The Making Of ‘Duets’ – Our Book Of Collaborative Poems


As the publication date for Duets draws close I thought of sharing how James and I wrote all the poems that are part of the collection.

Very often people say that writing poetry is a solitary art. For some it may be true but at the same time collaborative poetry also has a long history and now, especially in the days of the Internet, it has become easier to collaborate over messages, text, emails, or even working within the same document while living miles apart, sometimes the collaborators do not even know or meet each other before sharing the space in a book. The collaboration of visual art and poetry is also very exciting thing that we get to see now more often than before.

There are so many mediums to collaborate and so many ways to write the poems too. Renga in Japan and Renku in China are good examples of collaborative poetry forms. French Renaissance poetry was often a joint project where poets collaborated with their contemporaries.

The poems in Duet originated in the conversations between James and I on Facebook Messenger. The process was simple. We decide on posting the poems alternately. The one whose turn it was to post came up with a first line, and then we added lines alternately until one of us yelled stop. Then we each took the text and edited it into a form that we thought worked.  We then had two versions of the piece and decided which one we should post. Sometimes we didn’t agree and kept both the versions but it was rare. These poems can be termed impromptu as they were written and posted at the same time. Usually it took us an hour or three approximately to finish one poem and post.

When we began neither of us had thought it would come this far. We did it for fun and posted for friends to read and within a short span we had some twenty poems and then the number kept growing. It was then we decided to save them in a document file. We could see an opportunity of a book. James is a seasoned writer so this whole exercise was very exciting for me and a great learning process too. I think it was difficult than the usual process of collaboration where you have time to think and create once the other person has written his/her lines. Here we had no time. Once we sat down in front of the open chat window and the first line was posted it had to take shape of a poem. There was no escape or postponing. This kind of built a pressure especially on me as I am yet a student learning the craft but I must say it kicked me out of my comfort zone ..lol.. It also taught me discipline though James will laugh and say I still need a lot of it.. 😀

It is exciting and at the same time liberating to watch a new voice emerge as a piece develops. We were open to the poem leading us rather than one of us leading it and yet it was an intimate experience. Words are portals and we saw this during our writing of these poems. Suddenly a line would change the entire thought process and lead you to somewhere totally different. It was an exercise to be ready for a quick response to the wordplay that is not yours, a thought completely different from yours, to recognize another voice and be comfortable with its uniqueness and be ready to get startled by constant surprises. Sometimes not being in control gives you more strength to break mental barriers and create something beautiful and totally unexpected. The feeling is overwhelming. Sometimes frustrating too, which of course is human. We are conditioned to follow our thought process and this sort of intense exercise messes with the brain’s normal conditioned way of working. I can tell you that many times I would envisage a poem leading in a certain way and suddenly a line from James would change the coarse leaving me lost for words and ideas but he would patiently wait till I gathered my thoughts again and wrote my part. Many times I would try to steer it in a certain direction but then eventually the poem would take its own course. That is the beauty of words. They lead the way.

It is amazing how an impromptu collaborative work grows organically into a form challenging the roles like gender, age, personality, culture and other differences which usually mark your individual work.  Here all bets were off. We trusted each other and took the direction we were steered into without being judgmental. What we loved most about our work is how this exercise blurred individual lines. While reading the final poem one could really not point out who wrote which line and that was something beautiful.

The joy to create something together is irreplaceable. Time was a big challenge as both of us are writers with a tremendous amount of workload but we somehow managed to hold on to it and assigned a time to get online just to write a new piece and enjoyed our collaborative time together.  I think my creativity has grown with this collaboration.

The name ‘Duets’ is the brainchild of our mutual friend Sabine who was one of the regular readers of the poems as they were shared on Facebook. She began calling them Duets and the name stuck. Thank you Sabine for the love.

 

I asked James to give his side of the story and this is what he sent me :

 

I quote

I’m not totally sure how the collaborative poems between Tikuli and I came about. I think perhaps one of us said—and I’ll give the credit to Tikuli—“let’s write a poem together”, and so we did. Then we wrote another and another and another, and suddenly there were enough poems for our book ‘Duets’, even after leaving a few of the less good poems out of the mix.

 

For some time before we started collaborating, I had been using whatever expertise I have as an editor in trying to help Tikuli with her writing—mostly working on fiction, a long-form narrative, an as yet incomplete novel, and short stories.I think Tikuli came to realise that the best way to learn is often by example, and so she suggested that perhaps we could write something together. As I didn’t have the time to commit to writing anything of length, we began writing poems whenever we could find a bit of time to work together.

 

Writing is, by it’s very nature, a solitary occupation, so collaborating on the writing of poetry or anything else is not a natural process, but is instead a challenge, something to be mastered for no other reason than the determination to master it. In the finished work two minds have to come together as one. The writing must seem as fluid and natural as if it had been written by one person. This means compromise from both writers, without compromise nothing would ever be completed. Compromise was difficult when we both had fixed ideas in mind.

 

How can I describe the process of writing together? Think of it as being like a tug-of-war between two mules, for we both have a capacity for stubbornness. There’s a knot in the centre of a rope and a marker on the ground dividing the territories of the mules, then the mules pull in different directions until that knot passes into the territory of one mule or the other. That rope, of course, is woven from the alternate lines we wrote, the territories are the directions that we each thought the poems should turn towards. Sometimes we argued. Sometimes we discussed. Sometimes we disagreed. But always we remained amicable, for our friendship is far, far stronger than any momentary disagreement.

