Category Archives: Guest Blogs

From Newspaper to Blog – A Guest Post by Rangan Datta

This guest post was long due. Back in May, when I was publishing Guest Blogs as part of my Saturday Specials series, I had requested my professor and fellow blogger, Mr. Rangan Datta, to contribute a piece about his journey as a travel column writer in leading newspapers in Kolkata to a travel blogger. However, due to time constraints, he had not been able to provide me with the write-up at that time. It gives me immense pleasure to finally host Mr. Datta today, as the guest blogger.

Mr. Datta  is a mathematics teacher by profession and teaches students right from high school to post graduate (Computer application & Management) level. He works as a freelancer with several Management & IT institutes in Salt Lake, Calcutta. He is also an extensive traveler and an avid photographer. Initially, he wrote about his travel experiences in The Statesman and The Telegraph, two leading newspapers in Kolkata. But as the digital wave swept in, he found a new home for his travel exploits on his blog. On 17th June this year, he completes four years in the blogosphere. A very happy anniversary, sir! May your journey continue for years to come.

From Newspaper to Blog

Guest post by Rangan Datta 


Photo Courtesy: Amitabha Gupta for Rangan Datta’s blog

“…….there are many, who has become famous by blogging, and many famous people have taken to blogging.”

– Anuradha Goyal, Blogger and author of The Mouse Charmers

 “I live to travel, sadly I don’t travel to live.”

My early travels: I watched the grand spectacle unfold before my eyes. The last rays of the setting sun have struck Kanchenjunga, turning the white snow into golden yellow, on the distant western horizon the peaks of Lhotse, Makalu and Everest have also turned golden too. I was in Sandakphu (3636 meters), the highest point in West Bengal.

As darkness descended, I remember that it was only a couple of days ago I wrote the last paper of my graduation (B.Com.). I was still without a job and was uncertain about my future, but I was already a veteran traveler and was looking for a career in travel.

My first break: Early morning 12 Sept. 2001, just a few hours ago the world has witnessed the worst ever terrorist attack in human history, the two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York have been demolished. No wonder the news papers next day carried extensive coverage on the terrorist attack. The Statesman was no exception, but the real surprise awaited me in the pages of Mid Week supplement. It carried my first ever publication “Langtan, in the land of Yaks,” a travelogue about my treks in a remote valley in Nepal.

 A regular travel columnist: Although The Statesman gave me my first break, it was The Telegraph that turned me into a regular travel writer. I became a regular name in the column “Next Weekend you can be at…” and started concentrating on places next door.

Blog vs. Newspaper: When my travelogues were regularly published in the “Next weekend you can be at…” column of The Telegraph, blogging was making its inroads in India. Many of my friends took up blogging, but I was solely concentrating on print media as I had an impression the “Blogging was for everybody but newspaper columns were for special people.”

Into the world of Blogging: Soon I was able to understand that I was on wrong tracks. The Telegraph column soon became infrequent and I was also unable to publish my works on Kolkata. Finally I ventured into the world of Blogging, with the focus of publishing my unpublished works on my own city. Within a short span of time my blog started attracting visitors and I even started getting paid advertisement. I was invited for familiarization (FAM) in India and abroad and my blog was appreciated by the bestselling author Amitav Ghosh.

On 17 June 2015 my blog will complete four years and I am looking forward for years of blogging.

On novelist J. M. Coetzee and his masterpiece, ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’

Today’s guest post is written by Ms. Swagata Mukherjee, with whom I have had the good fortune to share a room for the last five months of my engineering program. Swagata is pursuing her Ph.D. in experimental high energy physics, has travelled widely and shares her travel exploits in her blog, Through My Eyes. The pictures on her blog are also mostly photographed by her. She is also passionate about books. Today, on my request, she shares with us her views on novelist J.M. Coetzee’s ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’. Thank you so much, Swagata Di, for this guest-post.

Not being a widely-read person, especially in English literature, I would have probably never come across a book written by J. M. Coetzee if a Bengali publishing house didn’t come up with a Bengali translation of some of the masterpieces of the Nobel laureate author. This year, at the Kolkata International Book Fair, when I was roaming around in different book stalls, I came across a book in the stall of “Protibhash”. In Bengali, the name of the book is “Barbarder apekkhay”, meaning, “Waiting for the Barbarians”. Until then, I did not know about the author, but something was attractive about that book and I decided to buy it.


Book cover of Bengali translated version of ‘Waiting for the Barbanians’. Translation by Kabir Chowdhury.

Image Courtesy: Swagata

“Waiting for the Barbarians” is a novel, published in the year 1980, years before I was born. The story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed magistrate of a small town which is a part of a big empire.  The town is situated at the border of the empire and very near to the town there lived some tribal people who are referred to as “barbarians”. The novel describes how the tribal people are tortured by a special force sent from the capital of the empire. The magistrate knew that the tribal people are harmless and innocent, but he could hardly do anything to save them.

The fact that the name of the town is unspecified and most of the characters of this novel have no names makes so much sense – because the state-approved torture on under-privileged and innocent people is a horrifying truth in different places on earth! Also the fact that the magistrate wants to protest but fails to do so points to one of the greatest truths about ourselves that we don’t wish to confront.

One day the magistrate meets a barbarian, a young girl, who is one of the victims of the torture.  The magistrate offers her to work in his house. The interaction between the girl and the magistrate reveals the psychological conflicts going on in the magistrate’s mind. Finally, the magistrate makes a difficult journey to the nearby mountain to return the girl to her own people. When he returns back to the town, he discovered that he was longer the magistrate but a prisoner who is subjected to the same torture and oppression. The empire has lost faith on him because he tried to help a barbarian.

At the end of the novel, the dwellers of the town still wait for the barbarians to invade to the town and unleash their barbarism through murders, rapes, destruction of properties. But the gang of barbarians never arrives!

As per expectation, this novel by Coetzee received the CNA Prize, James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. So far, Coetzee has been awarded with numerous prizes, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003 and the Booker Prizes in 1983 and 1999. I am looking forward to reading the other masterpieces by this celebrated author like Life & Times of Michael K, Disgrace, Age of Iron, The Master of Petersburg etc.

The End

Today marks the end of the Guest Blogs series in May on Scribbles@Arpita. I would like to extend my heartiest thanks to the bloggers who shared their thoughts through these guest-posts and made this series a success. Until next time, keep blogging and spreading your wonderful ideas!

Adventures in City-State: Co-Writing with James Courtney and Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills

This week on Saturday Specials, I have a special guest, Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills, who co-writes Dystopian Nation of City-State (an anthology of short stories related to the futuristic dystopian, post-American nation of City-State) with James Courtney. When I asked her to narrate their experiences of co-writing for a guest post, here is what she shared with me. Thank you, Kaisy for doing this!

The Dystopian Nation of City-State has two authors. City-State requires two authors
with its sophisticated layer system, its corrupt government, its restricted societal class system, its nihilistic cult, and its magical floating city.

And what’s trending in City-State? It’s the hashtag, #helpmejames.

A little background: James and I attended high school together in Melbourne, Florida, in
the mid 90s. We knew each other, but we were not close friends. Later, James went on to marry his high school sweetheart and one of my good friends, Kelly. In fact, I was in their wedding.

We all kept in touch throughout the years.

Fast forward to 2011.

James messaged me and asked me if I could take a look at a novel he wrote – I have two English degrees, and I teach the subject. I was hesitant at first, but then… what the hell, right?

We have been writing together ever since 2012.

So… how do we operate? What makes a successful writing team? A few things…

1. Listen: Have an Open Mind – One major rule when working with a co-writer is
being an active listener. James and I talk about every element of our literature, and we work through every option possible within our current piece of literature. With listening comes communication, and this is important – I never proceed with an idea without consulting James first, and vice versa. Trust is imperative within this process.

2. Shitty Rough Drafts and Brainstorming – There is nothing like having a writing
partner for initial brainstorming and drafting. Bouncing ideas off each other has made City-State a better, well, a more evil and interesting place. When I am stuck, I just ask my partner. If I can’t think of the next great plot twist, character name, or literary device, James will. When he’s stuck, I pick up the “slack” – well, neither one of us slack off. It’s more like filling in the blanks.

3. Time Management/Efficiency – James and I both have full time jobs: I am a teacher,
and he is a postal worker. We can’t drop everything and write (although we wish we could), so the creative process takes time. However, this is where co-writing is extremely beneficial: when I am waiting for him to return a piece, I always manage my time and work on something else to get ahead. On the down side, James and I have three to four projects running at the same time, and sometimes we are not on the same schedule when it comes to City-State’s short stories and the trilogy. But hey, there’s absolutely no excuse for co-writer’s block!

All in all, James and I work together very well, and we are lucky to have one another as
writing partners. The stars aligned. So, back to work. I think I’ll work on… wait, I’m stuck.


The End

You can follow Kaisy on Twitter at @KaisyWMills and James at @jamesacourtney.

