Category Archives: Diary of a Writer

A Little Circle Of Light

I might say it’s due to the antibiotics I’ve been on, for a week. My point of view is different but the picture is very much the same.

April brought a harsh 2017 to a head. Poetry has gone big and that means the possibility of money & fame. It’s bringing out the worst traits in people. Poetry requires one to share (or pretend ). So it’s darker and more uncomfortable than the same politics elsewhere. It’s turning out to be a hard year all around. In coping with their own lives, people react in poisonous ways towards other people – by lashing out, by becoming political or judgemental or by trying to control other people.

I felt very lonely two weeks ago. It made me angry and fearful and deeply sad. It forced out an important conversation. I did not like how it went but from sheer fatigue, I succumbed to an illusion that it got resolved. It pushed me into conversations of intimacy with other people. We always tend to think of intimacy as a soft, pretty, romantic thing but it’s not. Intimacy is the tender, slick, shiny pink of exposed flesh when the skin is peeled back. It’s really hard to deal with.

Looking back, I’m not surprised I caught a bad cold. I could blame it on the weather but my body is a metaphor for everything going on in my life. All the tangles, all the unshed tears trying to burst out of me all at once. I gave up and succumbed to antibiotics and blessed, drugged sleep. When I woke up, I was on stage at the NCPA. I delivered and walked away.

Yes, I said that. On Friday, I performed on the NCPA stage, one of the most prestigious performing venues in the country. It was a collaboration with Ishmeet Nagpal and Sudeep Pagedar. Our spoken word piece ‘The Parenting Economy’ debuted at the Laadli Media Awards for Gender Sensitivity in Media & Advertising. It was a chance to perform for the likes of Barkha Dutt (who introduced us), Shashi Tharoor, Dolly Thakore, Kamla Bhasin and Dr.A.L. Sharada. After our performance, I moved into the audience and watched the wonderful work being felicitated. It made all that usually occupies my mind, seem so trivial. Feminism is such an important issue and it impacts every human being on the planet. All the people in that auditorium that evening, even with all their complex backstories – they are all people who have driven things that changed many lives. I am but a minuscule voice in this rallying cry but it is a privilege to have this voice. As a blogger, as a stage performer, I have a chance to take forward an important truth that breaks status quo. I cannot let myself fall prey to such petty things as slam poets’ insecurity or fuckboi manipulation.

The wonderful Sharanya Mannivannan was there too to receive an award for her book ‘The High Priestess Never Marries‘. I think I’ve known Sharanya from my Desi Pundit days when I featured her blog. That admiration connection flowed into Twitter. When I saw her at the India Culture Lab event last year, I was blown away with her grace (physical and verbal). Hit by a panic-attack of shyness, I barely spoke to her. I meet people I admire so rarely now that when I do, I’m back to being an awkward 5-year old. She tweeted to me later asking why I hadn’t told her I was @ideasmithy. But she was kind, never wavering in her treatment of me as an equal. So it was an extra scoop of wonderful from the universe, to spot her in the audience and realise I’d be performing for her. We sat on the grass and chatted awhile afterwards. And it was nice.

Back home, my Facebook Events and Whatsapp try and ensnare me back into the dirty politics. I am a part of it too. I’ve brought my own rage and flinch reactions to it. I can see the ripple effects they’ve caused – cracks in perfect friendships, disillusion creeping into the bonhomie and a plaintive cry of hurt from someone I set in their place. Okay. I am done. The dregs are passing out of my system. It’s time for a new world. A new goal, a new network of relationships, a new me?

No. One thing that stands out clearly to me in this is what the real me is and that never changes. The real me is this one sitting calm and still, underneath all the pain and the disappointment and rage, beneath even the love and hurt and panic. The real me is hidden under layers of rotting tears, of congealed snot and undigested acid but it’s untouched and unfazed by it. The real me watches, offers caring when it wants, sits patiently when it sees that love will not be received and waits it out till the universe is ready again. The real me is a little circle of pure light. I’m sitting inside that right now and nothing can touch me. I’ll be back when you need me again. Till then, take care, you.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

NaPoWriMo 2017: Picture-verse W-Z

And the last week of April came to a close with struggles and resolutions, some that were overturned, some that were reconfirmed. My confusion and fatigue shows in the poetry but I think it is poetry. I managed to complete the challenge, even if a day late.

