Saturday 27 December 2014

Book Review- When She Smiled- Ritoban Chakrabarti

Title- When She Smiled
Author- Ritoban Chakrabarti
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 881 KB
Print Length: 234 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1502850575
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Ritoban Chakrabarti; 1 edition (30 November 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital South Asia Services, Inc.
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Price- INR 186

When She Smiled

To purchase- click here

This is a review on request and I am thankful to the author for giving me the opportunity. 

The cover art on the book is of a silhouette of a woman in a backdrop of beautiful mountains and it seems as if she is smiling. It conveys a fairy-tale kind of beginning and romance is written all over it. People who are put off by sappy stuff may find it a bit 'too dreamy' but it sure catches eyeballs.

The novel begins in a warm, nostalgia-inducing setup of the protagonist Roy's school days. It is relatable and brings back memories of school crushes and the little games that we played. The characters of Roy, Akanksha, Ashima, Megha are all cut out from every child's past. The Army School, Shimla background makes the whole thing smell like old jeans and guitar.  

The language is simple and lucid but the beauty of the language has been kept intact. The incidents are well described and the humour is delightful. There are many references to the pop culture icons of the times the author is familiar with, they might sound alien if you were not a part of the frenzy but you can perhaps relate them to your own favourites. 

The endeavour is honest, perhaps too honest. The reality bites are all really familiar and you might subconsciously place yourself in the protagonists position. There is nothing out of the ordinary and that might not sit well with a reader who is more into fantasy and fiction. This one is a plain, tongue in cheek, biographical sketch. I am not saying the biography is of a real person, I mean the book is about the plain things that happen in life. I could have just said the book is realistic and cut this rant short but, I guess I like to rant.

The book is engaging but not thrilling. The author had poured real emotions in it and has been easy on the elements of drama. I'd rate it with 3 stars out of 5. 


IB Happy Hours- Kinley- Sachchai

Kinley cover

Prompt- Kitna chain hota hai na sachchai mein

Sometimes when telling the truth could get us into trouble, we tend to lie or omit details to avoid it. Although this seems like a great temporary solution, it weighs on our conscience. In a blog post, tell us about a time in your life where telling the truth was the right thing to do.

I have always sided with truth in all my life decisions- some tough, some not so tough. It was not because I needed to prove anything to anyone. It was only because truth is easy. Yes, sometimes it is uncomfortable and painful, but if you see the long term repercussions, truth is the only way to go. It also helps if you have a bad memory which I do. In case you're telling a lie, you need to remember a lot of details. But in case of the truth, you just state the facts.

One time in my life when I decided to come clean and it helped me in the long run happened in college. I had a huge crush on this girl who happened to be my friend. Now, sometimes if you mess friendships up with love and suchlike emotions, the other person doesn't appreciate it. It almost spells doomsday for your friendship too and that's why most guys keep their emotions under covers.

I was one of those guys. I kept my feelings to myself and carried on with the day to day affairs. Life was great and our friendship was getting stronger. She had no hint that I had feelings for her and I did nothing to display my emotions for the fear of the unknown.

Then one day, I decided that I need to tell it to her just because I needed to know my chances. In my heart, I knew that she had no clue about my feelings and hadn't thought about us being together in her wildest of dreams but I wanted to take no chances. There was a 'what if she liked me back too' there and I wanted that 'what if' to go away and that's when I spilled the beans, told the truth. She was obviously taken aback and wondered how long I had been hiding those feelings. To her horror, I was infatuated with her since the very beginning and the revelation made things quite awkward between us.

She had no such feelings for me and we started growing apart due to my one-sided emotion as expected. I regretted telling her the truth but I knew I had to get it out of my system. It was the only healthy option to me. Days passed and one day she texted me telling me that she missed me. I told her that I missed her too. We joked about old days and old stupidities and started talking again.

The next day, we met and talked like nothing had happened. I took the rejection on my chin and wore it like a medal. I joked about it, she appreciated how I wasn't cross with her. It turned out that her only fear was that I'd become weird once she turned me down. I couldn't but smile at the absurd idea. I had no expectations from her. I had no ulterior motives. It was just something I needed to tell her and I wanted no acknowledgement. If she would have said that she liked me that way too, it would have been great but if that didn't happen, it didn't make me a grumpy ol' fart. She was glad to know that I hadn't changed.

It had been three years to that incident and our friendship has stood the test of time. We are still in touch, we love each other as friends and talk often. If anything, the truth-telling session made our relationship stronger and more honest. Since then, I have been a fan of the art of truth-telling and practise it often.

