Tuesday, April 16

A Journey And A Revelation

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The fiery red ball had rolled back to its assigned slot sharp at the strike of dawn. The unerring pattern of the nature was slowly being unfurled. The exhilarated birds, cluttering their ever vivacious wings, had already propelled out from their nests. A mesmerizing shade of crimson had been sprayed unevenly on the nature’s canvas signaling the fervour of a new start . It was time to pull myself up from the cozy comforts of my quilt and head to work, for not an element of nature would defy that vividly sketched out schedule of this world – a schedule that commenced with the crack of dawn and ended with the fall of dusk.

But why oh why, didn't the dawn ever sleep in? Why oh why didn't the bird ever feign sickness?

For the consequences of a speck of laziness creeping into the well polished sheen of disciplined nature would be drastic. The same holds true for our lives too. A day that rolled by sans the assurance of that one penny would be akin to a day simply not lived at all. Or, is it so?

In search of sanity, seeking solace from the chaos, I once decided to paint my walls blue. The hue would ultimately pacify my distraught mind, I believed so direly. As an extension to this mire of thought, I decorated my cabin with the prettiest of articles – a frilled purple glinted photo frame encasing my dearest family, vibrant files, an artistically carved wooden deck on the side wall and a lot more that fail to resurface from the neglected recess of my memory right now. Slowly as days rolled by, my visual field failed to register the presence of those much loved accessories. No, i hadn't turned blind at a spiteful snap of fate, but my mind had indeed turned blind to those perky additions crafted by me, solely aiming a rescue from my redundancy. Before long, proving my worst fears right, the whole world started morphing into one huge monochromatic grey wall encircling me, restricting my exit forever.

Life continued in misery, until that bright sunny morning when the weather was at its allure best and the shimmering clouds seemed to float fast as if in a hurry to cross timezones. Tired of my hibernation and inspired by the swell of energy around me, I decided to break down the huge repulsive grey wall forever that particular day - All by myself. Blowing away the powdery past that settled on my skin, and along with it my worries and woes, I set out on a journey, a long pending trip to a far destination, alone.

With a sagging backpack slung over my shoulders, spiked soles adorning my feet, a denim blazer wrapping me with comfort and dreamy eyes twinkling with excitement, i knew I couldn’t wait a second longer once the decision had been made.

 Trudging the road, I savoured places I had never seen before; Boarding trains, I explored spaces I had not a minute clue about. The wind that blew against my face was succulent at few places and at other places it surprised me with its tantalizing scent, probably the scent of a blossoming garden it had emanated from. I roved in search of those places and discovered fruits that tasted exotic and flowers that were outwordly. The zest of the hail storm that shook me wild never saw me wavering from my goal. Instead I sailed with it,on its wings, to the unknown, unexplored places it hauled me to on its way.

Resting under the pine trees, mad with happiness, I hummed loud my favorite tune against a soft rumble of the receding thunder. Dangling my legs from the formidable velvety rocks, I delved into the mysteries of the lusciously vast ocean sprawled ahead of me. Trekking the steepest, tortuous rocky mounds, I shed my worst fears one by one. Embracing cultures and observing beliefs, i realised that variety is indeed the spice of this world. Days saw me rejoicing with complete strangers who with utmost compassion fed me when i was utterly hungry and sang songs with me in between those scrumptious meals. Cracking jokes with them i laughed out loud, uninhibited for once, uncorking the bottled up frustrations which frizzled out with each hearty laughter, ceasing to exist thereafter. Sleeping under the milky white blanket of a full moon, locked in night's embrace, admiring the sparkling necklace knit by stars, I savoured few of the best days of my life - days which taught me that it was indeed the journey that mattered and not the destination.

Strolling back to my mansion a few months later, i was spellbound by the sight of those invigorating deep blue walls looming ahead of me in all its pristine beauty, the beauty which i feared was lost forever somewhere beneath the ugly grey tentacles of the surmounting doom. The tentacles never bothered me from then on. For I had discovered the perfect antidote for drabness - a stroll, a ride, a hike, a trip - a journey in any of its varied enriched form.

P.S : This is partly fictional, partly the creation of a reverie. But i do believe in the therapeutic effect of a journey - True to what i had said in the post, even a walk or a short ride serves as the perfect stressbuster for me.

