Saturday, August 15, 2015

Comedy: Sense and Ability


Dostana, Bol Bachhan, and Happy New Year. Do you find something common between these bollywood movies? Yes, Abhishek Bachchan. Let’s try again, and find another common feature. Yes, they all are hit films. Okay one more time. Yes, they are comedy films.

After watching these films, I wondered why Abhishek Bachchan, still struggling to shape a successful career, doesn’t switch to comedy films. The only thing he could do nicely, I think.
And it’s not unusual. Many actors have chosen this genre and became successful.

Utpal Dutt: His sense of comedy was tingling but do you know he played villain earlier.
Govinda:  Unanimously, one of the most popular comedians of Indian cinema But, comedy was not his first catch. It feels odd watching him fighting and delivering hefty dialogues with flaring nose. But that’s not him. It seems that he is born to make people laugh.

Arshad Varsi: One fine day, I accidently watch a movie called “Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachao”. This film went unnoticed but Arshad Warsi’s performance made me think “Why doesn’t he try comedy?”

Paresh Rawal: He had won National awards for his performance in movies Sir and Wo Chhokri. Few not-so-memorable negative characters, and then switched to comic roles. Who can forget babu bhai in Hera Pheri?

Ritesh Deshmukh: I remember that I was furious when I heard Ritesh Deshmukh winning the award of best comedian for movie Masti. But don’t you think he is really funny?  

Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, might have called ‘Happy New Year’ a nonsensical film (And, of course it is) but this film added a much needed feather in Abhishek Bachchan’s career. He did succeed while doing some interesting character like Lalan in Yuva. This character also had certain amount of humour and quirk.

I was hoping that Abhishek Bachchan will be seen in Dostana part 2, but he doesn’t seem to reprise his role in this movie while John Abraham is still there.

Abhishek Bachchan is the least successful actor in his family. Now it’s high time he should try and take his career a little higher. In my opinion, he can do this with comedy films. It’s his forte. Do you remember his cameo in a successful film like Salaam Namaste? He even won awards for best comedian for films Dostana and Bol Bachchan. And, most importantly, what he has to lose, anyway? It’s all about sense and ability!

And, just wondering why Abhishek Bachchan is looking like an guest artist in his upcoming movie "All Is Well? As if not enjoying his work.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

In 2013, I read The Almond Tree and I’m so glad I did. It was wonderful. Heart wrenching.

The Daily Star praised this book saying: “The story is spellbinding…can do for Palestinians what The Kite Runner did for Afganis.

Now, I wanted to read….no not The Kite Runner but Khaled Hosseini. I chose A Thousand Splendid Suns.

"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roof
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls"

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a heart-breaking tale of two women from different generation, different backgrounds. Their struggle for happiness and love. Their inexplicable togetherness. 

Mariam, an illegitimate child, always yearns for her father’s companionship, acceptance and her mother’s affectionate words. Then, at 15, she has been pushed into a loveless marriage. Rasheed, more than 25 years older than Mariam, and beaten by his own past doesn’t seem bad until Mariam experiences painful miscarriages.

Laila spends her childhood with her father’s affectionate shade, her mother’s oblivion, and Tariq’s amity. The destiny, triggered by ongoing violence in Afghanistan, takes a cruel turn and throws Laila under the shelter of Rasheed and Mariam.

The story takes a complicated turn. Two women connect the way they are not supposed to.

This story is about impeccable compassion, unexpected love, unimaginable loss and grief, inexplicable loyalty. Loyalty so strong and pure that last for life and even after death. Above all, stubborn hope that refuses to extinguish.

The writing is simple and sketches a real picture. For me, highlight of the book is those beautifully written scenes that have immense power to tug your emotion. To evoke a sense of pain and loss.
Mariam and Laila are strong characters. Strong in their own ways.

But, I won’t say it was a perfect read as there were some low points. Sometimes, the author leaves some scenes open ended when I wanted to know a little more. Laila’s childhood could have been shortened. Description of Afghanistan’s socio-political situation is written in a very informative and factual manner.

But, if I ignore these things, it was a wondrous read! I’d recommend this to all, especially for those heart-breaking scenes. I truly respect Mr. Hosseini for that. Very few writers manage to shake your emotion so effortlessly and naturally.

