Saturday, June 5, 2021

Blogchatter Half Marathon 2021

Blogging brings joy. The eagerness to write a post, the comments, then reading other lovely blogs, the interaction...

I can't help thinking of the time when I started blogging (some 11 years ago) whenever the term 'blogging/blog' comes to my mind.

However, my blogging style has changed over the years, I'm not that desperate to update my blog like I used to be. I like to write and post at my own pace. I write/post when I truly feel like saying something. The readership has changed as well, I think. Maybe because we are more engaged on social media. Engagement on social media is fine but the joy of receiving nice comments on my blog is something else.

In this bizarre, frustrating, tiring and sad phase, I find it difficult to concentrate on writing. And so I have decided to motivate myself and take part in Blogchatter Half Marathon. I am taking part for the second time. 

We have to post daily, well 10 posts in 15 days to be precise, so it seems absolutely doable. 

I am not going with any specific theme. I just want to write and publish some interesting posts on my blog. It could be book reviews or any bookish post, my paintings, short stories: Hindi (I have started writing Hindi stories. You can read them HERE, if you want) or English. Or poems maybe. Let's see. 

Also, I'm looking forward to reading interesting blogposts (I'll try to read, comment, and share if I really connect to any post, as much as I can). 

Sounds interesting? So, head to Blogchatter's website and register.

See you soon!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

'The Accident': My New Story on Juggernaut Books


Varun’s wife Priya went missing three years ago. What happened? Would he be able to find the answers?

You can read this story on Juggernaut Books, a very cool and handy reading app by a very popular publishing house.

The Accident

Also, I'm conducting an acrylic painting workshop for beginners. Please write to me if you are interested. 

Thank you!

Take care and stay safe.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Book Review: All Drama, No Queen by Andaleeb Wajid

Name of the book: All Drama, No Queen

Author: Andaleeb Wajid

Publisher: Penguin India

Number of pages: 223

Genre: Drama, romance

Price: ₹ 275 (on Amazon)

Andaleeb Wajid is a very experienced, prolific writer. All Drama, No Queen is her 28th book! She mainly writes romance and horror.

I have read her story called 'Will the Oven Explode?' (on Juggernaut books app), which I liked, so I was quite eager to read and review All Drama...

The blurb says: All Drama, No Queen is a romance novel with well loved characters from 'Twenty Nine Going On Thirty'.

That explains because it does seem like an extension to some other story, however, you can read this book as a standalone novel.

I like the author's writing style: it's easy and engaging. Light, well placed humour makes it interesting. However, there are certain (important) things that didn't really work for me.

The prologue is sweet. I liked it even though I don't really like the idea of writing prologues. But I felt that the main story starts vaguely and abruptly. Maybe because I haven't read the previous book but for a standalone novel, the beginning doesn't seem like a beginning.

The story is about Farida, a thirty year old woman, orphaned at the age of twelve, and her love (kind of obsession) for Irshad, her childhood friend and distant cousin. 

That's it. The first few chapters are interesting but lack of substantial elements makes this story rushed and repetitive.

The characters: Farida's character is so immature. She does nothing except thinking about Irshad and how she could attract/seduce him so that he breaks off his engagement with Shagufta (yes, he is already engaged) and gets married to her. She can't do or think anything without discussing it with her friends (mostly Priya). I needed to remind myself that she was a 30 year old woman. 

Although Irshad is everywhere, he is practically nowhere. He seems like a secondary character (not the main protagonist), as he has nothing to do except asking a few monotonous questions and give long explanations.

Irshad and Farida have met just once as kids. They lose touch and finally meet after 13 long years. But we don't see how they connect/bond after such a long time. And that's why Farida's obsession for Irshad seems a bit unreasonable and unconvincing and annoying. 

It would have been more interesting if there were some exciting incidents and conversations between Farida and Irshad so that the readers could see a relationship burgeoning. Their relationship and the moments they share feel forced. 

I liked Priya's character. She's smart, independent and sensible. And such a good friend.

Overall, a light, quick read. Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed mainly because I was expecting an entertaining love story. 

This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program

Monday, April 12, 2021

यादों का पिटारा

एक बोल है, नीले रंग का। पुराना है पर बहुत ख़ास है। ख़ास इसलिए क्योंकि वो तुम्हारा है। उसपर नज़र पड़ती है और ऐसा लगता है मानो तुम्हारी यादों ने गले लगा लिया हो।

चीज़ें, इनपे हमारा इख़्तियार होता है। तुम्हारे चले जाने पर मेरा बस नहीं था। 

'आप जाने दें इसे। इसके चले जाने से जितनी तक़लीफ़ आपको होगी, उससे कहीं ज़्यादा तक़लीफ़ इसे आपके पास रहने से हो रही है।' डॉक्टर ने कहा था।

तुम समझ सकते हो हमारी व्यथा? शायद नहीं। वो शायद सही कह रहे थे पर हम सेल्फ़िश होते हैं। हमें बस अपनी पड़ी होती है। पर तुम्ही सोचो, आसान है क्या ऐसे जाने देना?

