soniaraowrites

about writing and other such passionate matters

Archive for the tag “Delhi”

False Ceilings by Amit Sharma – A Review

Hello friends *waves*

I know I’ve been terribly incommunicado in the last few months. But things are all set to change (you must have noticed one post a day happening since the last two days, hehehe) and a lot of nice, new stuff to read is going to be available in this space.

Stay with me, my dear readers. I begin with a new section that I have so far stayed away from till now. Yes, I’m talking of book reviews. I plan to post one book review a week (though you might see more than one in this week – the backlog is higher than my own height). You will be able to find them if you click on the Book Review category in the cloud on the right side of this page.

I begin with the review I did of False Ceilings, an interesting novel by Amit Sharma:

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In the ‘70s, false ceilings were all the rage for living rooms, bedrooms and even bathrooms. They were especially popular with the film fraternity and filthy-rich industrialists. Intricately carved designs on the moldings and vivid combinations of colours made for an attractive façade but behind all that lurked a certain rot. Broken and smashed in by Income tax officers, the false ceilings laid bare the putrefaction they shielded, the decadence of black money in the form of currency notes, stuffed behind them.

This duplexity of splendour and squalor finds evocative portrayal in the cover of Amit Sharma’s debut novel, “False Ceilings” even as the READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW HERE.

 

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HOW BOLLYWOOD, POLITICS AND CRICKET CAN HELP YOU WRITE A BETTER NOVEL THIS NOVEMBER

As 1st November comes upon us in a few hours from now, the excitement escalates. Whether it is the first attempt at NaNoWriMo, or the 7th (as in my case), the enthusiasm and a little something happening in the lower back and somewhere near the heart region (some say these are the signs of hyperventilation – same as what happened to Bella everytime she saw Edward Cullen) is present each and everytime.

As the ML (Municipal Liaison, aka Main Cheerleader and Motivator) for India, my greatest joy comes from motivating wrimos to fulfill their authorial goals. I, then, feel like a godparent to those novels which were born or brought up in NaNoWriMo.

NaNo-2015-ML-Badge-Large-Square

Many blogposts have already been written about how to tackle NaNoWriMo (do check out the Wrimo India – NaNoWriMo Category on the right of this page).

Today I’m sharing with you a post which I wrote last year for the NaNoWriMo blog. Sharing it once again because the elements of  a novel haven’t really changed, even if the style of doing it might have, in a case or two.

Happy Writing and Reading, then 🙂

NaNoWriMo is an international event, and the stories being written every year reflect our hundreds of participating regions. We’re taking a Road Trip to NaNo to hear from our amazing volunteers and writers all around the world. Today, Sonia, our Municipal Liaison in the India region shares how to unite the diversity of description, plot, and motivation to write a great novel in November:

India is a land of diversities: physical features that range from the Himalayas to the oceans, weather that traverses the extremities; and cultural differences that encompass dress, food and language. These dissimilarities aside, there are three topics that make most Indians’ hearts beat faster: Bollywood, politics and cricket.

Bollywood, or How to Fill Your Novel with Song and Dance

Bollywood, as the Hindi film industry is known, is located in the city of Mumbai which is the financial capital of India. It is also the capital of beauty and emotions, which form the base of Bollywood. Hordes of starry-eyed youngsters throng the film studios with the hope of making their debuts in films whose earnings are inching closer and closer to what the Indian Mission to Mars cost. Emotions rule us Indians, and Bollywood turns those emotions into things we sing and dance about, no matter the genre.

Your NaNoWriMo novel, too, needs … Read more here.

Romancing The City

For someone who could get lost inside even a tiny, cramped office typical of Mumbai and need directions to the exit, it was foolhardy to venture alone towards the Metro Station after a memorable meet-up with friends.

But adventure beckoned and the road thronged with Sunday revelers added to the thrill of walking alone on a beautiful Delhi road. Till I realized that I was lost. A wrong turn, perhaps? Not a problem, I thought, taking out my phone to call the friend whom I was staying with, to ask for directions.

My Blackberry was dead. Completely discharged. It had been acting like a diva ever since I landed in Delhi. Dropped calls. Texts that could not be replied to because Madam BB decided to get ‘hanged’ at that particular moment and rendering futile all efforts at re-booting. I shook the phone, willing it to start. Nada. Suddenly, the revelers began to look loutish and the road looked like the path to hell.

Where the hell was the Metro Station? It did not seem such a great idea to ask the people around for directions. In front of me loomed a large maidan which I was sure I had never seen before in my three or four trips to this side of Connaught Place.

I did not remember my friend’s phone number. I was supposed to call her from Saket station and she’d come pick me up. I did not know the way to her house.

I was stranded.

I wanted to cry.

It would be smarter to think of options rather than cry, I decided. Nothing came to mind, though. The landscape seemed like a vast blanket that seemed to come closer and closer as if to smother me. I took a deep breath. I am not sure I prayed but at that moment, I spied a portly Sikh gentleman, who, dressed in shorts and t-shirt, seemed to be out on his evening walk (which now I recollect, is quite strange because CP didn’t seem to be a residential area). With his salt-and-pepper bearded face and the saropa* tied around his head, he appeared to be a god-send.

