Stepping into 2022

At the start of 2021, I wrote this post .

It’s almost a fortnight into 2022. Two anthologies featuring my work have released on Amazon already. That’s always a nice feeling.

The first one is called ‘Quintessence: Coming of Age’. It was released on Christmas day 2021, actually. It features my poem ‘To all the girls I’ve been’.

The second anthology is called ‘Paradise on Earth: An international anthology: Volume Two. It features my poem ‘Joy’.

Cover of ‘Quintessence: Coming of Age’
Cover of ‘Paradise on Earth’

I didn’t do goal setting this year since I feel it puts extra pressure on me and to be honest, I couldn’t find my 2022 goal-setting document. LOL. That, and we have an omicron alert everywhere. ☹ I did, however, recap my 2021 in one of my numerous notebooks.

I’ve also been buying a LOT of books. I think I should go slow with that. You can check some of them out on my Bookstagram.

Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. All we can do is take one day at a time and try to live gracefully.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2022. May you find comfort in the things that mean something to you and have the strength to take on something new.

Signing off,

Me

Review of ‘Overcoming Awkward, An Introvert’s Guide to Networking, Marketing and Sales’

Worth reading 😎

The author shows us how she transformed herself from a socially awkward person to a successful entrepreneur and networker.

SYNOPSIS

Some people are excited by the idea of networking events, cold calling, and dazzling total strangers with their winsome smiles, intriguing conversation, and charming personality. But for introverts meeting and talking to new people is like watching a horror movie where they are the star!

​So what is an entrepreneur or sales professional to do if he or she happens to also be an introvert? In this groundbreaking work from a bonafide introvert master marketer, you will learn actionable strategies to create connections, build relationships, and establish loyal, repeat customers who are thrilled to refer you to everyone they know.

YOU WILL LEARN:
-EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

-HOW TO SOW SEEDS FOR ORGANIC GROWTH

-HOW TO WIN OVER ANGRY CLIENTS

-HOW TO EXPAND YOUR COMFORT ZONE

-THE VALUE OR EXPERT MENTORSHIP

​​And so much more! The is the definitive guide you have been waiting for! Gone is the advice to introverts to take on a persona that is light years away from who they really are. You will finally be free to just be you and will discover that you vibe really does attract your tribe.​

I picked up ‘Overcoming Awkward, An Introvert’s Guide to Networking, Marketing and Sales by Monica Parkin.

The book consists of 21 chapters. Chapter one really drew me in. Parkin was an oddball in school, a social misfit who found it difficult to make friends. She was introverted, socially awkward and struggled with ADHD. Today, however, she is a successful entrepreneur who owns several thriving businesses. She is a keynote speaker, a speaking coach and a podcast host. She has a lot of friends and enjoys getting to know people. So how did this happen?

In 2016, Parkin bought her home and had such a positive experience that she studied to become a mortgage broker herself and passed the exam after eleven months.

When Parkin finally realized that she would have to meet people and network, she was not ready for it since she’s an introvert and experiences massive social anxiety. She felt she had bitten off more than she could chew. But since she had invested time and money in the course, she decided to give networking a shot. Her first networking event was a disaster and she vowed to retrain her brain so that she could be successful in this field.

On day one of her transformation, she responded positively to the check-out lady at the grocery store. And the lady gave her a tip about discounts.

She joined a Facebook group and decided to call up the mentors in the group. All of them told her to be “herself”. They emphasized the need to be authentic. Parkin wondered if it was okay for her to be authentic when she suffers from social anxiety. When she started posting about her hobbies and things that genuinely interested her, people started connecting with her. They reached out to her and wanted to work with her. Being herself helped her make a connection with people.

In the book, Parkin shares the dictionary definition of networking, which is “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions specifically the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”.

“When I do go to a physical event, I don’t go to hand out my cards or talk about myself or pitch my business. I go with the intent of listening more than talking, asking questions and really engaging.”

“Connections and relationships are built when you listen, not when you talk,” she notes. I recommend this book to introverts and socially awkward people who need to network or make a sale.

