The Perils of Communication

‘Hello! howz u gorgeous?’

‘Gud, rmmbr my msg – r dnnr- the pics? So tht’s de latest, in hngo’er state lol ’

‘Ya, I saw. Lovly n all. Wassup?  ’

‘Uh, since last nite? Nthng yaar, tryin to catch sum sleeeeep- zzzzz. CYL. TTYL.’

social-media

And so on and so forth- a minute to minute catching up, sometimes less, sometimes with   longer gaps. But what’s there to catch up with- we are in constant communication. There’s not much curiosity left, is there? What are we talking about anymore, where are we headed, what’s happening to us? These are some of the questions that assail me time and again, and I’m afraid of cutting myself off at the same time. I’ll miss out…but what is it exactly that I’ll miss out on? Unclear. The sad happy jokes? The woman-centric video-clips? And not just those, all the information-laden articles, and the wisdom being passed around every morning via a Good Morning! And a Rumi or a Shakespeare quote from the greats promptly accompanies the cheerful greeting. I like, and I smile back. And there are more wise folk out there, so often, the quotation is a simplistic one by an Anon. person. I like and I smile back with equal zeal.

And just by the way, I woke up at 6, had a cup of tea and made awesomely soft idlis with onion-tomato chutney. Served it up with a flourish, and then….but really now, do you need to know all this stuff about my daily routine? Nah. I suppose not. But I insist on telling you, coz I have this aching need to constantly share. Again, is it my need, or is it something I caught, you know, like a virus out there? Everyone’s sharing, be it on FB (‘I feel so tired today’- c’mon guys, some empathy please, or at least ask why), ‘The Metro sucks, and it hasn’t rained today’….yea, right, it sucks and it hasn’t rained, we all know it. It’s out there, all of it, and a lot of it sucks. One feels obliged to check the Like box, especially if it’s someone you want to have on your side to check your boxes too, haah!

Hang on, let me just put up a photograph of the road I traversed this morning, strewn with potholes and make a noteworthy statement of the rather ailing state of our state….it does make good copy.

Otherwise, honestly, there’s enough of enough that is quite all right. I love looking at photographs of scenaries and birds, trees and flowers, and see people enjoying their holidays, Oh I do. However, I don’t particularly like watching people in front of buildings, and in poor light especially. I enjoy poetry and writing, but not when it’s abysmally written, hankering for praise, accompanied by – well, let’s not go there shall we, not right now!

 

Surely should an anxiety get hold of me first thing in the morning –

“Shucks, I missed a wonderful quote today- how will I pass my day wisely now!” it would be frightfully wrong, would it not? This being besieged by a feeling of guilt and remorse, not okay. I haven’t wished back, what would my friends think of me?

 

So what’s it that drives us to constant communion? What’s this madness that has us in its hold? Why the need to be in the know of every movement of our friends, or non-friends and belong to a myriad groups that chatter incessantly. When there’s a quiet in-between this mindless chuckling, there’s a void felt- one is compelled to shake the mobile’s face – there’s something amiss, or we put it on and off, like a sparkling diamond, to verify that its shine is intact, and not fading with the passage of the hours. One wakes up to this faithful companion, having charged it to life, and then before shutting our eyes at night, we feel this craving to put in a last word- out there, so as to sleep in peace. But do we? In our sleep-state we are overcome by a myriad communications, said-unsaid. We are living in times that are overwrought with words, images, both moving and still. Can one safely conclude that we are over-communicating, over-reaching and over-dipping ourselves in the mire of ‘too much of a good thing’?

 

Benefits : we can be in touch with those far away from us, like our kids, our aging parents; we get to read some surprising thoughts & essays (seldom, but it is known to have happened), we are able to efficiently organize Ladies’ Night, and ensure that we don’t have to write the same message over and over; so far so good.

What else is good? Ah yes, the instant selfies and photographing…priceless.

 

Disadvantages : fewer surprises, less interesting stuff to share and an overriding need to outdo – be it in flavour, be it in humour, especially when it comes to reacting to whatever it is- fastest finger shows off a faster mind. And the emoticons- O lord, save my soul! I sit guilty of over-and mis-use of some very strange expressions and drawings. Many of us are. It replaces the word, and it sounds out the exclamation we would otherwise have used our vocal chords for. Wow! How does it get better than that!

