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Anuja Chauhan, Vaishali Mathur, kiran manral, komal mehta, parinda joshi, radha thomas, Aayan Banerjee, Mukesh Rijhwani, Sakshi Gaurav, Anuradha Malhotra, Aseem Rastogi, judy balan

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  1. 1. Time is changing, changing with an accelerated speed. Our understating, notions and perception are trying hard to keep pace with this changing time. As technology has taken a big leap in the field of house hold implementation of information, the spectrum of enter- tainment and media suddenly has wid- ened multi-fold. Digitization of literary substance has suddenly bridged the gap between hi- tech fashionable multi media and old fashioned literature. In this age of tablets and smart phones, literature also has come to the reader with a new look and appeal. The cir- cle of readers has widened and so has perhaps the defini- tion of “literature”! But any technological advance carries with it, its own challenges and threats and sadly this field is no exception! Trivialization of literature, for example can be one such threat, as perceived by the “serious reader”! We have started our journey in this new era of dig- ital literature and publishing with a mission to take the Indian literature to a wider spectrum of read- ers, writers and most importantly publishers. Thank you for your encouraging comments on our inaugural issue. We’ve learned so much from them. Keep them coming and enjoy this edition. Editor Victor Basu Sub Editors Mukesh Rijhwani Sumantra Chowdhury Sanghamitra Guha Photo Editor Neloy Banerjee Designer Amit Mitra
  2. 2. 16 44 48 30 26 56 60 59 64 22 23 24 42 10 52 14 13 03 34 06 74 69 71
  3. 3. With baited breath, Bangalore celebrat- ed the launch of blogger-turned-author Judy Balan’s new book, ‘Sophie Says - The Memoirs of a Breakup Coach’. If how to handle break-ups is what you wanted to know, then this is the perfect pick for you. The book offers a sneak peek into the fashionable issues of the 21st century. The characters represent people that we might have met at some point of our lives. Sophie, an inde- pendent women, gives her theories on breakups by offering a Breakup Fact in each chapter. The event involved an in- teractive session with the writer and an entertaining session by stand-up comic Carey Edwards on 31st May at the Roy- al Orchid Hotel.
  4. 4. On 4 May Eureka Book- shop and Duckbill Books organised Stories in the Park, where children were invited to an evening of storytelling. Six authors read out stories and ex- tracts from books. Paro Anand read from her book Wingless. Sharanya Deepak, debut author of the book, The Vampire Boy, read from her book. Anushka Ravishankar read from Moin and the Monster Bikram Ghosh (of the famous Tadpole Repertory) read out an extract from Meera Nair’s Maya. Himanjali Sankar read from her book The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog. Finally, as the evening fell and candles were lit, Ankit Chadha read a Chinese fable about a stonecutter.
  5. 5. Is there any one genre that you personally want Indian writers to explore that’s missing from (or you want to see more of in) Indian En- glish Literature? Not just one but a few like thrillers, crime fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, pulp etc. I receive very few proposals in them, fewer are the ones that are well written and then we end up publishing even less. These surprisingly are the genres that do very well as foreign titles and we see many of them working in the re- gional languages as well. Do you see the quality of manu- scripts have improved or degraded over the last couple of years? It’s always a mix of the good, and the not so good. How long you look at the manu- script? We do try to get back between 2-3 weeks, sometimes earlier. It depends actually on the writing and the length of the proposal and also our work load at that time. How many manuscripts that you receive in a year and how many books does penguin publish in a year? We do more than 200 books a year and have an active backlist of over 2000 ti- tles. Which means that besides our usu- al front list publishing we are constantly involved in re-jacketing and providing fresh look and packaging to our older titles. Storizen interviewed Vaishali Mathur, Senior Commissioning Editor of India’s prominent publishing house - Penguin. Vaishali shared her experiences and gave a sneak peak in the world of publishing for our readers and aspiring authors. | June 2013 | 11
  6. 6. What’s the three most common mistakes that you find in manu- scripts? I wouldn’t say mistakes, but what I feel authors sometimes fail to pay attention to: First and foremost, the synopsis. It’s very important to have a very de- tailed (not over written), well thought of synopsis which helps the publisher visualize the storyline and the book. The second is the story itself. A good storyline, even it is not so well written is acceptable as opposed to a well written but weak story. And thirdly, copying other, successful authors and trying to push with the same ideas. I understand that certain genres works better and get published repeatedly but formulaic writing without enough originality is very off putting. Do you entertain recommenda- tions from Literary agents? Absolutely. They are like extension of the publishing arm who know what your list is like and what you are look- ing to publish. As a commissioning editor I’m assuming that the agent has done his/her homework before sending me a manuscript. So when they give me a recommendation I take it seriously. Unfortunately, not many in India take their role seriously and try and push anything and everything that comes to them. Do you also look at the blog or so- cial media following of a wannabe author while deciding? Yes, in commercial writing an online profile always helps as does any experi- ence in writing. A blog also helps un- derstand the author’s style of writing. Do you recommend that a wan- nabe author should get his/her manuscript professionally edited before submitting? One needs to consider the extent of editing. If it’s things like a re-write or re-structuring, I would be wary of pro- fessional editing because it’s very easy to go overboard. If it’s done carefully and not with a heavy hand, so it high- lights the good points of the novel, then it’s okay. One really needs to take a call on it. We do fair bit of editing and re-writes at our end, so if the story is good and fairly well told, the rest can be done by the publishers. However, in some cases we ourselves recommend approaching a professional editor. Why do publishers don’t explain their rejections? There are always several reasons for rejecting a manuscript and its difficult to explain all of them. Also if by rectify- ing all those problems, the ms became worth publishing, we would readily do that, but there’s no guarantee. So it’s better to just say a polite no. Having said that when authors ask for a reason, I do explain. Also, when sometimes you get the feeling that your feedback would help the author, you do make sugges- tions.
  7. 7. The story should have minimum 2 to max. 4 suspects. If there’s only one suspect, then there’s no point. If there are more than 4, then it will be difficult to distinguish them from one another. All suspects should have a strong motive. Without the strong motive, neither the reader will be engaged in the story, nor the characters of the story. The victim should be rich, famous or beautiful. Which is more compelling sto- ry? “Retired postman got killed” or “26 years old sensuous daughter of Liquor Baron got killed”. Apart from the murder, there has to be few more events happening in the story. The story should have other events like attacking / killing other victims, clean up of traces during investigations, attack on the investigators, etc., Murder should happen within first 2-5% of the story. The chief investigator has to have a sidekick. This one is just to carry out the legacy of Murder mysteries. Never conclude murder mystery - a case of suicide. Else it’s a waste of reader’s time. No ghosts please. Unless you’re writing stories based on ghost, don’t conclude the murder was done by a ghost. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  8. 8. blood his de   Thank you for the information.” He strode out of the room. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Shamsher walked over to the hospital in which the autopsy was being carried out. It was a weird old, worn out edifice which had cubicles, designed to diag- nose, alleviate, cure or bury the sick. The path to the mortuary was nothing less than a horror movie. But he had no effect. He had seen many of them. Shamsher barged into the office where the superintendent sat. A man with salt and pepper beard, slightly grey hair and a paunch, sat on the other side of the table. He was occu- pied by lot of files and folders that covered every inch of the table. Shamsher had a discussion, which lasted for a short time, about two minutes and left the room. What he had expected was true, Nikita was two months PREGNANT! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Malini intended to have a discussion with Shamsher, for which he waited eagerly. Among all the pieces of evidence, only one thing, a silver coated bracelet was a question. Till now all he had in his mind was only two people as the sus- pect, one with a faint doubt was Malini and the other because of whom Nikita was pregnant. But who is that man? Malini couldn’t do the killing as it would be very difficult for her to execute the murder herself. “Did you get the cul- prit?” Malini frowned. “Your daughter was pregnant and I don’t understand why you are hiding the truth!” Malini’s jaw dropped. “This can’t be true!” She lay on the couch dumbstruck. The SSP sat on the couch positioned opposite to her. He began fumbling with the things which he picked from Nikita’s room. One of them was her personal diary. He had been taught by her mother not to read someone else’s diary. With slight hesitation, he opened it, hoping to find a clue to lead to an apt decision. To his surprise, a photograph dropped down from it. He carefully closed the diary and picked up the half folded picture in his hand, unfolding it with utmost precaution just not to tear off the fragile piece of paper. Nikita was standing with Yogesh, a rare picture taken about a few years back. It appeared to be in cap- tured in close vicinity of his clinic’s one of the private chambers. He was not that much surprised at the cherubic face of Yogesh but by a meticulous look at his wrist. Bracelet! Looking at the picture with Consider the following scenario – You are a first time author. You have either self published your book or used a fly by night operator (read ‘Printer’) as a publisher. They have already taken a lot of money from you to publish your manuscript. And now you have to pay even more to get the marketing done. You don’t have huge pockets to do that. What’s your next move? You can do any of the following – (a)-Relax and wait for your friends’ feedback. Once they read it, they would tell their friends and thus the network would build (b)-Expect people to pick up the book directly from retail stores like Land- mark, Crossword, Flipkart etc. (c)-Contact famous book reviewers and send them a copy for review The third alternative is one of the most feasible and something which a lot of authors have begun doing these days. If you are a new author, getting reviewed and accredited by certain established book reviewers is a matter of pride. The reviewers could range from famous bloggers to top authors. While if you are an established author, a lot many newspapers, magazines etc. will also be ready to review your work. The Indian literary industry is booming these days with authors trying diverse genres. Whether it’s a crime thriller or a satire or even a mushy college love story, everyone from corporate big- wigs to college students seems to have bitten the literary bug. And if you are a book reviewer, there’s no better time than now. There’s so much to read, like and dislike. I personally get around ten book review requests per month. As a matter of principle, I never refuse any- one however bad the book may seem. But then, many a time due to the pend- ing backlog and other responsibilities it may take me upto a month to respond to an author. A book reviewer basically gives an idea of the story, the narrative, the struc- ture etc. to a reader. He basically gives a peak into the world of the characters and the happenings of a story.
