Separating Yours From Mine – Two Random Poems


 

I am holding a fiction inside me

if you think you know me, think again
what is visible is camouflaged
what is hidden is true
we are kind of schizoid, aren’t we?
containing multitudes within

Ah what the hell!

More the merrier I say!

**********

Reality is fragile

ephemeral

Dreams

amaranthine

And memories

vehicles of destruction

I am entangled in those memories of yours

real and imagined

I tried to disengage

cell by cell

pore by pore

nerve by nerve

sometimes I pulled a wrong nerve

and the scream shot inwardly

at a deafening speed

leaving me convulsing with pain

it is a long and painful process

to separate yours from mine

from a chaos of collective losses

I reached inside and pulled out my splintered heart

and then

I poked and  jabbed

 pulled and  scratched

I scrubbed it till it was raw

and yet

 I could not separate the part of you in me

and here I am

holding  a quivering, pulsating wound

with a little of you

and a little of me

bleeding in my hands

the spirit gone

the flesh weak

the will dead

Collection Of Chaos – My Poetry Book And First Mini Review


Collection of Chaos

My short collection of poetry Collection Of Chaos is out from a new and power packed Leaky Boot Press, England. Editor James Goddard ( himself an excellent writer, mentor, editor) has done a fabulous job with it. Without him this would have remained just another dream.  Acclaimed author and multimedia artist Kris Saknussemm has written a heartwarming foreword for the book.

The cover art  is a painting by talented artist Rachel Slade  .

Big thanks to all who encouraged and helped me break my mental barriers.

The book is now available to buy at amazon.com , amazon.in , Bookadda, uRead , Flipkart and from other online book sellers too.

While I await my author’s copies here is an initial response of a wonderful fellow poet and published authorWilliam. B. Burkholder –

“On Tiku’s “Collection of Chaos”…
I am still in the process of digesting this tasty morsel of poetic beauty.
However, the first thing that comes to mind is as follows, and for some reason, I feel that my mere words shall not do justice to the exquisite beauty with which these lines are written…

Powerful, miraculous, extreme in its undertaking to convey the heart and mind of a universal writer, who not only speaks to some, but to all.

In a far distant land, where kismet thoughts reside, and poetic verse is unleashed to quell and calm the troubled and broken hearted, the view afforded to the reader by this single poet, captures elements of the human condition and the heart. I am enthralled to have the privilege to read these works, and I am blessed to have Tikuli as a friend and poetic colleague.

If you have not already, please do yourself a kind favor and purchase this collection today.

My formal review of these works shall come soon, however, my excitement about this work cannot be contained. 

On a 1 to 5 star scale… “Collection of Chaos” rates a fabulous 6!

W. B. Burkholder”

Thank you William. Your words mean a lot.

Leaky Boot Press FB page

Monday Memories – 20 – Hot Tandoori Food On Delhi Winter Nights


Some years back I did a post on Dhaba food  which is an essential part of North Indian culinary culture.  Today while looking at some old posts I remembered the roadside tandoor, a two feet by three feet hole dug out in the ground and plastered with clay, where at least once a week I would go and get fresh tandoori rotis made. An old woman owned this roadside tandoor and one had to keep the container of whole wheat dough in a line and wait for our turn. The tandoor remained covered with an  old tin sheet throughout the day and as the sun went behind the buildings the old woman took her seat on a patched rug beside it and people poured in with or without the dough to take the rotis for dinner. One roti costed 10 paisa if you got your own dough and 20 paisa if you took it from the her. Mostly people got their own dough as hers was mainly a mix of whole wheat and  all-purpose flour (maida). Some even made balls for the roti (the size of a tennis ball) to save time,  keeping in mind the number of rotis consumed by each person in the family. Many bachelors or students staying alone just came and told amma ( as she was lovingly called) the number of rotis they wanted and then sat on the small charpai near the shed while leisurely waited for their chance. Warmed by the heat of the tandoor they exchanged news, the events of the day or just relaxed. New associations were made over tea bought from the nearby tea stall which did a brisk business along with the tandoor.

Amma was very particular about her rules. Those who had rolled out the dough into ball came first in the line, then came the turn of those with plain dough and then the rest.

