Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Small Little Joys of Dunedin

Back in Christchurch at my studio apartment on a Friday night, I was busy burying my disappointments and failures.  There was nothing unusual about this meeting; Fred, Natalie and I would meet up every second Friday and cry over a lot of issues. It was pretty clear that we were disappointed with our lives. It had been more than ten years that we had been working rigorously on our professions and had gained a lot professionally. But there were a lot of things we missed; a void had begun to develop in our souls that had a deep impact on our thought process. All this accomplishment and money wasn’t doing us good. None of us were in a steady relationship, how could we ever be? We had already got committed to our jobs. We had no time for ourselves, how would we ever give it to someone else.

“I think I need a break,” said Fred.
“Since ages,” Natalie added.
“I think I never wanted to be into this so called market research,” he carried on. The alcohol had started to affect him. In no time, I witnessed Natalie joining in.
“You know I’ve always wanted to watch birds,” she said.
“And I have wished to click as much of wildlife as I could. If it would not have been for my father, I’d have been a wildlife photographer.

I understood that we were all unhappy because we were not doing what we actually wanted to. We had been running after fame and money but no more could we put our heart and soul into it because we weren’t doing this for ourselves. I realized that as a teenager, I had always wanted to write about flora and fauna. I now knew there was another thing that made us gel so well, our love for nature and its inhabitants, keeping aside humans for some time.

At that moment, a thought struck my mind. I don’t know whether it was the whiskey making me take the decision or my heart but I blurted out, “Let’s go to Dunedin.”

Both of them looked at me questioningly. I remembered the famous environmentalist David Bellamy who had referred to this place as the finest example of eco tourism in the world.
“Ask no questions. Trust me, this is going to be the best place to unwind. I am pretty sure that it is going to quench our thirst,” I replied as a matter of fact.
We head off in the morning in a Toyota Corolla rented from Hertz since my humble hatchback had broken down last night.

The cool winds gushed and seemed to pierce our souls. It felt as if there was nothing more soothing than that moment. We drove turn by turn just to encounter the ecstasy of driving towards our ultimate destination. The smooth drive and the ambiance inside the car definitely turned our mood on and we couldn’t wait to reach there.

As we entered the splendid land of Dunedin, we understood why everyone recommended the place. It was no less than paradise on earth. Calm, serene, cool and soothing, I have no words to describe how amazing it felt to be in this beautiful place.
While I watched Fred capture the seabirds at Otago Peninsula, our first destination at Dunedin, I couldn’t help but thank the authorities for maintaining this place so well. We had the extreme pleasure of watching Northern Royal Albatross, Buller's Albatross, Wandering Albatross, White Capped Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters, Southern Giant Petrels, Bullers Shearwaters, Australasian Gannets, Fairy Prion among a range of pelagic birds.

Next, we moved on to Orokonui Ecosanctuary where we got a chance to see the flightless giant rails, Takahe that I had always read about. In a matter of hours, we had already gone berserk over the variety of fauna we had got to see there including kaka, tui, silvereye, bellbirds, brown creeper, grey warbler, rifleman, jewelled gecko, Otago skink, etc. A walk through the tracks of this sanctuary made me realize how less I had seen the beauty of my own land.

It was enlightening to see the little blue penguin touted as the smallest penguin in the world. I saw Natalie squeal in excitement when she saw the small little creature. While Fred’s DSLR came out once again, I found myself wondering at the miracles God had left for us on earth and how we misused it. I was amazed to see how a small little creature managed to give us a thrill and a chance to admire beauty at its best.

How do small little things in life give you happiness, I had always questioned people and now I came to know why the joy of owning  MAC lippies and Mango collection faded away but the weekend trip remained in my mind forever.

Note: This post came around out of nowhere. Probably because I have been fantasizing about this place too much :)


Monday, August 11, 2014

Press Release: Guess who made Parineeti’s Day?

