Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Bangladesh Independence

In Greenwich, London, recently, there was an incredible Multi-cultural event. Among the attendees and presenters were some relatives of mine, who I prepped for the performance. I hope you enjoy the videos below:

Also, I recommend the following book if anyone would like to know more about Bangladeshi Independence. It's an extraordinary and gripping work of fiction based on a very real event that took place in 1971.

Monday, 21 November 2011


'Verily, with hardship there is relief' (94:6, Qur'an).


Hajj is something one must be mentally and physically prepared for. Some say it takes one year to prepare for the journey; others say that it takes two years. However much time you need, it is important to remember that Hajj, being one of the five pillars of Islam, is not just a duty to be fulfilled for the sake of Islam or to please Allah; in fact, it is the ultimate test of your strength and patience. Sabr or patience is so heavily emphasised in Islam because it is so difficult to maintain.

We all get angry, have tantrums or argue. Humanly, it just seems impossible for us to stay calm in a difficult or challenging circumstance. But we must try and that is what Hajj teaches us to do; if you complete Hajj and you feel you’ve maintained sabr, then insh’Allah, you’re on your way to becoming a calmer and more peaceful individual, ready to handle any situation in the ‘civilised’ world.

Say ‘Goodbye’ to internet, ‘Ciao’ to TV and ‘Adios’ to mobile/cellular phones! In whatever language you choose to say ‘farewell’ to what most of us consider part of civilisation, it will be time to say ‘Salaam’ to Hajj.

Hajj is the ultimate test of your strength and patience because it consists of:

• Camping out in the wilderness: four nights of sleeping on the hard rock grounds of Mina and Muzdalifah, surviving on dried fruits and nuts, and wearing one outfit (ihram).

• No moisturising (with fragranced lotions, oils, etc.), no swearing, no backbiting nor participating in any worldly conversations, no hurting animals including ants, no cutting hair or nails, no ripping off leaves or plants, while in the state of ihram.

• Walking for miles and miles to throw pebbles at the three pillars that the devil (shaytan)

• Accepting the fact that most of the millions of Hajjas and Hajjis are not polite; they push, shove, and cut in line at the toilets/bathrooms

• Tolerating the blazing heat of the sun, thereby avoiding dehydration

• Unavoidable illness from the coughing and nose-blowing spectacular at the mosques

• Differentiating between the genuine poor and the crooks (who to give charity to)

• Communication barrier with people coming in from all over the world and even the mosque and mina camp guards, who have no idea how to speak English (so if you’re lost, then you’re on your own)

• Airport organisation, which can be considered…disorganised and a tediously long process, to say the least.

After having gone through all of these challenges, I think to myself, ‘I’ve done it!’ and can only hope that Allah accepts my holy pilgrimage and forgives me of my sins.

Now, if you ask me, ‘How was your Hajj journey?’ my answer will be, ‘Allah has made it so comfortable and easy for me.’

Then, you might curiously say, ‘But, it sounds really difficult….’ My answer will be, ‘When I look back on the journey, I can only smile because I’ve done it!’

Basically, I’m home, safe and sound, because Allah has willed me to be. If Allah had not made this journey comfortable and easy for me, then how else have I gotten to this point, writing about my experience so that it might help you!

It is also crucial that a Muslim understands the requirements of Hajj because there are many common mistakes one can make…. For example, a lot of Muslims feel that touching the Kaaba or Allah’s House and rubbing their bodies with their hands (a.k.a. bathing themselves with it) is ‘okay,’ when it is not a farz or requirement of Hajj. Our Prophet (PBUH) did not do this during the holy pilgrimage.

Another example of a common mistake is people hurting others just to touch or kiss the black stone inside the Kaaba-one should not hurt another just to do this because it is not a farz to kiss the stone; if it is too crowded to reach, then it is best to just raise up one hand in its direction from any distance and kiss that hand.


Makkah and Madinah are ‘fast-food heaven’ for those of you who crave fried chicken, halal Burger King, McDonalds and KFC. But too much of this and you will end up with serious nutrition issues, so be careful.

