Welcome to the Sunday interview and this week my guest is poet Ritu Bhathal who I enjoyed meeting at last year’s Bloggers Bash in London. And it was fantastic to be there when she won the Best Overall Blog Award 2017. You can find out more about her debut poetry collection Poetic Rituals later in the post.
Before we find out which questions Ritu has chosen to respond to, here is a little bit about her background.
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.
From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.
A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was recently awarded The Best Overall Blog Award at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards in 2017.
Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh. She is currently working on some short stories, and a novel, to be published in the near future.
Welcome Ritu and we are looking forward to Getting to Know You.
Do you have a phobia and do you remember how it started?
I discovered quite by chance that I had a phobia of being touched on or around my neck and throat. If you were close family or a friend, I was okay, but if anyone else who I wasn’t that familiar with, or close to, tried to touch my neck for any reason, be it to help fasten a necklace, or tickling, even an overenthusiastic hug, would end up with me getting more and more uncomfortable. It all came to a head when my then 6-year-old cousin came to visit and he was playing games with me. His tickles reached my neck, and I actually freaked out. I was hyperventilating and crying, and I just needed him to stop. It was a horrible experience, and I felt so bad that I had scared him with my reaction.
I needed to know why my neck was such a sensitive spot for me, and what may have happened to trigger this kind of reaction. It took a while to work it out, but apparently, I was a rather active baby in my mother’s womb, and over the course of the pregnancy, I somersaulted around so much that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck three times! Baby in distress at labour, as you may have guessed, and I was a C-Section baby in the end.
So, somewhere in my subconscious, that feeling of having my neck squeezed has stayed with me. I am much better and handling being touched there now I know but how crazy!
If you could get rid of one household chore, what would it be?
For me, it would have to be dusting! I have far too many little things around my house, and to dust properly would probably take a whole day, then I’d need to start again the next day, as dust tends to settle! As I dust, I tend to ponder upon the other things I could be doing whilst moving these annoying particles around! And cat hair… don’t mention the cat hair!
What is something you look forward to when you retire?
There are a few things that I look forward to when that time comes, (though with the pension and retirement ages in the UK moving goalposts so much, I may be waiting a good 30 years) like reading more for pleasure, writing with no boundaries, but I’d also like to travel more. Our life at the moment doesn’t lend itself to extensive travelling, with me being a teacher, and the kids at school. We missed the boat, when it came to travelling pre-family, so I think the time for us will come one we are happily retired, and hopefully not too old to enjoy the delights of the world! But I do hope to add some other destinations to our visited list before that age too!
Are you a morning person or a night person?
I am definitely a morning person. I am one of those people who can jump up at the first sound of the alarm, get ready, and be very productive in those first couple of hours before I start work. I am fresher and have infinitely more patience than later on in the day! As a youngster I was a bit of both, but that is also known at burning the candle at both ends.
Now, when the tiredness starts to hit, I don’t fight it, but I go to bed, knowing I won’t function well at all if I stay awake. My Hubby Dearest is the polar opposite. He hates to wake up early, and the grumpy face is ever-present, the snoozed alarms, and need for caffeine to kick start his day. Though he is a true night owl. He can stay up watching films and TV until past midnight I rarely end up knowing what time he goes to bed, especially at the weekends. He does try to be sensible on the weekdays, knowing work will be calling the next morning!
Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?
As a child I learned the recorder (who didn’t?!), and can still play a mean Polly Wolly Doodle! I also tried my hand at guitar, though that didn’t really take off. My teacher, Mr Mason, would hold a pencil in his hand, tapping it to the rhythms, and if we went off beat, he would use the pencil to sting our hand with a little blow! He also had a thing for Fruit Polos (remember them?) and used the end of the pencil to put in the middle of the polo, and eat it from the end… then he use that same pencil to ‘punish’ our mistakes, YUCK!