Sunday, April 14

Guest Post - For A Dream

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Last week, my dear blogger friend Prasanna Rao who blogs at Life Under Microscope invited me to write a guest post at her blog and i had to instantly agree to the offer as i have been reading and admiring her blog for quite long now. If you haven't visited her yet, do that at the earliest for otherwise you would be missing out on a unique collection of short stories and book reviews from her part. 

Here is an excerpt of the short fiction by title ' For A Dream ' that i wrote for her blog : 

" 'How would grown up Sonu look like in a pilot's attire?' The query seeped into my mind while I sat watching him in the pale glow of the twilight rays. Hunched forward on my tall, sturdy, polished wooden desk, his usual weary, lackluster face seemed to have acquired an unprecedented charm. 

'Thank you didi'. I remembered the deep felt words he had uttered, words garnished with all the innocence and exuberance of a 7 year old, on seeing me switching on the ceiling fan to make him feel comfortable in a weather which was sultry and depressing. He had long unkempt hair - an uneven bunch of black and brown mopy strands, a mellow voice, deep set, large jet black eyes and a demeanor which was precociously mature for his age. " 

--- To read the rest of the story do follow this link Guest Post - For A Dream. Expecting your opinion as usual, but this time at her space :) 

Wednesday, April 10

Musings of a confused reader

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I have been reading a few books lately, maybe a tad bit more than my usual numbers. Pausing for a while to steal back a glance, it dawns on me that i have been savouring a couple of varying genres back to back, with equal alacrity and inquisitiveness, an ardent spark which unfortunately, incepts only once in a while every year.

There has been a thought penting up all this while too, rather a conclusion, something similar to the music or lyrics scenario when it comes to judging a song. Replacing the concerned terms, the million dollar question when it comes to books would be : 'Which matters the most to you - Story or the style ?'

There are authors who dissect each shred of sun's ray to its minutest layer concentrating on its spellbinding anatomy and contrarily there are authors who tend to sideline the nature to a mere statement and pass on to delve in more practical and pragmatic nuggets and there is yet another group who are oblivious to the mysteries of nature, but has gripping and fine tuned stories which leave you glued to the pages from end to end. 

There are readers who would devour a book for the sole purpose of satiating their passion and there are readers who in addition to sufficing their urge to read, utilise a book as a means to polish their own grip on language - the aspiring author bunch. For some its the fast paced propulsion of the story that matters, but for some, the succulent details and subtleties would be the elixir. I have seen people who chuck away a Amitav Ghosh and the likes ranting about its monotonous pace, instead they relish each and every word of the burgeoning pile of those ' You - may not - like - how -  i - say - it - but - you - will - definitely- like - what-  i - have- to - say ' kind, like there is no tomorrow. 

Is it just me, for i do feel that a realistic fiction written in superlative language is more appealing and engrossing than a thriller tagged one or for that matter any book contrived using a mediocre array of words and a bland style. On the contrary, definitely a thriller if sprinkled with an enviable choice of words can sometimes be the best too! And so is a book rich in enlightening or contemplative nuggets though written in a simple and lucid manner. Briefing it, i guess a good book for me is an amalgamation of good content and elegant style with equal weightage to both. Its not the story alone that matters, at least not so for me , but the  richness of the content and the way it is conveyed. There might be naysayers to this theory, but i believe i am not alone in this regard.

I strongly believe that getting published, to this day, hasn't become a smooth joyride devoid of bumpy obstacles, though the current publishing scenario might seem like one and i highly respect and admire the perseverance with which those books have been crafted. But somehow, a bunch of those books doesn't seem worthy enough of the time or effort from the part of the reader. On the other hand, good writers who are obstinate about getting their work published by an acclaimed publishing house get rejected, and they live with their worries for they are purists who are against the idea of self publishing. (On a serious note , with no tinge of sarcasm, do good books get released in that manner?)

There was a time when as a kid, i used to look upon published writers as the most gifted people in the world. They were mature people who wrote sensible stuff and had me reading late into the night while i rejoiced in the sheer beauty of the world they led me to. Now i see a published author in every other alley, some classy, but the others way too clumsy and casual; i see toddlers, teenagers and even infants signing their published books in every other corner and the confused and flabbergasted me has made it a habit to search the web for reviews before grabbing a freshly churned out book to read, instead of the usual norm of reading whatever one could lay one's hands on. On the other side of the coin, there are subdued prolifically penned works too whose existence is sometimes masked by the shimmering book releases of the over hyped ones.

It seems all that glitters isn't pure gold after all, especially not in today's world. It is high time we imbibed those proverbs rather than merely acknowledged them. Seriously. 

