The Last Few Days


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imagesWhen I joined my first ever job, this thing was growing wings. It took a flight and landed straight on my office computer where apart from C++ codes and .Net complications, laid the excitement of reconnecting, rebuilding, refurbishing. Reconnecting with old friends, rebuilding broken bridges and refurbishing the clogged memories in the slots, neatly stacked, in scraps, photos, status updates. Orkut faded all boundaries. Suddenly, the people who were long lost in the milieu of life were accessible. The friends who I knew in school, discussed the smallest of zits with but somehow renegated to background could be shouted out to, with just a simple search, first through Orkut and then through calls.

Everyone was on it; the in-thing.

I remember forming an account and immediately getting down to the business of finding the lost childhood years, comparing the grown up faces with the innocent ones etched in the memory and sending friend requests one after the other , unable to contain the excitement.
It was the time when social networking was not about likes, comments or frequently venting out the happiness, the grief, the humdrum, the nothings. Certainly not the time when every burp after a sumptuous meal was kept a count of. The time when the concerns were more genuine, the Hahas really meant the laughter.

I might have missed it in the deep recesses of my mind or why would just the mention of it made me dig deeper. I ended my self-imposed hibernation and checked my long lost account on which the last conversation happened in 2011. On April 28th, 2011 Orkut sent me a glowing badge of being an early user, reminding me of how important I was, without knowing I was already having second thoughts. And on June 29th, same year, I moved on. To a brighter partner, simply because, my every friend was on it now. I remember not liking it at first because Orkut was more homely and FB a trendy youngster.

But then, FB was the new in-thing.

It is now too. The relevance may have faded, the objective lost but it is there, holding us in its clutches. When ‘Farewell to Orkut’ blinked on my screen, a little after seeing the news already circulating on the social media, I felt a dull pain. Not that I was a loyal follower. After all, I had made an early exit, forgetting all about ‘scraps’ preferring to soak in the world of ‘Likes’. But Orkut marked the first adventure, the first ever flirting with the power to meet friends at the stroke of a key without actually being there. So, I silently logged on to my account, archived it and safely placed the zipped folder in my ‘Important’ documents, but not before going through every single moment this account has seen, all the times that I spent there, sending scraps, receiving them, hogging on the testimonials, clawing on the first pictures that I ever shared with the virtual friends. The list was actually of people I would call ‘friends’. The world was just opening up.

FB and other social media sites might be leading the way now but it was Orkut that set the path. Sad, that it couldn’t keep up the pace with the changing needs, the growing demands, the altering mindsets. Without knowing, all of us have fallen prey to the tectonic shift. Who knows, even Orkut would have eventually turned into a narcissist’s hub, a philosopher’s den or a grizzly bear’s fighting territory but that’s not how we remember it, do we?

Each one of us must be having a piece of our life, living and breathing on Orkut, reflecting on what we used to be. I do. I relived it yesterday, wondering how the tide of life has changed the course. Wondering how my interactions in the virtual world have changed. May be this demise, the slow exit, is meant to remind us of what social media is supposed to be. As the zipped folder lay safely waiting to be opened again to spread some sunshine on a dreary day, I wonder if FB would shut the shop someday, no tax on making the imagination run amok, would I be feeling the same?

Autocracy Over Democracy


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A quiet Saturday night dinner with a group of friends turned sensational when the discussion veered towards politics. NaMo had already seeped in with his heavy breathing and everyday front page ad, Rahul baba managed to do his bit with ‘women empowerment’, Robert Vadra did it just with his pink pants, Arvind Kejriwal made the cut with his ditching in Delhi and dipping in Varanasi, Mulayam Singh went berserk with his wild tongue. The chit chat turned the dinner table into a war zone where everyone, including the plates and cups of my house, had an opinion. One friend dived in Arnab Goswami style and said, “So Ms Soni, India wants an answer. Who do you think can lead our democracy to greater heights?”

I stated a fact that stunned him. “Don’t insult the sacrifices of our politicians by calling our system a democracy. We love autocracy and plate it as democracy. ”

Isn’t it true? We vote; that is the only part where we use our right to topple the government every five years. What happens during those five years is a slap in the face of the system where we continuously look up to that one man or woman on the top to keep giving us baits to nibble on. There are evening shows where Arnab and Rajdeep fight it out for the maximum ratings on the account of these baits. Politicians swing chappals while the smart ones swindle money. The roads remain patchy, the rain water free flowing. We have elected someone to do the job, which is just another peg in the several layers of hierarchy, the layers democracy brings in permanently. It just does away with a single ruler policy for decades to come, allows us the chance to bring in another one as a part of five year plan.