 

I differ with him on one point. It was his suggestion to start writing collaborative poems. Trust him for not taking credit. I wouldn’t have suggested at any cost ..lol.. I’m so jittery about getting into a new thing. I can tell now that it was worth all the fretting, nervousness and brain storming.

Here is a treat for all of you, a poem from the collection.

DINNER

only tears would clean the stains
hunger left on her face
as she tried to understand
what was wrong with the rich
and decadent food she ate
as unsatisfying as lost love
it left her gaunt and empty
her starved reflection stared at her
from the shine of her empty plate
absentmindedly her finger
traced the contours
of the plate’s cracked surface
as she dreamed of better times
twilight gathered in her eyes
and fed her inner darkness
soon the starless night would come
and invisible in the night
her empty plate might fill

( © Duets – collaborative poems by Tikuli & James Goddard)

Do pre-order your copies. The book releases on 19th of November. It will be available with all online book vendors.

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New Poetry Book – Cover Release And Other Stories


I am again in process of shifting houses. Still searching for the home that doesn’t seem to exist and in between the chaos a good news floated in like gentle breeze.

Rain is generously filling the empty pockets of the streets. From scorched to sodden, the city struggles to cope with monsoon woes while the nature blooms with joy.
Mogra, raat ki rani, champa, chameli, sadabahar and many more traditional flowers are blossoming across Delhi. Parakeets are making a racket outside my window. They are looking for nesting places.

Cover Release 

Duet is a very special poetry collection in many ways. I will tell the story in detail later but there is something I need to share here. It is a collection of collaborative impromptu poems James Goddard and I wrote during our daily chats on Facebook Messenger. There will be a separate post with all the details about how we managed to blur the individual lines and the distance that separated us.

I am so proud of this joint collection.

Here is the full cover of the book.

Duets - Leaky Boot Press The book will be released this November but the pre-orders have begun on all online book vendors. Here is the link DUETS  

And for the readers in India DUETS 

Now you must be wondering who the other collaborator is. 🙂 Many of you know him as the publisher of Leaky Boot Press, my friend and mentor who writes those fabulous poems and short stories he prefers to call “little pieces”  and a photographer par excellence but there is a lot more to James than he decides to reveal. I will be doing another post just to introduce you to his work. One of the most brilliant writers who unfortunately prefers to underplay his writing and the role he has played in the lives of many of us writers. Stay tuned.

In another news my other poetry books Wayfaring and Collection Of Chaos  reached Poetic Justice Books and Art  in Port Saint Lucie, Florida thanks to Kris Haggblom and Dominic Albanese who is a friend and fantastic writer.

I am feeling chuffed to see my books featured along with some of the finest writers. The shelfie is a sample of their small press section and includes LBP too.

A few friends have bought some of the books and are reading them. I am eagerly waiting for their feedback.

Meanwhile James gifted me with my favorite multilingual print edition of Le Zaporogue XVII 2017-18 . I have a wonderful short fiction titled El Pino Ruins in this edition.  The book has some excellent works of writers/artists/photographers. These are a few more editions that have my poems and short stories. So honored to be in this exquisite company thanks to editor-in-charge, poet, author, academe, Seb Doubinsky. The printed books are available on lulu.com and you can download them for free too.

Now for another review news. Ampat Koshi is a well known writer, critic, editor and theoretician. I had gifted him Collection of Chaos long ago. A few days back to my surprise he posted a note about the book and the effect a particular poem has on him. It deeply touched me as a woman and as a writer. I am grateful to him for voicing his thoughts that mean a lot to all women in today’s time.

I am sharing here the full note in quotes.

A review of “Collection of Chaos” by Tikulli Dograi

This review is probably the most painful one I ever wrote. It is not a review but an apology. It is about my failure as a critic. Long back Tikuli gave me this book to review and I never did it though she said good things are worth tarrying for.

The reason why I never gave her the review for which she must have written me off and added me to her list of proofs as to why men are evil, rightly so, is for a simple reason. She wanted me to read the book as a book of poems but though I started that way I soon came to a poem that made me stop reading and drop the book for the opposite reason from what one may think – meaning I did not drop it as her writing was bad, – she writes beautifully – but as I could not handle the emotions in that poem. After reading it I could not proceed. As a writer I came up against a brick wall. I did not want to write a review any longer but a letter, a letter asking her to forgive men but could not bring myself to do it. And it was anyway not what I was supposed to do. We drifted off from each other but she continues to write prolifically and even won a best blog award some time back. I do not know if she is still on my list or not, but probably she is not, and rightly so, if she unfriended me for breaking my word about giving her a review. If still there, apologies again many times, sincerely, Tikuli.

The truth is I have many friends on my list who have faced varying kinds and degrees of abuse at the hands of husbands, ex or not. I mean not just emotional or mental or spiritual or physhological abuse which is bad enough but also downright physical abuse, the worst sort. Apart from betrayals. Shashi Deshpande talks of domestic rape but there is also the issue of being beaten up that many women have faced. I guess I am writing for all of them also here, for all of them, for what it is worth which is not much, not as someone who understands all this, but as someone who at least once in his life was brought to a complete standstill by reading a poem by Tikuli. A painful one. Where she speaks for all of them.

