Just A Smile: Conversations

Hey folks!

Did you know we post word prompts every two to three days a week on our Instagram page? We were extremely delighted to have an entry from Nawazish Sayed for conversations. This blog post is an anecdote of Asad and Zyra’s first encounter on a train. 

Sayed is an aspiring writer who lives in Mumbai. 

This is her story!

word prompt 6


 

Returning to my hometown after 6 years was one of the happiest moments of my life. Travelled all over the world, I had forgotten the fragrance of my hometown. However after so long I decided to get back where I started from. Booked my ticket and soon I was off on my trip to my hometown. Travelling through flights I chose to get through train this time.

Moreover, it was my first time traveling on a train all alone. Being a traveler I was pretty sure I would get along with this trip all alone. Eventually, the day arrived all dressed and ready for my way back home I reached the departure counter, checked my seat and sat in my berth. Slowly, my journey started and near me were people whom I wasn’t quite aware of. My neighbors looked similar to some T.V. actors. A group of people yelling, screaming their heart out and enjoying their games and music but among them was a guy close to my age; seemed all shy and quiet in a corner of a seat sitting still, not uttering a word. I wondered why he was so quite amongst his companions. My journey was going to be interesting viewing these characters but I was more curious about that shy guy.

The regular vendors entered the compartment with tea and pakoras. I glanced my eyes over at that guy, and something caught my eyes. There he was staring at me with a cute smile. At first, I was a bit shy but I looked back with a smile and I saw his cheeks turn pink. There was something he wanted to tell me and I could sense it. For a few times, our eyes exchanged glances and eventually, he came up to talk to me. For the first time, I was a bit nervous.

My personality changed from a confident young lady to a shy person. What was wrong with me? I thought back in my mind.
He came near my berth and asked, “Lady, can I have a tea date with you here?”I was shocked not knowing how to react, I was asked for a date that too on a moving train. I looked back with my eyes looking straight into his and spoke, “Excuse me, have you mistaken me for some other girl?” He replied, “No” He turned back, bought two cups of tea and smiled. I was still figuring out, inexpressible and there he said, “Travelling alone for the first time is always fun” I smiled back taking the tea in my hand and replied, “Do not share experiences without sharing names”. He again smiled and replied, “ASAD” I smiled back and replied, “Zyra.”

Our conversation ended with that smile. He walked over to his berth and me back into my sheets for a nap.

The train halted at a station at 2 in the night. My stomach crumbled as I was hungry and I decided to get down to look for something hygienic to eat. Before that, my eyes rolled to look up for Asad, but he was nowhere to be seen.I walked through the compartment door and there he was standing at the entrance looking up at the stars, engrossed. I interrupted him and he excused me with his smile. I questioned him as I was way too curious to know, why he smiles back at me secretly every time I look at him. He replied, “Zyra words cant express what a smile can. The time I smiled for the first time at you I saw the reflection of my smile in your eyes through your trembling lips. “No matter, his words touched my heart my lips couldn’t utter words because I was so engrossed in his words. I forgot about my hunger and got back to my seat. Asad was still at the door but I went to sleep thinking about what he had said to me.

Early next morning when I woke up he was standing near my window seat holding a kerchief so that the disturbing sunlight does not disturb my sleep. He looked back with a smile and all I could do was smile back engrossed in his smile. He said,”It was nice meeting you, time to leave.” I got up all confused with questions about the smile, the secrets, the inexpressible words and curiously asked him that does he smile back to everyone like he did to me. He looked down with blushy cheeks and replied, “A friend like you will always be memorable…This smile happens when these eyes see you.” There I was, for the first time blushing for a guy who was just a friend whom I had encountered a night before. I replied,”You will always be a memory to me. Just a smile.”
He walked back as his station arrived, as he left, he turned back looked at me and said,”Have a safe journey Zyra..” and walked away with his smile hidden with secrets and slowly I saw as he left.

I wanted to stop him. I wanted to ask him the secret behind his smile for me. I wanted to know his hidden words which weren’t expressible.But he was just a smile which I had felt and continued my journey just with the smile he had given me. In this world of technology, we got so engrossed with the secrets of our smiles that we didn’t bother to exchange numbers or information about each other. It was just our smiles that talked, that we remained in our memories forever and ever as strangers who met in a train and at last my journey to my hometown ended with unanswered questions and secrets but eventually just with a secretive smile.

