“Welcome, Wordsworths!” Says Your Editor
Come in, Earth! This is your Editor of Storizen Magazine calling. To all
you lovers of the Word, or those who are keen on starting a Literary Affair: Greetings! Our monthly publication on print-worthy fiction goes into cyber-orbit with this, our first issue. The mission: your ambition – appreciating literature and perhaps, applying your own fingertips to the word pad. Thus, we encourage your words to “rub shoulders” with our words, as well as those printed words from celebrated authors. So, in this space - we pick the brains of established writers in exclusive interviews; get the bookish views of big names in entertainment and sports; and even put out your writings in reviews, poems and short stories. We’ll even have Word-fun in humorous captions, slangs and limericks. Plus, just as American writers started doing over a century ago, we Indians wordsmiths, are coming into our own. Thus, has begun recreating the Indian Universe with our pens, a Universe that you are a part of! And the novel is only one format, to capture the great human experience: photo-essays, narrative-articles and short-stories are other literary appliances that we put out. So, plug-in and spread the Word!
email@example.com storizen.com | May 2013 | 3
A Passion Beyond Extremes is Rajnish Gambhirâ€™s first novel. Rajnish is a Commerce graduate from St.Xaviers College, Kolkata and presently he is a Director in a few private companies in Kolkata. Besides writing, he enjoys reading, playing golf,\ watching films, following cricket matches, music and travelling.He lives in Kolkata with his wife, while his three children are working / studying in U.S.A. Interesting event was the contest winner get chance to meet Saurav Ganguly & get click with Saurav. Winner name is Arjun Ghosh
Duckbill had three authors at the prestigious Kala Ghoda Lit Fest this year! All the author sessions were held at the lovely Kitab Khana bookstore. Anushka Ravishankarâ€™s monstrous session was attended by over hundred enthusiastic kids, as she read and sang from Moin and the Monster and Moin the Monster Songster. Revathi Suresh addressed a small and intimate gathering of young adults as she read from her book Jobless Clueless Reckless, Himanjali Sankar, author of The Stupendous Time telling Superdog, had the crowd captivated as she read from her book, played videos and had the kids come up with superpowers for their superdogs.
Because TTWT is a fun book with a lot happening between a group of old friends when they reunite - we wanted to design the launch event in a way that made it an experiential eve ning. We wanted people not just to sit and listen to us speak about ‘Tick-tock we’re 30’ but get an actual taste of the overall whacky, closely bonded mood of the book
The idea was to try and open up the fourth wall and let the audience into the discussion right through the evening. For this reason we even kept the seating proscenium style and made it really interactive; constantly throwing the ball back into the audience, narrating something from then letting the people in the room join in with their
the book, own anecdotes. The event, much in the same vein as ‘Tick-tock we’re 30’ turned out to be a roller-coaster-like fun ride with unrestrained laughter and poignant moments. At one point Milan Vohra and all of the women panelists turned around to ask Karthik Kumar the male panelist, why men couldn’t see through the likes of the Kalyani’s of the world, a character in my book who all women seem to hate. On the button, another guy from the audience jumped right in to answer on behalf of all men!”
Rajiv Menon – Thundergod, the Ascendance of Indra A night launch with celebrities attending. It was a cocktail evening. About 70 – 80 people in attendance. From left to right: Gaurav Kapur, Rajiv Menon, Cyrus Sahukar and Vineet Wadhwa
. . .
Shubhra Krishan – Top Secret! An evening launch at the Lodhi Garden Restaurant with Chef Saby releasing the first copy of the book We had in Mauritius dancers to liven up the evening. About 100-120 people were in attendance From left to right: Chef Saby and Shubhra Krishan
Facebook Phantom The hottest new read for teens this summer, Facebook Phantom, was released on 28 April in Bangalore. â€˜The book is well written and impressive for such a young author.â€™ Suzanne Sangi, the Yung teenage author of the book is 17 years old, and is doing her pre-university course in Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. She lves music, sings and plays the guitar. She started writing Facebook Phatom in the summer after her Class X board exams, when she was fifteen, and finished it the following summer.
The Urban Solace Book Club in Bangalore opened with a discussion of Yasmeen Premji’s debut novel “Days of Gold & Sepia”. The author, Yasmeen Premji joined the group for an interactive discussion with the audience.
It’s strange that we know so little
about ourselves, about who we really are and what we are capable of. Of all the careers in the world, I would not have imagined myself to be a poet and a writer. I was 26-years-old when I just started doing poetry one evening. Up till then, I believed myself to be a decent person but rather shallow, not really capable of any deep thought. Yet, almost a quarter of my life later, there I was writing poetry, as if a flood gate of poem had suddenly been opened. To tell the truth, no one was more in awe of myself than I. Today, my second mystery novel, ‘Jacob Hill’s is all set for a May release and I couldn’t be happier. But the journey into the publishing world wasn’t easy. It was the kindness of acquaintances and strangers and one and a half years of perseverance on my part that made me an author from a writer. I started scouting for a publisher/lit-
erary agent (home and overseas) for my debut work ‘Love on the Rocks’, a romantic thriller in July 2008. There were at least a dozen rejections in the mailbox every month, sometimes more. It was also an opportunity to learn as some were kind enough to come back with feedback that in time proved to be invaluable. In Feb 2009, ‘Love on the Rocks’ was picked up by a literary agency and they offered to take the book to Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct 2009. After waiting for four months for the edits on my book to begin, the agency just dropped me saying that they didn’t want to invest their time and effort in a manuscript that was rejected by Penguin and Harper. To quote them, “Am I fool or are you that I should invest my time and money in a manuscript that has been rejected by two of the biggest publishing houses in the country?”
storizen.com | May 2013 | 15
I had apprised them at the outset that the standard sample chapters of the manuscript had been submitted to these publishing houses in 2008 and had been declined. I remember sobbing like a child, threatening them on the phone that someday they’ll regret dropping me off their list. In retrospect, it all seems childish, but back then all my hopes were pinned on it. It felt like someone had snatched the winning lottery ticket from my hand. I was told repeatedly by family and friends that writing and poetry is a good hobby but that I needed to do something more, start another novel. But I wasn’t ready to give up on my debut novel, just yet. Half a dozen drafts and a year later the book was picked by up Penguin in March 2010 in a dramatic fashion. A friend’s friend working for Pearson (the company that owns Penguin) happened to read the manuscript. She totally
loved it and was quick to recommend it to the Senior Commissioning Editor, Vaishali Mathur, a very fine and encouraging lady. Three days later, Vaishali made an offer. ‘Love on the Rocks’ was published in 2011. A year-and-a-half is a long time; a time that helped me fine-tune my manuscript and learn much more about the ways of the publishing world. Since then, I have encountered many wonderful editors, agents, poets and authors. Not only has technology opened doors for easy interaction among authors and publishers in India, it has shortened the time span that a writer spends chewing his/her nails while waiting for their response. Lastly, I only have one thing to say that it doesn’t matter if anyone believe in you, the real question is do you believe in yourself enough to pursue your dream till it runs out and fades thin?
I had apprised them at the outset that the standard sample chapters of the manuscript had been submitted to these publishing houses in 2008 and had been declined.
“IsmitaTandon Dhankher is ‘A Lesser Known Poet’. Her poem, ‘The Beasts Run Wild’, is currently up on MSN, as part of an ongoing exclusive feature “Her Courage” in tribute to Indian women. Her second mystery novel Jacob Hills is just released by HarperCollins India.”
No two character names should start with the same alphabet. For example if you have lead characters like Sonia and Sapna or Tanya and Tina or Arvind and Anurag, readers are bound to get confuse one for the other. In the fantastic novel , The Taj Conspiracy, the author named the characters as (SSP) Raghav and RP Singh. As a reader, I at times confuse one for the other.
No two (primary) characters names should end with the same syllable. In other words, avoid two names that rhyme with each other. Example: Ajay and Vijay, Amit and Sumit, Madhumita and Susmita. Since the human brain does not raed the whole spelling but can mkae out the words from the first and the last alphabets, it’s better to avoid names that share common first alphabets or the last ones. Example: The legendary characters– Laila and Majnu, Jai and Veeru, Raj and Simran–are fantastic examples.
Keep in mind the region, setting and the year of birth. For example, parents these days don’t keep common names like Mukesh, Amit, Ravi or Vijay. Also, I hardly come across people with these names in theNorth Eastern part of India. For one of my stories, I was planning to name my protagonist who hailed from the North East and was around 25 years of age. I considered the names of my North Eastern colleagues in my company and even asked strangers their names. Finally, I got an authentic one – Jintu.
Think about the nickname for your character in advance. This is because our parents and friends hardly call us with our actual names.For example, my dad calls me Nattu (long story), my mother calls me Muku and my childhood friends called me by the name Charlie (another long story). I am sure Bongs will get this point sooner.
Reshmi or Mehrunisa – which name would you keep for your protagonist who is investigating a murder? Good you got it. It all depends on the character they are playing in your story. If the character is a romantic hero, names like Varun, Rishi or Mohit are acceptable. In case the character is an investigator (strong character), names like Ranvijay Pratap Singh or Himangshu Krishnan or Pratee Mathur or for that matter Pradhan will resonate more. What will you name theprotagonist’s mentor in your Sci-fi novel?
Easier to pronounce. In India, names like Ananyobroto, Parambratha, Naman Jasarapuria or Divya Kodithala could be quite difficult to pronounce. It’s easier to identify what we can pronounce easily. However, if you’re writing a script like AVATAR, you are forcedto think of names that people have neither heard of nor can identify. These include names likeTsu’tey, Neytiri andNa’vi.
Avoid using celebrity names as it triggers a lot of bias in the reader’s mind. Example: Aamir, Amitabh, Katrina, Sridevi, Abdul Kalam, Pranab Mukherjee, Sehwag, etc. Also, avoid using names of legendary characters like Gabbar, Raj, Simran, Vidya Bagchi, etc.
Think of the characters’full story, not just of their childhood. For example, Milli could be an excellent name of a sweet child, but as she grows up and becomes a strong advocate, it loses its resonance.
Some of the regional names could be gender neutral like Chandan, Harpreet, Lakshmi, Anindya, etc. Just ignore them to avoid confusion. Or, use them if you would really like to create one.
Last but not the least; do not name your characters after you or your spouse (or your ex). Consider you’ve written a love making scene and the character is named after you. Hope you got the point.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 19
Which author do you feel has influenced your style the most?
Itâ€™s difficult to say because I grew up reading both classics as well as potboilers. My spiritual sense is influenced by Paramahansa Yogananda, my love for fast pace and racy plots is influenced by Dan Brown and Frederick Forsythe, my fascination with historical retelling is inspired by Dominique Lapierre while my passion for research is fuelled by Arthur Hailey.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 21
What has prompted you to write your book or books? I have never gone out looking for stories. In fact, I do not consider myself as a writer. I am much more of a storyteller than a writer. I really care very little about my choice of words or the crafting of my sentences as long as they convey an incredibly interesting tale. My first book happened because I was inspired by a tomb in Srinagar and the curious story that lay behind it.
What is the best feedback or comment you have received from an ordinary reader on your book? Someone told me that she took a day off work in order to complete reading Chanakya’s Chant. She said that she had to call in sick given that it was near the company’s financial year ending and there was too much work pending.
What criticism has helped you grow as a writer? When I wrote my first book, The Rozabal Line, some readers complained to me that I had allowed my research to overwhelm the story. Thereafter, I consciously chose to ensure that the story was given pride of place. I receive around a hundred comments each day from readers via various channels. I always mark important views because they help me evolve as a writer. I am and will always be work in progress.
“ I would have loved to have written Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It has always been one of my favourite books. What would I have done differently? “ storizen.com | May 2013 | 23
What would you like to do as a writer that you have never done before.
ently? Probably nothing. It’s difficult to improve a masterpiece.
Find a new story and then find an entirely new way of narrating it.
What is your advice to aspiring writer?
What is the book that someone else has written, that you would have liked to write? How would you have done it differently?
Speak in your own voice. Don’t attempt to be someone that you’re not. Research your story exhaustively. Get yourself a good editor. Read and re-read your work a hundred times, there are always improvements that can be made. Most I would have loved to have written Midimportantly, believe in yourself and be night’s Children by Salman Rushdie. thick-skinned. Rejection is part of the It has always been one of my favourite game, so don’t allow rejections or setbooks. What would I have done differbacks to deter you.
Ashwin is an enterpreneur by profession but writing historical fiction in the thriller genre is his passion and hobby. He’s author of three best sellers - The Rozabal Lane, Chankya’s Chant and The Krishna Key. He holds a master degree in business management from Yale University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Bangor at Wales.”
“I thought I was in hell already, what
can be worst than this? Is it the right question to ask while being chased by a bunch of angry tribal warriors?” he asked himself as he pushed through the dense trees, “Stress on ‘angry’ and super stress on ‘tribal’. Their spears are laced with poison that can kill a fat rhino in a shot,” he reminded himself, “The fat rhino for lunch was tasty by the way.” He was called ‘The runner’ by anyone who was unfortunate to know him. Not because the runner was running from almost every police department in the world. Also not because he had spend most of his life running from the situation. He was called the runner because he was actual runner. He was a messenger, very expensive and very exclusive. His clientele included people who had ‘few’ disagreement with the general law. He delivered goods, messages and items to any location possible with one quality that the normal courier service never offered, no paper work. It was also one of the quality that made most of the police services come look-
ing for him. Todays job was different, there was no money involved. No really, no money involved. How much money do you ask Death from? Exactly, you heard it right, Death. Picture whatever you like, full on cloaked man with a grim or a teenage goth girl or even a flying spaghetti monster. He met death, it was on a thursday lunch hour. Lunch hour on thursday was a crazy business. It was crazy because it was not a Monday or a Tuesday or a Friday, it was that awkward Thursday. He was eating kheema pav at the local Irani cafe. The chicken kheema was having a disagreement with his digestive system. He looked around and burped quietly under his breath. “You are excused,” a small boy was watching him intently from across the table. “Excuse me?” “Yes. You are excused,” the boy said, “I have a work for you.” “Excuse me, who are you?” “Who do you see me as?” the boy asked. “A fourth standard kid who should be in school at this moment,” he replied.
