Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Friday, 22 July 2011

My Carmelite Tryst with DK Bose

Mount Carmel College Bengaluru is on Palace Road and once you escape the traffic mayhem and enter its verdant grounds, there's peace inside. Of course, my definition of peace includes the hum of girls as they amble up the leafy path, dart down corridors, whisper in huddles and hover around the snack shop!

I was invited by the Media department of Mount Carmel to deliver a couple of talks to the girls on the Business of Books. The astute department head, Sahana Das, knows there is more to art than craft - hence 'Business'. I was happy but equal portions terrified - keeping a class of nineteen-year-olds engaged for two hours is a herculean task for a writer who can be found most days at her desk, hunched over a keyboard, with a blinking cursor and quietude for company!

But in a world where writing is increasingly mimicking performing arts, even hermetic writers must venture out and face the - music?! Kidding! But the challenge of entertaining and illuminating a batch of forty girls weighed on me as hubby drove me to Mount Carmel on a balmy Bengaluru morning. The air smelled of showers and petrol fumes and the radio belted out a summons to one DK Bose to, by God!, run for it.

Sahana Das had provided a clear mandate - inform the students about writing and publishing through my own experience of writing and publishing my two books and the upcoming one to be released in December 2011, Book 1 of a planned thriller trilogy - and I had the talk clearly structured in my mind. The crux though was the start - how do I grab, and hold, the attention of girls who were separated from me by an egregious ravine of approximately a quarter century. Gulp! I would be a performing Dino! Barney in his purple costume grinned at me but I determinedly shut him out. Then Maria from The Sound of Music surged, enthusiastically urging me, "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..." Heck, Maria, No! I wailed, I don't know WHAT the beginning is ...

However, I have always trusted my gut and as I sauntered up the path to the Media department, I put my faith in those trusted entrails, smiled broadly and faked sanguinity.

Next, I found myself in an air-conditioned room facing forty pairs of eyes - not all fully awake (it was the first session of the morning) and several mouths in various stages of suppressing yawns! Forewarned is forearmed, and my mind scurried for a suitable START.

Even as it did, the track from my morning car ride buzzed in my mind: Bhaag bhaag DK Bose, DK Bose, DK Bose, DK, bhaag ...


Clearly, scramming was not an option, so what was my mind/gut urging me to do?

And, in that instant, the lamp lit. I smiled, greeted the class and started with blessed DK Bose. I told the girls that when I was their age Aamir Khan had connected with us through the then-iconic song 'Papa kehte hain bada naam karega', and now, a generation later, he was serenading them with the current youth anthem 'Daddy mujh se bola tu galti hai meri ... Bhaag Bhaag DK Bose'. The two numbers told a story, a story of how things had changed and how much distance dreams had mapped since. When I was their age, no writer came to my class and spoke to us about how to be a writer - all we knew was Doctor, Engineer, BA. And yet, here they were, a class of forty who were choosing to be journalist, newscaster, corporate executive, TV host, writer ... As Calvin in all his wisdom said, It's a beautiful world out there, Hobbes ol' buddy, let's go explorin' - and, with that, I started to explore with them the world of writers and writing.

The rest of the talk just fell in place.

The girls sat up - DK Bose has that effect! - I was enthusiastic as I spent the next hour-and-a-half taking them into the world of writing through my own journey as a writer. This was followed by a half-hour of Q&A.

At the end of two hours, I was, to my surprise, not in the least exhausted (remember the performance art bit? I meant it!) Instead there was this feeling of energy, a charge, I guess, which can only come from those who are young, or young at heart. As for my performance, I think I did okay. If there were two things I wanted to leave the girls with, it was this:

- The best way to describe writing is the old-fashioned one: it is a calling. So write only if you hear the call. There are easier ways to earn a living otherwise

- Before you commit to a writer's life ask yourself this one question: Do I like my company? The answer counts because you'll be spending a lot of time with yourself

When the session ended, there was applause, a note of thanks, and - a stack of chocolates, ribbon-wrapped! It had been a while since such Temptations had come my way - Honey Apricot, Mint Crunch, Black Forest ...

Oh, and before I forget to add ...

- With being a writer comes the gift of small surprises that go a long way!


  1. this was a very interesting read

  2. You are an awesome blogger and though I haven't read your books.. I assume you to be an awesome writer too.
    I studied in VHD home-science college, very near to Mount Carmel ..

  3. Sometimes, I also need to talk to classes. After some really terrible experiences with 16-19 years old, I usually avoid this group. But when the talks go well, I also get this feeling of endless energy and wellbeing.

    Very nicely written and expressed.

  4. @Farila: How good to hear from you again! And thank you for the generous compliments - am quite overwhelmed :)

    Keep coming back!

  5. @ Sunil Deepak: Thank you! I checked your page and figured you live in Italy - it is my fave destination :)

  6. very nice read...if would will to talk to so many females anyday :P jokes apart,nicely done!