I agree this still does not qualify as a review. I could quote the poem but prefer you people buy the book and find it for yourself. Maybe I could pose with the book and post a selfie. I do not know if that would help at all.
But what I can do is post the link and hope some of you buy it and read her and appreciate her bravery and searing art which are both rare qualities these days. Worth fostering. And if you get to see this, Tikuli, forgive me for such a late response. I am literally writing this to clear my conscience and try to do justice to something I probably cannot ever do justice to. With this assurance that your art is not in vain as such poems will definitely lessen the cruelty and brutality of men to some extent.

There are two more book news in line. I will update the moment I get to know the details.

Will be posting a few recipes too.

Till then keep sending your love and support.

Anne says,” Krudtuglen really knows what is good. 😻🌹” 

You can trust the cats.

Collection of Chaos

 

WAYFARING Review in HT City and other stories


I have been fortunate to connect and make friends with writers and artists from across the globe. Social media channels have been a big boon to me as far as my writing journey goes.

I have had some wonderful reviews in mainstream newspapers / online journals and websites for my books but the small notes of appreciation that come via Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads etc mean a lot and are equally special and cherished.

Matthew Bialer is one of the brilliant writers I met on FB. We have not met in person.. not yet. He is an exceptional photographer and painter too.  Sometime ago he posted a mini review of WAYFARING on GoodReads but it appeared under author Siddharth Gigoo’s review as a comment. I missed it then but found it later. Here’s what Matt had to say,

Some more writer friends I admire are reading the book. Chandini Santosh sent me a reader’s Pic and Dominic announced the arrival with a small note.  I will write more about Chandini and her  books etc in the next post. I am excited and nervous about her feedback. She is one of my favorite writers and needs to be read by all. More later. 🙂

Dominic Albanese is a poet and a war veteran from Florida. You can checkout his work HERE.  Most of the books can be downloaded for free. He’s been writing poetry since 1966. This is what he wrote on FB:

 

Twitter has got me many followers on the blog. I have come to know a lot of bloggers/writers/artists/ filmmakers there. Here’s an insightful review of ‘Wayfaring’ from a Twitter reader friend. A poet and translator himself though he prefers to be in the shadows. Thank you Ayushman . Do click on the link to read the full ‘tweet review’.

 

The biggest news came yesterday when ‘Wayfaring’ found a place in the National Daily Hindustan Times’s City Supplement, HT City of 28th March.

This is my third media mention in HT. Two of them for Wayfaring and the earlier one for my blog. It is a very special feeling. Encouraging too. Thank you Nabanita  for your short yet  insightful review.

This what she said about the book:

“…emotions so vividly expressed that it’s difficult to move from one verse to the other.” 

 

All this good news means celebration. I have an appointment with the dentist tomorrow. I’m scared and fretting as usual but I know he’s one of the best. Keep me in your thoughts. Hopefully it won’t be a major procedure and I’ll be able to celebrate my mom’s 88th birthday the next day. It would be such a joy to have all the children / grandchildren together under one roof.

Here’s to Poetry 

Mini-Reviews And Some Other News


Le Zap

I never took writing fiction seriously. Someday I would just open a word doc and type furiously as if possessed by the very words I was writing and slowly a story would come to life.  El Pino Ruins is one such story that I am very proud of. It recently got published in the final edition of Le Zaporogue XVIII by various authors.  You can read it by downloading the ebook format free of cost from HERE  

This is what a fantastic writer friend Jerry Wilson had to say about my story

 

Jerry is one of the finest short story writers today and you must pick up his books. Just click on the link above.

Another writer/ columnist Kiran Chaturvedi also shared her thoughts with me.  You can read some of her articles by clicking the link.

 

Here’s the complete note.

“Dear Tikuli,

I read your wonderful El Pino Ruins short story today and enjoyed it very much. Loved the classic style and haunting mood. It has such a vividly evoked setting, and a rich narration that makes for a captivating read. You have paced the action fluidly and built the puzzle beautifully. You should write more prose and I suspect you are specially good at such other worldly story twists. “

Thanks so much Kiran.

Have you downloaded the free ebook? Please do by clicking the link above. 

 

Meanwhile, my second poetry book Wayfaring reached Sabine Pollack Merle in France. She sent me a very heartwarming note after reading the poems.

“I read your poetry book, Tikuli, and once again you have moved me with your words written here, and that you whisper in my ear…
Some of these poems have made me cry because they are so meaningful. 
It is such a precious one. 
I really can say but one thing, many people should read Wayfarer.
Tikuli, you are a beautiful woman. 
Brava !”

You can read her review on amazon.fr 

I posted these on Instagram earlier. You can follow me there.

Some copies of the book are up for review and I am eagerly waiting for more feedback. Do write to me if you are reading Wayfaring. The book is available with all online booksellers across the globe. Do get your copy soon.

Bhavana Nissima  is a fabulous writer, artist, educator and NLP practitioner. She is based in Hyderabad, India. I have always loved her writing. She is also a very compassionate human being and a friend I cherish. In last few months she unconditionally healed me from distance in one of the toughest phases of my life.  I am grateful to her for helping me connect with myself.

In August last year she did a wonderful write-up with one of my poems along with one another poet I admire. You can read it here –

#FridayLights — Issue2 

Thank you Bhavana for this generous gesture.

