This is the fourth issue of Storizen,
thank you all for such an overwhelm-
ing patronage and encouragement.
Your ever increasing support, enthusi-
asm and interest in the magazine have
boosted our confidence manifold to
go full throttle in showcasing contem-
porary English Literature across the
globe. We are elated to have so many
likeminded people coming along in our odyssey.
Though the traditional medium of printed books, magazines,
newspapers still occupy the neighborhood book stands and
stores, the publishing choice today is heavily tilted towards the
digital medium. With increasing popularity of the digital medi-
um over the classical physical medium, it has been a challenge
to create a specific space for Storizen in this crowded space. In
this issue’s photo story, we have endeavored to capture this new
age digital literature medium in “Invasion of E-readers”.
We have featured the young and dynamic Indian-American
best-selling author Tulika Mehrotra in this issue’s cover story.
She has shared her experience about life and literature in a very
candid conversation. She has also shared insights from her new-
ly released book “Crashing B-Town”.
In this issue also we continue to sail along trying to cover all
aspects of the book writing business from tips on actually get-
ting the story penned to getting them published and read. Mar-
keting plays an important role in this lifecycle and so we have
brought to you in this issue, Founder and CMO of Market My
Book, Lipika Bhushan’s in-depth writing on book marketing
Along with our regular sections, we are delighted to feature
Shradha Sharma, Founder and Chief Editor of Yourstory.in, in
our star reader section this time.
Please do send us your suggestions, contributions and ofcourse
your encouragement as always through emails, writes ups or
Trainee Sub Editor
storizen.com | August | 3
Piyush Jha’s second novel, the crime-thriller Compass Box Killer was
launched recently on an extremely rainy evening in Mumbai.
Despite traffic jams that went on for kilometers, the venue, Crossword Book-
store, At Kemp’s Corner Mumbai was full with eager readers who wanted to
hear what the Bestselling author of Mumbaistan had to say about his new
The Chief Guest, Madhur Bhandarkar arrived in time despite travelling from
the far-flung suburb of Andheri. Other guest like actress Suchitra Pillai, Ad
Filmmaker Kailash Surendranath, Model Raman Lamba, Filmmaker Shona
Urvashi and fashion photographer Shilpa Mukherjee soon arrived along with
a group of excited readers.
After the introductions were made Piyush and Madhur engaged in an infor-
mative conversation about crime in Mumbai, fiction in books and films and
also about their fascination with Mumbai’s underbelly. The conversation was
replete with insider nuggets as Piyush and Madhur, both fellow filmmakers
shared anecdotes and about what inspired them about the seamy side of the
metropolis they both love. A lively Q&A followed with almost 30 to 40 ques-
tions being flung towards both Piyush and Madhur. The two men took their
time, making sure that every question was answered to each person’s satisfac-
The evening drew to a close and Madhur took his leave but most people still
hung on getting their books signed and engaging in further discussion with
Piyush, which he was happy to indulge in.
storizen.com | August | 6
It was the winter of 2007 when, as my boss puts it, I ap-
peared on the horizon of publishing. Having dealt with all
kinds of product categories including ones such as telecom
where schemes had to be worked out and offline and online
material had to be reproduced overnight, it was a very dif-
ferent industry for me but I guess the sheer love of books
and the fact that there was so much more to do in market-
ing is probably what made me stick to it.
Then and now:
Till a few years ago marketing in publishing was about re-
views and interviews, print marketing material such as
posters and bookmarks and lavish parties or book launches.
The traditional form of marketing continued to address the
closely knit reading and writing community. Suddenly with
the advent of online players, the growing difficulties for
brick and mortar stores and looming prospect of e-publish-
ing and self publishing, forced the publishers to innovate
and open up their communication to a wider set of readers
whose demands were very different from those of the exist-
ing ones. This reaching out to them needed to draw cam-
paigns and communication appealing to the masses.
A lot more was added to traditional marketing activities.
Something as inexpensive as the props to improve the
visibility at the retail ends to the expensive options of ad-
vertising in print, on the net and even on television. The
campaigns became larger and more ambitious. The use of
promo videos on OOH, LiveMedia and billboards across
the country were the outdoor advertising options explored.
Sampling got introduced outside of the extracts of the book
pages that media carries.
More recently the changes have been quicker, drastic and
lot more challenging for marketeers. E-books have entered
storizen.com | August | 13
the space which has led to new ideas
not just for physical books but that for
the big world of endless opportunities
The online space has resulted in endless
opportunities and making the world
borderless thus widening of the target
audience. It is therefore essential to
segment your target well and then tar-
get your segment for a certain category,
genre and title.
While we are stepping into virtual
world the physical space for books is
shrinking. Print media is cutting down
the book sections. Our favorite book
shows on television (not that there are
many) are taking a break. At retail end
both brick and mortar stores and on-
line stores are feeling the brunt of rising
overhead costs and flood of books from
big, small and self publishers. A mar-
keteer thus needs to keep fighting for
space and constantly be on a lookout
for new spaces and visibility.
For physical retail chains, space was
always a constraint. Over the last few
years they have commercialized all the
options that were earlier considered
as a given. Right from print marketing
material to windows at the book stores
are available on rent. Content being the
king in online was welcome by them
but now a price tag has been put on
things such as banners, mailers etc. This
has resulted in higher spends.
With self publishing becoming popu-
lar and the option of e-publishing for
smart devices and print on demand
becoming easily accessible for writers
the market is flooded with books. Ev-
eryone is learning and picking tailor
made ideas from marketing of some
highly successful books and using them
for their own books. Every writer today,
new or established is forced to put mus-
cle behind his or her book. In such a sit-
uation there is tremendous pressure to
keep innovating and finding new ideas,
vehicles and spaces to stand out in the
It is a known fact that some of the
most successful best selling writers
today claiming top spots in best sell-
ers list have put in huge amounts of
money behind their books. Amounts
that have been at times impossible for
marketeers, working in the biggest of
publishing houses, to budget for any of
their lead titles. It is a challenge because
marketing budgets are under pressure
in publishing as corporatization is en-
tering the writing world which still is
minuscule in comparison to what other
industries budget and spend on market-
ing of their products.
Author Management and Book
One of the biggest challenges, that has
storizen.com | August | 14
and will always be part and parcel of
being a book marketeer is to manage
your author’s expectations. While it is
important for writer and his marketeer
to work closely on thinking of the way
ahead, it is also increasingly becoming
clear that it is important to draw plans
specific to a book’s requirement within
the budgets allocated.
The industry is undergoing a change
and one needs to keep a close watch on
this change. Marketing has been one of
the key contributors to the success of
any product and is becoming import-
ant in raising the bar in publishing.
Only those who have their fingers on
the pulse of the market will survive and
The contributor of this article was the
Head of Marketing at HarperCollins
India before she found her calling in
working with those who want to give
their books the best shot at becoming
bestsellers. Her venture MarketMy-
Book is first of its kind book marketing
consultancy firm providing offline and
online marketing solutions to writers
and publishers alike.
Lipika was the Head of Marketing at HarperCollins India before she found her
calling in working with those who want to give their books the best shot at be-
coming bestsellers. Her venture MarketMyBook - www.marketmybook.in is
first of its kind book marketing consultancy firm providing offline and online
marketing solutions to writers and publishers alike.
storizen.com | August | 15
My first book ‘Just Married, Please Excuse’ was published last year - the entire
experience of writing, getting published, and subsequently finishing a second nov-
el has made the last couple of years quite a roller coaster ride, wherein the learn-
ing has been immense.
This is a summary of what I’ve gathered so far. And while I get a lot of requests
from other writers about the process, my first clarification is that it’s a process of
learning and I’m still new. Nevertheless, here’s a perspective on what I consider
important and had wished I had known earlier – five of these are on the process
of writing, while the remaining five are on what follows.
a protagonist, a goal, an obstacle and a resolution.
Those are the basics. It works every time. I had trouble getting published until the
time I focused on this.
another mistake that I made was
asking for feedback on my stories just a page into them! Sort of checking whether
I was on the ‘right track’ – the feedback from well-meaning friends and relatives
(hint: my poor spouse) would cause me to huff out my cheeks and give up all too
thing is to get something out. The most useful phrase I came across was ‘Making
1: Focus on the story-
2: Your First Draft is your Own–
3: Don’t aim for perfection in that first draft-
Mud’ or ‘Laying the tracks’ –
it’s alright even if you know it’s
not your best. You can come
back to it later. The first task
on hand is to just get that first
something that my
editor Karthika VK probed me
on, and which really helped
to develop my second book
‘Sorting Out Sid.’ – she really
liked the first draft of the story,
but something was making her
uncomfortable and she asked
me ‘But how are the characters
really growing in the process
of the story?’ It struck me as
a subtle point, and one that
doesn’t really get covered when
you’re focusing on the main
elements of the story. A hero in
a fable may be a hero from the beginning, but when you’re writing stories about
characters you hope will resonate with real people, this makes a lot of sense. I re-
worked it and was miles happier with the finished version of SOS.
I’ve never had any formal training
in writing, but I’ve always been a voracious reader. Stephen King in ‘On Writing’
talks about the importance of Reading a Lot, and Writing a Lot. It really helps a
great deal, especially when you pick up on your own errors (mine was a tendency
to use slightly longer sentences than necessary, and I’m working on cutting out
those damned adverbs!) Writing is an important support to making your story
comprehensible and in fact, a pleasure to read. I know there are successful writers
out there proudly claiming they hardly ever read. No. No-no-no-no-NO. Reading
often, and writing often will make your writing better and that’s a huge part of
what it’s all about. Or it should be, anyway.
5: Keep reading, keep writing–
let’s face it. As a first time author, you’re one of many, many
people that publishers deal with on a regular basis. So it’s natural that there’s going
to be a waiting period when it comes to getting a revert on your first manuscript.
I’ve been asked ‘but how loooong?’ – all I can say is that if your work is good, it
will get noticed. Some people take days, some weeks and some months to revert.
