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Welcome to the myriad of moments that whisper into my Life!

The Pen Warriors – Post 4

September 15, 2014

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Too Late For Atonement – Chapter 3 

Read the FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD parts of the story by clicking on the respective links.  

As his bedside Orpat clock raced towards midnight, the uneasiness in Cyrus increased. He had been trying to decide for the past one hour how this year he could possibly avoid the ordeal which was waiting for him.

Should he lock himself up in the bathroom? Or hide in someone else’s room? May be the deserted recreation room downstairs was the best hiding place. Only if the end-semester examinations were not scheduled at this time, he would have stayed out of this place each time, he thought gloomily.

Cyrus continued to stare ahead on the opposite wall, where remnants of Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai and Salma Hayek gave him company.  The laptop in front of him was inviting him to websites with photographs of a variety of women but he could hardly concentrate.  The cupboard on one side of the tiny room lay open, its contents overturned. Cyrus had been trying to look for a really old T-shirt and shorts which he did not mind sacrificing in the ensuing event. At that moment, his scowl could turn a living being into ashes.

Suddenly, there began loud, continuous knocks on his door.

“Cyrus, open the door.”

“Oye Cyrus, 12 baj gaya. Darwaja khol be.”

“Jaldi khol, wait mat karwa.”

With a resigned sigh, he approached the door.

A loud chorus greeted him with “Happy Birthday!” The sea of smiling faces of his classmates and seniors did nothing to lift his mood or wipe away the scowl from his face fully. He was dragged out of his room and taken to the terrace of the boys’ hostel.

A metal table with cheap laminate top, taken from one of the rooms, had been laid out with food and drinks – chicken kebabs, mutton chops, peanuts, potato wafers, KFC chicken wings, 3 bottles each of Blender’s Pride and Old Monk and 5 crates of Kingfisher Strong.

As part of the birthday celebration tradition of National Law School of Delhi, Cyrus was first made to gulp down a bottle of beer at one go amidst loud, rhythmic cheers of “Daruwalla”. After he emerged chocking and coughing, he was suspended in air from his arms and legs, while the boys counted and kicked his buttocks and back with the enthusiasm and glee of an energetic five-year old.

After 22 birthday bumps, his t-shirt lay torn, revealing red welts on his extremely fair back. He winced as he was put down on the ground. Boys who had already started finishing the bottles were now singing ‘Happy Birthday Cyrus’ in loud choruses.

One of them demanded a birthday treat at China Wall, the newly opened restaurant in the vicinity. The rest thumped his back to show their support.

Cyrus was livid. At the boys’ hostel, each and every student’s birthdays were celebrated with the help of a common fund where contribution by all was mandatory. On top of it, one had to treat a certain number of boys, especially a group of senior boys to dinner at a good restaurant, even if one never interacted with them. Shameless freeloaders, Cyrus thought with disdain.

With a non-committal nod, he excused himself from his own birthday party, where everybody else seemed to be having a good time. One of the boys handed over his huge square-shaped spectacles, which had fallen off his nose during the celebrations and now had a broken handle. Cursing beneath his breath, Cyrus walked slowly back to his room, grimacing from the throbbing pain in his back.  Once he was out of earshot, he swore loudly at whoever invented birthday bumps.

The corridors of the six-storied hostel building were deserted, with most of them up on the terrace. Cyrus stopped at the balcony outside his room and paused to let the cool night breeze soothe his body.

Cyrus’s thoughts wandered to his father’s memory, his first law teacher. He had been the one to encourage Cyrus to go through his briefs from a young age and offer his opinion. “Law is only logical reasoning. If you learn the art of logically deducing and explaining all that happens around you, you will master the law,” he used to say.

The knot in his stomach tightened. His always-jovial and loving father and one of the top lawyers of Mumbai was kicked out of the law firm merely on the basis of an allegation. A false allegation, thought Cyrus bitterly. Even after giving 25 years of his life to the firm, no one listened to his father’s protestations of innocence!


To escape the disgrace, his family was forced to relocate to Delhi. The Sunday walks on Chowpatty, fierce competition to finish his mother’s patrani macchi and the weekend lessons in law between the father and the son stopped. His father struggled to keep jobs while Cyrus struggled to cope with the brash and arrogant persona of people around them. When his mother could not be treated for dengue on time because they could not afford the medication, Cyrus realised how much their family savings had dwindled. Soon thereafter, his father died a broken-hearted man.

“Baba, I will never let you down,” Cyrus promised himself, for the hundredth time.

His month-long internship at Lex Juris, a leading law firm at Mumbai was about to start. He would soon finish what he had started a very long time ago.

Me and my team, The Pen Warriors, are participating in the ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Read the FIFTH, SIXTHSEVENTHEIGHTHNINTH AND TENTH parts of the story by clicking on the respective links.  

This is what we, The Pen Warriors have for you in the first round of Game of Blogs. Wish us luck so that we can take our story into the second round :)

The Game of Blogs!

September 12, 2014

Are you addicted to the Game of Thrones? Then you will surely be interested in the Game of Blogs!

Blogadda is organizing a Game of Blogs as one of the means to #CelebrateBlogging this month. Just like the many faces of the politics of Westeros, the Game of Blogs weaves storytelling, blogging, blogger networking all into this one activity.

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The activity involves telling a story through a team of bloggers for 3 weeks, at the end of which the best is published as a book by Blogadda! Just like scores of characters are bumped off in Game of Thrones, a jury panel comprising of some of the biggest names in contemporary English Literature will bump off teams at the end of every week.

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We bloggers said, “Challenge accepted”!

How could I not participate in this activity? I am fan of collaborative blogging contests, having won the Bloggers Premiere League in August 2010. It was instrumental in pushing me into different genres, hone my editing skills, connect with some fabulous bloggers and take pride in a joint achievement. Now that I am drifting in and out of writer’s block, I grabbed this splendid opportunity to get back my mojo :)

After a long wait, we were finally slotted into teams of 10 bloggers. I am a part of The Pen Warriors! :) If you want to know  who my team members are, follow the links as and when they appear on my blog :)

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After a nail-biting wait, Blogadda released the 5 main characters around whom all the teams have to weave their stories. Same characters; numerous stories! Check them out below -

  1. Shekhar Dutta - Stay home Dad, freelance writer, Hindu, Stays in Mumbai
    Description - French beard, bald, average height, fair, thin specs, lean, wears t-shirt & track pants generally, ever smiling.
  2. Tara Dutta – Shekhar’s wife, Media professional , career oriented woman.
    Description - Fair, short hair, tall, prim & proper dressed, wear formals & high heels.
  3. Roohi Dutta – 9 years girl, Shekhar and Tara’s daughter.
    Description - Fair, healthy, notorious, 2 ponytail, wear frill frocks.
  4. Jennifer Joseph –  Photographer, Christian, Stays in Kochi (Kerala)
    Description - Dusky, average height, tattoo on right hand, wears casual shorts and tees, lots of accessories, always carries a camera.
  5. Cyrus Daruwala – A law student, Stays in Delhi
    Description - Tall,  extremely fair, big specs, curly hair, stern face, beard on the  chin.

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Stay tuned for the story. And wish me luck!

Book Review: Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

August 27, 2014

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When a series of seemingly unconnected murders rock the city of Mumbai with the macabre rituals and artefacts found around the corpses, Private India, a leading investigation agency takes the case. Santosh Wagh, the head of the organization, has only one mission. He needs to stop the killers before they strike again. However, in a city of over 13 million people, he finds that the clock is ticking too fast. He finds himself pitted against underworld dons and a Godman who isn’t what he seems. However, the worst is yet to come and Private India itself may be threatened with a revelation that could destroy the entire organization.

I must be honest. I read this book only because of Ashwin Sanghi. That man knows how to weave a compelling story around history and mythology and I was keen to see what he has done with this one.

I had only heard of James Patterson as #1 thriller writer in America but had never read of his books. A Google search later, I was more knowledgeable about his Private series and his protagonist Jack Morgan. This book is a collaboration to bring Private, an exclusive and world’s best-known private investigation firm to India.

If I say anything more about the plot than what is given in the blurb, I might reveal spoilers. So I will straight go into the review.

In a true thriller style, the authors introduce numerous characters right in the beginning. They include the Private India head Santosh Wagh, ex-police officer and alcoholic with a troubled past, his colleagues Nisha Gandhe, ‘head-turningly attractive’ ex-police, medical examiner Mubeen with a tortured history in America and technology expert Hari with a secret. Then there are Jack Morgan from Private L.A playing an important role, Assistant Police Commissioner Rupesh Desai with a history with Wagh, the various victims with their varying background and dark deeds, a gambling-addicted top lawyer, a Mumbai don, corrupted godman and a serial killer on the loose. Not all characters come alive; in fact some are very sketchy. They left me wanting to know more just so that I could figure out why they did what they did, especially in the sub-plot of Hari.

