Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Weathering the Storm by Sampoorna Gonella

How did it feel

Scaling boulders, waiting
For a drop of golden sun

How did it feel
Pebbles strewn on your path
Hoping for a glimpse of soft grass

What did you do
When you were the only one
Stranded in nature's harshest thicket

When you were left to scramble
In unforgiving bramble
Your shadow your only friend
Did you let it rain
Admit you're slain
Or see it to the end?

When you braved life's each storm
Each thunderbolt
With not a quiver of your nerve
Then why does the siren
Of the battlefield
Leave you frightened and perturbed?

And so a mother wrote
To her warrior son
Fighting in perilous land
So he steered every blow
But to his mother's pride and woe
Was buried a martyr in golden sand.

About the poet- 


Sampoorna Gonella is an occasional blogger whose thoughts often scurry off to faraway places without her permission. The results, infused with a little rhyme and rhythm, are here to see. Enjoy!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The speaking ghost of Rajpur by Priyonkar Dasgupta: a review

I have no clue how to start this post. When I heard the title of the book I had something in mind, when I read the blurb, I read something else. When I held the book for the first time in my hand, then my feelings were completely different and finally when I completed reading, I didn't have words. How you felt about the book, I'll let you as a reader decide that. For now, I would like to share with you what the blurb of the book has to offer.

According to the blurb-It is India of early 1990’s – the ‘picturesque’ small-town of Rajpur is in ‘full summer bloom’ and there is a definite sense of mystery in the air. Amidst its scenic setting each year a group of boys band together to spend their summer vacations – going cycling to far-off forests, sharing books, discussing everything under the sky and ogling at girls. But as youth would have it, their curious minds are more inclined to seek adventure and (hopefully!) uncover some mysterious affair. However, unlike their previous vain attempts, this time certain unusual events and the sudden appearance of a curious case of a ghost in their midst seem to hold the promise of some real adventure. In the pages of The Speaking Ghost of Rajpur rest assured you will soon be whisked off and plunged into a headlong journey of adventure and romance of your own – on a path of discovery of friendship and brotherhood, of life and love – and, who knows, you might even get to encounter the Speaking Ghost itself!

I would like to first comment on the cover of the book. Everything kept aside, the cover of the book gave me a very happy go lucky, comic feel that extends to being a horror story too. Now, when I started reading the book I loved the prologue. It was very interesting to read and note and I really liked the descriptions given there.

Coming to the story,  an interestingly woven plot it is wonderful the way the characters rule the story. With pre distinct characters with its specified time frame, it is not many people who can write this well in such a book. Who doesn't love stories? I do. And the best part of the story is the fact that it is for all. People of all ages would love to read the story and know about the speaking ghost.

Speaking of the speaking ghost, the weird part of the whole thing is the fact that as you keep reading the story, the story of the speaking ghost loses its importance and you get engrossed in what the characters are up to. I'll not say much here and leave it up to you to read the story.

Speaking of the cons, I would say that the book wasn't well presented. I expected a lot more from the book but was presented with a lot less. There wasn't any grammatical error as such but with such an interesting premise, I expected something more crisp in the narration. A one time read and expecting a lot from the author in the future, I give this book 3.75 out of 5.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The photo that captured me!

I am essentially a storyteller and not a photographer. Neither do I own a DSLR or for that matter any kind of fancy camera. I see the world through the 13 megapixels of my smart phone. I love travelling but I do not travel. It is partly because of the fact that I am a full time freelancer so my work is home based and also because of the fact that I cannot leave my mum alone and go out travelling. Having said all that, whenever I am out I try to take pictures of things, of people, of nature and yes, Selfies. People who know me tell me that I click decent pictures but I would not really go to tread that line as of now.

In my recent trip to a sea side (interestingly my first visit to a sea side) I realized a lot of things. Especially since it was early morning and I was there staring at the rising sun and the waves crashing at a distance, it made me ponder over life. I have to give it to the fact that I have been told by many people that their favourite place to visit is the sea side while I always countered that mountains were the best. Now that I had firsthand experience, I could tell them why I haven’t changed my take, why still mountains hold a special place in my heart.

You know, this is the first time I am writing it out for the world to see. That December morning when I was 2 glasses of fresh date palm juice down and watching the sun rise, I somehow was unable to calm myself. The inner turmoil was eating me. I missed mountains so much and the peace that the sight of snow brought me. I touched the water and suddenly it came into my mind how dangerous it can be. If you lose balance even a bit, you might drown. The waves come crashing and touch your feet and when you are standing on top of the sand and the waves go back, you feel that you are going down. It unsettles you and you need a lot of concentration there.

