Friday, 6 January 2017

2016 in Pictures- The High's within the Low's!

I mentioned in my last post what an adventure 2016 was for me. Among the toxins that were in my life ,on the creative side I’ve actually surprised myself at how much I achieved. This is a positive step towards starting the new year. It is easy to feel disheartened about the resolutions that never came into play the previous year, to the point that we do not bother making any the following year. I’ve learnt we should always look for the positives and not dwell on the negatives.

It is actually the better level of success with my writing that made me realise that this is the path I would like to follow professionally and that the end of certain chapters in my life were a sign that writing is my new chapter.

Here is a list (where possible with pictures) of some of my 2016 writing highlights:

  1. De Monfort university bookshop stocked one of my books, the anthology I wrote for young adults.
  2. I was invited to Moat Community College to conduct a writing workshop as part of World Book Day.
  3. I can now add Playwright to my writing credentials as I had two plays performed, following from the course I did on Script Writing at The Y Theatre. One play was performed at a playwrights open mike event and with the other one I was the actress,writer and director for Emergency Showcase at the Y Theatre Leicester.
  4. I continued to perform at various poetry/open mike events around and out of Leicester.
  5. I took my performances to another level by taking up music again and sang a semi classical Assamese song called Borgeet for Sankar Jayanti celebrations. I generally took music more seriously again by refreshing my previous Indian Classical training and learning to play Guitar and Ukulele.
  6. I was a guest author at the very prestigious Everybody's Reading Festival.
  7. My sixth book Assam Adventures was published, making sales internationally.
  8. I was invited on the radio again to take part in a debate about child/spousal maintenance on the back of my previous book The Divorce Toolbox.

Wow when I look at this it really makes me feel empowered, 2016 was a difficult year at times but this shows the toxic people and situations could not bring me down. This is just based on reviewing the creative side, if I look at 2016 overall there were positives in other areas too.
Writers go through rejection all the time, it is inevitable but earlier in the year a very toxic person actually prevented me from even applying for a writing job. I was disheartened at the time ,but look at the above writing successes I had instead, which far outweigh that one. Later on it actually turned out I may have been too over qualified for that job. My mum always told me “you can’t block anyone's progress”. Going back to my idol Madonna again this type of resistance made me stronger and I achieved a better level of success in other more meaningful writing ventures. I’m also very proud to say even though I’ve had to work and fight hard at times,everything I’ve ever achieved has been through my own hard week. I’ve never had any special favours or had to do anything underhand such as pay someone or sleep with someone to achieve my goals. I would rather struggle and achieve with dignity and a clear conscience, rather than have special favours as these are short lived.
If anyone is reading this dreading the year to come because the last one may not have been that great, I would urge you to undertake this exercise of just writing down positive things that happened no matter how big or small they are. Most importantly if anyone tries to block your progress use that as fuel to do even better, you can't be blocked forever!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Own Assam Adventures

I’m aware it's been ages since I posted on here but many changes have taken place in my life recently,fortunately changes that have given me the opportunity to pursue my writing passion. One of my news years resolutions is to blog more.This is the time of year when people plan for the new year to come but  also look back on the year that is about to end.Amongst the trials and tribulations of 2016  I did fulfil some resolutions I made for 2016.  I finally got my sixth book Assam Adventures published and along the way I’ve had adventures of my own.

I’ve always felt that reading and writing are escapism where you can go enter any world you desire. During a dark period in my life I choose to go back to a happy place,the time I spent in Assam as a child. This is an issue I touched on in the book.  Whenever my parents said we were going to India for a few weeks what I loved most was not just missing school but a break from the bullies. When my siblings and I got there we never wanted to leave,however we did find there were some other cultural issues too. For example the perception that people in India as a whole have of the UK. They rarely refer to it as the UK but actually London. I  felt that was still better than being at school and being the only Asian in my class.

As an adult this journey has followed me again. I started writing Assam Adventures years ago and just put it away and forgot about it. My dark point was when I took the book out again. It has not only resulted in the book now being published but for me it was a cathartic escapism that took me back to a happy place in my life. A person I’ve always admired is JK Rowling,who’s Harvard speech I watched over and over again as my own self help guide. One quote which really got me was,
“ Rock bottom became the foundation upon which I rebuilt my life.”

JK Rowling talked  about her path of depression and meaningless jobs. I had a similar experience where I was undervalued at work and passed over for promotion several times. This forced me to really re-evaluate my own life and focus on my passion. Another idol of mine is Madonna and in a recent speech when she picked up an award she said,

“ To my doubters your resistance made me stronger.”