Incidentally – I ended up going with the Harpers team even though their revert
came in after some others.
once you’ve accomplished the
monumental task of getting your first manuscript out – sure, it’s not easy hearing
about the things that are wrong with it. But if you listen carefully to the feedback
from people who are the experts in the business – that is, the editorial team that’s
been nice enough to respond to you- and actually work on building in their feed-
back, your chances of getting published are higher. Note – this does not mean
compromising on your values. I was asked to fictionalize my first book, but I went
with just some replotting and exaggeration because I was listening to what the
editors wanted – it worked.
this is an important one which I
learned only much later. Related to the point that there are so many authors out
there publishing each day, it’s not an easy market, and if you’re expecting to be-
come a super-success overnight- chances are it’s not gonna happen. My editor
tells me stories about many authors who lament the fact that they’re not selling
like the biggies. Well, there it is. The point is – do you still love writing enough to
keep at it and expand your own audience bit by bit, and keep writing better and
better books with the passage of time? Yes? Great. Keep that in mind every time
you feel things are slipping.
yes, you’re the
CEO, the CMO, the CFO, the COO, and maybe even the CTO. Sure, you may
have a great publisher and it’s a very nice feeling to create a product with other
people. But once it’s out, beyond a point, you’ve got to take charge of how well
it does – at least in terms of the ideas and consistent attention on implementing
them. Having said that – you don’t want to overdo it, and that brings me to the
last point here.
1: Be Patient–
On Publishing and All that Follows
2: Listen carefully to the feedback–
3: Get your expectations right–
4: You’re the CEO of your published book–
It’s easy to get attached to your first work, and there are plenty of things
to do to make sure that it reaches its intended audience. However, there’s a ques-
tion to ask yourself - should you be hankering after the success of that first book
or should you be spending that time writing your second piece? It’s a call you
have to make.
Ultimately, you should be able to define the role of writing in your life – what does
it mean to you? Do you imagine that it is going to be your primary source of in-
come? Or do you prefer to do something totally different as a job, and treat writ-
ing as a pleasure and a passion? Is it something which you want to commit to on
a daily basis, or does it work better for you to treat writing your books as a project
to undertake at regular intervals in a focused manner? There are no right answers,
but there is definitely one that works better for you as an individual than others.
You can’t rush it, but finding that answer will probably bring you a lot of peace,
and then you can do what you were probably meant to do in the first place - write,
but with joy.
Yashodhara Lal is the author of Just Married, Please Excuse. (www.justmarried-
pleaseexcuse.com) She is also a Marketer with 11+ years experience in FMCG
and Digital Marketing. Most impressively, she’s a mother of three young chil-
dren, and blogs atwww.yashodharalal.com, and is on twitter @yashodharalal.
Her second book ‘Sorting Out Sid’ is due for release in December 2013.
5: Make a considered choice about where to spend your
In good stories, it is not out of the ordinary to come across that one character
that breaks your heart. We have all seen and loved these characters in popular cul-
ture- right from DJ and Karan in Rang De Basanti, to Sirius Black in Harry Potter
and the Order of the Phoenix, to even Mufasa from The Lion King. The arc of these
characters teaches you the themes of the text, moves the plot forward, and reminds
you to be thankful for the direction the other characters are driven in. The reader’s
arc (their experience and what they take back from the story) is deeply affected by
the journeys of these characters. Often, it is hard to create this character without
causing a dent in your plot, or changing the atmosphere that you worked so hard
to create. Here are five failsafe ways to create the perfect heartbreaking character:
Rule number 1: A reason to kill the character.
Killing a character that you want your audience to ally with is usually an excellent
way to cause pain to your reader’s literary soul. However, to truly do the job, having
a reason or a “lesson” for your readers will strengthen the blow. Even if you want
to create the understanding that there is no sense in death, that is your lesson right
there. Knowing why and what you want to convey by killing the character before
you even begin writing will create clarity and help enforce the themes of your story.
Rule number 2: Consequences of “the tragedy.”
Once you’ve broken your reader’s heart by either killing, torturing, changing a char-
acter’s comfortable setting completely or whatever method of tragedy you choose, it
of the story. For instance, if the character you want your readers to love is killed, it is
important to remind your audience how his or her death affected the other charac-
ters whether it be a positive or negative reaction. It might even be a good idea to give
just to show them how deeply it influenced the plot. If the consequences of the trag-
edy fail to echo through each of the literary features of your story, it’s safe to say that
the character will not truly make anyone’s heart ache.
Rule number 3: Don’t be afraid of flaws.
While writing a character you want your readers to love, it is hard to express their
flaws. While writing this character, making your audience aware of the character’s
flaws can often help in the process of breaking their heart. The tragic hero, an age
old literary concept, is usually endowed with a fatal flaw that usually leads to his or
her death. Even Achilles, the invincible Greek hero, had a weak ankle that led to his
downfall. Giving your character faults often makes him or her more tangible to the
reader. Giving them real flaws (not the self-deprecating, undervaluing hero that we
have all known and loved before), but borderline narcissism, or slight selfishness,
or even something as simple as impatience can make your tragic hero more relat-
able. When the time comes, this aids in increasing their misery when you hit them
with any mishap that falls upon your character.
Rule number 4: Challenging a well-established character trope.
While killing a character is an exemplary way to break a reader’s heart, challenging
something that the reader believes to already know can hurt them as well. The hero,
the star-crossed lovers, the loyal companion, the redeemable evil figure with ulti-
mately good intentions and the true villain are all common archetypes that a reader
has been familiarized with through several different types of media. Introducing
one of these character archetypes puts the reader on a path that they feel like they
have already walked through several times. George R.R. Martin has mastered this
technique in his bestselling series A Song of Ice and Fire. He introduces characters
like Robb Stark as a protagonist, puts the reader on a hero’s path (something that
they have know and love already), and challenges the archetype with an unexpect-
Rule number 5: Knowledge is as dangerous and powerful as fire. Play
Another interesting method to break a reader’s heart is to play with the knowledge
of the character’s tragedy. Foreshadowing is a common literary device that gives
you little clues about what is coming next without revealing too much. Setting up
what’s coming later in the plot can be an extremely useful in creating the atmo-
sphere you want when the plot actually does play out.
This method is displayed beautifully in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
A story narrated by death, about death, the audience expects death throughout the
novel but still resists it when it finally plays out.
These are failsafe methods that have been used successfully to break hearts. While
they are useful to keep in mind, that does not necessarily mean that these rules are
the only way to break a reader’s heart. If you love your character for whomever he
or she is, and your plot puts them on journey that breaks your heart, it is likely that
it is going to do the same for your readers (albeit assuming that your writing is clear
and that your plot is organized). Go ahead, write your story, break hearts, convey
themes and leave your readers with a character that they hate to love.
“Nidhi is a Writing, Literature and Publishing student at
Emerson College in Boston. Being a voracious reader, she
was exposed to the realms of fantasy fiction from a young
age and adores all fictional worlds and creatures. Apart from
reading and writing, she has a strong appreciation for other
creative fields such as theatre, music and film.’’
storizen.com | August | 22
Interviewed and written by Mukesh Rijhwani
We noticed this gorgeous young Indian-American author be-
cause her books sold out like hot cakes. Enamored by her beauty
and voice, we started the interview on a different note.
Have you already got your Mr. Right or still looking for one?
“Fantastic question! ;) I think I’ll just keep it simple and say
that I’m not married right now.”
And with this we knew it would be fun
along the way. We began from the be-
Which part of India are you from?
When did you move to the US?
“I was born in Lucknow, where my
whole family is originally from. I
moved to US when I was 4 years
With two books in her kitty, we were
curious about her schooling, what was
“I was always an artistic kid, draw-
ing, painting…. winning art prize
since the age of 3 in India and then
the US. I played the violin my entire
childhood. I can still read music and
recently became interested in sing-
ing. I won a state wide poetry con-
test in middle school which was my
first affirmation to pursue writing
With good looks and a good height, we
asked this Chicago-based author and
journalist about careers in sports and
Did you play any sport in school / col-
lege/ state level?
“I was too aggressive and ungrace-
ful to play any sport elegantly but
my parents put me in Tae Kwon Do
which I studied till high school and
had received a Brown Belt.”
What about walking the ramp profes-
sionally or as an amateur?
“No. I was asked to model once in
college but my parents didn’t like the
idea. In hindsight, I completely agree
with them – at that age I was not
mature enough to understand any-
Little Tulika with Aunt and Grandfather
I studied abroad in the UK during my undergrad-
uate in Finance and then I did my Masters Fashion
Design from Milan, Italy with further studies in
storizen.com | August | 26
And in col-
lege did you
the UK during my undergraduate in
Finance and then I did my Masters
Fashion design from Milan, Italy
with further studies in Paris, France.
During my time in Europe – I had a
chance to see so much of the world.
I even attended the Cannes film
festival! At the university of Illinois,
Urbana-Champaign - I was also a
journalist and had my own column
in the local newspaper.”
She did her Masters in Fashion Design
and her worked as a contributing writer
to Elle, Vogue, Grazia and India To-
day Magazine which paved the way for
Delhi Stopover. Published by penguin,
Delhi Stopover explores the world of
India’s evolving fashion landscape and
chronicles many of her observations
from the global fashion and entertain-
Take us through the journey of writ-
ing Delhi Stopover.
“December 2008 - I started writ-
ing... just free flow thoughts. With-
in months, this had turned into a
massive bloated mish mash piece of
work that I *very mistakenly* pre-
sumed to be excellence.
2009 - put it aside for a full year.
Kind of forgot about it
mid 2010 - returned to the docu-
ment. HORRIFIED at the nonsense
I had produced. Worked closely with
an editor to try to fix the disaster.
*Had the epiphany that my nev-
er-ending, 100k+ word manuscript
might actually be 2 books.
This was the birth of Delhi Stopover
AND Crashing B-Town.
March 2011 - on a research trip in
India, met with a literary agent in
Delhi. Though not terribly excited,
he made some queries... including
one editor at Penguin.
April 2011 - received request from
a number of publishers for the full
manuscript. One in particular re-
quested to know what my future
books might be after Delhi Stopover.
June 2011 - No news. I am at the
verge of defeat. I have been to
They want to publish Delhi Stopover. But there is
a catch.They also want Crashing B-Town!!!! AND
they want to see a third book as well.
storizen.com | August | 27
writing conference and submitted
to agents stateside without success.