“Interesting, that is something you should work with your psychiatrist. But again as I said, I have a work for you.” “Who are you?” asked the runner, looking around, did the cops started using school going kids for sting operation. “Right.” the boy said, “That,” at that exact moment the scene changed, he was no longer at the cafe and the boy was a dark grim figure dressed in long overall black cloak. The face was covered in a dark overalls and the boys voice had turned hoarse. “Is this biblical enough for you?” he asked, “Do I need to tell you who I am now?” The look of horror on The runners face indicated that he did not need to know. “So,” the cafe and the boy was back, “I have a work for you.” “Work?” The runner realized that he had to finally stop running death had caught up with him, “What kind of work can you have for me?” “Bournvita,” said the boy to the waiter who had come to wipe the table. The waiter eyed both of them and left. “Work,” the boy said, “Yes. Work. Nothing that is difficult for you. Need a person of your skill set.” “My skill set but you are d...” he avoided the word. “Yes, yes I know, I know,” the boy said, “Sure I am the most powerful of all that is and sure its my job but you know performance is a problem in this modern world.” It was exceedingly difficult to be afraid of a ten year old boy. “What is the job exactly...” “Running...” the boy said. Running, that was what death said.
Running, easy as a slicing a knife through butter. Run, Run, Run. What death had failed to told him was running was not going to be easy as the tribe chasing him was the most ancient hunting tribe called ‘Sons of Ka’. The tribe was the direct line descendant of an ancient witch-doctor ‘Ka’. The witch doctor was known to be an expert on black arts and also rumored to be the first black magic performer in the world. Using his power of black magic, he man aged to defeat death in the game of rock, paper and scissors. “Wait, that can’t be right,” he said to the boy, “Seriously?” “Rock kills scissors, scissors kill paper and paper kills rock,” the boy said drinking his bournvita, “Its a giant spread of my favorite thing. Death.” “So he defeated you in the game of... err...” “Rock, paper and scissors, yes.” the boy continued. Defeated in the game, death asked him for what he seek. Ka was the most knowledgeable and wisest of black magician in the world, he smiled and said, “I seek the heart of death.” The heart of death, Runner thought, that was the thing that was pounding near the chest. All he had to do was sneak in the village and snatch the heart and then run. Legend says, death hates his heart so much that he does not seek it. The sons of Ka lived for more than a thousand years from
the aura of that heart. The account was overdue, Death was impatient. He wanted someone to pick up the heart and run, leaving the village exposed to him. Runner dashed as fast as he could. Just over the cliff, just over the cliff, he said to himself. It will be all over soon. One of the sprinters from the tribe was very closed to him. This made the runner very nervous. What if they catch him? what if they inject him with one of those poison arrows? His thoughts were cut by a loud wail by the sprinter. A thorn had pricked his leg and was now bleeding. Runner smiled at his luck and dashed on. He wondered if Death was protecting him from whatever misery was going to fall on him. He knew death was...his leg slipped and he fell. He rolled over from the sides of the mountain and crashed full speed into the chasm below. Seventy feet into the chasm he crashed hard on the granite rock. He never stood a chance against death did he? Slowly he closed his eyes. “Ahem,” the boy disturbed him. “What?” the runner said opening his eyes, “Happy now, I being dead and
all?” “You are not dead,” the boy said. “I am not?” the runner looked at the cliff above, “Are you telling I survived a fall of seventy feet on the granite rock?” “Yep,” the boy said, “You still have my heart don’t you?” And then it dawned on him. Death cannot touch him till he has the heart, “Well that was handy.” “Yes, it was, now put that heart inside this box.” “What will happened to them, The sons of ka?” he looked up. “Thorn prick,” the boy said, “The runner behind you? A good runner, he was awarded four times last year for the fastest runner in Kalympics. He will soon find out he has a thorn pricked in his legs while he was chasing you.” Runner looked at the box in the boys hand, “And you won’t chase me once I place this heart in the box?” “I can’t run faster than you runner,” the boy said, “But we will meet... soon.” “Soon?” the runner screamed, “What do you mean by soon? I hope you mean soon like sixty, seventy years later? Is that soon enough for you? Hello?” He was standing in a chasm alone.
Siddhesh is creative enterpreneur, witty blogger and passionate story teller. He’s got an awesome website. Go visit.
You choose to save yourself from hurt. But you just save a hurt for yourself. You choose a weapon to kill. Or did u just un-choose the many weapons That will kill you? I am a rogue program. My job is to offend. There might be better ways To make people think, But this is the easiest way My programmer discovered. Each time you slam, It becomes my plugin, That I manifest in my next version. I am a rogue program. I don’t die. My flaws keep me alive. My flaws keep you alive too. I create flatteries, One of them is choice. That is an illusion. Because you are unaware.
Then each time you die, You slam, And that becomes a plugin. Remember, I hurt you only Till I need to hurt, And not till you do. Remember, That I will remember the slam. That’s a compliment. Because my job is to offend. I know the choice is a flattery. I fight between hurt and hurt. I don’t die. I am a rogue program.
“Debdatta is a gifted poet. She also works as a copywriter and sings, paints, dances and plays the guitar at times. When asked, what other field would she have chosen if not arts, she says, “Perhaps, I wouldn’t have been born!”
storizen.com | May 2013 | 31
storizen.com | May 2013 | 33
I miss you in the vaccuum that was once you. In the stillness of a cemetry afternoon. In the dinner table, with an empty seat. In family photographs, now incomplete. In my husband-to-be, In the grandchildren you did not see. In the deficits of love, half-filled. In success, made hollow in your absence. In mammas who aren’t papas. In fathers and daughters strolling hand-in-hand. Daddy dearest, my dirty old man, Always with me,and yet still not here... “Christina Daniels is the author of the bestselling filmography I’ll Do It My Way: The Incredible Journey of Aamir Khan. Before this, she also authored Ginger Soda Lemon Pop, a novella that looks at growing up through the perspective of a five-year-old child.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 35
College Street, name derived from the presence of many colleges) is a ~1.5 km long street in central Kolkatta in the Indian state of West Bengal. It stretches (approximately) from Ganesh Chandra Avenue Crossing in Bowbazar area to Mahatma Gandhi Road crossing. It houses many centres of intellectual activity specially Indian Coffee House, a cafe that has attracted the cityâ€™s intelligentsia for decades.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 39
College street has been the place for young kolkatans to unleash their intellectual desire and dreams. The very basic vibe of the youth can be well understood in the air of Boi-Para, the college street. The very famous coffee house of college street is been the heart of kolkatan intelligentsia for ages. Many great novelists, poets have spent hours there discussing in creative atmosphere to write many time breaking classics of bengali literature.
A doctor by profession, Satyaki Basu picked up camera in 2008, since then it is has become his hobby and passion. His photographs has been published in many magazines like Better Photography India, Spiceroute Magazine, Lonely Planet - BBC, Asian Geographic Passport, National Geographic Traveler India, Discover India.
Which author do you feel has influenced your style the most? No author has influenced my style. I love reading romance novels, thrillers and non fiction. But I have my own style of expressing my ideas. So all my romance books will have a bit of philosophy that readers can take back with them. I try to step away from the conventional romance and regular sensuous scenes. Thatâ€™s why I will have a scene on a beach, in a hot air balloon or a museum! And I will have men who are real and women who you can truly identify with.
What has prompted you to write your book or books?
books.n felt like a flow of ones own life. loved evry part of it..u shud write more n get to inspire more ppl! I’ve been writing since I was 9 years old. Apr 11, 2011 sushmita sen@thesushmitasen I wrote a diary since then. A book at 12 years old. An anthology of poems at @Madhuribanerjee yes my darling!!! 15 and screenplays for the fun of it. My Received ur book!!! Super proud of husband Sunaman Sood always encour- u..thanku for making it special:) love u! aged me to write a book and when I had Jan 7, 2011 sushmita sen@thesushmitasen my daughter, I finally took the plunge The book by Madhuri Banerjee is and wrote a manuscript called Losing called’ Losing my virginity and other My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas. dumb ideas’ :)) Jan 7, 2011 sushmita sen@thesushmiWhat is the best feedback or comment you have received from an or- tasen Hey Madhuri!! Wish u all the best for dinary reader on your book? ur book!! It is a pleasure to have my Quote be a part of it:) mmuuuaah n god On my facebook page Losing My Virbless! ginity And Other Dumb Ideas, many people send messages to me about the What criticism has helped you grow first book and Mistakes Like Love And Sex. A few people on Twitter have also as a writer? commented as given below: The best critique I got was from one of Jan 15 Shweta@Localheroin @Madhuribanerjee - just finished read- my favourite authors, David Davidar. ing losing my virginity. what a fab book. He wrote “I have now finished reading Mistakes Like Love and Sex and Was so hooked on to it that I was in it the book held my interest all the way even while I was sleeping through. Kaveri is an excellent characDec 21 Riti Mohanta@RitiMohanta @Madhuribanerjee ..u truly r the “Car- ter, and of the other characters I liked Siddharth as well. I would urge you to rie Bradshaw” mam...im enjoying this one even more....almost to the ending... challenge yourself and your ability as a writer by writing a much bigger book in and unputdownable... which you explore a woman’s sexuality @Zyda16 - Madhuri I have read both in-depth (especially as the sex scenes in your books and i simply luv them... this book are really well done).” Kaveri is so similar to me..i see myself in her.. What would you like to do as a writDec 9 sana hussain@sana2127 er that you have never done before? @Madhuribanerjee read both ur
I would like to stand on stage and accept a Nobel Prize in Literature for my writing!
What is the book that someone else has written, that you would have written.? How would you have done it differently? I would have changed Amish’s Shiva
around quite a bit. But then he’s got his pulse on what makes a bestseller, so probably no one would have bought my version!
What is your advice to aspiring writer? It pays very little money. Find an alternative job or change your lifestyle!
Madhuri Banerjee’s debut book Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas sold over 40,000 copies in the first year of its release and was on the best seller list for over 10 weeks. Her second novel Mistakes Like Love And Sex was released in November 2012 and went straight to the bestseller list. She has written a commercial film screenplay called Hate Story 2 with Vikram Bhatt that is scheduled for release in 2013. She has also completed a non fiction book for Karisma Kapoor called Yummy Mummy and her third romance novel tentatively titled Love Zero that should be in the market by January 2014. She is currently working on her fifth book and another screenplay.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 45
We know our celebrities by their faces. And one of the
most celebrated such is that of Raveena Tandon! In fact, it’s a face that has turned to display many facets onscreen – the damsel in distress in Khiladiyo ka Khiladi; a battered wife in Daman; and even a schizophrenic in Dobara (in which, she is indeed, multi-faceted!). Now the filmi veneer, has uncovered sponge of fiction’s printed word. Yes, Raveena is an avid reader, enthusiastically drawing from a pool of literary creativity. And here’s what she said about this thirst?
Who are some of your favourite authors - Indian or International?
tobiography? Or if you had to pick one author to be your biographer, who would that be?
My favourite authors include Ken Follet, Stephen Hawking, Michelle I would love to have a biography Moran, Slyvia Browne, Dan Brown written. The author I choose as my biographer would be Michelle Moand Amish Tripathi ran. Which book or books have influenced you the most? What are you current- Apart from Chetan Bhagat, which Indian writer’s works would make ly reading or last read? good Bollywood? The Autobiography of a Yogi by Amish Tripathi Paramhansa Yoganand and Slyvia Browne’s books. I last read The Oath of Vayuputras by Amish Trip- Which Indian book would you like to see adapted into a Bollywood film? athi. And which character would you like to play? Which of your movies do feel is the most literary – had the best story Immortals of Mehula by Amish and diologue? Tripathi. I would love to play Anandmayi, (the likely enemy of My upcoming film Shobhana’s 7 Shiva who informs him that her Nights coz it does also deal with people had also been awaiting the the author and her book. Neelkanth). Do you have plans to write your au-
storizen.com | May 2013 | 47
authors, publishers, fellow bloggers and he how to get published question to- readers there. My thumb has been glued day is very much like the how to colour to my phone ever since I downloaded water question of yesteryears. Many that app with a certain blue bird and solutions to one situation; but which guilt had also raked me many a times one happens to be the optimal one? for the same reason. But today I say it is all justified, for it got me to my first I would say all. Getting your name out published story. A tweet did that. Actuthere on a book these days though isn’t ally a retweet! yet a cakewalk but still, compared to, say half a decade back, the ways are Fablery, a literary online magazine many. It is no more a one-way highway. based out of Bangalore was conducting All of us aspiring, wannable worda very unique creative writing contest in smiths can take any way, like I took 2012. They were calling for short fiction MyWay. I will just quickly bore you in unconventional genres (a different with that story. That is what I have been one each month) and the winning story asked to talk about here. from each genre was to be published in an anthology in paperback. It was only So beginning at the beginning, my way in the contest’s seventh month, through to being published began with a T and a retweet by one of my favourite India bird. Twitter (oh yes social media can an writer’s – Ashwin Sanghi that I got be this too). I have always loved being to know of this contest. The genre was on Twitter for it’s me-not-your-fraand my favourite and Ashwin’s niche – Hisyet approachable modus operandi. It torical fiction. The best thing about the has been a pleasure to interact with contest was I did not have to dig into
storizen.com | May 2013 | 51
the romantic reserves to write on an picked up for a paperback publication, emotion that plagues our campuses especially after reading all those stoand now our books too and the word ries of struggles to get published? I limit was a mammoth 5000 to 7500. kept mumbling thank you Mahadeva, The word limit gave enough space to thank you M…. Yes ‘The Secret of Ahithe writer to build characters, thrills raah’ – my story of secrets and legends and conflicts. I of Rajputana of wanted to try the16th centuSo beginning at the beginning, ry had won the this one. It was to be a self-ad- my way to being published began contest and it ministered test was on its way of all the tales with a T and a bird. into the world. floating around For love and in the head. I sat down to pen my first criticism, whatever comes along. If fear short fiction and kept wondering how and liberation can engulf you together, will I ever cross that 5000 mark. With it was that moment. I am still thinking the impending deadline I wrote the of coining a word for it, taking some story all over – at 3.30 a.m. at night, creative liberties. 6.00 a.m. in the morning, even edited So if you ask me how do you get pubit on the word app on my BB (on the lished, I would say YourWay. That is day of submission I was availing the the reality of the age we live in. The services of Indian railways, travelling to opportunities are immense but so is the Kerala). The submit button was clicked competition. It is suddenly cool to be a at 11.58 p.m. while on the train (and I writer and everyone wants to be cool. was hoping Fablery’s clock matches my As a parting comment I would say just phone’s). Forget 5000, the words had like the story that you will write and flowed out up to a flooding 8237!! no body can write it better, your way is Less than a month later, silent tears yours to take; nobody can take it better. flowed down my cheeks. They call them Every life story and so will be every tears of joy! Now how else do you react if the first ever story you wrote gets way. Pave our own highway, YourWay.
Reshmy is one of the author of multi genre anthology featuring 10 different genres, 10 different stories by 10 writers called 'Ten Shades of Life'. She's passionate book reviews and write them by dozen on her blog.
