Welcome to the myriad of moments that whisper into my Life!
What happens when you cross gamer, banker, politician and terrorist with virtual money? God Is a Gamer is a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villains, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks and nothing is as it seems.
I finished this book in one sitting.
Of course it helped that there was nothing to disturb me. I started reading it in the evening after giving the cook a free rein in the kitchen in the form of “Do not ask me what tadka to add to the dal” and sending a whatsapp message “Hey, hope you had dinner; I am busy reading a book” to MH who was out of station for work, which actually meant “Can we skip the phone call tonight?”.
I am the kind of reader who, if interested enough in a book, forget the world. God is a Gamer was one such book. Despite being a technology/gaming illiterate, I was instantly hooked to it and couldn’t put it down.
The story begins like all thrillers usually begin – with seemingly random event descriptions to introduce the key characters. The settings are as varied as Washington DC, Goa and Mumbai and the events range from the murder of a US senator, phishing attack on bank customers and busting of drug racket in Goa. Professional rivalries in global financial institutions, functioning of call centers for credit card services, trading of illegal items in the black market hosted in the deep web with the help of bitcoins via Tor (similar to Silk Road), online gaming, malware attack, alleged suicide of a key character, an FBI investigation – all have been woven intricately to deliver a heady cocktail mix of a story. After all the mystery is solved by FBI and revealed to the reader at the end, the climax shows that what meets the eye is not the truth at all.
The Good Parts
The story line integrating bitcoins, deep web, banking scams, corruption, love, lust, bonds of friendship, politics, FBI, ATM heist races towards its finish in a super-sonic speed.
Technology and banking jargons are easily understood and the explanations do not sound preachy.
The Not-so Good Parts
A few pages before the big reveal, the author describes suspicious behavior of a key character who ultimately turns out to be the mastermind. It somewhat took away the sheen from the explosive climax.
Like almost all other contemporary novels, this one is also not free from grammatical errors, which should have been eliminated during the editing process! I am no grammar Nazi but glaring mistakes halt my reading flow jarringly. I hope the publishing industry realizes soon that readers looking for a good read prefer a grammatically correct read too.
In a few words
Gripping and fast-paced. Unputdownable with an interesting climax. Pick it up for your next journey or for the cold nights.
Setting up a home from scratch is no mean task.
After we got over the initial overwhelming feeling of a vast empty 3BHK apartment, we started to fill it up slowly, weekend by weekend.
We scoured the e-tail and retail stores and compared prices; visited to physically check out the items and then loosened the purse string. Slowly the electronics were added followed by basic furniture. Soon, it resembled a home and we began to unwind in the living room watching our favourite series or entertaining guests over dinner and drinks.
Today I found the most interesting topic to blog about in Indi-happy Hours:
Pick as many items as you can from Porcelanosa to build your dream home. Tell us why you chose them and why.
I love to browse through home stuff as much as apparel and books over the internet. Here is what I would do anything to pick up from the lovely website of Porcelanosa -
One of the best things about my apartment is the huge master bathroom. I am a hard-core bathtub lover; which woman isn’t? Once I broached the topic with my husband who shot the proposal down for the time being because ours is a rental and he did not want to lug around a bathtub during shifting. But it is my dream home and I definitely want this beauty.
His and Her wash basin! Stuff that luxurious, opulent living quarters are made of. No more waitin. No more morning skirmishes over who shall be the first to use the basin. g for MH (aka My Husband) to finish shaving so that I can occupy it. No more telling him to use the other bathroom
We both can peacefully brush our teeth, simultaneously!
With a shower like that, who would come out of the bathroom?
I am a sucker for the five-star hotel bathrooms. Whenever I get a chance to stay in one, I take an extra hour to complete stuff which I usually finish within 15 minutes at my home. With such a beauty showering water over me uniformly like a well-played music, my home bathroom will be easily converted into a five-star hotel one! I am ready to wake up an hour earlier just to experience this every day.
With the beautiful bathtub, wash basin and rain shower in the bathroom, I cannot possibly have the boring usual tap! No human being on earth can deny the awesome design of this tap! It is such a blend of aesthetics and technology that, I am sure, receive admiration from MH too!
