond the full stop, beyond the page, I bow my head in awe, in reverence. Huma's poetry (every section and every page) had that effect on me.

"Words are like bees. Some make honey, others leave a sting.

-Unknown"

The poet draws our attention to the power of words. She leads by example. Use them wisely, her poetry suggests.

"The words we use are powerful. They

can motivate us or tear us down.

And once spoken they can't be

undone easily"

Nodding to fresh beginnings, buzzing with bees, hopeful and open like beautiful blue skies, this poetry collection doesn't ignore to pay attention to the brand new pair of high heels that are yearning to feel the gravel underneath. Their hankering for travel is captured in the poet's lines.

And yet, the reader feels as hopeful as clay on a potter's wheel, about to be moulded into any number of possibilities, and as full of promise as the seed that is about to sprout in spring because the poet believes that 'the pressure you face expands your horizons.' And she manages to convince the reader too, gently.

Don't think too much. Just download the book and enjoy your weekend. It's beautiful through and through.

It's only when I read 'about the author' section at the end of the book that I realised that 'Huma is registered with Canva as a contributor'. That's when the penny dropped. No wonder the book looks so beautiful, I thought and smiled. Lucky us. If and when this book reincarnates in a physical form, I'd like to hold it and place it lovingly on my shelf of poetry books, next to Tagore and Carol Ann Duffy.

In the meantime, I will read Huma's poetry and copy her modus operandi.

'I read, I indulge

I see the beautiful world

Curled up on my couch'

This book is a visual and literal treat. Not to be missed if you're keen to see clear blue skies of hope in these uncertain times.

The book is free to download now. You can get it here: She and other poems by Huma Masood

PS. This book is part of #BlogChatteEbook carnival in which my book, And all the Seasons in between is also a part.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Looking at Life -- a book review

If there's only one book, you're planning to read this month, I'd urge you to pick this one.
I came across Tomichan Matheikal's blog posts during the A-to-Z blogging challenge of April 2021 and from the word go, I was hooked. 

The very apt title of the book, Life, can mean so many things at a time when the world is going through a pandemic. Even before I dug my heels into the essays, this caught my eye: "A book has no life without readers. Life, that is what matters in the end whether it is a person or a book." 

I had read somewhere that a reader lives as many lives as the number of books he's read. The reader of this collection of essays certainly lives at least 24 lives vicariously through Tomichan's carefully chosen words and artfully crafted pieces.

As an introduction, the author states that "These essays are written for ordinary readers and not for scholars. The style is simple and lucid so that any lay reader will find it easy to read and understand though the topics are not commonplace."

Imagine sitting in your favourite coffee shop with a group of friendly philosophers, historian, book lovers and thinkers. Now imagine conversations meandering from one to the other with thoughtful insights, weaving politics, humanity, religion, art, literature and common sense with such ease that you are left feeling informed and intelligent by just being present while sipping your coffee.

That's how I felt while reading this book:  absorbing the ideas presented easily and yet keenly aware of the introspective quality of what I was reading.

I can fill this post with pertinent quotes by famous people picked by the author and planted throughout the book which encapsulate the essence of his essays perfectly from Oscar Wilde to Bernard Shaw but I'll let you, the reader, relish those when you read the book. I'll stick to quoting Tomichan's words here to give you a sense of his style.

On the background of broad strokes of world politics, the nation state and religion, the author paints a line or a paragraph of such vivid wisdom, that it grabs you and compels you to look at it as a life lesson, a personal eye-opener, a warning to be aware of the pitfalls of society, of vanity. "Self-delusion on your part and condescension on theirs." 

The underlying theme of all the essays is 'Life' of course, but looking at it from the point of view of Greek mythology and the Mahabharata, from Kuhn to Kafka, from the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta to the life of Jesus, from Gandhi to Zorba, examining the truth or many 'truths' under the lens of the present-day politics compels the reader to examine her own ideas and set notions about life.  

"Rebellion is saying No to certain realities and saying a louder Yes to better alternatives."

What's life without lessons: learnt, unlearnt, yet to be learnt, forgotten and some that should never be forgotten?  I'd say it's a life never lived. This volume called 'Life' is peppered with lessons  but not in a preachy way. The essays are introspective on both micro and macro levels.  The reader may want to give time to the lessons to percolate before moving on to the next page. I did when I read sentences like: "Popularity has a diabolic appeal. It enchants and blinds people." 