ACT I: So Long to the Long, We now
The English Literature Professor from New Jersey, USA, glanced over his classroom full of Indian college students. The location of this gathering was at a city in India. But the territory was that of an American college. Unfolding now was the course Literature & Mass Communication, and Rick Zimmerman was an army photo-journalist who had been assigned to teach it. In military precision, the greying man, clicked open his brief-case, pulled out a local newspaper, unfolded it on his desk, and commenced reading aloud: â€œCops nab Large Cache of Arms, Arrest Fourâ€?: State government officials, on Tuesday, descended on a group that is suspected of pilfering and transporting arms belonging to the army, arresting the suspects at a warehouse in the outer-city limits, in an
incident that has unfolded only days after… “I need air! I need air!”, the professor croaked, mid-sentence, as he enacted extreme suffocation. Then, dramatically, he recovered to a poker face, “If you’re going to run out of breath reading it, your sentence is probably too long!” he summed up. A round of chuckles ensued before a sole hand went up from the back of the classroom. “But sir, Shakespeare was not known to be concise”, emerged the student’s voice. “The words in his plays extend for miles. And they are pregnant with so much verbose profundity. You say a sentence is too long if it makes us run out of breath? Then would that explain why Shakespeare’s long sentences “take our breath away”?” Suddenly, the classroom door swung open and a most unexpected visitor stepped in. It was a balding gentleman, whose lower-person was compressed in
leotards, while his torso and arms were encased in a gold-braided jacket. Apparently, someone out of 16th Century Europe had just popped into the room. His stoic face displayed a well-groomed goatee and moustache. Slowly, a name formed in the classroom’s collective mind - William Shakespeare! Unfazed by this collection of bemused faces, the anachronistic intruder began speaking in a pristine British accent: What majesty should be, what duty is, What day is day, night night, and time is time, Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time; Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief. “See!” exclaimed, Prof. Zimmerman, matter-of-factly, extending his arm toward the visitor, “I have the backing storizen.com | May 2013 | 55
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Then in one vocal flourish, and in an English accent slightly more evolved to Shakespeare’s, he read the following: I found out within a few hours, and may mention at once, that Mrs. Pocket was the only daughter of a certain quite accidental deceased Knight, who had invented for himself a conviction that of the Bard. Brevity, is indeed the soul his deceased father would have been of wit, as the saying goes, from Hamlet.” made a Baronet but for somebody’s deBut the studious voice from the far end termined opposition arising out of enof the classroom, further argued in a tirely personal motives - I forget whose, now thin voice,, “What about the “limbs if I ever knew - the Sovereign’s, the and outer-flourishes”, sir?” ShakePrime Minister’s, the Lord Chancellor’s, speare’s the Archbishop What majesty should be, what duty is, of Canterbury’s, average What day is day, night night, and time is anybody’s - and play was time, Were nothing but to waste night, had tacked him3,000 lines long. And day, and time; Therefore, since brevity is self on to the noit extended the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs bles of the earth to above and outward flourishes, I will be brief. in right of this three hours quite suppositi~William Shakespeare, Hamlet in perfortious fact. mance-time. Would you say that he was Prof. Zimmerman gestured to Mr. being unnecessarily lengthy? Dickens to retake his seat, and acknowlBut the Professor answered readily, edged, “Yes, imagine, one of the world’s “Don’t forget, that Shakespeare’s plays most celebrated writers coming up with included a gamut of characters and the most awkwardly long sentences!”, cameos, plots and sub-plots, protracted the professor continued with his obsersituations, dilemmas, conflicts, crises vation, “But that was in 1860. Written and denouements, etc. He needed those English underwent a paradigm shift many lines to encapsulate a composite since then. Over-burdened sentences story.” are no more the norm. Yes, you can Suddenly, from somewhere in the mid- castigate us Americans for making this dle of the classroom, a male specimen change, but we’ve got a century-worth of the Victorian era, rose from his seat. A subtle air of conceit blew through his twirled moustache, as he held up a parchment, visibly inscribed with -
of celebrated Yankee literature that established the standard.” Suddenly, the room’s projector screen came alive as the class was witness to a Podcast of the path-breaking American writer and Nobel Laureate in English Literature, Earnest Hemmingway.” and sneakers. There was a gasp of awe The live image of a bearded gentleman among some of the students in the appeared on the screen. Looking outclass. “Chetan Bhagat!” followed, in a wards, he spoke in a curiously neutral chorused whisper. accent. “Prose is architecture, not inte- “Yes, indeed”, proclaimed Bhagat. “Peorior decoration.” And immediately, the ple say I don’t write well. But I am only transmission cut out. the biggest-selling author in Indian “Yes,” the Professor, espoused. “Ameri- history, to quote the New York Times. ca’s Ernest Hemmingway, was the writ- My books have inspired movies - just as er of the early 20th century. Though he Shakespeare, Dickens and Hemmingwas based in Europe, Hemingway car- way, have. I must be doing something ried on the legacy of Mark Twain. The right.” American Twain was in fact, CharlesJust then, the projector screen re-caliDickens’ contemporary. But unlike his brated to display Hemmingway again, English friend, “It’s none of their “It’s none of their business that you business that you Twain used have to learn to write. Let them have to learn to write. clear, non-flowery, journalistic think you were born that way,” Let them think you language and ~ Ernest Hemmingway, on writing were born that way,” gave American the long deceased dialects a voice and humour. Followauthor said, reassuringly. The statement ing his lead, Hemingway, would author triggered voluble applause around the his books in a minimalistic and direct classroom. style. Plus, his landmark novels were “I think I speak for the majority of my set against historical backdrops. For classmates here,” piped up the student Whom the Bell Tolls brings alive the from the rear of the room, “when I say, Spanish Civil War, while a Farewell to Chetan, you have nailed the essence of Arms is fiction placed in World War telling a good story. I mean, your late One. st work of fiction Three Mistakes of Just then, a modern-day, Indian genMy Life, highlights the importance of tleman stood up from his seat. He was Sports in nurturing team-work and the clad in a cap, spectacles, t-shirt, jeans absurdity of religious-based politics.
analogy and symbolism. But then John Bunyan broke the mould, with The Pilgrims Progress - the first ever book in prose, which was published in 1678. That was a little after your time, Billy boy.” “You gave too much rein to your imagination,” sounded an agreeing English woman’s voice from the corridor outAnd the human story, just like Hemside the classroom. “Imagination is a mingway’s own, is based during histori- good servant, and a bad master. The cal events - such as the2001 earthquake simplest explanation is always the most in Gujarat and the Godhra train fire. likely,” the words trailed out of a smilThere’s literature and social commening face that had by now, poked into the tary in a pop-corn epic flick. Yes, you room. write for the masses, just as Shakespeare “Thanks for that, dear Ms. Agatha did.” Christie!” exclaimed, Prof. ZimmerIn a sweeping movement, tense eyes man. “From your first published novel shifted from one The Mysterious “You gave too much rein to your side of the class Affair at Styles”, imagination. Imagination is a good to the other. The added the proservant, and a bad master. The sim- fessor, glowingly spotlight was upon the Bard to plest explanation is always the most and carried on pull out one of the introduction, likely,” his own quota“Boys and girls, ~Hercule Poirot, Mysterious Affair tions, and he did: at Styles by Agatha Christie Ms. Christie is “And as imaginathe world’s largest tion bodies forth best-selling authoress. Indeed, this is The forms of things unknown, the po- 20th Century icon and mistress of the et’s pen Mystery genre, is second in sales only Turns them to shapes and gives to airy to the man she is criticizing – yes, you, nothing Billy! I suppose, such close rivalry warA local habitation and a name.” rants her taking Mr. Shakespeare apart! “Ah, from A Midsummer Night’s Then another face popped into the Dream” interjected Prof. Zimmerman. classroom. This one was under a dou“But we can’t all be poets now, can we? ble-shaded hat, and extending a deepPoetry and writing in long verse was ly-curved smoking pipe. The loosely what you Elizabethan and pre-Elizabe- pleated and checkered English tweed than Englishman were accustomed to. coat completed the recognizable Your literature was overburdened with
semblance. “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” said Sherlock Homes. Then, Agatha Christie and Detective Holmes both withdrew from the classroom, hand in hand. They left in their wake, a homogenous assortment of shaken Orwell, will you expound on how language in prose should be used.” faces and ballooned eyebrows. Mr. Orwell responded immediately and in immaculate King’s English, “The ACT II: Sex and Truth: Complex great enemy of clear language is insinand Uncouth? cerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one “Yes, class,” the Professor continued, turns as it were, instinctively to long nonchalantly, “Seeing that Agatha words and exhausted idioms, like a cutChristie came after Sherlock’s creator tlefish spurting out ink.” Arthur Conan Doyle, you can see just “So, you see class!” whose love-child “When you have eliminated all summarised Prof. Hercule Poirot which is impossible, then what- Zimmerman. “Be is. Anyway”, the ever remains, however im- sincere in your professor said, straightening his probable, must be the truth,” writing. Stay true tone, “to pick up ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hound to your time, speak of eternal truths. on Sherlock’s state- of the Baskervilles Illustrate them acment, let’s explore curately. Reflect on life in a measured, truth a little more.” He pulled out a laptop from his briefcase and began set- balanced manner. But the student at the ting it up on his desk. “I would say that back of the class couldn’t be silenced, when one shrugs off the limbs and out- “Professor Zimmerman, would you say er-flourishes, one is left with the truth. then that Shakespeare was not allowed Hemingway would describe things with to be honest, because he in some way, expedient honesty. Now, I am Skyping he lived in a dystopia. London of the 15 Hundreds was under the thumb of the a writer who wrote about a bleak, dysmonarch, Queen Elizabeth. The elite topian future, set ironically, in 1984.” were all-powerful and the poor were The professor turned the monitor totruly downtrodden. Conservatism and ward the class and the image of Caucasian gentleman in a 1940s’-style col- political correctness held sway. So to get around these strictures, did lared shirt and lapelled coat appeared on the screen. “Mr. Orwell. Mr. George
from.” “Well, done, Aravind!” praised, Prof. Zimmerman. “It must have taken some balls to talk about the posteriors of gods in India. And that too, as something arrogant that you pucker-up to! Another major taboo has been Sex. Would anyone care to comment on Sex Shakespeare have to employ a veiled in Literature?” The Bard, who had been language?” feeling neglected after his initial flour“Yes, I suppose so” conceded the profes- ish, returned with a vengeance, to recite sor, a little reluctantly. “There were tahis own words: boos about what and how people could “Hamlet: It is a fair thought, to lie betalk publicly. Therefore, you had to be tween a maid’s legs. Middle Summer careful how you opined on institutions Night’s Dream: But I might see Culike – Royalty, Marriage and Religion. pid’s fiery shaft quenched in the chaste Incidentally, “Prof. Zimmerman, said, beams of a watery moon. Romeo and changing his tone slightly, “It’s on this Juliet: O that she were an open-arse and topic of Religion, you were a popp that I believe you “Women have served all these centuries rin pair.” as looking glasses possessing the mag- “Hey, there Bilsaid something in your best-sell- ic and delicious power of reflecting the ly!”, replied, the ing novel. Wasn’t figure of man at twice its natural size,” Professor, stimit, Aravind?” ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own ulated. “That’s At that point, good going. I Chetan Bhagat’s desk-mate, Aravind mean, what else could we expect from Adiga stood up from his seat, held up a old-world guy who knocked up an his magnum opus White Tiger, which older woman, before marrying her. is about a young Indian boy writing Indeed, you and Mrs. Anne Hathaway letters to former Chinese Premier Web Shakespeare were ahead of your time. Jiabao, and read from it: “It is an an“Hah!” grunted, an irate D H Lawcient and venerated custom of people in rence, emerging from the shadows of my country to start a story by praying the classroom’s far corner. “Mr. Shaketo a Higher Power. I guess, Your Excel- speare! You could get away with such lency, that I too should start off by kiss- infantile innuendos, in some godforsaking some god’s arse. Which god’s arse, en era, but my sexually liberating book though? There are so many choices. See, - Lady Chatterley’s Lover, published in the Muslims have one god. The Chris1928 - was banned for over 30 years! tians have three gods. And we Hindus Let me regale all of you with the reason have 36,000,004 divine arses to choose this masterpiece, was taken off the
shelves: “He drew down the thin silk sheath, slowly, carefully, right down and over her feet. Then with a quiver of exquisite pleasure he touched the warm soft body, and touched her navel for a moment in a kiss. And he had to come in to her at once, to enter the peace on earth of her soft, quiescent body. It was the moment of pure peace for him, the beautiful, through the sheer power of entry into the body of the woman.” my writing. Professor Zimmerman and the class “I was able to do that too, I think,” an remained silent, where D H Lawrence Indian woman’s voice, emanated from was hoping for audible praises. “Yes,” a front-row desk. “In my only novel, he continued, frustrated, “Don’t give which happened to make it big, thanks me any kudos. But my American fellargely to… the God… of small things.” low-writer Harold Robbins’ equally Her fingers twirled the curls in her hair explicit debut novel - Never Love a as she continued, “People were turned Stranger in 1948 on by my set him on the path “What really knocks me out (about a graphic to becoming the book) is that, when you’re all done reading depiction U.S.’s highest-selling it, you wish the author that wrote it was a of an inwriter. 75 million terrific friend of yours and you could call cestuous book-sales! The encounter. him up on the phone whenever you felt world’s third-highBut it was like it. That doesn’t happen much, tough. est selling author. a sequence ~ D Salinger, Catcher in the Rye Bloody hell!” that aimed Suddenly, from to illustrate behind the latest edition of the raunchy dehuminisation. And it was not from magazine Under 18, a head emerged. personal experience, although some It was that of Vladimir Narbakov - the twisted minds may have been tempted Russian writer who had achieved fame to conjecture thus.” and notoriety for his 1959 book Lolita. “You have my sympathy, Mr. LawACT III: Mirror, Mirror on the rence,” he said, in gruff, but soft, Cyrillic Wall; Do Men or Women have discharge. “My own book was about de- more Gaul? viant sexuality – a pedophile trying to get with a nymphet. But critics say that Suddenly, a regal-looking woman enI was able to turn something perverse tered the room, pulling a wheeledinto something
Another woman, this one in an aristocratic get-up, arose abruptly from an adjacent seat. Then, she yelled aloud from her own magnum opus Sense and Sensibility. “The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!” Sensing the situation slipping out of his tray with what appeared to be a hot hand, Professor Zimmerman interruptbeverage-decanter. Alongside the can, ed firmly, “Now, now ladies. We don’t stood a pyramid of inverted tea-cups. want a cat fight. Ms. Jane Austen, we She began tapping tea and handing understand your point of view. But you filled cups to individuals in the class. lived in the early 1800s when women in On passing on the last cup, she whismost of the Western world, didn’t have pered audibly. “The truth,” Dumbledore opportunity or desire to make somesighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing of themselves. And so, by default, thing, and should therefore be treated they were overly-dependent on men of with great power and in“He drew down the thin silk sheath, slow- fluence”. caution.” ly, carefully, right down and over her feet. Turning his The she left, wheelThen with a quiver of exquisite pleasure he head towards, ing out the touched the warm soft body, and touched the First Femmuch-light- her navel for a moment in a kiss. And he inist Writer, ened conveythe professor had to come in to her at once, to enter the or. continued, peace on earth of her soft, quiescent body. Singular ap“Ms. Woolf was plause erupt- It was the moment of pure peace for him, spearheading ed at another the entry into the body of the woman.” a movement in corner of the ~D H Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover the early 1900s classroom. A where women dour looking woman in a plain English attempted to strike out on their own. house-gown was now the latest to join He, turned once more, in a new directhe discussion. “Women have served all tion, and said, “And Ms. Danielle Steele these centuries as looking glasses poshere, one of America’s widely-embraced sessing the magic and delicious power writers, is a culmination of the Feminist of reflecting the figure of man at twice movement.” its natural size,” came her self-quote “No responsibilities, no attachments, no from Virginia Woolf ’s Feminist master- encumbrances,” enunciated Ms. Steel, piece A Room of One’s Own. having pushed back a concealing cape
and citing a line from one of her many bestsellers Second Chance. “I don’t want to own anything, love anyone, or get too attached to people, places or things. It’s a rule that seems to work well for me.” “And you speak for all modern women, no doubt,” stated, Prof. Zimmerman, with a sarcastic smirk. While looking when you’re all done reading it, you at truthful extremes, we must not let wish the author that wrote it was a teran extremist way of thinking, make us rific friend of yours and you could call twist the truth. Direct, coherent, honest him up on the phone whenever you language constitutes Orwell’s mantra of felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, sincerity.” tough. “The great enemy of clear language “So!” summerThen the professor, looked at is insincerity. When there is a gap be- ised Prof. Zimhis cell phone tween one’s real and one’s declared merman. Stay and said, “Ok, it aims, one turns as it were, instinctive- on the phone looks like we’re ly to long words and exhausted idi- and keep trying close to the bell. oms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” to tell me someSo, I’m going to thing personal ~George Orwell, Politics and Literature wrap up here, I’d like to hear. If by calling to you can engage, my desk, a man who has been waiting and tickle, and move, and nudge, and in the wings this whole session - J D open the mind of the reader into seeSalinger, the author of the controvering things that he or she never did, but sial but acclaimed, Catcher in the Rye. wanted to - while articulating a univerMark Twain’s Tom Sawyer is narrated sal sentiment, in a personal tone - then by the author about a youth, and so are you have captured the bandwidth of a J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and Richmal writer.” The professor smiled and then Cromptom’s William. But Salinger has continued, “English is well on its jourbeen ground-breaking by making his ney. Enjoy the new things that come narrator itself that of a disaffected teen its way. English is a mongrel language, named Holden Caulfied. How much ever-changing. It’s even more inclusive more truthful can prose get? than the shores of the erstwhile BritThe invited American gentleman, ish Empire. Indeed, English is just the dressed in 1950s’ slacks and in a colpaint. The brushstrokes are your own. lared, button-down shirt, read from “Pardon me,” cut in, a pubescent, the middle of his book: “What really draped in black with a graduate’s cap knocks me out (about a book) is that, aloft his head. Now, apparently,
Harry Potter was entering the room. “Ladies and Gentleman, I have a confession to make. I have induced you all into believing that you are various world-famous writers. I had spiked the canteen coffee with a magic portion, to do the trick. The tea that my Maker –
Mrs. Rowling – fed you with, will slowly draw you out of the trance,” The class was aghast at Master Potter’s admission. But he slowly continued, “I needed your ideas to help Mrs. Rowling figure out something. She wanted to know where she’s supposed to go, after having finished with… me.”