I was somehow not attracted towards the water. I saw people going in, taking a dip, coming out. I saw them fighting, have fun, enjoying. But I preferred sitting back on the rocks (nah! Not the drink) and enjoying the view. I couldn’t enjoy. The water, so vast and endless only reminded me of my life. The past, the present and to an extent the future. The coming forth and going back of the waves taking away a part of the coast with it reminded me how so many people come in our lives and go from our lives taking away a part of us with them.

I don’t get that part of me back from them; the coast doesn’t get that part of it back from the water either. That part of me will either forever be lost or be dumped somewhere else. Replacements would come but the emptiness would remain. A line of waves coming one by one to the shore almost as if racing their way. Just like us, racing our way to the finish line. What happens in both the races? The waves crash and they all meet at the coast to be one. In life, we all die and are one with the soil, with each other. The mountains help me solve my queries; the sea on the other hand told me that we are all going to die, no matter what. The mountains are the way, the sea being the destination.

There is a part of me now that would love to go back to the sea. But I am sure, this time if I ever go to the sea; it will be the day that I am out of options. I did nothing that day, rather than contemplating my life and clicking a few pictures mostly of myself and of people with me but only one special picture of the rising sun and the water. Today, if I look back to that picture I feel the same strange turmoil and realize that I hadn’t captured the photo, the photo had captured me. The photo doesn’t belong to me any longer, I belong to the photo. As I type this, I am listening to a song that motivates me to live on “Kehta ye pal, khud se nikal, Jeetey hai chal!”and attaching the picture here. I just hope that someone, someday stumbles upon this picture and expresses to me what the sea sings to them. 

Oh by the way, I'm not hydrophobic!

Love,

Vanya

PS- This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Feral by Laxmi Hariharan: a review

“A many lives story” – this is what attracted me towards the book. It was at first glance that I wanted to read this book. It had something in it that not many books have. Among the many books out in the market, you would feel like going back to the book and knowing what it has to say. This novella by Laxmi Hariharan, titled “Feral” is the first book of “A many lives story” which is basically a series by the authoress. After the bright colours playing in the cover of the book, I decided on reading what the book had to offer. The blurb of the book had me hooked to it.

According to the blurb- He was her destination. She just didn’t know it. When Maya leaves Luke to go in search of her blood family, nothing prepares her for the secrets she uncovers about herself. An intense, shifter romance, set in Bombay. A standalone novelette in the Many Lives universe.

Taking from where the blurb left off, this story is set in Bombay of the probable year 2034. Our characters of the book are very interesting to note. The beginning of the book is very strong and there are only two ways where you can go after reading the beginning. Either close the book immediately or be attracted to the book and go ahead to read it. For me, it was the later. As I kept reading the book I felt that the book has a lot to offer and so has the whole series of the book.

Coming to the story I would like to say that being a novella, this story was nice. Well, a speculative fiction trudging the lines of fantasy, supernatural and all these elements brought into a future and probably place of whose today we know a lot about, makes for a very interesting and promising premise. I believe that a book is good or bad depending on the characters more than the story. Of course the story has to be good but the characters should be strong too. It is about Maya who leaves her everything to search her origins, her real family and then stumbles upon something that changes everything.

Sounds super, right? But wait! There is much more than what meets the eye for the book. What happens when Maya goes out in search of her origins, her real family? What happens when she stumbles upon the truth? All this is mentioned in the book. You need to read it to find out what it has to offer for all the readers. This book is not for everybody. Not for the serious readers, for sure. But for the readers who like to read fantasy, you need to grab a taste of this book.

Now, the characters. My favourite was character was someone who had very little to do in the book but is still, somehow, a central character. The character I am talking about is Jai. He had this strength in him that made me feel for the man. I totally understand Maya in this perspective. Maya was a character who was well formed and she always knew what she wanted to do. Luke was also another character which had a lot of flesh and blood in him. There were a few more characters but one character that takes away the spotlight has to be of that of Maya’s mother (?).


If I have to speak of the flaws of the book then I have to mention the fact that in order to keeping the story a novella, crisp and short, the authoress missed out on a lot of what it could’ve been. As a reader, I wanted more details, more texture in the whole book. A super fast read, I finished it in a blink of an eye. The fact that there are teasers to the other books in the series at the end of this one makes sure that the readers stay glued to it and I am really waiting for the next one. 

