I began writing poetry at the age of 15 if I recall correctly, and for years I remained a closet poet. I would write in the prep room (the study room) attached to the girls’ dormitory (I did my last four years of school at a boarding school up in a hill station, in India called Panchgani) after lights out or in between chapters of chemistry and physics when my weary eyes and tired mind needed a creative outlet.
More often than not though, I wrote when I needed an outlet for emotions. I was different from the rest somehow…ahead of my years perhaps with a far tougher and intense interior, and thinner emotional exterior. I was a bit of a loner at times, so to speak and so paper and pen became my closest companion in those transitional teenage years where confusion tends to lurk in the shadows for most of us (although only few will probably admit it).
I continued writing poetry even after I finished school, and I still wrote in secret. That said I think some of my fellow students at hotel school probably caught glimpses of my poetic side when my Food and Beverage module group project on Sherry went on stage, and then subsequently made it’s way onto the shelf in the library with a figurative golden star on it. (Take a look here)
After university/grad school I went off t0 the Maldives to work at a resort and that’s where in addition to poetry I began to write lyrics, with the hope of one day learning to play the guitar and compose music to go with the lyrics. There was a rock just big enough for a little person to perch themselves on, that was on the shore at low tide and just off it towards high tide so I could sit and dabble my feet in the water while writing. I used to call it my writing rock. It was here that I wrote Turquoise Lagoon Affair, among others and was inspired to start writing lyrics. Sunsets and beaches always seem to stir my inner romantic from slumber quicker than anything else.
The other significant poetic phase of my life was during a career transition period that followed my stint in the Maldives. I was leaving a career in hotels to pursue a career as a journalist and writer. While awaiting admission in the UK I attended creative writing courses at The University of Pune, which was my first step away from being a closet poet. October Heat and Pre-Nuptial Nostalgia were among the works from this epoch.
Then, London happened. I wrote in coffee shops, in parks, at home, on paper and on notepad on my phone. A lot of my work from this period is what some may call intense because a lot of it stemmed from painful and trying times I endured during my time in London. There was plenty of good times too of course, one of them being meeting like minded people who I began sharing my work with and who shared their’s with me. I even found the courage to publish it online on a blog that I called Velvet Verses but remained anonymous.
Indigo moments, ‘Silence of the Spoken Word’ and ‘To Fade or not to Fade’ were all written on my phone sitting while sipping a chilled pint of lager at a quiet little pub in Cambridge or the green beside it.
Those written upon my return to Pune, India were penned in the confines of my bedroom but inspired by several local painters and artists. They were actually a by-product of my attempt to find peace in my home town in the aftermath of my sudden and disruptive departure from London.
London had been my home for the last six and half years and I was feeling more than a little unsettled and quite frankly, very lost, disturbed and more than just a little distraught, and not just because of the condition in which my boxes arrived one morning. There they were. 6 and a half years of my life packed into 12 boxes. From broken dreams to my rugby 7s flamingo get up, from shot glasses and curios collected on my travels to cherished memories, from files by the dozen full of paperwork that had yet to be done to my prized and extensive shoe collection. I can still remember how in a matter of hours my Dutch friend in true Dutch style (known for being organised and practical! and thank god for that!) had managed to build the boxes and pack and tape them ready for shipping while I sat there, picking up pieces of nothing and staring into space.
It was this confusion that boarded the flight with me at Heathrow and was still draped over my shoulders like an unwanted cape when I arrived home. It was in an attempt to cut it loose that I ended up at an Art Therapy workshop one day. Run by experienced Art Therapist Susan Bullough-Khare , the workshop had been woven into an art exhibition that showcased work from students who had volunteered their paintings and work by her artist son Sam Bullough. For the exhibition finale artists from other genres of art such as music, dance and poetry were invited to use their art form to express their experience of interacting with the work exhibited.
An Artistic Awakening’ was inspired by the ‘Art Therapy’ drawings; one painting in particular resonated very strongly with a past I had tried to forget. ‘A Rendezvous with Me’ came to me while journeying through Sam’s work that comprised of paintings and masks, which was also my first real interaction with art. Until now I had observed and liked what hung on the walls of galleries, museums and palaces in Europe but never really indulged in lengthy deliberation and discussion of each piece of work. The other two firsts were reading out my work in public and the second was letting go of anonymity of my work.