An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I probably discovered Harry Potter when I was all of 11. The same age that Harry was, when he received his letter. The one that took him from a mundane, meaningless existence into a world where he became the writer of his tale – a hero, a winner, and a character that generations of readers would admire and come to love as their own. Call it the innocence of childhood, but that summer, it wasn’t just Harry who embarked on a life-changing journey. With him, I did, too. I too, went to Platform 9 and 3/4, boarded the Hogwarts Express and went to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, an adventure that would eventually serve as my getaway whenever I wanted a break from life. A would where I learned about magic, and friendship, and many other life-lessons. Like Harry, I too experienced an entire roller-coaster ride of emotions. I remember doing a victory dance when Harry won his first Quidditch match. Crying my eyes out when Sirius Black died, mourning the loss of the only family Harry had even known. Feeling the same fuzzy warmth, during the times Harry spent with Ron and Hermione, connected with that thread of emotion that makes friends, family.

I could potentially go on and on and on. Yet this would all take me to the same conclusion.My childhood would have never been the same without Harry Potter. My muggle friends would often laugh, even tease me at what they mistook as some absurd level of fandom. But only I knew that this wasn’t a temporary fad association. Rather one that would continue all the way up to adulthood, only to make me realise how Harry Potter was so much than a character. It was an entire universe of life lessons and experiences packed into a series of stories. One I know I’ll take with me to my grave.

As a reader I reveled in the bliss of the twists and turns of tales. As a writer and a woman, I learned that when a great story and a woman full of dream, passion, and resilience come together, they truly do create magic. I’ve been told that when you started writing the series, you were broke, starving and homeless. And maybe that’s why I can’t help but marvel even more at how you were able to create an entire universe from scratch, guided by nothing, but hope and a pen. I’ve even been told that you were rejected by many, many publishers before one decided to take a chance on you, and my heart skips a beat even to imagine what the world would’ve lost, had you given up on your dream midway.

As a reader, writer and storyteller, I can only aspire, to somehow half-replicate your success. But I know, that in a world where your story stand tall as an example of what one can achieve, should they choose to relentlessly follow their passion. I’ll always have big shoes to fill.

Thank you, for giving us, the Boy Who lived.

With love,

A Lifelong Potter Fan

 

TED TALKS – Bite Sized Gems

If there’s one thing lifelong learners like me have in common, its a mind that thrives on curiosity, creativity, and variety. One thats always looking to expand and stretch its horizons. While there are a few subjects of passion I’m personally always scouting content for, I’m often very pleasantly surprised on how much invaluable knowledge there is the world, on topics and themes otherwise considered frivolous. Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan of watching TED Talks.

What makes the TED Talks concept a winner, at least in my opinion, is the combination of high-quality crisp content, combined with great delivery, boxed within a specific time frame.

If I had to list 5 of my favorite talks, they would be:

  1. How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google manipulate our emotions, Scott Galloway
  2. Islamophobia killed my brother, lets end the hate, by Suzanne Barakat
  3. The genius of the London Map, by Michael Bierut
  4. We should all be feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
  5. A taboo way to speak about periods, by Aditi Gupta

If you’re a TED Talks person, I’m sure you have your own list of favorites. And your own  takeaways from them. Here are mine:

  1. Powerful storytelling always triumphs: I’m probably not as interested in the topic of menstruation, as much as I am, in learning what a woman in rural India did to fight period related taboos. The human element. The personal story behind the topic. Every TED Talk is, in its own way, a personal saga of triumph. Which eventually makes the subject even more profound.
  2. No topic is too trivial to be spoken about : From the genius of the design behind the London tube map, to a heart wrenching story of how a woman’ brother was killed by a neighbor in a hate crime, they’re all tales, dying to be told. Like I once heard someone tell me, good stories always find their listeners. And not all of them must be about princesses in castles.
  3. Empathy. Empathy. Empathy : Possibly the most underrated human emotion, if you were to ask me. One that comes alive repeatedly in these videos, and convinces you, that all we need to at times is to think with our hearts. Maybe even feel with our minds. Empathy isn’t just an emption, its a strong forerunner of life decisions. One that the world can benefit significantly from.
  4. Big things come in small packages : It never fails to overwhelm me, how a 20 minute TED Talk can have a deeper impact than pages and pages of written content can.
  5. The world’s a stage: And we’re its performers. And storytellers. And artists. Despite our differences of geography, society, color, gender and class. What unites us, is way greater than what divides us. Our stories and snippets from life, our shared struggles, and the lessons we learn from them. We’re a global village here, no single being excluded.

If I still haven’t convinced you why you should be watching TED Talks, maybe you can check them out here for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

We Forgot Our Men

As a society, culture, and the world, here’s where we went wrong.

We empowered our girls.

Inspired, motivated, informed them.

Equal opportunity, we called it. 

We sent them to schools. To ballet class. Yes, even karate lessons

We taught them to break stereotype, day, after day, after day.

To rewrite their own fairy tales. To play with guns if they wanted to. To wear blue and not pink if they preferred that instead.

Yet we forgot our boys. 

While we stood up for the girls, we forgot to sit beside our boys.

And tell them, that the presence of a y chromosome, wasn’t their key to success. That it made them biologically different, yes. But not necessarily superior

That it was okay to cry. And shed tears. And weep, and wail. Convince them of a man’s right to a heart, emotion, and feelings.

That laying their hands on a girl’s womanhood, didn’t make them more of a man, it made them less human.

We taught our girls to fight. What we didn’t do, is teach our boys to not attack them in first place.

 

Rumi, Rupi and Ghalib. Why do poetry at all?

A proud literati and arts enthusiast, I was fortunate to have been introduced to literature at a young age. And it clearly is a love I’ve nurtured and grown stronger over time. First reveling in the bliss of the words, and then creating my own. From an avid reader to a word artist.

And I’ve loved literature in all its forms. Prose, for its stories. Drama, for the characters. Yet, poetry has been my favorite.

Why poetry? I hear you ask.

Literature speaks to the mind. Drama to the heart. But poetry, to the soul. And if you ask me, the purest form of creating art with words. Of telling you, what you already know. Not in an informational, objective manner. But in a way in which the heart wants to listen. Almost akin to what the said about the spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down.

Everyone has their own definition of what constitutes good art. Mine is what stands the test of time, comes instilled with a sense of purpose,and makes you think. And poetry is no exception. In its truest form, poetry is an enricher. A savior. A comforter. And that’s why even today, when life hits hard, I seek refuge in either classics like Rudyard Kipling, Maya Angelou, or Robert Frost, or evergreens like Harivansh Rai Bacchan, Rumi and Kahlil Gibran, or even the more contemporary ones like Rupi Kaur, Nayyirah Waheed and Lang Leav.

And the reason I’m drawn to each one of them remains the same. The endearing quality of the words to uplift, inspire, heal, nourish and empower.

There are critics, and there are enthusiasts. I clearly belong to the latter. And while critics (or at least those who choose to call themselves that) will talk about poetry having died and lost its purity, I beg to differ. Art has this unique ability to adapt itself to meet the needs of the generation it caters to. From a time where poetry was composed with quills and written on parchment paper, to a time where the words are read on mobile screens. Art, in every form, is art. And in my world, from Shakespeare’s sonnets to Rupi Kaur’s instapoetry, they’re all welcome. For each one touches a different note, echoes a different chord of the soul. And as long as the soul exists, poetry shall stay. And not just stay, reign.