Who’s your Hero? #India #ProjectWhy

Who’s your Hero? #India #ProjectWhy


Everybody needs heroes. And I’ve needed mine– I just had to wait around to find her, way into my adulthood. Today, I’m talking about her on Daily (w)rite as my contribution to the Who’s Your Hero Blogfest.

Anouradha Bakshi NGO India

Anouradha Bakshi: My Hero from Project Why

Joy Campbell is running the Who’s Your Hero Blogfest today on her blog: Post approximately 300 words about someone who has encouraged or inspired you. Your hero may be a friend, spouse, teacher or writing buddy.

I love my friends, adore my spouse, have tremendous respect for some of my teachers and writing buddies. But the person I want to write about is someone I’ve met for a very short time in real life, but who’s had a huge impact on my way of thinking, my attitude to the world around me.

Her name is Anouradha Bakshi, the founder of Project Why, an organization that works in the slums of New Delhi. Lots of such organizations are doing good work, so what’s special about Anouradha and Project Why?

Project Why works with the slum children and women from within the slums by empowering the slum community. Some of the teachers were once maids, who got an education at the Pwhy, and are now teaching the kids from the slums. Others are helping to manage the project and run it. Yet others work as drivers, who ferry the kids and teachers from one learning center to the other. A Project Why team member’s family helps cook the midday meal for the creche kids. Most of the education given to about a 1000 kids from creche to secondary levels is free, as are the courses on sewing, and other skills for women. One of the schools is literally situated in the middle of a dustbin, because that’s where a majority of the kids who attend it, live.

Visiting this school, as I did this month, is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

All this is supported by donors touched by Anouradha’s way of thinking– “Seeing with the Heart

Where others see a burden in a disabled person (a common sentiment in many parts and social strata in India) she saw God’s own children. The Special Section, which I visited on my recent trip to New Delhi is poorly equipped, but full of love, as is the rest of the Project.

Project Why Kids, Doll Museum New Delhi

Day out with the kids at Project Why at the Doll Museum, New Delhi

Anouradha insists on spending most of the donations received on the kids and the women, finding innovative ways to cut corners on overheads. One of the centers uses a solar panel donated by a businessman introducing their use in India– and the water system is donated by a visiting school.

Tying all this is together is Anouradha’s compassionate yet indomitable spirit: you can’t help but be touched by the smiles she brings on the faces of so many people, with such honesty, kindness, and willingness to move on despite tough circumstances. (Her honesty, and her unwillingness to make a circus of the slum dwellers makes it difficult for her to raise funds– donors sometimes come in with cameras trying to pose the kids of the Special Section for public relations exercises, or to exploit them for publicity.)

Inspired by her, I try to look at the world around me with the eyes of the Heart, to understand, empathize, relate, build community, spread joy, in whatever small way I can. Not that I’ve succeeded, far from it– but I’ve made a start. I’ve been a contributor of sorts for years, and now, I’m trying to help get their social media and online fundraising efforts off the ground.

We need more heroes like Anouradha Bakshi. To my mind, though I can never become the hero she is, maybe I can learn and become a better person each day.

Who are your heroes? How long have you known them? Would you like to join in the Who’s Your Hero Blogfest, or just talk about your heroes in the comments? Would you like to support Anouradha Bakshi in her efforts?

Are You Searching for Beauty in the NOW?


Beauty in the NOW

Beauty in the NOW

I’ve had a sad few days.

After this post, you know some of the reasons why. There are others, but they don’t matter.

We all get a little blue from time to time, so we all know what it is about, don’t we?

But over the past years of occasional bouts of feeling blue, I’ve realized one thing. It is never a loss or a problem that causes my sadness.

It is my attitude towards it.

If I look at my sadness, accept it, watch it, it reduces. I see that I can either do something about the problem, or accept that I can only do something about my attitude towards the problem.

As I watch the sad part of me, I also see that the happy part of me, the calm blue lake within, hasn’t gone anywhere.

It is up to me, to choose to be in the NOW, be mindful of what blessings I have at present, and focus on those.

I took the photographs of these orchids two weeks ago, and saw them on my phone just now– and they made me smile.

In this moment, now, watching the orchids as I type, the sad part of me has receded.

It is in this spirit that I also write about the Sunflowers for Tina Blogfest , which we at the A to Z Challenge have organized.

Sunflowers for Tina

Sunflowers for TinaSunflowers for Tina Blogfest we at the A to Z Challenge have organized.

This 8th of September we hope to cover as big a part of the internet as possible with Sunflowers, the favorite flower of our dear Tina who we lost all too soon.

As we mourn her loss, we also celebrate who she was: a bright, compassionate, large-hearted personality.

