Fearless


What is fearless (to you)?

When I asked this question to those around me, the answers differed.

“It is the ability to speak the truth without hesitation.”

“It is the belief that I stand with the truth.”

“It is the ability to share my emotional and vulnerable moments with those close to me.”

“It’s when you are not scared of anybody or anything, and even if you are, you don’t show it.”

“Freedom.”

“Fearless… is to be able to feel and act consciously from state of awareness and to own responsibility for everything that comes under it.”

What is fearless (to me)?

My favourite movie character is Mulan from Disney. The eponymous character brandishes her sword and saves her nation. In my eyes, she’s fearless, not just because she charges in to a battlefield, but also because she has the courage and the guts to break stereotypes and break norms of the society. She has the courage to stand by what she believes in. Fearlessness comes in many forms, and I have met great warriors of everyday life. They are resilient, sometimes quiet, and sometimes not, but they all have faced the battles of life, and won over demons, both outside and inside. That’s fearless to me.

Here I present to you my most recent definitions of fearless. These are two women I interacted with recently. One a mere teen, a young girl, who was bullied once but who, now has returned to fearlessly face her demons, and overcome them through her book and her performances, and the other, a 46-year-old international personality, TV host and speaker, who fearlessly tramples on every rule book, to say and do what she believes in.

Aija Mayrock: Author, Performer, Activist 

rent.com/aija-mayrock-interview-bullying/Aija was bullied as a child and as a teen. That kind of experiences affect most people negatively. However, Aija turned the same experience as a motivator to help others. I got to know Aija when I came across her very powerful anti-bullying performance. For someone to overcome the feeling of not being good enough, to overcome self doubts and hesitation that comes with being bullied, and still to be able to give such a power packed performance on her experience is fearlessness indeed! But she is not bitter. On the contrary, she was friendly, enthusiastic and prompt, when I approached her for an interview. Read the interview here

Anita Kapoor: TV Host, Media personality, Speaker.

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I met Anita at an event where she was the main speaker. She spoke on being fearless. According to her, the courage to be vulnerable, the courage to embrace whatever you feel, is what fearlessness is all about. On the surface, this seemed like a paradox. You could either be strong or be vulnerable. Right? But she proved it otherwise. And she proved it with a personal story, so poignant, that for the first time, I was blinking back tears in a live talk, and in a hall full of powerful, and successful women. Anita eloquently spoke of her bereavement, her fresh loss, and her journey of grief. However, she did it fearlessly. Anita is not new to such fearless show of vulnerabilities. Her documentary on living with the elderly touches on the same personality trait of hers. It’s raw, it’s sincere, and its powerful.

The above are just two definitions of fearlessness. They are not the only ones. As I meet new people, both men and women, my definition keeps expanding, keeps growing.

And then of course, Taylor Swift sings…

Source: Imgrum

So, maybe being fearless is also about being able to take a leap of faith. My definition continues to expand…

(This post is dedicated to the fearless. Thanks to The Asian Parents Magazine for endorsing the interview, and thanks to Primetime Business and Professional Women’s Association for the beautiful evening with Anita).

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Why I wrote “Sia”?


Why I wrote, Sia? (A Writer’s Perspective)

sia-prionka-ray-leadstart-publishing-buy-onlineI began writing Sia in 2009 and there were two reasons for it. One, I had a story to tell, a story that though imagined, was inspired by real people, real places and real emotions. Two, because my dad belonged to Benaras and I thought he might like a story based on the place. No one knew that I was writing this story. It was my little secret. I wrote a bit every day, whenever I would get time after work and whenever I was done with the other responsibilities.

Incidentally, Sia’s story began a bit differently to what is in the book now. The current version came about when somewhere along the way, the characters of the story took over, and I ended up, swayed and influenced by them. I laughed and cried while writing. It was almost as if those characters showed me a glimpse of their lives, and I remained a mere observer. I enjoyed their story.

As a creator though, I was aware that I was not just a narrator of this fiction, but that I had in my capacity, a chance to observe the bigger picture, one, that could reflect the social norms, the fair, the unfair, the patriarchy and the lethargy to change. As my story progressed, I was also aware that the narrative and the social commentary would inevitably cross path. I was glad of it.

Unfortunately, when I was almost at the end of this story, my father died. It took me two full years to come back to the story and finish it. Eventually, when it got published, I dedicated it to him. I was sure he would be happy to know that I had written him a story… wherever he might be.