April 2017 was a month of 51 picture poems. That is why I haven’t blogged all month. Here’s the last edition of the April A-Z. The others were my daily YourQuote pieces. (Also read A-HI-O and P-V)

W is for Writer

X is for X-Rated

Y is for You

Z is for Zero

Read the entire April A-Z 2017 collection of picture-poems:

A-H
I-O
P-V
W-Z

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

NaPoWriMo 2017: Picture-verse P-V

By the third week of April, the writing fatigue started to show and I got a bit lax, skipping a few days and then binge-writing. But I pulled it off. I must add that I’ve also been doing my daily YourQuote poem in addition to these. A couple of times, I doubled up the same poem to also fit that day’s NaPoWriMo A-Z prompt. (Also read A-HI-O and W-Z here.)

P is for Pillowtalk

(feat. Reema)

Q is for Quiet

R is for Retail Therapy

S is for Shadow-boxing

(the day I cheated but not quite because this one is the truest truth I’ve written all April. In other news, the darkness is back.)

T is for Trampilicious

I’m not pretty or delicate. And neither is my poetry.

U is for U-turns

Remembering an ex, but what’s the use of those unless you can turn them into writing?

V is for Vhee!

Read the entire April A-Z 2017 collection of picture-poems:

A-H
I-O
P-V
W-Z

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

NaPoWriMo 2017: Picture-verse I-O

The second week of April was full of deep, piercing questions on love, ownership, boundaries and shame. And it showed in verse. You can read A-H P-V and W-Z here.

I is for Indian

J is for Jealous

K is for Knowing

L is for L❤️ve Poem

M is for Man

N is for Nightfall

O is for Orgasm

Read the entire April A-Z 2017 collection of picture-poems:

A-H
I-O
P-V
W-Z

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

NaPoWriMo 2017: Picture-verse A-H

I attempted NaPoWriMo, the worldwide challenge to write a poem a day and mixed it in with April A-Z. I also made every day a picture-poem. Here’s week 1. (Also read I-OP-V and W-Z here.)

A is for April Fool

B is for Belief

C is for Convenient

D is for Disillusionment

E is for Egg

F is for Facebook Friends

G is for Ghost

H is for Have You?

I found that just like with the daily fiction challenge, the truth starts to come out after the first few lines of pretty words. I also attempted rhyming now and then, something I usually avoid. Some days were a forced attempt, other days it flowed. I guess that’s the thing about writing challenges. All you have at the end of the day, is your truth. And that is all writing ever needs to be.

Read the entire April A-Z 2017 collection of picture-poems:

A-H
I-O
P-V
W-Z

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

BOOK Revi: Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

ewThirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book after hearing everyone talk about the television show (which I still haven’t seen). The Wikipedia entry promised that this would be dark and it wasn’t lying. It’s nowhere close to Gone Girl but I’d say Gone Girl’s Amy may have been something like this book’s Hannah Baker when she was younger.

The things that happen to Hannah expose the brutal gendered violence and hostility meted out to women all over the world, even in privileged groups like white urban America. Slut-shaming, fuckboy manipulation, bullying, stalking, harassment, rape…all of these find graphic mention in the story. These are important issues that do not get addressed enough and worse, are invalidated by even the legal systems across nations.

The blurb already tells you about the dead girl’s suicide note via cassette tapes. There is a whiny, accusatory tone throughout, which I suppose stays true to this being a diary entry style confessional about a suicidal (now dead) teenager. There is a very specific point where Hannah’s narrative goes from shocked victim to mentally unstable. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing since it seems to indicate that depression could be caused by external events rather than being an illness of its own kind.

It’s not very clear why Clay is part of this story at all, given there’s absolutely no foreshadowing or indication that she even knows of his existence. Similarly, Tony is a bit too deus ex machina. All the characters other than Hannah and Clay appear one-dimensional. I’m not sure that this is a deliberate attempt to establish an unreliable narrator. It just seems like poor characterisation. Even given the first person narrative, it’s interspersed with enough of Clay’s point of view to balance out the other characters. The book does not do this.

I guess in sum, I’d say this book could have been better but considering there isn’t one mainstream one addressing these issues among teenagers in an easy-to-read way, this is as good as it gets. It’s quite readable.

