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Move the pots and pans, it’s time to stir up an E-book!

It’s that time of the year again. When the distance between unattainable dreams and humbling realities is bridged by this wonderful thing called Blogchatter E book carnival. I hail from the port of traditional publishing but over the years, breaking bread and words with the wonderful blogging community, being a mentor for the second year for the carnival and taking part in several Blogchatter initiatives has convinced me of the invaluable opportunity a writing platform like this can prove to be.

Writers are self flagellation experts( I am no different!) Before the world can cast stones on our words, we rise to the task and censure and critique ourselves to a point that it would be easiest to abandon the task altogether. Then what better preparatory ground can there be to nurture, prune and prepare you for the big world out there? Not only does this festival help you promote your finished e- book, but it hand holds participants at every stage. Creating excitement, providing mentors to guide you, pushing you to write, helping with the cover reveal and even generating reviews within the community, most of the areas a traditional publisher would help with. How wonderful, right? I’ve had to manufacture the motivation all on my own! So I’m a tad bit jealous:-D

Talking about motivation, the word feels like an desultory, amorphous concept at the moment, given the fact that the world around us is no longer what it was a few months ago. From bhindis to brooms, the suffering on the streets to the suffering at home, zoom calls to marathon school sessions, from trying to keep your chin up to holding back from punching someone else’s, who has the time to write you ask? You do. Because writing won’t be a TASK if you let yourself enjoy the process.

I have published two books with Harper Collins and Black ink books ( I Didn’t Expect to be expecting and Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd) my third book is out in the second half of the year and my fourth book, part two in the KKPL franchise is under construction. But if you ask me which book process was most fluid and enjoyable, it would have to be my first book. I think the reason was because I just wrote, in not-so-conducive surroundings or frame of mind, but I wrote, for relief and release. It was also unencumbered with the fear and foreboding of finding a publisher. I wanted to write a book and I wrote it. Everything fell into place later. And as simply as that, you should register and write your first e-book. I won’t be presumptuous and tell you to convert your daily trails and frustrations onto paper. Perhaps choose something that takes you away from all of it, pick a topic you are knowledgeable about, take a clue from the tonality of your writing, pick from key USPs of your blog. I’m just throwing ideas here, but you’ll know when the right one comes along.

I hope to see you on the other side of the registration link I shall post below. All the details you seek shall be available on the Blogchatter website. It would be a pleasure to guide and pep you along on this wonderful journey. Now stop making excuses, tune out of Netflix and go write your book! I wish you all the best 🙂

Registration Link:

#BlogchatterEbook Carnival Season 5 is here

 

 

 

 

The classroom

Looking back isn’t easy. It makes you dig deep. This past decade has been instrumental in defining me and my expectations from life. It has taught me lessons I will never forget. From finding the love of my life to losing the will to go on, from living my dream of writing books to realising that change is the only constant, life is a classroom and we are eternal students. Here is my abstract take on the years gone by

Classroom

We are all born into this classroom

Where we learn, we forget, we are punished and we remember

Are 10 years enough?

For the lessons etched on desks and handles and withered doors, into the fading paint on the bathroom walls?

I open the stained pages of my notebook, I straighten its relenting spine and look back
To where I learnt that when grief and loss slice into you with their hungry talons, and it seems that the world must end, that it should end, the world ambles on at its pace. While the malignant pain sears through your emptiness, flowers bloom, the earth spins and the trees sway in the gentle breeze. Nothing stops

I learnt that dreams are amorphous and distant till you make your small but steady strides to them. That you will live in someone else’s make believe world till you paint your own canvas and splash it with the hubris of a mad magician, trusting the hands that only hold doubt

I learnt that there is as much hate in this world as love. That kindness floats like the battered lotus left on the banks of an angry tsunami. It shivers, quakes and rattles the firmament but gentleness and resolve can weather any storm

As the years go by, I am taken by the transience of time. Ephemeral and an unreliable trickster, it will play you and leave you by the wayside. So I have learnt to forget. That anything matters beyond my resolve, that there is a sky beyond my reach, that I can be defined and sketched by another’s pencil. I know now that I am enough and I forget that I was any less

My book brims with chapters of love, hate, lust, doubt, happiness and the index is flecked with fame and foibles. A hallmark of a decade etched into my veins and a life lived whole

I turn the lights out, drag the chairs back into place, pick up my pen and wipe the blackboard clean. For it is that time again. To learn, to fail, to live some more..

