Yash’s Work

Yash’s works are showcased in Mumbai Mom’s Creative Corner. I am happy that he got a platform so huge in his tender age. He wants to be an artist, he says. His use of colours always intrigues me. It was black, charcoal and grey for months before he turned to others. He churns out different stories with his abstract. “The way to the temple” could become “The Humongous Whale in Sea”. Next week, the same shall transform into an “Army tank”.

What do I learn from this? You create and recreate, not only the art but also the interpretation. Why be so fixated on meanings? Focus on the form instead. Meanings are fleeting.

 

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On Motherhood

The muse comes to us in different forms, nudging us to write, to create.

Many times, it is Sonia Rao @Soniaraowrites who dons this role. She has been mentoring generations of writers in India. She is the chief of the group called WrimoIndia, the Indian chapter of NaNoWriMo. We gather in November and write 50,000 words, i.e. a rough draft of a novel. She has been leading us through this madness year after year. Rest of the year, she makes sure that we never keep that pen down.

A few days back Sonia asked if I could contribute to the lovely  Mumbai Mom which focuses on parenting and much more.  It is a great collection of writings on journeys of people in being a parent/teacher to young ones. They also come out with op-eds about current issues. I visit the website when I am unsure, and it always has some wisdom to offer.

I came out with “On Motherhood: Some Gaseous Advice and Some Liquid Lamentations.”  It’s is not only about the beatific joys of motherhood, but also less flattering emotions associated with it. Please do read!

 

“Gender Bender” this Women’s Day

This Women’s Day the internet was bursting with mushy panegyrics about the delicate beauty and self  sacrificing nature of women in general, mothers in particular. Almost all the respectable apparel brands had a sale planned for the day. Male colleagues everywhere were trying to be politically correct by smattering the word “empowered” “independent” “modern” before the word “woman”.

Suddenly the world was convincing women how special they are supposed to feel. It made them believe that they should treat themselves to spas, dimly lit with aroma candles just so that the glass ceiling above could continue to remain invisible. But what about those who aren’t privileged enough to worry about the glass ceiling as they have to deal with iron walls?

I understand why many women were feeling bitter, not better, about being a woman on Women’s Day. Women’s Day now is another corporate circus driven by market. The idea is to partake in the mere skin deep celebration of “emancipation”. No doubt, many of us end up cynical after consuming the gooey narratives about goodness of our gender flooding the world that day.

But then, I came across something remarkable: the amazing Gauri Wagenaar had invited me to attend a talk by a transgender named Shilpa Maasi on the ideas of womanhood, at Project Cafe in Ahmedabad.

Shilpa Maasi was a delight to the eyes: raw mango colour sari, gilded finery, fiery red lipstick, straight black hair and glossy pvc handback. Every time she raised her hands, her bangles twanged against each other making music. She sat with grace and was open to discussions.

Why did she join the Hijra community, asked someone. Ah, her characteristics were like women, she wanted to be amongst them. Men found her company, (sic) “allergic”, while women were more tolerating and understanding, however, she didn’t feel she belonged to her family and society. She joined the community on her own. This is how it mostly happens, she says. Many a times, parents leave their sons who are “different” at their house and these kids are gradually trained by senior hijras. They are taught to dress up like women, are taught to dance, to sing, to bless the new born and the new weds. In short, they are taught to perform their identity, their transgender being. Perhaps that explains the exaggerated feminine gestures.

Most of the women in the cafe were sans ‘singaar’, when asked if she would like to dress up like an ordinary woman, she replied that people like to see well dressed, fashionable hijaras. Then she narrated a tale about why Indian women are made to wear so many ornaments. Long ago, when God made the world, women were far better than men. Women had a strong sense of smell, they could sniff fragrances from miles away. They had such speed in their feet that they could run for miles tirelessly; they could create miracles with their hands. Obviously, the men were worried, how do they stop the women from outsmarting them? So they invented nose pins, anklets, bangles, rings – all these ornaments, not to beautify their body, but to bough them down, to bind them and restrict their capacities.

Why then was she and her chela so adorned?