One thing is for sure, it seemed like the Saudi Arabians love their fried chicken and chicken burgers. In fact, finding a decent meat burger/cheese burger in the Arabian take away/take-out restaurants can be a challenge because of this. And most of the time, they put fries/chips in the burgers which I found different, for lack of a better word.

I was craving a cheese burger and getting to Burger King from my hotel was a mission because I had to walk through the crowded mosque to get there. So...I ventured locally.

‘Do you have a cheese burger?’ I asked the guy behind the counter.

‘Burger? Chicken?’ he asked.

‘No, a meat burger, not chicken.’

‘Chicken burger?’

‘Do you have beef burger?’

He quizzically eyed me. Obviously, he had no idea what I was saying as he did not speak English and I did not speak Arabic.

Then, I remembered Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow), the Qur’anic verses about Ibrahim (PBUH), from where we gained the tradition of qurbani (sacrifice).

‘Do you have a baqarah burger?’

‘Ah, baqarah!’ He laughed.

I laughed too, nodding. ‘Yes, yes!’

Finally, he understood and I got the cheeseburger I had been searching for (no fries or chips inside).

Note: it is important to gear up with dried fruits, nuts and water during the three-night stay at Mina and one-night stay at Muzdalifah.


I have never walked so much before, in my life. I’ve grown thinner and I’m sure, did some heavy cardiovascular exercise during Hajj.

Simply running back and forth from the Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah during the prayer times was a workout on its own. Not to mention, I trekked miles from my camp at Mina, through wide tunnels, up-hill and in the swarm of millions of people, to throw pebbles at the pillars of the devil.

Thirsty and hungry, developing serious hip ache from sleeping on the hard ground during my three-night stay at Mina and one-night stay at Muzdalifah…I can only say, ‘Alhumdulilah.’

Hajj is a farz, one of pillars of Islam and to be completed once in one’s lifetime for those who are physically, mentally and financially able to perform it. So if you are able to do so, then just think of how fortunate you are to be physically, mentally and financially able to perform it.

I just think about the millions of Muslims who were unable to perform Hajj at the same time that I was. I think about the many that were probably rejected by the Saudi Embassy because they can only allow a certain number of people, entry, at one time. I think about how it was written in my fate to do Hajj this year, how Allah had invited me to His house, for a second time. When I was 10-years-old, I went with my parents and my little brother. This time, having reached the appropriate age/maturity-level in which Hajj became a farz for me, I went with my husband and my parents-in-law.


During my free time, I had the opportunity to tour Makkah and Madina. I’ve been to:


• Khadijah’s (Radi Allahu Anha) grave: ‘Assalamualaika’
• The cave where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) hid from his enemies
• Masjid Al-Jinn: This is a story on its own which I will share later on in this blog entry


• Masjid Al-Quba: The first mosque; pray 2-rakats nafal
• Masjid Al-Qiblatain: Masjid of two qiblas (original qibla was Masjid Al-Aqsa and then, Masjid Al-Haram); pray 2-rakats nafal
• Ajwa dates garden where the Prophet (PBUH) used to plant his trees


Upon entering the Masjid Al-Haram and nearing the centre where the Kaaba is located, it is as if a moving portrait. The vista is like a live pointillist painting. Millions of people’s heads can be seen, circling the black cube, Allah’s house.

Architecturally, the marble framework of the mosque and openness, providing a clear visage of the sky at all levels, it is a beauty.

Masjid Al-Nabi, also home to the graves of Muhammad (PBUH), Omar and Abu Bakr, is a technological wonder. Inside, it is colourful and golden, containing large domes that slide open to reveal the sky, after asr prayer. Outside, there are large pillars that are like umbrellas that close after asr prayer.

As if straight out of a sci-fi movie, the pillars that are open like large tulips that shade the surrounding marble floor of the mosque's exterior, closes down like folding petals. Watch them open (borrowed video link):

Note that Madina has a much cooler and breezier weather than Makkah. Also, it is not required that one visit Madina's Masjid Al-Nabi as part of Hajj. However, it is recommended to convey 'salaam' to the Prophet (PBUH) at Masjid Al-Nabi.