Thinking seriously about self pub-
lishing. Eager to put this “writing
business” behind me and start a new
chapter that doesn’t entail so much
July 4, 2011 - receive life altering
email from an editor at Penguin.
Contract is included. They want to
publish Delhi Stopover. But there is
a catch. They also want Crashing
B-Town!!!! AND they want to see a
third book as well.
The rest of the year is a euphoric
blur.... the editing process begins
with the Penguin editing team. I
rewrote the whole book (again)
realizing that Penguin might
have higher standards for me.
Discussion on jacket cover was
an eye opener. I became very
close to my editor after some
major head butting. Realized
that I should stick to what I
know best - writing!!!
October 2012 - Book releases
across South Asia.
Mid October 2012 - I nearly die
of happiness every time I see the
book in bookstores or anyone
buying the book in front of me.
Deeply humbled to be positioned
along JK Rowling, Salman
Rushdie, Ken Follett, and other
End of October 2012 - the book is
selling out across major bookstores!
Has received positive word of mouth
from the generous national press
December 2012 - Book has SOLD
OUT of stock completely. My literary
agent informs me that Delhi Stop-
over has officially hit best seller!”
Her book uncovers some of the dark-
est secrets of fashion industry, as well
as displays the joys of being in one. We
nudged her about the number of copies
storizen.com | August | 28
How many copies of Delhi Stopover
have you sold ?
“The head of sales at Penguin told
me that they had sold out of ALL
inventory and would be going to
second reprint. My agent informed
me that the book had become a best
I don’t have the exact numbers but
am grateful to know that the book
resonated so immediately with the
readers and that it flew off book-
shelves so fast!”
Have you sold the movie rights of Del-
“We (my agents and I) have been
approached by a number of directors
and producers for the film options.
We have not yet finalized a partner
for that endeavor. A film will be a
huge undertaking and I want the
best collaborator for the job.”
Her second book Crashing B-town has
just been released. While Delhi Stop-
over was on Fashion, this one’s on Bol-
Tell us about your latest book Crash-
“Released by Penguin, Crashing
B-Town is a continuation of Lila’s
story that left off at the end of Delhi
Stopover. This time the story is set in
Mumbai and uses the backdrop of
the city’s prolific film industry. My
hope was to not only reveal some
truths about the insulated industry
but to also open conversation on
very serious subjects such as rape,
sexism, violence, ambition, and
finding our identities in a very fast
This month Crashing B-Town has hit
the book stores across the country.
Tell us more about your fashion state-
“I think my fashion style on a reg-
ular basis is “comfort chic” which
includes yoga pants and tank tops. I
like to dress for the occasion and will
definitely go all out glam for formal
events from dresses to saris. I don’t
believe in following fashion trends
blindly. You will never find me
wearing a short mini-skirt. I don’t
We (my agents and I) have been approached by a
number of directors and producers for the film op-
tions. We have not yet finalized a partner.
storizen.com | August | 29
like them. But I love heels (all the
time!) and feminine dresses. It’s all
about understanding one’s body type
and wearing what makes you feel
the most confident. While I am not
a big fan of very girly fashion, I do
enjoy taking some fashion risks with
different silhouettes and fabrics. My
gravitate more toward a sophisticat-
ed, elegant, and playful style.”
And what is there in your purse?
“There’s barely enough room in
my clutch for my keys, lipstick,
and iPhone. I’d have to rethink
my entire outfit if I had to switch
to a bigger bag. Limited purse real
estate is a major obstacle when-
ever I go out. And frankly, I real-
ly don’t want to take my pepper
spray with me.”
Have you ever been mistaken for a
“Yes. Multiple times. It’s quite
funny and sometimes I play along
for a few minutes! A few years ago
at the Sundance Film Festival, I
was asked for an autograph by
someone who thought I was an
indie actress from the middle east.
In recent years, I have been told
that I bear resemblance to various
actresses from India. I won’t name
names because I definitely don’t see
the similarity but it’s flattering none
Do you understand or speak Hindi?
“Despite being raised in the US, I
picked up Hindi in college and now
speak fluently and can also read and
write Devnagri script.”
She grew up in the Midwest and she
Tulika with Billy
storizen.com | August | 30
completed her masters in fashion de-
sign from the European Institute of De-
sign in Milan, Italy. Following a short
stint studying French in Paris, Tulika
entered Manhattan’s fashion industry.
Intrigued by entertainment’s ability to
dictate trends, she soon sought creative
outlet in media. Leaving New York
behind for Los Angeles, she delved
into the evolving media industry with
a focus on India. Having looked at the
fashion industry from close quarters we
Wat advice would you give to people
who are planning to take up modeling
as a career?
“Modeling is an industry that re-
quires a certain unique body type
or image. The physical demands to
achieve this very slim or muscular
physique are not for everyone and
usually not sustainable in the long
term. I think anyone interested in
modeling should remember that the
industry judges solely on looks and
while it may appear glamorous on
the outside, it’s a very serious busi-
ness with intense competition. Any
candidate must have very thick skin
when it comes to criticism on their
Which author do you feel has influ-
enced your style the most?
“There are so many. I don’t think
I can choose just one. I often find
British writing to be the most in-
tense. I recently read Juliane Barnes,
The Sense of an Ending and was
mesmerized by his style. Rosamund
Lupton’s Afterwards absolutely
shook me. I love the witty humor of
Marianne Keyes who writes about
very serious subjects. I have fallen
in love with dog lit. My favorite is
Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in
Two books in the kitty. What next?
“I’m working on my third book right
now (unrelated to Delhi Stopover
and Crashing B-Town) that will be
done any minute now! It is a com-
plete departure from my earlier
work but still maintains the India
connection. I’m also playing around
I’m working on my third book right now that will
be done any minute now! It is a complete departure
from my earlier work but still maintains the India
storizen.com | August | 31
Tulika Mehrotra is a Chicago-based author and journalist. Her debut novel, Del-
hi Stopover was published by Penguin in 2012. She follows up with her second,
Crashing B-Town, releasing fall 2013. She is also a regular contributor to Elle,
Vogue, Men’s Health, India Today and other magazines.
with some new ideas for a fourth.
I am looking forward to seeing my
first two books adapted for celluloid
and television and am eager to be
involved in those projects as well.”
We heard that she’s a big fan of dogs.
Tell us about your pet dog and your
love for dogs.
“My dog is a cocker spaniel that
came from a rescue shelter. His
name is Billy. I have always had a
dog in my life since I was a teenager
and cannot imagine a future with-
out one. I find their innocence and
infinite happiness over tiny things
to be the ultimate example for all
of us. Dogs are wonderful teachers.
They live such short lives but the
kind of love they give us reminds us
to be better humans.”
What a wonderful statement to end
such an interesting conversation. We
wish this young Indian-American
author, a hundred more best sellers.
Thank you Ms. Tulika Mehrotra.
storizen.com | August | 32
Tell us a bit about you? what do
you do for living?
I’m a travel & lifestyle writer. I write
on food, (occasionally) fashion and all
sorts of travel experiences from whis-
tling at peacocks (they respond in shrill
cat-like voices) in a village in a Maha-
rashtra and plucking oysters in Kerala
to tripping on the creamiest prawn
curry, rice and sambal in Sri Lanka on a
day hotter than hell and wandering the
chic streets of Melbourne.
I’ve written a feature film screenplay –
Dirty Little Secrets - that was selected
for the Locarno NFDC Screenwriters’
Lab 2009. I also wrote and directed a
short film – Fowl Men – which was
screened at two film festivals, in Italy
And about the gemologist part?
I’m an IGI-trained gemologist, jew-
ellery designer and diamond graders
(though I prefer coloured stones to
diamonds, which form an altogeth-
er different branch of gemology and
evaluating them requires tremendous
expertise and experience) I’ve been
sketching since childhood, so the incli-
nation towards design was around for
a long time; my maternal grandfather
had a small pedhi near Kalyan (Mum-
bai) and my mother – who worked as a
bank manager for 30 years, quit her job
to start a jewellery studio in Pune. I’m
been writing and working with gems
and jewellery simultaneously.
How did you get the idea for your
book – Strike@36?
I think the germ of the book was want-
ing to write a light-hearted story about
single people in their thirties; compli-
cated characters with intertwined per-
sonal-professional lives and lots of emo-
tional baggage. It’s a story with three
main characters – Shobhna, Udayan
and Sagar. I wrote Sho and Uday – who
are ex lovers - as people with connec-
tions to the film industry because that
was a space I was in at the time. After
that, a dozen odd characters sprung
out, very organically, an assorted, all of
whom I fell madly in love with, espe-
cially Katya – my fierce Maharashtrian
mafiaso lady and Sho’s Pathan boss,
AK. Then there’s the surliest of them
all, Sagar; a typical small town ‘vernie’
with massive talent and major attitude.
I loved writing him! I hate sweet, happy,
smiling characters. Sagar is anything
but that. He’s also representative of tal-
ented, skilled and intelligent small-town
youth who have to adapt themselves to
Just recently, someone asked if I’d mod-
elled Sho on Kiran Rao (both from
Bangalore, lived alone in Mumbai and
worked in the film industry without any
prior connections) That was unusual; I
hadn’t ever thought of something like
that! Some people also (rightfully) crit-
icized that the book does not accurately
depict Bollywood. That’s correct. It was
never meant to. It was always meant to
be exaggerated and absurd.
storizen.com | August | 35
How long did it take for you to fin-
ish the book?
Just over a year. I wrote regularly, at
least for a couple of hours on an average
of four days a week; sometimes more.
Tell us what happened after you
finish the manuscript and before
you got a call from publisher?
The book was commissioned by Harper
Collins. I’d pitched the concept to Pub-
lisher and Chief Editor, Karthika V.K,
and she liked it. Must have been the
effect of one of Mumbai’s best Gujrathi
Tell us what do you enjoy the most
(and why) among travel, lifestyle
and fiction writing?
Both travel and fiction writing. I’ve
always wanted to romanticize trav-
el writing; sitting on a dusty roadside
café writing in first person in my artsy
little notebook; experiences as fresh as
dewdrops. Unfortunately, that doesn’t
happen! I sit in that café and I eat and I
watch people and I’m blissfull. To write,
I need a computer and a city in India.