  9. 9. d shot eyes, he knew that he had made ecision. It’s something like giving an idea of how a food item tastes. Is the salt ok? Are the spices enough? Have all the vegetables been added? And so on and so forth. So what all does a ‘good’ book reviewer do? A good book reviewer never gives out the story but rather talks about what makes the story good, bad or ugly. Even if he doesn’t like a story, he should give detailed information on what was bad. I believe that writing an ethical review is one of the most important things as far as book reviews are con- cerned. One needs to mention the strengths and weaknesses rather than be too biased negatively or positively. These days with the proliferation of social networks like Twitter, Facebook etc. as well as websites like Flipkart, Goodreads, Amazon etc., book review- ers have become even more important. As soon as a person reads a book, he / she immediately posts a review or writes few lines about it on any of these sites. And this has the potential to go viral among his / her followers as well as other people around. These sites also offer the opportunity to rate a book from 1 star to 5 star. More important- ly, there are a variety of debates, some of them really heated up which begin among people on these websites. There are those who vigorously defend their favourite authors or books. It becomes a source of pride for them. But then it’s not all hunky dory in the book reviewing world. There are quite a few book reviewers out there who are paid to write great stuff or really hor- rible stuff about a book. These online sites also offer the opportunity for ma- nipulating the ratings and reviews of a book. Now these are things one can’t really control. It is like part and parcel of the book reviewing game. Book reviews (Both good and bad) are a great way to generate eyeballs for your book in the market. It gives a sense of intrigue for would be readers as today not many go and buy a book without skimming through its reviews. Paid reviews maybe fine until it becomes known to a prospective reader that it was paid for. Honestly, I don’t follow any particular book reviewers. But rather, as I men- tioned earlier I check various online portals, social networks as well as blogs which pop up in Google search results before going for a book. Aseem Rastogi is a passionate blogger, published author and an avid lover of books. He has opinions on anything & ev- erything under the sun which he keeps penning on his blog. | June 2013 | 15
  10. 10. Sharp 9 am on a weekday morning, the Storizen team reached Anuja Chauhan’s place in Bangalore. Anuja Chauhan was the brain behind Pepsi’s kickass adver- tisements – “Yeh Dil Maange More”, “Nothing official about it”, and tons of other ads. We expected to interview an author in her early forties. The door opened and we were greeted by a big dog. A woman in her late twenties or early thirties said, “Oh you guys are already here. Come on in, don’t worry about him,” (pointing to the dog) “He’s just a mouse.” Reluctantly, we stepped inside a tastefully decorated hall. The woman said, “I will be back in a bit”. It was then that we realized, she was Anuja herself and not her younger sister or daughter. We were served with coffee and cookies, and within no time an easy going con- versation started about her cross-over from a high-flying advertising career to a full time author. We asked her why she left her high-flying advertising career for writing? To this she answered, “The fact was I was flying too much. So the whole thing with writing is that you can do from home also, in office also versus other jobs in advertising. Writing is most suited for the person who has a big family and wants to spend time at home. But there were too many shoots and it became crazy,
  11. 11. and so I thought if I write books I could just sit at home and write. Also, what happens is that initially you write for advertising is very exciting but as you get more and more senior, you actually don’t get to write anymore. I did not join ad- vertising to become a manager, I joined advertising to become a writer and so that was the other thing”. Anuja worked in the advertising agency, JWT India, for over 17 years, eventually becoming vice president and executive creative director, before resigning in 2010 | June 2013 | 17
  12. 12. to pursue a full-time literary career. Over the years she worked with brands like Pepsi, Kurkure, Mountain Dew and Nokia, creating Pepsi’s “Nothing official about it” campaign and advertising slo- gans like Pepsi’s “Yeh Dil Maange More” and “Oye Bubbly”. We asked her if she regretted leav- ing her advertising career. To this she promptly replied, “No I don’t regret it, I am very happy do- ing what I am doing. I miss the gossip though. When asked about her take on zoo zoo ads being the most creative ads of the decade, this is what she had to say, “I like the ZooZoo campaign, but not much in love with it. I feel Ogil- vy does some really good work and you see it in many different things. I think they’ve done lots of other equally nice campaigns. We steered the conversation towards her debut novel, “The Zoya Factor”. She got elated and told us a juicy story. “We’ll go in ancient history. I did the Pepsi campaign for 3 world cups back to back and each one did really well. And then it became like there’s yet an- other world cup and again you’ve to do another campaign which should be better than all the earlier campaigns and the pressure was really killing. At that point of time I snapped and said, this is it I am leaving advertis- ing and am going to write books. So that’s what I did. So everyone in office said no no calm down, it’s a phase why don’t you 3 months paid leave, write a book, get it out of your system and join back. So that’s what I did, only of course I couldn’t finish the book in 3 months. Some guts I had, Teen mahine meinkitaab likh doongi. Couldn’t do it. (Laughs) So I joined back and finished the book while working. I thought ok may be I am not so bad at this. Also, in advertising I am considered as old person, in writing I am considered as young writer (laughs) that’s really cool. Oh I am young writer and not a mid- dle-aged creative director.” We all were in splits by her wit and timing. She spoke confidently and from heart. We asked her how she managed to get her book published. She replied. “It was quite easy. After I wrote it, I sat on it for about six months. My husband said he know Tarun Tejpal and asked me to speak to him. I got his number, called him up and told me to meet his publisher at Harper Collins. So I went and met this lady in Connaught place with my one print out. She took it and she said that the story sounds interest- ing because I told her a little bit about story. Thereafter, she called me in a week’s time and told me that she would publish my book.” Having worked on the Pepsi brand for 13 years, closely associated with cricket advertising, led to cricket becoming the setting of “The Zoya Factor” which is about a girl Zoya Singh Solanki, a client service representative with an advertis- ing agency, who becomes a lucky mas- cot of the Indian cricket team. At the time of its release, The Zoya Factor ran the danger of being dismissed as
  13. 13. ‘Mills and Boon-ish’ but most reviewers were quick to praise the depth of the author’s characters, her wicked descrip- tions and the authenticity of her Hin- glish laced dialogue. She has been hailed as the best chick lit writer in India, but has repeatedly stated that “Chicks are small, brainless, powerless creatures, bred to be eaten. I’m not a chick and I don’t write for chicks.” The Zoya Factor has won Cos- mopolitan Magazine, India’s Fun Fear- less Female award for literature (2008) and the India Today Woman award for Woman as Storyteller (2009). It was longlisted for the India Plaza Golden Quill (2009). The novel has also been optioned for a film by Shah Rukh Khans Red Chillies Entertainment pro- duction company. When asked about the details on the same, she answered “I sold Zoya to Shahrukh. For Zoya, everyone was phoning me up. It was very hep, all the coolest people in Bolly- wood. I spoke to Shahrukh and he was my friend. So he said, “haan you come and meet me. He came to my hotel and walked around the lobby and everyone like look Shahrukh Khan. Then I told him X wants it, Y wants it what should I do? So instead of giving me good ad- vice, he said you give it to me. (laughs)” She then said that since Red Chillies were going through operational issues and with no objection from SRK, the movie rights were re-sold to Adlabs. She told us about movie rights for her other novels as well. “With Battle of Bittora, I sold it to Sare- gama, because lots of people wanted it and I wanted the best money. Saregama gave me the best money. Now Saregama has sold it to Anil Kapoor’s film compa- ny. On Pricey Thakur Girls, I have lot of exciting offers and I have to close it off. ”Her latest novel, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, set in pre-liberalization India, was released in January 2013 and is the first in a series of novels about the Thakurs of Hailey Road, an upper-middleclass Rajput family of five alphabetically named sisters. Initial sales and reviews have been extremely positive, with the book debuting and staying steady at Number 2 on The Asian Age’s Top Ten Fiction Bestsellers list and comparisons to Jane Austen cropping up in every re- view. Mint scribed her writing style “as a mix of wit and colloquial | June 2013 | 19
  14. 14. exuberance and calling her the only Indian writer of popular fiction real- ly worth buying.” Tehelka called her, “quite simply, the funniest writer of contemporary popular fiction.” While India Today stated that ‘beneath the bubble and froth of this delightful nov- el, lies the starker reality of Delhi life.’ Anuja had also started writing screenplays and so, we asked her to tell us more about her experience. She replied, “Yes, I am also writing screenplays, which are quite fun and different, and give you all that glamour and gossip, going to Mumbai and meet- ing cool people. So that’s nice because writing book is a very lonely vs. writing screenplay. Also, I am writing a TV se- rial which I am very excited about.” Anuja has also written the screenplay of a commercial feature film - a love story titled Guppie - mein liar nahi shayar hoon by Nikhil Advani a promiment Bollywood producer/director who di- rected Kal Ho Na Ho and most recently, Patiala House, starring Akshay Ku- mar. She is currently writing two more screenplays, one for Anil Kapoor Film Company and one for production stu- dio UTV-Disney. We asked her how her has life has changed and if she’s meeting more people or less people? She replied with a calm and composed voice, “It’s a more settled life but more chaotic on the financial side. The work is fantastic, but the money is highly irregular. So that is like the big change that happened. So that’s one. I meet lots of people now, but I tend to
  15. 15. meet people I like. So the quality of people has gone up, the quantity of peo- ple has gone down.” When asked if she remembered any particular feedback from an ordinary reader that had stayed on remained in her mind, she quickly replied with a smile, “My reviews are always, about like 95% positive. When you get feedback from the other side, then it’s always nice.” She then told us the secret work around the Writers’ block? “Of course there is. You do get a writ- er’s block. But the way I deal with it is I don’t write for a while.I have couple of regular columns. So I put the book away and I write a column or I go back to the screen play I am working on or do something else for a while. And usually, when you come back to it with a fresh mind then you can fix it. That’s what I find writers’ block is a usually a case of trying too hard. And in advertis- ing, I used to tell my kids ki “Bahut zor lagaoge toh sirf potty niklegi” laughs “so bahutzor mat lagao” . It’s my orig- inal line. Please don’t try so hard. You know sitting and sweating blood, I say forget it. Don’t do it. Keep it light and easy, hawa aate rehane dete hain. Oth- erwise it gets so toxic. Our last question to her was what would be her message to young aspiring writers? She said, “Many people say they write books but they don’t. They should write more. Write every day. Finish one book and send it across. Don’t send an out- line and three chapters. Write your book in decent language and send it. It will get published.” That brought an end to an interesting and exciting interaction with one of the most dynamic names in the Indian ad- vertising industry and now in the Indi- an writing industry. Thank you Ms. Anuja Chauhan. | June 2013 | 21
  16. 16. Plug me in, Switch me on. Put me in your ears, Wear me and accessorize. Small am I in size, Charge me, Play me and hear me rise. I can sing, make your feet go tip tap toe, Enjoy me, shake your head zip zap zo. Shuffle, play and stop, Rewind,play and shuffle, Forward, pause and shuffle, I would still make you go rock and roll. Wear me on your hand, Put me as a band, Chain me on your neck, Hold me with your belt. Load me, store me and fill me, I would still surprise you with more and more. Singing for you everyday, Ever at your service night and day, I can give you peace in my melody, Play for you and give you that harmony. I am Mr. IPod shuffle, Born at Apple. A Software Engineer by profession and a blogger by passion. Have a zest for life enjoy every minute to the fullest and spread a smile wherever I go. Love to travel and an ardent read- er. Hold an ambition to write a book someday.
