Tag Archives: Alphabet Sambar

I Wear: Ranger Ramya Goes Adventuring With Stories

Alphabet Sambar meets are always a pleasure. But getting up on a Sunday morning when the weather is so meh (rainy! cloudy!) needs all the willpower I can muster. So on this grey morning, I decided to ask colour to play sunshine to my mood. Here’s what I wore:

I Wear:

  • Yellow halterneck top: Flipkart
  • Olive green shirt: Cotton World
  • Denim miniskirt
  • Olive green boots: Pavers
  • Peacock necklace: Globus

* This video was shot by Gautam Sukhija.
If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

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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.

I Wear: Orange Is The New Everything

Sundays are Alphabet Sambar days and this Sunday brought the kind of sunny weather that I’ve been craving for weeks. I also recovered from a bad acidity/migraine attack the previous day and was feeling positively buoyant. So I took the sunniest colour I could find – orange – and painted my wardrobe in it.

I Wear:

  • Orange (coral!) tennis dress: AND
  • Distressed denim jacket: Forever 21
  • All-kinds-of-colourful sneakers: Adidas
  • Piggy earrings: Colaba Causeway
  • Lipstick: Obsession 03 Starry Matte Up Crayon by Faces Canada Ultima Pro

* The second part of the video was shot by Gautam Sukhija.
If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts.

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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.

Why Are So Many Mumbaikers Desperate To Kill Time?

Around a fortnight ago, a Caferati feedback meet I was at, was disrupted by a newcomer who started shouting at all of us and attacking us for giving feedback. It was deeply unpleasant and ruined the evening for everyone else. I wrote it off as that person being the kind of anamoly that one sometimes has to encounter. Why else would someone attack a feedback group for giving feedback?
Today, I’ve just declined nearly 50 requests to join Alphabet Sambar because they don’t write. Over the past few months, we’ve been getting a lot of requests and true to our original premise, we try and welcome everyone. But we’ve been getting a lot of irrelevant messages like “Good morning, have a great day”, jokes and pictures of food that have nothing to do with writing. Do people not understand how interest groups work? This by the way, is despite the fact that Alphabet Sambar has a very clearly stated description including the sentence ‘Please consider joining only if you yourself write‘.
 
At most offline events I go to (social media meets, board games events, standup comedy shows, poetry events, music events, bicycling trips), there is always a sizeable number of people who have no interest in what’s going on. What’s a person who doesn’t bicycle doing on a trip? Or someone who thinks board games are boring and stupid, spending an evening where everyone is at a board? 
We could crib about the general uselessness of people who only disrupt proceedings and don’t contribute. Enough has been said about desperate Indian men who only want ‘to make fransheep’. But I think there’s something larger at play.
 
A lot of urban Indians are desperate for companionship, a normal human need. But many of them also lack tangible hobbies, interests, ideas of their own or social skills. They mob places that other people go to, in some sort of dim hope of making connections. They don’t know what to say or what to do. Sometimes this comes through as gaucherie, sometimes it’s aggression. And it causes further animosity, politics and exclusivity with the original activity or hobby being completely lost.
Before you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, I’m basing this is on massive numbers of people who seem to have no reason to be at some of these events but are. Isn’t there a problem if, in a time-starved city, there are so many people just looking for ways to kill time? A hobby is a very important part of making a human being, a well-rounded one. Many of these people I encounter are well-educated and successful. But they appear to be nothing beyond their careers and their families. How is it that having an identity beyond one’s source of income is such a rare thing?
I don’t know other cities adequately but I’m told by friends and associates that it’s no different in Delhi or Bangalore. Are we making a country of people completely deficient in the vital skills of being human? Something feels terribly wrong.

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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.

I Wear: Citrus Sunday

An Alphabet Sambar meetspeak which is reason enough for me to get up early on a Sunday morning, even if it’s pouring cats and dogs. But I brought the sunshine with all the citrus colours – sunshine yellow, santra orange and screaming red.

I Wear:

  • Yellow hoodie – Coucou
  • Multicoloured high/low top – AND
  • Plastic boots – Paean
  • Lipstick – Red Addict by Faces Canada Ultima Pro

* This video was shot by Gautam Makhija.
If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

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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 onTwitter and Instagram.

The Moody Artist Cliche

This great myth of the tortured artist, the starving writer, the moody creator needs to be debunked once and for all. ‘Artistic temperament’ if it is a thing, has to do with being sensitive to the environment and creating from it; not using sensitivity as an excuse to be a douche. Disrespect, cliquishness, sneering, condescension – all of these are hallmarks of very limited human beings. Creators of every kind are people who take civilisation forward. An artist’s role is to hold a mirror up to society, to examine the experience of being human. One cannot do that unless one is first and foremost, a stable, sane human being.
 
