Interview with Poonam Sharma

Theoretically, Alchemy is an early protoscientific and philosophical discipline combining the elements of chemistry, metallurgy, physics, medicine, astrology, semiotics, mysticism and art. Alchemy has been practiced in ancient Egypt, India and China. Practically, Alchemist are these wonderful people who could convert things into gold and our interviewee thinks that as a wordsmith she does spin gold. ;)ร‚ย  She blogs at ‘Visceral Observations‘ and is also the brains behind the ‘Avant Garde Bloggies Awards‘. We present to you the first interviewee of the year, Poonam Sharma aka Alchemist Poonam. Read on to find out more about the Alchemist.

Update: The Part 2 of this interview is live.

Q: When and why did you start blogging?

A: I started my blog on 16th February, 2007. That makes it almost three years ago. I am not a big one to remember dates, but I do remember this one because I did a post dedicating the fellow bloggers who played a role in some way of other in my blogging journey.

I started blogging as a medium to record my reactions and opinions on various happenings, mostly state of affairs around India. But the blogging takes a life of its own and soon I was writing about other things.

Q: What topics do you generally blog about?

A: My blog has no niche. I have written about social and political issues, consumer rights, environment, disability, human rights, movie and book reviews and occasional personal posts.

Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?

A: It may come across as a surprise when I say that I never get stuck while writing an entry. But it is true. I have written all my posts in one go, without pausing to even proofread. In fact, I do not proofread, so some typos do seep through at times.

My problem is more like what to write about. Countless ideas that I have during the day get lost. I think the only way I deal with it is to blog with discipline. Make it a point to login and write. God knows, I have made such resolutions in past and have failed.

Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?

A: I think it is very important for a blogger to interact with readers. In fact, my blog has a loyal readership that has retained through my current sporadic blogging days only because of the discussions/interactions we have had in past. I try to respond to all comments in my blog, but lately I am unhappy to admit, I haven’t been able to keep up.

Q: Poonam loves to talk about love, space, stars, flowers, finance, sex, drama. Finance seems to be the odd one out otherwise from a romantic self. ๐Ÿ™‚ A few thoughts on each one of them would be great.

A: Yes, finance is an odd one and doesn’t fit my dreamer-and-arty-kind of personality. I was good at Maths at school (I have my mark sheets to prove that). But my mind doesn’t like numbers; it just shuts down in boredom at the mention of it. Yet, I made myself learn necessary things like how to calculate tax on a given salary package, I have taught several other women how to do it.ร‚ย  I hired an asset management company (AMC) for making my investments (contrary to how may look now it was not a very huge amount) and had them explain to me what works how and why. Though fat good that did to me, since stock markets crashed soon after, and most of my investments went into losses. :-/ But yes, I can handle necessary finance. I believe every woman should learn to do it.

Love: A necessary evil. Reminds of a beautiful quote: Love me most when I least deserve it, because that’s when I most need it!

Space: Intriguing and boundless. Trigger for a lot of imaginations.

Stars: Believe in celestial and intrigued by the รขโ‚ฌหœastronomical’ ones.

Flowers: Love to click them. Beautiful reminders of nature in our daily, corporate lives that has nothing to do with nature.

Finance: Already said enough about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sex: I hate the prudishness that is associated with the discussion of sex. However, a discussion about sex is not meant to be an expression of raunchy, gross and graphic ideas.

Drama: I love theatre. Delhi, where I come from, has a rich culture in theatre, unbeknownst to most people, even its residents. There is no thrill like watching a live performance of a play with its music, costumes and makeshift settings. I adore street plays. Think I can and should direct at least those.

Q: Everyone loves to be adventurous at some point in life. We also know how much you love taking part in adventure sports. What and where has been the most awesomeness experience you have had till now?

A: Yes, I love adventure sports. But that said, I would be hypocrite not to admit that every time I take part in an adventure sports, my heart thumps badly, threatening to burst out. I am always scared, but I push myself to do it.

I have rappled down the hills, jumped from cliff into Ganges, gone rafting, trekked, rode a water scooty (though this was on pillion :P) and parasailed in Goa.

Out of these, my best experience has been to rafting at Shivpuri, which is 20 kilometres away from Rishikesh. Snuggled between two huge mountains, on bank of Ganges, Shivpuri is a dream destination. I have been there twice with my friends’ gang, who were the ones to recommend it. We camped in tents for couple of nights on the river bed. And in afternoons, we rafted on river Ganges. Rafting is a team activity, where together you brave the strong rapids of the river. It was (and is) exhilarating.

