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This is the fourth issue of Storizen, thank you all for such an overwhelm-ing patronage and encouragement. Your ever increasing support, enthusi-asm and interest in the magazine have boosted our confidence manifold to go full throttle in showcasing contem-porary English Literature across the globe. We are elated to have so many

likeminded people coming along in our odyssey.Though the traditional medium of printed books, magazines, newspapers still occupy the neighborhood book stands and stores, the publishing choice today is heavily tilted towards the digital medium. With increasing popularity of the digital medi-um over the classical physical medium, it has been a challenge to create a specific space for Storizen in this crowded space. In this issue’s photo story, we have endeavored to capture this new age digital literature medium in “Invasion of E-readers”.We have featured the young and dynamic Indian-American best-selling author Tulika Mehrotra in this issue’s cover story. She has shared her experience about life and literature in a very candid conversation. She has also shared insights from her new-ly released book “Crashing B-Town”. In this issue also we continue to sail along trying to cover all aspects of the book writing business from tips on actually get-ting the story penned to getting them published and read. Mar-keting plays an important role in this lifecycle and so we have brought to you in this issue, Founder and CMO of Market My Book, Lipika Bhushan’s in-depth writing on book marketing strategies.Along with our regular sections, we are delighted to feature Shradha Sharma, Founder and Chief Editor of Yourstory.in, in our star reader section this time. Please do send us your suggestions, contributions and ofcourse your encouragement as always through emails, writes ups or phone calls.


EditorVictor Basu

Sub EditorsMukesh Rijhwani

Sumantra ChowdhurySanghamitra Guha

Trainee Sub Editor Nidhi Mathur

Copy EditorsAsmita Sarkar

Saurabh Chawla

Photo EditorNeloy Bandyopadhyay

DesignerAmit Mitra


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Piyush Jha’s second novel, the crime-thriller Compass Box Killer was launched recently on an extremely rainy evening in Mumbai.Despite traffic jams that went on for kilometers, the venue, Crossword Book-store, At Kemp’s Corner Mumbai was full with eager readers who wanted to hear what the Bestselling author of Mumbaistan had to say about his new offering.

The Chief Guest, Madhur Bhandarkar arrived in time despite travelling from the far-flung suburb of Andheri. Other guest like actress Suchitra Pillai, Ad Filmmaker Kailash Surendranath, Model Raman Lamba, Filmmaker Shona Urvashi and fashion photographer Shilpa Mukherjee soon arrived along with a group of excited readers.

After the introductions were made Piyush and Madhur engaged in an infor-mative conversation about crime in Mumbai, fiction in books and films and also about their fascination with Mumbai’s underbelly. The conversation was replete with insider nuggets as Piyush and Madhur, both fellow filmmakers shared anecdotes and about what inspired them about the seamy side of the metropolis they both love. A lively Q&A followed with almost 30 to 40 ques-tions being flung towards both Piyush and Madhur. The two men took their time, making sure that every question was answered to each person’s satisfac-tion.

The evening drew to a close and Madhur took his leave but most people still hung on getting their books signed and engaging in further discussion with Piyush, which he was happy to indulge in.

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It was the winter of 2007 when, as my boss puts it, I ap-peared on the horizon of publishing. Having dealt with all kinds of product categories including ones such as telecom where schemes had to be worked out and offline and online material had to be reproduced overnight, it was a very dif-ferent industry for me but I guess the sheer love of books and the fact that there was so much more to do in market-ing is probably what made me stick to it.

Then and now:

Till a few years ago marketing in publishing was about re-views and interviews, print marketing material such as posters and bookmarks and lavish parties or book launches. The traditional form of marketing continued to address the closely knit reading and writing community. Suddenly with the advent of online players, the growing difficulties for brick and mortar stores and looming prospect of e-publish-ing and self publishing, forced the publishers to innovate and open up their communication to a wider set of readers whose demands were very different from those of the exist-ing ones. This reaching out to them needed to draw cam-paigns and communication appealing to the masses.A lot more was added to traditional marketing activities. Something as inexpensive as the props to improve the visibility at the retail ends to the expensive options of ad-vertising in print, on the net and even on television. The campaigns became larger and more ambitious. The use of promo videos on OOH, LiveMedia and billboards across the country were the outdoor advertising options explored. Sampling got introduced outside of the extracts of the book pages that media carries.More recently the changes have been quicker, drastic and lot more challenging for marketeers. E-books have entered

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the space which has led to new ideas not just for physical books but that for the big world of endless opportunities online.

Drawing segments: The online space has resulted in endless opportunities and making the world borderless thus widening of the target audience. It is therefore essential to segment your target well and then tar-get your segment for a certain category, genre and title.

Shrinking Spaces: While we are stepping into virtual world the physical space for books is shrinking. Print media is cutting down the book sections. Our favorite book shows on television (not that there are many) are taking a break. At retail end both brick and mortar stores and on-line stores are feeling the brunt of rising overhead costs and flood of books from big, small and self publishers. A mar-keteer thus needs to keep fighting for space and constantly be on a lookout for new spaces and visibility.

Rising Costs: For physical retail chains, space was always a constraint. Over the last few years they have commercialized all the options that were earlier considered as a given. Right from print marketing material to windows at the book stores are available on rent. Content being the king in online was welcome by them but now a price tag has been put on things such as banners, mailers etc. This

has resulted in higher spends.

Flooding Markets: With self publishing becoming popu-lar and the option of e-publishing for smart devices and print on demand becoming easily accessible for writers the market is flooded with books. Ev-eryone is learning and picking tailor made ideas from marketing of some highly successful books and using them for their own books. Every writer today, new or established is forced to put mus-cle behind his or her book. In such a sit-uation there is tremendous pressure to keep innovating and finding new ideas, vehicles and spaces to stand out in the market.