View all my reviews

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Trust. Friend. Forgiveness. Truth. And Some.

I haven’t written in over a month. And the first quarter of this year is almost over already. Well, it hasn’t actually been bad. Not if you refuse to think of “May you live in interesting times” as a curse.

One thing that I did this year was to stop trying to control everything and let myself trust more. The tricky bit of this is figuring out how much of it is trust in the universe and how much of it becomes laziness. As any control freak knows, there’s always a hidden lazy bum ready to slouch out and take over your life. But I’m learning.

I made a new friend. That is a big thing because my sociable personality and persona notwithstanding, there are very few people I actually feel a connection to. And this connection is exactly the same as falling in love. I fall in friendship. Talking to this person every day in a way that feels non-threatening to me helps me reflect on who I’m becoming. Know that feeling? No? It’s rare because people like me, we’re so busy falling into people and glorying in the sheer joy of it that we forget to stop and reflect on what an amazing process it is to dissolve and have another person dissolve with you.

Someone who hurt me came back. They always do. Especially the men. We are unfinished stories and people must come back to complete them, karmically speaking or otherwise. I don’t know if I am ready to forgive. I will probably need to, eventually. I’d forgotten, which struck me as a convenient way to get around this HARRRRD business of forgiveness. But life gets the better of me and send me back into the detention room of having to face what I don’t want to and forgive those who have sinned against me.

I don’t feel vindictive, though. The people who hurt me, are poisoning the pool around me, that pool of trust and joy and relating. They influence the space they inhabit, that contains me too. And if that is possible, it must be equally possible for me to influence the space back. And I choose positivity. I choose grace. I choose hope. I choose laughter. I am yet to learn gentleness and compassion. But I’m sure someone, somewhere else in these spaces will bring those to the pool and we will all benefit. For my part, I do my part and bring the best of me to my world.

I have actually been writing, though. Everyday almost. The YourQuote app may just be my flavour of the quarter (given that I’ve been on it for over a month). But I have been posting a short picture-poem every single day. I’ve been featured a few times as part of the best selections of the day. And once those overachiever milestones have been chalked up, I’m moving on to exploring the format, the medium. I like it. I’m doing pretty words but I am also telling the truth. Go, follow me. The truth gets easier to say if you stay in one place and just like the stage, this app has become an alternate safe space for my feeling-thoughts.

This post ends here and it’s messy and meandering. But every now and then it feels good to let this part of me slither out in between the pretty poetry bits and the hard-hitting declarations. This is me. Be well, you.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Bit Poetry & Bytes of EyeCandy

It turns out I can do pretty poetry, as long as it’s in small doses. Sudeep Pagedar pointed me in the direction of YourQuote and their daily word prompt has been giving me a reason to post a daily micropoem.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

You can follow these on my Instagram feed

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

Or my Facebook album

Or my Twitter feed.

Here are the links again: You can follow my micropoetry on the YourQuote app, on my Facebook album or as they appear on InstagramTwitter or the Facebook Page of this blog.

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Aren’t You Glad I’m Not Carrie?

I tell people being an only child made me a reader because there was nothing much for a kid in 80s to do. I tell them I grew up in an environment surrounded by books so it was inevitable I’d become a reader. I say being a writer is a subset of being a reader and I’m even more voracious than I’m prolific. But the truth is, like the category of this post is called, my soulmate truly is a book. Books have appeared, like guardian angels or fairy godmothers (whichever mythical being you like better) in my life at opportune times with appropriate messages. People and situations now feel like illustrations of whatever the books I’m reading are trying to teach me.

A fortnight ago, Vivek Jejuja put out a call asking for people with whom to discuss Stephen King’s Carrie. I haven’t been a fan of Stephen King for a number of reasons I’ll explain later. But I have been dying for a book conversation and I have been wanting an inroad to get to know the magnificent Vivekisms (who is already a good friend, only he didn’t know it yet). So I bought the book.

In the same week, an old school classmate called to tell me about a high school reunion. These two events are significant but only if you know what the book is about. So if you haven’t read the book and plan to, here’s your SPOILER ALERT.

I was far from being the popular kid in school. By far I mean, the exact opposite. I know a lot of people now who lament that nobody knew them in school. That’s really not the worst thing to happen to a child. The worst thing to happen to a child is other children who know you but not as someone they want to be nice to.

