Hi everyone! Today’s Saturday Evening Interview is with Ritu from But I Smile Anyway! Ritu is one of the first bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting here in the blogosphere! I attended her first blog party early last year. Ritu blogs about being a wife, mother, teacher, her cat and so much more! She even records some of her poems on Soundcloud! Ritu plans on publishing some of her books in the future. If you haven’t seen her blog, you can take a look/follow it here. Please help me give Ritu a warm welcome here on Life of an El Paso Woman!
ME: Tell us about your blog. How long has your blog been around? Hi all! I guess, for those of you that don’t know me, I should introduce myself. My name is Ritu, and I am a wife, mother and teacher. This blog of mine, https://butismileanyway.wordpress.com/ , has been around since November 2014, so we are around 16 months old. It started as a little diversion. Something new to try, I didn’t have any direction for this space that was now mine, but it felt like a good idea, as a friend of mine had started one, and I thought, ‘why not!’ I have always loved writing, the written word, and reading, and here I could do all these things! Being on here re-ignited the passion in me to write again, and it has been like an outlet for me, when I get stressed. I have discovered many new friends, what I lovingly like to call my ‘blogily’! And reading the various posts, it’s like an education in itself! So what do I write about? I take part in challenges, fictional and poetry, I write about my thoughts and opinions of various issues, there are anecdotes about my family and children, and some recipes when I get a chance! I have a regular slot called Spidey’s serene Sunday where good old Spidey helps me out with a calming or serene quote about life, and I reflect on it. And I can’t forget my cat, a star on the blog, Sonu Singh! Generally, as you can see from the blog name, I like to smile. I like to think positively, and I try to reflect this on my blog, and all my entries. I will endeavor to bring a little light into the lives of those that read, even if it is for a moment or so!
ME: What can readers expect from your blog this year? Have you set any goals for it? I have to say I have no specific goals from the blog, other than to improve my writing, and interactions with those that I follow too. I would, however, like to try and host a few blog parties, when I am able, to get more people mingling! (I know Lisa was there for my first!) And I am trying to record some of my poetry and fiction pieces, so there will be more of that this year!
ME: Your blog has a lot of followers and great stats. What do you think is required to become a successful blogger? Thank you for mentioning that! In the beginning, I was stats obsessed. It was like I had to have my phone on constant alert, to see who liked or commented, or followed me. I wanted the numbers to rocket! Then I found that blogging became an obsession! I had too high expectations of what I could actually do. At the time, I had committed myself to 2 posts a day, and the sheer number of blogs I was following meant I couldn’t keep up. Blogging became a chore rather than fun. So I stepped back a little, and decided I would write when I really wanted. I take part in regular challenges, and enjoy the interaction with others. There. I think that is the key to a successful blog. You want to make it a welcoming place for all to visit. How to do that is by keeping the flow of contact open with all. Comment and like on other blog posts, and make sure you answer comments on your own posts. Don’t ignore. Don’t expect that you will just get flocks of followers immediately. It takes hard work and commitment. If that is what you want, then be prepared to spend a lot of time interacting. If you want to write for the fun of it, that is fine too, but if you want that genuine interaction with others, it’s a two-way street.
ME: Tell us about where you’re from. What is it like there? What’s there to do for fun? Where am I from? Geographically, historically, or literally?! I am a mixed bag! Born and brought up in Birmingham, UK, I am a second generation British born Indian. But my parents moved here from Kenya, and they were second generation Kenyan born Indians. Their forefathers moved over to Africa, and Kenya specifically when the great railways were being built! So I am a British Kenyan Indian! Born in Birmingham… and now since marriage, living in what is known as the Garden of England, Kent! Birmingham was a great place to grow up in! Multicultural, the second city in the UK, it was always busy. Most of my family had also moved to the area, so, growing up, we were always going here and there to meet various people! And since I moved away, there have been so many wonderful improvements to the shopping, and social scene! Summer holidays were spent in Kenya, 4-5 idyllic weeks with my family, enjoying the pleasures of Africa! I went to university in Kingston-Upon-Thames, in Surrey, a leafy green suburb, close to London, where I learned my independence! After marriage I moved to Kent, which is a beautiful area, in places! We have the great Bluewater Shopping centre a few miles away, and a great place to see is the Gurdwara, a stone’s throw away from where I live. It’s the biggest in Europe! I visited India a lot more in the recent years, as my husband has a lot of family there, so I have really got back to my roots!
