Monday, October 13, 2014

Shades of Love. A wonderful session at Litomania 2014.

One doesn't  stay in a long term relationship because of lack  of choice. One stays because there is a commitment made. Because you value that person. Because you commit and you honour your  word. This is what I emphasised  in the panel discussion  yesterday at Litomania in my session with Ravinder Singh (author of ' I too had a love story', 'Can love happen twice' and a few more)  and Madhuri Banerjee (author of' Losing my Virginity and other dumb ideas', 'Scandalous housewives' and a few more).

Picture by Divya Nambiar

Ravinder said that 'When there is doordarshan you only watch that. There is no choice.' And that in today's times there are huge distractions like Facebook, where as they did not exist 19 years back. (As I have been married for 19 years to the same guy, I have to add :) )  I couldn't disagree more and Ravinder must have seen the horrified expression on my face and so he quickly clarified that he was only joking.

The fact is you are only as distracted as you want to be. Facebook 'likes' do not make a relationship work! Nor does declaration of love with the accompaniment of 'happy couple pictures' declaring how lucky one is to have the other. The real test of a relationship is time.

Every relationship changes, especially after you get married, and  once children enter the picture. The relationship then gets tested, tried, tugged in ways you never imagined before. We grow as individuals. There are many other stresses that a relationship undergoes---work pressure, meeting other people, familiarity, boredom, individual growth, unforeseen changes. It is a lot of hard work.
Some survive, some break up.

There was a question put to me by a member of the audience who asked me about one of my characters in the book The Secret Wishlist who decides to walk out of a marriage, despite having a child. She felt that it was wrong on Diksha's part to have done that and one had to stay in the marriage for the sake of the child.

What I told her was that if there is no love in a relationship, then the biggest disservice you can do to a child is to raise her/him in a atmosphere of hate. Madhuri said that she was a single mother and it great friends with her ex-husband, and her child is in a happy place now. That it took her a while to come to this decision, but she was glad that she made that choice. She got a thunderous applause for this declaration.

Another audience member asked about stalking when it came to love. All three of us---Ravinder, Madhuri and I empahsised that the character in the movie Ranjhana who cuts his hand to prove his love for the girl and stalks her day in and day out hoping she would fall for it,  was definitely sexual harassment.

There was another point that Ravinder made, which I totally agreed with. He talked about a reader who told him, that he used his book for 'Ladki -fasana'. (Apologies to my non-Hindi speaking readers. It is basically a very coarse Hindi term which can be roughly translated as 'trapping a girl ') . He said that the same sentiment could have been expressed differently---that the reader had used the book to tell a girl that he really admired her and wanted her to read the book, in the hope that theirs would be a true love, like in the book.

I agreed vociferously with Ravinder when he stressed the importance of space in relationships and having 'me-time'. It is so important to have time for oneself. He talked about sharing passwords which he was against and I so agree, as he was voicing exactly my take on those issues, about whioch I have blogged earlier.

All three of us also agreed that Indian romance writers, especially popular ones had a responsibility when it came to shaping young impressionable minds, in terms of how the concept of 'love' is perceived.We all agreed that terms like 'deti kya' (again with apologies to my non Hindi speaking friends) were not only disrespectful to women and misogynist, but also reduced women to sex-symbols, negating what she is capable of. In a country like India, it is indeed a need of the hour to change the male mindset and I do concur with Madhuri and Ravinder, that popular writers (currently all male--the only female in the top ten Nielsen list is  yours truly-- See this tweet from landmark store) play a role in this.






Ravinder emphasized that the men in his book wouldn't speak that way to women and if the  protagonist did make an error in judgement, he would later be corrected by another character and would  realize that he was wrong and would be man enough to admit it. He also said that when it came to a relationship, why should it be that it is always a guy who chases. I agreed with him. It is a level playing field! In fact in one of my books (The One You Cannot Have) it is Anjali who chases Aman.  I asserted that the women in my books were strong independent characters who led their lives.

The audience had a lot more questions as the session (moderated  superbly by Madhuri) was a lot of fun, interactive and bubbling with wit, humour and love.
But both Ravinder and I had a flight to catch, and hence after posing for a few pictures with readers and signing books, we rushed back to the airport.
One of the readers made a lovely card for me. Another reader said that she had just discovered my books in June and never thought she would meet me so fast. She also said that she, her mom and her mother-in-law are all huge fans of my writing--and she had come to the venue with her mother. and another said that he had been waiting for 5 years to meet me. Yet another said that his wife is a huge fan and now after he heard me, he became a fan too. I was overwhelmed by all the love and warmth.

In the car and at the airport, while waiting for our respective flights, we talked about a lot of things---related to being a popular author. Ravinder is humble, grounded, sweet, nice  and truly one of the most genuine people I have met. He gave me some good tips and good ideas. Of course, he earned an invitation to my home :)


All in all, I had an awesome time. A big thank you to Litomania ( Sangram Surve, the director of the festival, Shalini who was warm and welcoming and the rest of the team)  for organising this so well and conducting it beautifully. May Litomania grow in the coming years!

Ravinder, Madhuri and me, just before our session, in the author's lounge.

If you have never attended a lit-fest before, do catch the next one in your city.
And choose the sessions that discuss a topic you like. (if you choose a wrong session which doesn't deal with a subject you like,  you will probably be bored to death!)

