Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little by little

Once upon a time and it seems like a long long time ago, I was a little girl (yes, there was a time when I was little, I only have vague memories of it but I am sure I was and it is not a figment of my imagination) and my parents moved places a lot because of the nature of my dad’s work. Each new place meant leaving your old friends behind and then putting on a big chirpy manner and an even bigger smile even though you were crying and ready to crumble on the inside, so you could make new friends. Everybody likes happy souls—I learnt that early in life. And then you knew that you would move again soon, so you learnt to make friends (with chirpy manner and smile still in place) and have a lot of fun without getting too emotionally involved, as you knew you would soon leave and you didn’t want your heart to break all over again, for it took a long time joining back the pieces and sometimes they never quite fitted back the way they should and sometimes the pieces would be gone forever. In this mad turmoil of growing up, discovering things and making friends, there was only one thing which was constant in my life and one thing that I derived a lot of comfort from, much like a security blanket that a toddler is attached to and that was books. My home was full of books—all kinds of books and I devoured them. Wherever we moved, the books moved with us.

My parents were avid readers and big book lovers and no matter which place we went, my dad would make sure that we joined a library and more books would come into my home. I learnt early that you don’t have to fake a smile to read a book and books really opened minds and doors to magical worlds. When I was little I could not imagine how in the world people wrote books. To a little child, the task must have seemed daunting.

“How can they write so much? “ I used to ask my dad.

“Little by little,” he would answer.

His answer never entirely convinced me and I would marvel at the authors, read about them on the back of the cover which sometimes had their picture on it, and try to get into their minds and see how their thought process worked. I used to marvel at their creativity and their way with words. I tried to write a book when I was eight or so. The story was about four children (two boys and two girls who were a set of siblings) who were ship wrecked without their parents, and had to survive on their own on a remote island. No, it was long before Blue lagoon came out and I was very young and had no corrupted thoughts whatsoever—so stop smirking! The book was all of eight pages, five of which were detailed pictures of the four main characters and the ship. I remember agonising over whether one of the girls should have a fringe or not and whether her ribbons should have a little triangular cut at its end or not. Yes—details like these mattered to me even back then. I couldn’t write any more than those eight pages and that was the maximum I could achieve, even though I tried very hard.

Never did I dream that one day I would become an author, that people would write to me, and I would write books! (I am working on my second book—I am midway through it) Somewhere in me, is still that little girl who struggled to write a book of eight pages.

Just before we left India, the children and I went to a multiplex which has a leading book shop too. As soon as I entered the book shop, my book was right in front, in the best seller rack, nestling in between Paulo Coelho’s book and Barrack Obama’s. (I couldn’t resist clicking a picture with my mobile phone) I didn’t see it initially, my daughter did. I had walked to the other end of the book store by then, to browse.

“Mummy, Mummy—Look—your book is right here”, she screamed proudly and many of the customers turned to look as I turned a beet-root red and tried to ‘shush’ her. I smiled all the same, as the staff at the store recognised me and came to talk to me.

It feels so strange and yet so good when I get so many mails from those who have read my book. I do respond to each and every one.

Now I have moved to a new place, a new country and a new culture. People ask me what I do and I tell them that I am an author and they are instantly fascinated and want to know more.

“It’s amazing, how do you manage to take time out to write with two children and a home to look after ?” they ask.

“Little by little,” I say with a smile.

Ps: Blog adda had interviewed me. Click here to read the interview.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Alphabet party

When was the last time you did something completely different from what you usually do?

Most scientific studies reiterate how important it is to deviate from routines and do things differently every now and then, in order to stimulate your brain cells and improve creativity. The older we get, the more set in our patterns we become. Routines are hard to break and sometimes we don’t even think about them.

I don’t know about the scientific studies, but it’s definitely refreshing to break routines and do a different thing once in a while. We did something really different yesterday. We (The four of us, as a family) played a nice little game that I made up. I called it 'The Alphabet party'.

“Girls versus Boys” said my son, and we agreed. So father-son duo was in one team and my daughter and I were in the other.

The game was fairly simple. We had to turn the English Alphabets (Capital letters) into a picture and then make a sentence connected to the picture starting with that alphabet. I demonstrated with A so that the others would get an idea.

“Ladies first,” said my husband and so we started. My seven year old daughter quickly turned B into a butterfly. And then it was the Boys turn.

My husband turned C into Charlie who was frowning at work—maybe his boss had given him a hard time!

“Typically male,” I commented, but secretly I thought it was quite smart.

We had so much fun playing this game as we had to think ‘out of the box’ and think creatively.

My personal favourites were G which my son (who is 11) cleverly turned into a goat. I also liked what my daughter did with L. I allowed myself a little pat on my own back for what I did with H.

But the best of all, the one that took the prize and one which I really treasure is what my son did with M! I loved it!! Loved what my daughter did with N .I was amazed at that feisty ‘never-say-die’ and ‘never-give-up’ spirit which the picture managed to convey, which is so like her.

Try this game with your kids, if you have children and they are old enough to play it. Try it with your spouse if you are married or play it with friends if you are single—Or if friends do not want to play you can also play it by yourself, and see how much your mind stretches when you try!

I’d love to see what you’ve done with the alphabets—if you send me pictures[ on ps@preetisatish.com] I’ll put up the best ones in my next post.[My children will be the judge of which ones are the best!] Or if you have a blog, you can put it up yourself, leave me a comment and I’ll surely come and see.

I’m waiting for this evening to complete the game (we played only till N).

Want to play?