April 01, 2014

ANTAKSHARI-3...Its back!!!

Hello Readers,
I am aware that we have been a little out of action here, you and me.
Perhaps it is the lull that comes after years of togetherness that occurs even in the best of relationships, or perhaps the monotony of our hectic schedules leave us with little time to stop and smell the flowers. Whatever might be the reason, the truth is that this sudden bout of deadpan lethargy is quite obvious by the awkward cessation of cheerful chatter wafting in the air, and the sweet fragrance of soulful conversation that once emanated from our 'Nostalgic Moments'.
So just to spruce up our relationship once more with the good old charm and enthusiasm of yester years, here's presenting before you, (*drum rolls in the backdrop*) online ANTAAAAKSHARI 3!!!!!!

For those who are not aware,  Online Antakshari is a series of fun interaction posts we used to have way back on here. The first time around, it was a huge hit (check Antakshari-1 ) with members all over Blogsville and outside participating. Months later,  we saw Antakshari 2 happening, and had a jolly well time then as well. Hence, the need of Antakshari-3 now, to bring back memories of a time not long ago, and help us kick start our listless minds with a hum on our lips and a spring in our step.,

As for the rules of the game, for those who arnt aware---
  • It is a simple game where in you start with a song and the next person takes it from the last letter of the last word of that song and types in  (because unfortunately the virtual world has its limitations) another song.
  • Let us try not to repeat any of the songs because repetition kinda spoils the fun..and make sure we don't murder any lyrics around here. We wouldn't want those lyricists turning in their graves ;)
  • Oh, and one more thing, typing more than just two lines of the song is mandatory. If by chance two or more people comment in at the same time with different songs for the same letter, then the one whose comment appeared first will be considered.
  • Anyone and everyone (bloggers and non bloggers) is invited and welcome to participate any number of times.


March 27, 2014

Life in teacups...

Two cups of chai in front of you.
One, you drink. The other stays untouched.

"It still belongs to you." I hear you murmur as you push the tea cup towards me.

The waiter tells me it has always been this way. Two cups of chai you'd pay for, every time you stopped at what once used to be a regular haunt. Two cups of chai you'd now sit alone and nurse. Two cups of chai...since the day we left in opposite directions.

I laugh at the irony. But I still don't have the heart to explain.
I have always been a coffee person! :)

March 08, 2014

Lets face the truth...


While you are watching this video...
Some helpless woman in India is getting raped for no fault of hers (except ofcourse that she is a 'woman')...
Some unsuspecting school girl is getting bottom pinched and touched (in the wrong places) in a crowded bus on her way home from school...
A bunch of street loafers are passing lewd remarks at the dutiful housewife, making a cheap spectacle out of her as she buys vegetables in the market...
An independent professional in a multinational company is filing a case against her colleague or senior for sexual harassment...
The same senior or colleague is sneering behind her back with his friends, knowing that she would never be able to prove it...
A doting wife has just discovered her husband's clandestine affair and is wondering where she went wrong...
An office secretary has agreed to compromise with her boss because she cannot afford to lose the job during a crucial family emergency...
A young tired daughter-in-law of a renowned political household dreads her unborn child's fate as she is literally dragged into the radiologist's clinic by her husband to determine the sex of the baby...
A seventeen year old is scarred for life because some boy just called her 'ugly'...
A new bride shudders with fear as she ices her trembling skin singed by the cigarette butt her perverse husband has used on her last night...
An innocent eleven year old girl has been touched by her favorite uncle and feels angry at herself...
A kitchen 'accident' is been planned for the docile daughter in law who has been exhausted from fulfilling never ending dowry demands...
A young college girl is oblivious that she is being followed by a masked scooterist with an acid vial in hand...
A house help is being brutally beaten and called a thief because something in the house is misplaced and cannot be found...
A woman is called 'loose' because she has more male friends than females...
A rape victim is being judged as having 'asked for it' only because she had been wearing a short skirt and a tank top at the time of the heinous crime...
A twelve year old village girl has been bought for Rs 25,000 from her family, while the poor child is unaware of the trafficking scandal that lies ahead of her...
Nothing is making sense for the pregnant woman just diagnosed as HIV+ve, to whom the world will cease to exist only after the confession from her coward husband who will refuse to meet her eyes...

