Poet, Author, Editor, Creative Writing Consultant

Sunday, December 15, 2013


"And sick and tired of the motley crowd,
 the clamour of voices
 I'll slip away in the  dark
 to embrace shadows of my heart
that the night slices"

~(C) Abha Iyengar, 16th Dec 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

RANDOM ENCOUNTER: Auto rickshaw man on 12th November 2013 afternoon

Name: Kazim Rasool
Age: 60 years
Education: 10thgrade . Regrets not having studied further, for he would have had to go to Aligarh for that.
Resident of Budaoin, Uttar Pradesh. 250 kms from Delhi.
Addiction: Reading the newspaper every morning.
Quotes: “Love of newspapers is an addiction like any other. But it is harmless one and increases knowledge and awareness.”
“There is no good or bad job. It is the man on the job who is good or bad.”
“I work because I want to have my limbs active and alert. There is no need for me to drive the auto.”
“I don’t cheat anyone. For example, I don’t take people who are new to the city on a round- about ride. God is watching.”

Feeling after interaction with him: Peaceful. Good to meet people like him.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Ring of Love

On a cold winter morning, I experienced my ‘Platinum Day of Love.’ It was the day my husband, Vinod, arrived to be at my side as I struggled to live.

I was not on India, but in Berlin, where I had gone for a conference. I was suddenly taken so ill that I had to be hospitalized. I had been suffering from a cold and had been taking Crocin for fever on my flight. Delhi had been cold and Berlin was much colder. The conference over, I collapsed at the University where it was taking place.

 It was December and Christmas time, but I was in a hospital in a strange country, away from my loved ones. I was surrounded by doctors and nurses. I had a severe case of Hepatitis A which had gone undiagnosed till now. I had to take pills. I received so many injections that the inside of my arm look like a red anthill. I was transported on a wheelchair to several rooms for some test or the other for I was too weak to stand. The doctors were cheerful, but I missed the love and warmth of home and country. I was feeling sad and morose, wondering whether I would ever go home.

At the time this happened, my husband had just returned from a trip abroad for work and had already spent the foreign exchange allowed (there were restrictions then) by the government. He had none and no one had any to give him. Eventually he managed to borrow a few dollars from my brother-in-law. He had to arrange a visa immediately for himself since the doctors in Berlin had asked him to come at once, “to see his wife’s face for the last time.” He frantically got in touch with the Indian embassy. I do not know what he did but he did manage to arrive by my side after a few days.

My brother-in-law’s friend, a stranger till now, met him at the airport and offered his home as a place to stay. Somehow, Vinod had managed against all odds to be with me, perhaps knowing that I had to see him in order to make my way back to recovery.

He tells me that when he walked into the room to see me, he did not know whether I would survive, I was so pale and thin and weak.  I tell him that when I saw him walk in, I knew that I would survive. The doctors told me that I was a spunky and tough woman, but it was after my husband arrived that they noticed that I really began to recover. My liver, which had shrunk to an abnormal size, began to regenerate itself. I know for a fact that all organs of the body are connected. My heart had informed my liver, I think, that it was time to embrace life again and not give up so easily. My husband was here to make sure I did that.

Though it was a woman’s section of the hospital, they allowed him to come and visit me every day. They also allowed him to stay as long as he wished. This was a rule that was bent for my sake; these hospitals have strict visiting hours. The doctors marvelled at the fact that my husband would come and spend so much time with me. They had never seen this kind of love and attention being showered on a patient.

I thank the Berlin doctors for giving me back my life. I also know that it is Vinod’s love for me, pure, eternal and rare to find, that gave me the strength to survive. All these years, despite all the ups and downs that life has offered, he has never given up on me, and has never left my side. I am encircled by his love.

The day he came to the Berlin hospital is our Platinum Day of Love. And all our days together will always be platinum days, pure, rare and eternal.  Just like platinum, glowing and strong.

This real life story has been written in response to PlatinumDay of Love at Indiblogger.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

UBTAN: A Simple, Traditional, Beautifying Treatment

The one traditional method of beautifying and exfoliating that has been used by my grandmother, mother and then by me on my children is what is called ubtan. It is a simple combination of gram flour and mustard oil, mixed together to make a thick paste.