In case you are wondering about the background of these beautiful products, Porcelanosa Grupo is a world-famous luxurious bathroom and kitchen decor brand, with its presence in about 100 countries. It has arrive in India holding hands with Kolte-Patil Developers Limited for their luxury brand 24K Living.
It is Friday and I am posting a fiction, that too a 500-word one. I am not sure about the Fantastic part though.
Sapna spotted him the moment he sat down with his plate on the next table in the office cafeteria.
She involuntarily drew a sharp breathe. This guy sported a moustache! Not just a thin line or a medium-thick bush, but a handlebar moustache, just like Amir Khan in Mangal Pandey! It gave his youngish face some definition and a very different flavour of hotness.
From his t-shirt sporting a specific logo, she figured out that he was from one of the company’s many branches all over the country. A few more furtive glances later, Sapna realised that he was much more than his facial hair. He had a tall and lean body, carved with perfection. His arms looked strong, his stomach was flat absolutely flat and he had a head full of lovely jet-black hair.
She had been surrounded by paunchy and baldy men for so long that she had almost forgotten how a chiseled and perfect male figure looked like, until this moment.
Sapna could no more concentrate on her food and the mid-day news airing on the cafeteria TV. Memories of her youth jostled for her attention. Her crush on the cute and nerdy topper of her class, her dalliance with the long-haired rock musician of her college band, her one-year serious relationship with her co-intern whose over-smartness always made her uneasy in public, her secret lust for her husband’s best friend when both of them came to “meet” her – all which had been lying forgotten in the innermost chamber of her mind surfaced with the appearance of this guy. She had almost forgotten what a heady feeling it was to appreciate someone with the sense of sight.
By now her lunch was over. She was sitting all alone, like every day. Her contemporaries usually come down for lunch much later and her team members avoid her table in order to enjoy their one-hour break from their boss.
The guy had also left. Sapna knew she may not see him again in future. He was a momentary distraction from the humdrum of her life.
She went to the women’s loo to touch up her lipstick. The mirror reminded that her greys have become more visible and needed an urgent salon appointment. She walked up to her plush cabin in the corner of 7th floor and prepared to bury her head in the laptop.
Her reverie was broken with a knock. Sapna looked up, startled and slightly annoyed at the intrusion.
“Ma’am, I am Siddharth from the Bangalore unit. I have been deployed to the headquarters for a month to work with your team for the upcoming event.”
He continued, “I am sorry to have reported post lunch-time. My flight was delayed due to bad weather. If you tell me where to begin, I am ready to start.”
Sapna watched the eager face before her, complete with his handlebar moustache. Carefully masking her happiness, she welcomes him and called in her secretary to make arrangements so that his stay for the next month would be comfortable.
I was having my lunch in my office cafe at a table full of women of all age. A guy with a handlebar moustache entered and everyone started talking about him. I felt they were a little too critical of the poor guy. Then I thought, what if it was a farce? What if they were all secretly fantasizing about him? And so I wrote this story.
Health is wealth.
Healthy people are happy people.
Take care of your health; happiness will follow.
Despite all the efforts taken by my parents to keep me healthy, I began to suffer from bouts of asthma at the age of four. The sudden change in climactic conditions when we shifted from the cool hills of Halflong, a sleepy hamlet of Assam to the hot, humid plains of Calcutta wreaked havoc with my immunity system and attached my lungs.
I would catch cold very easily. Soon my cold would turn to cough and then I would hardly be able to breathe. I would stay hungry the whole day since I could not swallow any food particle in that condition. My father would immediately rush to the chemist shop and my mother would stay up the whole night administering the doses.
While I would stay awake the whole night, praying to God to let me breathe.
Sometime next morning, my asthma would subside. After a whole day of fast, I would be ravenously hungry for the food my mother would cook. She took particular care to add lots of animal protein and carbohydrates to make up for the loss of energy. Every time after I recovered, there would be a mini-celebration of sorts at my home. Happiness returned after days of gloom.
The same cycle would follow every time I suffered from bouts of asthma. Due to my illness, I never gained any weight in my childhood and remained an extremely thin child.