Even then, not wanting to take a risk, I approached the gentleman casually, and summoning forth my most authentic Punjabi dialect, asked him directions to the Rajiv Chowk Metro station. He pointed to my left. I turned my head and hardly a few metres away, was the entrance to the station.

All the while I had been searching for the station on my right. Panic had made me blind to what was in front of me.

The station was crowded. I stood in the queue for the Yellow Line. At Saket, I’d search for a plug point, perhaps at one of the stores near the station, so I could charge my phone and retrieve my friend’s number.

As the train halted, I entered the compartment and right across, on the other side I saw PLUG POINTS. Two of them. I love you, Delhi Metro. I love you, Delhi.

Yes, I called my friend from the train and she was at the station by the time I reached.

Yes, this is a love story. The story of falling in love with a city.

(When I published an excerpt I’d written at a travel workshop, every reader wanted to know what happened next. They insisted I tell them how the story ended. For a long time, I desisted. But when Author Kiran Manral announced the All Aboard Contest, I decided it was time to come clean about my romance, about how I romanced the city, with all the thrills and the chills of a true love story – which perhaps might not be recognizable as one.

So here it is, above, in its entirety).

*Saropa: A gift of honour presented by the Sikh community. Usually a length of cloth, usually saffron in colour, for tying a turban or draped over the shoulders.

The 3 things a travel writer must remember

(What is this about: Travel Writing Workshop conducted by veteran writer Dilip D’Souza as part of the Writing Workshops held in Asiatic Society’s Central Library by Avid Learning for the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2015)

If you thought travel-writing meant just writing about your travels then you would be as mistaken as the hundred other participants that gathered one Sunday morning in the Durbar Hall of Mumbai’s Central Library to attend the Travel Writing Workshop by award-winning writer, Dilip D’Souza.

If this is a contrarian view then you would also find it unusual that D’Souza wore a bolo tie (a string tie with a moon and stars design, worn by the cowboys of Texas) because he hates ties but mainly because he wanted to hide a stain on his shirt.

And if you are a writer, you would be quite impressed with D’Souza’s empathetic nature as he set the ground rule that ever piece of writing read in that session was to be greeted by an enthusiastic ‘wow’.

So, what is travel writing?

How would you tell differently what hundreds and thousands have already told about the places you are visiting?

1) Travel writing is about ‘telling stories’

Aim of telling your story should be to get your readers to start thinking and exploring what your writing means to them. How would your reader walk or would he talk if he knew about your experiences? Let your reader make their own connections.
At this point, we had to turn to the person next to us and tell them our travel story (which made me realize I need a lot of practice in oral story telling).

2)Travel writing is about ‘sweating the details’

Observe details because these are the things that make your story unforgettable. We were asked to look around the room and observe the details we might not have noticed earlier. A question about the builder of the place got a lot of affirmative replies but my mind had remained glued to the majestic stairs at the front of the Library.

Some examples from various texts:  “We rushed to the man who sat in the office drinking a warm Coke, feet on his desk, and he told us that the pool was dirty so they had decided to drain it.” This sentence gives us a good look into the lackadaisical attitude of the man in the office. Another poignant example of a silent detail which speaks the words: In a house which has lost its young son to the war, the light switch in his room is taped over so that the light cannot be ever switched off.

3)Travel writing is about “doing the hardest thing in your life and that is making your story personal.”

Here a question was asked to Dilip D’souza (perhaps by me only): How much of the story needs to be fact and how much fiction? To which the reply was: Be true to yourself and only then can you be true to the reader.

Throughout the session travel writing excerpts of different authors were read out by D’Souza and a lot of learning took place as we analyzed the words and their meaning in that particular context. I was thrilled too that my deductions proved correct when I pointed out pieces which I believed were written by him.

At the end of the session, we had to write down our verbally told stories after making it more personal.

****

What I wrote in the workshop:

For someone who could get lost inside even a tiny, cramped office typical of Mumbai and need directions to the exit, it was foolhardy to venture alone towards the Metro Station after a memorable meet-up with friends.

But adventure beckoned and the road thronged with Sunday revelers added to the thrill of walking alone on a beautiful Delhi road. Till I realized that I was lost. A wrong turn, perhaps? Not a problem, I thought, taking out my phone to call the friend whom I was staying with, to ask for directions.

My Blackberry was dead. Completely discharged. It had been acting like a diva ever since I landed in Delhi. Dropped calls. Texts that could not be replied to because Madam BB decided to get ‘hanged’ at that particular moment and rendering futile all efforts at re-booting. I shook the phone, willing it to start. Nada. Suddenly, the revelers began to look loutish and the road looked like the path to hell. Where the hell was the Metro Station? It did not seem such a great idea to ask the people around for directions. In front of me loomed a large maidan which I was sure I had never seen before in my three or four trips to this side of Connaught Place. I did not remember my friend’s phone number.

I wanted to cry.

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