  17. 17. She is mystery unfathomable, Deep, intense and surreptitious, Sweeping past the deep ravines, A legend that is mysterious. Gracefully strolling like a nymph, She is an enchantress of repute, Creating magic with her voice, Weaving thoughts deeply astute. A timid yet tumulus disposition, She knows not what fear is Braving the mighty mistrals, She sails unscathed with ease. Pure as the morning dew, She is the spirit of happiness, A friend of solitary hearts, She’s the soul of liveliness. Sumantra works as a content writer with a reputed IT firm in Banga- lore. Besides playing with words to create rhyming verse, he loves to dance and watch animation movies. Always smiling, Sumantra considers his family and friends as his biggest assets.
  18. 18. I hold the bread in my hands with the firmest grip possible some hungry eyes are set on it conjuring plans to snatch and gobble But my hunger has made me stronger I can fight for it to see the end three days of empty stomach drove me crazy this morsel of bread I have to defend Living on the streets is a fun in its own way surviving a life that was unwanted from birth since the day when i saw the first light I had to fight to live one more day on this earth I see you moving in your cozy car seated in the backseat like a princess in motion you looked like a goddess to me I thanked some god somewhere for giving me vision Once your vehicle stopped at a traffic and you lowered your window pane for a while your fragrance overshadowed the stench around me I was there right before you, right beside the garbage pile I don’t look like your friends or rather any- thing human just a mere form of existence loaded with pain but when the drops of water come rushing down from sky it rekindles my love for you, when i do my waltz in the rain. “Just another IT guy working at a software company in Banga- lore with dreams in the eyes and hopes in the heart. I write more than I speak.”
  19. 19. Strap: This went on for a year and a half. At the end of which my ego had shrivelled down to the size of a tiny rai- sin, my self-esteem squashed like a bug and my confidence was in tatters. There’s nothing new about this hard- luck story. I’ve been writing for years. A column in the Bangalore Monthly, a local maga- zine in the city where I live, called ‘Be- tween The Sexes,’ a kind of light-heart- ed, half-serious rant against men. Literature-lite, if you will. It became mildly popular in town and people started thinking of me as some kind of expert on the subject of men, which I’m most certainly not, of course. Writing about something in a superfi- cial, flighty way is one thing. Being an actual expert with serious 411 is anoth- er. Just ask any journalist. But I also wrote investigative stories for the same magazine. About the plight of gay people in Bangalore. A woman who took care of terminally ill cancer patients. An NGO that employed ques- tionable methods to top up their inter- national funding. That sort of thing. I tried not to let the imagination run too wild when I was doing this type of writ- ing. The company could get sued. Finally, I wrote songs. I liked this best of all because of the structure that music forces on you, challenging your creative abilities to the max. Fitting into the me- tre, the rhyme, the rhythm, and all the while making sense. So you can imagine why I fancied my- self quite the writer when I’d finally fin- ished writing, ‘Men On My Mind,’ some one hundred and twenty thousand words of depth and detail, of adventure and misfortune, all with a clever twist of phrase and sparking wit. I patted myself on the back. I had no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the entire world was waiting; the breath bated, for my novel to be print- ed and distributed far, wide and plenty. Move over JKR and ELJ, I gloated quiet- ly to myself. Just wait and see. Hee hee hee. After the last spell check, the last edit and the final spit and polish was applied to the manuscript, I decided the time had come for me to send it out. I had a list of the world’s top publishers and editors. Everyone. Big ones and little ones. Intermediate ones. Even one or two textbook publishers, but that was a mistake. I’d rush to the mailbox every day (on my computer of course) waiting for the deal. The million-dollar deal. At first I didn’t hear from anyone. Not to worry, I told myself. It takes time to read. It takes time to digest. It takes time to move around budgets. And then, after about forty-five days, the mails started trickling in. “No.” “While we appreciate your work, it’s not for us at this time.” “Our catalogue is closed for the year.” “We only publish serious stuff.” “Seriously?” “The subject matter isn’t quite in line with our goals.” | June 2013 | 27
  20. 20. And even, “I thought it would more like Fifty Shades, there needs to me some real porn. This isn’t explicit enough.” This went on for a year and a half. At the end of which my ego had shrivelled down to the size of a tiny raisin, my self-esteem squashed like a bug and my confidence was in tatters. And just when I thought I couldn’t sink any lower, I got a call from my friend and agent Jayapriya Vasudevan. “I’ve got an offer,” she said gurgling on the phone from Singapore where she lived. “Not only do they love your book, they want three of them in a row and they’re ready to ay you an advance too,” she added. And so it was that my book, ‘Men On My Mind’ was picked up by Rupa Pub- lications and now I can proudly walk around calling myself a published au- thor. Is it easy to get published? I guess it’s about easy as winning the lottery. Radha Thomas, besides being the author of her debut novel ‘Men On My Mind,’ Rupa Publications, is also leader of UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensem- ble, a jazz band based out of Bangalore and works as Executive Vice President at
  21. 21. My process of authoring a book be- gan many years ago when I discovered the joy of writing in my childhood. I have been writing and reading ever since I remember. I started writing professionally when I was 15. Rashmi Bansal, now a best- selling author herself was my first ed- itor and the woman who gave me my first break writing for JAM – the youth magazine. I went ahead to write for a number of other publications such as Times of India, and DNA as a freelance writer alongside completing my education. Hence, I was not new to seeing my name in the print, as such. The aspiration, however, of seeing my name on the cover of a book remained at the back of my mind. I stopped writing for newspapers once I finished my MBA and immersed my- self completely in a full time corporate career. It was at this time that I started toying with the idea of writing a full length manuscript, on a subject that was always close to my heart – Immo- rality of Love. I started working on the idea and I finished writing my manu- script in about 3-4 months time. Now I had heard from a lot of sources that getting published was not easy at all, plus I did not know any publisher as such. With help from friends, cold calling the landline numbers of the various publishing houses, I sent my manuscript out to all the publishers. My first rejection came in about 2 month’s time from a leading publishing house, followed by rejection letters from var- ious publishing house, literary agents and editors. Every rejection hurt and it was heart breaking and a confidence shattering process that haunts me even till this day. Unfortunately for me, the worse howev- er, was yet to come. It had been 11 months since my manu- script was ready and awaiting a publish- er, when I started getting sick periodi- cally. A test for a routine check revealed that I was seriously ailing and in the duration of the same day, I was diag- nosed with Critical Kidney Failure. I was 27 years old when I was told that my life as I know it had ended. I had to get a high risk organ transplant sur- gery to live at all and that even after the surgery my quality of life will proba- bly never be the same again. The cruel part of the deal was that I would need another person to donate their Kidney for me to become a full bodied per- son again. Coming to terms with how something like this had happened to a completely healthy person like me was only one part of the problem, the other was whether I would ever be normal again, whole again. I had my whole life ahead of me – I wanted to get mar- ried, write books, have kids, travel the world…none of that seemed possible now. The loss of the life I hadn’t even lived yet was bearing down upon me. I was on dialysis, awaiting a donor, when I had received a total of 14 re- jections for all over the world. I was so close to death that at times, I actually felt that ‘This was it. Game’s over for me’. I thought I’d never be able to see my book being published or if it did, | June 2013 | 31
  22. 22. live to see that day. I could see my death reflected in my doctors and rela- tives faces. I received ‘the call’ from my (now) edi- tor, on the day that I had just come back home from the initial hospitalization, saying that Penguin Books India will publish my book. I didn’t know how to react – I was living my greatest dream and my worst night- mare together. I pretty much signed my book deal on my hospital bed while I was on dialysis. Eventually my mom donated one of her kidneys to me and my god’s grace I made a full recovery post the transplant surgery. A year and 20 days after my surgery I launched my book at a celeb studded book launch. I felt blessed to be there and I truly consider my post transplant years to be my second birth. My jour- ney so far has been difficult but well earned. Publishing ‘Nick of Time’ now is even more rewarding because I feel writing a book is like being immortal, no matter what happens now my words, my story about a timeless love will live on. I imagine that someday I will have grandchildren who will read the book and would know exactly what I was like when I was 26. Komal Mehta is Sr Manager Marketing by day and an author by night. She is the author of ‘Nick of Time – Right One, Wrong Time’ published by Penguin Books India. She had just finished writing her second novel and is working on her third one.
  23. 23. An impressive red building inside the Cubbon Park, Bangalore, houses the State Central Library. Hundreds of pigeons around the building adds to the mesmeriz- ing atmosphere of thick plantation of abundant flora and fauna.
