Monday Magic!

I am sorry for a late post, but co-incidentally WiFi at my home and office has stopped working. 😛

Monday it is! I have spent my entire last week wondering what inspires me for the Magic Monday feature.
Personal anecdotes, stories, what?!
But then I found the perfect answer, Jay Shetty.
Do you know who he is?
Jay Shetty is a Huffington Post featured Vlogger, motivational philosopher, keynote speaker and urban monk. He is the creator of Invisible World, short film series on YouTube and coach to several corporations including Accenture, Nasdaq, Bank of England and EY.
You must be wondering, what makes him such an inspiration. I have been following Jay Shetty on social media channels for a few months now, ever since I saw his first video shared by Huffington. His videos are my daily dose of inspiration, and it dosen’t always has to be when I am feeling low. Let me show you some of his videos so that you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Let’s build a life and not just a resume.

Redifining Happiness: Let’s not make happiness and success about the size of our homes, but about the size of our heart.

Why we should never stop learning– ‘We should be so focused in improving yourselves that you don’t have any energy to criticise others’ – Jay Shetty

Do you feel what I feel after watching these videos? Does it change how you view your life in a better way? Aren’t these inspirational?
Do share your comments and feedback.
#feedback #mondaymagic #weekly

This is my Summer in…

This is my Summer in the City contribution. My little son, Leo, enjoying the sun in our terrace. Enjoy! @arwen1968


​Authors who made history: Ernesto Guevara de la Serna

Some authors are just authors. They make writing as their profession and do what they do best, write. Some authors have a profession but write out of sheer passion. But this one is a bit different from all the others. He quit his profession, became a revolutionary, then became an author. Guess who?

It’s none other than Ernesto Guevara aka Che Guevara. Just imagine how cool the books written by a revolutionary would be? When I read The motorcycle diaries (Diarios de Motocicleta in Spanish) the first time, I was absolutely awestruck by his narration. It’s a memoir that traces the early travels of Che Guevara, when he was a 23-year-old medical student, and his friend Alberto Granado, a 29-year-old biochemist. I’m a sucker for memoirs and this was the first memoir I’ve read. Let’s talk about the author now.

Before he became a revolutionary, he was a physician. He was born in Rosario, Argentina, on June 14th, 1928. As a young medical student, he travelled across South America and was radicalized by the poverty and suffering of people. He then got involved in reforming Guatemala because of the capital exploitation of Latin America by the US.  He later went to Cuba with Fidel Castro to overthrow the Cuban dictator Batista and then rose to fame. He also held respectable positions in the newly formed government. Che left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution in Congo and then in Bolivia. But he was captured in Bolivia by the Bolivian forces and then shot dead.

As I said earlier, he was an author too. He wrote books on guerrilla warfare. As an adolescent, he was into poetry and was fascinated by the works of Pablo Neruda and John Keats. There were more than 3000 books in his home library which made him an ecstatic reader. He wrote three books, namely The Motorcycle Diaries, Guerilla warfare andEpisodes of Cuban Revolutionary war.

He was a person that could use a gun and a pen with equal expertise. He became a legendary figure for socialists worldwide after his death.

Better to stand and die than to live on your knees.

Did I metion that they made a movie based on his Motorcycle diaries in 2004?? The movie’s name is Motorcycle diaries too. It even won Academy and BAFTA awards. 

#AuthorStory #weekly


Be The Change You Wish To See In The World!

Let me tell you a story today.

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved eating sugar.  He would chew on his sugar granules throughout the day. His mother was worried that this excessive gorging on sugar would take a toll on his  health. She tried everything from gently coaxing him out of this habit to scaring him to hiding the containers, but to no avail. Finally, she decided to take him to his idol, Mahatma Gandhi, so that the great man could talk some sense to her child.

So the next day, she started on the journey with her son. When she finally reached his Ashram, she saw that hundreds of people were waiting to meet the great man. When finally their turn came, the mother explained to  Gandhi the whole situation, and requested him to talk to her son. Gandhi smiled at her and said, “Please come back in 2 weeks time and I shall speak with your son”. She was confused, but she left without any protest.

Two weeks passed, she went back to the Ashram with her son and this time, Gandhi immediately spoke to her son. Curious, she asked Gandhi why he hadn’t spoken to her son the last time they had come. Gandhi smiled and said, “Well, two weeks ago, I too was eating too much of sugar”. He couldn’t preach what he didn’t practice.


It’s easy to complain about the world and other people, but if you cannot implement the changes in your own life, then you have no right to complain. Don’t be a hypocrite!

We do not have control over others. We cannot change others, only ourselves. If you want to see some change in the world, you must start with yourself. Every significant change that has ever happened in this world has been the result of changes which began at individual level. Revolutions have happened because one person had the courage to stand up for what they believed in  and didn’t wait for others to take action. Now, you don’t have to pick up your megaphone and yell for a revolution if that’s not something you want to do. Just be an embodiment of what you believe in and you might be able to move others with your belief too.

