Saturday, 9 January 2021

Quesionairrie with Manali Desai

 So this month featuring Author is  ' Manali Desai'

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your profession and your hobbies! 


Somehow, that question still makes me feel like I'm appearing for a job interview. But I'll relent anyway. So, I'm Manali Desai, a freelance writer and editor cum blogger. 

 My hobbies include hunting for ideas for my writing, and some normal ones like reading and binge-watching a series or catching up on my movie watch list. 

Quesionairrie with Manali Desai

 1.      How did you first get involved in with writing, are you an imaginative person?

As a hobby, I got involved with writing since my teenage. Professionally I began content writing in 2012. And since then I have been exploring other areas of writing such as copywriting, book publishing, ghostwriting, and much more.

Yes, my imagination is my solace from the mundane and routine life. Also, my source for fiction which ultimately becomes my bread and butter. 

 2. What do you find most challenging about your writing?

Turning the many ideas that turn up in my imaginative mind into something concrete and worthy of reading. 

3. What do you do when you are not writing?

Either read or travel; sometimes both together. 

 4. Where do you see yourself in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?

I believe in taking life as it comes, living one day at a time, but also following a schedule every day. So, this 6 months and 5 years future question, isn't really something I focus on. But yes, one thing is clear, I want to grow as a writer and explore new areas of writing. 

 5.      How do you keep coming up with material / content for your story?

Through everyday incidents and my observation

6. Any specific tips you have for new writers who want to make it big in the world of published books?

1. Don't write to get published. 

      2. Know and understand the kind of publishing options available out there and the difference                      between each. 

       3. WRITE EVERY DAY 

7. What’s the best thing a writer can give to his readers?

 An honest piece of writing. Seriously, a piece written from the heart, will most definitely resonate and not to mention, give you satisfaction like nothing else when it comes to your work. 

 8.  A lot of people are interested in writing for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interested in making money from writing? What are some realistic expectations in regard to what can be made?

 Book sales alone won’t be enough (unless you are Chetan Bhagat) so you’ll need to keep exploring more options and be open about writing n varied topics and on varied platforms. There are many platforms like Medium, Vocal, PopSugar, et, al that pay writers well for any kind of piece that contributed to their platform. You can also take-up freelance writing work like content writing, copywriting, etc.

 But with everything said and done, one thing to keep in mind is to be consistent with your writing and have the patience to start earning potentially well.

9.     What motivates you most in life?

The goal to keep getting better. 

10.  The majority of the readers tend to take sides due to religion and such other considerations.

My motto is, 'Focus on the creation rather than the creator'. This helps me choose without bias and I guess that should help any reader make a choice. 

 11.  What is the story behind the name of your book?

The Art of Being Grateful and Other Stories was titled after the book cover was finalised. The simple reason being, the cover resonated best with that story which is one of the 8 short stories in the book. 

12.  What are your views on increasing plagiarism?

There needs to be a line between inspiration and blatant copying. Of course, I follow others in my field are doing too, but how do I make myself different from them or how I add the 'my factor' to what I do, is what differentiates inspiration from plagiarism. 

It's a shame that despite being so talented on our own, some of us don't put in that effort and resort to copying other's work.  



Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Questionairre with Dr. Tejaswini Patil

 So this month's featured author is 'DTejaswini Patil' 

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your profession and your hobbies!!


 

 I am Dr. Tejaswini Patil, Ph.D. working as an Assistant Professor in Kasegaon Education Society’s Smt. Kusumatai Rajarambapu Patil Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Islampur, Dist. Sangli, Maharashtra and Founder Director, Innsæi International Journal of Creative Literature for Peace and Humanity; an academician, poet and social worker; write about Nature, social issues, feminist sensibilities and my experiences. Four collections of poetry are to my credit. Editor, Tunisian Asian Anthology, Mystical Voices. Thrice selected for prestigious Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, Texas, USA. Included in 25 Women of Virtue. The Awards bestowed on me- State Level Mahila Samajratna Lifetime Achievement Award and ‘Master of Creative Impulse’ by World Poetry Conference, Bathinda, Punjab. 

Hobbies:

Poetry- writing, reciting and performing on them; listening to Classical Music; painting and handicrafts are some of my hobbies. I feel social work as my responsibility; to repay the debt of our mother land.