P.S.I received an ARC(Advanced Review Copy) from Reedsy Discovery

-29 ˚ Celcius – A collection of images from Lapland: An interview with photographer Kamal Chilaka

I interview photographer Kamal Chilaka who has recently published a coffee table book on images from Lapland.

  1. What was the inspiration behind your limited-edition coffee table book, -29 ˚ Celcius?

Photography coffee table books by the likes of Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado , Jimmy Nelson and also collections such as The Hasselblad Master series have been a big inspiration and influence on developing my photographic vision. When I was readying my works for the Exhibit “-29 ˚ Celcius” I realised I had a collection of images worthy of a quality coffee table book.

2. What drew you to photography and how long have you been a professional photographer? Could you tell us about your journey as a photographer?

I have enjoyed photography as a hobby even since the days of film photography. After a few years of doing it part time and doing a few exhibits of my work while pursuing my other career I decided that I wanted to get into photography in a more serious way and in the year 2014 I started Eyemage as a platform to showcase both my own work and also the works of other Photographers

3. Why did you choose Lapland and how did you get there? What do you think draws people to Lapland?

Over the years I have travelled to and shot in several locations both in India and overseas during the seasons of spring, autumn and summer. I had stayed away from winter photography due to the fear of difficult travel logistics and of the difficult photography conditions. When I was going through my portfolio of images on my computer, I realised I had very few winter images. I decided it was time to widen the scope of my work and started researching locations for winter photography. There were a number of options, but I decided to go all the way and chose Finnish Lapland as it has one of the coldest winters but also has some fantastic scenery during winter and there was also the possibility of viewing the northern lights.

Book Cover

4. Tell us about your accommodation in Lapland.

I chose very safe and comfortable hotel options at Rovaniemi and Saariselka as there were already many challenges to overcome in terms of the low temperatures and travelling via public transport primarily . I wanted to be able to come back to a good warm room with proper food options and all the amenities to stay connected during the trip

5. What has the experience of travelling to Lapland and capturing the snowy scenes out there taught you?

The major lesson learnt was that in both life and in photography, it pays to get out of your comfort zone from time to time. Through new experiences, new learnings and new actions we can enrich our life. So, take a few risks

6. Apart from photography, what captured your interest in Lapland?

I loved everything about Lapland: the native Sami people who have adapted to live in these extreme conditions and how everything still works so efficiently in spite of the cold weather. I want to go back and shoot some more during the other seasons

7. Tell us about some of the other places you have travelled to?

I have travelled to over 60 locations in 20 countries for my photography, and I still have so much more of the world to see and photograph

8. How was your experience of bringing out this coffee table edition? What have you learned during the process?

Passion projects such as publishing a book take time and effort to do well.  You need to have a good publisher who understands your vision and a good print partner who can print to a good level of quality. Right from planning to selecting the images and editing the book and numerous sample prints till you get it right it takes time and patience and you can’t really rush it

9. How many cameras and lenses did you take with you on your journey to Lapland?

I had carried with me two Canon DSLRs and 4-5 lenses and accessories for this trip. I have now moved on to shooting with Leica now

10. What advice would you share for someone venturing into photography?

Photography is a wide field with numerous specialisations to choose from. More and more the trend seems to be moving to video now for storytelling, but there is still scope for specialist photographers and specially those who can shoot both still and video images. Everyone is a photographer these days with their mobile phone cameras. To get to the next level, you should develop your vision and technical abilities to be competitive.

The book is available on Amazon , NotionPress and on Kamal’s own website.

My review of ‘Rewriting My Happily Ever After: A memoir of divorce and discovery’

As someone who has never been married, I was initially reluctant to read ‘Rewriting My Happily Ever After: A memoir of divorce and discovery’ by Dr Ranjani Rao when it came out. But everybody who reviewed it said it was uplifting and not depressing, so I decided to purchase a copy and I’m not disappointed.

