Storizen Magazine January 2023 | Maharaj Devraj Singh

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STORIZEN HOME TO YOUR STORIES JANUARY 2023 Exclusive Feature on PAGE 6 THE TORCH BEARER OF DAUSA HISTORY Exclusive Digital Issue For more Columns and features, scan the QR code M A H A R A J D E V R A J S I N G H Celebrating 4 Years of Storizen!
Editors Pria Raiyani For Advertising, Contact us Book Reviews Swapna Peri Cover Story The Torch Bearer of the Dausa History - Maharaj Devraj Singh FOLLOW US ON: Saurabh Chawla Brand Partners Hachette India HarperCollinsIndia Penguin India Fingerprint Publishing Pan Macmillan India Roli Books Bloomsbury India Westland Books Rupa Publications Aleph Book Company
FOLLOW US ON : HASHTAG: #STORIZENMAGAZINE To read Storizen on the web, visit Follow Storizen on Instagram @storizenmag. CLICK HERE TO READ NOW! BOOKMARKED Storizen Magazine December 2022 Books we are loving this month Exclusive Digital Issue For more columns and features, scan below

Editor's Note, p5

Cover Story, p6

The Tor ch Bearer of Dausa History - Maharaj Devraj Singh

hot off the press, p10

arti cles/short stories/poetry

Life Goes On, p12 Ishita Ganguly

The Pana cea for Wintry Gloom, p16

Sreelekha Chatterjee

Life is Too Pre cious to be Wasted, p22

Ankur R Gupta

New Year Relief,p26 Neelakshi Banerjee

There Comes She... , p47

Aparna Mukherjee

That Cozy Quilt I forgot..., p48

Madhumathi H. interviews

Dr. Connie K. Chung, Author - When We Thrive, Our World Thrives, p30

Harish Rijhwani, Author - 9 to 5 Cubicle Tales, p36 book reviews

Trinoyoni by Moitrayee Bhaduri, p39

Swapna Peri

Queersapien by Sharif D. Rangnekar, p41

Swapna Peri

Sound of Waves by Kalki' R Krishnamurthy and Gowri Ramnarayan, p43

Swapna Peri

9 to 5 Cubicle Tales by Harish C Rijhwani, p45 Swapna Peri

Anand Suspi, Author - Half Pants, Full Pants, p33

Calcutta on Your Plate by Nilosree Biswas, p40

Swapna Peri

India after 1947 by Rajmohan Gandhi, p42

Swapna Peri

The Greatest Goan Stories Ever Told by Manohar Shetty, p44

Swapna Peri

The Heart of Work by S V Nathan, p46

Swapna Peri


from the editor

calling all writers!



You can also be a contributor Mail us your entries at Your smart ideas and inputs help us create our informative issues.

Hal Borland said - No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. With the cold wave taking a toll in the northern part of the country, it’s official that winters have been harsh this time

Winter season can make you feel low. One needs the motivation to thrive! We decided to motivate our readers with a new and refreshing writing prompt – “Beating the Winter Blues!”

Do you know your history? One must know their history and appreciate the evolution process. We are pleased to

have The Torch Bearer of Dausa History – Maharaj Devraj Singh on the cover of Storizen Magazine this month! Do check out the exclusive feature on page 6 inside.

Books are the perfect gifts for anybody. Check out the new releases this month inside.

Drugs have taken a toll on the youth of today Life is not meant to be wasted like this Check out the article on how to get out of this addiction by Ankur R. Gupta inside.

We love conversations, especially with writers. Do check out the interview section inside. One of the special interviews we had with Anand Suspi, author – Of half Pants, Full Pants, now a web series on Amazon Prime Check it out!

We got a lot of submissions and love reading all of your stories and poems. Keep showering your love and support so we can continue to bring on valuable insights for you every month.

Happy Reading!

Chawla, Editor in Chief editor@storizen com




Indian History, there have been many versions of it, and many times, it has been manipulated. How well do people know about the history of the Kachhwaha clan?

There are many books available on the history of Rajasthan but the reality is somewhat blurred. This month, we are pleased to have Mahraj Devraj Singh, grandson of Jaipur’s last ruling maharaja, Sawai Man Singh II, and his wife, Maharani Gayatri Devi on the cover. He has authored the book, Dulha Rai's Conquest of Dausa: The Early History of the Kachwahas.

It’s indeed a pleasure to meet such a great personality and have an insightful conversation with him. We learned a lot about the forgotten history of Rajasthan and the Kachhwaha clan.


Behind every book, an idea is germinated. Maharaj Devraj Singh’s

dissatisfaction with reading about the founding history of Dhundhar, as Jaipur state was formerly known led to the idea of him writing this book. “There were several books which specifically described Dulha Rai as an ‘Adventurer’ who emerged without an explanation of his background, which is essentially denying his ancestry and that he was by chance able to found the principality which became the Dhundhar raj ” “I knew in my heart that there must be much more to the story of Jaipur’s inception and Dhula Rai’s background, so I began to make serious research and inquiry into the topic.”

The amount of research he has to put through while narrating historical events is something we wanted to know more about. He was very excited in telling about his research journey and the difficulties he faced “I began to collect books related to Jaipur and its history in the early 2000s, initially just out of interest. However, I noticed that the early history and sources related to it were either lacking or difficult to acquire

"The family’s fame and significance could be a two-edged sword."
-Maharaj Devraj Singh

Writing such a manuscript is time daunting task and it took him years and years to complete the manuscript “It was, however, in the mid-2010s that I started penning down the manuscript which was completed in mid-2020.”

Often, the facts in history are manipulated or misleading as one cannot change the curse of historical events. Maharaj Devraj Singh, during his research process, faced certain discrepancies.

