Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lost In The Abyss

(Image Credit: Martin Stranka)

I look at the depth
and I see love
deep, mystical
alluring and calm

I leap
and like those promises
my body entangles
in a mess
the heart, a fragile token
of memories
lost in the abyss

I measure not the pain
but a silent whisper
that seeps into my soul
caressing the wound
and then I grow weak
like the faltering echo
I wither away in rhymes





Tuesday, July 29, 2014

She Weeps In Her Cage

(Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org)


a few birds flutter
in clear blooming horizon
she weeps in her cage


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Horizons - Clear.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Black List

There is a unique magnificence in black, an appealing lustrous delight that isn't inherent in other colors. Black is like that blanket which carries the strength to overrule all other shades. Black signifies authority, power, virtue, beauty and élan, all at the same time.

When given the option to select five black things, a lot of random thoughts came into my mind. Black encompasses us in ways more than we can imagine. Innumerable objects possessing this color can be regarded as fantasy and deserve to be added into any wish list. However, I pondered deeply, and after hours of racking my brain, I came up with the following five black items that I would love to own in the present scenario.

1) Black Hair

Still in my late twenties, it gave me a fright when a few white strands appeared on the tips of my head. Mirrors wouldn’t deceive, but how I wish they could at times. Over the months, the count of white strands kept increasing, making me feel older than I am.

An all - black hair is what I need, not only today and tomorrow, but forever, till death do, me and my hair, apart. After all, it does hurt when college going girls start calling you uncle.

White hair is a sure shot villain. Turn them into black, please!!!



2) Black Clothes

Call me lazy if you wish, but washing clothes on a regular basis is a real menace. The shiny white shirts soon turn into gray, and I have to spend almost an hour cleaning hordes of them. Same is the case with other colors. Whether it’s red, green or blue, they all lose their shine after a few wears.

Now, imagine all the clothes are made of black fabric. The dust accumulated on them are not easily visible unless one observes them from close quarters. Thus, it is easy to wear and carry them, ‘cause they always look fresh and smart. Black also holds a certain degree of charisma and dignity, adding that much needed zing in your personality.



3) Black Penguin

Remember the TV show ‘Pingu’? The animated series used to be my favorite, and I never missed a single episode. Now, I always wanted to have a penguin as a pet, the way they flap their wings, and their walk is oh-so-cute. A black penguin would thus add a new joy to my household, giving me company when I eat my favorite rice and fish curry.

However, a penguin needs to be kept in a cold place. Perhaps, I need to rent an ice-skating rink, but then that would require a lot of money right?. Chill, it’s just a wish – list, but if I really need money to fulfill it, the fourth item comes to my rescue.



4) Black Briefcase

I love watching old Bollywood movies, where there is a hero, a heroine, and a villain. The villain, while indulging in monetary transaction, exchanges black briefcase with the concerned parties, and lo, when the briefcase is opened to verify its contents, the audience could see bundles of notes stashed neatly in it.

A black briefcase like that, with loads and loads of money, would certainly fulfill all my basic needs, wishes and desires. No more cash worries, no fear of depleting bank accounts, but only dreams of how to spend this large sum of money. Yes, a black briefcase, just like those villains carried, would change my world for the good.



5) Black Ship

I would love to roam the world, in my own black ship, charting the oceans and the horizons that promise adventures anew. Stories of travelers have always fascinated me, and who knows, I too might come upon an island that has not been discovered yet, adding a new country on the global map

Nevertheless, visiting new shores certainly is an enriching experience, and battling the waves and tides would definitely be exciting. Also, black ships symbolize the ending of isolation. In that respect, meeting new people across the globe, learning their culture and knowing about traditions that I have only read in books, will surely drive away all traces of isolation from my soul.




(Image Credits: http://whitenoise.gizmodo.com/, http://www.vectors4all.net, http://www.nothingbutpenguins.com, http://thenewinquiry.com, http://scary-wallpaper.blogspot.in)


This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com

Blackistan

Black is the power, Black is the shade
Black will last, when the rest shall fade
Black is me, and black is you
Black is in old, black is in new
Black is freedom, and valor unfurled
Black ain't a word, Black is the World.

And with these thoughts in mind have I framed up my world, a country named Blackistan where I can be comfortably curled. A land of hopes and a state of dreams, a place where happiness crosses all realms. This is my list, a wish to be precise, when black comes embracing in my premise.

Five points you ask, and five points shall I tell, life would have been fun, if I had a wishing well.

1) Black Chocolate River

Can a country survive without water for long? Oh no no no, that would be so freaking wrong. But hey, here is a twist, what in place of water, chocolates exist? Yes, a dark chocolate river would flow through my land, gifting smiles and contentment like a magic wand. Hearts would wander in the tide, this black river would be my nation's pride.



