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EDITORIAL

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow. (Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932)

On March 20th, 2014, Khushwant Singh breathed his last breath. As his soul changes into new clothes, we are deeply saddened by his departure. . Khushwant is perhaps the strongest voice in Indian English literature of recent time. We are remembering the vast auteur Khushwant has left for us. “Train To Pakistan”, “I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale”, “Delhi – the novel” and many such timeless master pieces. Khushwant Singh’s contribution to the Indo-Anglian literature would always be remembered. He has been taken this literature to the new heights and to the world outside of asian continent. Though being an agnostic by himself, Khushwant’s knowledge of Indian religions and culture was fathom deep and unparallel. At Storizen, we share our sincere condolence for the fearless Sardar of Indian literature. In an article, “Tribute to the Sardar”, famous author Manreet Editor Sodhi Someshwar writes about the influence of Khushwant Victor Basu Singh in her life and on her writing. . We have featured Manjiri Prabhu, popularly known as AgSub Editors Mukesh Rijhwani atha Christie of modern Indian literature in our Cover story Sudipa Chakraborty section. Manjiri is a PhD and a seasoned television producer/director-turned-author, Mukesh takes us through her Sumantra Chaudhury journey from writing first story to organizing International Copy Editors Literature Festival.. Atul Randev We also have captured the nuances of Shrey’s writing in a Saurabh Chawla candid “tete-e-tete with Kiran Manral”. Amitabh Bachchan launched Priyanka Jha’s book, do read Photo Editor about the same in our Book events section. Do not miss out Neloy Bandyopadhyay an interesting article on Writing Erotica by Sreemoyee. Do enjoy all other regular sections. Designer Do send us your comments and suggestions, as always. Amit Mitra Happy reading.

TEAM

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Book Event


Launch of Priyanka Sinha Jha’s book “Supertraits of Superstars”


Amitabh Bachchan, true to his Supertrait, discipline, as mentioned in author-editor Priyanka Sinha Jha’s book Supertraits of Superstars, arrived well before time for the formal launch of the book at Olive bar & Kitchen, Bandra. This once, given the Chief Guest’s (Bachchan’) punctual ways, most of the guests too were on time, a rare event in Mumbai! Priyanka Sinha Jha revealed that the idea of the book Supertraits of Superstars was sown with one of Bachchan’s blogs wherein he had described a childhood incident when he was unable to participate in a school play due to illness and was consoled by his father with the words, “mann ka ho toh accha, naa ho toh zyada achcha...” It lead her to think about Bachchan’s ability to surmount all odds and thus kickstarted the book Supertrait of Superstars. The superstar graciously did the honours, lauding the author’s efforts at putting forth Bollywood stars as inspirations and celebrating the good in them. Bachchan was generous in praise, and time, patiently posing for photographs with guests present before he left for his next engagement, as always just in time. Among other celebrities present at the do were the author’s husband Piyush Jha who is himself a bestselling crime-fiction author as well as a film director along with fellow film directors Sanjay Gupta, Nagesh Kukunoor, Vipul Shah, A.D.Singh, Sudhir Mishra, John Mathew Matthan, Tusshar, Kapoor, Shona Urvashi, Raman Lamba, Rohit and Mansi Joshi Roy, Aarti and Kailash Surendranath,MLA Krishna Hegde and wife Leena Prabhu and actressess Sonali Kulkarni, Divya Dutta and Anjana Sukhani and Masumeh Makhija.


Growing

up in my cantonment town, it was Khushwant Singh’s weekly column that revealed the world to me. I was seven years of age when my father started passing on the newspaper to me with the instruction that I read his column, it would improve my English. Same with the Illustrated Weekly of India - that cheeky, salty newsmagazine with its defining cartoons that was helmed by Khushwant Singh for several years - the reading of which was prescribed to hone English language skills. Over the years I was to discover his other avatars... I came late to ‘Train to Pakistan’ - the historical novel published in 1956 which tells the monumental story of India’s division through the lives of residents of Mano Majra, a village located on the border between India and Pakistan - during a career sabbatical in early 2001. It taught me more about the partition of the subcontinent than my cumulative history lessons. His ‘Train to Pakistan’ inspired me to write my own ode to that land of shifting alluvium and loyalties. Over the seven years that I wrestled with The Long Walk Home, the first fictional examination of the 20th century history of Punjab, his 2-volume ‘A History of the Sikhs’ was my constant companion. The narrative arc of The Long Walk Home starts pre-Partition and comes all the way to the present. The research took me deep into an storizen.com | March 2014 | 12

understanding of the Sikh faith, its origin and growth, where his ‘A History of the Sikhs’ was my veritable Bible. Upon the book’s publication in July 2009, I was very keen to meet with Khushwant Singh and my editor tried to arrange a meeting. However, as luck would have it, Mr Singh had retreated to Simla as he did habitually to avoid the summer heat. I rued that missed opportunity to meet the man who had strongly influenced my writing. When a week later, I chanced upon his review of my book in his weekly column - Literary star on the horizon - I collapsed with disbelief! After Mr Singh’s review, could any other really matter? Come 2012 and my third novel, The Taj Conspiracy, was released in June. The book’s cover carries a blurb from Khushwant Singh: a gifted writer of great promise. The Delhi launch was scheduled for 7 June. Once again, I was seeking an opportunity to connect with him, if possible, for Mr Singh, at 98 years, had practically retired from public life though he continued to write daily and his weekly column was syndicated across several Indian newspapers. But I was to get lucky. The day passed in some kind of surreal haze as I met retailers and booksellers before heading to Sujan Singh Park, the residential complex built by Khushwant Singh’s father, where he lives. As I entered his living area, a high-ceilinged cavernous


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room lined with books, I sighted him in one corner, grey and hoary in his armchair from which he watched us approach. Thereafter, we conversed for a half hour, in a mix of Punjabi and English, and few conversations before this have packed so much in such little time. We discussed Ghalib, jointly recited Bulleh Shah, chatted about the ‘62 Indo-China war, Hong Kong people and HK cuisine, family, memory, Sikh Gurus, sohni kudis and old men! Always the gracious host, he offered to serve me whiskey - it was late noon, I had a book launch that evening, and with great regret, I declined. The grace notes of that mellow afternoon in his study will always stay with me. I requested him to sign my copy of The Taj Conspiracy. Sign it he did, with the Sikh blessing: charhadi kala vich raho. Have a buoyant spirit! As a fellow Punjabi and Sikh, he cast a towering shadow over me at an impressionable age. When I met him finally, he lived up to every impression I had of him. A man of great joie de vivre, sly wit, erudite, with a phe-

nomenal memory. He was supportive of younger writers and generous with his time. A natural raconteur, he was stimulating company. A journalist asked me what his greatest achievement is? I believe it is his legacy of passionate, fearless, incisive writing - something that is especially relevant in today’s environment of bans and stifled discourse. In that, he is one with the legendary Ghalib, a poet he much admired and quoted. I remember, as I took leave of him, his parting gift to me was a Ghalib shayr: Rau mein hai raksh-e-umar kahaan dekhiye thamey, Na haath baag par hai na pair hai rakaab mein. Age travels at galloping pace; who knows where it will stop, We do not have the reins in our hands nor our feet in the stirrups. (Translation by Khushwant Singh) Photo Courtesy: Manreet Sodhi Someshwar n

Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is an award-winning writer and the author of four novels: Earning the Laundry Stripes, The Long Walk Home, The Taj Conspiracy, and most recently, The Hunt for Kohinoor. She trained as an engineer, graduated from IIM Calcutta, sold soaps, ads and advice for a living until she sought refuge in the written word.