The Mysterious Case of Cassandra Evans

Maid Cassandra Evans was easily in her middle ages, and had worked in the Manor House for almost 20 years, and was perhaps the senior most maid in the entire of the Manor, but she didn’t care for all that. She had a job to do and a Master to take care of, her own master that had saved her from what should have been instant death and misery.

What wasn’t expected, though, was what was seen in the main lounge of the Manor house.

From the ceiling, there were 2 ropes hanging down, both of them tied up into the Chandeliers. Both of those ropes had 2 bodies tied onto it, via the necks, or at least one of them. One was the body of a steward and a driver, in his black and white dress but with enough blood on him for it to splatter on the ground, and the other was the pale, broken figure of Cassandra Evans, with a lot of cuts and other types of marks against her skin, her eyes black, and her lips split. From what was seen, her body was tied via her legs, and she was alive, shuddering and shivering, her breath coming in gasps and her eyes already having run out of tears. Her nose was bleeding and so was her stomach.

The peaceful life of Manor house of Mr. Penton was shaken up with the shocking double murder of his driver and his senior-most maid, Cassandra. There seemed to be no clear motive for such a horrible act of violence.

The Chief of Police, Mr. Free, has taken up the task to find the one responsible and serve justice.

Will he succeed in doing so or will he be too late??

This blog is a book blurb of a novel written by my dear friend, Mohammed Ayya. He currently lives in India, with his wife and child. An author of tragic fiction and children stories, he is known to have a penchant for solitude and philosophy.

To read more about this mysterious case, download the ebook. CLICK HERE 

Write to him at mohammedayya@gmail.com

Follow Mohammed Ayya on Amazon click here.

Wanderlust Update 2: Puducherry/ Pondicherry

1st SOLO TRIP

2 DAYS

7th – 9th AUGUST, 2017

48 HOURS

* LATE POST *

Pondicherry often colloquially called as Pondy is a union territory situated in Tamil Nadu. The place has stayed famous for it has a cultural blend of the French and Tamils. The city is small, well kept, green and not densely populated compared to other cities of India.

Near the beach

I had booked a hotel with Fabhotel Esparan Heritage. The hotel had an antique, old house, fresh wood smell to it. What I loved about this particular hotel were the vibes. Before I share my travel updates, I want to share a misadventure I had at the beginning of my trip (which I conveniently chose not to share with my parents in Bangalore).

Fabhotel Esparan Heritage

Yeah, I started from Bangalore late evening at around 9:30 – ish. I was supposed to reach Pondicherry before sunrise probably at 4 or 5. The thing with me and buses is that I get uncontrollably sleepy and disoriented when I am on them. Early morning at around the same time that I was to reach Pondicherry the driver passes down the bus aisle and yelled “PONDICHERRY” in a thick Tamil accent. I woke up a bit startled wondering where I was when I realized the driver must have howled a few minutes back and that the bus had started moving again. I picked my luggage, rushed to where the driver was seated. I informed him that I had to get down at the Pondicherry bus stop and if he could take me there. Only to find he couldn’t understand a word of Hindi I was speaking.

I tried, again and again, telling him to stop the bus and take me back to the city in vain; he, on the other hand, was so adamant! He drove fast on the highway and dropped me a good two kilometers at the outskirts. At that hour early in the morning, I felt weirdly uneasy and extremely insecure. I did locate an autorickshaw nearby but felt skeptical to board it.

It took all my courage to ask the autorickshaw driver to take me to my hotel and just like the bus driver he didn’t understand Hindi or English! He looked cooperative though. Which helped me clear my mind off apprehensiveness. Racked my drowsy brain to come up with a solution through which I could get him to understand where I wanted to go.

I CALLED THE HOTEL. They didn’t pick up. I tried four times in vain. They picked up eventually. The hotel operator thankfully understood English! Aaargh! He explained the autorickshaw driver in Tamil where to take me! AND I finally reached my destination.

