When the sun shines on the mountain
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
A Cradle for a King
Travel over two thousand years ago with me to a little town called Bethlehem. Our imaginary journey takes us to a stable where a tired husband and his wife, heavy with child, had been denied room at the inn. An ordinary woman has given birth to an Extraordinary Child. Instead of being surrounded by family and well-wishers, she and her carpenter husband have been greeted by noisy, smelly livestock. A feeding trough cradled their newborn Child. A cradle for a King. Such lowly surroundings for the Prince of Peace. Mary’s life has changed dramatically since the day the angel proclaimed her destiny. What went through her mind as she hugged this tiny infant to her breast? She was an ordinary woman whom God used for His extraordinary Purpose.
I’m honored to be a guest on Bhaswati’s wonderful blog. She invited me to share with her readers what it means to be a Christian fiction writer. The Christmas season is a glorious time for Christians, but as a Christian writer, it is also a wonderful time of reflection for me. God’s gift of His Son is the root of Christianity. Without His birth, my faith as I know it wouldn’t exist. Because of that faith, I have chosen to write Christian fiction.
Christian fiction glorifies God and promotes Biblical principles. The characters in Christian fiction stories are Christians or they have come to accept Christ as their Savior by the book’s end. Christian fiction novels and stories have a spiritual element woven into the plot. The characters rely on God to help them through their situations. The books are wholesome with no swearing, no premarital sex, or graphic content.
Christian fiction characters endure real life situations and writers of Christian fiction novels use realistic, and sometimes, edgy themes, such as abuse, adultery, addiction, child pornography, prostitution, rape. Christian fiction genres are broken into many of the sub-genres as secular fiction, such as romantic suspense, chick-lit, romantic comedy, women’s fiction, thrillers, science fiction/fantasy.
Some of my favorite Christian authors include Susan May Warren, Colleen Coble, Deborah Raney, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Trish Perry, Dee Henderson, Judy Baer, Allie Pleiter, Debra Clopton. There are many more. These women write in different genres, but they share the love of Jesus and their novels reflect their faith.
I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was sixteen years old. Through the years, I’ve penned stories that will never see the light of day. However, each of those stories has taught me valuable lessons about how to develop three dimensional characters, setting, plot, conflict, etc. Even published writers will say they never stop learning. By listening to constructive criticism and accepting advice from other knowledgeable writers, I’m striving to write a novel that will catch an editor’s attention.
Belonging to reputable writing organizations has helped me hone my craft. I’m a proud member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the premiere organization for Christian fiction, and Faith, Hope & Love, the inspirational chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve had the opportunity to attend two ACFW conferences. Both have been vital in helping me understand the complex craft of writing.
Writing Christian fiction is a ministry. It is my desire to combine my faith with stories of my heart to touch the hearts of women who may read my future novels. I write Christian women’s fiction novels about ordinary women who are extraordinary in God’s eyes. After all, I have years of experience of being an ordinary woman, but I believe in an extraordinary God. I invite you to visit my website.
As the holidays approach, take a break from the shopping, the baking, the parties, the gifts, and remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas. May God’s blessings be abundant throughout the New Year!
Time passes slowly, hot and dusty: Barriers, guns, soldiers, identity card checks, long waits, curses and humiliations. Everything mixes with everything else; the advance and the retreat both have the same measure of suffering. In the back, the barriers and the humiliations; ahead, the same thing. So, forward he went. Isn’t arrival, isn’t the surmounting of suffering, the defiance of being broken down a simple, clear parity? An entire nation finds byroads, steps over logic and reason to maintain for itself the logic which says, Persistence first, or death.Bhupinder Singh's most inspired tribute to India's firebrand socialist poet, Kaifi Azmi. The quality of the post is made better by Bhupinder's wonderful translation of Kaifi's poetry. A great read.
To look for Kaifi, is to keep on searching the for new, better, more egalitarian worlds. And heavens that are more just. To remove this search from his poetry would be to take away its soul.
Throughout their 500-year history, the Bauls have refused to conform to the social or religious conventions of conservative and caste-conscious Bengali society...The goal is to discover the "Man of the Heart" - Moner Manush - the ideal that lives within every man...
Is ghat antar baag bagiche
Yama = The God of death in Hindu mythology.
Words get written, exploding on the screen in gazillions; not one of them is for my Work In Progress (WIP).
The cell phone rings intermittently--morning, , night. Regular work briefings. Emergency calls to "please accommodate" new work within tight deadlines.
The calendar polar bear gives me quiet, understanding company.