If you knew Tina through her blog, I encourage you to take part, by signing up here.

If you didn’t know Tina– celebrate this Blogfest as a day of choosing to be joyful– a choice Tina Downey made, despite all her suffering, every day of her life.

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Would you join us in celebrating Tina with the Sunflowers Blogfest? In your life, are you searching for beauty in the NOW?

 

 

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: S for She stood at the crossroads


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: She stood at the crossroads

Provided by: Vidya Sury, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

———————-

#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

They had walked together for five weeks and four days, but it felt like months, decades.

        As if all they had ever done was walk, him leading the way, her following, a little resentful she couldn’t take the lead, and sending up a prayer of thanks she didn’t have to.

         And now, he’d left her standing in the blinding morning light, on the bridge that would take them to the next town. He’d walked away from the bridge, round the bend, and up the hills beside her.

 

The first time they met, she felt a spark somewhere inside her clothes, her stomach, and he felt it too. She saw it in his eyes. But they did not refer to that spark, except in the most roundabout of ways like when he asked if she liked the way rain-soaked earth smelled, and what it reminded her of. She told him it depended, and when he asked the obvious question, what, she pretended to have fallen asleep.

          They talked about Socrates in the beginning, and the death of Camus, and how the large hadron collider would fail. Slowly it became about what rations to buy. She paid for bars of chocolates which she could not eat, because of her stomach ruined by weeks of drinking roadside water, but she had to carry them. After a while each bar seemed like a brick inside her backpack.

           He made plans, drew lines on maps by torchlight, lying inside the tent. She’d put up that tent, while he’d sat on a nearby rock slapping mosquito repellant on his neck and arms. She worked so she didn’t have to watch him. She wanted to watch him all the time, each flex of his shin as he walked, the way his perfect, round butt fitted his shorts, so she kept her eyes to the ground instead, and kept her hands busy. She felt overworked, her body hurt, but she kept at it.

 

Now, she stood at the crossroads, watching the way he’d gone, the shallow slopes that would lead to steeper ones.. He had no time for this he’d said when she complained of backache, wanted a day of rest.

               She could follow him, catch up, say sorry yet again for a tantrum she hadn’t thrown, spend more nights waiting for him to touch her, on his terms, the way he stopped by in the red light areas they’d crossed in the shanty towns on their way. Relieves my tensions, he said, to nothing and no one in particular, when he came back from one of those evening jaunts.

               But she wouldn’t. Nor would she wait for him to come back and find her. When backpacking, you meet people and pay your debts. When the debts get paid off, you part, and that’s that. She flinched at the weight of her pack as she strapped it on. She would walk. Each day, you wake up and walk, putting one foot after the other, he used to say, you make your own way, alone.

               Maybe that’s the lesson she needed to learn. Her back cramped, but she took one step, then another, away from him, towards the lighted bridge.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Ever been backpacking? Had a fallout with a friend or a significant other?

If you could give just One #blogging tip, what would it be?


Blogging tips

Blogging questions

I have spoken before on this blog about making bloggy friends, and commenting on blogs, and signing up for support groups.

But I’m tired of my own voice, a little exhausted and don’t feel at the top of my game.

I haven’t been visiting back regularly, and that’s something I plan to change in the next few weeks before the A to Z challenge begins. (Sign up, if you haven’t yet! Want to know more? If you’re on twitter, drop by for the #AZchat where we discuss why A to Z Challenge is good for bloggers, and how to reap the most benefits! Pam Margolis will be hosting the 1PM EDT chat, and #teamdamyanti will be hosting the one at 8PM EDT. )

So, I’m opening the forum to my visitors and blog friends: If you could give just One #blogging tip to a new blogger, what would it be?

Calling for #bloggers to help form Team Damyanti for the #atozchallenge


As in the last two years, I am co-hosting the A to Z challenge 2014If you haven’t done this before, I recommend checking it out. Here’s why you should join, and here’s what will bring you the most benefits as a blogger. Its founder Arlee Bird says:

The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays.  In doing this you will have 26 blog posts–one for each letter of the alphabet.   Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet.

