Awards & Accolades

As a writer, the only person we need to please is ourselves. Yet, somehow that is always a work in progress. The piece is never perfect, regardless of how many times we edit it, or how many revisions, or how you lay your thoughts out. Writers are destined to stay unsatisfied with their works. That’s probably the only way to stay a writer. Coz once complacency sets in, the work suffers. As with anything else and not just writing.

In the words of the inimitable Stephen King

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

..and that’s how blogging and writing started, for me at least. Intertwined and making love with each other to the extent that it is now just one resonance from within.

What I however also have painfully learnt is that the audience is never to be ignored. Once the writing is out, it never really belongs to you anymore. The reader will slice, dice and shred it to pieces. They also can enjoy, revel and derive great joy from your words. The emotion lies not with the word, but within the spaces between the said and the unsaid. The white spaces.

When there is resonance between the writer of said emotions, and the reader of the same emotions, there is harmony, and that is precisely the foundation that supports the writing, the authors, the books, the great literary pieces, the trashy novels and all in between.

Imagine that.

I too went through a process where I let the readers assess me and rank me amongst other writers. As icky as it may be, it’s a necessary evil am told. I indulge in it occasionally only because one has to play by the rules of the game at least a few times. Rule breaker that I am, i detest judgement of all sorts, and being free is of utmost importance to me, and with that I strive to break shackles.

I have been fortunate to have a few loyal readers, strangers and friends alike. I wish I could capture all of their guidance and validation in one capsule, so it helps me on my lonely days (and believe me writers are lonely people) and it will happen soon, coz I see how much of a mood lifter it is!

Awards are posts that I’ve written for blog/digital organizations./magazines, and have been awarded. These are the posts below.

My Personal Style

A win!

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This post is being written as part of the Women’s Web Trishla eMart ‘A Style of My Own!’ campaign.

Personal style is a remarkably unique trait, as much as the DNA we are made of. Thank God for that though, coz society is burdened enough with wannabes and copycats in pretty much everything else we do! From careers to sports to food we eat, we seem to be living in a dystopian world where fear of missing out almost always trumps our inner voice and we succumb.

Ive always believed that one creates one's style. Not fashion, but style. It's a lot more internal and an attitude thing, and isn't always defined by the brands or businesses that we embrace.

Style is ephemeral. Fashion is more ethereal.

Style is being who you are, in how you speak, walk and do the talk. It is about that aura that glows around you when you walk into a room. The magnetic pull when everyone notices you. It is about the knowing. About being secure in the knowledge that what you wear, how you dress and how you carry yourself is more about you and less about what sits on you. It's about breathing confidence sub-consciously.

Ive been told am stylish. I don't recall a time when someone used the word "fashionable" on me, and am glad they don't, coz that would be so false! I do not as a habit buy brands. Couldn't afford it as an impressionable young adult and then when I could, never really found value. I do buy an occasional piece but I don't believe just owning and wearing one will define one as Stylish or even Fashionable for that matter.

So what is Style then?

To me, it's about knowing what works for you, for your body, your lifestyle and then trusting that knowledge with all your heart and giving it all. No hesitation or going back.

It's really as simple as that.

Here's an example.

Ive always had thick, tight curly hair. It was awful growing up. Because of the maintenance, I always wore it long, so they could be bound down, in a braid or pony or clipped up. Seemed easy and simple.

Then, as an adult, I wanted to adapt and change as the society I lived in was different. So, I relaxed my hair, and I wore it flat, sleek and long. My whole demeanor changed. I loved how I looked, more neat, put together, less frizz, easy maintenance, the hair worked in all styles of clothes I wore, sari to jeans. Incredible sense of comfort, happiness and hence confidence in all other areas just waltzed in.

Then recently, I cut it short. It may or not have worked for me and folks were very clear about their opinion. They either loved it or hated it. I wanted  new look, and I decided to go an overgrown pixie sitting in the stylist's chair. Bangles

It's me. It's my personal style. The long hair was me. The curls was me. The short do is me, and this pixie is also me. ..and am not believing it coz folks tell me, but folks tell me coz I believe in it and behave in a way I believe in.

