Monday, February 27, 2017

Author Interview: Subhrajyoti Parida

This time we decided to interview a poet instead of a writer. A poet is more lyrical in expression, he sees and expresses vibrant notions laced with beautiful words that make the experience of reading poetry fragrant with thought and emotion. Sadly there are not many publishers who publish poetry or believe in its value and rightly so because we the Indian readers have always chosen to read prose. However a few brave souls are still born in the kingdom of poets some of whom want to express their thought and some their deepest emotions. The poet we interview today Subhrajyoti Parida, falls in the later category. 


He is a Post Graduate in Industrial Engg. from National Institute of Industrial Engg. (NITIE), Mumbai, specializing in Supply Chain & Operations Management and is an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP). Currently, he is employed in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and residing in Bangalore. He hails from the temple city of Bhubaneswar, Odisha. When not managing supply chain, he loves spending time in poetry, photography, traveling, and of course, spending quality time with his sweet wife & his family. 

His debut anthology  Bouquet-of feelings, emotions and thoughts..’  has been published by  Dreamhouse Publications, Cuttack. The book is an emotional ode to his late    mother (reviewed here: http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/2017/02/book-review-bouquet-of-emotions.html ). There is much more he plans to write, lets know him better...

Q: Describe your journey into writing?
A: I never had any particular plan or an objective to write poems or stories other than as a pastime, let alone think of publishing it as an anthology.  I had this habit of writing poems on random themes as and when it struck me and they used to be saved in a folder in some corner of my Macbook. It was not until my Mother demised last year in mid-Feb when I started planning for compiling my poems and publishing them as an anthology as a tribute to my late Mother.

Post publishing of my debut book of poems, I have started contributing poems to several anthologies, especially if the theme is based on Mother, Motherhood, Love and Affection.

Q: Why did you choose poetry as a medium of expression?
A: Poetry, in my opinion, is such a medium in literature that enables the writer or the poet to record his emotions, feelings and thoughts in a manner he likes suitable. In my case, I realized that I could express myself in a better and more comfortable way when I used poetry as a medium rather than prose. Thus, I choose poetry over prose.

Q. Describe the creation process of your current poetry book “Bouquet-of feelings, emotions and thoughts..”?
A: As mentioned already in my answer to the first question, my initial collection of poem was   meant to be only stored in some folder in my laptop as my personal collection or be a part of my online blog. Upon the unfortunate and sudden demise of my Mother due to cancer, I embarked upon the journey of compiling my poems and writing a few more poems dedicated to my Mother. Actually, I wanted to dedicate something to my late Mother which she loved the most about me.  It was none other than my hobby of writing.  Hence, the final manuscript of Bouquet came into being which I first forwarded to several publishers. There were of course rejections in the beginning and finally, Dreamhouse Publications came accepted my manuscript. Rest is history.

Q. What were the major obstacles in the creation of this book and how did you solve them?

A: First, it was editing and proofreading which consumed most of the time before the manuscript got ready publishing.  Secondly, searching suitable publishers who are interested for poetry books and thirdly, the most important and difficult part, mustering the courage and patience to face and accept rejections from publishers.

The solution to all these obstacles, in fact, lies within us: lots of perseverance, patience and self-belief.

Q. How was the process of being published?
 A: Manuscript acceptance by the publisher, followed by editing and proof-reading. Once the manuscript was ready for publishing, it was the cover design and formatting. But before the start of the formal process of publishing, I entered into a contract with the publisher also paid reasonable amount towards a publishing package which included the all the above processes along with marketing, promotion and distribution (both online and offline).

      Q.   Are you a methodical writer?
A: I must confess here, I am not completely a methodical writer because I often tend get bored being methodical while writing.

Q. Tell us a little about your upcoming literary work?
A: My upcoming work is an amalgamation of prose and poetry: the prose part narrating the story behind my Mom’s diagnosis, the painful process of her treatment, high risk surgery and ultimately, her demise due to cancer, and the poetry part is a collection of poems dedicated to my Mother and all the mothers across the world in person and in all forms.

The manuscript is under editing and proof-reading now.