It does, believe you me, it does. Not using them constantly will make them more meaningful and precious perhaps. I am yet to learn how not to. I am yet to understand how I got here, overzealously communicating day and night with people all over the world. I know I would save a few hours, were I to desist, and put them to far better use. Now what might that be, I do wonder, because, believe you me, I have this itch where I am fretting about how quickly I can finish this post, stick it on to my Blog, and share it via Facebook and Whatsapp and ….O all right, just these two for now. I’ve got to communicate my thoughts, and right about NOW! O the delicious tremor that seizes me as I imagine my world of people reading me and smiling, and shrugging their shoulders, saying, so what’s new? They will continue to ‘talk’ at a speed that both defies and defines time.

 

Is this going to change over the coming years? Are we going to embrace quietude and sometimes just go off the grid and become incommunicado? Do we really need to shed tears, or hair, or moods upon a screen- big or small? There are as many answers to these questions as there are people. Yet I have a sinking feeling that loneliness is on the rise, and the perils of communication are encouraging it, feeding it and permitting its dissemination like toxic weeds that grow unabated unless uprooted as quickly as they sprout.

Just saying :

  • Parthenium entered India with imported food grains in the mid-1950s. It is said to be one of the world’s seven most devastating and hazardous weeds and grows undeterred and wild left unchecked.
  • Facebook entered the world in 2004 and its invasion has transformed our world irretrievably.
  • Whatsapp was actively created in 2009, but it is in 2013 that it became really popular and had about 200 million active users and 50 staff members.

 

Some significant members of the Social Media Society : 

 

  • There’s Snapchat- microblogging, Twitter (instant gratification via handles- what you write is instantly swallowed by the world and gregariously opined about), Instagram (more photographs anyone- photo-blog away!), Youtube (show off your own videos, – you name it, and watch short or long movies!), Pinterest (visual pinning of pictures/videos and follow others’ Pins), Tumblr (posts are living documents) etc. ….and social media is kept alive in its myriad forms by we the People.

Tally Ho Charming Lands!

And there we were, my man and I, ready to hit the road. Have car, will race, was the motto of my companion on our tour of Czech Republic – Prague, Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary) and Zagreb (Croatia). We were both raring to go, no doubt about that, after ten delightful days in Germany, we wanted to explore what lay on the east side of things. Needless to say, we did race at a 120 miles per hour as often as we could, stopping just once between countries to fill up.

Driving is charming when you have the quiet and exploring, curious mind. It wasn’t a charm though on our first leg, from Hochholzen, Germany, to Prague as we ended up encountering many road-works on the highway that carried us forth. It did put a spoke in our wheels, in a manner of speaking, eager as we were to reach our destination, but we were quick to remind ourselves that oftentimes it is the journey that’s the thrill, not simply the arrival at a given goal. That said, we did race every time the path cleared up. Signs were all good.

 

Prague

 

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The Town Centre with an array of tourists

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I could barely hold my breath when we crossed the toll booth, the entry point to Czech Republic, where we purchase a card for a certain amount to be brandished, whenever asked, to prove that we were legal entrants. The cloudy weather made it all seem very drab and uninteresting after the golden rapeseed fields of Germany. Yet we were exhilarated at crossing over.

The Air-bnb we arrived at without much ado thanks to our efficient GPS. Our host, Peter, was a kindly gentleman with a beautiful mansion boasting off a large garden and a cosy apartment meant for us. A fabulous welcome. I, for one, just couldn’t get my head around the fact that the entire apartment was all ours for our two-night stay. I ran around like a headless chicken into the garden, back into the apartment, scouring every nook and corner. It felt great, it felt right. The air was cool, and we headed out the moment my hubby found me trying to catch a breath.

We were in Prague- east Europe, and everywhere we looked, people smiled back at us. Our first evening was spent walking around the castle and just taking in all the sounds that fell upon our ears. No English. There was a language in the air that we were not accustomed to, adding an allure to the experience. We stood agape at the top of the hill that gave over the city- boasting a wide vista of steeples and thick clusters of homes and roofs that seemed to belong to another era. It took painful hunger pangs to draw us away and back downhill to search and ultimately find a restaurant that would satisfy both the meat-eater, me, and my vegetarian partner. We were the only ones in that eatery, and we discovered that the food on our plates was less than satisfactory. I decided that cooking might be the more palatable option.