The system has been manufactured with care as we have given them enough evidence that we like being pushed around. Self-containment has always been an issue with us. The truth is that we lack the self-discipline that a democracy demands. We conveniently wrap its absence in the garb of ‘government is not doing anything’, and while saying that put up a permanent paan stain on the wall right next to the man we are talking to.

“Oh! There is so much of filth on the roads”, we cringe our noses feigning disgust and the next moment throw a Lays wrapper out of the car which our dear child has just finished while staring non-stop at the children begging for alms.

“There is so much of chaos”, the morning traffic makes us say that with a disturbing look. The next approaching red light sees us jumping the signal in frustration halting the traffic coming from the other side, doing our bit.

Isn’t it just like expecting fidelity from our partner while performing lap dance to the tune of hundreds?

Hypocrisy at best, democracy at worst.

We always look for somebody to enforce rules on us. If a man clad in khaki stands at the signal, our vision turns 20/20, we notice the zebra crossing as well.   We don’t notice the yellow placards with ‘No littering’ but as soon as a law enforcement officer blocks our way, we start looking for dustbins. We enjoy dictators because they put us back in line, doesn’t matter if they take away our freedom of speech, make hierarchy even more prevalent.

Indira Gandhi was one such iron hand. Politically ruthless, believing in centralization of power, she made outstanding economic decisions that gave India autonomy in number of sectors. But when Allahabad high court charged her with dishonest election practices, using government machinery for the party upliftment, she found a way out. Emergency was declared for the following two years, which brought the power solely in her hands. Police was given unlimited powers, her way of dealing with the opposition. Even the Congress workers who had an independent mind were replaced by her loyalists. Media and publications were censored and not allowed to publish anything without the nod of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. She made many constitutional changes bending the democracy to immune the post of Prime Minister from judicial scrutiny. She extended the state of emergency twice until she believed she had crushed her offenders.

The fact of the matter is that we hailed her. It was only when she showed her shrewd, ruthless side during emergency, she lost some of her supporters.

We like being told what to do. Because you have to admit, we are a nation of talkers rather than doers. We discuss things at dinner table but as soon as we are with ourselves, we unleash our uncivilized side, looking for someone to tame us. We like to tell others what to do and not do it ourselves. Marching orders need to be in place for even self -control. We keep arguing, we keep bringing people down, but don’t like to look inside unless someone holds us from our neck and makes us do that. The irony of the situation is we know that. Perhaps, that’s why there is so much of NaMo chant.

Despite having our best chances with some of the progressive, extremely dynamic leaders, we have mostly chosen the ones who dictate the way and make us follow. Because that’s what we know best -follow. At best, we are an autocratic democracy where the emphasis is only on who is going to lead us rather than how.

The Sounds of the Morning


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I see the dawn break from the huge glass door as my eyes struggle to open and leave behind the dreams that danced in them the previous night. The chirping, the barking of a neighbor’s dog form the perfect background score. The running water in someone’s house adds to the effect. The alarm is yet to ring and tell me how it is now time to head into a new day. I lay in my bed to enjoy that warmth created by the sheet and the bodies, reeling in my mind what tasks to take on today, what chores to finish, what deadlines to meet.

I breathe in, soaking the silence before the whole house wakes up and starts humming. I go to my terrace to take the morning sunshine, the rays trying to reach the deepest corners, liberating the pores, the chirping continues. I see a car passing by, someone already taking a step ahead towards the mission of life. An old couple taking a walk, holding hands, sharing silence. A zealous man jogging in the garden, the light wind creating ripples in the pool. The rays of sun playing on the ripples as if someone has thrown gold dust all over. Few leaves join in the celebration of life too. The leaves that have fallen from a lone tree, the huge branches, now naked, shedding its inhibitions as the summer sun grows strong with every passing minute. The branches revealing the cycle of life when among the brown, lifeless foliage, you spot a green sapling making its way. I smile with the trust that the tree will be green again, the shade enormous, home to life.

A cooker’s whistle breaks the morning hymn. The world is waking up.