And all this was happening to some woman somewhere...while you were busy humming the song in  that video.

Happy Woman's Day? Really?? 

Promise me a society where every woman is appreciated as an equal, where her mind is valued and her body is respected and her vulnerability is not considered a weakness, where her physical strength is not exploited to prove her inferior.
Promise me that kind of a society first...and then maybe, you can wish me 'Happy Woman's day'

March 05, 2014


Last night, after almost an eternity, I dreamt of you again.

It was absurd, the way my dream has changed over the ages. Last night, you were just standing there, in a quiet little corner, smiling to yourself. I seemed busy in a blur of activity---the random humdrum of an otherwise monotonous day. It didn't seem like I did not notice you standing there watching me. But somehow, even in that dream, I was not giving that fact much importance. You didn't say anything. I was speaking to everyone else but you. A loose strand of hair carelessly tucked behind my ear, I was scribbling something furiously on the notepad in hand. I seemed like someone enjoying a lot of responsibility. It seemed you were enjoying it too, watching me like that. But we did not speak, not to each other.

I cannot recall the details but the waking point was the one that surprised me most. There was a merger---a dream plus reality mix...a surreal time travel of sorts, from a reminiscent past to a hypothetical future.

We were suddenly holding hands...in another frame...another scene rolling out miles away as if in another time and space.

"Its a small world," you were saying..."We will meet again..."

"Don't be so sure...We might go the rest of our lives pretending the other does not exist."

Then the scene changed, there you were again, standing in one corner of the busy room, smiling softly at me...me who was trying hard to ignore your presence now.
You were still smiling...and as our eyes met, I let out an exasperated sigh.

"So, we meet again," I said and smiled.

"When did we ever part? We were only pretending we did," was your tongue in cheek reply.

..and then I woke up, trying to decipher which half of the merger was more real, the past that  happened (and got left behind), or the future that never will...

Last night, after almost an eternity, I dreamt of you again.

March 04, 2014

Book Review: 'The Other Side' By Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee

Title: The Other Side
Authors: Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee

Pages: 320

Publisher: Mahaveer Publishers

Price: Rs 150/-

Genre: Fiction

I was one of the first few people to have ordered this book on FlipKart. Having known Faraaz Kazi for his prolific writing and equally warm persona, I had been waiting for his second book to hit the stalls. So when I was told that 'The Other Side' would be the end result of the brainstorming sessions of two literary geniuses (the other being Vivek Banerjee of 'The Long Road' fame), I knew for sure that I had to read it.

Why the late review, then? Well, as you folks must have noticed, I have been pretty much out of the loop since some time. There have been personal reasons and then there have been personal reasons. Lets just say life kept me busy. But believe me, I am not dead. Speaking of which, its quite an eerie come-back announcement to make when I am all geared to write on 'The Other Side'. (pun intended)

So without further ado, let me begin by saying that this book was, in one word, unputdownable, right from the word 'Go'.
'The Other Side' is a collection of thirteen spine chilling stories of the paranormal world, that do not fail to leave you with a lump in your throat. The book begins with a foreword that explains the philosophy of fear---the one extreme emotion that lives in all of us, and yet we try so hard to ignore. Next, follows the prelude which is a well corroborated conversation between the two authors, Faraaz and Vivek, speaking about their bizarre experiences, and this aids in creating the whole 'chill in the air' feeling before we proceed on to reading the subsequent pages.

There is an element of wide eyed surprise in each of these narratives, be it 'Starangers in the night' or 'The lady in the pub'.. Frankly, its impossible to pick a favorite, but 'Red Bangles' and 'Dream Girl' makes your hair stand on end.
However, what I particularly liked about the book is that there was a sense of right doing and wrong doing in each of the stories. While the unadulterated horror gave me goosebumps, the subtlety which hinted that perhaps there is justice after all..at least on the other side, brought a smile to my lips---an act of kindness gets repaid, a perverse murderer gets his due, a mother's love is answered and so on.
Each narrative is written with lurid details. The sombre undertone evokes a panic within the reader and the writing clearly reveals the literary talent possessed by the authors, as each story rolls out scene by scene in your imagination.