Any interesting travel incident?
Many! Most of them involve food or
animals and people who speak in a
language I don’t understand. I’m also
directionally challenged, so I get lost
everywhere. I’m stupid with maps and
don’t get what the GPS is saying, so
there’s no alternative but to ask peo-
ple after every 1 km. That happened in
Aqaba in Jordan. So a few kids invited
me into their home and began yelling
when I didn’t give them any ‘lipstick’ or
When do you write? How often do
’m a morning person, but I’ve stopped
writing in the mornings. I reserve that
for yoga. I also don’t write late through
the night unless I have a deadline for a
magazine story, or I’ve really gotten into
the groove of it (very rarely, it goes on
till 2 am without dinner or water) But
my best output’s between 11 am to 6
pm. I write almost every day. No laptop
on Sundays, no laptop during festivals,
no laptop during travels (never!)
You’ve written for a film? Tell us
more about that.
Not really. I’ve written a feature film
script, which hasn’t yet gotten made
into a movie. I enjoyed writing it.
Tell us how different screen writing
is from the book writing?
Off the bat, screen writing is harder.
You’re writing something that some-
one’s going to read with the intention of
translating on screen. It’s a collaborative
effort or - if you’re lucky - it’s
storizen.com | August | 36
soon going to turn out to be a collab-
orative effort. If your script gets made
into a film, you write multiple drafts
accommodating a producer’s, director’s
and actors’ inputs. Writing fiction has
no holy cows. Technically, again I en-
joy the freedom a book brings. Having
said that, I loved the long script discus-
sions I had with my mentor – Philippa
Campbell - at the NFDC Locarno lab.
It’s lively, productive, teaches you how
to incorporate other (smarter) ideas
within the broad framework of your
own story; it opens your mind (as op-
posed to writing a book where you’re
queen of your own castle; a bit of a Ma-
Are you planning to continue to do
Not right now. Perhaps in the future,
Tell us about your favourite au-
thors and books?
I love animals, so one of my all-time
favourite authors is that delightful Brit-
ish veterinary surgeon and writer James
Herriot. A P. G. Wodehouse can always
be relied upon to cheer one up. From
Indian authors, I’m a huge fan of Mun-
shi Premchand and Pu La Deshpande.
Nobody writes as beautifully about
India as Indian authors in Indian lan-
Of late, the books that have stunned me
are Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Julian
Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending (which
won him the Man Booker for 2011).
The first is a fat tome, the other is very
slim, but both are fascinating glimpses
into the twisted human psyche.
Are you writing your next book?
I am! Two actually. A travel book and
literary fiction. The fiction is all dark
and mean. Very depressing. Wish me
Any plans to cross over and be-
come a full time fiction or screen
I don’t think I have either the patience
or talent to sustain that. Also, I have
both Moon and Mercury in Gemini.
Doing anything ‘full-time’ is not my
cup of tea.
Do people mistake you for a celeb-
Words of wisdom for our wan-
Don’t do it unless it makes you really,
really, truly, deeply madly happy. The
thrill of creating a kickass character or
even a single sentence that’s perfectly
written– that joy should be comparable
to falling in love, or walking in the rain,
eating potato chips, hugging a puppy or
whatever. Writing is a very lonely job;
you will eventually hate it, most of
storizen.com | August | 37
Aparna Pednekar is a Mumbai-based travel and lifestyle journalist and has con-
tributed to Vogue, GQ, Travel Plus, Verve, Harper’s Bazaar, Hindustan Times
Brunch, Lonely Planet, Elle, OK!, BBC Good Food and Femina. Besides being
a travel enthusiast, she wrote a feature film script, Dirty Little Secrets, that was
part of The NFDC Locarno Screenwriters’ Lab in 2009. Later, she wrote and di-
rected a short film, Fowl Men, which was screened at a couple of festivals in Italy
and Chicago. She is also an IGI-qualified gemologist and jewellery designer, and
designs gemstone-studded jewellery out of a small studio in Pune. Strike@36 is
her first book.
us don’t earn enough money doing it,
people will hate what you write, nobody
will buy your books. There’s no redemp-
tion; so you’ll do it only if there’s a para-
normal pull to tell a story.
We already know that it’s very import-
ant for a writer to read a lot. It’s also
important to go out there and live life;
especially if you’re an introvert and
tend to use writing as a shell to crawl
into. Force yourself to get out of your
comfort zone. Eventually that will help
in your writing too. The world’s too
interesting to spend it all crunched over
a aptop. Physical exercise helps tremen-
dously to focus on writing. It clears the
cobwebs in your head.
I’ve also got into the habit of taking
notes on my phone calendar (you can
carry a notebook to jot down thoughts)
At the unlikeliest of times, a genius
word or sentence will strike you. Make
a note, immediately and go home and
write it somewhere, because you won’t
remember it later and you’ll kick your-
self. Make a separate file of these inspi-
storizen.com | August | 38
Tell us more about mom-lit
The mom-lit genre is well-established
in the West, and authors like Jennifer
Weiner, Allison Pearson and Jane Porter
have written deeply compassionate and
witty books in this space. Mom-lit is,
essentially, the next generation of chick-
lit. Mom-lit explores what happens
when single girl Bridget Jones (using
her as a metaphor), marries and be-
comes a mother. The mom-lit, or mom-
my-lit, genre is all about that messy, but
wonderful journey called motherhood.
It delves into the psyche of mothers,
follows the antics of their children, and
trains its lens on the various aspects of
contemporary parenting. The idea is to
keep the tone light, witty and humor-
ous, without sounding too preachy and
How did you get the idea for your
book - Mom in the City?
The idea took shape when my son was
in playschool. I used to wait for him
till pick-up time and started writing
the story in my head. Like him, I too
was experiencing the modern Indian
playschool system, albeit from a very
different angle! However, there was no
real plan behind writing a book in the
mom-lit space. The story grew organi-
cally and there was no stopping the flow
once the process started.
How long did it take for you to fin-
ish the book?
This was the challenging part. Juggling
a full-time job, along with parenting
responsibilities and other life interven-
tions, didn’t allow me scope to follow a
more disciplined approach to writing
the book. Sadly, I am not one of those
writers who smugly claim they are at
their desk at 5a.m. sharp and key in
1000 words a day. But I am hoping to
join this league of authors some day!
I wrote the book over the course of a
Tell us what happened after you
finished the manuscript and before
you got a call from your publisher?
I signed up with my publisher only on
the basis of a synopsis and sample chap-
ters. I was very fortunate in this regard.
And a special word of thanks to my
publisher for being so understanding
when I encountered delays in finish-
ing the manuscript on account of the
Tell us what do you do for living?
I am a Commissioning Editor at Rupa
How do you keep a balance be-
tween the three jobs - Day Job,
Mom and Writing?
The last one year was an eye-opening
experience because, I was, indeed, pas-
sionately involved in all three roles! At
times I felt like a tightrope walker—one
wrong step and I could have come hur-
tling down! I would write late into the
night and at the neighbourhood coffee
shop on Sundays. I could pull it off only
because of all the love and support I got
from my family. My mother’s extreme
love and generosity ensured that my
son was never neglected whenever my
storizen.com | August | 41
writer’s hat was on. My son was a real
champ in seeing me through this book’s
journey. His sunny demeanour and
constant stream of jokes kept me enter-
tained and motivated me to finish the
When do you write? How often do
By virtue of being an editor, I do get to
indulge in a fair bit of writing at work.
Besides, I am a journalist by training
and hope to be more active on that
front too. All this keeps me connect-
ed to my craft. I guess, over and above
everything else, multi-tasking writers
need to become more adept at time
management. I have started writing the
next book and am quite pleased with
my output so far. Alternate week nights
and weekend evenings—post the kiddie
birthday parties and play date circuit—
seem to work for me!
What does it mean to be a mom/
parent in modern-day India.
What sort of challenges do parents
face these days?
The rhythm of parenting in India has
undergone a sea change from the time
my generation of parents were kids.
For one, there were no malls and other
fancy distractions that burnt deep holes
in the pocket. The pace of life was more
laidback and happiness was inplaying
hopscotch with friends, collecting shells
in the beach, lying on the top berth
of the train compartment enroute to
summer vacations, or fighting for sofa
space as the Ramayana or Mahabharata
played on television. Even the Doordar-
shan news in Sanskrit was a source of
great entertainment for someone like
While parents from any era experience
the same unadulterated joy from their
offspring, in today’s India, parenting
seems to be dangerously veering to-
wards a competitive zone. It’s all about
keeping up with the Joneses, or Shar-
mas, if you will. As a parent, you can
either choose to keep it simple and
basic or get sucked into the cesspool of
modern-day parenting that is all about
lavish birthday parties, expensive Xbox
games, or being super-ambitious by
enrolling your child in one too many
activity classes. I’m not sure if this is a
view held by other parents too, but, in
my opinion, a certain degree of stress
has crept into the otherwise joyous ex-
perience of being a parent.
I guess it all boils down to how you
wish to play the game.
Did you take any creative writing
No, though I often wonder what an
MFA degree (offered by most US and
UK universities) does for aspiring writ-
Tell us about your favourite au-
thors and books?
I love all the works of Jane Austen,
the Brontë sisters, Saki, Leo Tolstoy,
Colleen McCullough, O. Henry, John
Updike, Tom Perrotta, and numerous
others to name here. Among Indi-
an writers, I enjoy reading Anita Rau
Badami, Vikram Seth, and Rohinton
Mistry, to name a few. I read R.K.
storizen.com | August | 42
Narayan whenever I need a shot of
cheer and inspiration.
Which is the best feedback you’ve
received from a reader?
My debut novel, The TamBrahm Bride,
seemed to have touched a chord with
several women going through their fair
share of humorous (and not so funny)
experiences in the Indian arranged
marriage market. One reader wrote in
saying that the characters and settings
in my book were so real that she de-
cided to keep her antennae up when it
came time for her to enter this melee!
Are you writing your next book?
Yes, I have started writing my next book
and am having so much fun creating
Any plans to cross over and be-
come a full time writer?
I love being an editor and an author,
though it does make for aschizophrenic
Words of wisdom for our wannabe
Passionately believe in your story, get
into the skin of your characters, and
don’t let the stress of the writing process
get the better of you. Take a nice long
walk to clear the cobwebs in your head.