This is how I used to apply it. I would spread a thick bedsheet or a Turkish towel on the verandah. Then I place my son on the sheet and undress him. The exposure of the naked body to the early morning sun enables the skin to make the much required vitamin D for strong and healthy bones. He would kick his arms and legs in delight.

Then I would rub the ubtan gently on my son’s skin, over his arms and legs, stomach and back. When it dried a little, say after five minutes, I would gently rub it off. The ubtan would roll off in little beads, slightly discoloured with the dirt it removed from the skin.
I would take special care to rub a bit more over the arms and legs. This is because the hair on the arms and legs of the child is light and comes of easily. Regular use of ubtan ensures a relatively hairless skin. Girls do not require that frequent a waxing and other beauty treatments once they grow up, if their mothers have used ubtan on them when they were kids.

Ubtan is a beauty treatment in itself, and can be applied by adults to their bodies before having a Sunday bath. It cleans the skin better than any soap or body scrub, and leaves it soft and silky. It uses two things that are found in any kitchen: gram flour and oil (mustard oil can be substituted with any other oil like til oil or coconut oil). It is a cheap and healthy way to get a beautiful skin.
Instead of oil, we can also use the cream of milk or milk.

Do note that the ubtan mixture should be a bit thick if you want to rub it off the skin after it dries a bit, so as to remove the dirt and fine hair. A thinner mixture can also be made, applied on the skin and then washed off, if just softness of skin is required.

Today, as we reach for over-the-counter beauty treatments, we seem to forget the simple, chemical-free home remedies that were used by us traditionally. The time has come to revisit these remedies. It is a known fact that babies when rubbed with ubtan, or even just oil in the sunny courtyards and balconies, and then bathed, have strong bones, healthy bodies, and good skin.
Dabur’s Lal Tail is one of the oils that can be rubbed on the child’s body to help him grow strong and healthy. Dabur is a brand known for decades for its Ayurvedic traditional products that heal and provide health.

The value of any oil on the body is well-known Coconut-oiled hair grows thick and black, that is why Bengalis and Keralites have beautiful, thick black hair even when they grown old. Coconut oil on any burn mark on skin, when applied daily, reduces the intensity of the mark. Mustard oil rubbed on teeth with salt, creates strong gums. There is no end to the use of oils in our traditional applications to make our bodies strong and healthy. There is knowledge here that needs to be respected and used.

All I can say is that I have found ubtan to be one of the best ways of ensuring that my children have strong bones and healthy skin. Also, the kind of bonding that takes place between the child and the mother during this process of applying ubtan, can only be experienced.

This post has been written as an entry for Dabur Lal Tail contest.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FREE Courses here

Hi Folks:
Okay, so this link is for a free course on DNA. some of you may like it. Then join.


if you are a writer like me, another FREE course right up your lane:


and I have joined another too, this is on design. It's FREE too.


And many more courses on architecture, social entrepreneurship....Go check all this out.


Learning. Sharing. Having Fun.

See you there.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Check, Check

There is always room for destruction
And that is why she has become
This broken record of regret.
You cannot listen for long without saying
‘Something is on the fire,’ I have to check,
‘Someone is  at the door,’ I have to check.

You cannot let this broken record play
Its scratchy song against your ear
Though you did call to find out how she was.
You do not want to check how she is anymore
There are other things to check.
There is always room for distraction.

© Abha Iyengar, 5th October 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Based on Plutarch’s paradox of whether a ship whose parts have been changed can be considered to be the same ship as it was before, the film, Ship of Theseus, by Anand Gandhi, explores this issue through three lives and their stories come together in the end for these people have received their new parts through one donor, a hobbyist cave explorer whose film they come to see at a private screening and where they meet each other as separate individuals united by the fact that each of them has a part of one man, now a part of them.

The first story is of a young Egyptian blind photographer, Aliya Kamal, who takes black and white photographs which have a unique unexplained element to them. Her work is gaining popularity. In an interview, she says that she has no set limits or boundaries in what she wants to do, and so on the surface one finds her to be comfortable in her blindness. At the same time she has an argument with her boyfriend where she wishes to destroy anything that happens ‘accidentally’, any photograph over which she has ‘no control’. So she is grappling with the fact that her blindness happened accidentally and she could not control that aspect of her life and this reflects in her behavior.