There weren’t any grammatical errors in the book but if I have to speak of the writing style I would mention that there were some places where the characters seemed a bit too mechanical. A bit more emotions inside the characters would’ve brought out the best of them. For me, this book is surely 3.75 out of 5. Looking forward to more from the series and by the authoress.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Once Upon a Time in India by Alfred Assollant (a Sam Miller translation): a review

We always love to do what we are forbidden. For the generation of today’s time who is so much into reading books, we get attracted towards the books that we aren’t supposed to read for various reasons. When we are teenagers, we love to read the books that are out of our reach and when we grow up, we love to read the books that are banned. So when I heard about Sam Miller’s translation of Alfred Assollant’s The Adventures of Captain Corcoran, aptly titled “Once upon a time in India” that was banned long back, I couldn’t control myself. I was immediately attracted with the cover of the book and intrigued to look up at its blurb.

According to the back cover- A dashing adventurer, a beautiful princess and countless wily villains. It is the time of the Great Uprising of 1857. India is in turmoil. Captain Corcoran, a French sailor who has roamed the world, arrives with his pet tigress Louison. And so begins the adventure of his life, as he and his tigress joins hands with a Maratha prince and his beautiful daughter Sita, to fight the British. This fast-moving story, with dramatic twists and turns, combines romance, humour and edge-of-seat suspense.

I will start with the cover. For the most part of today’s readership, the cover might seem very animated and they might take the book very lightly but I will tell you what I felt with the cover. To me, I liked it. The cover brings about the essence of the story and is wonderful in portraying what the main characters of the book are like. The animation, for me brings out the story and a lot of its undertones. The first look at the cover and you are bound to fall in love with the dashing adventurer, Captain Corcoran. It is surprising that the book was originally written long back (An 1867 publication in Paris).

Then, you open the book. The first thing that greets you is a picture of Captain Corcoran and Louison. Not only that one illustration, there are countless illustrations throughout the book done by Alphonse de Neuville and it surely brings about a lot of effect in the book. The book starts with an introduction by the translator Sam Miller and I will admit here that the book gripped me there. The way the introduction has been written made sure that no reader goes back into any other book once he or she has read the introduction. The attraction to the book only rises upon reading the introduction.

Coming to the story, do I really need to say anything about it? I would not term it a very serious read. No, this book and the stories of Captain Corcoran had fed the minds of decades of French teenagers who have enthusiastically read and devoured the story. Still a perfect read for the teenagers or for those people who prefer a breezy read, this book is one of its kinds. After finishing the story I just wish that this book comes back into the forefront and people get to know the stories of Captain Corcoran. There are many things in the story that relates to reality while some are totally fictitious. Given the fact that the original author of the story, Alfred Assollant has never been to India, all these mistakes can be forgiven. Being true to the spirit, if I weren’t an Indian, would I have been able to spot the mistakes?

Now, the characters of the story. There were detailed characters and those who are sure to make an impact after the story is done with. Exactly like the cover image, Captain Corcoran is as dashing even inside the book. Trust the author to make you fall in love with the Captain at first glance. Having said that, I would also like to mention the fact that my favourite character was Louison. The pet tigress of the Captain who is as charming as she can ever get, she is the soul of the story. One of the best parts of the book is the bonding that the Captain and Louison shared. Probably no one understood what the other wanted to share but the love that they shared made them bond so well and understand each other’s actions. Their undying love for each other made for a great part of the story. I’ll be true. At one point in the book I couldn’t help but wonder why I don’t have such a wonderful friend in my life.


The narration was smooth and the book was very fast paced. A breeze to read, for the choosiest of readers the book has a lot of undertones. The emotions that have been described in the book are well brought forward with the narration and the simplicity of writing. The ending had a smile on my face and somehow by the end of the book, I became one of the many people who are fond of The Adventures of Captain Corcoran. If I have to speak of the flaws of the book then I can say that the fact that the book isn’t for everybody is a flaw of the book. It would’ve been a cherry on the cake had the book been for all kinds of readers. Waiting to read more from Sam Miller, this book gets 4.5 out of 5 from me.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Shiva in the City of Nectar by Preetha Rajah Kannan: a review

It is said that “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Well, the line might be true but at times, you tend to judge a book by its cover only. There are books which instantly catch your attention and some do not catch the attention at all. When I received Preetha Rajah Kannan’s book Shiva in the City of Nectar, I couldn’t help but be surprised and awestruck at the beautiful cover that it has. A light green cover along with illustrations that are done to perfection brings this book alive and attracts the readers like anything. It was then that I turned the book to read the blurb of it.