Book Source: Personal Copy

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

In the lap of nature


didn't know rain could be so fascinating. I think as I watch; sitting in a nice balcony, fat raindrops falling on the gurgling stream passing by. What a pretty sight. It’s usually a mess in a hectic city and life. Clogged roads. Creeping vehicles. Blaring honks. Getting late for the office. Terse glances of my boss. Damp clothes struggling to get dried in my small balcony.

But, here it is different. I am in the lap of nature. Silence. Bliss. Nature at it's best. Unsullied.

When I landed here this morning, I couldn't believe such places exist.

No, I’m not on a vacation. I’m not that lucky. I am here to attend an official meeting which hardly ran for an hour, gifting me this personal time.

The caretaker arrives with a steaming mug of coffee. He hands me that with a smile and leaves immediately. Good. I don’t want to miss this mesmerizing vista even for a second. Because I’m supposed to leave this place tonight. Sigh!

I take a sip and inhale the fragrance of nature. I love this silence and solitude, for a change. It may sound weird but I do. It’s for limited period. Then usual sounds again. Sounds of various types with various intensities. The wails. The screams. The nags. The taunts. The requests (And I can’t say a no). Interruptions. Never-ending blabbering. Hissing problems. The demands. And above all, the constant churning of wagon called struggle. Struggle to fulfil all the needs of people around me. As if I am the saviour for all.

This moment, I don’t want to think about that. But, they follow me like a large shadow behind me, ready to engulf.

Rain stops and after a while, the valley breaks into a sparkling brightness. I swig the coffee, cold by now, and almost run towards the stream. I want to touch the crystal clear water advancing merrily. I want to roam around for a while, aimlessly, absorbing the beauty.

I didn’t realize it’s dusk already. I have to go. 

“Can I sleep peacefully in the lap of nature? Can  stay here? Forever?”

No. I have duties and responsibilities, eagerly waiting for me. I have to go. But, I am grateful to my life for this lovely chance to witness the beauty of this serene place. For short-term solace. That I will cherish forever. 

Sharing with: The Mag
                        Picture It & Write
                        Write Tribe


Sunday, July 19, 2015

He Won't Eat! He Is The Busiest Person Of Your House

Recently, I got a call from my childhood friend (Our friendship is 23 years old).

"He doesn't eat, anything! What should I do? Does your son eat well?" She asked referring to her two-year-old.

"It's a phase. Don't worry, it will pass." I said.

It was funny as just few weeks ago I had called her whining about the same problem.

Toddlers are full of unlimited energy (I wonder where they get it from!). As our child grows up, we start bothering and comparing.

"When he is going to sit? Or when he is going to walk or talk?  X has started when she was just y months old". We often do that. But, the biggest challenge of raising a toddler is to tackle his/her finicky eating habits. Isn't it?

I shared my worries with my paediatrician (Sir Ganga Ram Hospital), he smiled and said, "He won't eat. You know, now he is the busiest person of your house. You may sit doing nothing but he is always busy."

I think, the most important mantra for positive parenting is PATIENCE! Same goes with feeding your toddler.

Based on my personal experience, here I am sharing...
5 reasons your toddler is not eating:


He/She is exploring the new world: As your child grows up, he starts discovering new activities. Several things around him interest him immensely that he won't care about food. But, you know that your little bundle of energy needs nutrition. So, you need to have patience and wait. Let him play, and try after few minutes. He will eat.

He is not hungry: When your child grows up a little, he develops a habit of eating from every plate or everything we munch. These mid-meal snacks make him full. Or sometimes as a mother we bother too much about our child's meals. For a mother, her child is always hungry but he is not. So, relax, and try after sometime.

He is thirsty: Sometimes, toddlers eat well and suddenly refuse to eat. Maybe, he is thirsty. It happens when I feed my son (G). Give him some water to drink. He will eat merrily after that.

You have introduced new foods: When I fed my son banana smoothie for the first time, he simply puked. He refused to eat straight away when I introduced apple puree (I used to grate the apple to make puree. Boiling it is not a good idea).

I consulted my paediatrician, and said "'G' doesn't like banana smoothie and apple."

"Don't say he doesn't like it before you have tried enough. Try and feed him the same food ten times. If he refuses to eat after ten efforts, then you can say that he doesn't like it."