Q. Who are your favourite poets and writers?
A: i) Swapna Behera (Poet): Not any particular book since I love her style of poetry and content in general, and

ii) Amish Tripathy (Writer): Shiva Trilogy and Scion of Ikshvaku

Q. Share a few lines from your favourite poetry?

A: There is this poem titled ‘Missing Her’ which has the following lines :

“Sometimes brings smile on lips,
and sometimes stream of tears, 
making it hard and painful to bear,
that she is no more here."

These four lines were a spontaneous out pour when one fine evening, I was lost in my late Mother’s memories just a week post her demise.

Q. What are your views on how poetry is being perceived and read in India versus the world today?
A:In the context of this question, I would like to share this experience with my readers that when I decided to publish my anthology of poems, I was advised by many that in India, there would be hardly anybody interested in poems, so instead of poetry I should concentrate on writing prose. Though it was discouraging initially, I went ahead with my decision to publish my poems. 

Coming to the question, honestly speaking, I must say that the reader’s base of poetry in India is relatively smaller than that for prose. So a poet needs to have a lot of patience before his/her book starts making impression in the Indian market. This I believe is also applicable in other countries too.

     Q.   Advise to the budding poets?
     A:  Write from heart, follow your emotions and let your words flow; poems will automatically take shape. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Making Of : People Called Ahmedabad

         
When you visit a city even with the best intentions of in-depth exploration, you take a map, you mark the important destinations based on extensive web research and you visit them, hoping for the relics to tell you stories of era gone by. The best travel is time travel and we aim to achieve it with whatever efficiency we can. But this is all trying to understand a place via the inanimate. Thinking harder, do you think a place can effectively tell its story? What if I tell you there is a better way to know and understand a city? Via a map that doesn't reveal roads but unravels its lives and the city emerges as a lively being in those stories? Would this not be the portal you want to tumble into?

Dissatisfied with limited things drawings can do on paper a Mumbai based architect Nisha Nair Gupta decided to do things more creatively. When asked about the process, she said “Often in our design process there is a lack of humanities perspective largely in the way practice is conducted. It is largely commerce, statistics and logistics which drive us versus parameters like memories, emotions and many such humane ‘intangible’ parameters.”

Letting her creative juices flow beyond the mundane routine she started an exercise called “The People Place Project” to look at the ‘intangible’ space of existence which is aims to do a narrative mapping of cities i.e. documenting a place through the stories of its people. Their first book or the experiment as Nisha calls it, was on the economic capital of India “Mumbai” which was very well received by the readers motivating her to migrate to the land of vibrant colors “Ahmedabad”.  Since Mumbai was her work place and Ahmedabad the city where she studied(one always have fond memories of where one studies and you are probably thinking of your college days now), these cities with their humble beginnings, now coated in a rich urban fabric made the obvious first choices.

        (Ellis Bridge Ahmedabad-picture courtesy 123f.com)

However thinking and operating here are two different tasks. This beautiful task needed collection of stories from people located in all the corners of a city, coming from all walks of life, written by different writers yet set in a tone that could reveal the transformation the city went through. This mission was therefore undertaken one step at a time. The first one was collecting writers/stories. This was done via an open call for writing with a decision to stick to ‘story telling through the perspective of a person’ format. The team also was open to having writers already operating in the space.






                      (Lithograph by Dutchman Philip Baldeus depicting Ahmedabad and Sabarmati river circa 1752)


The team also conducted events broadly called ‘Discovering Ahmedabad’ to engage with people as a whole and ensure the stories came from every nook and corner of the city. These events included treasure hunt, open mic (story telling) and city scripts (script writing workshop).“All of these workshops helped us engage a lot of people to understand the city better by interacting with others, sharing their own experience about the city. It helped us make the crowd aware of the fact that city is just not a city because of its landmarks, famous buildings, the dressing style or the language we speak but also the small pan shops, tea shops, the gallis, the chowks and the people we pass by in our everyday lives, which essentially makes the city, a city” says Nisha. 


The team thus having collected all possible stories from a city and then started round two which was short listing, refining. Stage three was editing and final touch.

