Writing By The Window: Nivedita's First Volume of Verse

In 1860, almost a decade after Moby Dick was published, Melville writes to his brother during his efforts to position and publish himself as a poet – “of all human events, perhaps, the publication of a first volume of verse is the most insignificant; but though a matter of no moment to the world, it is still of some concern to the author.” These are words that will readily resonate with poets around the world. It takes courage and recklessness in equal doses, along with generous helpings of conviction in the value of one’s own work to cross that magic bridge. In the last few years, there have been very few things that I have waited for as eagerly as I am for Nivedita’s first volume of poems – Writing by the Window.

She launches it at 10 am, Sunday, Feb 15, 2015, where else but at our second home, Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad. For event details (which includes an open mic poetry reading session for poets of Hyderabad) and to RSVP, please visit our event page.

For those who might not know, Nivedita is a publisher, and getting her to agree to publish Writing by the Window took her friends a few years. Her publishing house, Nivasini, sources and publishes some of the finest writing from around the world, writing that is at par with the best in the world.

Nivasini also partners several initiatives that connect stakeholders in the creative change process. Nivedita and Nivasini (along with friends and wellwishers) are key contributors to the blogger community through the Hyderabad Bloggers’ Meet, the writing community through Writers’ Carnival and other literary activities, and the changemaker community through SoCh. She is also friend to many, and she is one of the very few people I have met who practice being present to you one hundred percent. When she gets time away from all of this, she is a daughter and a wife. When you meet her family, please do not talk about how valuable her work is. And did I tell you that she has a day job with a global publishing major? Bills really should pay themselves.

Is Wordpress Blogger Infidelity?

One discussion that never fails to pop up on the forums with the regularity of a waking bladder is that of whether it makes sense to switch to Wordpress, self-hosted or free, from any of the other platforms. Today, I was compelled to revisit this discussion, in a closed room, with no escape and no coffee or tea and neither time nor room to smoke. We ended up having a great time as we explored the broader dynamics of journalism in the digital social space. But hey, the coffee.

Those of you who would like to know more will have to click through with me.

As far as infiltrating digital borders and setting the music free, the day is not too far

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Breakfast of Champions: January 18, 2015, Begumpet, Hyderabad

Eight Winds is three months old, just a couple of months behind Devank. And to add to our team of champions, we are conducting a five-day digital marketing training workshop that we forgot to tell you about. It might possibly be over by the time you read this. That is how things are in the realm of digital. Hair today, gone tomorrow. What we are doing is promoting an already existing brick-and-mortar event on social media through the learning we acquire in the workshop.

The event in question is on Sunday afternoon, just after Sankranti, the deadest time of the Indian year for businesses and social media alike. Our challenge is to create a campaign in the shortest time, at the most difficult time (Saturday night and Sunday morning), spend no money, resort to no gimmicks and work towards boosting attendance at the event. The final tasks include collecting data at the event itself, validating and analyzing that data, and then reviewing the outcome of the training and individual strengths and training needs. At the end of it, if you pass the final exam, you get a digital breadcrumb that means nothing and a hard copy of the same. The best acts will have equally pointless offers from Eight Winds waiting for them. 

The nature of the event we are promoting is another challenge. It is a guitar and tabla duo and the setting is a pub where patrons are used to music of another sort. Not exactly the stuff that you see in the city event listings and drool over. But our marketing wizards will find a way to get people to come to listen to this little-known duo on a weekend when most of Hyderabad is out on family or vacation time. Add to that the fact that the event is actually part of a web series, and the potential for viral outcome is immense.

I am excited about the season finale, as winter bids us goodbye. I just hope I have the energy to get back and blog about it before having to whisk myself off to the next workshop on my calendar, with editors of Mashable, TechCrunch, TimesNow, NDTV, and CNN-IBN among others. Talk about dropping names. Talk about people you want to work with. Or don't. Talk. Work. Whatever. 

Winds of Change

Two years back, around this time, we launched Blend of Tea. This year, we launch our second enterprise - Eight Winds. My quest for world domination starts with cleaning things up, and this is another step towards building the foundation for tomorrow. 8W is a business solutions company, specializing in digital social marketing. We offer strategy, services, content, consulting and training - the works, including open source e-commerce. We set ourselves up as November set in and executed our first delivery on November 18, 2014. Our very first outing outing was the 4th Hyderabad Bloggers Meet held at Saptaparni on December 7, 2014.

If you are interested in mastering the heart of social media, or are ready to answer difficult questions about why you do what you do, or just need help selling something without breaking the law, do look us up. We are open for business on weekdays at Punjagutta, Hyderabad.

What are Eight Winds? The concept of the “eight winds” is described in several Buddhist works such as The Treatise on the Stage of Buddhahood Sutra. It later shows up in a letter written by Nichiren Daishonin in the 13th century. He advises his followers not to be swayed by their attachment to prosperity, honor, praise, or pleasure (the four favorable winds), or by their aversion to decline, disgrace, censure, or suffering (the four adverse winds).

Happy Birthday, Subho!!

For peace in the land, the sender will remain anonymous.


Dear Subho,

I know how you feel about getting things, even if it is an SMS asking after your welfare, so you must be super thrilled to get this - a letter on your birthday - for your blog!! Let me begin by wishing you a very happy 20th birthday (I ex-ed out the numbers on the letter I got before showing to others, so when it was being typed up, it became XX, changed to 20 for stylistic consistency). Age is not just a number, but a many-tongued jealous lover. You learn to live with it. The creaking joints and unidentifiable, uncontrollable aches and twitches, they’ve all been worth it. You might revel in your confusion, even thrust it upon others, but you know you did right. You loved, shared, dreamt, and created what you needed to, some of it prickly, yes, but sleep well you do.