Also, zam zam water is available for free at both mosques, 24/7!

The Encounter at Jinn Masjid

I’ve had my personal experiences with jinn in the past.

But I had no idea that an entire masjid was dedicated to them! Masjid Al-Jinn or Masjid Bai'et is not far from Masjid Al-Haram. After having read The Jinn: & Human Sickness, I’ve learned that there are good and bad jinn; that we cannot see them but some choose to reveal themselves in human or animal form. Jinn Mumin are the Muslim jinn who will be judged alongside humans on the day of judgement.

There were eight of us on the tour bus, after midnight. Masjid Al-Jinn was built specifically for the jinn who wanted to pray there during the Prophet’s (PBUH) time. Before entering this small, yet significant mosque, the imam or Muslim religious leader told us to close our eyes as he prayed, recited Ayatul Kursi, and touched each of our heads. He then told us to open our eyes and that if we should encounter jinn mumin, the females should embrace the females and males should embrace the males.

We went upstairs to the balcony of the mosque. I suddenly noticed two men and two women follow us up. I thought they were just people who wanted to join us for nafl prayer. On the balcony, we did nafl prayer and faced toward the grave of Khadijah again to convey our salaam. At the end, we all put our hands up in du’a, repeating after the imam.

‘Please let us feel the wind of the presence of the jinn mumin, at the mosque today,’ the imam said.

A sudden wind blew in through the balcony and I heard the two men and two women join us, repeating every word the imam was saying. We placed our hands on the green door as the imam prayed for the doors of the mosque to open for us.

Afterwards, we smiled at the men and women who joined us and were about to head back downstairs when the imam stopped us, saying, ‘Hug them.’

That was when I realised that my suspicions were correct; these men and women were not human; they were jinn mumin! I embraced the two women; one laughing with felicity (kissing my two cheeks) and the other, crying and patting my back. Apparently, the one crying could feel what we had prayed for and one laughing could feel joy coming into our lives soon.

The imam apparently met with them later on and they had informed him that I was the first to recognise them for what they really were….

Though the doors of the masjid opened for us, we did not enter because one of our group members was stricken by shock. She's fine.


Everyone's experiences during Hajj are different, but they contain similarities, therefore giving us a chance to provide general advice to future Hajjas and Hajjis.

'...Keep up prayer and enjoin the good and the forbid the evil. And bear with patience whatever befalls you. Verily! These are some of the important commandments ordered by Allah with no exemption. And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not each arrogant boaster. And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying) of the ass...'-Surah Luqman

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Writing for a Writer will Never be Right

I've been editing my novel, about 20 pages more to go before I send it off for more editing and review by my two secondary school English expert teachers. But as I was editing, I could not help but think 'Oh, if I was to read through it again (I've already edited it two times), I would drive myself insane.' The thing is that you'll always find something wrong with it, want to rephrase a word or a sentence, want to delete some things, add some things, it's just an infinite process. That's when you get others to review it for you; for a writer, your writing will never be 'right,' there will always be something that could be 'tweaked.'

Just a few months ago, someone said something along the lines of, 'I like writing, but I'm not sure how to write good enough to draw a picture in the reader's mind.' I said something along the lines of 'Think of new ways to describe things; use words of impact. Instead of saying that the sky is blue, say that the sky is sapphire.' So, here's a picture I found online that was 'spot-on' with my experience and I hope it helps you too:

Friday, 17 June 2011

Tribute to AWO

A few months ago, you may remember my blog about how incredible working for AWO (Asian Wedding Online) Magazine was. It gave me an opportunity of a lifetime to share my wedding planning experiences with Asian brides and grooms-to-be worldwide.

Well...during my stay in USA, I was notified of news that hit me like an anvil. AWO is no more.

AWO encouraged me to learn video-editing and broadcasting.