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Lakshmi Pratury is the face behind the hosting of TEDIndia in the year

2009. The curator of the INK Conference, she works towards strengthening ties between India and USA by organizing corporate, media and cultural events through her organization Ixoraa media. Featured among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes Asia in 2010, Lakshmi was the key person behind the American India Foundation, an organization that raised more than 30 million dollars in five years for development activities in India. An avid reader, recently she spoke to us about her passion for books. This is what she disclosed. Who are some of your favourite authors, whether Indian or International? There are plenty. Most prominent ones include: Alain De Botton (Amazing Insights) John Stenbeck (Meaning out of Marginalized Lives) Eric Carle (Colors and Perspectives) Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn) Kahlil Gibran, (poem on Marriage) Shashi Tharoor, (The Great Indian Novel) The others that I can think of are Harper Lee, Jamaica Kincaid, Alice Walker, Isabel Allende, Shel Sylerstein, Abha Dawesar, Amish Tripathi, and Somerset Maugham. Which book or books have influenced you the most? What are you currently reading or last read? When I was a kid, I loved books by Bapu and Mullapudi Ramana (Telugu). I loved their sense of humor and the ability to see great stories in everyday life. I read a Telugu translation of Huckleberry Finn when I was about 10 years old and to this day, I remember the green binding on that book and how I felt when I finished reading it. I was a little sad but was mostly in awe of the sense of adventure that the book awoke in me. “Mahabharata” is always an inspiration for me on how we need to find solace in the imperfection that surrounds us. When I moved to Oregon, while studying business and theater, I acted in “For colored girls who considered suicide when the rainbow is enough” and had an amazing insight into what women go through. When I moved to California, I read “Grapes of Wrath” by Steinbeck storizen.com | March 2014 | 18


that completed my falling in love with the written word. The characters jumped out of the page and walked with me whenever I walked the streets of Monterey If I had to pick one book that makes me cry over and over again, it would be “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. I gave that book to my dad on one of his last trips to US, as an acknowledgement of all that he has done for me. Finally, it is Tagore’s Gitanjali that influenced my thinking on death as well as living. Which Indian authors have you met in the INKTalks Journey? And who among has left an ever lasting impression? I have met Abha Dawesar, MJ Akber, Amish Tripathi, Anita Nair, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, David Davidar, Gurcharan Das, Lavanya Sankaran, Nandan Niekani, Shashi Tharoor, Sudha Murthy, Vandana Shiva, Vijay Tendulkar, Vikas Swarup, Vikram Chandra and many others. Each author leaves a different impression. So, I cannot pick one favourite. But I can say that an afternoon spent in the apartment of Playwright Vijay Tendulkar left a great impression on me on the simplicity of such a great soul. Do you have plans to write your autobiography? Or if you had to pick one author to be your biographer, who would that be? I would love to write my autobiography. storizen.com | March 2014 | 19


INKTalks is all about great stories.... how did you come up with the idea? When I looked back at my life after 20+ years in tech and philanthropic worlds, I realized that what I love doing is telling stories - be it about a technology or a movement or a person. I also realized that people remember stories, more than they remember theory. So, we thought that understanding the world and the role we can play in it, through stories, would be a great idea. How do you select or discover these fascinating story tellers? These are people that my staff or I meet in our day to day life, people that we read about and a lot of the stories come to us through friends of INK. Since we have many of our Fellows and attendees out in the world, they keep sending us details of amazing people they meet. It is a community effort. What can we expect next with INKTalks? We want to work a lot more with the young professionals that are spread across multiple corporations. We are designing a strategy to work with corporations in a unique and creative way. • Lakshmi’s Top 5 all time favourite novels (Indian) The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor, Budugu by Bapu and Mullapudi, Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni and The immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi • Lakshmi’s Top 5 all time favourite novels (International) Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, All the short stories by Maugham, Color Purple by Alice Walker, Paula by Isabel Allende and Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

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Cover Story

Mukesh Rijhwani A PhD in Communication Science, producer/director of 200 TV

programmes focusing on children, an author of 7 books and a full time writer. No, we’re not talking about someone from the occident. This is the bio of a young woman who achieved it all through her sheer grit and determination, an Indian whose name is Manjiri Prabhu. Hailing from the city of Pune, Manjiri nurtured big dreams and she worked hard to turn them into a reality. To know what metal she’s made of, we followed her story from her child hood years.


Early years THEY WERE A team of 4 sisters and a brother and amongst them they created a ‘Secret Five Club’ with its own coded language. Their imaginative mother used to organize treasure hunts with trails and clues made of sticks, arrows and all kinds of things all over the city. Such was the wholesome childhood of Manjiri. It developed in her the element of creating and solving mystery in her early years. Early reading She grew up reading Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. She still reads Five Find Outers and Famous Five. She loved their world to the point of wanting to create one for herself. First bite of writing bug storizen.com | March 2014 | 24

She shares, “I wrote my first short novel when I was 7 years old. I still have most of the novels that I wrote as a child – all in longhand, illustrated with coloured felt pens and cut out in the form of a novel.” She attributes her writing to Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, she declares “Both not only provided me with my first inspiration to write but also handed me the genre on a platter”. Education No, she didn’t do any course in creative writing. Interestingly, she chose to do graduation and Masters in the language of love, French. She did a Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Communications Media and then went on to do a Ph.D. in Communication Science from the University of Pune.


You have to put in years of hard work, consistently belt out good books, create a readership – only then can you think of a full-time career in writing

First Creative Break She worked in her family Film Production Company ‘Shobha Arts’ for a couple of years and then joined a Maharashtra State owned children’s Television Institute called ‘Balchitrawani’. She was a Television Producer and directed and wrote more than 200 infotainment children programmes.

just started ‘Rupa Romance’ series. She sent her manuscript to Rupa and they immediately signed her up. The book got published in 1994 and got a decent response. Encouraged by the response, she completed her second book ‘Silver in the Mist’ in no time and Rupa published the same in the subsequent year, 1995. She attributes, her getting published to luck.

First Novel In early 90s, she wrote her first full First Movie manuscript, ‘A Symphony of hearts’. After the second book got pubIn those days, Rupa publications lished, she continued writing and

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Getting published has not been easy and as more and more writers flock the market, it is getting more and more difficult to publish a book

producing TV programmes. She fondly recalls her first movie, “My first official short film with Balchitrawani was called ‘Chadichey Wal’ (Weals of the Stick) It was a drama with a heavy emotional, and moral message. In fact, way back, I did India’s first video cell-animation film on the wheel. It was called ‘Chal Chala Chal’. But the first movie I worked on was my sister’s Hindi feature film titled ‘Kuchh Dil Ne Kahan’. I wrote the story and script along with dialogues for this film, which was a psychological mystery made for NFDC”.

