Blog – A work in Progress for a writer

It’s been long since I have written something here, and I am sure many of you must have forgotten me in my absence. A blog that once was at its peak; now sitting quite like an Indian soldier’s wife, who spends most of her days waiting for her husband’s return from the border. Someday her husband will return and she is going to share every little instance that has occurred in his absence with him. She waits for his arrival to show those treasured pictures of their child when he walked for the first time, when he no more felt the need of a support to sit… those fleeting moments of their child that would never appear again in their lifetime.

We all share the same relationship with our blogs, just as a soldier and his wife. We want readers so that we can share our happiness, precious moments, our ideologies and how we view the world and its offerings. Blog sometimes works as an outlet to our pain, frustration and agonies. Blogging sometimes makes breathing easy for most of us.

But you may ask if I realize all this, why did not I blog all these days.  If not, then you can ask me now. Does not matter whether you have asked me or not, I am going to answer anyway. After all I am writing a post after a long time and I am ignoring the word count, the grammar, and the punctuation; … everything that sometimes stops us from communicating straight from our hearts.

Now to answer all of you I was busy writing, rewriting, editing (not actually, I am not good at this) and  lastly licking feet of various publisher’s that every author has to go through to give birth to his first ever brainchild in form of his debut novel. Mine is a story about love, friendship, family, Indian tradition and rules of Indian society that we have to follow willingly or unwillingly.

Now here also few among you may ask- why did I choose a love story for my debut novel? The answer from my mind would be, In India it sells well (means really well). But since the start, from my heart I have felt that if I wanted to picture pain, agony, harsh realities then the canvas had to be of love.

In every love story the boy meets a girl. Then one of them (in most cases, if it’s based in India) or both of them (in few case, those we later term as made for each other) start falling for the other/each other. Now if the couple live in abroad, or in big cities of my country then one fine day they had sex and that makes their bond stronger; and if they live in small town of my country they still have to imagine things without experiencing them to make that bond stronger. To end the story, there are only two options left for the writer irrespective of the place the couple live, either a happy or sad.

Am I going to offer you the same story? I really do not know. Love will remain same. I hope the journey of those two hearts will not be same like you have experienced before. Sitting in another country I hope and expect I would open the bed room door of a common young Indian for you to enter and get a glimpse of life he lives, relationships he shares, dreams he experience, friendship he values, agony he bears and memories he treasures. While pressing that soft pillow under your chest, I hope to make you think like an Indian lady and expect you to react like she reacts to her issues, her problems, her aspiration, her confusion.

If I am going to achieve that, I believe my struggle of last two years while writing this one worth it. I know I am not good at summarizing things; so what I was up to during all those days of my absence from blogging is not as easy as it may be for most of you. So to keep it simple, I can only say the last two years of my life was for my book, for my book’s characters and for the journey they had to go through. Few weeks left, before I can at last see those characters entering your place, sharing their journey with you; so I thought I could not have better time to look back at my own journey of past two years.

The word count suggests 710 words; it means I have already taken lots from your precious time. So thank you guys for like always guiding me, blessing me and loving (if I’m not wrong) me and giving me that confidence to write a novel although few years back, two of my own countrymen rejected me for a couple of jobs as I stammer while conversing in English. My keyboard works perfectly fine unlike my tongue that sometimes fails to coordinate properly with my mind to articulate my thoughts in words, so I assure you that you would not get a little hint of the author stammering while reading this book. :)

It will be a lie, if I say I am not nervous or anxious as the publishing date is approaching near. But yes, for me that day will mark an end to one of the most challenging yet satisfying journey I ever had. By God’s grace I may someday write a better book (it would be difficult though), but this novel will always remain special. I know I can never give half amount of effort to another like I have given to this one.

I hope I am not sounding like I am promoting my novel. As people say, it’s not the destination…  it’s the journey that is beautiful.  So I thought I must share some of that beautiful journey with you all beautiful people.

(Forgive me for all the typos, grammatical errors… blah… blah… It’s already 01.44 AM and I am too tired to be concerned about those ;) )

A writer creates the path for the tides of emotions to reach the shore
A writer creates the path for the tides of emotions to reach the shore

The fragrance of memories

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In moments of loneliness,

the dusk sets in,

and my shadow disappears in darkness…

 

I hear the noise of silence,

Inhale a sweet past fragrance..