However, she gets a cornea transplant that restores her eyesight. She is now back in the world of being able to see. The return of her vision makes her lose her photographic vision. She finds that her work has lost that special something which her blindness had gifted her. She is overwhelmed by the sights that surround her.

The second story is of a monk called Maitreya who is an animal rights activist and when threatened with liver cirrhosis, chooses to die slowly rather than take treatment, since the drugs have all been cleared and manufactured after being tested on animals. There are interesting questions posed in this segment through the dialogues between Maitreya and Charvaka ( a young follower and admirer) on life, death, existence, humanity, permanence and impermanence etc. The heaviness of the matter under discussion is lightened by the jokes cracked by Charvaka as they talk. When Maitreya is diagnosed with cirrhosis, despite everyone’s attempts to make him change his mind, he is shown choosing the path of hunger and fasting to death. It is only at the last moment that he changes his mind and asks his attendant monk to call for the doctor. Thus we see that the love for one’s life and mortal flesh puts paid to all idealism and heroic endeavours and the quest for immortality, despite Maitreya trying very hard to adhere to what he stands for.

The last story is of Navin, a stockbroker, who justifies to his grandmother the fact that his interest in making money and what she calls his ‘limited world’, is not to be scoffed at. During his stay at the hospital to take care of his grandmother who has had an accident and broken her leg, he hears a woman wailing and discovers that a common bricklayer’s kidney has been removed while he underwent an appendicitis operation. At first, since he has had a kidney transplant, he believes that he has the bricklayer Shankar’s kidney, but his fears are put to rest.

His investigations lead him to a person in Stockholm who has received Shankar’s ‘stolen’ kidney. The man agrees to arrange for a new kidney for Shankar and take care of everything, but Navin finds that instead of this, the foreigner sends six and a half lakhs as payment to Shankar. Shankar is ecstatic, and refuses to listen to Navin’s attempts to tell him that he can get his kidney back. Navin’s grandmother tells him that it is enough that he has tried to make a difference to someone else’s life. The dismal life that poverty brings is shown without any filters as Navin and his friend climb narrow, slippery, filth covered staircase after another to try and reach the place that Shankar calls home ). The film exposes without deceit the behavior of Indians and the Indian set up, the way the nurses are unhelpful and unavailable even in the best of hospitals, the way Navin’s friend wipes his sweaty face on a cloth hung out for washing. the wiping of Navins hands on his pants after he has washed them; these little touches add to the film’s authenticity.

Though the scenes move slowly and sometimes drag (e.g. the speaking of the Stockholm man in his own language and then the translation by Ajay, the stockbroker Navin’s friend), the film shows how the trafficking in organs is a matter of grave concern today, and also how losing or getting and organ has repercussions both for the giver and the receiver. The photography is often breath-taking. The actors have been well chosen. Naveen Kabi is fantastic in his role. So is Suhel Shah, who plays his role as a young stockbroker with elan. Since the language is often Hinglish, and in the first story and in the last story, some spoken parts are neither English nor Hindi, it is good that the movie is sub- titled.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Rajnigandha and some Lemon Zing

There is a particular fragrance that always brings back memories of my childhood days in Kolkata. My mother was extremely house proud and she would decorate the house with ferns and flowers every day. This was possible in a Kolkata flat because a flower seller climbed all the way up to our floor every morning to bring the flowers to our doorstep. There was no garden of flowers outside the block of flats, just some huge trees in the corners of the plot that provided shade.

My mother had studied Ikebana so several of the arrangements were of the ‘designer’ type. She had spiked iron holders in vases to hold the arrangements. Ferns and plants often curled their tops into loops and other forms to suit the requirements of this demanding style of flower arrangement.

But there was one area where simplicity reigned. In the hallway, there hung an oval mirror with a thick decorative brass frame. Just below this mirror there hung a long, polished wooden ledge. It was held by thick decorative brass chains on either side which were attached to the wall. In the centre of this wooden ledge and aligned with the mirror at the back, my mother placed a huge cut glass vase of Rajnigandhas every day. It reflected in all its beauty in the mirror. But I did not care for how beautiful it looked at that time.