Monday, April 8

Unfinished Tale - Short Fiction

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I sat huddling on my chair, slowly sifting through the delicate white leaves of Ruchita's diary, the only faint sound echoing through the room being the alerting beep of the monitors perched on bedside tables. The elegant cursive letters, with a characteristic oval notation instead of the dots for the i’s, written in jet black ink, allured me more into the mystic tale each passing second. Ruchita was a writer and the prowess of her talent was evident from the tangled manner in which she moulded her sentences, even though the lines spoke of her life story and not of a tale churned out by her creative mind.

For the past one hour I had been drifting on a completely different world, traversing through the intriguing life events of Ruchita and Abhay, narrated through Ruchita’s beautiful words on her diary. She was amusingly garrulous at times and at other times, embarrassingly romantic. Ruchita and Abhay had been married for two months now. However, the journey that concluded on an exhilarating note in them getting married, hadn’t been a smooth joy ride all through. Tumultuous it was when Abhay refused to marry her on grounds of his parent’s disapproval; harrowing it was when Ruchita spent days encaged in her room cursing her unhappy life in between suppressed sobs and liberating wails; miracle it was when Abhay finally returned back to his only love defying his parent’s obstinate demands, to seek refuge in a completely alien city where he and Ruchita could carve a niche out for themselves, without being deterred by both their families.

The final account on the diary, the one that was written by an exuberant Ruchita madly in love with her husband Abhay, ended on 20th November, 2010. Today was the 30th of November, same year and the time was 8p.m.

At the far end of the brightly lit room, i could see the duty nurse, hustling through her duty report which was to be handed over to the person handling the night shift, with the fervour of a school kid ready to prance out at the first toll of the school bell.

Placing the light brown shaded diary softly on the side table, I grabbed the B.P measuring apparatus from its usual position near the head end of the patient. My movement, though mild it was, might have irked her, for Ruchita peeked at me through the narrow slits of her eyes. A smile broke out on her weary face on seeing me, but her eyes eluded me for i could hardly make out her gaze through the multiple cotton bandages fastened around her head and face, drenched in a repulsive shade of pale red. Even as the numbing cold waves from the air conditioner lashed at me, not sparing my overcoat clad body or my glove adorned hands, i could see tiny pearl sweat beads glistening on her bruised forehead.

Her speech which was almost lost the day she and Abhay were rushed to the casualty from the site of their accident on the wee hours of the morning nine days back, was gradually recovering, though she preferred to remain silent most of the times, lest it should cause her to wince out in pain on each movement of her lips.

“ Did you read it?” Ruchita asked me with much difficulty, her speech slurring, while I wrapped the cuff onto her arm.

I replied in affirmative as she continued in broken sentences.

“I never thought that his parents would make it here despite their enmity. How is Abhay today, doctor?"

"He is keeping alive, Ruchita. His parents are with him. And your mother will be here tomorrow morning too. Now i need you to get back to your sleep. You shouldn't be stressing yourself much ", saying that i gestured the duty nurse to administer her the night dose of sedative. She curved her quivering lips while the medicine seeped into her slowly. Before long, surrendering to the drug, Ruchita was sliding back once again to her relaxed sleep, her chest heaving up and down heavily as she sucked in life air with utmost direness.

An uncomfortable dark cloud started looming in the back of my mind, as I watched her serene face glowing in the ever luminescent I.C.U room. I saw her smiling in her sleep, a smile that only a woman in love would be blessed with, even amidst the most trying of circumstances.

No tear clustered in my eyes looking at her heavily tattered body. My eyes had been trained to remain alert, sharp and dry twenty four hours a day, while I was on duty. But i could sense my heart weeping silently for the shriveled fate of this dainty young girl. A part of my disheveled mind cursed fate, not for her debacle, but for the strong effervescing emotions that she nurtured towards Abhay even while she was clutching onto medicines, barely conscious, for her revival.

An inexplicable overplay of peace danced on her face, on the sight of which I felt my conscience weighing down heavily, as the thought of the blatant lie that i had helplessly uttered a few minutes back as the answer to her concerned query gnawed at me, leaving behind a searing pain.

"He is keeping alive, Ruchita".