Friday 26 December 2014

Book Review- Indireads Reviewer Program- Done with Men

Title- Done with Men
Author- Shuchi Singh Kalra
Format- e-Book only
Publisher- Indireads
ISBN: 978-1-927826-32-4
Cover Illustration by Mariyam Iftikar
Genre- Romantic Comedy
Pages- 98
Price- $2.99

The book was given to me as a part of the Indireads Reviewer Program by Indireads which promotes fiction by writers from the subcontinent featuring stories about the region. 

About the author

Here is the introduction from the book itself- 

Shuchi Singh Kalra is a writer, editor and blogger based in India. She has been writing since
2005, and has freelanced with popular magazines such as, Good Housekeeping,
Home Review, Parent & Child, Vista, Dogs & Pups, Women’s Era and Time ‘N’ Style
among many others. She also writes a monthly travel column for Investors India.

Shuchi is the owner of Pixie Dust Writing Studio, an editing firm that services a global
clientele, and the Indian Freelance Writers Blog, which is a fast-growing resource for Indian

Shuchi started dabbling in fiction only recently and her short stories have found a place in
anthologies such as Love Across Borders and New Asian Writing’s upcoming collection (to be
published in 2014). Done With Men is her first book.

Before she took to writing, Shuchi was an Optometrist at one of India’s leading eye hospitals.
People thought she was crazy to dump a seemingly good career to become a full-time writer but
looking back, she believes it was the best decision she ever made.
A self-confessed travel junkie, she now leads a happily nomadic life with her fauji husband
and livewire toddler.

The Review

The book as is evident from the blurb is about Kairavi Krishna, an urban, young woman's love life. She is 'done with men' apparently and has gotten the same phrase tattooed on her wrist. Anyone with a slight idea about human psychology can figure out that such a character is really sad and broken in her heart and the book too is also a story of how she might think so but is is definitely not 'done with men'. 

The book begins on predictable lines with a funny, mysterious air about it. There is the quintessential forgotten eventful night and the confusing repercussions to spice up the beginning. The novel begins to beg you to turn it into a movie script and pitch it to Saif Ali Khan's production house. Then there are the Anurag Kashyap moments when the author begins to pack a drama in the romcom. The pace slackens whenever the author takes the grim route but it is back up and next thing you know, you're chuckling at the quirkiness of the characters. 

The language is quite simple and lucid. The novel has no airs about itself and it is just a light, breezy read. I think it is going to be a hit with all the independent, strong women out there who are breaking stereotypes. To some, it might be a put off because Kairavi's is too rebellious a character and sometimes acts downright foolish. The book might soothe the ailing alter-egos of women who want to live life to the fullest. 

The cover art is quite beautifully done and the scenic beauty of Goan beaches and the free-spirited-ness of the character are beautifully captured. The fonts are easy on the eyes and the chapters are short and easy to browse. All in all, it is a popcorn romance with certain cliches but it is entertaining and the characters which are annoying turn out to be adorable at certain points. It is a slightly bitter, mostly sweet kind of story. I'd rate it with three stars out of 5.


Wednesday 24 December 2014

I want to write a novel someday

I guess this is one dream which everyone who has a thinking mind has in common. Why is ‘writing a book’ a goal so glamourous? The gratification from writing something that will remain in a remote bookstore where it might get picked up by a stranger to cause a direct or indirect effect on him- is that it? Is a book a declaration of your being? Or immortalization of your words? It is perhaps both and more.

I want to write a book because I like leaving messages. I think they are thoughtful and they touch lives. The book will be my message and if it strikes a chord with a few readers, it will give me immense joy of validation. I can almost imagine a sardonic Hugh Laurie (in his Dr House avatar) sitting in the corner and smirking at my vanity. I know it is a petty reason to write a book.

I know the real reason to write a book is to send a message across. The best books are the ones that have something to say which hasn’t been said yet. Great books are the ones who say it without stating it. Mine will be a petty book mostly because I have nothing to say. Whatever is needed to be said has been said or is being said already. We have had too much talk about poverty, selfishness, lovelessness, charity, kindness, virtue, ego. It has all been stated and re-stated. I am not a man of strong points anyway. I get put off by books which are idea driven. I cannot read motivational books for my life. They eat away at my soul, they nag me, ask me to be a better person, take up the initiative for their causes. I do not feel strongly about any of those things. Even the things that have caused tragedies in my life, I am weirdly okay with their existence. I don’t want to murder every bad guy who crossed me, I don’t want revenge from the guy who stole my girlfriend or from the girl who left me from some other guy. I feel nothing.