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Just before our meal, with the Castle in the background.

 

The following morning we reluctantly left the confines of this beautiful ground floor apartment with a garden, armed with a map of both the metro lines and the city to take on our roles as tourists.

With help in broken English from a mother and her toddler, we found our way, quite easily to the town-centre which was teeming with holiday-makers from around the world, and we joined them – to be entertained and to enjoy whatever Prague offered in terms of history and beauty- both wrapped up in each other quite seamlessly. A hop on-hop off bus gave us the ride of our lives, allowing us to get a peek of all of Prague, or so it seemed. The fresh air, the continuous chatter in our ears, of the guide via headphones, and a blue sky above, rolling along with the bus- was perfect. The sun shone brightly. We were two content people. Our ride ended at the quay, where we descended into a motor boat that swayed, just so, and we were blown away, by the sights of innumerable steeples, and verdant hills that bowed to us. We barely heard the guide, as the waters of the Danube splashed about, beating relentlessly, the body of our boat.

Later we had a far more sumptuous meal at our temp home. Prague had hosted us generously enough, and we were not about to ruin our evening with yet another struggle for a good meal for two very hungry tourists.

 

Slovakia – Bratislava

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The Partner being watched, as he watches…at the Devin castle rampart

The ride to Bratislava was an uneventful one, but we rode fast and arrived by lunchtime at another lovely apartment, which was fitted with both expensive and modern equipment, sporting the look of a designer home. We did not meet the owner, but were handed over the key by a friend, who left us in peace for the days to follow. It was quite a contrast to Peter’s home in Prague. We felt we needed to keep it as ‘delicately perfect’ as it was, and me being me, I feared soiling anything I touched. The centre room had designer sofas and a rather ‘cool’ centre table, and aesthetically lined porcelain vases adorned the corners. It was like walking into a magazine that displayed homes for the rich and famous. Being neither rich nor famous, it took all of my energy and self-belief to roam unfettered in this apartment.

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the ultramodern kitchen with a cook to boot 🙂

 

Our evening was spent in the local quarter, shopping and eating ice-cream cones, and just roaming around, taking in the feel of the people and the land. We felt we were being watched, since we happened to be the only Asians in that area. It was ok, and truth be told, I felt a bit of a celebrity who hadn’t quite made it in the big league. Back in the apartment we gorged on local fare, which was a bag of Bratislavan chips and local wine. We ended this high caloried dine-in with grapes and apples. Not so bad eh!

 

The following day we did visit the Castle, whose gardens were more attractive to us, sprawling as they were. They immediately drew our attention away from the lofty castle itself, as they gave over the city’s riverside, and its skyline. We wandered around like two lost souls, soaking in the greens, the large number of couples that lounged on the benches, taking in the sun’s warmth – just allowing it to wash over them, even as we deftly marched on the shaded areas. We marveled yet again at the rising steeples, the hanging bridge across the vast Danube, and gorged on a delicious Italian meal- playing it safe paid off, and we were richly rewarded by some excellent service and tickled tastebuds. A strong double expresso rounded off the meal quite impeccably.

We ambled along and found our way to the Slavin memorial after losing track of both time and tracks. However, it afforded us quite an insight into other areas of the city, which proved to be the best part of our day yet. Later, on the insistence of the partner, we drove out of the city to visit the Devin Castle, dating back to the 13th century, which definitely stands out as the highlight of our tour of Bratislava.

This ancient stone castle, stands just inside Slovak territory on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria.

It is quietly positioned upon a hill and casts its vision upon undulating prairies and quaint villages. I reminded myself that this was one rare occasion when I felt not an ounce of regret at having listened to my partner’s obsessive persistence to drive all the way out of town.

On learning more about Devín : since the 19th century its history inspired several romantic poets. It became an important national symbol for the Slovaks. It featured on the reverse of the former 500 Czechoslovak koruna banknote. Now that’s something!