 

No matter I am happy or sad, hurt or stress,

No matter my eyes are open

Or  they are teary and close,

a sly smile appears on a tired face

as some memories of past dance..

A photo Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi – Sabarmati Ashram

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Sabarmati Ashram is located in the Sabarmati suburb of Ahmedabad, Gujarat,  on the banks of the River Sabarmati.

This was one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, famously called as Mahatma Gandhi, who lived there for about twelve years along with his wife, Kasturba Gandhi.

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It was from his base here that Gandhi led the Dandi march also known as the Salt march on 12 March 1930. In recognition of the significant influence that this march had on the Indian independence movement the Indian government has established the ashram as a national monument.

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Vinoba's activities
Vinoba’s activities

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The Dandi march was undertaken by Gandhiji and about 78 of his followers, starting from this Ashram. The protestors set out on foot, for the coastal village of Dandi, Gujarat, about 240 miles away. The walk lasted for 23 days and passed through 48 villages. The marchers were received with great enthusiasm and the support from the masses was very evident. During the course of the journey, thousands of protestors including women joined the walk.

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The protestors arrived at the seashore on April 5. The following morning, on April 6, at 6:30 am, Gandhiji offered a prayer, raised some mud and salt, and declared, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” He then boiled it in seawater to challenge British law that stated,  which no Indian could legally produce—salt. He encouraged his followers to start making salt wherever it was most convenient and comfortable to them.

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Mahatma Gandhi was the man not only share these words “Be the change you want to see in this world”….   But he followed these words himself and left a great legacy for people who dare to fight for their rights in a peaceful and non-violent manner.

An Indian with an Indian palm squirrel

 

According to our religion Hinduism, Squirrels are considered sacred in India and are not to be harmed. They are even fed by many Hindu families. This is mainly because of their association with Lord Rama.

An interesting legend explains the stripes on the back of most of the squirrels. As per one of the greatest Hindu epic “Ramayana” During the construction of the Rama Setu (Rama’s bridge, i.e. also known as Adam’s bridge at Rameswaram by Lord Rama and the Vanara Sena, a little squirrel also contributed in its own little way. It rolled in the beach sand and then ran to the end of the bridge to shake off the sand from its back (chanting Lord Rama’s name all along).

Lord Rama, pleased by the creature’s dedication, caressed the squirrel’s back and ever since, the Indian squirrel carried white stripes on its back, which are believed to be the mark of Lord Rama’s fingers.

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Into that Heaven of Freedom

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action–
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.

These thought provoking words do not belong to me. I am still not equipped with skills to define something so important to us, i.e. “Freedom” in such a beautiful and possibly the best possible way. The great Indian Poet, short story writer, song composer, novelist, playwright, essayist, painter Rabindranath Tagore wrote these words in one of his book “Gitanjali” in the year 1912. It left me wondering how he could imagine how it feels to live in a free land 35 years prior to India’s independence. I belong to that generation of Indian’s who took their first breath in a free India. May be that’s the reason we do not value the word “Freedom” like our previous generation. May be Freedom has come to us by default; so we have just taken it for granted like most of the other things.

India got its independence on Aug 15, 1947; and now on the occasion of the 68th Independence Day of my country when I look where my country and countrymen stand I wonder are we actually free or all of us are living with the illusion of freedom.

Are we free??I always left wondering, what actually we are celebrating for. Britishers left our country; was it just enough for us to make our land free. Here I disagree. For me freedom is to eradicate, corruption, sorrows, pain, injustice from our society and to fill our land with peace, prosperity and opportunity; where each one of my countrymen born with the rights to live in peace, to get justice, to nurture his skills and to prosper with time. Till that day does not come I believe we are not free.

Just by shifting the control of power and decision making for future of our nation and our countrymen from few foreigners to few of our own people, how can we be free? Rather it should be few good people irrespective of their skin color, gender or even religion have the real power to “free” rest of us one billion people from every evil act of another that affects each one of us and our society. I hope someday phrases like peace, justice, opportunity, liberty… would define what actually freedom means to each one of us as Indians.

