Eating your own words

“It’s been 2 years since 100 Days of Writing was published. ”

This is what I saw when I logged in here. Logging in was a challenge in itself. It’s been so long since I’ve come here that I’d forgotten not just my password but username as well. After 3-4 attempts I finally managed to log in and saw this ominous message.

I’d promised myself that I’d write slow, write long and write different. I’d also thought that if I wrote 2-3 times a week, I should reach a 100 posts in a year. I thought I was quite good at planning. No, I’m pretty sure I’m good at planning. When it comes to actually making it happen that I lose all that steam and focus. I’ve been wanting, wishing to get back in shape for years now. I get into bursts of healthy eating and exercising and then poof. Work and work travel and other more important things take over. For some years now I have been bemoaning my very visible lack of social life/personal life or any sort of work-life balance. But given a choice, I always stay home and work. Hell, this Friday I was returning from Bombay and on the way I wrote a long, personal and thoughtful email to my team. I considered that as writing. It took me considerable time and energy to write, so it feels like an achievement.

I am either a person with no commitment or inexcusably lazy. Both might be true. But I know I put in a lot of effort into work. 5 years is not a long time, but for me it’s a big commitment. Doing anything for that long feels like a big deal to me. But my commitment to worse habits has been on for longer definitely.

As part of my job, I help people identify patterns of thinking, analyzing habits of actions and thoughts to derive what needs to shift. I read everything and anything on the subject, from the best-selling quickies that tell you you can build a habit in 21 days to the obscure legit ones. But clearly I haven’t applied that to myself. After crashing at work and being diagnosed with fatigue that led to hospitalization (yes, fatigue is an actual medical diagnosis apparently), I told myself that I’ll maintain some work life balance. As a part of that, I put it on my goal sheet (yes, I know what you’re thinking!) that I’ll write more often. At least 1-2 posts per month. I set that goal in July and obviously I didn’t do anything of that sort. As part of a mid-year review, I was looking at my goals and thus was reminded to visit this sad lonely place.

Conversations with friends tells me that I need to have a life. Get out a bit. Meet people and what not. But all I want to do after a long day at work is netflix and chill. By myself. How to muster energy for social talk, when I do that all day at work. How to pour out words when all of them are regurgitated over countless emails. A part of me tells me I should do less of that, and do a little bit more for myself. But that is a small, unheard part of myself.

Some years back I came across this quote by Alain de Botton : There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life. And I took that to heart. I do actually believe in that a lot and I’ve done my share of humble-brag about putting all my life into work. Sometimes, I don’t know why I do that. Sometimes, it’s because there’s no other alternative that makes me feel as important or worthy. Every effort I put into work is acknowledged, and appreciated. There’s no shout-out for making time for self. Being the person I am, I would probably judge anyone who said they are proud of maintaining work-life balance. Who’s proud of being able to make time for themselves? What does that even mean? What is the achievement in giving yourself some TLC?

There seems to be enough articles and “research” that shows it might be actually good to not be a workaholic and have some sort of balance in your life. But, there’s enough successful people out there that you see who don’t sleep and don’t have a life. Maybe that is the cost to making any real difference in the world. I seem to have talked myself into believing that there’s some sort of war I’m fighting in which I need to give my mind, body, soul, blood, sweat, tears, feelings, everything. It’s so rewarding to tell myself that I have worked 100 hours in a week. Shameful to say that I slept for 10 hours.

No, it’s not like I’m trying to prove myself as a woman. From the conversations around me, I gather that superwomen are working a 100 hours and being awesome girlfriend/wife/partner/mom/sexylady/warriorprincess for the remaining 100 hours. While I can be quite competitive in many things, I choose not be so when it comes to sports, sudoku, relationships, health and having fun. (The math shows that if you work for 100 hours, you only have 68 more hours remaining in your week!). Wow, that math does seem crazy. So superwomen and supermen sleep 3-4 hours only I assume. Shameful to say that I slept for 10 hours.