This was heaven- we stood agape on the side of a broken castle wall and watched the sunset. The sight of the confluence of two wide and strong rivers wormed its way into our hearts, forever more. Two water bodies- the Danube and the Morava rivers flowing into one another to form a third wholesome body. In the mellow light of the setting sun, what met our eyes was nothing short of mystic. We had to tear ourselves away on being told that time had run out and we might miss our boat back to town. A half an hour later, we were aboard a humming boat-bound to arrive at Bratislava port in an hour, celebrating the union of Morava and Danube then and now. We were naturally quiet as cold winds whirled around us, and allowed us the time to absorb recent images we now carried.

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The aesthetic and neatly laid out Living Room which made me nervous about maintenance

BUDAPEST (Hungary)

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Gaping at what  shone in the light of the setting sun

 

Grand old Budapest where we spent time shopping, eating gourmet food and riding the river. This time though, the air-bnb quarters were neat but windowless, and our bed had a strange blue light that it emitted ceaselessly. It was eery and exceedingly claustrophic. We managed to survive the night, and rushed off to Zagreb thereafter.

Buda-Pest – two sides of the same coin bespeak history, much like most east European countries, and has clearly lived through many a war to claim and stake its place in the scheme of things. It is a bustling city and there were a large number of tourists combing the city by any means at their disposal. We walked, well mostly, until we embarked on a water cruise. It is a truly lovely city, with hills, waterways and yes, steeples meaning church-goers aplenty. But from what I understood from our Hop-on, Hop-off (yep, best way to rush through a city to pick and choose for later, that which is more attractive), only thirty percent of the country is a regular God-fearer. Surprise, surprise, yet no surprise there! With so much bloodshed and war upon war, what would you have one believe, that God’s all love and kindness? I suppose not.

People here were exceedingly helpful and kind. Walking permitted us to really observe them, their behavior in general up close, and grab a bite – falafel wrap, on the way. There is much to buy in this city, including handcrafted crystal-ware, which we dared not- delicate and heavy as it is.

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a grandiose view from our Ho-Ho Bus…

 

ZAGREB – Croatia

 

The following day, was clearly distinct in its ethos. How, you might ask- it was the air, its folk, so much simpler and that much more curious. We spent two luxurious days at Screcko’s home, and were given a small but well-appointed apartment. It overlooked a large park abundantly lined with trees and the cheery patter of happy feet. On our first evening we just hung out in the local marketplace, which reminded me of Gurgaon’s Vyapar Kendra, minus the discomfort of it being likened to a maze. It had all sorts, and we were instantly made comfortable on entering a sandwich shop (imagine a rather large Pita stuffed with chunky tomatoes and goat cheese, sprinkled with salt and pepper) and being told that ‘India does gooood cinema!’ English is rarely spoken apart from this young person who had started with English at school as a third language; as for the rest, ‘No inglis’. We managed just fine- charming information out of unsuspecting Croatians. The weather was glorious, and we wistfully observed a large variety of dogs being walked on leash. It is our favoured domestic pet, so the delight was all ours, remembering ours back home, now gone.

 

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After visiting the museum, a pensive moment

Zagreb is a very pretty town- with great places to eat and shop. Its air is clean as are its people. For us the highlight was both shopping at Müller, a large department store, and spending over two hours at the Musuem of Broken Relationships. The latter displayed items that held deep significance in a narrative that recounted the fabric of a broken relationship. It was not just deeply moving, it also told us how a common thread binds all relationships – be their tying or their untying. Some items on display included a hammer, a high heel shoe, a gum wrapper and even a little bottlette that once carried drugs like Ecstasy. Even as I read the accompanying tale, I felt a tremor rise within me. Each one left me either with a teardrop, or a quickened pace, on to the next one.

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A writeup on the museum of Broken Relationships 

 

Zagreb to me,  was the best part of our four city tour. I would have liked to stay for another two days- not so much to see anymore on offer, but just to be. We both, hubby and i, felt similarly, and we both will continue to feel the need to return to Croatia, inshallah we shall!

This trip was unique in many ways for us, but that would require another post. So long for now!

 

 

Aimless

What now? Aims I have none, routine nigh done

The nine to five, back & forth, kids, left none.

IMG_5468And what of her, my betrothed, only beloved,

A croup, a someone, an Other, far removed,

Strangers, we live on, under one roof.