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I know I should be saying all this on a day I should be proud of my nationality. But the truth is I do not need any specific day to extract pride from my nationality; being Indian gives me proud for 365 days a year and for 366 days on a leap year. For me days like these, gives us a reason to pause and reflects where our country and society is heading up to and what is in store for future generations who are going to share the same nationality. Do I need to close my eyes and live with the illusion that yes now I am free person living in a free land or do I need to help in a small little way to open eyes of my people who are still happy living in that dream world with their eyes closed?  A dream that never came true after 67 years is never going to come true if we are not going to dare to open our eyes and face the reality.

I have no idea when that day would come; when good will win over evil. I am also not sure when I do not have to start my day with news of corruption, rape, murder. I can’t even think even a day when foreigners would not visit our part in search of people who are poor or someone would make a movie “Slumdog Millionaire” that would look real. But hope is a good thing and I can hope the day will come.

Wishing all my countrymen living in India and abroad,…  “Happy Independence Day!!”

 

Thank You -That’s all I can Say

In today’s time if we expect that we are in the top priority list for another person then we are fooling ourselves. So many problems to deal with, so many battles to fight, so many challenges to meet, so many promises to keep, so many expectation to live up to… each one of us has to deal with all these. Now being a human, we have make choices with options, do compromises with needs, and do let go few relationships. So that we can end up finding ourselves in a space that we are comfortable with. I believe it’s wrong if we try to judge why someone did what he did, or why he did not do what we expect him/her to do. Let’s accept it that it’s his/her life; and it’s his rights to live his life the way he want.

But then keeping aside all these philosophies those hardly work in real world and unfortunately those suck us most of the time; we need to pause for a moment to appreciate what someone else is doing; not to criticize what he is not doing.  Sometimes these little kind gestures works wonder for the other. I had no idea until this happened with me.

I remember few months earlier, I got a mail from a reader. He too lives in the same state to which I belong. A smile generated the moment I read his words. I quote him, “It makes me happy that both of us were born and brought up in same state. I feel proud that, you are doing something that may make us all proud in a larger platform someday. My best wishes are with you!! Now my friends and I read your blog and we all want you to excel in life as a creative person.”

His message was simple. Still it touched me in my ways. If someone whom I do not know keeps me in his good wishes and blessings; I could not have asked for more. Since I started blogging, during last couple of years, there are many such instances those help me remains inspired and motivated. But then somehow there comes a sense of responsibility too. Now, I believe I have to live up to expectation of these few people who could see something in me, which no one else could notice before.

When I published my book, “I wish and hope” in November 2012; most people whom I know in real world asked me only one question, “How much money have you earned as royalty.” Honestly speaking, that book did not make me richer. My bank accounts did not float with money. But then it was not my intention to earn lots of money with that book. I wanted to gain that confidence in me that I too belong to that space, and I wanted to learn the whole process of publishing by my own. Starting from designing my books cover to formatting both its print and kindle version I did everything by my own. So I believe for me that venture was successful to a great extent. It’s only because of that I could dare to complete my novel.

I remember, Amira one of my blogging friends from Maldives, bought my book and posted the picture in her blog. Although I

The picture of my book she posted in her blog
The picture of my book she posted in her blog

warned her that shipping cost will be on higher side, and my book does not worth that much of money. Still when I saw her buying the book; I learnt the lesson that next time when my book will come, I have to make sure that, my book worth the money someone spends on it.

There is another blogging friend Elyse whom I consider as one the most honest people I know in blogosphere. She not only bought my book, but being gracious enough mailed me what she liked in my book and where I need to work on. Her feedback was constructive for me. Just as she wanted, this time I made sure someone who is a native English-speaking person was going to do the copy editing before I send my manuscript to a publisher.

I am also thankful to remaining five people who left their presence on my book’s page on Amazon’s site. The brightest smile appeared on my face, when I read a comment left by Lisa there. There are so many such memories to share, so many people to thank.

There was another instance that I still remember. I worked on the second half of my novel with my sister’s laptop as mine suddenly stopped working. Then just before the copy editing started, I transferred all the working folders to my laptop. Somehow in a rush, I left copies o few saved chapters there. I had no idea now it’s there for my sister to read. Few weeks later, one evening she called me and said she liked my novel.  To my curiosity, I asked how she could know about my novel. Later I came to know, the whole story. I felt good that she had faith on the product which I came up with; but the most encouraging factor was that the manuscript passed the test by the first reader of my targeted group of readers.

