Monday, October 3, 2022

Kahaniyan Sunaati Hain...





Storytelling is more important than the story.


I strongly believe that. 


A good storyteller can make any story, irrespective of the (clichéd) plot, interesting. Recently, I left a book unfinished (actually many) because I didn't find it interesting, and enjoyed another book in the same genre; similar story, well almost.


Pick a genre and you would realize that stories are more or less similar; it's the storytelling that makes a (big) difference. 


So, how to tell a story effectively? How to develop a style that grips your reader right from the beginning? Let me share, as a reader, a few things that work for me.


When I think of good storytelling, I think of one of my aunts. She used to tell stories, real life stories (mostly eerie), in such a captivating way. And she is not even a writer. 


To be a good storyteller, you don't have to use poetic language. Lyrical language has its value, of course, however the more important thing is that the reading experience should be entertaining and joyful. 


If the story isn't entertaining, lyrical language ka hum kya karenge? 


Sometimes, the essence of the story gets lost in the shadow of purple prose. Keep your voice reader friendly, and tell the story without really telling. 'Show, don't tell'; the only rule I follow. 


Here comes the role of dialogues: pleasant, endearing dialogues that tell a lot about the characters and their bonding, without really telling. Also, they help the story pick a pace and move in an interesting manner. Adding unnecessary dialogues (or any sequence, for that matter) ―something that doesn't add anything to the story ―is not a good idea.


And then, of course, the characters! For me, as a reader, the protagonists are the strength of the story. I cannot enjoy reading (or writing) a story if I don't like the protagonists; if I don't connect with them, if I don't feel for them. No matter how unique the story is. Create relatable and likeable characters. They don't have to be too good to be true, but they have to be real. They have to react in a realistic/plausible way. 


Also, no matter what genre you're writing in, a delicious touch of romance and humour always work. It just enhances the flavour of the story. 


The greatest power of a story is that it takes you to another world. Sometimes in the moments when you are looking for an escape. So, tell me a good story. 


क्योंकि कभी-कभी सिर्फ कहानियां होती है जो आपसे बातें करती हैं; कभी-कभी सिर्फ कहानियां ही होती हैं जिससे आप बातें करना चाहते हैं।


This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop




 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Book Review: Closer to Okay by Amy Watson




Book: Closer to Okay
Author: Amy Watson

Publisher: Alcove Press
Source: Netgalley


Kyle, a trained pastry chef, is battling her depression and after her fateful suicide attempt, she is living in Hope House, a mental institution, under strict rules and regulations, as she is trying to get better. The window sill of her room is her favourite corner as it overlooks a coffee shop, The Coffee Shop, located right across the street. 
Jamie and Jackson run this coffee shop. Watching them work expertly in their coffee shop brings solace. While Jamie is jovial, always smiling, Jackson dons an intense, unsmiling visage, which attracts Kyle. 


When she gets her off-site privilege, she visits the cafe and meets them in person, finally. She befriends Jamie instantly but it takes some time before Kyle and Jackson bond.


As their friendship burgeons, so many things happen in Hope House and Jackson's personal life. As much as they grow fond of each other, it's not going to be easy. 


Closer to Okay is basically a sweet and sensible love story with a backdrop of mental health. I am not a mental health expert but I felt this subject has been handled thoughtfully. 


I really like the writing style. It's engaging and helped me connect with the story and characters instantly. The story is told in the first person from Kyle's point of view. The narration is slow paced but it doesn't disrupt the flow of the story; in fact it creates a cosy ambience (and I am a very impatient reader). 


The characters are interesting, with their own important roles. Kyle is so sweet. The author has expressed her emotions, dilemma and troubles really well. I really liked Jackson. He is really nice, understanding but a little flawed at the same time. It makes him real. Both Kyle and Jackson have their own past and personal lives and the author has used it very smartly. It tells a lot about their feelings and behaviour but it's not too much to distract the reader from the main plot. 


There are several twists and turns; they aren't over the top but they are capable enough to keep the readers interested.


I liked the setting: I love the coffee shop setting (in general, I find it fascinating!). And Hope House, the mental institution, is an unusual setting. It was sad and heartbreaking at times but it has been handled well. Food description is a bonus.


Just two things bothered me:


I understand the need to tell the story from Kyle's point of view but I really felt that the story demanded Jackson's point of view once in a while. 

