opportunities for short story writers

Amazon Kindle Publishing in collaboration with the Hindu Lit for life has announced a short story contest. It is also an opportunity to get your short story published on Amazon platform. For details visit : https://www.amazon.in/b?node=14467703031 

Another opportunity for aspiring short story writers is offered by Times Of India through its write India program. The winning entries of season have now come in the form of a book. Frankly speaking, I could not connect with many of the winning stories which seemed to favour a particular POV over quality of writing and other things. Nevertheless, it is too an opportunity for the procrastinating authors.

By the way I have already published my short story on Amazon through their Kindle Direct Program. It is available for free download from 08.02.2018 to 12.02.2018. There after also it will be available for free for KindleUnlimited subscribers.

Please read my book and leave your reviews on Amazon. It is an unusual story of the love hate relationship of an owner of a medicine shop and a beggar who had made the footpath in front of the shop his home. Hope you will like the humour elements and the allegory.

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 ‘Teach Me To Dream’ – Book Review

My illustrator friend Sailaja Anand ( who is also an eternal optimist) has put up her perceptions of my poems on her blog.

ETERNAL OPTIMIST

‘Teach Me To Dream’ has been written by Mr. Durga Prasad Dash whose work I always have admired. It is an anthology of poems that celebrate life in its myriads of aspects: love, longing, pain, illusion,beauty and ugliness, freedom, bondage, war, politics, enlightenment.There is no sphere of life that is left un touched by the author. Each emotion is conveyed beautifully and every reality is expressed with conviction. Each stanza is a beautiful piece in itself, touching the deep core.

In part I, the way the author has connected seasons and emotions with his web of words is so heartening.
”there is a rhythm in the sun,
melody in air, and
dance in water”
Through words the author is indeed celebrating the nature with beautiful expression.
In poem ‘your sweet absense’
In the following lines
“In my lack of discretion
hoping to rise with you
I fall again and again”

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the cart of clay and Rumi in a traffic jam

I will write about Rumi towards the end of this blog post and try to connect it to my recently released book. After all I have a book to promote. Gone are the days when the Hero’s or heroine’s role ended with acting in the movie (and collecting the pay check). Now he/she must take part in an extensive film marketing. So is the case with the authors these days, whether you follow the self publishing route or the traditional route.

Now, talking about books, today is the birth anniversary of Mirza Ghalib.  I come to know of this from the Google Doodle. Many of my readers must have the experience of coming across his shers and shayiris. He is like the old mischievous gentleman of the next street who you bump into every now and then during your random walks. But this year I read one of the books outlining his life and his wisdom. It was after I was gifted with a Kindle by my daughter on the occasion of my birthday. Many of his couplets have stuck and refuse to go out of memory.

Haathon ki lakeeron pay mat ja ae ghalib, 
Naseeb unke bhi hote hain jinkey haath nahi hote 

Hum ko mallum hai jannat ki haqiqat lekin 
Dil khush rakhne ko ghalib ye khayal achha hai

I go into periodic lunacy of binge reading. Those are also the periods when I end up reading a lot of bullshit stuff. During such a period of lunacy this year I read Paulo Coelho and Eckhart Tolle. I came across Coelho for the first time from a newspaper column and was under the impression that he was a self help Guru of some sort. But he and his bio in a number of internet sites claim he is a novelist! I was also amazed at the way these two guys (worldwide bestselling authors in their own right) clothe ancient wisdom in new words and metaphors and never give any credit to their source, thus giving the impression that they are the inventors of such life changing wisdom.

Some of the interesting books I have read are associated with their own stories about how I came across the book or, in what circumstances I read the book. While helping my father-in-law arranging his home library some months back I came across an Odiya version of Mritchhakatika. Does the word sound a little complicated?

This is a Sanskrit  word combining two words (sandhi) –  mrit (soil/mud) and sakatika (cart). Do you remember the movie utsav starring Sekhar Suman and Rekha? The movie was based on this ancient Sanskrit drama- The Cart of Clay. Some English translator use the title – The Little Clay Cart.

During school days, one of our teachers – Sri Surendra Das- used to teach us both Odiya and Sanskrit. His way of teaching was to tell stories. We used to wait eagerly for his classes. Over a month he told us the entire story of Mritchchakatika in episodic manner during his classes. Those were the days when TV soap opera had not colonialised our country.

I had read the book once during the college days and watched the movie during its year of release in 1984. But reading it again this year was like relieving those moments of my school days in the 1980s.

A book I have recently picked up for reading is -Never Let me Go – written by the latest Nobel Prize winner for literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. I had read a review of the movie adaptation long time back and I liked it so much that I wanted to see the movie or read the book immediately. Those were the days before Amazon and I could not lay my hands on the DVD or the book in our local stores.

