In Conversation With Arnab Chandra

Arnab Chandra

About Arnab Chandra:

Arnab Chandra, a big data engineer by day and a poet by night. In a world of everything digital, he feels stuck being an analog antique trying to fit in. Although not much of a conversationalist yet hand him a piece of paper and he shall write an impromptu poem on any given prompt. One of the main reasons he writes is to vent out troubling thoughts and dreamy musings which otherwise make his mind a messy place.

Hailing from the land of ‘misti doi’ & ‘yellow taxi’, he takes pride in being a Bengali and asserting his ethnicity wherever he goes. But that doesn’t stop him from accepting people for who they really are. Having observant eyes and an overthinking brain is a boon and a curse too. He just lives by the day figuring out all the silent questions of life.

LiFT: Tell us about your book, the journey of writing it and its content.

Arnab: The age-old fable, “The Fox and the Grapes” is not unknown to us. When the fox cannot reach the grapes he so deeply desires at first, he deems them unworthy. It is this fable by Aesop which led to the origin of the popular phrase, “The grapes are sour.”

Drawing inspiration from this phrase and the story, this book talks about how human desires like love, a happy life, companionship, being successful, living your dreams are nothing but grapes we often crave for and that makes us all foxes going to extreme lengths at the fulfillment of those worldly desires which often drive us mad until we finally realize that it’s not always in our cards. Thus, we just make up excuses in our minds about how materialistic or how childish those desires were, and we never really craved them in the first place.

But this book is not only about drawing parallels between a moral lesson from a world-renowned fable and the harsh realities of real life. But it also talks about grief and how we as mortal fallible human beings handle it. You see, you can fool your mind into thinking that you never really craved for your desires, but your soul never falls for this bluff! While you are busy living an illusion of a life created by your mind trying too hard to impress the world, your soul silently embarks upon a journey through six stages of grief in an attempt to overcome it one day and sync up with your present reality.

Six stages of Grief: 1. Denial, 2. Rage, 3. Bargaining, 4. Depression and 5. Acceptance, and 6. Divergence.

The Grapes are Sour talks about a boy who had so many grapes of desires to crave for but ended up forfeiting them because apparently it was never meant to be and he deserves better or does he? Will he be able to gulp down his ego, face his demons, walk through this journey of handling his chaos and come out whole?

LiFT: Why you chose this title?

Arnab: “The Grapes are sour” is a popular phrase from one of Aesop’s fables which basically talks about how a fox couldn’t have the grapes hanging from the vines which he craved so much despite trying his best and pushing his luck over the edge. Therefore he convinced his mind that the grapes are probably sour and are not worth his efforts and time anymore.

In our lives, isn’t this the exact way we handle our grief and trauma? When we desire something which isn’t in our cards and fail to fulfill them and sometimes get hurt by those desires, we often push ourselves onto a path of self-inflicted misery and we only get better when we try to trick our minds into acceptance of the fact that these desires aren’t worthwhile and hence we move on to desiring something else.

We are all foxes trying to eat the grapes we can’t have and when we get a reality check, we fool ourselves with the wisdom of acceptance and pretty lies. The truth is people never change. We never move on. We just move forward.

LiFT: When did you realize that you want to be a poet and what’s your inspiration behind it?

Arnab: I was around 12 when it all started. What started as a casual thing to just observe the world around and scribble down my thoughts on paper transcended into becoming a medium to vent out my thoughts which often clog my mind and I feel the pressure to just pen them down as soon as I can. The first poem I wrote was about the education system we were preached about and how hollow it was.

I take my inspiration from life and people and how these two things are intricately intertwined.

LiFT: Where do you see yourself ten years down the line in the world of literature?

Arnab: I want to be that underrated author who has a select crowd of readers trying to escape reality and find solace in his words.

LiFT: How much do you think marketing or quality of a book is necessary to promote a particular book and increase its readers?

Arnab: Marketing and quality of a book are like two sides of the same coin. One is insignificant without the other. If a book of poor quality of content is heavily marketed, it may gain fame in the initial days but readers will eventually realize its actual worth. On the contrary, a book of good quality content if not marketed well may never reach its potential market therefore never making it into the big leagues.

LiFT: What is the message you want to spread among folks with your writings?

Arnab: Maybe if you love to hear about raw, naked honesty, mental health issues (not the awareness propaganda bs), and harsh realities of life and how it can bring you down just to propel you to get back up, then this book might just ignite that spark you’ve been looking for.

Never wait for the light at the end of your tunnel. Embrace your darkness, wear it like your precious jacket and try to befriend it if you can. It’s going to be less painful. Acknowledge your pain enough to let it flow through you. Don’t fall for fake positivity which is so prevalent nowadays in this ocean of chaos. Your struggle and your hardships are yours and if you don’t feel okay, it’s okay. Just introspect before taking any drastic steps and you’ll be cool.

Shout out to all the ones and zeros in this binary world who have been surviving through every thick and thin, facing the world with every ounce of their sanity left. The world may get crazier and you might become a stranger to your own self but never forget that you can always come back. And it will be alright in the end.

LiFT: What do you do apart from writing?

Arnab: I am a big data engineer by profession. But when I am not working or writing, you can find me shit posting on social media, goofing around with my dog, binging shows, impulsively buying stuff on the internet, and vibing with my demons.

LiFT: What are the activities you resort to when you face a writer’s block?

Arnab: Writer’s block is like that uninvited guest who just visits unannounced and doesn’t want to leave. To overcome it, I often lock myself in a dark room, put on some ambient music, and start typing what’s coming to my mind. And when nothing works, there’s always whiskey to the rescue! 😛

LiFT: Are you working on your next book? If yes, please tell us something about it.

Arnab: Yes. It’s going to be my debut novel. The plot involves zombies and betrayal with traces of hope and clean water here and there.

LiFT: What are your suggestions to the budding writers/poets so that they could improve their writing skills?

Arnab: Thoughts or new ideas are like passing trees while traveling on a train or like dreams which you can’t recall as soon as you wake up. So always try to record or write down your thoughts/ideas whenever they drop by. Don’t wait to write later with better structure and articulation – that day will never come.

And a suggestion:- Write as if no one’s going to read! But edit and work on your final draft as if your life depends on it!

Click here to order Arnab’s Book – The Grapes are sour


The Grapes Are Sour

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