The Story Teller and Other Pieces -Interview with Writer Pramod Kumar

The Story Teller by Pramod Kumar

Some untold stories

To die is one thing, to fall in love is another…

To live is one thing, to be alive is another…

photo-of-person-walking-near-orange-leafed-trees-2734512

The café was full as usual. Though located in downtown, it was particularly mannered compared to its other counterparts.

It was not the aroma of the freshly baked coffee beans that pulled women to this part of the town, but the young lad who used to tell stories- stories with strange endings, which sometimes would leave the audience spellbound, sometimes in rage of anger, sometimes in tears. They would promise themselves not to come to him again, not to listen to his stories again. But the promise was too hard to keep for they had become addicted to the drug he secretly served in his stories.

The café owner walked up to the lad, held out his purse, and handed him out five shriveled dollar bills. He smiled and said, “You know I don’t need these.” But before the lad could hand it back, the owner had turned his back towards him.

“Keep them for future. Save it for the days when I fire you,” the owner said with a chuckle, waving his finger in the air. And then the owner left.

The young lad had his bunk in the store of the café, and pretty much everything he needed in this world was there.

Retiring from the day, he switched off the lamps and closed his eyes. And within no time, he was in his stories, stories for the following day, stories which waited for its audience.

The following evening, as usual, the café was full of beautiful Spanish women, ravishing to say the least. So at peace, they were listening to the stories. It was a sight to watch.

A woman’s silence is all a man longs for- when she is listening to every word you say. Because you know deep inside, she is falling in love with you, however far and different you may be.

But this was not going to be the same any longer. A young, pretty maiden walked in through the door. She looked so innocent that all other women who looked ravishingly beautiful now looked like a pack of wolves staring at an innocent lamb.

The young lad raised his eyes as the ebony smell of her body hit him. For that instant, he was stuck, and no one but the damsel and he felt the moment. That was when he realized he was smiling stupidly.

It took him a lot of such moments to come back to life. He cleared his throat and finished the story.  For the first time in his life, he felt the urge to finish a story, for he wanted to speak to the girl. He knew she would come to congratulate him.

Unceasingly, his eyes searched for the girl as he shook hands with people who came to thank him, but she never came …

Going to sleep was particularly strange that night. He tossed left and right, but couldn’t find the right comfort. Yet he was smiling and found himself in a strange world. It was a long night, a dreamless night.

The following evening, he didn’t have a story to tell for the dreamless night. He didn’t remember any of his previous ones too.

So the women had coffee and chattered in disappointment, talking and gossiping through the happenings of the day.

The night repeated itself. The days and evenings did the same …

The storyteller was out of stories…

The café gradually lost its ‘customers.’ and the owner was left with no other choice but to ask the young lad to leave.

He packed his bag, his small tattered bag, the only bag he had which had all his worldly possessions. He headed to the market place to catch a bus for he wanted to leave everything behind.

As he walked uneasily through the market place, the ebony smell hit him again. Startled in excitement, as if a baby to the sound of its mother, he turned. The strange smile was back but short-lived this time, for she was holding the hand of another man who could barely walk.

He noticed the pensive expressions, the paralyzed look in her eyes. He walked up to her, dropped his bag at her feet, and said,” I hope it’s enough. I never used it, never felt the need.”  He smiled, looked in her deep eyes. He could feel the flow of tears through them.

So he left, keeping himself strong. He had realized love was not about loving someone and expecting something in return. But it’s actually about the inability to see someone in tears. It’s about the power to witness two loving souls and to feel their pain, and feeling the happiness by seeing them smile together. And it only grows when you know that it was you who made them smile.

 This way, it is eternal and heavenly…

Now he could sleep in peace. He could have his stories again. Only now, they were about eternal and true love. He used to tell them to people who would come to visit him under the tree.

But later, this became a pilgrimage for all the spirits in love. For them, it was a place where they found true solace. For him, it was just another day at work.

To read more of Kumar’s stories, click here: Brains and Heart

———————————————–

Interview with Pramod Kumar- Writing as Freeing

“It’s important to get the feelings out and not keep them inside yourself.”

Pramod

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in a small village in Kerala, India.

Was writing a part of your life from a very young age?

The first time I got published in a newspaper was when I was in 7th Grade. I used to write short poems back then.

You said that you wrote more when you were dealing with sadder or heavier emotions in your life. How did the process of writing about these experiences make you feel?

Writing helped me with dealing with sadness. I felt relieved after writing stories about the experiences. Sometimes, as a guy, you have very few people around you to talk to about your feelings, especially when everyone is trying to come across as macho as they can. When I wrote my feelings down in a story, I could read them and talk to myself through them. Who else knows you better than yourself, right? Now, with the stories, I could separate the guy who was sad from my self for a little while, and talk to him. Now I could share the pain and it felt better.

Wow! I love how you describe that. Talking to the sad self.

Does reading those pieces now bring up the old emotions or memories?

Reading my blog now with all of those old pieces is just like reading a diary entry.  I feel good. I believe our emotions dry down as we age. These pieces I wrote back then still keep me green. I am glad I wrote what I felt. It’s important to get the feelings out and not keep them inside yourself.

“Show, don’t tell” is a very common tip given to writers. I get lured into your writing instantaneously, from the very first sentences, because of the way you describe the feelings, emotions and details of things around and within your characters.

Are you aware that you are doing this or does it just come to you naturally?

Honestly, I am not sure if I could have been able to write it in any other way. I wrote as I remembered the experiences. When we sit in the sun and are having a conversation with someone, the sun warms our skin. If you are having a difficult conversation, it might make you uncomfortable, and if you are sitting with someone you like, you would love the warmth of the sun. I just happen to write about it. To me, it’s a simple thing that everyone can relate to.

It’s interesting that in the two pieces I’ve read so far of yours, it isn’t obvious what the setting for the story is- whether it is in India or Canada or even somewhere else. Do you still write creatively like this no matter which home or setting you are actually in, or does the environment around you, especially where you are living, dictate how much or whether you will be writing?

The stories you read were written when I was 22 years young. I was in India back then- confused, with less self-direction and with a million things going wrong.  Writing helped me work through this. In my opinion, it’s not the geography that dictates the flow or the settings of the story but the place in life that you are in. Happy, sad, tired- it’s all in the state of heart. Continue reading

Interview with Anya Grace- on Diving Deep, Surrender, and Freedom

When I first heard Anya Grace speak on YouTube, I felt her authenticity and passion come through right away. She was sharing her insights on the dynamics between men and women in a way that really impacted my view of relationships- not just the romantic kind, but also relationships with friends and family, with our surroundings, but especially with ourselves.

I then listened to a series of ten interviews she conducted with coaches and speakers who shared their expertise on various subjects around love, healing, abundance, the power of our beliefs, and manifestation. I was blown away by the profound knowledge and vulnerability imparted in those interviews. I thought “Others need to hear this!”

I couldn’t help but to reach out to ask Anya to share more of her wisdom with the Dance Me Free community. It is an honor to feature Anya Grace, spiritual mentor and feminine energy coach, in this interview below. 

anya-130

I was really impressed by the interviews from your Elevated Woman series.  What values do you think all the speakers you chose shared? They seemed have a connection in their messages.

I think what you’re feeling is my intention of diving deeper in the interviews. Part of our power and beauty as women is really in our depth – the deeper feelings, the deeper insights, the deeper wisdom we hold.

We’re living in a culture and society where things are very superficial. The superficial exterior has been what’s valued. But that’s only about ten percent of our power as women. I want women to understand, and tap into, the other ninety percent. Once we start going into that ninety percent, we really unplug from the masculine paradigm that’s draining our power.

Why is this important?

When you have that intention, as an individual, to open to that depth within yourself, and you unapologetically bring that depth into your relationships and conversations, other people will go there. I always say that the Elevated Woman is an activator and initiator for higher potential on the planet. Part of that higher potential is this depth- going deeper, really connecting at a heart level, not just a superficial mental level. And that’s when we really access feminine power. Continue reading

Interview With Elina Sumichan- Dance Brought Me Back to Myself

Photo by BachataX Toronto (2)

Photo by BachataX

You have been dancing a few different dances over the years.  Is Bachata your favorite?

I semi-retired from dancing for about 5 years, and I recently came back to it in the last year and half.  I realized how much I missed dancing. Then I ran into Davy, who is now my dance partner, and Bachata fusion has been our main focus.  But I love all styles of dance combined! I’m a fusion dancer.

You have a background in solo dance first, rather than partner dance, right? 

