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If there’s something I know about love…it is this. You never know how much you have and how much you can give. You never run out of it. You never don’t need it. You always have it. And it may not be enough sometimes, but most of the times in life, it is enough. Love is enough.

You ever wonder that love cannot solve the practical issues you face in life? It cannot pay your bills. It cannot help you live longer.  It cannot make you more successful (i.e. by your definition). It cannot wipe away the mistakes and regrets. It cannot do so many things in life that need to be done. Well, it might not, but does it not make life more full? More fulfilling? More life?

But there’s one another thing about love that we should understand. Love without respect does not mean so much. It withers out in the end. You know, you love your pet. Women even ‘love’ their shoes or dresses. Men ‘love’ their cars, their gadgets. So when you love another person, better add respect to that or it would be as dispensable as shoes or car.

I am a believer in the power of good things in life – love being one of the most important. That’s the reason I write love stories. I even google love stories around the world and read them. I love it when someone has a happy ending in their story. In real life. It gives you something to be glad about.

There is another wonderful thing about love. It does not only grow deeper, but it also becomes better. You can sometimes be surprised by how you can simply keep on loving someone and keep on growing in love, without you even realizing it. One fine day, you just know that you might have thought that you cannot love more since you are giving enough, but somehow you still have the capability to give more…love more or love the same person in a better way. It is like when I had my daughter, I thought I could never love anyone so much as much as I loved her. I thought that was the limit of my love. But then, my son was born after just one and a half years, and I realized I was so wrong. I could love him as much as I loved his sister. Then, I thought well, I have 2 children, so perhaps I have only that much love to give. Turns out, I was wrong again! I did find much more love inside my heart when I had my third. Eventually, I realized, I loved all the 3 of them more than I could have ever imagined. And, I loved hubby more than I thought I could. Basically, I still am discovering new depths, new ways, new expressions.

So yes, the thing about love is that it is beautiful and enough.

…with you!

One of those days when you want to vent out because you were anyways stressed and there come along people who judge you, criticise you and demean you for no reason! They don’t even know you…so who gave them the right!

I am a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy case and hence, have to take more precautions than any one in a normal pregnancy would. I am advised not to walk much, climb stairs or any kind of physical activity that discomforts me. And one day, I meet this woman, who has known me barely for a few seconds and she might not even know that I am not a first-time mother (she didn’t bother to ask) and she starts judging me. We are sitting side by side in a bus and circumstances become such that they don’t drop us off at the entrance of the venue of a meeting, but far away in the parking lot. I mumbled something about having to walk such a long distance. This lady, who is pregnant for the first time and does not even any idea about “almost dying in delivery”, looks at me with wide eyes, mouth open and obviously in shock and says, “You are in your 7th month and you haven’t even started walking yet!!!” I look at her with disgust and wanted to blurt out that what did she know about being a mother, but I don’t feel like explaining myself to her, so I didn’t. Obviously, she must have told her friends or whoever was willing to listen that there was this woman who didn’t walk during her pregnancy and did not even feel guilty about it 😀

I saw her again another day (can’t really avoid if you work in the same organization). Someone asked her how far along she was and she mentioned the 9th month. The other lady was like “wow, and you are still coming to work”. That must have really encouraged her and then also, she had me as an audience so probably an opportunity to prove a point, she said, “Well, this is my last week of 9th month and I am well enough to come to work.” Yeah, lady, point taken. You are the only one who has ever done that and because of your “walks”! And a poor soul like me never gave birth to a child just after completing her household work, taking care of a toddler and even preparing food! Guess why? I do not walk! 😀

And now, compare this to the several men who regularly tell me that I should not be taking stairs since there are where many accidents happen; and many other men offering their seats to me, out of courtesy.

I do not want to be given a special treatment because I am pregnant or even because I am a woman. But I do not want to be judged because I behave differently that the ‘normal’ or ‘average’ pregnant woman.

So basically, please do not judge me. You just know my name (in many cases, not even that, perhaps just my ‘tummy’), not my story!