I am not going to lament the tortures I suffered in classrooms. I know that children have no perspective on the future or morals. I know a lot of them grew up to be pretty decent adults. And like the characters in ‘Carrie’, many of them probably didn’t even realise what was happening and if they’d thought about it, they’d be as remorseful. The big problem with bullying and harassment is that they look disproportionately different depending on which side of the fence you’re standing on.

Last year I was added to a school Whatsapp group and I had a firsthand experience of why this is a groanworthy ordeal for us digi-nerds. My phone was pinging at all hours of the day and night with 768 notifications from people from all over the world, the messages ranging from “HELLO GM! Sooo great to see everyone here!” to selfies to “Who’s here? Oh him!” I bore well with it for 2 days, setting it on mute even as it annoyed me. I am one of those people who only relaxes when all notifications have been cleared, unread emails/messages read and responded to and so on. Then one more member was added and the string of “Hi!”, “What’s up with you?”s began before he asked the inevitable “Who else is already here?” (honestly, can 37 year olds not figure out how to go to the Members list on a Whatapp group?). I groaned at the slew of repeat introductions, repeat-repeats and interruptions that would follow. Someone said “Ramya’s here too.” To which he responded,

“What? Buck-teeth Ramya?”

I stayed on the group another hour, long enough to read people’s sniggers, someone else say, “Dude, she’s here and can read your message” and his “haha, just kidding” followed by awkward silence on a group that had been pinging nonstop for 2 days. I shouldn’t have wasted even that hour before I took myself off the group.

I have learnt that people have zero empathy. I have learnt that people like to play ‘My woes are worse than yours’ which is the death of that thing called empathy. And I can tell that that boy (if I think of him as a man, it will make thinking about the human race too sad) doesn’t even think he did anything wrong. Who is laughing at a joke about somebody’s bad teeth? Everybody. Because this is not about bad teeth, body shaming or any of those things. It’s about getting used to treating people one way and logic, empathy or even human fairness be damned. It’s about robbing a person of who they want to be and forcing them into an unpleasant role for your own entertainment.

I’ve been troubled ever since I received the invitation to the school reunion, not wanting to seem petulant, wanting to be that ‘good sport’. But I realised as I read Carrie, that this was never going to change. People who saw me a certain way as children, are never going to see me differently. They will react badly if I try to get them to do so. High school reunions are for those who were cool in school. But if their lives continue to be so wonderful, why do need to go back to their childhood/adolescent selves? And how are they going to behave in order to fulfil that need?

chool was possibly the worst time of my life and that’s counting abusive relationships, dirty politics at work, unemployment and people I know dying. I had agency in all those cases, even if only over how I could respond. I had none in those horrible years between 3 and 16. I have no desire to relive it.

I do not have Carrie’s powers and that’s a good thing for the world. It’s time life started being things that were good for me too. So on Saturday, I chose not to go to the school reunion and spent it reading Carrie instead. Thank you, Vivek, for two new friends – you and a book. 😊

Here’s my review of the book:

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CarrieCarrie by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been skeptical about Stephen King for over a decade now, mostly because I read ‘Misery’ at 20 during a breakup and just when I was working to be a writer. Years later, I read ‘Dreamcatcher’ which even King fans tell me is not one of his good ones. A friend asked me to read ‘Carrie’ so I could discuss it with him, so I decided to give King novels another chance. I’m glad I did.

Much has been made about the first period experience, which triggers off the plot of this story. Stephen King does a commendable job, as a male writer, of highlighting girl/women’s trauma. Parts of it still had me thinking, “No, that’s not what a period feels like. A man obviously wrote this.”

For me, the more interesting parts were the rabid religious beliefs and the effects of toxic/abusive upbringing on a child. What set this story apart for me is that it tells of such a child who did rebel and break out of it (even if, with disastrous results).

The bullying aspect also felt realistic, not painting the bullies as bad people but just people caught up in things that they don’t think about and regret later.

And finally, there was the semi-epistolary narrative (the story switches between excerpts of news reports and actual plot). It felt like a bit too much emphasis on Carrie, the WEIRD one. But perhaps the novel wouldn’t have been as impactful without it.

I can see why Stephen King is considered one of the best popular fiction writers of out times. And I definitely intend to check out his other books now.

View all my reviews

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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