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Thursday, July 23, 2015

My book An Autumn Melody now an e- Book. So E Books or 'real' books? Some thoughts..

Last year,  my third book, An Autumn Melody, published by Rupa, went on sale as an e-book on, and I found myself dealing with a range of mixed emotions.

After analysing my thoughts, I concluded that this is probably the best thing that the publishers could have done for my book.The simple fact of the matter is that the book is now available to an unlimited potential audience, and the more I look around on a daily basis, I find more and more people reading on iPads and Kindles.

To be absolutely truthful, that audience now includes me as well, and in the last few months, I have become increasingly addicted to reading books as well as magazines on my iPad. But don’t take that to mean that my habit of reading 'real’ books has been replaced by e-reading, it simply means that I now read in different 'modes’ to suit the occasion.

For example, while travelling, I would probably settle for e-reading. But if there is a ‘real’ new book or magazine that is available, I just can’t wait to read it. Today’s reality is what I would like to think as each to his/her own.
Some people love reading physical books, some people love e-books, most people hate reading on a computer, but then quite a few love reading on a tablet.

Some of my friends are convinced that the smell of opening a new book, the feeling of turning a page, the texture of each sheet of paper, and the ease of grabbing a book, leaves a much nicer feeling than holding a device and trying to read from that.

I personally believe that there’s something to suit everyone and it's really quite pointless spending hours and hours locking horns on what can quite possibly become an endless debate. I’m sure that all of you would remember what happened recently to Borders.

According to a recent report that I referred to, on February 16, 2011, Borders, one of the largest and most well known bookstores in the world applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and began liquidating 226 of its stores in the US.Despite a purchase offer from the private-equity firm Najafi Companies, Borders was not able to find a buyer acceptable to its creditors before its July 17 bidding deadline, and therefore began liquidating its remaining 399 retail outlets on July 22, with the last remaining stores closing their doors on Sunday, September 18, 2011.

The Chapter 11 case was ultimately converted to Chapter 7. Rival bookseller Barnes & Noble, then acquired the Borders' trademarks and customer list. On October 14, 2011, Borders' former website was replaced by a redirect to Barnes & Noble's site.

As for me, I believe that while e-books might be rapidly gaining ground, there lies a particular charm in opening a new book and flicking through the pages, and even more than that, in the smell and feel of a new book. I’m very interested in knowing what you feel so do let me know and maybe I can write another post on the same subject a few months later. 

NB- This piece originally appeared in my column My Take in Muscat Daily

Monday, July 20, 2015

Memories of how my father inspired my love of storytelling, reading and writing

Ever since people began to communicate with each other, "Tell me a story" has been a request of both children and adults. For there is something absolutely fascinating about sitting around and listening to words which come out of someone else’s mouth and trying to put picture associations to those same words. Then finding oneself transported into a the fantasy land which might comprise anything as far removed as fairies, trolls and goblins to the more real adventures of Arabia, World War Two exploits or then the cold war and the numerous real and imaginary spy stories that it generated over the years. 

Miles and miles of flowers and memories

While listening to stories from almost anyone is good enough for a child whose mind is probably the most curious and absorbent thing in the whole wide world, there is a special charm in asking one’s own parents to tell a story. Like I always did, with my father and do so, right till today, when the two of us get a chance to spend some quality time together.

As children, almost every night for many, many years, whenever we could manage, my brother and myself would wait for him to tell us one of his enthralling tales. I don't know how he did it, but all his stories, whether based on real life incidents or a creation of his imagination, were very exciting, taking us into a whole new world, where we could actually almost see and experience all that he used to talk about. Which is exactly where I started from, that very great pleasure that a child gets when ‘visualising’ what is being told. It is also a matter of great credit to the storyteller for being able to generate such a response in a young and impressionable mind and this is something for which I’m able to give credit to my father only in retrospect.

Particularly memorable were his stories about Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh (who was obviously one of my dad's heroes)and some of his daredevil missions in the skies, Naval stories, particularly those set in the INS Vikrant and all the exciting and adventurous things that things people did on board. Then there were the stories which taught us all about our history, culture, tradition, valour along with great things that people had done and achieved in this world. These were the stories about people like Guru Gobind Singh, Shivaji Maratha, Rani Laxmibai and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Helen Keller.

Then of course, there were the funny stories, which consisted of make believe characters and an extended storyline where the four of us as a family would get involved in their lives and adventures. The real beauty of these tales were that these were a never ending saga and could go on and on endlessly, taking right up from where it had been left off the last time around as there was no defined beginning or an end to these.

Keeping both of us enthralled for hours and hours on end, then after one got over, repeatedly begging him, "Pop, one more, just one more" which he would always, always, always oblige.

Time passed and I became a mother. Of a very bright child with an equally hungry mind. One who demanded “Tell me a story” whenever she wanted to hear one. So that I learnt to delve into the inner recesses of my mind and pull out some of those I remembered my father telling me and when I ran out of those I learnt to improvise, just as I remembered him doing. Creating some characters with whom the family travelled together, went on adventurous trips with and did a whole lot of fun stuff. One of the characters who became an all time favourite with my daughter was a little monkey who I called ‘Pikoo’ and one who went wherever my mind decided to take him. Alternately, wherever my daughter wanted him to go and so began the next generation saga along with a new series of never ending tales.

Today, as I'm reminded of those days, I'd like to take this opportunity to say “Thank You Pop, for that's where I really learnt my love of storytelling and now that of writing stories. I loved your stories then and love them even more now.”

I close with a beautiful line by Melody Beattie, “Live from your heart, and share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal"

Note-This is a piece originally written for my column 'My Take' in the Muscat Daily two years ago.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tips and Tricks to beat Inertia- My Way

Inertia- The  dictionary describes it as "the state of being inert,disinclination to move or act."

In  Physics, its definition is "the tendency of a body to preserve its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force or an analogous property of other physical quantities that resist change."

Image result for inertia -funny images

Image courtesy-

So if we were to apply this  same premise in our day to day lives, it wouldn't be very difficult to see that we are  guilty of inertia in many, many things. Think about it honestly and I'm sure that you will see exactly what I'm talking about. Sometimes in many more doses than one might care to admit, if only to yourself.I'm using my own example its the easiest way to illustrate my point.Lets say that I've  been planning to start writing that next chapter for the last one month but somehow haven't got around to doing it- of course there were so many other more immediate things that I had to deal with.

Or ....

I'm sure you get the picture.

After some thinking I decided to tackle the problem- albeit in bite sized pieces. For the last few days, I've started writing more regularly on this blog and my newer one called 'Food For Thought'  and I know for a fact that the speed and quantum of my writing is coming back to me.

Slowly but surely.

I'm equally aware of the fact that one of these days, sooner rather than later, I will find myself starting and completing that next chapter I've been meaning to.

So here it is above- my very basic management technique for dealing with inertia.All it takes is that first step. The rest will follow.

Never despair, it  really is 'you' who is the best person to deal with your own issues.So take that first step today and be confident that you are doing the right thing!

(NB- Portions of this piece have appeared earlier in my column 'My Take' for Muscat Daily.)