 

#superblurbloodmoon #shotwithOnePlus3T

 

The whole world watched the phenomenal #SuperBlueBloodMoon on 31st on Jan. I took these pix from my #OnePlus3T Sometimes I regret not having a good camera. The sight was enthralling to say the least, the rare convergence of a ‘supermoon’, a ‘blue moon’ and a ‘blood moon’. Thankfully Delhi weather didn’t play up that night and I was able to watch the total lunar eclipse.

I am writing some more of Hindi poems on Delhi and will soon start sharing. Last two months have been very hectic and I have been unwell too. Apart from a verse here and there I haven’t written much.

i

my soul
is impatient with itself, 
my inner – disquiet, 
my intellect – not satisfied, 
my heart – not still,
my mind – ruffled,
I’m restless as a
willow in windstorm.
If you are afraid to step into quicksand

stay away.

ii

mystery 
madness
chaos 
carnage 
passion
intrigue
phantasm –
landmines in poet’s mind 
tread softly

 

I am trying to get back into the rhythm and start reading more blogs from friends. Do keep giving the support and leave your comments if you visit the blog so I know you’ve been reading my stuff.

A small note to end the post –

We take people for granted. We feel ‘entitled” and this feeling of entitlement blocks us from giving or receiving and when we aren’t receptive to gratitude whether in receiving or giving then we may be lacking many other positive emotions.
Relationship becomes stronger and deeper when a little grace and humility is shown.
Great Relationships are precious gifts. Be grateful. 
Thank you for being part of my journey.

Love and Light.

Celebrations With A Difference – A Wedding, An Award And Other News


I have been away from serious blogging since many months and I apologize for that. The thing is I have been preoccupied with health issues, my book release and two big events that brought absolute joy to me.

First was the wedding of my elder son Aditya   to his girl friend Snigdha. Beautiful, talented and compassionate this daughter of mine is like sunshine on a rainy day. I had loved her from the day we first met some years back. Something had told me that this was going to be a bond for life for these two. It is a beautiful feeling to see the strong threads of friendship in a marriage. Rest everything is superfluous.

I never liked the statement, “they complete each other”. I think both of them are complete and fractured in their own way and respect that. For me this is the basis of any good relationship.

It is a perfect match and I am very happy for these two young adults starting a new chapter in their life. I am sure with Snigdha on his side my son will continue to grow into a better version of himself each day. He is a sensitive, caring boy fiercely independent yet very giving and exceptionally talented. Just needed someone to rein his wild temperament a little and all is well 😉 . These kids deserve all the awesomeness in the world.

Did I tell you she’s an awesome poet apart from being a very fine journalist? Well, now you know. I have been nagging her to publish her poems. She is way better than me and needs to be read.

The wedding was nothing too ostentatious. I do not believe in pomp and show with people dressed up like Christmas trees exchanging pleasantries for the sake of it. The simple sobriety and intimacy of the occasion was what made it memorable. With the melodious sounds  of shabad floating in the air the whole atmosphere was beautiful beyond words. The reason I love Sikh weddings are many. It is a short ceremony, happens in daytime and there are no long dragging rituals.  The Anand Karaj ceremony is one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I have ever witnessed and I am glad we opted for that.

The interesting fact is that this union was in line with the tradition of ‘love marriages’ my side of family has, beginning with my maternal grandparents. You choose your partner for life and are responsible for the consequences. 😀

We are also slowly becoming a very fine example of  cross culture family in the true sense, leaving behind the shackles of caste, creed, religion etc.  You get to know different cultures, eat different food, learn different languages and it is such a good cocktail of happiness even with the problems it brings at times.

In this case the ‘meeting the parents’ happened much later than ‘meeting the girl’. Like always the moment my son began dating her I was one of the first to meet. Not for so called’ approval’ but to break the ice and for us to know each other better. A fellow Mirandian, a poetess, a girl who loves to travel, read, is fun to be with and is highly balanced and focused in life, she can talk with just rolling her large eyes.. finally I have someone with whom I can gang up against the brats..oh the joy of having her as part of the family are many.

Meeting her parents extended my faith in ‘friends are the family you choose’ . By the time the couple were engaged to be married we were already partying hard. I was happy because my son was.  He had been through some of the hardest times a child has to go through for no fault of his and to see him beaming with happiness was the only thing that mattered. This coming together of two families gave me strength too but that is another story for another time.

Overall, it was a fun wedding where the close family and best friends spent the time of their life along with the gorgeous couple.

The newly wed had a great time and so did we. It was a celebration with a difference though like a true blue Punjabi wedding we had the dhol, bhangra and over loading of food and booze. 😀 And of course the DJ (a friend of my son in this case, the fact that he is a celebrity is a different matter all together) churning out the apt songs for the occasion.  We made the best memories together with so much love and craziness. The task force behind the entire celebration were the fantastic friends of the Snigdha, Adi and Shubhang, the kid brother. Without them rang pheeka reh jata. They made the fuctions come alive. Such energy and joy… irreplaceable.

Indian weddings are huge projects with a deadline one can not surpass and if there is no masala in an Indian wedding it didn’t happen. So, we debated, argued, threw tantrums and had bouts of emotionally charged episodes with tempers flaring and tears flowing.

I do not have much of an experience of wedding planning as my own marriage was a quick simple affair but this one was an overwhelming experience. Stepping away from the traditional, ritualistic customs and doing away with a lot of stuff that made no sense whatsoever except for an overload of expense and waste of time wasn’t easy.