As I turn around to wake mine, they lay in the sweet slumber in perfect unison. The hands, the legs, the heads perfectly synchronized as if dancing to the same tune. Why not, father and son they are. So the gene pool does play a role. The shape of hands, the way they put them on the bed even in sleep, the way their heads are tilted, must have been twins in the previous birth.

The alarm senses the deep thought and rings sharply to announce, wake up. The bodies move, the eyes flutter, and the day starts taking baby steps in my house.

Frankly Spooking: A Book Review


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I have grown up watching Zee horror show, movies like Viraana where the ghosts were blister faced and women inevitably encountered them in shower. The coffins opened, custard frothed from the blisters, the heads turned 360 degrees, sometimes without the bodies. Gross, I know but that was the horror served hot on the plate that I would gobble without thinking twice. Then entered the Stephen King’s novels, the real potion. Horror didn’t remain confined to old abandoned bungalows. It plagued the cities, found in the shops, wandered on the highways. A step closer. Though it was just written word, not a movie playing scene by scene, it would make the hairs stand at the back of the neck. The sensation, the adrenaline rush unmatchable.

Indian ghost stories, somehow, have usually been limited to churails, old chowkidars, haunted hills like Mussorie, Shimla, unable to meddle in the daily life. Ruskin Bond’s few stories come to my mind but since they have been set in the hills, they spook me when I am on a holiday. The other ghost stories do provide an eerie setting in the night but never frightening enough to make you feel that someone might be standing right behind you, in spirit, probably seeing every word you are typing on your laptop.

‘Frankly Spooking’ does that.

It brings the ghost to the dinner table, at the places we identify with like malls, classrooms, office, colleagues, your own home that you have been living in for many years. This book is a collection of short stories in the horror genre where ear phones have a life of their own, dead have social gatherings, tattoos breathe. The imagination is uncontainable, running amok at times; the spook it generates is spine chilling.

The scenarios in most of the stories are unsuspecting, people going about their regular work and the ghosts just make their presence felt. A distinct feeling that you get when you read this book is that you are never alone, anywhere. That is a remarkable feat on the part of the author.

He plays with your subconscious mind to generate a reaction, of shock, disbelief and chill. The ghosts don’t have a back story, they are unapologetic and love scaring people. The good part is that the tales are never gory, they scare you but the ghosts don’t gurgle blood or squash you against the walls to create a visual impact. Few of my favorites are Director’s cut, Wall of Silence, Dada’s house, Inked, Together in it.

I think writing in horror genre is very difficult. The length has to be right, the suspense has to be maintained, the chill has to be introduced just at the right moment. A person reading a ghost story knows that a ghost will appear but it is a matter of how and when, the unpredictability, that takes you by surprise. Sriramana does that effortlessly in most of the stories. Apart from one or two, each story stands tall claiming the top spot. Some stories are really short. I wish that they were longer to spook me a bit more. Nonetheless, a treat for the horror lovers.

If you enjoy horror or you are the one who watches a horror flick through the curtain of your own fingers, loving and still not loving, give the ghosts in ‘Frankly Spooking’ a chance. They will scare the hell out of you.

Author: Sriramana Muliya

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Horror, Fiction

Price: 299/ -

The Coffee Shop


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The perk of being a writer who works from home is that you can start your day at your own pace, schedule your meetings as and when you like, work wherever you want to. If you don’t want to work at all, you can spend all your day in pajamas and no one will ask you why. But that’s not how I figured my days would be like. I always needed a special corner in the house to get my thoughts flowing, a routine so that I could stay true to my work. Sometimes the clutter would put me off, at other times the ringing of the doorbell would. I wanted peace, a place away from the familiar faces, away from the whistle of the cooker or the constant nagging of my mother. My good that there was a rustic coffee shop just few minutes away from my apartment complex. The only hitch was that it was inside the railway station.

Hitch or blessing in disguise?

It served good coffee, there were fair share of visitors, there was no peace but there were many stories. Loud mouths, tired bodies, family feuds, sparkling spontaneity, you could get anything you wish for. The head phones provided peace and the eyes provided the stories.

So for months now, I would wake up, have bath, gobble my breakfast, excuse myself from the all and sundry of the household that would chain anyone’s thoughts, not only a writer’s, and make my way through the bustling platform to this coffee shop that functioned 24*7. For nights, only a small part remained open, the whole facility awakened sharp at 10:00 in the morning, guzzled till 10:00 in the night. I would be among the first visitors to reserve the best seat of the house. Best not only because it offered a full view of the entire coffee shop to observe and shape the experience, a broad window to peep out to the world without being noticed but it also had the power plug right next to it to keep my laptop humming for the entire day. What else does a writer need – a cup(s) of coffee and a laptop that never stops buzzing. Despite being old, rickety, the coffee shop had wi-fi to remind you of changing times.

