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Tag Archives: awareness

From Writing First Draft to Re-writing: Note to Self

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I began my writing journey with the fear of writing. I would do most mundane tasks to put off writing. Gradually, I overcame this fear by forming a habit of writing everyday. It was an uphill task and it took me more than a year to start writing everyday. This exercise made me comfortable with writing. I am not saying that I write everyday now but I find it comparatively less difficult and I write quite regularly. This was the first milestone in my writing journey.

I reached my second milestone when I began reading Paris Review Interviews. These interviews taught me to perceive writing as essentially re-writing. It is in the process of re-writing that we gain control over our writing. This idea inspired me to begin my first big writing project. My research for this project was complete and I had ideas I just needed to sit down and write. My first draft was prepared with a lot of anxiety, agony and physical labour in two months. I have written about this experience in my previous posts. The joy of being able to put your thoughts in words in the way I wanted inspired me further and kept me going.

By the time I finished, I was drained physically, emotionally and mentally. I could not sit to read and write further. Then I decided to take some rest. During this time, I read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I also looked through some other texts but I did not engage with anything. In retrospect, maybe I should have. It would have kept me going. I was still writing everyday, mostly writing my journal. However, as time went by, I became more and more relaxed in my reading writing routine.

Now it is time for the third milestone and I find myself procrastinating. Like the first one, I have been delaying it for two months now. This time I fear it because it is a humongous task. However, it is most essential. It is the task Paris Review Interviews taught me, that is, re-writing. I have to read my work sentence by sentence and edit or rewrite it. I think I am facing two roadblocks. Firstly, reading triggers writing and I am not spending enough time in reading. Secondly, I realized re-writing like writing requires practice. Cultivating a habit of re-writing everyday along with reading and writing will gradually improve my editing skills.

At present, I am struggling to re-write and edit my writing. In each attempt, I struggle with new kinds of grammatical and pragmatic issues in language. Sometimes, I struggle with the use of ‘but’ or semi-colon, or the issue of re-writing the entire paragraph to make it more accessible and coherent.

My writing journey has been slow. Struggle that accompanies each of these milestones appear daunting in the beginning and requires a lot of hard work and discipline. Sometimes, I want to quit. But the silver lining is that reaching a milestone assures me that I am moving in the right direction. It is this struggle that makes me feel alive.

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Favour: A Malignant Tumour

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‘Favour’ seems to be a very innocent and positive term. But in practice it is a malignant tumour, which is hard to diagnose and when discovered it is too late for treatment. It multiplies uncontrollably. It dominates other cells by suffocating them and then it kills them or converts them. Gradually, it kills the patient.
Let me deconstruct this term for you. Dictionary meaning of the term ‘favour’ is ‘an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual’. By asking for favour a person becomes vulnerable in front of the person giving favour. She is then obligated to return the favour. One must note that in the definition itself, favour is described as an act of kindness that is beyond what is due or usual. Why would anybody help you beyond what you deserve? But before answering that question, let us just take a moment to think that if this person who is asking for favour does not deserve it then, is he taking something away from a person who deserves it? What becomes of the person who deserves it but does not get it because somebody else received it as a favour?
I have grown up hearing ‘there is no such thing as free lunch’. So, obviously now this person who has been favoured will have to return the favour. In the doing so, another person who deserves something will be deprived to accommodate this person. This goes on and on. If an institution has one such person who has this habit, he or she will bring another and attract a few others. The circle becomes bigger and bigger with each favour. Soon the institution has a number of people who have been favoured, in other words, who do not deserve this place but by an act of kindness were accommodated snatching it away from someone who deserved it.Can an institution survive with so many ‘favoured’ people?
Now what happens to the people who do not agree with this policy of giving and receiving favours? They are sidelined and are often part of the collateral damage. They are suffocated till the time they die or are converted. Converts, we all know, are never really included in the group. So what happens to the institution?

Speak Up For Your Freedom Of Expression

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I just read Romilla Thapar’s article published today in The Hindu newspaper in which she argues for the need to speak up for our freedom of expression as a community in the following words:

“It is time now that we all start asserting that we too represent a community in society, and that our sentiments are deeply hurt when freedom of expression is denied to us. We do not stamp out other people’s rights, but we do have to defend our right to express ourselves.”
(Romila Thapar in The Hindu dated 13 March 2015)

Full article can be found at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-real-reasons-for-hurt-sentiments/article6987156.ece?homepage=true

First Issue of the Magazine is Out: Reflections

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After much delays and hard work, first issue of the wall magazine was out amidst a lot of confusion. We are yet to decide the price of the magazine. However, while children were busy colouring the magazine, I began reflecting on our two month-long journey. There are many lessons to be learnt from this experience. I am listing some of them in this post:

1. We decided to bring out a monthly magazine using Nai Talim but this process made us realise that if we want to keep our costs to the minimum in order to be self-reliant; use machines as little as possible, in other words, do everything by hand; and if we only work for two hours every Sunday, then we cannot possibly bring out an issue every month. So, we had a meeting today and it was decided that we will publish an issue every two months. So, that we can engage with the process.

2. Today, there was a lot of confusion because we were working on two issues at the same time. Confusion leads to stress, which defeats the purpose. We are publishing this magazine to know ourselves better; to understand the process of publication and most importantly for the fun of creation. Thus this confusion needs to be addressed. I found that the fault lies with me and not with my group of children. I need to first prepare a calendar of activities and share it with children and then take their suggestions and implement it. Children need that kind of fixing of dates in order to work systematically. Since all of us are doing it voluntarily, it is the last item on our list. We remember it only on the day we meet. So, I have now decided to work on a calendar of tasks.

3. Collective Meeting: Meeting and discussing various issues is pertinent in order to engage children intellectually. This is another point I need to work on. I need to fix a time on every Sunday to discuss details of each process. This will help us all in making sense of the process and improving our work.

4. Task Orientation: As already mentioned, I need to specify a task for each Sunday, which I need to keep reminding children in the beginning and end of our Sunday activities. Secondly, we all need to work on one task at a time as a group. This will help us focus and on that particular process and will help us think together as a group.

Right now, these are some of the things on my mind. I need to work not these details during the week so that I am ready for the coming Sunday.
If you have any suggestions, then please leave a comment.

Doing Voice Over for Hind Swaraj

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I was invited to do voice over for preparing the audio of Hind Swaraj. This was my first time and I am quite excited.
Hind Swaraj is a political theory written by Gandhi in 1909. It is written in the form of a dialogue. This dialogue is between a reader and the editor. This form is known to Gujarati literature for a long time but the characters that Gandhi chose of reader and editor makes it a modern piece of writing. Hind Swaraj deals with a critique of Western civilisation and suggests an alternative that, according to Gandhi, would best suit the needs of India.

I was invited to lend voice to the reader. In doing so, I began exploring the nuances of this character. This reader is an impatient, opinionated, but thoughtful man. I am a woman, so while reading the text, I said that I need to change the gender in the sentences. The person coordinating it took a long pause and then said he needs to ask his superior.
However, this idea just stayed with me. How will this audio clip be received, if a woman played this role of an impatient, opinionated but thoughtful person? A woman aggressively (in a ‘manly’ manner) questioning Gandhi. Well, Gandhi would not have objected to it as he had a knack for dealing with issues that divides the society. Gender being one of them. He, probably, would have seen it through as an experiment. But, then, what about the contemporary Indian society? Can they deal with such a modern woman?

This is my first voice over and I must say I am quite excited about it. There could not have been a better book than Hind Swaraj for doing a voice over. I hope to pass my audition.

A Magazine For the Children and By the Children- II

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A few days ago, I shared with you that I am facilitating children from a nearby village to bring out a children’s magazine. Our work began on 4th January with our (me and the group of children) first meeting in which all children showed great enthusiasm and volunteered for various activities. There are around 18 children in the group, aged between 8 to 14 years. We only work for two hours each Sunday.

This magazine is an experiment for me. I wanted to understand and implement Nai Talim (Gandhian scheme of education) through this magazine. Therefore, the magazine is produced in-house with zero budget. Everything from writing to designing the blueprint is done by hands and once the scanned blue-print is printed then we will add colour to the magazine by hand.

Today, the trickiest part of the magazine, that is, designing of the blue-print was completed. We saw the first look of our magazine. This moment was precious for all of us. After looking at the blue-print, a child said that we should sell this magazine at Rs 20/- as we have worked so hard on it. Another child immediately corrected by saying that the pricing will be decided based on the printing and colouring costs. Well, as this child said we will finalize the pricing of the first issue of our magazine on 7th February when we have the list of expenditure in hand. On 7th February, we have the tedious task of completing 200 copies of the first issue of our magazine by adding colour. Then we will be given copies for distribution by the distribution team.
This journey has been a huge learning experience for me. I hope children enjoy reading it.

A Magazine FOR the Children and BY the Children

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On 1st January 2015, I shared with you about my idea of encouraging reading and writing amongst rural children on Sunday morning workshops. There have been some exciting developments on this front. After writing this post, I thought that on the forum meant for discussing Gandhian philosophy it would be apt to bring out a magazine based on the principles of Nai Talim.
Nai Talim is a scheme of education proposed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1937. Mahatma Gandhi proposed crafts to be the medium of education, that is, through the practice of crafts students will learn disciplinary knowledge.
The three principles of Nai Talim are:
1. Self- awareness
2. Self-reliance
3. Self-discipline
All these principles are held together by experience and social responsibility. I thought a magazine would be the best idea to experiment the potential of Nai Talim. So, I floated the idea, of bringing out a magazine and the selling it in the village, in the workshop amongst children and other facilitators. Everyone accepted it enthusiastically.Their energy and enthusiasm made my day.

But with it began a difficult journey. Difficult because if it was to be done through Nai Talim then students will have to be trained in all skills related to publishing a magazine.
Besides reporting, children volunteered to take responsibility of different tasks. Our work began two weeks ago when students went to collect information about their village. A group of children suggested interviewing the village head and prepared a questionnaire for it.
Today was the third week and we managed to compile 15 entries in the form of information; interviews; opinions; cartoons; social messages; drawings etc. It was heartening to see this. However, I understand a lot of work is still left to do with only two more Sundays to go before the preparation of final copies.
Based on Gandhian principles, minimum machinery will be used and everything will be in-house, as a result it printing cost will be very less. As of now, we have taken a desktop with printer and scanner on loan for bringing out 200 copies. That will be the only expenditure incurred on the magazine. Everything else will be done by hand, including designing and preparing a blue-print.
All this work will be done by the children and for the children.
Lot of work needs to be done, and I am a bit anxious now.
Wish me Luck.