Which author do you feel has influenced your style the most?
There are so many. I don’t think I can choose just one. I often find British writing to be the most intense. I recently read Juliane Barnes, The Sense of an Ending and was mesmerized by his style. Rosamund Lupton’s Afterwards absolutely shook me. I love the witty humor of Marianne Keyes who writes about very serious subjects. I have fallen in love with dog lit. My favorite is Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 67
happening in modern India. The image of India from literature and films was dated or one dimensional. I felt it was time to really pull back the curtain and show what is happening in the cosmopolitan cities that are leading the cultural change in the country.
What is the best feedback or comment you have received from an ordinary reader on your book?
What has prompted you to write your book or books? I was bored and unhappy in my corporate career. I was living in Los Angeles and saw first hand a number of the themes of professional and emotional angst within my age group. These were the seeds that grew into my books Delhi Stopover and soon to release, Crashing B-Town. Additionally, I felt like no one had written on what was
The editor of a major magazine said that she would like her teenage daughter to read my book. I canâ€™t think of a bigger compliment than a parent giving my book to their child. My hope was to not only show the reality of the fashion industry but to also gently comment on issues of body image, racism, drug abuse, and relationships. Thereâ€™s nothing more exquisite than knowing that my words resonated with the most discriminating readers: parents!
What criticism has helped you grow as a writer? The best criticism that I ever received was from my agent in New York who
told me to stop “flirting with the story and just get totally naked.” He was telling me to write with more honesty instead of skirting the major uncomfortable issues. I realized I had to go deeper if I wanted to write anything worth reading. Otherwise, there really isn’t any point for the writer or the reader if the author isn’t taking any risks.
READ!!! Read everything in sight. I love fiction. I read copious amounts of fiction. When you read, you learn the art of story telling. There is a joy in the escape of reading that unconsciously teaches you how to be a better writer as well. a) What would you like to do as a writer that you have never done before? (the What would you like to do as a writ- question was in literary context. like er that you have never done before? exploring different genres or editing or opening a publishing house, etc.,) I’m eager to explore historical fiction in A: I’m eager to explore historical fiction my writing. I’d also love to see the first in my writing. I’d also love to see the first two books make the transition to two books make the transition to the the big screen. big screen. b) What advice would you give to people who are planning to take up modelWhat is the book that someone else ling as a career? has written, that you would have A: Modeling is an industry that requires write.?How would you have done it a certain unique body type or image. differently? The physical demands to achieve this very slim or muscular physique are not I would LIKE TO have written The for everyone and usually not sustainAlchemist but there is no way I could able in the long term. I think anyone inhave at this point in my life. The writing terested in modeling should remember is exquisite and beautifully nuanced. that the industry judges solely on looks If I had tried to write it, I’m certain it and while it may appear glamorous on would have turned out to be bad come- the outside, it’s a very serious business dy. with intense competition. Any candidate must have very thick skin when it What is your advice to aspiring writ- comes to criticism on their appearance. Tulika Mehrotra is a Chicago-based author and journalist. Her debut novel, Delhi Stopover was published by Penguin in 2012. She follows up with her second, Crashing B-Town, releasing fall 2013. She is also a regular contributor to Elle, Vogue, Men’s Health, India Today and other magazines.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 69
Life is what happens while you’re busy updating Facebook statuses.
at a pretty low point in my life. I’d lost my father who I was very close to, while my parents were travelling in Europe. I was struggling without any support systems in Bangalore, working an 18 hours a day job at an ad agency that Milan Vohra, India’s first M&B author of ‘The Love Asana’ and author of ‘Tick- came with a fancy designation but was hugely stressful. I was so keen to prove tock we’re 30’ - a hilarious, reflective the naysayers wrong - who told me too rom-com about 12 friends reuniting much had changed while I’d been raisshares her publishing story with storiing my kids. Yes I found the technology zen.com was all new, but soon it didn’t matter. My fiction writing journey started in a The ideas did. I was winning lots of new businesses for the agency in creative totally unplanned way. I used to write pitches, but it came at a ludicrous cost. the occasional short story, put it away to re-read and re-examine if I managed I had been surviving on some four-five to find what I wrote. Getting published hours of sleep, popping anti-biotics, barely seeing my kids. I quit one day was never part of the plan. I’d been when I realised this was ridiculous. I writing advertising for years; been at started writing travel and food reviews a senior level at some of the country’s because it combined three things that top agencies, taken career breaks after I enjoy – travel, food and writing. Yet I having each of my kids and shifting was still missing something! cities a few times because of my husband’s work. About 3 years ago I was
In a Milan-boon state of mind Writing fiction happened as a happy accident around then – a kind of tipping moment. I’d just read a book by Randy Pausch called ‘The Last Lecture’ in which he spoke of going out and doing the simple, fun things you wanted to do as a child. In his case it was to be an ‘Imagineer’ at Disney. Around that time, some friends had mailed me about a short story writing contest by Harlequin Mills & Boon. I remember thinking how much fun it would be to do it; I even changed my status on Facebook to ‘In a Milan Boon state of mind’. Somehow the idea caught my fancy, in an uncomplicated way. M&B’s were far from my staple read; but if you’ve studied at an all-girls convent, and had board exams looming in your life –an M&B had to be slipped into your big Chem textbook and read. It was a given! I still had no plan of actually getting down to writing that story. Then one night before the contest due date, which also happened to be my wedding anniversary, we had some demanding house guests over. We’d taken them out to dinner; it turned out to be a singularly bad evening. The fish was thought suspect, the lemon butter sauce too sour, the ice-cream too sweet. As I dished out instant noodles back home (eaten in silence thank god) I thought there had to be more romance to an anniversary! And wrote off a nice long handwritten story I called ‘The Love Asana.’
Destiny comes calling with a late night call from Dee
So I’m staring at these pages when my friend Dee (she’s actually known as that) calls late night and gives me an update on her day and her rabbit. I give her my update. Dee insists I read out the story while she keys it in. We giggle, dissect the TDH hero details and I send it off on a lark. Next thing I’m being told my story is in the top 5, I’m headed off to Mumbai figuring I’ll just go enjoy the view of Marine Drive. The story goes on to win nationally, makes me India’s first Mills & Boon author and brings me a huge lot of media attention. Predominant thoughts running through my head that evening: 1. Now I know what it must be like for those reality show contestants 2. Good heavens. Surely that can’t be a BBC mike in my face and 3. Damn, I should’ve sprung for a new flattering outfit instead of these borrowed feathers! While winning the contest came with some cool prizes, an exciting one being a year’s supply of M&B’s ( which meant I didn’t need to think about the next 5 birthday gifts for my girlfriends) it didn’t come with a book contract in the bag. It just meant the door was open. Then the discipline and persistence and conviction kicked in. I developed ‘The Love Asana’ into a book and it wasn’t exactly easy-peasy! Writing a genre book is quite a learning experience and trying to keep your individuality and make it ring true to Indian sensibilities another challenge. What made it totally worth it was the very warm response to my book. It was overwhelming.
‘Tick-tock we’re 30’: The whacky side of me
land is in a voice that’s totally me. It has allowed me the freedom to write with a large cast of characters, all of whom are I took the time to think through things, quirky, unique and very real. I’ve been able to explore relationships that I feel figure out what I’d really like to write are believable. I’m having fun again! next. I wrote some more short stories which were published with Penguin and Talk of one impulsive decision getting Unisun and loved by readers! My latest you the buzz back in your life! book ‘Tick-tock we’re 30’ with West-
Milan Vohra, India’s first M&B author of ‘The Love Asana’ and author of ‘Tick-tock we’re 30’ - a hilarious, reflective rom-com about 12 friends reuniting.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 73
Shreya looked around and all she
ry of emotions from within her. Tears rolled down her khol lined eyes carving could see was emptiness in a room full dark lines on her cheeks. Carefully she of clothes, jewellery and decorations. opened the tiny latch on the box while The bed which sat at the centre of the rubbing away tears in between. There it room was full of expensive sarees that was infront of her everything that was her parents had lovingly picked up for precious to her. There it was in her lap her. The dresser on the side was full of everything that she held so dear. There red and blue boxes of jewels. The wind it was the picture of Ashish, the man chimes hanging from the windows she so loved. She picked it up so softmade cooing sounds while the mini ly and held it in her hands as though lights twinkled around. Everything her entire life was in it. Longingly she around her spoke of hope and of new looked at his picture; heart full of quesbeginnings; everything around her tions and eyes full of tears. Ashish! Tospoke of joy but all she felt was unbearmorrow is the day I had been dreading able pain. all along. I will be dressed up in the finShe would be married off in a day but est of clothes and married off to another she looked nothing like a bride-to-be. man. No he is not a bad man at all! But There was no glimmer of hope in her then he is not the man I hoped to take eyes except for grief. Those beautiful the vows with, holding hands around eyes seemed to be searching for somethe holy fire. Remember that afternoon one. She walked towards the wardrobe in the rain? We were so happy, werenâ€™t and took out a wooden box which was we? You were wearing the blue shirt tucked away in a corner. Caressing it that I had given you with my first salary she moved towards the chair in her baland I the green cotton saree that you cony and sat there; all the while staring so loved. Remember the ring that you towards the horizon in the distance. had given me that day saying that you The sun seemed to be setting, its job would replace it with a bigger solitaire over for the day, to rise again at dawn on the day we got married? but the sight seemed to bring out a flur-
I still have it you know, I still wear it and I am hoping against hopes for you to replace it. But where are you? I look for you even today in the bus stand where we spent nonchalant hours together; in the cafe where we spent our evenings faking work at office; in the movies that we watched just to spend some time together and in my life where everything reminds me of you. It has been over six years that you are gone but it seems just like yesterday. Why, why did you leave me alone? It was as if there was caught in a tempest of emotions. She tucked away the photo in the box and took out the paper that looked like a newspaper cutting from beneath it. It was old with a hint of foxing towards the edges and a faint smell. On it was the picture of a man next to the article headlined ‘Young techie found dead: A case of mugging gone wrong’. She looked at the paper, running her hands pensively over the picture; sobbing loudly as though her entire world had come crashing down. But who was the man? Ashish, it had to be him, the man she had lost her heart to. He had been the victim of an unfortunate mishap; a bolt from the blue which changed Shreya’s life forever. Exhausted and stressed she slowly drifted away to sleep with just one thought reigning her heart and soul ‘I’ll marry because my parents want me to. But I’ll never stop loving you Ashish and one day I’ll be with you again smiling in the rain; living again!’ The night passed away in silent melancholy. Shreya, still in deep slumber,
looked like an apparition of her old self. Her eyes sunken with the burden that her heart carried while her forehead bore lines, all of which were reminiscent of the paths she trod in search of Ashish. As the nascent sun rays entered her room, creeping through the white curtains that flirted with the morning breeze, her face lit up with a golden hue. Yes, the morning had finally arrived. Shreya opened her eyes slowly and for a moment seemed lost. The pain seemed to evaporate for a second but that was just momentary for everything came rushing back to her in the blink of an eye. She got up and walked bare feet towards her balcony, closed her eyes trying to soak in the warmth of the rising sun. As she stood lost in the maze of her thoughts, there was a soft knock at her door. She turned back looking at that door as though her whole life would change the moment it would from mummy, daddy and you. I’ll not grieve over our relationship too! Till it is the right time for me to find you, to see you, I’ll smile and keep waiting yet keep living! I’ll do right by the people who gave me life Ashish and hence I shall marry too. But I’ll be eternally yours till we meet again on the other side. Yes, Ashish for eternity I’ll be in love with you without crying over you! I’ll not give up on this beautiful gift of life; infact I’ll live for the both of us. I’ll be positive with the strength that I storizen.com | May 2013 | 75
derive open. It was as if she wished for it to forever remain closed. She walked towards the door, turned the knob and opened the latch. Her parents stood at the door, anxious for they knew what had been clouding their daughter’s mind. However they still hoped for a better life, a happy life for her. They entered without saying a word held her hand walked towards her bed. They made her sit first and sat on either side of her, not saying a word all through. They had with them their family album. They had with them Shreya’s life in the form of pictures and they laid it open infront of her. With hopeful eyes, full of love, they turned one photo after the other and in each Shreya had them standing by her. In triumphs and losses; in happiness and sickness; at every step of her life they were there standing by her. They would have given her a life with Ashish too if not for cruel fate. As she went through these pictures she realised how important her crossing the threshold of marriage was
for her parents. They looked frail and fatigued with worry too. She had been so engrossed in her woes that she hadn’t noticed how much they had aged and how weak they were now. Their lives were spent in keeping Shreya happy. When it was her turn to do something for them she had become too selfish to even try. But this was her chance to right the wrong. She looked away from the photographs towards her parents and hugged them tight; it was as if she had an epiphany. With eyes closed she seemed to smile from the bottom of her heart for the first time in a long time. I’ll try to be happy mummy and daddy! I’ll try.. I promise I’ll try. I’ll make an attempt to lead a happy life. Ashish I’ll not mourn you any longer for I know you’ll always be with me, helping me all the way. Ofcourse, I’ll miss you. Ofcourse, nobody will ever take your place but I’ll live a life, stay contented and happy too. And once I complete this voyage, I’ll be again with you. I’ll live loving you and loving life too. I’ll live for my parents and for myself too.