What are the readers saying? (Readers’ Perspective)

“This book deserves to be made into a movie.” (Goodreads)

“I didn’t know a book like this will affect me so much” (Goodreads)

“There was a good mention about the current problems faced by the 20s and 30s generation with a hint of raunchy humour.” (Reviewer, Between the Lines)

“My only question to the author remains that why is it that the doctor is always a ‘he’ in a fiction book? If Mrs Ray’s next book has a ‘her’ as the primary doctor I would consider it to be a revolutionary change.” (Amazon)

“The book is very detail oriented, beautifully describing each place and the setting of characters throughout the book.”

“Debutant author, Prionka talks about many issues plaguing the society – generation gap, infidelity in marriage, not having a son in the family, etc.” (Reviewer)

“I love the feel good factor it leaves you with.”

“There’s a Munni in all our lives. I could relate to her.”

Sia, New Edition

Thanks to all you readers, my book, Sia, is in its second edition now. I remain grateful and humbled. And as far as the story is concerned, it’s still for you, dad!

(Sia is available on AmazonKindleKoboNook etc.)

Stories are Meant to be Shared


Hello! Hello! I have been missing, and that’s because April and May turned out to b
e real busy. They were full of happenings, events and collaborations. And so I had an enriching time meeting people, being inspired and then gushing about it all on social media. Amidst all these ‘gushing about’, I was faced with a dilemma: to share or not to share. But before I go to to that juncture of my narrative, let me step back and talk about the events that led me to it.

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It all began with a diplomatic event that I co-organised for my clients. And in the process, I had the privilege of meeting many strong, powerful and superbly talented women. These were diplomats, heads of organisations, Doctors, artists and professionals, who were not just talented, and confident, but were also women who believed in the power of their stories. Whenever people with passion and purpose articulate, there’s always much to learn from each view-point. I was not just inspired, but also heartened to see how stories had the capacity to reach out to people who would have never assumed what you have gone through and wouldn’t know otherwise, what your ideas are. These stories may have originated from a personal space perhaps, however, as soon as they were shared, they became a place of resource, a place to test ideas, to validate experiences and to learn. Learn, I surely did.

And on a morning, overcast with clouds, the guests arrived at the embassy, and  we celebrated 50 years of bilateral ties between Indonesia and Singapore. Along with that, we celebrated the inspiration behind Ibu Kartini of Indonesia. It reiterated the fact, that years after we are gone, our stories, our ideas and thoughts will be passed down. My sincere thanks to Indoconnect & the Indonesian Embassy for trusting me with such a beautiful and meaningful occasion.

For the second event, I had the opportunity to share my own story. This time, I was asked to share my ‘Empathy Journey’ as a mentor to teens-at-risk. This is a topic close to my heart. Nevertheless, it’s only when I began gathering my thoughts before the event, that I realised that even my own story needs introspection. I realised that empathy is not a tap to be switched on when I am mentoring or when I am volunteering, it’s a way of life  that should be a part of everything I do. I shared my epiphany, my leanings from the many inspiring people that I have met, and my learning from the many failures and successes that I have seen.

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Ted Ed @ NYGH 2017

As I shared my story, I felt grateful to have been given this opportunity to address a crowd of young impressionable students. I hoped that I left some bits of my stories behind in that glittering hall, stories that could be used as a resource, as a validation and, as a positive learning.

Eventually, I was asked: should stories be shared? I thought back to the many who would say no. And then I thought of the few powerful and inspirational ones who would say, yes. I paused and took a stand: Positive stories and positive emotions are meant to be shared. The more they are shared, the more they reach people and touch them, engulfing them in a mist of positivity. They validate a positive intention and allow a feeling of wellbeing. Asian culture frowns upon boasting. However, I have seen the stories inspire many towards positive thoughts and positive actions. Ok, so what about negative stories? That would be an interesting debate, and we shall keep it for another day. But I can safely say that some people have a knack of turning even the negative stories to a positive one. One such young lady is Aija Mayrock. The spunky author, performer and activist turned her bullying experiences towards a positive road to success. I greatly enjoyed interacting with her. Look out for her interview in my next post.

For now, keep sharing!

Social Commentary through Films: Interview with Regional Filmmakers


Every region has its own narrative, one that offers a glimpse of its pulse. Dipping in to each narrative, I have felt involved and yet distant at the same time. As if, I am submerged in to a deep body of water, but unable to fathom its depth. However, the more dips I take, the more my view clears. The more I linger, the more I view. My introduction to films of the region was initiated this way and very soon, I concluded that despite the uniqueness of each culture, the shared story of humanity remains the same.