We all follow scripts, adhere to certain codes of society, of culture. I perform my womanhood, my prescribed gender. Whereas, a transgender dwells in the  interstices, in here, in there and nowhere.  But what does Shilpa perform? Why does she have to cling on to these codes? Can’t she create new ones, or do away with codes altogether? But alas, her community is very structured, very regulated. With a Guru to instruct and a chela to follow, hijras have quite a patrilineal tradition and no amount of powder is gonna conceal that.
Several times, she professed her gratefulness to the Supreme court for introducing the transgender category in government forms. Why is it so important to her, to them? Acceptance, she said. She beamed at the thought that her existence, their existence, is now sanctioned by the ‘sarkar’, although her community was around since the time Raja Rama. Then she explained, Lord Rama asked all the men and the women of his kingdom to return to Ayodhya, when he was on his way to vanvasa, but he missed addressing the transgenders. These people waited for fourteen long years in the forest. However, I believe, they still are waiting for their deliverance. Will government recognition make their living conditions any better? What about jobs for the community? What about education? Financial security? Well, this is the first step, she says; society will now respect us, gradually induct us, give us jobs, even. The unmistakable ring of hope made me feel that some of us despair and get angry just because we can afford to. I pray that her hope, like the raw mango of her sari, blossoms into the ripe alphonso golden future.

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Haiku by Students

Is creativity an innate trait or is it a craft that can be mastered? Can people who had never appreciated poetry before, write verses?

My adventurous MTech class took on the challenge of writing Haiku poems. Hard core IT engineers, most of them had never heard of this poetry form from Japan. However, after an hour long intense session, I received these pearls.

So, is creativity a gene or a muscle? Decide for yourself:

On Science:

It’s a miracle
An apple falling down
Took us to the moon

                               -Shaik MK

Meta poetic

Hand me a paper
To pen down my thoughts
To clear all of my doubts

                               -Shaival Thakkar

Don’t know why I write,
Guess someone would read,
A book  full of my deeds

                                -Jay Sadhwani

Wise verses:

From time to time
He made plans
Until there was no time left

                                -Chirag & Vishal

After long journey of life
He reached, God asked
How was heaven?

                                  -Jatin Agrawal

Past holds the mirror
Destruction all over
Wars still inevitable

                                 -Lt Cdr Hemant Kaushik

Someone followed me,
Tried hard not to look,
Turned around, met my shadow.

                                  -Shruti Naik

Don’t you regret,
It was bound to happen
And can’t be undone

                                   -Shaik MK

Little bundle of joy
On her first laughter
A thrilled mother cries

                                    -Neelasha Sen

She holds his little finger
Stumbling, one day
She would hold someone’s hand
                       
                                  – Lt Cdr L Mohan

Time heals the wounds of our heart
As sea washes the sand
But yearning heart never learns

                                     -K.Hemantha

They seemed very closeby
In rear the view mirror
Turned around, saw none behind

                                    -Lt Cdr L Mohan

On destinations, known and unknown

My paths on the sky,
As I walk,
They change by..

                                    -Mayank Patel

Pushing me into abyss
Cold and darkness grow stronger
But I’ll achieve my goal

                                   -Ankit Paliwal

Make sure the goal exists
You better run or lose
Zeal decides destiny

                                    -Zubain M.

Walk without wanting to win
Follow where nature leads
It’s effortless without goals

                                  -Jainikkumar Ranpura

Thoughts on Nature

Clouds from East
Touch the Himalayas
Look, who has come again.

-Kamlesh Singh Karki

Set eyes on days
Sunshine to moonlight
Uplifting souls

                                  -Lt Cdr Hemant Kaushik

Dusts of storm and gale settle
Not the stirrings of heart
Lovelorn, wait for winds of change

                                    -Lt Cdr L Mohan

The birds flying home
Over the trees bare and brown
A sight of autumn
                                   – Niral Popat

She looks like a placid sea
Just before a storm
Buried within rage for thee
                                   -Lt Cdr L Mohan

A stone cries out
When a flower falls on it
Softness is unbearable

                                   -Vismay Patel

The snow falls
Sprinkling its winter blanket
It’s a dreamland

                                    -Sujata

Melodies at dawn
Sun rises above the haze
My voice takes wings

                                     -Sujata

They rolled down her swollen cheeks
As pearl drops on leaves
The mightiest heart went on knees

                                     -K.Hemantha

Sun about to set
People bustling at beach
On the lap of nature.

                                       -Akash Shah

The mysterious mountain
Nudging me to explore
Wait !  here i come.

                                      -Mansi Singh

Red silky rose
In that deep forest
With relentless thorns

                                     -Arti Bhanushali

A ray of light,
In the dark cloudy day,
Delights the soul

                                     -Pooja Tiwari

Each day i wake up
To the dense blue sky
Filling my day with light

                                     -Nishith Kotak

She looks at the night
Her eyes shine
Like a star in the twinkled sky

                                    -Saurabh Tyagi

Meet like stars
Together like strangers
Lets fall through the dark

                                   -Dharmesh Agrawal

Due drops of the sun,
Shining as stars,
Gleaming gifts from God…

                                   -Mayank Patel 

Closing with some common sense

Haiku is Haiku,
So serious hona Kaiku
It’s just a Haiku” (^_^)

                                     -Jatin Agrawal

 

 

Why I wrote “The Beautiful Ratio”

 

vengeance_cover

“What happens when a really smart person, say, a genius, comes to the conclusion that life is not worth living?” asked my friend one day in a sleepy little café surrounded by corn fields. “Shall he kill himself? Or continue with his meaningless existence?” the soliloquy continued as if in stupor.
Many bulbs went on in my mind, I scavenged on this possibility, hungry as I was for an idea to write a story. I had a fast approaching deadline for story submission in a Creative Writing Seminar I had signed up for. I wrote for the next two days and could barely make it on time owing to many clarifications I had to seek from Math students in the university.
“The Beautiful Ratio” is about Shazia, a Math genius and social misfit. Her childhood friend Noor is a major part of her support system. How shall she reconcile with life when chaos unleashes in her city and the world that she thought she knew is shattered beyond repair? The backdrop of the story is the 2002 riots that bruised Ahmedabad and destroyed thousands of lives. I had observed the mass hysteria first hand, and it shocked me to see my people and my city transform from being sane to being something monstrous and switch back to being normal again as if the dance of destruction was merely a bad dream. I, like many others, could never get over that shock; I tried to live away from my city for many years under one pretext or another. Time and distance provided me an insight to write this story.
In 2014, when Sonia Rao, the Municipal Liaison of NaNoWriMo India announced a call for entries for the coveted WrimoIndia anthology around the theme on Vengeance, I knew that “The Beautiful Ratio” will find its destination. The editorial team stitched some open ruptures with such care and love and I couldn’t be happier. Twenty one talented writers writing in different genres and styles came together and contributed to this volume. It’s a treat for readers to see varied responses to a theme so universal.
It makes all proud that the proceeds of this book will go to NaNoWriMo, and will help foster creativity and self-expression of writers around the globe! I request you to buy, read, review, recommend Vengeance: A Sting in Every Tale Edited by Sonia Rao.

She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink

A must read for those men cribbing about a complaining wife…

Must Be This Tall To Ride

(Image/jerrywilliamsmedia.com) (Image/jerrywilliamsmedia.com)

It seems so unreasonable when you put it that way: My wife left me because sometimes I leave dishes by the sink.

It makes her seem ridiculous; and makes me seem like a victim of unfair expectations.

We like to point fingers at other things to explain why something went wrong, like when Biff Tannen crashed George McFly’s car and spilled beer on his clothes, but it was all George’s fault for not telling him the car had a blind spot.

This bad thing happened because of this, that, and the other thing. Not because of anything I did!

Sometimes I leave used drinking glasses by the kitchen sink, just inches away from the dishwasher.

It isn’t a big deal to me now. It wasn’t a big deal to me when I was married. But it WAS a big deal to her.

Every time she’d walk into the kitchen…

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