“Nabanita in her own words ‘I love to write. It is a passion; a compulsion; something that gives me an avenue to express myself. I write when I am happy; when I am sad or when an issue touches my heart. I find inspiration to write in every aspect of life.
The Present… After what felt like an eternity, Aditi asked Sneha in a tone that betrayed nothing but the pain that she felt inside her – “What did you get after doing this???” Of course, Sneha knew how Aditi was feeling exactly but suddenly Sneha was not happy anymore. The sense of satisfaction, elation that Sneha thought she would find was not there. She felt betrayed – by her own self, her own emotions, and her own deeds. Because deep down somewhere, where the sense of right & wrong still existed, a voice screamed out at Sneha saying what she had done was wrong. Sneha asked herself the same question – “What did I get after doing this??” Sneha had destroyed two relations that day – a marriage & the other between herself & her soul. She knew she would never be able to look at herself in the mirror with her eyes. The guilt was too much, much more than the pain that had existed all these years. It was unbearable & Sneha just hoped that she would find some way to redeem it…..
9 Years Back… Sneha first met Rohan in junior college, back when she still used to believe in fairy tales & Prince Charming. He was the quintessential hero of the college – football team captain, class topper & blessed with good looks but an infamous philanderer. A chance encounter at the library & excellent flirting had left Sneha besotted & charmed with Rohan. But everyone had warned Sneha against him – He is a devil in disguise. He will break your Heart!! But love is a strange emotion & despite all the warnings & forebodings from her own heart, Sneha went ahead & played with fire. They had a whirlwind affair for a year. But just when hope had blossomed in Sneha, he broke her heart!! He cheated on her. He had been doing that for past six months!! And the worst part was that the “other woman” knew about Sneha & yet had carried along with Rohan. No wonder Sneha’s heart broke into million pieces & with it broke her trust in men & relationships.
Last Night… Sneha bumped into Rohan at the college reunion. He was now married & happily settled. What surprised Sneha was the fact that Rohan had went ahead & married the same girl with whom he had cheated on her. The moment she saw them, something dark & sinister raised its head in her heart. The feeling was so powerful that she felt the breath knocked out of her. They looked so happy together & here she was alone in her world. She was never able to trust any guy after Rohan. Self-doubt & envy started crawling its way into Sneha’s mind. Three margaritas later, Sneha found the courage to venture towards Rohan. His wife had left by then & Rohan had stayed back with his football team for drinks. The moment their eyes met, Sneha knew she was walking into a death trap but nonetheless she decided to take her chances. Rohan & Sneha had great chemistry so no one was surprised when both stayed back and kept flirting with each other over drinks even when most of them had left. Suddenly Sneha moved closer to Rohan & whispered in his ear – “Gosh! I have missed you” and bit his lobe. She saw fire in Rohan’s eyes & hoped it was all worth it. Next moment they both were falling from the bar stool, into each other’s arms, their lips locked. The last thing Sneha remembered was telling Rohan this – “You were a bastard then & you are a bastard even now”. Next morning Sneha woke up with a throbbing headache but that was not
the worst part of her morning. Rohan was lying next to her & she suddenly felt scared of her plan. Rohan’s trousers were lying on the floor & his wallet had fallen out of it. It was open & in it there was a small photo of Rohan & his wife, probably taken on a holiday. Both were smiling at the photographer like it was their happiest moment. Sneha felt like an intruder & suddenly the dark feeling returned. Why couldn’t she be happy like them?? What had she done wrong?? She had just fallen in love albeit with the wrong guy but it had scarred her for life. She had found no closure & she decided that revenge would be her closure. A vibrating sound jerked her out of her reverie, Rohan’s phone was ringing. Sneha looked at the caller ID – “Aditi Calling”. Sneha pressed the green answer button & carefully kept the phone beside Rohan. She then proceeded to wake up Rohan & kept talking to him giving away their hotel name & room number. Sooner than she had anticipated, there was a knock on the door & Sneha gleefully rushed to open it. All the sense of victory that she thought she would find was gone when Sneha encountered Aditi’s tear streaked face. Aditi was in a mess, bloodshot eyes & dark circles gave away the fact that she had been awake for the entire night. Even through the tears, there was a look of desperate hope on Aditi’s face – a hope that what she had heard was storizen.com | May 2013 | 79
wrong, that Rohan had played a joke on her. But all the hope had vanished when Aditi saw Sneha. Rohan came from behind with a bewildered look, wondering how Aditi had dropped there. By the time Sneha had finished explaining what she had done & why, Rohan was livid. He cursed her with the choicest of words & stormed out of the
place. Aditi stayed behind – she seemed stunned. Sneha wanted her to shout at her too, spew out the venom. But Aditi kept quiet & after what felt like an eternity, Aditi asked Sneha in a tone that betrayed nothing but the pain that she felt inside her – “What did you get after doing this???”
Pooja is a specialized blogger. She reviews books in the genre – chick literature. She also designs some heavy duty stuff. Do drop by her blog.
We all are story tellers. Some of us
realize this and some of us take it to the next level and become writers. Story is the core ingredient of any novel, play as well as a movie. But the question remains, “What is a story?” According to Google, A story is an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment: “an adventure story”. According to Ursula K. Le Guin, “The story is one of the basic tools invented by the mind of man, for the purpose of gaining understanding.” Fair definitions, but in more concrete terms a story can be described in one word, “Conflict”. Yes, if you don’t have a conflict, there’s no story. In the absence of a conflict, what you have is just an emotion or a narration of events. It was first described by Aristotle. He said that “in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict.” So, let’s see what are the different types of Conflicts? 1) Person vs. Person – Classic style of Hero vs. Villain or the Hero convincing the Heroine. Example: Sholay – Thakur vs. Gabbar. DDLJ – In the first half, Raj vs. Simran and in the second half, Raj vs. Thakur Baldev Singh. The conflict in the first half was whether Raj
will get Simran or not? The conflict in the second half was whether he’ll be able to convince Baldev Singh or not. 2) Person vs. System (or Society) – Example: Rang de Basanti and 3 Idiots. The number of persons here could be one or many. 3) Person vs. Self – Example: Swadesh. Here the character Mohan Bhargava is in conflict with his inner-self as to whether he should continue working for NASA or should come, stay and struggle in India. 4) Person vs. Machine – Example: Matrix and Terminator I, II and III 5) Person vs. Nature – Example: Avatar and Jurassic Park 6) Person vs. Alien – Example: Men in black 7) Person vs. Supernatural – Example: Twilight series; TV show – Example: Vampire Diaries. These are just a few types of conflicts. In reality, however, there are many more. Essentially, a well written story has an encompassing conflict and various other smaller conflicts. Once you identify the conflict in your story, you’ll start sailing in no time. So, go ahead create a conflict and if it happens to be a short story, send it to us, we’ll feature it in our next issue. storizen.com | May 2013 | 81
You were at the main entrance of the university, Standing in front of me into the crowd, Chemistry books in your hand! You tweet a well-known look at me, I asked “Are you new?” With a smile, you answered ‘yes!’ Surprisingly we met again! Waiting at the same row, She was your friend or sister? You talk very little in an outlandish tone! Wearing pasty shirt and stretched blue jeans, Calm, fair, beautiful, white at noon! I wanted to talk to you more, suddenly A clerk came and announced, “students of science separate into different row!” Giving no chance to ask your name!
Vikram Roy is graduated in English literature from the University of Calcutta in 2008 and he is a free thinker.
Ilustration by: Vikram Roy
storizen.com | May 2013 | 83
While rushing to the office I
ones. I know they were trying to find me, but I never wanted to go back for squawked at Nikku to finish her breakobvious reasons. I would have never left fast quickly as she was getting late to my family at first place if I knew, I conher kindergarten and I, for my office. ceived Nikki. Nurturing a child is not easy. Especially I was married to Nakul for seven years. for a single mother who is struggling to Love marriage it was, against family establish in the capital. decisions. We belong to different castes Five years back, I relinquished my and financial categories. No matter how family, my married life, my parents – open minded we portray the mindeverything and moved to Delhi. I still sets and ideologies that we hide in our feel the twinge when I think about it. pockets, still blind our decisions. We Many times, I used to regret my deciall are hypocrites of different levels and sion. Betimes I felt guilty to make Nikithese mindsets are not into the characta’s life suffer. ters but into the DNA- hard to change, She is just four, unable to understand thankfully not impossible. the social tantrums but sometimes, We fought for our love, won and got she does ask about her father and I say married. It took us almost an year to that he is in heaven with white fairies, establish harmony between the families. watching her while she is asleep and Nakul had always been supportive in all sends her gifts, every birthday. dimensions. Nakul and I met on FaceHonestly, I don’t know where Nakul was book. The immortal statement “love is for past five years. Although I stalked in the air” has changed by the time to him on Facebook, added him from a “love is on the Facebook”- From the fake profile and spoke to him sarcaslikes to comments to Inbox messages tically on chat but for past one year, I to relationship status, how rapidly we stopped doing it, it hurts; yet, I never moved, even the Road Runner would called him or went back to my previous wonder. I was a student of Masters, life. Nobody knew my whereabouts, University of Punjab and he was an IT till date. Yes, they tried. My parents professional - Earning, Well educated, did. My family, friends, near and dear
well mannered and handsome. Nakul is a tall man with beautiful pink lips and a fair complexion. I am comparatively shorter, dusk in complexion and long hair crossing my hips. My big doe-eyes and fleshy curves were compliments to my personality. He was an eye candy among his female colleagues, but we fell for each other and made a hot couple. As he was well established, I was untroubled about our future. The only problem we were concerned during our love courtship was the matter of caste but we were firm to face it. Nakul had a dominating personality. He used to take charge and always fulfilled his responsibilities. He had earned the authority by being the Alpha of his family. This trait of his made me careless and I took a full swing of insouciant lifestyle. I was pampered, cared and adored to the core by Nakul. We were loyal to each other; therefore, never thought of stepping out of the relationship. I had a hobby of blogging, sometimes. I used to update my blog on social and historical issues every now and then but hardly read by anyone. I had plans for my life, Masters-M. PhilPhD in History. I wanted to take civil service examinations and proud my parents. My brother Tapas, completed his Chartered Accountancy and had a bright future too. Everything seemed to be perfectly beautiful and satisfying. After an year we decided to get married because of our extreme passion for each other. We made promises to each other. Built castle of dreams and future planning of having babies, a
big home, he promised me a beautiful life and I promised him to stand by his side, always and forever. I was sure Nakul would support me in continuing the studies and fulfil my dreams so I gave priority to a beautiful life ahead in the arms of Nakul and decided to give a break to my studies and dropped my masters at first year. After marriage I was sure to obtain my degree and pursue higher studies and to take examinations of civil services. Somehow after gathering much courage he visited us. But all was in vain... Our parents got to know about our relationship and it was a mess. Although our parents had no big issues yet the elders were against this inter-caste amalgamation. We decided not to marry. So damn in love, took another passionate decision and gave words to each other that we will not marry anyone else and wait. Life is life, unpredictable and unplanned. Parents got tired of the daily disturbance in family and melancholic lifestyle. So, to get rid of the love birds, eventually they married us. Occasional dispute and cold celebration of festivals had been a part of our lives for an year. Nakul and I were marinated in our sexual lives. We had our world in our bedroom. At times I could feel his frustration owing to disagreements and taunts in fashion. I kept myself a bit disassociated with my family and friends and tried
concentrating upon Nakul’s family and their happiness. Eventually I felt our acceptance of grandparents and fruits of my constant dedication. But meanwhile many things have changed between Nakul and me in an year. We were not the same deuce. I ignored the changes at the primary stages considering the struggle of the establishment of our newlywed lives. And I was sure of his manage-it-all trait. I was aware of his commanding and totalitarian nature but, it was not him. He has become rabid. Started yelling at every small thing and eventually the feud moved from bedroom to dining room to hall and one day, at family lunch, he yelled upon me in the marriage anniversary of his Parents. I was surrounded by all the relatives and members of the family. I was mortified by his raised voice and continuous charges of wrongdoings and carelessness, in public. I felt insulted. Everyone in the hall looked at me. I could read each of the flummoxed labyrinths of the widened pupil, questioning and blasphemous. Mother in law broke the muteness and controlled the situation. I didn’t say anything and walked out of the festivity. I did not cry. I couldn’t. I was blanched. I felt the emptiness inside me. It was a deep silence. I took an auto rickshaw and rushed to my home. I was panting, heart was beating at its best speed and my mind was busy in calculating the liquidity I had. After reaching home I went to our bedroom. I loathed the place. Every single thing was laughing at me. The bed ogled at me and those
precious moments of love and togetherness turned into hatred. I felt nauseated to his touches, how we made love. It was a queasy feeling as if I was sexually and emotionally abused. I picked up the framed moment of our lives- our wedding photograph and I dashed the frame on the floor. It annihilated as my feelings. I could find my trust, my self-respect and my dignity into those pieces of a brittle marriage picture frame. I remorse how many times tried asking him during our private moments if he liked someone else, if he had mutilated this beautiful relation, if I was at fault or he didn’t like my behaviour. I tried digging out my mistake by self auditing my deeds. I did best possible things to make him happy. I tried giving him a break. I visited my parents for a few weeks. It was not like he was with me for the sake of social responsibilities but because I could feel him and his soul while making love. I tried on daily basis but he never shared the thing troubling him. He started disliking the things he used to love before marriage. Things, those were said to be the most adorable part of my nature. I was emotionally an insecure female like most of our species, because I was completely dependent upon him. Emotionally, physically, socially, financially as well as mentally. For a long time his rude and cold behaviour bothered me He had completely changed. I stopped feeling like I was married to the same person and the reason was still
clandestine. After throwing our photo frame I recollected myself and decided to leave everyone. I chose my love over my family and had no face to go back to them. Brother was a grown up working man and it was all a matter of social responsibility. I was deeply hurt not only it was the matter of one day and this open insult but also the layers over layers of the long rudeness made me shallow. I took all my major documents and certificates; some saved cash and jewellery; some clothes and things of basic needs. Meanwhile I received no calls. It hurt me more that my absence was not felt there and nobody bothered to ask my whereabouts as I left the celebration in-between. I made my mind to leave the home, I made with all my efforts and love. I designed it with my dreams. Leaving the place was painful. Every wall of that house was looking at me helplessly. And I had to go... Anything and everything but nothing
at the cost of my dignity. My female ego covered my decision and I took the major step of my life. All my logic and conscience supported my decision and for the moment I felt like some feminist leader protesting for my freedom and rights. But freedom from whom? I had no time to think about it as I concentrated on collecting all the things I could need, and I found everything important. Deodorants, Soap, Bangles, Sarees- everything seemed to be the basic necessity of daily life. Somehow I managed to decide the things and packed them. At every noise on the door I expected Nakul or any other member of my family came after me but it was all the wind or kids playing outside. I stepped out of the threshold and my heart sunk. Just for the sake of second thought I looked back and after a pause stuck to my decision of starting a new life. I left my home.