This combo pack of thirteen gut wrenching stories will definitely make you explore your innermost fears and wonder about superstitions and the world beyond our own. From the honeymoon in the hills that goes terribly wrong to the obsessed lover who craves his love, in life or death to the psycho who mutilates body parts to build up his 'dream girl', this book is filled with grossly petrifying, terribly unnerving and overwhelmingly alarming tales that will make you miss a heart beat as you gulp with fear. What takes the cake, however, is the epilogue that is in continuation with the prologue involving the two authors and their adventure---the final nail to the coffin. (oops! pun intended or maybe not...)

To conclude, I would say, reading the other side was a nail biting experience and that just goes to say that it definitely lived up to its genre, and needless to mention, the authors' names. Would surely recommend it.

Oh yes, I dared to visit alone and felt the chill in the air. Did you? :)

Personal Rating:  4 out of 5

February 03, 2014

Book Review: 'Done with men' By Shuchi Kalra

 Title: Done With Men

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

"I'm soo done with men," is a statement I am sure every young or not so young member of the female species has, at one point of time or the other in her life, uttered in exasperation.
Well, Shuchi Kalra's debut novel revolves around the extraordinary journey of one such ordinary female and works on basically the same premise---therapy to a broken heart.
As our jilted protagonist Kairavi decides to go on a sojourn to Goa to rid herself of the aftereffects of a bitter heartbreak, she swears to herself and to the Universe that she will never again fall in love with another man.
End Result: the stereotyped Alcohol Ashram that Goan beaches are apparently viewed as by tourists, beckon her to have a wild drunken night, that includes not just booze but also (as she discovers later) an outrageous tattoo and an equally experimental 'break an leg arm' gay encounter that ensues in getting inked with a 'Done with Men' inscription on her wrist.
But its Goa....and good things keep happening. During the brief hospital stint, she meets the fascinating doctor Vivian Dmello, an alpha male, a rare mix of unique sentimentality and Adonis masculinity. To add to that, Dr Vivian also happens to fall madly in love with Kairavi, whose heart is constantly torn by the confusion between the decision she has made and the tempting offer of what lies ahead.
The story is fast paced and entertaining. It is a light and frothy read. Its non-lengthy perky quality renders it the status of a quick read. The interest level is sustained  by contrasting characters like Kairavi's best friend and room mate, Baani, and her 'boring' boyfriend, who are a little too level headed and balanced for Kairavi's gregarious and fun loving (yet insecure--the chink in her armour) personality, and needless to mention glimpses from previous relationships she has been in. The only grouse I had with the plot was how quick paced the whole 'falling in love again' was for a person who is just out of a relationship and had sworn off men. But then again, maybe its just the skeptic in me talking.

As the new crush or love is viewed with pink tinted glasses, the vacation seems to take on an almost perfect course. Yes, 'almost' perfect as things are not always as rosy as they seem. Just when Kairavi feels things are turning too good to be true, she is in for a couple of surprises---visits from the ex, the return of the lesbian, and the gorgeous threat to her budding love affair with Dr Dmello make her wonder what the stars have planned for her.

Does Kairavi find the true love of her life or is it that whatever happens in Goa should stay in Goa?
Heart break is a tough affair to handle and does she really need to have her heart broken yet again to validate the tattoo she had got done in drunken revelry.
Or will she go walking into the sunset (considering Goa is a beach et al).?
Well. that my lovelies, you'd have to find out for yourself. This modern day story is available in ebook version by Indireads and comes with an entertainment guaranteed offer. So for all you heart broken lasses out there, this one will definitely get you smiling.

and keep reading...

Personal rating: 3 out of 5

About the author: Writer, editor and blogger based in India. She has been writing since 005 and has freelanced in magazines like Femina.in, Good Housekeeping, Home Review, Dogs &Pups, Parent & Child, Women's Era, and Times 'N' Style amongst many others. She also writes a monthly travel column for Investors India.
Shuchi is the owner of Pixie Dust Writing Studio and the Indian Freelance Writers Blog. Her short stories have been a part of anthologies such as Love Across Borders. Done with men is her debut novel.
First an optometrist at one of India's leading eye hospitals, she is now a full time writer leading a happily nomadic life with her fauji husband and livewire toddler.

facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/shuchisinghkalra
twitter: @shuchikalra 
book video trailer: 

January 18, 2014

Sunanda Tharoor: The chinks in her armour...