According to my plan, I stayed for two days one night at my hotel. The places I visited are:

ROCK BEACH

PUDUCHERRY MUSEUM

MANAKULA VINAYAGAR TEMPLE

Manakula Vinayagar Temple

AUROBINDO ASHRAM

FRENCH COLONY

Yellow PhotographerYellow photographer 2

GANDHI STATUE

Gandhi statue

BHARADHI PARK

SACRED HEARTS CHURCH

Sacred Heart Church    Interiors of Sacred Hearts     Church plantations 2

LADY OF ANGELS CHURCH

As this was my first solo trip to any given place, I went well-researched. The first events of my trip left me vigilant for the entire trip. I visited most sightseeing places (according to the print-out given by my very cordial hotel operator) on the first day.

According to the natives of Pondicherry, the climate was ‘pleasant’. Although, I felt nothing close to pleasant till evening on both days. It was humid and sticky. Unlike, other tourists I didn’t go to Auroville. I am one of those people who are not fond of meditation centers and spiritual theories, to say the least.

Pondicherry has a relaxed, retired vibe to it. It gives solo writers what they crave the most – solitude from the noise and a fast-paced lifestyle. I had a ball of a time eating alone, observing people and the streets.

PLACES I VISITED TO GRAB A BITE

Le Chateau

Le Chateau

Cafe at the rock beach

Cafe near Rock Beach

FOOD CLICKS

Pondicherry has many stores and shops that sell antique and craft goods. Most of my second day went shopping for trinkets and souvenirs. I bought mini books of quotes from SABDA, fragrances, candles, and incenses from AUROSHIKHA, paper goods from an Auroville community-managed store. Also, JANAKI sells environmentally friendly goods. I purchased a smart bag from there.

Sabda store

I rented out a bike in Pondicherry as I love riding. It gave me the freedom to explore most of Pondicherry on road. Will I visit Pondicherry again? Probably no. Oh yes, but just for the beaches. Some might ask why I didn’t indulge in any water activities or sports activities. Well, I experienced all of it in Andamans (read the blog) in July.

That is a wrap. I hope you liked reading about my travel experience. If you wish to know more, let me know in the comments below. Follow my social media to get updates on content writing and blogs I update not so frequently. LOL. Ok but seriously, follow.

FACEBOOK . TWITTER . INSTAGRAM

Bye for now.

 

The Power Of Imagination – Back to books #2

Hello, lovely readers.

Let’s take a quick mental field trip today…..into the land of the ever imaginative Roald Dahl. Yes, the guy who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate factory! And no, it was not just a movie, it was a movie based off of the book! Crazy right?

Anybody who has watched the movie is so enamoured by the set and design of the visuals. I mean, chocolate rivers and candy trees; Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is a dream come true! That Golden ticket is every fiction baby’s fantasy (except you know, our Hogwarts Letters :P), and the chance to live in that world would be so exceptional.

To anybody who has also read the book, this mystical factory is even more magical. And in there lies my disbelief! How is it, that words affect my imagination to grow more than the actual visual right in front of my eyes? How do I get so wrapped up in the words that I can actually see it unfold in my mind?

Dahl’s writing abilities are mind boggling. And that’s where our lesson lies. The main ones being that writing is an art. A writer is an artist and it is the job of an artist to imagine the unimaginable. To be unafraid, to be free and downright crazy. And to build our words into the very soul of the reader.

Roald Dahl was my early childhood….and now when I go back to his words, I can see the power he had. His power was simple, he transported his reader to his world, with and without pictures. And speaking of pictures; there lies our second lesson.

Illustrations and photographs, if chosen correctly can absolutely elevate your content to the highest of highs. Use them wisely and use them often, just like your favourite Roald Dahl books. Just remember to back up the visuals with great content!

Good day folk.

 

Wanderlust update 1: Port Blair & Havelock

Despite myself, here I am sharing my travel experience. It’s a first, and I am more than glad that I am finally doing it.

