Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Page Readers talks with author Lubna Kably

Hi. I’m Lubna Kably, a chartered accountant by profession. I specialize in cross border tax issues and what I really love about this job is that I get to connect with people from across the world. I am currently based in my home town, Mumbai (Yes, of the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire fame).

Mumbai provides a nice blend of different cultures – people from various parts of India and even the world reside here, or visit here. I love to walk along the streets of Colaba, with the sea breeze playing with my hair, while I people watch.

Tell us a little about yourself, your back ground, education, professional, etc.

While I was growing up, I wanted to be so many different things, sometimes all at the same time! I love dogs, cats, in fact all furry four legged creatures and wanted to be a veterinarian, I also wanted to be a writer, or a journalist, or follow my father’s footsteps and be a chartered accountant.

As I don’t have any siblings I grew up in the company of books, dogs and cats. While I ultimately ended up being a tax consultant – with brief stints as a tax journalist thrown in, I haven’t lost my love for reading and writing, or my love for animals.

I love reading and read books falling in different genres. Of course, I am forced to read tax books, just to keep pace with the every changing laws. No wonder, I was doubly thrilled to win the Visual Arts Junction “Bedtime Story” writers contest.

I loved my book prizes, Aggie Villanueva’s Biblical Novel: Rightfully Mine and the wonderful mystery book: The Pot Thief who studied Pythagoras, by Micheal Orenduff. Someday, I hope to write a book of my own.

I also firmly believe in random acts of kindness. So do my friends. In fact, the beautiful photo art which was part of the prize could not be shipped to India. Aggie generously agreed to our plan. It will be donated to the US based, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as a friend volunteers there. It will be auctioned and the proceeds will go to this Foundation.

My friend has already received this photo-art and we can’t wait for the auction to happen.

Tell us about the story you entered into the VAJ Writing Contest:

This contest is based on a photo-art. Aggie Villanueva is a wonderful photo artiste. When I saw the photo-art, it spoke to me I just knew that I had to write about it.

It was a “Bedtime Story” writers contest. The photo-art displayed a table with one of my favorite books: The Velveteen Rabbit. Next to the book, was what could only be a magic lamp that makes wishes come true.

What is the story about?

In my story, Ann a little girl sees this table in her grandmother’s attic. She knows the lamp is a magic lamp and makes a wish – for a pet rabbit, which comes true.

When life is a struggle you must remember magic. Magic to me is positive thinking. Ann realizes this, as she grows up. She learns to reach deep inside herself and to be positive.

When/how did this story come to you?

The story I wrote centers around the power of positive thinking. While I do not believe in dreaming and not doing anything to attain these dreams, I do believe that positive thinking that helps us to overcome many hurdles. We should do the best we can and think positively.

Adam Lindsay Gordon’s quote has been my favorite, down the years, ever since I was a school kid. It reads: Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone; Kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own.

When I stumbled upon the website of Visual Arts Junction and onto this short story contest, I was recuperating from a surgery. Life had been tough the past two years on many fronts and this surgery seemed to be the last straw. It was so easy to sit up in bed and scream: Why me?

Well, the strong antibiotics did have their own side effects and I would often weep for no rhyme or reason. But, then I took a strong grip on myself, I had to think positively, I had to overcome this bad patch; I had to go back to work.

I took help. I surrounded myself with positive friends. I also reached deep down into myself. You know, we can make or break our own days, rather our life with our attitude.

It is not only important to chin up and face the situation (which is captured in my favorite quote), but it is important to think positively, which goes a long way in overcoming the hurdles.

What was your favorite part of this story?

I have two favorite parts in this story. As an only child, I could relate to Ann’s loneliness. Thus, when I wrote that Ann got a pet rabbit, Velveteen that she had pined for, I really felt warm and fuzzy inside.

Of course, the ending is my favorite part. I do hope readers take Ann’s message to heart: “You need to tread on the path of wonder, joy and trust and you don’t need a magic lamp to achieve your dreams”.

How long did it take you to write it?

I think the photo-art really had a profound impact on me. I don’t think it took me more than two or three hours to type out this story. I finished it at one go. It is as if I knew what I would write, even as I began typing it.

Have you entered other contests?

This contest has spurred me on to enter other short story contests. The comments made by the judges, were very useful. I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed.

Do you have other works available (books, blogs, etc.)

Do you have a blog? Share URL

I love writing and blogging was the perfect avenue to share my thoughts with friends and readers who drop by and become friends. I do blog regularly. In fact, I have three very different blogs.

The Writer’s Cyberslate – which is my personal blog where I ramble on about what is relevant to me at that point of time. It ranges from an online driven story book collection drive for children in a slum school in South India, to my latest posts, which are my thoughts on destiny.

Being a tax consultant, I write a tax column for a newspaper in India, viz: The Economic Times. You can find these columns on my blog, Talking Tax. While tax can be a dreary subject, this column centers around an interesting character called Zenobia Aunty who takes pot shots at the draftsmen who come out with the most ambiguous laws possible. Readers love her and she gets quite a lot of fan-emails. Look up this blog for more.

I also used to review books (largely management books) for a professional journal. These reviews are on my blog, Books on my shelves. I also blogged about winning this contest and provided links to the winning entries.

Travelling and photography are other passions. While I have more or less hung up my travelling boots, my travel articles can largely be found on Bootsnall and once I managed to get a submission published in a book by Travelers’ Tales The Thong Also Rises, an anthology of misadventures.

Are you on Facebook, Twitter, other social networks where people can connect with you?

I would love to connect with writers, including aspiring writers, do tell me when you are a writer, if you send me an invite on LinkedIn.

What do you do when you are not writing? (Family, other work…)

My day job takes up a lot of time, but I love to spend time with family and friends. I also frequent LinkedIn, blog, post comments on other blogs, websurf and travel whenever I get the chance to get away.

Do you have any “words of wisdom” that you would like to share with our readers?

Life is a roller coaster ride. When you are down and out, believe that it is only temporary; soon you will be riding high again. Surround yourself with positive people and be positive yourself. Negativity kills.

At times, it may be difficult to tear yourself away from negative thoughts or even negative people, but JUST DO IT.

Two of my favorite reads (pick me up books are), Go Kiss the World by Subroto Bagchi and The Last Lecture by the Late Prof Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. I am leaving you with the urls of my book reviews of these two great books.

Do you have a favorite character?

Late Prof Randy Pausch loved Tigger (Winnie the Pooh fame), so do I. We need to be like the fun loving Tigger even in the face of adversities.


Thank you Lubna for talking with Page Readers!

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