At many points in this adventure I was convinced we’re going to screw up in a big way. Even the groom was certain there would be a disaster. We ranted, glowered, decided to part ways and all that. We were worried, tired, clueless about many things and behaved like jerks, myself included. There were long telephonic discussions, arguments over guest lists, outfits and unlimited shopping expeditions. The fact that we were based in three different places in the city wasn’t helping much and to top it I fell sick. But,  I am a sucker for emotions and to see my first born getting married was too much to joy to handle. On one hand I was jubilant and on the other his entire life flashed before my eyes like a movie, turning me into a sentimental wreak.

It was insane. The bride’s side had meticulously planned even the minutest detail and we were in disarray to the point of being hilarious but we survived.

For years I would be very scared and spent sleepless nights wondering if our broken home will bring the unfortunate stuff people said it would, would I fail in the end as a mother, as a friend, as a pillar of support I always tried to be but as it turned out there is a power in being true to oneself and doing what is right. In believing in oneself and one’s children, in listening to them and understanding them as individuals.

Even in the times of raging wars we are one and love each other unconditionally. The boys have outgrown my lap but not my love and that keeps us afloat even in the strongest of storms.

Kid 2 has started a new job and is living his life on his own terms. I wish him well for that he aspires for. Now, with his best friend, an elder brother who practically raised him up in the most crucial years of life when I was away, settled in his new phase of life, I know he will feel the void but that is what growing up is all about. Physically we may be away but there for each other always.

Unforgettable, irreplaceable magic of holding my first born and the crazy journey called Life that we share. Unmatched bond of friendship. 

 

#Adikishaadi #Snigdog

Don’t they look gorgeous? 🙂 #kalatikka These precious moments will stay with me forever.

The newly weds are back from their travels and already back to work. I wish them a life full of love and adventure.

Now,  let us get back to poetry, blogging and a very special award that I won.

2017 marked the tenth year of Indiblogger and my association with them entered its ninth year and what a fabulous journey it has been. Indiblogger is a credible platform for bloggers who wish to showcase their work and a recognition from them is highly cherished.

When they announced the nomination for Indian Blogger Awards #IBA2017 I was slightly hesitant to nominate my blog as I hadn’t been posting much of poetry lately but ten years of blogging nudged me to at least nominate, perhaps to get more readers if not anything else.

There were 3500 nominations across 117 categories. Not in my dreams I had thought that I will win the special #VOW award for poetry.

The awards were announced at a very interactive blogging conference #BNLF2017 at Dehradun in November and were judged and given in association with Valley Of Words Literature Festival.  

This award is very special to me not just because it validates my hard work but also because it came just two days before the release of my second book of poetry ‘Wayfaring‘.  I couldn’t be there at the ceremony so the team requested for a short acceptance video which I finally managed after hundreds of retakes, that’s how challenged I am technologically. 😀

Here’s the lovely poster indiblogger team made for the winners.  I would like to thank them for the commendable work they are doing by bringing the Indian bloggers at one platform from across the globe. Thank you to my readers, those who voted and the esteemed jury. We Blog. Therefore We Are. 

Winner of The Indian Blogger Awards 2017 - VOW Awards

I also received Google Chromecast as a gift from the Inditeam on winning the award. Now waiting for the certificate and trophy if that happens. 🙂

 

In another news, the praise for my poetry books is pouring in.

My debut book Collection Of Chaos reached a reader in France and she posted this beautiful message on FB. She is reading the second one too and I am eagerly waiting for her feedback. Thank you Anne for your kind words.

Common Wealth Prize-Winning Author, film maker Siddhartha Gigoo. chose his most interesting reads of 2017 for a HT feature  and I was pleasantly surprised to find my new collection Wayfaring in the list. What a joy to find a media mention within a few weeks of the release.

He also reviewed it on amazon bringing the much needed cheer in my life.

Praise for Wayfaring

Thanks for appreciating Siddhartha.

 

Keep me updated if you buy any of my books. Reader’s feedback is very essential for the growth of a writer.

Here’s to poetry and other adventures of life. I will try to keep the blog afloat with regular posts. Keep visiting and do leave your comments.

Book Release, Interview And Other Milestones


So much has been happening lately that I have lost count of things I needed to share with my readers though most of those who follow me on other social channels must be getting the micro updates.
I gave in to the temptation and joined Instagram. It is overwhelming and though a great platform I need to nip that desire to make it a focal point of living. Those of you who are there can follow me  @tikulli 

Can’t believe I have already shared more than 120 posts there. 😀

Now to the Good news that has kept me busy and happy.

My elder son Aditya is getting married to his lovely girl friend Snigdha. I don’t know how to explain the feeling of happiness. It is a new chapter in their lives and ours. As the big day gets closer I am becoming very nostalgic and emotional. (Not that I am not that most of the time lol)

I wish them friendship, love and joy. And Peace. I know I tried to do my best as a parent and I hope he starts now on a new note leaving behind the grief, sorrow and grudges of the past. Cherish the bond we share.

Sharing a box of rich dark ganache, dark chocolate from Fabelle chocolate boutique, ITC Maurya Sheraton. This delicious chocolate is made with exquisite Ghana Cocoa. I went there recently and got blown over by the range. Post coming up soon.

Now to writing and other things.

In July poet-editor-academe Seb Doubinsky featured me on TABAGO, his wonderful international page for writers. A great honor for me to share a platform with some of the finest writers.

“I think both fiction and poetry are socially relevant projects just like any other art, a form of protest.”