Ranjani leaves for the US as a starry-eyed bride, but the marriage does not work out and she walks out of the marriage with her young daughter. The memoir is uplifting and inspiring. Ranjani inspires and motivates. Her narrative style pulls you in even if you are not the intended target audience. Ranjani’s account is with grace and dignity and not about airing her dirty laundry in public. It takes sensitivity to write like she has and I’m deeply appreciative. The author also writes about her experience with infertility, miscarriages and the difficulties she faced to conceive. The takeaway for women in crumbling marriages is that one must be educationally qualified and economically independent.

On page 20, Ranjani says “expressing vulnerability makes us stronger”. As someone who has listened to some of Brene Brown’s podcasts on vulnerability, I found myself drawn to this.

On page 48, in the chapter called ‘Books Matter’, the author talks about coming across the book ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ She also speaks about ‘You can heal your life’ by Louise Hay. I’ve read both these books. I’ve also watched the movie version of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ starring Julia Roberts. Ranjani attended the ‘Heal Your Life’ workshop and it seems to have helped her a great deal. She realized that her own limiting beliefs were stopping her. She was carrying guilt, blame and anger within her for all that had transpired. She also cites Robin Roberts’ memoir “Everybody’s got something”, which I plan to check out.  

She learned not to compare her life to anyone else’s since one has no idea what the other person is going through and what their journey is all about.

Writing about meditation, the author says “Going inward was as frightening as being lost in the woods. I was afraid that dark thoughts – grief, blame, self-pity- would emerge from the shadows of the recesses of my mind where I had pushed them. Meditation was supposed to be a way of sitting with your thoughts. I was not ready.”

In the chapter on prioritising self-care, Ranjani talks of getting her eyebrows done and how that small act of self-care signaled to her that she had taken the trouble to put herself first.

“Through books and activities that helped me soar over the disappointments of my home life, I escaped the dark depth of my loveless marriage that could have otherwise sucked me into depression”.

“Reading always calmed me down, but I had not considered writing as therapy.” She mentions the book, ‘365 days to a balanced and joyful life’ by Sarah Ban Breathnach, which helped her.

In a later chapter, the author wonders “who was I really?” – “A scientist. A writer. A mentor. A friend. When I stripped off all the labels, I was a person who had the right to pursue a life of purpose that was in alignment with my own values.”

“Who was I? I couldn’t answer the question. Who could I become? Anyone I chose to be. I could take the next sixteen years to figure it out if needed. Learning takes time. First, I had to unlearn. Next, I had to uncover the real me.”

“Nourishment comes in many forms. So does happiness. Surrounded by books and friends, sharing food and stories, I felt content. Somewhere deep in my soul, a palpable ease settled in. Yes, there was a part of me inside that was broken, but the edges were not so jagged anymore.”

By telling us how she rewrote her happily ever after, she shows the path for newly divorced women everywhere. It is recommended reading for those in troubled marriages or partnerships.

Interview 31: Aishwariya Laxmi

Outside the Book

Years editing: 11
Job title: Consultant editor
Job description: Edits different kinds of content (from infographics to case studies) and develops company style guides
Location: Suburban Chennai, India

EXPERIENCE

How did you get your current job?
My boss from a previous office approached me with a work-from-home offer.

What copyediting training have you had, and what positions have you held?
I have a master’s degree in journalism and communication. I’ve been a freelance journalist, copywriter of greeting cards, associate creative director at a leading advertising agency, and copywriter of marketing collateral at a technology company. I’ve worked in copyediting roles with the National Institute of Information Technology, Aptech, UBS, The World Bank, India Syndicate, Flipkart, and now Gutenberg.

DOING THE JOB

Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
Yes, it’s important to know about content marketing, graphic design, and social media…

View original post 803 more words

Interview with my dad – Author K.S.Loganathan

“A novel” approach to technical writing by my dad K.S.Loganathan

Here I feature a very special interview. One with my dearest dad! His book is releasing shortly. Do read on for his beautiful answers to my questions.