The ending seemed a bit abrupt. I won't say it was unsatisfying but it would have been nice if there was a short epilogue (even though I am not a fan of prologue/epilogue). 


Overall, I really liked this book. 


Thank you, Netgalley.




Sunday, August 28, 2022

My Hindi Translation of Chinmayee's Beautiful English Poems

 

Image: My Painting.


Today, I am sharing my Hindi translation of Chinmayee Gayatri Sahu's beautiful poems. Chinmayee is a wonderful writer and poet. 

These poems touched me in certain ways that I could not resist. I have her permission, of course! :-)



My Hindi Translation:


तुम,

मेरी सबसे प्यारी किताब

जाने कितने लम्हे अपने पन्नों में समेटे,

अनूठी, अनगिनत भावों से भरी किताब।


मैं,

उस बुकशेल्फ पर

पहली और आख़िरी बुकमार्क

रुपहली, अनोखी

तुम्हारे ज़ेहन में सिमटी सी


हम,

हम मिले हैं पहले

शायद पिछले कई जन्मों में

और ये है 

हमारी

सच्ची प्रेम कहानी...



My Hindi Translation:


कुछ अक्षर थिरकते हैं 

मेरे मन में,

शब्दों की लड़ियाँ बनने को बेचैन।

वो लड़ियाँ जो मुझे 

किसी और ही दुनिया में ले जाती है।

एक थकन है, फिर भी खुश हूँ।

आतुर,

तुमसे मिलने को

बातें करने को,

मीठी यादें बुनने को।

हंसी बेपरवाह सी

और कुछ बेशकीमती पल

जब मुझे लगे कि, 

'हां, मैंने ज़िंदगी को वाक़ई जिया है!




My Hindi translation:


तुमने मुझे कुछ ऐसे छुआ
जैसे हवा की मीठी सी थपकी,
जैसे सुबह की सुनहरी धूप
जैसे बारिश की मुलायम फुहार
और फिर अचानक यूं लगा
कि मेरे अंदर कुछ है
जो अब भी ज़िन्दा है।
कि मैं महज़ खिलौना नहीं।
कोई है जो मेरी रूह से मुख़ातिब है।
और बस यूं ही
ये सुखद ऐहसास
मेरी आंखों में झिलमिला उठा है।

Hope you like it. :-) Please visit Chinmayee's Twitter profile (and follow) to read many beautiful poems. 



Friday, July 29, 2022

A Bookish Post!




Image: Illustration by Peijin's Art. Love, love, love her illustrations! Please click the Pinterest link to see her fabulous work!


The Bookish Blog Tag


Yesterday, I visited Aishwariya's blog and read her Bookish post, which I found really interesting. She tagged her readers, so since I’m one of them, I’m taking up the tag.


What are 1-3 of your favourite books of all time?


Alampanah by Rafia Manjurul Ameen

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Love Virtually (and Every Seventh Wave, the sequel) by Daniel Glattauer (translated from German)



What are 1-3 of your favourite authors of all time?


Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Sophie Kinsella

Debbie Macomber


Who is your favourite female character of all time?


Mini from Swami by Mannu Bhandari (modified version of Sarat Chandra's Swami―original in Bengali)


Scarlett O' Hara. Can't say favourite but she's one of the most striking/badass heroines I have ever read.


Who is your favourite male character in a book?


Will Traynor from Me Before You


What is your favourite mythical world?


The crazy, wonderful world inside my head.


What book has your favourite cover?


Sati Series (By Koral Dasgupta) Covers. Read Ahalya recently. Love it!! One of my favourites this year.


What is your favourite book-to-movie adaptation?


The Kite Runner

Me Before You


If you could make any book into a movie, what would it be?


My own book/stories?


What was your favourite childhood book?


Sci-fi books (Samay Ke Swami, Shukra Grah Par Dhava etc) by Prof. Divakar


Fantasy or sci-fi? (Or neither?)


Depends on the characters and writing style. I've come to realize that if I love the characters and the writing style, I can read and enjoy any genre.



Now, if you're reading it, consider yourself tagged. Do tag me on social media if you decide to take up these questions. I’d love to read your answers. :) My Twitter handle: @TarangSinha




Thursday, July 21, 2022

...And It Rained

 





My painting



'Can't believe you called her to meet and said it won't work.' Tanmay chided. 