पर इन सब के बावजूद रोक नहीं पाए तुम्हें जाने से। 

और भी जाने कितनी चीजें हैं। जैसे अलमारी में तह कर रखा तुम्हारा मुलायम लाल स्वेटर। जब भी अलमारी खोलती हूँ, वो ऐसे झांकता है जैसे मुस्कुरा रहा हो। पुराना सामान सिर्फ सामान नहीं होता, यादों का पिटारा होता है। उनपर नज़र पड़ती है और यादें दौड़ी चली आती है। कभी मीठी खुशबू की तरह, तो कभी धुआं। पर जैसी भी हों, अनमोल हैं ये यादे क्योंकि अब बस वही हैं।

जाने कितनी बातें, 


समेट लाते थे जहां से,

उस पते पर 

अब बस यादें रहती हैं।

Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Review: When the Wildflowers Bloom by Rupa Bhullar

Book: When the Wildflowers Bloom

Author: Rupa Bhullar

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Genre: Inspirational/Drama

Pages: 240

Price: ₹ 248 (on Amazon)

'Cheers, to lost love, new choices and unknown possibilities.'

This quotation (From the book) is the gist of this story. 

The story opens with a conflict: a very unpleasant, shocking situation Tara, the protagonist of this story has to face. A public humiliation from her husband. It makes you feel sad and angry; it intrigues you: what next?

Next, you see Tara traveling to Amritsar, in search of solace. 

It's difficult for her, as Tara is the mother of two lovely kids, but finally, she decides to take control of her life into her own hands. 

This story is about Tara's journey of self discovery, to find her own worth.

The author has a good command of English language. It's neat, beautiful at certain places, and it creates lovely imagery. This book is a beautiful reflection of Punjab and Punjabi culture. The descriptions seem very authentic.

There are some lovely, insightful quotes.

'For love, I guess, is neither a conviction nor an assurance. It is an unquestionable knowledge. No one needs to tell you they love you. You just know it --- their love is experienced within you.'

However, there are certain things that didn't work for me. 

First of all, the dialogues: there are too many dialogues. People say too many things. Everything the characters feel has been expressed through dialogues, even the greetings and the replies to the greetings. Plus the dialogues are long, sometimes 3-4 paragraph long and heavy, without any kind of break/interruption.

This approach of dialogue delivery made the dialogues very unrealistic. We don't really talk that way. 

Now, I love good conversations, for they make the read engaging and the characters more interesting, but here the conversations are mundane. Sadly, they didn't engage me. 

Frequent usage of Hindi and Punjabi:

I'm not a fan of too much usage of Hindi/regional language in English novels. A few words/sentences here and there are fine but in this book, the author has used it too frequently (sentences like, 'Jug-jug jiyo', Janamdin mubarak ho') so frequently that the book contains a 6-page glossary.

I liked the ending. It's well written and pleasant. The book cover is so captivating, and the title so beautiful. My main reasons to pick this book, to be honest. 

I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

पुस्तक समीक्षा: नीना आँटी (Neena Aunty) - अनुकृति उपाध्याय

किताब: नीना आँटी

लेखिका: अनुकृति उपाध्याय

प्रकाशक: राजपाल

पृष्ठ: 112

कीमत (पेपरबैक): ₹170 (अमेजन पर)

पुस्तक स्रोत: ब्लॉगचैटर 

मुझे लगता है कि कहानी के पात्र उस कहानी के स्तंभ होते हैं। एक पाठक के तौर पर मुझे कोई कहानी कितनी पसंद या नहीं पसंद आएगी, ये बहुत हद तक उस कहानी के पात्रों पर निर्भर करता है। दिलचस्प किरदार कहानी को और दिलचस्प बनाते हैं। और नीना आँटी एक बहुत ही दिलचस्प किरदार है। साहसी, स्वतंत्र, स्वछंद और अपने मन की करने वाली और रहस्यमयी।

जैसा कि कहानी में कहा है कि उनका इतिहास है। काफी लम्बा चौड़ा इतिहास है।

नीना आँटी कहती हैं, "मन की करना आसान नहीं, जीजी, मन का करने से पहले अपना मन जानना जरूरी है।"