Another book worth mentioning is Ulysses by James Joyce. It took me three months of frequently interrupted reading to finish it. In between I had to read a lot of reviews and notes about the book to understand all the layers of the theme. But it was worth it.

Ulysses is one of the all time great novels in the history of fiction, consistently being voted as one of the top ten novels in polls after polls. However, our dear best selling novelist Paulo Coehlo could hardly find anything remarkable in this masterpiece. Coelho faced a lot of flack for his criticism of Ulysses. Of course, we can hardly blame Paulo for all this. Loved by the masses from Iran to India, after all he is a novelist of a special class.

Now I remember of the time when I was rescued by Rumi when I was on may way to the airport and was stuck in a traffic jam. Thankfully, I was not going to catch a flight but to receive someone. Thankfully again, I had borrowed a book of Rumi’s poetry from a library in the morning and it was with me. As it rained outside, sitting in the car backseat, perhaps at that time I was one of those few commuters who did not curse the rain or the traffic Jam. Of course, by the time I finished the book, I was yet to reach the airport. Thankfully yet again, I was able to compose a poem – of traffic jam, rain and Rumi, which has been included in my recently released anthology of poems: teach me to dream. There are a couple of poems – one dedicated to rain and another to typical everyday traffic jam – that find place in the anthology.

cloud of gentle rain, pour down 
come, let us friends get truly drunk 
and you, the king of tricksters 
befuddled with drink we all greet you (Rumi)

By the way, when I started to write this post I noticed that teach me to dream has jumped to No.2 position on Amazon ranking of New Releases and No.10 in Poetry category. As Amazon ranks fluctuate by the hour, I don’t know what will be the ranking by the time you read this. Anyway, I hope it continues to be one of the top twenty books in poetry category.

With a little help from you, of course, my dear reader. 😀

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The Japanese Sense of Aesthetics

The word Haiku reminds me of millions of awful micro poetic compositions that pass for as haikus in the blogosphere. The other day I came across a couple of such alleged haikus. I don’t remember the wordings but one was about the miserable office wage and another was about the boss who was an asshole.

Come on dear aspiring poet. Any micro poem is not a haiku even if it fulfills the condition of being of seventeen syllables.  According to the Wikipedia page about English Haiku, the first element of a haiku is –  ‘A focus on some aspect of nature or the seasons’. Maybe, our aspiring poet, being a Chetan Bhagat and Ekta Kapoor devotee, interpreted ‘nature’ as human nature and ‘season’ as a series of episodes in the office soap opera.

In addition to being of seventeen syllables and focusing on some aspects of nature or season, the haikus of prominent Japanese poets like Basho evoke the sublime in you due to their meditative, contemplative, and philosophical allusions even though they may describe very ordinary events. Here are a few of my favourite  haikus (translated from the original Japanese)

Since my house
burned down, I now own
a better view
of the rising moon

Enviable leaves
becoming so beautiful
just before falling

Scarecrows are the first 
heroes to fall
in the rush
of the Autumn wind

What a pretty kite
the beggar's children 
fly high
above their hovel

He is unknown 
the poet who sings 
the greatest 
of all songs -- spring

Haiku and spring remind me of the Cherry Blossoms that flower in their fullness in Spring and are inspiration for a million haikus so much so that the word flower has become synonymous with Cherry Blossom for the Japanese.

The other day I was watching a program on NHK (the official TV channnel of Japan) about Cherry Blossoms. Its flowering during the spring season is the most celebrated national event in Japan.  No other country celebrates a natural phenomenon with such religious fervour.

I am yet to visit Japan. But my love affair with the country goes back to childhood days when Radio Japan was one of the  staple diets (along with Binaca Geetmala)  to ward off boredom during those long summer vacations.  Of course, I don’t remember any of the contents now, but I do vaguely remember the feel good effect.

Among Asian nations, Japan is not only the most innovative country as far as technology is concerned, it is also a nation with the most developed sense of aesthetics. I will cover more of my aesthetic impressions about Japan in my coming posts.

Meanwhile, you may think of spending the idle hours of your weekend with my book which is available for free download till 3rd December.

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my speech at the indiblogger meet, bengaluru

Well, I have been a serious blogger since last one year. Of course, I have been blogging for more than five years and doing some creative writing maybe, for last one hundred years.

No… no. I am not that old like Asha Ram Bapu  or RK Pachauri.

Actually I feel that it is not only me but also my readers who have taken my blog seriously after I joined Indiblogger, which is the best platform for Indian bloggers to network and show case talent. What do you say? How many of you here agree with me. Wow. Quite a lot. Great.