I see around myself, people motivated and aggressively marching forth, trying to win arguments, trying to serenade the crowds and that makes even whatever urge to win that was left in my heart vanish. I am not a man of competitions and I cannot write a novel that can win awards.

I am not saying success doesn’t excite me or that I am a lazy bum. Maybe I haven’t found my purpose yet, maybe I never will. Maybe I will never have a book on those bookshelves, maybe my book will sell millions of copies. Yes, those are the possibilities and I am okay with all of them.

Let me explain my detachment some more. See, we didn’t have choice about our births, our families and one might humour himself into believing that he chose his own career, it was more or less based on some degree of chance. The things you’re feeling strongly about, they came to you because you happened to be in that sort of environment. If you’re this easily motivated for a cause, how can I trust you with it?

I think we trust the wrong kind of people. We trust the ones who are the loudest. The ones who commit less actually understand the value of commitments and that’s why I value stoicism. I am saddened and angry over a lot of things but my book will not be a negative one. It will not fight the things I want to fight because then, I would be using my pen to speak louder than it should. I would state things as they are and then move on to happier things. It will be a back and forth slice of life kind of thing and that’s why it will not be an award winning novel.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Book Review- Train to Pakistan- Khushwant Singh

Title- Train to Pakistan
Author- Khushwant Singh
ISBN- 9780143065883
Published by- Penguin India
Price- Rs 250
Pages- 190


I finished this book in one day, that too in few hours. The drama is intense, the truth is bitter and the setting is very Indian. The expressions, the idioms, they are all translated and it would have been much more effective, had it been written in Hindi or Punjabi. But the book doesn't lose its charm in its Indianness simply because some stories are above narration, they are the stories that deserve to be told; Train to Pakistan is one such story.

It is grim and there are details of deaths and bodies that one doesn't want to hear, rather one is tired of hearing. Yet, the truth needs to be told because unfortunately, it is still relevant today. We make it about Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs when it is really about humanity. A bullet, a knife, a hacksaw- they don't ask your religion, sex or caste.

The horror of communal riots is just unfathomable to an urban mind. A mind that reasons, gesticulates, justifies just cannot comprehend the emotions behind these deaths. Iqbal is the urban mind in this story and he could have been Iqbal Singh or Mohammad Iqbal. Khushwant Singh deliberately chooses to keep his identity vague and the point is made emphatically.

The character of Jagga badmash is more layered and heroic than Iqbal. There are also the love stories between Nooran and Jagga, Hasina and Hukum Chand and the mind wonders how love makes heroism possible so naturally.

The best part about this book is that it is not a sad book. It is not a book which shows only one side of humanity which is bloodthirsty and exploitative. It disappoints the rightwingers and leftists alike. It is a book about political neutrality and emotional radicalism. It is the book for those who understand humans. Khushwant Singh excels in dissecting the tragedy and refrains from over-romanticizing it. A good, short, deep read.

4 out of 5 stars 

Ratings explained-
1 star- Unbearable
2 stars- Meh!
3 stars- Good
4 stars- Excellent
5 stars- Blew me away!

Monday 22 December 2014

#WillYouShave for glory?

My friend +Nikita Johri prompted me to participate in this activity-

Gillette #WillYouShave activity

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette

I used to sport a lazy stubble until I got admission a dental college. My education in a professional college was my first step toward my awareness for the importance of a shaven face. I recall there were times when my teachers would send me back to hostel just so that I can shave and come back to the clinics. As a dentist, it is all the more important for us to have a clean, shaven look. A dentist who sports a stubble gives off the impression of untidiness and carelessness.

After college, there was a lull in my career as I dropped a year to prepare for various competitive exams including the civil services. The stubble started to grow and it is noticeable fact that I dated no one in this time slot. I turned into a sloth. I joined a clinic later on in 2014 and as I put on the apron, I realized that the stubble had to go. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, especially as a healthcare professional, you have to spend some time on your grooming. Shaving is an essential and indispensable part of that grooming routine.

Nowadays I have joined a clinic and have to shave daily so that a clean sharp look keeps me looking like a dentist as patients march in and march out of my clinic happily. It has also added to my confidence and I can feel it in my voice and gait. I see it in all the people who are in higher posts or powerful positions, I never see them in unkempt, untidy clothes with unshaven faces. It just does not go with the position. They say one should dress for the job he wants. They should also include grooming in that adage.