Reading the book is akin to philosophical osmosis.  The reader is submerged in the richness of thought garnered from such a vast canvas of reading, that at the end of each essay one feels one has reached some clarity of thought that one wasn't aware one possessed. And in some cases, questions emerge ready for debate: a wholesome, gusty debate about how we can undo the damage we have done thus far as a race.

"Hatred is one of the most potent and bewitching of all human emotions. People love to hate those who are different from them in some ways. Politicians know this truth and use it effectively to create marauding bandwagons."

Tomichan's essays are a mirror. Reflected in them, you see yourself, the society and the world, warts and all, and yet looking into this mirror is not an exercise in vanity or futility. On the contrary, the essays have that reflective quality where one stops at a sentence, a phrase and pauses to gain a deeper understanding of self and society. 

"We need to heal our own fragmentations. We need to sit by the shore of a calm sea and put certain pieces together, pieces of our own souls."

And just when you think you may need a break to absorb all that you've read thus far, there appears  "the tender coconut that comes when the Warangal sun is boiling your innards is a memorable delight."

Refreshed and eager, the reader moves to the next essay and then the next. The sequencing is perfect. So, if you are keen to read it all in one go, you can. Be prepared to stop and be impressed on the way, though.

"Every crusader, every militant bhakt, every jihadist, has a heart and a mind that died long ago clinging to pet truths like barnacles clinging to rocks." 

The reader may wonder how to even begin taking those barnacles off oneself, society, political structures and age-old belief systems.

I'd recommend by reading works such as this one.  It can certainly be the first step to open one's eyes to the beauty and fragility of  'Life' and make one cognisant of the fact that despite our differences and prejudices, this is the only reality we have. Rest is imaginations and stories. 

"Genuine seekers of truth refuse to be deluded by gods." and "Truth is nobody’s prerogative."

The book offers solutions. It's not a futile coffee-table discussion in one's drawing-room. No, Sir. It's a call to change, to take stock of the situation, to take responsibility, to stop looking back and reminisce about golden days but to wake up and do something about today. The book urges the reader to live life and live it as a fruitful, well-informed citizen of the world.

"But we need a shift from our self-centeredness to a cosmic outlook. Who will bring about that shift? 
You."  

"It is my fervent hope that this book will live and not merely exist." states the author and as you go through the essays, the reader is let into his belief that "Life is a passion to be experienced, not a riddle to be solved." despite the book's deep and thoughtful provocations.

After I finished reading the book, I was reminded of a dear blogger friend, Yamini's recent post about Satsang. In her words,  "'sat' means 'true' and 'sang(a)' means 'community'. Therefore, it is the sitting in true communion - implying intent of purpose in the gathering and the potential for expansion from it."

That's what this book is. It's a Satsang: an invitation to gather around wise men and women of history, examine their words and philosophies and in doing so open up our own potential to expand our horizons of learning, understanding and acceptance.  I'll end my review with the author's words: "Take care of what you do to people’s hearts. The rest doesn’t matter."

I sincerely hope you will read this book.

The book is free to download now. You can get it here:  Life


PS. This book is part of #BlogChatteEbook carnival in which my book, And all the Seasons in between is also a part.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

And all the Seasons in between #blogchatterEbookCarnival

Yesterday was a big day for me. I became an author, a book author, an e-book author. Yay!

The process was harder than I had imagined. Ever since high school, I've nursed this dream of becoming a published book author one day. It's so much easier to keep dreaming. As Trudy wrote in one of her A to Z blog posts this April, 'opportunity comes wearing overalls.' Yes, the reality of all success is hard work--pure and simple. 

In my mind, I had thought that with over eight years of blog posts to my credit, cobbling an e-book together would be quite easy if I just sat down and did it. Ha! 

Suffice to say, I had to climb a very sharp learning curve very quickly and keep at it. My family and lovely friends helped me and cheered me on. All that hard work was worth it. 
Drum roll please....Here it is--my first book :

And it's FREE. FREE. FREE to download here:  And all the Seasons in between


All you have to do is sign up with Blogchatter using your FB or Google account. It's straightforward and very quick.

Aditya Vikram, a talented poet friend who read the final draft of the book told me what he thought of the book. I've picked the best to share here:

"But there's so much more than just nostalgia. It's packed with a way of life. A closeness to nature that all of us wish we could have. Characterizing natural elements like animals and plants, and especially, conversing with them is a trait many writers have explored. I was glad to find it done very well in an Indian context in your work. There is a sense of innocence in the narrator of the book that makes it endearing and easy to read. "

Thank you Aditya:)

The book should take you an hour to read. The covers have been designed by my daughter, Arshia using Canva. She also added her own watercolours to the pages of the book. You'll love her art.