Presenting my interviews with two acclaimed film makers from Indonesia, Nia Dinata and Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo. On the surface, they both are different, but both their film-making styles involve the same need to weave in stories from the society we live in. Both are experts in making their audiences think, feel and ponder at the rules the society makes, the rush for power that divides us as people and the values that make us who we are. The original magazine link is available here

# Interview 1

Nia Dinata 9Source: IndoConnect)

Nia Dinata (Source: IndoConnect)

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#Interview 2

Film maker, Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo (Source: Indoconnect)

Film maker, Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo (Source: IndoConnect)

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These are exciting times of collaborations and shared narratives. I am greedy for more and looking forward to exploring more and more of these regional treasures!

 

Singapore International Film Festival: Fantasy & Female Empowerment


The longest running international festival in the region, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is back in its the 27thedition to offer a ‘feast for the senses,’ with films that narrate unique stories from the region. This was announced by the Festival at a media conference held at the National Museum of Singapore on 27th October, 2016. This year, SGIFF will screen 161 feature and short films from 52 countries, with 16 world premieres, 9 international premieres and 18 Asian premieres.

Yuni Hadi and Zhang Wenjie at the SGIFF Media Preview (Credits: 27th SGIFF)

Yuni Hadi and Zhang Wenjie at the SGIFF Media Preview (Credits: 27th SGIFF)

SGIFF Executive Director, Ms Yuni Hadi said that the SGIFF continues to be a discovery ground and platform to connect independent films in Asia and beyond. As the leading international film platform in Southeast Asia, the festival strives to foster the understanding of regional cinema by giving a voice to individuals through stories and dialogue. SGIFF is part of the annual Singapore Media Festival (SMF) that brings together a rich mix of independent filmmaking talent to showcase the region’s stories through film, throughout Asia and beyond. SGIFF also allows established and emerging filmmakers and industry players to interact and exchange ideas, in order to contribute to the growth of cinema in the region.

(More on my write up on SGIFF. This article was first published in Indoconnect)

SGIFF by Prionka Ray (First published in Indoconnect)

SGIFF by Prionka Ray (First published in Indoconnect)

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Cultures of the World: Javanese Baby Shower


Presenting Tujuh Bulanan, a traditional Javanese baby Shower where many of the age-old traditions are still maintained.

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I remain amazed at the beauty of rituals and traditions from around the world. My heartfelt thanks to Aster Lita, her friends and her family members who patiently explained each ritual to me and thanks also to IndoConnect for this wonderful opportunity.

Reading now:

1984 by George Orwell

Shakespeare in the Park: A Review


Photo credit: SRT

Photo credit: SRT

Recently, Singapore Repertory Theatre staged, The Tempest, at Fort Canning Park and it invited the audience to immerse themselves in Prospero’s world of sorcery. Charmed at the prospect, I marched in to the park, armed with cushions, sandwiches and a sense of growing anticipation. I was definitely not disappointed and as the sky darkened, the actors emerged and brought to life a storm. The world of revenge, love and music came alive and how!

Catching Shakespeare in a park is joy in itself. The play unfolds against the beautiful city skyline and the wind lulls you in to a land beyond the mundane. Stretched out on the picnic mat, the experience is both delicate and relaxed though one must admit that there is nothing relaxed about the play, The Tempest. Considered Shakespeare’s last work, the play, is multi-layered and varied. It is replete with colonial undertones, power struggles, Jacobean court spectacles and magic. It even spills genres, by being serious and comedic in equal measures. Moreover, it is a love story and political intrigue all at the same time. The beauty is that though the characters are corrupted by greed, power and revenge, they yearn for reconciliation. In that sense, there’s a hope for redemption as Shakespeare offers a final spectacle to his audience before he retires.

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Prospero and Miranda (Photo Credit: SRT)

Doing justice to such a play is difficult, but the SRT actors slipped in to their characters quite effortlessly, or so it seemed. Simon Robson as Prospero was extremely believable and it was most easy to imagine the playwright himself trying to connect with his audience through the protagonist. For me, the Prospero on stage was as much the character as he was the playwright hoping for audience- support. For that matter, each actor on the stage had a credible presence and Julie Wee as Miranda was as adorable as Shane Mardjuki as Trinculo, was funny. It was also a delight to see the actors using their bodies to enhance their dialogues. In fact, Theo Ogundipe as Caliban added such a physical dimension to his character that all his movements seemed to pay obeisance to a carefully choreographed dance piece. It was also a pleasant surprise to see my ex- colleague, William Ledbetter seamlessly morph in to Sebastian’s role.