कहानी शुरू होती है जब सुदीपा, नीना आँटी की भांजी, उनसे मिलने उनके बंगले पर आती है। जहां नीना आँटी अकेली रहती हैं। वो हमेशा से अकेली ही रहती आई हैं। उनकी बहनें कहती भी हैं कि 'एकलखोरी है नीना।'

सुदीपा इस कहानी की सूत्रधार है जो शायद नीना आँटी को सबसे ज़्यादा समझती है, या यूं कहें कि समझने की कोशिश करती है क्योंकि समझता तो उन्हें कोई भी नहीं।

कहानी का अधिकांश हिस्सा फ़्लैशबैक में है। नीना आँटी का इतिहास, उनकी कहानी कई किरदारों से होकर सुदीपा तक पहुंचती है और सुदीपा से हम पाठकों तक।

किरदारों की बात करें तो इस कहानी में कई किरदार हैं। ज़ाहिर है, नीना आँटी एक बहुत बड़े परिवार का हिस्सा हैं (जहाँ से वो कई दफ़ा बेदख़ल हो चुकी हैं) और परिवार के हर सदस्य की उनके बारे में अपनी राय है जो एक दूसरे से कुछ खास अलग नहीं है। 

अच्छी बात ये है इतने सारे किरदार मिलकर भी आपको कन्फ़्यूज़ नहीं करते। सबकी अपनी पहचान हैं और ये बहुत रियलिस्टिक लगते हैं। जैसे मृणाल मौसी डांटती भी मीठे अन्दाज़ में हैं वो 'मीठी मौसी'। और लीला मौसी हैं 'बच्चू मौसी' क्योंकि दूध न पीने पर वो अक्सर बच्चों को धमकाया करती थीं कि 'बच्चू अभी बताते हैं तुम्हारी मम्मी को…'

ये सब, और साथ ही साथ इनका व्यवहार और बातचीत बहुत चिर परिचित सा लगता है।

बातचीत की बात करें तो इस कहानी के संवाद बहुत ही सरल और सहज हैं। बिल्कुल वैसे जैसे हम आमतौर पर बातें करते हैं। जरा भी बनावटीपन नहीं। अनुकृति जी ने कई अंग्रेजी शब्दों का प्रयोग किया है। पर वो सिर्फ संवादों में इस्तेमाल किए गये हैं सो बिल्कुल नहीं खटकते। बल्कि संवादों और किरदारों को रियलिस्टिक बनाते हैं।

अनुकृति जी का लेखन अच्छा है, आपको बांधकर रखता है। वो एक अनुभवी लेखिका हैं ये उनके लिखने से अंदाज़ से ज़ाहिर होता है। उनके शब्दों के साथ आपकी कल्पना अपनी उड़ान भरती है। सिर्फ अच्छी लेखिका ही नहीं, वो बहुत अच्छी कहानीकार हैं। कुछ कोट्स बहुत अच्छे हैं।

"किसी एक के भूल जाने या नकारने से तुम्हारी याद झूठी नहीं पड़ जाती। अक्सर हमारी स्मृतियां एक दूसरे से मेल नही खातीं, जो जैसा तुम्हें याद रहता है, वह वैसा ही दूसरों को नहीं।"

एक ख़ास बात ये है कि लेखन बिल्कुल निष्पक्ष है। आप अगर नीना आँटी को समझने का प्रयास करते हैं तो आप उन किरदारों को भी समझने की कोशिश करते हैं जो नीना आँटी को, उनके निर्णय को समझ नहीं पाते।

कहानी में कई दिलचस्प मोड़ हैं जो आपकी उत्सुकता बनाए रखते हैं। 

कुल मिलाकर मुझे ये कहानी अच्छी लगी। जैसा मैंने पहले कहा, इस कहानी में और अनुकृति जी के लेखन में पाठकों को बांध कर रखने की क्षमता है। एक बात जो मुझे इतनी संतोषजनक नहीं लगी, वो है इसका अंत। कहानी एक अच्छे अंदाज़ से ख़त्म होती है, पर इस कहानी में कई रहस्य हैं, कई सवाल हैं जो कहानी पढ़ते वक्त आपके ज़ेहन में उभरते हैं पर कुछ रहस्य और सवाल अंत तक अनसुलझे ही रह जाते हैं।

बहरहाल, अगर आपको हिंदी कहानियां पढ़ना पसंद है, तो आपको ये कहानी पढ़नी चाहिए, आपको पसंद आएगी।

शुक्रिया ब्लॉगचैटर, रिव्यू कॉपी के लिए।

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Book Review: In pursuit of Mi Amor by Sujata Parashar

(I painted a bookmark for this book)

Name of the book: In pursuit of Mi Amor

Name of the author: Sujata Parashar

Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications

Number of pages: 186

Genre: Fiction/romance/drama

Price of the book: ₹250 (On Amazon)

I received this book through Writersmelon for an unbiased review

Suhana is an intelligent and independent woman who is struggling to forget her past. Her past, so murky that it still haunts her, even in her dreams. She doesn't trust men, and after a failed relationship, her mistrust has only intensified. 

