Journeys and Jottings
People Make Places - Issue 10
Word of the Day - Gezelligheid (Dutch) Pronounced as Heh-Sell-ick.
Gezellig though used in English cannot really be translated.
The Dutch way of life - a philosophy that ensures that there is an element of coziness and comfort especially when friends get together or when there is a social gathering. It refers to the warm vibe, the sense of belonging, and the connection with the people and the place. The Dutch even identify some places like the “Brown Cafes” of Amsterdam as “gezellig.” Even the city embodies the essence of “gezellig.”
It is very similar to the Danish concept of hygge, except that this philosophy refers to the flow and spirit of bonhomie in the entire atmosphere especially during get-togethers, and ensures that no one feels out of sorts. Honestly, it is something that I hope we can get back in our social lives, once we emerge from the many waves of the pandemic.
Hello and welcome to the tenth issue of Journeys and Jottings. Hope to make the atmosphere here “gezellig.” In this issue, we are going to travel to River Nila in Kerala, a journey that has eluded me as well. We talk about why travel is not about FOMO. And in People Make Places we are going to meet the versatile Abha Iyengar who will explain the concept of Flash Fiction. More blogging and travel writing tips and I have a workshop coming up on travel blogging and it is absolutely FREE.
Why you should start your Travel Blog NOW?
Q - I want to start a travel blog but don’t know how to go about it.
Q - Should I focus on my blog with Instagram being so popular?
Q - I have so many travel stories and experiences to share but there is so much completion now.
Q - I run a travel company and why should I start a travel blog?
Q - Is a travel blog required for a boutique hotel?
Q - Is there a good time to start a travel blog?
A- Yes, NOW is a good time to start.
So, I am doing a FREE workshop this Saturday (July 24) at 5 pm and if you are interested, you can register. While the focus is on travel blogging, the session will be for anyone who is interested in blogging and creating content.
Link - https://lakshmisharath.graphy.com/sessions/start-your-travel-blog-now/e103c40f-9ab0-4930-8321-b54105160d87
Why travel is not about FOMO?
Travel is essentially about the joy of exploring and the little serendipitous discoveries that you make along the way. Personally, I have always felt that travel is a way of life and as a traveller, who is constantly on the road, I feel that there is very little room for FOMO. However here are some ways you can deal with it if you feel overwhelmed at times.
1.Focus on the little joys of travel
It is always the little things that make for great memories. A fun conversation, a hot meal, a sudden discovery – travel is made up of these precious moments. While we may miss out on a tourist attraction or a fascinating activity, it does not take away the joy of travel. Travel is more than just sights and sounds or a bag of experiences. It is important to shift the focus from the destination to the journey. People make places and very often, the little acts of kindness from strangers add a special element to the travel.
2.Be a mindful traveller
Travel is not just about getting into autopilot mode. Most itineraries turn us into a robot. We are either forever in a planning mode, or we are mindlessly rushing from one place to another. And that can sometimes leave you exhausted or even with a sense of FOMO. There is never a dearth of the top ten or the top 100 places that you must see. But if you’ll run behind travelling to every place, you’ll not even enjoy the top three places since you will not be able to soak in the moment.
A mindful traveller is always immersed in the present – be it sipping a cup of coffee or attending a culinary class or trying kayaking for the first time or even doing nothing. Less is more becomes the mantra. I have stopped planning a detailed itinerary during my travels and I go with the flow. And that leaves me with no room for FOMO.
Nila - The Journey of a River
I know I said that I don’t have FOMO but if there is one trip that I regret missing out on, was the Journey of Nila - The River that flows across three districts of Kerala -Malappuram, Thrissur, and Palakkad. In the last issue, we met Gopinath Parayil of The Blue Yonder whose flagship itinerary has won over 20 international awards including the Conde Nast Travel World Savers Award.
As Gopi said in his interview, “We wanted to celebrate the river, its cultural richness, narrate stories. But to engage the locals we needed to clearly show how their engagement would not only help sustain local traditions and culture but also how it would bring in a livelihood for them.”
“Thoni cruise along Tirur River was about providing an alternative source of income for those who were smuggling sand river. The Musical trail was about shaking the caste system that was prevalent in the music scene and showing how creatively designed content can engage even a foreign traveller. “
“Folk expressions ended up documenting various local folk art forms from the region while ensuring mesmerising experiences to a traveller. Legend trails introduced the concept of interactive storytelling in the travel business. Unassuming locals became proud storytellers highlighting what made their region so unique. “
Feast your eyes on the gorgeous landscapes and portraits of people. You can contact Gopinath Parayil of The Blue Yonder for more details regarding the itinerary and when they plan to resume it. All photos are courtesy of The Blue Yonder.