 (The battle between Mughal Imperial Army and Muhhammed Hussain Mirza near Ahmedabad in 1573: Source Akbarnama)

The challenge that emerged with Ahmedabad was an interesting one. It reflected passing of time in one frame, in pieces sown together of the old city and the new. While the 600 year old city had evolved to equip everything 21st century had to offer, at its roots was tradition and community structure. While the new flaunted it’s shine, the old breathed with equal pride. The stories emerging therefore were immensely diverse, a contrast which is also interesting. The book has 55 stories showcasing lives of variety of people who make Ahmedabad what it truly is, like the boatman in the river Sabarmati who saves people who lose hope and jump into the river to die or the man who tries to capture the heritage of the city by weaving them on a piece of cloth or another who sells who tells strangers in Ravi-vari (Sunday flea market) about the importance of reading and owning books for his sheer love for books!

(Rani Rupmati's Mosque (1430-40), Ahmedabad (albumen photograph, c.1880)

The book launch was held in L&P Hutheesing Visual Arts Centre, CEPT, Ahmedabad on the 21st of January 2017 with Mr. Jay Vasavda launching the book for us along with the curator, the writers and the interviewees of the book, People Called Ahmedabad. Side by side, there were two events organised: The Photo Exhibition and the Book Exchange. The Photo Exhibition had lovely photographs of different parts of Ahmedabad in the venue itself, by the entries for the event. In the Book Exchange, anyone could exchange old books to get a copy of People called Ahmedabad at a discounted price. The old book received were sent to AASMAN Foundation for the underprivileged children, who love reading!

The book has already been up for sale on the official website: thepeopleplaceproject.com. It will hit the book stores and the online portals on the 15th of February, 2017.

       (The Sabarmati river : Courtesy Wikipedia)

Thinking back about the initial days of creation a nostalgic Nisha adds “The most interesting part of this project is the group of writers that come together from different backgrounds, from students to professionals to free lancers. It helps us explore the diverse styles in writing which allows the reader to have their own idea about the book – as a story book or a travel log or coffee table book. The perk of this approach is that it is open to interpretation, to know more about the place or the people, how one may not have perceived on a general day. It’s through the writers and their way of writing that makes it easier for the readers to look into these intimate spaces of the city which eventually makes the read quite interesting! Hoping you will love it as much as we loved creating it!”


Read more about the project, the team and the book in our upcoming sections. Also hoping you have ordered your copy, tell us your opinion in the comments below.






Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Last Bloom by Poulomi Sengupta

Title:  The Last Bloom
Author:  Poulomi Sengupta
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2016

Price: INR 281

Pages: 395

The book is about transition to college life and the period, struggles of youth as they do so and the changes in their thoughts, way of perceiving life, goals etc. The leader envisions these phases through the life of the central character Priya, a studious girl with values shifting from central board convent school into a politically charged, local yet reputed university campus. Since the author is a Geology major, undoubtedly the central character also studies the same subject wherein the author utilizes her complete dominance over the subject, which is the bloom of the book to a curious reader.

As a subject it is easy to relate to from page one as everyone has sometimes in their lives been through this phase. Its the been there done that feeling one gets as one reads for there is some character or another that one can relate to. The atmosphere of the campus is heavily politically charged and as is the case with politics its murky, consuming and confusing as to if anybody ever got results. Priya debates with herself, colleagues, friends and parents about the newly changed atmosphere and each situation slowly helps her gain a deeper understanding of human beings, giving the outcome of the book a philosophical learning as one matures through college and life.

The book severely lacked in character development since the beginning as the writer jumps into the plot without spending anytime in character building which makes it confusing until the first few chapters. The story in the later part is laced with events that would pique ones interest and keep one glued to the book but these sub-plots could have been exploited better as the writer was spending a considerable amount of time with them, the book being more than 350 page long. The last few chapters could be shortened and so could be a lot of academic stuff in the book which had no relation to the outcome of the story whatsoever. The editing is seriously weak especially reflected in repetitive use of same words.

Overall a decent first attempt at writing but a lot can be improved.

Rating: 2.5/5

About The Author: 
Poulomi Sengupta is an alumna of IIT Kharagpur and Jadavpur University. Presently residing in Mumbai, a geologist and a social worker. She loves her share of kickboxing and a colourful dose of oil painting to brighten the apparently mundane life.