Her work takes her to Spain and there she meets Amar. 

Amar is a handsome, smart and successful businessman who has Haemophilia, a bleeding disorder. He has been bullied in school and college, and even in a relationship because of his condition, but he has somehow managed to beat the feeling of unease and smallness. However, he's adamant to keep his distance from women.

When he meets Suhana, his resolve seems to waver. Even Suhana feels an inexplicable attraction, and wants to ignore him, but the problem is that they have to work together. 

What's the destination of this strong, mutual attraction? Would they ever begin to trust each other and find love? 

And the story is not just about Amar and Suhana. It's also about Suyash-Amya-Sarika. 

It's about love, trust, betrayal, and most importantly, acceptance and letting go. 

The story is told from multiple points of view and the pov changes quite frequently and swiftly but it doesn't confuse you. The author has handled it well.

There are so many characters but the good thing is that the story doesn't feel crowded. Characters are sketched well. They all have their own battles, their own story and that has been told well. I liked Suyash-Sarika-Amya's story. I felt it was more engaging than Amar and Suhana's story. 

As I have mentioned above, it deals with a kind of disorder, and it seems well researched. 

The only thing that bothered me was, 'too much telling'. Everything has been told, rather explained. And everything has been told beforehand, which leaves no scope for any surprise. Even though there are several elements that could have hit the readers as a surprise (at certain points of the story) if the author has allowed the story to unfold on its own. 

Also, there are paragraphs and paragraphs of self talk, which is okay, but I feel that the narration would have been more engaging and smooth if the author had told this story in the first person (considering the long and frequent internal dialogues), however, it's just a thought, not a complain. 

I liked the setting of the story and the cover is very attractive.

Overall, a quick, nice read. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

कुछ अनकहा सा: A Hindi Story on Kindle


I painted this cover for my new Hindi short story, live on Kindle. How is it?

मेरी नयी कहानी, कुछ अनकहा सा, हिन्दी में। 

उनको देख भर लेने से सुकून मिल जाता है और फिर एक अजीब सी बेचैनी। ऐसा नहीं कि ये एहसास नया है। कई बरस पहले उनके लिए कुछ महसूस किया था पहली बार। पर ये बेचैनी नयी थी। जैसे खो दूंगा उन्हें अगर ज़्यादा देर दूर रहा उनसे।

पर सवाल ये है कि उन्हें पाया ही कहां है? इतने बरस उनके इतने करीब रहकर भी इतनी दूर। यही तो बेचैनी का सबब है।

ये एक अनोखी प्रेम कहानी है: कबीर और आयशा की। जो बरसों से साथ रहकर भी एक दूसरे से बहुत दूर हैं। क्या वो कभी करीब आएंगे? कभी ज़ाहिर करेंगे अपने जज़्बातों को?

इस किताब का कवर दरअसल मेरी एक पेंटिंग है। बहुत अच्छी नहीं है पर मेरे पास वक्त की कमी थी। जबतक डेडलाइन सिर पे ना आ जाए, मजाल है कि मैं उस काम पर कॉनसन्ट्रेट करूँ...

जब वक्त मिले, पढ़िएगा। मुझे आशा है कि आपको पसंद आएगी। :)

Sharing some more paintings that I created recently.

It's an abstract acrylic finger painting. What do you think?


And I painted with watercolours after a long time. :)

Sharing with Blogchatter

                         Paint Party Friday

Friday, February 26, 2021

Landscape: Intuitive Finger Painting

Experiments can be so frustrating at times. But, anyway, hold on to it. They teach you a lot. Mostly, what 'not-to-do' (and it's important to know that).

And that's why I am experimenting these. The above painting is an intuitive finger painting (I did use a brush to create small branches though). I took a blank canvas and started smearing colours on it, using my palm and fingers. I had no idea what I was doing. What I was going to paint. I let it rest for a day and restarted working on it. It took me three days to finally figure out a scene.

Have you ever tried it?

Talking about experiments, I tried my first still life painting. It looks childish and I realized it's not my genre. 

What do you think? Any tips?

Currently, I'm working on a beach scene. Trying to follow a cool, beautiful reference photo. I personally struggle to follow a reference photo. I feel it starts to control my creativity. What do you think? Restrictions restrict or boost creativity? Share your thoughts?

Sharing with Paint Party Friday