When I was being back stabbed and undermined this resistance made me stronger too. Madonna talked about the double standards people had because she was a woman. I also went through similar barriers in the workplace. The fact that I was a divorced single mother working part time went against me too but was dressed up in a very subtle way.

I would say to anyone who reads or writes as therapy keep doing it and do it more even when you feel at your lowest. Within finishing this book I’ve had my own Adventures and reached the destination of getting the book published and slowly rebuilding my life again. I wholeheartedly thank everyone who stood by me in my difficult times but like Madonna I also want to thank my doubters as this gave me the fuel to pursue my passion. Maybe without this Assam Adventures would have still remained on scrappy paper in the bottom of my drawer. So thank you doubter’s for not only giving me the catalyst to get my book published but for overall helping me to find myself within my own Assam Adventure.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Pure Definition Of A Legend.

I’m having a Narnia feeling at the moment as over the weekend with my family I watched a concert that transported me to another universe. For the fourth time in my life I watched the Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain perform for the Alchemy Festival at Festival Hall London. Every time I watch Zakirji’s concerts no two performances are ever the same. However it was not just Zakirji’s performance that blew me away but also humility which is a rare quality to find. It really upsets me when I come across people who have only ever written one poem or sang one song and they give themselves the title of legend, when I’m in the company of a true legend like Zakirji I find this term is used too loosely. Zakirji does not even like to call himself a legend, this was reflected in how he introduced the young Sitar Maestro Niladri Kumar saying “It is not Niladri Kumar accompanying Zakir Hussain it is the other way round”. This encouragement for the young maestro was very heartening to see.

The second half of the concert saw the UK premiere of Zakirji’s Tabla Concerto Peshkar conducted by Zane Dalal,another musical journey which takes the listener to another world. During the question and answer session with Zane Dalal and Zakirji they both showed the utmost respect and appreciation of each other. When Zakirji talked about the work behind putting the concerto together I loved how being such a legend he acknowledged his mentors such as Jazz Guitarist John McLaughlin,saying how he consulted with him when putting the concerto together. Many years ago I also had the once in a lifetime privilege of hearing Zakirji’s late father Ustad Allah Rakhaji perform and Zakirji still applies what his late father taught him which is;
“ Son do not try to be a master be a good student.”

Again very humbling to hear maestro's talk like this. All too often people are chasing the titles and accolades looking to get their names out there and forget what an Art like Music is all about. This concert was not only musically as always a mind blowing experience but really made me think about the world we live in which is sadly one of arrogance,vanity,hierarchy, I could go on forever. When I see that a true legend does not possess such toxic qualities it re -defines the meaning all together.

As always Zakirji was happy to mix with his fans after the show and I hope anybody who had the honour of meeting him got more from the experience that just having a selfie to plaster on facebook and name drop about. For me as always my own experience was at a very profound level.

Friday, 18 March 2016

World Book Day.

For anyone in the literary field World Book Day is an event we all look forward to, a day dedicated to books and writing, celebrating some of the literary  greats and gaining new insights. This year along with my writer friend Leah Osborne I had the honour of being invited as a guest author at Moat Community College. I read a poem and short story from my latest collection Embarrassing Siblings,Playground Taunts and other Growing Pains. I tried to deliver the message of never giving up on dreams even if peers,teachers,etc tell you otherwise. It was heartening to find the year nine pupils engaged in the exercises we set them. Leah and I also had to undertake these exercises by writing a story on the spot.

Altogether I found this day very gratifying and it was very humbling to hear comments about how the children benefited from an educational point of view. The second group of year nines requested I write a story about them, which I will do. I did however promise a poem and this is how I summed up the whole day.

For world book day,
I would pray
that you would be kind
and listen with an open mind.

Thinking it maybe a bore,
and you would find the door.
Not just sat still,
but got a thrill.

You were all burning,
with your thirst for learning.
Beyond contentment
there was even excitement.

Your eyes lit up,
ready to erupt.
Being free
ideas thrown at me.

I couldn't not believe
you didn't want to leave.
Engaged in every way
never any dismay.

I hope from this day,
You have taken away,
Lessons of a lifetime,
Where you continue to shine.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Don't be mocked by "the Mock".

I can really empathise with this time of year when young people are taking mock exams, it can really lay down routes for the future. It is not just the exams but support and encouragement they received that shapes futures too. In my last book I touched on topics such as teachers putting children down and mocking their dreams. This adds further stress to the whole process. If a child is told they can’t go to university or they should aim lower they will believe it and it can shape lives in a negative way.