Realm of Solitude: Guest post by Rahul Kumar Bhadäni

Rahul Kumar Bhadäni is an engineer by education, an software developer by profession, and has a deep passion for the written word. We started talking couple of months back over email, and I found he has numerous blogs to his name as well. He told me that he was a prolific writer in his schooldays and that those writings are stacked somewhere in an almirah back in his parental home; but since, his writing habits have become less regular. We spoke at length about why this happened, and he said that “for creative things, a peace is needed, sometimes vacuum, which is rarely there nowadays”. It intrigued me, and when I wanted a post on ‘Why solitude is important for authors?’, I couldn’t think of anyone else but him.

Read on and do not forget to drop a comment below. You can also follow him on his blog, When my Diary becomes my keeper.

Realm of Solitude

Rahul Kumar Bhadäni

“I lost count of the time for how long I have been staring at the candle flame while chewing the tip of my pen. Enchantment broke only when power returned after a sudden outage. I didn’t realize dusk had bid adieu for the day and kohl of the night had decorated the unfathomable sky. Even today I couldn’t write more than four lines.  There was a chaos in the neural circuitry of my brain and the resulting anarchy was failing to tame the mind to concentrate on one particular idea of the realm. ”

For the love of writing, the one who seeks the solitude is a true seeker, but the one who finds it emerges as the victor. Solitude is not loneliness – it is a desire to be alone to find out oneself, to have fine control over emotions and thought processes. Sitting at one corner of the apartment when your roommate is not there, solitude is your quest for that one blue flower with seven petals in the jungle of thoughts. Solitude is when you feel too much of one thing and nothing of anything else and you rub your pen against the page of the diary and it starts running for you, spilling all your emotions over its pages. In an orchid, when you don’t just see the petals but the leaves and their texture – how brilliantly and uniquely they have been crafted – you know that you have found solitude in the midst of chirping of birds and rustling of leaves.

Recently, I have not been writing much, not a single verse or a story even though I have more time than ever. When I look back into the past, I find that in spite of having school from 8 am to 2 pm and a reserved schedule for homework afterwards, I was writing more than I do now, which might have resulted in something productive today. It’s not like I was lonely those days and I am busy and socially extrovert now. Solitude is not about being alone and away from social life. It’s neither about being an introvert and self-centred. I have completed a quarter of my life during which I graduated, got a job, even changed one, moved to a new city and the one thing I realized is being an artist is one of the toughest and disciplined passions. A real writer is not just a writer but (s)he is an artist. The way (s)he perceives the world is eccentric and can only be possible if (s)he is a true seeker. Solitude is not about being alone, it is about self-control.

So what exactly happened after school that in spite of claiming I have more time than ever I have not found solitude? Back then, my mind was not cluttered with career moves, higher studies, relationships, home-sickness, work pressure, and paying bills. That was the time when I was guilt-free but since, I can count that I have done several mistakes, which naturally, added jitters to my thoughts.  When uncertainty starts looming, concentrating on a seven-petal, blue flower becomes a far-fetched dream. But most important of all, I was not engrossed into internet. Definitely, I should not blame the internet because this is how things are done now, but what internet has done to psychology is that it gives you a feeling that you are doing something important when actually you are just scrolling feeds of your social network profile.

Solitude comes only when in spite of having people around you, you can trace that one particular channel of thoughts overcoming jitters and starts weaving a different realm on the top of it. When you succeed in achieving that one step, receptivity of your artistic self activates. Arpita once asked, is it possible to write about something you have never felt. When your artistic receptivity is on its natural frequency, it is very much possible. It’s time when you start fantasizing about an alternate reality and let your pen do the rest of the work.

Over time, writers and artists have been looking for an easy way to slip into cocoon of solitude; getting high on the drugs or the drinks has been a way towards their solitude. They have claimed that this has helped them achieve their artistic and natural self, producing best creative pieces. But what I feel is that it’s a total injustice to ourselves and a sign of denial. Deep down we know that we are broken somewhere, we have had a failed relationship or a bad marriage, we may have lost a job or are bankrupt or guilty for not saving that boy in the hospital, and it is hard for us to accept all that. We think being in inebriated state alleviates our situation, when in fact we are too coward to accept the situation. Being our true self is the best way to pour our emotions and our guilt on the artboard, through verse and prose. Letting things loose is the best way to find the true artist in us.

