A New Planner: A New Year Poem

What a trouble it is,
a new year
for the first few days.
My hands so accustomed
to the old date –
writes it unconsciously all over.
A few months
and it is a habit
until another year comes by.

What does a change of calendar do
but make me feel older,
a little nervous of the passing time
that I seem to capture
in my daily planner.

I must now go buy a
new one, least I forget
the meetings scheduled
for this year.

A new year means many things,
a new planner and it’s cost
is the first it brings.

___

I’ve been wondering for a few days what post should I make for 2021. How should I wish you a Happy New Year for the year it has been. I am out of words. All I want to do is bask under the morning sun as the cold seeps away from my cold feet and hope that everything will be better soon. I hope you take some time to bask in the sun yourself as you feel the sun rays over your skin and realize that it’s magic. Other times I have been trying to buy a new planner, the correct size I am yet to find. And thus, a planner poem instead. Hope you enjoyed.

Happy New Year.

The Spirit of Food and Language

Yomari – By Spartathreehundred at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32880059

It was 2pm in the afternoon. I was at my maternal grandparents place. We were about to eat the afternoon snack when my uncle mentioned about a Nepali who was participating in MasterChef UK. That was the first time I heard about Santosh Shah, whose name I didn’t know then. Soon after I googled to find more and followed his progress on the show like thousands of others.

His story reminds me of faith and patience; from a small village to the worldwide stage. The roads of life are strange and you cannot tell what awaits at the next corner, the only thing that you can do is practice your art.

Recently I watched the episode where he made Yomari and Chilly Chicken, the dishes that sent him straight to finals week. I was excited to see his take on the famous sweet dish and also equally excited to see how the judges would react to it.

Chef Shah had made balls of chocolate and covered it with white dough – something different from how I have seen a Yomari being made. How it’s often made at home is by melting a local variant of chocolate known as ‘Chaku’ and the liquid is then poured in the white rice dough that is made into the shape of a cup (with tails and two antenna like structure) and steamed.

As I watched him make a Yomari in a British show that had presented the contestants with a Chinese Kitchen, the words of Indian writer Raja Rao came flooding. Raja Rao had written: One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own. These words had nothing to do with food and yet everything in the moment. Chef Shah had tried to manage whatever was available in the kitchen and express the spirit of his homeland.

As someone who has been writing in English, a language that is not my mother tongue or first language, I have many a times stumbled upon the question of how can I ever express a world that is not English in English. Nepali writing in English is a relatively new sphere in the world of literature and language. There are not many in this field who can make you smell the tea farms of Illam, the rainy seasons of Kathmandu, and the heat of Terai in English. As I struggle to write my worldview in English, I worry about how unique or original will it be or if I sound like a copy of a writer I have been studying.

Watching Chef Shah mould the Yomari, I found a new interpretation of the words of Raja Rao – it is the spirit that one must express. There will be differences, but that is not what truly matters. It is the spirit that matters. The judges were wowed with the dish. They had never seen the unique shape of a Yomari.

It truly is the spirit that surfaces at the end, be it in the flavors of food or in the words written across pages.

MasterClass by David Sedaris: Review

About a year ago when I signed up for the all access pass of MasterClass, I already had a list of classes I wanted to take. As I watched video after video and took notes, there were many more classes I stumbled upon. One of them was Storytelling and Humor by David Sedaris.

The Class Experience in One Line

If I have to sum up my experience in one line: I had no clue who David Sedaris was when I started. By the end of the class I was not only glad had I stumbled upon his class, but I had also found a writer so funny and flowing that he became one of the writers I’d truly like to meet some day.

Storytelling and Visuals

One of the best thing about this class (and likely about a lot of other classes on MasterClass) is the power of storytelling and visuals. Sedaris was talking, not just to anyone but to me. The visuals, the setting, the background, all of it adds to the feel. And while thousands of us may be watching it from all over the world, it somehow feels personalized. To add to it, Sedaris’ delivery is impeccable. He is just pleasant to listen to. The writing wisdom along with life lessons come off subtly. It almost feels magical.