Work doesn't suck. It brings in money, much needed for survival. But...
In trying to resuscitate my bank account, I seldom find time for the joys that filled my inside. I miss visiting my blog pals. The mind yearns for those daily doses of laconic, exquisite, epigrammatic cyber inscriptions. The heart longs to go and say a hello to the authors of those inscriptions, dear friends, all.
The WIP unassumingly positions itself at the bottom of the "work" heap, not pestering to be paid attention to. "I will wait," it says "for the moment you are ready to pick me up with love, not because you have to, but because it will bring joy to the spirit. I know you will, no worries. Do tend to the ailing coffers first."
Here is someone trying to find her feet in the land of freelancers. That's all that keeps me away from here lately. Trust me, I am still...
At Home, Writing.
Puja holidays come near.
Sunshine is draped in the colour of Champa flower.
The air ripples with dew,
Shiuli's fragrance touches
like the delicate caress of someone's cool hands.
The sky is lazy with white clouds—
seeing which, the mind doesn't feel like working.
Mastermoshai continues to teach
the primitive story of coal.
Sitting on the bench, the boy paddles his feet,
sees images in his mind—
The cracked ghat of Kamal pond,
And the fruit laden custard apple tree of the Bhanjas.
And he sees in his mind's eyes, the zigzag path
that leads from the milkmen's neighbourhood
by the side of the haat,
into the tishi fields, next to the river.
In the economics class at college
the bespectacled, medal-winning student
jots down a list
which recent novel to buy
which shop will give in credit—
the sari with the "Do Remember" border,
shakha washed in gold,
a pair of red velvet chappals, handcrafted in Dilli
and a silk cloth-bound poetry book,
printed on antique paper—
can't remember its name yet.
At the three-storied house in Bhabanipur
a menagerie of shrill hoarse voices talk—
This time will it be
Dalhousie or Puri,
or that ever familiar Darjiling?
And I see, on the red path that leads to the station
five or six lambs tied with ropes,
their helpless cry spreads across
the calm autumn sky that lilts with the brushing kaash flowers.
How do they understand
their puja holidays are nearby?
Mastermoshai = Respectful term for teacher (Bengali)
Ghat = Bank
Haat = Weekly village market
Tishi = Linseed
Shakha = White bangle made of a particular stone. Is worn by married Bengali women.
Chappal = Footwear
Translated by: Bhaswati Ghosh
Translated by: Bhaswati Ghosh
the very meaning of Pujo is:
the unmistakable slight chill in the air that indicates the enervating summer days are history. The sky looks bright, the air feels fresh, the heart sings with the first autumn notes.
the scent of shiuli flower floating in from the tree outside the house every evening, signaling the coming of Durga.
waking up at on Mahalaya, the invocation that seeks Durga's descent on earth. Even before dawn cracks through the sky on this day, All India Radio broadcasts a special audio programme, featuring scriptural chants, classical songs, and the story of how Durga annihilated Mahisasura, the demon king.
the memories of taking part in pre-pujo competitions all over the neighbourhood. Recitation, music, art, sports, fancy dress...the competitions that introduced me to Rabindranath, Nazrul, Sukumar Ray, Sukanto. The competitions that brought me books in the form of prizes.
gorging on the most delectable food at various pandals. From spicy jhalmuri to egg-rolls dripping with oil to biryani and kababs. And of course the traditional, delicious bhog.
the inimitable sound of Dhak overtaking the entire atmosphere, silencing the crass automobile horns with its nostalgic beats.
the staying up late in the night at pandals, watching cultural shows. The shows that brought folk theatre like Jatra, folk music like baul and bhatiyali as well as "modern" songs to urban Bengalis. The nights that wrapped you in the cozy aura of black and white Bengali films featuring the never-fading, ever-endeared Uttam Kumar.
coming across friends and acquaintances you haven't met in ages. Like your social studies teacher from middle school whom all the students loved. Or the physics teacher you would have done anything to avoid back when you were her student.
that inexplicable happiness and widespread camaraderie that mingles with the crisp autumn air.
So what is it that makes a good comedy film? If I had to nail it down, I would say it just takes an intelligently crafted story that taps in to the foibles of human nature and gives them a lighter spin. How do you measure a comedy film as good or trash? Again, the yardstick for me is a simple and time-tested one. If the film manages to make your stomach hurt with laughter even after you've seen it 58 times, it has to be good.