My paediatrician was right. I tried and my son started to like them.

Your food or feeding style is boring: This is the most important point. Toddlers love newness, uniqueness and innovation.

Sometimes you need to break rules to make things interesting. Keep changing the food items. Introduce new and interesting meals in an interesting way. Give your food some interesting shapes. Involve your little ones in meal preparation.

This is a quick and simple preparation that I made today. You can, of course do a lot!

Creativity is not limited to writing and art, you see. Raising a happy child is an art.

Sometimes, introducing new foods works fine. There was a time when my son won't eat the regular meals so I thought to try something new. I made Atta (Wheat flour) - Halwa (I make it in pure ghee and added some grated almonds). He loved it!

Sometimes, regular feeds become boring to him. Repeat the meal after a week or so. He/she will like eat again.

Do not force if he doesn't want to eat. Don't bribe (If you do ever, keep your promise. Never break his trust!).. Add some fun. Enact, engage, even make funny faces, sing...oh, toddler make us do funny things!

Avoid running after him. When 'G' refuses to eat everything I try to feed him, and runs all around, I make him sit on his high chair and let him eat by himself. As expected, he creates mess. But it is okay because he finishes his meal! It's a learning experience for him.

Let your child enjoy his/her meal. You can clean up later.

'Toddlers don't like milk!' It's very common. But you are smarter, aren't you? Nutritionists say that it is not advisable to sit with a glass of milk every time you think your child is hungry. It is boring also. Break the milk intake into different varieties. Give him yogurt, fruit yogurt, cheese or paneer. 

You must ensure that your toddler enjoy your company, and your ideas.  Spend quality time with him/her. Be a buddy. Playful interaction can do wonders for children. It can be wonderful learning experience too.

Leaving you with a wonderful poem: (Author unknown)
I tried to teach my child with books
He gave me only puzzled looks
I tried to teach my child with words
They passed him by, often unheard
Despairingly, I turned aside,
“How shall I teach this child?” I cried.
Into my hand, he put the key
“Come,” he said, “Play with me!”

Just like this Kelloggs Ad. I really like it!

This is my entry for Kellog's Chocos Ke Saath Khuljai Bachpan contest. Conducted by Indiblogger and sponsored by Kellogg's India.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book Review: Mistress of Honour by Bhaavna Arora

Bhaavna Arora's debut novel "Deliberate Sinner" was a national bestseller. I heard a lot about it but couldn't read that. When I received a mail from Book Adorers regarding book review of Mistress of Honour, I thought to give it a shot.

Mistress of Honour (Penguin Books India) is different in it's own way. This book is basically about wars and the peacekeepers of our Nation (Interestingly, I am watching Border when I write this). The book is embellished with two love stories set in different era.

Potnis, a devoted captain in the Indian Army, falls deeply in love with Pansy, a beautiful strong woman as he meets her during Operation Blue Star. They create their own world, filled with love and longing. Years later, their lovely daughter Rihana finds love in Advik, a charmer, from a broken family, and an Indian Air Force Pilot. Their love has some complications that changes their lives completely.

The story talks about love. Love for your Country. Love for your family. Love for someone very special. And a special love for friends.

The book is inspired from real life-stories and seems very well-researched. Characters are defined very well. I liked the character of Shamsher Singh who brings smile quite often. It feels good to see two strong female characters although Indian Armed Forces, the real protagonist of the book, overpowers.

Writing is good. Clean and crisp. I really liked a few quotes like: "Being too early or too late for something means there is a chance you may never get what you want. You need to wait for the right moment."

Or : "The more you say, the more likely you are to say something wrong."

The only thing bothered me that most of the time it seems that the story is being told by the author rather than unveiling the incidents itself.

The book makes you feel proud of Indian Defence System. The end is poignant. I generally don't like prologue and Epilogue much but they are very well written, and I liked it. Overall, for me, it was a nice read! I think it would make a wonderful read for those who love war-stories, and love stories.

Although the story is intense it makes a quick read!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Rejections & Getting a Chance

A ray, illuminating 
Your zest, you may shine

I have a friend. A very special friend. She says I am her best friend. How sweet! I feel touched when she praises wholeheartedly everything I cook. She is just 12 (And a half) years old! And she is very thoughtful.