There are many things that I feel strongly about, one of them being humble. Assuming that every person who is successful in any terms has become so through a lot of hard work and struggle, I think all successful people are bound to be humble. If you have achieved something that you dreamed of and worked for, aren’t you supposed to know how much effort it took to do what you did? Then, how can you just dismiss someone without knowing their struggles, their pains, their efforts? But I think the rule ‘success teaches humility’ does not apply to the following people:

  • People who think they are pretty big success in their field, though they might have just been able to produce only one thing or maybe not even that much. These individuals somehow have started to think that others cannot be a bigger success than them.  They wear rosy glasses, are flattered by their small circle to be ‘the best’, and wrongly assume that no one else can achieve what they have. These people need to look around them and accept that no matter where you are according to you, there is someone who is a bigger success in your field.
  • Then there are the insecure ones. Now, if you are a bloody good writer as you think yourself as, why are you worried if I start making a mark? If you trust your capabilities, I should not seem a threat to you, since there is enough for everyone in the world. Especially in case of writers, there are millions of readers for every genre, and a reader explores various authors and does not have to necessarily stick to only one author. So why are you scared of a budding writer like me? Perhaps you know you don’t deserve what you have achieved!
  • The assholes. There is no explanation. These people are just arrogant without any reason.

I am reminded of this woman who thinks of herself as a big shot in the writing world. Several years back, she was in an organization which is like a child organization of the one my hubby works for. So he met her in one of the meetings and happened to mention that I was a budding writer, trying my hand at different things. She suggested I should get in touch with her sometime. Now, I don’t know if she said that just for the sake of saying or did she forget the incidence. Anyway, I did contact her, many months later. She had quit from that particular organization and I knew about it. So I wrote to her saying that I would like to be in touch and learn from her since I knew she used to work in such and such organization etc. (The keyword here is ‘used to work’). Anyway, so she replied back asking me to join a group. And I understood her disinterest in meeting me. And I didn’t think much of it, until I saw what she posted on her blog. She had apparently gloated to everyone that this one lady was asking her out for coffee since she thought she was employed with a publishing house. And then, she went on to say how some people might not even know how to take a pen to a paper and dream about becoming writers, how some people just run after someone in a ‘position of authority’, how some people have no talent and yet force themselves on to the established writers. She did not stop at that but mentioned she was going to talk about it in one of the group meetings! Also she mentioned that everyone should read her book on how to publish. Ha! So that was the point! She was basically pushing her work onto a reader’s face talking all crap about me! What a wonderful writer she must be, that she has to resort to such cheap tactics! And what a wonderful person! And does she even know my work? Had she ever read what I wrote? FYI, the same magazine that publishes her articles also publishes mine 🙂

Anyway, why I am writing about this now? Well, this lady is now repeatedly sending my hubby invites to connect to him on LinkedIn. Why, may I ask her? Just because he works in an esteemed organization in this country and could be useful for her someday? I wonder if she misunderstood my message to her by such a great degree, and was way out of line to characterize me, what could be her intentions? People usually see in other people what they have in them…so…

P.S. This is one of those things I had to vent out, humane as I am.

Sometimes, you feel so low as if your heart is sinking and you want to take it out and smash it into small pieces and throw them away so that you cannot feel anything again. What do you do in those moments – cry, scream, go quiet, get angry? It seems like the end of the world, and you are lost trying to understand what would make all the pain go away.

My husband shared a beautiful story with me that talks about pain…it might help:

http://www.higherawareness.com/growth-tools/become-a-lake.html

Easier said than done, I know. Every pain and sorrow that we feel seems to be big while we always have the solutions to other people’s problems. Once my uncle had said to me, “Always remember this. Your loved ones can sympathize with you when you are in pain, they might even help & support you; but it is only you that has to bear the pain.” The words keep resonating in my head and I understand that no one can feel my pain, but at least I can seek support and help from those who care. After all, wouldn’t I do my best for someone I loved in the same situation?

It is not easy to bring out the positive thoughts when you are facing something that you feel is a big problem. But that’s exactly what defeats the problem. If you can gather the will inside you to tell yourself that though you accept it is a problem (and a big one!) yet you will do your best to deal with it, the problem loses its hold on you. And you can pave the way for the hero inside you.