  24. 24. In 1914, Sir Vishveshwaraiah ordered to start Public library in this memorial building. In 1966, this library was taken over by the Government of Karnataka. As per the data, this library has a collection of 2.65 lakh books and also has a Braille section. Great place for the bookworms! Photo: Amith Nag
  25. 25. The National Library of India is situated in the scenic 30 acre Belvedere Estate in Kolkata. It is country’s largest library with over 2.2 million books. It is India’s only Category 6 library. Another view of the State Central Library, Bangalore. This building was built in the memory of Divan Sir Seshadri Iyer.” Photo: Suvajit Sengupta Photo: Suman Munshi
  26. 26. Situated in Mumbai, The David Sassoon Library and Reading room is one of the oldest in the country. Members of all walks of lives visit this library because of it’s convenient location in Fort area, a prominent business district of Mumbai.. Photo: Sandeep Sulakhe
  27. 27. The Asiatic Society Library of Mumbai has over hundred thousand books, out of which 15,000 are classified as rare and valuable. It also is home of priceless arti- facts and over 3,000 ancient manuscripts in Persian, Sanskrit and Prakrit, some of which are on palm leaves. It also has numismatic collection of 11,829 coins. Photo: Sandeep Sulakhe
  28. 28. Photo: Aparna Guha Photo: Aparna Guha
  29. 29. founder of S.S.Microsystem India pvt. ltd and with 4 e-magazine’s chief editor with 42.9 viwers hits from 246 countries.and 175k members ranked in Top 35 Journalist of Popular Canadian News Portal.” Amith Nag is a hobby photographer, practising photog- raphy for the past 4 years. He likes to shoot various topics like stage shows architecture, street, macros and land- scapes. He is a software engineer by profession and is based in Bangalore. is the co-founder of the Toronto based boutique travel company, Original Trails. She customizes trips for travellers following the philosophy of “Ethical Travel” and gives back to local causes. Suvajit Sengupta is a Bangalore based software professional with no formal background in the subject of photography. The seeds which were sown as hobby, nurtured with self study, experiments, discussion with like minded people, has now grown to a big tree of passion. Sandeep Sulakhe is a software professional based in Mum- bai, got hooked to photography in 2010.
  30. 30. Take us through some peak points in your sporting career. The period of 17 years when i was at the peak of my career on the sports field. Every medal that i won was spe- cial and when i failed to make a mark it was bitter but only taught me to get stronger and work harder. the most memorable ones were ... a. when I won the national gold in long jump barely 10 months after my daugh- ter was born. b. when I broke the national record in long jump. c. when the Arjuna Award was coveted on me. Which books or authors have left a mark on you? Mostly read inspirational books espe- cially the ones connected to sports Born to run, Champion in all of us,once a runner are few of my best . with regard to fictional have read all the series of Jeffery Archer, John Gray , Frederick Forsyth. Have you considered writing an autobiography? Yes for the last couple of years the idea has been running in my mind. If movie has to be made on you, which of the current actresses will you choose? since the movie on me will be sports oriented, in case i will not be able to play n my part, then i would choose Deepika Padukone. Why do you think the book on sportsmen doesn’t sell much in India? Very few books have been written on sportsmen other than the cricket players which i personally feel is more glamour and less struggle. if someone could write about our Olympians / olympic medallists and their struggles sacrifices to reach the top they would all be good inspirational books and would sell well. Do you have any suggestions for aspiring athletes? Nothing comes easy in life . If one has to reach the top sacrifice . dedication , hard work , positive attitude and de- termination is a must. most of all one must be passionate about the sport to achieve the desired results. There is so much of talent in our youngsters if they could be encouraged and supported by the govt and well wishers it would be a load of the parents who spend a lot on their kids tp support them to climb the ladder of success. Right now the support comes only when a sports per- son has reached a certain level . In my opinion the outllook to sports has to be revamped completely in our country. the Athlete should be viewed as a spe- cial person and treated like a hero. | June 2013 | 43
  31. 31. Who prompted you to write your book? I was a full time journalist, I quit when my son was born. It was my mother who always felt that I had a book in me and kept insisting that I write one. I also have two very dear friends, Parul Shar- ma, a best selling author herself, and Priyanka Chaturvedi, a close friend, who has a book review blog, who en- couraged me to at least give it a shot. I wrote three sample chapters and sent it across to an editor at Westland, who liked it and that is how the book came about. What is Reluctant Detective all about? I was a full time journalist, I quit when my son was born. It was my mother who always felt that I had a book in me and kept insisting that I write one. I also have two very dear friends, Parul Shar- ma, a best selling author herself, and Priyanka Chaturvedi, a close friend, who has a book review blog, who en- couraged me to at least give it a shot. I wrote three sample chapters and sent it across to an editor at Westland, who liked it and that is how the book came about. How did you get a call and what was your approach? It was pretty simple. I just sent out three sample chapters and a synopsis of how the story would flow to Deep- ti Talwar, the editor of Westland. She liked it and told me to send in the rest of the chapters. I was pretty lucky in that sense. You have massive following on Twitter. Did it help in the market- ing of the book? I don’t know if it did, Twitter can be a double edged sword. But it surely helped in that it created a fair amount of visibility. Is there any innovative tactic you followed when marketing your book? There was no tactic as such that I fol- lowed. I have very loving and enthusi- astic friends who spoke about my book in their blogs. Additionally, I was also open to reading the book wherever people invited me. I have read in jewel- lery stores, play centres for kids, salons, book stores, etc. Folks were very kind to invite me to read the book and that’s all that I did. Was there an instance where you had a book reading and one or two people showed up? Actually I have never been in a situation where just one or two people showed up. Which is the book that someone else had written and you think you could write better? I would never be so presumptuous. There are many books that I have en- joyed and wouldn’t change a word about them. But there is one book | June 2013 | 45
  32. 32. I wish I had written, a book that has always been my favourite. It was Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte. I think it is the first feminist manifes- to that help shape my thinking. It is a wonderful example of a woman for that era, where women were bound by so- cietal norms and dictates, who though orphaned, grows to be an independent free thinking woman. Of course, I don’t think I could have written it better though. Do you also follow Ayn Rand? I think I read her Fountainhead at a wrong time in my life, it didn’t real- ly touch me as much as it has done so many. How has life changed after publishing your book? I don’t think life has changed at all, I’m still a suburban housewife, a school gate mom. The only thing that has changed is that I consciously take time out to write. Your book has lot of traces of your life in the book? I think the first book is where you get bits and piec- es of yourself in. You need to get it out of your system before you can move on to other writing. Many ask me whether the protagonist in the book is based on me. I would say she is an amalga- mation of bits and pieces of me and of friends around me, a composite rather than drawn from one person. Was there any criticism that has helped you as a writer? I am always open to criticism. I like it when people offer constructive criti- cism. Yes, I have received feedback that my sentences are too long, I tend to ramble, there is too much of internal monologue, too little plot. But you live you learn. Was there anything you learned in the hard way while writing or pub- lishing?
  33. 33. “Kiran Manral started out as a copywriter, moved into journalism and then quit full time work to play mommy. She is one of the most popular bloggers in India. She is also considered a ‘social media star’ on twitter by the TOI and IBN Live named her as among the 30 interesting Indian women to follow on twitter and among the top 10 Indian moms to follow on twitter for 2013.Post 26/11, she founded India Helps, a volunteer network to help di- saster victims post 26/11 and is part of core founding team behind Child Sex- ual Abuse Awareness Month ( and Violence Against Women Awareness Month ( I am always open to criticism. I like it when people offer constructive criti- cism. Yes, I have received feedback that my sentences are too long, I tend to ramble, there is too much of internal monologue, too little plot. But you live you learn. What is your message to aspiring authors? Write everyday and read everyday. Write from your heart and not for any audience. Write what you feel and what you think. If you write from the heart it will connect to the people easily. If you have faith in your book, then you have many options like you can self-publish your book or e-publish your book. Just write and leave it to destiny. So what are you doing these days? I am working on my second book at the moment. I am also doing a lot of issue based writing. There just seems to be too few hours in the day for all I need to do, I guess I need to start prioritizing my time better.
  34. 34. How did you got interested in writing? I’ve always been an avid reader. I started with writing countless letters to faraway friends in school that were almost life-stories. Most of them, I never ended up send- ing. Then came the journal phase, then a blog, then a column with a newspa- per, and finally a book and now a sec- ond with a third in the making. It’s been a gradual progression. Take us through the journey of your first book, Live from London, from getting the idea to getting a call from publisher. It was completely accidental. I just fol- lowed a story that flowed, wrote a little bit when my newborn slept and much to my own surprise, actually finished it five months later. As for the publishing process, let me begin by acknowledging that everything you’ve heard about the process is true. It’s not without its share of tribulations. One does have to go knocking on publisher’s doors, put their best foot forward and take everything that follows in their stride. Luckily, I re- ceived a contract in the mail from Rupa & Co. within a few weeks of submitting my manuscript. And the rest, as they say, is history. Tell us about your work as Direc- tor, Business Intelligence and Ana- lytics. I work for an entertainment firm that owns a couple of sports teams and pro- motes concerts. Having worked there for eight years, I’ve learnt a fair bit about the business of live music and sports. The work itself is heavily techni- cal; managing a data warehouse of tick- et buyers and finding patterns within the data with advanced analytics. It’s a immensely exciting indus try to work in. What about writing appeals to you? It’s how I unwind. Once I discovered writing, I found it to be immensely sat- isfying and very liberating. It provides that delicate balance to the chaotic and stressful urban life that we inadvertent- ly sign up for. When do you write? I write when my neighborhood sleeps. Only the chirping crickets are invited to the party. How often do you write? I try to write a little bit every day but most days I’m just staring at the screen, typing a little bit and deleting a whole lot. Which are your favourite contem- porary Indian authors? Kiran Desai, Anne Cherian, Kunal Basu, Upamanyu Chatterji, Karan Bajaj, Amitav Ghosh, Anita Jain, and several others. Is there any book that you thought you would have written better? Books, I believe, just like any other art form, are a manifestation of the writ- er’s imagination, ideas, knowledge and experiences. To say that someone | June 2013 | 49