idea of this series as a whole (The Cosmic Clues and The Astral Alibi) came about because of the astrology atmosphere in the house. My mother, Shobha Prabhu — a noted Astrologer—taught us all the basics of Astrology. Since childhood, we — my family — have been using Astrology to solve domestic problems like locating lost articles or missing animals or even guessing exam results and later solving professional problems. Astrology has always been advocated in our house, by my mother, as a guide.” The Cosmic Clues was selected as a Killer Book by the Mystery BooksellThe Calling ers of America, 2004. The second In 2001, after the success of her book in the series, The Astral Alibi 3rd book (Roles: Reel and Real Im- was honored as a Notable Fiction age of Woman in Hindi Cinema), she Book in the Kiriyama Prize 2007. still felt an emptiness in her. It took out the best in her. She went back The Crossover to reading her favourite authors, In 2009, she made the decision beit was then she decided to write a come a full time author. The gamble mystery novel. She chose an Indi- paid off pretty well, her next book an female sleuth as the protago- The Cavansite Conspiracy was nist, the use of Pune as the setting awarded Best Mystery 2012 by BTB added a creative twist to the genre, Indian Literary Awards. Her latest she used Astrology. The protagonist book, The Gypsies at Noelle’s Reuses a strology to solve the detec- treat (A Riva Parkar Mystery) is altive cases which come by her way. ready a YA best seller. She has other The novel, released in 2004, was a two books lined up to release this runaway hit. When asked about why year, as well. astrology, she shares “Actually the When asked about screen writing storizen.com | March 2014 | 26


as compared tobook writing, she shares, “Book-Writing is a play of words. It is all about good writing, imagining through words, describing emotions and actions. Screen-writing is all about visuals. ‘Seeing’ actions, ‘seeing’ the emotions and visualizing the entire story in shots and sequences. The writing style for both differs widely. Basically being a media person at heart, film and television have always been an inherent part of growing up. Having been a film critic for several years, and being closely associated with film and television, I’m always analyzing content in terms of script, screenplay and shot taking, comparing techniques and the imaginative process, whether the outcome is words or visuals. Thus now, I’m at a point where it is difficult for me to separate the media. Because

even when I write a book, I visualize and express every scene in terms of a film and not simply as a traditional book.” The Biggest Project Manjiri shares a good rapport with another YA Fiction writer, Sonja Chandrachud. Both authors have spent a major part of their lives in Pune. The city of Pune has a rich literary, cultural history with many firsts to it. It is often referred to as the Oxford of the East. Both authors wanted to give back something to the city. In a telephonic conversation with Sonja, Manjiri proposed, “Not something, Let’s go big, Let’s do a Litfest! (in Pune)”. Sonja instantly agreed. That was the one of the biggest and most crucial moment in their lives. It was the moment when Pune International storizen.com | March 2014 | 27


Literary Festival (PILF) was conceived.As with all big dreams, this one too required their pound of flesh. When asked about setting up PILF, Manjiri shares, “Setting up PILF was the most difficult thing of my life. It is easy to dream but very difficult to implement something of this stature and magnitude. We worked very hard for nine months, contacting, working on presentations, meeting people, facing financial cruxes, doing everything in our capacity to set up this debut event. Sponsors wouldn’t step forward. But I only knew one thing – PILF had to happen. And it did!! The entire nine-month period

was crazy and scary!” The D-day On September 20th 2013, at the MIT campus in Pune, the dream came alive in front of hundreds of participants. When asked about the most memorable moment of PILF, she recalls, “Definitely the moment I stepped on to the stage to give my Inaugural speech. I was so emotional that I couldn’t speak. To stunned to realize that the festival was actually taking place – words couldn’t describe my joy and relief.” Like all literary festivals, PILF attracted numerous intellectuals, creative personalities, celebrities and who’s

Even now (after 8 published books), I experience the same thrill and excitement! My books are my children and I share a special bond with them storizen.com | March 2014 | 28


For wannabe authors, Manjiri’s quotes Edna Ferber, “Writing is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth who from the world of Indian Literature. Manjiri recollects the feeling at the end of the last day, “It was awesome, enriching and exhausting! On the third day, there was a sense of relief and of completion and satis-

faction”. On that note, we wish, this woman of substance achieves even greater heights.. Good Luck Manjiri Prabhu n

Five Tips to Mystery writers: 1) Write, write and write till you can claim ownership of your work. 2) Think from the POV of the characters and reader. 3) Maintain the element of surprise. 4) Plan your novel well so that there are no loose ends. 5) Be confident but not overconfident. Mystery writing is different from other writings. It is difficult to trick the reader and yet satisfy him in the end. Manjiri’s books 1) The Cavansite Conspiracy 2) The Cosmic Clues 3) The Astral Alibi 4) A Symphony of Hearts 5) Silver in the Mist 6) Roles : Reel and Real (Non-fiction) 7) The Gypsies at Noelle’s Retreat (A Riva Parkar Mystery) 8) Forthcoming : The Gypsies on the Eurail ( A Riva Parkar Mystery) 9)Forthcoming : In the Shadow of the Inheritance (Penguin India) Mukesh Rijhwani is a techie by heart and storyteller by soul. He is the co-founder of Storizen. He loves the scent of a book (new or old) and dreams of becoming a librarian.

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Kiran Manral Interviews Shrey, Author - Salt Water Beginning with the obvious one,

what made you write this book?

I believe writing chooses you rather than the other way around. I have always written, it is my way to make sense of the world. The peeling away of the randomness to find underlying patterns. It took some timely encouragement and a leap of faith to believe this writing could lead to an actual book. Saltwater was inevitable. I believe it just HAD to be written, a representation of the chaos of youth in brutal, honest terms. The world itself is compelling – with all of its rules and insecurities, and the cause-and-effect relationships that govern its narrative. There have been books before Saltwater that cover the desolation of growing up in an otherwise benign environment – I think the genre is categorised as ‘Blank Coming Of Age’…

These are books I have loved very much. None however spoke of an Indian experience, and yet, I was taken aback at the similarities that were easily visible to me. This increasing similarity to a “western” growing up experience, with all of it’s good and bad, is one of the things we are going to have to grapple with… The book is very dark, unrelenting and disturbing. Did you feel there were places you consciously held back from getting grimmer? From the beginning I was extremely clear on how I wanted Saltwater to end. I had to be very careful in the construction and order in which the scenes are assembled – to get the mood exactly right, to pull the reader into the head space of Rish, the protagonist. Saltwater gets trippy and out-ofcontrol, but I don’t think any of the events are terribly implausible in the storizen.com | March 2014 | 31


Perhaps the millennials are a lost generation; they are definitely a generation in transit. They can afford to find their own purpose, as opposed to having a purpose defined externally, through society or whatever… This is, of course, the ideal scenario. However sometimes it takes some time to find that reason, find that purpose, some may never even find it at all. Is that better or worse than chasing goals which aren’t yours? I am not sure. How long was this book in writing?

context of its larger world. There were a lot of pretty good scenes that got left at the editing table for many reasons – but I didn’t consciously hold back from going to specific places, just because they might be difficult to palate.

The book took me the best part of 2 years to write and edit into a complete draft. There were extended editing sessions with my agents and then subsequently with Penguin. Everyone was great though – despite the edgy content, the book went through without a single cut.

What is it about the protagonists of the book, why are they so purposeless? Would you call them the lost generation?

Who are the authors, the books you turn to over and over again? Have any of them been inspirations for this book?

Rish, the protagonist is purposeless, and I think he struggles with it through the novel. Other significant characters move through the book with purpose – even if their short term goals do not satisfy our, or even Rish’s scrutiny.

