Unlocked Again

It's been six months since I "locked-up" and walked away from this space, with absolutely no intention of ever coming back, but here I am again, on this New Year's Eve! Looks like the blog had yet another life left! :)

Jokes apart though, I wouldn't be typing this post today if not for these two people - MB and OB. Thanks, both of you, for all the good advice and constant support! And yes, your patience too! :)

The circumstances that drove me away haven't changed. Neither have my views about Indians. But, I'm hoping that six months would have given certain people enough time to introspect on their behavior and perhaps acquire a certain level of maturity and contentment with their own lives so that they don't feel the urge to constantly encroach upon mine.

That aside, 2014 has been a mixed year.

A dear friend passed away a few months ago. His death came as a complete shock, just like mom's, with no opportunity to share one last smile or say a final goodbye. I would be lying if I say I've gotten over it. How does one get over such things anyway?

On a positive note though, my health has steadily improved, and the shop is growing day by day, thanks to the love and support of all my well-wishers. Will share some recent pics soon.

In the meanwhile, stay happy, people. Live and let live.

Wish you all a blessed New Year!

Walking Away

With every passing day, I find myself a little more disconnected with Indians and their shallowness... a little more drawn within myself.

I do not wish to further update this space with bits from my personal life (for reasons best known to me)... but I've decided to leave the blog archives open to readers... at least for the time being.

Before signing off, I just want to thank all my co-participants in the daily blogging challenges from May to July last year. You guys obviously had no way of knowing this, but you've helped me through a really difficult patch of my life. So thanks and take care.


10 Tips To Overcome Writers' Block ~ Ten On Tuesday

Writers' block. That phase when you open blogger to write a new post, stare at your screen for several minutes, then close blogger. You open it again after sometime, stare at it for some more time, then close it again. You keep doing this repeatedly until you start wondering whether you even deserve to be called a writer. (Me, a writer? Are you kidding? The only thing I've written in 2 weeks is a grocery shopping list... and even that with Dad's help!)

You begin to wonder if this is a punishment from God for cheating on your diet regime. Or perhaps the aliens invaded your right brain while you were sleeping, and stole most of it. Eventually, the 'drama queen' in you steps back, and you realize you've just been hit with the notorious writers' block!

That's when this post will come in handy - my 10 tips to beat that stubborn writers' block.

10 Tips To Overcome Writers' Block:

  1. Build a series of posts around a theme. The series could be month-long or week-long. For example, check out these two month-long themes on my blog: 30 Days Of Me and Live Life. And then there were "Suku's Sevenses"... week-long mini blog-series, made popular by Sukupedia (http://sunitakurup.blogspot.in) during the UBC July 2013. She picked up a different theme for every week and wrote 7 posts on each theme. This monthly/weekly theme technique not only gets your ideas more organized and keeps you blogging regularly, but it also keeps your readers coming back.

  2. Get going when the going is good. In other words, write extra when the creative juices ARE flowing! We all get hit by writers' block every now and then. It's a natural phenomenon I guess. I used to really fret about those times earlier. But then I adopted this workaround. I just type out the rough ideas (whenever they hit me) and save them in drafts. Then I can build upon them when I don't have any new ideas flowing in.

  3. Look for blog tags to do. You can directly search for them on google and find dedicated sites that round up tags from the blogosphere. One such site is Sunday Stealing (http://sundaystealing.blogspot.com/). Or you can search through the labels widget on specific personal blogs you follow, and look for "tags". Some bloggers (intelligent ones, like me! :P) categorize all their tag posts under a specific label. You can check out their posts under such a label and, if you like something, then just go ahead and tag yourself with it! You could get back into the groove of writing that way. If you don't believe that something as silly as a blog tag can help you overcome writers' block, then you need to read this article: 5 Reasons Why Tags Are Good.

  4. Diversify. This is obviously not applicable to non-personal niche blogs and news blogs, but if you have a personal blog and you hit a writers' block, then you might want to take a step back and broaden your horizons. Photo bloggers could attempt writing for a change. Writers could try their hand at photography. Try making cartoons or write micro-fiction. Explore. Express. Challenge yourself.

  5. Participate in blog challenges. Yes, like the UBC or the Photo-A-Day challenge. The best thing about these challenges is the networking that comes with them. There are people waiting every day to read your new post. Just like exercising daily becomes easier with a partner/group, so does blogging. The other participants of the challenge motivate you to keep going, showing their appreciation in the form of comments and even ideas to blog about when you hit a dead end.