The plot is fast, engaging and interesting. The authors have added interesting mythological (Durga avatars) and historical (thugs) twist to the tried-and-tested serial killing premise. However, at the end, I was wondering the purpose behind the thug reference. The climax involving the identity of the killer was truly mind-blowing; however the extra few pages involving the India Mujahideen and the bomb blast plot felt too stretched. Why did the authors feel the need to include every topic of current affairs into the plot? Why is Mumbai made synonymous with bombing conspiracies? What was the significance of Hari’s sub-plot? But for me, the most difficult question to find an answer for was the reason behind one of the character’s need for sex-change. I was unimpressed with the over-simplified reason given in the book.

Sanghi is known for his meticulous research but I expected more from him in this book. Oh and one more thing – in the age of Google, one need not rush to the library to read up on any topic, including Durga avatar. Such small details should not be overlooked.

I have time and again complained against poor editing and grammar in a lot of contemporary authors’ works. This one is no exception. It really kills the story bit by bit.

Over all, Private India is a fast and enjoyable read if you are not the nitpicking kind.

My Rating – 6/10

 This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

No more Facebook on my Phone – A Mid-Year Resolution

August 25, 2014
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I recently read this article and paused to think.

In an essay on Emily Dickinson, the poet Adrienne Rich once wrote, “It is always what is under pressure in us, especially under pressure of concealment—that explodes in poetry.” We live in a time in which little is concealed, and that pressure valve—the one that every writer is intimate with—rarely has a chance to fill and fill to the point of explosion. Literary memoir is born of this explosion. It is born of the powerful need to craft a story out of the chaos of one’s own history. One of literary memoir’s greatest satisfactions—both for writer and reader—is the slow, deliberate making of a story, of making sense, out of randomness and pain. In the inimitable words of Annie Dillard, “You may not let it rip.”

Dani Shapiro wonders whether the constant need to fill the social media with out lives’ details robs us, especially the authors, of that feeling of ‘need to say’ ones’ story in the book form. Where is the need for writing a memoir when almost everything has been told on Facebook? Writing a book is a laborious process while updating status or tweeting or blogging a 500-word post is enjoyable and grabs instant attention.

In the words of the author,

I haven’t shared my story, I want to tell them. I haven’t unburdened myself, or softly and earnestly confessed. Quite the opposite. In order to write a memoir, I’ve sat still inside the swirling vortex of my own complicated history like a piece of old driftwood, battered by the sea. I’ve waited—sometimes patiently, sometimes in despair—for the story under pressure of concealment to reveal itself to me. I’ve been doing this work long enough to know that our feelings—that vast range of fear, joy, grief, sorrow, rage, you name it—are incoherent in the immediacy of the moment. It is only with distance that we are able to turn our powers of observation on ourselves, thus fashioning stories in which we are characters. There is no immediate gratification in this. No great digital crowd is “liking” what we do. We don’t experience the Pavlovian, addictive click and response of posting something that momentarily relieves the pressure inside of us, then being showered with emoticons.

I have no plan to write any memoir, unless my life turns immensely interesting tomorrow. However, I do want to say stories – stories that I have been gestating inside my mind for long. Recently, a tag was doing rounds on Facebook where one had to share a certain portion of one’s manuscript or work-in-progress. I was tagged twice but I refrained, despite an urge to share a snippet and gain some ‘likes’. My baby is still infant and shy. It is not ready to face the world yet.

While I mostly agree with Dani’s views, I wish to disagree when it comes to blogging. My blogging and writing are poles apart, even though they are connected. Blogging helped me in getting my writing voice back. Blogging led me to write more and more short fiction and get recognition, which in turn, brought the confidence to attempt a long one. For that, I shall forever to grateful to my blog.

However, social media (minus blog) is harmful for a writer in many other ways, in my opinion. I have realised I wander into Facebook every time I take a writing break. I spend more minutes going through the album of a recent Europe-returned friend than on researching for my book. I click on every article, every video posted on Facebook and lose track of time.

But sometimes, Facebook brings gems like this article and forces me to think about what I am doing.

I toyed with the idea of going off Facebook (I am hardly on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc) for a certain length of time and see the effects. But a lot of information on writing, contests etc have come to me through Facebook, which I do not want to miss out on. So I decided on a middle path – I have decided to delete the FB app from my phone and log only through laptop. Once I have finished FB-ing, I would switch off the wi-fi and open the word document. Once earlier, I had to go completely off FB due to lack of connectivity and I became accustomed to living without knowing every single detail of others’ lives. I hope to do the same again, this time for the sake of my writing.

I am blogging about it so that it is out in the open; so that I cannot cheat. There, I have said it.

 

And Then She Smiled

August 20, 2014

I could deny it no more to myself that I had an incurable lust for her.