Black  is delicious, black is lip smacking, this river would be the life, of every living being.

2) Black Taj Mahal

Since years so long have we heard its stories, fascinated by the tales and all the mysteries. Did Shah Jahan really plan to build, a black Taj Mahal, his desire left unfulfilled? Imagine its beauty flooded by the moon, on a cool silvery night when all eyes shall swoon. How I wish the Black Taj to adorn my land, a monument so phenomenal and magically grand.



Black is beauty, black is grace, the shining Black Taj, would illuminate earth and the space.

3) Black Hole

Wouldn't it be better if our lives could glitter, without any tension and all associated fritter. So here shall I wish for a good Black Hole, that would suck all evils from every weary soul, rejuvenating lives in the process, freeing people from every anxiety and stress. A celestial aura shall descend, absorbing the negativities from end to end.



Black is pure, black wouldn't deceive, taking away our miseries, black is positive.

4) Black Google

What about knowledge, what about fun, every world needs a glowing sun. Google would be the savior, the messiah of infotainment, but black in color, an all new statement. The white background, now replaced by black, all sorts of wisdom, to be on the right track. But why black you say, when white has its way? 'cause black has a splendor, and a majestic grandeur.



Black is the origin, black is divine, black is the universe, yours and mine. 

5) Black Flag

Too much of governance have we seen, politicians have left our country unclean. Scams and treachery have looted the land, now is the time to take our stand. A black flag to oppose all wrong politics, let's live our lives without wily tricks. Be responsible for ourselves, and our country, a land of peace wouldn't lead to black money. Walking hand in hand, a new world we frame, let them not play with us anymore, we are not a game.



Black is authority, black will rule, to bring back good time, black's the perfect tool.


(Image Credits - https://www.behance.net/, http://youtube.com/, http://abyss.uoregon.edu, http://www.computerforum.com, http://commons.wikimedia.org)




This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com



Friday, July 25, 2014

Hidden In Patterns Of Simplicity

(Image Source: http://withrealtoads.blogspot.in/2014/07/words-count-with-mama-zen.html)


there are stories
hidden in patterns
of simplicity
of times gone by
before genes knew the word
'mutation'

beauty is in discovery
of a world, so old
and yet refreshingly new
to the traveler within

look through the hourglass
of the past ebbing away
the land will have them preserved
so that, someday
we can find our way




Be The Power



Perhaps, often, in lonely summer nights have I wondered, what if, only if, the choices I had made were governed not by plain instincts, but by sheer logic? What if a few words of wisdom had evoked my senses before it was too late, before I had taken the final step, blindfolded, not knowing that I was standing on the edge, and a fall was inevitable? Would life have been better if I only acted wiser?

True, we all make mistakes. True, we all learn from mistakes; but then again, don’t we all crave for a perfect guide, a perfect companion, someone who would advise us about the rights and wrongs of life, ‘cause even though we are all mature humans, we still fail to identify what’s good for us and what’s not when time decides to play hide and seek with us.

And to make my argument all the more simpler, don’t we all crave for a friend, who would be with us at all times, in all places?

Oh my dear smartphone, do you have the power to be the one, the candle, the burning lamp, throwing light on the roads that are often marred with lies and deceptions, holding my hands when I fall, patting my back when I rise again, and whispering words of strength when I walk among boulders?

You could ward away my loneliness, you know, talking with me at times, sharing what would be good for me and what not. You would, adorned with intelligence more real than artificial, embrace my soul like a real person would, cracking jokes when the chips are down, making me smile, making me laugh.

Whether one acknowledges it or not, but it’s a reality that the attention of people today is more focussed towards their mobile phones than towards their friends or family members. Games, social networking, and what not, a cell phone offers you everything, well, almost. In that respect, is it too much to ask for a super power that will make the phone understand human emotions, resulting in a much needed companionship based on sentiments?

I have hurt people in the past, in the process marring relationships that promised a lot. Why, oh why were you not adorned with the powers, my dear smartphone, to tell me not to cross the lines, and not to over step the threshold of anger? A calmer mind would have set many wrongs right? Why were you not there to hold on to my nerves, soothing my mood and eventually helping me to set things in motion?

Can you see the future? Definitely you could, but hey no, I am not asking you to tell me what all is going to happen with me tomorrow. Absolutely not. However, I do expect you to keep me away from the paths of evil, and take me across the lanes of righteousness and virtue.

I do expect, that when I fall in love, you would help me stay calm, and be sane, and make me strong and responsible enough to not fall out of it.

I do expect, that on nights like these, when the moon hides behind the clouds, you would be the silver lining in the horizon, listening to my complaints and woes, and then applying the much needed balm through your assuring words.

I do expect, that when the tides are high, you would be the perfect ‘zen’, encasing me with an aura of peace and serenity.