  6. Participate in blog link-ups. If you think daily blogging for a month (or even a week) might be too much for you, then you can simply search for current blog-hops and link-parties in the blogosphere. They are very similar to the previous point, except that they are just single-post challenges and not month-long challenges. You get a topic/theme to write on and you get some extra traffic from the linky participants.

  7. Prompts and contests. Join in for BlogAdda's Write Over the Weekend prompts, or pick up a topic from an ongoing contest on IndiBlogger.

  8. Scout the forums for ideas. This post happened while going through the BlogAdda forum. At times, I even find my inspiration on Facebook. For example, the posts filed under Wordless-Wednesday and Silly-Saturday here, are usually sourced from Facebook. Sometimes though, something shared by someone on my Facebook timeline also gives me the idea to write a complete new post. Quora is also a good source for generating blog ideas these days.

  9. Read. Books or other people's blogs. Or even the stupid newspaper! Just read. Treat yourself to words. There's nothing that stimulates a writer more than words. Just a few words can unfold a hundred different stories in a writer's fertile mind.

  10. Write about your writers' block. Yes, there's always that option, you know. You can write about "why you can't write a post today". You think it's not possible to write complete coherent posts on your writers' block? Then maybe you need to take a lesson or two from Shilpa Garg. She even manages to do Ten-On-Tuesdays on her writers' block! And what crazy posts! Have a look - http://shilpaagarg.com/2012/12/ten-on-tuesday-26.html, and http://shilpaagarg.com/2013/07/ubc-day-30-no-post-today.html! :D

If nothing else works, just take a break. You probably need it. Watch movies. Read books. Find some kids in your neighborhood and spend some time with them. Go for a stroll around your building and find some fresh pigeon antics to report on. Join some new course or hobby classes. Come back charged with a fresh arsenal of blog ideas, completely free from your writers' block.

Here's more in "Ten-On-Tuesday"!

When The Heavens Opened Up!

This is what the heavens (or hell, whatever you prefer to call it!) showered on us today...

Another hailstorm... yes!

That's the balcony from my bedroom. Look at all the snow lying around?

And this next one was taken by Dad while I was gathering them in a pile, away from the drain.

We had similar piles in two of our balconies actually. So it was quite a lot of snow for a small apartment unit! I wanted to collect all that snow in a bucket, to build a small snowman out of it. (That has been one of my childhood dreams that's never got fulfilled till now!)

Unfortunately, because of the direction of the accompanying rainfall, and the poor construction quality of the building I stay in, a lot of rainwater had come inside the rooms, through the *closed* windows and doors! (Yes... *closed*!) So there was no time for pursuing that particular dream; I had to first get the place all dried up!

Fortunately, today being our "stock-purchasing" day, we happened to be at home that time. Had it been any other day than Monday, we'd have returned home at night, to find our house completely flooded, and the mattresses, in those two rooms, soaked to the core!

Unfortunately (again!), my shop also has windows along that same direction, and though they aren't as bad as the ones at my home, they do let some water trickle in. We keep the racks at a safe distance from the wall, so that our stock remains dry, but water does collect on the floor in the shop. So after drying up the house, we immediately had to rush to the shop, to do the same there!

Bottomline: No snowman for me even today! Sighhhh! :(

We eventually changed our weekly stock-purchasing day from Monday to Saturday.

Foto Friday: Albino Pigeons?

I haven't done much photography since I fell sick, but saw a rare sight today that reminded me my phone still had a working camera!

This pair of white pigeons!

Yupp! They were perched on the ledge below the kitchen-window of my next-door neighbor in the building, and I have no idea how they turned out to be white when all the rest of the pigeons in my area, including the parents of this pair, are gray!

I couldn't get both the pigeons completely in the frame, because as soon as they saw me take my phone out, they started edging towards the column (on the left in the picture). I thought perhaps they were camera shy, but, then I realized they have a nest, full of eggs, in the corner behind that column! So their protective instincts had apparently kicked in!

Will try to get a better shot some other time. Oh and all credit for the fantastic state of that ledge (and the wall behind) goes to... (yes, you guessed it!...) multiple generations of these wonderfully destructive pigeons!

. . .

Here's more in Foto-Friday!


Remember those grapes that used to tempt Yuvraj so much once upon a time? Yes, yes... the very same ones that I blogged about here in this post!

Look what Dad brought for them! :D

Can you make out which ones are real and which are plastic? :D

Number Slumber!

So we were closing for the day. I updated the day's sales on the computer, and then Dad counted the cash and I updated that too. And just then I noticed that we were Rs. 13 short of hitting the 20,000 sales figure! Only Rs. 13!