Shaving is also associated with cleanliness as an unshaven face hides many things including pimples and dead skin. In short, shaving is what men do to remain men.

I would like to nominate my friends - +Vidya Sury , +Priyanka Dey , +Bindumadhavi P , +Sharanya Bhattacharya , +prachi aggarwal , +cynthia vincent , +SAMEERA SHAIR ALI , +Paritosh Bhatt , +Vandana Choudhary , +Amanda Ferrao , +Giribala Joshi , +heramb s , +Jatin Israni , +Simardeep Singh for the same activity.

And here are the two bloggers, blogadda wanted me to tag you too-

Do blog and post this post's URL in the acknowledgement of that post.

Let's keep the chain going.

Second Book Walk in Delhi NCR

 Past Sunday I organized the second book walk for my meetup group and it wasn’t a grand success as barring me, the number of participants was one less than last time. Last time, we had two participants. :P

I wasn’t disappointed though because it is not bad for a start. The purpose of the book walk was fulfilled where I met someone who had an interest in books and was willing to share his thoughts. I wish this idea snowballs into something beautiful one day.

Mr Hitesh Rathi, an engineer by profession seemed to have a keen eye for good contemporary nonfiction books. He told me that he had recently completed the book ‘Breaking India’ by Rajiv Malhotra and would highly recommend it. He told me that the book contained 60 pages of bibliography and was a thoroughly researched book. As he was into Indian history and busting myths, I recommended him my favourite book on the topic- ‘Sanskriti Ke Chaar Adhyay’ by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar. Very few people know that Dinkar was actually a historian by education and he took up literature as a hobby later.

Mr Rathi also shared his views about the popular series of Games of Thrones and I couldn’t but ruefully mourn my ignorance in the fantasy fiction department.

I also seem to get the same reaction from every book lover when I tell them I haven’t yet read Mario Puzo’s Godfather which is a wide-eyed look of surprise. I need to read it ASAP. I am losing face.


I shared my experience of reading Indian authors- Amitav Ghosh and Arundhati Roy in their respective works The Shadow Lines and The God of Small Things. Mr Rathi talked about how some movies more than make up for the books. We also talked about how the book ‘Shantaram’ is a literary gem.

His prime recommendation to me was ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R Covey. 

I have never touched the genre of motivational books but he talked pretty enthusiastically about it. We also gave a quick thought to Paulo Coelho and how all his books other than 'The Alchemist' were a bit disappointing. We discussed the idea of pooling our reading lists together in the group so that when we meet, we have an idea of who is going to talk about what. Mr Rathi was a keen follower of Indian tradition and wanted to read more about it. He wants to learn Sanskrit so that he can read a firsthand account of Yajurveda etc. I applauded the idea.

Hope to see more people in the next book walk.

Here’s a short note to thank Teja and Pathik for showing up at the first meet. I have bought and am reading Teja’s recommendation- ‘Kane and Abel’ by Jeffrey Archer.

Until Next Time!

Do join us by signing up for the group AND the meet at-

Thursday 18 December 2014

The magic with children- Indiblogger Happy Hours

Club MahindraPrompt-

Teddy Travelogues

How do Children add magic to your vacations? Tell us how you would ensure that your kids have the best of times during their vacation, so you would have a great time as well! 
The official link-

Children add magic to everything including vacations. They make the whole thing worthwhile with their endless chatter and enthusiasm. You can fall asleep, think of things like work and money but they will make sure that all their thoughts surround fun and merriment of the vacations.

You rarely see a child worrying while on a vacation. 'Living in the moment' finds its true meaning among children and that's why as companions, we want their every moment to be as awesome as possible. The are the most regular clients of 'having fun' and that's why 'fun' finds its way to their hearts more easily. It drips from the ocean sand, the dew-drenched leaves of deodars on the hills and it seeps into the kids' tiny little pockets before they even know it.

Be it hills, be it beaches, children know the best way to have fun and that's why us adults need to make sure that nothing gets in the way of children and fun. (As if it was even possible!)

Although I don't have kids yet (I am a bachelor) but if I had kids, I would have employed the following ideas to make sure that my kids have the time of their lives-

1. Keep them involved.
Club Mahindra cover

Most children feel ignored at important events in their families. I would make sure that they get enough attention. I would keep them indulged in a game of Antakshari, dumb charades or would just chat with them about the things we see.