Coz this is very uniquely me. It's My style. 

I worked it with Saris using just 2 pieces that helped me.

  • Large bindi and Statement Neckpiece
  • Small bindi and Large Earrings
  • Large Bindi and Bare neck and gazillion bangles
  • Large bindi and Red bright lipstick

..and so on. This is of course regardless of how the hair was worn.

Selfie

Style is also not just about aesthetics but about knowing lines, and textures and colors that blend and work together. It's about creating balance and harmony, in all that you add and put together or remove.

As one famous line goes(and I paraphrase): "Wear it all, and then remove a piece, or you may land looking like a Christmas tree." It's true! Many a gorgeous woman and her accessories have been ruined to the spectator such!

Then there's Iconic style that some folks (and more women) have mastered. It is that ONE thing that defines them. One thing that they wear it and flaunt it and own it so much that their name gets synonymous with it.

I know of one lady who would wear a striking red lipstick no matter what she wore. Indian, Western, Casual or Formal. It was her. She wasn't pretty, but she has a classic style in the way she carries herself with her iconic red lipstick.

Style isn't always about your adornments. It's a whole lot about how you talk, how you sit, and carry yourself and how you behave in a social setting. It's taking each of your slightly rough edge and polishing it to shine through. It's also about taking that singularly jagged part of you that many would assume as a fault, and flaunting it with a kind of laissez-faire. Like how Padma Lakshmi does with the long scar on her right arm. It's about making peace with what you own and allowing it to define you in sic a strong positive way that others shine and blind themselves in that light you radiate from within.

Some have inborn style. Some groom themselves to become that.

It's about keeping your eyes and ears peeled to accepting what works for you and what doesn't and taking that liberty to allow it to work and accepting and letting go of the ones that don't. So what if you make mistakes, that's one sure way of knowing which ones to not do again.

It's that path you and only you can blaze with what your brain tells your body after it listens to it.

So listen, pick up, and go be stylish! There are no rules, just incredible strength to go write your own.

 

 

 

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5 black dreams {WhatTheBlack}

..and I just got the tweet/news that I won. Yay.  (added on November 04 2014)

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I love black. I think most women like black, it's a phenomenon. I havent met a single girl out there who does not approve of black. In clothing especially. Black is the great leveler, the ultimate weapon to not highlight what we dont want to highlight and has the power to make the rest of us stand out.

Yeah?

Think of the LBD. It is ranked as one of the most popular outfits almost all women want to own.

Not the LBD generation, then it must be the black sari. In all possible materials and designs and styles. The Kanjivaram, Mysore silk, Bengal cotton and the one with pearl work, and the sequins and the ribbon work and then the suits and so on.

You think black's just for clothing? Nope, we love black in the kitchen, in the appliances, the couch and the cushions, the carpets, even the gorgeous black centers of black eyed susans! We love the glistening black idols in the south Indian temples, the rough hues of the ancient chiseled statues around the temples, the thick mane humans and horses and gorgeous labradors  and border collies sport, the kohl that lines women's eyes to convey the myriad emotions and we love the black backdrops in photo sessions that make the subject pop! The night sky to my beautiful dog Zephie, to the black felt marker I use to the black light filtering curtains in the sunroom, black runs my life, subtly, and in the shadows.

Black, as much as a negative connotation it may carry in some cultures, has its stand, firm and dignified, come what may attitude.

Black is my favorite color and I can never tire of not incorporating it in my wardrobe at every chance I get. So with  closet predominantly full of black, what ELSE would I like to own that is black you ask? Here you go!

1. Black Tesla. 

black tesla

Look at that thing and tell me you aren't drooling to sit on it, in it and just TOUCH it? Sigh.

Well, it's Tesla. It's black. It is amazing!