The doctor gave an ultimatum – if only I was cured of asthma by the age of ten would I be completely cured; else this would be my lifelong companion.
Initially, I would suffer once every month. With regular medication and yoga, I began to slowly heal and the frequency of the attack became less. When I turned ten, I was completely cured of it.
Now when I look back at the six years of my suffering, I remember missing school (I loved to go to school), important class tests, playing with my friends in the colony, eating food, sleeping peacefully, playing games, going for my dance classes and enjoying the carefree happiness of childhood during the days of my illness. Not only me, my parents would suffer with me equally. They would wait in queue at the doctor’s chamber late in the night, run from pillar to post getting medicines, sit by my side trying to comfort me and praying to God fervently. There would be no music, no TV, no laughter and no good food at home. The whole household used to have a grim look about it during those days.
No wonder, it is said and rightly so, that a healthy child makes a happy home.
This post is written for the Indi Happy Hours – A Healthy Child makes a Happy Home campaign. Please visit this link to know more about how you and your loved ones can remain healthy and happy :)
Gurgaon is a concrete jungle.
Gurgaon has shopping malls, office buildings and residential towers only. Gurgaon is all brick-n-mortar.
Gurgaon has dust in the air, no water underground and no drains. Gurgaon has roads filled with potholes and pigs, Bentleys and cows!
Gurgaon has impolite Jats and no streetlights. Gurgaon has an unwritten 9 pm curfew for women. Gurgaon has swanky restaurants and seedy liquor joints next to each other.
Gurgaon drivers swear and swerve at the same time.
Gurgaon has sky-high realty prices and swelling unsold inventory of properties.
Yet it is known as the Millennium City – home to hundreds of big corporates and lakhs of individuals, mostly from outside the city and some from outside the country.
Last December, I had to uproot myself from Calcutta after 24 years and land in Gurgaon, with all the above pointers crowding my judgment. I was newly married, about to begin the second phase of my life in a city I never thought I would live! On top of it, I had to adjust in a new workplace and team, post my transfer from my Calcutta office.
For the first six months, whoever I met would first ask me, “How do you find Gurgaon?” To which I would mumble an ‘okay’ since I was still carrying my first impression mixed with preconceived notions.
Very soon, I will complete a year of living in Gurgaon. During the past year, I set up our first marital home from scratch, shopped for electronics, furniture and home décor, hosted friends and family, overcame a trying time, settled in my new workplace, travelled a lot for work and little for pleasure, partied late, acquired a collection of alcohol (thanks to a friend), became an online shopaholic, explored markets in Delhi by myself, learnt to manage a household including shopping for groceries and fish (yes, I have bought fish for the first time here), cooked, survived a harsh winter and extreme summer with no rain, took up yoga after 18 years, connected with old friends and made new ones. May be because I was living anywhere by myself for the first time, I observed my surroundings more keenly, sometimes with my Cal-tinted glasses.
My posts in the ‘New in the City’ category will chronicle my past, present and future experiences of living it up in and around Gurgaon.
“I want them both dead. I want to show to everyone in this town that Bhairon Singh Thakur does not spare even his own daughter when it comes to preserving the sacred caste system of our society.” The MLA’s temple throbbed in anger. “Make as many pieces of their body as you want but make sure the faces are recognisable.”
“Jee Malik,” replied Mohan from a respectful distance. He owned the largest meat shop in the town and did not hesitate to butcher human beings occasionally for some extra money.
Next day, Mohan asked his assistant to man the meat shop for a few hours so that he could follow the girl and find out her low-caste lover.
For the first few days of the week, she went to her college and returned home straight. Then on Thursday, after college she took a different route with one of her friends. Mohan followed in quick steps. She entered a house, which seemed to belong to the friend. After two hours, she returned home.
Next day, the same event repeated. Mohan went to keep an eye on the back side of the house but saw no one leaving for an hour. He returned to the front and waited for three more hours on the road. The girl was not seen anywhere.
Mohan had heard that Bhairon Singh’s daughter was no fool. She might have identified Mohan and his purpose. No wonder, Bhairon Singh’s own people had failed to identify the lover till date.
But he also figured out that she somehow used this house to go to places she did not wish others to discover.