Neither the mornings were dreary, nor the afternoons stretched out. The evenings, particularly busy. There was always one or the other interesting character marching in. Many times, love birds would drop by looking for free wi-fi and a sweet conversation, either real or virtual.

But today was different. My mom had some important appointment so she had left early and with her, the morning cacophony too. Even at the age of 35, she believed I couldn’t function without her. After a complete set of repeated instructions, the whole house was left to me, the quiet and peace I had always yearned. I thought of staying back but somehow over the months, it was my favorite spot that set my brain cells on fire. So I had as usual reached there and reserved my seat. The ideas just poured with every sip and clunk, the faint buzz of the coffee machine, the light laughter in the background. Just when I was totally engrossed in a story that was titillating my mind for hours now and the typing was just not matching up to the speed of ideas that were flowing feverishly, a dark green summer dress interrupted my thoughts. The sparks of her beauty flew all around. She breezed in with a big trolley bag, a long string purse hanging loosely from her shoulders, her waist length hair moving frantically hiding her face as she sat right in front of me, albeit a few tables away. There was an inexplicable pull that made me lift my eyes time and again from my laptop. Her shapely, full legs criss-crossed in the knee length dress, the tender toes adorned with black nail paint made her all the more tempting. I wanted to see her face but a book, a damn book in her delicate perfectly manicured hands covered all her features except… except her eyes. The arched eyebrows seemed shaped by a master craftsman. The lashes, beautifully curled, drooped on the face as she read line after line without moving the book even a bit.

I had always romanticized the scenes at the train stations. Blame the DDLJ and the cheap novels that I read in my teenage. There was a certain seduction in the possibility of a chance encounter with a stranger. But I didn’t see that stranger as someone this young.

Still, it was the longest wait of my life, waiting for her to lift her eyes from the book and look at me. This suspense was now killing my own story. I fidgeted with the chord, the empty cup of coffee, made a loud clunk with it but to no avail. What is it that she was reading that she didn’t have even one glance to spare for me? I looked good and had a good height. I was not the one to be overlooked by girls. Despite my middle age, I had the edge, so I believed, to make them spare a good thought for me. Averagely handsome but deep eyes and a thoughtful look was enough if you overlook the day old stubble and the home slippers in my feet.

“Kite Runner” by Khaleid Hossaini, the title read. I couldn’t count how many times I had read that book. I had the author signed copy resting with pride on my work desk at home. My all-time favorite book was in her hands and I was jealous. Jealous of the man whose writing was getting all the attention and I was lurking there like a hungry dog desperate for just one look. Puppy love…. Was it?

She twitched as if she had just heard what I was thinking and then looked straight at me. Her slightly brown eyes lined with kohl killed me. She drank me gently and in fraction of seconds, she returned back to her book, her eyes, fixated again on the pages that echoed friendship and betrayal. I, for a moment, thought of my friends and how they would react if they saw me going mad for someone who I haven’t even properly looked at. But it vanished as soon as I eyed her again, her beautiful hands moving through her silky, slightly wavy hairs that contoured her face. She looked at the boy serving the coffee and signaled him to get the bill. The book was on the table now, her radiance made my heart beat faster. Her nose, her lips, her chin invitingly innocent, looked shaped to perfection.

I had to make my move now or else she would be gone. I walked slowly to her table and in an attempt to strike a conversation, I said, “Ah! Kite Runner. It is my favorite book. ” She looked at me and said, “Pardon?”

“I said it is my favorite book.”

“Oh! That’s good” and she again started looking towards the counter.

Not to take it lying down, I asked, “Have you finished it yet?” I pulled the chair and sat on it.

“No I haven’t.” She said with an amusing look in her eyes.

“I have an author signed copy with a beautiful dedication.”

“Oh! Really”

Her monosyllables were making me go for her even more. It felt as if she knew it.

Her eyes penetrated deeper into me. How I wanted them to look just at me and nowhere else. There was innocence, a sense of calm yet playfulness in them.

They were betraying her now, a slight nervous streak appeared.

I just smiled back.

“So what does the dedication say?” She asked breaking the connection, shifting her gaze to an invisible object on the table.

