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Neelam Saxena Chandra – A name that glows in the world of literature

New Delhi: Neelam Saxena Chandra, an Engineer by profession, and a Writer/Poet by passion, is a name that keeps shimmering with each day that passes. The fact that intrigues most of the people is how she can keep pace with her writing and work, being a very senior bureaucrat. When she was asked this question, she replied with a candid smile, “I love my job. I studied Engineering because it interested me. Later, I discovered that I am a good Administrator. However, being in a very time-consuming job, I require doses of motivation. And literature serves this purpose in my life, acquiring a very important part of my routine.”

The next question that we asked her was, “How do you manage your time?”

She replied, “Oh! I find time while commuting every day, while traveling, or even when I am damn tired – after all, I need to inspire myself. I feel everyone should have a hobby – be it writing, painting, singing, reading or running. Without a hobby, a human’s life sounds so dull! And if you have interest in something, it is like a river that will make its space to flow.”

It’s noteworthy that Neelam’s Seventy-third book, which is a poetry book in Hindi, titled “Tilism-e-Zindagi” was just launched in NCPA. The event was graced by Chief Financial Officer, NCPA, Shri Siddharth Deshpande amongst others. The Book Launch was moderated by Sujata Jadhav. During the launch, Sujata, Siddharth and Neelam read one of the poems from the book. This was followed by poetry from Anoop Pandey, Anup Jalan, Meera Bhansali, Shiv Nath, Purna Shah and Juhi Gupte from Literary Warriors Group, a group founded by Neelam for encouraging literature among budding poets/writers. Ashish Pannase painted live on Neelam’s poetry. 

The most exciting part of the event were Kathak performances on Neelam’s poetry by AMNA Kathak Institute which is owned by Arpana Rao. The Kathak was performed by Arpana herself along with her disciples Nanditha NG and Pooja Shah – an event that was lauded by all. 

“When did this writing journey begin?” Neelam was asked, to which she replied, “Oh! That was from sixth standard. I loved to write, but kept mostly to myself. From Eighth to Tenth grades, several of my poems and ‘Letters to the Editor’ were published in a leading Central India daily. The journey stopped for a few years, in the sense, I didn’t publish much any longer, till I restarted in 2008.”

Neelam Saxena Chandra – A name that glows in the world of literature - PNN Digital

She was asked, “What makes you confident in writing in English as well as Hindi? And how do you decide in which language you will pen a particular piece?” She replied, “I became passionate about English literature during my school days. I read and read a lot, would have serious discussions with other literature lovers over it, discuss certain things with teachers till it made perfect sense. Passion for Hindi developed later and when I started winning a few prizes even in Hindi, my confidence increased.”

She was questioned, “That reminds us! You received an award from Gulzar sahab himself. How was the moment?” She replied, “A contest was organised by American Embassy and Arushi for writing in very few words about social change, and Gulzar sahab was the judge. That time, having just entered the arena, I wasn’t confident, but did submit my entry and the contest was judged by the maestro himself. What I didn’t know was that he would also be giving the award himself! I was told a day before that I am a winner. I rushed to Mumbai, all the way from Lucknow. And that moment has been amazing!”

“How did Limca Book of Records happen?” Neelam replied, “I have been honored three times – once for writing the maximum number of books in a year, second for writing the first book with my daughter and third for the first book by two sisters.”

“What about your being named in the list of most popular authors in the country in 2014 by Forbes?” She replied modestly, “Well, I certainly didn’t know about it and am happy to be perceived as popular.”

She was asked, “What’s special about your poetry book ‘Tilism-e-Zindagi’?” She replied, “Life seems like a magic or spell. Has anyone ever understood its writing? Often a person thinks that the calligraphy of life points towards one thing, but it turns out to be something else! No one knows in which direction the steps of life will go! Sometimes it seems that one should not even try to understand its handwriting. Life should be allowed to move silently in its own direction, and one should keep smiling in the moments that exist.”

The book is published by Highbrow Scribes Publications.

She was questioned before winding up, “Which are the other awards you have won?”

She replied, “I have been honored by Maharashtra Rajya Hindi Sahitya Akademi by Sohanlal Dwivedi Award, Premchand Award by Ministry of Railways, Reuel International Lifetime award, Awards by Poetry Society of India, Children’s Book Trust, Radio City etc.”

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