I was 14 when I read The Great Gatsby. It completely blew me away; it is when I decided that writing a novel is going to be a life goal. I still re-read it, and the words have that same electricity every time. That power has not faded for the better

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Shrey with Kiran Manral part of a century. I also love Bret Easton Ellis, his early work is a huge influence on my writing. I like a lot of American writers in general, now that I think about it. Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski are other favorites I revisit a lot. What are you working on now? I am working on a second novel for Penguin though it is still a little early to discuss any details. It

is a departure from Saltwater. I am also working on a few smaller projects. I guess a bit of a palate cleanser when the novels get too heavy. It is liberating to stop digging inside psyches, which is essentially what attracts me to the Novel as a medium; it’s good to just forget all that and simply chase the awesomen

Kiran Manral started out as a copywriter, moved into journalism and then quit full time work to play mommy. She is one of the most popular bloggers in India. She is also considered a ‘social media star’ on twitter by the TOI and IBN Live named her as among the 30 interesting Indian women to follow on twitter and among the top 10 Indian moms to follow on twitter for 2013. storizen.com | March 2014 | 33


Desire has

O


Article on EROTICA

s no language.

Only signs. Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

‘Are you scared your book maybe be banned?’ I was once quizzed.

About my second novel, Sita’s Curse (Hachette) set for an end April release. I laughed. ‘I mean do you fear being branded as an erotic novelist… umm… a thin line dividing it from porn?’ came next. This time I didn’t try hiding behind a smile. Looking up instead. My own views… that never once doubted the genre of feminist erotica that I was making a foray in, but this. Exactly this kind of passive judgment. This tone. This fear. In the eyes of others’. Of a woman’s strength.


Her suppleness. Her sexual freedom. The truth about our bodies. What she wants – the ability to say it out loud for once, not being squeamish, demanding to be listened to, to be loved and lusted in equal proportions. Follow her bodily destiny. Instead of a lofty purpose pre-decreed for her – by man, by society, making it a law, unto itself. The way Mrs. Meera Patel feels. Every night. When she is tied to a bedpost and made to watch porn. By a husband storizen.com | March 2014 | 36

who ‘can’t even get it up.’ The same man who calls her a ‘whore,’ a ‘bored housewife… in much the same breath. Is erotica too close to reality then? The bitter pill about the repression of the female sex… centuries of silence about women by women, their roles relegated to home and hearth, progeny and procreation… a power invested in these details, as if. Promoted. Pressurized. Made public. And yet private. Needing desperately to be treated as equals. Crying hoarse when raped. Sometimes in the own silence of her bedroom. Or a dimly lit kutir. Tasting the salt of her tears. The shame. The things we must never talk about. The way a poet did. The way only he can. Kalidasa whose lyrical descriptions of Shakuntalam were laced with erogenous detailing or Jayadeva, whose Geet Govinda was a haunting treatise in mystical love between Radha and Krishna. Or is it just safer? Erotica in our country being relegated to the past…to walls of temples that are preserved as


national heritage. Konark, Khajurao? That we love flaunting as examples of our country’s sexual openness… luring blue-eyed tourists, talking mumbo jumbo about the Kamasutra, next? Is it a safer hiding place? Fearless feminist crusaders like Kamala Das and Ismat Chugtai shadowy reference points… like dust laden history books. That come up easily in Google searches. And yet remain so distant. It hurts. ‘You should have Sunny Leone at the book launch, your book will sell like hot cakes,’ a fellow author quips. A prod- uct of the ‘best-selling brigade.’ Or one of its worst victims… easily classifying feminine sensuality with sex appeal. Confusing what we want to say. With what he’d rather watch. An item song. A beauty pageant. A Dirty Picture… It’s not his fault I say to myself. It’s what popular culture has done to what is commonly perceived as erotica. Something saleable. Like a condom brand or something. That

needs to be endorsed by someone with a license to be sexually forward. By a woman sucking on cherries or something, slithering suggestively on a satin mattress. Unlike a female contraceptive that is better off being marketed by an older, married heroine persay. A mother. Someone with a more ‘family viewing,’ certificate. Clearly off the shelf. ‘Why a married woman? Why not someone younger. Single. From a more urban background?’ storizen.com | March 2014 | 37


a publisher making a pitch for Sita’s Curse had once questioned. Citing the recent blockbuster success of Fifty Shades of Grey that made a brand out of bondage and sado-machoism… that had millions of women buying a book that made it suddenly sexually viable to be treated submissively. That talked of a chase. A game. That no one won in the end. Except making us greedier. More aspirational. Publishers desperately hunting for a desi version of the same model. The way they resurrected Bridget Jones. Making writing chick lit ‘aspirational.’ Thereby blowing its own trumpet. What’s changed? When we say ‘coming of age story?’ What age are we in at present? Nirbhaya? Nityananda? Nirod? It’s a question that I constantly ask myself. When I am questioned about a genre that is hardly considered literary anymore. Or taken seriously enough. Unless your target is ‘only chicks,’ a former journalist colleague laughs. It comes easy I suppose. This kind of jest. Or maybe we, erotic writers at present have made it easier for them. ‘Isn’t that Tejpal dude in jail?’ another Editor buddy butts in, perhaps trying to make light of the moment. I nod. Walking up to a small window in his cabin. Feeling suffocated all of a sudden. By all the unwarranted attention. Does a crime writer also face the same scathing remarks? Or a writer of historical fiction? I ask myself in storizen.com | March 2014 | 38

private. ‘See, if your book sells a lot, no one will bother after a point if your protagonist was Sita or Gita… if she was a married, 35-plus woman like your this Mrs. Meera Patel or single like yourself… if she gave a blow job or had an affair…’ a woman I met recently said. Pursing her lips. A writer herself. Sounding hopelessly jaded, by an industry that sells stereotypes, having made a career in playing safe. Wanting to grab headlines with lofty book deals and smug agents tweeting their latest success. Craving media space. Needing film deals. Book contracts. Slick book trailers. Glitzy launches. Film stars endorsing their fate. Being part of a complicated market economy. That is spineless. Doing nothing. Changing nothing either. Except waiting… for a book on erotica to click. To sell. What if there is another side? To the same story? Another person? What if she lives in a chawl? Somewhere on the sidelines of a sprawling megapolis like Mumbai? What if she belonged to a small town, once? What if she owned merely two gold bangles? And a mangalsutra, maybe? What if she can never bear children? Or speak English? What if she’s saleable. On the face of it. The woman in the train station, walking demurely behind her husband. A pot-bellied man. With hair sprouting out of his ears. And nose. Or the bai who mops your floor, her breasts easily popping out, every time she bends. Lower.


Marks on her chest. From being beaten by a drunk husband. Her child sitting under your staircase? Wailing? Or the woman you just met yesterday? In the gynecologist’s fancy chamber? Her eyes. Dead. The stigma of being the lesser one. The woman who cannot bear children. The baanj. Her chest heaving. To the same rhythm as the wom-

an you love to hate. The one who wears garish red lipstick and clicks her tongue. The one on the highway. Somewhere. Hitching up her petticoat. Forging a strange darkness. What if Mrs. Meera Patel is one of them? What if this were your story, instead? n

Sreemoyee Piu Kundu has made her literary debut with Faraway Music, published by Hachette. Sreemoyee has been featured in the Marie Claire as part of the magazine’s India Exciting anniversary series, alongside writers Debanjana Pal, Jerry Pinto, director Shoojit Sircar and achievers from other professions, such as advertising and music.