Please don’t feel like your life is meaningless or that you’re not special. You just haven’t found it yet. – David Sedaris

Classes and Workbook

The MasterClass comes with 14 Classes and a downloadable workbook. The workbook compliments the classes with a quick recap and more details about Sedaris and his work (which was pretty cool as I had no clue about his work when I started).

Insights from the Class

There are many things I learnt from the class. Some of my favorite pointers are:

  • Keep a journal and mine it
  • If you don’t need a laugh, don’t keep it
  • Notice your reactions
  • Lay out your work and see the rhythm
  • At times you have to end with the truth, with what truly happened

It’s everybody’s dark secret. They’re selfish. – David Sedaris

It takes Honesty and Courage

Through the class I came to know that Sedaris often writes about his family. His sister also comes along in a class to talk about it. Throughout all the videos there is one factor that seems to connect on a next level – how honest Sedaris is. And that too when writing about people around him. It sure does take a lot of courage. But it’s beautiful how it comes out and makes sense on a larger scale, which also corresponds with the words of Neil Gaiman, another magnificent writer and whose class is also available on MasterClass: You just have to be okay with what the world comes to know about you.

Final Takeaway

I think this class reminded me of how we are all simply human, with our flesh and bones. One of my best takeaways was on humility. Sedaris explains how important it is to be kind and to treat everyone with kindness. I was stunned to know that he takes a lot of time to talk to his audience members during book signings. He also goes on to share how he helped a person at a bookstore reminding that it’s the people there who will sell your books.

I got to see so many behind the scene aspects of a writer’s life – indeed much more than bestselling books and shiny covers. There’s a lot more. And they do it because it’s their life, their fuel. There’s some inexplainable charm and magic to writing that words themselves cannot seem to fully grapple.

Be the kind of person who somebody wants to help. – David Sedaris

How Digital Art Helped Me Rediscover Drawing

I was listening to ‘Oogway Ascends from Kung Fu Panda while I made this piece

The first time I came to know about Inktober was in 2018. It was the first year I also attempted it. I actually made it till the end. All 31 drawings. Inktober is a prompt based one-drawing-a-day activity in October started by artist Jake Parker as a way to improve his drawings. It has now become a worldwide phenomenon.

Just type #Inktober2020 on Instagram and millions of posts show up. Among those millions are also my tiny drawings like a little fish swimming in a big big sea.

I stumbled upon digital art in 2018. I saw a digital drawing posted by a friend and inquired about the app. Autodesk Sketchbook. The best thing about this app is that it’s completely free. I made crazy doodles. Cats, plants, mountains.

I am not a drawing person at all. I barely managed to score a B- in art class in school. I was terrible while some of my friends were jaw-droppingly good. Of course there are bound to be such geniuses in every class. I was secretly jealous for years from primary school to lower secondary- grade 1 to 8. I told myself I could not draw better. Worse, I did not enjoy drawing. Beyond that art became a luxury as we prepared for the important exam of grade 10. Beyond grade 10 little of art survived in formal education.

When I discovered digital art in 2018, it was like a new toy for me. The best thing was how different it was from real art. Digital surface and digital tools are different from real paper and pencil. While there are bound to be areas of overlap, I could make cats on a digital surface and be satisfied that I could never be content with on paper. I could let go of my old discomfort to some extend. The medium helped me rediscover what I never thought I could enjoy. I experimented, and then came Inktober 2018. 31 drawings for 31 days. I mostly did it last minute or sometimes finished a chunk of days at once, either in advance or later on. But I am glad that I tried.

To add a little flare of my own, I wrote poems too based on the prompt. It was drawing + poetry, and that was probably one of the coolest things I discovered. I tried Inktober in 2019 too, but couldn’t go beyond a few drawings. In 2020 I was once more determined to finish. And I did just that!

I had always been interested in designing, but digital art helped me embrace a new side of my curious mind. Every day I am trying to let go of the need to compare with someone else’s work of art. I make cats, flowers, clouds, skies. Nothing fancy, but I like it. And that’s the thing.

That I like it. It’s fun.

Here’s some of Inktober 2020 drawings with poetry. You can find the full list on instagram.com/thewordcastle