Remember all the stories about people who have fought back in worse situations and emerged winners? Some of those stories must have left a mark on you and are still fresh in your mind…then, revisit them. Think of those people.

Sometimes, just getting away from the scene helps. Go to a different place and look at different things – maybe the busy road outside your office. Just observe for a moment how everyone is rushing by and not looking at anything but the way ahead. Do you see the young dog running by here and there and trying to cross the street? Or the beggar sleeping on the roadside, oblivious to his tethered clothes and the hot sun over his head?  It is amazing how when you start to observe the things around you with much interest, your mind doesn’t brood any more about the problem at hand and you might even find a solution after it is relaxed and refreshed.

Read the following inspirational quotes:

“All things grow with time, except grief.”
“Some lessons in life are best learned through pain and grief.”
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer is God.”
So whatever bothers you and keeps you stressed, just remember that you will get through it and you will emerge a winner as you know its true…that a hero lies in you…

Yeah, one of those crazy days when you gotta do something insane to make yourself feel better. Its 15 degrees outside and drizzling. Not a big deal for an Indian…but for Qatar, it’s cold and unusual. The rain doesn’t really last this long in this country. This time, it’s been drizzling since morning, in fact since Friday evening. Today though the blanket of cloud has covered the whole sky, without even a trace of the sun! Needless to say, I am loving it. In my growing up years, I never liked the winters; suddenly, I love the cold weather. Perhaps it is because for the past 5-6 years, I have had too much sun in Qatar!
So back to the day. As soon as I got up, I knew today was going to be colder than usual, and I have been waiting for it. One reason is it’s mid-December, it is supposed to be cold! And also because the overcoat I bought so lovingly and impulsively was just sitting there in the closet; it had to come out! As soon as I realized the absence of sun in the sky, I was overjoyed. It was that feeling which can be described in just one word – “finally!” The ride to the office, the meetings, the work, everything seemed more interesting. I went to stand near the window several times during the day, just to admire the beautiful weather, the grey clouds covering the whole sky and I kept praying that the rain should not stop. It didn’t!

Then, at my usual time for a walk, I put on my coat (yes, the one I was dying to wear!) and stepped out of the house. I realized I forgot to pray for the rain to stop at 8:30! So, could a little bit of rain stop me from doing what I was so looking forward to – a walk in the cold weather? I thought, “what the heck,” took out the umbrella and went for my walk. And what a crazy yet wonderful thing to do! It was so gorgeous that all the beautiful Hindi and English songs started playing in my head. On the tune of classics like “pyar hua, ikraar hua” to “raindrops keep falling” playing in the background, I kept walking. The cold breeze blowing through my hair, touching my face, the pitter patter of the raindrops on the umbrella, the silence of the night, the grey sky (not black), the puddles of water on the road, and of course, the warmth of a new coat – an awesome experience 🙂

The onlookers must be thinking, while they themselves rushed to the warmth of their homes, “What a crazy lady…walking in the rain!” The crazy lady was in turn wondering, “What crazy people, sitting inside the homes with the doors shut in such a gorgeous weather!” Well, as they say, it’s about the perspective!

So though this might not have been the most insane thing I have ever done, but it was fun! It was a perfect end to a not-so-perfect day!

Warning: The following is entirely a work of experience…of a budding writer. Any resemblance to any Indie writer is purely intentional.

Having said that, I am going to tell you a story. Some of you may identify with it; others might know someone who relates to it.

There is a new breed we have been hearing about a lot these days…nope, not vampires (though they are all over, everywhere!). This new breed I am talking about, like to call themselves ‘the Indie authors’. By definition, someone who is independently published, but in reality, someone who is crazy enough to believe in their love of writing that they are ready to put themselves out there…alone and vulnerable in front of the world of shark-critics!

Trust me I have experienced this…self-publishing is not an act of courage or belief in oneself…it is rather – a writer’s nightmare!

I actually have a few questions for this new species, and I speak on behalf of the omnipotent, forever-judging and Godly readers.

