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Letter 5: The joy of running in Monsoon and writing a new novel

Shweta Taneja
Shweta Taneja
Welcome! Dear Penpal is a monthly newsletter by me, Shweta Taneja, to support you in your creative journey with tips, opportunities and a few laughs. THANK YOU for being here.
In my 5th letter, I remember the places I’ve ran in, the importance of bringing in joy to your everyday and why I’m turning this into a monthly newsletter.

Dear Penpal,
The other day, I was out running with a friend, enjoying the recently opened city after a traumatic second wave. It was a gorgeous sky (oh the lovely Monsoon skies of Bengaluru!), good company and a lake where pelicans and cormorants lazily scanned the waters, in search of fish.
Monsoon’s here, dear penpal and I’m terribly happy.
I know the world’s still reeling in the after-effects of the pandemic, but you know what? The pandemic has taught me that we must grab happiness by both hands and arms and legs and live our lives to the fullest. Meet friends, laugh more, enjoy the little things in life – for you never know when it’ll be all over.
Be in the now.
As we ran, I told my friend of all the beautiful places I’ve jogged in across the world – looking at the snow-capped Alps, in snow, along rivers and lakes, in campuses flush with gulmohars and in old markets before they start to bustle.
She asked me why I hadn’t shared all of this online on my social media. I have gigabytes of photographs and videos of my travel, runs and what-nots with joyous stories to share.
My answer was simple– I just don’t have the time. For that’s the only thing you can’t negotiate on with powers or buy with money: Time. Usually, when I’m having a gala time and living life, I do not have time to record or share it.
I selfishly value my time away from screens.
Life is like jogging while seeing the snow-capped Alps in front. My focus is on my shoes crunching snow. I breathe in the fresh crisp air, happy to be alive. And get amazed by the beauty around me.
I observe, but I don’t want to share. I just want to be and indulge myself in the joy of running.
Our jogging conversation made me realise that I’m coming to that stage of living again. My life’s opening up, I’m making plans to cycle, birdwatch, run and travel. I’m making plans to have conversations without screens and laptops around.
I’m also getting into a new novel.
Much like the cormorants, I’ve already dived deep into this new world. It’s terrifying as I don’t know so much about it. It’s challenging. It’s frustrating, but it’s also beautiful. And I want to experience this new world and deep dive into my own oceanic self.
I want to be selfish with my time and write this new book that I’m drowning in.
Which is why I’ve decided to make this letter to you a monthly one. I’ll also reduce my social media consumption and sharing.
For like you, I have limited time and I want to live with joy.
Perhaps it’s selfish, but I hope to bring to you something much more well thought through. I want to share things with you, but slowly, allowing them to replenish, grow and become mature trees with deep roots.
I thank you for listening to me as I selfishly wrote these frequent letters.
I thank you for your sympathy in writing back.
I’m stronger today thanks to all the support I had from you.
Your faith in me, gives me hope and keeps me motivated.
Sundry Sunday
A grant for young Indian authors. My Gov has announced support for authors starting on their journey. You will get mentorship and a grant. Apply here.
Help out for rural areas. You’re lucky. You have internet, electricity and you’re safe. That’s not the case with many parts of the country, where the pandemic rages. If you’d like, donate to one of these social causes that help out in different parts of India. Some of them can accept donations from outside India too.
A bittersweet photograph on Instagram. Sports legend Milkha Singh passed away recently because of Covid-19. I had met him on a beautiful day at Delhi Golf Club.He very kindly stopped and agreed to a photo. I shared this photo of that long forgotten lovely day with two friends and a legend.
Dear joy, I'm back!
Dear joy, I'm back!
Writing updates
Use travelling to learn and write. I love walking, exploring and travelling. It also helps me build new stories. In this article, published some years ago, I wrote about how Shivajinagar, an old area in Bengaluru inspired my urban fantasy series, Anantya Tantrist Mysteries.
How to grow a forest. I was invited to read out a chapter from my latest book They Made What? They Found What? on Read Aloud, a live session series on Instagram. I haven’t done many readings so this was quite fun. I chose Divya Mudappa’s chapter on growing a rainforest in Valparai. It’s a magical chapter and you can hear me read it aloud here.
Laugh out loud, folks. For life is short and sweet.
Shweta
P.S. If you like this newsletter and want to support it, you can:
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Shweta Taneja
Shweta Taneja @shwetawrites

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Shweta Taneja, Bangalore, Karnataka, India