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.