What is your #Cherished Object? #Blogfest #blogging


At Daily (w)rite, I stick to discussions, opinion, travel, writing.

While I’m always myself, it is a redacted my-self on this blog. But in the interests of remaining honest, I have to step into a new territory today. The personal.

This is because a month back, I suggested and got involved with hosting the Cherished Blogfest: along with Dan Antion , Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat, I invite you to talk about an object you cherish, and why. I tried to talk about other things, but the object that surfaced and wouldn’t be denied, is here now. As a writer, I’m used to being vulnerable, but I can always hide behind the guise of fiction. No such curtains in this post.

It is a photograph. Very simple, and as photographs go, not well-framed. It shows me and a bunch of schoolmates, back when I was fourteen or fifteen, maybe younger. That girl with those two ridiculous pigtails, in a blue sweater, scarf tied around her neck, is me.

Memories on a Sunday Morning

Cherished Object: Memories

But what makes me cherish the photo, despite the bad lighting, despite forgetting the names of some of the girls, losing touch with others (which gives me a pang sometimes), is the girl who sits right beside me.

We’ll call her D, this smiling girl, her white collar uniform shirt buttoned high, one of my two best friends from my schooldays. We sat on the same bench each year of school, shared our food, notes, jokes, secrets, lives.

A few years after this photograph was taken, after I’d finished college and joined an institute, I went home for the summer and discovered why D hadn’t answered my letters, the birthday cards, in a while. This was a time in India when we still didn’t carry cellphones, when long distance calls remained out of reach for a penniless student. Letters were still relevant.

D never wrote long letters, how are you, I’m doing well, school’s good. She was studying to be a doctor. I tossed all her letters, but I liked receiving them, and knowing she was well. I was going to meet her that summer, like all the summers before.

She had strangled herself, just taken a long cloth and swung it from the ceiling fan, when her parents were out for a dinner. She’d sent her little brother out on an errand. She’d known I wasn’t around, had gone and met my parents and chatted with them over tea and snacks, a week before she killed herself. My parents didn’t have the courage to tell me when I was far from home.

Decades later, I don’t have her letters, or the cards she made me for my birthday or new year. Youth is so careless. Everything seems like it would last forever: friendships, lives, happiness.

This photograph is the only one I have of her in an informal setting, at a school picnic one random winter at some dam or park or resort. This snapshot,  with the containers of food our moms had lovingly packed, a teacher, the girls, some of whom remain friends on Facebook, some I’ve lost touch with, and D.

Stupid D, who always topped the class, the school, the brightest of us lot, who couldn’t take the insult of being failed by a teacher for the first time at medical school, stupid, stupid girl, young, too young and clueless–who thought grades mattered enough to end her life–and change the lives of so many: her parents, her friends, everyone who knew her.

I’ve stared at this photo in the past years, and imagined her growing up, growing older, falling in love, getting married, becoming a mother.

But there she sits, a teenager on a sunny afternoon, surrounded by classmates, ‘tiffins’ full of food, steel dinner plates (in the days before the scourge of plastic and thermocol), a skinny street dog behind her (photobomb, right there) and that confident half-smirk-smile she always wore. And there I am, by her side, unknowing that one day, this photograph would be all I’d have of her, as I sit at my table, writing.

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Cherished Blogfest

Cherished Blogfest

Are you taking part in the Cherished Blogfest? If you are, this weekend (24-26 July) please post about your cherished object, and visit others on this LINKY LIST. Share on all social media with the hashtag #CHERISHED. If you haven’t signed up yet, you still can, the linky list is open for two more days. What is an object you cherish? What sort of memories does it bring back? Would you like to write about this object?

If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion on short stories, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!

Want New #Blogging #Friends ? Join the #CHERISHED Blogfest Today!!


Blogging is all about making connections, sharing information, emotions, opinions, memories.

How to make Blogging Friends

Blog Friendships

In the spirit of blog friendships, my good blog friends, Dan Antion , Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat and yours truly at Daily (w)rite, invite you to take part in the CHERISHED Blogfest:

Often, objects lead us to memories.

The objects we hold most dear, harbor the most cherished memories.

For the CHERISHED Blogfest, we invite you to talk to us about one of your cherished objects. Tell us what it is, post a picture of it if you like, and tell us why you cherish it.

Keep your post to below 500 words.

Join us on the 24th to 26th of July 2015 in sharing memories, emotions, information: we’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships.

Cherished Blogfest

Cherished Blogfest

For those with new blogs, adding your blog to the linky list below, and posting on the 24th-26th July would help you increase your comment love, and followers. Visit and leave comments to everyone on the list, so we all get loads of comment love!

Place the CHERISHED Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends and followers at the end of the blogfest.

Sign up in the CHERISHED Linky List below which would open in a new window for signups. (WordPress blogs don’t allow linky lists.)

 Powered by Linky Tools

CHERISHED LINKY LIST: CLICK HERE to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

If you have any queries, drop me a mail at meringue dot p at gmail dot com.

The name ‘Cherished’ and the image is courtesy Cheryl KP, who posts brilliant images and writing on her blog. I would also encourage you to check out the blogs of my cohosts: Dan Antion (the designer of the badge), Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat, bloggers with genuine and fascinating takes on everything from life, travel, fiction, and the writing rigmarole.

Paul and Peter  are short story writers and novelists, whereas Dan and Sharukh are excellent non-fiction writers. Follow them right away if you haven’t already!

How long have you been blogging? Have you taken part in any blogfests? Organised them? If yes, have blogfests helped your blog? Do you have many blog friends? Do you share stories with them? Are you signing up for the CHERISHED Blogfest?

If you’re reading this, but don’t have a blog, head over to the discussion on Daily (w)rite’s Facebook Page, where we’re talking about online friendships.

EDIT: We’ve changed the dates to 24th-26th July– I was scatterbrained and didn’t notice 25th/26th was a weekend. My apologies.

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?

 

 

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?