Well, I feel old and tired, so I’m no longer pulling off 4 hour sleep schedules if I can help it. But it doesn’t still leave much energy or commitment to pursue other aspects of life. I don’t think I care for it as much, but I end up whining a lot about the sad, lonely life I’m leading. Yet, I stay away from making any commitment to change this status quo. I’ll just wait for another crash, then run away to the mountains and chill.

I won’t make any grand claims to write slow, long and different. I’ll start with something smaller and achievable. Just write. Write however I wish to but spill a few words on this page. This is a rambling piece of writing that’s all over the place. (My brain immediately thought of how I’d evaluate this using a writing rubric.) But some writing, is better than no writing. For the sake of sanity if nothing else.


100 Days of Writing

For the past four years, I’ve had these two things on top of my New Year’s Resolutions list:

  1. Write More
  2. Weigh Less

Well, I’ve been consistent with my resolutions, not as much with my efforts.

As 2015 kicked off, I saw someone start the #100DaysofHappinessChallenge or something of that sort on Facebook. I’d seen a lot of people post photos of cake and kittens and tag it with #100daysof Happiness-Day 99. I’ve also seen many people tag photos of flowers and sunsets with #XDaysofGratitudeChallenge-DayY. Which is well and good if it makes you happy and grateful for all things sweet and nice.  Being the gifted whiner and difficult person that I am, I could not imagine putting myself up to any such challenge. But I know that setting up such challenges and sharing them on public platforms are great motivators. My friend, Aditya, set himself a similar challenge (New Stories Five Days a Week) and produced a good amount of interesting fiction in that time. I realized I need to set myself some challenge if I were to ever meet any of my goals. So this year, I’ve decided to set myself such a dare- I call it the #100DaysOfWriting Challenge.  I think I can share my happiness and gratitude, my experiences and ideas, my stories and fancies by writing.

Why, you ask? Well, for starters I think it would make me a better person. There seems to be enough research that shows how writing can make you happier, smarter, sexier (kidding about that one! That one happens when you meet goal #2). I keep starting new blogs because I do love writing, but I never make any time to sit down and write. I wanted to write this post since noon today and finally got down it. Hopefully this exercise will help me resist the temptations of distraction and make time to something that I really value and enjoy.

When you’re on Facebook, Twitter and checking email 24X7, you are consuming information non-stop. When we’re not consuming information, we take irrelevant data sharing to new heights. I recently found this 2015 Reading Challenge which seems quite interesting and is a great way to push people to read. But what about producing? Are we creating as much as we are consuming? Are we spending as much time on writing as we do on reading or watching videos or viewing images?

The other big reason is to simply get better at writing. As part of my work, I see a lot of struggle when it comes to teaching writing to children. A part of it, in my opinion, is also related to the teacher’s skill and talent as a writer. We tweet, we share posts, we text and we send emails. We also maintain journals or diaries and take notes. But how often do we compose and craft deliberately? How often do we fret over our words and fuss over our sentences? How often do we set out to create a piece of writing that we can be proud of?  As I was writing this post and reviewing it, I could see how clunky my own writing has become. I’d like to get better at writing, so that one day I can actually be a writer.

So how will this 100 posts thing work?

Any post I write on any of my blogs, I will tag them with #100DaysOfWriting. I’d also love for others to join this and use this tag. It always helps to do such things with others so that you have some bit of healthy competition as well as feedback.