What happened next wait for the next issue.....
“Born and nurtured in at a scholastic family in Delhi, Himadri studied English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. Under her penname “Himmilicious” she has published several EBooks on Contemporary Erotic Romance and currently working on her debut erotic romance in print version”
storizen.com | May 2013 | 87
frames. I entered the door without asking permission, as if I owned the house. Perhaps, at that moment, the house he door had opened as I had turned owned me and tugged at my insides to to move away from the doorway. I make it feel like I was home. The couchstood there, still unconvinced of my es remained the only unchanged piece decision to visit the house again. The of furniture in the house I once called question was repeated, and I looked mine, like the foundation brick of a around to see who spoke to me, but I ruined temple that remained unshaken, could not see anyone. Then I saw a little an artifact of the past. boy staring at me, his eyes scrutinizing me from top to bottom. I did not know what to tell him and his brows curved The mind is a funny part of our system, into suspicion as his cheeks grew and once we let it control us, it plays crimson and he ran inside the house tricks on us. I heard Ma’s humming screaming, “Ma! Ma! Maa …” from the kitchen area. Her voice resonated, the kind that pierces within, igniting an energy that compels you to The scent of incense stung my nose as listen to her and obey. I knew all this I peered into the room. Nothing of the was a figment of my imagination. But house he once knew, remained. The the reverberation of her voice- I could dinner table had been shifted to the ex- feel it in the air, in the soft movement of treme right and in its place now stood a the curtains against the bickering suncupboard gallery stuffed with memen- light… As I recalled her calling me as I tos, souvenirs, crystal pieces and photo was about to leave … “Khuku,
take your Tiffin. I have packed some rotis and alu bhaja for you, nothing exquisite but I know you’ll love eating it.”I was getting late and irritated both at the same time, Ma had been advised to take rest but she was always up to something or the other. “Ma, stop bothering about such things. I would have managed. Anyways, aami jaachchi . (I’m going.)” I said hurrying out. “Jeyo na Shona, esho!” (Don’t say I’m going Shona, Say I’ll come soon.)That was my last conversation with Ma, she developed a cardiac arrest during her afternoon nap and passed away peacefully. I had taken no time to leave the house after her, her
memories almost haunting me at every corner. But I was wrong in thinking that escaping the house, would help me deal with her absence. The walls screamed at my betrayal; I had left -alone and emp ty. I stood with tears, asking for forgiveness silently when a lady came out asking, “Ke Tumi?” I replied, “I am the owner of this house Aunty, and I need my home back at any cost. It is my Ma’s.”
Priyanka Dey is passionate singer, story teller and book reviewer.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 89
Which author do you feel has influenced your style the most?
There are many authors who I admire and respect. However, I have tried to maintain my own style in writing. For perspective and different thinking, I admire the ancient Sanskrit Dramatist, Bhasa who first wrote about Duryodhana and Karna. For writing style, I love R K Narayanan and Ruskin bond for their simplicity, Rushdie for his language and the ease and confidence with which he writes, to name a few
storizen.com | May 2013 | 91
What has prompted you to write your book or books?
One of the major criticism was that I try to over narrate things and as a debutant author, I can see the merit in Writing is like meditation for me. I lose that criticism. I hope in my next book, myself when I write. Maybe this is what which will hit stands in October this ancient saints called as Nirvana. When year, I have corrected the same. I got the opportunity to write a few newsI write, I as a person cease to exist. I become the words I write, I become the paper colums in Indian Express, Asian age, Speaking Tree etc and writing those thoughts I think and I live the life of columns has helped me in putting my my characters. That makes writing an act without an ego. On the other hand, thoughts more precisely. However, the every author is a narcissist at his or her next book is on Duryodhana and there is so much to write about him. I hope I heart. There is an element of self pity in writing, self loathing in writing, self do justice to my hero and his friends. love in writing and an arrogance in writing and all these makes writing an What would you like to do as a writact of ego. While writing, the ego diser that you have never done before? appears, but once the book is finished, the narcissism comes back and the ego Usually when an author becomes sucreturns. Maybe this interplay of concessful, he will get trapped in one genre. trasting experience and my love for this For example, after the success of Asura, cycle is what prompts me to write the offers I am getting from all publishers are for mythological based subjects. It is like the actorâ€™s trap- once a comeWhat is the best feedback or comment you have received from an or- dian or a villain, always a comedian or a villain- we have seen that happening dinary reader on your book? to many talented actors. I want to break the trap. I want to write humour, satire, There were many good feedback like they felt Ravana was sitting beside them horror, romance, fantasy, non fiction and all genres possible as an author. I and narrating the story or the book changed the way they see things in life. used to be an amateur cartoonist and used to write parody songs and short But the best feedback that I cherish was written by a lady who said that she humorous stores in Malayalam magazines before I had turned to writing could hear the voice of her deceased Novels in English. I also want to write father talking to her through the charscript for animation films and a novel acters I created. for children.
What criticism has helped you grow as a writer?
What is the book that someone else
has written, that you would have write.? How would you have done it differently?
Patience- Writing is a career that requires that virtue by tons. There will be many rejections and disappointments in this journey. I had six rejections with some very discouraging comments beI am a voracious reader. One exercise fore the book was accepted by Leadstart I do in my mind whenever I read a publishing. There was no big fuss, not book is to think how differently the book could have written. I imagine the even a book launch or media glitz, no video trailers or big advertisements. It characters talking differently, the plot moving in a diametrically opposite di- took sometime for the book to get acrection and try to compare it with what cepted in the market and Asura got sold purely through word of mouth and is the author has written. As you know, still continuing to be in top 10 after 11 I have written the Ramayana differently in Asura, from the point of view months of publishing. Believe in what you have written as no one can write it of Ravana. I am doing the same with Mahabharata. I have been doing things like you and have lots of patience. One day the same people who rejected your differently so far. work as not worthy of publishing will What is your advice to aspiring writ- come back to you and that, I would say, is a very good feeling. It is worth all the er? wait and hard work.
â€œAnand is author by passion, loves cartooning, caricaturing, oil painting and reading. Likes cricket, music and films, sells petroleum products for a living and lives in a calm home in a quiet place called Belgaum. The serenity of this home often gets disturbed by the antics of a naughty girl, a sweet boy and the family head Jackie the blackie doggy a and where a lovely wife and an affectionate old mother is driven crazy by the crankiness of an author, his kids and a pet.â€?
storizen.com | May 2013 | 93
Which author do you feel has influenced your style the most? I think my style has been greatly influenced by Gerald Durrell, especially his â€˜My Family and Other Animalsâ€™ series. He wrote with great humor, rather on the wry side, and I think my own slightly sarcastic voice has developed reading and thoroughly enjoying some of his books. Apart from Durrell, it would probably be James Herriot, for simplicity, warmth and descriptions of every-day life and Bill Bryson for the exaggerated, side-splitting humor in his accounts of travelling across the world.
I think the common theme amongst these authors is that they write with humor about their own lives, making for enjoyable, easy reads. That’s what I’ve tried to do with ‘Just Married Please Excuse’.
What has prompted you to write your book or books? I’d always wanted to write, but put it on hold for almost ten years while I was in the corporate world. Starting my blog www.yashodharalal.com in 2006 was one thing that really helped to open up my writing again and build a great deal of confidence. But the real ‘prompt’ came in 2010, after a difficult and complicated pregnancy where I discovered only halfway that I was having twins and a lot of chaos followed. In short, it was a wake-up call that life is short so if you really want to do something, you better do it quick. So I wrote the first draft of my first book while on my maternity leave after delivering two baby boys! Once I got that first book published in 2012, I just realized writing is something I want to always be a part of my life. I’m trying something different this year, a fictionalized story about a man going through a divorce– it’s called ‘Sorting out Sid’ and it’s out later this year, around September. And hopefully, a sequel to Just Married Please Excuse will be out next year.
What is the best feedback or comment
you have received from an ordinary reader on your book?
the characters, some others just had trouble interpreting those lines. So I intend to be more careful with the use of language. Also, there have been other nuggets in terms of editing, and the use of hyperbole. The challenge is to distil criticism unemotionally and resolve to incorporate what you agree with, but I’ve found that once I’m able to do that, I feel more confident about my writing than before.
There have been a lot of comments about how the book is really funny and helps brighten up an ordinary day. I’ve got some very nice feedback from someone on twitter recently that it had her 89-year old grandmother in splits, and I really loved that. Apart from the humor, some people have said it’s given them insight into their own I’d always wanted to write, but What would you relationships like to do as a put it on hold for almost ten years and that is writer that you something I while I was in the corporate have never done wasn’t expectworld. Starting my blog www. before? ing – so the fact that it’s go- yashodharalal.com in 2006 was Well, I’m still ing deeper into one thing that really helped to swaying between people’s lives open up my writing again and pure fiction and apart from just series that is build a great deal of confidence. aunabashedly giving them a augood laugh is tobiographical. really someGiven that I’m still getting started, there thing that makes me happy. are plenty of things that I’ve never done before! But one thing that I am seriousWhat criticism has helped you grow ly considering is writing a book for kids as a writer? – and that’s a real need given the dearth of good stories for children. I mean, Every bit of criticism, even though it’s seriously – Fairy Tales are just terrible, hard to digest in the beginning, has and you realize this as a parent – helpsomething to learn from. There are a less damsels in distress who rarely do couple of less-than-glowingreviews anything to get themselves out of trouabout the book amongst the many ble until handsome princes and fairy positive ones, but I’ve actually picked godmothers come in to fix everything? up a lot from these. I think the use of I’m evaluating trying my hand at somesome Hindi phrases in the book was a thing that my 5-year old daughter can double-edged sword be cause while it read, enjoy and learn from in a couple helped a lot of people relate more with of years. But who knows?
What is the book that someone else has written, that you would have liked to write? How would you have done it differently?
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Focus on your story. Get your first draft out without self-consciousness and I’ve recently really enjoyed Anuja Chau- self-editing. And write what you know, so that you can write from the heart. han’s ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’, and found myself wishing on more than one That’s the most important thing. occasion while reading it ‘Damn, I’d like And of course, read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, where he advises, amongst to have written something like this!’ other things – Read a lot. Write a Lot. And frankly, I wouldn’t want to have done it differently.
Every bit of criticism, even though it’s hard to digest in the beginning, has something to learn from..
“Yashodhara Lal is the author of the best-selling Just Married, Please Excuse (www.justmarriedpleaseexcuse.com ), the hilarious story of the marriage between a hot tempered Delhi girl and a laid-back boy from Jaipur. She has done her MBA from IIM-Bangalore and has over a decade of experience in the corporate world, and has worked across large FMCG and media organizations in the field of Marketing. Her second novel, ‘Sorting out Sid’ is being published by HarperCollins in September 2013. “
I go out in the world, I forget you, Trudging through fields and unknown roads, Brown as the unwanted chaff from the wheat, blown away by the blazing wind, Lost like a calf on a crowded street, running left, right, afraid, wide-eyed, I return, I return thirsty, parched like the mud caked around bare feet, I return to rest in you, to wet my lips with a prayer of your name, To drink till the light from your eyes blots the harshness of days and darkness of nights, I return, for, there is no balm more soothing than your hand, I return, for, you alone are my haven, dear God.
IsmitaTandon Dhankher is ‘A Lesser Known Poet’. Her poem, ‘The Beasts Run Wild’, is currently up on MSN, as part of an ongoing exclusive feature “Her Courage” in tribute to Indian women. Her second mystery novel Jacob Hills is just released by HarperCollins India.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 101
Running down all the ten floors, and the by lanes of my street, pot holes every where, jumping over it, panting, if i donâ€™t run faster, Iâ€™ll never be able to meet I run like a sprinter. Ah! I can finally see you. Wearing a shade of love and dressed in bliss As i pant, I smile I drink the tea from a nearby stall and wait, for a while. No more do i gasp for breath I walk back slowly to my small little room to finish my story
Nivedita is a story teller, poet, book reviewer and a blogger. She has an awesome website.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 103
The physical laws of the universe can get boring.