Ever thought you’d wish for something and you have it at the drop of a hat?, recently extended their warmth and love to Bollywood actress Parineeti Chopra, by delivering smile at her doorstep., India’s leading fashion destination that caters to the fashion needs of modern India turned as a genie for the peppy and spunky Bollywood’s actress.

Stemming from a twitter post by Parineeti where she expressed her love for crop tops, Jabong made a selection from a plethora of fashionable apparel available on their website and delivered some trendycrop tops to Parineeti. How a simple imagination worked a treat for Parineeti!

The crop tops were sent across with a personal note by Mr. Praveen Sinha, Founder and MD,

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It is equally important to teach boys not to rape, to respect women and inculcate in them the virtues of kindness: Prachi Priyanka

When I got in touch with the vivacious Dr. Prachi Priyanka, I noticed she had a cheerful smile on her face. Within a few minutes of talking, I came to know its beauty of her heart that reflects in her face. A dynamic personality that she, Prachi happens to be the Creative Head at Morsels & Juices. She holds a doctorate degree in English literature and conducts creative writing workshops for young learners. She enjoys weaving articles on various topics ranging from art criticism to book reviews and relationships to recipes. 

Prachi is a contributing author in three short story anthologies: Crumpled Voices, Mighty Thoughts and The Zest of Inklings. Her articles, stories and poems have been published on several online magazines and journals. She writes with equal ease in English as well as Hindi and her works are published in both the languages. Conflicts and contradictions that emerge in human relationships fascinate her to the core and her writings are often spilled with varying shades of experiences that intrigue her. She is a fun-loving person blessed with beautiful family and a bunch of good friends. She likes to learn languages, read books, write blogs, watch movies, experiment art, enjoy cooking, make memories and stay happy.

In a candid chat with me, Priyanka reveals about issues close to heart and how we can help create a difference in the society.

1. How does it feel to be a part of 'Crumpled Voices'?

Fortunate, Fulfilling.Fearless.

2. Tell us something about yourself.

Thank you Harshita for having me here. I was born in the silk city, Bhagalpur, completed my schooling from De Nobili School, Chandrapura, did my graduation from Banaras Hindu University, and finally obtained my doctorate degree in English literature from Patna University. Presently, I am associated with Morsels & Juices as its Creative Head and also run English creative writing workshops for young learners. I like to take new challenges, explore possibilities, work hard, think positive and create happiness within and around me. I love to meet people, make friends and treasure memories.

3. Tell us something about your writing journey.

I dwell in the world of words. They hold me, haunt me, touch me, tease me, move, mould me – and make me what I am today. Writing came naturally to me – You can say, it’s in my genes! My mother writes in Hindi and has published several novels and poetry collections. As for me, I have always loved writing – in English as well as Hindi - somehow, finding it easier to communicate through written texts than spoken words. I have been writing on and off – working with the editorial team for school magazine, scribbling poems during college lectures, penning down articles for online journals and now weaving stories for various anthologies. Crumpled Voices is my first step into the world of publishing and I am especially grateful to Pulkit Gupta and Ila Garg for coming up with an anthology that revolves around societal evils – the need of the hour.

4. Tell us something about your story. What instigated you to pen down a story on this issue?

The complications in human nature have always appealed to me. My story ‘The Paradise’ is a thought provoking journey of a couple very much in love, and yet something is missing – and so it crumples.

I have been married for fifteen years and the story has found its way out from the issues that have engaged me often – something like: Is love enough to make you stay in a marriage? Can there be a perfect marriage? Should perfection be sought after? What makes a home a paradise? If you were to marry Apsara – would you have been able to live happily ever after?

5. Name one social evil that as per you needs major attention.

Though corruption is a global phenomenon, in India it thrives on the nexus between bureaucracy, politics and criminals. We all love to hate it, and yet ironically, corruption exists in us, deep rooted – following us like the hutch dog. Spreading like an epidemic disease; adversely affecting investment and economic growth of our country. The sad part is that we spend all our time blaming officials and the government – never take the onus. We need to realize that the change has to begin with ourselves.