Litfests are a great way to interact with your favourite writers, meet other like-minded people and have fun discussing things, gaining new perspectives, and discovering new books!
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ps: A new book by me will be out this December. Will unveil the title today on my FB page!
Buy my last book  http://tinyurl.com/k85yklf

Friday, October 10, 2014

10 easy ways to stay positive and upbeat--even when the chips are down

Things won't always go the way you want them to. How do you stay positive and upbeat even when they don't?  Here are ten easy ways to pep you up.

1.Focus on one activity that makes you happy: My latest addiction is organic terrace gardening. No matter what is going on in my life, my time spent in my terrace garden, gives me bliss.

Satish harvesting the spinach in our organic terrace garden.


 Find one activity that works for you. Focus on it. And spend a dedicated amount of time on it every single day. Be regular. Start with a small goal--say ten days. You will see a difference in how you feel.

2. Remove yourself from 'downers': You know the kind. You ask them how they are and they give you a long list of what is wrong with the world today. You ask them about their health and they have a hundred complaints. You tell them about something good that happened to you and you get a snide remark. Minimise the time you spend with this kind. If you can avoid them altogether--that is the best option!

3.Unfollow: With Social Media comes a flood of negativity. Most people crib, rave, rant. they flood your timeline with unhappy thoughts, with angry articles, with stuff you really do not need to burden yourself with. facebook has a 'Unfollow' button. Twitter has a 'mute' user button. Use it!



4. Connect with Nature: For me, what works every single time is connecting with nature. It might be as simple as stepping outside for a walk, and feeling the sunshine beat down on my face. It might be as small as removing my footwear and walking on the lawn. Right now I am on vacation on a beach.


 The ocean feels like heaven. We can recreate these small slices of heaven in our daily life by taking a mini-break during the day from whatever is bogging you down.

5.Try to see 'beyond': Why does someone behave the way they do? perhaps it is a desperate plea for attention? Maybe the person wants more of your time? Maybe they are just being selfish. Maybe they are trying to tell you something you do not want to hear. Try to see 'beyond'.

6.Go see a friend: Go see a good friend whom you have not caught up with for a while, because you have both been so darn busy. Pick up the phone and call them. Make a plan---and stick to it!

7.Read! : Research has proven over and over that people who read are smarter than people who don't. The average adult reading speed is 300 words per minute.Reading for just ten minutes a day will mean 3000 words a day---and 10,95000 words a year!

8.Watch a good movie:  A good movie makes you forget your worries. It gives you life lessons. It entertains. it makes you laugh, it makes you cry and most importantly it makes you think.

9.Music! : Instant bliss. Play it loud. Dance like no one is watching. And if you are afraid of someone watching, bolt the door and dance. (One of my characters does this in my book 'The Secret wishlist')

10.Plan a surprise: Plan a surprise for a loved one who likes surprises. Nothing like the excitement of a 'secret plan'.Think of what they would love. A quick getaway? A cooking class? A bicycle ride?

These are wasy ways in which I lift myself up, even when things don't go exactly the way i want them to.

Which of these work for you? Anymore to add to this list? What do you do when you feel down?

 Go on and tell me in my comment box and I shall update the post with the suggestions.
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Buy my last book 'The One You Cannot Have'--a contemporary love story by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/nzfu3v2

Friday, October 03, 2014

Some snapshots from the Bangalore litfest 2014

The recently concluded Bangalore literature  festival (Bangalore lit fest 2014)  was fabulous. It was well organised, well attended and there were some marvelous sessions.
The great thing about litfests is meeting so many people whose books you have read and admired. I was a part of a panel that discussed love and relationships. The others who were a part of my panel were Dr.Vijay Nagaswami, Psychiatrist and a relationship counsellor (also an author), Milan Vohra and Nandita Bose--both fellow authors. Here is a picture which was clicked just before we went on stage.



Everyone said that our  session was lively, interesting, insightful and yet fun!
 
 

I was honoured that a senior writer --and one whose writing I love attended my session, and even asked a very relevant question. She was none other than Sathya Saran.
 I have read a lot of her writing and I love what she has to say.

here is a picture of me and Sathya Saran, chilling in the author's lounge.






The festival saw a lot of eminent names and the media covered it extensively. I won't go into details as the media has covered it extensively and there is google to do the job for you :)



Here I am at the venue, striking a pose.



I was glad that satish could attend it along with me, and he had a great time too!

If you have never attended a lit fest, do try out  the next one. The entry to most lit fests is free.  All lit fests are open to public, and there are some amazing panel discussions spread over 2-3 days. Study the festival schedule, which would be up on the website and choose the ones that you like to attend.

You meet some great minds, you listen to some different insights and you leave with some food for thought. An unusual way to spend a weekend.

I enjoyed it immensely, and I hope to see you at the next lit fest, if I happen to be where you are!

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Grab my last book at a price which is a steal : http://tinyurl.com/nzfu3v2

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Guess the name and win a prize!

You met Ankita in 'Life is what you make it'
You met Nisha in 'Tea for two and a piece of cake'
You met Diksha in 'The Secret Wishlist'
You met Aman in 'The One You Cannot Have'



                    Whom are you going to meet next?
 See the clues above and guess the name. (Another hint: She is a Bollywood celebrity)

Leave your answers either as a comment in this post or if you want to see what others are saying, join me on my author page on facebook. Click HERE


Results to be announced tomorrow! (On my Fb page)

UPDATE: Results announced! https://www.facebook.com/preetishenoy.authorpage/posts/867433309935641
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Buy my last book: http://tinyurl.com/nzfu3v2