“Most of the discrepancies were found in the popular story of Dhundhar’s founding which was penned down by James Tod, and the version which was recorded by the clan but remained largely unknown, till date. Although James Tod, did some good work in making Rajasthani history known to a wider audience, it would not be wrong that he was very selective in penning down some of the versions of the stories which he heard regarding the founding of Dhundhar, as Jaipur state used to be known ”

He continued, “With regards to Dhula Rai’s ancestors who were known as the Kachaphaghatas of Gopaksetra, the issue lay not so much in discrepancies but in the fact that the information remained occulted and scattered ”


Being the grandson of Jaipur’s last ruling maharaja, Sawai Man Singh II, and his wife, Maharani Gayatri Devi, it can be burdening to be a family member of a ruler Maharaj Devraj Singh is no different. “The

family’s fame and significance could be a two-edged sword I felt burdened when I was struck down with all the legal disputes and was not able to contribute as much as I wished to my ancestral area, however now I understand that development is an ongoing and never-ending process, so the mantle of doing so needs to be passed down from one generation to the next.”

But, at present, he is happy that he has made his late grandparents proud. “Additionally, now I am fairly pleased that I have been able to contribute towards a more holistic analysis of my father’s ancestral history, something which I hope would have made him and my late grandparents proud.”


Writing about one’s own history is something that not everybody enjoys. Maharaj Devraj Singh was excited and it was a fun activity for him to do the historical survey of the land on which his ancestors once lived and connect with people “Getting to travel to the various sites of interest for the historic survey was also great fun and expanded my worldview, which is after all one of the main purposes of travel I have made new friends and comrades at Dausa and feel more connected to the land and its people there. I hope I can do more for them in the future.”


One must know his or her history and roots According to Maharaj Devraj Singh, one must know their history to appreciate and understand the evolution process.


“One of the main takeaways from the book is that India has its strength in unity If anything my book has shown that when there was unity among the rulers (ancient and modern) of India, great accomplishments could be achieved, but as soon as disunity cracks, there will be foreign forces that try to take advantage of the discord The united and free Indian union may be something which the younger generation takes for granted however, it is an achievement that our forefathers had sacrificed much for and must therefore be defended at all costs.”

We thanked him for his time and bade adieu Do check out the book Dulha Rai's Conquest of Dausa: The Early History of the Kachwahas by Maharaj Devraj Singh and Rupa publications to learn more.

(As told to Pria)


HOT OFFthe press

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This burning torch of a novel is a compelling portrait of a youth negotiating the streets of Calcutta, looking to seize a life that is constantly denied to him


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The first book to situate the life of Vivekananda within a global history of nineteenth-century ideas on faith, religion, politics, science, and colonialism.



Winter is often called gloomy weather. I never had any problem with the winter unless it felt terribly cold and stooped me from going out. But after losing my father last winter and grieving the whole year, as winter approached again I found out I wouldn’t be able to cope with it.

What with the cool breeze I recalled my father’s coughs, his uneasiness with the weather, his difficulty with breathing, and me taking him to the hospital for a check-up that finally led him to the ICU from where he never came out alive.

I literally felt my nerves going all over the place, my heart pounding as the winter days loomed again. The cold weather started replaying each and every scene of my father’s last battle and how I lost him forever. It's true, grief is grief and most people will say it hits you hard no matter what the weather is but I would say winter anyhow brings back sad memories. And if you have lost a loved one in the winter season it makes it difficult for you to leave the bed let alone step outside your home.

I have read article after article on how to beat the terrible winter blues but not one mentioned grief! No one warns you if grief gets mixed with the wintery season how suffocating it could feel.

I can't suggest you sure-shot ways to improve your mood in this dim weather because what works for me might not work for you. So, I would urge you to take your time to find out what works best for you to handle winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

The thing that is keeping me sane and safe this winter is penning down my thoughts in my diary and going out in the daylight. Daylight is always a good remedy if your mood is on the downside. As I open the windows of my room and move the curtains, the warm sunrays rush inside and touch me and I feel a little better. Obviously, my case is a different one. But grief does hit every person at one point in their life. Right?

I have suffered from depression and anxiety for the most part of my life. And so I tell this from experience, no matter how low you feel step out of your house and walk a few steps at least in the daylight. As you soak up the sun you will definitely feel lighter. Depression cannot be cured but it can be controlled. So is grief and every other emotion that tries to get hold of us.

Your aim shouldn’t be to curb any sad feelings or it would get worse. Just try to act in spite of what you are feeling. Go for a walk, do some physical exercise, journal your thoughts and keep busy.


Smile every time you see your reflection. I know it’s easy to give these instructions and too difficult to follow any of them when you are feeling low. The key is to try. There is no other way! (At least I am not aware of it).

Also, eating on time, drinking more water, and getting enough sleep could help. Actually, it’s those basic things that help us to survive. You don’t have to join a gym or some meditation class if you don’t want. Just follow the simple hacks that you already know. Each day take some of those baby steps and you will feel so much better. You are holding the bottle of magic potion in your hand. Why not open the lid and start using it? J

Ishita is a storyteller from Kolkata, India. She is the author of the book, "Stories from the City called Kolkata". Her articles and poems have been published in leading newspapers and magazines. She is a coauthor of five international anthologies and editor of the international poetry anthology, “Expressions from the Heart.”


The Panacea for Wintry Gloom

The phone kept on ringing. My husband Neil lifted his eyes from the book that he was reading, with somber indifference, gesturing me to receive the call. So were my teenage children, Vikas and Anahita, busy with their respective mobile phones—lost, inactive in the mid-January cold evening. We had gathered in the drawing room near the electric heater, and turned up the thermostat to the highest degree of heat possible on the appliance, to beat the temperature that had probably dipped to about 1 degree Celsius. It was like forced physical suffering to momentarily abandon the coziness of the quilt, leave the warmth that eddied in gentle gusts of hot air from the heater, and reach the landline phone that was stationed in the corridor, outside the living room. The tintinnabulation of the phone stopped and I heaved a sigh of relief, but after a momentary pause, it recommenced. Walking up to the phone seemed to be a task in itself, trudging my way forward, feeling a strange numbness in my stiffened hands and feet while my teeth chattered as if the cold was throttling its fingers on my neck.


“How are you, my dear?” An unknown voice returned from the other end. “Are you able to recognize me? It’s your aunt Smita from Kolkata.” The voice continued without pausing for my reply.