She would prepare the tandoor by lining it with charcoal and once it was lit and reached the right temperature she would wet her hands, cut the dough expertly in neat sections and roll them into smooth balls,  flatten the ball a bit, dust it with dry flour,  clap the flattened ball between her hands like a skillful artist  turning it around to get the prefered  thickness, dust some more flour to avoid sticking and place it on a small cushion and slap it gently to the inner side wall of the hot tandoor. She would quickly make more rotis and place them one by one in the tandoor.  In a few minutes the smouldering embers and the heat retained by thick dry walls made the  upper side of  roti brown and air pockets began to form. At this moment she would take a makeshift skewer , a thin iron rod hooked from one end to lift the roti from the tandoor, and flung the roti straight into the clay surface surrounding the tandoor. She would count the rotis, pack them in the container brought by the customer and take the money. This process went on till about ten in the night and then the tandoor would close for the day.

Some days the crowd was less and on such days she indulged her clients by making small talks or sometimes throwing tantrums about the consistency of the dough etc.  Most of the time she remained chirpy and warmed by the heat of the hot tandoor her wrinkled face glowed with happiness. There were times when the slightly burnt or extra roties were given out to poor children who waited patiently for the business to close for the day so they could get their share.

On special Sundays one would get the lip smacking dal too. The split gram dal cooked to perfection on slow fire could beat any dal makhani served in hotels or even roadside Dhabas. One could either take the plain dal or get famous panjabi dal fry or dal tadka ( tempered with seasoning of onions, green chilli and tomatoes) . The very aroma of freshly cooked dal and hot rotis made me drool. It was the best food one could have. We had to take a container for dal which she sold on a fixed per plate rate. The simmering dal was kept at the side of the tandoor in a huge aluminium pot. Those who wanted seasoned dal had to wait till the delivery of rotis was complete. Once done amma would hold the frying pan blackened from outside due to constant use, add a spoonful of oil, toss chopped onion, green chillies and tomato , add a dash of some secret masala (spice mix) she kept in a small box and give it a quick stir. The flames would sometimes flambé the seasoning and as the aroma would begin to fill the air she would add a ladel ful of dal in the sizzling pan and then pour the dal in the container. As a garnish sometimes she even put freshly chopped coriander but this was only for those who ordered in large amount.

I would wait eagerly for Sundays to relish this sumptuous meal. As we usually made Maharashtra or UP food at home this Panjabi tadka was a much awaited treat. I was in my pre-teens at that time and learning to cook. Urad dal dhaba style was one of the first things I learned to make. For two years we enjoyed the delicious food made by amma. Simple dal and roti whose memory still lingers in my mind. As i write I can feel the taste of the meal cooked with love and passion. She was a frail old woman, maybe in her early sixties, but the energy with which she worked on the tandoor was amazing. A true artist, experienced and adept at her art of cooking. We didn’t know where she lived or if she had any family but the shopkeepers and even the policemen on duty respected her and she never faced any issues with her clients.

I had seen her putting an extra roti or an extra ladle of dal for the students who came everyday to take food. A generous person even though she lived on her everyday earning.  She even believed in ‘ladies first’ or “ladkiyan pehle” as she mentioned before starting the work. The men had to wait it out till all the women were gone. Slowly I noticed that more and more  little girls began to come with their containers. The older women hardly came unless there was no one else to fetch.

I have eaten at many roadside eateries and dhabas but the memory of those meals is unforgettable. There is a certain pleasure in simple things.  A simple smile, a simple word or even a simple meal cooked with love.

We left that government colony when mom got transferred to new place and amma was missed sorely. I don’t know how long she continued serving hot rotis and dal at such low-cost or if she was able to sustain her little means of livelihood in the midst of growing number of food joints and rising coal prices but where ever she is I want her to know someone in a corner of world remembers her fondly.

I miss those roadside tandoors. One hardly sees them in the city anymore espcially in the area I live in but I make it a point to go eat at a dhaba once in while just to keep the tradition alive. Eating out on Delhi winter nights is incpmplete without dhaba food and I encourage all of you visiting Delhi is experience it at least once.

Dreams Tossed In Paper Boats – New Poems


imprisoned in the melancholy of this long  winter

my heart is an origami of desires

no glue

no scissors

no staples

no ripping

no stretching

no crossing

just

a simple folding

unfolding

refolding

and  becoming

what we couldn’t

*********************

Torn
between magic and mayhem
need and disruption
I write
of dreams
tossed in paper boats

*****************

I am weary of being entangled

in the tangle of your customized truths
take away those distorted mirrors
those ever-changing, ever concealing masks
take your carnival to some other town
set me free, my love

**********

Even though you are gone

to another country

another arms

I will forgive you

and keep alive

the illusion of our

doomed futurity

***************

your love
was
the ‘road not taken’

the adventure is over

now

 back to writing

*********************

I had vowed not to write love poems but my fingers have a mind of their own as you can see.