A big THANK YOU to the team at @Blogchatter for this platform. Their hard work made my transition from dreamer to doer possible.

After the excitement of the book launch, I went to bed on a high last night. This morning, another rejection (from a literary magazine) was waiting for me in my in box! I saw it. Felt a twinge of deep disappointment. But then decided to write this post and continue celebrating.

Life is an up an down game.

It's up to us how we play it. It's a choice we have and we should choose wisely. After all, this day, this moment is one of its kind. It will never, ever come back.

So choose to download my book this weekend. Read it. And please give me your honest feedback. Your comments will help me to whittle a better book next time. You can ask me questions about the book here or on Blogchatter.

Before I go, one last thing...the blurb. 
Stay safe and healthy.
Till we meet again.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Road Trip #AtoZChallenge 2021


Dear Readers,

More than half of May has flown by. I have been cobbling together my first eBook! Yay! It's been a sharp learning curve but I've enjoyed every minute of it. More about the book will be shared in future posts.

For now, it's time to kick start this road trip. I promised myself that I'll be a more regular blogger this year and I think this road trip will help me to stay focused.

This was my fifth A to Z Challenge.

I chose to write on a theme this year. It was based on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie which means--"What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. And therefore, we must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."

Road trips are fun when one enjoys the views. Right? Otherwise, it's just a zoom from A to Z. I hope you'll stop by and refresh yourselves at the post-links listed below:

*A is for Alex and the Bees

*B is for a Bride in the land of Gods

*C is for a Cypriot Honeymoon

*D is for Delight in Impermanence

*E is for Escape like an Earthworm

*F is for Free Cola and Friends

*G is for Gardens and the Gates of Shambhala

*H is for Hurting on High Line

*I is for Idiom Book Sellers

*J is for Julie of Maunda

*K is for Kumarakom in Kerala

*L is for Lessons learnt in Brihadiswara

*M is for Mudras in Modhera

*N is for New Beginnings

*O is for O! Cloudsmen

*P is for Pudding in Planters' Club

*Q is for Quaffing beer at a Quaint bar

*R is for Rainbows on Table Mountain

*S is for Salt and Chillies

*T is for Trees Hussain draws

*U is for Unequal, Unique You

*V is for Vittels of morels, ferns and rose stems

*W is for The Wedding Album

*X is for X

*Y is for You and I and Yesterday

*Z is for Zikr

and *The Reflection Post (lists the blogs I connected with in April)

I hope to visit some more blogs in May.

Wishing you all good health and happiness.

Till we meet again.

Arti.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Reflection Post for #AtoZChallenge 2021

 

Photo made in May 2019 at Sunder Nursery Heritage Park, New Delhi

One day, in the first week of March this year, I was browsing through the aisles of our local book shop when a hint of turquoise caught my eye.

A small, squarish book wearing a pale blue jacket was perched on a shelf in the poetry section. I left my aisle in the Children's section and picked the book. Felt the grainy cover. Read the blurb. Admired the artwork on the cover and went straight to the till to pay for it.


I'd have to come back to the store the next day to buy books for my friend's four year old daughter. 

By the middle of March, I had decided to participate in the A to Z Challenge, but had no clue what I'd be writing about. I even put a post out on fb to ask for suggestions. But nothing stuck.

On the 22nd of March, while sipping tea under the neem tree, an idea flashed. I wrote to Hector Garcia, co-author of the book, and asked for his permission to use quotes from the book in my posts.  I thought if I get a reply, I'll use the book as my theme and if I don't, I'll wing it somehow.

He wrote back saying, "I love that you write a blog. Feel free to add quotes from our book." within a day. 

And that's how the A to Z series based on the concept of Ichigo Ichie came to be. My theme this year was based on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie which means--"What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. And therefore, we must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."

I had 7 posts prepared before I started. I wrote 2 drafts every day after posting and visiting other bloggers.

This year, I was very comfortable with my visits. I visited all my old blogging friends first, I'm loyal like that:) and then picked 2 or 3 new blogs every day. 

I'm happy to say that this year the quality of comments received were exceptionally good. 

I believe in quality over quantity in every thing I do. Blogging is no exception. Whichever blog I visited, I tried to spend enough time to read the posts and leave a comment but if no comment came, I didn't leave a one-liner to mark my presence.  