The other day I was cooking and as usual she was chatting with me. We were talking about opportunity.

"Everyone should get a chance. It encourages." She said out of a sudden. I paused for a moment, surprised at her wisdom. How insightful!

 Then she said how one of her classmates who was not a very good student, low in confidence improved when she became the monitor of the class.

"Yes, I agree!" I said finally.

It is true that rejection should be taken in a good spirit. In fact, I believe that "Rejection is a tool that sculpts your skill." It makes you concentrate on your mistakes and then you may learn to fix them.

But, yes, there should be a limitation. Sometimes, too many rejections dishearten. You start to doubt your ability. And a long series of rejections makes you feel that your efforts are useless. You lose your zest.

So, yes, everyone should get a chance. Everyone deserves an opportunity. It, as my friend said, encourages. Encourages to perform well. To prove her/himself. And once you get a chance, make sure you don't waste it. Be the best version of you. You cannot be sure about getting another chance.

Sharing with: Write Tribe's #MondayMusings
                       Poets United

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: It Happens For A Reason by Preeti Shenoy

I am very fond of Preeti Shenoy, one of the most popular writers of India. I look forward to her blogposts. Not just for her writing but for her extremely positive attitude towards life and her creativity. And, it reflects in her writing. She never fails to entertain.

I really...really liked her first novel Life is What You Make it and I loved “The One You Cannot Have” ! With her latest book It Happens For a Reason which I finished reading recently, I had a different experience.

‘It Happens For A Reason’ (Published by Westland Books) revolves around a single mother Vipasha who left her career as a successful model to give birth to her son at nineteen (When every single person in her life was against, even the father of the child), and her fifteen year-old son Aryan. Vipasha has two unusual careers. She runs Paw-Factor, a boarding for dogs and is a part-time gym instructor.  

Her best friend Suchi tries to set a perfect man for her but Vipasha develops a secret feeling for Saurabh, a veterinary doctor, and a little different as a person. And then, out of the blue, Ankush, her boy friend and Aryan’s father (Whom she never married) arrives after sixteen long years.

This certainly is going to change Vipasha’s and Aryan’s life. How? You’ll have to read this book to know.

The best thing about Preeti Shenoy’s stories is her strong female protagonists. Be it Ankita from Life is what you make it or Nisha from Tea for two and a piece of cake or Vipasha in It happens for a reason. They don't whimper. They fight. They live!

I have read all the books by Preeti Shenoy and liked them all, and I find it odd to point out few things that didn’t work for me in this book.

The book starts off really well but then slips into a flashback. The teenage romance of Ankush and Vipasha is not very interesting as the past is pretty clear from the blurb, and readers already know what has happened. I was more interested in what was about to come but the flashback was a bit lengthy. But, after the flashback is over, the story picks up and makes an engrossing read.

Mention of love making at the crucial stage, when the story is about to take a final turn, is not justified at all.  For me, it acted acted as a rude brake when I was moving smoothly with the story.

I wanted to know more about Saurabh but found his exit abrupt, and felt bad for him.

It was a tad disappointing to spot proofread errors in Preeti Shenoy’s book.

But, as I said that Preeti Shenoy never fails to entertain, this book overall makes an interesting read. Especially the second half. It is gripping that you'd want to finish it in a go. Characters and situations are again relatable and very well sketched. Narration is relaxed as always. The mother-son relationship is beautifully expressed. The author defines Friendship wonderfully!

Preeti Shenoy is a wonderful story teller and if you are a book lover you must read her books. You can pick this book any day. It will entertain you for sure!

Book Source: Personal Copy

Thursday, June 4, 2015

For a clutter-free mind


Do you want anything middling in your life? NO will be your answer, I know. Everyone desires good or rather best. We can’t gainsay the fact that sometimes we do not have control on our lives and life becomes mishmash. But, is it wise to eternize that mishmash? There are certain aspects we can work on to make life easier with a clutter-free mind.

Declutter your home: Most of the times we tend to keep useless things. ‘It may turn useful someday’ is the general thought. Let your home breathe. Toss out those tatterdemalion things.