Keep the faith—you will triumph, dear
writer, in the end.
Kausalya Saptharishi works in the publishing industry in India. She holds an M.A.
in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is the proud moth-
er of a sprightly six-year-old boy with whom she is re-discovering the small and
beautiful moments of life. The TamBrahm Bride was her first novel.
storizen.com | August | 43
What kind of books do you read ?
I read anything and everything that
interests me and catches my attention.
Books are my best friends :-), some of
the books lately which have left an im-
pression are Meditations by Marcus Au-
relius, Flourish by Martin EP Seligman,
The Strategist by Cynthia Montgomery,
Change by Design by Tim Brown, Start-
up Life by Brad Feld
Who are your favorite Indian au-
I like Subroto Bagchi’s all the books and
recently loved “The Captainship” by
Which is your favorite book ?
Most of the books that i read leave a
mark and shape up my thinking, will
be difficult to choose only one. The
Strategist by Cynthia Montgomery is
the latest book i read and really enjoyed
the take of the author on how to think
strategically, unlike many books in this
genre its not prescriptive but leaves you
with clear pointers on how to run your
How did Yourstory.in happen?
Working in the corporate media setup,
I saw that young entrepreneurs starting
out did not have a platform to share
their stories,challenges and learnings,
Traditionally, we have been a nation
that celebrates successes. YourStory was
started with the intention of providing
a forum so that budding and aspiring
entrepreneurs can find one place which
becomes their voice and storytelling
platform. We believe that we need to
celebrate stories of people who are just
starting up and giving them the much
needed confidence to carry on in their
journeys. Moreover the focus remains
on sharing the stories of entrepreneurs
from small towns and cities.
How do you choose topics for Your-
As I mentioned, YourStory.in was
launched with an intention to provide
visibility to entrepreneurs and change-
makers who were not given their due
coverage in the “mainstream” media, so
we have been very broad when it comes
to topics. From women entrepreneurs
to software developers, from artists to
ecommerce entrepreneurs, we have
varied and diverse topics. If you have a
story we are the platform.
How different is storytelling in Your-
We believe storytelling is a very pow-
erful tool for any business and more
specifically us. As Storytellers, we bring
out real journeys of entrepreneurs. We
focus on the founders’ personal stories,
their motivations, their strategies and
learnings. It delves deep into the human
aspect of entrepreneurship and
storizen.com | August | 45
storytelling. I am a strong believer
of emotional quotient as a driver to
growth of entrepreneurship and we
strive to bring that out. Somewhere in
the noise of getting funding, building
the next google etc, we forget that the
“entrepreneur at helm” is everyday liv-
ing his or her vision, we celebrate, en-
courage and try to ignite that.
Any suggestions/ advices for young
Be yourself, i have seen in the long run
its the only thing that matters. Being
an entrepreneur is not easy at all, de-
velop a thick skin if you don’t have one
already :-), be humble and be a seeker
of knowledge..it works big time in the
overall satisfaction that you will have
from your venture and more important-
ly your life.
One book you would recommend to
Rework by Jason Fried and David
Anything else you might want to say
to our readers.
Make your mistakes and evolve, all the
bad things that might happen to you are
actually/totally blessings in disguise, i
can say this as i have lived to tell it :-)
storizen.com | August | 46
storizen.com | August | 50
Ipad is the most sought after gadget in the world. Because
of it’s beauty, it has brought so many new readers to the
market. The Rich User Experience has no-match when
compared to a physical book.
Kindle : Considered a mos
Century. Set to replace ph
er’s eye and battery which
storizen.com | August | 52
st important invention in the publishing world after Gutenberg’s Printing press in 15th
hysical books because of its epaper technology which does not cause any strain to read-
h stays on for weeks. This is a killer product.
storizen.com | August | 53
Mobile: This gadget has touched almost all aspects of our lives. Millions use it for
reading as well. The mobile reading apps like Wattpad is spreading like a wild fire.
This gadget may end up being the winner.
storizen.com | August | 54
Neloy Bandyopadhyay is an Award winning Photographer &
Wildlife Filmmaker. His pictures has been published in many
International and National magazines , National Geographic,
Saevus to name a few. He works as a Security Analyst in an IT
company and he is the Photo Editor in Storizen.
Sandeep Sulakhe is a software professional based in Mumbai,
got hooked to photography in 2010.
Amit Mitra is a Documentary Filmmaker & Photographer.
He also works as Analyst in an IT company. He has co-found-
storizen.com | August | 55
A true Gemini always guided by twins I am communicative, curious and
thoughtful. A mechanical Engineer by profession writing is like a passion for me.
I follow a straightforward direct Dil Se approach, writing on anything that affects
my heart and forces my brain to think.
A thousand words to be heard, a thousand talks
to be said,
As we move together in our life ahead.
Yet your silence covers it all,
Leaving me absolutely enthrall.
Silence is the speech of Love;
The music of the spheres above.
And so I promise to complete you;
Even when you say nothing at all!!!
You keep emotions buried under the floor;
But now I hear your silence,
As I enter in your world understanding it more.
Saying nothing sometimes says the most;
And I promise I will fulfill those unstated
dreams of yours.
Your silence is as deep as ocean,
Enriching the passion and emotion;
As I look into your eyes,
Only to learn those words still unspoken.
Unexpressed array of sentiments and a table of
The unstated things down the lane of memories.
I comprehend it as your eyes speak,
The essence of our relationship unique and mys-
storizen.com | August | 56
A Company Secretary by profession, Saru writes poems, articles and stories on
varied topics. Her creativity in both English and Hindi has received commendable
response in a short period of time. Her work has been showcased on many Na-
tional and International forums.
Polish me twice,
Shine - shroud for a broken shoe.
Dump me on next pay-check,
Bid me adieu.
Patched sole hides,
Holding the stitches tight.
Tattered, broken; yet smiling,
I sympathize with your plight.
Feet sob often,
Incessantly complaining to me.
Why can’t you end?
...Its naked odyssey.
Throw me on next pay-check,
You deserve a new pair.
Don’t hold onto your misery,
Now even I’m beyond repair.
Four bucks you earn,
Aren’t enough for feeding two.
I ponder, My Master!
How would you buy a new shoe.
storizen.com | August | 57
In her own words ‘Engineer and Management Graduate (IIMB Alumni) by Edu-
cation | IT / Innovation / Marketing Specialist by Profession | Daughter / Sister /
Mother by “Divine Grace” | Wife by ruling of the Heart | Philosopher by
Circumstance (after I became a mother – essential for BALANCE)
Are you EVER
You are totally dependent
In the quest for independence
Making lives interdependent
In the Morning
You are dependent
Asserting your independence
Adding complexity to interdependence
You think you are no longer dependent
You are strongly independent
And don’t like the interdependence
In the Afternoon
You realize and accept dependence
You realize and accept independence
You realize and accept interdependence
You are as dependent as you choose to be
You are as independent as you choose to be
You are as interdependent as you choose to be
And then at night
You are as dependent as they choose to be
You are as independent as they choose to be
You are as interdependent as they choose to be
storizen.com | August | 58
Icould not help stealing long glances
over at her, hunched over my diary in
the small coffee shop that had become
my haven in this little lost town. For a
very weird reason I was trying to figure
out the correct pronunciation of buf-
fet – the one with the food, not the one
with the smacks(just thought I’d clari-
fy), so there I was struggling with buff
which rhymes with rough –ay and buff
that rhymes with woof-ay when in she
walked, well in truth she struggled a fair
bit with her umbrella right at the door
before she stepped in.
That is what caught my attention to
begin with- for she carried an umbrella
just like mine, the rainbow umbrellas
as they were called were quite popular
in this part of the world( well I’d let you
figure out why they were called Rain-
The weather over here had been very
fickle, it would be sunny all day and
then in another moment it would start
raining, it was much simpler to carry an
umbrella wherever you went. When it
did not rain people would use them as
a walking stick to help with the gradi-
ent. Every eating place in the city had a
tall basket kinda thing in which people
tossed in their umbrellas as they came
in, she put hers in right next to mine.
So there she was- framed in the door-
way, her hair hung out behind her being
buffeted around by the wind, she wore a
white top that seemed to curve around
her almost casually, as if the perfect
fit was solely by chance and had been
completely unintended, the skirt ended
a couple of inches above her knee. She
wore no jewellery.
Before I knew it I was writing her de-
scription into my book. She was signif-
icant in some manner, in what way-I
did not know? There were no moles,
no birthmarks, no scars, no pimples
or the evidence of any ever existing,
her fair skin was unblemished, the lips
were neither too big – you know the
kind when you already have bee-stung
lips and then a bee actually stings you
so that they grow to twice the size, and
neither were they too narrow- they
storizen.com | August | 60
were perfect in proportion just like
the rest of her– I somehow stopped my
inappropriate train of thought. Yet I
could not help looking at her every few
seconds. She held her mug of coffee
in her hand and I could almost feel the
sensual pleasure that she was experi-
encing merely by holding that cup, the
way her fingers came through the mug
handle and wrapped around it, wisps
of steam rose from the mug and disin-
tegrated just before it could strike her
face. She ran a hand through her hair
pushing them back only for them to fall
stubbornly back in place a second later,
she had the grace of a figure skater- she
made the mere act of pushing her hair
back seem like a 10 point act.
I had to get out of there, I picked up my
diary flung it into my bag, grabbed my
camera and walked over to the counter
to settle my bill. I casually glanced at
her again as I fished for 100 bucks in my
wallet, she was staring right at me. She
moved her eyes over to the guy behind
the counter and then to other people
in the shop as if I had been a part of a
careless scrutiny of her surroundings
and nothing else. But something about
her look disturbed me, I looked over at
her again but she was looking out of the
front window now.
I was very conscious of all my move-
ments as I picked up my umbrella from
the basket, my mind had to fall back on
every bit of its cognizance to stop me
from looking at her. the outline of her
shoulders stood at the edge of my vision
as I reached for the door, the line of her
top as it snaked around her neck, I had
no idea what I would do if I stayed here
for another second. The few drops of
rain helped me get back to reality, what
had I been thinking? That she would
stop me in the doorway and ask me for
my number? I could not help scoffing
at myself as I started walking the short
distance from the coffee house to my
“Umm Excuse me.” She had to say those
words a few more times before I real-
ized that they were addressed to me.
