Identity: Beyond Borders

The anti-narcotics team had arrived. We were about to go through another rigorous round of security check. Sheru, one of the sniffer dogs, was sun-bathing when he heard his name being called, after which, he jumped excitedly and proceeded towards us. If you’re a fully functional human being with a heart, the sight of a dog in uniform will melt you. We took out our cell phones but were soon rebuked for doing so. This was serious business and Sheru had work to do. Walking in and around our luggage, which were quite a few, Sheru moved on to other passengers. At this point, we were getting late. We had to cross the Wagah Border by afternoon and we hadn’t even boarded the bus that would take us there. To add to our woes, it had started raining. Having grown up in India, watching parades being held on Independence Day at the Wagah Border, always seemed mystical—something out of a movie. Except this was real life, and this wasn’t a drill or an extended joke. My siblings and I had imagined a lot of things we’d be able to witness at the border. It was our first time, it was going be a historic moment for us all. Naturally, we were thrilled. The whole idea of crossing the border by foot is, in my opinion, a little hilarious and maybe unreal. How can a single man-made line divide entire countries? How can the fate of so many people be decided, depending on which side of the line you were in? I guess, my questions were about to be answered.

At one point of time, we were in the no-man’s land— that little space before you step into another country, not belonging to either India or Pakistan. A single step forward would put an official tag of which country I was standing in. It didn’t mean anything, it didn’t deter where I was from, it didn’t take away my roots. Standing there under the biting Amritsar rain, waiting to cross the border, it didn’t feel too magical or heroic. Instead, I was trying to absorb, to understand the seriousness of the situation. I was blown away by the high-rise walls, the beautiful golden dome that you see, with ‘India’s Line of Defense’ written in bold right at the center. In between dragging our luggage and getting anxious about just everything in general, we forgot that our crossing the border coincided with the lowering of the flags’ ceremony, a daily military practice, at the Attari-Wagah border, carried by both India and Pakistan’s security forces ever since 1959. There were people from both sides of the line, who had come with their friends & family, to witness the parade. There were the national flags of both the countries, dancing in the rain, looking at its people, and what had become of it. Despite the terrible weather, the stands were filling up fast. You could see colorful umbrellas forming a canopy at opposite ends, a kind of shield, a form of defiance. Humans have unwavering resilience when they put their mind to something. It was time for us to finally walk our way into another country, passports ready. My grandmother was given a wheelchair, chaperoned by one of the coolies who helped her cross the border at lightning fast speed. 

 It’s a joke in the family now; of us parading in the middle as we dragged our luggage to the other end while the crowd sat at both sides watching us march helplessly. 

I couldn’t stop noticing a woman in her late 50s, who was alone, carrying a dozen bags filled with fresh produce, a few belongings that she would be needing and sheer determination on her face. Maybe she was a vendor, making a living selling fruits & vegetables. She painstakingly tried lifting her heavy bags onto the trolleys right after crossing the border. To avoid a crowd, the security was tightened. The woman was struggling to assemble her belongings and she asked my brother for help. We were busy collecting our luggage to be put in trolleys so that we could proceed towards immigration. We looked back to see the woman give her blessings to my brother for his help, smiling, her eyes moist—forming wrinkles that made her look older. She waved at us and went her way. Did she belong to India or Pakistan? It didn’t matter, not at that moment. There were so many like us, wanting to see their relatives, with longing in their eyes & joy at seeing their loved ones after an unsparing journey. 

This wasn’t going to be the first and last time I was to experience human empathy in all its glory. Belonging to a family who suffered the aftermath of Partition, I know well enough, the limitless ways in which people have extended their support throughout. It’s times like these when humans surpass themselves, with only kindness and empathy as their deus ex machina

We may be divided, we may have forgotten true nationalism, but the kindness of our hearts cannot be bought, it cannot be traded or diminished. We may lose everything one day but empathy? It’s embedded in stone and it’s here to stay. 

Top Ten Favourite Books of 2019

To squeeze together everything about 2019 in a post is a herculean task. For I can never write in words how much books have changed me inside out, how every story has molded how I view the world and how every character taught me empathy, resilience and love.