Learn to manage time: It is not that easy but it is not that difficult either. The best way to make your day productive and extract some quality time for you is ‘Getting up early’ (And minimum TV). Even though I am not a morning person but I strongly believe that getting up early saves a lot of time making your days productive thus making your home and mind clutter-free.

Learn to say a ‘firm’ NO: No, you don’t have to be rude. It happens that your heart screams a big NO but you find yourself saying a meek YES with a wan smile. Dare to say a NO. Just a firm NO can solve many of your problems.

Recently, I found this quotation here and my heart said ‘How True!’ 

Stop being a people pleaser: You think too much about what others will think (While they may not be thinking that much). Remember, you can’t make everyone happy. And, keeping others happy is not your job. Think about your own happiness and stop pleasing others unnecessarily.

Speak for yourself: It is good that you care for your relationship and you should. But, don’t let others cross the boundary. Sometimes, some people, when they speak inappropriately, deserve an appropriate answer. Make them understand that you are not going to buy all of their unfair blabbers. Don’t feel bad if you dare to speak for yourself (When people say something wrong to you). It is good for the peace of your mind and health of your relationship with that person.

Stay away from negative people: There are some people who deserve to be ignored. Such as quidnunc, discouraging, mean people.

Be flexible: Yes, especially when it comes to your close relationship. Being hidebound can give you sleepless nights and unnecessary pain. 

Be healthy: And, put your ultimate effort to stay fit and healthy. A clean and happy mind resides in a healthy body. Life and mind become super-cluttered when you or people around you fall sick. Take care of yourself. Only then you’d be able to take care of your dear ones.


Written for this very interesting challenge on Write Tribe. It's about playing with new words. Please tell me if I have used any word inappropriately. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Stairs of Success

Stairs by Kaeros-Stock

Picture Prompt @ Picture it & Write

Climbing the stairs of success
As you rise
You may meet the clouds of criticism
 Ignore them, and go on
But, when the thunder of arrogance hits you
Lightning of egotism makes you beam
Stop for a while,
Be calm, and ponder
Remember, you are not the only one who is rising.

Sharing with: Write Tribe
                   The Mag

Friday, May 29, 2015

Growing and Glowing as a Writer!

I am participating in the Writing Contest: How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life! Hosted by Positive Writer

I write because I love writing! Because I love to think about writing. Playing with words. Crafting a story. Trying to create interesting situations. Talking to my characters. 

I am introvert person, and I am glad I write because writing has given me the freedom and ability to express myself. To express my thoughts and imagination in words.

I am a voracious reader. I have always been. But, writing was not something I thought I could do. Although I have an always occupied mind, always churning with some thoughts. Dramatization of some situations with quirky dialogues were something I used to do in my mind but it took many years to discover a writer in me.

For me writing was something you can call serendipity.  I discovered a writer in me by chance. I put few words together to create a poem and it got published. I was surprised. ‘Okay, it is just a simple poem. I can’t write an article.’ I had said to myself.

Then I wrote an article and it got published in a national magazine. “Okay, it’s just an article, based on facts and research. But, writing a story is tough. I can't do it.” I thought again, suspecting my ability. Then I wrote a short story in Hindi. It got rejected and I was proved right. But, then I wrote the same story in English. That had been approved by Delhi Press. I was pleasantly surprised when I crafted a 3500-4000 words story and it found a place in a best-selling anthology.

So, basically writing has taught me to trust my ability. Made me believe that you can achieve if you try. If you try, there are two options: You win. You lose. But, if you don’t even try. There are no options. You lose.  

Ignore those who laugh at you and your failure. Make time to do what you love or love what you do and devote. Remember, the last laugh will be your’s.

Two years back, even though I was a published writer, I couldn't bring myself to say that ‘I am a writer’ if anyone would ask. Seriously, it felt odd. But, then my inner voice said. “Published or not published, if you love writing, you are a writer.” And, now I don’t hesitate to call myself a writer. If you will not respect yourself as a writer, who is going to do that?

I strongly believe that “Creative Writing is like meditation” It has filled my mind with myriads of positive thoughts, and these positive thoughts are so strong that if any negative thought gets access in my mind, it cannot stay for long. 

I am a very patient person. But, writing has made me even more patient. It has made a careful learner. I am stubborn when it comes to being hopeful. And, I think it’s good to be stubborn. I am too stubborn to give up on my writing although I have had those painfully hopeless moments when I (almost) thought to quit writing. 