Let stories be told, poems be written and songs be sung without fear. Let there be tolerance, compassion and love for all. We are living in difficult times and there is a dire need for change for the good of future generations. 70 years of Independence mean nothing if we still live in fear, if human lives do not matter. Violence, apathy, intolerance, bigotry needs to go.

Here is the link to the interview.  TIKULI DOGRA  

Another fantastic new is selection of my short story in ‘Silence is White’ an exceptional anthology dedicated to my dear friend, author, editor, academe, Seb Doubinsky. Kudos to  Chris Kelso and James Goddard for making this happen and Manu Rich for the brilliant cover.  I am the only Indian writer in the anthology and very proud to be included. Thank you James for putting the soul in my story. Releasing Date – October, 19th. You can pre order the book here. Soon it will be available here too.

 

 

I have a very important announcement coming up in a few days. Stay tuned. 🙂 

Meanwhile, my blog has been nominated in five categories for Indian Blogger Awards. Even non bloggers can leave a comment through Facebook. If you enjoy my writing, photographs etc do leave a testimonial by clicking on the given link.  #IBA2017 

Show some love by leaving a comment here.  You can even click on the right side bar widget to reach the page. Indiblogger completed a decade this year and I have nine years of wonderful association with them as a blogger. A great platform to be part of.

In nine years of blogging with WordPress I have now 2,700+ followers and 704,608 blog hits.

The blog was listed in Top Blogs of India for the sixth consecutive year. This year was the seventh edition of the Directory of best Indian blogs. A great milestone for me. Thank you for being part of my journey.

We blog, therefore we are.  

Keep reading and do leave your comments on the posts so that I know your views.

Thank you for all the love and support. Blogging with WordPress has been a very satisfying journey. The stats show the encouragement I get from all of you. Stay connected.

The House Of Oracles | Chandini Santosh


Very few books are cathartic, even fewer leave you listless yet fulfilled in a strange way. Chandini Santosh’s The House of Oracles opened some blocks in me. Tears came effortlessly as I finished the book today. They came because a catharsis was much needed. The sky poured endlessly outside my window. I do not know how to review a book so just jotting down what flowed from my heart. This is the second book revolving around an ancestral house that has touched me so deeply. Both the books are by women writers and extremely compelling reads.

Some incidents from past can haunt you for the lifetime, emerging when least expected. Chandini has so beautifully woven that in the theme of the story. Throughout the novel the thought pulsates underneath the current happenings seeking release and atonement in some form or the other.

The heart wrenching narrative tugs at you to keep reading but I had to pause because the characters drew me in at different levels not letting go. The story is set in North Malabar region  and I urge you to do some reading about the ‘Oracles of Malabar’, an incredibly vibrant tradition that is slowly vanishing now, before proceeding to read. The House of Oracles is not just a voyage down the memory lane exploring the rich history, rituals, customs, it is also a journey within. A search for inner happiness, an effort to engage with oneself at levels one wants to push aside. Every one of us has to go through the myriads of  emotions, struggle and pave our path through the pressures and demands society as well as life inflicts on us and that is why perhaps the line between fiction and reality blurs as one reads through the pages.

Although the strong female characterization is the strength of the novel it is the portrayal of the male characters that grew on me. The vulnerability of human emotions is so deftly crafted that it is impossible to disconnect. Each character, even the short lived Vishnu, gets permanently etched in the mind.

The women on the other hand have this inner strength that surfaces quietly at times and at others more vociferously. Even in the midst of chaos that surrounds their lives there is resilience and dignity.

Chandini is a poet and painter par excellence and from the opening lines the four hundred year old house of oracles, the outhouse, the graves, the trees and the forty steps leading down begin to emerge before the reader like a painting. A painting alive with the aroma of the Parijata flowers floating down like tiny, wispy dreams or the moon dragging over the tulsi plant in the atrium, the stream swollen with rain, the daunting shadow of the seven layered stone lamp eternally etched on the walls, the grape-eyed monkey looking beseechingly from the tamarind tree, the lake simmering like a silver coin tossed into the night.. the imagery takes your breath away. One feels compelled to get under the skin of the characters and follow them around the House of Oracles and at times one almost becomes the house itself. There is no other way than to give in.

It is the phrases like, “Forgiving is a limbless genie. It has to be carried in rounded palms or the open hollows of the grieving mind” and “Everyone has to find their own key to the treasure; everyone’s treasure is different” that make you cling to the book till the last word.

Weaved intricately between family traditions, human tragedies, ancient customs is the inevitable social transformation, caste struggle, anomalies of land grab, the ways of the neo-rich and the uncomfortable transition from traditional to modern.

This intense, fast paced narrative will not let you down at any level. The cover design is based on a charcoal sketch by the author and is the portal to a world of storytelling that’s hard to come by these days.