2. Tell them stuff.
Club Mahindra cover

Most kids feel ignored when their parents are doing stuff like changing tyres, re-routing their journey, making plans about dinner and hotel reservations. I'd not be that parent. I will spell it all out so that they feel important. It will be healthy for their personal growth as individuals too.

3. Stop for sightseeing.
Club Mahindra cover

On a road trip, there are always places which we miss because they are not 'in the plan' and we sometimes end up disappointing the kids. I am going to be the kind of dad who takes a U-turn and takes a short detour so that we cover that fun-looking amusement park in our trip. It is the stuff happy memories are made of.

4. Buy souvenirs
Once we make good memories, it is also important to preserve  them. We remember Ooty from the small wood art-piece that we buy from that small art store, we remember Goa from that sea-shell bracelet that we buy from the flea market. I'd be generous with these small gifts to take away for the children

5. Click a lot of photos
Club Mahindra cover
And lastly on this list, is clicking photos! Those trips are the happiest times for the kids and it would be great to grow up and find all those memories neatly tucked in the photo albums. I will make sure that there are a lot of great photos and I will be clicking away when they are busy having fun!

Shaking Hands with Strangers

I just shook the hands of a product manager (fancy name for ‘salesgirl’) from an Orthodontic supplies company. It was as awkward as a handshake can get. I don’t know who invented the handshake but he must have been a really lonely person just wanting to hold someone’s hand. “Can’t hold strangers’ hands? Let’s turn this into an etiquette-related thing!”

Initiating a handshake is the toughest part. You hold out your hand hoping that the other person will notice it in time and grab hold of it before it turns into a miserable plea. Sometimes your hand is caught, sometimes it is too late. When it is too late, you begin to simper and the other person notices it and then he holds it like one holds a runner about to faint after a sprint.

Smiling at strangers is less awkward I admit. You just stretch your lips and feign happiness. It is like everyday living. I wonder what would have been the scenario if all this etiquette was more naturally evolved. I guess, we’d have been made to raise our eyebrows and widen our pupils upon arrival of an unexpected guest as opposed to smiling. The handshake would have been replaced by a hand gesture implying appalment on his arrival. ‘How do you do?’ which is a nonsensical salutation in so many ways, would be replaced by ‘Who the F are you? Young kids would be taught to follow their natural impulse on seeing strangers. They’d have grown up into dentists who would have acted all surprised whenever someone entered their clinics without an appointment.

The friendliness etiquette is not that bad though. Of course our natural instincts need to be suppressed because we have already deleted the natural world from the recycle bin. Civilization has made many things possible and it would be unfair to even argue for the case of a more disorderly world.

If anything, we should shake more hands and smile more. It is an uphill task and requires a lot of commitment. I bet if it was left to you, you’d only make friends with people you like and weeded out the rest from your life. But, 26 years of my life have taught me that we cannot weed out people. We must shake hands.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

They fired at kids?

There are hashtags on twitter, facebook posts, comments, basically there has been an outrage on social media against the heinous terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. These words that have been floating in the blogosphere tell us what happened there, how saddening it is but none of them can exactly precisely describe the amount of tragedy that took place in Peshawar on 16-12-2014. 

Taliban has done the unspeakable, the unthinkable. They, as a group, have detached themselves from the rest of the humanity. It is not as if they were one of us but now, they cannot redeem themselves. It has gone too far. There have been moderates in Islam who have been protesting for radicals saying things like 'They are fighting a just cause with unjust means' or that 'sacrifice is the order of God' but what happened yesterday was not ordered by any Allah or God, it was an act of pure evil.

The moderate voices in Islam which somehow end up validating terror need to either shut up or take a stand against it. Islam cannot stand on its own, it needs the support of its followers. It can't be the fault of a religion or God that humanity is going haywire. It is just humans. Humans who kept quite when hate mongers conducted rallies, humans who glorified terrorists like Hafiz Saeed, humans who trained others to carry and use guns; those are our real culprits. I hope this news brings shame to all those humans who sat in Chai stalls, nukkads, barber shops and although they didn't plan any suicide attacks, they justified some killings, they supported the rallies, they raised slogans in the name of Allah. All those heads must hang in shame now.

This is of course not a time to shame Pakistan. I am not pointing at a nation. I am pointing at a specific group of people. They exist in UK, US, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, they are everywhere. They happen to be Muslims and the time has come when we stop protecting or blaming Islam. All those Muslims do not represent Islam. Islam doesn't need representation. It is a much larger religion than one can imagine and its followers are everywhere. If you target the religion, you miss the point and you end up helping the radicals. 