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LITIZEN.com

Bridging the literary gap Sumantra Chaudhury

Creativity is the power to connect the unconnected. If

this be true, then Litizen is the torch bearer of this theory. Created to enable writers and readers share their love for literature, the website has opened up an avenue allowing authors to meet readers across the world and share with them a whole gamut of rich and engaging literary work. Litizen…the story behind… It was in the year 2010 when Rishabh Chaturvedi and his brother Apurva Chaturvedi decided to start a writing club; a place where writers could come and share their stories, and get instant feedback on their creation. What started as weekly meets of a few closet writers has today become a platform where writers get to satisfy the intense hunger of eager readers craving for exciting and captivating tales. From a small get-together of 2 writers to a gathering of 60 writers, this platform has today become a household name in the world of literature. This is the story of Litizen.com. To share and explore… Litizen.com or ‘Citizens of Literature, as they say, is a website that provides both established and upcoming writers an audience for their work. As Rishabh (one of the founders) mentions, “The key purpose of Litizen was to bring out all that creativity, all the knowledge and put it in one place. ” Something that is more generic than storizen.com | March 2014 | 41


Facebook or a blog page. Clearly, it stands out as a place where one has a much higher chance of being discovered by people from all over the world. Today, Litizen has widened it scope to become more reader-centric. Offering readers from across geographies access to a huge repository of rich literary work that is delightful to read. What more… This aside, today one can also publish books through Litizen. Having already published two books on short stories titled ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Carnival’, the website is on its way of making a name for itself in the publishing world. Labyrinth which was launched in 2012 by Shobha De has already featured as a bestseller on Flipkart and Landmark. This stands testimony of the growing popularity of the website. Of hurdles and challenges… But, as the founders say, the journey was not easy. They too had their share of struggle in the earlier days of Litizen. Though the discussions were getting popular, they saw that people were a bit sceptical about sharing their thoughts. As Rishabh mentions, they often had to device quirky writing games to help people loosen up. Additionally, they realised that it was not a foolproof method as many times the feedback given were quite superficial. Obviously, a room full of writers meeting for the storizen.com | March 2014 | 42

first time and judging each other’s work was not something that everyone would instantly reckon with. Starting the website had its share of challenges as well. Coming from accountancy background, developing a website that would cater to a huge audience and enable users share their work and comment as well involved much more than the knowledge of the debits and credits for the Chaturvedi Brothers. Getting books published was another major hurdle they went through. However, Rishabh and Apurva went ahead with their dreams and the rest is history as they say. Their perseverance clearly reflected in the sites ever increasing fame. So, is it literature then… A website solely dedicated to literature, Litizen.com focuses on short stories. But with its ever increasing popularity, it now seeks to open its doors to non-fiction and real life stories as well. “Fact is definitely stranger, and sometimes more exciting, than fiction.”, says Rishabh. The founders feel by opening up to these genres they can attract a different set of writers and readers. Apart from prose, the site also caters to poetry. The ever increasing requests from readers have resulted in the opening up of an altogether separate section on poetry, enabling seasoned and budding poets to put across their creation for everybody to read and share.


Litizen Founders : Rishabh and Apurva Chaturvedi ( in black suits ) Reaching the world… Though set up by Indians, the founders reiterate the fact that Litizen.com does not only concentrate on Indian writers and readers. In fact, they have a huge global base of writers. International authors like Muna Hussen, an African national, and Richard Fernandes, a chef-turned-author from New Zealand, are some of the key contributors. Thus, though a small step, yet it’s nothing short of a giant leap in becoming global.

With its ever increasing writer-reader base, Litizen.com is on its way to becoming the vehicle for entertaining an audience that is ever thirsty for high quality and world-class literary work. Whether it be short stories, novels or a piece of fascinating verse, name it and you are sure to find something of your choice here. With more and more authors using the portal to publish their work, the roadmap is quite clear for Rishabh and Apurva…success, success and more success n

In his own words, Sumantra shares, “I am working as a content writer in a reputed IT firm in Bangalore. I am passionate about dancing. I am person with simple needs and I believe that the best gifts in life come in small packages”

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My Pulkit Gupta

PATH TO...

“GET PUBL

Srivatsan

Authors - The Pro


LISHED�

Sridharan

ophecy of Trivine

Tnahsin Garg


Most publishers are unwilling to

embrace or explore new genres in the Indian fiction market. Especially in today’s age, where publishing cheesy romantic tales by marketing moguls is a safe bet, and churning out Desi thrillers and rehashed mythologies is an exotic yet stale formula for making a quick buck. Throw in this chaos, a trio of young writers, who have by some strange chance ventured upon writing Science-Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) – a genre that is equally known and unknown to the Indian subcontinent. Such an adventure is an instant recipe for failure (read mass rejections). The hullabaloo of the Indian English fiction industry which exploded into exponential growth not many years ago (thanks to Mr. Bhagat) now consists of an assorted collection of shady, self-proclaimed literary agents and book marketing gurus, a sizeable number of vanity publishers who take great pride in victimizing/robbing debut authors, a few giant western publishing houses who seem to publish cautiously only the work of celebrated or gifted individuals, a plethora of book bloggers and online reviewers who are awaiting recognition for their assiduous work, and most importantly, the average Indian confused reader who is still weighing prejudices between foreign and Indian works. Unaware then of the risk of getting lost in this literary jungle, three of storizen.com | March 2014 | 46

us in 2010 began on a journey that seemed nothing less (or more) than a whimsical trip. It was near the end of our engineering studies at Thapar University, Patiala when the basic premise of ‘The Prophecy of Trivine’ germinated in our consciousness. Originally planned as a series of fictional essays on the importance and impact of science on mankind, we edged towards writing a proper SFF happening in an Indian setting, with Indian characters, aliens and all. While we had plenty of idea generation and brainstorming sessions done when we were in college, the real writing happened after we graduated and strayed off in the different directions our careers took us. And then what followed were countless meetings on Google Wave and Skype, allowing us to write our parts of the story over the next 6 months. Piecing it together while maintaining a coherent form took another half year of our lives, leading to a total of 1 year for writing and revision. At this time, in 2011, two of us (Srivatsan and Tnahsin) were busy juggling writing with ours Master’s studies in the US, and Pulkit had engaged himself in the IT corporate world of southern India. Geographically separated, we coordinated, fought, hurled abuses at each other on hangouts and proceeded on the arduous task of getting the book published. It was not going to be easy – we knew that.


What we didn’t know was how eventless it would be! Yes, we expected rejections but what we didn’t expect was silence. Cold silence in the form of no replies felt worse than flat rejections. But we did all we could, from disciplined excel sheets for tracking our targets to exploiting any internal contacts within the industry with the only aim that someone, somewhere should at least read the book once

and give us feedback. But it was all in vain. Until one day, we got hold of someone from one of the big western giants, and got them intrigued enough to read our story. While in the end, things didn’t work out and more than a year passed as we waited for their final decision, we did discover major flaws in our work – the most important one being the excessive length of our meandering story. We decided to cut short the manuscript by onethird, reducing it down to 264 pages in print (which would otherwise maybe 400 pages). Reassured by the growing success of twitter as well as skimpy paperbacks that were taking the masses by large then, we pitched our reduced and concise novel once again – this time to some of the lesser known publishers. And you know, when luck meets preparedness, things work out by themselves. In early 2013, Good Times Books Publishers offered us a contract which wasn’t too bad, and we gladly accepted. After endless rounds of editing and proofreading, we released the book on 15th of December, 2013 with great anticipation. Four years back, in those claustrophobic hostel rooms of our college where we dreamt of doing storizen.com | March 2014 | 47


something big, we had never guessed how things would turn out. All we then knew was that we’re going to write SFF for Indians – something no one has dared properly before. Now, after a month of book’s release, we have sold a whopping 300 copies. As reviews have begun

to trickle in from these mind blowing sales, we, sitting alone in distant corners of the world, feel like an insignificant yet inseparable part of this holy Indian literary jungle n

The book was written jointly by three friends, who were once together in Thapar University, and are now pursuing their lives & careers in distant corners of the world. Pulkit is a Technology Analyst at Goldman Sachs, Bangalore. Srivatsan is a Software Engineer at Yelp, Inc. in San Francisco, California. Tnahsin is currently pursuing a PhD in applied sciences in Denmark.

