The Pathways of the Sky


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She Dared to be Different

The first Kamala Das poetry awards

held in Pune, by Gyan Adab, 25 September, 2016.

This gorgeous wooden folding frame in black and gold was the prize.


From the Old Playhouse


You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her
In the long summer of your love so that she would forget
Not the raw seasons alone, and the homes left behind, but
Also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless

Pathways of the sky.

Kamala Das


The time – the turbulent 70s. India was in turmoil and everything seemed to be more intense. The decade began with a war and went on to witness the emergency.

Perhaps because I was in college, it seemed that everyone had a pet cause and was passionate about it. Emotions were running high, perhaps because India was emerging from the ruins of colonialism and trying to find its own voice.

It seems to me that the whole country was on one major mission to discover itself, in various ways, but with equal, rebellious passion.

Feminism was raging. Women were out burning bras – this in an era when their families could not even use that word in public.

Communism was raging too. Other students were living in communes, making posters, taking out morchas and generally making their presence known. A group from the colleges, with a perfectly timed attack, took over the Mumbai University for a day and appointed their own vice chancellor. I don’t even remember what it was about but those were very exciting times.

Others were publishing underground pamphlets and circulating them. It seemed there was always something going on

I read all the feminist books but took no part in the public displays, but there were other things for me. Poetry was thriving too and there were readings and lectures everywhere. I participated in every one I could find and revelled in them.

And my life was about to get even more exciting when I met a woman who made a huge impact on me – Kamala Das.

She lived just around the corner in Mumbai and very soon I was spending every free moment in her house which was a magnet for writers, artists and poets, playwrights, astrologers, scroungers and creative people of all types.

Every month she held the Bahutantrika, the many stringed instrument, an apt name for an endless evening of art and literature. I don’t think I missed one from the day I met her.

Those were the days of My Story, her book, which was being serialized in a Mumbai paper. She was treading controversial ground there and received both acclaim and brickbats. The censure hurt but it never stopped her and that remained true for the rest of her life. She lived her own way, daring to be different, completely unaffected by what others said.

This is what I really admired about Kamala Das – her intense passion and her courage.

The first thing you noticed when you met her was her intensity, her warmth and her generosity.

She wrote about topics that are often taboo in society of those times such extramarital affairs and female sexual hungers. In those days it was completely revolutionary and her open honesty is revolutionary in any age.

It took profound courage to follow her own path, however controversial. I think my life would have turned out very differently if I had not met her in those turbulent times. Which is why I was very pleased when I was invited to speak about her at the first Kamala Das awards ceremony, followed by the film of an heartfelt interview between Randhir Khare and Jaisurya Das, her youngest son.

Randhir Khare, director of Gyan Adab, whom I first met a long time ago at Kamala’s house, is doing work that Kamala herself would have understood completely because it is what she used to do all her life with a rare and beautiful generosity of spirit – encourage creativity in others, mentor the young and hold an open house.

I only hope that, if she is looking down on us from somewhere up there, she is smiling.


Beauty and Poetry


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The Triveni Haiku Utsav which took place last weekend in Pune. Organised by Kala Ramesh.

A happy weekend catching up with old friends and making some new ones, listening to good poetry and watching dance and film. Waking up at 6 am was tough, and so was leaving Mumbai in the driving rain, thunder overhead, but the company and the poetry made up for it.

This is the Naad Anunaad Haiku anthology which was released at the Utsav.




Lighting the lamp



Release of the anthology


Haiku accompanied by sound by Mariko Kitakubo


The common man towers over the entrance to the Symbiosis auditorium


The Ashok club house venue


Johannes Manjrekar, K Ramesh, Gautam Nadkarni and Geetanjali Rajan during a session


Young dancers  accompanying haiku


Hard at work in groups, writing a renku

The workshop is filling fast


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There is quite a bit of interest in my workshop on how to publish your own ebook at low cost. Maybe because I don’t know any others who are doing this kind of workshop.

When I wanted to self publish my first book I had no idea what to do. It was a very confusing world and it took me ages to figure it out. Now I have six ebooks out and feel I know a little. I have been working on my notes to make this workshop as comprehensive as possible.


Midday covered my workshop yesterday

See you there.

How to publish an ebook workshop


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Here are the details of my workshop.

If you always wanted to publish your own book but had no idea how to go about it, come across to Somaiya Centre on the 1st of October.


In case the details are not visible in the poster:

1st October 2016

At Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning

Saturday, 2 to 5 pm.

Fees, Rs 750.

See you there.

Workshop on how to publish your own ebook


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Mark this date in your calendar if you always wanted to see your name on a book cover.


1st October 2016
at Somaiya Center, Mumbai.
(I will confirm the time and cost or you can check with Somaiya center)


I am going to tell you exactly how to publish your own ebook.


Today anyone can do it.  The publishing field has leveled out so much that anyone with the desire and the willingness can publish their own ebook.


If you are able to do the work yourself, the uploading on the Kindle Direct platform is free and you can earn a large percentage of each sale. Writing and publishing ebooks is very big right now and I can’t think of a better time for you to become an author.


Its not a path for everyone.  You have to be willing to put in the time and effort. If you can do that, I can show you how to proceed and make your dream come true.


Yes, you can do it yourself. It takes work and careful attention but you can do it. Whether you want to publish just one book of your memoirs or take the tough path to make a career as a writer – it all begins with that first book.


This workshop is for you if you want to know the process. Of course, while you can publish your book, getting readers and marketing is a different topic entirely and not covered in this workshop. But I will give you enough to get your started and point our where you can learn more.


If you do not want to do the work yourself there are inexpensive alternatives. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it is very expensive. It is either free if you do your own work, or affordable if you get others to do it for you.


I have published 6 ebooks on Amazon. The first time I published an ebook it took me a year to figure it out and I gave it to others to upload for me. Now I don’t have to do that.  I published the last five myself, doing the writing, editing, cover and formatting on my own and it did not cost me a thing.


I am doing this workshop because people keep asking me how to do it and it needs explanations too detailed to do individually.


It’s unlikely that I will do this workshop again soon. I am a working author and  too busy writing books. So, if you are interested. mark this date in your calendar. (I will post the details soon.)


Let’s see if I can make it easier for you. See you on the 1st.

Life Crafting, just published


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My latest book is up, Life Crafting, Techniques for self growth and creativity.

cover sm


Available as an ebook on Amazon          

These are the chapters in it.

The Art of Visualisation- tells you how to visualise, why, sometimes it does not work and what to do about it.

The Words we Use- do you know how powerful the words you use to yourself really are? You can improve your life just by changing your vocabulary.

Do you Love your Body- do you listen to your body’s needs or do you just drag it around like a machine? Methods to become more responsive to your most important possession.

Open up your Creativity- if you always wanted to be creative but had no idea how, here are a few simple methods to get you started and keep you going.

The Trouble with Stress- everyone talks of stress but what is it and where does it come from?

Synchronicity and Flow- you don’t have to live in a state of high stress all your life. There is another way.

Keeping a Journal for Self Growth- why keeping a journal can enhance your life and seven reasons to do it.

Mandalas for Self Growth- a few stray marks on paper can be amazingly revealing. Examples from my workshops to help you understand the language of self-expression through drawing.

People Skills- simple methods to help you improve your relationships.

The Power of Mantras- what mantras are and how to use words as mantras.

This new world of ebooks


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I have been publishing ebooks for almost a year and the first thing I realised is that most people don’t even know what ebooks are. I am talking of India and a very modern city like Mumbai.

They say, I would love to read your book but I don’t have a kindle.

Do  you have a smart phone, I ask them.

They do have a smart phone but hold it out helplessly, totally unaware of what to do with it. To make an account and download an ebook is almost beyond their capacities. They ask sons or grand daughters to do it.

Or just shrug because its too complicated to contemplate.

I can understand most people being unaware of the online world, but this applies not just to the usual person who uses an expensive smart phone for nothing but making calls to their children abroad – it applies to other writers as well.

It will take time, especially for writers who have been around for a while but ultimately, they will have to deal with this strange and confusing new world. Their old world is dying. Bookshops are closing. The single narrow and crowded road which lead to a publisher contract is getting lost amid the brand new highways which are opening up for writers. Yes, you can ignore it – but it won’t go away.

In my book club the word ‘book’ still means the print variety. Now, however, a few Kindles have appeared. Most readers still order their print copies online or search the few remaining – and shrinking – bookstores.

I don’t like reading an ebook, its very uncomfortable, some of them say. I like reading a real book.

They are probably hunched in front of a computer unaware that the easiest way to read is an ereader. Or even a smart phone or tablet. No use telling them about it.

It seems that, for most people, the very vast and rapidly overwhelming online ebookstores are invisible. For them its still the few shelves crammed between colouring and children’s books. That space grows smaller as chocolates and gadgets grab the shelves once devoted to shiny new bestsellers.

I have news for all those people.

Ebooks is a one way street. Once you start reading ebooks you are not going back. Once you start writing ebooks, you may add print books or even publisher books, but it will always be ebooks. Like most technological advances it goes only one way.

I am lucky to be here so early when the whale has not turned – though that is due – so I can get a ringside seat as the seasons of writing and publishing change. With one difference. The old ways will not be coming back.

One world will shrink and shrink until its a pale ghost of what it was. The other will expand exponentially until it grows so overwhelmingly huge that it just can’t be ignored. I leave it to you to guess which is which.

the taste of sea breeze


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Its finally out, the anthology of our Mumbai INhaiku group. After two years of monthly meetings, even in the pouring rain, we put together a collection of haiku and related forms.

Its been fun getting it together for our second year. Everyone cooperated and helpd with the sometimes tedious task of editing and formatting. So here it is our first anthology. Take a look at haiku and senryu, tanka and the collaborative form of renku. And a new form too – renbun. Here it is.

final cover small

Available as an ebook from Amazon and you can download it free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. 

My fifth book in the  self publishing journey and this one was great fun to do in collaboration. I also enjoyed doing the cover – summer fishing boat – a very Mumbai sight. You often see these brave little boats with colourful flags even in rough seas.


Summer issue is out


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The summer issue of the World Haiku Review is up.

whr june 2016

The beautiful cover painting is Persimmons by Susumu Takiguchi.

Plenty of Haiku as usual, some on summer themes, some scifiku, haibun and One hundred haijin continued.

Its an interesting issue. Do take a look.

The making of a cover


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One of the things I really enjoy is being able to do my own cover. Of course, it is a time taking process and I conceptualize the cover when I begin the book. The cover is ready long before the writing and helps to keep me focused during the long process of writing, rewriting, editing, formatting and uploading. I put it as wallpaper on my phone to keep reminding myself.

My minimal art experience, and a lot of study, is now coming in useful. I draw the central image first, digitally, and then add texture, backgrounds and all the rest.

This is the cover for my latest book, 5 Minute Delight. It went through many steps to get to this point. After I published the book many people told me that they really loved the cover.

delight small


It took a long time to get there and these are the steps – and some missteps which I took. The first ideas did not work. I kept redoing it until I liked the result.

making delight cover 2

I knew I wanted a bright and cheerful cover, but not one which looks like a children’s book. I decided on a flower and chose a sunflower. I drew out the flower but somehow it just did not work. The colours never seemed to gel and the impact just was not there. The first panel at the top left shows the first attempt and then, I tried to play with the colours but gave up on the sunflower.

I looked around for another flower and thought of the rare blue Himalayan poppy, a favorite flower of mine. The third picture on the top row is my rough drawing of it growing out from a book. The book is about visualizations so that image seemed to fit.

The flower did not look real. I studied photos of it went back to work. The three photos on the right show the progression as I chose a blue – yellow, contrasting colour scheme, finished the flower and added the background. The size turned out wrong so I had to resize it as you can see in the bottom panel on the right. The drawing was too big and not enough room was left for the title.

After all, its a book cover not a piece of art. It’s like an ad for the book so title takes precedence. I reduced the size of the drawing.

And finally I got what I wanted. Then I only had to add the text. Which took another few days playing with fonts and placement. Then I sent it out to a few friends and they approved.

I had lots of fun doing it and liked the end result.

Now on to the next book and the next cover.