Yes. As a child, at 5 years old, I actually started with traditional Balinese dancing back when I was living in Bali. Then I learned modern dance, and after that, I did Jazz and Hip Hop throughout high school.  I picked up Balinese dancing again for a few months one summer vacation as a teenager, which is probably where I got my hand styling from. I was dance obsessed ever since I was a teenager, and I learned everything I could as far as other dances- from Hip Hop, Contemporary, Ballet, Belly Dancing, and even Flamenco!

How did you get into partner dance?

The first time I learned Salsa was actually in Bali, when I was 14. It was during the summer holidays when I was with my family. When I came back from the trip, I started to take lessons from various instructors in Vancouver and discovered the social dance scene here.  I spent my summer breaks for the next few years taking private lessons with a teacher in Bali and going out to socials. For a few years after that, throughout high school and university, I worked at a dance studio in Burnaby. That was when I started learning all partner dances on top of all the Latin dances I was already doing- from Latin Ballroom, Standard Ballroom, Argentine Tango, and West and East Coast Swing.

Do you think you got more out of partner dances or solo styles of dance? 

To this day, all of the mix of random dance training that I did contributes to my style, skills and abilities.  There wasn’t one training that I did that became irrelevant.  The fact that I exposed myself to everything gave me body movement awareness that I probably would not have gotten if I hadn’t tried a variety of dances. Continue reading

Interview With Kathana- Born to Make Music!

Kathana1.jpg

Your artist name- Kathana- is very unique. Where did it come from?

My mom originally wanted to name me Kathana because she wanted to honor my great-great grandmother Katherine and my grandmother Anna. My dad didn’t like Kathana as a name in everyday life. So I used it as a stage name instead.

That’s beautiful. From what I’ve read, you started music from a young age. Which instruments do you play?

I started singing at a very young age. My mom says I was singing ever since I could talk. I would go around the house singing “do do do do,” making up my own little melodies. I picked up the guitar and piano around the time I was in middle school, and just started playing by ear.

Wow! That’s amazing.  Do you have a favorite instrument?

Aside from my voice, it is hard to choose a favorite instrument. The piano is very calming to me and gives me a lot of creative freedom. It best allows me play what I’m feeling, and it’s therapeutic. With the acoustic guitar, overall, I just love the warm sound of it. I do a lot of my songwriting with the acoustic guitar.

How do songwriting classes help you?

They challenge me to approach songwriting from different ways that I had never previously thought about. I used to get stuck with writing songs when I didn’t have the inspiration first. My habit has always been to write a song in the very moment I found inspiration, which I still do. But now, I am able to write songs more consistently, using the tools I learned through class.

You are a beautiful songwriter.  Do you have a particular way you approach your own writing? For example, do you start with melody or lyrics first?  Or is your process of songwriting always different?

Kathana4.JPGMy songwriting method varies. Sometimes, I’ll hear a melody in my head, so I’ll record it on my phone and put words to it later. Other times, I’ll just think of, or say, a phrase and realize it would work well as a lyric so I’ll write it down. I’ve also stumbled across great sounding chord progressions when just freely playing on the piano, and decided to find lyrics to fit to them. Sometimes I’ll journal how I’m feeling, especially in very emotional situations, and then I’ll pick apart my journal entry to find lyrical content.

That’s a good reminder- that going through journals can be a great source of ideas.  I need to do that more often.

Some singer songwriters learn by trial and error, just going out there and doing shows and learning from gigs and other musicians around them. What do you think are the benefits of actually taking a full degree program in music as you are? How does this compare to what you learn from gigging?

I have definitely learned through trial and error and through gigging experience. Learning new cover songs for the different bands I’ve been in has taught me how to really listen to and analyze popular songs. Now I can quickly learn a new song and pick up on song structure patterns. Performing live has made me much more comfortable in front of an audience. I started out very shy on stage, and now, being on stage is where I feel the most comfortable.

In comparison, taking a full degree program has given me structure to actually do my musical work. Classes and assignments always give me deadlines to work within, so I’ve had to learn to prioritize and not be lazy. The information and feedback I receive from my teachers has become incredibly valuable. These are people who have been in the music business for a long time and have become very successful musicians themselves.

What are some of your favorite classes?

My favorite classes have been all of my songwriting classes and music therapy class. I’ve always been interested in how music heals and how the mind and body respond to music. So music therapy was a very exciting course.

