Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"A Change In The Mindset Can Inspire A Paradigm Shift In Our Ways Of Living"

Kirthi is a legal researcher and lawyer. A Peace and Conflict studies enthusiast, Kirthi is a volunteer with the UN. She is presently a Senior Commissioning Editor with e-IR, an online International Relations portal, the Logistics and Constituents Head at The Channel Initiative, working for post-conflict reconstruction in the DR Congo, specifically targeting women. Kirthi works with DeltaWomen, as the Head of Digital Campaigns and Social Media, and as a writer. She also holds a position with CAAGLOP, as the Editor-in-Chief of the eJournals, and as a writer on African Policy. Recently, Kirthi was part of the UNICEF-UN Women Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities through her paper titled The Rule of Law to combat Sexual Violence in a Conflict Environment. Kirthi dabbles with Intelligence and Security Analysis with Open Briefing, as an Associate Researcher, at the Asia-Pacific Desk, and runs an International Law Consultancy and Academic Journal called A38. Kirthi has written ad-hoc features for forums that include Insight on Conflict, TransConflict, WorldPulse and PeaceXPeace and is a member of the TrustLaw Network. Her interest and experience over all lie in Peace and Conflict, Public International Law, Gender issues, International Humanitarian Law, and in terms of a regional focus, in Afghanistan, the Middle East, DR Congo and South-Asia. ‘Stories of Hope’ is her first book.

To read the full review of 'Stories of Hope', click here.

I consider myself lucky to have read ‘Stories of Hope’, as it is not just a book, but rather, it’s a reflection of different shades of life, light and dark, and how hope guides us through life’s biggest hurdles. I am glad to introduce the author of this beautiful book, Kirthi Jayakumar.

Kirthi, congratulations for your book. As I have told you so many times before, I loved reading the stories, and perhaps, this is one book that I will treasure forever. It would be a pleasure to know more about you, your dreams, and your passions. In case you find any question offensive, you can skip it. I apologize in advance for any such instances.

Thanks Amrit! It means a lot to me to know that :)

Tell us something about yourself, your upbringing, your childhood, family and education.

I was born in Bangalore, and grew up between Bangalore and Chennai. I've always seen myself as something of a nomad. I don’t have any fixed ideas, no set goals and no sense of being rooted to one single destination in mind – which is why I enjoy the idea of doing many things, I guess. I've always been a strong person when it comes to the bonds I make, though, so I guess that takes me to my family and friends :) My family comprises my mum and dad, my brother, my grandfather and me. I have four fantastic friends that I count on as family as well. My childhood was a mixed bag – there was happy, there was sad, there was crazy, there was mad – but I reckon that’s pretty much what everyone’s childhood was like ;) I went to Law School , but was never inclined towards practice. I guess I've been more in line with seeking justice rather than worrying about the aesthetics of the law.

How did ‘Stories of Hope’ happen? What prompted you to write a book?

Honestly, I haven’t a clue. There were times when I would just write: it didn't matter where I was, but I just would write: in my phone, on tissues, behind question papers in the exam hall, in the palm of my hand, the gaps between articles in newspapers and even behind business cards. I didn't think it would become a book, really, but the bug bit when my best friend compiled the stories and strapped me to the chair, refusing to let me move until I sent it out to a publisher. We tried 25, all of whom bid me goodbye in the kindest of ways, until I got lucky :)

Kirthi, you are one versatile personality, handling several strings like working as a legal researcher, a lawyer, a volunteer with the United Nations, a Senior Commissioning Editor with e-IR, working with DeltaWomen, and the list goes on. Just out of curiosity, I would like to know that how do you find time for yourself after these?

Well, smoke and mirrors, really! :) Jokes aside, I enjoy filling my day with things to do. If I don’t have something to do, the trauma is really for those around me to bear ;) Doing the things I do feels like it comes naturally to me – so I think this is all my “me time”, after all! :)

How was the entire journey of publishing the book, right from the inception of the idea to the moment you held the printed words in your own hand?

Simply surreal! And it still is – I look at the book and sometimes wonder if it really happened, or if the whole thing was just in my head ;) It was a surprise, and in every sense, a beautiful one. Of course, I do recognize that I was involved in the process – but you still see something so awesome happen to you only as something so surreal, right?

Which is your favorite story in the book?

Ask a mother to pick a favorite from her kids – can she, truly, now? :) So I’ll give you an answer, but I guess I can’t really say it is a favorite – because I love and hate all the stories I've written in the book – but I guess “When the Mustard Seeds grew silent...” is closest to my heart. I lost a girl I loved like a little sister to child marriage, and it was a very emotional deal for me.

Who are your role models, both in literary as well as in non-literary field?

I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but I have come to learn that it is a wiser course of action to never keep a role model as a vision. I believe in appreciating the good in everyone and being inspired by their dedication or goodness for your own advancement – but the idea of a role model is not good because in trying to model yourself on someone, you tend to lose your own identity. No arrogance intended or meant, just that I believe that everyone is unique, special and beautiful in their own distinct ways and should be loved for it!

Name three books that you wish you had written. 

None at all :) I love what each author brings to the table as their own extension. I reckon any book by anyone, if written by anyone else, will become a completely different deal altogether :)

Are you planning, or working on any book now? If yes, what is it about?

Yes sir! I am now working on a non-fiction book on 50 women peacemakers across the world, and have also written a couple of short stories – we’ll see where they go!

What changes would you like to see in India, as well as globally, in terms of the way of living and the mind-set of people?

For starters, I think a change in the mindset can inspire a paradigm shift in our ways of living. I guess I would say that the best changes I’d like to see in people is the development of a sense of empathy, tolerance, respect and acceptance of diversity and uniqueness.

There are many young aspiring writers in India today. What are your views in the current publishing pattern in the country?

The more the merrier! I think, though, that true writing should be given the importance it deserves. True, books also mean business, but the fact is that quality comes first, and that should never be compromised upon.

What would be your message to your readers?

Thank you for reading the stories! :)  It means a lot to me that you did. And those that didn't, I hope you might, someday.

Thanks a lot Kirthi for your valuable time. Wishing you loads of success in your current and future endeavors.