Needless to say the lessons didn’t last long, but I still have the guitar and Lil Man is able to pluck tunes on it. Lil Princess enjoys the ukulele! The last instrument I tried my hand at was piano. I always knew I wanted to teach, and being able to play the piano was a great addition to the CV. Mum and Pops actually tried to arrange lessons for me from a young age, but they were advised against it at that time, stating my fingers were too small to stretch across the keys. Fast forward to my Sixth Form days and I decided to try and learn them. My music teacher gave me some basic lessons, so I was able to read the notes and press the right keys, but it never stuck. I think starting so late, and then going off to University, where the thought of practicing piano was removed from my mind, replaced with assignments, lectures and going out with my new friends, didn’t really help me.
Now, singing. I LOVE to sing! Music, dancing and song runs in my blood. On my father’s side, I think we were all born, dancing out of the birth canal (or the C-Section cut in my case!) and singing instead of crying. Please note, this doesn’t mean that everyone was good at it, but it was in the blood so we all tried! But I have learned a lot of traditional Punjabi songs and sing with my cousins at family weddings. In fact, one of my cousins and I were ‘hired’ to sing at someone else’s wedding as they were so impressed that young girls like us knew the traditional songs! I even compiled a book with the words written in a Romanised way, so the younger generations who didn’t read Punjabi text, could also learn and join in. I have sung on stage in school productions too, as various characters in plays, and in a showcase in my final year at Sixth form. And I have been known to burst out in song at school, as a teacher, on a regular basis.
Oh, and on the blog. There have been a few posts over the years, showcasing my singing!
Sally here: I spent a wonderful time going through the videos on YouTube and in the end chose these two young singers have a blast..
When browsing Ritu’s blog… I found this post about her WIP.. which is 18 years in the making.. Here is the preliminary blurb and then please head over to read the rest of the post and add your encouraging words to help the process move forward.
Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought.
After finding out her fiancé was not the man she thought, she vows to put him, and her innocence behind her.
Accompanied by her brothers and best friend, she embarks upon an enlightening journey, where memories created and new relationships forged, have far-reaching effects.
Read the rest of the post: https://butismileanyway.com/2018/04/28/the-big-reread-has-commenced-amwriting-amrereading-amcringing/
“What I wish for is a world where everyone’s differences are accepted and celebrated, not held against them – be it racial, religious or disability – we are all human, and we all deserve a chance of respect.”– Ritu
Delve into a book of verse exploring different topics and different genres, all with a RITUal twist.
A collection of poetry drawing on the experiences of the writer, ranging from matters of the heart, love for the family, situations in life and some verses written with a humorous twist.
One of the recent reviews for the collection
The first thing that attracted me to this book of poetry was the clever play-on-words with the title, Poetic RITUals, and the author’s name. They always say to not judge a book by its cover, but in this case, you should. As clever and heartwarming as the title suggests, so is the poetry inside.
The book was filled with a delightful and eclectic mix of metered poems filled with patterned beats and rhymes, Haiku, and freestyle poetry. Another charming addition was the way the book was divided into four different sections of “RITUals,” family, life, of the heart, and to make you smile. I found the categorization to be a peek into the ingenious mind of the poet.
The themes of motherhood and family, her work as a teacher, and that of being a wife are shared with love and laughter. Many of the poems shared a realistic look at the author’s life that I found endearing. I remembered feeling much the same way when my kids were young.
One of my favorites in this collection was a piece called, “Poetic Confusion,” which I found in the last section of the book. The author laments the writing of poetry in its many forms; finally coming to the conclusion that she would rhyme and vent to her heart’s content, and write poetry in her own way. I love her poetic spirit and spunk.
Poetic RITUals is a must read for wives and mothers of all ages who also wear many hats just to get through a normal day. This sweet book will make you smile. Enjoy it over a cup of tea, or two… I did. ❤
MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 – Flow and Pace: 5 – Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 – Reader Enjoyment: 5 – Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars
Read all the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/Poetic-RITUals-Ritu-Bhathal/dp/1533088020
and other reviews on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poetic-RITUals-Ritu-Bhathal-ebook/dp/B01H46DN5Q
Read more reviews and follow Ritu on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30843440-poetic-rituals
Connect to Ritu in the usual haunts.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway
Delighted to have found out a little more about Ritu and I am sure she will be delighted to answer your questions… fire away in the comments. Thanks Sally