Questionairre with Dr. Tejaswini Patil

 

1.       How did you first get involved in with writing, are you an imaginative person?

I am thankful to my parents who made me involved in reading since childhood and the lack of technology also proved to be helpful in engaging me with the world of imagination... I wrote my first poem at the age of 13-14. It was a result of beautiful description of a panther in a novel... The poem in Marathi, Chitta was written for the first time. As I used to be involved in my own world, my friends and others teased me. Books played their inevitable role in creating a separate world of imagination. 

2. What do you find most challenging about your writing?

For me, it's always challenging to capture the perfect nerve of the creative pulse. Sometimes, it flashes before the inner eye and is lost. It's required to give time to her, the poem, instantly. And if you are stuck elsewhere, you can't chase it. I feel very guilty, if it's lost.

3.What do you do when you are not writing?

 

 I listen to Classical music, water plants or read old diaries. I get much energy through the past. I am involved in social work, so, I prefer to plan various activities for the future with my students, colleagues.

 

4. Where do you see yourself in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?

I think myself as a Founder Director of two-three more journals in next 6 months. I'm working on them. And after 5 years, I think of myself busy with service to society, literature, poetry, organizing various festivals, and at the midst of thousands of literary pilgrims. I wish I get thousands of the followers, friends to work on the service to Peace and Humanity.

5. How do you keep coming up with material / content for your story? 

Since childhood, I've been a keen observer of surrounding. Many characters in my poems or stories are those, I have met in life. On bus stop, or railway station, airport or vegetable Market, my antennas are alert. I come across the mysterious aspects of human life... I write about them. I like to indulge in the psychological development of the characters.

6.Any specific tips you have for new writers who want to make it big in the world of published books? 

Of course...

I would like to tell them that 

1. Remain positive in all situations. It may be a story you're living for your future writing. 

2. Be honest to your feelings while expressing in your oeuvre. It can change one's life. 

3. Be correct in the use of language and spellings... 

I hope they can survive at least, with these.

7. What’s the best thing a writer can give to his readers?

With my experience as a reader, I would say, Literature gives the reader an imaginary experience of many situations in life which may not be practically possible. Literature gives us the power of decision. You know about the concepts of Right and Wrong. I would like to exemplify this with the Hindi novel, Chitralekha, by Hajariprasad Dviwedi. It can also provide us with the Aesthetic Pleasure which is not possible in real life. 

8. A lot of people are interested in writing for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

Writing is an auspicious profession that makes you earn very slow. In my opinion, the books which lead you to the Truth, are purchased by readers. May it be Alchemist by Paulo Coelho or The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma or Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin or The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway which have influenced me are the books that talk of the Truths in life. If you want to make money through writing, you need to be loyal to yourself, life and the readers. Your language should be either powerful or full of emotions that touch the chords of one's heart. In the post-modern era, technology has opened up new vistas in writing such as Content writer, Ghostwriter, etc. through which you can earn. Still, you are expected to prove the power of your pen and imagination. 

9. What motivates you most in life?

The Beauty and the Pain are the two aspects of life that inspire me to write. Most of the times, beauty has the gleaming edge of tears and some tears are beautiful with sublimity.

10. The majority of the readers tend to take sides due to religion and such other considerations.

It's up to the writer to present an impartial view of life. I think Humanity to be the world's religion... all the religions are there to guide us in our walks of life... The ultimate goal of all of them is to spread Love, Compassion and Humanity. The classical literature speaks of universal religions. 

11. What is the story behind the name of your book?

The first 'Talons and Nets' is about how the talons of a woman are entangled in nets of social customs which restrict her from soaring.

'Verses of Silence' is an effort to capture the Silence which becomes productive many times.

'A Glass of Time' relates to the fact of life that everything comes to us at a particular time and we are bound to enjoy it though momentary. 

The Hindi collection is 'Kainaat' which means Cosmos. It's about my expressions regarding my own sky, horizon and cosmos. It takes a long time to decide the 'Title' of the collection. 

 

12. What are your views on increasing plagiarism?

Since Genesis, there are false practices in this world. Plagiarism can give one a momentary joy of victory but can't win lifelong satisfaction. The joy of Creativity is far more important than stealing it. I prefer to be a bee whose creativity is unique.