Nayi Disha Studios – Making Learning Fun With Motion Based Interactive Educational Computer Games


Kaju in His Room 01

I got introduced to Kaju, the Green-eyed baby alien, when my elder son Aditya began working for Nayi Disha Studios  in Delhi. A playmate of thousands of preschoolers across India, Kaju is the brain child of Kartik Aneja (lovingly known as, “Kaju’s Papa”) and Kushal Bhagia.

After seeing the enthusiasm and dedication of this young creative team I decided to do a feature on them and ask Kartik about his journey with ‘Kaju’ and his dream startup. You don’t have to be an educational expert to see how their innovative engaging games have changed the face of learning for little children. Nayi Disha is changing the way children are taught in schools with the help of immersive technologies and stories.

I remember my children’s preschool days and how keenly they used to engage in the fun learning at the preschool as well as at home. We did not have technology to support it then but it was evident that learning through activities which required active engagement helped them much more than just regular chalk talk and routine classroom studies.

Fun means engagement, doing and learning what has meaning and purpose, and it means being challenged. Embracing this belief definitely has a profound effect on what and how we teach in the informative years.

It is amazing how the technology rich world has come up with 3D rendered collaborative games developed with a creative  and sensitive approach to understanding of age appropriate content. The concept has completely  transformed learning abilities in young children.

In early school setting it is very important to tap the boundless energy and inquisitive minds of the children and engage them physically. Children of this age group are extremely active and mobile and most of the time the controlled classroom learning does not go well with them. Not all children are able to grasp the lessons effectively through rote technique.  Their energetic minds and bodies are constantly looking for change in learning modalities .

“Young children exhibit a diversity of learning styles, and the optimum way for many children to learn is other than by traditional teacher-directed verbal and mathematical approaches (Gardner, 1983). We must be sensitive to these different learning styles, especially as we serve an ever-larger diversity of children. Using alternative learning techniques and adjusting them to their individual needs has shown very positive results in preschool learning and has also shown tremendous potential for young children with various disabilities.”

“Brain research suggests that fun is not just beneficial to learning but, by many reports, required for authentic learning and long-term memory. According to Neurologist and educator Judy Willis,”when the joy and comfort are scrubbed from the classroom and replaced with homogeneity, and when spontaneity is replaced with conformity, students’ brains are distanced from effective information processing and long-term memory storage.” The highest-level executive thinking, making of connections, and “aha” moments are more likely to occur in an atmosphere of “exuberant discovery,” where students of all ages retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning. ” 

NDS specializes in designing educational games based on Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences and are mainly based on motion sensing technology (Microsoft Kinect) which requires kinesthetic participation from children.

Schools across India are exploring new options to replace the age old rote technology and infuse innovation in the process of teaching. Nayi Disha Studios has a similar initiative and that is to help make learning fun for young children through computer based educational games.

Founded by Kartik Aneja, Kushal Bhagia and Kunal Chawla, NDS specializes in games that are designed to engage a child on four levels

  • Kinaesthetic: All games encourage physical participation from the child.
  • Auditory: All games have music, background sounds and prompts that are composed to reinforce the learning.
  • Visual: All games have rich 3D worlds and adorable characters that children love.
  • Emotional: All games have short stories weaved around them that give children an emotional connect with the characters. Besides the stories, since every concept is taught via a game, children feel the need to “win” the game and this keeps them thoroughly engaged.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

An interview with Kartik Aneja about his dream start-up and future plans. 

How long has it been since inception of Nayi Disha?

We consider the founding date for Nayi Disha in June, 2012 – even though,the real work started in September 2012.

Building a startup from a scratch and taking it to this level is a daunting task. What challenges did you face and how did you combat them?

We went through the typical challenges of starting a startup – Money is always a problem. Because money is a problem, often getting access to good talent becomes even a bigger problem. If you don’t have smart people working with you, its difficult making a good product, which makes it difficult for you to make money later on – it is kind of vicious cycle.

Apart from that, the Indian society is still very apprehensive about starting up – suddenly all uncles and aunties consider you as failures, and put you under the bus going to Infosys (as opposed to the shining stars on it).

But it’s alright – All these are very generic problems, which I am sure everybody who starts up faces. It’s a part of the job. 🙂

What was the initial idea with which you thought of designing educational games for young children? What subject lines are covered by your games till now and what more potential do you see in future? 