“Do you want to read it? I will just go and get it for you. I live nearby. ” I wanted her to say yes, anything to be by her side for few more minutes. And added, “Or you can come with me?”

Her lips made a move but her throat caught the sentence midway. “Well…, I don’t have enough time.” She paused and my heart plunged deeper in my stomach. “I have a train to catch. So thanks but no thanks.” She said in a disappointed tone.

“Can I walk you to your train?” I was smitten. I didn’t want to lose any chance of spending some more moments with her though I knew it would end as soon as the train would whistle goodbye to this station. Her nod was enough to make me collect my things, leave my favorite seat knowing fully that I wouldn’t get it again today. But I wouldn’t get to be with her again too.

“So stranger, what do you do except sipping coffee here and practicing pickup lines?” She interrupted my thoughts as we made our way through the crowd and forced me into a full throttled laughter.

“I write in my free time.” I said with a wink.

“Hmmm… a writer. Sounds intellectual. But at the train station?” She questioned.

“Well, I get to meet pretty strangers like you.” I smiled. “Where are you heading?”

“To my college. The vacations just got over. I am in First Year B.E.”

My hand brushed past hers. We looked at each other; a rush of emotions clouded the judgment. When we unlocked our eyes, that lingered on a bit longer than they should have, there was silence. We made our way through the shadows, not talking to each other, hearing our own heart beats.

Her train was already at the platform. As she searched for her seat and adjusted her luggage, I kept pacing outside alongside her, not to lose her in the melee. I could have gone in and helped her out. But something stopped me. The dainty windows of the second class AC could allow only a hazy view. I moved closer. I pressed my hands on the window and peeped inside. The tubelight created a familiar shadow leaning against me on the other side. The hair were now tied in a ponytail, which highlighted her cheek bones. I squinted my eyes to capture the radiance, one last time, to feel her gaze right into me, to touch her hands that were right opposite mine, through the glass. She said something, I could make out. But what did she say? A smile spread across her face. I moved my hand on the glass as if to touch her face and turned away. I didn’t want to know.

I wanted to keep her in my memory, the way it was just now. What we had, the moment, couldn’t last longer. It would have been diluted with the words; it would have vanished because there was no possibility of us getting together, ever.

But I still sit at the same seat, in the same coffee shop, writing, and in the heart of hearts, waiting for that stranger to walk in again. I still go and look at that train, from distance, in the hope of spotting her, wondering if she thinks of me too.

Pic courtesy:

The Almond Tree: A Book Review


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A generous soul whose answer to violence is peace and a strong headed boy whose answer to oppression is fighting back with even more grit. The Almond Tree begins with the story of two brothers in a strife ridden Palestine and follows the generous one, Ahmed, on his journey to make his mark, create a good life for him and his family despite all odds. It spans across a wider timeline starting from the year 1955 when Palestine was facing the illegal occupation of its land by Israel to year 2009 when the ground invasion was continuing mercilessly in Gaza, again by the same oppressor.

On one hand, it depicts the brutal assault on humanity, clear violation of human rights, the protagonist making its way through the misconstrued system, if there is any, making it big in the foreign land away from the slaughter house as he is a maths genius, offering a life worth living to his family. On the other hand, it shows the ground reality of a man, his brother Abbas, who gets crippled due to a vicious attack, takes on the path of high morality and fights for the cause. The characters are well etched, particularly the protagonist and his guiding light, his baba.

The book began on a promising note. The first chapter itself built a lot of expectation around the narrative, the story, the strife. Add to it, “the story can do for Palestinians what the Kite Runner did for Afghanis”, the quote from Daily Star, I was intrigued. But as I moved along, after few chapters, the clichés started holding true. Though it humanizes the land, the people that have been oppressed for so long, you can’t help but wonder if it is just fate or matter of pure convenience on the part of author to create a lot of melodrama.

Yes, it was and it is the life of hundreds and thousands of people living in the strife ridden country, robbed of their property, rights, mental peace they are entitled to. Who wants to live under constant fear, when your sister is blown to pieces because she chases a butterfly and accidently steps into the mine field, when your father is imprisoned for a crime he never committed, when your brother goes into coma due to a hate attack, wakes up, remains crippled for life, when your house is blown to pieces because your father is considered a terrorist and you live a life of abject poverty. The author manages to put a face to the character that goes through all this. He emerges victorious, wins a nobel prize for his genius too.