 

“This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organised by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The Event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored by Beyond The BoxWedding ClapThe Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee”

Decade, BlogHop, Contest

The key to your e-book is just a carnival away!

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When asked about writing ambitions and book journeys, often, with a starry twinkle in their eyes, people reminisce about a fiery childhood passion, or a goal they have been chasing with utmost determination. My inspiration on the other hand, came to me amidst diapers and zombie like fatigue. A time which is associated with people not being in possession of their faculties was the odd time I chose to write my first book. When I had just delivered a baby!  Goes to show how different everyones starting point and respective journeys can be.

Of-course I was always in love with the written word, my most enduring love affair being with the books that lined the walls of various rooms I occupied while growing up (My father was in government service as a result of which we were constant nomads!). I wrote a lot of poetry and even published a book of some 50 odd poems that I particularly loved in 2017. Some short story experimentations saw me participating in writing contests as well, such as the brilliant platform by TOI. It helped me find publishers for my book and started me off on a road I had never imagined myself on. It has now been a year since the launch of my first book I Didn’t Expect to Be Expecting, which you must have guessed by now, is a humorous book on pregnancy and my second book, which is a humorous thriller is due for a September launch. It all seems a bit surreal even today. I still remember pinching myself when I went for my first book signing. I think it was the first time I cried out of happiness!

Something else that gives me great pleasure is helping writers who are sitting on the brink of their own writing journeys. It is an exciting but scary place and I’ve been there. And bing a fellow blogger, I’m especially delighted to be a part of EbookCarnival (Season 4) by Blogchatter. I don’t blog nearly as often as I’d like to, but I think blogging is one of the most organic ways of making your way to a book. And if a blogging platform is giving you the tools, know how and support to get you started, then don’t put that idea away to another day. Dive in to this experience and emerge with a book and a dream coming true all at once.

 

Why I’m glad I failed every new year resolution!

 

picWhat is recurrent, changes shapes, rarely comes to life and almost always leads to regrets? Yes, you know what I’m talking about.