  1. Tell us about your latest book. Why did you write it, and how does your work matter?

‘Reinforcing Fibers in Tires and Mechanical Rubber Goods’ is my second mega book on rubber technology. The first, Rubber Engineering’ was published by the McGraw-Hill companies in 1998. It is an aid to vocational education according to an international apprenticeship program in Rubber technology. It came at a time when the rubber industry was shifting eastward, and it was well-received. It was also a great business card for my emerging consultancy practice after a long tenure at Dunlop.

The half-life of an engineering or science degree is constantly decreasing due to technological developments but the attrition in one’s knowledge with age is not offset by academic textbooks or research papers. Keyword searches and posts on the Internet are not a substitute for a good education. In industry, lost knowledge, in particular “know-how” due to employee turnover or retirement or relocation of plants is a serious concern for even companies that have a training and succession plan. A rich legacy of technology of the pre-Internet era is unknown to the scholars in the present generation.

The current work is a self-education tool for practitioners in the inter-disciplinary field of textiles and rubber. It is a first-of-its-kind crossover design guide to rubber engineering with fibers. It is based on my industry experience and is targeted at young professionals entering the rubber industry from diverse academic backgrounds. I shoot for a practical rather than a purely theoretical book. Engineers are looking for current information and actionable advice rooted in reality to solve problems in their profession. The book includes various touchpoints with material science, engineering and tire mechanics, composite structures, processing and product designing for load-bearing, power transmission, and transport applications using terms that would be familiar to graduates from the various fields. As such, it is a professional and reference book.

2. How has the pandemic affected publishing?

COVID-19 has had a disastrous impact on the world’s creative industries, especially on the print media and the printed books industries. Even though people turn to books in difficult times, the publishing chain, which is vital to society, has been over-stressed. Conferences and trade exhibitions have been postponed or have gone virtual. The pandemic has also transformed the ossified educational system overnight into a fluid, digitized learning apparatus that can reach millions. The time is right for innovation in creating, collating, and disseminating knowledge and entertainment to the public in new and effective ways. Augmented reality used for knowledge capture is still in its infancy but may move centerstage in the time to come.

3. How do you determine your audience for this type of work?

A reference book has an academic audience for traditional and emerging subjects and industrial research groups for specialized topics. My book is on a subject that has so far not been taught in colleges or industrial training courses and there are few active practitioners in the field to serve as mentors. On the other hand, the end-products are mass-produced and sold and are of great importance to society and the environment. The potential audience who would never hear about the subject otherwise is large. It is much like selling shoes in a barefoot-village environment. Not everyone is in that place, but if you are, you might as well put your best foot forward.

4. How is technical writing different from fiction?

Technical writing is bound by verifiable facts and reality unlike fiction, which thrives on emotion and imagined experiences. Fiction readers want to be taken on a journey to another place and time with their favorite characters.

The vocabulary of scientific and technical/semi-technical words in industry usage is often different from the language used in everyday life, and it can cause a lot of trouble to the outsider or even the scientific community. In common parlance, “strength” is used to describe how powerful or resistant something is to withstand an applied force. In science, the term is a material property of isotropic (monolithic materials like metals), which is the limit to its load-carrying capacity. In composites, which often replace metals for light-weighting, especially in the aeronautical and automobile industries, the load-carrying capacity is determined by the local failure due to flaws and cracks, which propagate under impact and over-stressing. It is not a material property as such but a characteristic depicted by a similar parameter such as residual strength or compression after impact strength under critical stress. Much of the terminology in rubber and textile industries is a rollover from cotton fabric manufacture and metallurgy practices, which means that a term like strength can be confusing. The author cannot assume that the reader has a wide knowledge of all branches of engineering as opposed to common knowledge. The first task for an emerging discipline or for an author in an inter-disciplinary field of work is to develop the vocabulary and the vision to build a structure for the intended audience.

A structure is essential in the expression of technical facts and ideas. It is hard to find an unbiased, neutral work on any subject since so much of the publication chain depends on the profit principle and draws inspiration from war assembly lines.