 


Monday, 2 November 2020

Ghoomar Ke andar kabhi naa Ghumo- Ghoomar Traditional Thali Restaurant @Connaught Place, New Delhi

 


I don't have sweet experience with the restaurant at all. Food was average the only dish I liked was Churma. Rest of the dishes was not up to the park. We, two friends, we sat for a great meal at Ghoomar and it was our first time at this restaurant. The decision of selecting this restaurant turned out to be a pathetic one.  I can certainly tell this because I had some amazing experience in Jaipur and have eaten a lot of Rajasthani Traditional food. The green chutney, achar, and ker sangri kept on the table looked stale and was absolutely tasteless.  One after another they loaded our thalis with various dishes. The kadi and dal were dripping on our food. The Dal-Bati, Rajasthani Curry, Paneer Sabzi, Bajra khichdi, aloo ko sabzi everything lacks taste, Chutneys were again average. Hospitality is an art, not all know by the staff of Ghumoor, we asked for chapati and rice but no one bothered for almost 20 minutes, and when my friend complained of this one of the staff started arguing. At the time of the billing even we highlighted this to the person on the counter, but he hardly bothered. I will not recommend to anyone to go to this place and spoil your evening. It is a total waste of money and time. Please stay away and try something some other better place.

Food:2/5

Ambience:2/5

Service::1/5

Value for money:1/5




Thursday, 8 October 2020

Questionnaire with Vivek Kumar

So this month's featured author ' Vivek Kumar'

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your profession and your hobbies!!





I live in Mumbai and work as a Brand Consultant. Writing and film-making are my two pursuits. Most of my time is consumed by it or rather thinking about it.




 Questionnaire with Vivek Kumar


1.             How did you first get involved in with writing, are you an imaginative person?

The writing was always a spontaneous activity though it was limited to poetry and occasional story creation for college magazine or play. During my post-graduation, the idea of writing a book started taking seed in me though it was more of a fanciful thing I suppose to differentiate oneself. I just wanted to write one book. I did not think at that time that it will go beyond that. The idea I was more persistent about was to quit over two years of job and join a theatre group.

2.             What do you find most challenging about your writing?

To remain patient with it. I have no control over my writing process. It happens in bits and pieces, in no specific order and the end product is different from the ideas I had at the beginning. This causes lot of churning and can be very exhausting.

3.             What do you do when you are not writing?

Writing doesn’t take more than 5-10% of my time and that too happens in spurts. When I am not occupied with writing or other creative projects, I simply squander my time surfing net, chatting with friends etc. or being lazy.

4.             Where do you see yourself in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?


Don’t have that much visibility of the future but I hope for a better place than today.

5.             How do you keep coming up with material/content for your story?

It is a continuous process part of which is conscious and rest is subconscious. You engage with stories, emotions, concepts, ideas. You also see what is happening around you, what other people are creating. Sometimes there are experiences that make you dream. Sometimes ideas occur to you or someone else’ creation resonates with you and you feel you have something similar to tell. But most importantly whenever you have any such impulse, you work on it, chase it till it turns cold. Most of them do but some of them somehow work out and those are the ones that you finish and take to the market.

6.             Any specific tips you have for new writers who want to make it big in the world of published books?

        None.

7.             What’s the best thing a writer can give to his readers?

It is the readers that give to the writers, not the other way around. Readers complete the missing links in the writer’s world.

8.             A lot of people are interested in writing for money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

To make money one needs to focus on storytelling, which is not same as writing.

9.             What motivates you most in life?

A shot at completing an idea that has taken hold of me.

10.      What is the story behind the name of your book?

It is connected to the content of the book.

11.      What are your views on increasing plagiarism?

It can be very hurtful to the creator and induces toxicity in what should be an otherwise pristine working world.



 

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Questionnaire with Bharat Shekhar

 

So this month's featured author ' Bharat Shekhar'


Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your profession and your hobbies!!

Once upon a time, long ago, I dreamed my way through a lovely childhood in the remote districts of Rajasthan. Then I waded my way through school, college and the two universities of Delhi and JNU. Among all the dreaming and wading, I managed to get an M.Phil in History, which landed me a lecturer’s job at Zakir Hussain College, Delhi.

 After three years there, I shifted to NIIT, and became an Instructional Designer (fancy word for the content writer).  Very quickly both the corporate world and I realised that we were not cut out for each other. But old habits such as lingering and procrastination die hard, and I hung around the precincts for a good seven to eight years. However, as all bad things too must come to an end, I did, at last quit NIIT, and have been happily freelancing, navel-gazing, doodling and writing for the past couple of decades.

Hobbies? I guess they are the three r’s - reading, writing and ranting in writing (less and less of the last though), two m’s -music and meditation, and at – travel (both external as well as within oneself). 