But, NO! I won’t give up on writing. NEVER!

The main reason of that hopeless thought is Rejection. Obviously, I am not the best. I fail sometimes. I fail to impress people with my writing. Sometimes, fail to bring myself to write. But I have realized that fear of criticism and rejection is not good for the creativity. It disrupts the creative flow as you tend to think about your failure. So, I have developed a fear-less mind about my writing. I have started to believe (strongly) that criticism is a tool that sculpts your writing. Rejection is that light that inspires you to make your words shine.

Creative Writing has enabled me to see things differently, always searching stories triggered by keen observation. As Maya Angelou has said that “There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” and, how true it is! It’s painful to bear those whirling, jumbling ideas. It seems that these churning ideas would produce hundreds of stories. Only if we can! I wish our brains had a save button. Sigh!

Imagination is a wonderful experience, and it can take you anywhere. Unlock your imagination and let your creativity flow, you will be transported to another world. A beautiful world.

And it is very important to give your thoughts and imagination a free flight. 

Writing has inspired me to organize my thoughts and ideas. Like many other writers, I do it by jotting down my ideas. The main problem is that many brilliant ideas strike at absurd hours. But, I try to jot them down as soon as they flashed no matter how weird the time is.

Writing has inspired me to dream big. It has widened the horizon of my thought. Really, reading and writing sharpen your insight. I have learned that apprehension and inhibition resist good writing. One needs to shed them to grow as a writer.

So, basically, writing is a great learning experience. And, learning is joy. I want to savour this joy and grow and glow! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Shuchi Kalra

She is a best-selling author, and a successful freelance writer, published in magazines like Femina, Woman's Era and Good Housekeeping. She runs a very helpful website for freelance writers. If romantic comedy, chick-lit, or well-written light fiction is your genre, you must read her debut book 'Done with Men' (a novella).

Here, I am in conversation with Shuchi Kalra, author of a successful novella 'Done with Men'

Welcome to my blog. Please tell your readers about yourself and your interesting journey of      writing.

Thank you for inviting me over!

I like to think of myself as a thinker and a dreamer. I live in my own idealistic little world and am cruelly jolted back to reality every once in a while when earthly responsibilities beckon. I am a proud military wife and mother to a beautiful daughter. I have been writing professionally for over ten years now, and I also run a small firm that goes by the name of ‘Pixie Dust Writing Studio’.

I have always found solace in writing, even as a child but my journey as a professional writer began in 2005, when I was working as an Optometrist at an eye hospital. I took up some academic writing assignments just to escape the drudgery of 9-5 (which was more like 7-9 at the hospital where I worked) and it was only when I received my first payment that I realized that I could make a full-time career out of this. I quit that job, took the plunge and kept at it.  Looking back, I feel so glad that I did. I wouldn't trade my career and lifestyle for anything else in the world.

Do you find any difference between creative writing and freelance writing?

Well, I try to approach both kinds of writing with the same systematic discipline. Creative writing is definitely more satisfying but it is the freelance projects that bring in the moolah! J

Ha! Ha! Yes. Okay, would like to ask about your writing process. Do you plot the entire story before writing or just go with the flow?

I usually have a basic premise in mind but I don’t really create detailed chapter outlines. The process is spontaneous, and for the most part even I don’t know where my characters will end up and how they will respond to a particular situation. I like to walk and grow with my characters.

How did Done With Men happen? I mean from freelance writing to writing a novella.

Done With Men was a stroke of destiny. Naheed Hassan, the founder of Indireads, had approached me sometime in late 2011 to work for them as an editor. We got talking and then she suggested that I write a book, a chick lit to be precise, because she believed I had the voice for it. Before I could make sense of things, the contract was signed and I was on my way to becoming an author. The interest part was that I had signed the book contract even before I had a synopsis of the story! So in a way, I kind of made a backdoor entry  into the world of publishing.

Where do you get your ideas from? Are they inspired from real life?

I spend most of my time in an alternate universe and a lot of awesome stuff happens there.Of course, I do draw some inspiration from real life as well. I like to observe people, get to know them at a deeper level, understand their quirks, hear their life stories and learn how a human mind functions.