Years ago, at a music event, my friend Amit Ahuja told me that as an artist, one must respect other artists and the sanctity of the space/forum/platform that allows artists to create. Jai Ranjit is a painter who also supports music, dance and writing and I’ve only ever heard good things from him about other creators. So much of my love for Manisha Lakhe and Suniti Joshi comes from the fact that they were respectful and supportive of what I created even though when we met, I was a newbie writer and they were veterans.
 
My avoidance of hiphop comes from an obvious source who believed in putting down every other artist and art form around. I now know that such behaviour stems from extreme insecurity and what kind of artistic reflection can one hope for from such an incomplete person? Hiphop, like every other form of art is independent of its practitioners flaws.
 
And in more recent times, there are poets and performers who show up at events only to perform and leave immediately. Thankfully, the spaces I frequent discourage this behaviour and extend their welcome to all manner of artists. Alphabet Sambar has very strict rules about listening and supporting other writers, in addition to taking one’s own work forward.
 
I hope more creators will stop chasing a glamorous (unhealthy) ideal and focus on their art/craft instead. And please, if you are a reader, listener, connoisseur of any kind of art form, stop enabling this negative behaviour and help us make better art instead.

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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.

All Fire And Brimstone

I’m sitting up late, waiting for Youtube to pick up the clips of a sparkling Tuesday evening in Thane where I performed my best so far. I went browsing through the ‘Performance Poetry’ tag on my blog while I waited.

Amidst the records of my performances, I’ve recapped so many ups and downs. I will live in interesting times all my life. It’s not so much what happens to me as what I make of it. Manisha says I’m vulnerable, a fact she points out as logical deduction from my hair-trigger temper, my dramatic dissatisfaction with the world. I don’t know if she’s right (I’d prefer if I weren’t so transparent).

The last month was one of goodbyes and heaves and crashes. Of course, there will probably only be more and more of that as I get older. It has allowed me to let go and give up. I mean, I didn’t really have a choice but I did. It’s been a long, very long time since I had a vacation. Downtime at work doesn’t count as a vacation the same way agonizing over dying alone or pining about somebody doesn’t count as enjoying your singledom.

I don’t really know where I’m going professionally or personally. Really, other than not knowing, I’m feeling quite okay. If I allow myself room to feel answerless, to drift in grey, then I’m able to see it’s not sadness, not pain, not ill health, not confusion. It’s just that transition, empty time between one dramatic event and the next. I know now there will be something else around the corner.

I felt something for somebody. Perhaps I still do but it has ebbed as his presence waned. It still flutters and fluctuates but only in surges inside my dreams and my mind. He knows nothing of it and nor do most people around. It’s okay. I’m hoping it’ll carry me through till the next thing comes along that my heart can play with.

Alphabet Sambar has moved beyond my tightly held reins too. It was getting too big for me to manage anyway. Other people are driving it forward, not always in ways I would like it to go. But I suppose this is an essential part of being a community manager – letting it mutate and grow as it will. Who said I needed to birth a baby to learn about growing pains and the empty nest syndrome?

I ached and raged over JUST TOO MANY THINGS crashing down on me on Monday. A webinar that crossed 100 participants when I only expected about 30, resulting in chaos that I saved. Drive-by retweets and Facebook notifications. Yes, I know all of that seems like adolescent melodrama and so what? They’re my feelings and I know just how deeply they shake me.

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Image via Unsplash/Olivier Miche

But Reema said something in her maddeningly sane and sage way. And she said, “You cannot be a Leo Rising with style & flamboyance when things are going okay & forget to roar through situations that have so much attached baggage”. Yes, I’ve been plunged so deep within my own inky wells of Cancer Sun and Pisces Moon that I’ve forgotten I’m also the goddamn Golden Girl up above. Time to bring the fire back. Or really, well, look that way.

What else can I say? Well, I really hope I can find something or somewhere or someone to fall in love with. This will always be important to me. I’ve always known that and I feel able to admit it now. I don’t feel truly alive unless I’m at least a little in love. And I feel, a helluva lot. I don’t have to be ashamed of it. And I don’t have to fear it. I break, yes I do. And people hurt me because they are uncomfortable around emotion (their own and hence, other people’s). But that’s not me. I am perfectly at home within my torrential, mercurial, mad emotions. I am the opposite of the calm at the center of the storm. Or rather I’m the silent pinpoint within the a raging tornado within a bewildered Earth.

Yeah.

WCMumbai 2016: The Community Manager – The Future Of The Blogger

I was a speaker at WordCamp Mumbai for the third time running. This time, I did something different. I walked up onto the stage with only my thoughts and nothing else. No Powerpoint, no podium, no rehearsed speech. Just me and my ideas. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Tiny Tales: Luka

I wrote this for an Alphabet Sambar prompt. Several members of the group said they did not get it. But two others did and liked it. Tell me what you think. Also, to keep from biasing you, I’ve posted the prompt at the bottom of the story and not here.