Oh, that’s great to know that music therapy classes are offered as part of the program too. This sounds very in line with the healing aspect behind Dance Me Free.

Kathana3.JPG

You have some great new music coming out. Where did some of the inspiration for the songs and their messages come from?

I’m so excited to finally have new music out that feels true to my style. A lot of inspiration came from my past experiences with relationships that were THE WORST. Haha. Yeah, they weren’t healthy.  But inspiration came from learning about myself in the process of it all too. They are really personal experiences to me, but my goal is to make them something that others who have gone through similar experiences can resonate with.

Of course it’s not all about negative topics, and I have some cutesy summer songs in the works as well.

Oh, I can’t wait to hear them!

What are some challenges you go through with songwriting that people might not realize is part of the process?

Since a lot of my songs are based on similar ideas, one of the difficulties I’ve noticed is making each one unique to itself. It takes a lot of energy to put myself back in those situations when I’m recording my vocal tracks, but it really helps to come across genuinely and convey my true emotions in the recordings. The entire process of putting these songs together feels like a journey for each song. Sometimes Chris Gruchacz- my producer- and I are in the studio all day and all night just working on tiny details. We’ve even started over from scratch on mixes of songs a few times. Other times it goes really fast because we start with a lot of ideas and are able to implement them right away.

You mentioned that Kathana is a collaboration between you and your producer Chris.  What do you think makes a good collaborative partner?

A big thing I’ve noticed about collaborating is that it’s important to be willing to listen to the other person’s ideas and not be so attached to your own so much sometimes.

I feel so lucky to work with Chris, who is very patient. I tend to be more hyper during the process, so I think we balance each other out.

Also, it’s pretty crucial to have the same taste in music. Chris and I have a few differences in our music preference, but they aren’t so different that we can’t learn from one another and come up with interesting idea combinations that complement each other.

What are the benefits of collaborating?

To me, in our situation, it feels easier to work with another artist because it takes some of the responsibility off of both of us. This is because we each have our own strengths and can help each other out.

Kathana2.jpg

What advice would you give to those who are new to collaboration and aren’t sure what to expect?

Our advice for those who are new to collaboration is to be very open minded to new perspectives and suggestions. It is also important to understand that creativity can take a long time and a lot of revision.

Dance Me Free is about the power of Dance, Music and other Arts to inspire, free and heal.  How do you think music and the making of music has benefited your life? 

Music has always helped me cope with stressful situations and anxiety, whether listening to it or writing it. Dancing is also a huge passion of mine and it goes hand in hand with music. Dancing allows me to be in the moment and not overthink things. Music has benefited me by connecting me with a lot of different people.

It is so inspiring that you are one of those rare individuals who actually has the courage to pursue your passion for music.  

It makes me feel really good that I can inspire you. I also admire your passion for art and writing. So I’m honored as well to be featured on your blog. I definitely can’t imagine life without music. It’s the one thing I’ve always known I wanted to do, and I couldn’t see myself pursuing any other career.

It seems like something you were just meant to do, and I can’t wait to share your music with others. Where can people hear your music and find out more about you?

I post a lot of sneak peeks of my upcoming songs on my Insta story, so let’s be friends on Instagram and Facebook where you can keep up with my projects!

(Please click on the links below)

Instagram: @kathana.music
Facebook: Kathana
Spotify: Kathana
SoundCloud: Kathana
YouTube: Kathana

 

Dance Connects Cultures- Interview with Masanori Fujita

Masa8Where did you learn to dance? And which style of dance did you start with?

I started breakdancing nine years ago in Osaka, Japan.  From the first time that I saw the amazing technique put in the dance, I was totally hooked.  So, the next day, I went to a dance school to learn and I also practised on the street.

After I came to Canada, I just practised breakdancing first.  I didn’t know Hustle at that time. But at some of the events, some of the dancers were doing hustle. I saw it and thought I really wanted to learn to dance it. Everyone looked like they were really enjoying it. So that’s what made me start dancing Hustle. Continue reading

Faith, Freedom and Truth- Interview With Andra Carmina

bellyd_preview

Which styles of dance are you into?  Do you have a favorite?