We sat in a quaint and quiet bakery. Aroma of coffee and freshly baked bread permeated the air. It was an old construction. High tiled roof was supported by columns of thick pillars. The large windows overlooked a small, manicured garden and a deserted road. Today, the weather was gloomy; the sky heavy with dark clouds. 


'That's why I called her,to be precise.' I mumbled. 


'She felt bad, Jai. Do you realize that?'


'Well, she shouldn't.' I sipped my coffee. 'I would call her to apologize, if it makes her feel better.' 


'I don't understand. Why would you say no to a girl like her?' 


'What do you want me to do? Keep meeting her, roam around with her, pretending I'm interested while I do not feel any connection?' 


Tanmay put his cup on the table, looking incredulous. 'Connection? You have met her 3-4 times only. What do you expect? Love at first sight?'


'No, but it's enough to understand whether you feel like meeting or talking to the person.'


'It's not the first time you did that. You need to be more respectful towards women.'


'Then stop being a matchmaker.'


'It's been 4 years, Jai! Move on!'


'I have!' 


'No, you haven't. You wouldn't refuse to be in a new relationship if you really did. You're 34!'


'I'm not dead!' I retorted.  Thank God, the bakery was almost empty. I lowered my voice. 'Moving on doesn't necessarily mean getting into a new relationship.'


Tanmay raised his eyebrows, demanding an explanation. 


'I don't think about her. It doesn't hurt anymore. I'm okay, at peace.'


Tanmay smiled, finally understanding my point. 'I really hope you meet someone special very soon,' he said.


I will. And it won't be a planned thing. She will come to my life like a breeze or rain. 


It seemed that nature heard me because a cool breeze waltzed inside and it started to rain. And then I saw her. She peeked from behind the pillar next to our table. Damn! She heard everything. Her black curls fluttered as her beautiful eyes landed on me for a second and something shifted inside me. She averted her glance and looked towards the window. I followed her gaze. The garden beamed and fluttered under the weight of heavy raindrops; the road was completely drenched. I turned and looked at her again. Our eyes met, again, and just like that, I knew, we will meet again. 








Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Book Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill




I read After She Wrote Him by Sulari Gentill in 2020, which was one of the most ―no, most unique and fascinating reads ever! One of my favourites. That was the main reason I requested this book on Netgalley. And I was not disappointed at all.

The book starts with a letter to a writer. Next, the writer is trying to focus on her manuscript, sitting in a library. She keeps looking at the ceiling, and then her attention shifts to three people sitting close by ―Heroic Chin, Handsome Man and Freud Girl ―as she calls them and plans to use these characters in her novel. 


Suddenly, they hear a woman scream. A blood curdling scream. The scream breaks the ice and the four people begin to talk. Bewildered, they leave the library, like everybody else, and go to a coffee shop and have coffee together, even decide to meet the next day. 


The chapter ends with this line ― 'And so we go to the Map Room to find a friendship, and I have my first coffee with a killer.'


Before you start the next chapter, you read another letter, and then you realise that the library story is a novel within a novel.


Later, the writer finds out through a news channel that a dead body (of a woman) was found in the library. 


So, who is that woman who died in the library? Who killed her? Why and how?


The story within a story may sound a bit confusing but it's not. It's intriguing, unique and interesting. Mainly because of the neat and skilled narration. 


The writing style is engaging, the execution clever. Every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, so the mystery keeps you on the edge. I'm quite fascinated by the author's (Sulari Gentill) writing style and creativity.


The characters (now close friends) ―Frieddie (the main writer), Cain (the handsome man, also a writer), Marigold (the Freud girl, a psychology student) and Whit (the Heroic Chin, a law student who doesn't want to get his degree) ― are very interesting, but unreliable (except for the narrator because the novel is written in the first person). As the story progresses, your suspicion keeps shifting, thus making the story unpredictable till the end.


'It makes sense that I would love a man I believe in, surely. But does being in love compromise that judgement?'


The character who writes letters to the author who is actually writing this library story (you never get to know her except that her name is Hannah), an aspiring writer and the author's beta reader, is also a very interesting and eccentric character. 


It's one of those books that you could finish in a single sitting. It travelled with me to the kitchen. I stayed awake till the morning to finish this book. It felt wonderful to read such an engrossing story.


Overall, it was one of the most unique, cleverly-crafted, mysterious and gripping books I have ever read! My favourite this year.






Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Hope is so Stubborn





Photo by Zwaddi, Unsplash



सुबह आती है और साथ लाती है एक मुट्ठी उम्मीद। हर रोज़। दिन चढ़ता है, और मुट्ठी ढीली होने लगती है, मानो थक गयी हो। और फिर उम्मीद उन पोरों से फिसलने लगती है, हौले-हौले, और काफ़ुर हो जाती है जैसे उसे कोई फ़िक्र ही नहीं। खैर अब ऐसा भी नहीं है ―वो थम जाती है, उन्हीं दरारों में कहीं, जैसे अपने आप को तैयार कर रही हो, अगले दिन के लिए।

उम्मीद धुंधला जाती है, बेशक, पर ख़त्म नहीं होती, ये बहुत ज़िद्दी होती है।



The morning arrives with a fist full of hope. Every single day. Then the new day moves ahead, the fist loosens, like it's tired, and hope slips, slowly, through the crevices of the fingers. Evaporates, mercilessly, but not entirely. It lingers, preparing for the next day.


Hope dwindles but refuses to go. It's so stubborn!






Friday, June 17, 2022

अगर मैं कहूँ...

 





मेरी पेंटिंग



ये वक्त जो हम साथ गुज़ारते हैं अनमोल है मेरे लिए। कभी बस यूं ही, चुपचाप शाम की ठंडी तासीर को ज़ज्ब करते हुए। तो कभी बस बातें ―बेवजह, बेमतलब की बातें। तकरीबन हर रोज़। इसी वक्त, इसी जगह पर। इसी पत्थर पर बैठकर। समंदर की मलंग सी लहरें जाने कितनी दफ़ा आती जाती रहती हैं। जैसे हमारी बातें सुनने आती हों। 

और तुम! तुम इस वक्त से भी ज़्यादा अजीज़ हो। मेरी तरफ आते हुए जैसे तुम मुस्कुराते हो तो मेरा एक अजीब सी खुशी से भर जाता है। जब तुम अपनी आंखें सिकोड़कर देखते हो तो मैं समझ जाती हूँ कि तुम मेरी बात से इत्तेफ़ाक़ नहीं रखते। मुझे देखते ही जब तुम्हारे माथे पर बल पड़ जाते हैं तब मैं जान जाती हूँ कि तुम समझ गए हो कि मेरा मन आज कुछ भारी सा है। और जब तुम अपनी मुट्ठी लगातार खोलते बंद करते हो तब मैं समझ जाती हूँ कि तुम उदास हो।

मुलाकातों का सिलसिला बस यूं ही शुरु हो गया और कब ये ज़िन्दगी का हिस्सा बन गया मुझे नहीं मालूम। ये मुलाकातें तुम्हारे लिए भी अहम हैं, जानती हूं मैं। क्योंकि ऐसा कभी नहीं हुआ कि मैं इंतजार करती रही और तुम नहीं आए। हां देर तुम्हें अक्सर हो जाती है। तुम बड़े नाम वाले हो, व्यस्त रहते हो। और मैं...मैं तो कुछ भी नहीं।

तुम शायद नहीं जानते पर मेरी धड़कनें तेज़ हो जाती हैं जब भी तुम मुझे देखते हो। पता नहीं ये कब हुआ? शायद उस दिन जब कुछ कहा था तुमने, इतनी नाराज़ होने वाली बात नहीं थी फिर भी मैं उठ कर जाने लगी थी और तुमने अचानक मेरा हाथ पकड़ लिया जैसे वो करना उस वक्त तुम्हारे लिए सबसे ज़्यादा जरूरी हो। 'मत जाओ।' तुमने कहा था।

मेरी नज़रें हमारे हाथों पर टिक गयीं और तुमने अपना हाथ हटा लिया। 'सॉरी।' तुमने धीरे से कहा।

'इट्स ओक,' मैंने कहा और वापस तुम्हारे बगल वाले पत्थर पर बैठ गयी। वक्त की कोई परवाह नहीं थी । मेरी धड़कनें इतनी तेज़ थीं कि मुझे लग रहा था कि तुम सुन न लो कहीं। कुछ अजीब सा था तुम्हारी आवाज़ में ―मत जाओ...

