Friday, January 28, 2022

Love, Life, Delhi and Poetry: An Interview With Saumya Kulshreshtha

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Taneea S Agrawaal
Hey! I'm an engineering student with a love for all things literary, also with an added interest in music and dance. Also, I love writing, and people who're funny!

A multifaceted individual, identifying herself as a pure Dilliwalli, Saumya Kulshreshtha brings out her love for her city, her passion for books and literature, her obsession with meeting different people, and the different nuances of life through her poetry and her writing. She runs a poetry club called Poets’ Collective, a part of Kaafiya(The Poetry Festival), and conducts poetry and creative writing workshops in NGOs, schools, and colleges. Her personal blog has a following of over four million. She is also a social media strategist. 

Love, Life, Delhi and Poetry: An Interview With Saumya Kulshreshtha 1

We had the opportunity to explore more about her world at the astonishing and mysterious historical monument Agrasen ki Baoli. 

  • For the uninitiated, can you share something about yourself?
    Hi. My name is Saumya. I am the kind of person who likes to do many things, saying that I have varied interests.
    I have an interest in poetry. I have an interest in literature, and I love writing. I love learning about different languages, reading different texts, and owing to that, and I have done a bit of translation work. I also do voiceovers. However, none of these are my professional attributes.

They’re my interest-oriented attributes, and hence I think you could call me a poet, blogger, translator, editor, writer, voice-over artist. An artist is a word I would eventually like to arrive at when I’m done with everything I like. At a very basic level, I’m a Dilliwalla, born and brought up in Delhi. I love exploring my city. I’m very attached to what you could call our common cultural roots, which I’m also trying to understand. I’m a communication person. I am in love with the world of words, whether spoken, sung, written in prose, or poetry.

  • For those who’re missing out on your writings, can you share the most common subject of your writings?
    It’s a very difficult question to answer. I think I am still at the first stage of writing romance. Because writing is my escape from reality, I dwell in the imaginative there.

I write about nature and atmospheres, whatever creates a perfect ambiance around you. It could be my attempt to right a wrong or live a love that I know I could never have. I write fiction which talks about a time and values decades and centuries old. I think it’s really cool to imagine what would happen if nobody was watching.

I write poetry that challenges the norms of conventional writing.  I love to comment on everything that I come across in life- be it people, relationships, or situations. I write about the people I’ve met, build characters around them, and observe relationships, the kind that has subtle manifestations in the way a friend takes care of another friend or in the way a son would look after his mother without making it obvious. I also write about my frustrations. I love to color them pink and present them in a manner that they become sources of strength for me and others who’ve been through similar frustrations.

  • Why poetry? What attracts you most about this form of art?
    I wasn’t very fond of poetry during school or college. I never think any teacher was able to perceive my poetry the way I do it now. My love for it is not academic at all. Roughly two and a half years ago, I met many self-asserted poets and started understanding the stories behind poetry. It’s the power to express everything you don’t want to express directly when I fell in love with the medium.
    I am attached to it now because I have seen its power as an empowering medium. There are so many things we want to say, but so many times, the correct way of putting them in words is through poetry. Poetry is one medium that says little but leaves a lot to be interpreted and applied to life. It’s the ability to inspire and connect with the people reading it that has always left me in awe.

Poetry can take you over on a night when nobody’s around you and give you peace when you’re among a throng of people, and you do not wish to talk to them. I love the musicality of it, maybe because I love singing. Poetry has opened me up to my roots and exploring different languages. I believe some of the best poems are written in Urdu, Hindi, and Sanskrit. I like the simpler poets. I have my favorites in Faiz, Neruda, and Wordsworth. But poetry gives me pleasure. It makes me happy.

  • Who or what inspires you?
    No one in particular. I think that my inspiration is the people I meet every day. I believe it’s important not to fix points of inspiration because then you lose out on learning so much from everything around you. I think there’s enough to be learned from a tree. A lesson on humility can be taught by the people who you inspire. Having said that, love inspires me. I do not need a lover or a beloved to be inspired. Tales of struggle, the way people behave when they’re down and out, people who can smile through anything in life inspire me. I also think depression inspires me because that’s where the real persevering skill of humanity lies.
  • Which is your favorite season? Which season gets your best work?
    Winters. Firstly, because Delhi is the most beautiful at this time of the year, it is the best time to explore it. Winters allow very free and pleasant exploration of the city. Secondly, there is something very charming and romantic about this season, making my mind a lot more calm. It makes the romance of life, nature, existence, and relationships become apparent to me. On my blog, most of my writings have clustered around the winter months. It’s also a very nice time for nostalgia, maybe because the year is closing. I have a post on my blog called Winter Nostalgia. This is the time to warm yourself up. The idea of sitting in a quilt with a cup of coffee is very inviting and relaxing. My best thoughts visit me when I am in that zone. I believe that winters are necessary to feel the warmth. My imagination and creativity are at the peak during winters.
  • One of my personal favorites on your blog is the Heady Brew section. Something more on that?
    I am a conversationalist. Most of my work is inspired by what I see around me, and sometimes, I’m fortunate enough to be part of those scenes. More often than not, the people in my life know exactly the right questions to ask, the kind that would stupefy and puzzle me. The instinctive answers that I would give would cause me to be stunned by my own expression.

These conversations were the Heady Brews (I had thought long and hard about the name), and they went on the blog because I felt that more people should know about them. These were instances of real-life creative writing. The conversations were about commenting on the nature of humanity. I would be drunk on these conversations, giving me a pleasant hangover which justifies the name. Basically, these were conversations about existence, loving, living.

  • Describe a regular day in your life.
    Oh, there are no regular days in my life. I have no idea what to expect out of my day. I ask myself what I want to do each day, and then I go ahead and do it. However, I always have some elements that I try to squeeze into my day – drinking lots of water, writing (two lines or two thousand words), meeting people, and striking up meaningful conversations over the phone or over coffee/drinks in the evening, music (singing or listening), reading (a must), interactions in schools or colleges and food, simply because I believe good food is the source of all creativity in life.
  • You have a great presence online, like Facebook and Twitter. Is there a specific reason for that? Does it help in your creativity?
    I have always had this pressing need to connect with people, and this digital medium gives you a nice space to do just that. I use social media as an inspiration to create, curate and comment on real-life experiences. Let us use all of these to be heard, express, and create communities. Most of my work online is about bringing people together. I think it’s important to use digital to do something powerful on the ground productively. These tools help you in becoming accessible. It’s amazing to have somebody in Chennai complimenting my writing or my singing. But at the end of the day, you also use it for fun. Crack a joke, share music and have fun.
  • Something that you would like to convey to our readers?
    The only thing I would like to say to the readers and people, in general, is to not analyze a situation to the point of paralyzing it so much so that you don’t do what you want to do. If you feel like doing something, anything – making yourself breakfast or recording your own voice, then you should go ahead and do it. So what if you have to cancel some plans, put some other ones in place, make phone calls, give up on a few things? If you really want to do something, go ahead and make it happen!

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