Ever since the day she walked into my office six months ago, I have been fighting a constant urge to touch her on some pretext or the other. At times, I would lightly tap on her shoulder to get her attention instead of calling out her name. Sometimes, I would caress her fingers to stop her from taking dictation instead of saying it aloud. I turned chivalrous and always held the door open for her but stood close to it to feel the electric sensation of her body touching mine.

Why was I so smitten with her?

Read the remaining story at the Femina Fast Fiction portal who published it.

I wrote this story, in its unedited avatar in a day-long writing workshop, which I have talked of here. This idea had been playing in my mind for quite sometime but was slipping away the moment I opened a Word document! In that workshop, I learnt that writing by hand can aid in such instances!

With ruthless editing, I brought the story down to 500 words, which is the word limit for Femina Fast Fiction and sent it to Femina the next day. And now it is up on the portal :-)

#WhatTheBlack has been going on?

August 6, 2014
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Very few blogging contests excite me enough to participate. In the initial days of blogging, I would salivate at the grand prizes and attempt the contests. These days, the prizes have become grander, contests have multiplied over more than one platform and my patience at them has reduced exponentially.

But this one was different. It was one of the few brilliant contest ideas which piqued my interest. Blogadda promised to send a few items in the course of four days, which were to serve as hints to answer the question “What has turned Black”.

Since I am not usually available at my home during office hours, I received some items through my neighbour who resisted the temptation to ask why I was receiving weird looking black packages. The rest arrived to my office address and were promptly hidden from prying eyes.

First came a black egg. Thinking caps were put on all over the blogoverse to figure out which product has turned black. Lot of mulling over in social media took place but no one was any closer to cracking the code.

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Next day, at around 6 pm, I received a black newspaper! Complete with the headlines and the sports page at the end and a few blank, black pages in between. Some one hinted at the product being a morning one – black egg and newspaper for breakfast. Could it be so? Now one more clue was left.

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The final clue came in the shape of a black paper cup and black tissue papers. Suspicions were now stronger about a morning item. What could it be? Milk? Tea? Bread? Something to do with the bathroom? Social media was abuzz with speculations. Some of them had even announced that the product is a black toothbrush.

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The final day finally revealed the product!!!! Scroll down for it….

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Yes! They were right!

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It is the new Colgate SlimSoft Toothbrush with 17* slimmer Charcoal Infused Bristles! Here is the link to find out more about the product.

To my mind, this has been one of the best launch of a new product – by creating a buzz in the social media through bloggers. I really enjoyed participating in this engaging and exciting contest.

Black is beautiful! #WhatTheBlack

July 26, 2014

At some points in all our lives, we have owned something in black, which has been a prized possession. Like the classic black leather bag bought after getting the first job offer or a little (or not so little) black dress bought for college farewell party or a timeless black pen in whatever brand we could afford then, for carrying to important client meetings or a black leather planner bought to celebrate a promotion.

At all points in our lives, there are items, mostly in black, that feature permanently in our wishlist. Following are the top 5 in mine -

Sabyasachi sari

I love draping sarees on occasions. Sabyasachi is the master-creator of sarees and it’s my dream to have one in my possession. All his sarees in black are beautifully vintage. If I ever manage to add one Sabyasachi saree in black to my wardrobe, I will wear it only on special days and then pass it on to my next generation as an heirloom.

Leather La Z boy

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Why do I want a La Z Boy? For marathon movie sessions or re-runs of The Big Bang Theory on Zee Cafe. For curling up my feet and blogging. For reclining with my favourite book. It has to be in the classic black leather because nothing else looks so regal yet to so inviting.

Mont Blanc Fountain Pen

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Oh! my ultimate dream writing instrument! I own one MB ball point and have been lusting after this Meisterstuck 18 carat gold nib edition for some time. How I wish I could loosen my purse string to the extent of INR 68K for this. Then, I would chuck my laptop and finish my novel only on paper and (this) pen.

Hermès Birkin HandBag

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A woman can never have enough bags, especially since they come in various shapes, sizes and brands. I am bored of my present tan leather office bag. I want this beauty in crocodile design with Pavé Diamonds and white gold hardware to carry my world everywhere. I think I will now go off to sleep with happy dreams of me carrying this ‘bagwati’ and enjoying the heat of jealousy!

Coco Noir by Chanel

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Seductive, magnetic and mysterious oriental fragrance – what more can a woman want? I am usually a fresh, floral scent kind of a person but to add a spicy variety and surprise MH (a.k.a My Husband) I want this pretty black bottle of magic potion.

And of course, I want the latest iPad in Black :)

This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com. I’ve also signed up for the #WhatTheBlack experience

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