6. What do you think can be done to curb such practices?

The sad part is that we spend all our time blaming officials and the government – never taking the onus ourselves. We need to realize that the change has to begin with ourselves. Taking responsibility instead of pointing fingers is necessary if we want things to change. ‘Crumpled Voices’ is an initiative to raise awareness on different social issues that curb our growth as individuals and as a nation.

7. If you were given a chance to help eradicate a social evil, what would it be and how would you fight the same?

The rise in rape victims making headlines all over India leaves me agitated – feeling terrible and tormented. Every day we encounter such cases of brutal and spine-chilling stories that disturb me as a woman. If you ask me how I would fight it – the only refrain is that the attitude towards women must change; the legal process of dealing with crime must speed up and men must be educated and sensitized about women’s issues. As a mother of two boys, I feel it is equally important to teach boys not to rape, to respect women and inculcate in them the virtues of kindness that will go a long way in building a beautiful tomorrow for our children.

8. Name one social organization that you feel is working in the most progressive manner.

I feel deeply for women empowerment and feel it is very important to support the cause of girl education. Illiteracy breeds ignorance and fear that only increases her vulnerability to be exposed to lifelong abuse, suppression and exploitation. I appreciate the noble cause of project ‘Nanhi Kali’,which aims to provide primary education to girl children in India. The Project was founded with a strong belief that educated women would not only contribute to the economy but also issues of population and social evils like the dowry system and child marriage would reduce as more women are educated. Established in 1996, the organization has grown hugely now to support the education of approximately 1500000 girls. I would surely like to contribute to more projects that support such causes and help in our nation’s development.

9. Lastly, is there a message you would like to convey your readers.

Follow your heart. Find your voice. Create new horizons. 

We wish Prachi all the success for life. May you accomplish your everything under the sun! :)

Purchase link of Crumpled Voices:
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The cause of this anthology made me feel very responsible: Abhik Chakraborty

There are some interactions that leave you with no words. Abhik Chakraborty's happens to be one of them. He has left me in a trance and all I can do is just ask you read down his views on issues close to him. And yes, Abhik is an electronics engineering student and a contributor to Crumpled Voices. 
He has been a frequent contributor to various websites on different topics of self help and current affairs; he has also been an intern for A foodie, he wishes to be a nomad for some time of his life to travel places, and write at least one fiction, which truly can define a story, playing with the exquisite wonders of adventure and traveling. 
Reading lots of books is not his cup of tea, but a good book surely holds his mind's controls.
Drop him a mail on his id :, and share your comments and suggestions, and praises and praises and praises!
In a conversation with me, he tells me all about his writing journey. 
How does it feel to be a part of 'Crumpled Voices'?
Ans: Writing is something I do to recreate myself. It gives me pleasure to create new characters, add emotions to them with my words, make them speak what I want to, and make them live in the world, exclusively created by me, with all things to my liking. But that’s a kind of personal satisfaction, which is entirely different from getting published. Publishing makes you share your exclusive world with others so that they can get a chance to trip through it. It’s like an imaginary friend coming alive. After getting selected in Crumpled Voice’s anthology, a sense of inner satisfaction filled me. Suddenly I felt more confident about myself and the cause of this anthology made me feel very responsible. It felt like an achievement to let people experience the world of a victim, and make them understand apathy. I hope I can bring some change.

Tell us something about yourself.
Ans: I am an engineering student. But that’s the least important part. The more important things that could define me are – my height (6 feet!), my lack of smile in my pictures, the lack of hair on my head (Sigh!), and my serious love for singing and photography. I have done many performances as a singer, and have won one All India Photography Contest, organized by Max New York. Other than this, as a person I am a hell bent introvert who prefers to enjoy alone at home than crib about everything in a dim lit club. I like innuendos onromance, and believe that love is a flash reality, a favorable serendipity, and happens just once in your life. The only thing that I find bad about me is me being short tempered. My aim of life is to earn enough money to have a carefree life.   
Tell us something about your writing journey.