They killed 132 students and burnt their teachers alive. How do you measure such a tragedy in numbers? How do you measure the number of toasts that were made in the morning by the loving mothers who sent their kids to study? How do you measure the hopes of parents, their dreams that they had for their kids? How do you measure the effect on the survivors' minds? How do you measure the cost that humanity will have to pay now that it will be 132 students short in its mission to eliminate ignorance and barbarism?

Even one death would have been painful enough. It would have put to rest a million dreams, a million possibilities. And we have 132 deaths! Keep counting the dead dreams and begin the arrangements for their funeral too.

Monday 15 December 2014

Book Review- The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Booker Prize Winner)

Writer- Richard Flanagan
Title- The Narrow Road to The Deep North

This was one book that took a long while to finish. Admittedly, I solely picked it up because it was this year's Man Booker Prize winner and I had to read it. The best part about the book is that it doesn't have a story. It is just people living their lives. The language is unique. For the lack of a better word, I'd say the language is vague. Vague, but in a good sense. The author doesn't take stands, he tells a story and that's where the genius of the book lies. It is so real that it offends you.

It is about POWs, deaths in camps, mud, monsoons, huts and cholera. It is about history which cannot be undone. It is about people who acted in those circumstances. Those tortures, those horrors and life after that. The book also has a love story. A guy in love with his uncle's wife. It is intense and sometimes weird. Life is unfair and bad stuff keeps happening yet, the facts are chronicled in a detached yet beautiful way.

Sympathy and warmth are evoked only in those who already have them brimming in their souls. The novel is a gentle reminder that there is much wrong in the world and that humans are complex beings. There are many lines in the book that are worth preserving. The plight of Koreans who were just stuck in the middle with no nationality to assert in the war is also well depicted.

The poems in the narrative evoke thought and are quoted from classical or famous works. Those provide much fodder for thought but call for serious reading and sometimes googling references too. It is a serious read with serious things to say. Sometimes it is blunt, sometimes the language is artistic. It is a disjointed work seemingly arising out of the need of it instead of author's creative compulsions. It is as if the author would have exploded if he hadn't written this book.

It also took a long period to write and that shows in the writing.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Rise above fear- Indiblogger Happy Hours


Rise above fear!

Fear is a fact and one has to take risks in life to succeed. So tell us about the risks you have taken to overcome your fear and claim victory! 

Here is a link to Mountain Dew's Official Facebook page-

Fear is one of the eternal truths of life and I completely agree with the statement that a person who has never been afraid in his life, has perhaps never done anything worthwhile. Fear is a sign. It is a signal that you're about to do something big. It is a signal to set your body and mind in preparation mode. 'Prepare to conquer' is the only motto and looking back is not an option. That is how it should feel. That is how one should use fear. Yes, use your fear to win against any obstacle for it is a formidable force.

Some great man once said that courage is not the absence of fear but the will to go on even when you're afraid. I had such moments in my life when a decision had to be made and fear gripped me like a vice.  I'd like to recount one such moment that I faced in my Murudeshwar trip. For those who don't know, Murudeshwar is a beautiful temple town in coastal Karnataka where a giant statue of Lord Shiva overlooks the ocean and along with the spiritual aura, the serene calmness of the water soothes the soul. If you haven't seen the place already, get planning and get packing.

I had gone with my college friends and everybody was keen on doing the water sports except me. The problem was, I didn't know swimming. And the 'Banana Boat Ride' seemed like a suicide mission. A bunch of people were dragged to the middle of the ocean on a log-like boat pulled by a speedboat and then the log would be rolled over so that everyone would just fall into the water. I was pretty sure if I was thrown in there, I would drown. I didn't trust the life jacket, I was pretty sure I'd do something wrong like flailing my limbs the wrong way or breathing inside water that'd cause some mishap.

It was fear!

A few of my friends, who didn't know how to swim backed out. So, I stood there with my friends, all of whom knew swimming with the only exception being me. I had the option of giving in to the fear and walking away. My philosophy in such cases has always been and will always be to give it a shot because if I do it, I'd get a story to tell and if something goes wrong, at least I'll know that I tried.

And here I am! Telling that story!

So, I stood there. But then I closed my eyes, looked at the giant Lord Shiva statue and said 'yes' to the Banana Boat guy. We went in the ocean with the ocean breeze caressing my hair like a mommy bird who is about to train her young one to fly. When they reached the spot, the speedboat took a sharp turn and the banana boat, sure enough, turned like a log and we all fell. Splash!