But in order for things to change, you have to change. Don’t just complain how this world sucks. Be the Change!

Image Source



Finding Time

One of the biggest myths around writing is that in order to do it we must have great swathes of uninterrupted time.
–Julia Cameron, The Right to Write

“I just don’t have enough TIME,” I told my boss, Mike, ruefully shaking my head.  We were talking about an invitation I’d received to be on a college committee that had no relationship to what was then my professional role.

He grinned at me: he completely agreed that this particular committee was not one I should invest my resources into abetting. “Oh, you have time,” he said.  “You just don’t choose to spend the time you have on this pursuit.”

His words rang true then, and they have come back to me often over the years. I DO have time—after all, time is the only thing we really do have. I just need to choose how to spend it in wise and worthwhile ways.

That is as true for my writing as it is for anything else I long to pursue. If I don’t have time to write, it’s because I don’t choose to spend the time I have on writing’s pursuit.

Many of us have a dream of long stretches of unencumbered time.  I see myself, post-retirement, at a pristine desk.  First, in this vision, I sit contemplatively.  Then I rouse myself and flex my fingers and begin.

Sometimes I see myself picking up a pen and pulling lined paper toward me and just taking off, scrawling away. Sometimes I see myself hunching up to my IPad and letting my index fingers fly. Whatever the variation of the vision, it’s the luxury of time that allows me to be prolifically brilliant, to produce vibrant prose that never fails to move and sway and enchant my mythical readers.

Even as I dream this pretty dream, I know it’s hogwash.  Probably, confronted by those long open spaces of lovely, unscheduled time, I would choke, and crash, and burn. I would look around and find a dish to be washed, a letter that absolutely HAD to be written, a bill to be paid…some chore to be done.  I would remember that I had promised somebody something, and of course, the good thing to do, the righteous thing, is to put that person’s need before mine.

I would get up from the desk; I would embark on my busy work, and if someone asked me, later that day, what I’d written, I would lament, “Oh, I didn’t have TIME.”

And I might even believe it, too.

Often the greased slide to writer’s block is a huge batch of time earmarked: “Now write.”
–Julia Cameron, The Right to Write


Time expands if we need it to expand.

Way back in the 1980’s, when I was teaching at a Catholic middle school and working in the lingerie department of a fancy department store to bridge the gap between my salary and my bills, I discovered Julia Cameron’s book, The Vein of Gold.  I ordered it, I think, from a bookclub I’d stupidly signed up for.  I had a yearly commitment to making four purchases; The Vein of Gold at least sounded like a sort of useful kind of book.

I had missed Cameron’s The Artist’s Way entirely, but when The Vein of Gold arrived, I just fell into it–the perfect book at just the right time.  In it, Cameron told me there were three things I must do if I wanted to unleash my creativity:

I must take myself on a one-hour ‘artist’s date’ each week–just me, by myself, looking, say, at beautiful fabric at a craft store, or touching lovely handmade paper at a stationer’s.

I must walk daily, and take a long walk on weekends.

And every morning, I must sit down, first thing, pull out three sheets of paper, and write until I filled them.

“Oh, puh-leeze!” I thought, looking at my two-job, busily social, life,–a life in which I constantly felt guilty because lessons weren’t planned a month ahead and papers weren’t graded immediately. “There is no room for these lovely-sounding things.”

And then, somehow, someway, I did them anyway.

I took the artist date when I picked up my department store paycheck on Thursday afternoons, detouring to a museum or a specialty store before I headed home for dinner.

I took my walks at the beginning of the two hour break between school letting out and store letting in.

And the morning pages took me thirty minutes every morning. At first, the writing was a horrible chore; I had to drag myself out of bed in the morning, half an hour early, and slam my head on the table before picking it, and my pen, up and starting to write.

But after a week or so, the writing became not an obligation, but a necessity. Skipping a day had fuzzy, foggy consequences, and I didn’t like it at all. Morning pages were a commitment to myself, as were the other two creative duties.

My time expanded because I had made those things priorities.

Writing does not need long spreads of pretty, smooth, unruffled time.  Writing needs great ideas and the time and the will to put them into written form.  The ideas, I find, never come when I pull out a blank sheet and sit expectantly, waiting for the lovely words that will surely float into my head so I can fill that pristine paper. They come when I am walking and nowhere near a keyboard.  They come when I drive by myself, NPR whispering in the background, and my mind is free to roam where it will. They come in the middle of a workshop, when I’m on the treadmill, when my hands are plunged into soapy water.

I steal the time to write them down.  I burst in the door from work, quickly get the dog out for her necessaries, and then run to my IPad and tap away, getting the gist and the shape of the idea into a document before it flies away.  And then I swing back into the whirlwind of the day, changing clothes, taking care of laundry, getting dinner on the stove.

But later, just as day fades into dark, I come back, and the idea waits there for me.  Like a lump of dough, it is, and I flatten it onto the table, knead it and shape it.  Because, if you’ll excuse the labored metaphor, it’s risen while it rested.  Now I can form it, make it into the creation I need and want it to be.

Ten minutes?  Fifteen, maybe–to get the idea down, pinning it for later use?  Half an hour, later, to shape it?  I waste more time than that on Facebook, on minesweeper, on idle chatter, every single day.

Of course, once shaped, the words, for me, are not done, not ready for reading.  I come back to them obsessively, over and over again.  (My WordPress blog lets me know how many revisions my drafts undergo.  I sweep in quickly, over the course of a few days, tweak and save and exit.  Often, my report will say something like, “57 revisions.” It’s how I work, it’s the way I write: the swoop-and-tweak-and-fly-away method.)

I first started teaching research writing back in my middle school teaching days.  There was a very specific method we were to have the students follow.  You’ve probably been forced to use this method–one where research goes on index cards, then a source list grows.  From the cards comes an outline.

From the outline comes a paper.

Tweak, edit, format, put the footnotes in–neat and tidy: done.

The only trouble is, not everyone writes like that.

In my experience, half the class writes a paper from an outline.  The other half writes an outline from a paper.

I belong to the latter group: the act of writing is the act of organizing for me.  I suffered a lot of frustrations until I finally gave myself permission to sit down and just write, to let the ideas flow and stain the pages. To go back later and organize and make sense of them.


To use the time we have, we need to know how we write best.

I know people who very effectively draft and edit all at once. Writing books often tell us to use techniques that quell the Inner Critic and allow us to forget punctuation, to damn bad spelling, and to just write, full speed ahead.  But I know people who can’t do that.

These people can’t move forward if ‘friend’ is spelled ‘firend,’…they just can’t go on.  It’s like their writing spirit is snagged on that misspelled hook.  No matter the great advice in writer’s manuals, their need to correct that word builds a barrier.  No ideas will emerge until the barrier is removed.

So those folks should edit as they go.  I have a friend like this.  It takes her a week, sometimes, to write an essay.  But when she is done, it is flawless.

She’ll tell you she never revises, but she does: it’s just built in to her process.

But she, too, writes in the nooks and crannies of time available; she’ll take fifteen minutes after the kids are in bed and add a paragraph, write a little more in the morning, add an essential thought when she comes back home from work.  With her busy schedule, if she waited for even a one-hour block of clear time, she’d never, ever put finger to keyboard.

So first, we have to figure out how we write, and then we just steal the time and do it.  A paragraph here.  One gleaming, amazing sentence there.  The writing seeps into the brickwork of our life.  It grouts our thinking. It takes our dreams and our visions and it builds them into a fine structure–a sturdy wall, a decorative pillar, a fine and funny fancy.

It does that, not all at once in some open-ended frenzy of time, but in the niches and the spaces between.

We may not have leisure time, but we do have time. We may be choosing to spend it elsewhere, but, when we stop to reckon, we  really do have the time to write.


Happy blogging, my friends!

#creative writing

Authors Who Made History: Sarojini Naidu

This week having celebrated Indian Independence Day on August 15th, it seemed to be the perfect time to write about someone who was part of the Indian Freedom Struggle.

Sarojini Naidu, The Nightingale of India. She has achieved a lot in her political career and also played a major role in Indian Independence. A feminist, who had a flair for poetry. We’ve read a lot about her part in the Freedom Fight as kids, but it was in my late teens that I came across one of her short stories. It was a book on Indian literature and out of all the other stories, hers had a great impact on me.


Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13th, 1879 in my hometown Hyderabad. She graduated from Kings’ College London and got married at the age of 19. Her poems were blithe and beautiful. Many admired her writings. Some of her published and popular works are, The Golden Threshold, Bird of time and The Broken Wings.

Her writings were mainly focused on the history, culture and the ongoing practices of the society. Her stories, many of which, directed towards the suppression of women in those days are weirdly the mirrors of how women are treated today. When asked if she was a feminist regarding her writings about women, she replied politely that she writes facts, things that are happening and are nothing new or fantasized, whatever it was to be tagged is not my decision, but I do write for women empowerment.

Having married someone out of her caste at the time where inter caste marriages were not allowed, she was one of the very few who asked why women don’t get to have their own name and why it’s her father’s before marriage and then husband’s. These little details show how rebellious she was and being highly educated gave her the strength to question the customs. Her father deserves a great mention, for having given her the freedom to explore and express her own self.

If anything she is an inspiration to every woman and writers globally. It is sad that how her writings of women’s sufferings still apply to this day.

Oh, we need a new breed of men before India can be cleansed of her disease

— Sarojini Naidu

#AuthorStory #Weekly

Grace Anne







#weekly #mondaymagic