Oh yes, Happy Birthday to me !


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The chapter 26 of my life begins today. It starts afresh and I am already gulping in the fact that I have entered in my late twenties. Taadaa! I am nearing 30, is it?! As a thought, it feels a bit scary yet brave, but I know even a couple of years down the line, I will still be as young as ever in my heart. 😉

Today, as I write this piece, I feel happy and proud of the life that I am living in. My hands are full, and God has been generously kind by blessing me the best things. I am grateful that I got a chance to assess myself on various parameters that I was not aware of before – if it was not the past 2 years where my extremes were tested, I could never know how courageous, strong and competent I could be. I readily pat on my back for having embraced all the challenges, sudden changes, losses, failures, detachments, and all things turning grey, with utmost force and focus on keeping my chin up, every time I felt bowled over! 😁

So before starting the first day of the 26th chapter of my life, I thought I will jot down the best lessons that I have known so far, as a note to myself, so I can do much better from now on. Definitely, not all the points in the list are penned down by me. There are many famous sayings which have gone behind. The only thing is that all of these have now started making perfect sense to me. Here they go…!

TOP LESSONS

  1. Have courage and be kind.
  2. Be evaluated by your inner self only – only and only.
  3. Excellency is nothing, but giving your best. Nobody is excellent.
  4. Be satisfied with what the best you can do, with what you have.
  5. You don’t have to have your full life figured out in a go. Let it unfold naturally.
  6. Take one day at a time.
  7. There is no rush to “settle down”. Seriously!
  8. Every best or worst situation can be tackled.
  9. Time is the biggest healer, irrespective of how you are feeling now.
  10. If that time has passed, this will also pass.
  11. Leave everything to God in worst times – they do come to everyone.
  12. Money doesn’t buy happiness.
  13. It’s ok to be wrong.
  14. It is not the end of the earth, if things don’t work out.
  15. Let it go! (It’s not worth it… really)
  16. Don’t look for validation in other people.
  17. Be alright to be alone with yourself.
  18. Dream big! And keep on working towards your dreams.
  19. Travel as often as you can.
  20. Make short goals for yourself and stick to them.
  21. Stop being afraid! You have no reason to.
  22. Trust in God and take a leap of faith, very often.
  23. Be the person you would be friends with.
  24. Treat yourself, quite often!
  25. Celebrate everyday of your life, as if it’s your birthday.
  26. Shower your betterhalf with utmost affection, care, joy and best things possible.
  27. Pamper all your near ones who care for you. They are your true supporters.
  28. You will eventually become like a mother to your mother, and that’s ok.
  29. Your kindness and hard work will take you far in life.
  30. Above all, be true to yourself.

 

These are some great toppings that I wish to swear by, while going ahead. I believe, it’s all about growing better and better every day, loving yourself for all that you are, and embracing all those imperfections in you, which actually make you perfect! Furthermore, having a good health, body and soul, are the biggest blessings by God on us…aren’t they? And it’s such a great thing to accept this gift whole-heartedly and rise above those bleak inner voices which keep us holding back on our dreams.

This year, I wish for much joy, tranquility and positivity to illuminate in life. For now that it seems the time is right, just push through yourself missy, and know that you are awesome and you can do it. It’s time to take that leap of faith, and move on afresh to the brand new chapter of your life. Amen!

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(“Always embrace flowers like the girl in pink” – is one special quote that my father had written to me in a Greeting Card on my 18th Birthday. And I live by it, even today 🙂

Photography: Harnoor Singh
On the way to Nandi Hills, Bangalore, India

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Joining The Right Dots – An Interview


Joining the right dots

To her, limit is not the sky and there is a will to travel that extra mile. Know more about this young star
Noor Sandhu, while Amrit Ammu finds out about her profession as an artist, a photographer, a play director and also a writer.

Something very bright, enlightening and radiant is named as “Noor” and so true to the meaning of her own name; this youngster from Amritsar has all these qualities intact! Meet Noor Sandhu, a versatile woman artist who is much talented in various art domains and well focussed to follow that light, illuminating inside her. She is definitely a bundle of joy, creativity, positivity and knows well how to connect the dots along her way. More than being just an artist, she is a dreamer, a believer and an achiever all the way!