The brother, however, as expected, lives a life of downtrodden, hates his brother for siding with the enemy, runs away from home and is one fine day, after so many years, spotted by Ahmed on TV in burning Gaza as a prominent member of a banned Brigade. No wonder, he now wants to unite with his estranged brother and bring him to the mainstream.

After a point, the events in this story almost seem contrived. The situations too cinematic, too dramatized. The heart change of the rebel brother, after the death of his son, also seems forceful as if things have to come together at the end. Hard core rebels who start fighting for a cause are never deterred by the deaths of their own blood and bone. They, in fact, bring in their families and several generations go on to push forward the agenda.

For me, this book is not ‘The Kite Runner’. It does give a peek in to the lives of those who have struggled, are still trying to come to terms with their losses. With this book, the story of such people is spreading around. People who have been living in the darkness of a tunnel, some of them trying to create bridges of hope and peace. It is non-judgmental to a certain extent as well, a sincere effort I must say. But on the whole, a courageous story which loses its heart in the middle.

Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Publisher: FingerPrint

Genre: Fiction

Price: 295/-


This review is posted as part of Book Review Program by The Literary Jewels.

Love that Bloomed Late


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“Just one more page please.” I said trying to keep the lights on for five more minutes.  My husband, with a knowing smile, put the pillow on his face and went to sleep.  Every night, if he is not sleeping later than me or we are not hitting the bed together to catch a movie while the fruit of our bearing, the kiddo, sleeps blissfully, we have this standard conversation as I flip through the pages of the book that lies by my night stand. The bookmark keeps moving till it reaches the end, the books keep changing, but the ritual remains intact, of reading, of having some fodder for the dreams that make up my night.  A standard practice that I developed while struggling to adjust to the charms of college life, leaving behind the pig tailed girl from a tiny, sleepy town.

Enid Blyton books, The Hardy Boys, Tom Sawyer never made it to my list as I was well past the age when the reading bug bit me.  The little world I existed in consisted of Chacha Chowdhary, Motu-Patlu, Pinky, and the anatomy of human heart for a long time. The permutations and combinations were not far behind too.

It actually started with ‘Mills and Boon’, the side effects of professional college I say. The romance flew high, much higher than the course, the tardy professors.  Hostel buzzed with activity. Night lamps burned bright till the wee hours of the morning, not for studying but for gossiping and reading romantic stories.   Waking up in the mornings was never a fight. Even if it was, bunking a lecture would come handy.  But missing to spend the night with the bare chested, chiseled heroes and picture perfect heroines that would come alive, breathing from the pages of the M&Bs, was impossible.

But then, how long can you survive on chick-lit and (s)ex-plicit scenes?  For very long I admit, but then the heart started wanting more meaningful, the mind started wanting some titillation of its own.  Jane Austen, Stephen King, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, Paulo Coelho, the list went on. A well-stocked British Library in the vicinity helped. It was a journey to explore, to know more, to understand the world that existed far and beyond.  Long journeys in Punjab State buses to home and back to the hostel meant ample time to finish a good book.  Self –exploration that I could spend hours and hours with a book, that solitude didn’t mean lonely, that there were several different perspectives to look at, several different notions to respect.

The world of words was overwhelming.  It was intimidating at times but made me introspect, every time. The office replaced the college, the home replaced the hostel, the husband replaced the friends in the crinkled bed, and then the kid replaced the husband, with the tide of time. The books, however, remained the only constant. Many of them saw me through my hippy college days, big bandages, shouting-from-rooftop happiness, hormonal outbursts, sleep deprivation, anger management and finally, some solace.  They existed, they guided, silently, effected my choices with the sheer knowledge they imparted of human feelings, of lives well-lived, of good advices, they opened up my mind in more ways than one.  Then they adorned my bookshelf waiting to be dusted, to be picked up again.

I have always felt that somehow they know. The feeling that I will come back to them, night after night.  I have always been. They have been my constant companions.  I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t discovered the magic of books. The magic that never ceases to exist, diminishes for a bit, but revives with every new title, every new word.  I haven’t had my fill; I am sure I never will. Perhaps, this is the beauty of it.

Pic courtesy:

Sorting Out Sid: A Book Review


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‘Come here, my dear, you are so near….

Please have no fear, I love my beer….’