“Ah…yes, yes…” I reacted with a faint recollection of an aunt—probably of the same name—who was my mother’s distant cousin.

“I’m reaching Delhi tomorrow by the early morning flight at 9 o’clock.” She declared jovially. “Ok.” I gave a monosyllabic response.

“I’ll be staying at your place for a few days. See you tomorrow.”She said before hanging up.

It seemed as if the burden of the entire world was on my head, and the insurmountable reluctance—to entertain and engage in hospitality that included preparation of food during this cold winter—troubled me to the core.

Thoughts of the visitor flashed through my mind, as I moved onto the glass sliding door of the balcony, overlooking the road in front of our house. It was only seven or half past that and nobody was visible on the road, a nameless silence prevailed. The dense, blinding fog had devoured the houses at a distance of 30 feet across the street, while isolated sounds emerged from the nearby grocery store and the existing world around, around that had vanished— become concealed, enshrouded in the mist. A plaintive cry of a solitary dog was heard from somewhere. As I stared outside, a sense of morose, an ugly gloom overwhelmed me, feeling the bodily strength and energy fully consumed, as if I were dead—succumbed to the tortures, the ruthless tyranny of the biting cold—yet alive at the same time, longing for a change, a mode of reinvigoration.

The next day I woke up early at around seven o’clock to make arrangements for our guest. Though I was sure that she wouldn’t be able to arrive before the afternoon, as the early morning flights were bound to get delayed due to heavy fog, I still prepared myself to receive my Smita aunty. Surprisingly, she turned up before the time that I had anticipated.

I resembled the Bengali lady to a considerable extent—well-dressed, pleasant looking with a thin frame; an oval face, having large, expressive black eyes, full of motherly affection; her hair tied in a neat bun at the back of her head. After a round of initial pleasantries, Smita aunty proceeded to the guest room to freshen up.

The whole day went by reminiscing about fond memories and relaxing in the warming sunlight that spread across our balcony. She regaled me with narratives of my childhood incidents and unforgettable moments that she shared with my mother.

In the evening we all settled comfortably in the living room beside the heater, waiting for Smita aunty to join us. She came in after some time dressed in a yellow sari, with a matching sweater and a cream-colored embroidered shawl covering her head.

“Are you going somewhere?” I inquired.

“We all are going together.” She said cheerfully.

“What? Where will we go in this cold weather?” I protested, stirring myself—shivering at the thought of venturing outside—drawing the blanket closer to my body.

Vikas and Anhita looked up from their respective mobile phones.


“To the house, next door! They are celebrating Lohri. We are going to have a great time with people outside our world— merrymaking and having festive feasts.” She said, smiling genially.

“But we hardly know them.” I shook my head, stammering anxiously. “I’m not going anywhere in this cold…” I continued, rejecting the excuse offered to meet our neighbors.

Before I could finish, she enjoined, turning and opening the front door,

“Yes, you are. Come on!”

We reached our neighbor’s house. They were a Punjabi family, an elderly couple, their middle-aged children, their spouses, and their kids of all age groups starting from five-year-old to that teenagers. All of them, dressed up in their finest attire, had gathered in the open space outside their home, moving around the blazing bonfire—lit with wood and cow dung cakes, spreading showers of golden sparks—setting up the whole festive ambiance in exciting spirit, clapping, humming folk songs and dancing the bhangra and gidda, occasionally offering fire oblations as prasad galore like peanuts, sesame seeds, jaggery, Rewari, gajak, popcorn, puffed rice, corn seeds, praying for good health and prosperity and welcoming warmer days ahead.

Enchanted and moved by the warm, friendly reception of our neighbors, we watched Smita aunty dance to the tunes of the traditional music and reverberating drum beats. Initially, I lacked a participatory approach, but the jubilant mood of the revelers was contagious and unconsciously I started enjoying the occasion, observing them celebrate the festival with great gusto and enthusiasm.

An elderly woman told us about the legend of Dulla Bhatti, popular folklore associated with the festival of Lohri. During the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar, there lived a man named Dulla Bhatti in Punjab who was like Robinhood. It was in his praise that people sang the song “Sundar-Mundriya” on the joyous occasion.

Though it had been quite late at night, we had a refreshing get-together and returned home only after having a sumptuous dinner, savoring the classic Punjabi winter delicacies —a bowl of piping hot arson da saag (teamed with bathua and palak made it a mouth-watering treat)along with irresistible Makki ki roti, enjoyed with a dollop of white butter, Pindi chana with bhatura or puri accompanied with onion, pickle, chilies, jaggery, and delicious, melt-in-the-mouth til halwa (flavored with dry fruits and garnished with cardamom powder).


The following morning I woke up—earlier than usual—to the clamor of utensils coming from the kitchen. On rushing there, I found Smita aunty busy kneading a rice-flour dough and in a separate plate lay dumplings of beautiful shapes—oblong, round, halfmoon.

(visit to read the full story.)

Sreelekha Chatterjee’s short stories have been published in various national, and international magazines and journals like Indian Periodical, Femina, Indian Short Fiction, eFiction India, The Criterion, The Literary Voyage, World of Words, Writer’s Ezine, and Estuary, and have been included in numerous print and online anthologies such as Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series (Westland Ltd, India), Wisdom of Our Mothers (Familia Books, USA), and several others. She lives in New Delhi, India.

You can connect with her on Facebook at, Twitter -@sreelekha001, and Instagram @sreelekha2023.

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lmost 11.8 million people die every year from an overdose of drugs. Amongst them, the percentage between 10 to 24 years is almost at the top level.

Look into the world’s statistics on drugs, and you will notice that it has a turnover of around $500 billion. And, is rated the third largest business in the world, next to petroleum and arms. In the existing world, not a single country is free from the curse of drug trafficking and drug addiction.

As per UCLA research, in the U.S. alone, the death among teenagers almost doubled in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, and rose to almost 20% in 2021 as compared to 10 years before Covid. These data should ring alarming bells worldwide, say global psychologists, as the percentage of deaths is exponentially increasing post-pandemic.