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My

PATH TO “GET PUBLISHED” My path to becoming a published author was

probably paved the day my grandfather taught me my first alphabet. Like a benevolent sorcerer, he cast the spell of the written word and I knew I was bewitched for life. Then my mother flung the doors of literature wide open and I made friends with Dickens and Twain and Wilde and Tagore. From the rugged folk tales of Ukraine to the lush tea-party in Carrol’s wonderland, the stories asked me a gentle question -‘Can you carve a universe out of words?’ And a macabre universe at that, for the genre whose siren calls were quietly seducing me was the MYSTERY THRILLER!!! Throughout literature classes in Venky and Stephen’s, one was enthralled with the wit of Chaucer and the metaphysics of Donne. The agony of Lawrence and the nostalgia of Wordsworth. The bravado of Eliot and the absurdity of Beckett. And yet on dark nights, the infernal howling of the hound of Baskerville would fill me with awe. The climactic revelations of Hercule Poirot would leave me kicking my grey cells for not storizen.com | March 2014 | 50


Satyarth Nayak Author - The Emperor’s Riddles storizen.com | March 2014 | 51


spotting the obvious. Poe’s pit of morbid terror would slice me like that murderous pendulum. And then came Dan Brown with his damned codes and ciphers and I had found another messiah. Thrillers by Irving Wallace, Suzanne Collins, Lee Child and Ashok Banker have all been text books I have craved to emulate. Then one random day during one random hour, I stumbled upon this historical legend that absolutely bamboozled me. So staggering and so prolific were the details, that my instinctive reaction was ‘There’s enough matter here for a book!!!’ And before I knew it, I was writing that book. The legend had somehow lured me into giving it a virtual shape and form on my laptop. It was whispering plot points, characters and intrigue and I was merely recording it for posterity. Was that how Lord Ganesha had felt while Vyasa dictated him the Mahabharata? Draft #1 was ready in six months and I had actually carved a cosmos out of words. The conceit every writer suffers from is the cocky self-assurance that his masterpiece is worthy enough to be shared with others. So my magnum opus was clamouring for an audience now. The merciful thing about publishing in India is that most publishers are open to unsolicited submissions. In the West where publishing houses will not touch your manuscript unless you have a literary agent representing you, the situation here is storizen.com | March 2014 | 52

friendlier with the agent culture still in its infancy. So all it took was logging on to publishing websites and mailing my mystery thriller. Some asked for an initial synopsis & sample chapters. While sending your work is relatively simple, most unsolicited matter goes to the slush pile where scores of manuscripts lie waiting to be picked and read. Unless you can network around, there’s precious little to do but wait. Soon feedback started knocking on my laptop. Some declined while some asked for changes. FYI no publishing house will ever give an elaborate analysis but only a few pointers to rework. Some of this early feedback made a lot of sense and shaped much of the present structure of my book. The tide turned when two publishing houses wrote saying they love my thriller. It turned again when Red Ink became my literary agency. From then on it was a process of negotiations, discussions, consultations and submissions until we finally zeroed in on Amaryllis. Though contracts drafted by publishing houses are pretty straightforward, it helped me to have an agent who made sure I got the best possible deal. One also needs to be prepared to see one’s manuscript go through various rounds of edits to make it even better. Red Ink’s brilliant editorial team further sharpened my thriller following which Amaryllis editors did their round of editing and impeccable proof-reading. Finalising the


cover took longer than I had imagined but then it was all perfectly destined to hit the stands at the Delhi World Book Fair 2014 this February. Your first book is always precious. My thriller’s out now and there’s lots to be thankful for. Quotes of Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi on the cover…great response at the Delhi World Book Fair 2014…rave re-

views on Goodreads and Flipkart… Bestseller on Amazon. But perhaps the greatest joy is that, my gentle answer to that gentle question is ‘I can. And so can anyone who loves to write.’ n

Satyarth Nayak is a Delhi based author, script-writer & journalist. Former SAARC award-winning Correspondent with CNN-IBN, he did Masters in English Literature from St. Stephen’s. His short stories have won British Council Prize and appeared in Chicken Soup series. This is his debut novel and is getting a great response.

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The date was 7th.The spring took

over the city of New Delhi in early March. The investigation had taken a long time than usual. The police force was unable to find the corpse still. Naina lost all hopes of catching her father’s killer. Uncertain rains brought cheer in many lives but Naina’s life was like she would never see the light of the day ever again. She didn’t stop herself and tried every bit with which she could find proof against Malti. She was able to find one proof, but something unexpected happened. Under some mysterious circumstances, with no one’s knowledge, Malti was found dead one morning in her room. 5 days ago, Connaught Place: On 2nd March, which was Sunday, the most happening place in Central Delhi, the Connaught Place was overcrowded with people as usual weekends. The time was late afternoon. In one of the Chinese restaurants in B block, Malti was waiting for someone eagerly. The waiter had asked her to order something or leave as the other people were waiting in queue. Initially, she convinced

him that the person she is waiting for was just nearby and would be there any moment but after waiting for about 15 minutes she was forced to order something or find another place. She decided to order a plate of Veg Dimsums and a plate of Veg Spring rolls and asked him to make it quick. Soon the moment arrived. The person she was waiting for, arrived. ‘Why you got so late?’ Malti asked, her voice quivering. ‘Relax, I was stuck in a jam. This traffic!’ He poured the water from the jug into the glass. ‘If somebody see us, we would be in a big trouble! Do you know the sensitivity of the deed we have been acquitted for?’ Malti was getting hysterical. ‘Are you out of your mind? The body has been taken care of very well. The police doesn’t have any clue about who did it. After few months, the case will be closed and everybody will forget what happened.’ He requested her not to behave awkwardly especially in a public place. ‘Have you brought the file I asked about?’ He queried. The waiter deposited the order on the table. When he picked up the dishes to serve them, he was


faced with harsh remarks. ‘Can’t you see we are talking? We can take it ourselves. Please excuse us.’ The poor waiter didn’t have anything to say to counter the harsh tone except to quietly move away. ‘Yes I have brought the file and signed all the papers. Now can I have those DVDs which you were about to give to me in exchange?’ Malti asked. ‘Oh yes, how can I forget those. After all they are precious to me as well.’ He said with a broad grin on his face. Malti snatched the DVDs and immediately adjusted them in her black purse. She sprang up to leave. ‘Hold on, where are you going?’ he Gripped his hand around her arm. ‘You are not going without one last payment.’ With a sly look in his face, he scanned her petite frame with

his lustful eyes. When Malti realized that he wouldn’t let her go, she decided to agree to the offer. ‘On 7th of March, nobody would be at home in night. Naina would be asleep after studying for her final exam or best I will make sure she is asleep. Meet me after 10 PM in my room.’ Malti freed her arm from his firm grip. ‘Now let me go or else somebody might see us here and we might get us both in big trouble.’ She insisted. ‘Nobody will see us, honey. It’s very crowded place with all unfamiliar faces.’ He insisted her to stay for a while. In the throng, he thought he would not be noticed at all, he was wrong. 5 days later, Kapoor Villa, Vasant Kunj: As the clock struck 9 PM, Malti waited for Naina to switch off the light and sleep. She was sure about Naina’s discipline to sleep early during exam days. It was drizzling outside. She had a sigh of relief when she noticed the lights of Naina’s bedroom were turned off. Malti waited impatiently for the clock to struck 10. She wanted all to end immediately. She was about to make te last compromise, after that she would be free. A knock at her door alerted her that the time has arrived. She opened the door to find him standing. His eyes scanned her from top to bottom like he was ready to take her away, rip her apart.