What is more,  Indiblogger now wants to take us to our next level. That is to make us published authors. I think it is every blogger’s dream to become a published author of books. How many of you don’t agree? Of course many of us here are already published authors.

I love this quote from Kahlil Zibran: To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has achieved, but at what he aspires to.

It is great that Indiblogger, Story Mirror and the Valley of Words have all come together to fulfill the dreams of aspiring authors. They deserve a big round of applause.

Coming to blogging, the comments and likes are not the only indicators that your blog is being read and liked. During official or informal meetings sometimes I come across people who tell me that they have been reading my blog regularly, even though they have never put any comment or liked the blog.

So, keep blogging. May our tribe flourish.

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Launch of Kuhase ke Geet ( Hindi version of Sashi Sharma’s the Song’s of Mist)

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Thank you guys for the fabulous gift hamper

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See you all in Dehradun

P.S:  Actually, this speech, being an afterthought could not be delivered. And  my time-machine is still out of order.

 

events galore in bengaluru

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Like any other metro city, Bengaluru is host to numerous events – literary, culinary, cultural, artistic, social & unsocial, open and clandestine. Much as am I tempted to attend many of the events, a person of not so affluent means like me is not only restrained from the financial angle, but also by the limited availability of leisure time after spending eight  hours on a job and four hours on commuting on a daily basis.

Even on weekends Bangalore traffic can be nasty quite often. In spite of all the constraints, I try not to miss the literary events, especially the literature festivals.  I have already shared my experience of Times Literature Festival and Bangalore Literature Festival  on this blog.

I was one of the invitees to the #BererXp Indiblogger meet Bangalore. I was eagerly looking forward to attend the event as it was an opportunity to interact with other bloggers from the city. However, an unexpected personal problem that popped up at the last moment ensured that I was deprived of this opportunity. Nevertheless, I had the vicarious pleasure of attending the meet by reading the accounts of the events shared by fellow bloggers.

There is a large Air Force Station where I stay.  As there are people from all over India, many cultural events of other states are organised here on a regular basis. These are kinds of religio-cultural events like Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja and the car festival of Lord Jagannath. Alongside the puja rituals, there would be galore of cultural events everyday. Even though these are organsied by specific communities, people from all walks of life participate in the events wholeheartedly.

 It is only in Bengaluru that I have had the opportunity to watch many kinds of national and international sports events. My first stint in Bengaluru was from 1989 to 1995. Then I was serving in Indian Air Force. Whenever there was any international cricket tournament, the authorities sought defense personnel for security duties. I had the opportunity to attend a couple of international cricket matches as a security supervisor. Those days security duties were not that risky like in these days when every crowd gathering is a potential target for terrorist modules working in India. Moreover, as security supervisor one had access to all areas of the stadium.

The test matches were sleepy no doubt, the saving  grace being one had a chance to see the sport stars in flesh and blood. Even the pace of the One Day matches were not as frantic as the matches have been after the T-20 format came into  existence.

Since long I have stopped being an enthusiast of the game of cricket. During the last season of the IPL when a friend came up with a couple of complimentary tickets for the IPL, reluctantly though, I accompanied my family to witness the match. Oh boy, did I witness the match.

We reached the venue half an hour before the start of the match. The stadium was overflowing with people. Loud speakers, or should I say super loud speakers were blaring out music and the anchor’s shouts competing with the noise from the crowd. The decibel levels were so high that it would have turned the tender ears of a young kid deaf for life.

Then the match started.

Hardly had the ball escaped from the bowler’s hand when the spectators sitting in from of us stood up with flags in hand, shouting and waving. There was no way to witness anything that was happening on the ground. This happened again and again. We had to look at the giant digital screen for a replay in order to know what was happening in front of us, on the ground below. Finally I calculated that for the three and half hours that the match was played, we watched the match directly for half an hour and the spectators backs and flags and the giant digital screen for three hours.

I am reminded of a similar incident when I stayed back to attend the rock  concert organised to mark the culmination of a literary festival. The audience was a mixture of those who had come exclusively for the rock concert (The rock star’s young fans) and those who had actually come for the literature festival but stayed back out of curiosity for the rock concert (consisting mostly of middle aged and old fellows).

At the scheduled time, the rock star came, saw and went back. After some time an announcement came that the rock star was annoyed that the audience members were sitting in chairs. So, the organizers had no way but to remove the chairs so that the rock star would come back to regale the audience. A couple of volunteers came to hound out all the young and old, strong and weak occupying the chairs.