Propsero with Ariel (Photo credit: SRT)

Prospero with Ariel (Photo credit: SRT)

The elaborate set, the costumes in white and the powerful performances were all praiseworthy. However, what impressed me most was the character interpretation of Ariel, the spirit. The script as such does not specify Ariel’s gender and there is much ambiguity on Ariel’s  characterisation as well. In fact, most interpretations that I have seen presented Ariel as a delicate and waif-like creature. However, it differed here and refreshingly so. The Ariel on this stage had a distinct stage presence, a melodious singing voice and very noticeable bird characteristics! All I can say is that Ann Lek is as brilliant in her musical abilities as she is in her whimsical movements!

I thoroughly enjoyed Shakespeare in the Park and I am quite eager to see what SRT brings up next. About SRT

I am reading: A fast paced thriller, Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi and the evergreen classic, A Passage to India by E M Forster

Organisation: AG Home, Singapore.

The organisation featured this month (see side bar) is one that I have been closely associated with since 2013. I make frequent visits to the place and needless to say that I am extremely partial to their cause. It’s through the girls, I believe, that a better society is possible in the future.

Link to my recent publications:

Your-gateway-to-international-education

Jokowi, The Charisma of the People’s Person

 

 

Spreading love


Come February, there are songs of love, thoughts of love and gifts of love. And of course, there’s the love itself. February is the month when lovers rejoice, reminisce and revel. But whereas some hearts flutter, a few break, rejected. Nevertheless, love remains, somewhere, somehow, in some fluttering heart somewhere.

As the world celebrates the month of the lovers, I am here to celebrate love, whether it’s as friends, as parents, as siblings or as human beings in general: love for the weak, love for the brave, love for the soul and love that’s beyond all the boundaries and beyond time. So, lovers, keep growing your love and my dear cupids, continue to spread love.

Here’s an article that I had written for Femina. It’s dedicated to those selfless cupids around the world.

Femina bonding article

Let’s spread love!

My interview with Budi Soehardi


In 2009, CNN honoured a pilot who had founded an orphanage and funded it with his own salary. This man was Budi Soehardi. I had the chance to interview Budi recently for a publication and I am happy to say that my faith on humanity is completely restored.  Though, I meet inspirational people in all the fields that I work in, some leave their mark a bit more than the others. Not surprisingly, Budi is one of them. So, presenting a man who’s extremely genuine and humble in every interaction and whose positive outlook touched me greatly.

He ends his emails with, ‘Life is good, please be in it’ and that’s the sentiment that stayed with me.  It is a privilege to bring here the words of a true hero, Captain Soehardi.

CNN Tribute to Budi Soehardi

 

And here’s my interview, as published in Indoconnect

(Please click on the image for an expanded view)

Budi Soehardi Budi Soehardi

Dedicated to the extraordinary in each one of us.

The Wedding Indulgence


Once in a while, indulgence should take centre stage, worries should be be cast aside and all burning issues lowered on a gentler flame. One such sublime indulgence is attending a wedding, where all things grand, beautiful and happy come together to weave a magical web around you. I am delighted to say that I am caught in such a web and there’s a wedding to attend this month. There, I can already see my worries fading away as a friend’s wedding beckons me to an exotic land. While I am away pampering my senses, painting my palm with henna and sighing at the beautiful bride’s shy smile, here’s a write up that I had done for a magazine on weddings.

All weddings in general allow lowered defenses and pleasing assault to the senses but this writer (me of course!) is completely partial to Indian weddings. I feel Indian weddings are the most colourful, intense and indulgent of them all. So, I put my worldly wise hardened attitude to sleep and give in blissfully to all things beautiful. Let the indulgence begin!

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(This article first appeared in IN Magazine/ International, Thailand and Malaysian edition/ October 2013)

Organisation featured this month is a a non governmental organization that educates and empowers underprivileged children from urban slums in Bangalore: Ashwini Charitable Trust.

 

Before I say goodbye, here is a fundraising appeal. Akash and his team are cycling to raise funds for the welfare of the domestic workers in Singapore. The youngest member of the team is Aman, who is all of 11- years- old and committed to biking 50 Km. Go Aman!

1.0636631d-b2f4-44f9-b6b6-9d0e81bbe498.256.avatarTo help this cause, please visit http://www.simplygiving.com/Tourdesingapore-DBLEGAL_PLUS