Of Kismet and Karma (and other books) by Pam Handa Nee Kochhar

My major work, ‘Of Kismet and Karma’, a semi-autobiographical, cross-cultural goulash, is the realization of a dream I had nurtured  since I was a young woman. It is the first book ever written by a female Indian author about three colonial cousins- India, the Ghana and the UK. This cross-cultural voyage of self-discovery, the reflection of a colour-blind mind, spans over three decades spent among diverse cultures. It is inspired by my life in these countries. It contains vivid images and descriptions of my first–hand experiences. In this blend of fact and fiction, I also try to show that though oceans apart, and in spite of the colour of their skins, the peoples of these three worlds share a common destiny. The two Indian words in the title of the book are found in every English dictionary- Kismet means destiny and Karma refers to the duties we are born to perform in this world.
Of Kismet and Karma is the tale of a lifetime spent amidst peoples of three worlds- the black, the brown and the white. Through this semi-autobiographical account, I have tried to give my readers interesting glimpses of, and explanations of, diverse cultural beliefs and colourful customs. The Ghanaian word ‘Sankofa’, (meaning the past can become a learning experience), so impresses me that through nostalgic anecdotes collected from a multi-cultural world, I celebrate their past glory and wisdom.
The Wild Gecko’, my first book of poems, is an attempt at narrating, in verse, some of my experiences and feelings intermingled with my socio-cultural observations of India, my native land, Ghana, where I lived my life and England where I lived in the nineties..
First published in 2003, The Wild Gecko, is a collection of poems in which my subjects are varied. Having lived among a large expatriate community, I was surrounded by people of all colours and races. In fact, so overwhelmed was I by the rich multi-cultural experiences that came my way that the teacher in me was for years obsessed with the dream of immortalizing them through my books.’.
The Forward of my book The Wild Gecko written by
H E Kaikhosrou K. Framji
Indian High Commissioner, Ghana
It is a personal privilege to have been asked by Pam Handa, whom I have known for over sixteen years when I first started working in Ghana, to write this foreword for her book of poems. Pam, who was born and educated in India, was awarded a Gold Medal by the University of Punjab for being an outstanding student of English literature. She began her long career, as a teacher, in India, in 1966. She has been teaching English in Ghana since 1972, when she moved here with her physician husband, ‘Doc Handa,’ the name by which he is fondly known by friends and acquaintances throughout Ghana. Pam is an ‘Indo-Ghanaian’ who has lived and taught in schools and institutions in Bolgatanga, Kumasi, Sunyani and in the Ghana International and French Schools in Accra. Her first publication is an attempt to narrate, in verse, some of her experiences and feelings intermingled with her socio-cultural observations of India, the country of her birth, and Ghana, where she now lives, knows well, and loves.
    What do you say about a writer like Pam Handa? That she is a social and cultural anthropologist, a commentator on religious and cultural practices in India and Ghana, a humorist, or a critic? In this collection of poems, where her subjects are varied, she is a little of all these¾ from the philosophic and religious in the poems ‘Autumn’ and ‘Lord and Ladies Divine’, to the romantic in ‘Companions of the Night’ and ‘ The Queen of the Heart’, and a tongue-in-cheek narrator of the humorous aspects of life and culture in ‘Bend-down-Boutiques’ and ‘A Philosophy of Life’. Pam’s poems are her own personal impressions, seen from the prism of her long and intimate involvement in the two countries that fascinate her, and to which she is irresistibly attached, in different ways. Her uncomplicated style is refreshing and makes her poems enjoyable reading.
    I enjoyed this book and am sure other readers will as well. I wish her every success in her first publication of poems, and encourage her to continue and look forward to the next.  
 ‘ Amazing Grace’, a sequel to ‘The Wild Gecko’, is a medley of multi-cultural short stories and poems once again inspired by my life in India and Ghana, and contains vivid images and descriptions of my rich first –hand experiences. The title has nothing to do with a hymn but is inspired by a hair salon in the heart of Accra.
The first edition of ‘Wings of the Heart’ is a digression from cultural themes. “Enough of customs and traditions”, I thought to myself. “Let’s get back to the basics of the human soul”.
The subject matter of this book dwells not only on sentimental matters of the heart, the seat of soulful feelings and emotions but also on the heart of such matters. In today’s crazy commercial world, the poems in this book transport us to the good old days when music, poetry, dance and drama were the wings of the heart and soul. Once I decide to view life from various angles, I quickly transform myself into the person I wish to portray. In each poem I don the required robe of a happy, sad, optimistic, pessimistic loving caring or dreaming human being with particular dreams, problems, and thoughts.  
My poems are in the form of traditional verse. They are rhythmic, soulful and meaningful. They describe a panoramic view of the millions of thoughts, hopes, fears, joys, achievements, failures despair, dejection, rejection we as human beings are bound to face in life. They will surely touch the hearts of most of you who still maintain a sentimental side to your characters even in today’s materialistic world where there is no time to stand and stare!
 In the Second Edition of Wings of the Heart, recently published by Trafford in the USA, I have compiled all my 80 or so poems from all three books.
My Video Links
I have uploaded 5 promo videos on u tube. Just go to u tube and type pam handa’s videos to view them
My Book Links:
6 All Barnes and Nobles Book shops have my books.
About the Author
My name is Pam Handa (Pam Handa Nee Kochhar). I am a poet, novelist and former President of the Ghana International Women’s Club. I was born of a Punjabi family in India. A graduate of the Sacred Heart Convent, Dalhousie, I completed my B.A. degree in 1964 with English, French, and Philosophy as my Majors. Two years later, I received my Master’s degree from Punjab University, Chandigarh. I was awarded a gold medal for getting first position in the whole of Punjab. It was from the English Department of the Punjab University that my Teaching career was launched in 1966.
 In 1968 I married Dr.P.K.Handa, a Paediatrician, and three years later destiny brought the Handas to Ghana. When we were living in England in the nineties, I did a couple of courses on the Teaching of English as a Foreign language. I have, over the decades, taught in Women’s Training Colleges and schools in Ghana.
My work is truly a reflection of my being inspired by my life IN India, Africa and the UK. It contains vivid images and descriptions of my first–hand experiences. Some of my writing contains my impressions about things; some contains philosophical thoughts; some is based on cultural beliefs and some of it contains sentimental memories about the past.
My hobbies include Ballroom dancing, playing a good game of Bridge, listening to music of all kinds and of course writing!

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