Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Heady Brew - Part I

My interactions with various communities, organizations and individuals exposes me to questions about prose, poetry, literature and life, to which people are constantly seeking answers and resolutions. These conversations happen on phone, whatsapp, in person, over drinks, over coffee, on the footpath, in colleges, in plush offices, in ramshackle back-alleys, and sometimes, in my mind too. I don't attempt to provide answers, for, hello, this young girl herself knows too little. But sometimes, certain conversations give me points to ponder on, to deliberate, to keep close. And in my mind, all these conversations, irrespective of their physical reality, are always accompanied by the clink of two glasses.

Here is the first heady brew - not difficult to imagine, I suppose, once you add a sprinkling of rum on his collar, and lean in to drink to his thoughts. While he questions poetry, he probably also inspires some.


"When people hear a good poem, they get inspired, and I get depressed."

Is it, haha! Why?

"Because I don't know when will I be able to write that well."


"Also, there is so much being written, everyday, every second, that I am losing the opportunity of writing original content, because by the time I think of it, someone might have already written it."

And here I was, sitting perfectly relaxed, thinking that poetry is so private and personal, that it can never be made to compete. Why write to counter something that someone somewhere might be writing. Why not write because it matters to you. Because it eases your heart. Because it defines your life. And again, because it matters to you, and when it matters to you. You're never losing out time or thoughts or concepts or words. Trust me on that.

"Hmm. You always make so much sense."

Because I am out of competition.

"I like to think of poetry as my way of escaping from reality, my third level. But it doesn't come to me when I need it the most."

Aah. Save poetry from all the pressure please.

I cannot imagine poetry not coming to anyone unless we ascribe heavy definitions to it, unless we are too keen to specify a certain way in which it should come to us. Poetry is a pouring out. It does not have to be profound by definition. But if it is pure or true enough, it will always be profound.

Put less pressure on the pen. Ink will flow easy.

"Oh dear!"


"You're an artist!"

If you insist :)

Monday, September 7, 2015

From The Other Side

I have been a great fan of my teachers. For a child struggling with many tussles inside her heart, mind and the manner in which they related with the very judgemental world, it was my teachers who came to my rescue in ways which cannot be contained inside any text book. This weekend, I took out some time to relive the fantastic college and school times, where teachers formed the pivot around which my life revolved. They were more of my friends than any peer. And I am not exaggerating one bit.

This Teachers' Day, however, I was greeted with another pretty revelation. In a manner uniquely subtle and unconventional, I had stepped over to the other side. It's been a year I have been working with Shiv Nadar School (as a Content Strategist, and not as a teacher), but I have had the privilege of sharing my knowledge of literature and creative writing with the lovely kids there. These few interactions were enough for the students to deem me a teacher, and gift me some love in the form of fond hugs and heartfelt wishes. 

My moment of extreme pride came when I was informed by the Principal herself that students at the school had been wanting me to visit more often, to teach and interact with them. The way my heart swelled and my eyes welled-up is inexplicable in words. What greater joy can greet a person who has made it her life's aim to hear people out and share whatever shreds of knowledge she has managed to amass during her stay on this planet?

I have a special bond with everyone at Shiv Nadar School, right from the teachers, to students to the management, and probably the space of this blog is too scarce to express even a fraction of it. In a relationship spanning more than a year, I have enjoyed the trust of many, and appreciation of the kind that leaves me humbled. What is truly humbling, however, is the scope of learning that the school precincts provide me. I have a genuine belief that the teachers which Shiv Nadar School has chosen to carry its philosophies forward are a unique breed. The value system of the school, as well as the very innate desire to curate learning experiences brims over in a kind of infectious energy which greets me each time I visit. I rue not being able to visit them more often, but, ah, the perils of distances and a crumbling human body. 

The lady, who has left a profound impact on me in that jolly world of learning, as is public knowledge, is Ms. Monica Sagar. It is difficult for me to figure out completely why Monica ma'am appeals to me the way she does. It has probably got something to do with her absolutely down-to-earth and nonchalant demeanour, even on the most glamorous of days. And all this, when she is an exceptional leader. To my mind, she has somehow mastered the art of shepherding her herd while giving them a lead to locate their own paths. After being such a busy woman, she manages to be ready with a hug and smile to greet you at all times. She doesn't exactly teach me, but I end up learning much from her. Always. 

I have written glorious paeans for my school and college teachers, but this Teachers' Day post is an apt time to thank Vaibhav and Karan for being the guides in the professional world, where I still exist as a strong-headed, moment-inspired writer. They manage to keep me going, happy and proud of my work. 

To end, I think a good teacher rises out of exceptional students. Here are a few words from Drishti's blog, which she wrote for her favourite teachers. I am fortunate I fall in that category of favourites for her.