She has been interested in Art ever since childhood and in her own words she describes how her pocket money would often go into buying new crayons and drawing sheets. An avid learner, Noor took her lifelong lessons on the colour schemes, balance and composition right during her school days which she kept on polishing while working in different creative areas she is now involved in. School also helped her in discovering her talent in writing.

A graduate in English Honours, She went on to pursue her Masters in Mass Communication, post which she started her career with a leading newspaper in Chandigarh as a features writer in 2008. Along the journey she also discovered her interest in photography and sooner she started enjoying and experimenting in this newly discovered talent of hers. With her own new style of taking self portraits, no wonder she started gaining recognition as a Self-portrait photographer in the online community. Things kept moving and in 2009, she moved back to Amritsar, her hometown. It was during this time that the destiny had even bigger things in store for her as she ventured into theatre for education writing and directing educational plays.

Joining the right dots_BackSome masterpiece self-portraits by Noor Sandhu

“During this entire phase, My photography also reached a new level wherein I used it as a personal diary, expressing the deepest of my emotions and experiences.” Moving further, with all the creative bells ringing, she mentions about her current project and says “I started writing my debut novel about a year ago. At the moment I am in the process of editing it. The idea of the novel was a small one but gradually I realized that it had the potential of something bigger. So I thought of a before and an after of the part that I already had developed. I plan to write the story in three parts.”

As a newcomer to the field of art, she had to face some hardships too, but then she kept going on with confidence. She is thankful to all her supporters for being there to help her and even promote her work in her initial days. On asking about her mantra that keeps her going, she says “The one rule that I live by is, to continue learning and keep improving myself in every aspect whether personal or professional. I look for lessons everywhere I go and in everything I do.”

Talking about her commendable ability of delving successfully into different areas of art from photography to theatre to writing, she says “It has always been about prioritizing my tasks and then putting all my energy and time only onto one thing at a time. Even for my current project, once I have the first book of the trilogy out, only then I plan to take up new projects. I have been working on several ideas but don’t wish to divide my time as of now.”

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She also points out that it is important for an artist to understand the nature of one’s work, so as to locate the right kind of audience for their work. For her, in photography the social media websites served as a right platform to reach to her audience while she also held 4 exhibits of her work across Punjab. Her unique identity in photography is that she is a self-portrait artist and the whole theme of self-portraiture being different and complex helped her gain the overall recognition and helped her to develop a niche for herself.

About her work exhibitions, Noor has had three solo exhibits in her name: THE DOOR WIDE OPEN in Chandigarh and Ludhiana (May 2011, April 2011 respectively) and ALEPH in Chandigarh (May 2010). She also exhibited her work in a group exhibition INSIGHTS in Amritsar (February 2010). She is planning to get back to photography projects, as soon as she finishes up with the release of her first book “The Sunset Traveller”.

Interview by Amrit Ammu

This interview has also been featured in the May issue of the Online magazine : Rang Punjabi (Refer Page 09-10 of the magazine)

Stroke of the Sacred Ink – An interview


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Beauty with brains might be a rare combination but this talented artist from Ludhiana stands at a step even higher! Meet Calligraphy Artist Kamaljeet Kaur, who is not only brainy and beautiful but is also blessed with super flowing creativity, compassion and abundant amount of positive energy which reflects in her artworks and definitely makes her She – The complete all-rounder!

A caring wife and a loving mother, she has successfully instilled her sweet home with as much joy, art and positivity as possible. Professionally, she is a calligraphy artist, a designer and a photographer. Connect them all and you find a very unique combination which has only, but yes one thing in common – Her eye in selecting colours. That is one thing which definitely makes her artworks a class apart.

Having two Calligraphy exhibitions in her name – ‘Aneeq’ in Ludhiana (2011) and ‘Sadaf’ at Chandigarh (2012), she was also awarded with the title of “Bhaskar woman of the year” in 2011 and presented with the “Naari shakti award” in the field of Art in 2013 by Hind Samachar Group. With all these feathers in her cap, she has been featured in various print media articles for her divine Gurbani Calligraphy and her unique art style. She has a burning desire of taking Punjabi language and Gurmukhi Calligraphy to new heights so as to make it reach to the masses.

Amrit Ammu talked to Kamaljeet Kaur about her journey so far and her future projects.