  35. 35. could do someone’s work better would be utterly presumptuous, not to men- tion unfair. But there are several books I’d want to rewrite either because I loved the plot or the characters. For instance, I’d love to rewrite the entire Sophie Kinsella se- ries with an Indian protagonist. And all of Chuck Palahniuk novels just to see if I can come up with a fraction of his wit and wackiness. Which is the best and the harshest feedback you’ve received from a reader? Did either change the way you approach writing? I’ve received an entire spectrum of re- actions on my first book. The good, the bad and the ugly. One of the kindest ones would have to be from a girl who wrote in saying that she admired the quality that I capture moments with candid humour that often belies the tribulations and pain beneath and that she’d tried to incorporate that personal- ly in her life. I thought that was so pre- cious. As for the harshest, a young boy wrote to me after reading my first book, call- ing it to a 200-rupee suicide option. And I thought to myself, I can’t have my readers dying on me. Jokes aside, that’s when I’d realized that there lies a huge responsibility on the author to deliver something meaningful. Reading is an extremely involved process. And when the reader is so vested in your book, you as an author must carry that ac- countability of ensuring that the reader gains something out of it. Since my first book, I’ve spent a lot of time learning the nuances of story-tell- ing and personally, I think I’ve come a long way as far as the craft is concerned. Tell us something about your latest book - Powerplay. Powerplay is a corporate thriller set against the backdrop of cricket. It’s a heady cocktail of raw ambition, un- wavering ideals, vengeful betrayal, con- suming love, and notorious scandals. Although corporate drama at the heart of it, the book is also a breezy read in parts and has plenty of entertaining moments. There’s a wide cast of char- acters and their stories laced with hu- mour (even though I say so myself) all throughout the book. How long did it take you to write Powerplay? About two years. It wasn’t the easiest
  36. 36. book to write for me. I wrote the first draft in a year, then rewrote it entirely. Not to mention the countless edit cy- cles. It’s been a real labor of love. Is it about IPL? It’s about a fictional cricket team set in Ahmedabad. It’s more the acquisition story of that team complete with love, drama and scandals, rather than about the actual game. What was your reaction when the IPL scandals emerged? Just like everyone else, it took me by surprise. It’s a bit naïve to think any sport is completely clean but one does not expect the filth to run so deep. There are always going to be a few bad apples but it’s especially sad and de- terring to follow the game when it starts at the top of the food chain. What is your favourite sport? I watch basketball quite a bit. I’m a huge Lakers fan. And of course, cricket. Any plans or timelines when are you ready to crossover and write full-time? I’m not sure if I necessarily want to go down that path. I wouldn’t have been able to write Powerplay had I not been working because I simply wouldn’t have been exposed to certain situations. But then again, I don’t even know what I’m doing this Saturday, let alone a few months down the line. Do people mistake you for some celebrity? Not at all. It’s a good day if the postman recognizes me. Some words of wisdom for aspir- ing authors? Read a lot, write a little bit every day and find a mentor or a ‘writing buddy’. Bouncing off ideas with like-minded individuals makes the process not only bearable but also enriching and fun. And if it doesn’t come naturally, don’t force it. Parinda Joshi is the author of Live from London (Rupa & Co., 2011) and Powerplay (Fingerprint, 2013). More about the author at www.parindajoshi. com. | June 2013 | 51
  37. 37. Iam forty-one and strictly speak- ing, not a ‘Young Adult’, being young at heart at best. On the other hand, I have written a book for young adults and surreptitiously read YA books on a regular basis - so here is my take on the whole Young Adult (YA) thing. To zero in on this target segment, let me first go into what YA literature is not. A separate category by itself, YA litera- ture is not children’s literature. It is also not literature targeted at people in their twenties or thereabouts. So ‘Five Point Someone’ for example, is not really a YA book. The world of YA Literature begins at about 11 and ends at 18. It is indeed a teenage world, but its issues need not be. For once you turn eleven, how quickly you embrace maturity and adulthood is entirely up to you. More than half (55%, according to Bowker Market Research, who dig out infor- mation for the publishing industry) of Young Adult readers are technically adult, that is 18 years or older, with the largest segment of readers from the 30 to 44 years age group. So that stern looking gentleman picking up a copy of ‘Inkspell’ isn’t buying it for his daughter, but for himself. He is perhaps, not so stern after all. Young Adult literature talks to those of us who are in a certain state of mind - where we are beginning to fathom the difference between our earlier respons- es to the world’s stimuli and how those responses are changing, now that the world seems more complex. There is personal judgement and an ability
  38. 38. to understand complexities that skewers the earlier, simpler perspective and this growth is an integral part of a Young Adult story. The evolution of the central character, his or her coming of age, and the reader’s identification with it is one of the main features of a YA novel. What works across age groups for YA books is that coming of age is universal in its appeal - as all of us are constant- ly growing. Sometimes we also like a touch of pace, escapism and toilet hu- mour along with it - even if we are over 40. Therefore, ‘coming of age’ as a theme is sometimes also packaged with other popular YA genres such as adventure, mystery, horror, fantasy, romance, slice of life - because this is an age or a per- sonality type (thinking of myself and other adult readers of YA books) that enjoys pace in its storytelling, if the books are anything to go by. Young Adult books are now braving more serious territory: Siddhartha Sar- ma’s ‘Grasshopper’s Run’ was a success a few years ago. Ranjit Lal has written about female infanticide in his book ‘Faces in the Water.’ Now Swati Sengupta’s ‘Guns on my Red Earth’ is being eagerly awaited from Red Turtle. It talks about a young boy recruited by the armed camps in Maoist West Bengal. Not that serious YA books didn’t exist before this - Catcher in the Rye comes to mind. J.D. Salinger hadn’t intended it for teenagers at all, but it caught the fancy of the age
  39. 39. group and became perhaps the first iconic YA novel. Given the fact that In- dia has a burgeoning young population, and that many adults read YA books, publishing houses have woken up to the growth potential of this segment and are setting up YA imprints this year if they haven’t done so already. Here are the names to look out for: Duckbill, an independent publisher, in a JV with Westland; Inked, Penguin’s YA imprint; Nova, from Scholastic; Young Zubaan from Kali for Women;Red Turtle from Rupa; and Bloomsbury Spark for e-books. Each of these publishers’ websites throw up an interesting array of stories from fantasy, to bittersweet tales of teenage angst, teenagers braving riots, translations of iconic teen stories and zombie horror. What is new is that the voices are unapologetically grey and the treatment is not pedantic or preachy. These books talk about their protagonist, not talk down to them. The lives the children live are not idyllic. Their issues are today’s issues, their lives the lives of today’s world where the virtual and the real are increasingly mixed up. In short, this is not Enid Blyton. Some stories that I look forward to reading soon (I’m not reading any right now, since I’m working on my second book) - Jobless Clueless Reckless by Revathi Suresh, The Facebook
  40. 40. Phantom by Suzanne Sangi, No Child’s Play by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay and Karma by Cathy Ostlere. I read Ter- ror on the Titanic by Samit Basu some months ago and enjoyed it thoroughly as well. I am sure there are other fantas- tic ones that I haven’t touched upon. Do look up the websites of the publishers mentioned here and check out. Some problems remain to be ironed out. There were no literary festivals catering to this age group until this year. 2013 will see a YA segment in both Bangalore and Pune Literary Festivals. Perhaps more festival organisers will feel encouraged by this to showcase YA authors? There is also the question of how to reach out to the age group. Facebook is off limits for many of them, so pub- lishers are setting up virtual book clubs where teenagers can interact with them. Inked has an extremely interesting one, Duckbill has just set up Duckbill Gang- stas as well. Stories catering to young adults have been there always. Being a Bengali, I remember every great literary writer donning a YA hat and belting out ad- ventures and mysteries for children: Satyajit Ray, Sunil Gangopadhyay and Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay - to name but a few. This was partly because the books sold well, had a steady readership and allowed these very literary writers a happy break from the heavy stuff (I made up the last reason, but I suspect it’s true). It looks like the world is wak- ing up to this potential as well. James Patterson and J.K. Rowling both got fa- mous as YA writers first. As the market in India grows, I expect many ‘literary’ authors will give in to their younger selves. JashSen is the author of The Wordkeepers, the first book of The Wordkeepers Trilogy, and is currently working on its sequel, Skyserpents.Jash graduated from Delhi University and IIM Calcutta and has worked and lived in India, US and the UK, but most of all, in her own imagination. She also lives (alarming- ly) more and more on Facebook, Twitter and, where she writes a blog.She is terribly fond of bourbon biscuits, bookstores and libraries and a good whodunit on a lonely, rainy evening. | June 2013 | 55