.India too is caught in this vicious circle at a frightening pace. More than 10 thousand suicide cases among the youth were reported due to drug addiction and alcohol in 2021–22. Every third person in Punjab in India is hooked, to substance abuse.

Intake of Drugs is lethal, we all are well aware of it. Then why its consumption graph is perpetually taking a steep hike, especially among the younger generation?

Well, as per the studies, the initiation of first drug use is determined by interactions between social, cultural, cognitive, and personality traits.

A dysfunctional family swamped with domestic abuse, quarrels, over-controlling parents, or divorce, hampers the psychological growth of a child.

Youngsters, in these homes generally suffer from anger, anxiety, and trauma issues. They are shrouded with low self-esteem as there is no open space to express and vent their thoughts and feelings.

A neglected childhood where the parents are too engrossed in their social circuits, careers, or some other cases facing a financial crisis that they hardly give qualitative time to their adolescent. The youngster seeks companionship outside and sometimes joins the wrong peer groups.

Lack of supportive guidance at home adds to the young adult personality shades of depression, indecisiveness, and frustration and transforms them into a loner or a rebel.

With the changing times, the cut-throat competition in the present world of education and employment is building high mental pressure on youngsters. In the rat race for higher grades and better jobs, many youths succumb to such pressures and fall into drugs as an easy escape from their worries and troubles.

The families are shrinking and becoming more self-centric, unlike the earlier joint families and friendly neighborhoods that taught us to share, care, and bond. The decline in social interactions and being hooked to gadgets and technology has


made many youngsters a recluse, unwilling to share their feelings and dilemmas that start to suffocate them. They switch to drugs, as getting high makes them reach a momentary level of ecstasy. The increase in addiction to social media is another prominent reason for the intake of drugs by youngsters. Many are falling prey to body and image perfection due to the fear of FOMO and criticism in the public forum.

Social media posts from peers and other teenagers glorify the use of alcohol and drugs and embed a negative mark on many young minds.

In a few cases, they get hooked up to drugs to be a part of a particular peer group or just for the sake of experimenting. The easy availability of drugs like alcohol, marijuana, and opioids makes it even worse.

All these glaring reasons coax the youth towards an addiction in which they try to find solace in their hurts, anger, frustrations, and rejections but push them to hell.

The victims of this substance abuse are mainly street children, child laborers, and teenagers who either have a family history of drug abuse, are emotionally shaken up by the challenges at home or want to be part of a fast-moving world of glitz and glamour.

The Statistics show that drug abuse is a growing problem among teens. In addition to cocaine, and other club drugs, recent studies showed that the top six most abused drugs are marijuana, Vicodin, amphetamines, cough medicine, sedatives & tranquilizers.

So, how does it impact you? Drugs interfere with the smooth functioning of the neurons in the brain and lead to:


The addict gets into mood disorders, depression, anxiety, antisocial personality traits, anger

issues, and quarreling. They resist meeting and mingling with others. One study reported that three percent of adolescents who used these toxic substances were also involved in criminal activities like petty thefts and burglary. They are often used as courier services by drug traffickers.


With time overdose of drugs leads to thinking disorders and Neuro disorders as the drugs like nicotine in the early stages of adulthood pose a grim threat to the developing brains and adversely impact the parts that control attention, concentration, and learning skills. The primary reason for many drug addicts’ poor academic results and dropping out of college and jobs.

Drugs cause health issues like- cancer, mental breakdown, inflicting Self-harm, and suicide. Teenagers consuming drugs are five times more prone to risky sex than those who don’t. As they get involved more in unprotected sex and sex with a stranger and exposed to higher chances of STDs, teen pregnancy, and sexual assault.

Family suffers

tooIn addition to personal adversities, abuse of alcohol and other drugs swoop the other family members into crisis and jeopardizes many aspects of family life, emotionally and financially. E.g. Criticisms by relatives and friends, breakdowns seeing the child suffering,

Be your Saviour

Choose friends wisely- First thing to understand is that usage of drugs just for fun purposes is a big No, as in no time, this recreation changes into a toxic habit. Choose friends and peer groups wisely. Peer pressure is a prominent part of life for teens and adults. The energies around you are contagious, and you become what you surround yourself with. Indulge in healthy friendships and relationships by avoiding friends or family members who pressure you to use substances.


You are not alone

When you feel your mental health is taking a toll, immediately talk it out with your family and friends. If that is not an option, seek professional help. The therapist will help you follow a healthy lifestyle without any drugs or alcohol. Don’t try to fight the demons of anger, depression, anxiety, and traumas all alone.

Accept failures and criticismsWork on your resilience and mental strength to cope with criticism and failures and take them as stepping stones to success and selfgrowth. You can take the help of an adult or a therapist to work on your mental health. Parents should teach their children the relevance of mental health from their early stages. Smooth seas never make skilled sailors. The studies show that those kids who learn how to deal with their worries or failures at the right time have better mental perseverance than others who avoid them.

To conclude, drug addiction destroys lives, tears apart families, and harms society. They take us to hell, disguised as heaven.

There is not a drug on the earth that can make life meaningful- Sarah Kane So, if someone ever asks you, what is your drug of Choice? Reply, it is HOPE, the most addicting one of all. And, I have plenty to keep me going ahead in life happily.

Ankur R Gupta - I'm a blogger, an author, and a certified content creator. My writings revolve around the simple motto “Write to bring Smile”. I believe in understanding behavioral aspects of human life linked with their different phases and then ink my words about them in a simplified way to spin out positivity and purpose associated with them.

A hardcore history enthusiast and traveler. I love to read & explore our ancient cultures and civilizations.

My reading page is inkmyword -the reader community.


When you feel your mental health is taking a toll, immediately talk it out with your family and friends.



ew Year's Eve is supposed to be exhilarating, filled with promises, and obviously begets some sort of celebration.

On such a note we decided to spend the weekend at a seaside resort, already invigorated from recent Christmas celebrations.