When you dream, you just as well dream big right? Go big or go home! Yes, one day. I will own or lease or rent or whatever, I will drive this beauty around!

2. Black Pearl 

Tahitian pearls

 

It's the Tahitian pearl. Not entirely black, but rare and so expensive and is only found or made in the Tahitian waters. I am not entirely sure if I will finally buy it even if I can afford it, but it's something Ive thought of when I heard of it and would like to own it maybe..

3. Black Kanjeevaram sari 

I already own a Gadwal silk, A bengal cotton, Bengal cotton/.silk, an Oriya silk, a Mysore silk, a Lucknowi cotton sari, and a few other random material ones - all fabulous and gorgeous on their own, BUT I must own a Kanjivaram black silk ONE Day. I will, too. Just need to go get a job first.

4. Black granite countertops 

We bought a house that has become a home over the past 15 years. It is our first home and well, first homes are usually more emotional than practical and most definitely more budget conscious. So, I scrimped on a few things and sacrificed a few others as we were just beginning to settle down and budget and the monthly mortgage was a priority.

Over teh years Ive loved how the granite looks and it has been one of the bigger upgrades that I want to get done. It's expensive too, so I am waiting for an opportune moment to get it done and it's the only upgrade/renovation I want for the home.

5. Black Golden Retriever 

I have Zephie. She's the most obedient, sweetest low-maintenance pup ever. Her dad's a Norwegian Elkhound and her mom is a Border Collie. She is a gorgeous mix of both breeds and as luck would have it (for us) she got the best of both genes, in looks, behavior and temperament.

rockstar

BUT, since a couple of months, I've been feeling like we could use one more little pup in the house. As a playmate for Zephie and even munchkin. We have a few Golden Retrievers around and I love them! Labs are adorable too, but somehow Goldens seem more put together, and I cant take way playful pups seeking attention 24/7 - that's huge maintenance and we are spoilt with Zephie now. I am not sure if I will go ahead and adopt one more, what with the way things are, but it's on the radar alright and am already excited!

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So! This has been fun writing and listing all things black and beautiful! ..and I have to thank Alchemist Poonam for nudging me on. Thanks girl!

This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com

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Passport To A Healthy Pregnancy: a letter to my daughter

A win. 

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My dear daughter,

This is something that I wanted to write down for a while now, and now that you are all grown up and running your own home and paying your bills, figured this would be a good time as any.

One day you and your husband will hope to grow your family. My hope is that you will re-open this letter and appreciate my two cents it contains. I cannot wait for the day for you to be a mom and go through the circle of life that we are all destined to on this earth. Maybe you will gain insight from my own story of how you and your brother and younger sister were born to me and how each of our stories are very different yet very same. It has been the same since time started.

You were born to me when I was 23 years old. You always gasp and shake your head in disbelief when you hear and in retrospect I do too. Your dad and I were very young and very alone in Belgium. Recently moved, and thank heavens for my father's insistence on learning a foreign language while I was still in school, I managed some French. We were alone with absolutely no family or friends within any respectable distance. There was NO internet either. I know, am a dinosaur and there you go clucking your tongue at me again.

All I had as a support system was

  1. My gynecologist - a regal Dutch lady who spoke fairly good British English with whom I met once a month.
  2. My mother - whom I spoke with once a week as phone calls were quite expensive.
  3. Your dad - who was as clueless as I or even maybe a little more.
  4. My own head and my love for biology and all things medical.
  5. A book on pregnancy that I picked up during my 12th week.

You and your brother turned out fine and healthy, and topped the charts, much to our pride and joy.

When you decide to have your baby, things will most likely be planned and very different from my experience, and obviously too.

You live in an age where the information is flying at you and around you at all times. There's so much of it and with all the good intentions. The internet is your good old aunties, grandmas and neighbors giving you advice,  magnified million times over. There will be conflicting experiences, horror stories on pregnancy, doctors and even of the immediate family. It is but natural. Human tendency is to retain or speak up on things that have affected us adversely. The pleasant experiences don't mark a dent naturally, unless we bring it upon ourselves to retain and hold onto. Isn't it funny how our brains work?