He ransacked his brain to come up with the last line to do justice to the poet in him and came up with ‘And my name is…. Sid’

This is Sid for you, the protagonist of ‘Sorting Out Sid’ who very closely resembles urban, uber-cool, working, unabashed, impulsive, witty and too-busy breed of modern India.  The character is straight out of your office and you wonder, “Have I met this guy before?”  Right from putting on his various modes and various smiles, may it be Casual-Party-Sid, Work-Sid or Witty-Office-Sid, he is as real as a character in a book can get.

This is the story of Sid whose marriage is falling apart while he is busy climbing the corporate ladder.  He is about to be the VP in his firm, only that it deals with toilet cleaning. When Neha, a single divorced mom, saunters in like the cool shade in a parched, summer day, life for Sid takes a turn. Does it bring out the better or worse in him? To know the answer, you need to grab this book and read it without any breaks. I did, as I couldn’t put it back.  The characters pulled me in.

The pages are full of witty remarks and droll humor, almost immediately diffusing the tension that builds up while handling delicate situations in the life of Sid. I am amazed at author’s ability to bring so much of verve and life into this character. You, as a reader, see the story unraveling right in front of you like a movie, which, I feel, is a rare feat achieved by the author. For that matter, all the main characters and even the supporting ones are very well etched. Except Sid’s estranged wife, Mandira and I wonder why her issues are never harped on in the book.

There are many points where you feel that now the tone of the book can get serious given the situations but the author has managed to balance it out with the layering of unexpected humor right then and there like the alternation of bitter chocolate and sweet vanilla icing.  In a scene where Sid starts dreaming of all the important people in his life accusing him, he suddenly remembers Sita’s plea to Mother Earth to swallow her up and he ends up imploring his beloved bean bag, Brownie, to eat him up. “Brownie! Do it! Swallow me up now.”

Sid, with his funny one liners, utter stupidity at times, and crazy ideas is very likeable. Aditi, his best friend, through whom he meets Neha also has wonderful layering in her character. Neha, as a single, cheerful mom, is a perfect anti-dote to Sid’s craziness. Aditi’s husband, Krish, though a side-character, delivers some of the best lines. Sid’s parents and their methods of dealing with the problems are a reflection of how a normal household with a strict, overbearing father would be.  The silent, understanding love of a mother, the never-satisfied father, another mother always looking for faults, it is a plethora of intriguing characterizations and subjects that have been handled with the right kind of sensitivity.

You will see the shades of everyday world we live in, where women are not afraid to walk out on their marriage and have the tender ability to live life on their own terms, men are not super-heroes but have shades of grey and understand that they can’t handle everything, couples are exploring love and not just rushing in the emotion, corporates who are stuck in their jobs, people who are enthusiastic about following their passions, complicated mother-daughter, father-son relationships where each has a point to prove and sometimes, not.

‘Sorting Out Sid’ is a light read despite revolving around issues of broken marriage, unhappiness in profession, human vices, and complicated love life.  A double thumbs up for the author for wonderfully balancing humor and sensitivity, and for making the characters so believable.  I would recommend this book as a must-read.

Author: Yashodhara Lal

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Fiction

Price: 250/-

Cover Design: Arijit Ganguly (A special mention. He has done an incredible job.)

With a child suffering from autism, it’s a fight not worth losing


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When Ria saw her newborn for the first time, her eyes lit up with dreams of his delighted chuckles, naughty caricatures of days to come. Life was blissful. She couldn’t ask for more. As he started to walk, the dreams got bigger. With every step, hopes too. Every milestone, right from him holding a spoon, eating on his own, to a first time babble, was a stepping stone to success.

Ria knew her son was special. But little did she know then, that tag would literally stick to him in the years to come, shatter her dreams.

When he didn’t speak a single word at one and a half years old, he was a late bloomer to her. But something about him was changing. He never made eye contact. When she taught him, like pointing the nose on his face, or birds in the sky, he would just look at her pointed finger. He wouldn’t play with the other kids. He never waved bye byes.

She would get toys, but he would pick up a bottle of water, tilt it, spend hours just watching the water going up and down in it. He would listen to the doorbell, but not when she would call out his name. After telling herself repeatedly that there was nothing wrong with him, and failing miserably, she decided to finally approach a professional.

Her son was diagnosed with Autism.

[To read more, Please Click Here.]