The air was crisp and chilly and the maritime climate provided the perfect spot. But something felt off that I could not specify. The music seemed dreary or the Arabian Sea dull I could not say. The water sports provided momentary adrenaline but quickly faded away into a dull throbbing pain in the neck probable aftereffect of the bumpy ride. But what surprised me the most was the conspicuous lack of allure for the sea. In Puri, for hours I would frolic in the salty water with the sun in my eyes and sand in my hair. Again the lack of thrill. Reaching the resort, a huge modernized tent with private gardens, we decided to laze in the sun but the constant staring of a nearby couple was disconcerting.

Again I told my husband something is amiss. My neck hurting badly by this time Maybe ice cream on the beach would offer some sort of consolation. But the games and sports hijacked the majority of the place leaving little room among the debris of discarded food packets and crumbs. We

headed for another beach some distance away. It was almost twilight; the trees straddling the road seemed like dark blobs amid the grayish backdrop. Suddenly I found yellowish orbs staring at us from the bushes."We are circling the same road again and again."

I screamed panicked at my husband. He looked unperturbed. The orbs grew larger, the road fainter, and the lights brighter and brighter until I jerked awake."Don't sleep in the front seat" my husband said. It was sundown by the time we reached there. The sea looked somewhat perilous crowned by white foams in stark contrast to its dark cloak. A lifeguard passing by shouted, "Don't go ahead It's risky now."And we hastily retreated our steps to our parked car. A silent dread was creeping into the pit of my stomach, whether it was the projection of my paranoia or some substance I could not understand.


A bit crestfallen we proceeded toward our resort to find our room unlocked. The attendants said we asked for a spare key as we had lost ours. Aghast I hollered "But we came this very instant." "And the key is safely tucked in my pocket."My husband supplied beside me. Fuming in impotent anger I looked around. That same couple was smiling menacingly in our direction. Somewhere in the distance, Hotel California was playing and I started devising ways to leave the hotel.

All other rooms were assigned due to heavy rush hence we had to put up in that same room, a beautiful tent with a chandelier hanging from its conical roof, a rich mahogany writing desk, a plush sofa, and a four-poster king-size bed in satin covers. The New Year party had already started, distant tunes floating amid the night air intermingling with the surge of the sea giving off a plaintive feel. Too enervated we decided to dine inside but the ring went on in the kitchen till the recorder said "No answer." "Is this the service of a renowned hotel!"I exclaimed in exasperation.

Again like idiots we left our room and locked it as we trudged towards the seaside party. Cacophonic music filled our ears as our brows scrunched but people were dancing unflinchingly. Food was delectable and we tolerated an hour and a half of the open-air DJ occasionally shivering in the December chill while munching on the delicacies before proceeding towards our room, how fast to checkout, was predominant in our minds.

"We will check out with the break of dawn."my husband mimicked my thoughts and I nodded vehemently. Just as the first streak of the rising sun illuminated the eastern horizon, we successfully checked out and left the hotel premises, our car running smoothly towards our next stop, a small cruise ride, the mellowed rays dancing in my cheeks as I lightly heaved a sigh of relief.

My name is Neelakshi Banerjee. Recently I have developed a budding interest to delve through the subtle beauty of art and articulate my imaginations with the help of words. Music holds a pivotal place in my life. Though am an engineer by profession I believe both science and arts are equally imperative to make this world a more beautiful place.



Stories From Young People


It takes immense pleasure to introduce an inspiring personality to our readers. The book is attractive and charming in terms of contents, look, and feel. How are the aesthetics designed and decided?

The cover and aesthetics were co-designed with me, Vishal Talreja, Dream a Dream staff, Notion Press, and the young people who were featured in the book. Because this book contains stories from young people, we involved them in the design and also received their consent to share their photos. We are delighted that Notion Press did such a great job with designing the formatting in an easy-to-read way.

The book introduces the readers to exceptional talents from challenging and humble backgrounds. What kinds of thoughts were running through your mind while penning these stories?

The young people who are featured in the book are leaders in their communities, who share their stories to inspire other young people. I was inspired and deeply moved when I interviewed them. Dream a Dream’s journey as an organization that has humbly listened to young people and brought in the expertise of many different people to develop their program is also an inspiring story.

It takes enormous energy and time to identify these pupils and put them on the pinnacle of life and success. The humanitarian aspect plays a vital role in this. Barring all the difficulties one faces, do you think every person must spend some time on such programs?

Given that we have been through a worldwide pandemic where all of us suffered some form of trauma – whether it was in losing people we love or in

navigating challenging and difficult circumstances –I believe it would be helpful for as many people as possible to learn about the impact of trauma and ways to heal from trauma.

The book explains 21 stories of young people and children nurturing themselves with utmost care and health from different fabrics of life. What made you bring out this book?

Dream a Dream has been recognized globally as an organization that helps young people from backgrounds of adversity to thrive. By writing a book, we wanted to share some of their practices, share a few of the stories of young people who are thriving despite their backgrounds of adversity, and also share research that shows how to best support young people in general.

Dream a Dream has reached more than 3 million young people by expanding its professional development program to more than 35,000 teachers in six Indian states. This is phenomenal. What are the future milestones the team expects to reach?

We hope that the practices of Dream a Dream would reach as many young people as possible. (please also see the answer to the last question.)

Before knowing more about you as a person, a few words to our readers and why one should read your new book.

Growing up in adversity is quite common. We hope that that book inspires many people and shows that with proper support from caring, empathetic adults and from engaging programs, young people can thrive.


To know more about you in person looks inevitable. Can you tell us more about yourself?

I am a former secondary school teacher and education researcher who has previously written about learning and teaching to thrive in the 21st century and how people and communities can create positive change together.

How was your collaboration with Vishal Talreja while writing this book? Did any brainstorming sessions happen?

When Vishal and I discussed what we would do together, we came up with the idea of my writing a book about the program that Vishal co-founded. I interviewed Vishal for the book. Vishal also reviewed every chapter to ensure that the details were accurate and supplied additional insights.

How did this book and the stories change you as a person? Is there any exciting experience?

I learned a lot while writing the book and was quite inspired and encouraged by the young people who chose to be vulnerable and share the stories I wrote about.

A general question keeping in view your work towards society: How do you visualize yourself and this initiative in the next five years?