I cannot tell you to stay away from it all. That would be a hard task unless you coop yourself in an ashram or the middle of an abandoned island. You will be faced with a deluge of a variety of information. Though one does wonder how versatile our minds and the race in general to take the most basic of a human's role in this world and turn it into a spectacle of sorts.

The more we learn, the more there is to calm. 

What I can however advise you is to stay grounded. I believe each of us has the capacity to understand our body's wants and needs. Having a baby is no different. Despite the science involved, this *is* a miracle. To procreate and to nourish for the 280 days that we shelter and care for this beautiful only real partnership product is a miracle. It is a responsibility. Possibly the only huge one that we shoulder singularly as a mother. So, be aware. Aware of the changes that will come your way. Accept them with an open mind. Don't fight it, let your body tell you when to relax, eat, drink and move.

While I was pregnant with you, I walked everyday to the station to change a tram and a bus to reach the Universite, where I was taking French lessons. Regardless of rain or shine (which there wasn't muchof!) I wore my shoes, dressed warm and carried a backpack with books, apple and water. It provided my body and brain an exercise. When I was carrying your brother and you were all of 11 months old, I did the same. Put you in a pram and pushed you around, on trams and buses. Exploring the city, the stores and the museums whenever possible. Staying busy is a boon. I liked the freedom of doing things at my pace.

It helps qwell the demons of doubts and questions that serve not much purpose.

It's a pleasant time to be pampered, to be fussed over and some women will thrive on it. Our lives and families are different. Some of us are too ingrained to not accept such fussing too. Allow that if you find yourself at the receiving end of such luxury. However, bear in mind that you are not *sick* or *unwell*. Most of us like to be independent, to manage our lives without asking for much assistance. The balance is fine line.  Walk the line with thought and care, coz you are responsible for your choices. 

Do you remember the time I was pregnant with munchkin? She was our surprise after you two. She was born during the internet age. When forums, [regnancy websites and everything in between from here to India, was available at my fingertips. I did read them. I bounced around, till I realized that none of it added any value to the basic common sense that really is all that is required for a safe pregnancy. I am not brushing away the knowledge and the precautions enlisted, I just don't see the point to having so many sites around filled with various anecdotes, advice, tips and more! Women have been giving birth forever.

Pregnant the third time, I felt very tired as I was running around with your activities. Through all of that I had agreed (long before I discovered I was pregnant) to play a role, a very spirited and energetic character in a Kuchipudi dance ballet. I checked with my doctor. She in fact, was surprised I'd ask, as the intense dance steps were something I was used to anyway, so what was different now?

I continued rehearsing. The performance date was when I was 18 weeks down. I enjoyed every bit of the time on stage. Playing Bhasmasura was and still is one of my best performances so far. If I had chickened out, I'd have missed the feeling of satisfaction and pride that I now experierence when I look back. Munchkin turned out just fine, and as an added bonus thrives on music and rhythm. Win-Win.

That said, don't be foolish to do things that go against your body's natural rhythm. Signing up for kickboxing classes, or digging up the whole backyard for a vegetable garden for the first time, is well, pushing it.

Be cognizant dear. Be aware of your body and accept the changes. Allow yourself the freedom to indulge. At the end of the day, do not forget who you truly are. A fine young woman who is adding on the role of a mother. Does not mean you give up on the rest of the roles you play, the most important one being you.

Take care of yourself, my baby, coz there's only one of you. Stay strong in your mind and heart. You are part of this wonderful circle  of life, take pride in your role and carry it through with panache. You are capable of it and more.

With lots of love,

Your mom.

******

PS: This post is in response to the call for entries as seen below:

PPS: The post is just a style of writing. Not a personal post by any means. As in, it will be awhile before my daughter will be reading this. At least another decade.

 

..and I won! Here are the results: 

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