My hubby and I with a couple of friends left from Nagpur on the 1st of July, 2017, for Port Blair via Kolkatta. Nagpur is still developing as a metropolitan city like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkatta. But it will take a while. The city is quite populated but rather not properly connected with most places of India by air. Leave alone major cities globally. Hence, Kolkatta has become our hot spot destination to travel to other places.We took a train journey to Kolkatta from Nagpur and from there we flew to Port Blair.

This was the first time I flew with Air Vistara airlines. I am not going to say I enjoyed my flight experience quite as much. Not my kind of airline, not that I would be recommending it to anyone. I fail to understand what is with airlines these days? Flight seats have become congested and crummy. Free meals tasted like feet. The stale, sickening smell of paneer tikka churned my stomach. I guess they served veg cutlets with them. Equally, foul tasting. I gave up and asked for a non-veg meal instead, being a little hopeful. But out of all the dishes, they could have prepared from chicken they decided upon serving chicken samosas! For heaven’s sake. I survived. Washed it down with milk-powdered, lukewarm tea.

Airlines really upset me with the way they package meals in fancy, over the top, cardboard boxes. Which in comparison to the food that is served, makes me internally abhorrent. Instead, if they could have invested the time and money on preparing better meals for their passengers, it would change how people thought of flight food.

Anyway, surviving flight journeys felt less stressful in comparison to what had to be faced in Port Blair. I was being crazily meticulous about the entire trip of seven days to Andamans; partly because my hubby and I weren’t soul searching together and also because both of us had taken responsibility for hotel bookings, cruises, activities, and finances. Not that I didn’t like the idea of being in charge of logistics, but socializing kind of gets on my nerves.

Abi (My hubby) knows this about me. I have always had a different take on relationships and friendships and people. Just that most of the time, I prefer being alone with any given place.

I had priorly booked with an agency to travel places in Port Blair. For car drives, pick ups. We were eight of us. Including Abi and me.

July is probably not the best season to travel to the islands according to many websites. Heavy rains on the island can get in the way of peaceful loitering and comfortable beach visits. Unlike other tourists, this was the best time for all of us, and we thought we won’t let the rains affect our travel plans. Luckily, downpours didn’t happen much. The very first day, we visited two museums. Samudrika Naval Museum and Cellular Jail Museum. Later, that day we stayed back at Cellular Jail Museum to watch the light and sound show.

The first day was also the day we landed in Port Blair. We were tired.

Samudrika Naval Museum is a small, cottage-like museum housing a variety of fishes and sea creatures we spotted later while snorkeling. The museum displays artifacts of corals and tribe culture specimens. We finished our walk through in less than twenty minutes. Cellular Jail Museum had more history to share with us. The tour guide brought chills down our spines with stories of prisoners and the atrocities they faced.

Many souls suffered on this island which floated inconspicuous for many years, far away from the mainland of India. The energy and aura of Port Blair still stay affected by it. On most of my travels in various cities, I have experienced different kinds of energies. Like the air that lived in harmony with the city; was its greatest tour guide. I have breathed love, money, buzz, intellectuality, race, happiness and a combination of all these factors. But Port Blair felt gloomy and melancholic. My spirits weren’t in the right places.

The Light and Sound show at the Cellular Jail Museum made it even worse. The minute it was over I was relieved to be done with it and to be headed for dinner. I was glad most of my friends could doze off through the entire show. Lucky them. I feel most people’s minds have unique unconscious shields which protect them from negativity and unpleasant emotions.

Next day, we were scheduled to visit Ross Island and North Bay Island. In the evening, spend time in Chidiatapu to view the sunset. Cellular Jail Museum’s visit had equipped my sensibilities so much so that Ross Island’s histories and stories of colonization did very little to affect my psyche. I let my mind focus on ruins and island leftovers of decades (still preserved by the government of India) fill my eyes; the colors, the ancient trees, and animals, the worn out buildings crumpled and fallen, habitat growing upon civilization and conquering it…peacocks and deer and rabbits and birds…It was surreal so to speak.

North Bay Island is overspread with vegetations, trees, and wild green outgrowths. The island is used dominantly for water activities and cruises. We split our group up; some went for sea-walking, others like me indulged in snorkeling and dolphin cruises.

This was my first time snorkeling. And man! what I felt. I had seen pictures of the activity and had read definitions of it over and over again in my head, but to experience it was beyond words. Mostly because I saw so many corals and fishes. To view, a habitat existing in the sea was phenomenal. To have felt the slimy, soft and transparent body of jellyfish in my hand. To have fishes swim at the surface of the water while I fed them food granules. I had an out of the body experience. I wanted to rant with jubilation for hours.

Good things come to an end very soon.

Chidiatapu in the evening kept Abi and me relaxed and in a trance. We uncoupled ourselves from the group and lay on the sand, holding hands…it was magic. I felt a sudden rush of guilt pass through me; I realized I wasn’t giving Abi his share of time, love and presence. I didn’t fathom till then how caught up I was with the trip to flow smoothly; in the buzz of it all, I didn’t seek out and cherish his smile, his innocent, baby eyes, his ever-changing mature face, his long, sophisticated fingers. I missed him. His aura. I wasn’t doing justice to him.

How could I afford to get distracted with trivialities, I wondered. And here, all this time, for the past two days I had his piercing, worried gaze telling me to take it slow, to calm down and seize the day. Not that I wasn’t having a good time, my emotions and mind were a pickle. And I could see it in his eyes, delight that I had finally realized what he wanted me to understand.

Abi doesn’t nag or hover. He won’t be chummy with me, especially when with friends. But, he worries way too much about my happiness. That is more than I deserve in this relationship. Probably, this is what makes it even more unbalanced; I feel I am not worthy of him.

After a decent dinner that evening, we slept peacefully. We had to wake up early as our cruise was scheduled to take us to Havelock. We reached Havelock in about two hours. Havelock is BEAUTIFUL. It takes the eyes some adjusting, when at the dock, at the entrance of this magnificent island you get a fill of lush greenery, bright skies, and clear beaches. My heart throbbed uncontrollably and that moment I wanted to soak it all up. I felt I would just need a day or two to adjust my receptiveness to the beauty of this island. The back of my mind was angered with where I lived and what humanity had done to existing landscapes with infringement.

We stayed for two days at Havelock. We explored Radhanagar beach, did some trekking halfway to Elephanta beach. Spending an entire day at the beach, playing with waves, jellyfish, and seashell, I did get some sea rocks back home. It did take a toll on my body, I was tired by sunset and so was Abi. I had booked bamboo shack-bungalows which faced the sea and broken down, withered trees.

I was beyond ecstatic to be staying so close to nature in a minimalistic shack; the bathrooms didn’t have roofs, but some sea and forest creatures lodging on the walls and floor of the bathroom. For the room we had bamboo lamps, mattress and blankets….there wasn’t any TV or AC. But I loved it. I won’t say Abi was very glad about sleeping in the same room with mosquitoes, lizards, and spiders. I had one of the best sleep in those huts, which will last in my heart forever.

I went for an early morning stroll on the beach that faced our shacks. Watching waves crash my feet and break and then go back to sea and start again looked hypnotic. Life like the cycles of time, days, weeks, and months keep working in monotony, forever seizing on growing out or disappear, leaves us humans at the mercy of aging. I was suddenly very jealous of the sea and its permanence.

Later, after breakfast, Abi and I with a couple of friends left for the diving center. It was time for SCUBA! Again, this was the first time I would be underwater completely with an oxygen cylinder and gears; I was way too excited to see the stories that lay hidden underwater to make me anxious about breathing and drowning.

What happens when you do SCUBA diving? My family asked when we were back. I don’t think I did a fair job explaining correctly what I felt and what we did. It was like visualizing heaven, to say the least. I didn’t realize our time was up till our trainers pulled us out of the water and I loathed them! I wanted to go back in, and see and be, for hours and hours. The sheer charm of existence underwater. The colors. The creatures. And corals. Oh! CORALS!

That evening we left for Port Blair. We stayed a night there. In the morning next day, we visited the Anthropological museum. Well, Port Blair doesn’t have many souvenir shops. The market place is similar to those across India. Cluttered, mundane and selling everyday essentials. But we found one at the museum and it geared up my friends. I picked myself a ship with a caption ‘BELEM’, blue in color.

We flew to Kolkatta that very same day spent most our day trotting in one of Kolkatta’s opulent mall and left by the night’s train for Nagpur.

This is the first time I am writing about my travels. I haven’t done a decent job writing this. I might have broken many rules of travel writing here. Not my forte. I shall tell you this- you won’t find a travel guide description of places visited, just my experience and emotions through my travel in this blog.

I hope you enjoy reading it. I am not sharing pictures. They are personal and more so, my reader, I would love for you to visit the extravagance, charm, and serenity of islands through your own eyes to cherish it. 

 

 

Writer’s Block

On the upside, now that this website is up and running, and self-sustaining; writing blogs for it shouldn’t feel like a task. Especially for a content writer. Writing should flow like poetry, like a lullaby, like a gush of cool wind on a hot sunny day. But sometimes, it is hardly like that. I wish if there were noticeable triggers available to clear conscious processes.

It is not easy to clear writing blocks. Months of procrastinating, socializing, loving, thinking, traveling and reading voraciously don’t help. What are content writers to do? I ain’t a novelist yet. Hardly a substantial author but just a very young thinker and observer. I wished there was magic I could use to transcribe my floating chaotic thoughts on printable devices or machines. Probably then, I would have produced much written organized literature to upload on this website.

Moving and floating, like this written piece, unlike other blogs on this website I share my dilemmas of writer’s block.

Oh but you have experienced it. And illogically, I find myself to be tormented by demons fabricated in my mind which nulls my writing prowess. I wish to kill those demons. But, overthinkers are unable to come up with enough strength to kill these demons. I don’t think I am strong enough.

Prisoner as I am of my own mind and its sensibilities, I find myself now surfacing and clearing clutter. My brain, full of valuable, precious memories and thoughts, is stuffed in a small closet, cluttering and occupying cramp spaces. Its like focusing on one thought removes other, jumbled, stuffed pieces with it. Knowing the amount of time I would need to clean the mess, I decided instead of dealing with one thought at a time, I would focus on decluttering the closet first, throwing all of it on the floor and then probably sifting through them like clothes, deciding which one to organize where, and then getting rid of unwanted thoughts that still cluttered.

After a break up which tore me into pieces inside out, I ended up doing the most cliched thing. I stopped listening to music. And this happened five years back. Till a few months back, the sound of music repulsed my soul and irritated my mind. And now, going through a process of internal healing, I am welcoming sounds, music and words back into my life. I have missed listening to music.

Twenty-four years now, and hating each part of growing up, conflicted to accept a womanly mature face and bosom, here I have laid my greatest demons of adulting. All this time, thinking that writing was an external experience, I got wronged.

Opening my eyes to reality, few days past my birthday, and hoping to have immortality of body and soul, I am here to embrace aging and adulting. Awakening at twenty four, here is my epiphany.

Writer’s block – schmlock.

Story Time

To be a halfway decent writer, you have to be a more than decent reader! Established authors are the pros of the trade…learn from them.

You cannot be a writer without being a reader, and for that reason, I hope to share with you some of my favourite stories/authors and what I have learned from them. Presenting –

BACK TO BOOKS!

Today’s story is going to be short and young but I kid you not, it is going to be helpful to learn from it!(see what I did there? :P) I remember that for me, reading was an activity that I enjoyed even as child, and I am pretty sure that the kid who read Pinnochio and Aladdin is the reason why this adult writes.

Pinnochio played an important role for me, even though I never knew who wrote it. I personally had the Scholastic book’s version of Pinnochio, with beautiful illustrations to boot.

What strikes me about children’s books is that they are so unapologetically imaginative, yet so clean and simple. And so begins the lessons learned from children’s books –

  • You have a crazy idea, complicated and complex theories to share? Then keep your writing as simple as possible. Do not let the content be confusing and overpower your theory.
  • Know your audience and put out content that marries well with their level. No schmancy fancy words are needed, leave those for the dissertations and journals of the world.
  • It’s ok to add a bit of colour and low-key cheesiness in your words once in a while. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Aim to entertain and engage; learning and awareness will follow!

That’s it for today folks, have a nice day and read a good book! With coffee, obviously!