How dare these newly born authors think that as soon as they publish their book on the internet, people would start appreciating them and recognizing them? Do they really believe that they would become a household name in the world of writing, without any advertising campaign or over-the-top marketing strategies for book promotion? Are they descendants of Shakespeare to claim for fame through writing?

I would say these so-called Indie authors are actually fooling themselves. Aren’t they aware that a reader is not looking for a good book…they are looking for the best marketing campaign out there. They want to be flabbergasted by the promises made by a fresh book of a new writer. Do these writers even realize that when readers are searching for their next read, they might be visualizing how the book will look when they hold it in their hands to pretend to read on the way to college/work etc?

How naive it is to believe all those success stories of the self-published authors, when all of us already know at least one person who is still trying to make a mark even after publishing more than only one book, several years back? How gullible of them to actually trust the biggest lies of the publishing world – that a story which can touch a few hearts will go a long way?

And the most foolish thing of all to believe that social media (for instance, FB) was a tool in marketing of a book! Why would anyone want to share any links pertaining to release of a new writer’s book, when they are being asked to pay for the book? You are a budding writer…hell, you have an absolute need to let people read your book…so why not give it free? And to think about it, why would anyone spend 99 cents on something that has been produced by someone they know? Wouldn’t it be better to spend that money on some work which belongs to a stranger? That way, the book is just an object, which can be easily dismissed as bad!

Here are a few facts that these Indie authors seem to ignore:

Fact 1 – You are not a writer…yet. Just authoring about a dozen articles in a local magazine, writing and self-publishing your book, or spending months of efforts into your writing, doesn’t mean becoming a writer! A writer is someone who is famous, or rich, actually both.

Fact 2 – A writer has a huge readership, backed by the marketing campaigns, the controversial topics, semi-autobiographies (first insinuating at this and later denying it) and a story of success after long struggle. If you have none of these important, in fact, absolute essentials, of a successful book, then you cannot be a success. If you have a decent job, a loving family, and contentment by God’s grace and above all, no desire to write about politics, sex, religion or any scandals or controversies, you are doomed as a writer. Hence, automatically, you have lost the race before it even began. Who wants to read about simple stories… without any spice in them, not fuelled by scandals & controversies?

Fact 3 – Budding writers have absolutely no right to demand money for their work! So what if they price it as low as 99 cents?  Do they really think that pricing the book at such low prices will make it sell in huge numbers thus helping them find a publisher! Does that really happen in real life? Ahem, NO.

Fact 4 – This one is especially for Indie writers from India, whose potential readers are Indians. Any Indian should be aware of the fact that we Indians, as a race, love free things. After all, the best things in life are free! So, an Indian Indie writer should distribute at least the first dozen of their books for free…then only they should think about selling them. So what it took you years to write those stories; so what you spent hours in thinking about the plot; so what if it is an achievement for you to finally finish and publish your book? Why should we readers care about the efforts that went into writing? Why do these writers expect their readers to know anything about writing? Readers just read the stuff for free and then, criticize it for free! Yes, your friends might have encouraged you with their appreciations (of course they must have been reading them for free!) that doesn’t mean you are good. Is being a writer even a real job? It’s so easy to put down few thousand words together to make some sense. Isn’t it? And no one deserves to make easy money!

Fact 5 – It is so inconvenient to appreciate someone for something they did and it is even more troubling to support them, especially when there might be a possibility of them making some money out of it.

As a reader, I have an advice for these “Indie writers”…get a life! You are not J.K. Rowling…accept and move on. And if you are not able to sell your first book, do not waste your time in writing another one! Always remember – your first attempt at writing was not successful!

Every single time I sit down to write something, I thank my school for making me a reader. I believe I didn’t have a remote chance at writing if I was not such a passionate reader. And this affair started at school. I was in class 6th and we used to have a Library period. The first novel I read was that of Nancy Drew. Though I was fond of reading before that, actually ever since I can remember but what took the passion to a height was the Library period.