I almost gasped as I turned around. Was
there really a God out there?
“I think that’s my umbrella you’ve got.” I
barely registered her words as she ges-
tured to the thing in my hand. “You see,
they are practically the same umbrella
but yours has a straight handle while
mine has a curved one.”
I finally caught on. “I’m so sorry” I mut-
tered unintelligibly, “I guess my mind
“Not a problem.” She stretched out her
hands, one held out my umbrella while
the other waited for me to return hers,
remarkably, if you took the umbrella
out of the picture she looked as if she
was asking for a hug, stupid umbrella.
Our fingers brushed slightly as we ex-
changed them and for a moment it felt
as if we were holding both hands- again
if you took the umbrellas out of the pic-
ture- damn the umbrella.
“Well. Thanks.” She said, and started to
I stood rooted to the spot as if all aware-
ness had slowly seeped out of my body,
as if my capacity to think had been
taken away as our fingers had touched.
She stopped and turned, “umm can you
help me with another thing please?” She
“Sure.” I said slowly.
“Actually I just got into town a short
while back, could you please direct me
to a pharmacist nearby? I have a brain
splitting headache.” She gestured back
to the coffee shop we had both stepped
out of, “I thought a cup of coffee would
help, but well, it hasn’t.”
My eyes followed every movement of
her body; “Sure” I said again, “There is
one about 100 metres down this road.”
I paused, “I’m walking in the same di-
rection, I can walk you if you want.”
Sometimes, just sometimes, I surprise
myself- this was one of those times.
She gave me an appraising look as if
assessing how much of a flight risk I
actually was, “That’ll be great.” She said
“How long have you been here?” she
asked me after a while, “You are defi-
nitely not from around this area, where
are you from?”
I nearly stepped into a puddle as I tried
to put words together to answer her, it
felt as if the mind knew what the an-
swer was, but the words kept moving
around and I could not form any intelli-
gent sentences, so just when I was about
to step into 6 inches of freezing water
her hand reached out to grab my elbow,
“Careful over there.”
I thanked her with a smile. “No, I’m
not from around here. I’m from Delhi,
been here for a couple of weeks.” She
just kept looking at me as if waiting for
more. “I’m taking a break between jobs,
I quit one a little while back, and I’m
giving myself a little time to relax before
I start somewhere else, see a few places,
and click a few photographs.”
She muttered something that was too
low to make out.
“What about you?” This was starting to
feel more and more normal with every
“Oh, I really don’t have anything as
interesting as that to tell you.” she said,
“I’m only here for a couple of days, a
mini-vacation and then I’d go back to
my same old job on Monday”
She was an intriguing person; she both
stood out from everything around her
yet at the same time seemed to be as
integral a part of the landscape as the
mountains in the distance.
“Maybe we can catch up for a drink
later tonight.” I said as I dropped her in
front of the pharmacy.
“I’d like that.” I quickly gave her the
directions to a popular Tibetan place
nearby, worried all the while that she
might hear the loud thudding noise my
heart seemed to make.
I lay back in my bed a while later star-
ing at the ceiling. It was one of the
cheaper hotels in the city; if you are
planning on staying indefinitely you
take special care to scrounge wherever
you can. I could not begin to imagine
why that woman had affected me the
way she had, I could still feel her hands
on my elbow, as If a part of
storizen.com | August | 62
her- the faintest of essences had
wrapped around while she stopped me
from falling. There was something dif-
ferent about her, something in her eyes;
it felt as if I had never seen an eye twin-
kle in my life until I had seen her eyes.
Hours later we sat opposite each other
at the back of the restaurant. The city
was full of small narrow restaurants,
there were seldom more than 5 tables
in a place and they stretched in wards
rather than along the road.
Nobody who saw us would’ve felt that
we had known each other for only a
few hours. She had changed into a jeans
and a sweatshirt, again- nothing she
wore tried to accentuate her curves, but
neither could they camouflage what
lay underneath. We talked of a hun-
dred different things as we sat there; we
talked through the courses, and before
we knew it we were walking down the
narrow roads into the night.
A couple of guys glanced at us as we
walked past a brightly lit ice-cream
shop. “Do you have a boyfriend? “ I
finally asked her. I felt stupid for asking
it, I had known her for like half a day
and I had no business to know it, I si-
lently cursed myself for acting like such
She didn’t seem to think so though,
“no.” she answered, she looked sideways
at me as we walked, “do you?”
I muffled a laugh, “No”. She looked
sheepish but did not try to broach the
I showed her around the whole of the
weekend, and when it was time for her
to leave she decided to stay back for
another couple of days. We ate all our
meals together, she left her hotel room
after a day and took a room right next
to mine- apparently she did not mind
the mildew one bit. It was a small three
lane town, and we must have walked
through the place at least a couple hun-
dred times. The night before she was
finally scheduled to leave for home she
asked me to come along “You’ve been
here for almost three weeks already.
Don’t you think it is time to head back
to the civilization?”
I told her I wanted to write, that this
was the reason I had come here in
the first place, no laptops, no mobile
phones, no emails, just me and my jour-
nal, colouring pages.
“You could colour pages back in Delhi.”
“I could.” I muttered, “But I’ve been
working on this story and I’m sure I’m
very near the end.” I told her I’d leave
for home as soon as I finished.
She kissed me at that instant. I was
more shocked than pleased. Before I
could start taking any sort of pleasure
from it, before I could start thinking,
before I could get past the amazing soft-
ness of her lips she broke contact. I had
stood frozen all the while. She carefully
curled her arms around my neck and
pulled me close, the fact that I knew
what was coming did not do anything
to prepare me for what was coming, her
lips made contact with mine for a sec-
ond time. She seemed almost indiffer-
ent to the fact that I was frozen still; she
alternated between my lower and upper
lips. She broke apart for a second time
and looked into my eyes, less than
storizen.com | August | 63
an inch of air stood between us and she
waited for me to get a bearing of my-
self, I could feel her slightly hastened
breathes, I could feel the warmth that
exuded from her and seeped into my
cold body. A faint smile played across
her face, “Do not be afraid” she whis-
pered. I finally made the journey across
the abyss to her waiting lips. We kissed
in that alley for a while more before
ducking into our hotel rooms.
Later that night as she lay next to me
she finally asked, “So you found the
ending to your story?”
All that had happened in the last one
hour had been a surprise. When I
had set out for this place I hadn’t ever
thought that something like this would
happen, finding love in a strange land, I
had read things like these before, even
fantasized about it, but never in wildest
dreams could I have put it together the
way it played out.
“I think so.” I finally said.
“Then you’ll come back with me tomor-
“Yes.” I felt her sigh with relief. What
had she thought I’d say? “You know
something Dipannita?” I said after what
seemed like an hour, “I’ve never done
anything like this in my life.” She started
She sat up on an elbow and gazed down
on my face tracing a finger along my
chin, “you know something Shruti. . . .”
I waited for her to finish, “there is al-
ways a first time.”
In his own words, Atul says I’m a software developer, an
occasional writer and a sporadic photographer. I spent an
to write a few stories myself was a natural progression. I’m
hi. I love to travel whenever an opportunity presents itself.
storizen.com | August | 64
The independence day parade was
going on in full swing in the local
school. Parents did not fail to notice a
four year old waving at the audience.
Couple of the parents turned their head
to notice an 70-80 year old man sitting
at the back of the stadium waving back
at the girl. Music continued playing as
the toddler’s sang national anthem and
gave a salute to the national flag.
The old man looked at the flag and
smiled, 67 years of freedom, ah free-
dom. He took a deep breath of the fresh
air and got up from the audience. He
whispered in his son’s ear sitting next
to him, “Going for a power walk.”The
son nodded in acknowledgment and
kept clapping at the parade in which his
young daughter had taken part.
The old man took a stroll around the
school and kept walking on the streets
of the old city. “The city has changed a
lot,” he thought, remembering the old
city before independence. This was the
same street where he had chased seven
British police officers with a lathi, he
laughed remembering the incident. The
funny part was the police officers were
carrying pistols and had no idea he had
no weapon on him other than the lathi.
His nostalgic mood was disturbed bru-
tally by a shout, “Baksi you bastard.”
He smiled turning around, “Hello then,
“Do not play games with me,” Jagmo-
han said pointing to the gun he was
holding under his khadi jacket.
“So you finally come to finish me off, is
that it?” Bakshi asked, “Well, good for
you. Would you like to have some tea?”
“Bakshi, you very well know why I am
here,” Jagmohan said, “You have ruined
“Ah well,” smiled Bakshi, “Did I now?
Come, lets take a walk.”
“Don’t move.” Jagmohan said.
“You do not want to kill me here, Jag-
mohan. That was always your problem,
you were always too eager to do things.
Come Jagmohan, you hold the gun, I
only have this walking stick. I want to
see her one last time.”
“Fine, but I will walk behind you and if
you turn back, i’ll kill you.”
“Sure,” smiled Bakshi remembering the
last time Jagmohan was with him.
“Is the information correct?” sixty years
ago 18 year old Bakshi asked the 16 year
“Yes,” Jagmohan said, “The mistress of
the governor, Julia told me today. They
are holding 10,000 Rs for the salary of
the English police officers in the bank.
Imagine if we rob it.” Jagmohan eyes
gleamed, “Azad would be so proud.”
Jagmohan poked him with the gun.
“You were just like him,” Jagmohan
said, “Always with the plan. Always
storizen.com | August | 66
planning to bring down the British em-
pire.” “We succeeded,” smiled Bakshi.
“Shut up old man,” Jagmohan said, “You
did not succeed. You just replaced the
foreign rulers with local scoundrels.
Look at the state this country is today.
Tell me all that was worth it?”