During our stopover, we jumped from the cliff into Ganges. Considering that I was a weak rafter, my friends were surprised when I took the lead to jump from the hill while everyone was still scared. Later when I returned to work, I had become a รขโ‚ฌหœcelebrity’ since my tales of รขโ‚ฌหœbravery’ had reached all the managers and colleagues, thanks to my generous friends.

Q: You seem to be a voracious reader and have read about 53 books this year! Cool. If given a chance by a publisher to publish a book, what would your book be about? Share with us a character from a book that you would have loved to play in your real life.

A: That 53 book stats is from the last year. This year (2009), despite being slow, I have read more (62 so far), and still counting. ๐Ÿ˜› If I ever wrote a book, it would be a book with an issue close to my heart, interwoven with a story, meant to make the masses happy. Since I don’t have a story in my mind yet, I have not even attempted to write one. So far.

Considering that I am book lover who has several favourites, I would rather tell you about a character that I find most memorable for purely personal reasons. Barney Livingstone is a character from Eric Segal’s book Doctors that caught my fancy when I was 18. The memory of this character has stuck.

Barney Livingstone is my dream man. Barney Livingstone and Laura Castelleno are childhood best friends, who grow up together sharing all their secrets. They date several other people, before they fall in love with each other. But the book is not only about the couple, it’s about how these two people, two doctors, deal with the serious illness of their child. The book deals with serious medical issues and the ethics surrounding it.

Through it all, Barney Livingstone stands tall as a reliably tender, assertive and intelligent man.

Q: Poonam, you write about issues affecting Indian women in general. What is the most common issue affecting Indian women in the 21st century and how do you think we can overcome it?

A: Issues affecting women are many: beginning from eve teasing, molestation, sexual harassment, girl child education (or lack of it), to heinous ones like female foeticide, infanticide, domestic violence (DV), rape, dowry deaths and so on. But if you look at each of these problems carefully, you will note that only solution is change of mindset. If mindset is changed, people would not ask for dowry, girls would not be unwanted, women would not be beaten/molested/bothered in any other way.

It is common to say that education will change it. But actually modern education does not seem to be bringing about any revolution in thoughts. Educated men still make sexist jokes (in person or on Web). Some of the famous twitter-ers have gained their popularity by tweeting these vain, little sexist jokes. And the fact that they are popular shows there is an audience for them, most people love to think that way. But that some men tweet sexist jokes is least of our problems, the point that I am trying to make here is education hasn’t really changed the way we think. We still carry forward out stereotypes for gender, region or religion. Each region perceives people from other region to be stupid, rowdy, and so on. We are led by age-old stereotypes and have closed minds. I am here talking about urban educated youth, and not a rural granny who understandably has an archaic way of looking at things.

It is common for people to tell you that you can’t do this because you are women. Or that it is not รขโ‚ฌหœproper’ for a woman to do that. We discourage men to take part in parenting and help around the house or kitchen, since it is not considered macho. In certain societies, this is rather perceived to be Joru ka gulam! This is just an example of a closed mindset. An escalated version of such mindset is exactly what that leads to serious issues like dowry, DV, etc. Today’s women (hopefully men too) should groom their sons without these perceived stereotypes, so that later they can grow up to be men that we women are proud of.

Q: According to your profile, you feel that you are the most misunderstood person on this earth. Why do you think so? What are your strengths that has helped you and others? Do you want to change any of those?

A: Oh, yes, I remember writing that once on my blog. I am a person of two extremes: either I will not talk to you much, be completely reserved and private (my colleagues and friends will vouch for that) or if I like you, I will be open and honest with you.

So the first category considers me as a high-nosed smug snob, which I am not.

On the other hand, I keep getting into trouble with the second group, people with whom I have chosen to be รขโ‚ฌหœopen’. With this group, I have this expectation that I should be able to talk about anything without a care or fear. This freedom of expression and open communication is extremely important to me. Something in me, doesn’t let me be diplomatic or ignore things, I speak my mind with these people. And while I may disagree with your politicalร‚ย affiliationsร‚ย or the conclusions you draw from a movie/book, I will still be your buddy and go out, eat and converse with you.