I came up with the original project during my internship at HP Labs. I designed two very basic games by myself then, and tried them at a girl’s orphanage in a slum in Bangalore. I made a short video of that, and put it online – the video then went pseudo-viral, where people tweeted and blogged about it.

However, the idea then was very different.While working at HP Labs, I got early access to the Akash Tablet, India’s attempt at the OLPC. I didn’t like it, and I thought to myself ‘even I could do something better’. The pilot project started only as a small experiment, but gained momentum with time. The only concept taught then was Hygiene. As opposed to now, when we cover more than 20 topics in the pre-school curriculum spanning Math, General Knowledge and the Languages.

Tell us the story about Kaju? Why did you choose an alien as your flagship character and how did he get his name?

After a lot of observations and studying, we felt children these days are really excited by space. The name Kaju, however, has its roots on earth (more specifically, India!).

Both Kushal and I are absolutely in love with Goa (having spent 4 years of college at BITS-Pilani, Goa). “Kaju” is basically a small tribute to Goa. Moreover, we studied the names of all popular characters throughout History, and noticed a definite pattern – all names are made up of two or less syllables (“Mick-key”, “Min-nee”, “Goo-fee” and so on). Kaju (“Kaa-joo”) is short, easy to pronounce, and has a familiar ring to it for children throughout India.

Do you feel that the concept that started as a dream has finally taken off and you have been able to overcome the challenges that the educational games usually face? Is your venture directed towards high or middle end schools only or you want to reach out to low-end schools and underprivileged kids too?

Building your dreams is an ongoing process. We are much further on the road, than where we were yesterday. However, we need to go even a longer way tomorrow. At the end of the day, we want learning to be fun for everybody. We feel our solutions are highly affordable even for the lower-middle class in the country. However, with time we wish to bring it down even further, and reach out to more and more people at all the levels of the pyramid.

How do you visualize the changes learning with Kaju has brought in schools? Tell us about some of your experiences with children and educators. How do you train teachers to make them adept with the technology and what are the other requirements to install your games in schools. How about customer support ? How often do you visit the schools for feedback and how do you implement required changes?

The children absolutely love Kaju. My top 3 Kaju stories from 2013 can be found here – http://kartikaneja.wordpress.com . Some of the stories that all of us at Nayi Disha go through are truly heart-warming.

Apart from sharing on how to get the technology working, we share lesson plans for each game with the teacher. Here, we discuss them, on what are the best practices related to our games, and how these games can be used to teach multiple topics. We share with them on what other teachers do before, during and after our games, and so on.

Most schools have had at the most 2-3 issues in the last 8 months of having used our games. They were also software-based issues, and were quickly resolved at our end. As the we get more mature, we constantly work on making the software smarter .

At the same time, we keep visiting our client schools to get valuable feedback. We  sit in the classroom to see how children react to our games. Learning is a constant process for not only the children, but for us as well. So focusing on the feedback loop is crucial to our product life-cycle.

Each day Prateek, Aditya and Rizwan, our animation team, are learning more and making the cinematic more beautiful and relevant for our children. Nitish, one of our developers, is constantly on his toes modifying and updating UI based on observations and results produced by our psych-research team. We then keep pushing our updates back to our clients’ computers.

Kaju’s Number line

Are the school managements open to bringing changes in the teaching methodology? What challenges do you face? If any.

We would certainly like them to be more open. There seems to be a general disappointment with ICT in schools after the Smart Board bubble burst. However, most people we have talked to immediately see the value in our offering. Multiple Intelligences is a growing movement throughout classrooms in India, and most educationists immediately see how our system helps in that regard. The biggest challenge has been… our age. Senior level managements are usually people beyond their 50s. They find it very hard to trust a bunch of 20 year olds in this domain. Education unfortunately is a field where reputations are often defined by age.

Nayi Disha – A New Direction  (must Watch) 

I feel that it is highly important for the game developers to know the psychology of the children for whom the games are being designed. Tell us about your team and their working methodology. How does your team go about conceptualizing, designing a user-friendly interface and simultaneously incorporating educational lessons in your games?

We constantly work with child psychologists, educationists and teachers on conceptualizing, building and refining our games. Even before we started building Kaju (or any of the games), Kushal and I spent a month at a school in Ahmedabad attending Nursery to 12th. We would go to school in the school-bus in the morning, attend classes with them, and come back. We made notes of how children at each level moved, how they thought, what they liked/disliked and so on.