5. How did you structure the book?

It is rare that in technical writing, one gets a blank canvas to paint on, so to speak. “Storytelling” has been a buzzword and a boredom-killing stratagem in business communication for a while. However, it would seem to be out of place in a scientific track if a Kalavathy were to appear every ten pages or so with a tall story to make a point. But the structure of a narrative – plot, character, theme, contradictions, and resolutions – can be gainfully employed in technical writing with the interpretation left largely to the reader. The story arc must unfold as the book progresses.

To begin with, I created and treated the subjects in the index as characters in the story to be introduced and developed as the plot thickens. Usually, the book index is the last job that the author does as a reader service when the book is almost ready to print. Putting these subjects down as post-its on a whiteboard and stringing them like good homicide detectives do on television, helps to introduce some order. The problem however is that there are more than 500 characters in my book – even the Mahabharata has only 300 characters or so. But I could downplay the role of minor characters as it is done in these stories.

The story arc is determined by the hierarchic nature of textiles – fibers, yarns, cords and fabrics to 1D, 2D, and 3D structures incorporated in various rubber products.

Long-form writing has practically disappeared from the industrial scene since the mid-1980s when statistical and automatic process controls, benchmarking, screen tabulation etc. became popular. A descriptive operational process in the traditional sense conveys far more than a quality metric does and is a valuable training aid for beginners in the absence of a mentor. However, text tends to be linear and with limited information carrying capacity, while 2- or 3- dimensional visualization or representation can foster a balanced presentation of a topic. I prefer technical writing in which a number of 2-D or 3-D elements by way of tables, cross-impact matrices, isometric projections, and good graphics supplement a clearly written text. Moreover, the potential reader is often deterred by higher mathematics and modeling. It requires a significant design effort from the writer to reduce the time, concentration and cognitive investment of the reader. In a single-author work, it is far easier to smooth out wrinkles and ensure that the ideas and advice as well as the figures all support one another.

Regarding the other strategies used, I recommend that the readers discover them. Suffice to say that it is a novel approach to technical writing.

6. Why did you self-publish the book?

Traditional publishers have the advantages of production and marketing scale, and in-house editorial, formatting and design skills that are hard to find on the freelance market. They bring their own audience to the author e.g. public and school libraries, academic community etc. and offer more support and structure. However, even if the book is a runaway success, the author is left with a jackal’s share of the spoils. I preferred the self-publishing route to have a good control over the production and guide the precision in the initial placement of the book, keeping crucial momentum going after its publication, albeit at some financial risk. It is now easier than ever to get published, especially by the self-publishing route.

Authors are expected to publicize their book themselves through social media networks. I believe in starting with a small audience to test-market the book and improvise as we go along. Carpet bombing of the unaware public with a publicity social media blitz is not a good idea.

7. What are your views on copyright protection?

There is a constant tussle between transparency or openness or secrecy, which extends the gamut from individuals to companies, societies, and governments. Individuals are the most vulnerable and their successful creative endeavors must not result in a loss to themselves. It is all too tempting to plagiarize or pirate intellectual property, as society often turns a Nelsonian eye to these things, compared to say, petty larceny, and considers education as a birthright. Unfortunately, patents and copyright protection require public disclosure, which may give the game away to a marauding inventor, and the intellectual property rights are in effect only a moral salve for regulatory bodies.

8. How can technical books be marketed in the present situation?

All said and done, you can only position the book in the marketplace. If it is any good, readers will come to it.

9.  Why is there a marked difference between the local and market prices of books?

The costs of distributing books across borders rise astronomically due to postage, taxation and distributor’s margins and also if language translation is involved.

10. How will you measure the success of your endeavor?

The measurement of success of a book is not in the copies sold but in the lives or perspectives it has changed and the know-how it has transferred. Writing it has certainly changed mine by crystallizing my thoughts and arranging them in a 3-D order rather than in a messy space. The archer becomes the arrow.  “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing, an exact man” – ( Francis Bacon).

See the book in this video. You may purchase the book from Amazon .