As always, I wish I could've visited more blogs. 

I found quite a few new gems this year. I've added all the blogs I liked to my blogroll. 

Here's my THANK YOU 
to all the bloggers who made 
my April truly spring-like: new blossoms and ideas sprouted
on sturdy, old branches and nodded 
to the new growth that May may bring
and perhaps this year of one more than twenty-twenty
will bear sweet fruit borne of curiosity and camaraderie,
despite a virus infinitesimal that's causing such exponential misery!
 A is for Arti, my namesake who writes short fiction on my space

Best mention Vidya and Ruchita who didn't blog but visited regularly and B is free:)

C is for Barbie's letters to herself. You can read them on Crackerberries.

D is for Deborah.
She loves the fact that her name means a bee.
Her topic of Ludic lexicon added new 'old' worlds to my vocabulary.
And like always, every single post of hers is magic perfumed with floral, dreamy imagery.

E is for Ellora Mohanty. After you read her poetry,
you'll thank me (for mentioning her here). You'll see.

F is for Farida. I found her by chance on
the chapters of her life which are full of inspiration, grit and wit.

G is for getting hooked on to a new discovery this year. 
He's called Tomichan Matheikal. He writes about politics and philosophy.

 Gail who is also a new find for me blogs about her writing process from 
H for Hawaii.

I is for Iain, a writer and Scotsman who visited me often. 
He writes fabulous fiction.
More about his trilogy of books is on: Iain Kelly.com

J is for Jayashree Writes.
She wrote about Harry Potter vis-à-vis life's light and not so light sides.

K has to be for Keith's Ramblings.
His humorous tales carried musical notes this time.
His short pieces always bring me a smile.

L is for another new find. It is Love, Laugh and Reflect.
A blog by Purba who's poetry is sublime.
 
M is for the missed opportunity of bloggers who visited me but I couldn't return the favour.
 N is for all the names I cannot list here,
  on account of only a couple of visits this year.

P belongs to four: PoojaPinkzPradeep 
 Old blogging friend Pradeep told us about Bangalore's history, 
while Pinkz supported me with her commentary.
Newly found Pooja used words from different languages to write Covid-poetry
and part-time working mom wrote witty pieces based on proverbs, verily.

Thank heavens for Quilting by Frederique.
I got my Q for this list and her posts were fantastic:
check them out for recycling and repurposing stuff into many things stylish.

R is for Rajeev, who I met this year on Spontaneous Overflow.

S, too, belongs to three: Srivalli, Sanskrit and Satabdi
While old friend and now little sister Srivalli 
took us on amazing temple tours in India on Amore Natura,

Durga Dash's Pebbles and Waves shone like a beacon on Sanskrit's 
language and literature.
I'll be going back for more for sure.

Satabdi's posts were all about words to do with the business of creating books.

T is for Trudy who I met very recently.
In fact, in the last week of the A to Z.
She writes about Films beautifully.

Unable to find a suitable U, I'll move on to V.

V is for a Visitor who visited sporadically but I loved the wisdom I found on her/his posts.
I don't know their name. 
The blog is called: Diary of a Sunday Visitor

W belongs to an old blogger friend whose immaculate posts always make me be more like her:
organised, skilful and sorted.
She's Karen from Weekends in Maine
Trust me, you want to visit her to see how she creates WOW! from something plain.

X is for kisses to all the readers who read the posts on Facebook and commented too.
I love you.

Y for me is always, always Yamini. 
I write down her comments in a notebook you see.
Because they're so precious. 
She writes about things that my soul seeks. 
Find her on:
And she's even a cool cat of photography!

Z is for Zalka Csenge Virag,
an amazingly resourceful  storyteller from Hungary.
She brings you tales from all over the world in The Multicolored Diary

And with that my dear readers, I end this year's A to Z.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the team at Blogging from A to Z whose hard work and vision has helped me to write so regularly.

Thank you Arlee Bird and J Lenni Dorner and team.

If I've missed out your name, I apologise. I think I've included all those who I continued to interact with right till the end.

Leaving you with this delightful cartoon that my dear friend Sharon shared with me. I knew I'd like to share it here on Reflection day.
Till we meet again amigos.
Stay safe and healthy.
And happy:)

I'll put all of my A to Z s in a  single post soon for convenience.
For now, I'm going back to my bowl of freshly harvested mulberries:)

This year, I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z  powered by theblogchatter.com