We continue to have an in-house psychologist, and work with many interns who help us both build and test our games.

We have introduced Kaju in many prestigious schools/Preschools  across India including Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Baner, Ahemdabad. 

The Nayi Disha Team 

 1421216_628091320589094_2027640026_o

You can connect with this inspiring young team through Nayi Disha’s FB Page and through their website Nayi Disha Studios .

 Feel free to write to them at homework@nayidishastudios.com if you would like a demo conducted at your pre-school. 

Nayi Disha Studios Finds mention in :

Zee business 

Mid Day

Your Story 

The Sunday Guardian 

All the photographs and material used for Nayi Disha in this post is copyright of the owner.

Full Cover of My Upcoming Book Of Poems ‘Collection Of Chaos’


I am super excited, very nervous  and giddy with happiness.

It is time to unveil the full cover of my upcoming book of poems ‘Collection of Chaos‘ .  The book will be available worldwide from lots of online sellers by the end of this month.

The gorgeous cover art is by a very talented young artist friend  Rachel Slade. It is an immense honor to have a her work featured on the cover. The watercolor painting  titled ‘sea’ and was painted in 2011. You can visit her website here Rachel Slade Art 

Thank you dear Rachel . ˙·٠•●♥♥Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ♥♥

The Cover 

Collection Of Chaos

Collection Of Chaos

I am deeply grateful to my friend and mentor James Goddard of Leaky Boot Press , who is an exceptional writer and an amazing photographer, for providing me a platform to showcase my work and for spending long hours teaching me the nuances of writing and editing. He finally made me break my mental barriers. Well, to a large extent :p .

I will keep all of you posted about the release of the book. There are many many people who made this possible. I will write about them in the coming updates. A big thank you to all of you. I love you all.

Stay Tuned.

You and Me – Four Seasons


In memory of that love which was there and yet not.

I lost all the four seasons in an autumn I don’t even want to remember and now it is winter and my heart is filled with the agony of untold stories. I no longer understand their alchemy or follow their plots,  the strange portals that lead to them remain closed or obscured behind a dense fog that has settled inside my head. I have known these characters from the days of their inception and now they refuse to obey. The words sound  trite and concocted. Devoid of joy the projects choke for the lack of air. Outlines fill the pile of drafts.

I am beginning to understand my limitations, my insanities. Beginning to feel my cracks. my fragments and the dislocations in myself. My vials of love have dried in the environment filled with ache and isolation. I have lost the elixir of life from which were born my stories, my poems . The cup is empty, the papers blank. Their voices mute. The strings inside me have broken, a pearl has slipped away into the dusts of time. Soon others will scatter too unable to hold on to the flimsy thread. It doesn’t matter When.

They say I look anaemic, that I have lost blood. A ghost of my former self. A writer’s blood is the ink and her tongue the pen with which she fills the blank papers. I let myself loose on paper and spilled the stories of love, pain, joy, terror, apprehensions and all that was me. I  squeezed myself in each droplet of ink till there was nothing left. I have nothing more to give, nothing more to tell.

Till then read those words that await in their shadows for you. They may seem just lifeless markings on a plain white sheet to you but look closely and you may see my heart and soul stapled to them. You may feel a pulse, a breath, a drop of crimson and salt in some of them. They may cling to you, ride on your mind, make you think, look within. They may crackle under your feet like autumn leaves that died and fell from the trees and like parts of me. Don’t forget to remember the colours they brought. It was a grand finale to something very beautiful. Gather those scurrying leaves rustling with the breeze. Listen and they will tell you the stories. Each colour, each crack, each pattern a cascade of nostalgia. Words, mysterious and magical even in death.

Nothing burns like cold. Find the winter in those words. The melancholy of lonesome nights. The deepening silences. The snow flurries. The long hours of waiting. Words ice locked gripped with bitter cold. You will see them trembling inside some story, invisible under a curtain of thick fog.  Numb. The air burning with their Fragrance. Our fragrance and the fragile familiarity of it.

Watch them cling to the sadness of things like droplets of dew. On a sunny day you may even see a prism of our dreams and hopes in the morning dew as the sun fills their lives. Jewelled words, a verse, a tale on wires, grass, flowers and leaves. Evanescent  as love.

Of endless summers and flirting springs I shall not talk, for you will find them as you rummage through that autumn  long forgotten this winter. I lost all the four seasons to it, the words turned strangers just the way you did and the story-teller disappeared in her own story.

Video courtesy You Tube. All rights to the owner.