Comment/Feedback from Mr. T.V Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum, on this interview:

“I was delighted also to read the excellent interview you have given on the subject of technical writing. You have articulated very nicely the various pertinent aspects involved. Heartiest congratulations for this. Please do convey my compliments to your daughter for the good questions and for conducting this useful interview.”

A Love Poem

By Aishwariya Laxmi

The day I fell in love with you
A poem was born
On the pages of my diary
That’s safe from prying eyes
You awakened inside me
Emotions strong and sublime
I thought about you all the time
Far-away echoes of a time and place
Were replaced with new thoughts
Whispers of happiness
And an image of your face
The person I once was is now gone
And the new me is journeying through life
With the help of words that I string together
To express the feelings that you’ve stirred inside
The very same ones that keep me alive

––––––––––
“I write to make sense of the world.” – the writer

View original post

Interview with Author Rajasekar KS

  1. Could you tell us what your book ‘How to read your husband like a book’ is about?

It’s about understanding the “inner mind” of husbands through everyday situations. The way they think and act and what it means is revealed through illustrations and little nuggets of insights. It’ll throw light on the behaviour of husbands and is aimed at helping married women understand them.

2. What prompted you to write a book on this topic?

An incident during my college days in 1989 triggered the idea for the book. An aunt in the neighbourhood was telling me one day, “Raj, why is your uncle non responsive when I want to discuss something, on weekends it’s difficult to get the TV remote from him, and he’s forgetful of important things…” This left an indelible mark on me. It cropped up now and then, but finally in 2015, I began to write ‘How to Read Your Husband Like a Book’.

3. When did you start working on this book? How long did it take for you to finish writing it?

As I said, I started penning this in 2015. It took me six years. I had to observe and pick the right situations that resonate with married women, so that it helped them enrich their relationship. 

Author Rajasekar KS and the book cover of his 'How to read your husband like a book'
Author Rajasekar KS and the book cover of his ‘How to Read Your Husband Like a Book’

4. What do you have to say about the institution of marriage?

Marriage is beautiful and everyone must experience it. It has stood the test of time. It’s natural for man and woman to come together but it’s nurturing when we come together and start a family. We’re made that way and I guess will stay that way.

5. What part do you think humour plays in a marriage?

Humour is an important part of the everyday wife-husband relationship and one can laugh away the worries when a spouse has a sense of wit about them. Without humour, marriage could turn out to be rather serious. But on the lighter side, marriage is also fodder for a million jokes.

6. Do you vary your style for writing different content formats? How so?

I chose short form prose laced with humour because the subject is important, the time demands it – reels, shorts, TikTok; and audience attention spans are dipping. Moreover, I chose illustrations and single page nuggets because one should be able to just open the book and read any page. I choose formats based on subject, form, platform etc.  

7. Who are some of your favourite authors?

I loved RK Narayanan, Somerset Maugham and Shakespeare. Even author P Raja, from Puducherry, my professor at college.

8. What advice do you have for newbie authors looking to get published?

Research and find the right kind of publisher who specialises in your genre. An author is a marketer, too, so create plenty of content around the subject of your book and be ready to fire on all cylinders on social media, blog, video, webinar, and more. Find where your audience is and choose the platform to connect with them. Be consistent, but more importantly persistent. It’s a 5-day match, so be ready for the long haul. Don’s lose steam, ever!  

9. Which books on writing would you recommend?

I’ve been writing since the age of seven and I didn’t really read much on writing. I just work on my craft every day, even at 54. But I’d recommend choosing some books/ courses on the art of writing better, signing up on copyblogger, following writers you like.

10. Do you have lessons to share from your own writing journey?

When I was at school, I used to keep a notebook by my side, even when I went to sleep. A writer needs to have some discipline and rigour, so write regularly. That’s something I learnt early. 

I fell in love with the Internet medium when it arrived in the world. I built Zodiacs4u, an astrology blog with 250K page views a month. 13 months later, in 2008, I sold it to a US content company. 

When Slideshare was new, I leveraged it for Impiger Mobile, where I worked for a few years, I grabbed 2000+ leads and 144k views in two years, with 25 decks.

