Saturday, 27 December 2014

Truth at the grave... 'Sachchai Mein Chain'

I walked on briskly, single-mindedly. There was a restlessness in me. The restlessness of expectation of something too good to be true.

I was dreaming impossible dreams. No, they are possible, I corrected my own thoughts.

Despite my efforts to not think about it, my mind was giving me teasing glimpses of my future with Ajay. A future of beautiful possibilities and smiles.

As I entered the office building, I knew that I would be attracting curious glances. Not that I noticed them, though. I stopped in front of Ajay’s desk, who stood up surprised. His eyes had a hint of anger.

Will he understand? Will he forgive me? I knew if I thought about this at all, I won’t be able to go ahead with it.

“Yes, I will”, I said, still out of breath.

“You will?” The anger in his eyes melted, replaced by a hope that he was clearly trying to resist.

“I will marry you”. I grinned, moving forward to hug him.

“Oh no, you don’t”, Ajay said taking a step back. “You don’t walk out on me without a word. And then say yes, the next day.”

I could feel the excitement and hope apparent in my stance vanishing. A delicate, beautiful balloon hoping to float up in the skies, deflated… more like burst instantaneously.

Ajay saw the pained expression that he had glimpsed in my eyes often. Did he know by now that I would hide in my shell. Did he know I was expecting things to end badly. He had always assured me that he understood my problems from the past. And yet, he had felt an anger. No, it wasn’t anger, I convinced myself.
What he had felt the ache of his love.

“Okay, okay”, Ajay held up his hand, palms out. “Let’s go and talk about this”. He held my hand and pulled me into the conference room. Pushing me gently into a chair, he sat in front of me, held my hands and looked into my eyes, and waited.

My eyes met his for an instant, and then I closed my eyes.
Almost a minute later, eyes still closed, I said, “I went to his grave today. I told him I am leaving him.” I snapped open my eyes, searching his eyes to see if he understood.
“I had to leave him to be able before I could agree to marry you”, I continued.

Did he realize the extent of agony my possessive husband had caused me. I knew he tried to understand. I also knew that it continued to astonish him.

“And now?” he asked, ensuring that he sounded calm.

“For two years, I couldn’t garner courage to leave him. He died before I could tell him. He always said, he owned me forever. I had to leave him. And I have, now.

I smiled. He did too.

A truthful foundation for a new beginning…

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Cycle of life - Flash Fiction

The cycle of life, a convenient excuse, he thought, staring out the window, frowning.

The big fake window of the hotel room that he couldn't open, he thought gratefully.

Grateful because he knew what he'd have done had the window opened.

High up on the 15th floor, he stared down, seeing a bloody, withered, liberated version of himself.

As his family returned, dripping with the swimming pool water.

The cycle of life, he smiled to himself, closing his wallet and with it the memories.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Rhyming vacations... Memories

My family and I enjoy long Road Trips. There have been trips to Agra, Jaipur, Amritsar, Mussourie and many other places from Delhi. Later the long Road Trips became longer as we even drove to Mumbai from Delhi, and back a few times.

It is easy for me to boast about how enjoyable all these trips were, now that both my kids are grown up enough to savour the experience. Travelling with kids is never easy. These long drives presented us with the challenge of making sure that the kids have fun, within the limitations of sitting in the car for long periods of time.

I remember a Road Trip when my son was around five years of age. The cramped space of the car would make him cranky and impatient.
I would try to figure out ways to keep him occupied and also have him interested in the surroundings.
The rhyme ‘Old McDonalds had a farm’ was a favourite of his from school. So we would start singing it, enjoying the different sounds that are a part of the popular nursery rhyme.

The best part was when we would try to incorporate the animals that we would see outside in the rhyme. So if we saw a goat, we would use it in this rhyme – ‘a main mainhere, and a main main there’…
This rhyme made the Road Trips, not just fun, but also a learning experience.

Another such rhyme that my son was very fond of, is ‘One Two Buckle my Shoe’.