Friday, April 5

Tantra - Book Review

Title : Tantra
Author : Adi
Publisher : Apeejay Stya Publishing
Year : 2013
ISBN-10 : 8190863622
Pages : 344
Price : Rs. 195

The Story In Short : 

Anu Aggarwal is a vampire hunter and a well established and admired one at that, who flies to New Delhi from her usual haven of action, New York, the reason behind the detour being a debacle from her recent past. Her boyfriend Brian was murdered and Anu who couldn’t be her usual normal self after the incident sets out to quench her vengefulness and for that purpose reaches Delhi from where hails the murderer, supposedly a malicious vampire. The vampire hunters, as is revealed is a vast network with branches throughout the world. What awaits Anu in Delhi is yet another villain on prowl who is on a murderous rage, but this time the killings are more purposeful aiming small kids in and around the city. Anu decides to set aside her actual mission of tracking down Brian's killer to be followed up later as a dire situation is at hand that moment , involving the lives of children. Eventually Anu, owing to her late night vigilant strides through the dark alleys of the city, seeks out the person behind the cascade of murders and realizes that the mode of his action is entirely different, more to do with Indian tantric powers than mere slaying. 

Anu with the help of her hunter friend Amit finds out the roots of the particular ceremony utilizing fire, akin to black magic, from a person by name Dr. Sharma. Though reluctant at first to accept the relevance of such ideologies in the modern times, Anu soon comes to terms with the validity of the same and diligently masters the Astras that a Pandit Grover teaches her, so that she could win over the villain. The events that unfold in the backdrop of her mastery, finally leading to an eventful and gripping ending is what makes the rest of the story.

On parallel grounds follows the story of Anu’s encounters at home with her desi aunt, who is determined to have Anu in wedlock at the earliest. Irked by the intentions of her aunt and bogged down by the failure on her part to seek out Brian’s killer, Anu tries her best to coax her aunt against her fervent search for a groom, but her attempts go futile and eventually she yields to her aunt. A few incidents revolving around the event and also a marriage function which Anu attends with her aunt takes Anu’s life on a new turn and she starts acquainting with a person called Gaurav. Anu slowly falls for Gaurav and on realizing this the villain seizes Gaurav forcefully to use him as a bait to lure her into his dynasty. What happens eventually is for you to find out.

My Take:

The protagonist, a female warrior is new to Indian Fiction scenario and that comes as a welcoming change from the chunks of chick lit books flooding the market. Also the story is on the lines of a thriller, which means a fast paced page turner is in offer for the readers who struggle to find time for reading amidst their hectic schedules at work. The language is really good with a commendable choice of words and the author has maintained a lucid, engaging flow from beginning to end, something I look forward to in any book I take up to read. In that regard I am quite happy with my selection.

If to point the downsides, I feel the Anu’s past and the events in New York that ignited a spate of revenge in her needed to be dealt more in detail. I couldn’t relate much to her loss as the book didn’t provide any reason to, other than a few isolated titbits from her past sprinkled at places to serve the need for a plot setting for the story. In addition to that the author has left the characters dangling loose, without much probing on their life. Much more detailed account on each one’s life and path would have been engrossing enough. We don’t know much about Gaurav other than the fact that he is relentlessly flirting with Anu and that there is a resplendent thread connecting them together. Amit and Suresh, their Head in Delhi are also in the dark, brought to the foray whenever the story demands Anu to interact with them. The ' shift' that is mentioned in the story came across as vague to me. I had to go with the flow at those places, ignoring the doubts.

The cover page lacks charm, but then it doesn’t matter much, for the blurb is alluring enough and that should tempt the reader to grab a copy. Indian mythology and spirituality make vibrant topics for fictional works, as is evident from the wide acceptance of Amish tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy. The non Indian readers would definitely be intrigued by the details on the Asthras and the idea of Tantra. The portions narrating the same have been perfectly crafted and those would easily be one of the highlights of the book. The Dekhan Dekhi event is another enticing one and the author has sketched it interesting enough with a dash of humour to coat it with.

Anu’s quest for Brian’s killer is still on and that would probably be dealt with in the sequel. I would recommend this book to any reader who is in search of a fast and gripping read. If you are someone who is adamant on catching up with your reading on a working day, well then this book definitely is for you.

All in all a good read and i liked it despite the flaws. My rating would be a 3.5/5.

Reach the author at his website : www.tantrabyadi.com

Buy the book online here

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Programme for Indian bloggers by www.blogadda.com. Participate now to get free books.