According to the blurb- Throbbing with non-stop excitement, Shiva in the City of Nectar sweeps across Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, narrating the exploits of the mysterious and powerful blur throated God. One after another, the tales unfold the follies of ancient devas, asuras, sages and men and mythical beasts. And through them all, Shiva blithely takes on the guise of a beggar, saint, monarch, merchant, fisherman, hunter, warrior and woodcutter; walking through the three worlds to slay rampaging demons, perform his Dance of Bliss and embrace good and bad alike. Shiva is portrayed in is multi faceted mystique- the tender lover who woos and weds Goddess Meenakshi; the eternal Guru who dispenses wisdom; the fierce avenger whose third eye flashes fire; the generous benefactor who showers blessings on his devotees; and, above all, the gentle prankster who embodies the essence of Vedic faith.

I am sure of the fact that as much as I was mystified with the whole blurb, even you are. Trust me, the book as much more to offer. As I was leafing through the pages of the book, I couldn’t help but go back in time when I used to listen to all those mystic tales of the devas, asuras from my parents and family members. As a kid, I used to love those little stories and now having grown up; these books bring me back to my childhood. With a gleam in my eyes, I kept unfurling new and more interesting stories that are present in the book.

Narration wise, this book is very simple yet very interesting. People of all ages can read and understand the book. I will not go story wise but I would say that I was amazed by the way the authoress has written something so distinct from each other yet connected with a simple thread. This book can easily be as a token for the children of Gen Y with the help of which they would learn a lot about the tales that we all grown up listening to.

The book feels very good to hold, resulting in the fact that enhances the whole experience of reading. The simple thread that holds the book together is the prologue and the epilogue of the book which states why the book is written. I would rather say that the book serves as two types of reminders. One that says that fairy tales still do exist and the second that says there is a never an age to read about these fairy tales. Shiva is the greatest God of all time and that is proved to perfection in the book.


Coming to the cons of the book, there weren’t many. Or rather, there weren’t any. It was a very clean and well implemented book. I would take a moment here to say that for the readers who haven’t read or heard much about the Indian mythology would find it a bit difficult at first but they are sure to get a grasp at it. A book that takes time to read as you sit and savor every bit of it. There is also a glossary at the end of the book that makes sure you have everything that you need to read this book. 

For me, this must read book is 4.5 out of 5. I would’ve loved if the stories were written in a bit longer way rather than keeping them so crisp and short. Looking forward to reading more from the authoress in the future.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2016: bringing poetry to the world!

They say that poetry is the essence of life and that without poetry life cannot be explained. There was once this time when poetry used to be the soul of every being but then books took over and poetry somewhere fizzed out. I feel glad to be in this industry during a time when poetry is coming back in form and that too in a way, never to go back again.
Media Coverage

The Bengaluru PoetryFestival 2016 was a celebration on poetry, for poets, of poets. Held in one of the finest places of the city, Leela Palace over the first weekend of August (6th and 7th August), Bengaluru saw the best of what the world of poetry had to offer. With the likes of Javed Akhtar and Piyush Mishra gracing the event on Day 1 and Day 2 respectively, there couldn’t have been a better place for all the poetry to be together as one.

The Bengaluru poetry festival 2016 was about all forms of art and not just limited to poetry. The festival had Poornima Kaushik who is an exponent of the Vazhuvoor styles of Bharatnatyam perform for the audience who was enchanted with the performance.

The audience also got to see Padma Bhushan Teejan Bai performing what she does best-Pandawani, which is basically a traditional form of performing art. With musical accompaniments by her side, age is not a matter for her because it is art that she lives for.

Since the festival was essentially a poetic affair, RainDrops Company (the publishing partner for the festival) launched its anthology titled Po’try. The best part about this particular collection of poems is that this collection was commissioned specially for the festival by the makers and the published poems a part of a competition held by the association and the publishing house across different social media channels. A total of 157 poets carefully chosen from different parts of the world and from different professions were introduced with this particular collection. A well critiqued actress and poetess, Kamalinee Mukherjee graced the occasion and launched the book.
The release of the poetry collection- Po'try

Kamalinee Mukherjee launching the book

Apart from so many activities happening in and around the festival, there were many workshops that were taking place for both the kids and the adults. These were specially conducted by various well known poets from the industry. Since the release of the collection of short poems by Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2016 and RainDrops Company happened at the venue, there has been a huge rise in the sales of the book, making the venture a huge success. After the festival wrapped up, the collaborators are looking forward to a new year full of new poetry to fill the soul.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Igniting Key: A Collection of Poems by Pramila Khadun, A. V. Koshy and Bina Biswas: a review by Amit Shankar Saha