Oh my dear smartphone, be the power, and make the world glow in rays of hope and love. We have seen too much of wrong already. Now is the time to set things right.



This is my entry to '#IncredibleZEN' contest organized by Indiblogger in association with Asus-Zenfone.

Check out the official page below:



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Strings, Attached

(Image Credit: Kiyo Murakami)


would you mind holding on to the strings
till dusk gives way to dawn
sunshine is just around the corner
darkness, no longer shall we mourn

let tough times be memories
scribbled on pages of time
when we are attached by the strings of love
do we need a second reason to rhyme


This Poem is shared with Photo Challenge #18 - Strings Attached.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Three Little Bats



three little bats
hanging from the ceiling
in my bedroom

oh dear bats
do please come down
down down down

on an night like this
when summer blows hot kisses
let's turn on the fan


This Haiku is shared with Carpe Diem - Issa's Hot Night.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Any Writer Must Also Be A Re-Writer"

Kiran Khalap is an Indian writer and author. He co-founded Chlorophyll Brand Consulting. His travel writing is publishing in Man’s World. Kiran Khalap won the Indo-UK Asian Age short story competition in the year 1995. He has also authored the book Two Pronouns and a Verb.

'Halfway Up The Mountain' is the story of Maya, who hails from a village and belongs to a traditional family. Although she comes across as a simple girl, Maya fights adversities and many-a-heartbreak with conviction and an unassuming courage. The men in her life that she gets the closest to abandon her but she lives through all these trying times as an independent, free and successful human being. What strikes the most about her is the humane side and how she manages to live in a society which doesn't appreciate the integrity of single independent women. While unraveling the story of Maya, the author subtly brings out other elements like homosexuality, sexual politics, painting, poetry and music, and all this in an Indian context. Although we like the idea of a modern India, certain insensitive practices and mind-set still seem to prevail in our society and the book deals with them all in a brilliant story-telling elegance.


To read the full review of 'Halfway Up The Mountain', click here.





Congratulations Kiran for your novel ‘Halfway Up The Mountain’. It was a pleasure reading it, and as mentioned in my review, has all the ingredients to be labeled as a modern day classic. Knowing more about you, and the book would be an added bonus. In case you find any question offensive, you can skip it. I apologize in advance for such instances.


Tell us about yourself – your childhood and your family. 

When I was born (my father told me this story) my parents lived in one half of a 10 feet x10 feet room in Girgaon Mumbai: it was sunless, so he named me Kiran.

I had an enviably happy childhood. Even today, my school friends refer to my home as the Sanctuary of Happiness: my dad had a great sense of humour; my mom was great at cooking coastal food and homemade sweets.

My father was an auto-didact: he became one of the top commercial artists in India without the benefit of school, college or art school. He was my biggest influence, my closest friend.

I studied in a school Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai, then graduated in chemistry from SIES College Sion and then became a teacher in a J Krishnamurti school in Benaras: I was just 20 when I made this decision. 

J Krishnamurti was the second biggest influence in my life.

I taught in Rajghat Besant School, as it was known, for four years.  

As a housemaster, I also looked after students, who were barely five or six years younger to me:-) I taught everything I knew: calligraphy, judo, gymnastics, swimming, rock climbing, English grammar, science, quizzing...


Why and when did you decide to become a writer?

I did not decide to become a writer. 

Writing came as naturally to me as breathing. I think of this ability as ‘not mine’, I am a vehicle for this gift.

My non-fiction articles were published in newspapers and magazines even while I was in college.

But when I won the Indo-UK Asian Age Short Story competition in 1995, I realised that my fiction writing could also connect with readers (at least some of them!).

When I started my own consultancy, chlorophyll, in 1999, there was a sense of entrepreneurship and release...and along with that a need to do things I had left behind. I got back to rock climbing, one of my three passions, and started on Halfway Up the Mountain. 

Today I see the act of writing is an act of sharing.

‘Here is what I have experienced, here is what I have discovered as valuable for human beings, do you want to experience that same sense of liberation?’ 

That is what I want I want my books to say. 

I want to write about light, not about darkness. 

I want to write about the unchanging aspects of man, not about the changing.


How was the entire journey of ‘Halfway Up The Mountain’, right from the inception of the idea to the publication of the paperback?

It began with confusion, as would be the case for any first time writer. 

In 1999 the web wasn’t as rich as it is today, so my attempts to find a literary agent online were fruitless. 

Then my friend N Chandar referred me to Jayapriya Vasudevan, India’s first literary agent. 

She changed my life as an author. I call her ‘the most skilled literary obstetrician’! and joke that she has no other organs in her body except a giant heart! She is passionate about everything she does. 

She liked the book so much she said, “Kiran I want to publish it myself.”

That’s how her firm, Jacaranda, published it first in 2003 in India. I was glad that the launch was done by one of India’s finest writers, the late Arun Kolatkar, who was my father’s hero.