If I start from the beginning, I remember I used to save the money I got for toffees or chocolates to rent comics books from a make-shift shop under a tree near to my house. I used to love reading those books…there was something about those superheroes that touched me and all I wanted to do was just to keep reading. I, my sister and my cousins would all go to the shop and rent out 6-7 such books. It used to cost 50 p for a normal size book and Re. 1 for a digest (the thick one). And I remember we used to spend a lot of money on renting those and I was never content with whatever I read…I always wanted more. But there was a good thing about renting them together. I was the eldest and the fastest reader, so everyone would ask me to read for them. Did I love it? Absolutely! We would sit on the stairs and would devour all those we could rent in a day. Most children forget hunger and thirst while playing, but I did that while reading. Even when everyone would be bored listening, I would continue reading for myself.

The second in preference were text books. We used to get our text books for the academic year 15 days before the school actually began. And, during those 15 days, I would have read all my English and Hindi text-book stories. Then, I would do the same with my sister’s or cousin’s books, even though I knew I had read them in earlier classes. I remember this one time when I was left with no new stories in the language text books, so I read my Social studies book as well! So what if it was not fiction, there were stories about history, great leaders! That was how much I loved reading.

There were rare occasions when someone would gift me a book. That would be the best gift ever. I remember every single book I received as a gift. I also remember, not with proud, that my best friend of that time lost one of my books, actually the very first English novel I owned (‘Kidnapped’). And I didn’t talk to her for days. It was a shame and I knew I hurt her, but I was just too much in love with my books. I feel sorry for my friend though, it was simply mean.

Coming back to Nancy Drew affair – the first novel I ever read cover to cover. It was mandatory to read the library books and the teacher could ask us questions from the book she gave to us. But I did not need a reason to finish the book, I just simply did. But the rule of the library was not to lend more than one book per student. So I used to borrow them from not-so-enthusiastic readers, and read. In exchange, I would give them a brief synopsis of the book, in case the teacher asked! Yeah, it was cheating, but I wanted to read the books and some students wouldn’t lend them easily.

And after one year, my parents realized that I had become careless towards my studies because I was spending too much time reading. For some time, I was banned from reading more than required and I would hide and read them, still. Now I realize how many rules I broke and how many lies I told just to continue the passion of reading. That was a short phase, thankfully. I grew up a bit and learned to manage time. I trained myself to keep the book down, before finishing it. (It is still a big task for me though).

Of course, later I started reading maturer fiction and non-fiction. One of my cousins introduced me to latter. After I started it though, I stopped my affair with fiction for some time. Yet, old habits die hard. So now, my reading list is always a combination of fiction, non-fiction, self-help, biographies…everything good I can lay my hands on. There are many writers I loved, many classics and contemporary books I loved, some I hated, some had good concept but bad style, others had good style but not-so-good plot…I have read them all. And most of the times I have finished a book I started, even though sometimes, it would take me months to do so due to circumstances. But there are just 2-3 books that I could not finish. It is a rare occurence…averaging to about one book in 8 years I guess. Those were really bad ones and I could not carry on, how much ever I tried. I felt uneasy leaving a book unfinished , yet when I picked them again to read, I could not make myself do it, whatever efforts I put into it. So those were really bad ones, I am sure. If a book lover like me cannot finish a book, it must be pretty bad! And then, there are those that I have read more than once, several times! Shakespeare is obviously one of the adored writers, and I can pick any of his work anytime and read it to the finish, irrespective of how many times I have already read it. I have read the classic poets also. I used to love reading poetry as much as I did prose. That’s why before I was a writer, I was a poet. I could always understand the deeper meanings of the poems, even before the teacher would explain to us. I could visualize the poet pouring his/her heart out into what they wrote. I could come close to feeling their emotions when they composed those poems. I loved poetry.

Then, came the internet era…my dad bought me a PC when I was in college. It opened a whole lot of possibilities for me…I could read as much as I wanted…and many a time, I did not have to buy the books. But honestly, I still prefer a paperback. Nothing can beat the satisfaction of sitting in bed with a book open and letting your thoughts flow with the words of the author. I love the smell of pages and if I had a choice I would prefer writing also the traditional way. The electronic medium somehow doesn’t feel the same. Though of course, I have read many books on this medium, yet I would anytime prefer traditional ways…I am old-fashioned I guess.

My Books

Read the review Love No More (Love, It Is!)

Read the review Love, It Is!

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