I hope that everyone comes to believe that every young person has the potential to thrive and contribute to their own wellbeing as well as that of their families and their communities, regardless of their background.


Kya Bombaat Idea Hai!

In conversation with Anand Suspi, Author - Half Pants, Full Pants


“Kya bombaat idea hai!” For the uninitiated, who have still not watched or read “Half Pants Full Pants (HPFP)”, it is a call to include the sentence in your ever-increasing lexicon. An expression you would then use with aplomb and panache just like the protagonist, fondly nicknamed “Dabba”, uses it in the series. The series “Half Pants Full Pants” premiered on Amazon Prime and is based on the book by the same name authored by Anand Suspi.

Even though a debut author, Anand Suspi, is not new to the creative world. Half Pants Full Pants, is a serendipitous labor of love by Anand who, in his own words, did not have a ‘book’ in mind. HPFP brings to the viewer, an unadulterated, undiluted, and unsullied innocence that seems to have been lost to the viewers in recent years. For an audience and a reader caught in the quagmire of overtwisted plots and gruesome conflicts, HPFP comes with a simple story set in the 70s, capturing a life that brings together the forgotten familiarity of chug-chugging trains in lazy summer afternoons, when life’s pace slows down to a tranquil halt.

Crossing paths through labyrinthine lanes of a sleepy small town that hide adventures at each turn, turning the little protagonists into detectives at one and philanthropists at the other, one is bound to remember the little adventures of our own. We got in touch with the man in action and asked a few questions.

Signing some copies during the book launch in Shimoga in 2016. Anand Suspi in front of his old railway quarters Anand Suspi with Ashish Vidyarthi during the shoot in 2022

How and why did your plan to write “Half Pants Full Pants” come about, as it is mostly autobiographical?

I have been an advertising writer for 25 years. I never had the intention to write a book. This was purely accidental.

One day, in 2012, I sat down to write a page of prose to convince myself that I could write beyond advertising. This exercise was purely for me, and I didn’t have a `book’ destination in mind.

Childhood is a sacred and important part of each person’s life do you think your generation “the 70’s kids” had more fun?

This is quite subjective. I definitely feel that kids in the pre-internet and pre-mobile phone era had a more glorious childhood. Life was simple and joyful, filled with curiosity and imagination. But children of today might feel that their growing-up years are as wonderful as anybody else’s. It’s a perspective that I don’t quite have a handle on.

Had you imagined the over whelming response from the readers and viewers garnered after being published/released ?

Honestly, no. My childhood was the same as everyone else’s, albeit with an extra dose of adventures and escapades, but nothing vastly different. The only aspect of the book is the universality and relatability of life in small town India in the 70s and 80s.

Had you at the time of publishing thought that you wanted to convert the book to a visual series?

From having the manuscript ready to get it published, it was a long journey in itself. It took 4 years, with multiple rejections, from various agents and publishing houses. Through all this, I never thought about converting it to a series, as this is exponentially more difficult and complex compared to getting a book out.

When and how did the journey of the book to the series start?

Once the book was out, at the end of 2016, and people started saying wonderful things about it, various directors and production houses would call from time to time, enquiring about the possibility of adapting it into a web series.

Finally, sometime in 2019, he managed to evince interest in people at Only Much Louder, one of India’s top OTT contentproducing houses. The team at OML (extremely sincere and professional), read the book and were convinced that it would make for a delightful show.

As getting a book into a series is not always a straight-line process, what kind of hurdles you had to go through to get the book to be a series?


A big pushback that we encountered with various platforms was the obvious lack of high suspense, drama, action, and conflict that’s such a staple of 99% of OTT shows.

The other issue was about stringing the stories together into a coherent season arc. The book is a collection of incidents with each story being disparate from the other.

Would “Dabba” and his gang be making a comeback with more adventures in the second season?

Hopefully. We are waiting to hear from the team at Amazon.

Is there a second book in the making?

I finished writing my second book a couple of years ago. That’s not about my life; it’s fiction. It’s already been rejected by multiple literary agents. Now that I am done with Season 1 of HPFP, I’ll get back to the grind of the second book.

HPFP gives us all an important lesson, a lesson that honest-to-heart stories always find a way into the audience’s heart. Despite the struggles to get the right platform, there is still hope for honest simple heartwarming content.

(As told to Madhulika Ra Chauhan)

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Photo: Harish Rijhwani, Author - 9 to 5 Cubicle Tales

It is indeed a happy moment to have a conversation with you. The first and foremost question is how you enjoy the multifaceted role of a Healthcare IT professional, a professor, a writer, an author, and a consultant.

I love it; I have been in the Healthcare IT space for twenty years, taught for ten years, and have been writing for four years. The best part is I can take the learnings of one area and apply them in the other. Of course, each role is a different profession altogether, but the amount of love, affection, and respect I have in the area of teaching are incomparable.

Can you take us through your first writing experience? How did the idea of writing a book start?

Technically speaking, my first writing experience was way back during my engineering days, wherein I was coauthoring the second edition of an electronics book with one of my professors. But that did not pan out as there were some delays from the publisher’s side.

How did the transition of a writer from non-fiction to fiction happen? Did you face any challenges during this?

I have written three non-fiction books, each targeting a niche area. But I wanted to cater to a larger market; hence I thought of writing fiction.

In the book 9 to 5 Cubicle Tales, the characters are true to life and Hridaan, the protagonist, represents almost every Software (Corporate Company’s) Employee. What was the inspiration?

Simply put, the inspiration comes from the experience of having worked in the industry for twenty years. When I was learning creative writing, one of the aspects I understood was how to build a character sketch.

Now that your new book is a work of fiction, before writing the book, how did you plan the plot? Did you use any storyboard mapping technique, or was it instinctive?

Well, I am an IT guy, and after a certain point in our career, we prefer using Microsoft Excel, Word, or Powerpoint to solve every problem ��. So, before I did my creative writing course, I had listed down some possible chapters I wanted to write.

Before knowing more about you as a person, a few words to our readers and why one should read your new book.

The book is an emotional journey covering various aspects of life, from sadness to happiness, and showcasing deep bonds of friendship.