I’m sitting in front of my bookshelf that’s messy and unstructured, quite like life itself. Some books are placed perfectly in their place,  others have toppled and reshaped themselves, trying to fit in, while some others are holding on to dear life. To squeeze together everything about 2019 in a post is a herculean task. For I can never write in words how much books have changed me inside out, how every story has molded how I view the world and how every character taught me empathy, resilience and love. I quit my job earlier this year to focus on working in the publishing industry. After interning for 3 months at BEE Books , I started working as an Editor which has been a lifelong dream. It was unnerving quitting a full time job to pursue a career in publishing knowing there aren’t many options where I live. I also travelled a lot this year, and spent quality time with family & friends. .
I didn’t write much at all considering it was supposed to be top priority. But hey, it’s never too late to start working on what you want.

In terms of reading, it has been quite a learning experience. I’ve read non-fiction & fiction, each widely contrasting to one another. I’ve had bouts of reading slumps, life getting in between everything, losing motivation et cetera. Through it all, I managed to read 42 books which I’m content with. The quantity doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, but if you want to read as many books as you can in a lifetime, such measures of counting and setting up reading challenges must be employed.

Here are the books I loved and recommended to everyone this year(in no particular order of publication):

  • Educated by Tara Westover: If there’s one book you can read this year, let it be this one.
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  • My Sister,The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  • The Empty Room by Sadia Abbas
  • Small Days & Nights by Tishani Doshi
  • Eating Wasps by Anita Nair
  • A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Here’s hoping 2020 to be a blessed reading year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: A psychological thriller that’s unputdownable!

Alex Michaelides’s debut novel reads like a slow burn thriller but surprises you when you least expect it.

I’m going to go so far as to say that The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is hands down one of the best debut novels I’ve read. His immersive, slow-burning, keeping-you-on-the-edge novel has lived up to the hype it has been receiving and rightly so.

When Alicia, a famous painter shoots her husband five times without any remorse, she becomes the talk of the town. Discarded by the people, her refusal to defend herself or talk, immediately perks the psychotherapist, theo’s interest. While Alicia is being kept in a forensic unit in London, called The Grove- Theo is hellbent on making Alicia talk. He’s as fascinated about Alicia’s life as he is about her deafening silence. When the opportunity to become her psychotherapist arrives, Theo jumps to take the offer. Here starts the cat & mouse chase as Theo tries to unravel layer by layer, dissecting the infamous life of Alicia, and what caused her to murder her husband.

The narrative structure of the novel doesn’t read like a thriller in the sense that it doesn’t have whiplash moments, or hands-on-mouth kind of a situation- it seeps deeper into the psyche of the mind, and tries to understand the ‘WHY’ rather than the ‘HOW’. The more you read it, the more bizarre and twisted it becomes. We see the story unfold through Theo’s eyes as he begins his sessions with Alicia, trying to talk his way through the walls she’s built. Not just that, we also learn a lot about Theo, his abusive past, and why he wanted to make a career in mental health, and his ultimate fascination of the notorious Alicia.

Read The Silent Patient for its immaculate plot, excellent narrative structure, and for an in-depth character study that runs parallel to great storytelling! It has also been optioned for a film, and I CANNOT wait!


Author: Alex Michaelides

Publisher: Orion Books

Genre: Psychological thriller

Rating:4.8/5

 

Blurb

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Daddykins by Kalpana Mohan: A bitter-sweet memoir that will make you laugh and cry.

Books & Teaa

While driving back in the car after the party, he turned to my sister to ask her the one question that seemed to giving him heartburn. “Was this a birthday or a sendoff?”

Returning back after celebrating his ninetieth birthday, the one thought that kept lingering in the mind of Daddykins, was that of mortality, and how much more time did he have? In this memoir that’s written with utmost affection, love and respect for a man the author grew up loving, her father, we see life through his eyes, and how with changing times, Daddykins, remained loyal to his routines, his family, and everything that was dear to him.

Kalpana Mohan, a journalist in California, flies down to take-care of her father whose health keeps deteriorating, She describes her father’s life, piecing together every little detail with precision, and caution coupled with laughter and wit. She traces her father’s…

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In Conversation with Faiqa Mansab: Author of This House of Clay and Water

Resharing one of my most cherished Author Interviews.