ME: In a word, how would you describe who you are and why? Positive! That’s me to a tee! I am your classic ‘glass half full’ kinda gal! I may even be that annoying person in your life, who never seems to think doom and gloom! But I have been brought up to see that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, and no matter how bad things are, ‘there is always a light at the end of the tunnel’! (Jeez, how many clichés did I fit into that last sentence!?) My Pops told me to wake in the morning and thank God for the night that passed and to be with me in the day, and then at night, thank God for the day that passed, and to be with me in the night. It may sound strange, but at least when you are there thanking Him in the morning you are actually awake, and alive,and if you are there at night thanking for the day, you got through it to reach the night! Things may have happened that were not great, but you lived through them, and you have another chance, the next day!
ME: What’s one of your favorite quotes in life and why? I do love this quote, because we can’t spend the whole of our life not doing things because [something] might happen. No one knows what the future may hold, so we really should take opportunities when they arise, and live life to the fullest, not be the one who has an epitaph that reads “He wanted to, but thought he’d better not, just in case.”
ME: When you aren’t blogging or working, what are you doing? I try and spend lots of time with my family. My children are my world, and my husband helped me create that world! When I can, I go and see my parents as they are the ones credited with how I am today. I love to read. That is my one pastime that I couldn’t be without! Oh, and I do like to sing! Usually when I am in the car, or alone, I can belt out a few favourite songs!
ME: Do you have any regrets in life? If so, what is it? My regret, which isn’t really too bad, is that we didn’t travel as much as we could have as a couple, before the children arrived. Now it is tougher, fitting in affordable holidays into the school holidays, making sure the destination is somewhere that everyone will enjoy!
ME: What’s your favorite type of music? This is one of the toughest questions that I get asked. I love so many genres of music, and was exposed to a huge range of different music, due to my background. I love Bollywood, Bhangra, Swing, Soul, R’n’B,Pop, cheesy 80’s tunes, the 60’ and 70’s had great music, rock and roll, but I am not a real fan of heavy metal or techno music! It gives me a headache! Too much ‘Duff Duff’!!! I am so glad you didn’t ask me my favourite song though, as there isn’t one definitive song in my life, there are soooooo many!
ME: Who do you look up to in life and why? I will always look up to my parents. They are just simply amazing people. They have taught my brother and I to be the people we are. They have gone through so much, ups and downs, yet been there for EVERYONE who needed them. They have had mud slung at them, from people who have nothing better to do, but you know what, if you are clean-hearted, mud doesn’t stick, and it is proved now, when you see how much respect they get from the younger generations in our family. My Pops, since retiring has devoted his life to helping others with his Yoga lessons, and as you may have seen recently, he is even on YouTube with his helpful messages!
ME: What was one of the best moments of your life? Why? Wow! How to pick just one?! I could go with all the obvious, getting married, the birth of my children, which were all cherished times, but maybe I will choose to share another. The day I got my teaching job.I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 7 and I was all good to go. Did my degree, but the government disheartened me about the profession by mucking around with the education system. I spent many years in other jobs, from retail, to banking, to marketing, then fate brought me back to school. Spending 4 years as a Teaching Assistant brought me closer to what I had always wanted to do. Teaching had become even tougher since I had qualified, 17 years previously, yet I still wanted to do it. Helping kids one to one was lovely, but I wanted to help mold the future generations with my own ideas too, and so the dream to teach was back. With the support of my Head Teacher, I took a refresher course, and then an opportunity came up, and I got it! That meeting to tell me that yes, if I wanted it, the teaching position was mine, was just amazing, and it was the defining moment, where I know that I could really fulfill that vocation in life that I was destined to. So now I am there, having a baptism of fire, in my first year with a pretty difficult class. I am constantly challenged, I am tired, but it still lights my day when a child makes some kind of progress, because of something I have helped them learn!
ME: What do you like most in life? How about dislikes? I like the chance to learn about others. I like the fact that there are so many different people out there, we are not all the same, yet we can learn so much from our brothers and sisters of other creeds. I try not to think negatively, and say I dislike anything, but prejudice is something that really irks me. There is no one better or worse… we are all equal. Big or small, light or dark, rich or poor, we are all humans. Cut us, we all bleed the same.
ME: Is there anything else you would like to add? What more can I add apart from thank you so much Lisa, for asking me here, and taking the time to interview me! Stay happy Peeps and keep positive!