According to you, what ruins a story?

Bad writing. I can, for once, overlook a weak plot or flat characters but I find it impossible to go beyond a page if the writing is sub-standard.

Is there any particular genre you find difficult to write? If yes, which one? 

I don’t know if it will be difficult because I haven’t really tried it yet, but I’d really like to see if I can work my way around horror.

Would you like to share something about your future projects?

Ahh…I thought you’d never ask! My next should be out by the end of this year. It is a rom-com (more rom than com) with a spirited plus-sized protagonist. While it is primarily a romance, the story touches upon body image, fat shaming, social stereotypes and how challenging it is for anyone who doesn't fit the mould to navigate the society.

Being a mother to a toddler, how do you make time to write? In other words would you like to share some time management tips?

Surprising as it may sound, I started writing more prolifically after I had my daughter. Though she takes up most of my time, she is also a constant source of inspiration. In fact, I wrote DWM when she was barely an year old and I finished the first draft in three months flat. It is a different matter that I had to type away on the phone while feeding her or lulling her to sleep! I don’t make any conscious efforts towards time management – I just know what I have to do and I prioritize my tasks accordingly. If you are really passionate about something, you’ll make time for it no matter what.

Very well said! Writing a book is a huge task but getting a suitable publisher is the toughest nut to crack. What’s your take? 

Yes, that’s unfortunately true. Competition is stiff and everyone and their cousin is writing a book these days. It isn’t uncommon for potential literary gems to get lost in the slush pile given the number of submissions publishers are bombarded with each day. I have realized that it helps to have a literary agent back you up. My second novel was placed with Fingerprint Publishers by Kanishka Gupta of the Writer’s Side. Getting an agent to represent you is tough too but once you are signed on, you have everything sorted. And that means more time and energy to devote to your writing.

Any words of encouragement for aspiring writers who crave and struggle to get    into the ‘published author world’?

I am just one book old so I’m not sure if I am the right person to dole out advice,   but I would just say that don’t wait for the perfect moment to write that book cooking in your head.Set a routine, write a few words everyday and FINISH that first draft. Don’t waste time on fancy words and expressions when you are writing – just let the story flow. You can edit and pimp it up later.

As you are also a successful freelance writer, please share some tips for  beginners?

Whatever you do, it is only your work that will make you stand out. There are no shortcuts around that one.  The kind of jobs and the rates offered to you are going to be proportional to the quality of your services. If you want to command a premium price, learn to deliver a premium product. Treat freelance writing like any other business and do whatever you can to improve your writing skills. I have always been stressing on the importance of building a strong portfolio because that is the only way writers can project their worth in the market. Bottom line: Write prolifically and write well!

You are a travel writer. Do you believe that travelling has a special impact on writing?"

Maybe not in a direct way but it does give you a deeper perspective on life and the world. The more you travel, the more you discover and learn about yourself and things around you. For me, travelling is a necessity and a constant source of inspiration.

It's an absolute pleasure to have you here! Thanks for your precious time. I wish you all the best for your future projects!

Thank you Tarang!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: Mandate: Will of the People by Vir Sanghvi

I picked this book due to my recently developed interest in Indian politics. Mandate: Will of the People by Vir Sanghvi is a political non-fiction (Published by Westland Books). It is based on author's personal memories, and experience, and the interviews he had conducted.

The book deals with the history of Indian politics. It's like a journey carrying the striking revelations, covering the time-frame of 1971 to 2014.

It tries to answer few striking questions about Indian politics like: 'How did Narsimha Rao become Prime Minister of India?  'Why Sonia Gandhi didn't agree to become Prime Minister?' 'What was the Ram Mandir agitation really about?'

The book discusses the declaration of emergency, and its effect. Status of Sanjay Gandhi in Indian politics. Assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the riots that followed. The factors that declare Manmohan Singh a weak Prime Minister, and how it cleared the way for PM Narendra Modi.

The book reveals the surprising facts about the personality of Indira Gandhi. For me it was interesting to know. I liked the excerpts of  I K Gujral's interview  that the author had conducted (I really liked the way he tackled Sanjay Gandhi at the crucial time of Emergency).