What must I think now, action-inaction,

The days ahead, whither now?

I roam, chamber to chamber, lantern in hand,

Is this my crossroad, or a crossing mere?

Strange are these paths, known unknown,

Straight, long, narrow and square.

While I re-search a semblance of sanity,

There sits she, upright, soaking in my light,

Who is this? Who am i? O what a strange plight.

An aim, a goal must I find.

Even a shadow of grace, to end this phase.

My grief to dust grind, seek my place.

A brief insanity – an aimless man,

even the Earth would ban.

 

Portrait

Grey saltshaker,

Peppery wisdom sprinkle,

Whisking away all sorrows,

Evoking  songs unique,

Waltzing jowl to cheek.

Wrinkly edges chronicled,

Gift-wrap recycled,

Two hairs on her chin,

Bind yesterday to the morrow.

 

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Mouth too large,

Twin lips smile, awhile,

Barges on an endless sea.

Torch eyes that urge,

In vain search,

For that which isn’t,

For that which never was.

‘Tis half-mast now,

No crew, but then she knew,

To gather forces anew,

She must sleep sound,

all grace-bound,

Bedecked bamboo casket

A fine resting place.

 

Movement

 

Between you and me,

A flurry, a whisper blew.

Your lips moved, hands still,

Eyes disprove.

A movement; clear yet transient vibe,

Fleeting, yet tangible.

A new constant, to hush the jibes?

Utter out loud, shred the silence,

A plea, do honour this alliance.

What was it, this movement?

A bridge suspended,

By a thread, a cadence that is ours?

Recognition bound in taupe,

Prayer flags flutter in hope,

Yet tenuous, beyond those scars.

May movement be ours again,

Stillness abandoned,

Free, unfetter, unharness,

Those whispered sweet-nothings,

Broken, but restored : the nudging,

The mingling, the shuffling.

A Movement; a start,

New quest, forgotten fears,

Pretend arrest, grace unseal,

Joint visions congeal.

In our once-homely glen,

Restore the Zen, our love re-blend.

Blossoms White

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Stretching my arms, I waited.

My white blossomed essence,

Upon you a spell to cast.

There you were, in my bower,

There I was, me, my ardour.

Yet your gaze met not mine,

You passed by, my chassis wine.

Weep I did, bitter tears.

Years went by, seasons rolled,

So did you, from tepid to cold.

Now I’m older, no wiser,

I wait, thirst un-quelled,

More full, more fragrant now,

Enveloped in yearnings,

Every bud ready to burst,

Dousing my longings.

 

Then there you were, refined claret,

an upward glance you cast,

Flushed, I glow and I blush,

Perfume upon you gush.

Letting go of torments past,

There, I am embraced at last.

 

A Unique Writer’s Retreat

In the mountains of Kumaon   (HWR – Himalayan Writing Retreat)  at Sona Pani  

Some days are like that, they just take off on a positive note. 29th March was one of those days, when the heart soared, and one just knew that it was going to be a fine, strong day. “Taking off for Sona Pani” I announced – there was a sweet ring to it. The journey from Kathgodam up the hills, and then some down, and then up again had me reeling. The air got fresher as we sailed from hill to hill. I blessed my driver Shafik, for being the quiet sort, as I truly needed the silence outside of me to still the raging insides . The sunny mountains, the unadulterated air and then arriving at the Himalayan resort run by a most adorable couple Ashish and Deepa, was smooth enough. I was mistakenly dropped off by the kitchen entrance, and was quite charmed by the rather unconventional entry door. The aromas pushed their way into my nostrils and I suddenly found myself in an area thronged by folk that were chitter-chattering away. It was like a scene out of a Bengali movie- no one bothered with me, and I took it all in. Then Ashish, the host, found me, and I was asked to join in for lunch. Alas, I had already stopped by a café recommended by our mentor Chetan Mahajan, called I ❤ café. I regretted having stuffed my face with penne pasta. Anyway, i was shown my large new chamber, after i was made to descend to it. I was hungry for aloneness and views of the faraway mountains, lush trees and rhododendrons met my vision. I was elated. Alone, for the very first time, in a resort that sang to me, and a room that was all mine to litter, and a balcony with two chairs, both mine to choose from, and nothing more than undulating forests all around. Bliss.