After the last one of the chairs was removed from the venue the concert began. Every one was standing and standing with their mobile in video mode, flash on, while those with a little short in height struggled to have a glimpse of the rock star. With so many flash lights on, the elaborate colour lighting of the stage lost its sheen.

The rock star sang one line and asked the audience to repeat the line ten times. It was obvious that his hard core fans knew all his songs verbatim. After some time the fans sang his songs even without being asked. The hall was jam-packed and there was hardly any space to move about. A section of the audience started to dance unmindful of causing any physical injury to their neighbors.

Confused, bewildered and feeling out of time and space, I fled.

Maybe, we are living in an age where ‘sound’ packaging is taking centre stage in all walks of life pushing the content to the sidelines.

 

 

Times Literature Festival Bangalore 2017

Attending a Literature Festival is a  beautiful way of spending an enlightening weekend.

Ideas float around, the air is filled with literary vibrations and the ambiance is charged with star presence.  The fever catches onto to you. The temperature soars to climax to a  rocking frenzy like it happened this time when the local rock God Raghu Dixit performed with his band to mark the culmination of the festival.

Indian BloggersBefore that,  there was this ‘Khullam Khulla’ session with Rishi Kapoor. Of course he had come to promote his book. During the panel discussion he was at his candid best talking about the advantages and disadvantages carrying the baggage of the Kapoor legacy and his real and reel life. Being a Kapoor son gave him the break. At the same time, he worked hard to make his mark as  a romantic hero in the era of the angry young men.

He is also well known for his unique and spontaneous style of acting.  The audience, comprising of young and old got its ‘tare zamin par‘ moment as they  crowded the venue to have a glimpse and listen to him.

I would have liked to be there from start to finish on both the days to soak in the ethereal world of ideas and stars. But, then there are worldly duties. So, I could attend only part of the sessions on both the days- 11th and 12th Feb.

Even if you attend the festival from start to finish you cannot be part of all the happenings as events took place simultaneously at three venues. Sometime, when two of your favorite programs clash, or just for the sake of curiosity, you have to shuttle between venues half way through a session.

Let us check up what is happening at those other venues.”

In India, in terms of literacy men may outnumber women, but when it comes to matters literary it is the other way round. At least literature festivals makes one think so. And it makes women qualitatively better than men. (Even in an earlier literature festival while a congregation of women writers were discussing various issues, a bunch of girls in the audience were heard making a loud statement all of the men are idiots)

It was nice to see authors and stakeholders from diverse fields like fashion, sports, food, cinema, music, technology etc. congregate and share their points of view, sometimes to ignite the dormant passion in us or sometimes to see things from a different angle. While, the dismal state of sport administration in India was highlighted in one session, in another, concern was expressed about Coorg tribe the Coorg cuisine facing the danger of extinction, maybe in not so distant a future.

Here are some of the photos of the event. For more titbits of the event visit the facebook page or twitter handle of the Times Literature Festival, Bangalore.

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William Dalrymple talking about his new book ‘Kohinoor’
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Talking of cuisine and culture: Ranveer Brar, Anoothi Vishal, Shazia Khan and Mithun
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The audience under the Peepal Tree getting enthralled with Ila Arun (below)

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Rishi Kapoor introducing his autobiography – ‘Khullam Khulla’ to Bangalore readers
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My wife manages to get her copy autographed by the author
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The hands that can rock the cradle can rock the stage too – may be better

Celebrating 30 years of Malgudi Days


Indian Bloggers

It is a humongous task for any director to convert a novel into a movie retaining its authenticity. It becomes all the more difficult when the story is humorous. In my young adult days I used to be a  great fan of RK Narayan. I still am. Malgudi Days, directed and produced by Shankar Nag did full justice to the characterization of the denizens of the fictional town Malgudi. Rarely did I miss an episode when it was first telecast on Doordarshan. Sometimes while random channel surfing I come across an episode of Malgudi Days on DD. It is as delightful to watch it today as it was three decades back.

In our country, we have more memorials built for religious and political leaders than writers and artists. If you go to a country like England or Canada, a famous writer’s erstwhile residence is marked as a must visit place for tourists to that city. But not here in India. How many of the present generation who visit Mysore would know that RK Narayan was a resident of that city. Of course after much hue and cry, the dilapidated house of RK Narayan was restored a couple of years back and now it functions as a memorial. Still, does it feature in the top ten, or, top twenty five places to see in Mysore?

This is in sharp contrast with the adaption of RK Narayana’s Guide for the eponymous movie. The movie was a hit. But it was so different from the theme of the book that even RK himself got disappointed with the movie.

malgudidays.jpgimage credit: thebetterindia.com