All I cared for was the fragrance that assailed my nostrils when I entered the hallway. I would be hot, sweaty, smelly and tired from my day at school. The cool hallway and the smell of Rajnigandha was all that mattered to me then. The tall white flowers that filled the vase beckoned me. I would run up to the vase and breathe in deeply; and all balance would be restored for the time being.

Then of course, mother would be standing there, a glass of chilled lemonade in her hands. The smell of freshly squeezed lemon and the fragrance of Rajnigandha… that is what I remember with nostalgia. My mother’s hands smelled of lemon too as she placed the glass to my lips.

 When I decorate my home with flowers, I place huge vases of Rajnigandha all over the place, and that works for me.  This is a simple thing for me to do, it requires no art. But it reminds me of those hot afternoons filled with fragrance. All I have to do is make myself some chilled lemonade and stand in front of a vase of these beautiful white flowers. I am transported back to those carefree days when most things revolved around homework, hopscotch and a home filled with food, fun and flowers.

At the times when these real flowers with their particular perfume are not available for me, I wish I could spray the fragrance of Rajnigandha in my home. It would fill me with so much happiness and instant nostalgia.

This post is written for the contest at Indiblogger titled "Smellyto Smiley" for AmbipurIndia www.facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia

Saturday, August 10, 2013

An Indian in London

I have this dream of visiting London with my family. It is not that I have not travelled, but somehow London has, so far, escaped my radar. So this is one place that I really wish to go to for my next holiday.

Why London, one may ask, for isn’t it just another prominent city and just another capital of a country? What does it have to offer that other cities don’t?  It is definitely not off the beaten track, being a city that almost anyone with a vestige of a colonial hangover would want to visit.

Maybe I have that, the colonial hangover, can’t say, but London it has to be. What drives me to wish to go to London now…well, let’s see.

My first English Reader made me read about a Jack instead of a Ram “Run, Jack, run,” it went,  and then, “Can Jack run?” The Nursery Rhymes I learnt went something like this, “ Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water…”

I crossed hands with a friend to go round and round during the lunch break to sing, ”Ringa-ringa roses, a pocket full of posies…” of course, in those days I said something like ‘poses’ instead of posies and never for once wondered what that might mean! It was enough to go round and round with our school skirts flying behind us and sing of roses and poses.

And I sang also of how London Bridge was falling down. There was no song that I sung about the bridge over the River Hooghly, though I stayed in Kolkata at the time.

So of course, the fascination for Jack and Jill, English roses and the London Bridge began very early in my life. I am sure I will look at the people in London on my trip there and perhaps say hello to several Jacks and Jills. I shall look at the London Bridge and feel happy to see that it has not yet fallen despite my loud song about it.

As an afterthought, I also read Jack and the Beanstalk as a fairy tale, so that is yet another Jack to explore in London.

Then what happened in my reading life? I began to read Enid Blyton’s stories, and she was definitely a Londoner. I plan to  visit her home in East Dulwich and revisit my memories of Noddy, the Five Find Outers and Dog, Mallory Towers and so many other books that she filled my childhood days with.

I then progressed to read the Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes. So naturally I would go to the famous address in London, 221b Baker Street. This it seems, is now a museum, the interior having been created from the stories. I will look at Holmes’ hat, magnifying glass, violin, phials and his famous pipe and imagine him standing right there next to me.

P. G. Wodehouse created a fictitious world around the real London of the 1930s. He filled my reading days with charm and laughter. I would love to take the ‘"What Ho Jeeves!" The London of P.G. Wodehouse walk” and relive the days of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves.

It was during my teenage years that I read T.S. Eliot’s poem where the lines on the yellow fog (of London, where else?) have stayed with me:

“The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening…”

―T.S. Eliot , The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Without a doubt, T.S. Eliot, though born an American, considered himself much of an Englishman for he took British citizenship in 1927. So the fascination with all things English is not limited to people like me of the British colonized countries alone.