  41. 41. Lunches were always eventful at the Pandey residence. That afternoon was no different. Some debates, some ob- servations, some jokes and some plans as always. ‘Listen son, I have found out the details. Its a superb deal – a steal perhaps.’ ‘What is it Papa?’ ‘Its Happle – The Happy Apple’ ‘Now what is that?’ ‘It’s the local Apple juice – it sells like hot cakes. I am going to start a business selling those. Maybe I’ll reduce some of your burden.’ ‘Thanks Pa, but there isn’t such a need, why don’t you relax at home, I will figure something out soon.’ ‘Listen to me, its not a big investment, hassle free trading, buy from the dealer and sell it in the apartment complex, and perhaps the park in the neighbor- hood.’ Mom snapped ‘uff how long will you be absurd? Why don’t you go inside and write or read newspaper- some- thing you do best’. ‘Don’t be negative, don’t criticize me all the time’ Papa said raising his voice. Mom went inside the bedroom dismissing the comment. ‘So, as I was saying, I went and re- searched the brand, and at Rs.10 a pack, its not costly, and works wonders in the summer’ Papa continued undeterred. ‘Listen Pa, just because I am going through a tough phase at work, does’nt mean we don’t have food to eat, its ok – I will manage. Besides, I need you to be healthy and fit – that will be a big- ger support.’ ‘You are not understand- ing my son. Its not such a complicated thing. You see, I did a pilot project with sandwiches earlier, remember, and that was a learning experience. It taught me that people feel thirsty, or more thirsty than hungry. Ah – such a simple thing. We can get started with 10 cartons.’ ‘Yes but how would you do inventory control, supply, deliver and what if it does’nt work? What will you do with all those Happy Apple cartons? ‘Oh they will sell I tell you – people get thirsty don’t they? But be careful not to share this with anybody, I mean why attract competition when we can rule the mar- ket?’ Exasperated, Sameer Pandey, got up and went to his room, leaving his father alone in the dinning hall. ‘I don’t get it, I think he’s shy, or maybe its his ego, I’ll have to try and explain it to him again, after all I am his father, if I don’t help him, who will? I will have to show it to him.’ That sunny afternoon Nirmal Pandey, went out for a walk. Wore his favorite red cap, took his walking stick, and trotted out quietly while the house was sleeping. He had decided to sur- prise his son. He walked in the hot sun, till he reached the local grocery shop. Careful not to give away his business secret, he asked ‘Errm how many Hap- py Apple cartons do you have? ‘How many do you want? ’the shopkeeper
  42. 42. retorted. Restricting his frown he asked ‘if I ask for 100 will you give me 100?’ The shopkeeper looked at him without an expression. Mr.Pandey thought ‘this guy is wily, he is trying to get my busi- ness plan’ his forehead frowned. After a brief moment of silence, he finally spoke ‘Uh mm, actually we are hav- ing a party at home, so let me call and check’. The shopkeeper did not respond again. Nirmal Pandey turned his back, pretended to dial his mobile phone. ‘Hello, Hello who’s this, Sameer? Listen son, how many people will come home tonight?’ What? B-but what about the rest? Hmm ok ok, now keep the phone’. He turned around and said ‘give me 20 for now, looks like some guests dropped out’. ‘How much will it cost?’ ‘Rs.15 but I will give it to you at Rs10’ the shop- keeper lowered his voice. ‘Oh really? ’he said, clearly taken aback. ‘But Mr.Pandey, since 20 cartons will get too heavy for you, why don’t you take these 2 in your hand, and I will send the rest to your residence, the shopkeeper said. ‘Ah that swine is try- ing to cheat me, eh, but I am not falling for that, I think he’s realized that he’s making a mistake selling this to me at Rs.10’ Nirmal Pandey smirked quietly. ‘Errm No, I will push it in the trolley, he announced. The shopkeeper did as he was told. Nirmal Pandey took those cartons in the trolley from the shop and headed towards the park. Nirmal pand- ey walked along the roadside muttering to himself along the way ‘This is good, I got a good deal. Now I will show to Sameer that all of these will sell in no time –then he will realize my worth’. Nirmal Pandey reached the park and spotted a strategic location – the park bench. He dragged the trolley and parked it behind the bench and sat down with an air of accomplishment. He looked around, strained his neck to find a pair of eyes he could connect with. He only saw the security guard and park in charge looking at him. He chose to ignore them. Nirmal Pandey was getting a bit wor- ried. It was almost 5PM and there was no sight of any customer. Some kids played cricket in the distance and some toddlers babbled with their nanies. Just then a bunch of young boys walked into the park with a football in hand. They looked tired. Nirmal Pandey was overjoyed – he knew he had found his customer. He turned back to take a glance at his business and adjusted his shirt and cap quickly. ‘Boys come here, he shouted. ‘What is it uncle?’ one of them said. ‘How was the game?’ ‘Oh it was great-we ran a lot and now we are tired’‘and thirsty?’ Nirmal Pand- ey interrupted.‘Yes yes, we are- do you have something to drink?’ Nirmal Pan- dey couldn’t believe his luck , ecstatic he said ‘I have just the right thing for you –but it is going to cost you money’ ‘Oh uncle, we only have Rs.20 on each of us, our playing allowance – will that help?’ Nirmal Pandey calculated mentally – ‘Rs.10 for each pack, add profit of Rs.5 and sell it for Rs.15 bucks. Bingo!’ | June 2013 | 57
  43. 43. He looked up and said ‘ah don’t worry just pay Rs.15 and I will give each of you Happy Apple juices’. Soon the car- tons was empty and Nirmal Pandey had earned enough money to go back and talk to Sameer. He cleaned up the park bench of wrappers and litter. Dragged the trolley out of the park and walked home upbeat with a spring in his stride. It was 7PM when he reached home and called out ‘Sameer come here my boy, let me show you something’. Sameer was standing in the corridor ‘Yes Papa what is it?’ Nirmal Pandey took out a bunch of notes from his pocket and gave it to his son ‘here take this – and guess where I got this from? My busi- ness idea of selling Happy Apple juices worked! Come sit here, let me tell you all about it’ Sameer interrupted ‘Oh Papa, please sit down first, relax and I will listen. But first its time for your medicine.’ Mrs.Pandey came out of the kitchen and gave the medicine. Mr.Pan- dey promptly obeyed and sat back on the rocking chair. ‘Give me your cap and stick, I will keep it safely, you might need it tomorrow’ said Mrs. Pandey. The rocking chair relaxed him and slowly he closed his eyes.Seeing him sleep Sameer said ‘Ma please be here, and take care of him, I’ll be back soon’ Mrs. Pandey nodded with a hint of sadness. ‘Thank you so much all of you – here’s your money Ramu kaka, please keep your happy Apple stocks handy – and don’t overact’ ‘Oh you should’ve seen me, I did just fine’ he said. ‘Bahadur and Pinto you guys need to keep a closer watch – those boys were playing cricket, the ball could hit him no?’‘Arrey Saheb, we are there, has any- thing happened? No ? Then don’t wor- ry.’Sameer pursed his lips and said ‘Any- ways here’s your money and be alert’ ‘Thank you Sameer sir’ they said in unison and left. ‘And Joobi – you better look more convincing’ ‘Arrey Sameer Bhaiya,I told you Tennis team would be better, one does get thirsty after playing those cross courts ? ‘Nothing can beat football – that’s it. Here’s your money, and next time pick up my phone a bit early ok?’ ‘Yes Bhaiya’ Sameer smiled with a lump in his throat. It was 5 years since Nirmal Pandey had Alzheimer’s, and he didn’t have the heart to break the news to him. “When somebody asked me what else do you do other than work? I drew a blank. Its then I decided to venture into a journey,doing something I’d never done before,at least seriously. As I walked into the world of writing,I realised the queque is quite long to be called an author or a writer! So I try to observe and pen a few lines whenever time and work allow a balance, because unlike reality,writing fiction has to make sense!”
  44. 44. It has been over a year since I have known him. I remember the day when he walked into my life. The transition had been so faint and smooth that I hardly noticed it until too late. He looked at me and smiled. There was vicious look on his face. He knew I had feared him like everyone and he en- joyed it. Savoured every atom of it. He knew he owned me and I couldn’t fight him back. Everyday I tried hopelessly to get away from his grip. Cut ties and break-free, but every-time he clamped on tight- er and stronger. He had always been possessive about his lovers and it just clawed me. Each day that passed , he took away a part of me away from me. I had started fading and he was growing stronger and his intentions more mali- cious than ever. I knew I couldn’t turn around. I had been left with no choice but to be with him till the end.. I cried each day and night in anguish and despair, but he just did not care. Rather he just smiled calmly and whispered in a soft tender voice that he loved me more than ever and I made him grow stronger. He could not imagine his life without me and I couldn’t imagine mine with him . One year three months and four days , today I have decided to make a decision and end this painful relationship. I have grown feeble and weak and though I know that he will win this battle , I can not bare the pain any longer. My body cannot fight the tumor in me . My can- cer may have control over my body and life but I shall not let it continue . It shall all end. I shall end it all ..... today! “In her words - ‘I am a dreamer- the face of reality.  A thinker, My own philosophy.  A storyteller, A voice, an individual.  I’d like to be called player of words, illusionist, a story spinner. Creating a world of imagination more real than the reality.’
  45. 45. It was in the month of January. The darkness cloaked the night in the ab- sence of the moon. The winter fog hovered freely, making it difficult for even a person with perfect vision to pierce through. The icy wind had al- ready drawn the people towards the comfort of their apartments and homes. Nikita was busy turning the pages of a book that she struggled very hard to read. She felt very tired. Yawning, she reached out to turn off the lamp. She lay on her impeccably oval shaped bed to catch some sleep. After an hour, when she was in the deepest of her sleep, a very soft push was made to the door and a furtive figure entered the room. Tiptoeing carefully, making sure not to make any noise, the figure dragged a pillow kept on the other side of the bed. Nikita’s sleep was broken from the disturbance by the intrusion. As she turned to have a look, the figure placed the pillow on her mouth, strangulating her. Nikita’s almond eyes grew wide as if they had seen a ghost. Gasping for breath, she kicked her legs as high as she could in the air. Help me, Help me! She screamed in silence. Gasping for breath, sweating heavily, she pleaded for mercy. The vision was getting hazy every single second due to lack of oxygen. She could feel the numbness in her upper limbs that began to spread. She watched in dazed fascination as the figure pressed the pillow hard against her face, blocking every open passage of air completely. Soon, the darkness of the night took over her eyes, she no lon- ger felt anything. The figure assembled everything back in place in haste. It fumbled a rope in the large black leath- er bag as it prepared its escape from the window at the backside. The next morning came as a shock for the Arora’s. The only daughter had been brutally murdered in the darkness that took over the moonless night. SSP hamsher Singh, a person with medium height, but ridiculously muscled had in- tentionally taken over the case himself. He was popularly known as the Sher- lock Holmes of the east by his fellow officers. He was a man with an attitude of that of a sleuth, applying his skills in everything that raised any form of suspicion. He had solved several mur- der mysteries, complicated or simple efficiently and discreetly. With an eye of that of an eagle, he was able to see what others felt of no worth. “There is some- one involved who is very close to the family.” He mumbled as he picked the pillow with which she was strangulated. He neatly placed the pillow in a large plastic bag. After all it was the murder weapon, the only piece of evidence that could help him to take on the culprit. The extreme left corner of the room was occupied by Malini, Nikita’s mother. She was devastated. She could see the