How is Harish as a person? What are his likes and dislikes?

As a person, I am focused on what I want to achieve. Though I am a serious person by nature, I can lighten the environment by cracking some PJs. I love walking and cooking. My sister calls me “The experimental chef!!” or a “Dosa Maestro” as during my free time; I like to make healthy versions of a dish.

During your role as a Health Care IT professional, are there incidents that have been etched strongly in your memory? If you can, share one good and one bad with us!

I believe every memory (good/bad) is an experience that will teach you something. Let’s start with the one when I received an email “colored in red” and “All Caps” from my manager. The reason being we had gotten an escalation from the client. I had missed updating my manager about the same, and he heard it through someone else.

Your profile also says teaching is also a passion. How did this happen?

I pursued a Part-Time MBA, meaning I went to college every day from seven in the evening. The course was for three years; we even had weekend sessions, including Sundays. During the course, we were taught by various professors, and many were visiting faculties from the industry.

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Reading is definitely an art form that allows a person to explore the limits that one never expects. Being an avid reader is a blessing and boon. I came to know about Sonagachi in last year’s Tata Literature Festival book - Death in

Sonagachi by Rijula Das. When I came across Trinoyoni by Moitrayee Bhaduri, the tagline attracted me, and immediately picked up the book. But the story blew my mind and senses.

Trinoyoni is a dramatized version of Troilokya Debi's real-life story as India's first known serial murderer. The plot follows Trinoyoni, known as Trina as a kid, from her birth in 1840 until her transformation into a serial killer.

The story's main hook is how circumstances pushed a simple innocent girl from a conventional household to become the Slaughter of Sonagachi, Calcutta's famed redlight neighborhood. Trinoyoni's life is a roller coaster journey, from meeting her tutor Tara to accidentally landing in Sonagachi, to being the most renowned and sought-after prostitute, to killing many people.

The narrative is fascinating since it is based on a true incident that occurred more than a century ago. While the title and synopsis give away where the tale is going, the various twists and turns Trinoyoni's life takes throughout the novel are completely unexpected. Even the epilogue is an intriguing examination of a serial killer's psychology and the conditions that shape it.

Along with an intriguing plot, the novel contains a subtle but pertinent reflection on the socioeconomic realities of the time — when the country fell under British authority, famines led common people to resort to extreme tactics to live, widowed women had absolutely no life — and more. In the second part of the book, the police methods when there is no technology to break cases are intriguing.


There are several characters, but the author takes care to weave them into the plot in a way that does not confuse the reader. Of course, Trinoyoni is the most engaging and one-of-a-kind protagonist you've ever read about. I wish the author had given us greater insight into her mind and her relationship with Ram Babu, as well as her willingness to be an accomplice, which eventually rendered her vicious.

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Micro Review

Calcutta on Your Plate by Nilosree Biswas

The book explains in detail how every food item is prepared with love with a story behind the dish that dates to Calcutta but not Kolkata. In the book, one can also see how the Indians during the British era were looking for better opportunities. One such opportunity was that of growing tea in Darjeeling and parts of Calcutta and globalizing the market. This started a revolution and even today we can see how famous Darjeeling tea is.

With many interesting tales and facts, the book is loaded with stories that will allow everyone to change their perspective toward Bengali food.

A must-read book for all those crazy food lovers!

v i e
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A Book that Breaks Sensitive Hearts

The issue of queer living is frequently taboo or ignored out of concern about perception. But nobody should be discouraged from discussing it since doing so is crucial. We will grow more accepting of the LGBTQ community as long as we are more transparent about it. And acceptance is crucial because it's the first step toward equality.

The lifestyles of LGBTQ persons must be clarified because there are many misconceptions about them.

The prose of Rangnekar stinks of bigotry, yet the events' ambiguity and allusive reference lessen the overall impact.

He presents an alternative viewpoint that highlights the difficulties one encounters in this conventional society. The book will surely break sensitive hearts for all the incidents Ragnekar explained in the book.

Pic: Sharif D. Rangnekar Sharif D. Rangnekar is a writer, curator, workplace inclusion consultant, and singersongwriter. Reviewed by Swapna Peri

The book will surely break sensitive hearts for all the incidents Ragnekar explained in the book.

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Micro Review

India after 1947: Reflections & Recollections by Rajmohan Gandhi

The book has received positive reviews for its in-depth research, transparent and objective writing style, and balanced presentation of the events. Critics have praised the author's ability to provide context and perspective on the events of the past and their relevance to the present. It is widely considered a must-read book for anyone interested in understanding India's post-independence history.

Overall, Rajmohan Gandhi's "India After Gandhi" is a wellresearched and well-written book that provides a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of India's postindependence history. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the country's political, economic, and social developments.

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e w

Kalki Krishnamurthy (1899-1954) was a Tamil writer and journalist from India, who is best known for his historical fiction novels set in the South Indian Chola Dynasty period.

He wrote over 300 novels and short stories, many of which were serialized in popular Tamil magazines. Some of his most famous works include "Ponniyin Selvan" (Son of Ponni) and "Sivagamiyin Sabatham" (Sivagami's Oath). His works are known for their vivid descriptions of the culture and society of the Chola period, as well as for their strong characterization and attention to historical detail.

Gowri Ramnarayan is the inhouse playwright and artistic director of JustUs Repertory. Formerly deputy editor, and vocal accompanist to renowned Carnatic musician M.S. Subbulakshmi, Ramnarayan has authored original plays, children’s books, and a biography of M.S. Subbulakshmi.

Delving deep into "Sound of Waves", this is one of Kalki's most well-known books. The book was first released in Tamil, and then it was translated into other Indian languages. The novel is set in the early 20th century and follows the story of a young man named Raja, who is a freedom fighter and struggles against the British Raj in India.

the novel is highly acclaimed for its historical accuracy and its portrayal of the Indian independence movement. The seaside community, its inhabitants, and their way of life are all vividly described in the book. It also looks at issues like love, tradition, and how contemporary India is evolving.