The Tower of London is also on my list of visits. I saw the movie Anne of a Thousand Days and fell in love with Genevieve Bujold’s portrayal of Anne Boleyn.

I also became fascinated by the history of the Tudors. ‘The ghost of Anne Boleyn, beheaded in 1536 for treason against Henry VIII, allegedly haunts the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, where she is buried, and has been said to walk around the White Tower carrying her head under her arm.’  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_London) Wow. Now that’s something.

Then there is Shakespeare. So the Globe Theatre in London warrants a visit. So much to see and do in London.

I am a touristy type of person too, so of course I shall go to the Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, and admire the Big Ben.

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London, England. It is something contemporary and excites my interest. So you can be assured that I am not only going on a nostalgic trip here.

And finally, I and my family will enjoy a bracing walk along the River Thames and follow it with  a warm drink in a Riverside pub somewhere along the way.

I remember the bat-winged lizard birds,

The Age of Ice and the mammoth herds,

And the giant tigers that stalked them down

Through Regent’s Park into Camden Town.

Rudyard Kipling, The River’s Tale, 1911, (on the Thames)

I may, with my family, even laze in the sun a while, as is commonly done in Hyde Park.

This holiday would be full of fun, adventure and history, and also bring to life so much I have read and dreamt about. It would be a dream holiday, and my family, which is equally besotted by London and all that it has to offer, will have the time of its life when we holiday there.

I am a writer and a street-side photographer, so I cannot help myself. On my visit, I would write on what I see, click images, and take back memories of a city that I have only read about for a long time now.

 So London, here I come.


 This blogpost is written for the #HappyTravellers Contest  of http://www.yatra.com 

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Writing Speaks for Me

When I first published a piece of fiction, and it was with an international publication, my father, who was alive then and whose critical appreciation I always looked for, read my story and smiled. “I like it very much. I am so proud of you.” His words were music to my ears.

“How much did you receive for this story?” was his next question.

“Nothing, Dad, but it is big thing just to be published here,” I replied, surprised at his question.

“You express yourself very well, but this field obviously has no money. You should look at something else.”

I thought about it, my father did have my best interests at heart.

But I knew myself, my mind and my passion. I had to write. They say the path chooses you. I say that you also have to choose your path. I could have done anything else, but I stuck to writing. I knew that writing fuelled my spirit. That with writing I came alive.

Over the years I wrote poems, articles, essays, short stories, a novel, and my work was published in India and abroad. I won awards and recognition.

I have a long way to go. But I know that whenever my fingers fly on my laptop and the words begin to form on the screen, I am in the right place, creating my next piece of work. 

I would like to believe that a woman ‘As Beautiful as her Work’, is me. I am as beautiful as my writing and as confident as Megha is with her presentation. I am sure, just like she is, that whatever I present will hold the reader’s attention, for my work is an expression of myself.

Megha knows the worth of her work. I know this too; my writing scintillates with my passion and illuminates my true beauty. 

I am a Mia woman.

This blogpost is my entry for the ' Tanishq’s Mia blog contest in association with Ripple Links on the topic “As Beautiful As Your Work”. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013


What your ancestors give to you 
may be just that certain hip in your walk,
 that certain slip in your tongue 
or maybe just the way you look at things 
or feel a certain spring
 the unquantifiable parts of you 
that show in your smile as you skate
 on the edge of things
oh yes, don't say that you are just you, 
while that may be true
 there have been others that make you
break you.

(C) Abha Iyengar, 1st July 2013 (Ruminations in this Kickstarter Month)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy International Flash Fiction Day! Winners of FLASH MOB 2013 are up!