​I started dancing in 2009 after taking some salsa and bachata lessons at McGill. My dancing journey eventually followed me to Toronto, where I got introduced to zouk, and from there on, no other dance has had my heart quite like zouk does. I’ve dabbled into other dances like bellyDancing, kizomba, and dancehall.  While they do bring out certain parts of me, zouk allows me to express myself in ways I almost can’t explain. Continue reading

Interview With Vladimir Shmitsman- Part 2: Letting your energy be free

(To read Part 1 of the Interview, click here: Homeopathy recognizes the individual)

Herbal Essence Dropper

What do you think makes some people believe in natural medicine and homeopathy, while others just would never even want to try it?

It’s hard to tell.  Some people already find it easy to accept new concepts.  In the beginning, I thought maybe that comes from their level of education.  But I realized that that’s not the case.

For example, a couple of years ago, I had a patient.  She asked me to see her husband.  He’s a professor.

He had some insomnia case and lots of stress at work.  So she convinced him, after many years of bugging him, to come here and to give me a chance (smiles).

He came in and he asked me, “So, Vladmir, how does this work?”

And I tried to explain it to him. But what do you say?  Meridians? Chakras? How can someone believe in meridians and chakras if they are very scientific in their thinking?  He wanted scientific proof that he could see, but it doesn’t work that way.

That must have been hard.

Well, for him it was hard. And for me, it was very hard, because we don’t have scientific proof. So I understood why he wouldn’t believe it.  I tried my best to explain it to him.  And eventually, he told me “Vlad, I am sorry, if you don’t have proof, I can’t accept that. It must not exist.”  So, we just shook hands, and I never saw him again (smiles).

But a couple of months later, I get a janitor from the same university come in to my clinic.

She never heard about homeopathy.  But she said, I really don’t even care how it works (smiles).  My sister got better with it so I want to try it.

Haha! That’s brilliant! (laughs)   Continue reading

Interview With Vladimir Shmitsman- Part 1: Homeopathy recognizes the individual

“In homeopathy, the personality of the individual determines their prescription,.. because Homeopathy understands that every person is different.

————————–

Dr Shmitsman

I think some people might be surprised that you began your medical career with more conventional medicine.  

Yes.  In the beginning, I was a nurse.

I like that your grandma was one of the first to plant a seed for you very early on in terms of natural medicine.  

Yes.  She used to take me with her when she would pick plants and berries in the forest.  She was around me until I was 16 or 17 years old.  So it was a fair amount of time that I spent with her. (For more details about this story, please visit Dina’s Homeopathic)

And you had other people along the way who opened your eyes up to homeopathy?

Yes. It wasn’t just my grandmother’s influence that made me make my change from conventional medicine to homeopathy.

I finished nursing school, and then I went to the military for two years. The doctor who I worked with there was Russian Japanese.  That was a third generation of people who used to practise acupuncture.

For the first time in my life, I saw someone using acupuncture.  This man was a doctor in a hospital, but almost every day, I saw him treating different guys in the military using acupuncture.  He practised acupuncture as he felt he needed. Continue reading

Choosing Music Over Meds

One man’s quest to retrain his brain- through movement and dance-to overcome a severe movement disorder. Federico Bitti suffers from dystonia, a disease that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. He is using a new therapy involving neuroplasticity, and specific exercises to retrain the brain, which for Mr. Bitti, includes …DANCE!

It’s stories like these that keep Dance Me Free growing and remind me why the site was born in the first place. There is proof, all over the globe, of how Dance and Music really do heal. You’ve got to watch this one! Incredible! What an inspiration.

And Dance, you’ve done it again!

La Época Interview- Part 2

Part 2- Josué Joseph- On Family, Freedom and Inspiration

(Click here to read La Época Interview Part 1- Josué Joseph- On Faith, Music and Talent)

2P8B6845__Edited

In Part 1 of this interview, you talked about growing up with the influence of your father- the great bassist Alfonso Panamá. You mentioned how he was always practising and surrounding you with music, making it just a part of your everyday life.   But did you ever go through that stage of NOT wanting to be a musician BECAUSE your father was one?  Often, kids try to purposely get away from doing what their parents did.  Did you ever go through that or was it always just something that you wanted to do?

I feel like I’m in that movie Slumdog Millionaire, because every answer that I give you comes from a story (laughs).  So here’s another one:

When I was growing up, my parents did not force any of us to study music.  But when I was four years old, we moved to a new house. And in this new house, there was a piano already there.  So music just came to us.  Taking piano lessons was just normal. My brother did it, my other brother did it, and it passed down to me. It became something that I thought was just something you do.

Continue reading