The reason I’m saying this, writers should be curious to test and try new platforms and formats of content. Writers should explore life.

Pick up a copy of ‘How to Read Your Husband Like a Book’ on Amazon

Name, Place, Animal, Thing

Introduction

‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing’ is Daribha Lyndem’s debut novel of 199 pages published by Zubaan books, which is an independent feminist publishing house. They publish fiction, nonfiction, academic and children’s books for, by and about women in South Asia. The book has been longlisted for the JCB prize for literature and named by Vogue India as one of the best summer reads of 2020.  Daribha Lyndem works with the Indian Revenue Service as a Deputy Commissioner of Customs. The book consists of interconnected stories that throw light on Shillong as seen through the eyes of the protagonist as she grows up in the 90s. As someone who has never been to Shillong and who can’t recall reading any book set there, I was eager to read this book, which was sent to me by the kind people at New Asian Writing.

The name of the book immediately brought to mind the game ‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing’ we played as children. The game entailed receiving a letter of the alphabet per round and all participants coming up with a name, a place, an animal and a thing that started with that letter of the alphabet within a specified time and awarding points based on how uncommon the names were. The game is referenced in a couple of chapters of the book.

Brief summary of the ten chapters

In the first chapter, the author tells us the story of Bahadur, a Nepali in Shillong who had five children, one of whom was mauled by dogs. The author goes on to say that hardly anyone came to the boy’s rescue, except for her father.

Chapter two is the story of Mr Baruah who ran a shop that sold cards, stationery, toys and curios located in Barik, the centre of Shillong. Mr Baruah had married a Khasi. In this chapter, we read about a racially motivated hate crime.

Chapter three is the story of Tommy Lu, a Chinese immigrant who owned a Chinese restaurant called AVVA. Two hundred and fifty years ago, Tommy’s forefathers had moved to Kolkata from China. His wife ran a nail salon, his father was a dentist, and he had two children, a son and a daughter. Tommy had to sell his businesses, pack up his things and move to Kolkata with his family since he was a victim of extortion.

In chapter four, the protagonist talks of a yellow bear that her father gave her as a present when she was five. It is the first gift she remembers receiving from her father. She talks of moving from Nongrim hills to their own house in Rynjah when she turned eight. The reader is also introduced to a man known as Cousin Muscles whose moniker was inspired by Jerry’s brawny cousin in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. What happens to the yellow bear as the protagonist grows up forms the theme of the chapter.

Chapter five is about Mrs Trivedi, the Hindi teacher who did not get along with the other teachers. The school children came to their own conclusion that it was because Mrs Trivedi was a divorcee or because she smoked too much. Incidents involving Mrs Trivedi are described and in the end, she leaves the school. “Some said she was back with her husband in Kanpur and that they had made amends. Many joked that she had finally been institutionalised. But soon, people forgot about her.”

Chapter six is about Mr Sarkar, the mathematics teacher and stories involving him.

Chapter seven titled “the Lawmali Graveyard’ is about the protagonist’s grandfather who died in 1984 and the subsequent visits by the family to his grave. “It allowed us to remember those who have passed on, not in a reverential way with stiff sombre faces bowed over a cold stone structure, but in a mellow mood where we retold funny anecdotes. We became comfortable with the dead and more comfortable with our own dying.”

Chapter eight titled Bishar Mary is the story of Bishar Mary or Bi, who came to the house when the protagonist was thirteen. Bi and her husband were not married in the traditional sense although he was the father of her children. They lived together. The protagonist and her friends used the term “Khasi style” whenever a girl had a baby out of wedlock.

Chapter nine or “The revival” is about God and religion in the protagonist’s life. Chapter ten or the final chapter called Yuva is about the protagonist’s best friend Yuva.  

I attended an Instagram Live on 2 October 2021 by Zubaan books at 5 pm when the author read out from one of the chapters in her book. However, due to a technical issue, we all lost audio and couldn’t hear her.  When I rejoined the talk, the reading out from the chapter was over!