I've got a stock load of video presentations for my portfolio which will no longer be on AWO TV (which is no more) but will be up on my personal youtube channel soon. In the meantime, enjoy this last piece that I wrote for AWO:


Ladies and gentlemen, including hikers, cruisers, history and art lovers, architects, and shopoholics, I present to you my experiences in Stockholm, a city that is all grandly green and beautifully blue. It is also the biggest city in Sweden, the most populated in all of Scandinavia and home to the beloved character, Pippi Longstockings. It is a city for all types of people, including families, lovers and most importantly, honeymooners. There’s something for everyone.

Hikers and Cruisers:

Consider walking around Stockholm as opposed to taking the train or car so much. There’s something exciting to see at every corner and crossroad.
Wilderness blooms all around; in fact, at the centre of the city, there’s a row of cherry blossoms in ‘Conste Gordon.’ Right at the end of it is a TGI Friday’s Restaurant, which gave me the giggles considering it’s an American franchise. And surrounding the garden are corporate buildings. Yet, you lose yourself in the garden and those corporate buildings disappear in your mind.
Cruisers can take ferries across the waters of Stockholm or even the Viking Line, which is a large ship, famous for its trips to Helsinki, Turku, Tallinn and Aland Islands.
History and Art Lovers:

Stockholm is full of history, architecture and art. The National Museum, for one, has an extended exhibition of Art and is located right across the Stockholm Palace or Kungliga Slottet.

Right outside of the Slussen train station, there’s the Stads Museum, an entire interactive history of Stockholm within; admission is free.
Another palace is Drottningholm Palace, surrounded by greenery and quaint animals. I even spotted a pair of goats.

Near where the Viking Line is located, there is a place called, Ersta Terrace, which allows you to get an entire view of the city. It’s sort of a hidden location, but if you find it, it’s worth the visit; not to mention, incredibly romantic.


When taking the train station, you will notice that the underground stations were built under mountains and have cellphone/mobile service! But what’s right outside of every station is every shopoholic’s dream-come-true: a shopping centre (a.k.a. ‘Centrum’ in Swedish).
Even more, there is Kista Mall, Skarholmen Mall, and the designer shopping centre which is equivalent to NYC’s Macy’s and London’s Harrods, Nordiska Kompaniet (NK for short).
Perhaps the most interesting shopping area is Gamla Stan, a small village-like area with charming alleyways and shops (souvenir & fashion). The buildings are all historic so the shop interiors take you ‘back to the future.’ I think it’s best to get off at Slussen Station and walk through a tunnel into Gamla Stan. You will get an amazing view of the city from within the tunnel.


Do not forget to bring back Swedish chocolate, the most famous of which is Marabou coming in varying flavours including their newest one, Mango!
Coffee-drinking is a great Swedish tradition. Those of you who watched the series, Wallander, may have noted the term ‘café,’ Swedish for coffee, mentioned profusely. Even more, Stieg Larson (author of the Millenium Trilogy, the first of which is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) mentioned coffee in his novels.
Round yellow table, yellow flowers in a pot at the centre and a ceiling adorned with pretzels, ‘Gunnarsons’ is a quaint little café. Make sure to taste Sweden’s most famous cake, ‘Princess Torte.’

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Honoured to be Shortlisted for Channel S Awards 'Contribution to Community'

Channel S or S Channel Awards recognises Bangladeshis who are making a difference all over the world from Bangladesh, Canada to Europe and USA. I've written an essay, hoping to be shortlisted for the 'Contribution to the Community' Awards and thanks to the Channel S Awards Committee, I have been shortlisted. Winners will be announced LIVE on Thursday, 7 April, at 5:45 p.m. (UK Time) on Ch. 814. The following is my essay. It's an honour to be shortlisted; Thank You Channel S!

“A good word is like a good tree whose root is firmly fixed and whose top is in the sky” is a beautiful saying from the Holy Qur’an, which also represents the road I aspire to tread.

On 21st February, 2010, in celebration of ‘National Language Day,’ I held a book signing for my novel, Her Feet Chime, at the Whitechapel Idea Store. One man asked me if politics played a role in my novel. It was a difficult question to answer because my novel is based on the Cinderella fairytale, though it does take place in19th-century Bangladesh. I spoke about social/class differences, my story of a wealthy protagonist who suddenly becomes impoverished and can only dream of marrying into royalty.

Then, I said, ‘I’m not into Politics.’ Those words led to a lengthy, but interesting and rather amusing debate amongst the audience members. An elderly British patriot explained that getting involved in politics is extremely important. I expressed how true his statement was; after all, there is no nation without a ruling body. But we must not forget the power of the written word. One word, one phrase…can move a nation. Historically, one phrase among many moved the Bengali people-“Jai Bangla,” termed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Of course, I cannot compare myself to such a great leader; I can, however, express that my passion for writing infinitely thrives. Amazingly, after my novel was released, I received emails from young and adult aspiring writers who enjoyed reading it and who wanted guidance on their writing, which I gladly gave.

So, when Khalid Sharif, Editor of The Muslim Paper, approached me to work alongside him, I happily accepted the position of Deputy Editor. Through The Muslim Paper, I was able to reach British Muslims, including British Bengalis nationwide. Also, by specialising on ‘Baby Sharks,’ a section for contributors aged 14 and under, I stressed the importance of literacy. While volunteering as a teaching assistant at Madani Girls’ School, a British Bengali student, ecstatically jiggling a newspaper in front of me, yelled, “Miss, I saw you in The Muslim Paper.” It made me so happy to know that my words had touched someone, especially someone so young.

When Shah Yousuf, Editor of London Bangla Newspaper, offered me the women’s section, I happily wrote about issues that concerned Bengali women and interviewed female role models. During one of my voluntary tutoring sessions at the Canary Wharf Supplementary School, a male student of Bengali origin said, “I saw your writing in the London Bangla Newspaper.” Perhaps he did not read my section, but at least, he recognised my by-line and maybe, somehow, that had an impact on him.

Recognition of my writing as a contribution to the Bengali Community, would allow me to see that I am doing something right…that perhaps, I can help people either through my content, or through the simple fact that I write. For this very fact, I hope that you consider me for the Channel S ‘Contribution to the Community Award.’

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Agatha Christie Planned her Books while doing the Dishes!

Artists who consider themselves 'starving' artists know exactly what I mean by the term 'struggling' writers. The thing is being a writer is hard...boy, do I know it! It's difficult for us to make a living out of what we do, but sometimes, having the passion for it, we are content with the recognition and that recognition, the ability to inspire through the power of our words,the ability to just...well...enough.

Of course, there is a frustration with waiting for the 'big' or next 'big' break. Diligence, patience, determination is key in this case. It's really a waiting game, but just sitting around and doing nothing will achieve nothing, no recognition and no earning.

So take action! Get down and start writing, read books, do research on what makes good writing and take every opportunity that comes your way to get your writing noticed. Here's something to get you going:

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.-Flannery O'Connor

Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure.-Oliver Herford

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am grown up, they call me a writer.-Isaac Bashavis Singer

The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.-Agatha Christie

I know I haven't been around for a while...haven't posted a blog up in a long time. I've been writing for Asian Wedding Online Ltd.,, an organisation that believes in providing honest editorial content, an A-Z guide to Asian brides and grooms! It's really an amazing experience!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Interview with Om Puri & Aaqib Khan of 'West is West'

I had an exclusive interview with Om Puri, a Bollywood legend and 13-year-old Aaqib Khan, who made his debut, in 'West is West,' a soul-searching movie. Please view the link.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Perfect Guide to a Successful Marriage

Most recently, I’ve been acquainted with two very inspiring people, Ajmal Masroor and Henrietta Szovati. They are perhaps what I would call a ‘power couple,’ a rare combination.

Together, as husband and wife, they have created a potent organisation called, Barefoot Institute. You’re probably thinking, why ‘Barefoot?’ But before I answer that, I have to tell you who these people are.

Ajmal is a Relationships Counsellor, ex-MP candidate and an inspiration to Muslims nationwide (UK). Henrietta Szovati is perhaps one of the strongest women I have ever met, spending time with her children, home-schooling them and managing a business at the same time. The two often travel to conferences and Islamic gatherings to help Muslims and non-Muslims understand the true Islam. Together, they have even written a book called, ’10 Things You Should Know About Marriage,’ all proceeds of which go toward Barefoot Institute.

You’re probably asking again, ‘Why ‘Barefoot?’ Before I get into this, however.... The suspense is probably killing you so much that you’re Googling it right now and the fact is, I don’t mind if you Google it; be my guest..., I’d be happy to know that Ajmal and Henrietta’s story has aroused such curiosity within you because what they’re doing is worth checking out.

Within 10 Things You Should Know About Marriage, Masroor addresses many relationship issues, especially the fact that ‘falling in love is easy, but sustaining a loving relationship is hard work.’ How many Islamic handbooks have you read that say things like that, so necessarily open? It’s a complete guide from deciding whether you are ready for marriage or not, what happens after marriage, to what happens after children and when living with in-laws? It even touches upon intimacy and sex (oops, did I say that word?).

BAREFOOT: “By wearing shoes we often cushion ourselves from the realities of the world as if we were in a cocoon. The world is a place of rough surfaces, soothing corners and often uncomfortable spots. Our programmes are all about embracing and learning how to manage all these experiences while we remain true to our own spirit and values”

Happy? It's so beautifully-said, isn't it? And yes, this is DIRECTLY from the website. Barefoot Institute is a relationship counselling and life coaching institution for Muslims. Most recently, Ajmal and Henrietta had a marriage training course and despite there being a snow blizzard outside, all 30 attendees showed up and left extremely happy. You can read some of their comments on the Facebook Group,

There's another one on the 29th of January, 2011 so don't be shy (everything is confidential), sign up if you feel that you need to strengthen your relationship. Also, Henrietta just took a group of 30-50 women on a Muslim women's retreat in Somerset. Many of them left completely changed and more spiritual individuals.

Also, be sure to get your copy of ‘10 Things You Should Know About Marriage,’ from An easy-read, it’s the perfect wedding gift and the best guide for singletons considering marriage and married couples, whether you’ve been married for two years or ten!

And yes, I bought the book (out of curiosity) and I've read it. It really inspired me. My husband and I have a wonderful relationship, but there's never any harm in finding new ways to empower the bond.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Dreams vs. Reality

When I was a kid, I used to dream about silly things...things out of fairytale books. Every time I closed my eyes, I'd envision unicorns, rainbows and I'd be a princess in my own little land.

Then I hit the teenage years when I dreamed about things more 'real.' What do I want to be when I grow up? What University should I go to? I saw myself sitting in cafes and libraries, hanging out with faceless friends.

Then I hit University and studied English. When I closed my eyes, I saw a faceless stranger, a man with whom I would fall in love and marry, my 'dream' guy so-to-speak. I dreamed about a future with this stranger, marriage.

Then I hit the career world, got married to a wonderful man, had my first novel published and thought I'm thankful for all of this, every time I go to bed and close my eyes, I now see fog...mist. I see myself stranded in the middle of an open field, filled with grass, no end and no roads. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or a good thing. I'm still striving for things so I'm not sure why that is.

Then it hit me...reality hit me...REAL life. The most difficult thing for us is to live in the present because we're all dreamers. The reality is that living in the present would protect us from expectations, thereby possible disappointment.

Apologies if my tone is morbid and if any of these comments offend anyone. I'm not saying dreaming is bad nor reality; I'm just exploring my own thoughts and venting them to you. I welcome your comments on dreaming vs. reality.

I made a video blog about this and wanted to post it for you. But for some reason the file was too big, but only 3 minutes long : /...strange. So I posted it on facebook.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A Cure to Writer's Block?

Writer’s block is not a fly; you can’t shoo it away with a whisk of your hands. Sure, it can be personified in writing, but that’s about it.

Ideas, the ultimate tool for ending writer’s block. But where is their secret lair? Where do
you get them from? Are they solid things that you can just grab anytime you need them from some box somewhere? Are they like blurbs in a comic book which you can just reach out to and snatch the moment you want them?

There is one thing for sure, nobody just naturally sits down at a keyboard or grabs a pen and starts typing or scribbling things down. There is no natural flair through which ideas just simply flow down from a storeroom in your head to your finger tips. I WISH.

That leads us back to square one. Ideas come from inspiration. That doesn’t answer the question, does it? Where on earth do you get this inspiration? William Faulkner (1897-1962), author, said, ‘I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I get inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.’ Don’t you wish you could say the same? We can’t all be Falkners. Believe it or not, writers have to actually look for inspiration or try to get inspired. How? It takes exploration. There are many ways to explore. You can have fun with this.

For example, you can walk up to a complete stranger and start a conversation with him or her. Too bold and awkward for you? My professor once suggested that I walk around the University and eavesdrop on some conversations and then, base a story around what I’ve heard. This is a great way to get ideas and it often works! You, as a writer, are creative so even upon hearing the most mundane conversation, you can manipulate it; you can twist and turn it any way you like.

Movies, dreams, nightmares, books, certain locations, other peoples’ experiences and/or your personal experiences lead to an inspiration. Then and only then, the ideas will flow to the finger tips. Sometimes it’s a short process; other times, it’s a tediously long one. This is when your diligence is tested. The patient writer will always develop great stories. Those who rush their writing will only make the readers go, ‘Eh…that was okay.’ Mary Garden, Author and Journalist said, ‘My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline.'

I will share with you my exploration for inspiration.

I saw a Bollywood film, ‘I Hate Luv Storys.’ Yes, the misspelling of ‘stories' did bother me, but I watched it anyway. The moment I saw it, I thought that it was cheesy, yet humorous and sort of…different. The movie is about a hopeless romantic art director teamed up with an assistant who doesn’t believe in love. It’s a romcom satire, poking fun at clichés.

It made me think; how could I write a unique romance? I scrimmaged through my wardrobe, found a pink blouse and wore it. Not to mention the fact that I already had on pink-heart-spotted pyjama pants. Just wearing it did nothing for me. No inspiration…no ideas. I wondered if I should rub my stomach (ahem…abs) and pat my head like I’m some bottle from which a genie would pop out and grant me three ideas. The sudden thought of Christina Aguilera made me realise that I was losing it; it was time to move on.

Walking up to my beach-toned bookshelf, I picked out three poetry books: ‘Love Poems: Every Library Pocket Poets,’ ‘Timeless Thoughts on Love: An Anthology of Quotations,’ and ‘Indian Love Poems: Every Library Pocket Poets.’ Flipping through the pages, I hoped that some word or phrase would strike me. I learned that love is powerful, could be destructive, illogical, involve eroticism and…a whirlwind of madness. I was headed toward the right direction, but felt that perhaps I should try one more technique just to see if something more could be developed. I analysed my personal experiences with love.

My brother and my husband hold my heart strings, pulling me in two different directions. I only have one brother who is struggling with a disorder. I always said that I would never leave him and even if I moved out, that I would stay nearby. Perhaps in that case, I would be a ‘villain’ in the story.

I moved across an ocean, from New Jersey to London. My brother gave me his blessings because he understood that men like my husband are very difficult to come across. I was destined to be in London.

Unfortunately, that part of my life is too sensitive to write a film or novel about. I’m just not brave enough. I will, however, write an article about my struggle soon.

After this intense exploration, I have a few ideas, but I cannot share them with you JUST YET. However, I hope that this guides you to inspiration and ideas, brushing away the writer’s block. Remember that writing takes dedication, diligence and sometimes, a bit of struggle. Also, one must be confident in his or her work because ALL stories are worth telling.