If I do the math, #100DaysOfWriting means that I write anywhere between 8-9 posts a month, which comes up to a 2-3 posts per week. If I behave, I might be able to keep that pace and post regularly. This should help in forming a habit over the long run as well. I’m setting some rules guidelines for myself so that I don’t cheat do this well:

  1. Write Slow. I must write only one post a day. I can’t reach December and do 3 posts a day to meet my goal. I need to write regularly and also give myself time. I need to plan my time out and enjoy the process of writing. Let the creative juices simmer and flow, instead of rushing to meet a deadline. I have enough deadlines at work, I don’t need to make this become a chore.
  2. Write Long. Whatever it written, must be a substantive piece of writing. Tweets and Facebook posts don’t count. There has to be some real effort into it. I don’t want to put a minimum word count limit, but I’d be ashamed if I wrote less than 300-400 words per piece. (At this point, this piece itself is about 706 words long and I’d like to keep such length!) It’s not that bigger is always better, but the way I enjoy #longreads, I must also attempt #longwrites.
  3. Write Different. I must write different things in different ways. To put it simply, I can’t just ramble and rant for 100 posts. I can’t do only haikus, or only fiction, or only reviews. I can’t keep sharing what I think about someone else’s writing for 50 posts nor can I masquerade sarcasm as satire for 20 posts. I should try new forms, be original and interesting. I know I tend to be whiny and ranty, so I also need to push myself to play nice for the most part.

That’s about it. 3 simple things to keep in mind while I write and to keep me anchored. This piece took me a good hour and bit of rush, but I feel it’s a decent start to #100DaysOfWriting. I hope on 31st December 2015, I can tell myself that I met this goal and set more ambitious goals for 2016.

Goodnight and good luck!

What to do with your time when you are traveling

Sketch by brother

Recently I’ve had to travel a lot and I am trying to figure out a way to best use or waste that time. So today after take-off, I decided to just scribble a bit about what most people do with their time. And what you can also do instead of vegetating.

  1. Take photos of stationary and moving things through stained windows.
  2. Read/ attempt to read that book you picked up last month/ pretend to read something that will make you look slightly more intelligent/interesting.
  3. Talk to random people and exchange life stories. Get a free therapy session done!
  4. Work, because you are too busy and you must be very busy since you’re working while traveling. Meeting deadlines while you are in a  high speed vehicle is its own thrill. (You can spot a Consultant by the white shirt and panic on their faces as they frantically try to work in planes, buses, cars and boats!) 
  5. Eat- the snacks you got packed, the snacks you will buy, the snacks others are eating and the snacks you’re thinking of eating.
  6. Count the stops if you’re traveling by train or bus. Count the number of times flight crew members strut up and down the aisle with food, trash and trash they are supposed to sell.
  7. Write/ draw/ doodle, revel in your artistic side when surrounded by people, for people. Nothing boosts creativity like people-watching, especially when they are strapped to their seats and can’t do anything about you watching them.
  8. Catch up on sleep. Nothing matches the wonderful swaying of trains or the fuzzy whirring of planes to put you to sleep.
  9. Catch up on sleep- that’s the best way to avoid people who want to talk to you.
  10. Sleep, it’s the best thing to do in that time. Unless you’re in a magical chariot with Michael Fassbender traveling through Middle Earth.

I did a bit of 7 and attempted to do lots of 8-10, but it was interrupted by a hoary voice announcing status updates about food, junk being sold on planes, temperature and whatnot every 15 minutes.


Today is Facebook’s 10th birthday.
Today is Saraswati Puja.
Today is World Cancer Day.
Today, Microsoft got a new CEO.
Today, the AAP completed a month in office.
Today, many people celebrated their birthdays along with Facebook.
Today, many people celebrated anniversaries. Just like Facebook I guess.

Today I spent most of my time on Facebook. I found out all these things through it. I had the same epiphany that I’ve been having for the past many years that none of this made any difference to my life, except for pushing me further into a spiral of boredom and procrastination. It’s not like I have nothing to do and have not been doing anything. I have, but it is with the same enthusiasm a bureaucrat employs while moving a file from one place to another.

Throughout the day, I have been wishing for circumstances that would make me work better. I wished for being left alone to my devices so that I could think and write. I wished to be spared the duty of stuffing myself with healthy wholesome lunch that has a crippling effect on productivity. I wished for having people like me to work with. I wished and wished and the day went by.