 Questionnaire with Bharat Shekhar

 

1.       How did you first get involved in with writing, are you an imaginative person?

I grew up in the remote districts of Rajasthan, when they were really remote. There were vast sprawling vistas, lonely, lovely desert landscapes, and large chunks of time spent in my own and in my siblings’ company. This combination really helped to develop my imagination

Then, my grandfather had a lovely habit. Most evenings, he would sit us siblings down and tell us stories that of many things under the sun- Sindabad the sailor, Sarswati the goddess of learning, Robin Hood, Ram, Mahabarat, Mohhammad, madness and Mohabbat.  As his gentle voice spoke magic words, our heads would go spinning in a journey alongside. 

As a result, as a child, I never wanted to be what children usually hanker to grow up and be as soon as they can – an adult. So I guess I have somewhere always remained a kid, a kid with some imagination, which is both a blessing and a curse.

I didn’t want to become a fireman, policeman, doctor, engineer, lawyer, astronaut, or any other exotic profession, not even a belly dancer, or soothsayer.  I always imagined that as a writer I could be all of these and more. With my words, I could recreate them all according to my designs. Of course, I did not see the downside of such idyllic imagination then. Writing is not only imagination, but it’s also experienced, and the empathy to be in someone else’s shoes. And it’s hard work, harder than many other professions. That’s another story and I won’t get into it here.

Anyhow, the gist is that I always wanted to be a storyteller, but I got down to the real grind much much later, a process that I began with a seriousness only when I started to make up and tell stories to my children as I carried them on my shoulders. And, thus, in a deep sense a loop was closed, the one which began with my grandfather telling me stories when I was their age.

2.       What do you find most challenging about your writing?

The discipline, the blood, sweat and tears, the daily grind, the routine, all of which belong to the underbelly of writing, very real but little discussed. However, without them, it is crystal clear that no writer can progress very far. Hence I do try and follow a daily routine, but sometimes I have to take myself there dragging my feet. The big idea, the initial click, the ‘aha’ moment, the flow while it lasts, is relatively easy to come by, at least for me. It is the slow, steady translation, the gradual whittling and shaping into a comprehensible shape, which is the real challenge.

3.       What do you do when you are not writing?

I doodle a lot, read navel-gaze, meditate, listen to music, and daydream a lot.

4.       Where do you see yourself in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?

There’s a very an interesting meme doing the round these days. Its text says, “I bet not a single person in 2015 got the answer to this question right.  ‘Where do you see yourself five years from now?’ “. In other words, it’s difficult to predict the future under normal circumstances, and these days circumstances are anything but normal. Of course, I wish for better circumstances six months from now and even better ones five years hence. That’s pretty much what humans do.

5.       How do you keep coming up with material/content for your story?

Travelling and seeing things with an open mind is essential to the process. By travelling I don’t mean travelling to any specific place, going on a lonely mountain trek, hiking to exotic locales, or becoming a passenger on an ocean liner taking a world cruise (though this type of travel is certainly important too). Travel could also simply mean loitering around a park without intent, or going to the market to buy groceries etc. Just be aware of circumstances and open to possibilities. When you see someone do something peculiar, try and be in their shoes, but also to be as outrageous in your imagination as possible Initially, the brief of the writer, the journalist and the detective are similar. Look around. Observe anything out of the ordinary. Look for clues. However, as soon as the clues are found, the three paths diverge. The journalist looks for the wider story, the detective tries to solve the mystery, the writer, on the other hand, does not seek the ‘truth’ in the sense of the mundane truth. No, she lets the imagination run in the most bizarre ad amusing of directions that a story can take.

Given below is an excerpt for a note I prepared for schoolchildren about sources of inspiration:

 It(inspiration/idea) begins with an observation of an action, image, number or word, which gets caught in the mind and then processed. You can faithfully record, or exaggerate, underplay, extend. For example, you see a person walking. You notice how he scrapes his foot on the ground after every third step.  You wonder why and then a process begins in the mind. Is he scraping off something that has got stuck to the shoe? Why after every third step? Why is he looking around suspiciously every time he scrapes the shoe? You look at the ground where he has just scraped his shoe and you can see something golden brown. Has he done something wrong? Thus floats the idea for a mystery story that could involve space ships and aliens, or a robbery, or if you are inclined towards realism of crushing debt/poverty, which his forcing into to something demeaning.