Again I extended this rhyme beyond its normal length, to help my son learn counting.
So there’s –
‘Twenty one, Twenty two – My favourite colour is blue;
Twenty three, Twenty four – Give me chocolate more’
And so on…

These journeys and experiences made such rhymes part of our beautiful memories.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Healthy Child, Happy Home - poem

It is silent
yet not peaceful
as she gazes at
the sleeping child

She watches
not admiring as
she usually would
rather with worried eyes

The disquiet quiet
surrounding the house
needs his energy
to have cheer back

'Do something Mummy'
he moans in pain
Her helplessness
an ache within

As he heals
the bliss returns
His health encompassing
the home with happiness

When I think of health, what do I think of…

Health is Happiness…
As I mother, one of my first thoughts is what I wrote the above lines about. When kids are unwell, the very vibe around the house changes.
‘How peaceful’ – a oft-repeated comment by grown-ups when admiring a sleeping child. But it is not the same when the child is sick and is in a restless slumber… then the comments, if any, are about the lack of energy and cheer is the environment and ‘Get Well Soon’ prayers for the child.

Prevention is better than cure…
Growing up in Delhi, the winters were a beautiful challenge to live through. Leaving for school when it was still dark outside, not wearing enough warm clothes just to be able to claim – ‘It’s not that cold’ and also, enjoying the rare ice-cream at India Gate in peak winters…
But Delhi winters can really hamper all this enjoyments, is one is not well.
That is why, it has always been standard to get ready for the challenging cold weather, by having Dabur Chyawanprash regularly. Before it would be time to bring out the woolens to get ready for the coming chill, it was always time to start with the regular supplement of the trusted Chyawanprash as immunity against the bouts of cold and cough.

Jaan Hai To Jahaan Hai…
For the longest time (it seems), every time the topic of taking care of one's health would come up, the argument quoted would be 'Jaan Hai To Jahaan Hai'... the result of growing up on 'DoorDarshan' and nothing but 'DoorDarshan'.
Somewhere along the line 'Jaan Hai To Jahaan Hai' gave way to more 'sophisticated' arguments.
Once in a while, I still quote it. And get a strange look from my kids in return. Understanding of certain statements, needs some experiences.
 But experiences or no experiences, the fact still remains ‘Jaan Hai To Jahaan Hai’.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi

And health is a way of life. Health is an acquired lifestyle, which is more about precaution than about care… And health is happiness.
Just as I started this with a poem, I will end it with one too…

Twinkle in his eye
He ran, daring her to catch him

-healthy happiness

Written in response to Indiblogger's 'A Healthy Child makes a Happy Home' for Dabur Chyawanprash

Monday, 3 November 2014

The silent war - poem

image credit:  Dick Blick Art

Head bowed
he fought
silent and stubborn
With belief
he argued
quiet and tenacious
Forever alone
he attacked
softly and with love

Shared with
Magpie Tales

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Revenge is unforgiving... (God is a Gamer - A Review)

Book: God is a Gamer
Author: Ravi Subramanian

Genre: Fiction (Thriller)

Published by: Penguin Books

No. of pages: 310

Cover price: Rs. 299

‘God is a Gamer’ is the story of three friends, Swami (an alumni of IIM Ahmedabad and a banker, just as our author is), Aditya and Sundeep (the latter two have a BPO and a gaming company).

The gripping tale of ‘God is a Gamer’ includes an assassinated American Senator, a mysterious suicide, a Cabinet Minister, a rebel, riots, phishing scam, hacking, corporate politics, romance and much more. And all these stories seem to come together effortlessly, making for this engrossing read.

‘God is a Gamer’ by ‘Ravi Subramanian’ starts in the headquarters of Mastercard and Visa. It goes on to mention Wikileak’s use of bitcoins. I googled the latter and it is a fact.

I love reading stories, where the fact paves way for fiction. Fact and fiction are interwoven and make the story ‘real’. Actual events and people are used to create fiction.
After reading the book, google gets overworked as I try to figure out what's make-believe and what's not. And some of the facts are surprising. Fact is stranger than fiction, after all.
Add to that, the probability that even fiction is somehow representative of what actually happened, but is not known in the public arena. Makes it all the more exciting.