Flash Mob 2013CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners and runners-up of this year’s flash fiction mob. There are more than  a 100 stories, including some wonderful entries by the judges and organizers.
The top story is by Michael Gillan Maxwell. Congratulations to him! 
My own contribution to FLASH MOB 2013 is All of it Returned. I did make it to the top 15 WINNERS!
 Congratulations to the winners once more! Happy International Flash Fiction Day! 
Please do read my story All of it Returned and I would love comments.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"The poetry that fills my soul will surely ruin me 
It stops me from revelling in my superficial trappings."
~ (C) Abha Iyengar, 20th June 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Abha Iyengar's Creative Writing Workshop


  • 26/5/2013 to 16/6/2013. 4 Sundays in air-conditioned premises from 10.30 am to 4 pm.
    4 different topics: Basics of creative writing/ short story/flash fiction/memoir. All packaged together. Writing exercises, interactive and critique sessions, writing markets explored. Tea/coffee/cold water provided. Lunch: Bring your own sandwiches :). Or, if you give advance warning, and speak with me, something may be arranged at the venue for you at a nominal price.
    Age: Anyone above 18 (if 17, speak to me and I will let you know) and below 100. (If 101, talk to me and I'll let you know). :)
    Basic requirement: The course is in English, so a grasp of the language is required. Apart from that, a desire to write is essential.
    Total Cost of 4 full Sundays where you learn and interact with a small cohesive group: Rs. 5000/-
    Interested? Please email abhaiyengar@gmail.com. Or call 09873266466
    Limited seats, so book early. Early bird discount for the first 3 birds who book: 5%
    Where? For the first time in East Delhi. It's hot but happening.
    Any other doubts: call 9873266466/email: abhaiyengar@gmail.com
    I'm there.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

All of It Returned

She looked like a sun dried tomato. Her puckered skin, dry and rough, made me wonder what I had seen in her twenty years ago, I must have been really silly. She came towards me licking her parched lips, pushing them out and pulling them in. Her hair was wispy, underneath it her scalp shone in the mid-day heat. The Kerala sun was far from merciful, and I was thankful for my Adidas cap.

“Here,” she said, “I saved these for you.”  She opened her light brown palms, etched with lines. There were some dried herbs in her small hands. Her hands were green-veined and brown from working the fields. That’s what she did now. I noticed her bent back.

I grabbed the dried leaves and brought them to my nose, and smelt once again the chicken coconut curry. I rubbed the leaves against my mouth and nose as if willing the aroma to remain on my skin forever.  

In a frenzy, I grabbed her hands and put them against my face.

The leaves were dried and crushed with time and fell like green ash. Her hands against my face were hard, unable to shape themselves against my skin. She pulled them back, embarrassed. At one time, she had cupped my face in her hands every day before sending me off to school.

Hair of black water running down skin of moonlight, eyes that lit up the nights when she sang me to sleep. Smell of chicken curry spiced with herbs from her body as her small hands stroked my hair, damp with sweat. She took care of me while father taught what being a Christian meant to the people here, hoping to change them and  mother wrote from England, hoping I was being well looked after.

© ABHA IYENGAR, 19th May 2013 http://flashmob2013.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Mouth Says it All