उस दिन देर हो गयी थी और तुमने मुझे घर छोड़ा था, तबतक मेरी बिल्डिंग के बाहर खड़े थे जबतक मैं अंदर नहीं चली गयी।

मुझे लगता है कि मैं तुम्हें अपने दिल की सारी बातें बता सकती हूँ क्योंकि तुम समझते हो। काश! मैं तुम्हें वो बता सकती जो मैं तुम्हारे लिए महसूस करने लगी हूँ। क्या तुम समझोगे? पर डरती हूँ। वो सब कह देने से कहीं जो हमारे दरमियां है वो बदल गया तो? ये सुखद एहसास जो हमारे बीच है असहजता में तब्दील हो गया तो? ये साथ, ये दोस्ती, ये अपनापन... नहीं ये मैं किसी हालत में नहीं खो सकती। कभी नहीं।

'कुछ कहा तुमने?' तुमने अचानक पूछा। तुम्हारा शांत चेहरा शाम के रंग में रंगा है, और तुम्हारी गहरी आंखें मुझपर टिकी हैं। 

ओहो, क्या मैंने सोचते सोचते कुछ कह भी दिया है? मैं भी ना। 'क्या?' मैंने बेपरवाही ओढ़कर कहा।

'मुझे लगा तुमने कुछ कहा।'

'नहीं, नहीं तो।' मैंने हवाओं के पीछे भागते मेरे बालों को समेटते हुए कहा।

तुम धीरे से मुस्काए और फिर हम दोनों डूबते सूरज को निहारने लगे। ऐसा लग रहा है मानो ये सुर्ख सूरज बेचैन समंदर को बस चूमने वाला है। आसमान में बिखरे रंग सागर की सतह पर बिखर गए हैं। 

मेरी नज़रें अनायास तुम्हारी तरफ मुड़ गयीं। घुंघराले बाल, तीखी सी नाक, चेहरे पर हल्की दाढ़ी...अच्छा बताओ अभी अगर मैं तुम्हारे गालों को छू लूं तो तुम क्या करोगे? क्या अपनी आंखें मूंद लोगे और मेरे हाथों के लम्स को महसूस करोगे? या चौंक कर पीछे हट जाओगे और मुझे अजीब नज़रों से देखोगे? 

मैं अक्सर सोचती हूँ कि तुम्हारे ज़ेहन में क्या ख़्याल आता है जब तुम मुझे देखते हो? क्या तुम भी मुझे सोचते हो जब मैं पास नहीं होती? क्या तुम्हारा दिल भी बेचैन होता है जब हम कुछ दिनों तक मिल नहीं पाते? या फिर क्या तुम भी वही महसूस करते हो जो मैं महसूस करती हूँ और कहने से डरते हो जैसे मैं डरती हूं?

तुमने एक लम्बी सांस भरी और मेरी तरफ देखा। एक धीमी मुस्कुराहट हम दोनों के होठों पर उतर आयी। शाम गहराने लगी है। अब चलने का वक्त हो गया है। 


It's a Hindi translation of my English story 'What If I Tell You'. When you can't think of fresh content, you translate your old work.  :)

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Mogra






The sky turned purple as the darkness enveloped the evening in its embrace, and she grew restless. It was her first day in her new house and she was alone.


It was a nice, little cottage, nestled in the lap of nature. She loved nature and quietude. There were very few houses in this area, located quite far from each other. So far that if she screamed, nobody would listen to her. A shiver ran down her spine as this thought crossed her mind. Right then, a cold breeze waltzed inside. 


Suddenly, a sharp and sickly sweet fragrance wafted across the house. Mogra. Okay, this house was fringed with greenery but she was absolutely sure there were no mogras around. She had a good walk around the area yesterday. It was too sharp, like the plant was right there, in her own house. 


The flush was not working. She pressed it repeatedly, then she turned the knob below it. It grunted and the water started to fill up. She washed her hands mindlessly, still thinking about the ever so persistent fragrance. 


'Where is this smell coming from?'


'You know, you should never mention the sharp fragrance if it's coming from an unknown source. You never know, it could be anything.' She recalled someone saying this as she came out of the bathroom.


She jumped out of her skin at a weird, creepy sound. It sounded like someone was being strangled. It was coming from the bathroom. Scared, she turned to look, not understanding what was that. The bathroom was small and clean. Nothing seemed wrong but the voice…her eyes landed at the flush which was leaking. She turned off the knob and the sound stopped. She exhaled deeply, realizing that she was holding her breath. 


And then she saw it. That cute, little soap bar with a sharp, sickly sweet Mogra fragrance. 



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