The next twenty-four hours were just as expected- very quiet, very musical, as I could hear but birdsongs tearing through the air around, readings, writings and an exciting evening. I went up for tea at about six thirty and found the *‘jatra’ had assembled in the dining room. They were about to begin a thing called BED, a spoof on Ted Talks. BED stood for Beyond Entertainment and Design. Every person in that room had to speak for five minutes on what kept them awake at night. I didn’t feel up to it, because I slept well, and there was very little that kept me awake I believed. Yet when I was asked to, it seemed I needed at least twenty minutes to toss it all out there. There was stuff that could well keep me awake at night, and should, yet I played a trick with myself; I’d become an expert at pushing it all down, into myself, so deep, so damn deep that I magically made it all disappear. That evening, it came up from Nowhere one would say. That Nowhere place was a real place, and with very real needs. I was forced to address those needs, and I slept a little badly that night. I suppose being alone in a forestry resort can be a bit daunting for a city girl like me, who was habituated to people around most of the time. The pleasure of being alone, well, it took on an altered colour at night, and wasn’t as attractive as by day. I was engulfed by city fears, those that frighten little children: what if there’s a monster hiding in the bush? What if ghosts of the past lurk and lie low by day, and come out at night to frighten lone women at night, especially those from the city who should know better than to travel alone? What if there’s a leopard just waiting for fresh city meat? What if…..so I kept a lamp on all night.

Haunted till I passed out, exhausted by the mind’s running.

Morning broke at five am, and I switched off the lamp I had left burning. I was alive and uneaten. That was good. It was also my birthday, and I felt a bit younger, as is my wont, every year on 3oth march. I had survived another year, unharmed mostly. I can’t seem to accept that I might actually be ageing. So I don’t.

Breakfast was ceremonial with much on offer. I pigged out. I re-met all the beautiful people of the previous evening, who were immersed, as it appeared to me, in the previous nights banter. I went for a long walk thereafter, and photographed all that I observed. The air around seemed to be awash with magic. I was bewitched.

Later I spent the day reading and writing in my room, then in the balcony, then back in my room, then back in the other chair in my balcony. The network was pretty shaky, yet people I care for, were able to reach me and wish me; my family and friends wanted me to have a happy day, and I assured them that I couldn’t be any happier, and I’d die if I were. They seem convinced that I was quite okay out there somewhere. The book I read had me in its grips, and I forgot to grab lunch. Then at thirty past two my tummy growled. I rushed up and partook of the most delectable fare. Ashish and Deepa sure know how to pamper their guests.

Evening set in and my writing partners materialised, and so did I, and we acquainted ourselves with each other very formally, to start with. I could already sense that this HWR was going to be fun, despite the apparent air of correctness. If you ask me what I sensed, I would not know how to quite explain it, call it sixth sense. They all seemed well read, well spoken and good-looking as well. I secretly hoped we turned out to be friends, not just co-writers in that moment – wayfarers, drifting from one wonderful event to another. Well, what did I know! I smiled way too much after a couple of red wines (glasses). Then I was laughing, and everyone else seemed to be laughing along. The rightness had all but dissipated. All was good.

The workshop, the following morning, began with a short, guided meditation conducted by the very soft-spoken psychologist, Vandita Dubey, who co-hosted this eventful day that was about to unfurl upon us. She guided our consciousness from top to toe with her mellifluous tones, and we were smitten. The weather was unbelievably pleasant and in keeping with the rhythm we desired. It was nigh impossible to then do a writing exercise, yet we achieved the impossible, and each of us wrote of ourselves. We had to bring out the character of a personality, using any means. We wrote, and wrote. We shared, we smiled and we peeked a little into each other’s worlds, rife with imagination we learnt. Thereafter we moved to our writing quarters, downhill, in one of the many rooms that the Himalayan Resort generously threw open.