New year resolutions have had an unnerving effect on me through life. And I can safely say that I’ve possibly lived up to 1 or 2 of the long list of promises. With that track record, I should ideally be ashamed of myself, but you know what? I brazenly confess that this year I am happy that I’ve failed so miserably. Because now I am wiser.
Human beings are fascinating creatures and have mastered the art of infusing doubt and fear into the most harmless and positive things.
Jan 1st: You decided to lead a healthy life, change your bad food habits, eat only fruits through most of the day.
Jan 2nd: Oh my gawd! That jalebi looks divine. I’ve eaten so many fruits. One can’t hurt.
Jan 3rd: I didn’t exercise today, and I ate 2 samosas. (Palpitations and sweating)
Jan 4th: I hate my life, I am so stressed, I’ll always be fat. This year is looking terrible already!
Look what you just did there? 4 precious days were wasted stressing and the end result was the year being labeled as a waste. Think of ways in which you can improve the success rate and not start your precious year with a nervous breakdown. And give your self more time and achievable goals. You aren’t running a race and don’t need to post your completion time! My personal mantra this year is to sloooooooow down.
I realise that by doing this I am contesting the popular trend of doing everything ‘fast’ and ‘quickly’ but what can I say, that’s the new me.
I will stop looking at my watch so often: Have you counted the number of times in a day you stare at your watch? Sometimes I feel I’ve done this even while getting intimate. That’s terrible right? Only because I’m so habituated (On second thoughts my husband would have appreciated another relevant example)We are always on the clock, timing ourselves, jumping ahead to figure out the next task.  It’s great to be organised but it’s a fact that if your mind is always on the go, it will lose steam at some point. This year, I will not try to conquer time, but walk along with it peacefully.
I will sit and do nothing sometimes: Ever tried this? I love sitting quietly and observing everything in my immediate environment. From birds to bees to odd human beings. It is relaxing and rejuvenating. Somewhat like a ‘kapalbhati’ for the stressed mind. But during my New Years break, sitting by the sea I had an epiphany. Why on earth don’t I make time to do nothing in my daily life? Why was this reserved for holidays? Doesn’t It feel great, to take a break, take a deep breath and have no to-do list in your hand? Try it! Being useless never felt this good!
I will take my time eating my food: I recently read about how a lady on a road trip in the hills, stopped the car by an apple orchard and ate an apple for 5 minutes. That for the first time in her life, because she was chewing slowly and carefully, taking her time, she truly enjoyed the apple and had never eaten anything tastier. Made me think about all our express food sessions at home or at work or on-the-go. My daughter has heard me saying ‘Eat Quickly!’ so often, that I really thank god those weren’t her first words or that she didn’t think it was her mother’s name! I wouldn’t blame her. Action point? Mindful eating, enjoying every bite and its been proven that in this way your body will even receive and absorb it better, leading to a healthier you.
I will take a long shower as often as I can: Do I really need to explain this? Everything I do in the bathroom is on fast forward because I usually have my daughter banging on the door and asking me to come out. That’s also the maid’s favourite time to approach me with all her queries and for all the people in the world to call me. But I will take the time to start my day right. Even if it means getting up a little bit earlier than everyone else. If your day starts calm, chances are you won’t end it off yelling at someone. And a long hot shower works miracles anyway doesn’t it?
I will stop and talk to people: A few years ago, at a club in Kolkata, as I went about chasing after my daughter armed with a spoonful of food, a lady randomly walked up to our table and proceeded to chat endlessly, while we made our disdainful faces with ‘how bored is she’ stupid big city attitude on our shoulders. Though I wished she had spoken just a little lesser than she did, it was such a refreshing chat. I find myself avoiding conversations, because it is too exacting. But chatting is good. Because it opens up your mind, lightens up the mood and feels great because after all we are social creatures. Today I started talking to my Uber cab guy and it turned out that he was a superb singer and from the city I was born in. I walked out with a beautiful song in my head and my heart felt lighter.
I will use my phone less: This is such a common plague that it needs no further explanation. Everything in moderation is great but one of the biggest problems I have
is that it distracts me from my writing, work, and I am aware that my daughter is watching me like a hawk all the time. It’s unnerving! Hard to do but give it a shot.
You’ll be amazed at how much time you can create by just switching off from time to time. (I have a sneaky suspicion that I am about to fail embarassingly at this resolution!)
This list might seem a bit simplistic but that’s what we need most in our lives according to me. Simplicity. No relay races, no frantic dashing, no chaotic plans. But an honest awareness and acceptance of things around us. Most importantly, to figure out an acceptable speed to live your own life by, even if you get left behind a little. See? I even wrote this post late, well into the new year and I’m doing just fine!

Ban the naysayers before the plastic!

monkey5
It is common human tendency to resist change. Whether you’re actioning it or witnessing it.  The most disconcerting part is the fear of the unknown, the unforeseen consequences of your actions or someones else’s, whether you have the tenacity or will to change things around. For what creature of habit likes to be inconvenienced right? I am no stranger to this predicament. But  important lessons of life are often hidden in the most innocuous places and uncontrollable circumstances.
The range of reactions to the plastic ban went from ‘yes this must be done’ to ‘isn’t there something else we can do which is easier’ to ‘this is all nonsensical and a way to harass ordinary citizens’. Whatever the public outrage/ empathy, I for one did not need to be convinced. I had always felt that plastic had its uses but callous mass production and inadequate disposal systems were helping it choke the earth. I was just too lazy to do anything about it and here was my chance. To be forced to do something I really wanted to do in the first place! Isn’t that wonderful?
What I didn’t expect though was the amount of resistance/ cynicism I would witness from people around me. Every attempt I made was met with a grunt, the most common objection being around statistical significance. ‘ What will a 3 member household accomplish by stopping to use plastic? ‘ Isn’t that a ridiculous mindset though? A small start is a start none the less. How will any movement or action achieve the desired numbers or action if this deterrent mindset is always in effect.
The comments bothered me for a while but then I shook my head like a regal stallion shakes off flies and insects and soldiered on! Trying, in every small way to make a change in my kitchen, the way we ate, packed things, ate out etc. Once you put your mind to it, there are a number of ways in which the plastic takeover can be controlled. Here are some of the things I’ve tried to do.
  • We have started carrying takeaway boxes and cloth bags where we anticipate that food will be packed or purchases will be made. Yes, paper is available but remember that we don’t want to put an extra burden on trees either and wipe them out in the haste to eliminate plastic. (This isn’t always easy and leads to some ‘looks’ as well but you just have to shrug it off!)
PLASTIC-BAN-GRAPHIC
  • I’m trying to transition all utensils and wares in the kitchen to steel or glass. A return to conventional kitchens!
  • All packaged goods use a lot of plastic. Till they can figure out a solution, I try and order larger units or then packs which have more recyclable packaging. Requires more planning but its better than seeing plastic skeletons all over the dustbin.
  • We have stopped purchasing any mineral water bottles. Whether it’s travel to work, school, entertainment, holidays, each of us has their own steel bottles. You have no idea how much plastic you will eliminate this way.
  • Unbeknownst to a lot of people, there are micro plastic fibres that blast out of and stick to all kinds of synthetic material when they are being washed. Now I know we can’t eliminate all such fabrics from our wardrobes, but it’s made me a more conscious buyer every time I’m at a store.
  • My daughter misses her straws terribly so I found her steel straws! The point is, research a little bit and you will find so many solutions out there.
My proudest moment came recently when I heard my 4.5 year old daughter calmly approach and explain to two adults (who were holding plastic bags) about how we must not use plastic. There’s a long way to go but I’m glad I’ve started small.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