They reached the oldest church in the
city, Bakshi smiled again, “You should
have seen my four year old grand-
daughter in her independence day
program, Jagmohan. If you had seen it,
you would believe our mission was a
success. Had you not betrayed us, you
could be there today watching your
own grandchild in the Independence
day parade in our old city instead of
carrying this rusty old gun on a helpless
“You drove me to this,” Jagmohan said,
“What did I do wrong, Bakshi? So I just
took the money that we robbed and ran
away. So I was worried about my new
wife, yes call me selfish. She was just
pregnant with my unborn child. I had
needs. It was easy for you to fight for
independence. You were a vagabond, a
rowdy who loved to bully people. You
were arrested and Azad was shot dead, I
panicked. So blame me for that.”
They had entered inside the church and
were turning to the graveyard. At the
end was an unmarked grave. Jagmohan
was leading Bakshi to the grave.
“I do not blame you for anything Jag-
mohan,” Bakshi said, “I understand. We
were young, we had never seen so much
money. We should thank these British-
ers who made the old kings bleed. We
saw the king as human after the rule,
we saw that we could control our own
destiny. But you had to understand,
the cops could not hold me for long or
had you wished they had shot me, like
Jagmohan was silent.
“You know I walked right out of the jail
using nothing but a lathi and a mythol-
ogy. You should have seen the fear in
the police after that. It was marvelous,”
Bakshi laughed, “Imagine my horror
when I find you missing after my re-
turn. I tortured five of them... those
Brits to divulge information about you.
I had assumed you were killed in cold
“It was Julia who found me.” Jagmohan
continued, “In london. I had assumed
you will come chasing after me then but
for many years nothing. Nothing at all.
I had built a decent life for myself out
there. Made a few investments in the
rail roads,Indian spices company,chain
of Indian restaurants. I made some-
thing of myself.”
“You were always the business type, Jag-
mohan,” Bakshi said, “You always were,
yes Julia told me about it. She came
back here.” he pointed to the unmarked
grave, “said she wanted to be buried
with us here. Poor girl, as slave to those
white monsters as we were. Yes, I came
to london few years back and saw your
empire. It was magnificent.”
“Then why?” Jagmohan said, “Why did
you destroy it? Why my family?”
“See,” Bakshi said turning around,
storizen.com | August | 67
“It was nothing personal. I was in fact
proud of you. You had made something
of yourself out there but you made one
In a flash of a motion the walking stick
hit Jagmohan hand. There was a loud
crack as the bone broke on impact. The
gun collapsed on the ground as Jag-
mohan watched in horror as Bakshi hit
him on the legs and other hands.
Bakshi kicked the gun away and opened
the gravestone, it was hollow inside.
“You should have never betrayed me”
Bakshi said as he lifted Jagmohan on
his shoulders and threw him into the
hollow grave. “See when I was asking
around about you, I received this infor-
mation about the informant who gave
the police my whereabouts.”
“You knew?” Jagmohan said.
“Yes and so did your family,” Bakshi
said, “I told them, right before I killed
them. Those hotels of yours, it just took
a few ounces of poison in your food and
a bunch of live rats. These God fear-
ing Brits are scared of everything that
moves. I knew once your empire was
down and you are left alone you had
only last move left. You had to come
back and find me.”
“You left me with no choice.” Jagmohan
screamed from inside the grave.
“Always eager to finish things,” Bakshi
smiled. “I still don’t blame you Jagmo-
han,” Bakshi said as he pulled a spade,
“I really do not blame you. We were
young, we had never seen so much
money. It was all adrenaline and hor-
mones but” Bakshi started filling the
grave, “you chose the wrong person to
Bakshi sealed the grave and walked out
of the graveyard. Humming the new
tune of ‘Kadam kadam badhaye ja...’ as
he entered his house.
“Had a nice powerwalk?” asked his
daughter-in-law serving him hot cup of
“The best walk of my life.” he replied
The final recourse or expedient; the last
[French : pis, worse + aller, to go.]
Siddhesh is creative enterpreneur, witty blogger and pas-
sionate story teller. He’s got an awesome website. Go visit.
storizen.com | August | 68
Sushma’s eyes refused to blink after
they caught a glimpse of the column in
the local newspaper which said:
“The cleanliness of the Meharkot is
marred by tufts of garbage that border
the sidewalks of every lane. Majority
of its residents complain that their taps
spray out slurry in spells. Epidemics
have run their course and nothing has
been done. The government is numb to
the gripe of the citizens. Its devil may
care attitude heralds its fall. It is high
time that the residents of Meharkot
take the bull by the horns and elect new
bodies for supervision area-wise. Inter-
ested residents who have to vision to
bring up a change may …”
“I have to make it to the municipal
board. It is my time to be in the lime-
light once again, Dhananjay,” she said
with a vicious smile. ”Meharkot is going
to dogs, so they are electing a new body
for governance. If I were in the munic-
ipality, it would mean free publicity,
a new job and I can mint green notes
again. I should stand for the elections
this time.” Her eyes gleamed as they
met the eyes of her beau, clad in white
dhoti and kurta , who was ensconced in
the dark velvet sofa that contrasted the
off white wall.
“Sushma, Sushma, Sushma,” he said in
an attenuating pitch. ”Politics is a dirty
business. I know how this game works,
being an MLA myself. I don’t know who
will even vote for you. People know you
as an actress of the yesteryears and now
you are shadowed by the new comers.
Plus, being a woman, it is hard to get
As Sushma sighed, her eyes rolled all
over the room adorned with expensive
paintings and crystal ware. She pon-
dered on the thought that her luxurious
life may have to be put to bed if she ran
out of ad offers, which would eventu-
ally happen in the short run when her
wrinkles became prominent. Already
she could see a subtle web of fine lines
surrounding her eyes. As she wasn’t yet
married to the Dhananjay, she had no
fallback option either. On the flipside, if
she were to get her hands on the
municipality it would be easy for her to
keep the ball rolling. So, she could not
afford to let Dhananjay’s words throw
cold water on her moxie.
A film runs best at the box office if it is
preceded by great trailers. At this junc-
ture, this was the sacrosanct principle
that underlay most of Sushma’s actions.
She had to garner the attention of the
masses in the canniest way possible
if she needed their votes. As her eyes
rolled through her bank account state-
ments that morning, her brows tight-
ened as she was too sensitive to part
with something so dear to her in the
name of philanthropy. And then, when
she looked around the room and got a
glimpse of her overflowing wardrobe,
something struck the chord of inspira-
tion in her.
Within an hour, Sushma was heading
down town in a car filled with her old
clothes. As the road got more and more
undulating and her car hit more bumps
her face lit up with the very thought of
approaching her destination. The roads
were strewn with litter and semi clad
urchins ran about hither and thither to
get a mere glance of the car. Hawkers
sauntered about the streets with their
big carts filled with vegetables, making
it impossible for the vehicle to proceed
at its original pace. They peeped inside
the car with a streak curiosity on their
faces. Finally, at Sushma’s behest the car
was pulled over and she got out with a
bundle of clothes in her hands. People
thronged around her like bees.
Someone tipped off the media as per
the plan and the charity session
began. It prolonged for a couple of
hours as camera men captured shots of
the donation. Finally, by evening Sush-
ma was back at home resting her tired
feet when her attendant knocked the
“Madam, someone is here to take your
interview,” he said.
There was a surge of alacrity in her
heart as Sushma got up stroking back
her hair and dabbing her face with
compact. “Let them in, “she said.
Three men walked in - one with a huge
camera and the two others with mikes
in their hands. “Madam, we are here
from CK TV, can we start now?” Sush-
ma nodded in affirmation.
“Roll camera, action.”
“What inspired you to visit the slums?
What is the motive behind these dona-
tions?” Someone popped the first ques-
“Well, I really want to help the people
from the slums. They deserve to wear
better clothes. The down town was a
horrible spectacle. The people seem to
work so hard for a simple livelihood.
The whole place bears a stench and I
found it hard to stand there for min-
utes. The people look starved; they need
to have good food and someone with
compassion to work on that front. Right
now I don’t have the means for all that,
so I did the least that I could.”
“Tell us about your relationship with
MLA Dhananjay Kehsav. Sources say
that he you had quite a tiff with his
wife, the bone of contention being your
alleged affair with him. Is that true?”
“Well, I am a compassionate person and
I care about people. Nothing is more
important at this point of time. I have
heard, just like you would have, that
Dhananjay’s marriage has been rocky
off late. He will decide what he wants.
As far as the allegations of the fight are
concerned, I prefer to keep mum. Can
we put this topic off for now?” said
Sushma raising her voice. Her face con-
torted and her pupils constricted.
“I think we are done for now,” said one
of the interviewers much to her cha-
“Alright. I just want well for the people,”
For the next two days, Sushma used to
scan through sections of the paper hop-
ing for news of her philanthropy to hit
the headlines. Each day her face would
sink in despair.
On the third day from the act of chari-
ty, Dhananjay stormed into her house.
“What have you told the media about
me?” Sushma gave him a befuddled
look. “Haven’t you read the article
which quoted us and said things about
our affair? I cannot hold my head high
when I walk into my office any longer,”
As he threw open his laptop furiously,
his bracelet jingled in the jolt. “Come
here. Sit. Read”, he said as he pulled her
forcibly by the elbow.
And then he typed “Chatpata Khabar .”
The page opened. The caption read:
“Chatpata Khabar: We serve you with
the latest news, the latest controver-
sies, the latest buzz and yummy masala
about Page 3 celebs hot on your plate.”
Sushma’s eyes grew wider as she
scrolled down the page. The article had
a picture of her taken during her “Act of
selflessness.” It said:
“When tinsel town meets shanty
Her pretty face might have been in-
visible on the silver screen for the last
two years yet her affairs suffice to keep
her in limelight. Recently we spotted
yesteryear actor Sushma Agrawal on a
donation spree in downtown Meharkot.
Clad in a simple yellow saree , she was
seen offering people her old clothes that
mostly comprised Vintage party wear
and Van Heusen formal wear. Will her
branded couture really help in feeding
the starved, is a question that can be
answered only by them.
Upon being asked about her affair with
MLA Dhananjay Keshav and the re-
cent alleged tiff with his wife she said,”
I am a compassionate person and I care
about people. Nothing is more import-
ant at this point of time. I have heard,
just like you would have, that Dhanan-
jay’s marriage has been rocky off late.
He will decide what he wants. As far
as the allegations of the fight are con-
cerned, I prefer to keep mum.”