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1.)    Tell us something about your background and qualifications?
          I basically belong to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and finished my schooling from there. I did my graduation from Sophia College, Ajmer and then went to Chandigarh for my post-graduation in Clothing and textiles. Later I got married and came to Ludhiana in 1994. That was the time when I was actually exposed to the Punjabi culture as in Meerut it was all limited within our family. Despite of belonging to a Sikh family, I was never actually interested in reading, writing or even speaking in Punjabi. Surprisingly, even after I came to Ludhiana, for quite some time I only used to talk to people who were from other states as it made me feel more comfortable. It was only gradually that I developed an interest for the Punjabi language and I got fascinated by the beauty of it that I started making efforts to learn it over a period of time.

2.)    How did you start off your career?
           I started off my career as a Lecturer in Fashion Designing which I did for 2 years till Sehaj, my daughter was born. I left that job to be with her and started doing all that I could do, from home. I always knew I wanted to do something creative so I started painting wall pictures for my friends according to their home interiors. I used to paint landscapes, flowers or whatever people would like for their houses. I would keenly go to their place, see the colour scheme of their house, take measurements and suggest them what frames would look good. Then slowly it got spread from my friends to their friends and so on. But then later when I started doing paintings with Gurbani Calligraphy, that was the time when people started buying them and that’s how it all clicked.

3.)    So tell us how did you discover your path towards Gurbani Calligraphy, especially when you learnt Punjabi at much later years in your life?
         I used to do Calligraphy from a very young age and I was always very fond of fonts but I didn’t know at that time that this particular art is called Calligraphy. I used to create cards, magazine covers and write titles for my files and folders. I still have got that set of 8 nibs which one of my friends had gifted to me in class 12th. Fonts used to fascinate me a lot and in that fascination around 12 years back, one day I just calligraphed the Mool Mantra (The main chant of Sikhs) and later on tried to understand it. That was when I thought that I should also have the knowledge about the alphabets and the Punjabi language. That is how I developed an urge to learn it.
Calligraphy was a dying art at the time when I discovered it, so I felt that this should be revived and since I belong to a Sikh family, I felt that I should be doing it in Gurmukhi. Today I have become known for doing it in Punjabi language, although my work is available in Hindi and English too. I really try that the colour scheme of my artworks should be very soothing to the eyes. I want to give that touch, that colour and style to this language that the people should feel proud to display it in front of their rooms and offices. I have a desire that this art should reach to the international standards and it should have a class which other calligraphy works have. That is my constant aim.

4.)    As a novice calligraphy freelancer, you might also have had your struggle days in your career. Can you share some insights?
          I started working as a Calligraphy designer for a renowned brand in Delhi. I tied up with them as their concept was also very new and since it was a brand promoting heritage, so they could relate to me. I worked with them for around 10 years and made a lot of Gurbani artworks and other designs for their store.
And struggle days- Yes, definitely I went through a lot of struggle as whatever I earned, I used to invest back in my art and being a housewife, I used to invest in my house also. I kept circulating the same thing while elaborating on it.

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5.)    Were there any Marketing strategies that you embarked upon to commercialize your artwork?
         There were no marketing strategies as such, that is the reason why it took me so long. I evolved on Calligraphy art slowly and searched a lot to know various options and diverse scopes. Even today I start my day with an online search to know what’s new in calligraphy and what new can be done. My art just got spread through word of mouth and since it was a unique art so that really helped.

6.)    What are the challenges that you face as a female calligraphy artist?
           The biggest challenge is to make a balance between the house and work. There are many roles that a woman has to play as a daughter or as a wife or as a mother and on that I think that I still did well.

7.)    So how do you strike a chord to make a Work-life balance?
          Time management is the key. I set a schedule for a day and stick sincerely to it. I also did social Management and just discarded the people who were wasting time in my life. I limited my friend circle and avoided all the negative elements. It happened slowly as I learnt with time. But this is what something that has really helped me.

8.)    Creativity and administrating a work profession are like two extremes, how do you probably manage with these both?
           My husband is taking care of all the administration work, which otherwise I couldn’t have handled. He is the one who is dealing with all of it while I focus on the creative tasks only. Doing it together, we are also able to spend a lot of time together and everyday seems like a Sunday to us! One more thing which is a blessing is this that because it is my passion, so I don’t get tired. With this, I can really sit up late and then get up again to do it. The whole work process is so enjoyable for me that there is no stress in it and so there are no complaints.