Let me share with you five of my all-time favourite Hindi comedy films. I am not rating them, since they all make your belly explode equally well. On to the laughter pills then:
1. GOLMAAL (Topsy-turvy): Ram Prasad is a middle-class chartered accountant, desperately looking for a job to support himself and his sister. He is thrilled to learn about a vacancy at a firm owned and run an eccentric old man called Bhavani Shankar. However, there is a catch. The old man believes the youth of the country should focus only on their jobs, and not waste time on other interests like sports or entertainment. Ram Prasad, a soccer and hockey lover goes prepared for an interview with this quirky gentleman. He impresses Bhavani Shankar when the latter asks him a question on Pele, and he apparently fails to recognize the soccer maestro. He gets the job.
Trouble starts when the boss spots Ram Prasad on the spectator stand at a soccer match he goes to attend. When called in for explanation, Ram Prasad fabricates an impeccable (and imaginary) tale of his younger brother, Lakshman Prasad, who he says is a wayward young man, wasting his youth on sports and music. He convinces his boss that it was Lakshman whom the old man had seen at the stadium. He further claims the younger brother doesn't sport a moustache. What follows is a rollercoaster of uproarious situations, in which Ram Prasad has to switch between the roles of his own self and that of his sans-moustache fictional brother, forever at the risk of his boss stumbling upon the truth.
2. CHUPKE CHUPKE (Stealthily): A well-plotted story of how a couple decides to dupe their relatives for some harmless fun. A newly-married couple--a botany professor and his wife--plan to play a prank on the wife's brother-in-law, a judge who is very particular about the use of pure Hindi. The professor, hitherto unseen by these relatives, takes up a driver's job at the judge's house, exhibiting his unadulterated Hindi-speaking tendencies.
Things get suspicious for the older couple when the judge's sister-in-law is seen to openly flirt with the new driver. The situation gets out of control when the duo actually elopes and another (planted) character emerges, claiming to be the botany professor. Imagine the older couple’s embarrassment, even as the man claiming to be the botany professor is actually a scholar of English literature and has a hard time teaching botany to a young girl he begins to fancy while still posing as the married professor.
3. JAANE BHI DO YAARON (Let it be, Friends): A remarkable film that was a blend of black comedy and slapstick. Two photographer friends set up shop in the busy Mumbai city. Their first assignment comes from a newspaper editor, and accidentally the two friends photograph a murder scene. They are dragged increasingly into the dark and deceitful world of corrupt administrators and businessmen. A brilliant satire enacted by some of the finest actors of the Hindi film industry, this flick was marked by witty dialogues, hilariously absurd sequences, and an unmistakable dig at urban ugliness (not just the physical part of it).
4. RANG BIRANGI (Colourful): A riotous comedy on a bachelor friend's attempt at rekindling the spark in the marital life of another friend. His script turns the lives of the married friend, his secretary, her boyfriend, and a whole lot of other people in the film into a complicated labyrinth of circumstances. The plot hatched by the bachelor friend is the backbone of the film's plot. Fantastic plotting and rib-tickling scenarios conspire together to produce an explosively funny film.
5. KATHA (Tale): Yet another social comedy, reflecting the dilemmas of urban life. Rajaram is an honest middle-class clerk living in a densely-populated locality of Mumbai. He secretly loves his neighbour, Sandhya, but can't profess his feelings to her. Soon, he is joined by his smooth-talking-but-idle friend, Bashudev. The latter wastes no time in courting Sandhya, even while living in Rajaram's flat at the nice guy's expense. A classic hare-tortoise story, in which, thankfully, the tortoise wins the battle after almost losing it. Bashudev takes the cake, though, entertaining and disgusting the audience at the same time.
All of those sparkling funny bubbles, filled with natural laughing gas are stories of ordinary people caught in the daily grind. They make for healthy, wholesome family entertainment. All of them deserve separate entries. Maybe some other time. For now, let me navigate you to the Indian-movie-loving Simran at Writing From Within.
With the passing away of
My position on everything I have read throughout my life -- and my readings include the Ancient Egyptian and Arabic heritage as well as English and French creative works -- was, as far as possible, a neutral, unbiased, one. This in the sense that all these cultures are, in the last analysis, human cultures, produced by man, and I am as entitled to the English [literary] heritage as I am to the Pharaonic heritage. In other words, all these cultures belong to me in my capacity as a human being. And if you were to ask me to enumerate my favourite works in order, you might find among them an Ancient Egyptian work, a French one, a third that is Arabic and a fourth that is English. When I read I allow my self to love what seems worthy of love, regardless of nationality.
~ Naguib Mahfouz, in an interview with Ibrahim Mansour
More on Mahfouz in Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly.