Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Authors Electric

I am rather thrilled to get a guest blog post on this great website,  'Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?' As their blurb says, 'We are 29 indie authors, all armed with e-readers, publishing ebooks and print-on-demand paperbacks. This is where we get together to gossip, laugh, share tips and talk writing.
It is an informative, helpful and cheerful website that helps authors who have ebooks and published works. It is a community of writer's who tell it like it is. I like that aspect of it. No pulling the punches, so here is my contribution today on the state of play of Asians in the Lit scene. The publishing industry and the litterati often write about the lack of diverse voices and point their finger in the direction of the publishing industry. But I think it is a two way matter, both sides need to work at it to get the work of diverse writers on the map.  

website: http://authorselectric.blogspot.com/2015/06/where-are-asian-novelists-and-poets-by.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

If you think my words are controversial, please feel free to comment. I know just last week, my publisher organised a New Writers Festival for authors of colour. It looked like a great success. We need more of it,  at the same time not let it become 'ghettoised' or marginalised.  I am often a lone voice up in Scotland, a token black/brown writer, but it is important to get our stories out. 

I am hosting a Diverse Voices Event at the SWC in August. We need to get more of this type of events and encourage people of colour to participate.

http://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/diverse-communities-with-leela-soma-cca-tue-4-august-2015



I'll be returning home to Glasgow soon.  I loved the stay here in USA. It will become my third home, as my daughter lives here now. How enriched I feel with these experiences of living in the three continents of Asia, Europe and America? I am blessed. 


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Midsummer?


I love everything about USA. It is a country that is a wonderful place for a holiday, such a huge land mass that bounteous mother nature has endowed with amazing riches. The people are friendly and kind. The only thing that really irks me is the public ownership of guns and the havoc it wreaks on its people. Worse still that some people still hide behind the Second Amendment 'to bear arms' as though it is sacred and cannot be changed. It is an amendment, for God's sake! I wonder  how many of the people in NRA, the celebrities and the politicians who support this crazy gun ownership status have lost their loved ones in such tragic circumstances like the Charleston Massacre or Sandy Hook, Columbine or the other innumerable gun tragedies that are reported in the papers everyday. There are many, many countries in the world that get by and protect their families and loved ones without the gun! Get real, move into the civilised 21 st Century, get rid of all guns in private hands, not just the assault rifles, all of them! The Charleston massacre was with a hand gun!

Let the law enforcement people deal with serious threats to people and property. Have an immediate amnesty and get the guns away from every one who owns one. It is time for action and not just words and  prayers. Like flowers left at every  such tragedy, the words are said and no action is taken and the will to resolve fades away like those bright blooms that were laid on the graves of innocent lives. The lesson that one learned from the tragedy was also the dignity and forbearance shown by the families who lost their loved ones. Their resounding message was one of forgiveness.   



Words flowed out of my heart and I wrote a poem on this. You can access it on Pat's West End Diary, a wonderful website that opens our eyes to all that is happening in the West End of Glasgow and has a great showcase of local writer's work, music and art.

 Here is the poem's link: http://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/the-american-dream-poem-by-leela-soma/





On a happier note, 21 st June is International Yoga Day. 200 million people all over the world will participate in  ancient India's gift to the modern world. I will certainly strike a few Yoga poses and do a few surya namskras or sun salutations. It is good for the body and soul. My birth country has never invaded another country,  Hinduism has never forcibly converted any one and I am proud that its ancient wisdom and philosophy is getting recognition again in the West and all over the world.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Art Festival- photo blog

Last few weeks in Buffalo NY. The warm weather has started the season of festivals. I was at the Allentown Art Festival last Saturday. A wonderfully hot day, too hot to be honest and the street was teeming with people. A great way to have a family day out. There were 400 artists from various parts of USA exhibiting their work. http://allentownartfestival.com/guide/festival-directory/




 The festival started in 1950, in a modest way as most festivals do and now has mushroomed into a huge affair. http://allentownartfestival.com/about/festival-history/ There are some scholarship awards for the artists. I am still waiting to see the winners.

Some of the exhibits we saw. 

A variety of styles, landscapes and portraits.
I am not an artist at all but I can appreciate the creative work of these wonderful artists. The colours, the hard work and the imagination to put their ideas on the canvas is so much like writing. I admire them. All in all the arts, the crafts we saw were very good and the food stalls made it even more
enjoyable!  A great day out.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Reading Binge

I have got into my binge reading mode. I do this occasionally when  I'm on holiday. One book follows another and I can't get enough, especially if the books are good.

It started with books from my daughter's book shelf, not the heavy history or philosophy ones she likes, but fiction. Even there we have different tastes. She loves books like Lord of the Rings and Phillipa Gregory. I am an eclectic reader, and tend to go for world literature with a very heavy Indian bias. So finding a couple of Jo Nesbo novels on her book shelf, airport buys, was refreshing and I read them both. Police and The Son, both really well plotted, blood curdling crime books.

Then as you may be aware I went to the AAUW book sale, here in Buffalo. See my blogs on http://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/the-american-association-of-university-women-book-sale-buffalo-new-york/  website. I found some great books and was tempted to buy even though I'll be flying back to Glasgow and not have room to carry them home.

I wanted a change from reading a crime book. I started with Chitra.B. Divakaruni's One Amazing Thing. A beautifully written novel on how nine people cope with being stranded in a collapsing building, the Indian visa office in USA,  during an earthquake. I liked the fact that it had diverse characters and each had their own stories and secrets to reveal to all.

My next choice was Island's End, a  YA book written by my cousin. I am not biased when I say that every school library should have a copy of this book and children should read this. Padma's debut novel 'Climbing The Stairs' had already won several prizes and she had established herself as a good writer. This book is unique. The novel Island's End is set in the Andaman Islands of India. Some tribal people who have never had contact with the mainland or with modern civilization live in these remote islands. Padma is an oceanographer and had spent time on the island and come into contact with the natives. As the book blurb says:  "She was inspired to write this after meeting with the natives who had overcome a natural disaster and preserved their unique way of life despite several threats to their survival." The story is about a young girl Uido who becomes the spiritual leader of the tribe. The story weaves around strangers arriving at the island and threatens their old way of life. Will Uido manage to help preserve their old ways and fend off the strangers?



 Padma's meticulous research in their way of life and basing some of the events on true facts makes it a fascinating study of lives that have been untouched by modern civilization. It was the language that really made me love this novel. Padma seems to be driven by a spiritual hand. The writing flows like the waves in the sea that surrounds the island. I was reminded of our grandfather, Padma's and mine who started writing Law Journals from a very young age that led him to become a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court in India. He  wrote and published  Law Journals.They are still one of the leading  law journals in India. She's gifted like him and it shows in all her work. Pick it up if you can and read it.

I also finished reading Akil Sharma's 'Family Life'. A memoir turned novel that took him nine years to write. It is written from the point of view of a young boy-of a newly arrived Indian family in USA-whose older brother becomes brain damaged after diving into a swimming pool and hitting his head. The three minutes of lying in the bottom of the pool, after hitting his head, changes all their lives. Heart rending but beautifully written.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Byward Market Ottawa- a photo blog

Byward Market in downtown Ottawa is worth a visit. Huge stalls that sells some amazing things. Fruits, flowers, and things you'd see in any open markets around the world. But I did find the atmosphere amazing. Here's why:


 A Japanese woman singing her arias!








 A strange vehicle, well a rickshaw but how nicely done up!











I loved the Beaver Tails. I had them at the Ice Festival in February 1999! I loved the taste ever since.




This wee cat was really something else. Happy to be on its owners back. Quite fierce looking, close up. The owner said it was a Bengal Cat! I'm not a cat person, so no idea if that is right! 


As a Glaswegian, how can one not have a wee taste of free wine. Middle of the day, did you say? Well I'm on holiday so anything goes! A wee libation is allowed!







As for this pic, a lovely young lass was doing an Irish jig at the street corner! Now how nice is that?








All in all Byward Market was a treat to all the senses. So if you are in Ottawa, don't miss it!

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