So I told Dad - "Let's wait for another 10 minutes... maybe some customer would drop by and help us cross that 20K milestone today!"

Dad agreed (as if he had any choice!)... and I started sending out mental signals to the Universe to bring another customer to my shop to help me cross 20,000. Two minutes passed, then five minutes, then the entire 10 minutes were up. Nope... no customer! :(

Amidst a lot of deep sighs, I finally decided to call it a day, took the necessary backups on my pen drive and told the computer to "shut down". Then, as I was gathering my stuff in my handbag, I told Dad - "Now I know how Sachin Tendulkar must have felt when he got out at 99."

Picture Credit: Satish Acharya (http://cartoonistsatish.blogspot.com/)

Dad, who had been watching me with silent amusement all that time, started laughing at this, and said "Imagine if you had another customer who bought stuff now worth Rs. 12!"

I shushed him for even suggesting such an eventuality, and then turned around to switch off the lights. Before I could reach the switchboard though, he called me back. Guess what! Another customer!

Yayyyy! I was going to cross the 20,000 mark today!

I was so happy, I could hardly keep myself from grinning!

But I was in for disappointment! Their total sale amount was going to be only Rs. 8!

What rotten luck! I was still Rs. 5 short! :(

Then there was some confusion... they had a change of mind! They added something more to their purchase... so that finally it totaled up to (you won't believe this!)... Rs. 12!

Which made my total sales - Rs. 19,999 !!!


Right! You guys give company to my Dad, while I slumber on this annoying figure of "19,999"!

Humble Beginnings

Sometimes, it takes a close encounter with death to make us start living our dreams.

Since late 2008, I have dreamt of having my own business... not the virtual online kind that so many of us are venturing into these days, but a real tangible place, where I sell goods/services to customers in person and not just to email IDs or Facebook profiles or mobile numbers!

My Dad wouldn't let me do this though, citing several reasons, the most important ones being:
1) the risk involved with the capital invested in the business, and
2) the future of the business in the event of my marriage.

My illness in August last year, however, led to some serious medical complications. "Serious" as in "life-&-death" type serious. (I didn't mention this here earlier, or to anyone in touch with me on a one-to-one basis back then, 'coz I was afraid that talking about it would make the worst come true somehow!)

Anyway, that entire phase of my life is enshrouded by a thick layer of fog now (as is customary of nature -- it blocks out the most stressful parts of our life in order to protect us from pain). So I don't remember exactly how this happened, but Dad finally realized that he didn't care for any of those reasons anymore; he just cared for my happiness. So he agreed to let me have my own shop/office/whatever-I-wanted-to-call-it, if only we could find a suitable location that we could afford.

Fortunately, with the help of a lot of Reiki, we found just the right place! In fact, the previous tenant of this shop vacated the place just about a week after Dad started inquiring in the neighborhood, for a shop on rent! There were a few obstacles, yes, but I guess even Reiki knew that my life depended on this shop now. So it diligently kept removing those obstacles. And on December 13th, 2013... the very same day that Vasundhara Raje took oath as the new CM here... I officially opened my new "neighborhood shop"!

I know you all would have a lot of questions about it - "What do you sell there?", "What does it look like?", and so on! So I am sharing a few recent pics with you here.

It's called Kopy 'n' Kitab, by the way, continuing the 'K' series... Kadzilla's eStudio and KraftyFingers (both of which have ended up as sort of unofficial subsidiaries of Kopy 'n' Kitab!)... and this is what it looks like at the moment...

That's the front of my shop, with a boutique opposite it, hence the female models in the display!

And that's Dad, manning the cash counter. I tend to return extra change to the customers, so this place is reserved for Dad, in order to ensure financial viability of the venture!

The stock! Office stationery, school stationery, colors (one entire shelf dedicated to the hobby range!), pens (loads of them!), even kiddies' slates and chalks!

More stock! Notebooks, coloring & activity books, board books for toddlers, stickers, different kinds of papers, even tattoos!

My workstation! This is where I run Kadzilla's eStudio Kasin Websoft from... unofficially, of course! And KraftyFingers has its space reserved at the back, behind those curtains. That's where I'll start hobby classes for kids, in their summer vacations.

This is it then... a cross between a shop and an office... and, in future, a hobby school as well! It's a small start, but I figured I should first learn the "ABC" of running a business, and the "book" would write itself automatically when the time is right! Right? :)

As for my health, it is still not fully okay... but I'm getting there... slowly... one day at a time! :)