This volume of poems is one of the significant anthologies to come out of the stable of The Significant League, a poetry group in Favebook administered by Dr. Ampat Koshy. The book primarily comprises of poems by the 2015 Reuel Prize winning poet from Mauritius, Pramila Khadun, but also includes a fair number of poems by the other two contributors Dr. A. V. Koshy and Dr. Bina Biswas. Dr. Santosh Bakaya in the blurb writes that this volume offers “an exciting journey into and sojourn in the world of poetry” and no doubt it does. Reena Prasad in her foreword writes that if “a book can be a poem, it is this one.” We seldom come across such a highly recommended volume of poems in today’s world that can prove worthy of the appreciation showered on it. So this is perhaps one of those rare moments that a reader can indulge in, discover a hidden track and walk the pleasure path seldom travelled. One can pause and pick up a line from Khadun’s oeuvre and brood at “Dead leaves make soil/ And dead loves make stars” (“Call it by any name”) or one can become one with the poet and “feel like writing/ An everlasting poem of love” (The joys of summer”).

Michele Baron in her introduction to the volume writes of Pramila Khadun that she “treats the reader to a potpourri of poetry, ranging from rhapsodic odes to love and the poet’s beloved, to well-phrased railing against the injustices and inequities of the world.” Khadun writes with a vision and her poems have a smooth texture so that one can seamlessly read them one after the other. But this does not mean that one may not pause to ponder. The pondering is a luxury that she offers the readers as a gift. In “Lover returns” she writes “One evening, as she sat by the bubbling brook” and in “Soulmate” she writes “I heard your voice reverberating/ By the bubbling brook.” The recurrence of the same imagery in the two love poems interconnects the two and produces the effect of an organic wholeness. Khadun’s conception of love is unique and she reveals it gradually as we read. In “The beauties of silence” she writes,

In the silence of night
Grew the art of loving
Exchanging the sexual pleasures
So near to Nirvana.
She writes again about love in “Mysterious Love,”
Her love for him
Is neither from favor nor frivolity,
Neither the soft touches nor the hot kisses,
It is not even the sexual pleasures
Close to the nothingness of Nirvana
And then in “Silence” she writes,
There is silence in the smile,
Silence in the act of love-making
And silence in the waiting
And the longing, as well.

This gradual unveiling of her idea of love is like an adventure of discovery that she leads the readers into and her carefully chosen diction makes it all the more pleasing. She can often end a poem dazzlingly with a couple of lines that will last in memory for long – “And eternity is too short/ To love you” (“Doubts and fears”). Reena Prasad rightly says that Pramila Khadun’s poems have the ability to connect with “the tenderest affairs of the heart in a sensitive and refined manner” and she best depicts that ability in a beautiful poem, which has a curious title, “Don’t be silly.”

When she is not engrossed in love, she can take “eagle’s wings” and can feel the essence of her “feminism unfolding gently” or she can become spiritual and envisage “a long Viking boat” on the waters of the Brahmaputra or she can revisit her old home and muse how “When the fruit grows, the petals fall off/ When man grows, memories fade off” or she can “no longer decipher/ The architectural designs/ Of her feelings” and plunges into “a sea of silence” to crumble “into cosmic dust.” Khadun’s imageries are fantastic and her imagination spell-binding. If at all she falters, but very rarely, it is when she becomes didactic and loses some amount of grip on her craft as in “The school within us” or The Scarecrow.” But these poems too have memorable lines. In “Blood and ink” she says, “I simply love leaning on your verses/ O poet!” It almost echoes the reader’s stance on reading Khadun’s poems. The hidden track the reader has discovered and is surreptitiously travelling has stiles and bushes to lean on and ponder with a smile in the mind’s sanctuary and then to continue the journey blissfully. Very soon the journey itself becomes poetry.

When the reader comes out into the clear there are two more little paths to discover paved by the poems of Koshy and Biswas. Ampat Koshy’s poems are different from Pramila Khadun’s poems is to say it mildly. Reena Prasad says that Koshy’s poems “refuse to be cast into any comfortable mould but rise like yeast does within the reader and spill their beauty all over the place.” In the poem “Aria” he writes most memorably: “The cold of winter penetrates my bones,/ while I play Russian roulette with my life.”  Michele Baron mentions about Koshy’s erudite irreverence and wry humor and it is aptly displayed in his poem “Setting the world on fire.” On the other hand Bina Biswas has bewitching nuances in her poems and she, especially in her shorter poems, is rather mystical. Her poems “Canonization” and “Coincidence” are excellent in that department. Both Koshy and Biswas add something extra to this volume that is a bonus for the readers. It makes the experience of reading poetry pleasurably complete, if there is at all an experience of completeness in reading poetry. The triumvirate adds variety and makes reading well worthy. Igniting Key ignites the poetic sensibility and takes the reader to a plane of bliss. There are a few typos and editing errors but they are not jarring enough to intrude on the pleasure of reading poetry. And all the three poets leave their indelible marks in this volume. This book is highly recommended for poetry lovers.

About Amit Shankar Saha- Dr. Amit Shankar Saha is a postdoctoral researcher, a critic, a short story writer and a poet. In a previous avatar he was also a guest professor teaching at the distance education programme of Madras University. His love for literature led him to obtain a PhD in English from Calcutta University. His doctoral dissertation is titled “The Indian Diaspora in Transition: Reading Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee Sunetra Gupta and JhumpaLahiri.” His research articles have appeared in journals and anthologies nationally and internationally such as Research and Criticism (BHU, India), Families (Kolkata, India), Pegasus (Kolkata, India), Decoding the Silence (Delhi, India), Comparative Literature and Culture (Purdue University, USA), Cerebration (Drew University, USA), DESI: La Revue (Bordeaux University France), Diasporic Consciousness (Germany), Humanicus (Czech Republic) and others. His essays and reviews have appeared in Desilit Magazine, Muse India Boloji, Rupkatha, Langlit Diplomatist, Asian Signature, etc. His short stories and poems have been published in periodicals and books both in India and abroad such as Estrade Magazine, Muse India, Journal of Bengali Studies, The Four Quarters Magazine, Kritya, Indiaree, Writing Raw, Palki, Learning and Creativity, Hall of Poets, Asia Writes, The Dawn Beyond Waste The Red Balloons, Tell Me a Yarn Blessings and others. He has won prizes at a number of creative writing competitions which includes Wordweavers Award Poiesis Award for Literature, The Leaky Pot - Stranger than Fiction Prize, Asian Cha – Void Poetry Prize, and others. He has also written for the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series books. He is the co-founder and coordinator of Rhythm Divine Poets group. His website ishttp://sites.google.com/site/amitshankarsaha and he blogs at http://amitss6.blogspot.com


Monday, 8 August 2016

The Story of a Suicide by Sriram Ayer: a review

For a weekend read or for a quick but crisp read, what do you desire? Especially when you are travelling and you don’t have place to carry a paperback book? Of course an E-book! Now, with technology evolving every moment most people are suffering from the storage issues on their respective smart phones (people like me, that is!). This book is exactly for people like that. Why? Because the book is in web format which means that the book is written and published in the form of a website. Now, all you got to do is go to the website of the book (http://www.storyofasuicide.com/) and then read the book then and there. I won’t go for the blurb of the book because the title “The story of a suicide” says it all. But I would surely like to introduce everyone to the author of the book, who made it all possible.


About the people who made it possible- Author Sriram has founded an organization called NalandaWay which works for children. Other people behind this book are- Ghana, the illustrator, whose drawings lend a surreal feel to the book. The smudgy art with water colours goes perfectly well with the imperfections of the human mind the book deals with; Mansi S. Mehta- who is the content developer of the ‘How do I’ sections and the copy editor. The ‘How do I’ section in each chapter has links which take you to pages where well-researched articles are written about the specific issues people might be facing; Sitara is also a copy editor for the book. The other contributors include- Surya Balakrishnan (Director, promo Video), Vedanth Bharathwaj (Singer and Composer, Music Video), Tanya Dutt (Lyrics, Music Video), Hema Priyadarshini (Director, Music Video), Uday Danda (Voice over, audio book), Kirti Jayakumar (Campaign manager), Mukesh Ravichandran (Campaigner), Raghavasimha D (Technology Consultant).

It is a feat not many people can achieve. Bringing all these people from such varied fields together under the same roof and then bringing out the best of each of them is something that is super. Kudos, to the person who thought of this and made it possible with such a great team. Before I go on to commenting on the story and presenting my take on it, I would like to say that this book is a must read. No, not for anything else but for the various “How do I” sections of the book. At the end of every chapter, there are a set of questions that deals with what the chapter had to tell the readers and every question and their answers are so well researched that I would suggest everyone to read the book.