Online Shopping Experience with


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Until about a year ago, online shopping was akin to books for me.  I could only trust the online stores for books and nothing else, and that too after physically visiting a Crossword store to finalize my list. Primarily, the discounts lured me.  A very cautious shopper at that.  Clothes, items pertaining to home décor, and accessories needed to be seen, to be felt and visualized before spending my hard earned money on.

When my husband ordered the lenses for his high end cameras online, I declared him lazy and mad. Mind you, they are pretty expensive and need lot of care when they are shipped due to their fragility. I waited till the day of delivery to rub the fact in his face that the wife is always right. Only to find his lenses reach our home spic-and-span. And in proper working condition too. The smirk on his face was enough to dare me into the online shopping world and change my perceptions.

I liked the idea of not hearing charged sales pitches from the salesmen when all you want to do is look around in peace, not sweating it out in the sun and dealing with the swarming traffic. I started with a dress, then footwear, then another dress; the list goes on. Now, a good site can indulge me for hours and makes my wallet go light by quite a few bucks. I need to be told to hold back.  With heavy discounts and Great Online Shopping Festival, I have tried buying almost everything on internet.

Except one.

Despite being addicted now, I, till few days back, didn’t have the courage to order any home décor item. The fragility, the picture not worth a 1000 words and a second look kept me away.  Moreover, if the piece didn’t turn out to be the Michelangelo I ordered, I would be stuck with the routine of calling and following up with the customer care to take it back, and then wait endlessly for the refund. That was until happened.

About a week ago, when a neatly wrapped package arrived at my doorstep, I squealed with joy. The joy of having bought something for my home without even stepping out.  I had been looking for a perfect piece for my side table in the living room.  Nothing really clicked on or offline. It had to be beautiful, delicate, stylish yet subtle.  The discounts  and Jabong’s option of opening the package before paying anything to the delivery boy and returning it back right then and there, if not satisfied, was really hard to resist.  It was like picking up the piece in the showroom, turning it 360 degrees, not liking it as much, hence putting it back on the shelf.  Added advantage- you didn’t have to get dressed in your couture best and fight the uncivilized traffic to reach the showroom; a faded pajama and a peaceful smile were just fine.

After spending a lot of time on the site doing window shopping, inundated with enormous options to choose from, I finally zeroed in on a TruDecor item. The finish, the curves, the colors simply fascinated me.  All the dimensions were clearly mentioned, the pictures from different angles made sure that I could visualize it. Add to this a heavy discount, and the deal was sealed. I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on it. I placed the order conveniently with a very user-friendly interface and then the wait began. I also liked the idea of continuing as a guest and not being compelled to create an account. One can place the order and track it as a guest as well. The process of creating an account was easy too. They said the delivery would take 3-4 business days but it arrived in just 2 days, right in time for the small dinner party I was throwing for my close friends.

The package was big, neatly secured with broad tapes. There was a big ‘Fragile’ sticker too. When I cut open the tapes, it was very calming to see a bubble wrap with higher tensile strength and big bubbles to mitigate any chances of a break on the way.  There was another small box in which the showpiece was actually kept, buffered with thermocol casing.

When I held that beauty in my hands, I was a satisfied customer. The actual product looked exactly the same as the picture shown on the site. Still, the feeling of touching your actual purchase is unmatched so I spent a few moments admiring the showpiece while the delivery boy patiently waited.  I had almost forgotten about him. Back to reality, I completed the formalities and we both went our ways – me, busy with showering my affection on the piece and he, off to creating another happy customer.

Here I am, showing off with the pictures






What I like:

1)      Easy navigation, user-friendly interface.

2)      Browsing different categories and going through hundreds of options within each category is fairly easy.

3)      Making wishlists, remembering the items even when you act as a guest and not logged in are quick and hassle-free.

4)      Once the order is placed, there is constant update about which stage the package is in through sms – thankyou note, number of business days it will take, shipped, reached my city, out for delivery etc. Email is also sent at regular intervals.

5)      The packaging of the products is satisfactory.

6)      They keep introducing many new offers to engage the consumers like the Holi offers they are already gearing up with.

What I don’t like:

1)      The quality of the boxes used can be better.

2)      The customer service response is little delayed if you want to go through unintrusive methods like emailing instead of calling. The turnaround time on the queries is high. A live chat can be a good addition to overcome this barrier.

As I tick the ‘home décor’ box too in my online shopping list, I am a total convert. An addicted and happy online shopper. And with sites like, I don’t see that changing anytime. In fact, my breed is going to increase manifolds.


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