The most problematic thing about this book was its writing style. I have read 'Rude food', a weekly column by the author in HT Brunch. But, writing-wise, there is no reflection of crisp Rude Food in the book. Sometimes, I wondered if the book was actually written by Vir Sanghvi. It somehow seems like a reported special feature that we often see on news channels. The font style (And size) was disturbing.

The best thing about this book is that it is fast-paced. Even if you are not interested in politics, it can be a quick read for you!

Overall, the book is a decent attempt. It is for those who are interested in Indian politics, especially who don't know much. If you're interested in Indian politics, it can be an interesting read for you. If you don't know much about the history of Indian politics, it can be informative and enlightening. But, the book has nothing new to offer to those who keep tab on Indian politics.

I truly thank Writer's Melon for sending the review copy for an honest review!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Do you keep a dream journal?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Misery by Stephen King, Twilight Stephenie Meyer. What do these three great books have in common? They all are inspired by dreams.

It happens. If you are a writer, you can easily connect your dreams with your creativity.

I had a dream. A little vague. When I woke up, I was happy, thinking that it can be a nice scene for my story but, I forgot to jot it down and I forgot. Very frustrating! Just like some writing ideas, memories of dreams are ephemeral. That’s why you need to keep a dream journal.

A man and a woman are standing in a jungle, and a body is lying nearby.

I had this dream a few months back. I was excited when I realised that I could craft a story inspired by this dream. I let my always occupied mind churn for few days, and eureka! I crafted a 2500-word story!

Dreams! I have a strange connection with my dreams. Sometimes, dreams are amazingly clear that it seems weird. Some faces that you don't recognize but they are so clear that you could remember it for long. Beautiful surroundings that you don't want to return. Some exciting dreams leave you annoyed when interrupted in-between.

Dreams can give you interesting ideas for your writing. They may turn into a nice setting or maybe some striking situation for your new story. Or you may get introduced to an interesting character in a dream. Or maybe you can get a whole story idea! You never know.

If you are a writer, you should keep a dream journal. You can create a separate space for dreams in your regular writing journal.

According to estimates by dream researcher J. Allan Hobson, as much as 95 percent of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking. So, jot down if you have seen something interesting in your dreams. Write them immediately when you wake up. They are not going to last for long. Sometimes, you may forget them the moment you get up. But sometimes, you may remember them for long. I still remember some of my dreams that I had seen many years back.

Write in bits. You can organise later.

You are not going to dream the whole story. You may get some flashes, and then you need to connect the dots. That is where your creativity and imagination are tested.

You are not going to dream worth writing everyday. You must learn to interpret your dreams. Think about it. But don't bother. Don't strain. Just have fun!

Think differently. It would be exciting to try different genre.

Have you ever written anything inspired by your dreams?  Do share!

Keep dreaming and keep writing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: The Mother I Never Knew by Sudha Murthy

The Mother I Never Knew is my second book by Sudha Murthy. The first one was Mahashweta and I think it was a nice read. But, for this book, I am not sure if I can say the same.

The Mother I Never Knew is a set of two novellas, based on nearly same theme. Finding (Rather discovering) a mother the protagonist never knew.

The first story is about Venkatesh, a rich bank employee, who stumbles upon his lookalike one day. This leads him to the hidden past of his father, which includes an abandoned wife and a child, living in a shabby condition. What would he do now?

The second story is about Mukesh, a rich, young, married man living in London. He gets an agonizing shock after his father's death. He was actually adopted! He is determined to find his biological mother without knowing that this quest is going to confuse him emotionally.

Stories are not just based on same themes but they are filmy as well. They seem straight from 70's old-fashioned movies, and you may not relate with the situations and characters. The blurbs on the cover don't leave any surprise element. You know what is waiting ahead.

The language is very simple. It's fine. I don't have any problem with that. The main problem is writing style. I am surprised. It's too ordinary for a novella. Things that could have been described in crisp narration are told through insignificant dialogues. The author has focused on telling rather than showing. There's a POV glitch.

I would have liked it if the stories were told in first person. If they had specific titles. If the author had chosen one female protagonist.

I liked the book cover very much! It matches the title perfectly.

Overall, considering the author and publishing house (Penguin Books India), I am disappointed. But, then, if you like reading the author, you can pick this light read.

I received this book from Penguin Random House India for an honest review.