Soon they were in bed making love to each other like wild animals. As he got on top of her to enter her wet and warm core, he got that much wild that he pressed her mouth with a pillow to stop her from screaming. In his uncontrollable thrusting, he forgot to remove the pillow. When he came to senses, he removed the pillow from her mouth but it was too late. After some time, there was total silence. Breathe, he told himself. He was at the edge of panic. He looked at the petite, naked body of Malti and convinced himself repeatedly, It was not my fault. He had felt her wrist. There was no sign of pulse. One moment she had been furiously making love to him, and the next moment... I’ve to get out of here. Now! He turned away and began to dress hurriedly. They must never trace me to this room. When he finished dressing, he moistened a towel in the bathroom and wiped anything that he might have possibly touched. He made Malti completely dressed up to make it seem like nothing happened at all. When he was sure that he had left no fingerprints and/or his DNA, he took one last look around. After complete satisfaction, he left the room in a hurry. One thing which he left behind unnoticed was an open window in Malti’s room through which someone was watching the entire act. Naina didn’t go to give her exam the storizen.com | March 2014 | 56

next morning. She was shocked to see Malti being killed. She was the only one Naina had doubt on. But the morning had something more to offer. Uday came barging in. ‘I have something important to tell. We have nabbed the culprit who is responsible for the havoc.’ Naina was happy and sad at the same time. A sudden rush of emotions just took her from within. ‘Who is the one?’ Naina asked hysterically with tears in her eyes. Within moments her family had been finished. ‘I am afraid to say that the person is from your own family, Naina.’ Uday removed his cap and deposited it under his left arm.’ With all the noises, Rajat, Naina’s uncle came down from his room. ‘Who is the man?’ Tell me, i will not spare him at all for my brother’s killing!’ He bellowed. Uday scanned each and everybody’s face patiently. ‘I will let you know in a while. First of all, I would like to let you know who helped us to nab the culprit.’ Everybody was standing there, numb when they saw Tanya, their neighbor walk into the house. Tanya Aunty! Wat is she doing here? Naina was in a fix now. The name that came out of Uday’s mouth was the shocking one. ‘Mr Rajat Kapoor, you are under arrest for killing your brother and brother’s wife.’ Rajat’s jaw dropped. How they know I was the one? He picked out a pistol from his side pocket of the gown but it was too late. Uday was already prepared


for the drama. He grabbed Rajat by wrapping his arm around his neck. Rajat dropped his pistol. ‘Three things are the root cause for all the crimes. Dhan, Joru aur zameen, wealth, woman and land!’ He handcuffed him and ordered the fellow officer to take him to jeep parked outside. Naina stood there agape. Rajat turned towards Tanya. ‘You bit**, I should’ve killed you the day you ran away from me.’ Uday abstained from showing the video recording of how Malti was killed to Naina as he understood about her age being unsuitable for watching such an act. Rajat surrendered to his crime. He also agreed to all the charges of having illicit re-

lations with many women and later blackmailing them repeatedly in return for their sexual favors. He also gave the name of the people involved in killing his brother on a contract given by him. He had been put behind bars for his life term. Naina became a criminal lawyer as her father wanted her to be. Today, after 5 years, she fights cases for crimes against women and society. She is proud to be Justice Sudhir Kapoor’s daughter. But one thing she is still trying to figure out, why people kill their own family members for such temporary tings? Why do they sacrifice their permanent relations? To this question, Naina had no answern

In his own words, Saurabh shares, “I had a passion for writing since my childhood days but was very much waiting for the right time and right platform. The day I started my blog was the time and the correct platform which helped me a lot to evolve my writing skills. I love reading and writing suspense/thrillers alongwith some poetry that reflects my inner self and my surroundings.” storizen.com | March 2014 | 57


WHY ENGLISH IS HARD TO LEARN We'll begin with box; the plural is boxes, But the plural of ox is oxen, not oxes. One fowl is a goose, and two are called geese, Yet the plural of moose is never called meese. You may find a lone mouse or a house full of mice; But the plural of house is houses, not hice. The plural of man is always men, But the plural of pan is never pen. If I speak of a foot, and you show me two feet, And I give you a book, would a pair be a beek? If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, Why shouldn't two booths be called beeth? If the singular's this and the plural is these, Should the plural of kiss be ever called keese? We speak of a brother and also of brethren, But though we say mother, we never say methren. Then the masculine pronouns are he, his, and him; But imagine the feminine ... she, shis, and shim! Compiled by Mukesh Rijhwani

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To the Women of My World – On Women’s Day Sapna Agarwal

Their veil of ‘protection’ forcibly keeps out ‘our’ light darkening our worlds Against all odds we dream The shackles of ‘tradition’ stifle us authoritatively dictating our lives Against all odds we breathe The menacing shroud of ignorance violently wrapped around us entangles us not allowing escape Against all odds we hope The fear of reprimand ties us down intimidating us to tow the line Against all odds we assert The danger of being mutilated, burned, violated, killed scares us smothering us to silence Against all odds we speak The violence we face everyday intimidates us terrorizing us to tears Against all odds we smile The world we were born into stands against us up in arms to defeat us Against all odds we live.

Sapna is a social worker by training, changemaker, and a researcher. She lives in a small city in Rajasthan with her husband and two children and her dog coco.


Every day is Women’s day Manreet Sodhi Someshwar to care & bear, to sew & brew, to clean & preen, to earn & yearn, to cook & forsook, to lead& plead, to love & live, to sow & reap... This 8 March, walk in a woman’s chappals, her kolhapuris, her juttis, pumps or killer heels. This 8 March, BE A WOMAN.

Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is an award-winning writer and the author of four novels: Earning the Laundry Stripes, The Long Walk Home, The Taj Conspiracy, and most recently, The Hunt for Kohinoor. She trained as an engineer, graduated from IIM Calcutta, sold soaps, ads and advice for a living until she sought refuge in the written word.