Last night, screaming headlines shocked the nation about Sunanda Tharoor's untimely death in one of Delhi's poshest hotel rooms. News reports informed that the union minister and his wife were staying at the Leela Hotel since two days prior to the catastrophe, due to some renovation at their residence. The horrific incident apparently occurred somewhere between 3.30pm (when she was last seen in the hotel's lobby) and 7.25pm (when Shashi Tharoor along with the hotel staff broke open the hotel door only to find his wife's lifeless duvet covered body in bed). In the absence of any suicide note or source, the police are left clueless about the cause of her death. However, mystery shrouds the case as suspicions arise due to recent comments and happenings that have transpired in the recent past.

It is no secret that there have been strained relations between the seven year long married couple due to Shashi's alleged affair with a certain Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. All those following the celebrity couple would be well aware of the twitter war that the trio were fighting.
Who would know that an immature online squall would result in such a disastrous consequence? Who knew that a social platform would be responsible for wiping off fifty two years of a beautiful life from the face of the worth?
Who can know when something is getting too much to handle? and then again, how much is too much?

I wonder if Mehr would still pass those angry comments she made about Sunanda in her tweets had she to know that it would have such fatal consequences...I am not being biased. Some might say that what Mehr tweeted was just a counter reaction to Sunanda's accusations. I am not in any position to say that there is any truth to whatever Sunanda Tharoor claimed. But the woman in me refuses to believe that she could have have imagined it all, like Mehr in one of her tweets is trying to make it sound. However, we the aam junta, can never know anything for sure. In someone's personal affairs, however, this 'not wanting to knowing' is mostly a good thing....unless ofcourse, it becomes a social catastrophe that could have been prevented..or perhaps a suicide that could be stopped. That is when, society is handed over the right to intrude and fight for justice on behalf of someone who quit midway for what she/he thought as something that could not be helped.

Everyone and I mean EVERYONE (right from the maid who works at my home to the pesky news reporter who barely allows the interviewee to speak and is most happy answering his own questions) Perhaps Sunanda resorted to this ghastly method as a desperate measure to quit the losing battle of a rocky marriage. Perhaps it was the depression that stemmed from her poor health condition that stepped on a nerve, causing a breakdown. Perhaps it was twitter, the friendly social platform, that was taken way too seriously in this 'internet' world. Or perhaps it was just a case of real bad timing...and (like we all want to believe) she died a peaceful death. So many interpretations, no fixed conclusion yet. The autopsy report promises to exclude a few possibilities.

But what stays in mind is her last tweet, "Who knows when I got to go with joy hastay hue jayenge (will go laughing)," she said.

The mystery around Sunanda Pushkar's death made me review my panoramic outlook on life. It made me ponder on societal definitions sprinkled all over the news reports---'true love', 'happily married', 'social circuit', 'depression', 'PDA', 'insecurities'---the elusiveness of it all. Is there any age to all this? Rather, is there any age at which we move beyond all these expectations (from us...from those we love...from life)? Or is this something we humans are cursed with, until our dying day?

Sunanda Tharoor's friends are now seen speaking of the lady's charm, joie de vivre, warm and friendly disposition and striking personality. She was known for her sense of humour and vibrant attitude. What nobody could spot was probably the chinks in her armour.
What nobody ever spots are the bruises on the soul...

May afterlife grant her the happiness that life did not allow...
Rest In Peace Sunanda Tharoor!

January 06, 2014

Life and its 'Pizza' people---Angry kya?

Last night I ordered pizza for dinner.
Now what is so blog worthy about that, you may ask. Well, you my dear friend, should be by now aware that yours truly is rendered with the most unexpected moments of enlightenment by the most mundane of all experiences.
So there I was, waiting for the pizza boy, driving away absurd thoughts of the guys who work at Nominos deliberately spitting or drooling on my pizza to avenge for my brashness in response to the irate telephonic exchange I had with them (those who order out from Nominos will know how one has to face a flurry of unnecessary rounds of questions that include stupid discount schemes, retarded offers and senseless choices----if I want diet coke with my pizza, I'd have asked for it  You don't really need to keep telling me that I can get it free with another medium sized pizza, you know...because then you would have to tell me how to finish off two medium sized high calorie pizzas without having to scream out loud on judgement day aka the day I step on the scale to weigh myself, every week. So bah!)