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9.)    In almost every profession, one also comes across certain tough times. How did you deal with them in your journey and what keeps you going?
           I did have lows in my career but my family has been very supportive. My daughter, despite being so young, is very supportive and adds to my inspiration. What keeps me going is the love of my family and the fire inside me that I want to do something.

10.)What would you like to suggest to the upcoming artists?
         Be honest, original and keep working hard. Honesty and sincerity will reflect in your work automatically and you will definitely get rewarded for it. Never try to adopt shortcuts because remember that the world is watching you. So anything that is built on quick steps will not last for long.
Be ready to experiment and ready to accept failures. If you want to achieve something, you will have to come across many kinds of negative forces. Everything is going to be a part of that, so be ready.

11.)Tell us something about your current projects and future plans?
         To keep exhibiting more work, to keep spreading this language and to keep adding more things so that I can relate to the youth and make them feel proud. That was the reason I introduced floor lamps, stoles, abstract paintings, mugs and wedding invites so as to give everything a very modern touch.
My upcoming artwork will be on women kurtis, silk cushions and calligraphy on old folk-instruments like Rabaab, Taaus and Dilruba. In photography, I am into child photography as I feel very comfortable with the kids and I think they love me back too. I also love to do wedding photography as I get really fascinated by the wedding celebrations.

12.) How do you sum up your well spent day?
          I end my day with dreams for the next day. Excited about the new projects and dreaming about them. Thinking about the designs and then I don’t realise when I fall asleep with all that in mind. I always wish I had some more hours in a day. My passion keeps me driven for doing better and better.

IMG_4022_without logoText & Photography : Amrit Ammu

This interview has also been featured in the April issue of the Online magazine:  Rang Punjabi  (Refer Page 07-08 of the magazine)

Ludhiana to Bangalore via Chandigarh


Life is not how we imagine it to be, most of the times… Isn’t it? Well, this time on-board, it spelled its magic onto me. The black roaring smoke of events… expected, unexpected and full of shock, sudden and surprise. I thought of the blog-post in March to be ecstatic, full of fun and frolic, entertainment and joy and not forgetting about the series of pictures I thought I’d be sharing to kick-start my travel-posts too. But then, Life moves on and yeah, it doesn’t always functions how we imagine it to be.

This time, I am blogging from inside of the ‘Rajdhani Express’ train that is scheduled to reach Bangalore early next morning. Did I mention? Bangalore it is… My new home away from sweet home in Ludhiana.

This journey, odd 3000Kms long, made its mark on February 4th 2014 and would be taking a halt tomorrow after almost a month! Woohooo… I must be one of those patient passengers of this journey or something that I calmly kept witnessing all the emotions of Life that this journey kept raining down upon, one after another.

From seeing myself getting ready as one of the most happy and excited brides ever to celebrating our wedding tale in as much royal a way as possible; To having aboard my friends and relatives at that wonderful occasion. And if I continue… the emotions also go from leaving my parents, my city and going away from my home that I labelled as “mine” to settle down afresh at a new place with new people altogether with everything new.

But right there, as if some black spell was cast or something! On one side where I was trying to engulf so much of happiness, on the other side, I was suddenly pinched with the news that my adorable father-in-law had been admitted in the emergency ward of hospital ‘coz of ill-health just the same day of our wedding. Slowly I witnessed before my eyes the shades of life. Turning, from the brightest ever to the dullest ever on the demise of my father-in-law just the next day of our wedding. Clock kept ticking, journey was on, and days went by and as they say ‘Time’ is the biggest healer ever. I just wish his soul rest in peace.

I am peeping out to the new upcoming days with hopes… hundreds of them! And dreams… filled to the brim in my eyes.

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Still in the train, I am seeing and observing so many things on go! The rushing trees and places behind me, they seem like whispering to me to focus on what is lying ahead and focus on where the life is taking now. The joy is being shown to me by the rising bright sun today, peeping through the dense clouds. The blooming flowers in the farm are telling me to smile, the sky and the land laden with green grass tells me that everything is fine and in here, the times would keep changing, be bold. It is just the weather to the universe, what we end drawing conclusions upon and we all are mere particles in this huge galaxy. The rain, hitting on the window panes of the train, pokes me that hey, everything is still okay and it is all here, right here, just somewhere around. At this moment, I want to get lost in the nature and its beauty… My journey is doing good and yeah, I am keeping all fine too.

