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Connecting The Dots At The Second Unboxed Workshop


Teaching is just another form of learning. And most of the time, you meet teachers in the unlikeliest of places. Once while teaching a class of post graduate students of media studies, I was told by a young girl, “You know ma’am..if you have something to offer, you will never go hungry. There will always be enough.” And I remember that auto driver with an Osho picture who told me what he had learnt from the master, “What comes..let it come. What goes..let it go. Don’t resist what is.”  Or another old auto driver who said, “Life is a gift..one must never forget that. God gave us a mind to know right from wrong but if we choose to jump in a ditch rather than avoiding it, we cannot blame life.” Or the old woman who is a street vendor and goes to a gourmet store on MG Road everyday to buy two biscuit packets to feed the birds who flock around her at a certain hour in the evening.


In the previous Unboxed writing workshop, I met Ashwin who was struck by cerebral palsy but had the most  powerful presence in the room. Ashwin who told me about a time when he was ready to end his life but then dreamt of his father who told him, “This is not why your were born. You were born to show what is possible.” He woke up determined to defeat the odds and did. In this workshop, because the numbers had swelled, there was more conversation than regimented module based learning and each person who gave me four hours of their hard won Sunday on May 22 taught me a little about how rich, unique and deeply moving every human story is.


There was someone with vast reserves of unexpressed pain who read a Robin Sharma line about the magic that happens when ripe talent meets a universe ready for it, and conveyed that she was not willing to give up on life.  Not ever. A young professional who was a last minute addition to the group spoke passionately about Amit Trivedi’s wildly esoteric and yet emotionally stirring music, how Mani Ratnam weds simplicity to meaning, how disturbing yet compelling Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was, especially that moment when the husband is sharing a beautiful, restful moment with his wife and thinking, “What is she thinking about doing next?” Or when asked to write about personal loss, he chose to write something that had not happened to him but then confessed, there was something else he was not ready to revisit just yet. And in another writing prompt wondered, if history was just a matter of filling empty space or did it have the courage to answer real questions from the oppressed.
men Or another young participant who read poetry about lost children and wrote even prose as if it was poetry. Especially in his piece about  a painting where he saw walls, blood, suppression and the triumph of truth in the face of fear. In him, I saw a pure writer who already had found his voice. Then there was the Bengali Bhadra Purush in a batik kurta whose knowledge of literature ran from translated Russian authors to contemporary voices to Bengali classics penned by Sharat babu to Maitreyi Devi. Who could talk about politics in Bangladesh, raagas, marketing strategies adopted by certain authors. Someone who was not just an intellectual but could bring you to tears when in response to a prompt, he wrote about meeting the eyes of  his dead father in a photograph to know with absolute clarity that though he was gone..he was still alive. In his son. This was already a book ready to be written. I hope he writes it.
There was a beautiful woman who has raised a son, has a full time job but is restless to find a new dimension and had a manner of utter and absolute kindness and warmth and openness and the only time her composure broke was when she wrote about a lost home where her son was born. A home she had loved because it represented security, warmth and permanence.
folks 3
There was another gentle soul who watched and listened without a word but when asked to articulate something, would burst into an infectious laughter and share insights into her life and soul. How she did not like fiction but was nagged in good fun by her husband to read it. How books about the human spirit and its untapped power fascinated her. She said, “I could not believe when I read that I too had endless power to be able to manifest anything.” She does and I hope she does amazing writing with it.
There was a passionate writer with smiling eyes who loved writing so intensely that she could not do it on a daily basis. It took perhaps too much out of her to write because she gave so much of herself to it and that is why she had many unfinished stories. But her eyes and calm manner spoke of resilience, of great endurance and something told me that she would finish everything she had started because she won’t be at peace till she does.
folks 2
And the one with eyes full of unspent sleep because she had been working the whole night but came for the workshop anyway. The way she rested her face against her father’s bony shoulders in a writing prompt and shared the entries of her dream journal, showed how brave she was teaching herself to be because you can be a lot of things but not a writer if you are not brave. And there was Leena Chethan, the woman whose Leanin’ Tree Art Cafe hosted this experience. From the corner of my eye, I saw this mother of two, wife, coffee and art impresario putting together our meal, our cups of tea and coffee and remembered how she had spent the whole of last week, coordinating this moment of synchronicity. This woman who talks little but achieves a lot.
Who can say just what I taught to these people. Maybe, we just meet to learn from each other and to tell our stories and understand that regardless of where we come from, there is something magical about the moment when we share something personal without barriers, with honesty and trust. And connect the dots in our lives and in the lives of others as if it was all meant to be.
Some testimonials we got..
Latha Subbananjappa: Thank you for the session on Creative Writing. It was definitely a Sunday well spent. The key takeaway for me from the session was the “Power of Dreams” and how it can be a valuable raw material for great writing.
Leaning Tree Art Cafe was a perfect place and the  food was awesome. The duration, the content, the number of participants was perfect.
Thank you for helping me overcome some inhibitions that I had in writing. Looking forward to more sessions from you on editing and the commercial aspects of book publishing etc.
Boomija: It was a good workshop to attend and I felt it was creative and pleasant. Writing is one hobby where one needs lot of encouragement and motivation and you could instill the interest to write and encouraged me to feel better. I feel that it was a beautiful day for me. When a woman is recognised and accepted by a woman, then there is no negativity. I have gone through lots of emotional upheaval but am rebuilding my life. Today I felt that I can mingle and I need not feel bad about anything that might have happened. I liked your approach in conducting the workshop and I wish you more success.
Madhu Bairy: I am writing to you with reference to the workshop that was conducted on May 22. First of all, my heartfelt thanks for having given all of us an opportunity to be a part of this wonderful session and I am happy that it was immensely successful both in accomplishing its objectives as well as entertaining at the same time. I am positively confident that this has given me an insight on what it takes to be a good writer as well as to start the journey of writing  on a confident note.  I am very much eager to be a part of all the upcoming sessions that would take all of us a step ahead to reach our goals collectively to contribute to literature as well as nurture our individual dreams and aspirations.
For registration for June workshops and queries about customised writing modules in a corporate space, schools or colleges, write to reemamoudgil@gmail.com
If you are a poet, writer, musician, stand up comic or artist and want to share your work with like minded folks or organise workshops at the evocative Leanin’ Tree ART CAFE , write to leena@tangerineartspace.com
Reema Moudgil is the editor and co-founder of Unboxed Writers, the author of Perfect Eight, the editor of  Chicken Soup for the Soul-Indian Women, a  translator who recently interpreted  Dominican poet Josefina Baez’s book Comrade Bliss Ain’t Playing in Hindi, an  RJ  and an artist who has exhibited her work in India and the US and is now retailing some of her art at http://paintcollar.com/reema. She won an award for her writing/book from the Public Relations Council of India in association with Bangalore University, has written for a host of national and international magazines since 1994 on cinema, theatre, music, art, architecture and more. She hopes to travel more and to grow more dimensions as a person. And to be restful, and alive in equal measure.

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  1. Latha Latha
    May 24, 2016    

    What a lovely write up Reema. Loved every word of it. You seem to be a great psychologist apart from being a successful writer. You are able to analyse the human emotions superbly well.
    In kannada, there is a saying, “Ravi kanaddhu kavi kanda.”, which means to say, what the sun cannot see, the poet (literary figure) is able to see.

    All the best to you, Bye till we meet again.

    • June 5, 2016    

      thank you dear Latha for the beautiful words..I hope you are writing on and on :) yes, till we meet again!

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