The bad thing for everyone around me is that I am moving terribly slowly in my life; but the good thing for me is that, now that I am moving slow I am capable of noticing every minute thing that is happening in this journey. 

The person, who has to suffer the most while I was working on my first novel, was the one who copy—edited it.  I ruined her afternoons evening and even nights with my questions and doubts. I left her wondering when actually I sleep; as we both live in two different time zones. Few of you must know her via her blog. But I am not going to reveal her name now. I believe we need to bow our heads and thank few people once we have success with us to share with them.

Now when I am almost done with my first novel I thank all of my blogging friends and readers for your words of encouragement, kindness and love.

In few months time, I can be able to hold my dream in my hand in form of my first novel. I have already signed the contract with a good publisher and the final editing and proofreading has already started.

So Thanks guys for your support during this journey. Forgive me if there is any typos or if I forget to thank anyone. :)

 As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

John F. Kennedy

Forget me…… “NOT”

It’s been long (may be weeks or months I am not sure, since I wrote my last post. I do not have any excuses for my absence in blogosphere. But today when I decided I would write something, I found like most of the times my mind could not generate any interesting thoughts to share here. Now I am too old to change the algorithm of my mind or to program it differently so that it can function just like a dedicated writer’s does.

While checking my blog stats, I could see the huge fall in that “number of visitors” column. No one likes to sit on a dining table and stare at an empty plate; while dishes are already served at others. All these days my blog was that empty plate. So the reason was evident. I believe this rule applies to every aspect of life.

At some point each one has to move on, each one has to make a choice, each of us has to find a replacement. But then I remember those words of wisdom from Maya Angelou,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Is not it true. Who remembers, what I’ve written in those last couple of years in my blog. But if I have appeared in your thoughts for at least once during my days of absence I believe I have done something good with my blog. That signifies in someway I have made you all feel good at least for a short period of time.

Sometimes, these lessons blogging gives us seem so valid in real world too. I believe nothing is permanent; be it achievement, success, legacy or even history. Everything comes with an expiry date.  At each phase we need to start it all afresh. But then how we treat our companions in past, decides it for us if we have those very few people standing with us when we move forward in life.

I believe all of you have not forgotten me yet, or else I have to rethink about the way I treat others….

It’s not easy being a writer

I have never ever looked at a book placed on bookshelves the way I am doing now. Now when I hold thoughts of someone whom I never met written on white paper in my hands; my eyes do not move from left to right to find any flaws or to mark something that can give me some reasons to criticize the writer. I read those words inside a book to only look for things that would compel me to appreciate someone else’s work. The reason is simple and evident.

After working on more than two years on my first novel; I know how much effort it goes to bring that final product. The process starts with imagination of few characters that help the story move forward and continues with situations that express the inner thoughts that gives the first and foremost reason to a human to write while cutting himself off from the society during the process.  I believe the process of writing moves in circle. First a person has to wait for that fraction of second which gives birth to a thought in his mind that acts as a driving force to create a whole world fiction where characters and situations are illusions; yet the message, the emotions, the theme remains real. And just when he finishes the book and ends up writing the chapter out lines to help his manuscript create the first good impression in the editor and publishers mind; again he has to patiently wait for the confirmation of a publisher.

Being a first time writer, the cruelest yet important lesson I learnt is that you have to be patient. The speed remains in a writer’s control only till the creative part is on; after that suddenly everything slows down.  In my case I got positive responses from few publishers to my proposal almost after two and half months. And interestingly, it took more than four months to get the first positive response to my manuscript from new yet a good publisher with few bestselling books to their name. But I know it will take another few weeks for them to come up with the final confirmation. I am still waiting for evaluation results from few other publishers.  It’s a wish of every writer to work with the most honest and credible publisher; so that his words can get the best exposure it can. I am indifferent; so I too want to work with someone who would pay me well and who would not let me bother about the whole business and marketing aspect of my next book.