You will only be limited by your own imagination in this challenge.   You can post essays, short pieces of fiction, poetry, recipes, travel sketches, or anything else you would like to write about.  You don’t have to be a writer to do this.  You can post photos, including samples of your own art or craftwork.   Everyone who blogs can post from A to Z.  You’ll find the sign-up list here, and the list already looks long!If you sign up, help us spread the word on social media.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

2014 A to Z Blogging Challengerd on social media!

Now for the part where I need your help in co hosting the A to Z April Blogging Challenge:

Co-hosts have a long string of behind-the-scenes duties, and last year we sought help from within the blogging community.
So assisting a co-host is good way to prove your mettle, and who knows, you might get invited to co-host next year. One of my team last year, Pam, is a cohost this year. As is AJ who helped Tina last year, and MJ, who helped Nicole. The only condition of applying for Team Damyanti is that you should have participated in AZ before, because participating the first time is quite a job in itself! 
As an AZ assistant, you also get the following perks:

  1.     You’d get a special badge emailed to you to display on your blog showing your status. Most of the co-hosts have their own, personalized badges displaying their assistants, and we all stick them in our sidebars too, so everyone would know whose assistant you’d be.
  2.      You’d also be listed as an assistant on the A-Z Challenge Blog and that would probably bring you more traffic since a Lot of people read that blog.
  3. Summed up– expect a jump in followers and traffic if you join as a volunteer.

Consider joining a co-host, either Team Damyanti, or any of the others whose teams you’d like to be part of, and take your A to Z Blogging Challenge to the next level! Drop me a comment or an email at atozstories (at) gmail (dot) com. I already have two fab assistants for 2014, looking for 3 more.

My team is now filled up. If you want to volunteer, comment on this post, and you might be chosen by one of the other co-hosts!

Arlee Bird : Tossing it Out                              : @ArleeBird 
Ninja Captain: Alex J. Cavanaugh                : @AlexJCavanaugh
Author Stephen Tremp                                    : @StephenTremp
Tina : Life is Good                                            : @TinaLifeisGood
Damyanti Biswas: Amlokiblogs                      : @damyantig
Jeremy : Being Retro                                       : @iZombieJMH
Nicole Ayers : The Madlab Post                      : @MadlabPost
M. J. Joachim: MJ Joachim’s Writing Tips   : @MJJoachim
Heather M. Gardner                                         : @hmgardner
AJ : Naturally Sweet                                         : @ayjaylauer
Pam : An Unconventional Librarian               : @Pamlovesbooks

The Challenge also has a Facebook Page.

Email address is infoatoz2014@gmail.com,Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge, and the twitter id is @AprilA2Z.

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Are you going to blog for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge? Have you participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge before? Want to be part of Team Damyanti?

Top Ten Movies Blogfest


Alex J Cavanaugh is hosting the Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest today, and all we have to do is list our top ten favorite movies!
I don’t watch many movies, but I love a good story, so here are a few of my favorites (with a lot of help from my husband, the resident movie buff, who encouraged me to watch some of them):
TOP TEN MOVIES

TOP TEN MOVIES

  1. Shawshank Redemption
  2. Cloud Atlas
  3. Schindler’s List
  4. The Dark Knight
  5. In the Name of the Father
  6. Lord of Rings Trilogy
  7. Cinema Paradiso
  8. Wall-E
  9. Usual Suspects
  10. Life is Beautiful
I realize they cover a wide spectrum, everything from Fantasy to Political to Experimental, to Animation, and even a movie about movies. I’m an omnivore when it comes to books, and also to movies (when I manage to watch them)– and my husband’s tastes in movies are pretty eclectic as well.
What are your fave movies? Have you watched any of the movies on the above list?

Does Your Story Choose You?


Vrishchik Chaturvedi: Character Storyboard

Vrishchik Chaturvedi: Character Storyboard

The last few days, I’ve been researching my latest project, (I dare not call it a novel yet) and some of it has been nauseating.

I had to figure out everything possible about flaying  (don’t ask me why) and I was a little apprehensive–material like this would be hard to find, I thought. Apparently not. When I fed various sadistic keywords related to skinning a human body into Google, I was shocked to see the graphic details available on certain websites.

I have now borrowed books from the library which have diagrams and descriptions, and am making notes in between drinking camomile tea to keep myself calm. It is kind of hard to comprehend what humans are capable of doing to other humans.

All this begs the question (which someone asked me yesterday) : why do I have to write on a subject I can’t study with a straight face?

Because, like I told my questioner, I can’t help it.

The story has been haunting me for a while, three years, to be exact. It started with a voice that wouldn’t be denied, a character who spoke first in my notebook at a group writing session, then at a blogfest, and several times afterwards, including this week at another blogfest. His name is Vrishchik Chaturvedi. He is real now and has known it for a while– has said so, too. And his story is now taking shape, and tormenting me while at it.

I’m in control in the outside world, but he’s the lord of the world of my writing, and that is why I find myself, a girl who is afraid of the dark, who cannot sit through gory movies (not even relatively non-heavy-duty, harmless ones like I Know What You Did Last Summer), now writing about this guy who scares the living daylights out of her.

My story has chosen me, and I’ve decided I might as well get it out of my system.

So my question to the writers amongst you: Do you choose the story you’re going to write, or does the story choose you?