For me the discussion/argument doesn’t transcend onto my personal equation with you. Despite your harsh arguments, strong viewpoints against those of mine, I will still be your same old friend. But it usually doesn’t work that way for others, my discussions/arguments have come into way of my relationships with several nice people. Guess it must be the passionate, ruthless, hyperactive way of my arguing.

So I have a new policy, I do not get into arguments with three kinds of people: sensitive folks, second those who are determined not to change their mind รขโ‚ฌหœcome-what-may’ and third those who have unpleasant, patronising way of arguing with their รขโ‚ฌหœhigher-than-thou’ opinions. The people in latter two categories are not even worth my time.

As for my strength, it is sheer perseverance. I persist with hope in the worst of things. I survive. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enough said.

Naaa, Not enough said. ๐Ÿ™‚ We have lots more from Poonam in the second part where she shares with us about her career as an Instructional designer, her favorite Indian Blogs and much more. Do come back soon to read the awesome part 2 of the interview with Poonam Sharma aka Alchemist Poonam.

Connect with Poonam: Blog, BlogAdda, Twitter

Update:ร‚ย The Part 2 of this interview is live.

31 Replies to “Interview with Poonam Sharma”

  1. Awesome interview. Poonam, you’ll go places gal. A killing combination of reading and writing skills you have. And you look so composed! Strong girl. And I can so associate with you when you say ‘a person of two extremes’. I will be waiting for your second part and wish all the best.

    Blogadda, you are doing a wonderful job helping us know these so-nice bloggers. keep up your good work.

  2. you wont believe the pace at which I read this interview Poonam ๐Ÿ˜€
    whoosh and I was done! ๐Ÿ˜€
    and then read it again after taking a breath ๐Ÿ˜€

    Yes, I love adventure sports. But that said, I would be hypocrite not to admit that every time I take part in an adventure sports, my heart thumps badly, threatening to burst out. I am always scared, but I push myself to do it.

    I have rappled down the hills, jumped from cliff into Ganges, gone rafting, trekked, rode a water scooty (though this was on pillion ๐Ÿ˜› ) and parasailed in Goa.
    yep! thats who you are ๐Ÿ™‚ a little apprehensive but willing to take on any challenge in life headon:)

    I think i first came to your blog when I saw your comment on IHm’s (I think) when the whole PCC issue was going on..and how some commenter was trying to trouble you..and then realized that we both were going to the same protest meet ๐Ÿ™‚
    and then we bumped into each otehr:)
    what luck:)
    (((hugs)))

    difficult to pick out a few but the posts I have loved the most on your blog till now are the one you wrote about the book on childabuse by Pinky Virani and a personal one about your sister : and the bond between you two ๐Ÿ™‚

    Through it all, Barney Livingstone stands tall as a reliably tender, assertive and intelligent man.
    awwwwwwwwwwww .. ๐Ÿ˜€ so cute ๐Ÿ˜€

    oye! book lover nahin book maniac kaho! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜›

    I am a person of two extremes: either I will not talk to you much, be completely reserved and private (my colleagues and friends will vouch for that) or if I like you, I will be open and honest with you. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ yeah I know ๐Ÿ˜€
    muah! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Educated men still make sexist jokes (in person or on Web). Some of the famous twitter-ers have gained their popularity by tweeting these vain, little sexist jokes. And the fact that they are popular shows there is an audience for them, most people love to think that way. But that some men tweet sexist jokes is least of our problems, the point that I am trying to make here is education hasnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt really changed the way we think. We still carry forward out stereotypes for gender, region or religion. Each region perceives people from other region to be stupid, rowdy, and so on. We are led by age-old stereotypes and have closed minds. I am here talking about urban educated youth, and not a rural granny who understandably has an archaic way of looking at things. you have echoed all my thoughts too so wont add a word here…not one..absolutely with you on all of this..

    loved your words on love and sex :)..true..all of em..

    excited and glad to see this interview ๐Ÿ™‚ this is just how you are in real life too ๐Ÿ™‚ you and your blog personality are the same ๐Ÿ™‚
    (((((hugs)))))))
    loved meeting you and glad that I have you as a friend now ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. and yeah waiting for the second part ๐Ÿ™‚
    truly a great interview Blogadda with one of the most intelligent bloggers around ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Vey cool.. really a nice read and brings out your true fun and sensible ( dare I say, Aquarian ๐Ÿ™‚ ) mentality…
    Haha… Barney Livingstone, eh ? Ya, he was a good character.

  5. Congratulations !!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    I have only read half as loads of work in office at the moment !!!! Will be back tomorrow !!!!! Promise !

  6. Enjoyed reading this a lot Poonam ๐Ÿ™‚
    And like I told you, the Barney co-incidence brought a big smile on my face..
    Looking forward to the second part!

  7. I never knew that you were an adventurous kind ๐Ÿ™‚ you should try out hiking trips from Pune am sure you will love it ๐Ÿ™‚

    Loved the interview, now waiting for part 2 ๐Ÿ™‚

    And ah Congrats ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. We have one thing surely in common..being both an introvert and extrovert at the same time… ๐Ÿ˜› And yes, that gets you into trouble ๐Ÿ˜›

  9. Congratulations Poonam ๐Ÿ™‚ Loved reading your interview…

    Agree the most with…

    Sex: I hate the prudishness that is associated with the discussion of sex. However, a discussion about sex is not meant to be an expression of raunchy, gross and graphic ideas.
    And, But the blogging takes a life of its own and soon I was writing about other things.

  10. “Love me most when I least deserve it, because thatรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs when I most need it!” Wow, what a quote! I am going to use it lots now! I love quotes.

    Now you can also paste your photo in blog header sidebar!

    Waiting for part 2 of your interview.

  11. @Snehal: I feel more stronger, confident after reading your reaction. May all bloggers have readers like you. Will love to hear more from you on the second part.

    Yes, thanks to Blogadda, reach has increased certainly. Six degrees of separation is quickly diminishing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Indyeah: Now here is a totally heartfelt comment. Not written in hurry. Thanks, dear, for that complete attention. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, that was one of best things that happened at the protest. And thank you for the vote of confidence that my blog and blog personality is same. Now I have proof, I am not fake or liar. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Great to have you as friend.

    @Dr. Roshan: Yep, out and out an eccentric, untamed aquarian. ๐Ÿ™‚ Barney has always stuck to me. Glad you didn’t dismiss it as a ‘girlie’ fascination. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Hitchwriter: Poora reply bhi kal. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Radha: Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Same pinch. God willing, there will be more to come (the same pinches). Biding our discovery time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Yep, do come back for second part.

    @Smita Really, you never know? Its somewhere in my about page and you know me for so long. Would love to go around Pune. Chalogi kya?

    @Vishesh: Yes, am resigned to the fact that I will always have this trouble. Any tips from your experience? ๐Ÿ˜›

    @IHM: Glad to know that you enjoyed it and that we feel same about several subjects. Others, I guess, we know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Gauri: Thank you for stopping by here! Really. And I am glad to know you too.

    @Vikas Gupta: No idea re, who wrote it. Came across it and stuck to my heart. Naah, won’t paste photo yet. Words are my only identity on my blog. But yes, if someone is too curious to know, they can come here.

    @Solilo: Gleefully happy to know that I am one of your favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚ Come back for Part 2.

  12. Wow, Poonam! The adventure sports bit was what impressed me the most. I already know that you’re a brainy gal and this balances it out perfectly. Awesome! I’m looking forward to reading part 2 of this interview.

  13. Hi Poonam

    I read the interview yesterday and came back today early morn to read it again and comment. This is what I call living life to the fullest. It swells my heart to see women breaking all the shackles of this society and surging ahead and still keeping the heart filled with compation and love. It is a pleasure to read your blog.

    It is amazing how we connect with women bloggers across the globe and find that somewhere our heart beats for the same things.

    Wishing you the very best . will eagerly wait for the second part ..

    “I persist with hope in the worst of things. I survive. ” ๐Ÿ™‚ Just like me. hugs to you

    Bless ya

  14. boy i was impressed by you after the efforts in Avant Garde… !!! but now… ! after reading about your jump in the Ganges from a cliff… geez… I must say I am in AWE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    thats my kinda girl… !!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ I guess I have to say that… !!!!!! Life is actually best there in the hills, besides a river, in tents, around campfires and in river rafting or trekking in fresh air !!!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    Congrats to Blog adda for this free wheeling interview… and wonderful to know its not over… I thought it was too short only to notice.. part-2 is coming up !!!!!

    This is as frank and free wheeling it can get I loved your answers !!!!