Now keeping these timelines in mind; by any means it’s not easy for someone to deal with this waiting period without letting frustration and irritation getting over his head. Now here comes another challenging part being a writer and especially if you want to write or your whole life. An author usually gets a royalty around 10% of the cover price. In a country of 1.2 billion where the readership is growing there is no guarantee, the books will be a best seller in a few weeks or months time. Unless someone has some unique marketing ideas and money to implement them; it takes time to spread the word. So the toughest part is to start working on your next book while the evaluation is on and your first book is still awaiting its turn at the publishing world.  It may seem like the height of optimism; but then there is no other way. If you have ideas roaming inside your head; then it’s better to bring them on paper. In India it requires at least three to four good books to back a young budding writer if he wants to write till his last breath while having enough money in his wallet to buy happiness for everyone including himself.

You people may think why the hell I am sharing all this here. Is not it so!! But let me tell now, I do not belong to the space where I want to me. If tomorrow my novel do well then I am ready to share my success with the single person I know in past twenty-eight years. I am also preparing to accept that my failure will be all my alone. But then there are many young people who writes better than me yet they have no idea about publishing; just because to the place they belong to, do not give them enough exposure. So now onward I will share my experience here once in a while for all those people who love creating world of their own with words that flows from their mind and heart.

Yes, it’s not easy being a writer; but then humans are not born to do things that are easy. I have started believing in it and I hope many you are going to do the same.

Happy Birthday, Colin!!

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.

-Lao Tzu

Celebration of birthday is not something that we have in the list of traditions of our family culture. Since childhood I had never celebrated my birthday. It was only a couple of years earlier I could dare to break that tradition as my friends insisted that I had to cut the cake they brought. So no one knows it better than me, how it feels when you do not have friends visiting your home on the evening of that special day for every person which comes once in a year. Once I grew up, It hardly meant if there was any celebration or not. Like any other human, I too stopped finding happiness in these small occasions of togetherness and celebration. But before heavy phrases like success, money and fame entered my life I too was thirsty of love and hungry of attention from my dear ones. Although I knew I have apparently too many people in my life to support me and for few of them I hold the highest priority in their life. But then does not it feel good when someone wishes good things for you and tries his/her best to make you feel the most special person in the planet earth in a small way. Being a child, I too wanted others to make me feel special on my day. That experience is missing from my childhood memories. I can’t say I regret that. If you have not experienced something at all; then how can you regret it!

But it made me really happy when I saw a mother created a Facebook page and requested people across globe to wish him on his special day. She writes, “I am Colin’s mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him. So when I asked him if he wanted a party for his birthday, he said there wasn’t a point because he has no friends.”

Screenshot of the page on Faebook
Screenshot of the page on Facebook

I have never any doubt in my mind that only a mother can do what it requires to make her son happy. But the best thing is that there are still people left in this planet who pause for a moment in their busy lives and spend few moments to spread the happiness in lives of others. And the number of those good people in million suggest that there is still some hope left in this planet where most of the things happening in a wrong and undesired way.

I have no doubt this gesture from so many people will do the world of goods for that kid, Colin.  At least, he would never say it again that he has no friends.

I have experienced it myself how much few kind words and little bit of support from those people whom I have never met in my life did wonders in my life. I will share that some other day, for now I just wish every wish and kind words coming that kid Colin’s way, is going to help him in having that belief in him is that he is unique and he is special just like any other human. He too can do and achieve whatever he wants. At the end result hardly matters, it’s the journey that stays in hearts of all.

“May God bless him with good health, lots of happiness and may all his wishes come true… Happy birthday Colin.”

Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.

Shadow Lines

Shadow Lines
Shadow Lines

I walk on a lonely path,

With no courage to look back at my past,

With no fear to fail in future.

Leaving behind people whom I met,

I take every diversion coming my way,

Be it right or left.

I continue to walk in a path,

That leads me to my dream straight.

Where my journey would end I am not sure,

If people would see a success story in me…

 or if I will just be another failure;

I am glad now I have overcome that stage of fear.

Memories  give me strength,

Failed promises which I made to someone keeps on challenging my faith.

I smile and say, “There can never be another you…”

And I keep on walking, after taking one more deep breath.

Life is short, journey is long,

some say, to this space I do not belong.

I say, “I do not have to prove anyone wrong,

I just want to sing my life with my own written song.”

-Arindam