So, here’s your chance to escape them – write a science fiction short story! Considering, none of our celebrated Indian writers have explored the genre, here’s your opportunity to produce something “novel” and unique. 500 to a 1000 words ought to do it! So, how would you go about conceiving and penning a Sci-Fi tale? You might already be bombarded with story ideas and images from movies like Alien, the Terminator, Avatar, Back tothe Future, etc. Well, you could start your story - by creating anambience set in the modern day, in the future, an alternate past, or in a parallel universe. The story could unfold in outer space,on another planet, or even on plain old Earth. Then, establish a protagonist and create a conflict that he, or she, is up against. Set them a challenge they have to overcome. Bring in an enemy or a rival, if you’d like. Or introduce an associate, or a friend to the protagonist, who is involved in common predicament.
The science fiction elements in your story can be centred around, or include - Time Travel, Space Exploration, Extra-Terrestrial Life, Artificial Intelligence, Futuristic Technology, Supernatural Phenomena, etc. Derive inspiration from the past-masters: H G Wells for one. This turn of the 20th Century Englishman, was hailed as the Father of Science Fiction. He set the template for Time Travel in his novel, the Time Machine, and encountering aliens in War of the Worlds, among many other ideas. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke also elaborated on fictional trysts with outer space and extra-terrestrials, while the more contemporary Philip K Dick, explored warped memory and exported personal identity - as adapted in landmark movies like Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report. Following is an example of an original Science Fiction story. Read, enjoy and come up with something of your own. In the words of Barrack Obama, “Yes, you can!”
The best story wins the book - “The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel” by Hallie Ephron
“8:12 AM, April 3, 2201”, read the
monitor lens, implanted into Othello Lewis’ left eye. “Rise and shine!”, his automated ear-piece sounded off. The surface of Lewis’ bed adjusted from a horizontal 180 degrees to a 120-degree angle, bringing its occupant to a comfortable sitting position. A thirty-something woman leaned downward to the cheek of the middle-aged gentleman and planted a soft kiss on it. “Mmm”, the sound of contentedness, emerged from Lewis’ throat, “Warm and pleasant with a hint of moisture!” He observed. Giggling, the demure lady handed him a cup of mango tea (the boiled essence of dry mango skin blended into a stimulator chemical). “The last of the Earth’s pollution has been sucked out, Lolo!,” she informed him, while happily adjusting herself within her organic body suit, “The vacuum satellite is on a centrifugal tangent for Mars – that garbage dump.” “Good to know, Maya dear!” exclaimed
Othello, as a news feed came up on his eye-monitor. The 30-second capsule began with images of a vibrantly blue outer-visage of Earth, and then dissolved into visuals of billowing industrial exhaust, a large flying object, as well as, respiratory patients undergoing treatment. Simultaneously, Lewis’ earpiece relayed the accompanying news voice-over : “Until fifty years ago, gaseous pollution had remained at hazardous levels on Earth, causing oceans to rise and land to sink. The worst hit from this phenomenon, was Bangladesh – which lost 3/4th of its geographic surface. In the year 2100, oil-fuel which had been a major cause of this ever-mounting catastrophe, was finally replaced by bio-fizz – a biogas-propelled-nuclear-fission-based battery. But while this source of energy was environmentally-compatible, it couldn’t reverse the ill-effects of pollution – one: disappearing land mass, and two: human, animal and plant mortalities of respiratory
disease. In 2151, SkyPlunger Industries launched this blurb – a suction device, one-square-kilometre in volume. The prototype was set in motion around the Earth to systematically suck up all of the world’s poisonous diffuse. And so today with the last of the ill-wind making its way into the can, we have finally cleared the air and can breathe easy.” As the news-capsule concluded, a photo of Maya appeared on the monitor. The words “In Remembrance” faded in and out. Then, Lewis’s neuron impulses switched off his eye-monitor. He was already running on his treadmill – a floored, conveyor-belt leading to his bathroom. Having set the contraption in fast mode, Lewis, spent the next ten minutes countering its momentum, while in the process, slowly covering the 20 actual metres to the bathroom’s entrance. “Incentive handicap”, he thought to himself. Next, his sweaty person was in a cubicle. He raised his arms as powerful jet showers from every direction smothered his body. Decontamination was almost immediately complete. The water-jets automatically morphed to blowers, and within seconds Lewis was drip-dry. The door of the enclosure shot upwards and Lewis stepped out onto an absorbent carpet. A hanger with fresh clothes swung out from a tract in the wall. “Shall, I help you put your clothes on, darling”, chuckled Maya from the next room.
“Perhaps, you should!” Lewis exclaimed. “There seems to be nothing else left for either me, or you, to do.” Then under his breath, he added, “Could you ever be more real, Maya?” Lewis emerged in a latex one-piece suit, designed to modulate his body temperature and preserve his skin. The formally-clothed man stepped into his office. It was one door away from his bedroom. His associates were already awaiting him, within – Stephen Campos, Om Chandra and Lingwong Hui. The seated gentlemen were apparently right in front of him. But actually, that was not the case. In reality, they were at their respective home offices, and a hologram relay-camera was merely projecting their four-dimensional images, into Lewis’ office. “Good morning, Othello!”, said Campos, beaming. “We have checked out your perfected robot and approve of the prototype. Well done! Your fine-tuning was immaculate. We will wind-up all operations and set a launch date.” The gentlemen exchanged pleasantries and were about to close the holo-conference, when Othello turned to Chandra and said, “Hey Chandie, can you stop by my place this afternoon? I have something old to show you.” Othello departed to another room of his house. Descending into a smoking chair, he pulled out a self-lighting cigar. As he puffed on the item,
his eye-monitor scanned for an old letter, locating and opening it within seconds. Dated 15 years ago, it read: “Othello, The Light of my Life has been extinguished. I have no guidance or direction or motivation to carry on. The reparatory capsules they sent into her system, succumbed to the cancer. Her throat and lungs had been encased in charcoal. She was suffocating right to the moment that she died in my arms. As of today, I am a dead-man walking. Chandra” While Othello was reflecting on this note for the umpteenth time, Maya walked into the room with a tray of a lentil biscuits, “Time for lunch, Lolo,”
she said. “Did the meeting go well? Were they impressed with your perfection of the android prototype? It just seems like magic to me – you revitalising DNA, regenerating skin and growing enough of it, to cover a whole personalized robot. ..” Just then the doorbell rang. “Get that, will you dear’, said Othello, with a poignant smile slowly pervading his face. Maya left the lunch tray on a side-table and walked to the house’s entrance. She pressed a button and the door vanished upward into an overhead groove. Her expression mirrored that of Chandra’s own, as he found himself staring into the living eyes, of his deceased wife.”
wondered if I would get to book three or would I give up midway. Amish makes the premise that Shiva is a man and that there are no magical gods when writing his trilogy. The story starts off with Shiva coming to the plains from the banks of the Mansarovar to fulfil his destiny of ridding the over: All three covers have been world of evil. On drinking somras, the beautifully designed with vibrant coelixir of those times, his throat turns lours and textures. blue and people bow to the Neelkanth Paper and font: The font was fine but who has come to save them. Only the I felt the paper and print quality kept varying through the books. I may have Neelkanth is reluctant to believe he is the saviour of the people and there got a bad bind but my copy of the first starts the story of Shiva, who from a book was a pain to hold up and read mere man becomes the Mahadev. with one hand. Readability, language: : Not a lot of big Evil is not a person, it is an idea or belief. This is something Shiva has to learn words that I didn’t already know, the books are quick reads even though the on his journey through the three books. In “The Immortals of Meluha” Shiva are big. meets the Meluhans who have found Why did I choose this book: I’ve been immortality. They are Suryavanshis hearing a lot about the series and with my interest in mythology, there’s no way who follow the path set out by Ram. They have order and discipline in their I’d have missed this series. lives and believe in the betterment of I have waited a long time to read this the community rather than that of the series. Yeah yeah I know book 1 and individual. He fights the Chandravan2 were available but after seeing Che’s shis who are the descendants of Ram reaction to book 1, I decided to wait too and have different beliefs and lifeuntil 3 came out. I didn’t want to wait styles to the Suryavanshis only to realise between books. That of course meant they aren’t evil. This realisation leads I heard a lot of opinions on the books him to the Nagas in “The Secret of the and that did leave me a bit worried. Nagas”. It’s in meeting them that he Most people said the first book was good but two was a drag and three was learns of Kali, the other half of his wife Sati and has to make peace with quite a drag. With all that I heard I
Ganesh, the other son of Sati. It is in this book that Karthik makes his appearance growing up faster than a normal boy. The Nagas take him to their city – Panchvati where Shiva again has to confront and revise his idea and understanding of evil. “The Oath of the Vayuputras” is about Shiva’s confrontation with evil and his fighting the righteous fight. He teams up with the Vasudevs who are the guides of the Rudra avatar to take on evil and meets and understands the previous Mahadev Rudra through his tribe the Vayuputras who are sworn to support the Neelkanth in his war against evil. The book isn’t about whether Shiva will win, that’s a given but rather about how a man becomes so loveable that we still love, fear and worship him to this day. The characters of the books are the ones we all grew up hearing about in our grandma’s stories – Shiva, Sati, Kali, Ganesh, Karthik…, they are all there in human believable form. Not gods but human beings like you and me who are flawed and yet loved. And there were some I’d never heard of before like Badhra, Shiva’s best friend, Krittika, Sati best friend, Parvateshwar the amy general after whom Sati is also called Par-
vati, among others. The characters are well sketched and memorable; each one of them. I could imagine the cities, the rivers and the wars so vividly through the book. I enjoyed the trilogy and was hooked until the end. Didn’t like the last couple of line though On one count I agree with all other reviews that the first book had pace but two and three are a drag. There is a lot of description rather than action. But I quite enjoyed that. One of the best parts of the book for me was the scientific reasoning behind all that magical technology of those times. It was interesting to read about the magic behind the divya astras, the bhramastra, and such (Amish has definitely done his research). I had seen too much magic in the Ramayan and Mahabharata on TV growing up. I love stories and mythology is nothing but that, add to this the number of Gods we have in Hinduism and the two Epics and you have never ending stories. How can I not love Indian mythology. This trilogy is great if you like Indian mythology; well written it is an enjoyable read but be warned it does get draggy as you progress through the books.
Freya started reading before she could speak and hasn’t stopped yet. She’ll read just about anything in print but has a bias towards romance, medicine, courtroom drama and history. Oh! and also the classics.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 111
One Sentence: This entertaining book is written intelligently and with emotions on a high. USP: The patriotic fervor of the book captures the impulse of Indian readers perfectly. It has been penned down at the right time when the Indian populace is totally in angst and in disapproval state with the rising number of scams, scandals and multi-crores mess up. Story: The story revolves around three teams and three key members. The ut we had no choice….These thiev- protagonist is Mr. Krishna Athawale. ing bastards are above reproach….. no He is the leader of the K team which one can ever touch them… not legally. comprises of strong-willed, energetic, India will never get her rightful place in self-reliant and smart people. All these the sun till these corrupt politicians are ex-army men are bent upon to accomforced to be accountable.’ plish a mission to free the country from ‘And the country. India needs to be rid the vicious grip of the greedy politiof this menace. Once rid of these thiev- cians. ing politicians she would find her right- Second the team led by Raghav Bhagat, ful place in the sun. A day would come another ex-army person who is hired when every Indian would have a roof to drill down the action players and let over his head, two square meals a day them not live. Another set of parallel and the right to live with dignity and investigations are done by a third persecurity. Soon….’ son Mr. Vinod Bedi and his team, SpeThe First Look: The man holding the cial Director, CBI as per instructions by gun, bullet replacing the I in the title the home minister. The Special action and the syringe on the cover page do force K- team would come prepared, complete justice to this power-packed take their positions and act smartthriller. Moving on to the blurb, it ly. They believed in going with the promises a whole lot of action and flow, they executed and implemented adrenaline rush. The appreciations their plan with accuracy taking us all make it worthy further. through a thrilling ride.
The similarity to the political conditions present in the country and to the bureaucratic names were very evident. I enjoyed reading the book thoroughly and quite many times wished the fiction to come true some day. The piece of romance and hatred between Mrs Bhagat and two army guys hits off well and the love- triangle added to the flavor. I liked the friendship between Sachin and Azaan. Writing Style: It is easy going, neat and engaging. A good pace has been maintained throughout the story. Without going into much detailing, the author keeps the story moving, thus maintaining the tempo of the genre. Entertaining and engaging, written in Indian style with desi tadka. Thumps Up: The action and adventure click right from the beginning of the story and it becomes enjoyable as one moves along. The Author has used his experiences of Army well and we get its taste all along the narration. Advanced
technology has its in-between mentions all along. Thumps Down: A few typos here and there. The action plans were too accurate and rightly implemented, could have been made more complex and rocking. The climax was a little dramatic and unbelievable, how come no ones finds the truth behind the K-team. Its too neat to digest. Last but not the Least : A must-have book for all those who have the angst and hate for the corrupt political structure in our country. Here K team was a great team of honest and worthy people. They executed a plan which I guess each one of us in India wants it to happen the soonest possible. On the other hand it has a dark side to it because law should never be played with, for if it falls in the wrong hands, it may cost thousand lives. Also, sometimes the most noble of causes can get ruined by evil minds. For a change, all goes well in here and Good wins over the Bad finally!
Manjulika loves to review books, blogging, painting and travelling. She calls herself ABC by passion, Artist, Blogger and a Creative one.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 113
very topical issue - nuclear attack and are we ready to deal with it. The language was pretty good yet easy to read. The book is actually of small size and it reminds me of the Pocket Books my Dad used to read (a la Surendra Mohan Pathak).
Of late, Indian writing has come to
epitomize a different kind of genre rather than what it used to. I remember I had an ‘Indian writing’ phase in reading. I would read Indian authors because I could connect to their stories better and felt at home. Shashi Deshpande and Jhumpa Lahiri were favorites; they still are! But of late I had stopped enjoying the popular fiction genre in Indian writing. It did not add any value to my reading. But it seems things are changing for better. Interesting books are flowing out of different publishing houses. Well, to cut the long story short, this book offered an interesting premise, unlike anything we have seen recently in Indian writing. ‘The Shadow Throne’ is a fast-paced thriller built around a
‘The Shadow Throne’ offers enough teasers to pull you into the story – a mysterious murder at Qutub Minar; a victim straight out of antiquity; the uncertain and murky world of Pakistan’s ISI and India’s RAW; a journalist (Chandrashekhar), an inspector (Hassan) and a history professor (Meenakshi Pirzada) find themselves in a conspiracy of a potential nuclear attack on India; and a race against time to save the nation while not knowing whom to trust in the run. The book begins on an interesting note where Chandrashekhar is reminiscing about his dead wife Yamini. But in no time we find ourselves entranced in a gripping tale of murder, conspiracy, deceit and questionable loyalties. A body is found at the foot of Qutub Minar. The Inspector-in-charge Syed-Ali-Hassan calls in Chandrashekhar, a journalist with whom Hassan has worked in several cases. Chandrashek
har pulls in Meenakshi Pirzada, a history professor and Chandrashekhar’s deceased wife’s best friend, to help him find out more about the victim. This incident spirals into a conspiracy involving RAW and ISI and stretches beyond Indian borders, to Afghanistan. On the other hand, there is a small group of aborigines in Afghanistan, assumed to be extinct, who are working towards ascertaining their place in the world, at Bamiyan Valley. OK, I admit getting tiny-winy bored in the details of this part. But, overall, the author has
been successful in constructing an interesting plot together and creating an exciting spy-thriller that would keep you guessing till the end. A few things were surreal but could be overlooked in favour of an enjoyable read. It sounded so much like a film that I wouldn’t be surprised if it got made into one. I also got a feeling that this could turn into a series. Towards the end, there is a hint that Chandrasekhar could be called anytime if need be. I would certainly look out for the author’s second book.
“Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She buys way too many books than she can possibly ever read.
storizen.com | May 2013 | 115
I usually don’t do book reviews, which
is a shame because as an author, I really value each and every review for my own book. I think I’ve written only about books like the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, bypassing even writing about the wonderful Room and several others that I’ve really liked. I thought I should try and correct this, especially for a book that I picked up at the World Book Fair in February - Anuja Chauhan’s Those Pricey Thakur Girls.
Girls really stood out for me because I could so relate to the characters. The lead character, Debjani Thakur isn’t one of those princessy-perfect types - the ‘’most beautiful of the five sisters’’ - in fact, she’s often compared unfavorably to the far more beautiful, Anjini. But there’s something very endearing and human about Dabbu - and the fact that the book is set in the 1980s really took me back to the good old days. I could so relate to things like ‘He wants to know what Shampoo I’m using? We only have one in this country - Halo!’ Yeah, baby. That was the 80s all right! Apart from relatability and an interesting storyline, I liked the amount of detail and research that Anuja’s clearly put into creating this rather convincing world. It looks like it took a lot of work to figure out what being with Doordarshan was really like back in the day.
The hero Dylan is also the kind of stuff every one of us enjoys reading about Disclosure - Anuja was nice enough to it’s nice that unlike other picture perfect launch ‘Just Married Please Excuse’ last heroes, he has his human moments too, year and therefore I may have a rather particularly when a dog attacks him positive predisposition towards her. Of- and then a cat pees on him in quick ten as I was reading the book, I found succession. myself smiling and thinking ‘Hey, I KNOW this person.’ What I enjoyed most is the humour in the book. I was truly surprised at the But the fact is Those Pricey Thakur dry, matter of fact way it was
woven into various parts of the story. My favourite character was Gulgul Bhaisahib, whose ‘bouffant goes a little phuss’ when his uncle asks him about his law exam preparations. I would have liked to see more of him in the second half of the book, although the fact is that he was a side character, so I suppose it couldn’t be helped. I found the chapters rather long, especially to read at one go - but given that I read it every night for a few days before bedtime until I finished ( despite various other things to do) so overall, it worked very well for me - it’s easy to read, relaxing, simple and of course, very well-written to say the least.
It’s not as if the story is totally unpredictable, but there’re enough twists and turns to prevent you from figuring it all out. In any case, it’s well put together and more importantly an enjoyable read even if you do think you know what’s coming next. In short - this is one book I really would recommend. And this is me, recommending it. Anuja - hats off! And so looking forward to the sequel to this one - was very happy to read about the upcoming ‘The House that BJ Built’
“Yashodhara Lal is the author of the best-selling Just Married, Please Excuse (www.justmarriedpleaseexcuse.com ), the hilarious story of the marriage between a hot tempered Delhi girl and a laid-back boy from Jaipur. She has done her MBA from IIM-Bangalore and has over a decade of experience in the corporate world, and has worked across large FMCG and media organizations in the field of Marketing. Her second novel, ‘Sorting out Sid’ is being published by HarperCollins in September 2013. “
storizen.com | May 2013 | 117
Amrita Mukherjee Content Writer, Bangalore
The Hungry Tide: By Amitava Ghosh The power that Ghosh wields through his pen of transporting the reader to another world is something I absolutely enjoy. The Hungry Tide was the first novel that I read by the author and it has remained my favorite. I visited Sundarbans after reading the novel and it seemed as if I had visited these aqua expanses so many times before. The unlikely love story, set in the politics of a land where life is as uncertain as the archipelago, travels easily through space and time and is one of the best examples of post-modern fiction.
Bipasha Ganguly Homemaker, Kolkata
Dwapar yuga where it starts with the terrible incidence of Aswathama but is set in the modern times, namely the kaliyuga. The main protagonist That Kiss in the Rain is Anya in Bangalore who has to find By Novoneel Chakraborty her mother and needs to find Bilal, a muslim boy who is the key to a prophIs love the weather of life? Do we have ecy to destroy the evil. “Kali” the lord any chances of beating destiny? Are half of the “kali yuga” is the evil force and the headaches in a then there is Kalki, the tenth avatar man’s life because of Vishnu who has to be saved. Othof a woman and er mythology characters Parashuram half the heartaches plays a prominent part and Vibhishon in a woman’s life writes his “notes from the Immortal” because of a man? before chapters. Who knows.. Jash takes us ‘That kiss in the through a surrerain’ being a hopealistic journey. less romantic what Wordkeeper is drew me to the book was its name. As I an unputdownread through, I realized that it had alable adventure. most nothing to do with the name. What The book is came across was a nice inter woven tale targeted at the of people living their lives...a Swadha .. a young adults Pallavi.. a Haasil, a Nitin.. all there withbut should be enjoyed by adults as in us ..around us...unanswered queswell. Well, I loved it. tions.. that’s the beauty of the book by Novoneel Chakraborty. Serene Kasim Software professional, Bangalore Mohan Phani Businessman, Bagalore
Wordkeeper By Jash Sen Wordkeeper is the Jash Sen’s first book and comes as a breath of fresh air. Fast, innovative and full of adventure. The story is set with characters from the Hindu mythology, Mahabharata in the
If I were to pick one favourite Indian author, I’d go with Kamala Das. I realize that everything that needs to be written about this fascinating woman has already been written by many before me but I’d like to add my two cents worth. I love Das’s work, especially her poetry, for their sheer storizen.com | May 2013 | 119
simplicity that reveals a deep pain that is at once shattering and uplifting. Her short stories and poems are in the end about the quest for love (in every possible sense of the word), survival and the desire to live in the deepest possible way. Das’s clear-eyed examination of what it means to be a woman and above all human, a theme that she examines often, is certainly not for the faint-hearted. This extraordinary author has influenced me in ways that I’m only beginning to understand. Shatadip Som Software professional, Bangalore
Ruskin Bond: They say, “Every life is an amazing story waiting to told.” A lucid story flow, real lives, part melancholy, part nostalgia and mundane incidents narrated craftily, leading to reading bliss are the facets that underline Bond’s stories. This is especially true for “The Room On the Roof ”, his award winning debut novel, among my favourites. This semi autobiographical work is the story of Rusty, orphaned, and being raised by foster parents in India. His struggles, anger, love, pain, eventual rebellion and finally a
maverick take on life, form the crux of the story. No real drama, probably very less plot points and non sequiturs; however these make the story honest and unadulterated, one that almost everyone can associate with at some level or the other. A must read, if you like India and Indian authors. Sonali Gupta Content Lead, Kolkata
The Hungry Tide: By Amitava Ghosh When I read the first line of The Hungry Tide, I felt so familiar. I thought, ‘I know this place – Dhakuria Station, and the situation that is being described’. Then there was Piya, Piyali Roy, who takes the Canning Local to the Sundarbans. In this book, Amitav Ghosh explores life in this mangrove community and how two people, beyond class, language and any other barrier, can relate with each other. As the novel unfurls the bonding between Fokir and Piya, I am drawn to the undercurrents of the novel, the complex world of life in the sandbars and the ecological element
that is brought in. By the end of the book, what remains with me is the innate purity of the human heart and the epic nature of the novel which transcends dialects, peoples and social norms. The Hungry Tide is indeed a triumph of Ghosh’s imagination, very different from any of his other works. Vikram Bose Software professional, Bangalore
selections. The answer to a book is always a book. Overall a must read for all Indians and all those who would want to understand our complex nation and its genesis. Anu Iyer Dentist, Mumbai
Malgudi Days: By R K Narayanan
There is something about R.K.Narayan that resonates with the common man. I recall leaving my homework as a child, to watch Malgudi days on TV This book is a or reading his short stories during my controversial and summer holidays. The use of simple debatable selecimagination to weave a magical tale tion of 21 indithat blends compassion, subtle humor viduals whom the with tragedy in equal measures, is his author believes to forte. The characters in his tantalizing have contributed stories were all “ordinary human bepositively and sigings”. The heroes nificantly towards and villains were shaping the India of today. While one extraordinary in can question the exclusion of many well their experiences known individuals the author has disand didn’t have closed the parameters of selection. to rely on cosGenerally the author has relied on doc- tumes, sophistiuments and historical evidence to paint cated gadgets or each of the individuals and abstained appendages to set to a large extent from giving his own them apart. He opinion. This lends great credence to the represented the traditional Indian artwork. Notable exclusions include Swami fully in his work and highlighted how Vivekananda, Subhas Bose, Sardar Patel, they were adapting to changing times. Maulana Azad and the most interesting Literature must miss a writer of his caliinclusion is perhaps that of Jinnah. For ber, whose work is devoid of complex the critics it would be best come out plots rife with devious intentions and with more books on their respective outcomes. Wish we could have more
Makers of Modern India: by Ramachandra Guha
storizen.com | May 2013 | 121
writers of his genre who celebrate life in all its simplicity!
our culture is so deeply rooted in mythology and popular religion, the medieval setting of this works is so IndiNishant an. His treatment of Meerabai’s psyche Journalist, Delhi turns her love for the imaginary Krishna into a delightful amorous tale. But, the novel is about her husband, Salman Rushdi a small-time warrior who is fascinated by exploits of Babur, among other My favourite Indian novelist is Salman things. This is a tale of a few historical Rushdie, if you call him Indian. Othercharacters and one mythological charwise, Kiran Nagarkar for Cuckold. acter, which digs into a lot of historical Since Rushdie has changed countries and half of his family is in post-Indepen- material, like Baburnama, and goes on to create a successful work of fiction. dence Pakistan, you decide whether you call him an Indian or not. But, given our love for NRIs, most people would think that he is an Indian. Also, his oeuvre is so obviously Indian. I like Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children the best. I also feel that this is one of the most matured works of fiction that has come out of India. It scores both in terms of fictionality, as well as thematically. Both his narrative tools and historical invocations are plausible and entertaining. It’s also a work of great craftsmanship. Each chapter has a building-up period, then itsdramatic quotient peaks and towards the end it leads into the next strand in the story. Second, if you decide that he is not India enough, my second favourite is Kiran Nagarkar, whose work Cuckold is again a carefully crafted novel. Its subject matter is slightly unusual, but given that
Rajith Surendran Reading, England, Student
Chetan Bhagat Five point someone from Chetan Bhagat is a subject close to my heart - the Indian Education System. The author has very cleverly conveyed, through everyday narratives, especially through hostel life, the importance to pursue things that interest you and excel in it rather than giving-in to popular choice and failing miserably. This was a view that I always held and the novel just re-inforced it for me so aptly. to pursue things that interest you and excel in it rather than giving-in to popular choice and failing
miserably. This was a view that I always held and the novel just re-inforced it for me so aptly. I like Malgudi days from RK Narayan for the simplicity in which he brings out the various facets of being human through myriad characters we Indians can easily relate to - snake charmer, astrologer, road-side sweet vendor, street performer et al. My motivation to read was the serial on TV. Very Indian! I am a migrant to the UK now and can fully relate to works like Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and Anurag Mathur’s Inscrutable Americans. They have very vividly explored the Indian immigrant milieu peppered with emotions and humour - a good read for the global audience. Saolee Dutta Banking Professional, Bangalore
the plot through his words. His explanations have been marvelous. Shiva, a cool, brave, emotional, lover, hesitant, wise etc. The feelings are so beautifully written that one can feel it throughout the story, so creatively set in words that one can imagine them in front of head. One can find the normal emotion of heart and thoughts in the characters mind. Authors of different era have their own precious thoughts in words. I am in love with most of them so not worth mentioning a few. Of course I haven’t read too much so will keep on reading till I can because good books make me happy and feel that I am alive.
Books, pages filled with words that can be your best friend. A friend who is fun at times, generous in sharing knowledge, makes you cry, laugh, goes everywhere you need them and always there. The fact that good books are appealing because it’s like one’s own set of virtual scenes going on in mind with sets of background and characters and environment initiated by the authors description through words. Let me tell about a very recent series, The Shiva trilogy. In the series you will find myths, mysteries, legends, cultures that we have known since ages simplified beautifully and the author made it easy for us to imagine storizen.com | May 2013 | 123
Examine the “Slanguage” of erstwhile
“puppi” also translates to the Hindi colloquialism for “kiss” - another widely-conand contemporary India, as its culture sidered shameful-ism! weaves into the fabric of the country’s Rest Room Official and Commercial language. Americanisms are so invasive, that they Shame, Shame, Puppy Shame! have even seeped into the sanctimonious, As the three recurring words in the phrase private domain that most Indians used to imply, this is a derogatory calling which is refer to as the “toilet”. This once-respectdischarged mainly in the corridors of eleable British English word was abbreviatmentary school in India. Toddlers sound ed from the French “toilette”. But, over off this unsavoury exclamation when the course of the 20th century, ever-tranthey detect a certain wrong-doing by sient American lingo ensured “toilets” one of their fellows, which warrants that became “bathrooms” and “toilet- paper” the subject in question, become the focal turned to “bathroom-tissue”. Then, since point of undesired attention. Instances the “bath” in “bathroom” didn’t appear that invite this dubious distinction into encapsulate the whole spectrum of clude – accidentally urinating in one’s ablutions, “restroom” was adopted as shorts, subconsciously digging one’s nose the all-inclusive new term. But the varia(or other bodily orifices ), absent-mindtions between the West and East and Old edly leaving a zip-fly undone, or earning and New, still obfuscate. Thus, I was not punishment for saying something inapentirely surprised when a door at a colopropriate akin to “I have a girlfriend”. nial-era clubhouse in a big Indian city, While the term “puppy” remains a mysled into a room which was furnished not tery, it might connote a small, helpless with a commode, but with a bed! And I animal, unaware of codes of decency, hadn’t relieved myself in a cot since I used with little inhibition against committing to be a bed-wetting toddler! a perceivably immoral action. “Puppy” or