Chetan gave us all handouts with the program of the two days in print, sprinkled with humour and superb quotes, one among them being : “Description begins in the writer’s imagination but should finish in the reader’s”…my favourite. He then handheld us through the day, telling us about some of the more basic errors writers make. He showed us some short videos of interviews with well-known writers, who spoke lucidly about how less is more, and how we often use simple words unconsciously and repeatedly. We all were rather taken aback at the list of words that Chetan kindly shared with us, since we were all party to over-usage of many a terminology that should be banished as soon as it appeared in our minds. We did laugh over it, even as we were sensitized to this aspect of writing, imperative to help improve, vital to bettering the quality of our creative insights. He shared with us some software links that would be helpful in being able to bring into focus these very pitfalls- such as Scrivener and Hemingway- using one of his own writings to showcase their capabilities. We were duly impressed and quickly aspired to acquiring them all, adding to our own little collection of writing tools. I have none so far, and the green and red lines that MS Word throws up are already a bane in my writer’s existence. I wonder, I wonder.

We were made to undertake another writing exercise using our sensory perceptions, and then reading them out loud. It was exceedingly interesting to note how each of us brought a different light to the table, how each of us carried our distinct sensibilities and personalities into our written expressions. Nothing new, one might say, yet in a small gathering of aspiring writers, as we began to see each other in the light of our writings, a sense of intimacy grew. It was as if the small group that we were, were sharing secrets with one another, shutting out the rest of the world. It worked to our advantage, because as the day wore on, our expressions got stronger and more open. Every exercise became a means of self-expression, a surrender to the task at hand, which were no more than ten – twenty minutes at the most. We were seven in number, including Chetan himself. We all surprised ourselves by what we could achieve, by all that could be possibly expressed under directives that were explicit. When asked to be someone else- we were innovative, we were creative and we were humorous, above all.

On the second day of the workshop, we began again with a meditative exercise, guided by Vandita again, who asked us to become the mountain- to reach high above us, to rise up to kiss the skies, even as we held fast onto the earth which held us in its bosom. It was a delightful fifteen minutes, and kick started the day, energizing us.

We were then asked to create an ambience- make the place the hero of the piece to be written. Again, we rode the waves of creativity- again we emerged with some superb pieces, and as we read them out loud, we applauded each one on its unique qualities. We could all write, that had become increasingly clearer with every new essay.

We later discussed the publishing business, and the whys and wherefores of it all, since Chetan is a published author. His ‘Bad Boys of Bokaro Jail’ is a Penguin book. He made known the pitfalls of bad editing, especially by publishers. He handed us a ‘take home’ task, which was to edit either a piece that we had written during the workshop, or an earlier one. That was exciting, because editing is among the most vital components of good writing. Everyone may know it, but not everyone is capable of good editing. That apart, during the two and a half days of the workshop, we learnt to be present, to gather ourselves in order to write within a given mandate, to expel our inhibitions and to just let flow. It was all made possible, as we rolled from one level of comfort to the next.

The environment was a massive aid, and a compelling partner in our endeavour to learn and grow, given the motive that had led us all to this Himalayan resort. The ambience was nurturing, and Chetan fostered this core purpose in so many ways, chief among them being non-judgmental mentoring. At the very close of this wonderful chapter of HWR, he helped us voice and formulate clear goals for our writing career, and beseeched us to put them down, more for ourselves than for anyone else.

May we follow our hearts along with our goals, irrevocably. Amen.

This post of mine is dedicated to –

  1. Renu, the young charming poet; engaging prose-writer, gifted with funny bones and an effortless eloquence;
  2. Charu , our shy yet fluent blogger-to-be, vocal yet discreet, surprised continually by her own talents.
  3. Sapna, our petite blogger par excellence, mystic poetic demeanour, a woman of many merits and a distinct flavourful voice.
  4. Vikram, the discerning naval flyer, with a warm and pleasant exterior, and a soft, emotional palate of creative ideas.
  5. Vandita, the lady with the dulcet tones, she lulled and carried us to a place of peace          and quiet, an excellent guide and partner. Writes well too, with accompanying hedgings .
  6. Kamalini (why the hell not me?), driven to impatience of a creative sort, hungry to experience whatever is out there to be experienced, verbose.
  7. Chetan, the mentor par excellence, with a booming personality, candid and open, but reticent to critique harshly, could condense methodically, a lot of takeaways in a mere 2.5 days. Has an eye and a ear for the odd and infrequent.

To look at more pictures on the HWR Page, this is the link : www.himalayanwritingretreat.com/#gallery