The tale of ‘God is a Gamer’ is told with many clues strewn over in the narrative and many twists too. Often I felt I knew who had done it, or for that matter what is being done. And then I realized I was wrong. Even when everything fell into place finally, nothing was right. The ending of the book thrilled me the most. Nothing is at it seems. And yet, it was so probable in hindsight.

Corporate politics in ‘God is a Gamer’ is dusty, but not filthy.

I knew of Bitcoins as virtual money vaguely, before I read this book. As I read it, I learnt some and as usual, I googled some. The mystery of creator(s) of Bitcoin makes for another engrossing angle in the story. As I said before, fact and fiction blended makes for a wonderful read.

The title of 'God is a Gamer' felt so right, as I read the last page of this thriller by Ravi Subramanian. The many coincidences and twists and plannings... God is a Gamer. This book is one of the very good books I have read in quite a while. I highly recommend it.

What happens when you cross gamer, banker, politician and terrorist with virtual money? From the bestselling author of If God Was a Banker comes the first ever bitcoin thriller. God is a Gamer is a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villians, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.
Moving from Washington's Congress to Delhi's finance ministry, the beaches of Goa to the corporate boardrooms of Mumbai, this is Ravi Subramanian's most gripping novel yet.

Meet the author

Thanks blogadda for the author-signed copy of this book.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

More worldly than you think... a poem

What is Indian, I wonder
as I pen down these words
India in itself is so diverse
that it is a task of sorts

When did it happen that
I could flaunt my passport
The change was gradual
I realise in retrospect

When did it happen that
India got noticed on world map
It had lost its place over
centuries of struggle, it's sad

'Sone ki chidiya' lost it's wealth
and ability to fly
When did it happen that
it again could soar so high

A feeling of confidence
seeped into us Indians
as India is wooed
and the world beckons

India is accepted in the world
Or is it, world accepted in India

Friday, 17 October 2014

Her Masterpiece... Flash Fiction

The photo prompt for this week's Friday Fictioneers

(copyright Douglas MacIlroy)

He entered the room in the evening. He looked around trying to look at things through her eyes.
There was an artwork using delicate sea shells and pebbles. It looked beautiful to him just as it was.
But alongside lay more stones and a bigger shell. What had she planned to do with it, he tried to imagine.
She always jokingly referred to this artwork as her ‘masterpiece’. He knew she actually meant it.
The room was the way she had left it that night almost two years ago. She had wanted to work a little longer. He had insisted otherwise.

She never woke up the next morning.

Prompt by and Shared with -
Friday Fictioneers

Thursday, 16 October 2014

My first Indiblogger meet #WORDUP

My first Indiblogger meet... my first blogger meet ever

I didn't know what to expect. I reached around 9:25 am, expecting hardly anyone would be there. I was so wrong. There were quiet a few bloggers around.

Through the day, there was an excitement in the air. Excitement and enjoyment of being a blogger.

Renie Ravin said that there's no way to describe bloggers.
There's no such thing as a 'typical blogger' - something I realised as I looked around. There are different types of blogs and the same goes for bloggers.

I blog because I like to write. My blog is mostly about poetry and fiction, with my rare travel experiences thrown in.
It was a inspiring to meet writers who blog for a living, or want to blog for a living.

What I learnt -

  • Discover your passion.
  • Give accurate headlines to your blog posts, even if they are not always attention-grabbing.
  • Do not follow anyone else's style. Be inspired by others, but work on being unique.
  • No guest blogging. (I am not entirely convinced about this, but I know the pros and cons better now)
  • Never give your content for free.
  • Spring clean your blog. Get rid of the old irrelevant stuff. Let go when needed.
  • Rethink the ads on your blog. Think of the readers first.
  • Interlinking the posts is good for the blog.
  • Use google webmaster tools and google analytics.
  • Sell yourself. 'Apne Muh Mia Mitthu' / Blowing one's own trumpet is good for a blogger.
  • Have your own website. Ditch (I have decided not to do so, at least for now)
  • Snighda Manchanda's presentation on 'Creative Writing' was a delight, explaining the seven basic story plots with reference to the famous movies and books.
  • Do not overdo the social media sharing.
  • Set a deadline for monetisation of your blog.
  • Don't create content for yourself or your friends.