“Done

with men “ by Shuchi Singh Kalra is the first e book ,I am reveiwing.I had read another e book much earlier.Shuchi Singh Kalra ‘s debut novella is “Done with Men “.She has written many articles for magazines like Femina,Good Housekeeping,Women’s Era to name a few.Shuchi owns Pixie Dust Writing Studio, an editing firm that serves clients across the world ! She is the owner of the Indian Freelance Writers Blog, which is a fast-growing resource for Indian writers. Well ,I loved the PDF format.”Done with Men “ is an Indirom Novella published by Indireads.In fact ,it is the first rom com offering by Indireads after 30 romance novellas

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which were published in 2013.Navigation was a breeze ! The author has dedicated this book to her hubby ,kid,parents,in laws & also the readers.It is quite humourous ....her vote of thanks to all ! There are twenty chapter followed by Epilogue,Glossary , note to readers,about author,about Indireads & more from Indireads. This is a story of Kairavi Krishna, who is working for the magazine ,The New Age Traveller .She is on Goa on a holiday cum work assignment.She wants to party away to forget & forgive her boyfriends who were useless & brought her grief.To prove her point ,she tattoos her hand with “Done with Men “.And then she meets with an accident .The holiday plan goes awry.She is being nursed in hospital by best friend Baani & her glued boyfriend Kapil. Is the hospital stay boring ? Kairavi has to warn herself that she will not fall for any more men though she meets the handsome doctor on duty, Dr Vivian,daily.It is sheer torture.Then ,she discovers that he may be married.No, still a bachelor and going to be engaged.Very confusing. There is more drama.Her ex keeps meeting her in places she lands up.


Baani & her fevicol boy friend break up.Kairavi’s boss lands up in Goa. What happens when Kairavi’s boss discovers that Kairavi was dancing with gay abandon when she met with an accident ? Do Kairavi & Vivian become a couple ? Is it mutual love or is it just one sided love by Kairavi ? What about Baani & Kapil? The book makes hilarious reading. All paragraphs from the first till the very end has a little humour in it.The thought bubble speaking & replying to Kairavi’s questions are very

amusing. Kairavi is just like any other girl who cannot take to high heels .She is not the slim & trim types.We can all identify with her & hence empathise with her ! The print was easy on the eyes & all is neat.Short chapters which egg me on to read faster.Language is easy & drama unfolds step by step. So ,the plot gets interesting as we flip pages. A worthy book to keep smiling & laughing as we read through. n

Vasrao is a law graduate from Government Law College,Mumbai.She’s a fellow in General Insurance. She’s a homemaker at present, having worked for nearly 16 years in General Insurance in the Public Sector. She’s a voracious reader and maintains a wonderful book review blog. storizen.com | March 2014 | 63


an whose eye is blue or reflecting a blue light from something at which she is staring.Her lips are slightly open.Strands of her hair are covering her upper cheek & parts of her face.Behind her, is another image of a woman with down cast eyes & a hand, which seems to be hanging as if helpless.The title of the novel is printed on the cover with mirror image of N in the title.The author’s name is also printed.At the upper part of the cover, on the left hand side is the logo of the publishers M his novel is by an anaesthetist, Dr in red & a bit of yellowish orange beKetaki Patwardhan Nirkhi.This is her low a ziz zag blue line. second novel after her debut book, “Those enchanted four & half years The story is about a doctor,Dr Neha “.Poems & short stories by Dr Ke- Dixit, who is an anaesthesist at a taki have been published in numer- Mumbai hospital.A patient ,named ous e magazines like Indus Women Susan, is brought in one day, for writing,Bloggers park,Litizen,Muse treatment & she seems familiar.Yet India,Wishbo,Writer’s Cafe`,etc. Dr. Neha, cannot recall, why she seems so familiar. And then, Susan It is published by Moment Publish- disappears from the hospital.Now ers based in Ahmedabad,Gujarat. Dr Neha cannot contain her curiosity On the reverse of the cover page & she starts searching for Susan.Dr ( the cover page at the end of the .Neha learns that Susan was hauntbook ),is a list of the numerous part- ed by something.What is that,Dr ners in Media,Magazine Online So- Neha wonders.Dr Neha seems to cial Media,Community,Technology spot Susan at some places .Is it real etal. or just a figment of Dr Neha’s imagination ? Will Dr Neha be able to loThe cover of the book shows a wom- cate Susan ?

T

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And who is Susan ? Dr. Neha’s husband is perturbed that his wife is taking more than a professional interest in her patient. He feels that his wife desperately needs to see a psychiatrist. Does he give in & support his wife ?Does Dr Neha seek the help of a psyschiatrist ? What happens to Susan ? Is she finally cured ? What was that which was disturbing Susan ? This book opens with a few lines penned by Mother Teresa.Next, is the Acknowledgement wherein Dr Ketaki thanks all who have helped her in penning this novel & getting it published.She thanks the publishers,her family ,her colleagues etal. This is followed by Prologue& then

the novel begins....with date & time. The book goes back & forth in time as there are some past diary entries.This is like flashback & present scenes.Admirable.The chapters are short & eggs the reader on.Yet the tale, seems too predictable to some extent if not fully. It introduces hypnotic age regression which is regarded as unreliable by some.One excellent thing about the book is the postivity about adoption.if many adopted ,there would be less orphans ...perhaps, no one will be an orphan any more .And that is saying a lot...the world would be a much better place! n

Vasrao is a law graduate from Government Law College,Mumbai.She’s a fellow in General Insurance. She’s a homemaker at present, having worked for nearly 16 years in General Insurance in the Public Sector. She’s a voracious reader and maintains a wonderful book review blog. storizen.com | March 2014 | 65


I remember telling this to a fellow

book blogger some time back that I am done with my share of mythological fiction for this year and then one day I was asked to review Satyarth Nayak’s debut novel The Emperor’s Riddles. After reading its blurb, I realised that this mythological fiction is based on Buddhism which was an untouched territory for me. And on top of it, it was a thriller and I was craving for a good thriller since last couple of weeks. That is how, I decided to pick up this book and I got what I wanted. A good and well-crafted thriller. The book begins with Om Patnaik, an author who has penned down bestsellers after bestsellers containing scholarly stuff and is one of the storizen.com | March 2014 | 66

most revered authors of the country. He has a bizarre fixation with number 9 and the reason behind it is explained quite logically in the second chapter of the book. And then comes the sure shot method to grip a reader in the story, a murder in the first few pages of the book. Ram Mathur, friend of Om Patnaik and a scholar himself is murdered on the ghats of Ganga. Ram, who is in Lucknow at that point of time is hollered by Sia Mathur, daughter of Ram and is asked to be there at the murder site. Inspector Parag Suri is investigating this case and names the murderer The Scorpion. The Scorpion is one a leash and is killing people across the country.As the story progresses, Om & Sia connect the dots left by Ram Mathur to resolve his murder mystery and while they are at it, they come very close to uncovering an ancient enigma that is so powerful that even Gods would kill for it. While all this is going in the present, there is another parallel plot that goes in a completely different time and space. An emperor playing with forces that later threaten the survival of human race. Now this plot is what confused me as a reader. I just couldn’t relate to it. It compelled me to go back and forth,


again and again and diluted the fun of reading this book in the midway. So much that I had to put it down. But, I picked it up again and gave it another shot and towards the end, everything came together and I was satisfied as a reader. I must comment on the kind of research that has been put by Satyarth Nayak in putting this entire thriller together. He has left no stone unturned in keeping a reader on the edge and have spread the shocks

and surprises in the story evenly across the book. Though, at times, I felt that the stuff was too much to handle but then I just kept reading and in the end, I was content with what I had read. The writing style is decent but could have been better at some places. Overall, The Emperor’s Riddles will definitely make an interesting & intense weekend read. You just have to be a bit patient with it. Give it a shot. n

Yatin Gupta had always loved reading but recently he realised how much he is passionate about it. A marketing person by profession, he reads 3-4 books in a week.

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