Then in 2005, Marion Boyars, publishers of the famous Ken Kesey book ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, published it in UK and US.

I visited those countries and read from my book: it was a different experience, being interviewed on BBC and ITV New York; explaining concepts of advaita; answering extremely knowledgeable audiences.

Later I also read from the book in Beijing and Singapore, encouraged (and hosted) as usual by Jayapriya Vasudevan.


‘Halfway Up The Mountain’ narrates the life of a woman in the society. What influenced you to take up this topic as the plot of your novel?

My mother used to fall ill intermittently in Mumbai, so our family worked out an arrangement: my female cousins, whose families were in villages, would stay with us to help her with the housework and in the bargain get educated in good schools. 

I used to wonder what happened to them when they returned to the village.

And conversely, what would happen to them if they stayed on? 

Then I learnt the concept of ecological refugees: human beings who had to leave because their own villages and cities could not sustain them. That is how the character of Maya was born.

Since the novel is set between 1936 and 1979, it had to reflect the big shifts in the life of the nation along with Maya’s: India being born; Maharashtra being born; Indian artists going abroad to learn the Western narratives of art and so on. 

So Maya has to bear the brunt of casteist and patriarchal attitudes from those years; though I assume some women even today suffer the ignominy of being treated as chattel.

In Benaras, I had learnt the Atmashatakam by Adi Shankaracharya, and I thought, the very idea of a shloka flowering within a girl as she turns into a woman was unique.


What are your other published works, and what projects are you currently working upon?

My second novel ‘Two Pronouns and a Verb’ (which translates as ‘I love you’ ‘She hates him’ or ‘Who am I?”) was published by Amaryllis in 2012. 

Here I have used ayurveda as a leit motif. Ayurveda says there are three key psychosomatic constitutions, and these affect the way each individual perceives reality. So I thought of three friends, representing three constitutions, interpreting the same reality differently.

I got some heart-warming responses to the book: they are all on www.kirankhalap.com

My third book is ‘Black River Run’: I haven’t finished it yet. Black River refers to the tar road; so the protagonist is a taxi driver, who is influenced by Swami Samarth Ramdas, probably the only human being representing evolution at all three levels: body, mind and spirit.

So Buva, the protagonist, attempts to live like him, but his passengers and his neighbours create circumstances that trap him.


When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?

My day job is a brand consultant; my night job is writing; my weekend job is hiking or rock climbing:-) 


Who are your role models in life?

My only role model is my father: he created his life with what he had; he never complained about circumstances. He was cracking jokes with me even when he lay on death bed, paralysed by Parkinson’s. 

I also have great respect for Babasaheb Ambedkar, whose achievements transcended his life circumstances. 


Had you not been a writer, what would you have been?

Travel writer-cum-photographer-cum-rock climber. Take one large van to live in, two dogs, two cats (one wife if she wants to join in:-)), go to exotic rock climbing destinations, shoot photographs, write about them. (I have written quite a few travel articles of Man’s World magazine).


What would be your message to the aspiring writers?

My identity is not linked to what I do, so inside my head, I am just a human being attempting to reach the next level of evolution, not a writer. 

But the one lesson I know is true for reaching excellence in any activity is practice. 

I had the privilege of having the great painter FN Souza in my home during his last Christmas, and he said, “Kiran, I can no longer draw badly, because drawing is part of my metabolism”. 

My dad filled sketch book after sketch book till he achieved his excellence.

Any writer must also be re-writer. 

Rewrite till the words have the exact sharpness and economy of meaning you want. 


What would you like to say to your readers?

My love and gratitude to you for joining me in this pilgrimage.


Thanks a lot Kiran for your valuable time. Wishing you all the best for your current and future endeavours.



Monday, July 21, 2014

A Zest-Filled Life

Life isn’t meant to be fun all the times. There would be time when one would feel down, low and dejected, frustrated with the monotonicity all around. How can one overcome these and get back his moments of shine?

Do what makes you happy, not for others, but for your own self, ‘cause life is short. Why not pass it with a sprinkling of zest?

I too face tough times, like anyone else, which is quite normal. However, I have learnt to stay positive, trying to revive the energy in one way or the other. If I have to list down five factors that add zest to my life, well, they would be as follows:

1) TRAVEL
What better way to unwind than to explore places? Yes, I love to travel, and travel a lot. Mountains or beaches, islands or valleys, anything, just anything would do to quench my thirst of adventure. It’s always a pleasure to learn about the cultures of other places, the process resulting in self-discovery.

2) DANCE
I am not a versatile dancer, and to be honest, I am blessed with two left feet. But dancing and swinging to groovy beats does give me a high. Dance has the tendency to make you forget about all your tensions, and fills you with positive energy. At least, that’s the case with me.