There was a lot of talk of SEOs, typography, blog design and other technical stuff. Not all of it made sense to me, but I do know more about it now than I did before.

I learnt a lot through the day, met bloggers whose blogs I read and appreciate, had a lot of fun, had good food, met people passionate about what they do, enjoyed a stand-up comedy performance and was even entertained by good music.

Prizes were won... I didn't win anything though :(
Despite not winning the vouchers and the phones, I got a backpack, a speaker, lots of great information, tons of motivation to write more, a day spent with fellow bloggers and good food at BluFrog.

#WORDUP experiences of other bloggers

Sunday, 5 October 2014

My memories with you - a poem

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 49; the forty-ninth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton

Image Source
Your face
key to my past
Each expression
an experience portrayed
Memories abound
as I look at you
The goodbye
coming all too near
No image
can capture this air

My memoirs
about to be lost to fire
You left
my future is lost
I ache more
so is my past
I stare
wanting to preserve you
My guide
to go down the memory lane

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 02

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Magician... A poem

Image Source

Forever lonely
with his skill
the magician
kept trying
His eyes focused
and often teary
the magician
juggled on
Crowd shouting
Little ones excited
the magician
made magic

Prompt by and Shared with - Poetry Jam - 'Magic'

My 5 Reminisces of Magic

Barren, Intense, Worry - A poem

The intense pair 
the barren one
Years worth of questions
in a single look
The connection from past
every worry from her being

Three Word Wednesday - "Barren, Intense, Worry"

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Heritage - a poem

The glue that
holds together
with resilience of wisdom
Forever present - the heritage

The old not
appreciated always
the invaluable antiques
Forever new - the heritage

Infused in tradition
open to new
with roots in time
Forever cool - the heritage

The celebration
of what was
The beauty of what is
Forever joyful - the heritage

Prompt by and Shared with - Poets United

Clouds... and life (poem)

Image Source

Collecting drops
reminiscent of ants
Spreading the smiles
with their tears

Drifting together
yet strangers
Sad and lonely
crying their pain

Temporary, ever-changing
Colors and shapes
just a mask -
Clouds... and life

Prompt by and Shared with - Poetry Jam

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Digs galore... Book Review - Digs, Dogs and Drama (Rachna Singh)

Book: Digs, Dogs and Drama
Author: Rachna Singh
Genre: Fiction (Humour)
Published by: White Tarantula

Digs, Dogs and Drama (DDD) is a compilation of satirical writings about various day-to-day experiences. There's a total of 46 chapters, each narrating independent anecdotes, and can be read in any order.

DDD is about looking at world with 'humour-colored' glasses. The final write-up gives you a comical view of various routine things, like ordering a cake or a hotel stay and even bollywood movies.

The fun starts from the word go, when the author starts with this disclaimer -
"No animals or editors were harmed in the writing of this book!"

Most of the anecdotes are very good, a few average. All in all, a good read.
My personal favourite in DDD is the 'guide to Bangalore'.

The flip side is that some portions read as if the author is trying too hard to make them funny.
Also, there's the question whether one can get offended with such 'harmless' humour. I think, yes. I like to believe that I don't take myself too seriously, but a couple of things in this book made me a little uncomfortable. I could smile, let it go and read on.
DDD takes digs at caricatures of stereotypes.

A few interesting quotes from Digs, Dogs and Drama -

  • 'Flat belly' is an oxymoron. If God intended it to be flat, he would have given us a board, not a belly.
  • The word 'sneakers' means that it should allow you to sneak some bare essential stuff into the gym. Do check if the pair you are buying has enough space for a bar of chocolate.
  • don't really NOTICE things that are unsaid, simply insinuated or hinted. And women live with a mission of sensitizing them to NOTICE things.
  • Amusement parks are places which have several fun rides that last for thirty seconds to two minutes each, with waiting times that, sometimes, exceed the time you took to deliver the same child who is the reason for you being there.