I highly recommend Chandini’s debut novel to everyone. Go pick up your copy here – The House Of Oracles

Monsoon and Collection Of Chaos


Monsoon is at the threshold and already the rain has generously filled the empty pockets of my city. In the midst of the chaos rain brings one can spot carts and carts of mangoes, lychees, jamuns, peaches, phalsa, musk melons, water melons and other summer fruits. The gorgeous Amaltas or Laburnum, dressed in yellow, is hard to miss.
The parakeets are here and so is the familiar smell of earth, grass and flowers.
 I am thinking of wood roasted bhutta from the hills and hot jalebis filled with the sweet nectar of life. Usually a coffee person, I love  the adrakewali masala chai at this time espcially when it is infused wit hthe earthy aroma of the mitti ka kulhad.
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As I edit the second book of poems good news is still floating in from various parts of the globe with readers sending me their feedback and writing reviews for Collection Of Chaos.  I have come a long way since this book happened in 2014 and some very exciting news is coming soon that I will share soon. Here is my author page on Leaky Boot Press Website. Check out the other titles too.
Kabir Malik is a young poet, photographer, wanderer. This is what he says,
If you are fond of Urdu / Hindi poetry then you must listen to Tauseef Ahmed’s poems. He is brilliant and knows how to touch the pulse of the listeners. Many of his poems are on his FB timeline. Do explore. I gifted him the book some months back and here is what he says,
I must have mentioned the wanderer travel blogger BNomadic in some previous blog post. Travel enthusiasts Must checkout his blog. It is one the best I have come across till now.  He bought the book and wrote a review sometime back. He says,
Rebecca Behar is French Poet and writer and has been following my work since sometime. It was a pleasant surprise to find a short note from her on amazon.
The book recently traveled to Melbourne, Australia. Poet / Writer Jaymz Hawkes found me on FB and read some of my work there. I got a note from him saying he had ordered the book and here is his review. It took almost a month for the book to reach him. The waiting is always the part of the journey.
Thank you each one of you for the encouragement and support. There is nothing more humbling for a writer than her learning being appreciated. So much has changed in last two years and especially in last few months but that we will talk about in a different post soon.
Among all this euphoria I got bitten by Instagram bug. So, you can chitchat with me there too. I need to do write- edit- read – repeat but most of all I need some discipline in life especially as a writer. Soon… 🙂
Did I mention that my elder son got engaged in April? It was a beautiful Gurudwara ardas ceremony and the girl is one of a kind. Who knows where the time goes 🙂
It is a beautiful feeling to watch your children walk on their life path with such serenity and poise.
Motherhood has made me a better person and I always stress on this point, “Let your children be. You can’t teach a sapling how to grow; you can only give it all it needs, sit back and watch.” In doing so you are not just making them good citizens but most importantly better human beings; and in the end, that is all that matters.
I will be back soon with some poems and other writing news. Till then remember to connect with me and leave your views in the comment section of my posts.
Leaving you with someone I absolutely love and admire –  Every Word Has A Body And Soul 

In The Light Of Darkness – Radhika Maira Tabrez


 

After reading a book if something changes inside you for better then it is a good book. I found light from this one. Simple stories told from the heart are the best. Our lives, across the globe, are all connected with fragile threads. Sometimes these threads quiver just a little to make us aware of their existence and of the beauty of life that is unfolding despite everything. Threads that help us ‘cross over’, to move past regrets and sorrows and embrace life to the fullest.  These potent threads lead us to one another when the time is right and makes us whole again.

I went to the book launch of In The Light Of Darkness last Saturday and met Radhika for the first time. Though we had been in touch on Facebook since some time and I had read her blog occasionally I wasn’t too familiar with her writing. The book is published by  Readomania and their events are always heart warming. You must check out their other books and website too.

When I got the invite for the launch from her I had not seen the cover. The name itself was enough to convince me to look forward to the event. When she shared the cover, I was blown over. It just drew me in. A lot of emotions stirred inside and I thought what a beautiful poetry in picture it was. Later, after reading the novel, I realized how apt the cover was. It sums up the entire human saga of patient waiting of a woman, a mother, a son to being to closure all that needed to be closed. It sums up the very essence of the novel, how ‘the light of darkness’ eventually finds a crack, breaks through and brightens everything around it. It tells the importance of befriending,  understanding and embracing those ‘dark’ phases in our lives for these phases are an important gift for our overall growth and well being. I personally called them ‘rooting years’ .

The novel is exceptionally well written. One of the best I have read among emerging Indian writers. What a fantastic debut.

During the conversation Radhika told that it was Mary Oliver’s famous poem ‘Uses Of Sorrow’ from her book ‘Thirst’ that inspired her to write the story . Incidentally it is one of my favorite books and poem.

While reading, one can see how  beautifully she has captured the essence of that poem  and blended it in the narrative with such affecting simplicity. Throughout the book there is an underlying current of hope and faith. In the midst of all the struggles the character continuously find some thread to hold on to and renew their faith in life, in relationships, in themselves.

That brings me to another thing that has receded in the shadows of time. Letter writing. There is something very personal in writing a letter with hand. Words that came alive and pulsated as you run your fingers on them. Letters that evoked so many emotions in you even after years of receiving them. Letters that bridge the distance and sometimes bring things to closure, assuring a new beginning. I remembered such letters as I read Susan’s letter to her son. there is a certain clairvoyance in it. A light in the dark. I have known the power of such light and could see how beautifully it lead Matthew to the path he had known but never had strength to take.

This isn’t  book review or critique of her work. I am writing this to tell you how the book connected with me at many levels.Page after page I paused and lingered at places that took me back in time in my own life. So many things came up to the surface and eventually found closure. A feeling of Déjà vu made me so uncomfortable at times that I did not know whether to continue reading or to pause and then I realized I needed to go on, go on to find something that will provide the catharsis. If a story helps you look within it always heals.