3) FAMILY
Staying away from family does add in me the anticipation to meet them. However, due to hectic work schedule, regular meeting isn’t possible. Counting days, and realizing that the time when I will again meet my family is nearing adds a renewed zest in me. This is one important factor that keeps me going, guiding me through across all the ups and downs of life.

4) RUN
As the heartbeat quickens, and the muscles move in sync, I feel free. Running has been an escape route for me from all the negativities of life. Jogging on early mornings and evenings (on weekends) keep my mind focused, and helps me stay rejuvenated.

5) FRIDAY
Unfortunately, this comes just four days a month, but then again, good things are rare. Fridays are like a whiff of fresh air, fragrant and blooming. While Mondays give me blues, Fridays fill my life with colors and hues. Fridays surely are a blessing of the Gods. I have no clue how I, or everyone else, could have coped up with their lives without Fridays.


This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and BlogAdda.com




A Few Rays Of Love

a few rays of love
drench this war infested land
I shall be content


This Haiku is shared with



Sunday, July 20, 2014

High 'Five' Zest

Tucked in my bed, welcoming the monsoon with a steaming cup of coffee and a riveting novel, as the clock silently strikes 12, the moon seeping in through my room … yes, that is zest for me. Reading has always given me the pleasure of exploring a new world, unearthing mysteries that are born in the pages of the authors’ imaginations. The best healer, the best lover, and the best friend, books certainly rate high in my world.

Thankfully, organizations nowadays have come up with several activities that keep their employees feeling happy and refreshed, and helps them to relieve their stress caused due to incessant work load. One of the games that I am involved in is Table Tennis. What can I say about it, friends? A round of Table Tennis, and it surely gives me a boost. A winning run, no doubt, heightens the feeling.

The world is adorned in paints. Don’t we all marvel at the sight of a rainbow decorating the horizon? Thankfully, I am blessed with this love of colors. A fluent brush strokes on my canvas, smeared in hues red, blue and yellow, and tinges of red and green, and time stops still. Passion can, at times, not be defined by words, but with these magical shades.

And like most guys, I do love my PS3 (Play Station). Challenging my brother in games such as Counter Strike and FIFA is fun. The contest is evenly matched, with each of us winning almost equal number of games, and that’s what makes this all the more thrilling. The day ends with plans to get hold of a new game, for the upcoming weekend, the battle planned well ahead in our minds, the strategies flowing in the nerves of we hardcore gamers. Yes, exhilarating truly.

I make it a point to keep an hour daily for myself, and my time with God. Closing my eyes, sitting in the puja room, with the divine scent of incense sticks, my mind experiences an altogether different sensation of zest. I feel calm, and at the same time, energetic, feeling all my worries seep away in the embrace of the almighty. Prayers are a vital part of my daily activity, keeping my optimism, and zest alive, and running.


This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and BlogAdda.com


Zest

How often do we complain about our lives? How much time do we spend brooding over the things that have not been, rather than feeling grateful for what we have? How many of us are keen to ponder over the factors that make us cry rather than delving deeper to find the reasons to smile?

Perhaps, that’s what we humans have got accustomed to over the passage of time, worrying about things that are not in our control. Why can’t we, instead, pay attention to matters that add a zest to our lives?

The best thing would be to note down the things that make us happy, satisfied and energetic. In that way, they would emanate positive vibes that surely would flow towards us.

Strumming Strings
What would life be without music? Solitude serves as bliss when I have my guitar with me, the strings providing a much needed camaraderie. As my heart wanders in search of melody, the ambiance is filled with an unparalleled zest and vigour. Guitar surely comforts, and at the same time, uplifts my mood after a hard day’s work.

Weaving Words
Penning down stories and poems have been my passion. As such, it’s difficult to stay away from the writing zone for too long. Even a few lines provide the much needed zest and zing to life, and completion of a piece of writing, and receiving constructive criticism surely turns out to be a blessed satisfaction.

Moon-lit Roads
Another favourite activity of mine is driving my car on late nights. This is usually reserved for Fridays and Saturdays, and steering ahead on the smooth silvery roads surely gives a pleasurable high. However, to all who love driving, one shouldn’t be rash and not exceed the speed limit.

Yes, Yoga
Health is wealth, and it’s all the more relevant in today’s world due to the cut throat competition all around us. Apart from physical well – being, mental relaxation is important too. Thus, my day starts with an hour of Yoga, a habit that has instilled a sense of positivity in my daily routine, along with a much needed excitement and boost to welcome the new dawn.

And A Best Friend
When you live all by yourself in a distant city, a friendly welcome once you are back from work does add a spark in your mundane life. Same is the case with me. As I unlock the door to enter my 1 BHK apartment, Tuffy, my dear Pomeranian, does add a whiff of freshness, hugging and licking me all over. Love is self-less, and it's so well reflected in his language.

