Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What is NaNoWriMo

Time and again, I have wondered about how one thing leads to another, and another one leads to third forming a chain of events, leading you to unexplored paths in life. When I stumbled upon Future Learn while looking for a course in October last week, little did I know that joining it will open up a big box of new possibilities for me.

I had an idea for a novel for almost5-6 years now but never took it seriously. At the start of 2016, I brought up the topic with my hubby dear and Ashish, a very good friend of mine, they both encouraged me to write it. So I set out to write a novel. Few tiny chapters here and there & some notes about key characters & incidents was all I could manage throughout the year. When I NaNoWriMo, which made me curious. A quick look up on Google told me that it is a fun filled approach to Novel writing. The contestants participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) set out on a target on 1 November to write at least 50,000 words novel by 30 November. It sounded like a perfect motivation I was looking for and I was only a week away from November. Without slightest delay, I signed up and started planning my activities for the month.

But luck wasn't on my side. I got terrible cold, cough, sore throat which developed into full-fledged fever and weakness. I looked gloomily at the calendar as each day of November passed. Finally, I recovered fully from the fever as well as a backlog of all the pending work by 13th November and I sat down. Chances looked slim. Even if I had a complete month, I was required to write at least 1667 words every day to keep up with the challenge. I was sitting on 13th and all I had was the few tiny, unstructured chapters I had written over the year. Finally, after a lot of hesitation, I decided to do it as a birthday gift to myself, whatever I can achieve in remaining days. I told myself, it's OK even if I don't complete the target, at least I will have the satisfaction of having tried and not a grudge of giving up my weapons even before the war started. And then I discovered the lovely WriMo India group on Facebook. The energy on the Facebook group was palpable. Before I knew it, I was participating in their virtual sprints, making friends who would support me and encourage me to write more, sharing their inspiring stories, doubts, troubles making it a lot more fun than it was when I tried to write alone.

As last week approached I was frantically working towards the end goal, I could already see dim chances of making it happen. Unable to find any other time, I resorted to starting post dinner. As I neared the target writing till 2 or 3 in the morning became a routine. On the night of 29th November (1 day before the end date) as I crossed the mark of 50,000 words at 1 in the night, I had my favourite music and a horde of mosquitoes accompanying me in my celebration. It was an experience worth million dollars and I wouldn't have it any other way. Though my novel is not yet 100% complete, seeing the major part of it already written has kindled a new enthusiasm in me to see it through.

As I was still wondering about how to publish and how to market it, a fellow WriMo friend - Amar Vyas offered to do an interview for his podcast and I jumped on the bandwagon. So here is the podcast from MyKitaab, which offers great tips on 'How to publish and market your book', perfect for first-time writers like me, aye?

The podcast has an interview of Puja Mohan, a fellow NaNoWriMo winner at the start and then mine (at 15:10), hope you enjoy it. Don't forget to put your comments, feedback & suggestions in the comment box below. Hope to see many of you in next year's NaNoWriMo.

Here is a link to the podcast and it's excerpts in case you prefer reading over listening -

Friday, December 16, 2016

Unique sensory experience

When a friend called me to invite me for a meetup about Bespoke Fragrances, I had almost said 'No' when I was reminded of the article I had written at the start of this year - Make 2016 your most memorable year ever with these 12 tips - 'Visit a place where you can't find a topic to discuss or where you feel out of place'. Following my own advice from 1 year earlier, I sat down and thought about why am I saying 'No' instantly?

First of all, I had no clue why he included me on the guest list. My knowledge in perfumes ends at knowing names of some perfume brands. Usually, when I have to buy a perfume, I walk into a store, try few of them and buy the one I like without even noticing the brand name. I have some friends who can identify the perfume by the smell and who sometimes ridicule me for my illiteracy in the topic, but the subject never interested me much. So when I thought about the meetup for fragrances, I imagined a room full of people like those 'expert' friends of mine, passionate about perfumes, who know everything there is to know about perfumes, who might be arguing about why Fresh is better than Floral? I found it hard to imagine myself among this group, having no clue what to say. I could visualise myself getting bored in a corner sipping on my tea quietly. So finally just to take it up as a challenge to myself, I said 'Yes'.

The venue was comforting, 'Taj tea house' which has been on my list ever since I read about it for the first time. I consoled myself that even if I find it difficult to be part of any conversation, at least I will have visited this place and tried at least couple of their teas (you guessed it right, I am a tea lover). We were greeted by Nisha, the host for the evening with a warm smile, a lovely venue and pleasing fragrance in the air. As I settled down and got to talking with 'the others', I realised that they were anything but perfume fanatics. The crowd was from varied background right from someone who is travelling 42 countries on a bike to the creator of Angry Maushi. In fact, I ran out of time to meet each one of them as each one of them was unique and had a lot to talk about. I was delighted to meet a fellow WriMo with whom I connected instantly. Before I realised the discomfort and apprehension I had at the time of accepting the invitation, evaporated with the lovely scent in the air.

To my surprise, the meetup had turned out to be anything but what I had imagined. The best part? I didn't have to know anything about perfumes, my nose did the job! Never in my life had I realised (or to be honest thought about) the fine details which go into perfumery. To make it easier to understand for naif like me, our host Nisha took us through the journey of perfume making. I was amazed by how she managed to give us so many technicalities without a single dull moment. To make it easier for us to understand, she had brought few basic, natural elements along with their respective extracts, for each tone. There was Rosemary representing herbs, Cardamom for spices, Blackcurrant for fruits, Bergamot for citrus & Rose oil for flowers. Smelling each one of them ignited a different feeling, emotion and sometimes memories. I started to imagine what would combination of few of these would spark in the end.

I was especially intrigued by the travel range where NIsha has created perfumes for certain places, Marrakesh spice souk, Balinese Temple Bay, Cotswold county & Miami Bay Marina. How could one capture the essence of a place in a scent? Having fond memories of Cotswold myself, I tried it the first thing and was taken down the memory lanes by it. Nisha had certainly done a good job of capturing the essence of Cotsworld, but the question remained how? But I didn't have to wait for too long. There was a game planned at the end, to capture the essence of Darjeeling in a scent. I rolled up my sleeves happily sharing the things which came to my mind about Darjeeling. As we progressed and shared our list at the end, there were many elements Fresh, Earthy, Pine, Eucapyptus, Green Tea, Flowers, Oak, Burny/smoky (reminding of the coal railway). We were witnessing a beautyful journey of capturing the essence of a place. How lovely would it be, if I could carry around the essence of all the places which are special to me and wear them to be in those places again and again? Sounds poetic. Our journey ended with an assurance from Nisha that she would go back, create the unque perfume for Darjeeling and send it across as a reminder of our wonderful experience there.

Though the clock had been whispering in my ear 'Traffic..Traffic...' I stayed back as long as I could to chat with as many people as I could, but ultimately I had to leave the cozy setup and get back to the honking, crowded roads back home. I carried a lesson back home, Perfumery isn't a rocket science as I had initially thought, but it is an art, making our lives rich.

Here is a snippet for all of you to get hang of the event, though it does no justice to all the lovely fragrances we got to experience -

#KaoriMoments #BespokeFragrance #Perfume