Sunday, January 27, 2013

Penguin India's Live chat session with Shobha De

A month ago, Penguin India grabbed the attention of many Indian readers by conducting a live chat with its famous, best selling author Shobha De. I have observed similar  'livechat' sessions conducted by Penguin India on Facebook. But I've got to say no one does it like Shobha De. She isn't the typical author in any sense. She won't try to be diplomatic to keep her fans happy. She gives as she gets without mincing words. No hypocrisy, what you get is honesty. These days, with more and more writers marketing themselves on social media as paragons of patience, this originality came as a whiff of fresh air. Her responses are not of a diplomatic author who is playing to the gallery and wanting to promote a book or a brand. I loved the way she got into responding to so many queries with her typical saucy, original thoughts. 

For instance, a guy wrote " i dont know why but i hav never been attracted by your books,plz plz tell me why should i read your books?

Shobha De responds instantly, " you know that line? Don't knock it till you have tried it???"

I loved that. Shobha De has spunk and she demonstrates it without a care in the world! That's why readers love and hate her with such passion. 

I have to admit that I asked her question that I have always wondered about while reading Shobha De's books. 

I asked her in the live chat session "Do you create a structure around your novel by mapping out the outline, plot and characters or do you simply dive into the story that is within you and let it flow naturally without any planning?"

This was her response  "Swapna.... a structure is essential to start with. But I generally re-re-re-structure as the book takes shape. "

On writing, Shobha De says, "... writing is like a heartbeat to me. I love it! I live to write. I hope to die with a pen in my hand and countless ideas in my head." 

When asked about her favorite book, she said this: "My favourite book is War and Peace. I can dive into it anytime..."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jyotiraditya: My Mother is wrong, I am not an only child

Recently we were visiting the home of an eminent retired High Court judge from Kerala about whom I have written in this post. So the lovely wife of the retired HC judge was talking to Adi and making tea when she mentioned that it must be very lonely for Adi to be the only child and I mentioned that he has a very solid network of friends in the society building where we live.

The moment I said that, Adi jumps up and says to her, almost angrily, "My mother is wrong. I am not an only child. I have two brothers and two sisters - the only thing is they aren't staying with us but they are my brothers and sisters. I am not an only child."

I told her very softly that Adi is referring to his cousins and she smiled at me lovingly.

Seeing the passion and conviction with which Adi was saying this, she gently and lovingly said to him, "What a lucky boy you are to have two brothers and two sisters." 

The way Adi looks and values his relationships is exactly how I did at his age, so long ago. I love that about him too. May his conviction, belief and love grow stronger and positive across the years so that he learns to trust in his intuition always in all relationships. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Six Year Old Jyotiraditya impresses a retired High Court Judge

It was a day that started just like any other day, though for six year old Jyotiraditya it was declared a holiday because of the cold. Still, it was a rush filled morning, punctuated by a hurried breakfast and tapping to music played by the radio jockey amidst many ad jingles. 

Sanand dropped me off at my office and he went to his office with Adi. 

The usual practice when Adi has holidays is that he spends time in his father's office, does a bit of studies, plays games online and on the PSP and does coloring or drawing on sheets. Basically, he gets a free run. 

This particular day, a retired High Court judge visited Sanand's new office and that is where he met six year old Jyotiraditya. You can imagine how funny that must have seemed to the eminent judge. He must have wondered what a six year old is doing at a law firm. But for the six year old, he was wondering what this person is doing in his father's office. So, this mutual 'admiration' committee struck up a conversation and they actually got along like a house on fire! 

The gist is that the judge was very impressed after speaking with the little brat. He told my husband so and invited him to come home esp with Adi. This was a sure first!

Then a week later, he personally called up my father-in-law whom he knows very well and mentioned, "I met your grandson. Adi is such a smart boy."

Well, I was really happy that Adi conducted himself well without any 'prepping' from either of his parents. 

Maybe we should let him become a lawyer instead of Spiderman. Jyotiraditya has decided to be the next Spiderman in real life - don't say I didn't warn you about it. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ganga Darshan and Ganga aarti

Happy 2013, dear friends! For me, the year began with Ganga darshan and aarti.  

My six year old son Jyotiraditya began to play in the shallow end of the ice cold Ganga. Then he closed his eyes and began to chant the Mritunjaya mantra with total concentration. It was a priceless moment for me as a mother. He did the chanting with absolute conviction and passion. 

Some foreigners who were humming along with the aarti suddenly pointed towards Adi in exclamation. They began to admire him in soft exclamations and started to click his snapshots. That moment of electric energy was broken instantly. That is one thing I want to share – in places of worship and where prayers are chanted, it is important to avoid taking snapshots. It instantly cuts and interferes with the electric energy of positive powerful vibrations that are a result of mantra-chanting.       

For me, as I stood before the Ganga aarti, the incredible power, the force and the energy of Mother Ganga filled my senses like intoxication. It was as though time had frozen and stress, worry and even a sense of separate identity ceased to dissolve. It felt as though I no longer existed - but seemed to be one with the divine energy around me. 

All that pervaded my consciousness was a need to experience the beauty, the shakti and the sattva shuddhi of this beautiful Goddess that flows all around, cradled by the most beautiful mountains. What in life can be more beautiful than reaching this original point of creation at its most magnificent, powerful peak?

As you stand before the Ganga, you realize that nothing can be as beautiful as this moment of awareness and oneness with divinity. Thoughts dissolved into nothingness. In fact, thoughts ceased altogether, bringing existence itself to a standstill. Isn’t that the culmination of what all spiritual seekers aspire and long for? To be free from thoughts and desires not merely for moments but for this whole lifetime?  

Standing there, I felt humbled by the glory, the power and the beauty of Ganga Maa. And let’s not forget, she flows down to the earth from the heavens. That is the greatest and most important point of a woman’s strength – purity of purpose, patience of being and humility towards all – these traits are divine and have remained consistent for centuries. We call all of this as decadent and patriarchal now of course. That works for some, but values - it springs from the heart whereas showing an attitude is the finest example of ego kicking in and becoming stronger and more powerful than the heart.

Thank you Ganga Maa. So much to learn, so little time.
But I promised. I will try.


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