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Monday, August 27, 2012

Hobbies, interest groups and life changing moments

I love interacting with people who share my hobbies - so I have an online group of photography enthusiasts where we share our photographs, then  comment on and critique each others work.

Then there is the 'real people' photography group where we go out on regular photo expediotions.

I also have a Bridge group where we meet and interact on a regular basis and play Bridge. Ditto for a Flower arranging and a painting group. And then I have a couple of online groups where authors from all over the world share their thoughts and ideas. Each of these groups has helped me evolve as an individual and I've learnt a great deal from all these people and I hope that in some way, I've been able to reciprocate too.

Today's story is about one of the Books and writers groups where I started a discussion board last month.The topic-"For many authors, their first book is closest to their heart. What about you? "

I got numerous responses and while I will name some of the authors, I wont name the others.One of the earliest responses, "On a personal level, yes. It was the most touching and the one which has left its impression upon me for the rest of my life. When you attempt to reconstruct your family's history you have to remember all elements of its history both tragic and hilarious whether you wish it or not. But the tragic elements have far outweighed the hilarious ones, unfortunately.."

Then there was this one-"I quite agree. Starting college at age 52, my first book came from my final research paper, for my final class, for my BA degree in 2006.Four years later, I expanded this 5000 word paper into a 70,000 word book for my first MA in 2009. While at the same time, my second bookcame from my thesis for my second MA in 2010. Everyday life is providing the content for my third book, to be out soon. "

Here's the most amusing one-"My first book is closest to my waste basket!"

After a couple of days and many more responses later, it  was time for me to chip in- which I did by saying-

"Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.I 've frequently debated this with some friends and colleagues.My first book, 'A Safe Harbour'is based on so much of my own career in advertising, and inadvertantly, the joys and travails of the job have crept in. Will go through all your links and posts in detail and would be happy to hear from more of you!

Then followed many more pretty much the same vein as mine

Faraaz Kazi-"That's true. Truly Madly Deeply will always hold a special place in my heart".

Mary Jane Clayton-"Yes, my first book, Brittany's Rose, truly is closest to my heart. It's about my granddaughter who lost her life to leukemia. It's about how believing in the unbelivable leads to healing. After 20 years of writing in my journal about coiencidental events, I finally learned to give them meaning. My hope is that these amazing messages from my granddaughter will help others who are still grieving a loss to find peace of mind.."

And here's the one that I could truly classify as one of my 'life changing moments'-a response from an author called Elaine Benton ( but before that this is a short bio of Elaine's).
Elaine was born in England, diagnosed at the age of five with Gaucher disease; a rare inherited disorder, for which there is no cure. At the age of 44, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Battling two diseases, Elaine's writing is inspirational and quite extraordinary. Elaine's book "Parkinson's, shaken, not stirred" is a collection of poems offering support and comfort to fellow sufferers and caregivers, relating to their daily struggles. From personal experience she has written with stark honesty and humour, something patients and doctors rarely get to read which has captured world-wide attention,giving a fresh perspective from the patient's view--

Elaine Benton
( pic courtesy Elaine's Amazon page)

Elaine Benton-"I have to admit that my first book is very close to my heart. I put my heart and soul into it and it is about my personal experience of suffering chronic disease, whilst maintaining a cheerful and positive attitude. I am almost finished my third book, and know all too well about agents rejection letters, and as I'm running out of time, self publishing was the solution for me.

When one of the others on that panel debated the concept of 'self publishing' her answer truly moved me-

 "I quite agree that many of the great writers were penniless, or had to wait years until their works were finally recognised and published. You are correct in saying that "self publishing" as great as it is offering many people who do have talent the ability to get their books out there in some form, there is no doubt that an established publishing house taking on one's book is, as you put it, in an entirely different galaxy. I write because I love to write, believing I am writing something of value that is unique. I am not writing to become rich, and have so far not made a penny, and this does not bother me. I write because words seem to come from my soul and I want to get them down on paper, so that those who could gain support/comfort would not feel alone in their daily struggles. Some of us are not afforded, good health, time and money required to travel this route. I have contacted many publishers, but due to being in poor health, time is of the essence here, and eventually I self published simply because I am running out of time. I have had no help as regards contacts with publishers, and have barely enough energy to finish my third book and continue to write my daily blog that is being followed by fellow sufferers and care givers around the world. There is nothing I would love more than to have a publisher take me on. This is the number one item on my "bucket list", so if you or anyone out there reading this message would like to take a minute and visit my site and if after reading, you feel you know of someone who may be interested, I would be eternally grateful.

Wishing you all a great day. "


Could I say any more than that?

Suffice it is to say that I havent used my blog to publicise any other author but this is a blog post with a difference.Do check out Elaine's blog, and I know, you will emerge as different person.

Pretty much in the same way as I did....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

RIP- Rani ( Guddi) Bhuaji

Early this morning at 445 pm IST, my Guddi Bhuaji passed away in Toronto.

She had been ill with pneumonia and in hospital for the last six days and from what we understood, the family was prepared for the worst. 