People Make Places
Abha Iyengar is a poet, author, editor, and creative writing mentor. I met her through a FB group and I have always been amazed by her various interests that range from yoga, painting, swimming, karate, embroidery, knitting, photography, dance and drama, volunteer work. She says, “ My father always encouraged my interests and my mother gave her wholehearted support. Over time, I became more focused on health and wellbeing, travelling, writing, and later mentoring.”
I was however interested when she started publishing anthologies of Flash Fiction. One of them was on Kintsugi which is an ancient art of repairing broken pieces of ceramic in Japan. But it also helps us understand that we need to embrace life with all its imperfections. I had written about Kintsugi in one of the earlier issues and I had featured her ebook, as the stories had moved me. We had a little chat later and I felt that I must introduce her and her anthologies of flash fiction to all of you. A little excerpt from our chat..
1. Where did it all begin?
The internet was a game-changer for me. I began sending submissions to online journals in the West, and the response was quick and very positive, in the form of acceptances. And publishing in India is rife with the gatekeepers who won’t let fresh blood in, if you know what I mean. The internet-connected me with the world, and well, that was my starting point.
2. People Make Places - anyone who has inspired you on your journey
I have been lucky, for many have held my hands and supported me when I needed to find my voice and space in the writing world. You need the faith of others to carry you forward, not only when you are struggling but even when you have settled into some kind of a groove. A friend comes to mind, a neighbour, who entered my life and left too soon. I had just begun writing at the time and she knew of my interest. She fuelled it further by pointing out newspapers and magazines to me where I could submit. I wrote my first ever haiku for one such magazine (Life Positive), and won a prize too. She was a guiding light and a soulmate who brought joy to my world. She passed away tragically, her life cut short by an unexpected infection. She was sent to me to help me walk the writing path, or so I believe.
3. You have of late been editing a lot of anthologies on flash fiction - what is flash fiction?
Flash fiction is a story that is about1000 words but is a complete story, with a title, a beginning, a middle, and an ending. The ending is sometimes twisted for greater impact, but this is not necessary to all such stories. Flash fiction requires that all excessive words be removed, and encourages the use of one word instead of two or three. For example, instead of, ‘She walked slowly,’ flash asks you to use, ‘She strolled.’ The genre or theme can be any.
4, Tell us a little more about your anthologies
I have been writing flash fiction since 2003, and my stories have been largely published abroad. My first collection, titled ‘Flash Bites” was published in 2013 by Authorspress in India.
I wanted to encourage the writing of flash fiction in India and for that reason, I began curating and editing the work of mainly novice writers of the form. So the anthology of flash fiction by Indian writers titled ‘Kintsugi’ was born under the aegis of Creative Wings Studio. It is now published as an ebook on Amazon. Now, ‘Skin’ is in the works, and hopefully, other anthologies will follow.
5. Tell us the inspiration behind your latest flash fiction piece - Linked Lives.
‘Linked Lives’ is my most recent flash fiction piece written for Khabar, USA, This story was born while I was sitting on our terrace in January this year, enjoying the winter sun with family and dog, when I watched a kite flying overhead. On top of my mind was also the always present, overriding desire to lose belly fat that women have. I had watched, the evening before, an old lady walking with her hands behind her back, in which she held a japmala, and I wanted to use this somewhere in a story. While I watched the kite, ideas began circling in my head, just like the circling of the kite overhead. As soon as I returned from the terrace, I wrote a quick story. Editing, of course, took time. The title was also born from something that was affecting me a lot at the time and still does, the fact that our lives are linked in so many different ways to different people. So that is the genesis of one story.
6. Tips you would give for writers who participate in flash fiction?
The tips I would give writers who wish to write flash fiction is that flash fiction is a form, just like any other. It has its constraints because you have to write your complete story within 1000 words. Yet, these very constraints can serve as a breakthrough, because you learn to leave out excessive words and your story becomes more direct and hard-hitting. Brevity is the byword. Remember, in flash fiction, the title becomes very important, since it can tell a lot about what you want to say. Also, if you approach this form with an open mind, you will find that this is one of the most exciting forms of writing. Write for my next anthology, this is an invitation to all who wish to write flash fiction.
7.What’s your next project?
I am now curating and editing a flash fiction collection with the theme of ‘Skin’. These anthologies are a labour of love with the covers also being designed in-house (I am taking orders for these too). I am very happy to put the anthologies together despite the time and energy it takes. I will be sending a call for submissions for the third anthology sometime soon, and those who wish to submit may write in to me.
I am also working on my own third collection of flash stories. ‘The Full Platter’, my second collection of flash stories, as you know, has been recently published and is available at Amazon.
I do hope that you enjoyed reading this issue. Stay safe, stay at home, and get vaccinated at the earliest. Looking forward to your feedback as always. We are going to keep the flow of conversations going and I would really appreciate it if you will share my newsletter with your friends and family.
See you soon! You can also read my travel stories on my blog and follow me on my social media
Blog - www.lakshmisharath.com
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