It looks like someone is trying to fish in
Well Sushma, we need neither Solo-
mon’s wisdom nor Argus eyes to make
out what you are doing here. We aren’t
sure if your old clothes would help the
poor people of Meharkot but as you
said, the compassion you manifested is
storizen.com | August | 72
sure to win the heart of Prince Charm-
ing, who you have suddenly put on the
map. Does donation of your party wear
mean an avowed adieu to Bollywood
or does it mean that you don’t fit into
those dresses anymore?
Anyhow all we have to say is that re-
lationships like this help forgotten ac-
tresses keep themselves alive in the rat
race for fame. “
Sushma’s eyes were watery when they
met the eyes of Dhanajay who resem-
bled a furious bull. She could feel her
heart beat accelerating at a bizarre pace.
“I only went down town to show people
that I care for them. That was for the
election, I..I mean votes,” she stuttered
in a broken voice. Gritting his teeth,
Dhananjay turned his face away. Sush-
ma’s hands trembled as she proceeded
to the comments section.
One said, “These actresses are bimbos.
How does this one think that her old
branded clothes are of any use to the
I’m sure that she has out grown those
clothes. That’s why she wore that voile
saree to camouflage her flab. She should
understand that her shelf life is over.”
Another said:”What a home wrecker!
These women do anything to steal a guy
and after they get bored of him they
jump on to another guy. Then they say
that they mutually decided to move on.
What’s wrong with that MLA? He is just
a standard example of those govern-
ment employees who have paramorous
affairs when they should be on duty. No
wonder normal people like us struggle
for even electricity and water.”
And finally this comment was the cher-
ry on the top: “Check out the coral
necklace she is wearing. I think that the
MLA gifted her that one. His wife wore
exactly the same necklace to a school
function last week. Either DJK availed
a buy one get one free offer on it or his
wife must check if her vault has some-
In her own words, Priya says, am a software developer
who dreams to create waves in the writing world. I be-
lieve that the most efficient faucet of creativity is the pen.
So here I am, with a pen in my hand, trying to use it as a
brush to paint the world around me with my imagination
and make it reality.
storizen.com | August | 73
Aisha walked in hurry as she was
almost late for her appointment. She
gave her name to the nurse in the desk,
while she was surfing the shelf to fetch
her case file, Aisha scanned the room
for the empty seat. The entire place
was strangely quiet. She glanced at the
entire room and the faces of some 50
women waiting at Dr. Kundavi, Gyne-
cologist’s reception at a famous hospital.
Everyone was there for the same rea-
son – They can’t get pregnant without a
No one cared to speak or even acknowl-
edge to one another, yet having so
much in common. Everyone was sitting
in their own world, reading a magazine,
fiddling with their cell phones or ad-
justing their sarees and dupattas. Those
few who are accompanied by their hus-
bands or mothers — they didn’t seem to
be in a talking mood, either.
Aisha, a 33 year old IT professional, was
there for her pregnancy treatment with
her husband Sam, who was also in the
same field. He was trying hard to hide
his nervousness and holding his wife’s
hands with hope and comfort. As the
clock ticked, Aisha sat there silently and
lost in her own thoughts.
It was 2005 May, 5 years before that day,
Aisha, a lovely, vibrant and a religious
girl, got married to Sam, the love of her
life. Happily married with her loving
husband and caring in-laws. But after
few years of marriage, what more she
or her family could ask for – a baby to
show their affection and to prove as a
symbol of their love? Or do you think is
it too much to ask for?
For every married person, however rich
and well settled they are, the question
they couldn’t escape is – ‘How many
kids do you have?’
They too did come across such phase
in their lives. But at first they weren’t
much worried as they have decided
to wait. So they both didn’t give much
urge to start a family, instead concen-
trating on their profession and earning
money, like any newly married couple.
2007 – As their second anniversary
passed by, they decided to start a family
and started trying for a baby. She nat-
urally thought getting pregnant would
be as easy for her as everything else that
had been in her life. After all, when she
really wanted something and worked
hard for it, it always seemed to have
fallen in place. Few months passed by,
nothing happened. She eventually start-
ed getting tired and depressed as she
spotted the redness month by month.
Two more years passed in the blink of
eyes. Being religious, they believed that
God would bless them naturally with
the bundle of joy.
2009 – They started feeling more wor-
ried but they both didn’t show it ex-
plicitly and pretended to be happy. But
when they have lost almost all their
hopes, their family friend suggested this
hospital. And they visited Dr. Kundavi,
but after the basic tests, nothing seemed
to be wrong. She prescribed her with
Folic Acid & other hormone pills and
asked her to come for regular monthly
checkups. After several fruitless months
passed by, doctor advised them to go
through further detailed procedure and
Meanwhile directly n indirectly, their
relatives started questioning about her
fertility. Now, those talks and questions
made Aisha grew depressed. Because it
is expected from you, from the woman
when she gets married, it is an unwrit-
ten rule. With her growing depression,
Aisha became weaker and feeble day
after day. She quit her job and stopped
going out. She stayed most of the time
inside her room just to avoid talking to
people. She hid herself from the society.
She built a void around her, as she start-
ed feeling that her life has no meaning
without a child to give her love and
Even though Sam was a loving and
supportive person, her own wishes and
dreams of getting conceived, made her
go down with stress. For her, nights
grew longer than ever. When her hus-
band was asleep, she sat crying in the
bed for hours in her anguish and de-
spair. She couldn’t sleep properly and
found difficult to concentrate on any-
thing. That’s when his parents started
insisting him to remarry for the sake of
heir to the family, Sam felt restless and
started working for long hours simply
to stay away from home and face the
One day when he returned home late
from work, he found Aisha swallowing
sleeping pills to end her life to give a
peace of mind to everyone she loved.
He slapped her hard and hugged her
tight. As she started losing her con-
scious, they took her to their family
doctor immediately and gave her first
aid. Later she apologized for her mad-
ness and they both cried at their inca-
When she recovered from it, Sam took
her and other kids in the family and
neighborhood to picnic to uplift her
mood but at the end of the day they
were both gloomy. He insisted her to
go to work again to get rid of her void.
And they waited for God to answer
their prayers someday soon.
But only later did they realize that God
will not just come down and grant their
wishes but He has provided the facility
and already showed them with the pos-
sible way through modern medicine.
It was May 2010, Aisha and Sam were
waiting outside the doctor’s cabin
clutching their test reports in her hands.
Whole room was in silence until the
nurse called for Aisha. She came back to
her senses, stood up and walked slight-
ly tensed holding Sam’s hands towards
the doctor’s office, with their final hope
Dr. Kundavi, a very nice lady in her 50s,
smiled as they entered the room. ‘How
are you Aisha? Please have your seat...’
As they sat down, she went through
their reports for few minutes and said,
‘Everything seems to be normal but it
is diagnosed as unexplained infertility’.
She looked at both of them, ‘Now it’s
been 5 years you got married, no symp-
toms of pregnancy even after we tried
the medications n other treatment. We
tried our best to make it naturally but as
you’re getting older Aisha, I advise you
to undergo the IVF treatment.’
Aisha and Sam both were bit hesitant at
first but they have no other options to
refuse as they saw it as their only hope.
When Doctor explained about the pro-
cedure, it was like a light lit in their dull
gloomy life. They started their treat-
ment in the following month. Aisha got
conceived. The whole family floated in
joy. And the following 9 months was
like a mixture of happiness, anxiety
and also a difficult period for her. She
was in a complete bed rest and every
month she underwent Ultrasonic Scan
test where they able to see the healthy
movement inside her womb. Finally
yeah, God has answered their prayers
by blessing the whole family with the
bundle of joy.. not one but two.. a boy
and a girl - blessing to fill their empti-
ness and a meaning to their life.
In her own words Meera says “I am a novice writer and an amateur poet who
loves to rhyme with words. I discovered my interest in writing and photography
only after my blog happened. I always look forward to learn something new in
life while I prefer to stay under the veil. Do visit my blog to know me more.”
storizen.com | August | 76
From education to aviation to writ-
ing, Rajshri Raajgopal has got a taste of
various avenues in life. She has written
a couple of children’s books. And this
one is her first attempt at entering the
world of adult fiction. Does it work?
Let’s check it out.
The blurb goes like this –
Set in a scenic village on the outskirts of
Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, this
is the story of the struggles of a wom-
an in its hostile society. The journey
of Anna through her battle for free-
dom from an unhappy household, her
first love, a debilitating marriage and a
stressful divorce shows the reader how
difficult life is for a young woman even
in this modern era. Her remarriage is
a blessing in every way but it comes
with a curse too Anna finds an unusual
friend who is determined to destroy her
With a darkish blue cover and the sil-
houette of a woman, you expect this to
be in intense story of one woman and
her struggles in life. The presentation
and the font style of the text is quite
The concept is quite interesting to start
with and as the story moves ahead,
things become really gripping. The
story can be quite literally divided into
two parts. The first part deals with how
Anna suffers through a stressful mar-
riage. Rajshri has beautifully portrayed
the stress, the troubles, the problems
and the issues a woman goes through
in a troubled marriage. You can almost
feel the pain Anna suffers.
Just as Anna remarries and starts living
a happy and beautiful life, you wonder
what next is in store. And then comes
Anna’s unusual friend. Though noth-
ing seems wrong at first, the buildup to
the climax and the climax in particular
is quite sensational. Till the finale, you
keep thinking on how its all going to
end. There’s reality, there’s fantasy and
there are emotions. It all comes across
as a heady cocktail which leaves you
wanting for more.
storizen.com | August | 78
Aseem Rastogi is a passionate blogger, published author and an
avid lover of books. He has opinions on anything & everything
under the sun which he keeps penning on his blog.
The narrative is well structured and
keeps the reader interested till the end
as there are no subplots to cause any
confusion. The characters – Anna and
her friend are beautifully portrayed.
Things seem so life like that you can
feel that you are standing next to them
when the two are talking to each other.
The only negative if one could think of
it as a negative was the fact that in the
first part of the story, Rajshri could have
edited things a little bit. Though reading
all the troubles of Anna provoke empa-
thy but somewhere, the reader may feel
that he / she wants to move to a lighter
point in the story.
All in all, quite an awesome start for Ra-
jshri in adult fiction. Go for it!
storizen.com | August | 79