Zest for me can surely be defined in the aforementioned manner. A blessing, a charm, a way of life, filled with fun, optimism and passion.


This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and BlogAdda.com.






Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Rugged Steps



your sole hits the soul
burnt and battered
bruised and tattered
the worn out edges
tell many a tale
of sighs and fears
that envelop the mansion
in brimming despair

will you walk those rugged steps
again, holding on to faith
and the desire to unscramble a happy note
or will you turn away in fury
hurt and dejected, eager to start afresh
'cause you know broken glasses mend
not two hearts, a faint trail scratching through your dreams
urging for a better tomorrow


This Poem is shared with Magpie Tales.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Maharaja In Denims - Review

A tale of love, intrigue, and passion!
Chandigarh: a modern city with all the trappings of the uber-rich – snazzy SUVs, glitzy homes, and fast-paced, decadent lifestyles.
Hari and Suzanne: a young, lusty, college-going couple. While living the life of a normal teenager, Hari starts getting flashes of his past life – which tell him he’s an incarnation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the mighty founder of Sikh empire two hundred years ago. And when Suzanne attempts to decode Hari’s past life through regression, their lives change forever as many shocking past lives are discovered
Interwoven throughout the unfolding of Hari and Suzanne’s present day story are vignettes of Ranjit Singh’s life and loves, valour and conquests. When Suzanne helps Hari uncover the secrets of his past life, they stumble upon people and incidents that link the present day to the turbulent and disturbing history of Punjab.
The intense story moves to England and then to Mumbai, with an astonishing revelation at the end, which is set in the future yet has a deep historical resonance. A modern tale, Maharaja in Denims is moving, bold, and racy.

Author the Author
Khushwant Singh itinerant writer; columnist ('Punjabi by Nature' in the Hindustan Times); TV anchor; kinnow grower; husband to Harmala; father to Adiraj; connoisseur of the single malt – a life he wouldn't switch for anything.



With a title as interesting as ‘Maharaja in Denims’, you would be tempted to go for the novel. After all, isn't curiosity a major factor that affects a reader’s decision in picking up a book? The cover pic complements the title well, illustrating a jeans clad Maharaja holding a sword. Based on the backdrop of the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who reincarnates in the form of Hari, a young college going teen, this book sure promises some adventures and urges the readers to opt for this historical  fiction that takes place in modern world.

Past life regression is what takes the story forward. Hari often sees glimpses of his previous births, which points to the belief that he was Maharaja Ranjit Singh in one of his past lives, the founder of the Sikh empire. Suzanne, his girl-friend, decides to help him by delving deeper into the mysteries of his previous births, and takes the aid of past life regression therapy. However, after each session, the mystery deepens, and flashes of several past lives come knocking into their present, affecting them in ways more than one.

Along with Hari and Suzanne’s love story, the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh also unfolds, taking us on a tour of the country a couple of centuries back. Not only are his exploits and bravery documented, but his sexual adventures and lust too have been given prominence in this book. Somehow, the flirtatious nature of Hari and his desire to get up, close and personal with every girl he meets and finds attractive has been linked to this attribute of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Often, this hinders the flow and makes the plot drab at places, as the same sexual under currents keep appearing now and again, making it a tad bit monotonous.

The story is well researched and it shows in the snippets of information that the author has put through. The struggle and hardship faced by people, and specially the Sikhs, in times past and present, often leaves a deep impression on your mind. The state of Punjab itself has been portrayed as a major character in the story, and one navigates through the turmoil and disturbances that the city has often witnessed.

Hari is the protagonist in the piece. However, more than the characterization, the emphasis has been laid on the story and the plot development, which is a good thing. However, the author has tried to bring in too much of historical information in the book, which at times makes one feel as if they are coming straight from the school books. Perhaps, a bit of trimming would have made the story tighter and crisper.

Khushwant Singh attempts a genre that’s not easy to execute. Bringing history to light often needs a lot of reflection and visual imagery. The author does a pretty decent job in this front. However, I often felt that perhaps a better work could have been done with the book. As mentioned before, too much of sexual references and historical information stall the pace of the narrative, and better handling of these matters would have resulted in a tighter script.

Nevertheless, for all lovers of historical fiction, this book will serve its purpose in keeping them engaged. If you fall into this category, then you can surely pick up a copy and have a go.


Title: Maharaja in Denims
Authors: Khushwant Singh
Publisher: Amaryllis
Publication Year: 2014
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Literature, Historical
No. of Pages: 184
Price: Rs 250
My Rating: 3/5


This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

So Little Time, So Many Books

(Image Source: http://www.factmonster.com)


"So many books, so little time" - Frank Zappa.

Now, if we reverse the statement, we get to the scenario that's persistent among the modern youth - "So little time, so many books."