That is the beauty of imagination and imaginative thought. It does not lead in any logical manner from point A to point B, but to a whole load of tangents that could lead anywhere. Your own imagination is the only limit. That having been said, once the tangent is chosen and a story is woven, there must be an internal logic with a plotline, well thought out characters, dialogue, which must all be plausible.

For example, ‘The Eighth Dwarf’ (a story in my book ‘Talking Tales’ ) began by idly thinking about the number eight, about how it is tight and closed, how it curls in on itself, how unlike the other numbers it has no opening. Around that time, I had been watched ‘Snow White’ to my computer, and suddenly something clicked. What if there was a mysterious eighth dwarf, who nobody knew about, who did not know about herself, but was otherwise very wise. How would this impact the original story? And thus began the Talking Tale of the Eighth Dwarf. Another example I can give comes from one of the earliest stories I wrote. I was on a project in Hyderabad. It was a winter afternoon. The sun was out and it was very warm. A mother was walking with her son (aged three or four), who had a monkey cap on. The poor boy was feeling very hot and, at intervals kept trying to take the cap off, but the mother kept putting it back on. That was all that happened, but it put the germ of an idea in my head that ultimately became a story about how a wildebeest mother fools a crocodile to save her daughter and a zebra friend from his jaws. She tells the crocodile that she will make a cap out of the wildebeest hide, and a cape, but in order to do so, she has to measure the crocodile first. To give the measurements, the crocodile rolls over on his back. Have you seen insects and reptiles that get rolled over on their back? They find it very difficult to get back up. So once the crocodile is stuck and struggling on his back, the wildebeest Yimuni, her daughter Kimuni,  and their friend Zuber the Zebra make good their escape.

So your ideas for stories, novels, poems can come from everywhere- a friendship or a fight in the classroom, a ride in a three-wheeler, talk with the person who works in the house, an interesting game during recess, your mother or father talking about their day in office, going shopping in the mall, or the neighbourhood market... anything at all.  

(NOTE: While this is part of a note written for middle-grade school children, many of these ideas can be applied to any level of fiction,

Till now I was talking of external sources, which a writer finds in the world outside-by travelling and observing. Equally though, there is another source, which is less spoken about- the author’s interaction with him/herself, or his/her journey within, not without. Travelling within in a kind of dream state throws up all kinds of memories and melodies, and the sheer magic of people, places and things, you barely dreamed existed within. In the travel within, I don’t follow the route of looking for clues and then imagining different possible routes from them. No. Here I have to trust instead whatever is guiding me and to let go, letting it take me where it will. Any pressure from my side, any attempt at verbalising, and it will be gone without a trace. It is only later, much later that one can reflect on these inner experiences and to garner their essence.

6.       Any specific tips you have for new writers who want to make it big in the world of published books?

Not really, except for them to follow their heart and instincts. Do Not have to make it big in the publishing world as your primary, or even secondary goal. Instead, look at it as a by-product of your passion. Unless of course making it big is your only aim, rather than writing.

7.       What’s the best thing a writer can give to his readers?

     The ability to feel and, more rarely to think. However, I think the question itself could be framed a little differently, “What is the best thing that a writer can give themselves?” The tentative answer to that I would say is that while the writer is trying to unravel and understand the world (in whatever limited manner), it is also a slow unravelling and understanding of the self, in tandem. In the process, hopefully, he can pass on a little of the mix to the readers, whatever rubs off.

 

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Amazing place for All- Tourist janpath @Connaught Place




As the name recommends, this place has travel and tourism as its theme even the menu is designed as the passport layout. The place has got bunk beds like in the railways and its interesting library with various books about travel. Though I am not keen on these fancy things because ultimately it all boils down to the food.

This place is a multi-cuisine joint serving dishes from the Far East, Far West, Asian and European continents. The service was good.

From the array of Veg starters I really enjoyed flavorful Corn and Chilly fritters( corn kernels batter fried with lime leaves, chilli paste and red bean sauce )and Arancini ( Hand-rolled risotto dumplings, crispy fried with cheese inside ). 

These were simply amazing in terms of taste, presentation and texture. I also enjoyed the vegetarian Pizza, it had a thin crust and though I am not a thin crust fan although despite being thin crust it was not hard. It had just enough cheese, not overflowing with cheese and lots of corn, mushroom and peppers, olives etc. There were also Kapi Cho potato ( French fries in a soya sauce ) which were average and the chilled Rice paper summer roll was also nice.

Among mocktails served - I like Rimjhim and Mandarin a lot. Their mocktails were good with fresh ingredients and I also got to know their cocktails are great too.

In mains, we tried Paneer Tum Tum which was average and Balochi Dal which was good.

The only thing which annoyed me to the core was in order to show great presentation in some dishes the seasoning was used way too much. Overall, it is a one must visit for the great variety of cuisines on offer.


Food:3/5
Ambience: 4/5
Service:3/5
Value for money:3/5








Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Questionairrie with Mariam Karim Ahlawat

So this month's featured author  is ' Mariam Karim-Ahlawat



z

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your profession and your hobbies!! 
I’m a scholar of French language and literature and have taught for decades...from JNU to Kashmir University to St Josephs college of arts and sciences Bangalore. I gave up a permanent university job to be with my husband who was in the army and posted to a different place every two years. I have two hobbies..watching the world go by.. Watching birds and animals and trees the changing seasons the sun and the moon and stars and clouds..The rain and the leaves blow in the hot summer wind...is that a hobby? I listen to music from jazz to pop to ghazals, the last being my cultural heritage. And I like learning anything new that can give me insights into the world of human beings...I try to learn a bit of any language of the places I visit.. There are so many disciplines I find difficult, like economics for example. I read on the internet what I find interesting, like neuroscience, alternative healing. I wonder if there are any solutions to human greed and human suffering?   I’ve been doing creative writing workshops for at least two decades.
But I think of myself in the words of poet Akbar Allahabadi :
..duniya mein hoon duniya ka talabgaar nahin hoon, bazaar se guzra hoon kharidaar nahin hoon

Questionairrie with Mariam Karim Ahlawat


1.       How did you first get involved in with writing, are you an imaginative person?

On both sides of my family, there were great storytellers..in Urdu mostly. They were quite brilliant; stories were rapped or sung out too, in rhyme. Children were kept enthralled by someone or the other. My father was a brilliant storyteller in Urdu or English. He used to do all the sound effects as well..he had lived in the jungles a lot and brought us tales of all the animals with their calls, the chital or the tiger or the panther or the eagle....we couldn’t imagine a life without stories. So I fell quite naturally into the role of a storyteller myself and used to entertain my younger sister and cousins and friends with imaginative tales acted out to boot.  When my English became good enough I began to write poems. But I only published my first story at the age of 17. However, I was soon involved in academics and wrote only for myself because words fascinated me. After I got married, became a mother, and gave up my profession as a university prof for all practical purposes I decided to take up writing seriously. My first book was a collection of folk and fairy tales, published by Harper Collins in 1994. Then I started writing a read-aloud page for the magazine Parenting, with my own illustrations. I did that for nearly 12 years! Women novelists weren’t that popular in English or taken that seriously until Arundhati Roy won the Booker. At the time I had started writing my first novel but I was very uncertain whether it was the kind of thing anyone would read because it was so different in style from mainstream writing in English. I kept writing it secretly because it was visceral and compulsive. It was only in 2000 when a colleague at a software development company I was doing instructional design for said he had once worked with Penguin India. I requested him to show a few pages to an editor he knew. Penguin signed me on immediately. I was overjoyed but the rest was extremely challenging as it was very difficult to explain why I wrote what I wrote to the editors. They were unhappy, I was unhappy. When the book My Little Boat was published even they were surprised it was reviewed for months together afterwards..for a whole year in fact. It was nominated for the IMPAC International Literary Prize by the India International Centre Library.

2.       What do you find most challenging about your writing?

That’s easy. I want to maintain the standard I have set and this needs time, thought, delving into a deep reverie. I can’t find the time for all that so I’m writing very little

3.       What do you do when you are not writing?

Reading, learning, looking after my family, doing workshops, worrying, dreaming.

4.       Where do you see yourself in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?

Wonder If I’ll be able to complete the two novels I am working on before I lose track of the stories. One is a children’s novel and one for an adult readership

5.       How do you keep coming up with material/content for your story?

My children’s work is mostly about animals, the natural environment and endangered animals. My children’s Novel Thr House of a Hundred Stories is about the animals we kept as children. I still look upon each creature as an individual. I tell the cockroaches that enter my house,..please go away, or I’ll have to kill you. (I’ve never warned a mosquito yet, to tell the truth! )
My plays are polemical. They have themes like class distinctions, hypocrisy, discrimination..poverty, etc.
I think of the characters first then weave the story around them. Then I take from life, what seems important to me to communicate with someone. The language too is very important..my prose is lyrical and cinematic. Each sentence I feel ought to be beautiful. It doesn’t always happen of course.