In the acknowledgements, the author writes about a reader of her previous book, looking for a 'message' in her writings, and being disappointed. She writes "The DDD series is about putting a smile on your faces: if you are looking for something with deep, meaningful message, they may not work for you."
I say, there is more than one purpose to this book and I'm assuming that holds true for the author's previous books too.
The first is entertainment. It makes you smile and thus entertains you... do you need to look for a moral then?
The second is that it inspires you to look at life, and what life offers you, with humour.

DDD is great for amusing, light reading.
Read this book, if you are capable of taking jokes with, not just a pinch of salt, but rather a handful of it. Or read it, if you want to develop that ability and have fun while doing so.

Connect with the author of Digs, Dogs and Drama, Rachna Singh on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.
Digs, Dogs and Drama' is reviewed by me as part of Write Tribe's Books for Review Programme.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Book Review - The Black Cane (Eileen Harris)

Book: The Black Cane (Dowager Diaries: Book 1)
Author: Eileen Harris
Genre: Fiction (Mystery)
No. of pages: 336

66 year old, Amelia Armstrong, a widow, is living a life of leisure. Her weekly bridge game at a restaurant, with a group of friends of similar age group, is her only source of amusement. Her curiosity over a snuffling sound that she hears from a dark alley, changes the course of her life, and also the life of her friends.
She rescues a kidnapped boy, Marc. As the friends and a few friends of these friends, come together to solve the mystery of Marc's past, their lives take unexpected, exciting turn. If the women are going to save the boy and stay alive, they are going to have to use skills that have been dormant way too long.
Amelia carries a ruby-studded, eye-catching black cane. The cane was the last gift from her husband and she carries it even though she doesn't really need it.
When giving it to her, he had said, "This is for you. I may not always be around to catch you if you fall. This may help you if the need ever arises."

Amelia, a little too conveniently, has an ex-cop, an ex-social worker, a doctor, a detective, a mysterious bodyguard-like housemate, computer hacker, a childless couple, etc. among the people she knows or happens to meet through the course of the book.

The book has a sub-title - 'Dowager Diaries: Book 1'. Clearly it is supposed to be the first in a series of books.
But the story of this book itself, actually, has a number of short stories in it. There are a number of mysteries solved in this one book, because of which the first mystery gets dragged along for too long.

In this book, there is a reference to Nancy Drew. And that is when I realised that reading this book, felt like reading Nancy Drew. It has been years (many years...) since I read my last Nancy Drew, so I would have to go back to be sure, but there was a simplicity to the mysteries that it reminded me of the teenager detective. The only difference is that in this case, it is a group of dowagers who get together to solve these mysteries.

Some parts of The Black Cane are interesting. I found certain parts of The Black Cane a little too verbose for a mystery.
It just so happens that I read this book after 'Private India' - a fast-paced thriller. This book is milder in comparison.

Certain things in the books are not convincingly explained. An old woman living with a man she knows nothing about, just because he seems trust-worthy and has been around for long, makes me question the decisions of this old woman.

But then, I guess, a group of old women cannot become detectives (Dowager Club) and be central characters of a mystery book without being foolhardy, which they certainly are.

One thing that I found amusing was that there is lots of cooking in the book. Every meal has been planned, in a way that the boy, Marc gets exposure to a variety of cuisines by the time the mysteries are solved.

The characters in this books are Grey and White. Most of the characters are good. The others either become good, or at least become a lighter shade of grey than they were before.

The Black Cane (Dowager Diaries: Book 1) is good for light reading. There are mysteries solved, but there is no blood-chilling gore.

