Friday, July 15, 2011


"To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world." -Freya Stark

Seriously. Travelling is such a drug. Addictive and invigorating. Especially mountains, with their cognac sunsets and icy blue hills.

Most people travel by the rules of the book. The place, the scenic beauty, the hotel, food, shopping malls etc. I follow my heart. Yeah, cliche, but true!
I have my own parameters of appreciating a beautiful place.When I look at a new place; it has to talk back to me, in a secret language...I have to hear that certain special “zing”…inside of me.
And it must appeal to my subliminal senses more than its value as a popular spot.

Aside from some quiet moments, it is my capacity to be a woman in a strange city, without escort or encumbrance that I seek, when I go traveling.
And, I come back with copper tan, truncated nails and tangled hair, but with my heart soaring like an abandoned kite, way beyond the bruised horizons of my inner turmoil.
I feel like a newborn. Wishing to kick off my shoes and go running in the rain.
Clean of all falsities...

And take it from me,next time if you truly wish to savour the pleasures of travelling, you must go alone. You get that essential isolation to be with your thoughts and put them in the right perspectives when they go astray and moreover, these brief sojourns with only yourself as company, will just thaw the frost around your mind, heart and soul, and heal you deep within.

"Internal burning . . . wandering fever . . ." -Kalevala.

Photos- Nazia

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My first novel-The beginning

How do you write the first novel? If you ask me, my reply would be: Mindlessly, robotically and fearlessly. Otherwise, your novel would never see the light of the day.

I wrote my first novel.

People ask, ‘How do you feel?’
‘I don’t know.’ I said. I did not feel the earth move.
Only a huge relief.
Because my book- as my dear friend William Michaelian said about it- “needed” to be written.

Mine is an inscrutable feeling. Yet, I would not deny that like every other writer, I had my share of battles with the onerous work and the pitiless slog. I did go through those sleepless nights when I just couldn’t find the right phrase, the right word and would stay awake to nail them down, until dawn peeped through the windows and I would just slump down in a tight, painful curl; exhausted to my core.
I could still recall those days of anxiety, when my characters would just buzz around my mind refusing to obey, or like a woodpecker they would bore into my conscience, when I ignored them. There were plenty of moments when the cleverest of sentences would spring up in my mind at the oddest of hours and then slip away, disappearing like vapours for want of writing them down at that exact moment of creative flush.

But now it’s over. My first novel, the Holy Grail of every writer’s life, is bounded in paper and print and is out there on the bookshelves of selected shops. Ready to be picked up. To be read by strangers and friends alike.

One cannot deny that it is heroic to write something and publish it, knowing well about the hazards of being read. Because, writing, especially fiction writing is like baring your soul to the world and risk getting rebuffed, hurt, sniggered, ignored, shattered, or restored according to the sole perspective of that unknown reader.
And although we the writers, the solitary reapers of the word, try too hard to send across the message that we are indifferent to fame and appreciation; the reality is that we are basically egotistic attention seekers, who just cannot accept any unfairness that life delivers to us, and go all-out to announce to the world our existence, our heroism, and call them books!

And we want to be loved- for our work!

However, I am completely at loss, when I am required to speak about ‘My Book.’ Most people ask me, ‘What is it about?’
I tell them to read it.Feel it. Know it. But don’t ask a writer to speak. Especially about her own work.
Because, for a writer, as Virginia Woolf said, 'The truth is that writing is the profound pleasure and being read the superficial.'

And a book may appear to mean different things to different readers. Every reader understands the book in his own way. It may not be the writer’s way.
It is our business as readers to know what we like. It is our business as writers to know what we like.
And we both have to be honest to our respective roles and crafts, without impinging upon each other.


Last night you wrote your sonnets in  Braille: the commas, parenthesis, ellipses engraved perfectly on my skin- and  I  ...