Monday, April 1

In First Person

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Two days back, during one of those much treasured slots of time at home with my amma where we entertain each other spilling in news from our sides sprinkled with guffaws, goofiness, groans and giggles, a question popped up from my side as to whether she would yearn to send me off to another family with a bundle of wealth to be tagged along with my ‘beauty,brawn and brains’. As a reply she assured me that neither she nor my father would construe, even in their worst nightmares to sell me away with prior consolidation of a pact or treaty of sorts that would promise a certain amount of jingling while I walk onto my groom’s house. According to her, each ounce of what they compile for me in the name of good or gold serves to satiate their mind, so that thereafter they would feel happy and satisfied that they did enough and more for their children. 

Though, unfortunately the good intention gets twisted and tweaked when spineless people utilise this gesture as a means to loot money from the backward sections of the society demanding money in the name of girl's inheritance. However, i guess now a days more and more families are shying away from the concept of dowry and I strongly feel that the welcoming change found its inception from the fact that you would rarely find a girl now a days who wouldn’t be working, her job in turn serving to be the ‘security’, if I may put it so, not intending pun of course. 

A friend of mine recited a particular incident to me a few months back concerning a marriage proposal that came her way. It so happened that during the primary discussions leading to fixing the alliance, her father happened to show the groom’s party the nooks, corners and the pristine formidable assets of their house, the climactic ending of the home-tour being a promise by her father to the groom’s family that every single inch of what they traversed the past one hour belongs solely to his daughter, the would be bride, my friend. As an anticlimax to the particular tryst, the groom’s family withdrew their proposal stating that her father insulted them by his gesture of sealing the deal in the name of money!

Well this post wasn’t supposed to be a dowry post in the first place, but on my conversations with amma and I apologize for the least enticing deviation. Thus the talks proceeded merrily with amma disclosing a dream of her to own a beautiful house, bang in the middle of the city, even when the current scenario is such that our present home is 2km from the Central railway station, 2.5 km from the Bus stand and 3.5 km from the airport. She has always been crazy about artistically built houses and in her opinion, beauty when coupled with accessibility can be a terrific combination (we are talking about houses here, be clear about that).

And before I knew, she had jotted down phone numbers from the Real Estate Classifieds and had started calling them up enquiring about the subtle details about the plumbing, attached bathroom facilities, backyard and the distance in kilometers from the main road stretch. And if at all we had a wrong assumption that a house in the central hub of the city would come for free, we were proved wrong the very next instant. The guy at the other end proposed a certain sum for each cent, hearing which amma winded up the call impromptu in an impulse or was it because she blacked out?! The second option would be appropriate for the total sum that the guy brazenly put forward would amount to a decent one crore and slightly more than that, considering the spiking real estate statistics in today's world.

Image Source : here
The first plan of action frizzled out, much to our dejection. But my amma is someone who, though utterly lazy like her daughter at times, relentlessly chases her dreams once it seeds have been sown. She came up with a plan afresh, which would see us owning a plot or two in the suburbs now only to be sold out a few years later, which would empower us with the ability to buy a house, again bang in the middle of the city, in her dream locality. My father and I sat marveling at her business acumen for sometime and then we set out yesterday in search of affordable plots in the suburbs.

Two plots down and all we could conjure ourselves to do was to sympathize with the distraught lives of the people in those regions rather than to delve in depth on the pros and cons of the plots. Not that they were sad or looked distressed, but the living conditions were shallow, something I felt that they have accustomed to over the years and might not be having complaints about now. The sight is not something new for I had been to many such families as part of my community medicine health assignments during my college days and even had written essays during my exams on the abject poverty that those people dwell in. Yet, when we thought about the context which guided us to the place, the whole scenario seemed like God’s way of telling us to be satisfied with what we have.

But then, a dream is a dream is a dream and amma has enough reasons to support her too - like the unavailability of auto rickshaws at our place and a few more rational ones. And so also, a couple of days after if amma still feels like owning a dream house - implying a house at a better place, we might as well set out on a sequel to our journey. But right now, slumping down onto my cozy bed, with my jet black laptop on my table and a few good books on the shelf smiling compellingly at me and my favorite song being played in loops by my cell phone, my room with its four sturdy walls to protect me from sun or storm seems like heaven. Maybe something like a God’s own house in 'God’s own country' ? (Argh. That sounds tacky)


P.S : My previous template crashed with no prior notice and i had to come up with a new one. The last one was my favourite. But i guess i have no other option now but to start loving this and to hope that this one doesn't disappear in a bolt.