I read an awful number of things on the web and (realized, not very surprisingly, that I am a huge consumer, but a very meager producer) two pieces that stood out to me. One was about marriage. I have no intentions or inklings about it in my life right now, but I found the article very fascinating. The other was about an application deadline to the Fellowship programme that I was part of and for which I work now.  Thinking about both of these, I found something common and my mind wandered to this quote I had read once and found amusing enough to stick with me.

  Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting then being (4)
― Marilyn Monroe

I have nothing against dreams and dreaming. I think those are excellent ways to use our time and provide ourselves amusement, inspiration, thrills and whatnot. But it is the only dreaming part which I see often and often. We aspire and dream for ideals. We have very lofty ideas and noble intentions. We believe, with the honest to god innocence of children, that believing in ideals would bring about reality. But we are so blinded by the light from the shimmering surface, we never get to see the deep murky churning underneath.

Take marriage. It is the ultimate fantasy, the dreamland, the utopia of togetherness. I don’t for a second believe that it can never be all those amazing things that it seems to be in print and celluloid (and rare anecdotal evidence). But I also think that there’s lots of hard work, boring moments, disturbing revelations and undignified fights behind the pretty picture.  I know of many many people who have had their “dream wedding” thought out since they were an embryo or something and I don’t understand how. Popular culture leads me to believe this is a girly thing. Sure. I’d like to have a nice wedding day where I can wear a pretty dress and eat cake and be the centre of attention for a sustained period of time. But am I willing to go through the days after that? Probably not. And if I can get the same deal of wearing a dress, having cake and endless showering of attention any day, then I’m set for life.  Hence I am truly confused by this pursuit of togetherness. I am sure there are individuals who strike a good enough deal and are comfortable with such state of being, but considering the number of unhappy twosomes I see, I am more convinced than ever that people love the dream of being married than the actual state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life.

This brings me to the other bit of news. The application deadline. The Fellowship is a tough programme. It is a full-time teaching position in an under-resourced, low income school that mostly caters to children from disadvantaged communities. And it sounds like such a noble thing to do. It seems so challenging and inspiring. All those pictures and videos of children and teachers, so happy despite the odds. What a truly wonderful thing! And that is what sticks. The big dream. That awe-inspiring ambition to change the country and the lives of million children. But I wonder if many dig deeper to see the hardships behind that dream.


Having gone through it I know that is a very fulfilling and motivating experience. It has given me some of the proudest moments of my life. I have experienced the thrill of enthralling a bunch of kids with ideas and information. I have learned things about myself and others that I hadn’t before. Forgive the cheesiness, but this has been the most challenging and inspiring experience of my life. But I have also learned that teaching can be very thankless job. It is not just singing songs and correcting few papers and having many vacations. I have had the most cruelly lonely, frustrating and defeating moments within those two years.  I have crumbled under self-doubt seeing a child not learn for months. I have cursed and railed against the “system” while handling endless paperwork. I have stayed up nights researching and making worksheets. Almost every teacher I know in the Fellowship has at some point or the other has strayed too close to starvation and sleep deprivation. For the children? Of course for them. But also to do the job well. Being a teacher is not the easiest thing and being a teacher in the Fellowship ups the challenge a few notches more.

Being part of this to do something good necessitates giving up on life as you know it.

That is a harsh truth to share. But that is unfortunately the truth. Just as being married can change your life, doing this means you are married to your work, your kids and your commitment to make a difference. If having a life means getting a good 10 hours of sleep every day, meeting friends every day to chill and hang or whatever it is that cool people do, watching movies and relaxing and all that, then having a “life” doesn’t always co-exist well with these aims.

We dream very beautiful dreams, wonderful ideals fill our dreamscape. We aim to do what we love. But doing what we want and love, involves doing things that are not always fun, or easy or even interesting. But we forget that in our passion and ambition. Aspiring is more exciting than acting upon things.

Am I saying we shouldn’t dream of an utopia? No. I think we all want to work towards an utopia. But it might serve us well to acknowledge that there is work to be done before we reach Arcadia.

This post serves as a reminder to myself to just get down to work without waiting for my ideal home-office to materialize.

Facing Fears

I know I need to do this. But this feels so challenging, so uncomfortable and so difficult. Like meeting long lost cousins with whom you can’t make any conversation and so you have to keep stuffing your mouth with food so that you have a genuine reason for maintaining stoic silence. Like sitting in an interview where you are nervous and trying so hard to impress that you end up claiming you know seventeen languages including the three your interviewer is proficient in. Like getting jostled on a crowded railway platform where you’re not sure if you’ll manage to board the train with body parts and personal belongings intact. Like being in front of someone you like on a bad hair day that is compounded with zits and bad breath and smelly stained clothes. This is what writing has come to be- utterly uncomfortable and inconsiderately awkward.

The cursor blinks on the blank page waiting for me to type. My brain comes up with a million diversionary tactics. Should check mail. Should look up a certain book. Should look at that author. Should read up on the writing habits of said author. Should adjust volume or change song on shuffle. Should expand my knowledge base by reading obscure things on Wikipedia. Should get some visual inspiration from things other than cats. Should get some laughs from others’ misery and failures. Should watch that cool video of people doing impressive things. Should watch another video. And another one, for ideas. Should allow the internet to make me a writer while all it does is keep me from becoming one. Should go walk around to clear head. Should drink water and coffee to feel awake. Should do everything possible in my power so that I can delay what I have to do.

Just by another half an hour. By a day. By a week. By a month. By a year. In a year you can come up with such a wealth of excuses. There was no time. Too much work. Friends take up all my free time on Facebook. Hangovers took over my weekends. There are so many books to be read. There were so many movies that absolutely had to be seen for the third time. My neighbours are too noisy. My flatmate listens to nasal singers and makes me listen to it. My office has a no-creative-writing policy. My house doesn’t have the right aura. My laptop’s so slow it takes a day to type a sentence. I ran out of paper. My fingers keep slipping on pens. I have no pens. It goes on and on.

And then you forget. You forget you wanted to write. You forget how to. And then you sit in front of your computer, feeling like a dog might feel in front of a dinosaur. Staring at the screen, willing your mind to think. And your mind does think. About the weather. About things on a to-do list. About that dress you saw in the store last week. About that joke you didn’t understand day before yesterday. About the Modern Family episode you saw today. About Gloria’s accent. About what you can have for lunch tomorrow. About clothes in the dryer. About chipping nail paint on your toe. About every insignificant trivial thing than can keep your mind from staying still enough to actually think about anything.

But why does my brain fear writing? Or is it thinking that it fears? It can’t be the latter. I’m always thinking of things. Things, not ideas, but thinking nonetheless. Then it must be the former. What if nothing comes out? What if my fingers get Raynaud’s disease and I’m left incapable of typing a tome? It might also aggravate that condition where pens keep slipping from my grasp! (I just spent 4 minutes 19 seconds looking that up.) What if I keep forgetting words? What if my computer crashes and all that I would have written gets lost? What if something urgent comes up? Like Notting Hill on HBO or Pretty Woman on Zee Studio. Then I can’t afford to sit here and write!

Enough! I just have to sit down and write. Let it flow. The words will come and fall into place. After a few false starts, words scoot and squeeze next to each other and try to make sense of what they are saying. They keep coming, lining up sluggishly, woken rudely from a deep sleep. Sitting squab, dull and drab. I must check progress and see what can be done to improve this writing experience. Maybe I should do something to remove these green lines that tell me my sentences are not correct. Maybe I should go look up some grammar rules. Maybe I should find a better word to replace this simple word and spend an inordinate amount of time proving to myself how I can use a Thesaurus. Maybe I should do some online research to add more details and lend more credibility to the trumpery put up. (Trumpery: Noun. Usage: Archaic. 1. (informal) statements or beliefs that are untrue or make no sense 2. Ornamental objects of no great value) Maybe I should re—re-re-read the measly two hundred words to see if they “flow”. Maybe I should just keep typing gibberish nonsense bunkum codswallop hogwash to inflate the word count? Like I did just now. Maybe I should just hit myself on the head and write. But that might injure me too much to write. So, without further distraction and drama, I shall carry forth bravely.

Alright, so what am I writing about? So far I’ve been writing about not writing and have done a very good job at not writing. I was supposed to be writing about facing my fears. My initial plan of facing fears by writing about it doesn’t seem to have worked out quite well, but at least I now know that I can waste one and a half hour (alright, two!) typing a thousand words (give or take a few words less- thirty to be precise), something which I had claimed should take no more than half an hour at most.

Now that I have at least turned to face my fears, I am sure with little less of internet (and distractions and laziness) and more of time (and efforts), I can fully face them and begin to become a prolific writer. Right now, I have to go ponder the very important question- what movie to watch tonight?

P.S : 4 years back, I’d written a post about How to get over Writer’s Block. High time I took my own advice, or at least entertained it.  


“If I ever want to get any work done, I will have to get out of this all-consuming relationship. Do you understand…?”

No answer.

“I’m thinking I’ll be better off with something short-lived, something lighter, more fun..”

No answer.

Finally I put it back in its place and picked up a collection of short stories.

The Fuss About One’s Favorite Fruit

I never like them too soft,
melting with the first bite.
An occasional challenge,
yes, even with fruits-
those mute pleasers-
can prove quite healthy.
That first bite of rawness,
crunch silenced by flesh inside.
The reluctantly sweet taste,
eager in its hurry to leave.

There’s a delicate balance,
of surfaces and secrets,
of insides and outsides,
of defenses and welcomes,
of skins and seeds, to strike.
Like caramel eclairs.
Like a crusty sandwich.
Like biscuit and jam.
Like any other mundanely
analogous example.

A twisted little game,
a treacherous threesome:
Imperfect, uncared-for molars,
sly, careful tongue, and
difficult, puckish seeds.
A wicked dirty dance,
pushing and shoving,
dodging and side-stepping;
A battle ending in inevitability,
no winners on either side.

A single careless move,
thanks to the greedy mouth,
disturbs the players’ dynamics
and turns the game around.
A lone slippery seed
with a vendetta of its own,
preying on those poor molars,
makes itself a nice home.
No matter how much it’s coaxed,
it refuses to come unstuck.

The tongue tires of its trials
to extricate the stubborn imp.
The molars painfully impatient,
curse their fates and the game,
and the fruit, and ME!
As if it was all my doing!
And thus begins the charade again,
to promise and commit to and swear,
with fickle intensity and honesty,
that I will never eat a guava again!

For Love, Honor and Glory

You would smile. And what would that smile not be? It would be anything you want it to be.  There is practicality to be taken care of, there are problems to be resolved, but you would let yourself be carried by the Code of No Rules. The highest principle of following your own voice, mind and heart.

The man who follows all of this should be your hero. And no one else. There is nothing he wouldn’t do. And everything will be his own to make and throw. He will be in plain sight, waiting to be found. You’d once believed he would lead you somewhere, and you still do. Waiting, as he does. To find and to be found.

The words will come to you, as will everything else. All you have to do is do something about it, wait, wonder and work. No, don’t worry about it. That won’t take you anywhere. You are already where you deserve to be. That line you hated will sum up your life for you, yet you will allow that to pass. And see what you let change your world for you. Or you can let it be, just as you said it would be.

But go and follow that scented breeze, linger a while at that frozen lake, watch the sun break the ice, and smile at the way things break down and come to be. Watch yourself melt and crumble, blend and spread, come together and form. Watch the seasons pass, the sun scorch, the rains wash, the leaves fall, the snow settle, the roads glisten, the flowers bloom and breathe in while these mundane miracles unfold.

Why are you even here? Go smile to yourself, for love, honor and glory.

Interview with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I’d done an interview with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of Mistress of Spices, Palace of Illusions and One Amazing Thing, after returning from the Jaipur Literature Festival’11 for BookChums.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I’d read Palace of Illusions before heading to Jaipur and was mighty excited when I discovered Chitra would be one of the authors attending. That’s because Palace of Illusions was one of my favoritest reads of 2010 (I know, I know, review’s pending. Soon, soon) and she turned out to top my short list of Indian Authors I Like very soon.

The interview is finally up. Excerpts from the interview..

AM: Your latest novel, One Amazing Thing, tells the story of 9 people stuck in a crisis. I remember you spoke about how the idea for this book came to you at JLF. Could you give our readers a glimpse into that experience?

CBD: One Amazing Thing comes out of an autobiographical experience. In 2005, I, too, faced a natural disaster — Hurricane Rita was headed toward Houston, Texas, where I live, and we had to evacuate the city. There was a lot of panic, huge traffic jams, etc. It made me contemplate how human beings deal with catastrophe and the fear of death, and how we might be able to connect with strangers under such circumstances. That idea is at the heart of One Amazing Thing.

AM: Spanning a time of over 15 years, you have written 12 novels, contributed in various anthologies. You are often called a prolific author. Prolific authors sometimes tend to build a formula around their style and stories, but you have always taken up different narratives, even while keeping some similar themes. Where do you find the inspiration and the creative energy required to keep writing?

CBD: I don’t know. I only know that it’s important for me to set myself a new challenge with each book. For instance, with Palace of Illusions, I wanted to retell the story of an epic (Mahabharat) with a woman (Draupadi) at its center. In One Amazing Thing, I wanted to write a novel about creating community, and I used a disaster scenario as the setting.  In Mistress of Spices I used magical realism.

AM: We often see folk tales, myths and legends being retold in your various novels. Do you think as an Indian you have an advantage that you can mine into a treasure trove of stories that can be used as a trope in your narratives?

CBD: Yes, I feel very fortunate that I had a grandfather who was a wonderful storyteller and shared these folk/legendary tales with me. It gives me a very rich source to draw from, and I have used them amply, especially in my children’s books such as The Conch Bearer.

Palace of Illusions
Palace of Illusions

AM: Your novel The Palace of Illusions was a retelling of The Mahabharata through Paanchali. There have been several versions and retellings of the Mahabharata. Despite that, were you apprehensive with your retelling of one of our most sacred and beloved epics?

CBD: Yes. The original is such a great text, I wanted to do it justice & knew it would be the hardest task I’d set myself until then. I did a lot of research & reading in preparation.

AM: Following the same train of thought, Mahabharata and Ramayana are two of our most important epics. Both have women in a central role who have faced great injustice. What made you choose Draupadi over Sita?

CBD: I have always pondered about Draupadi, who is very timeless & modern (both) in her questioning of her role & rights as a woman. That said, I do want to write a novel about Sita.

You can read the full interview here.

Devil’s Workshop

They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Who is the devil and what is an idle mind?

Is that wily creature who visits once in a while to sow seeds of discontent and doubt known as the devil? Is a mind that has overcome the problem of crowded thoughts and now seeks solace in temporary, and necessary emptiness, an idle mind? What’s wrong if Mr. Devil wants to squat on Idle Mind’s property? No one’s occupying it at that moment it seems. Are you worried about encroachment issues? You think Mr. Devil will never leave? You think Mr. Devil and his spawn will corrupt your blank mind?

You needn’t worry so much, you are already taken, by lesser delights and virtuosity.


(To be continued.. maybe after my meeting with Mr.Devil)