6.       Any specific tips you have for new writers who want to make it big in the world of published books?

I can’t say I’ve made it big ..I guess I’m not qualified to answer this...but I tell all the participants in my writing workshops..be true. And true to yourself. Know yourself first.
Practical advice? Find a good agent who will promote your work, pitch it to the right people. Who believes in your work. It’s a dog eat dog world out there even in publishing.

7.       What’s the best thing a writer can give to his readers? 3

A part of himself or herself in writing to carry around forever like a talisman, to look at whenever times are difficult or they need inspiration.

8.       A lot of people are interested in writing for money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

Oh dear, another question I’m not qualified to answer. I guess you have to know the pulse of the public you are writing for. If you want to make money, write what they want to read. If you are a niche writer or want to create a new community of discourse you may not have public success. Write bestsellers anything that sells, but please don’t write badly!

9.       What motivates you most in life?

I think communicating with human beings and animals too. Finding out the secrets of this wonderful earth, the amazing things it has to offer and sharing the wonderment. Saving it from the onslaught of human beings!

10.   The majority of the readers tend to take sides due to religion and such other considerations?

For me religion, nationality, race, sex, etc are incidental. Simply chance.  The search for eternal truths and finding your own path, your own revelations, understanding, that’s the important part.
I recently contributed a story to an anthology of Muslim women writers to be published by OUP. When asked why should there be such an anthology I realized it was important as the story I wrote couldn’t have been written by anyone else.  It was set culturally and historically more than in any religion. It’s called Riding Rakhsh ( rakhsh means horse in Persian)
My experience with my first book was that the male editor said the woman protagonist “thinks too much” she is “insane” She’s not like a Muslim woman. Ignorant people want to see Muslim women in stereotypical roles like Tehmina Durrani’s protagonist. Beaten up. Betrayed. TalaqTalaqTalaq!  Sigh. That sells too.

11.   What is the story behind the name of your book?

I love answering this question. My Little Boat. Mere Jeevan ki Nayya. In India, the image of a small boat is that of your own life which has everything in it. From the personal to the political. The Nauka, the Taarini, which takes you across the River of Life. Remember Kabir Das?
Kahe Kabira baarambaari
Mohey bhavsaagar Taari Moraari
The Sikhs say,’Naanak Naam Jahaaz hai’...the name of Guru Nanak takes you across safely.
Then there’s a folk tale in the book in which a princess takes a little boat to escape from an unacceptable situation!
There are some other symbolic meanings which I’m not listing here; you have to read the book!

My second novel, The Street of Mists is named after a street in Montmartre in Paris, where the book is set, in the artists’ quarter. In French, it is  “L’Allee des Brouillards” There are many tales of writers and artists  around this street.

12.   What are your views on increasing plagiarism?

The question touches a raw nerve for me.  If people see publishing simply as a way of making money and getting fame then there are bound to cheat. In the film and music industry, it happens on a regular basis. Plagiarists ought to be brought to book. Publicly made to apologize.
My Little Boat was ripped off by a woman author who became famous after her first book was published where she stole liberally, brazenly from my work. Her father-in-law owns a very old bookshop our family has known for generations and where I myself had requested copies of my novel be kept as my cousins live in that town. She must have found it there...the first hundred pages of her book are copied so clearly from my novel...passages ideas, concepts, characters, settings, all cleverly altered and shamelessly plagiarized. To the extent that she even copied a factual error about fruit, I had made in my novel!!  An intellectual property law firm was willing to take up my case... then I said to myself, suppose this plagiarist, so famous and rich now, is exposed, and suffers a mental breakdown? Would I be vindicated, happy? I don’t think I would.  The case too will go on long and bitter. My beautiful book will become forever associated with the (in my opinion), mediocre book this person has written. Because she’s been an editor herself, is a publisher’s wife...I don’t know why she needed to do such a thing. I messaged her husband on his website with some obviously copied passages. He didn’t respond even once. So he probably is in the know too. They made a lot of money off the book. The IP Lawyers identified her writing as “Altered Copying”.
Plagiarists ought to be taken to court. Once precedence is set they will be more careful. But in this country where people steal lives and babies, what’s a book?