Let us be pretty frank about it. The generation of today is no longer a voracious reader. True, there are book lovers around us, but again, if you compare the readers-non readers ratio that was prevalent, say, a couple of  decades ago, with the number today, you will notice a wide disparity.

The question to ask here is, why is reading a hobby limited to only a fragment of the society today?

When I was in junior and middle school, the internet hadn't made in-roads into households. There were no smartphones, no computer, no Facebook and Whatsapp to keep us glued to these devices. Thus, the sources of entertainment were limited to watching shows on Doordarshan, playing outdoor games with friends and of course, reading books. Hence, from the very beginning, book reading was inculcated deep into the system, the hobby gradually turning into a passion. Libraries were in full flow and people used to display their memberships with pride and elan.

Switch back to present day and you would find that the world has experienced a major shift. Books are no longer the preferred pastime. Boys and girls while their time away chatting with friends over social network, or chilling out with companions in the numerous hangout zones. Also, the rise in competition in every field, be it studies or jobs, have lead to a higher level of stress among the common people. The degree of patience and the availability of 'free' time has reduced. This again fails to give rise to new readers, since book reading requires a fair bit of concentration. Why would someone, having struggled ten hours in his workplace, or a student burdened with studies, spend an extra level of concentration reading books? They would surely resort to the internet and social networking to act as their stress busters.

However, as I stated earlier, there are definitely some people for whom reading is an addiction. They pick up one book after another, experiencing nirvana in the process. Unfortunately, they run the risk of being labeled as 'socially incapable nerds'. A non-reader would never realize the high that a reader savors while ruffling through the pages, but then, that's how it is.

We live in a free world where people have the option to pursue whatever hobby they want to. Reading is relaxing and therapeutic for the book lovers. At the same time, the others opt for avenues that suit their interests. We can never force people to read, but at-least we can show them the value associated with it. Books are not just a mean of gathering stories, but they also impact our knowledge in a positive way. We know about history and the current trends. Books transport us to places where we may not be able to go for real, and makes us witness several facets of the world we live in. Surely, reading books is rewarding, nourishing and cherishing, as well as relaxing.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” - Charles William Eliot.

I agree.


This post is my official entry to IndiSpire - Edition 20: Reading books has reduced dramatically in today's youth. Kids who read books are treated as socially incapable nerds. What is your take on this topic? #BookWorm




Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Our Hearts, Sync And Rhyme


let silence frame our words
as we hold on to time
the world obeys, for once
our hearts, sync and rhyme

This Poem is shared with Prompt # 62 - Mamihlapinatapei.



Monday, July 07, 2014

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Halfway Up The Mountain - Review

Maya hails from a village and belongs to a traditional family. Although she comes across as a simple girl, Maya fights adversities and many-a-heartbreak with conviction and an unassuming courage. The men in her life that she gets the closest to abandon her but she lives through all these trying times as an independent, free and successful human being. What strikes the most about her is the humane side and how she manages to live in a society which doesn't appreciate the integrity of single independent women. While unraveling the story of Maya, the author subtly brings out other elements like homosexuality, sexual politics, painting, poetry and music, and all this in an Indian context. Although we like the idea of a modern India, certain insensitive practices and mind-set still seem to prevail in our society and the book deals with them all in a brilliant story-telling elegance.

About the Author
Kiran Khalap is an Indian writer and author. He co-founded Chlorophyll Brand Consulting. His travel writing is publishing in Man’s World. Kiran Khalap won the Indo-UK Asian Age short story competition in the year 1995. He has also authored the book Two Pronouns and a Verb.



If there is a book that deserves to be rated alongside the modern day classics, then ‘Halfway Up The Mountain’ surely grabs that honor.

Kiran Khalap’s masterpiece is not just a story, nor another book on the shelf, but rather a conglomeration of feelings draped in the form of a paperback, revolving around the various questions encompassing life and death, love and relationship, tears and joy, and good and bad, attempting to answer the mysticism of the world, breathing tales that are inked not in syllables but which beat and resonate with the rhythm of the human heart.

‘Halfway Up The Mountain’ is the tale of Maya. Born in a village, Maya is raised in a conservative manner, learning the chores and the daily rituals of life. However, the loss of her father haunts her always, and she yearns for his missing love. She gets married to Ravindra, an artist, and encourages him to continue with his passion and try to shape his life with the aide of his colors. However, a misunderstanding on a storm and rain-infested night leads to her marriage life falling apart, and before she can absorb the severity of it all, she soon finds herself out of the place that she called home. With her new born child, Sharan (who Ravindra refuses to accept as his own), she trudges along the cross roads of life, braving the tides and finally emerging into a strength that overcomes all obstacles.