Without digressing too much, let me come back to the point of the post. So I was waiting for the pizza delivery boy when this profound thought waltzed through my idle mind. Now as you all know, anything is better than worrying yourself over someone spitting in your food, so I allowed myself to chew on it (the thought not the food or the spit, silly...eww! What-e-ver!) and then eventually I shifted focus to the people in my life. (Yea, I'm sure you guys must be mumbling 'tell us something new' under your breath. Well, creatures of habit, you and me...what to do, we are like that only.)

Somewhere between thoughts of the pizza yet to be delivered, the hunger pangs rising in my stomach, mirthful expectations of a free pizza if the 30 mins time limit is surpassed (out of the thousand odd times Ive ordered a pizza, never has this happened..but hope and greed is what the world functions on), and a hundred different memories created by people who have walked in and out of my life,  my mind drew the following callous association.

People are somewhat like pizza.

Let me make lucid my following analogy.
Pizza comes in a square box.
When you open it, its round. When you start eating it, its in triangular segments. So within the brief span of getting the pizza in hand, and eating it, the harmful looking Italian junk has already changed shape thrice. 

Life and people are also much like pizza...look different...appear different...and behave absolutely different

It is impossible to figure them out completely. Appearances are indeed deceptive. We, in our lives have people changing colors much quicker than pizza changing shape. Or perhaps, maybe just like the pizza, it was always an illusion we fall pray for. Those gooey-chocolate-centred personalities, who are sometimes equally deceptive as a fully loaded high fat, high cholesterol pizza---with extra cheese et all, who you think are so amazing to know that you cannot help but devour them all at once.. You indulge in their awesomeness, relish their exuberance, and cant wait to see them once more. You become addicted.
Just like pizza, you crave for their company. They may be anyone---a friend, a lover, a crush. They become your 'Pizza person'........until one fine day, someone points out, the difference---the difference they see in you. 
Just like the layers of cholesterol that eventually clog your veins, this pizza person slowly but surely gets under your skin. You don't even realise the change, but you are transforming into someone else. That is what too much of indulgence does. You start becoming inactive, bored, lazy, take yourself for granted......until the OMG moment---the moment when the unhappy change starts becoming obvious to the blind bat that you have changed into. This OMG moment can be due to a variety of things. If your pizza person happens to be your best friend, the OMG moment could be his/her attention wavering by the entry of his/her lady love. If your pizza person happens to be a lover, this could be a simple harmless statement like 'umm..you have changed' (which is most likely true but usually adequate to churn a storm of negative emotions through you)..The timing of the fateful 'OMG moment' is subjective to your 'pizza person'. Hitherto, all is bliss. It is only after the OMG revelation, that the panic sets in. Then start the resolutions. Enough of being taken for granted. No more 'Pizza person' you say. You abstain, you exercise, you stay away, you run.
However, you find yourself going back. You start to develop withdrawal symptoms. Your Pizza person is watching you, a bit confused but nevertheless confident that you will return. Return you do, after coming up with a thousand excuses to convince yourself. Your Pizza person made you happy, that's all that matters, you say. So what if we are no longer who we used to be...change is the only constant.
and the game continues.
Now sit back and think...think long and deep.
Cholesterol deposits, weight gains, lethargic feelings....all's well till the pizza person is with you.
But is it really worth it? How long before the pizza person place shuts you down?
What will you do with all that cholesterol overload, that extra carry around weight, that lethargy and........no pizza? No relationship (neither friendship nor love) in life comes with a guarantee, except for the one you have with yourself.
So cherish yourself....
Do not over indulge...
and when realisation dawns or is made to dawn, make sure you hold on to it as tight as you can and  don't keep looking back.

This year, I have decided to avoid all kinds of overwhelming influences in my life. I have decided not to allow others control my feelings and emotions. I have decided to include more of the 'whole grain and brown bread' people. I will learn to enjoy their consistency and share their determination. I will accept them with their balanced personality and remind myself that life is not always a crazy ride but better a steady journey.
Hitherto, life has been pretty insane. But its time I got my act together and my priorities sorted.
Last night, waiting for the Nomino's delivery guy, yours truly unintentionally put a lot of her life in perspective, in her own quirky sort of tangential way, How much of the resolute will transpire in the days to come, that we have to see.
But one thing is for sure...you, my friends, will definitely know all about it! :)

Love deeply, truly and passionately...
But start with yourself.