Another thing that I liked about the book was along with the chapter, at the end of every chapter rather, there are links for listening to the audio of the chapter which basically makes this also an audio book. For the people who would want to go for the audio version, click the link at the end of every chapter and there you have it. Next, the illustrations. I would say that the book would have been incomplete without the illustrations. They lend a totally new meaning to the book and that makes all the time spent with the book worthwhile.

Now, coming to the story. This book was more than what the story had to offer. It needs a calm mind to understand what the book was trying to portray and yes, the book was successful in doing so. With the help of the illustrations and the self help sections, this book delivers something that remains with the mind for long. Having every element that the current generation is dealing with, would like to read- this book is impactful in its own way. Suicide, LGBT rides, Cyber Crime- the perfect ingredients and the perfect blend. I would like to say that the way the characters have been built up is wonderful and very well thought of.

For the people who are thinking that it is a big deal to read a whole book on the web browser then do not worry, it is a very fast and smooth read. Well proofread. So, there will not be any type of problem when you would want to read the book. More so, it is a very crisp read. If you ask me what the problems I felt for the book were, then I would tell you that the main problem that I faced with the book was the narration. For a story and topic so strong and everything on point, the expectations of the book only rise high. Only if the narration was crisper and strong then there would’ve been no stopping for the book. With the style and the way of writing, the author promises a far better book the next time.

The best part for me about The Story of a Suicide? The self help sections, the presentation and the boldness of the story. For me, this book is 4 out of 5.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Hello, Old friend!

Hello, Old Friend

Kindergarten! That is when we first met, right? Going to school, sitting side by side, learning the very same things- there is one thing that is very common between all ‘old friends’ and that is the fact that the values they carry are the same. Why? Because we start our schooling together, grow up together, our teachers remain the same and we learn what they have to teach. Being girls, we even start menstruating together, exploring the unexplored world at the same time.

We have crushes together (and at times, even with the same person!). You know what my early images of us are? It was the time when we both (and of course all our other friends) used to role play as certain characters of TV serials and then act as them. I remember dancing with you on our annual cultural programme. I remember taking turns with you on the swing during the recess.

I still remember how we used to save money, sneak into the PCO’s and call up our crushes. Not letting them know we are on the other side. We fell in love, the first time together. Remember when I had my first fight with the new guy of our class? You stood by me and fought with him on my behalf. When our physics teacher used to swap seats during her class and incidentally we both were seated beside people who either we liked or who liked us and we used to sneak glances on each other throughout the class.

I would never forget those history classes we both forgot to study and we got punishments. When we used to cry as the other fell down, when we were taught that “stupid” was slang, when the whole class watched Baby’s Day Out together in the computer room. The pride in your eyes can never be forgotten when I was called in front to lead the assembly for the first time and the pride in mine, when you solved the mathematical equation before me.

Decades have passed and we still bond strongly. Passing on the stick of fag, gorging on the lip smacking phuchkas whenever any one of us has the urge to, discussing guys, using foul language, talking about booze, knowing when the other is sad- we do it all. You know the best part of being a real old friend? We are almost neighbours! We may not be much in touch these days. We may not even be the best of friends. But trust me dear, the moment you told me that you are getting married; I couldn’t stop the lone tear from escaping my eye. My chaddi-buddy has grown up! We all do, right?

I cry as I type this. Trust me this isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Typing a letter to the old friend, reliving all those moments that we had left behind! We haven’t been in touch for the longest time and I am sure that after I left school, you have become closer to the other classmates we had. I talk to them too. But somewhere down the line I know. No matter how many friends we have made in all these years, our friendship will be one of the strongest. It is weird that the first ever friend that I had was a girl and I am still going so strong with her. So very contradicting of how many people might think of me right now! Rather, so very contradicting to the fact that I even have one true friend who I can wish friendship day and who, I am sure, will be one with my family to cry on my deathbed. I am glad. 

They say that any relationship that lasts more than 7 years would last a lifetime. 7 years? Bae, probably we have been friends since the time we took our first breath. You know me, nah? If I really start writing, I’ll keep on writing till the end of time and I will not stop. I have been so forever. And you must be shocked upon reading this because I am not a person who expresses her thoughts so easily. No, don’t cry as this is meant for you to smile. Smile as you remember the time when we used to make cards with our own hands and gift each other. 

Technology has evolved. Today there is no card but this open letter. For you and for all “old friends” out there who are reading this. To tell you how much you mean to me. This friendship day, I gift you my friendship! Thank you, for being my friend. Stay beautiful, stay blessed. Keep smiling and keep being my friend!

Love,

Bani! (The world might know me as Vanya now but for you, my Jigyasa, I’ll always be Bani! If you know what I mean!)