    You are one can i say this.. MIGHTY GAL !!!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜› Pun definitely not intended…err… whatever that means !!!!!!

    waiting for part 2 !!!!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. @Ideasmith That is sweet, girl, you actually read the interview at that ungodly hour despite being tired. Good to know you liked it, come back for the second. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Tikulicious: Thanks Tikuli for the nice words. I didn’t know you read my blog. Felt good to know that. I agree on how a women blogger community has come up. Some like Solilo and others are actually addressing issues and stuff on their team blogs.

    Hugs you back for being the fellow survivor.

    @Hitchwriter: Avant Garde this year had a great member in you. Couldn’t have moved ahead without your help. Mighty girl, heh? ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I love both hills and beaches. You have rafted before?

    Good to know that I have a reader who will happily read all my looong rambles. ๐Ÿ˜€ Come back for the second, surely. And thank you for all the compliments. Really.

    @Shraddha: Thank you, come back for second!

  16. Hey you seem to be a very adventurous person poonam and you are a mighty girl really…:D

    Strong willed!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. Great going Poonam! As I said surprised to see a kiddo face behind the big words…

    And 62 books in a year? I don’t think I’ve read that many in my life. But I can’t even tell you to get a life since you seem to have been there, done that…

    Very interesting read. Waiting to see what’s in store for the second edition!

  18. @Sid: Thanks, Sid ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Rakesh: Yes, as I replied that tweet made me smile. I read while I travel and when Internet doesn’t work. ๐Ÿ˜› Thanks for the appreciative words.

    Sure, do come back for second. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Oh !!! Lovely interview Poonam !!! Enjoyed reading abt u so much !!!

    Adventure sports – WOW, you seem to be the going at it full speed. Even I too want to try out a few, before its too late for me !!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your views on Sex, Love, Finance and all – just apt and to the point.

    A bookworm too !!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Got to know a lot abt u !!! Now, waiting for the 2nd part !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Poonam I also agree with you absolutely about women’s issues. Our educators come from the same society and do a lot of damage. The school Principle in one of the schools my kids went to advised the girls not to wear spaghetti straps!! Many schools ask girls and boys not to sit next to each other – and then they wonder why some boys think girls come from some other planet and need to be taught to live like aliens on their own planet.

    Also sexists jokes can never make me laugh either. I feel a joke is a easiest, chalta hai kind of put down, – they can get away with “It was just a joke!”
    And stereotypes – of all kinds are unfair. I admire the frankness with which you have discussed these points.
    I am really glad we have bloggers like you in the Indian blogosphere!!

  21. @Masood, Uma: Thanks for both your kind words. Second part should be up anytime today I guess. Hope you find that interesting too.

    And yes Uma, you should try out adventure sports. Make sure that operators (those who run rafts, para sail equipment) are reputed and safe, then you can relax and let go with freedom.

    @IHM: I love it when you take on people like School Principals and real life errant men.

    As for ‘sexist jokes’, it is not ‘cool’ these days to tell men that you don’t like them. You are treated as prude which you are not or worse as a spoilsport. A reverse discrimination also follows if you voice your opinions. I am glad to know bloggers like you who can understand what I mean.

  22. U r an inspiration to many when it comes to blogging. I wish I had half of perseverance, I would have been much better person.

  23. Whoa! Great interview!

    Jump in the Ganges from a cliff and 62 books in 2009?? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ You sure are one awesome person !! ๐Ÿ™‚ Really cool !! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    As far as arguing on your blog goes, they say it’s necessary to maintain a neutral persona whilst interacting with readers and fellow bloggers but if there’s a point that needs to be put across which you think won’t go very well with your readers, you might as well stay mum than end up hurting their sentiments..

    Congratulations on being interviewed..!! Now I’ll go over to Part 2 ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. @Vee: Ahem…coming from you, I feel suspicious. ๐Ÿ˜› But this one time, I will try to give you a benefit of doubt and graciously say ‘thank you’.

    @Anu: Thanks for such profusely kind words. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nope, I was not referring to arguing on blog. Meant arguments we have in real-life discussions. Generally.

    See you at Part 2 then. 8)

  25. Sexual harassment parties, travel,roads etc. is a very common news which we hear. Most of the peoples are not aware about sexual harassment and its very important to make them aware, this will help us to decrease occurring sexual harassment at our work place. By the help of Pria’s (NGO) website we can came to know a lots of things base on sexual harassment. It’s my personal experience that this website help girls a lot and its also very helpful for the teenagers, whom we are not fluent to explain and we can share our views and queries to others in its forum……

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