It is not often that we pay attention to our mouth. It helps us speak, smile, eat, spit.  If we are smart, we watch what we speak, careful not to hurt others, but also speaking our minds and telling it like it is. Some of us speak a lot, some of us don’t speak that much but still manage to convey our feelings and thoughts.
The smile says it all. It is a way to greet old friends and make new friends. It is an expression of happiness. When we do not smile, then we are angry, sad, depressed, or if we do it on a regular basis, we will be called glum and unhappy.
We are what we eat, and we eat through our mouths. So what we put inside our mouths affects us and our health. If we gorge on oily, fattening foods like pasta and samosa, then we become obese. If we eat healthy meals of whole wheat, vegetables and fruit, we become healthier, slimmer.
Sometimes we eat some bitter stuff and we have to spit it out, that is the fastest way to get rid of bitter and awful tastes from the mouth. Sometimes we have to swallow bitter pills which are for our own good.
The fact is that the mouth is the gateway to our system and our health. It affects how we look and feel and behave. If we are fit, smiling and expressive, it is our mouths that are responsible. So we have a responsibility towards our mouths.
Regular brushing is important and so are regular dental check- ups. Do not ignore the signs of toothache, or bleeding gums or a shaky tooth. If the alignment of your teeth is not right, get it fixed, for the right bite helps you get your chewing right. Attending to your gums and teeth is important because as I said, the mouth is the gateway. Infections from the mouth travel to the rest of the organs if one is not careful.
So do not for a moment think that the bleeding gums will be where all your pain and discomfort will remain, it is not so. You may also get bad breath due to this, and it may even lead to tooth loss.
So regular brushing with a good toothpaste like Colgate, and regular check-ups at the dentist will surely help keep such problems at bay. Bleeding gum or tooth pain is a warning sign given by the body to take action. We often neglect our teeth and gums, thinking that the problem will go away. We rub some mustard oil with salt on the gums, or some clove oil, and hope that matters will resolve themselves. However, it is best to consult a dentist and nip anything in the bud. S/he will guide you as to which toothbrush to use, which toothpaste (you get a wide variety now for sensitivity or repair or whitening and one for Pro-gum Health too by Colgate) is best, and the kind of treatment that may be required.
I have learnt the hard way about taking care of my mouth. I had swollen gums and a sore throat that I ignored. The problem spread to my kidneys. It was only when my ankles began to swell that I consulted a doctor. I was very young and had ignored the tell tale signs that my mouth was giving me…swollen gums and a sore throat. Luckily I was in good hands and got cured, but it was something that could have been avoided if I had not ignored the early warning signs given by my body.
Infections travel through the blood and can affect the bones too. We are often unaware of the simple fact that every part of our body is related.
So remember that it all starts at the mouth, so we need to look after and take care of this very fine part of us. Of course, do not ignore any warning signs that any part of the body gives. I paid heed to the swelling in the ankles and took immediate help.  But if I had paid heed to the infection in my mouth, things could have been taken care of well in advance and would have saved me a lot of suffering and anguish.
That is what we need to do. Begin at the mouth. The moral of the story is: It all begins at the mouth, so the first step to taking care begins here.

Read more about this at Colgate’s healthy speak blog. This blogpost has been written in response to Colgate’s ‘The Moral of the StoryIs…' contest at Indiblogger

Monday, March 25, 2013

Flash Fiction Chronicles: Rumjum Biswas interviews Abha Iyengar

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/april-abha-iyengar/
Rumjhum Biswas:  When did the writing bug bite you and what happened next?
Abha Iyengar: On September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers fell, I was in the middle of writing my first story to be sent online for a writing competition. So I remember the time well. This was the start of my online writing contributions. Before that, in the non-virtual space, I had published a few poems in Femina, won a Haiku writing competition, but these were flash-in-the-pan things. I was not very encouraged by the desultory response of the Indian magazines and journals till the internet bug bit me. International literary journals snapped up my writing and now I have this rash of writing that never leaves me ever since the bug bit. Thank you, Internet Writing Bug.
RB:  Did anyone mentor you or encourage your writing as a child?
AI: My father bought us books by the dozen. My mother never insisted we do household chores so I spent my time reading and day-dreaming. And of course, we borrowed and swapped with friends and did whatever was required to get our hands on books and comics. I grew up in Calcutta (now Kolkata), which has literature coming out of its pores like breath. We received beautiful books as prizes at my school there, and I won many. I read Lorna Doone and A Tale of Two Cities in class 5. In class 7, I had this very smart, short-haired teacher of English who wore hipster cotton saris and smoked cigarettes, and she  loved my essays (e.g. ‘Autobiography of an Old Shoe’). We kind of worshipped each other. I think I realized then that I could write.

I do not believe, however, that any one writer has influenced me or that I have wanted to style my writing after anyone. I think all my reading leads to my writing.

RB:   Tell us about the writers who inspired you when you were young?  Who are the writers you feel you have learned from/influenced your writing?
AI:  Younger days I loved Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle, Guy de Maupassant, Premchand. At age 13, I read Harper Lee. I could not get over Scott and Atticus Finch and Boo Radley. Then there was a spate of Leon Uris, James Hadley Chase, Harold Robbins, Arthur Hailey, John Grisham, a novel a night.
Saadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chugtai, I read later, and I think their kind of radical, truthful and hard-hitting writing is the kind of writing I always want to do. Neil Gaiman is a favourite and so is Paolo Bacigalupi. Angela Carter. Elif Shafak. Khaled Hosseini. Closer to home and recently, Jerry Pinto. The writers whose work I enjoy are too many. I do not believe, however, that any one writer has influenced me or that I have wanted to style my writing after anyone. I think all my reading leads to my writing.