  46. 46. reel of images that were vivid and alive. She was in the kitchen, gossiping with her, telling her that how important she was to her and her late father. She stood there, numbed with grief. In the meanwhile, Shamsher had cleared up the room with all the possible evidence he could gather to catch hold the as- sassin. The thing that made an itch in his mind was a medicine named Al- prax, a tranquilizer that was kept hid- eously in a drawer of Malini’s room. Why would she be taking Alprax? She seemed normal. Shamsher also picked a prescription in the name of Malini Arora of doctor Yogesh, a clinical psy- chologist and placed it secretly in the bag along with a Silver Bracelet that he found near the window of Nikita’s room which seemed to belong to the assassin. He moved towards a paralyzed Malini. Though it was not the right time for this, but he decided to let it be. With a slight hesitation, he asked “Mrs. Arora does someone else besides the family members have the access to the door?” The answer was as expected, a negative! He again continued “Look Mrs. Aro- ra, I have a strong feeling that it is the work of an insider, someone close to the family or….” He paused. It came as a surprise to Malini. It was like a premo- nition had come through. Controlling her incessant tears she said softly “Or?” “Or, someone very close to your daugh- ter.” The room went silent. All he could see was a cold stare of a fifty something woman who had been given a shock. For Malini, this indeed was a shock! hamsher sat in a wide office space of doctor Yogesh. He had a large clinic, which was no less than a mini hospital in its own. Soon he was joined by the doctor himself. He was a tall man, with slight grey hair, twinkling black eyes and with a round face. Though occu- pied by lot of mental cases, he seemed distant from being a maniac. As he wel- comed Shamsher, he came to his senses to discuss the case with him. “Doctor, can you please tell me about one of your patients? Mrs. Arora” Shamsher asked. “I am so sorry SSP, but I have an agree- ment of confidentiality signed before I begin my treatment. I can’t help you!” The cherubic man that sat opposite to him said. “But I can tell you simple be- havioral aspect of her which might help you sort out some clues.” Yogesh was legally bound by the signed agreement but this being an exceptional case in which he could provide any sort of help, he was up for it. “Malini got into deep depression after she lost her husband. Nikita was a small kid then, maybe three or four years. Irrespective of forc- ing by her relatives, Malini stick to her decision of not remarrying but to bring up Nikita on her own. Sometimes, she gets aggressive to an extent that she loses the control of her own senses. That’s all I can tell you!” He said with raised eyebrows. Shamsher frowned. “Thank you Doc! I guess I should head to the mortuary for the autopsy report now. Thank you for the information.” He strode out of the room. Shamsher walked over to the hospital in which | June 2013 | 61
  47. 47. the autopsy was being carried out. It was a weird old, worn out edifice which had cubicles, designed to diagnose, alleviate, cure or bury the sick. The path to the mortuary was nothing less than a horror movie. But he had no effect. He had seen many of them. Shamsher barged into the office where the su- perintendent sat. A man with salt and pepper beard, slightly grey hair and a paunch, sat on the other side of the table. He was occupied by lot of files and folders that covered every inch of the table. Shamsher had a discussion, which lasted for a short time, about two minutes and left the room. What he had expected was true, Nikita was two months PREGNANT! Malini intended to have a discussion with Shamsher, for which he waited eagerly. Among all the pieces of evi- dence, only one thing, a silver coated bracelet was a question. Till now all he had in his mind was only two people as the suspect, one with a faint doubt was Malini and the other because of whom Nikita was pregnant. But who is that man? Malini couldn’t do the killing as it would be very difficult for her to execute the murder herself. “Did you get the culprit?” Malini frowned. “Your daughter was pregnant and I don’t understand why you are hiding the truth!” Malini’s jaw dropped. “This can’t be true!” She lay on the couch dumbstruck. The SSP sat on the couch positioned opposite to her. He began fumbling with the things which he picked from Nikita’s room. One of them was her personal diary. He had been taught by her mother not to read some- one else’s diary. With slight hesitation, he opened it, hoping to find a clue to lead to an apt decision. To his surprise, a photograph dropped down from it. He carefully closed the diary and picked up the half folded picture in his hand, unfolding it with utmost precaution just not to tear off the fragile piece of paper. Nikita was standing with Yogesh, a rare picture taken about a few years back. It appeared to be in captured in close vicinity of his clinic’s one of the private chambers. He was not that much sur- prised at the cherubic face of Yogesh but by a meticulous look at his wrist. Bracelet! Looking at the picture with blood shot eyes, he knew that he had made his decision. In his words - “I had a passion for writing since my childhood days but was very much waiting for the right time and right platform. The day I started my blog was the time and the correct platform which helped me a lot to evolve my writing skills. I love read- ing and writing suspense/thrillers alongwith some po- etry that reflects my inner self and my surroundings.”
  48. 48. Idecided to go to Delhi. A crowded city, political seat and with better op- portunities. I wanted to hide myself in the crowd. I was sure that soon I will be a shade of the painting of the city. I boarded the very next Volvo to Delhi.I was scared. This impulsive decision for the sake of my self-respect appeared to be the right one. “I am not any helpless woman. I am well educated. I can be self-indepen- dent. I can start a new life. He doesn’t love me anymore. He ruined my life. He will be happy without me as it’s clear, he doesn’t want me anymore.. He in- sulted me in front of all families. I am a strong modern woman – beautiful and intelligent. What does he think of himself? If I don’t work, If I don’t earn money, I have no value? He can easi- ly underestimate and insult me? I am a mature woman and taking a mature decision. Why should I care, if nobody does? They could have called me when I walked out! Nakul could have stopped me! Nobody bothered? The celebration was more important to them than my respect? ... I did everything for the family, for Nakul. I loved him so much that left my career, my family. I always stood by his side as per my promise.. but...”I was talking to myself. It was a combat between my mind and heart. Both of them said the same thing. I am right, undoubtedly. I didn’t know where had I reach while battling to myself but I felt, I left Punjab behind. I could see the roads and the trees whispering goodbye. Now it was time to engineer the next steps. Honestly, I was scared. To the far- thest reach of my memory. I was travel- ling alone for the first time, that too, out of city, forever. I had cash and kind with me. Luggage and valuable means of my survival, nervousness on peak and inse- curity at its best made me sweat in the air conditioned bus. I was conscious- ultra conscious and tried my best to look normal and con- trol my facial expressions. I decided not to cry now and look confident. I knew I could do it. For a couple of hour I fought with myself and shifted all chambers of my brain into working mode. I shuffled my contact list to find help in Delhi. I was praying God to help me at my worst phase. I had faith in Him.
  49. 49. I kept my options open, like a smart lady I googled guest houses and places to stay. My mind choked when I saw the one day rent approx five to eight thousand. I didn’t want to take help of any of my kith and kin, as such, not because of the self respect or the sense of troubling them but to avoid any legal trouble. I was sure of the police procedures soon- er or later. And I didn’t want to insult my family as well, so I walked with the guest house option. My bus stopped at Karnal but I had no appetite because I was in a tizzy. Petri- fied and solicitous, I was busy in safe- guarding the means of survival I had. I wanted to go to the lavatory to take a leak but preferred to be glued to my seat. After the journey of six to seven hours I reached Inter State Bus Termi- nus – Kashmere gate. As I stepped outside of the bus I was surrounded by all auto rickshaw and taxi drivers. I felt like a new animal in the menagerie. Everybody was persuad- ing me to hire his vehicle and they were shrieking like vultures. I chose a skin- ny driver who called me ‘Sister’. I was over concerned about the safety of my body and belongings. Since childhood I had grown up listening the stories and rumours about the brutal capital city. Hence, I was supposed to be worried and over conscious. My best possible attempt of faking the confidence failed and the Autowala asked “First time Dilli aaye ho kya Sister?” (Have you visited for the first time to Delhi, sister?) Dis- combobulated, I said controlling my facial expression, “Nahi, Kaafi dino baad aaye hain!” (No, Visited after a long time). Meanwhile on the route of some Tuti Chowk and Laddu Ghati Bazaar to the guest house, I inquired about some other guest houses and rent rooms, best of his knowledge. He suggested me with some weird names and I let that be.I checked my phone for the GPS and my heart skipped beats to see many missed calls and messages from family and Na- kul. I was scared. I had no answers. I didn’t pick or called After reaching the guest house I chose, I switched off my phone. Identifica- tion process took a few minutes and soon I was in a small room with some toiletries and towel. I thought nothing and took a deep breath, closed my eyes and after a while when to get fresh. In bathroom, while bathing I cried. I cried loud and in tears. I cursed Nakul for breaking my heart and dreams. Tear- jerked, homesick, broken heart, tired, alone and hungry, I was shattered. I felt like calling Nakul and fight with him. It was a tug of war between my mind and heart. One part of me was asking me to call Nakul and fight with him. I want- ed him to feel sorry for what he did. I wanted him to apologize and beg for my love. I wanted to hurt him and feel the same pain, I felt. The other logical part of me supported me with reasons and female intellect. What shall I tell him?