The End

Saturday Special: I write

Hello and welcome to Saturday Specials in May! As promised, I am back with a special series having guest blogs on Scribbles@Arpita


Image Source

Today’s guest is Nimi Naren, who blogs regularly at Simple Moments of Life. It is a pleasure to have her as the opening guest blogger of the season. In my brief time at WordPress, I have been lucky to have come across some really wonderful bloggers. Nimi, is undoubtedly, at the top of my list of favorite bloggers. The first thing that attracted me to her writing was the sheer simplicity of it. She writes about simple day-to-day moments, but with her penmanship even the most mundane of things appear so beautiful! The other thing which amazes me is the discipline with which she writes every single day, never failing to update her blog on any day.

Today, Nimi shares with us about her journey as a writer and tells us what shaped her writing abilities. She also speaks about why simplicity is such a crucial factor in her writing. 

Read on, and don’t forget to leave a comment at the bottom. Also, while you’re at it, do visit her blog and read an item or two. I can bet you’d be fascinated!

 I Write

Guest post by Nimi Naren


Image Source

I write. I blog.

A few hundred words carefully picked and chosen from the ‘English Word Pool’, tweaked to convey a particular thought or story; a few ‘Word Spices’ to add a dash of emotion to the piece, a few ‘Building Blocks’ thrown in to give my article form and structure.

I write the last few words of my blog.  I go back and read it, again and again; looking for errors in grammar, flow and other things I may have missed.   I press the publish button.  My blog gets added to a million others on blogosphere, waiting to be read.

I write. I remember.

My earliest memories of writing are from school. We had a lovely English teacher in Grade 6, who played a game called ‘Word Sculpting’, with us.  The game was very simple. She would write 25 words on the blackboard, based on a theme such as nature, beach, holidays etc.  We had to string these words together into a short essay, to convey the theme effectively.  We could add our own ‘Word Spices’ to enhance our writing.

I simply loved this game.  I loved the thought that we were sculpting essays from words, and giving them life.  I still remember an essay I wrote, in one of her classes, about ‘A Rainy Day’, which got me a ‘Very well written and creative!’ comment.  One of the lines I had written in the essay went something like this – “…the rain fell on the thick brown mud, creating chocolate puddles that the children wished they could eat”.

Even now, when I see wet mud, I am reminded of these lines that I wrote in Grade 6. Such is the power of the written word.  Sentences that I love from the books I read float around in my head and give me joy. I always wonder how the author chose those particular words in that particular combination.

My parents loved to write.  My Dad wrote poems and short essays. He drew inspiration from nature. He would read them out to us occasionally.  My Mom, on the other hand, wrote powerful essays about social issues and women’s empowerment.  Both of them loved quotations, and we had many lovely books with quotations and essays, by great writers, in our home.  These had a great impact on me.

The seeds of writing were sown in me at a young age, watered by lovely books, nourished by powerful essays, and given blooming expression by my teachers at school, through their English lessons.

I wrote essays about our bus journeys from home to school; I wrote about holidays and picnics, I wrote for the school magazine.  When I started working, my job involved a lot of business writing…and the journey continued.  I learnt that each type of writing needed a different flavor, and a different word-combination.

I write. I learn.

There was a time when I used complicated words, words that I had encountered in my reading, which I then looked up in the dictionary, and used for effect in my writing. Many new words! Trying them on for size, and slipping them into my writing till they became familiar.

However, one of the most important lessons that I learnt about writing was when I had to show a product-pitch write-up to one of my superiors at work.

After reading my article, he said, “When you write, the reader should understand exactly what you are trying to say.  Keep it simple and effective. Simplicity is the essence of good writing.”

I was fairly new to the job, and what he told me stayed with me.  Whether it is writing for business, or creative writing for myself, my motto is ‘Keep it simple.’

I write. I express

What we write is forever.  Writing enables us to crystallize our thought process. When we write – we think, we dwell, we analyze, we see things from other people’s point of view, we play many roles, we sink into the characters we portray, we laugh with them, and we cry with them, we live through them for the short time that they are in our lives.  We experience the entire gamut of emotions through words. We create entire worlds with these words, we create happiness, humour and music; we trigger memories and bring joy to ourselves and others.  We can slink back into the worlds we’ve created at anytime by merely re-reading our work. 

Each time I write something, I feel a sense of accomplishment; that I could actually shepherd all those floating words and sentences in my head into a cohesive story or an article.

I write because this is the way I best express myself. I write because it gives me the greatest happiness.

I write.

The End

Note: I am Mala has been published in the May 2015 edition of eFiction magazine. Buy your copy on Amazon and the eFiction website.