A prolific painter

Last evening, I called my cousin Leena( her daughter) wanting to find out how she was doing. Leena asked me if I wanted to talk to her- telling me to say whatever  I wanted to- you see she couldn't speak any longer, but she was fully capable of hearing and comprehending. All I could say was "I love you Bhuaji" and even across the thousands of miles that seperated  us, I could hear the hissing of the hospital machines as they worked in the background. There was of course, no response from the other side, but I knew that she could hear me. I then handed the phone over to my daughter Neha and asked her to speak as well. Neha told her exactly the same words and them we were back on the line with Leena, who just asked us to pray for her.She also told me that she had heard and understood me and lifted her hand in acknowledgement.

 That was something so moving that I cried right there and then.

Then Leena and I told each other "I love you" and that moment was heartbreaking.Seperated by thousands of miles, bound to each other by a person who we were slowly, but surely losing, yet unable to do anything about it....

An uneasy night followed and I tossed and turned- afraid of what the next morning would bring.The fears were justified, for we learnt that she had passed away peacefully in the hospital. The time was 445 am IST. From what her husband, my Jeet Uncle  told my father Harnam  ( her older brother) he was with her in her room the whole night, the family having finally gone home.  She was having trouble breathing and he knew that she was in a great deal of discomfort.Having refused to go onto a ventilator to help her breathe easier for the last six days, it was a very, very painful time for her and he was aware of it. As he described it, he strated praying that she would have an easier time and it was almost as if someone or something had heard his prayer for she seemed to be breathing easier. And all the while he sat there holding her hand.....

Rani( Devinder ) Luthra-RIP

Then some time later, he realised that she was silent...not breathing.

And just knew...

Calling for help was the logical next step and when the medics arrived, he learnt that he was right- she was gone.. Thankfully, the end had been calm and peacaeful and as we say in Punjabi, " Santan wargi maut aaye" (she died like a saint does)
A loving wife, mom and grandmom, (2010)

The cremation is set for tommorrow, Sunday and I am well aware that the whole community that she was such an integral part of will be there. As I will too, in my thoughts and heart.

I could go on and on  about my Guddi Bhuaji who is no more.But right now, all I can and will say, "RIP Bhuaji, we love you forever...."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From 'A Safe Harbour' to 'A Full Circle'

  This blog is 4 years old today.Its a good feeling and Im happy to have got this far!

  I actually started this blog on the day 'A Safe Harbour' was launched in India and named the blog accordingly.

Since then, I've used it to express my thoughts and opinions on just about anything!Ive also used it to share my passion for photography with all of you and I hope to keep on at it for as long as I can.

I'm currently writing my fourth book, 'A Full Circle' which is a sequel to 'A Safe Harbour and it will be released early next year.

As I sit looking at the typewritten pages where the lives of Trishala, Sanjeet, Aafreen and Madiha continue, I recall so many, many things...

Some good and some not so good.

But top of mind , I recall wondering whether I would find a all!

Can't complain, life has been good on the writing front and I hope I continue to fulfill the faith that my publishers and my readers have shown in my work so far.

So heres a very big thank you all those who believe in me and my work and I promise, there's more of it to follow.

For more details on my work please click on -

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Que Sera Sera, Losing it, then finding it

I firmly believe that what is meant to be, will be.

Or looking at it another way, if you were meant to lose something you will, and if you were meant to find it, you will!

Some time back, I lost a part of my antique earing, one which had been gifted by my mother and which originally belonged to her grandmother.You see we were going out to a Diwali party and there was no way that I could figure out where I could have dropped it.

What will be.. will be
So I did the best that that I possibly could under the circumstances.
I tried to put it out of my mind and almost did.Until minutes ago when our cleaner just brought that piece and holding out his hand and asked me if I had dropped it.

I saw it twinkling as he held it out and my heart skipped a beat, then two..then three.

For it really was the missing piece of my ear-ring.

Phew! Did that feel good?Am I relieved?

Yes on all counts!

It could have fallen anywhere , in the car, in the lift, in our friends' home, on the road-but look where it was all this the guest toilet, right here in our own home!

So as I started by saying, I firmly believe that what is meant to be, will be.

'Que Sera Sera'...   

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An evening walk

There are days and then there are other days. Some which are hotter than the others, or certainly more humid!

June, July and Aug are particularly hot here in the Gulf and sometimes September too.But for those of us who choose to walk during the late evenings, there really aren't too many choices. One either walks or one doesn't.

And if one doesn't , then one tends to lose out on the only 'real' activity for the day ( particularly given the fact that we are merely sitting at our desks or commuting during the rest of the day. Top that by eating three meals and you'll soon get the picture.

Then of course, there's the very real issue of ageing, along with the other more deadly one- socialising- which includes the occassional bingeing and sometimes that extra glss of wine. Result- a whole lot of added calories.

So coming back to where I began- either one walks or one doesn't. And I'm sharing my tweet ( sent out late last night) with all of you.

"One really has to be a glutton for punishment to walk in this weather. And yet I did!"

Euphoria that I did it- topped all other feelings!

And at the rate I'm going these days, I have no plans of quitting my evening walk.For more updates, do check this blog out same time, next week.