The next few seconds were just heartbeats when I gulped some water, the salt gushing in my nose and mouth. I regretted signing up but not for long.The thrust of the life jacket thrust me upwards and I breathed heavily as I reached the ocean surface. I saw all the smiling faces, all my friends, hooting, applauding my courage and holding hands.

For those few moments, I felt more alive than ever before. I felt as if had finally claimed my destiny. I lay in the lapping waves of the ocean and looked up at the clouds high above. Suddenly, life had a purpose and it was to live. Live to the fullest while you can- that was the message the ocean waves whispered in my ears. I floated like a log in the water and tried to swim. It was tough, so I went back to floating.

Finally, it was time to go back so, we went back, climbing, holding hands and pulling each other back into the boat. That was the day I realized that fear was nothing but a signal. A signal that something awesome is about to happen.

And till date, I crave for such moments, such days which can be used to bookmark my life, days which make it all... worthwhile.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Pre-Marital Sex Debate- Indiblogger Contest

YES or NO to Pre-Marital Sex

The following post is a part of the Indiblogger contest in association with Poonam Uppal's newly released book-

A Passionaate Gospel of True Love : A Mystical True Love Story (English)

Here is a link to the flipkart page of the book- Click here

I think that pre-marital sex is something that is much frowned upon in all conservative quarters which is unfair because sex is a biological truth while marriage is a social one. Restraint in your sexual behaviour is advised but cannot be enforced. Just like no one can stop you from eating a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate just because they think you should be eating a salad. But then, fatty, oily food is actually bad for you while pre-marital sex, has no such repercussions (unless, of course, your partner gives you Chlamydia).

I think sex should be freed from the dogmas that surround it. And one of the dogmas is that it somehow corrupts the participants. I mean c'mon! It is one of the most beautiful things ever. Of course, there should be some discretion in who you should be having it with but that's only because it requires a high level of intimacy and can join two souls in one. It should be given the respect it deserves but, it should not be put behind a cloak of chastity. It doesn't corrupt. If anything, it only makes your presence of the Earth worthwhile. It is the highest form of intimacy one can share with another individual. It requires trust, passion, love, lust and desire.

My point is, I do not oppose pre-marital sex. It doesn't mean I am saying everyone should be having sex right away but, I am saying it should be up to the individual to decide and he or she should not let fear of values, morals or society guide him. They should think about the level of closeness they share with the other person and then go ahead if they feel comfortable. Again, if they are doing it just for the sake of doing it, I am not radically opposing that idea too. I am merely suggesting how it should be done. But the most importantly, it should be done with consent and you should let yourself feel impure or corrupted once you've had it.

Fear is a bad teacher. It guides your thoughts away from anything that it feels might harm you. Sometimes, it makes you stay away from things you love or should love just because it has some predispositions. Get rid of fear or doubt and just let love guide you. Love is a friendlier teacher, it asks you to walk through fire and makes you do amazing things you never thought you were capable of doing.

Love will make you plan adventurous trips with your partner, go on long drives, make passionate love with him or her. Love will make your heart grow stronger. Fear will make you weak and cowardly. It will also turn you into its agent and you'll be perpetrating the same fear that you felt.

Be a little unreasonable when it comes to following rules, especially those decided by the society and be more playful when it comes to the matters of the heart. I am not asking you to be promiscuous if you don't want to be. All I am saying is- do not be afraid. Love with all your heart. Let your heart bleed if it comes to that, but stay alive.

The dogmas about sex being a corrupting force are more or less related to the male chauvinism where every male somehow invented the idea of a chaste female because he was insecure of his manhood. He wanted an all-obeying wife who he could govern not with love but with fear and thus came this fear into existence.

It is the 21st century and it is about time we free the society from such unreasonable fears. Let's look at our biology and realize that sex is a natural act. Love, and let love.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Top 5 ways every book reviewer covers up for the authors.

1. Dealing with bad grammer

2. Dealing with a dumb writer

3. Dealing with incomprehensible gibberish

4. Dealing with generic thrillers

5. Dealing with romance novels

Friday 5 December 2014

A weird prose- Colours!

Colour me red with your eye and throw me in the fire. Let me burn and bake until my skin is caked. Until the red turns black and the black turns blue, let me roast. I want you to not look at me when all this happens. I want you to turn around and put on some sneakers. I want you to take a walk around the street, across the town, waving to yellow people and smiley faces. I want to turn red and then black to blue, without you.