Grab a copy here: https://www.amazon.in/LAST-BLOOM-POULOMI-SENGUPTA-ebook/dp/B01C43SSAY?ie=UTF8&btkr=1&ref_=dp-kindle-redirect

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Book Review: Bouquet of Emotions, Feelings and Thoughts by Subhrajyoti Parida

Title:  Bouquet of Emotions, Feelings and Thoughts 
Author:  Subhrajyoti Parida
Publisher: Dream House Publications

Genre: Poetry

Date:  2016

Price: INR 150

Pages: 84

This poetry though has four different sections but its centered around love for mother (poets tribute to his mother), mother nature, relationships and emotions. The poet begins with his deepest emotions-a personal tribute to his mother and then moves onto greater concerns of ones duties towards the mother that nurtures us all- mother nature. Various relationships come into being through the book those of love, loss, parenting and even love for food. Emotions and feelings therefore seem to be constituting the bouquet that the writer has tried putting together in this book. 

The poetry is extremely simple, straightforward expression of the poet's emotions sans any modification or layering. Some of them especially towards nature highlight the problems and the plundering human beings have caused. The book does connect well with the reader as a memoir but the amalgamation of topics dilutes its very essence. I believe a poetry book should be centered in this theme. From love of nature to love of food is too big a transition of emotion. Further I believe in poetry not being obvious and direct in expression but tangential.  As a first attempt to writing these might have been overlooked however I hope the poet evolves with this feedback and we have many books coming from his pen in future.

Rating: 2.5/5




Aqson Level 1 by Sreejib

Title: Aqson Level 1


Author: Sreejib 
Publisher:  Notion Press

Genre: Fiction(fantasy)

Date:  2016

Price: INR 1520

Pages: 428

Aqson level 1 is the story of a game, not just an ordinary one, this one has people and their lives. The concept is derived from the age old battle between God and Devil, as you can see from the cover page it self. However the writer doesn't present these characters in their original forms we know two well and have read a lot about. You can say these are the modernized versions of these characters, fit for a futuristic world, a timeline in which these events are set (a feeling you got while you saw the all new Sherlock with technology). Nothing is black or white here as you know in the traditional sense here, its all grey.

The story is further made more interesting with the political flavoring of some of the lead characters. The book during some phases therefore gives the reader a high like that by Ashwin Sanghi's best book so far "Chanakya's Chant." The writer doesn't stop here and further fuses with it the troubles of youth and the nation as the backdrop, which becomes a great concoction to keep the reader hooked. While retaining her strong hold on the hint of humor that comes flawlessly in her writing she also discusses on the issues prevalent, despite the story being fictional. A lot of her effort goes into character building for this book is just the level one but it serves its purpose, for they remain etched in your memory, a critical component of any series. In summation though the genre is fantasy fiction , the characters are more real and that aids the reader in relating to them instantaneously. The parallel however unlike Sanghi's book is not with past and present of characters and politics but the layers in which the game and the lives of its players effect the outcome. The fate of players in one realm decide the fate of a nation, for the challenge being "who becomes the prime -minster?" has been and will always be of utmost interest in the context of Indian politics.

In summation the writer has chosen a very daring concoction of fantasy base amalgamated with reality and served with a strong political flavor. For any debut writer this is a feat unattainable. The editing though could be better at places but this is superseded by the writers easy flow of language and an effortless addition of humor like icing on top of an already delicious cake. All in all a book series to look forward to from our own nation.

Rating: 4/5
    About the Author:
Koel Ganguli chose Sreejib as her pseudonym because it is her husband's name. Sreejib got diagnosed with blood cancer in 2014 and passed away the same year. Koel had started writing Aqson in 2013. Sreejib loved the story and would always encourage the lazy author to write. He had promised her, if she completed the book, he would finance it. She completed writing Aqson Level I in 2016 and, he kept his promise. Koel was born and brought up in Kolkata. After completing Mass Communication, she got into content writing. Apart from her love for writing, she likes to read, travel alone and of course, sleep. She has the superpower to survive solely on chocolates and is a firm believer in fantasy.  Koel also believes that stories choose writers and not the other way around. Here is a fantasy that chose her as its storyteller.