About the Author:
From living off the grid in the Arizona desert, Eileen has moved to the woods of the upstate New York. She has authored a standalone adventure novel called Desert Shadow. She is also the author of Alicia Trent Series. The Black Cane: Dowager Series Book 1 is her latest release.
Blog I Facebook I Goodreads I Amazon 

Book Links:
Goodreads :
Amazon :

Wings e Press :

Reviewed by me as part of the Review Tour by

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Book Review - India Was One

Book: India Was One
Author: An Indian (Anonymous)
Genre: Fiction

The book starts with the protagonist, Jai going through a lonely, dark, jungle kind of slightly-eerie place with a local guy. Once they reach a certain spot, Jai looks through binoculars, across a border at his wife. The two cannot cross the border - the border dividing North and South India.

After a glimpse of this emotionally-charged, tense moment, the story goes into flashback and starts from the college days of Jai and Kaahi (Kahaani's nickname).

Is Kahaani really a name, I wondered. So I googled it - it apparently is, but not a very common one. I had heard of 'Kavita' (means 'Poetry'), but never ,Kahaani' (means 'Story'). Surprisingly, no one in the book asks Kahaani about her name.

Jai's family is from Karnataka, and Kaahi's from Gujarat, though both the families stay in Mumbai.
I hail from North India. My first thought was - well, Gujarat is not in the North of India. But from the point of view of dividing the country into North and South, it is in the northern part of India.
Also, I had expected some major lifestyle differences in the two families. Since both the families stay in Mumbai, that expectation didn't hold good either.

Jai has three friends - Sikh, Tamil and Bengali... India, after all, is one. Even many other communities find a place in the story. All living in harmony... mostly. The friends are mostly stereotypical examples of their community or religion.

Jai is the hero, and is portrayed as one. His father is rich. As I read along, I realized he's filthy rich. Uh Huh, really loaded with money.

The book has two fonts - Normal and Italics.
The normal font tells you the story.
The italicized font is explanatory lessons/lectures about India, its diversity, different cultures, cricket, bollywood, etc.
Once the story moves to America, the italics start with details of American lifestyle, many things that an Indian would find strange there, the weather, etc.

But certain things can't be explained. Can you explain the impact the impact of a Gabbar Singh dialogue to one who's never watched, or even heard of, Sholay?

So the book is a fiction, a travelogue, and a self-help book for expats in India and America. Even the difference in the education system of the two places is explained.
The author has chosen to stay anonymous. The book does seem to have strong autobiographical inspiration, though.

The book is written in the English that most Indians speak. It is spoken English on paper. So sentences, such as 'Jai's feelings for Kaahi were mutual, not just a one-way street' can be found in this book.
I personally don't mind reading such sentences once in a while, but one gains nothing. A good story, written well, is an enriching experience.

Hindi script is used for certain words and phrases, which are then transliterated and translated. 
If one understands Hindi, it does add to the way one can relate to a certain situation, in a couple of places in the book. But mostly the translation works almost as well.

The contents of the book are listed differently. Each chapter has a small illustration. The same illustration is at the beginning of each chapter.
Chapter one titled 'India was One' has lantern as title illustration. Chapter two titled Canteen, has tea cups as the illustration. The two meet at the college canteen. 

The main sore point for me in this book has been Kaahi's character. 
She is introduced as a smart girl, with a mind of her own. But as the story proceeds, I feel only Jai thinks that. Because her actions speak otherwise.
She has no ambition, is conveniently fond of cooking and is rather timid. She can't even keep track of the take-off time of her flight, it seems.
There is an instance in the book, when Jai is discussing that Kaahi is bored. I was like, 'Finally!' Instead the two of them take yet another vacation, giving us another travelogue. She doesn't even have any friends of her own. Jai's friends become her friends and all is hunky dory.

A quote from 'India Was One' -

  • "... people here love cricket no matter what their religion is: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, etc. Cricket has a cult-like following in this country. It's like it has formed its own religion. It never cares which religious background or caste one is from. It breaks all boundaries, and is a great equalizer in this country where people are still shackled by caste barriers."
I had expected an intense story of India dividing and a couple stuck across the border, pining for each other.
I found instead a book that is good for one-time light reading, with lots of information about life in India and America.

Shared with Write Tribe