I want to be toughened, I want to glisten with sweat. I want the sweat to escape my pores and envelope my skin. I want it to teach me, guide me, glide me across the burning pyre toward the blueness.

I then want you to come over and watch. I want you to see what I turned into when you turned your back on me. I want you see me blue and then turn green with envy.

I don't want you to stay green though. I want you to turn generic yellow. I want no tinge of purple on your skin. I want you to disappear in the blackness as you step back, slowly and steadily. I want you to fall among square bricks, well-aligned and sorted out- just the way you like it. I want you to be safe and secure all your life. Caged in squares with all your Rubik's cubes solved and all your smiles planned and premeditated.

I will sit on my small white cloud, a little blue but I will have red eyes. No red eye correction software will work on me and I will burn within. But from outside, I will be blue and sometimes even purple.

If you, by any chance, realize that squares are boring or that clouds are more fun, come to me running. I will await your arrival sitting on this cloud. You can look at me and smile, it will be your first unplanned smile but that's the furthest I can allow you to go. I would not be able to hold my hand out and pull you up on my cloud. Because by then, I would have floated high above. Because, sometimes clouds drift away.

So, just go ahead and colour me red!

--Abhyudaya Shrivastava Copyright 2014

Thursday 4 December 2014

Thankfulness- A very short story.

The nervousness right before doing something new- it gripped him as he proceeded to hold her hand as she leaned toward him in that desolate street. It was a strange mix of emotions. It didn't have the air of a love story's beginning, neither did it have the grimness and pregnant moments of a drama. It was something usual and common, yet so difficult to comprehend.

It must happen to everyone, everyday and yet, why does it feel so new? She was a sad woman and he- a lonely man. A usual recipe for souls to come together and maybe unite, not in a transcendental, magical way but in the same way all the garbage, rejected the world, is swept together in one corner with no choice but to snuggle and feel fuzzy. Their time was borrowed and so was their happiness. They borrowed it from each other, scooped out from places they did not know existed. They reached inside the empty chocolate ice-cream cartons of their souls and ran a scoop across for the leftovers. They grabbed hold of whatever was left inside them and handed it to each other.

She was an ugly woman with a squint. She walked with a frailness that explained her extreme politeness. It was her mirror talking and it seemed like it lied. He never saw her the way she described herself. For him, she was a damsel in distress. Her squint was unnoticeable and her fragility rendered her a softness much like that of flower that needs to be protected. If anything, her eyes looked like those of a person who had just been slapped against the wishes of the universe. It seemed like it was his duty to make her happy to ensure that the universe was brought back in order.

He was a loser with no money plus, he was bad at conversations. He ended up saying the weirdest things making the whole situation turn comical, notwithstanding the gravity of it. It again was his analysis. To her, he was a stranger with a kind eye. His initial chatter assured her of gullibility and she could predict that he was quite incapable of tact and cunning. She felt safe around him.

She was crying inside the metro train when he saw her. They talked for a few minutes and it led to the eventual hand-holding. Of course, it didn't feel right but it felt like a good mistake to make. For both of them, it was a step forward.

A few years later, they were happily divorced, with a kid. The kid could never tell that his parents were divorced. They both seemed happy. They talked, laughed and many times, it felt like they had just kissed.

Were they in love? Was this a mistake since the beginning? Whatever it was, after all those years, one emotion that they had for each other was 'thankfulness'. 

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Poem- To Win Everything

There's a rare song,
the cuckoo might sing.

It doesn't come easy,
but it has a good ring.
It needs less of feet,
and more of the wing.
Your blood it might spill,
your nerves it may wring.
It teaches you to lose,
it makes you face dying.
It's like you enter a restaurant,
to reluctance you mustn't cling.
Imagine your worst fears, decide your order.
Don't look at the waiter,
To your table, this platter
you yourself have to bring.
The crux of the matter,
is that winning is important,
but the catch is-

To win everything,
you must lose everything.

What is love? #RandomThoughts

Ah... love! Love is when there is no doubt, no fear and no bondage. It is when you are sure of yourself. 

You are not afraid but it is not because there is nothing to be afraid of, quite the opposite; it is because although there might be adversities but, you are not thinking about 'self' anymore. 

You cease to be important because the most important fabric of your being detaches itself from you and houses itself in someone else's soul. You become nothing and your love becomes everything.

You are not even scared of getting hurt because the emotion is not tangible, it cannot be hurt, it just exists. It hovers over your head and encompasses all your thoughts and actions. It is love.