Books & Teaa

When I read This House of Clay and Water a few months back, I knew I had stumbled upon a story that would stay with me for a long time. I devoured the book within a day, and struggled to come up with a review that would do justice to the book. It was a book that made me realize why I love reading, and why the written words will never fail to leave me breathless. When you read a book that speaks strongly to you, you can’t help but get inside the head of the author who wrote it, and therefore, I had the honor of interviewing Faiqa Mansab, author of This House of Clay and Water. Absolutely honest, insightful and full of literary wisdom, the author tells us what it’s like to be a writer and much more!

INTERVIEW:

Thank you so much for taking out time to…

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In Conversation with Aanchal Malhotra: Revisiting the past one object at a time.

Aanchal Malhotra talks about how the book came to be written, and the aspects involved with recording material memory.

I remember going up to my grandfather after I had finished reading Remnants of a Separation to inquire about his past, about what happened during Partition, and how after all was said and done, he along with his family, decided to live for the rest of their lives, carrying a huge loss in their hearts. And that’s what Aanchal’s book ” Remnants of a Separation” prompted me to do. It has in ways more than one opened room for discussion for not just me but many who’ve read the book but never realized they have family members who were witness to the partition. It has given all those who were thrown into the middle of one of the most important historical events a voice. We all know what happened through innumerable written, oral and visual sources. But the primary source has always been the people who experienced it firsthand. Through interviews, Aanchal has given us an insight into what happened, relying on material memory, and how objects play a powerful role.

It was a pleasure interviewing Aanchal, and listen to her narrate how it all began.

INTERVIEW:

  • You’re an artist and Oral historian, how did writing a book on material memory come into the picture?

What I put on my blog were just snippets of information, at least at the beginning. When I was doing these interviews people were telling me things that were never taught to us in schools and they weren’t great things like religious importance or anything. They were just things about Undivided India and I thought everyone should have access to that kind of information, of what life was like beforehand. The thing with putting things online is that it’s accessible and democratic.  I didn’t really expect such response from people and I didn’t know if people were interested still about the Partition. I started writing the blog on a whim because when you’re doing such interviews, you hear all this information and it gets heavy in your head. All these things about trauma and loss, and you think to yourself,’ I don’t want to hold all this information in my head’.  I mean, factually writing a book is also a catharsis of sorts. So it clearly came from the need of NEEDING to share because I needed other people to know that, ‘hey they’re not so different or hey things were really not so bad all the time’.

 

  • Remnants of a Separation, which was once your thesis project is now a book. How would you describe this journey?

It seemed like a natural progression. It started as a thesis and I am artist, so it was a visual thesis. You know when something takes over you, and you’re not leading it, it’s leading you. Suddenly people started writing to me from different places and I didn’t really expect it to become this big because you’re talking about things. Honestly, I didn’t think that things would make such a big difference because in the larger scheme of life when people are running and freeing for safety, is a THING really that important? But 70 years later, it remains the only way we have access to undivided India’s daily life.

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  • You’ve interviewed several people in your book, situated on both sides of the border. Do you see any difference in how they have coped post-partition? Or is pain and heartache individualistic?

On one level, a very rudimentary level, there is nostalgia on both sides, and there are emotions on both sides, but when you get up to a state or political level, then the narrative is different. And unfortunately, in Pakistan, the state of the narrative is married into the narrative of identity. So it is difficult to say anything that might hamper that narrative. We have to keep in mind that a Partition is an event of versions.  Everybody’s version adds up to what Partition is. It’s not just one kind of narrative; there are hundreds and thousands of different kinds of narratives that people went through for the same event. That’s what amazes me is that even if two people move from the same village and went to the same village, their versions of what happened will be totally different, depending on their experiences.

 

  • Your interviews are more like stories being narrated. What made you choose this form of storytelling?

I think it’s because I’m not trained as a writer. I really think it’s because I am an artist, and when you study art or go to art school or make something in a studio, your primary motive is to create something out of nothing. You’re making imagery; you’re trying to transport the person to a particular place through images. I think personally as a writer that should be your job as well.  I started writing based on the images people were creating for me or the imaginary landscape I was making, I think my writing is very visual, it’s sensorial.  I don’t know anything about writing, I write because of what I feel which is how I make stuff as well. Maybe it’s like an emotion-driven process but in the case of the book, it also had to be married into facts and academia. So I had to learn a lot of tools on the way; like I had to learn how to be a historian and I had to learn how to be an archaeologist of memory; how do you ask a question? You learn to be an interviewer; you learn to be a researcher. You learn that you can’t spend your day in the studio and you actually have to spend 12 hours in the library. The form of storytelling will always remain visual for me. For me, the texture of every story is very different. The color of every story is different, the landscape of every story is different; it moves. So it’s very important to make distinctness in people that each person stands for a different kind of narrative.

 

  • Most of the younger generation seem to be uninterested when it comes to Partition or they don’t know enough about it. Do you think material memory can be the catalyst in bringing together generations and opening a discussion?

I hope so. I see it happening even on my blog or Instagram. It can be a very simple thing like maybe I’ve posted a photo of a Kadhai or glass, and if a person from India and a person from Pakistan or a person from Bangladesh are all talking about the same thing in the comment section then something is happening. Maybe the object is a very frivolous thing to be talking about but maybe it can also be considered a democratic space for cross-border conversation. It’s just something you connect to.

 

  • You’ve spoken about how the topic of Partition is almost always dealt with hesitation by the very people who were a huge part of it. What do you think is the reason?

I think it depends on people’s perspective or what they went through or their experience. But there’s a certain amount of shame in being driven out of your house, in not being able to do anything, in seeing what people around you are doing. There is anger and I think that many people that lived through it did not have the time and space to comprehend what they had gone through. I always think about this: Imagine if after the partition there had been psychologists or counselors to talk to people, imagine how different an experience it would have been. But you went through this incredibly traumatic event, you were driven out of your house, you had nothing, you were reduced to penury, and then you just had to move on, and start life again in this new place. I can’t even imagine. Would I ever talk about it if I went through it and would I ever be able to unsee the things that people saw? You know what really shocks me, and I always ask this question to people: Do you think it’s weird that something we study as a historical component in textbooks is something that you have lived through?  These people are living histories. The other thing is that after Partition no one talked about it, it’s not like the Holocaust where people wrote about it extensively. And it’s also not like the Holocaust where there’s a clear demarcation of who is the victim and who is the perpetrator? There was nothing like this here; everyone was at fault at some point or the other. The boundaries became very blurred as to who did what and who was responsible for what and who started the killing and who started the bombings. It is difficult to say because we weren’t there and I think even the people who lived through it cannot say with certainty and certainly not with an unbiased perspective who started it.

 

  • On reading the book, one also realizes that Partition is as much about people’s kindness towards other communities as it is about hatred and violence. Don’t you think the stories about Partition merely just state facts when it’s much more than that? Why don’t we hear about such stories?

Because those stories don’t sell. Violence sells a lot. There are so many stories about goodness. People don’t talk about it. Virtually everyone person I’ve met in Pakistan has some family in India and growing up in India I didn’t even think about this. Now it’s like such a common thing for me to hear.

 

 

  • Is there any story that is close to your heart but didn’t make it to the book?

Yes. There’s a particular story I heard in Karachi, just last month. And I want to tell you because it’s a very important story for me, and it really shook me. It really moved me. There was a woman, who was traveling from Delhi to Lahore, and the train got attacked by rioters and so many people died on the train. Her husband was one of the people who was stabbed and was thrown off the train. She was alive but she jumped after him. The train had stopped and the rioters had fled. All the people who had died were just lying on the train. Her husband bled till death. She took off her dupatta and she soaked up all of his blood that she could. She made the train’s attendant promise that he would bury her husband as she couldn’t take the body by herself being pregnant at the time. She soaked up the blood, got on the train by herself and reached Lahore where she didn’t know anyone. She went to the graveyard and bought a plot and buried that blood-soaked dupatta. It was the only thing she had of her husband. And she gave birth to a son whom she would take to the graveyard every week to visit his father. Can you imagine a dupatta standing in for a person? It is just heartbreaking on so many levels.  The woman had no regret, no malice for people that had done that. She understood that it was circumstance. But the sheer act of picking up the part of somebody else, that’s also one form of an object I suppose.

 

  • What has been the most difficult part of writing Remnants of a Separation? Finding people to interview or waiting for them to unearth memories they’ve buried deep within?

Talking about it. It’s really hard. You know some people have this skill of being able to extract information in an unobtrusive way, and I’m one of those people. When you get to that conversation with a person, it comes quite naturally because you don’t start with Partition. You never start with Partition. You start with all the other things and eventually you get to Partition. I think for me right now the most challenging thing is constantly talking about it.  What happens when you keep talking about something that’s so magnanimous is that the more you talk about it, the more it seems to be reduced to data. It seems like a rehearsed activity that you’re doing all the time. Now the most challenging thing is talking about it again and again. These people are not just people, they are my family. Somebody has opened their life and told me something infinite, you have to respect that. Sometimes journalists have these habits of asking questions and it seems like data.

 

  • Are you working on any other project?

I am working on a novel about an Indian Soldier who fights in World War I in the                Western front. It won’t be out for another two years.

 

(This interview was first published in a monthly newsletter, OfTheNefeli)

 

About the Author:
Aanchal Malhotra is an artist and oral historian, working with memory and material culture. She was educated in Traditional Printmaking and Art History at OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design), Toronto and Concordia University, Montréal. She is the author of ‘Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory’ (HarperCollins 2017) and can be found at The Hiatus Project, Instagram and her website.

Tackling the Big-Bad monster: The Reading Slump

A few tips on how to get out of a reading slump.

If there’s anything readers despise more than running out of cups of caffeine, and books, is getting into a reading slump. What is it, you ask? It’s when the reader has saturated his/her ability to read, and regardless of the efforts, is unable to read. There can be several reasons for this tragedy to befall on you. Maybe you’ve read too much at a go, maybe the book you’ve read was so good that you can no longer drag yourself out of it or maybe a book you’ve read was terrible, and now you want your life back. Whatever the reason, not being able to read can get quite frustrating. But sometimes, getting out of a reading slump is easier than you think. Let’s see how:

  • Rereading: Going back to books that have provided comfort, and are your favorites is the surest way to get out of a slump. The familiarity of the words, the rekindling of love with your favorite characters, and knowing how the story unfolds, helps your mind unravel. Remember, you’re unable to concentrate and pay attention to the story because you’re burned out.  Not having to focus and knowing how the story unfolds helps to get in the flow.

 

  • Shorten the length: Pick up shorter novels. Most of the time the thickness of the book intimidates you. The mere sight of them is enough for you to discard reading anything at all. Go for short stories or novellas or Graphic novels or comic books. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel after finishing these books will encourage you to read more. That’s what we’re trying to achieve here, right?

 

  • Mix up the genres: It’s time to shuffle that TBR of yours. Monotony can be lethal. Step out of your comfort zone and read something you’d never dare to. I’ve realized that reading non-fiction always helps me beat the reading slump. It’s really weird and often baffles me. So if you’re someone who always reads historical fiction, go for a thriller. Not only will you fly through the pages, but you will also discover new genres.

PRO TIP: If you can’t find a particular book you seem to be interested in, I’d suggest reading the first two chapters of different books. Now depending on which one captures your attention the most, start with that one. (I only recently started doing this, and it works. Well, mostly. )

 

  • Listen to the words: Audiobooks are the new cool. In a time where people are always busy and on the go, listening to books has been a life-savior. There are several apps that have free audio-books available. Just choose one that perks your interest, and listen away. My go-to app is storytel.in. Storytel app

 

  • Making reading time fun: The ambiance you’re in plays an important role in helping you get into the reading mood. Make yourself a cup of tea, light a few candles, dim the lights and set some soothing music. You’ll find yourself winding down, your nerves starting to settle, and within no time you’ll be immersed in the book. You can also go to a café or a park to give you some alone time.

 

  • Buddy read: There’s no better way to read than to read with your friend. You will get the motivation and encouragement you need. Pick a book you both want to read and plan a reading marathon. To spice things up, hold reading discussions. This will easily help you beat the slump. If you’re the competitive type, you’ll immediately get to work.

 

  • Give yourself some break: It’s important to realize, reading isn’t a competition. It’s one of life’s most simple pleasures, one that cannot be made into a routine. If you feel worn down, take some time off. Bing watch on Netflix, or maybe movie-adaptations of your favorite novels, or go on YouTube and check out what other book tubers are up to. Take this time to journal and write down what’s happening in your mind. Whenever you’re in a slump, take this opportunity and write reviews of all the books you’ve been putting off. Just because you’re not reading doesn’t mean you’re not going to at least talk about it. I recently went on a social media detox that lasted for almost a month. It was refreshing, and I returned with a lot of enthusiasm and eagerness to read and blog.

 

Hope the above tips help you overcome your reading slump. Remember to take it one day at a time. If your reading slump still persists, I’d suggest buying books you don’t need. The guilt will make you do things you never anticipated.

 

 

My Blogging Journey and Celebrating 100 Posts!

Celebrating 100 posts and reflecting on the years gone by.

This is my 100th post.

I don’t know what people write in their 100th post because I sure as heck don’t know. I didn’t think a day such as this one had any possibility of becoming a reality but here we are.

I started my blog when I was in my first year of college. But let’s go back a little further. I started reading a lot more in the 11th standard, and would read in between classes, and on my way to school even though I was always drawn to reading, devouring all the books from the library, and buying books from the Scholastic book fair. But during my late teens, there was this need to read books at all times. I would be lost in the written word, finding solace and excitement and thrill. Naturally, my choices in books were questionable but gradually my reading taste changed and has continued to do so. While in school, I had developed a deep fascination for writing. I also started writing a lot of poems( which were a cringefest) but also short stories. So when I went to college, starting a blog seemed like the right thing to do.

I figured out the logistics (googled it) and created a blog named, ‘The Literary Cat“.

For the longest time, I would write under this blog name and changed it to ‘Books and Teaa’ only recently. I started off with book reviews, short stories, and then slowly went on to writing how-tos, and listicles. However, I was involved in a number of extra-curricular activities in college and my blog wasn’t the highlight at this point in time in my life. Throughout my under-graduation, my posts were sporadic, and all over the place. I didn’t start a blog to make something out of it or to become a full-time blogger—It was created because the thoughts in my head needed a home.

Fast forward to 2016, and I had just finished my post-graduation diploma and was pursuing a Masters degree. At this point in time, two things happened.

  • I was searching for a job, and pursuing an online masters. I had time to spare.
  • I stumbled upon Bookstagram.

Here’s where things started to turn around and by that, I don’t mean I started earning money through blogging. This was never my goal. I always wanted to be known as a writer and someone who likes reading books.

Blogging has been that corner of my life which I can pick up wherever I left. I always write whenever I have an idea that can no longer be contained in my head. Here’s when the words flow smoothly, my mind running at the speed of light spewing idea after idea, and the stories writing themselves.  It’s rewarding and satisfying but at the same time A LOT of work. I still don’t understand how WordPress works and there are so many things I can improve on my site. I would like to be more active, put in more effort, and be consistent. There have also been times where I didn’t want to think I have a blog. To be honest, I still wonder why people read what I write.

If I show you the stats, it’s going to reflect poorly on me, and probably expose me as a ‘fake’ person who only claims to love writing. But wanting to do something and actually doing it are two separate things. I still haven’t figured it all out, I still can’t think of blog post ideas, and I know I will not be able to stay as consistent as I would like to be. But that’s how life is sometimes. I like to think of my blog as a safe space devoid of any obligations. I cannot force myself to do things and I don’t want to make blogging a chore, a checklist I can tick off. And neither should you.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after all these years of blogging, it’s this:

The results are going to be slow. The views on your posts won’t be too high initially, you’ll have to promote your posts relentlessly, and even then you’ll have days where you won’t see any traffic on your blog. It’s going to get frustrating and you would want to give up. But this is exactly when you shouldn’t. The fact that you’re still sitting at your desk, typing away regardless of whether or not anyone is reading the posts is when you’ll know you’re doing this for yourself. And that’s when it won’t matter. 

 

 

 

 

Am I happy?

What is happiness?

For the longest time, I believed happiness to be a place where if I enter once, I’d never come out of; like a pandora’s box, a candy shop that never runs out of candy or an endless supply of my favorite things. Little did I know, happiness would be fleeting, coming and going; sometimes staying for days maybe even months, and other times just brushing me by like the winter breeze. It’s hard to describe what happiness means. Everything I know of life has been experienced through trial and error, and everything I knew of happiness has been felt after a series of ups and downs. Happiness does not come from an isolated place. It’s either accompanied before or after sadness, sometimes devoid of emotions. After all, that’s how you really understand what it’s like being happy. When your heart flutters and dances, when the moon looks more beautiful and when your shoulders don’t feel heavy.  If you look closely, it’s just an absence of sadness. So do I look happy? I don’t know, it depends on how you look at it. But do I have happy moments in between moments of nothingness? Of course, I do. I’ve found happiness in the mundane. It doesn’t take much effort but this happiness isn’t conditional. It’s forever giving. And for now, that’s all I need.