I feel very strongly about this issue which is why I wrote my book and I am taking it further with another project which is launching a home tutoring business with a difference. Not only will I be giving academic support to to people taking GCSE’s and A levels in English and Humanities subjects, I will also be offering mentoring and career guidance. During the mentoring and career guidance process I will help children turn around their negative thinking and help them to  make dreams come true. My tutoring will not just be about the academic preparation but also the mental and emotional preparation not just for the exams but for the future.

I have been through the exam system and been told that I will never set foot in university and I should do something mediocre. Many of my teachers would be surprised to find out that I am writing books. Together with my own siblings I'm living proof that the demeaning beliefs drummed into you don’t need to shape who you are.

As well as the exam system I’ve also been through the society pressure of getting that phone call on results day asking how many A stars you got. My sister even had someone with a pen and paper at the other end writing down all her results for every subject. With my tutoring and mentoring I intend to help young people overcome issues like this and believe in themselves. There is a preview of my book at the end of this post for personal tutoring please send me a personal message at or through social media.

See all 2 images

Sunday, 29 November 2015

1448 was great!

To continue from the last post, my weekend as a Runner on the 1448 Design Team was beyond awesome. The theme for the first night was “ I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” On the first day I didn’t get the full 1448 experience due to juggling this with a day job but I definitely gained invaluable experience from the time I spent. My lunch hour was spent making poo tentacles and cutting material for neckerchiefs. When I returned in the evening it was a long but fun night with a happy and hardworking team that made every moment an amazing experience. We were on our feet all night running around but we had a lot of laughter in the process. Between running around I caught a glimpse of some of the acts and wow what amazing talents from the writers,actors and directors. I got in at 2am and caught a few hours sleep ready for the next day.

Even with less sleep once I walked into The Y the energy of all the people around me woke me up. The theme for Saturday was “no pain no gain.” I felt on Saturday I fully benefited from the whole 1448 experience  as I was there all day. There was never a dull moment and every job was a brilliant learning curve. My own jobs involved helping to recreate  the Narnia scenery, providing baby props and creating a baby bump for a pregnant lady about to drop. There was a part of 1448 that nearly got me into trouble with my mother with the naughty words I was asked to write on a pizza box, my defence being it is for Art. With the tight deadlines to meet and sleep deprivation every body's spirits  were always high.

During the technical  rehearsals I got a mesmerising further insight into the talents of the actors and directors and had the pleasure of sharing chips with them at dinner. I was blown away by how all of the people involved are not just talented and dedicated but always very humble people, a rare quality to find nowadays.

I felt all the plays had powerful messages in them and the actors really showed their versatility from being able to switch between comedy and tragedy. Without being involved as a writer or performer this time I feel this experience is going to change how I hone my own Craft. I heard so many great reviews about 1448 to the point where I was raring to get involved as a writer. I felt by getting involved this time as a runner on the design time I would gain some insight about the whole 1448 concept. I gained more that that and would do it all again.

When the show closed and we moved onto to the after show party without sounding cliched there was a lot of love in the room. Everyone appreciated each other and everything was possible because of people's spirited can do attitude, nothing was a chore.

I feel like I have returned from Narnia myself as the experience was surreal and I’m raring to do it again and have started counting down to the next one. I would love try other disciplines however working with the design team was amazing and I was proud to be a part of it.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

1448 can't wait!

I'm really excited about my latest creative endeavour as a Runner for 1448 Leicester. The concept of 1448 was brought to the Y Theatre  Leicester from Seattle by husband and wife creative duo Amy and Bob Christer. The concept is to write and perform fourteen plays in forty eight  hours. The theme is drawn out of a hat and the writers have till very early the next morning to submit their finished scripts for the actors,directors designers etc to put together, then perform  over two evenings.

I attended the launch event this evening and the creative energy is infectious. It is both fun with a discipline element to it, as there are tight time constraints. This is a brilliant opportunity for local artistes in the community to showcase their talents. Tonight  I met some amazing people from different walks of life and am looking forward to what the weekend has in store for us all. This is my first involvement with this festival but it has been running since 2013. When my brother Rishii Chowdhury a well known Musician told me about his own involvement I was intrigued and just had be in on the excitement.

The theme is " I've got a bad feeling about this". As I am writing this the writers will be writing their scripts ready for submission at 8am tomorrow morning. I can't wait to see what these talented individuals will come up with and am looking forward to my role as Runner. I will return over the weekend to share my experiences of this much talked about festival.