Flash is all about jumping in. You need to jump into the story, into the action.

RB:  You love flash fiction and have published a book of flash stories apart from your many publications. Tell us about your journey into this form.
AI:  Flash was all the rage online at the time I began writing and still is. My first flash ‘Tunnel Vision’ got accepted at Insolent Rudder. My writing was called ‘visceral’ by the editor (a compliment I have not forgotten) and after that there was no looking back.
I find writing flash is the easiest and best thing for me. Also, if there is any labour in it, I don’t feel it, it is totally a labour of love.
RB:  What is a typical writing day for you like?
AI:  I grab the day by its shoulders and try to write as much as I can. The thing is that the best ideas come to me when I am going to bed, and then I have to pen the thoughts down, for they never come back. So I scribble something half-asleep and then try to decipher it next morning and am amazed at what I have written. I do not remember those visitations in the morning.

E- publishing is the best thing that has happened to writers. Writers don’t have to wait anymore to be discovered by traditional publishing houses.

RB:  In the workshops that you conduct for fiction and poetry, what is the most common drawback that you find among your students?  What advice do you generally give to aspiring writers, especially for flash fiction?
AI:  Some students are self-conscious and hesitant. The word ‘I can’t’ is often on their lips. That changes when they realize that they actually can write. The shattering of inhibitions occurs in my writing class.
Flash is all about jumping in. You need to jump into the story, into the action. You don’t have the time nor space to use too many words. Also, there is a plot, a story line. For me, the title is of grave importance, for where words are scarce, the title can hold a lot of meaning. The last sentence has to be a kicker. It should be the final punch that makes everything fall…into place.
RB:   Tell us about your experience with e-publishing. Do you think this is what is best for flash fiction books?
AI:  E- publishing is the best thing that has happened to writers. Writers don’t have to wait anymore to be discovered by traditional publishing houses. The huge time benefit is there, apart from everything else. It is a good thing not only for flash fiction books but for all books.

I send myself long messages as I travel in an auto etc. Sometimes I lose my way because I concentrate more on the writing than on where the auto-driver is taking me. Or he bills me too much. But a story on the move is worth it, isn’t it? You lose some to win some.

RB:  What flash fiction genres do you enjoy reading and of course writing most?
AI:  Weird. Funny. Black. Touching. Not really genres, but there you are. Slot as you will.
RB:  Is there a flash fiction genre that is more popular than others? Do you agree? What do you think?
AI:  Yes.  Flash takes very well to weird and surreal. I am so clued on to that.
RB:   What is the shortest flash piece that you ever wrote? How did it challenge you?
AI:  I wrote a 50 word story called “The Masterpiece” for Blink Ink’s Special Noir print issue of September 2011. No challenge. I love cutting out the excess, trimming the story to size. For me it is a very expressive mode.
RB:   Do you have a special place for writing? What do you do when inspiration strikes you? Are you one of those always-carry-a-notepad-and-pen writers?
AI:  My laptop looks for a fine, flat surface to sit on, I look for some quiet in the environment, and voila, we are in business. I do have a desk, and it usually works as the flat surface. I work from home, so when everyone leaves for the office, I get my quiet time. Of course, I have to choose to ignore the doorbell and other such sundry intrusions.
I am one of those carry-your-mobile-on-the-fly writers. The tech-savvy kind. I send myself long messages as I travel in an auto etc. Sometimes I lose my way because I concentrate more on the writing than on where the auto-driver is taking me. Or he bills me too much. But a story on the move is worth it, isn’t it? You lose some to win some.
RB:   What are you working on now? Any plans for a second volume of flash?
AI:  Most recently, I have a story featured at Flash Frontier.  There are, of course, all  kinds of collections that are to happen: flash, short stories, poems. A novel. Nothing is ever enough. The Bug is insistent.

Read more works by Abha Iyengar at:


Rumjhum K Biswas has been published all over the world and has won prizes for her poery and fiction, including first prize in the 2012 Anam Cara Short Story Contest. Lifi Publications India is publishing her novel Culling Mynahs and Crows and also her book of short fiction The Vanishing Man and Other Imperfect Men this year.
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