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

Luka

The man clutches the bottle to him, his spirit hungrier than his stomach, for succor. The glass is warm, from hours of holding and caressing. But it stays unyielding. He clutches it closer. The drink is long gone and he has no money for more. But he is convinced that the magical respite it brings, has seeped through to the bottle. He will take the bottle with him. He has paid for it, fair and square.

The fingers of his left hand close over its neck and he picks it up. His right hand supporting its base, he curls it up inside him, warm from the weather outside.

“Mine.” he croons.

On the street, an old woman stares at him. Her hair turns to hissing snakes as he passes, but he knows she is harmless. Medusa fallen from the grace of a Greek god. She told him her story once, how her lover had cut her and dropped her like garbage, because his mother didn’t approve. She was a kindred soul in agony. She frowns at him now.

“What you got there?”

“A handful of wishes.” He replies, allowing her a peek at the lovely succor his coat has been hiding. But only a peek. Kindred or not, he won’t share.

“Mine.” he mutters.

“Won’t bring her back, you know.”

He gives her a gentle smile. He knows, of course. It’s the first rule. Or maybe it’s the second. No wishing for love, no wishing to bring back the dead. But she’s looking at the bottle so hungrily now that he moves away. No one must know what he has.

He reaches his building door and looks up. He strokes the bottle but nothing happens.

“LUKA!!” he says.

The noise in his right ear gets louder and he stumbles. Then, two small hands reach around his waist and start to pull him up the staircase. He reminds himself to recast the wishes better in the morning. He doesn’t like being kept waiting at his own door.

“You’re late, Luka.”

“I fell asleep.” says the little voice, slightly muffled in his jacket.

“Djinns don’t sleep.”

The man smiles. He remembers his training. Djinns are very sly creatures but they are pure magic. This one has an angelic face. He looks exactly like a nine year old. Luka. But Luka is magic. He can make wishes come true, provided those wishes are correctly framed. Mostly he is really very good. But with djinns you never know. He has to keep an eye on the bottle at all times.

“Mine.” he whispers again. His elbow knocks against the djinn’s head, as his grasp tightens around the bottle and he hears a little cry. The djinn looks up at him, eyes filling with tears. He puts his left hand on the little head and strokes the hair. Such a guileless face. The eyes just like hers.

They reach the door and Luka lets him go. Immediately the man crumples, his knees buckling. The bottle falls out of his hand and rolls away. He lunges after it in panic and grabs hold of it, before it hurtles over the staircase. Luka is still standing at the doorway frozen.

“You little shit. You made me fall. Trying to break the bottle, are you?”

He gets to his feet, not unsteady anymore. The bottle has given him some of its power, from four hours of holding.

Only the old woman on the street hears Luka scream.

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

The prompt was:  Dijnns are cursed malevolent entities known to twist innocent wishes. Dijnns are like temptations; fulfilling wishes without hard work. Dijnns represent the ‘easy way’ to get our wants. So this prompt is to write about the wishes that Dijnns can fulfil or can’t fulfil. You can write about Djinns and or wishes, together or individually. Write about you as a Djinn and the interesting journey you have had. Or write about a conversation that you may have with a Djinn. Or go personal and write about personal wishes. How your wishes make you different from others, and how much you are willing to risk to fulfil your wishes. Or go all psychological, ‘Why do you wish what you wish?’ Also remember, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” Couldn’t resist the song, from pussy cat dolls :).

*If you’re a lover of words and like the idea of prompts, join Alphabet Sambar. We’re always happy to meet new members. Alphabet Sambar is on Facebook and Twitter. To attend a meet, shoot me an email at ideasmithy[at]gmail[dot]com.

How To Make A Paper Plane

Rochelle brought her wonderful self to Alphabet Sambar and my life last year. She also carried us in the direction of Performance Poetry. In the past year, she has conducted several workshops on the art form. And last week, she hosted her first ever Open Mic at Me So Happi. As a show of support, I said I’d be there. But I got swept up in her infectious warmth and was inspired to give it a shot myself. So here, wonderful world (because I’m feeling that good!), is my maiden performance. You can see Rochelle in the corner just behind me, cheering me on.

Rochelle, thank you for being a wonderful person and for showing me how it is possible to be both warm and an independent woman.

This event has whetted my appetite and I’m hoping to do more. If you’ve been following my journey, you’ll see how this could be a milestone for me creatively and individually. Please leave a comment with any thoughts you may have.

Note: Alphabet Sambar is a community project for writers, that I began in October 2013. Today we have over 100 members spread across 7 countries and 14 cities. Mumbai is our most active spot. We meet every Sunday to share our writing, critique each other’s work and have a geeky laugh or two over words. If you love writing and conversations about words, come join us! Alphabet Sambar is on Twitter and Facebook. You can also write to me at ideasmithy at gmail dot com if you’d like to attend a meet.

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