The book's evocative prose, strong characters, and compelling depiction of rural life have won accolades from critics. The novel, which is regarded as a masterpiece of Tamil literature, has received a considerable amount of attention and praise for how well it captures the sufferings of the rural poor.


Overall, "Sound of Waves" by Kalki Krishnamurthy is a moving and potent book that offers an interesting view into the life of the rural poor in India. It is extensively read and acclaimed for its depiction of rural life and is regarded as a masterpiece of Indian literature. Visit for full review

Micro Review

The Greatest Goan Stories Ever Told by Manohar Shetty

The eminent writers such as Laxmanrao Sardessai and Vimala Devi to contemporary writers like Damodar Mauzo, Ramnath Gajanan Gawade, JessicaFaleiro, and Derek Mascarenhas are fortunately the storytellers in this book. One must be extremely proud and feel lucky for reading this book.

Each of the 27 stories drips with humanity, emotions, and heart-touching characters. The book is an account to understand what Goa is about until it because a mere party place.

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The plot begins with the death of a man, who leaves behind his wife and two children. Hridaan, the eldest child, realises at an early age that his family is denied of his father's wealth and success.

Hridaan had no clue he would face so many challenges in his working life. Working on deadlines and hearing rejections stresses out the twenty-two-year-old programmer. However, he was not prepared to be stung by office politics, which harmed his chances of quick growth.

Moving on, he is now heading on a journey with his newfound friends to discover the delightful side of the business. But, with new challenges looming daily, he fears he won't be able to live unless he becomes creative. Can Hridaan prove his value to support his family and pursue his dreams?

Many layers of a person's life are touched within the book, both emotionally and mentally. It is separated into 53 chapters, each with its charm, startling aspects, and well-balanced emotions. The book contains emotions, feelings, and lessons that may be learned. Author Harish's work as a teaching faculty member aided in effectively conveying various life lessons.

All of the characters in the story have great scope and power. Every character is introduced at the appropriate moment, with an appropriate tale and strength. On the other hand, as previously said, the characters, like the plot, are full of life, excitement, and truth.

This book is suitable for all readers of fiction stories. It is also ideal for beginning readers and young people just starting out in their careers. The narrative revolves around human relationships, emotions, workplace politics, life, and the puzzles that life throws at us.


Overall, "Sound of Waves" by Kalki Krishnamurthy is a moving and potent book that offers an interesting view into the life of the rural poor in India. It is extensively read and acclaimed for its depiction of rural life and is regarded as a masterpiece of Indian literature. Visit for full review

Micro Review

The Heart of Work by S.V. Nathan

This 292-page book prominently focuses on harmony at the job with a pursuit of meaningful work balance. Themes like values-driven goals are explained through practical exercises and real-time case studies.

In conclusion, this book is a valuable guide or the Bible for anyone seeking to improve their work-life with a sense of satisfaction at the end. Every individual deserves a peaceful sleep after a day's work. If the work and life balance are perfect, their career and benefits will reap extraordinary results.

This is a recommended book to all those who are looking for work-life balance.

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There Comes She

There comes she Showering her graces To the people of earth Who awaits her all year through Her love never fades away As her affection is so true.

There is she Wearing a white long outfit Swaying and dancing Making the environment chilly Making everyone happy.

Her snowy white color Makes nature elated Nature also drowns in her beauty Everywhere you see is the snowy streets and snow-capped hills. Giving a sense of chills. She is none other She is our season winter For whom we wait All the year through She gives us relief From the scorching heat Making us feel the coldness Of the cold weather Which we embrace forever...

In a few words, Aparna defines a woman who beholds high aspirations and firmly believes in expanding her horizon. She holds a Master's degree in English Literature from Mumbai University. By profession, she is a Website Content Writer.

Her poems got published on the Indian Literature website named Facestory' Currently, her stories and poems get published in the anthology books in the eminent Reflection Magazine and in the renowned digital magazine, Storizen.

She is bestowed with the Indian Global Award 2022 and has been felicitated with a medal in the Tagore Literature Festival 2022 by Literoma.

Her world revolves around creativity and writing. She wishes to make her mark in the literary world, hoping to leave an indelible imprint on the readers' minds.


That Cozy Quilt I Forgot...

by Madhumathi H.

Darker, colder days

All the warmth faraway Oh the winter blues...! Serotonin they say, but my soul knows Where my bonfire, and smiles hide...

A random stranger's smile in a train journey Like a piping hot tea That whiff of Coral Jasmine on a misty morning...

"I thought of you", messages Followed by poems, art, scenic pictures... Songs, as voice messages from sweetheart friends

One long loving hug from a go-to soul

A reassuring phone call Conversation that wipes the tears, beyond the distances...

I find warmth, in seemingly ordinary moments

In brutally honest people In art, in Nature, and Sometimes

For all the shivering, lonely trudging in snow For all the let down/desolatefeelings lifeoverwhelms me with I run to the mirror

And find my Serotonin, bonfire Becoming my own Sunshine I beat my blues, becoming that stranger Who smiles at a random soul

In offering warmth, I meet within, the season I most long for...

A bilingual poet-writer(Tamil, English), Madhumathi. H is an ardent lover of Nature, Poetry, Photography, and Music.

Her poems are published in Anthologies of The Poetry Society(India), CPC- Chennai Poetry Circle's EFFLORESCENCE, IPC's(India Poetry Circle) Madras Hues Myriad Views, Amaravati Poetic Prism 2015, and in e-zines UGC approved Muse India, Storizen, OPA – Our Poetry Archives, IWJInternational Writers Journal, Positive Vibes, Science Shore. e-Anthologies Monsoon moods - Muse India, Green Awakenings - On Environment, by Kavya-Adisakrit.

Ignite Poetry, Breathe Poetry, Dream Poetry, and Soul shores have 10 of her poems published, Soul Serenade, Shades of LoveAIFEST, Arising from the dust, Painting Dreams, Shards of unsung Poesies, are some of the Anthologies her poems, and write-ups are part of. (2020 to 2022)

Besides Poetry, Madhumathi writes on Mental health, to create awareness, break the stigma, believing in the therapeutic, transformational power of words.

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