Blend Of Tea Second Anniversary Birthday Cake - Black Forest from Vacs
Nivasini and Blend Of Tea are projects of Nivedita's and mine that were set up on our respective birthdays - a week apart. This gives us good reason to celebrate, up close, loud and in public.
From that hair that won’t listen to your appendix scar that you have so many different (a new one each telling) stories about, I love every bit of you. Especially the silly emotional part of you. Do you remember how much you laughed when the cops at the protests came at you with their canes raised and then cried as the batons came down? Or how you carried the receipt for your daughter’s autopsy report till it became dust in your wallet. Or the whimpering blob of jelly you were in the labor room when your second son was born? Or how you went about encouraging prisoners when you yourself didn't know where you were headed in the hall of justice? Or the way you tear up when listening to the national anthem? You still need to learn to love though. And watch out for open sewers when walking. You enjoy rubbing people the wrong way just to make sure they are human. You set high standards for others, just so that you can take it easy, and then get mad because they don’t let you take it easy. From supporting piracy to fighting for privacy, you do what your heart tells you is correct.

What I admire most about you is how you bend over backwards for stuff that doesn’t bother anyone else. You reach out to people, checking on them, truly caring for their wellbeing, and then get offended when they finally ask – so why did you call? You stay up late to help the kids plan elaborate pranks on the neighbors. Then when they get into trouble, you leave town for the weekend. You love good conversations as long as they are about you. The only thing you love more is a monolog – by you and about you. If there is one thing that I worry about, it is that you have never felt apologetic for your values or morals. If I were you, I would have deleted my Facebook account by now.

SoCh4. Nov 1, 2014. Our Sacred Space.

Depending on who you are, start at the appropriate paragraph.

Short version of TL;DR: Been busy. Another edition of SoCh and starting several new initiatives, striving to be the best of all I was intended to be. Do join us on Nov 1 at 5 pm at Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad.

TL; DR: One sparkling evening!! Launch of Neesah, an eclectic arts magazine, launches of two books, one by my Mom, launch of a program on increasing awareness of the importance of menstrual flow in the context of social health, a participatory dance dialog on the shanti mantra by all attendees, and of course SoCh-4. The books are crazy good, as is the magazine and the health intervention initiative. We think the “take-aways” will be seen as thoughtful as will the refreshments. Try not to miss the shanti mantra. Working on putting together this SoCh has been the reward and the speakers and their work will leave you utterly, utterly changed. We would like to start early, so do help out by being on time.
Launch of Neesah, an Eclectic Arts magazine from Hyderabad

Now for those of us who are here for the usual trash.

Like all things in the universe, this blog and its owner, ying and yang, have their ups and downs. One of the here now gone tomorrow areas has to do with the early readership and nature of this blog. It was entirely a documentation of personal journeys to start with, as individuals, as creative artists, as aspiring apprentices. So it was for a long time.

Till about 2012. Couple of things happened. First there was the Hyderabad Bloggers Meet. The people who met went on to find and refine their own projects like Nivasini Publishers, Raed Leaf Poetry, Writers Carnival, BlendOfTea, and yes, SoCh, etc. All of these, naturally, became part of this blog. Then, the second thing that happened, there was the focus on search and content marketing that saw the readership multiply a few hundredfold, a lot of it from high quality, commenting and returning readers. On stuff that had almost no emotional relevance to my life or what was going on around me.

Three Little Big Mistakes

Over the last year, Mom and Dad have been winding up their 50-year-old sansar in Kolkata so that they can come and stay with us. It is a big deal for us, since we have wanted this to happen for the last many years. It is not easy to turn your back on the material-social life you build up and it is not easy to say goodbye to the people and places that becomes natural extensions of your being. My brother and I and our families have been trying to make it easier through discussions, holidays together, and by pitching in with the packing and sorting.

On one such visit, just a few months back, I was rummaging through old books and papers that were slowly turning into dust. They lay in ancient trunks tucked away behind other ancient trunks and cartons under my parents’ bed. I found a large plastic folder, inside which were things that I had put together as a teenager one time when we were moving house. It contained things – mainly documents and pieces of writing - that I thought were important at that point of my life. Over the next few hours, the papers made me smile. For many reasons. I smiled because what seemed important then and what seems important now are at such great variance. I smiled at the illusion of permanence that seems so real at all times. And I smiled as I realized how little mistakes often lead to big things. Here are three little big mistakes that I am learning from and what they mean to me.

Honoring your parents

This sounds obvious, and I will have to get personal in order to put it in perspective. I know that my disclosures are safe with you. If you do choose to dishonor my confidence, I will accept that your need to violate my trust was greater than my conviction.

We live in times when it is not just fashionable to blame all the troubles in your life on your parents, but also terribly convenient. Modern science tells us that almost everything that could possibly go wrong with this complex organism called me can be tracked back to parenting. We have parenting classes, parenting blogs, and self-help groups for those scarred beyond repair by the lives of their parents. I have spent many years of my adult life believing that I would have had a “better shot” at life if only parents had been, for the lack of a better word, more “parently.” I have always been open about this feeling, and that has made life more complicated, since at a conscious level people do not always understand that love and hate are really the same deluded belief.

Of course, we are shaped largely by the actions of our parents. Moreover, it is possible to believe and wish that they could have done better. The truth is that if they could have, they would have. For some time, I justified their not “having done better” by telling myself that they didn’t because they couldn’t and they couldn’t because I was not important enough for them. It was only after I became a parent myself that I saw the fallacy of my thinking. Nobody plays to lose.

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