Sometimes a line becomes so significant that it plays in the mind on a loop. This book had many such lines and I was tangled in them. I could have read the book in one go but as I said there are words that pulled at my sleeves like a kitten seeking attention. We all choose our karmic path and are responsible for our decisions especially the toughest ones. Decisions that drastically alter the whole flow of life, shaking the very bonds of love, of comradeship, of trust. We hope that those who are directly or indirectly affected by those decisions will eventually understand. This hope sustains us, gives us a reason to live.

A mother-child relationship is much more than just a natural bond. The author has dealt with the complexities of this bond so effortlessly. The book makes you wonder about the woman who is torn between being a mother and a woman. It makes you reach out to the son who is struggling to find the light of hope in the darkness that was gifted to him by life. For me, it brought back the memories of a similar decision I had to take for my son. As the story unfolded I was filled with the memories of those dark times and how that box of darkness became a gift to me and possibly for my son in a different way perhaps, but none the less a gift. Not many narratives shake your conscience  the way this one does.

When the story is too close to home it often messes with your mind. In those times I wrote to Radhika and poured my heart out and then I found why this book is so special. Radhika has this innate ability to comfort and love which instantly made me feel better. It also made me realize that time is insignificant to connect deeply with someone. Only a person with so much depth can touch lives with her words.  I know I will cherish this one for long.

The book conveys an important message. I don’t know where your reading of the book will lead you and I am not discussing anything about the plot or the characters here. I want you to find your light once you read it.

 

Go pick your copy of In The Light Of Darkness

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All For The Love Of Books


 

Since some years I had limited myself to specific genres and was missing out on a lot of good books especially the Hindi Literature.So, this year I decided to push myself and expand my reading horizons by taking up the Brunch Book Challenge by Hindustan Times Brunch or HT Brunch.

The deal is to read 24 book by the year end and tweet about them/ write reviews or just share your thoughts about the book with #BrunchBookChallenge and @HTBrunch so they can know your progress and after the completion of the challenge if they pick you up as a winner you get a goodies bag full of books. How cool is that. ) The hashtag also connects you with an ever-growing community of book lovers.

This year the challenge is focused on reading Indian Books. The book could be written by an Indian author or it could be about India.I decided to add some more spice to it by choosing to read regional literature in translation, Hindi Literature and non fiction / creative non fiction. Along with this I have taken the @100BookPact too. This too has a twitter hashtag #100BookPact where you can view what others are reading.

So far I have read 10 books and written their reviews on Goodreads except one which isn’t listed there. I did post my views about it on twitter. Here is the list of my first 10 books. I will update on my progress after every ten reads.

#BrunchBookChallenge

  1. Deja Karma
  2. Tughlaq by Girish Karnad
  3.  Water spirit and other stories by Imran Hussain
  4.  The best crime stories from the 19th century
  5. Of ghosts and other perils Troilokanath Mukhopadhyay (trastated by Arnab Bhattacharya
  6. City of Djins – William dalrymple
  7. Clifton Bridge –Irshad AbdulKader
  8. A life in words – memoir Ismat chugtai (traslated by M Asaduddin)
  9.  Onitsha – JMG Le Cleze
  10. Mr. Majestic- The Tout of Bengaluru – Zac O’Yeah

 

I am still reading the last one. Writing deadlines and a wonderful opportunity to be the guest editor of illustrious Cafe Dissensus Magazine kept me away from reading for some time. When Mosarrap. H. Khan, the editor of this wonderful magazine, asked me if I would like to be the guest editor for the March issue no.(23) with a theme ‘The Book That Left An Impact On Me In 2015’ I said Yes without a second thought. I hadn’t done anything like this before but the challenge was too tempting to let go. Nervousness took the better of excitement once I made the commitment and I seriously began to freak out when the subs didn’t arrive in the first few weeks. I always feel mentoring plays a great role in helping you overcome fears and doubts. Mosarrap guided and encouraged at every step to help me bring out a remarkable issue in a very short time. Producing a magazine is a collaborative effort and I think communication and followup between writers and editors makes the task easy. Magazine editing taught me a lot about reading submissions, editing and submitting my own writing. A big thank you to all those who sent us their submissions at such a short notice.

I am very proud of this achievement and grateful to the editor and team of CD for trusting me with such a huge responsibility.

Here is a link to my guest editorial and the content list of the issue. Do please read and leave your views.

I absolutely loved reading Along The Red River , which is a powerful autobiography of the acclaimed veteran journalist, Sabita Goswami, who was the first woman reporter in the North-East to have worked for organisations like AFP and BBC. The book is translated from the original Assamese, Mon Gongaar Teerot by her elder daughter, Dr. Triveni Goswami Mathur, who is also a journalist and an academician.

It left a lasting impression on me and that’s the reason I chose to write about it as my contribution to the Magazine that I guest edited. Those who haven’t read the book, please do. It is available with all online booksellers.

Here is an excerpt from the essay, you can read the rest by clicking on this link 

I believe that the lives of women across the globe are connected with each other and there is a river that runs through them, filling them with strength and calm. This is what Along the Red River did to me. Recounted with poise, honesty and a rare passion, this book is a compelling read. I often find solace and a voice of reason in its pages.

 

I will now resume by book challenge and writing. A few poetry submissions are awaiting decision and some more poems and stories are waiting patiently in the drafts to see the sunlight.

Do let me know if you are taking any of these challenges or if you read my work. Your comments/ suggestions will help me improve.