Ludhiana to Bangalore via Chandigarh – ‘The journey’ has been much thought provoking ever…  As if, realising my soul in and soul out. A new start always has its memories with it and it is great to store them in some way so that we can lean onto them in times to come. All my new beginnings have made a mark in their own way and for this journey; I am hopeful that we will be blessed with better and happier moments.

Hoping for good times!
Live, Love, Laugh & Keep smiling everyone.

Yours Lovingly,
Amrit Ammu

Eternity


The year 2014 sailed through beautifully and before I considered writing articles and posting photographs from the stock I kept gathering these months, the word ‘Eternity’ was keeping me bound and yeah am still flowing in its magical world 😀

Eternity here, comes from the ‘band baaja and bride’ scenario that is keeping on a thumbs up mode my side and Ooo.. how exciting and nervous it is getting  .. ! I can’t even probably frame it correctly right now 😉

Of colours, vibrance, sweets, music, dance, happiness, emotions so pure, lights and pomp and show… Marriage is seeming such an awesome start to the eternity, which I am observing and experiencing from quite a close like never before !!

Of all the mixed emotions I am going through.. I think they all are so pure and worth experiencing! I might be bias to quote this or something, but the lord has instilled in a woman so much more power than a man that she is able to smilingly go through this society’s law.. Where one day in her life, she has to leave her maternal home to settle down at a new place, new home and with her new family. Femina for sure, rules the word called ‘power’  🙂

With all these happy yet hopeful connotations, it’s time for me to declare another break and I will be back with a bang in March and this time, right from Bangalore.

Live. Love. Laugh. & Keep smiling everyone !!

Yours lovingly,
Amrit Ammu.

Everything but the girl


“Everything but the girl” is the exclusive photography service for female portfolios, under my label Amrit Ammu Photography.

‘Sukhleen’ was announced to be the winner of our first give-away and in this blogpost, you can see her smiling all the way to that fun photo-session that we had in my studio.

So here she is ! Starring : Sukhleen Babbar.

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I chose to provide her with a studio photo-shoot because one, that she came over to my home-office around noon and I really wanted to avoid harsh light portraits and two, that I am trying to be better and more better in studio lighting, so practice bell was ringing in my head 😉 As for the picture, I really loved this tangy orange top of hers which stood out really well in the black background and plus it really looked beautiful on her skin tone. We kept her makeup and look pretty simple, so as to portray her elegance and style.

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Now this is the picture which I finalised as I had to include atleast one full size picture in her folio. I personally could have over shadowed this picture with some close-up portrait but then ! It was a mini-photoshoot so I had to include all the main poses. I guess I could do a little more better in this, but anyways I thought that she is looking so adorable, that I needn’t worry much about that. But yes, oh yess, I surely realize that my mini-studio now needs to become a little bigger & better for that matter.

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This is one such picture which took me quite sometime to get it perfect. I really needed her patience to get this shot and if I can make a wild guess, I think she might never forget the hard work I made her do to get this shot right :p But all is well, when end is well. Woohoooo ! High-five my buddy.

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And here comes my favourite one. While I was directing her for this picture, I just anticipated the photograph to come worth it. As it was a window-light set up, I had to play a lot with the setting to get the exposure correct. I knew that I really couldn’t let this shot go wrong. After a couple of test-shots, I finally arrived at the setting but I had to face it ! Her pictures were coming less beautiful than that angelic face I was able to see with my eyes through the viewfinder.

Light was the only thing which could be at fault as I felt my setting to be okay. She really cooperated while I re-arranged her seating, posture, and my own angle.. and yes, finally I got it ! The soulful picture ! And yo ! That was it, the fun mini shoot for our 1st give-away winner 🙂 I will post more about the regular photoshoots under “Everything but the Girl” in upcoming posts.

Till then, I am inviting new entries for portfolio bookings. You can book your slot via email at amrit.ammu@gmail.com

Live. Love. Laugh. & Keep Smiling.

Yours Lovingly,
Amrit Ammu.