The first feature of the book that grabbed hold of my attention was its brilliant and innovative narration. I have read stories that follow the first and third person narrative style. However, here, the author resorts to an invisible narrator, who addresses ‘Maya’ as ‘you’, telling her story, and often throwing hints regarding her future. Who is the narrator then? Is it Destiny, or Time, or some other entity who silently watches our steps, walks with us, knows our stories, but we fail to identify it? Yes, this style of telling the story certainly added an ethereal charm to it, making it all the more attractive and intriguing.

The plot is neatly woven, and thanks to the beautiful story-line, there isn't a single dull moment in the book. The story at times seems real, and you are able to relate to the events. That makes reading a lot friendlier and easier, as the imagination guides you into the plot, and makes you witness the actions as one of the characters. The words are intricately laid, at times powerful, and on other occasions, sublime, perfectly swinging with the mood of the narration.

And what should I say about the characterization? Right from the protagonist, Maya, to her husband, Ravindra, her family and in-laws, her friends, her acquaintances, and her son, Sharan, the author has successfully inducted life and blood to each one of them. They hold stories of their own, walking on secrets bare-foot, hurt by thorns and pacified by hope. A common thread binds them all together – uncertainty. Yes, just like in real life, they too are not sure about their journey, but each one of them harbors a dream, a destination they wish to reach, resulting in a fresh tale of success and failure, falling at times and rising again.

‘Halfway Up The Mountain’ is one of the best novels I have come across in recent times. An heartfelt account, it traverses through your sensibilities, rendering you numb on various occasions, as you sail across its waves, an adventure that’s soothing to the soul. I wish this book had never ended. Maya and her story definitely have made a lasting impression on my mind, and heart.



Title: Halfway Up the Mountain
Authors: Kiran Khalap
Publisher: Amaryllis
Publication Year: 2014
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Literature, Contemporary Women
No. of Pages: 238
Price: Rs 295
My Rating: 5/5 



This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.


Enticingly Sumptuous

From a distance it looked like a garden, assembled in a glass container. As he inched closer, walking towards the window in the dining room, the steaming fragrance of chicken rice seeped in through his senses, turning him numb for a few moments, his eyes closed, as the hot blend of spices and warm basmati rice overpowered his taste buds.

He licked his lips, once, twice, thrice. The chicken rice, neatly presented in a Borosil casserole, resembled a heady concoction of colors, each possessing a different aura. The green capsicum, the white rice, the spicy chicken pieces and fragrant sprinkling of numerous vegetables added an alluring flavor to it. If fate would have been kinder, he could have been served those delicacies. Alas, it was not to be so.

He turned his gaze towards the center table, where a mix of cucumber, onion and carrots adorned the ambiance with its refreshing hues. An orchard that complements well with the garden, the rice, he thought. A mini plate, transparent, another product of Borosil, showcased these delicacies. On another side, a serving plate with brown mutton kebabs lured his hungry eyes. Soft and enticing, the shapely vapors emanating out of them had an enduring effect on him. Should he make a dash towards the room and grab a morsel? His stomach yearned to savor such inviting dishes.

A Borosil jug, filled with an orange ocean of tangy delight, completed the course. The juice, looked refreshing, and promised to satiate his thirsty soul. He has wandered for days, hungry and thirsty, and now finally it seemed God has answered his prayers. This was an opportunity he couldn't afford to miss.

Without delaying for even a minute, he ran straight to the dining table. His tongues plundered the nooks and corners of the casserole filled with chicken rice, ecstasy burning his inside with an amiable force he had never witnessed before. He munched on the kebabs, its softness gliding through his throat. Ah, such divine delicacy, certainly a gift humans are born with. He gobbled the salad and licked the orange juice, thanking his stars for having guided him to this house. Having satisfied his hunger, he jumped from the table.

“Mom, look … a cat!” a little boy squealed as he noticed the cat in the room.

“Oh God. It seems to have eaten everything that we had prepared,” his mother came rushing out of the kitchen.

The boy chased the cat, but the cat was quicker, running out of the house with a few sprightly leaps, licking his tongue in delight and hoping for another delicious sumptuous Borosil menu in the coming days.


This is my official entry to 'My Beautiful Food' contest organized by Indiblogger in association with Borosil.

Check out the official page below:



Saturday, July 05, 2014

Embracing The Farewell Dew

(Image Source: http://wallippo.com/)


before the spring equinox;
the cold will last
only a night or two more
                                    (Yasomura Rotsu)

My Continuation

before the spring equinox;
the cold will last
only a night or two more

kissing the white rose petals
embracing the farewell dew





Thursday, July 03, 2014

Creating A New Muse



I sit by the lake
when moon declines my invite
creating a new muse


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Horizons - Decline.



Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Heart And Spade



she digs out his heart
with a spade
a queen
controlling the king
possesses the powers
and the secret card
what story it guards
her gaze mysterious
silent
and yet it commands
authority so royal
an empire shall bow
to this enigma


This Poem is shared with