Details I gathered from the Instagram Live I attended of the author

The author mentioned that she had bought a kindle mainly to read her own book, which had initially come out only on Kindle, but now the hardback has arrived. The book is semi-autobiographical, but some of it is fictionalised. She called the book Name, Place, Animal, Thing to give a sense of familiarity to the reader since it was a game we all played in school. She also mentioned Flames, which was another game we played. She aimed to make the book “nostalgia-heavy” by “not lachrymose.”  All the chapters are named after Names or places or things. Names of people, place- graveyard, thing- the yellow bear.

She started writing the book in “October of 2017 or 2018” and finished it in February the next year, which was five months. She said she was already thinking of these stories since she was sixteen. The last story in the book is the least fictionalised. The characters were inspired by real people, but she changed all the names. Her close friend Yuva is the only name she hadn’t changed. Yuva died when the author was twenty. It was important to Daribha to write about this death since Yuva was a very close friend. This book will not have a sequel but she has ideas for a second book, which will take time since she is working full time. She is giving it “years and years”.

Quotable Quotes by the author

“I don’t think my book is an all-encompassing novel on Shillong. I only wrote through the eyes of a child”.

“I find the term “NorthEast” and “Seven Sisters” very reductive. I wish people would bother to learn the names of the states.

The author’s favourite books and short stories

She is reading a book called “A swim in a pond in the rain” which is by George Saunders, which was recommended to her by her friend Priya. She likes Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” and Swallowing Mercury” by Wioletta Greg. She tried emulating the work of Ray Bradbury and was inspired by “Swallowing Mercury” by Wioletta Greg, which drew heavily on memories.

“There will come soft rains” by Ray Bradbury is one of her favourite short stories. She likes Saki’s stories ‘The open window’ and ‘Dusk.’ When she was 14 years old, her favourite novel was “The Lord of the Rings”. It meant a lot to her ‘coz her dad gave it to her. When she was 22, “One hundred years of solitude” was her favourite novel. She has read “Wuthering Heights”, “Middlemarch”, “Great Expectations” and “One hundred years of solitude” more than once. She has read fairy tales more than once as a child.

The author’s advice to new writers

She gives advice to new writers, “Think of it as a job. If you decide to write five chapters, write five chapters every day. Keep an hour every day for writing. Shut out your YouTube and Instagram. I like to keep a book I admire next to me and when I feel stuck, I open it for inspiration.”

The Whole Wide World

I was recently featured in ‘The Whole Wide World,’ a unique anthology by Sweetycat Press. The book consists of “episodes” from 80 authors worldwide. The cover by Priti J is eye-catching and tremendously appealing.

Of all the anthologies my writing has featured in, I had the most fun writing this one. My dad tells me that this type of writing by multiple authors of a detective story was popular in English serial magazines in the 1920s, and Agatha Christie was one such famous early writer of such episodes.

The book is targeted at 14-18-year-olds and follows the adventures of Detective Curly Knucklewad and his assistant, Wanda Wowzer, as they travel the world to look for the missing recipe of the Limp Noodle Sauce. The episodes are by turn comic and chilling. Mine is the eighth “episode” in this anthology.

Book Cover of The Whole Wide World designed by Priti J

How The Whole Wide World was assembled- ( from the book)  “Each episode is a flash fiction story or narrative poem, each one without a specific conclusion that fit together like a puzzle. It’s comparable to watching a TV show where each episode presents new situations and new dilemmas but the show itself is The Whole Wide World. The main characters, Detective Curly Knucklewad, and his assistant, Wanda Wowzer, may change slightly( another remarkable thing is how similarly they are portrayed in so many episodes), but given that the 79 authors whose episodes were accepted for this anthology were given nothing to go by other than the names and roles of the detective and his assistant, the two characters never go outside the parameters of what they are to do: search for the thief who stole the Limp Noodle Sauce recipe.”

Here are some mentions of the book:

From PR Log

From Scoop

The 512-page book is available for purchase on Amazon India and is available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The paperback is available on Amazon USA.

You can read reviews of the book on Amazon and Goodreads.

%d bloggers like this: