28 Nov 2015

Insight Stories | The New Logo

August 2013, when I started writing this blog, Insight Stories looked like...

Two books in a shelf with a ball beside them to indicate playfulness.

Stories evolve with time and I hope this blog did along with me.
Glad to present the new logo of Insight Stories.

When we start every work with a "श्री",why not stories?
Let's sit around our digital bonfires(laptops and mobile devices) and celebrate our stories.

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26 Nov 2015

3 Flowers, Superstars and Intolerance

That day on the street corner, in that stinky garbage bin which we always avoid passing by, 3 dull, dry and dying flowers were talking with joy.

The first flower said, "I was at the Mohammad's Dargah. How peaceful were those moments!"
"I was at the cemetery beside an old man at his funeral. Poor chap!" said the second, shedding tears.
"Being Ram Janma, I was offered at the Lord's feet yesterday. What a grand celebration it was," said the third.

Up they went, being lifted into a garbage collection truck. Beside them was a crumpled newspaper with news of superstars speaking about intolerance in India.

The headline read “Trending Now:  #Intolerance”.

A Dargah is an Islamic shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint or dervish. 

Ram Janma is celebrate in India as the birth of Ram also known as Raghava, the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and king of Ayodhya.

Information Courtesy: Wikipedia

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25 Nov 2015

Poet Borkar – The Flower Pollen!

Balkrishna Bhagvant Borkar (बा.भ.बोरकर)
A poet handsome in every sense, inside out, just like he says आम्ही हो फुलांचे पराग! (Eng Trans: I’m like the flower pollen!)

नाही पुण्याची मोजणी is one of his poems which will guide us within every time we read or listen. The poem is so beautiful (didn’t know a single word to express the experience, let’s say beautiful for now!) that I wanted it to be shared with my friends who do not understand Marathi.

Translating a poem without diluting its essence is a challenge. Here’s a humble attempt. Would love to read your thoughts about it, don’t forget to comment.

(Original Poem in Marathi)

नाही पुण्याची मोजणी

नाही पुण्याची मोजणी
नाही पापाची टोचणी
जिणे गंगौघाचे पाणी

कशाचा लागभाग
कशाचा पाठलाग
आम्ही हो फुलांचे पराग

आम्हां नाही नामरूप
आम्ही आकाशस्वरूप
जसा निळानिळा धूप

पूजेतल्या पानाफुलां
मृत्यु सर्वांगसोहळा
धन्य निर्माल्याची कळा

(Attempted Translation)

Purity Unmeasured

Purity unmeasured
without the prick of sin
life is the flowing water of Ganga

not in a chase
I’m the flower pollen

Without name and form
nature of the sky I am        
just like blue blue incense

For flowers offered in worship
death is but an eternal ceremony
praise the state of flowers stale

Listen to Pandit. Jitendra Abhisheki presenting it: https://youtu.be/tZol6tvKek8

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23 Nov 2015

A Short Story | Rains in Diwali

"It's raining in diwali!",
said the surprised wet shivering electric diwali lights to each other from the neighbouring windows.


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21 Nov 2015

6 Takeaways from #SMW15 | Spinning Content - Writing for the Web

Recently I was at Social Media Week Mumbai 2015 | Day 6 held at Indian School of Design & Innovation.

Team Blogsters (from L to R: Kauro, Pooja, Deepa and Me)

The panel discussions, keynotes and talks were so diverse and powerful that it will be exhausting to read about it in a single post. Get the highlights of the day and more on SMW's channels: Twitter or Facebook page or my Twitter profile.

For me the key highlight on Day 6 was the workshop "Spinning Content - Writing for the Web" by Parineeta Mehra, Founder of Look Beyond.

Here are the 6 takeaways from the session.

#01 Write, write and write! Make new mistakes and learn from them.

#02 Keep the content precise. "Does it convey what you exactly wanted to express?"

#03 Original, authentic content is the king. It adds more value than anything else.

#04 There are no shortcuts to good content.

#05 Don't let your ideas fly away. Pin them down. A pocket diary, or few apps like Paper or Skitch can help.

#06 What to do when you face the "Writer's Block"? Go, get some fresh air!

Thanks BlogAdda, Parineeta Mehra and Social Media Week for the awesome time we had and connecting me with these creative guys.

And before that awesome idea you just had flies away, check out this creative pocket diary and note them.

Keep writing!

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17 Nov 2015

Breakup | Kal Aaj Aur Kal

It was the third bottle of Budweiser she was gulping down, sitting near her granny’s feet and playing “Best of Sad Hindi Love Songs” on her iPhone 6s. Now, there wasn’t a thing she could see clearly after innumerable streams of tears had rolled down her cheeks having originated through her now swollen eyes.

"Oh no, not again! One more breakup?" asked granny trying to suppress her laughter.

As the sound of sobbing increased the granny took her out in the balcony.

“Your relationships are so brittle, they breakup like chalks. Don't give me that look. This is your third breakup, right?”

“Fourth!” The sobbing increased again.

“Oh dear” the granny couldn’t stop being amused.

“Don’t take what I’m saying seriously. After all I’m just a grumpy old woman. Who am I to tell your generation what you should do? You all are smart enough.

Each one of you is talking so much all the time that no one has the time to listen to what the other is saying. Being online, texting constantly and still your relations fail to grow?

Trust is lost over silly reasons which you take to extremes sometimes fuelled by the silly Bollywood blockbusters and pathetic songs. Love happens on the first day, you go for a movie on the second and on the third day you are already listening to Ankit Tiwari’s “Sun raha hain na tu…” and drowning your “gum” in that bottle of budwem... what's that called???

“Budweiser. But granny what’s my fault…”

Do you see it? Even now you are not letting me complete. I’m not your guide or philosopher – I don’t have that authority. All I have is my own experience – no self-help love guides.

There was a time I was away from your grandpa for an entire year when I was completing my graduation after marriage. We wrote on a post card once a month. Things were not easy then – we couldn’t afford a phone call. Not that our longing to meet and see each other was any less. That one year taught us both something which no amount advice or counseling could ever.

Relations are not like job hunting or window shopping. You go after them like crazy. It takes time to grow and evolve.

It's doesn’t take time to text "It's over!" but difficult to accept the other and embrace the person completely as he or she is.

Your have cultivated the taste of “quick and instant”. Not your fault – it’s the way your environment is. I listen to boys and girls on their smart phones many times during my evening walks and it seems really funny - "I'm just like that! Take it or leave it."

Everyone is trying to live in their inner compartment and at the same time share it with someone they want without even a slight change. Differences are bound to happen when two minds and hearts meet. The fun is in accepting and enjoying them. Your phones are getting smarter each day – it’s time your relations become more sensitive and sensible with them.

Even I have acted like a fool during my early days – when I felt insecure. Sometimes it is not that you are running away from the other after a breakup – it’s running away from yourself, trying to cover up the insecurities inside and bloated hurt egos. And this doesn’t mean banging your head against a wall by being in a relation just for the sake of it when it doesn’t work.

Who am I to tell you all this? Maybe you are meddling up people and things. There's so much available for your entertainment that unknowingly you may end up thinking of relations in the same line.

Being together may not seem to make much difference today when you are independent, earning
well, and young. Being together may not reduce the number of problems you would face. It will definitely make half the worries and double the strength.

Stop your ttyl madness. Don't donate your tears and money this way to these sadness propagating singers and beer companies.
Go ttyl: talk to your love.

End of Story

So, what's your choice?
A. Buy iPhone 6s
B. Listen to Top 20 Bollywood Hindi Sad Songs
C. Share this post

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15 Nov 2015

Tercets | The Play of 3

Numbers, numbers, numbers! Like a mathematician numbers matters to a poet. Maybe more.

More than a deliberate attempt at crafting 3/5/7 line poems, there is something natural, existential, living about these which can be lost in explanation and reasoning. Just like Albert Einstein said, "...as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure."

Tercets are one such phenomenon. They are three lines of poetry that may make a complete poem or a stanza.

Few Tercets which I wrote even before I knew they existed.

1. Death

Lock the doors,
or keep guards.
The mocking death always plays swift.

2. Young

Young leaves dance, happy and content.
Old ones fall down,
never to meet again.

3. The Concert

The strings stopped strumming
and the bow stopped moving.
The concert began. 

14 Nov 2015

Paris Terrorist Attacks | PM Modiji Are You and Your Citizens Listening?

Writers must not always be lost in their solitude. When time comes they must relentlessly write against the wrong. They are a part of the society.

Yes, I know this is not a story or a beautiful romantic poem. However saddening it may be, but we must speak about this today. NOW.

Since the Paris attacks happened I see a lot of "Praying for Paris victims" posts. Prayers are the first emotional response. Nothing against them. But we pray and forget.

Going beyond prayers and sympathy, India needs to learn from this incident and further push its efforts towards Zero Tolerance Against Terrorism.

Terrorist attacks are not a border security issue. Can happen anywhere right from your local malls to colleges and theatres.
Let the government do its part. But are we vigilant enough as citizens?? 

When we don't care to switch off the fans when getting down from our 12/15/17 coach local trains which burn up loads of electricity, who cares to give a damn about an unidentified baggage? Of course "Do we have time for all these. And what is the police there for?"

Some 400 million people have zero access to electricity. You can read it here: www.worldbank.org

Once lives are lost we march with candles in hand and the media covers it beautifully. Tweets, Likes, Shares and Email Protests. THE END.

India is more than a society of emotion, religion, arts, celebrities and spirituality: a society of vigilant activists and amazing human beings. 

PM Modiji are you listening? And most importantly is the Indian in you who becomes patriotic on 15th August, 26th January and during the Cricket World Cup matches, listening???

Share this post if it matters.
#parisattacks #ZeroToleranceAgainstTerrorism #PMModi

10 Nov 2015

Let There Be Light!

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8 Nov 2015

The Last Besan Laddu

Rohan, being little grumpy that night and little tired after the cricket match his team had lost, was lying on the bed with his back towards the ceiling, listening to the sound of the old grumpy fan stirring waves of warm air.

His granny had given him a nice scolding for finishing off the last besan laddu she had kept reserved for his elder sister, who would be coming from the city in her diwali vacations.

The loving enmity between the brother sister pair obviously made Rohan the suspect in her eyes. Now she was sitting beside him trying to console him and wiping away her own tears, feeling guilty of the scolding act.

In the meanwhile, Manju the 2.5 year old cute cat, lying alone on the attic, was smacking away remnants of the last besan laddu off his whiskers.

3 Nov 2015

BNLF: My First Indiblogger Meet

Compared to what was a soothing, dreamy world of literature at the Tata Lit Live (did you miss the post?)  the Blog Now, Live Forever (BNLF ) was a fast paced exhilarating ride at The Lalit Mumbai.

Oops! I couldn’t make to Day 1 at BNLF, but from what I heard and read it was a super-exciting start of the most disruptive conference on blogging by Indiblogger.

I was lucky to immediately connect with two fellow Indibloggers, Geo and Nikhil, right from the first coffee break.  Geo, from Kerala, blogs on technology reviews. You can follow his blog here: http://www.geojolly.com

Nikhil, from Bangalore, blogs on a variety of technology related topics, being passionate about Cloud computing. You can follow his blog here: https://www.pnikhil.com

Christopher Trappe, IMA Internet Marketer of Year – 2015, is a content marketing strategist and consultant. 

Christoph’s 3 hour session on “Six steps to stop traditional marketing and start authentic blogging” interspersed Q&A, felt like only an hour. My takeaways from this session were:

“Families with a shared narrative are stronger. Same goes for a company”

“The best SEO is an authentic story.”

picture courtesy: Nikhil

The fun activity before lunch was Master Class with Chef Rajeev Kumar who demonstrated the Italian cuisine Ricotta Spinach Stuffed Tortellini Pasta on a Bed of Mushrooms.

The second session was “7 Key Steps to Blogging Mastery” by Jeff Bullas, blogger, author, strategist and speaker.

My takeaways from this session:

“A blog is a digital asset for life.”

“Blogging is digital marketing with passion.”

“Blogging is about passionate interests that intersect.”

“By blogging you get to talk with your global tribe.”

And of course, being an avid reader himself, Jeff talked a lot about my favourite interest: reading books and shared a treasure of book titles worth reading.

Thanks Christoph, Jeff, The Lalit Mumbai and of course Indiblogger for this most disruptive conference on blogging!

The first literature festival I attended - Tata Lit Live 2015

Disclaimer: This account is my personal experience and the views expressed may differ from other attendees’ at the festival.

Day 1 | 29th October 2015

Having managed to keep myself from diving deep into literature or arts festivals for few years for silly reasons, I couldn’t resist myself from attending the Tata Lit Live 2015 at NCPA, the Sixth Mumbai International Literary Festival.

The first workshop I attended was Robert Sullivan’s “Crossing the threshold of a poem: Translating emotion into words.” Robert currently teaches a popular creative writing class at MIT's MSVA Campus. You can read more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Sullivan_(poet)

Robert was really a cool guy, great listener and really sensitive person. Of course how could he be a poet if not sensitive? When you observe a person doing mundane things like lifting a cup of tea with great care, I know it may seem nothing extraordinary, but the feeling of being at ease and warmth is rare to see these days even in artists. That’s what was special about Robert.

“Breathe life into the poem” he said during the workshop where it seemed we were crossing thresholds all the time between the concrete and the abstract, between surreal emotions and reality like the motion of waves moving between back and forth.

The group exercises really made the workshop great fun. I connected with many poets, younger and older, especially with Sumithra and Chintan. Sumithra unfortunately didn’t have a Twitter handle so that we could connect after the workshop. No it’s not what you are trying to guess! She was really cool and one of the very few grandmothers who attended the workshop. Her poems had that warmth & simplicity which I often find when I’m having a conversation with my mother. I’m sure you experience it too. But I missed out noting down her email address.

Are you reading this, Sumithra? I’m that bearded guy whose poem “Bono” you loved.

Here’s the poem for you.

Poem: Bono

Words sprinkled on yellow pages,
fumbling, stuttering,
my fingers blue
making marks everywhere.

Words were scarce
feelings choking me
frustrated I tore off
page after page.

It was the night
I wept like rain
when died Bono
the dog I loved.

At last it came
my first poem
as I felt Bono
licking my feet.

And there was Chintan Modi, the unpretentious, humble guy, who even after working big names I am a fan of including Padma Shri Prahlad Singh Tipaniya, Linda Hess, MooraLala Fafal, Shabnam Virmani of the Kabir Project to name a few, was kind to listen to a seeker of literature like me. He is also the founder of FriendshipsXBorders (Twitter: @aaodostikarein) which bridges the distance b/w Indians & Pakistanis through peace education, story sharing, workshops & social media.

After this workshop we had a chai at Nariman point, one of the farthest ends of the city. In an hour of casual chat, we ended up talking from Kumar Gandharva, his music, the Kabir Project, Vikas Amte to our experiences about stories, literature and a lot in between.

Imagine colourful threads of conversation actually floating in the air between you and your friend. This was exactly how I felt that evening.

After a short walk on the Marine Drive promenade, and discussing his plans for a PhD from UC Berkeley we returned to Tata Theatre, NCPA, eager to listen to the elegant poet prince, Vikram Seth who was to be awarded the Poet Laureate Award.

It really felt good to see the elite & celebrities mingle freely with many newbies like me. It was the first time I was hearing Vikram Seth. Making fun of the turf wars between literature fest organisers in the country, which he compared to the Game of Thrones, he read out a humorous poem on the slight probable animosity between them.

Among the other poems he read my most favourite was The frog and the nightingale. Ignoring the constantly buzzing cell phones in the audience, he couldn’t bear it anymore when he was about to read the unpublished poem written on his Papa’s 90th birthday. The silence that grew deeper in the theatre as he read out the poem finally merged into a thundering applause which seemed as if it would never stop.

Day 2 | 30th October 2015

 After managing to find my way through the city’s ever-growing traffic and unreliable local trains, I reached a bit late for the conversation at Experimental Theatre, NCPA. It was between Rohan Murthy (or should I call him Dr. Rohan Murthy?) and Anil Dharker.

The mood of the conversation swayed between emotional and intellectual as they talked about poetry, arts, mathematics and computer science. The conversation centered around reviving our classics and Murty Classical Library of India (http://www.murtylibrary.com/), Rohan’s initiative for the same. It feels really proud to see someone from our generation not only think about it, but actually do something concrete.

Quotable quotes by Rohan,

"These books are time machines."

"Classics are a product of human consciousness."

So is that all he does? No, he is a passionate computer scientist. Read more about him here.

To sum it up, it was a passionate conversation between a humble, passionate guy and the strong witty Mr. Dharker.

After this I managed to grab a cup of coffee and catch this snap of Carved Chinese Ivory Caskets of 20th Century (cool ain’t it?) before attending the “Drawn to it: Graphic Novels and the modern society” a panel discussion between Arjun Gaind, the graphic author from India and Rutu Modan, the Israeli illustrator and comic book artist. (read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutu_Modan)

The Ivory Caskets 

This discussion reminded me of my caricature done by an ex-colleague, Pranay, over a year ago.

What struck a chord with me about Rutu was the simplicity and direct way in which she spoke. Hats off to Rutu for creating a wave of graphic novels in Israel, which had no such culture previously.

“No time for Silence: Why writers feel the need to speak up” was the next panel discussion at the Little Theatre.

T.M. Krishna (a.k.a TMK) the famous carnatic vocalist struck a chord with everyone with his clarity of thoughts. To me, the well known Indian writer in English, Nayantara Sahgal at 88 years of age, felt like a wise granny, although she didn’t look her age.

“The only way to teach is through being an example”, she said.

It was one of most beautiful and harmonious conversations I saw among two artists.

So what was Tata Lit Live '15 for me?
I can hardly wait to see the Tata Lit Live ’16 schedule.