Ans: Writing came to me like finding a five hundred rupee note on a windy day. It was never planned. I had always loved English and would find ways to write anything, be it articles for local magazines, or a school assembly script, but that was all. But after engineering happened, in order to pass time during my summer holidays, I started penning down a story. It took me one year to write its 97000 words, and just because of this word count, I was either rejected, or was asked for money, which firstly, I didn’t have, and secondly, I found too immoral to give, since I wanted to get it traditionally published. Between all this chaos of yes and no, engineering continued and in the free time, I started penning self-help, philosophical, and current affair articles, for numerous websites, one being exclusively used to show how Jiah Khan’s suicide could have been prevented. And then, finally this year, I signed my novel contract, with a long wait period. But I am happy. Atleast it doesn’t make me look down upon myself as someone who got published due to his monetary power. And now, I pen short stories, have scripted my second novel, a psychological murder mystery, and look forward to continue this, but, only as an interest, and not as a profession.

Tell us something about your story. What instigated you to pen down a story on this issue?

Ans:  I wrote this story to refresh my mind during my fourth semester examination, and during that time, it was just a twelve hundred word scribble. But later, I thought that I should actually make it worth reading and then, after editing, it rose to almost double the word count. Talking about my theme, the inspiration comes from the fact that I am really sensitive about women. I feel that they just shouldn’t feel any pain. Have you seen any woman smiling? Be it any age, the heaven just drools around that smile. It makes your day. Making them feel any wrath is just, just wrong! It’s revolting against nature! So, I decided that let’s just make a story, which would not only tell about the insensitivity of rules on our society, but also bring down a character, whose pain, that literal sting on the skin, the merciless agony, the people should feel on their body. May be that way, this brutal activities can stop.

Name one social evil that as per you needs major attention.
Ans: There is no ranking for evil activities. Each one is as worse as any other. But, considering my story, I would go around to shout at the top of my voice that – KILLING FOR THE SAKE OF HONOUR – IS OUTRIGHT DEVILISH. You don’t control anyone’s life. It’s their wish, whom they feel love for. It is as natural as the time and feeling of hunger or going to bathroom!
What do you think can be done to curb such practices?
Ans: Strict rules are indeed laid out. Our law has enough punishments for brutes but the problem comes when it is to prove – who is the brute? Judgements for honour killing happen at a local panchayat who share similar mindsets. Local courts, with people who don’t belong to that region can lead to judgements that is without favour. Rehabilitation centres for distressed couples is also a good move. Police heads should also be from different region for a place. Installing women constables, a 24X7 doctor, they can actually reduce the problems, quite a bit.
If you were given a chance to help eradicate a social evil, what would it be and how would you fight the same?
Ans: I am too small to eradicate any social evil by myself, because, directly or indirectly, even I am a part of this society. But as a writer, I would love to write more on various social issues so as to make people, atleast aware, that they are doing it wrong. That they should think a bit before doing anything heinous. That it is time to rectify.
Name one social organization that you feel is working in the most progressive manner.
Ans: That’s really a question for job interviews. (Giggles!) Honestly, I can’t really tell any name like that without googling. But in the past, when I was in school, I had worked for a school initiative named ‘We for India’, if that counts. We taught little children, played games with them, and dedicated a full day of life to them. But there is a catch. They were all children from Leprosy colonies, who were looked down upon due the disease being contagious. Also, in the college, I had worked for Rotary Club and organized blood donation camps.
Lastly, is there a message you would like to convey your readers.
Ans: I am too nascent for now to give any advice to my readers. But I want to share the philosophy I use as a writer. Read as if you want to know everything about the book. Write as if you want the reader to know everything about your book. Never care for the word count. And don’t copy anyone’s style. Be unique. Play with the power of your writing skills and try to write something that shows things rather than telling them. And yes, never use deep words. But always write with a certain depth, so that when the writing reveals its true sense, it creates a moment of extravaganza for the readers. 
We wish Abhik all the luck with his book. May you accomplish your dreams! :)

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