  50. 50. Where am I and why? With whom? Because I knew him and the way he underestimated me, he was sure that I can never take such a bold step without anyone’s help. What if he thought that I ran away with some other man? I had no positive answers to those questions. Envy, jealousy, revenge and negativity are some of the basic instinct of women. We cannot help it. We prefer negative thoughts at first place due to the feel- ing of insecurity. My first motive was to make him realize what he had lost. Whenever I used to think of my efforts and dedication, my eyes went wet. I was haunted by the flashes of the moments I spent with him. But then I had a whole life in front of my eyes. I made my mind firm and called someone for assistance. The guest house had no food service but a Dhaba nearby. It was getting dark and I was tired. I was left with no ener- gy, just wanted to eat and sleep. I could decide later, what now and what’s next... My life began there.. Next morning I woke up with a head- ache and morning sickness, I never used to have. I switched on my phone and it was a bombardment of messag- es. Within a couple of minutes Nakul’s number flashed on screen, my heart again skipped a beat. When I woke up, I searched him in the bed, like every morning. It took no time to realize that I was not in my comfort zone. I was there, surrounded by those pale walls with tampered white wash.I didn’t pick his call and disconnected. A Message flashed immediately on my screen; “Where the fuck are you?” and that message was the last ‘note of love’ we shared. I broke the SIM card. That mes- sage made me feel sick and supported my hatred, how I was humiliated in the family reeled in my mind. The next thing I did was to check how much money I had and what my plans to survive in the capital were. I had approximately sixty thousand cash with me and some jewellery. I emptied my account before leaving Ludhiana. I needed a house because paying seven hundred per day was not possible for me, a new phone number and prior to all a job. I could take more money and jewellery from home and the fixed de- posit my father gifted me at the time of marriage but it could take days to com- plete the government formalities and I might be accused for theft of cash and kind.I left my room to hunt for an inter- net cafe. Nearby I found one. In an hour or so I jotted down numbers of some property dealers nearby Pahadganj area, some call centres and anywhere a grad- uate person was required at maximum salary. I realized that day, the biggest blunder of my life – relinquishing my studies. Disconnecting the family and friends and closing all options. I regret- ted it. I was intoxicated by love... I didn’t eat anything that day, conse- quently felt exhausted by the night. I had no resume in hand and above all I had no experience. I was a married lady, mere graduate, once upon a time was an amateur blogger, no acquaintances, and above all in a completely exotic city where people are sceptical
  51. 51. to every polite gesture. As noted down, I searched for some rent rooms but they were asking for advance payment of three months which was again, impos- sible for me. Whole day Wandering and hunting for work and shelter, at night I was completely enervated. Commut- ing in Delhi is very expensive, unlike Ludhiana, here at first they never go by meter, and then they choose the passen- ger of their desired destination. Public transport is always crowded and God knows why people are in so much hur- ry. Thankfully there was an old man, probably the father of the owner of the guest house I was staying. After three days of struggle I couldn’t arrange any- thing for me and this guest house was charging heavy. I was completely bro- ken in first few days. Emotionally shat- tered and physically exhausted. The old man asked me for how many days I was going to stay, probably his experienced eyes read my troubles and I shared my problem with him. I declared myself as a widow, to survive in the society. I had to, for certain obvious reasons. That old man asked me to be the receptionist in the same guest house till I find some good job. He agreed to provide me food and shelter.Well, what to say, officially I was a receptionist but I used to do ev- erything. Early morning I had to clean all the rooms, mostly supervise the boys while cleaning the rooms, then the kitchen, sometime I used to make tea for everyone when Munna was out for some work. For a couple of weeks I survived there. The guest house had an old desktop at the reception counter with no inter- net connection. I sometimes, used to fix the dial up connection to send my resume to different companies, luckily it worked and they never got to know about it. I made a fake Facebook ac- count to know the whereabouts of Na- kul and to stalk him, but till I was at the guest house, he didn’t accept the friend request. Every night I used to cry and miss my family and the pain of leaving them was unbearable. I missed Nakul the most. He was everything to me. I lived for him. I had no idea about the families. How are they coming up with the situation? And the feeling, the con- cern for Nakul was consistent. Did he miss me? I miss him at every action I do, while I eat-sleep-breath. Did he feel sorry for losing me? Was there a big mess at home? Police and interrogation? Or they just didn’t both- er? What if Nakul was happy that I left? Had he started dating some other woman? Did he miss the food I used to cook for him? I loved him. Did he miss my love? My presence? My body? Did he miss his Tappi? All these questions haunted me every night and my health started sinking day by day. My Morning sickness and mood swings increased. Luckily one day I got a call from a pri- vate limited firm. They wanted a stu- dent counsellor cum office assistant, I had no option and I joined the so called company. They agreed to pay me twenty thousand with travel and mobile allow- ances , which was then sufficient for me. From old Delhi to south Delhi it was a journey of more than an hour, | June 2013 | 67
  52. 52. metro and bus took the same time. In a month I at least got successful to know the travel route of Delhi. I was trying hard to drag my life on the track. I was apparently stoned. My only motive was to survive in the ocean. At times, I used to make anonymous calls to the land- lines of both of my homes, just to listen to their voices. I could feel the desper- ateness in my mother’s voice every time she picked up the phone, expecting to be her daughter. I used to cry a lot after this. I missed my father and his teach- ings, I wished to listen to him then and pursue my studies, My brother must be dealing with social tantrums. These things made me helpless and weak. I decided to shift to some nearby place in south Delhi, too much expensive area and out of my reach. By the grace of God, I made some good friends in office and had a female boss, for them I was an orphan widow. Mrs.Rituparna was a kind lady of Mid-Fifties. she felt herself connected to me because she was also a widow. She had a son of my age who owned the company. I found one room set some nearby area that sucked half of my salary. Everything was going rapid, too fast. Within a month I had a job to survive and a shel- ter to sleep at night. But I was alone and shallow. Honestly, if I say, I hated my life and ev- ery night I used to think of committing suicide, but I was coward to face death. Delhi is like a wolf, it is not a female but a pervert male. How to explain the feeling I used to get when the men touched me in buses and metro, hiding under the shield of “crowd’? They were ready to gander through my half sleeves if they can take a glimpse of my armpit or my undergarments. I hated it, it was a feeling of disgust, and I hated my own body for being a woman. Occupied in the struggle and ebbing health I didn’t pay attention to my cycles. I skipped it for a month. I ignored it considering the stress but when it continued to the second month and the nausea and gid- diness alarmed me for a trouble. I was mortified. I prayed for negative results but as designed by the destiny... I was pregnant. ... what happens next? read it in our next issue... “Born and nurtured in at a scholastic family in Delhi, Himadri studied English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. Under her penname “Himmilicious” she has published several EBooks on Contemporary Erotic Romance and currently working on her debut erotic romance in print version”
  53. 53. Ihave been reading a lot of debut au- thors lately. Some of them are good and most of them are not so good. Not try- ing to discourage anyone here but after reading some of the books, I felt like, writing a book has become a fashion more than a passion these days. Still, whenever I pick up a book by a debut author, I keep my prejudices and expec- tations aside and try and sail through the book and The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri lived up to my expectations in every possible way. I bumped into the author at Nehru Place some 3-4 days back while he was getting some work done related to the book only. We chatted for some time and I promised him that I am going to be there at the launch of the book. I went to the launch, liked the way it was conducted along with a music launch by Rishikesh, the band (I quite liked the songs, listen to them here) but the only turn off of the evening was the emcee, sarcasm is something I don’t appreciate and don’t entertain either. Well, coming to the book, I think the best thing about The Homing Pigeons is the structure of the book and the way the stories of Aditya and Radhika, the protagonists of the book have been narrated. The way the characters have been built right from the beginning till the end have been handled with utmost care. I personally felt that the book is quite predictable, the title of the book also gives away what is going to happen in the book, but the ending would defi- nitely take you by surprise. Aditya after losing his job due to reces- sion of 2008 is clueless about what to do and where to go. That’s when he meets Divya at one of the bars of Chandigarh | June 2013 | 69
  54. 54. and his life takes a U-turn and he starts doing something that he had never imagined in his wildest dreams. Radhi- ka, with a not so stable childhood, stands out and turns herself into a ca- reer oriented woman, but succumbs to her parent’s wishes and makes a mess of her life. The way lives of Aditya and Radhika intersect in the book time and again is what kept me hooked to the book. Al- ternate chapters narrated by Aditya and Radhika made this book gripping and unputdownable. Though, there were times, when I had to turn a couple of pages back to understand what exact- ly is happening because the narrative keeps shuttling between past and pres- ent. I personally liked the way Radhi- ka’s part has been narrated in the book. The emotions have been well expressed through words and you empathise with Radhika. I must congratulate author Sid Bahri here for putting up a book which is easy to read and is riveting. His writing is simple and relatable. Anyone and ev- eryone can read the book and the best part is the story will make you turn pages, which is what I personally like about a book. It should force you to turn pages. Pick up The Homing Pi- geons by Sid Bahri if you are travelling or as your weekend read, it is worth giv- ing a shot. “Yatin Gupta had always loved reading but recently he realised how much he is passionate about it. A marketing person by profession, he reads 3-4 books in a week.“
  55. 55. It was the title of this book that fasci- nated me to the nth degree; it happens every time I grab a book on some royal theme, and above all, as it was the story of revenge, it had to be intriguing, and it is, indeed, up to its last page. It is a story of barbarism, depravity, and sa- dism, inflicted by man on man, under the pretext of religious faith. First Impression: Read the very first line and you know that the main pro- tagonist, Princess Darshana Kamya Kathodi, is already dead. Well, it disap- pointed me a bit, as I wasn’t expecting it and that too so soon. It was now clear that her death would be avenged by someone else, later in the story. Million thoughts were hovering over my mind, but you can’t judge a book by its first page; after all, who knows what was go- ing on in the writer’s mind while pen- ning down the story. Setting: The backdrop of the story is the Yehoor hills that are surrounded by dense jungles. These are inhabited by Kathodi tribals and ruled by Princes Darshana. The year is 1545 A.D., when Portuguese armies have been sent by King John III to convert the native peo- ple into Christians. Development of Theme: A whale of a difference in the two religious faiths and the conflict arising out of that is the main theme, and it has been em- ployed very skilfully. While conversion to Christianity is the main motive of the Portuguese army and the mission- aries, the native people are dead against it. This results in the two sides locking horns. This lays down the setting for fu- ture developments: brutality and sadis- tic practices adopted by the army men, death of the princess, and her return as a spirit to take revenge. Character Delineation: It is from their style, mannerism, and reaction to dif- ferent situations that we come to know about the characters. Take, for instance, Brigadier Antonio: it is clear from his well- groomed attire and flashy pride in his smile that he belongs to the urbane and the polished class. His urgency to earn promotion is clear from the way he stoops to act beneath himself to achieve his end. On the other hand, Joseph or Govind Laxman Prabhu is a rustic man, as is seen from his garb. He does not think twice before giving up his reli- gious belief to get monetary gains. The Bishop though seemingly holy, is not averse to the torture inflicted on tribesmen to have the conversions | June 2013 | 71
  56. 56. done. The 3-dimensional traits are ex- hibited by the protagonist, and this renders beauty to the story. Style: The author has adopted a third-person narrative style to carry the story forward. No complex vocabulary has been used and sentences are simple and short. His use of Marathi lingo at a few places is justified. Plot: A gripping story that moves at a good pace and keeps the readers glued is why I would recommend this book. It is divided into chapters, with many of them further divided into parts. The plot runs in almost a linear fashion, so there is hardly any chance for the reader to get confused. From the first forced conversions of the natives of Yehoor hills to the supernatural fight between the Bishop and the Princess, the story transgresses nowhere. The unpredict- ability factor makes the story meatier and does not let you put down the book before you are through it. When the spirit of the Princess makes a hell out of the lives of Braganca and Joseph, the reader is under the impression that it would be a win-win situation for her. Climax: The best thing about the book is its climax that makes you damn curi- ous. And towards the end, it floors you out and out. You are perplexed won- dering what’s going to happen now and who is going to win. Elements of Supernaturalism: The sto- ry, somewhere in the middle of the plot, takes a celestial turn, as is clear by the mentioning of the supernatural elements like cloud 1777333999, the winged blood that intimidates enemies, the divine soul of the princess and her ability to change clothes and walk on water. The transcendental happenings continue till the end. What the Author is Trying to Convey: He tries to convey the hypocrisy and fanaticism that lie behind one’s religious faith. It is indeed hypocritical how Bishop, a staunch evangelist, has many layers in his character. On one hand, he is against the merciless killings, yet he allows it all to happen in order to fix his place in heaven. It is ironical that he hires a pagan priest to carry out the ex- orcism, while he abhors all pagan prac- tices. On similar lines, the Christian army asks the natives to seek peace by surrendering to Christ, but it does not take them a second to turn bloodthirsty. For them, it is totally justified to rape women, mutilate organs, and kill at the drop of the hat, if it is to be done in the name of religion and God. Anuradha reviews classics, romantic comedies, mys- tery and thriller, in short books of all genres. She latches on to books which has tinge of romance.