Conquering worry is the most life changing gift

Happy celebrating winning success woman sunset
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been what I like to call a ‘muller’. This does not mean that I am unhappy, or that I don’t have a normal functioning brain, capable of clear decision making. It just comes with an immense inbuilt bandwidth, to think excessively about an action, its consequence, its origin, which leads to another unrelated thought, bringing with it some anxiety and before you know it, you’re at the bottom of this confused vortex where you’ve done a run through of issues from problems at work, to your daughters health to your holiday expenses, to possibly the future of the economy of Ghana. What is meant to be a mechanism that should help plan and deal with life better becomes a deterrent to just that. It’s like having an unnecessary unproductive cobweb in your mind that you’re constantly wanting to get rid off.
Let me help you with an identification process here, to help you understand whether you fall into the same trap. I just read somewhere that thinking too much means that you are more intelligent, that you have the capacity to absorb and process more. I tend to think a bit differently here. The minds of great thinkers, philosophers, and all the most important people in history who have made an impact, must have been a complex and masterful web of thoughts and decisions but I doubt they could have done any of that without clarity of thought and peace of mind. No revolution, no dreams, no great acts can come from a pre occupied mind that is ‘stewing in its own pot’ so to speak!
Where and why have I attained this mental nirvana you ask me? To be honest, I still struggle with it on bad days and as I analytically tell my husband, I’m still in a batter state, far from being baked in the mould I desire! But in the last year, so much has happened around me, to me,  that I was forced to make a decision to stay sane. If I wanted to have a peaceful mind, not have it become a permanent residence of the chattering monkey, I would have to make some changes. The environmental factors would not change and were not in my control, but my mind and body should be.
Here is a very small snapshot of what I believe you must remind yourself once everyday to banish that worry.
– By worrying, neither does the problem change, nor its resolution. You are the one that suffers mentally.
– If you keep worrying, you will open your body to countless diseases in the future. This is a promise. Leading research has proven over the years that elevated levels of worry and stress are directly co-related with several common to life threatening diseases. They were right when they said you can worry yourself sick. You really can.
– When you are worrying, ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Once the worst of the consequences is clearly in-front of you, you’ll feel less dread and think more clearly.
– When you’re overanalysing and not being able to reach a decision, take to pen and paper (should be easy for you guys since you belong to this tribe:-) eh?) List out pros and cons. Sounds childlike in its simplicity but sometimes it really helps putting things in perspective.
– Take out one hour everyday to do something easy, where your mulling and your mind can relax. I turn to physical exercise very often. Sometimes I’ve gone into a workout with drooping shoulders and come out with a fantastic solution to something I’ve been obsessing over.
I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg here but I do hope it helps someone in some way. It is such a liberating feeling to unshackle your mind from fear, dread and over analysis. Try it and you will breathe like you have a new pair of lungs!
‘I am taking my #Alexa rank to the next level with @Blogchatter’

 

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