PS- This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Conspiracy at Meru by Shatrujeet Nath: a promotional post!


The Conspiracy at Meru(VikramadityaVeergatha # 2)




VICTORY IS TEMPORARY. THE BATTLE IS ETERNAL.

Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine have fought valiantly to repel the rampaging hordes from Devaloka and Patala – but Avanti has been brought to its knees. Ujjayini lies battered its citizens are scared and morale is badly shaken. Meanwhile, the barbaric Hunas and Sakas are gathering on the horizon and cracks are emerging between the allied kingdoms of Sindhuvarta.

The only silver lining is that the deadly Halahala is safe. For now.

Bent on vengeance, Indra is already scheming to destroy Vikramaditya, while Shukracharya has a plan that can spell the doom for the Guardians of the Halahala. How long can the human army hold out against the ferocity and cunning of the devas and asuras? And will Vikramaditya’s love for his queen come in the way of his promise to Shiva?




The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.
But was the Halahala truly destroyed?
A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.
As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to SamratVikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!
A sweeping tale of honour and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend.

About the Author
Door-to-door salesman, copywriter, business journalist & assistant editor at The Economic Times; Shatrujeet Nath was all this before he took to writing fiction full-time. He debuted with The Karachi Deception in 2013, followed by The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru, the first two books in the VikramadityaVeergatha series. At present, he is writing volume three of the series. Shatrujeet lives in Mumbai, but spends much of his time in the fantasy worlds of his stories.



Also by the Author:
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Secretly Yours by Vikrant Khanna: a review

With a very interesting cover and a title which is eye ball grabbing, the third book by Vikrant Khanna, Secretly Yours is surely a head turner. I loved the way the title of the book has been spiced up with the sub title that says “what if you could read the mind of the person you love?” The blurb of the book, when I read it, piqued my interest more in the book like never before. I would take a minute here to say that I had read the author previously and even reviewed Love Lasts Forever (his second book), making me have a lot of expectation  from the book. I would first give you a glimpse of the blurb of the book and then tell you about my feelings for the book.

According to the blurb- Everyone has secrets... But is hers the most shocking? Orphaned at birth, seventeen-year-old Sahil has always blamed himself for his parents’ death. He has little interest in life until he meets the enigmatic Anya in a chance encounter during the Shimla fest. He soon falls head over heels in love with her, but Anya doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. An accident leaves Sahil in a coma, and when he wakes up, he makes a startling discovery- he can read minds! Now, he can find out what goes on in Anya’s head and maybe, just maybe, make her fall in love with him. But is Anya all that she seems? Or is she hiding something? Deliciously plotted and full of startling revelations, Secretly Yours will make you question what you see and whom you trust.

The first thing that attracted me towards the book has to be the title of the book. There is something in the title that is sure to make every reader stop for a while and pick up the book. At first glance probably this book might seem to be just another book but do not be fooled. You would need to read it to know what exactly the book is all about. The story is something that would surely keep you guessing till the time the author wants you to understand what it is all about and that is something that I really liked about the book.

When I talk about the story I have to mention that working with a concept is a very tricky thing, especially for an author. You cannot pick up a concept at random and then incorporate it. To think of it, I guess the execution of the concept is something that really matters. Having said that, I would like to compliment the author on picking up such a tricky subject and bringing it to the readers- all the while executing it wonderfully. I will not disclose the concept here because that would be unfair to the wonderfully written book but I am sure it is much more than what meets the eye.

Narrated in the eyes of Sahil, I would say that the flow of the writing and the narration was smooth. There couldn’t have been a better narration to the story. Now, coming to the characters of the story. There are many characters to the story but all of their timings are well defined and they have the perfect end and beginning time in the story. The way things progress in the book, it seems that everything was meant to be. I would also like to mention here that I am really impressed by the way the author has improved in the course of his writing which is very evident in this book.


The way the situations have been dealt, the course of the story, the way it takes shape- everything is nicely plotted or if I quote the blurb here “deliciously plotted”.  At the end of the book, I smiled and that is not something that I do after every other book. If I have to speak of the cons of the book then I have to say that there were very few. The major con of the book which I felt is that, even though the title of the book is very attractive- does it really mean something to the book? The blurb and the sub title are about a very small portion of the book and even though it might attract many people, it might also not appeal to a few set of readers. Apart from that, as I always say with all books that I like- a bit more would do no harm. All said and done, this is a must read not to miss book and I would rate it 4.75 out of 5. Looking forward to many more from the author.

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