He decided to temporarily stop and wait.
After two weeks, Bhairon Singh sent a message that he had acceded to his daughter’s request to stay the night at that friend’s place for joint study and instructed him to use this opportunity well.
That night, Mohan stationed another man at the front gate. At about 11.30 pm, he spotted a familiar figure leaving the house through the back door.
She reached the town park and went inside through an opening in the barbed fence.
Another hooded figure was waiting for her. They hugged each other tightly. The quiet night carried their whispers to Mohan, crouching behind a nearby bush.
“We have to run away tonight or they will kill us both,” the female voice urged.
“Where do we go?” the male voice sounded scared.
“Somewhere very far, may be to another corner of the country. I have brought some money with me.”
The male figure hesitated. “I don’t have…..”
“It does not matter to me.” She held his hand.
Mohan approached them, a meat-chopping knife in his hand. He flexed his fingers and imagined the crispy feel of thirty thousand rupees.
The two figures sensed him and turned around.
The bright full moon bathed all of them in light.
“Baba!” cried the male figure. The silence of the darkness carried his scream far and wide.
This is another of my experiments in confining a story to 500 words – no mean feat since I love long-winded descriptions and character sketches. The idea of the story has been taken from a 55-word fiction of mine appearing here.
Too Late for Atonement – Chapter 19
Read Chapter 18 by clicking on the link
She was Joseph’s daughter.
The other daughter!
Shekhar rubbed his temples for the umpteenth time in an attempt to shake off the persistent headache. Cups of hot tea, Amrutanjan balm, Crocin tablet – nothing gave him any relief for the last couple of hours. The more he thought about the girl he met at the Bombay Hospital morgue, more his head ached.
He was my father.
Her voice, almost choked with emotions, echoed in Shekhar’s mind.
Suddenly he was overcome with rage. How could a scumbag like Joseph beget such sweet girls like Jennifer and Roohi? He would always protect Roohi from the incorrigible truth about her father. But that girl was all alone now; grieving for a man whose various misdeeds, especially his indiscretions with Tara and scores of other women would never be known to her. Shekhar prayed that she never knew the truth.
The world lauded that man as an astute business man and philanthropist, but Shekhar knew what a two-faced asshole he was. On one hand, he would create job opportunities by setting up factories in remote villages, drive clean environment campaigns and set up charitable trusts for eradicating poverty, polio and tuberculosis and on the other hand, use the village women as baits to obtain governmental approvals, flout environmental laws rampantly and channel unaccounted funds through those very same charitable trusts!
He never understood how a smart, practical and level-headed Tara fell for that bastard Joseph. He was always a hit with women, with his salt and pepper hair, tall and lean well-exercised body and impeccable dressing sense, coupled with his ever charming smile and courteousness!
Shekhar felt as his head would burst. Thinking about Joseph never did any good to him, unless he was writing an expose article about him. What started as a vendetta against Joseph became a lucrative part-time business for Shekhar. Slowly, he developed contacts, all of them anonymous, to tip him off on various white collar crimes, which would otherwise go undetected.
He had never been happier at anybody’s death, not even Osama Bin Laden’s.
He opened his mailbox – the one which belonged to Gambhir Gupte to check on latest updates.
An unread mail from HackPro sat in the primary folder.
Shekhar gulped down the last of his tea and pulled the laptop closer to him. An email from HackPro always carried solid info.
“Have solid evidence that Joseph was being blackmailed for the last two months. Emails were sent to him asking him to confess his crime or else they would be public. The emails only mentioned about something which happened at Lex Juris. The sender turned out to be a law student named Cyrus Daruwala. Check out his personal blog, especially the last post where he clearly mentioned feeling happy for someone’s death.”
Beads of perspiration dotted Shekhar’s forehead!
Cyrus Daruwala! The one who wanted to meet Gambhir Gupte to share stories.
Was it providence that led him to both Cyrus and Jennifer on the same day?
Shekhar felt goose bumps on his arms. He knew it in his bones that he was about to uncover something very big.
His headache was gone.
Read the story so far here:
This is what we, The Pen Warriors have for you in the second round of Game of Blogs. Wish us luck so that we can take our story into the third round :)