Big Pockets: It is a known fact that some of the most successful best selling writers today claiming top spots in best sell-ers list have put in huge amounts of money behind their books. Amounts that have been at times impossible for marketeers, working in the biggest of publishing houses, to budget for any of their lead titles. It is a challenge because marketing budgets are under pressure in publishing as corporatization is en-tering the writing world which still is minuscule in comparison to what other industries budget and spend on market-ing of their products.

Author Management and Book Marketing Plans: One of the biggest challenges, that has

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and will always be part and parcel of being a book marketeer is to manage your author’s expectations. While it is important for writer and his marketeer to work closely on thinking of the way ahead, it is also increasingly becoming clear that it is important to draw plans specific to a book’s requirement within the budgets allocated.The industry is undergoing a change and one needs to keep a close watch on this change. Marketing has been one of the key contributors to the success of any product and is becoming import-ant in raising the bar in publishing.

Only those who have their fingers on the pulse of the market will survive and grow.

The contributor of this article was the Head of Marketing at HarperCollins India before she found her calling in working with those who want to give their books the best shot at becoming bestsellers. Her venture MarketMy-Book is first of its kind book marketing consultancy firm providing offline and online marketing solutions to writers and publishers alike.

Lipika was the Head of Marketing at HarperCollins India before she found her calling in working with those who want to give their books the best shot at be-coming bestsellers. Her venture MarketMyBook - www.marketmybook.in is first of its kind book marketing consultancy firm providing offline and online marketing solutions to writers and publishers alike.

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My first book ‘Just Married, Please Excuse’ was published last year - the entire experience of writing, getting published, and subsequently finishing a second nov-el has made the last couple of years quite a roller coaster ride, wherein the learn-ing has been immense.This is a summary of what I’ve gathered so far. And while I get a lot of requests from other writers about the process, my first clarification is that it’s a process of learning and I’m still new. Nevertheless, here’s a perspective on what I consider important and had wished I had known earlier – five of these are on the process of writing, while the remaining five are on what follows.

a protagonist, a goal, an obstacle and a resolution. Those are the basics. It works every time. I had trouble getting published until the time I focused on this.

another mistake that I made was asking for feedback on my stories just a page into them! Sort of checking whether I was on the ‘right track’ – the feedback from well-meaning friends and relatives (hint: my poor spouse) would cause me to huff out my cheeks and give up all too soon.

the important thing is to get something out. The most useful phrase I came across was ‘Making

On Writing

1: Focus on the story-

2: Your First Draft is your Own–

3: Don’t aim for perfection in that first draft-

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Mud’ or ‘Laying the tracks’ – it’s alright even if you know it’s not your best. You can come back to it later. The first task on hand is to just get that first draft out.

something that my editor Karthika VK probed me on, and which really helped to develop my second book ‘Sorting Out Sid.’ – she really liked the first draft of the story, but something was making her uncomfortable and she asked me ‘But how are the characters really growing in the process of the story?’ It struck me as a subtle point, and one that doesn’t really get covered when you’re focusing on the main elements of the story. A hero in a fable may be a hero from the beginning, but when you’re writing stories about characters you hope will resonate with real people, this makes a lot of sense. I re-worked it and was miles happier with the finished version of SOS.

I’ve never had any formal training in writing, but I’ve always been a voracious reader. Stephen King in ‘On Writing’ talks about the importance of Reading a Lot, and Writing a Lot. It really helps a great deal, especially when you pick up on your own errors (mine was a tendency to use slightly longer sentences than necessary, and I’m working on cutting out those damned adverbs!) Writing is an important support to making your story comprehensible and in fact, a pleasure to read. I know there are successful writers out there proudly claiming they hardly ever read. No. No-no-no-no-NO. Reading often, and writing often will make your writing better and that’s a huge part of what it’s all about. Or it should be, anyway.

5: Keep reading, keep writing–

4: Character Growth–

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let’s face it. As a first time author, you’re one of many, many people that publishers deal with on a regular basis. So it’s natural that there’s going to be a waiting period when it comes to getting a revert on your first manuscript. I’ve been asked ‘but how loooong?’ – all I can say is that if your work is good, it will get noticed. Some people take days, some weeks and some months to revert. Incidentally – I ended up going with the Harpers team even though their revert came in after some others. once you’ve accomplished the monumental task of getting your first manuscript out – sure, it’s not easy hearing about the things that are wrong with it. But if you listen carefully to the feedback from people who are the experts in the business – that is, the editorial team that’s been nice enough to respond to you- and actually work on building in their feed-back, your chances of getting published are higher. Note – this does not mean compromising on your values. I was asked to fictionalize my first book, but I went with just some replotting and exaggeration because I was listening to what the editors wanted – it worked.

this is an important one which I learned only much later. Related to the point that there are so many authors out there publishing each day, it’s not an easy market, and if you’re expecting to be-come a super-success overnight- chances are it’s not gonna happen. My editor tells me stories about many authors who lament the fact that they’re not selling like the biggies. Well, there it is. The point is – do you still love writing enough to keep at it and expand your own audience bit by bit, and keep writing better and better books with the passage of time? Yes? Great. Keep that in mind every time you feel things are slipping.

yes, you’re the CEO, the CMO, the CFO, the COO, and maybe even the CTO. Sure, you may have a great publisher and it’s a very nice feeling to create a product with other people. But once it’s out, beyond a point, you’ve got to take charge of how well it does – at least in terms of the ideas and consistent attention on implementing them. Having said that – you don’t want to overdo it, and that brings me to the last point here.

1: Be Patient–

On Publishing and All that Follows

2: Listen carefully to the feedback–

3: Get your expectations right–

4: You’re the CEO of your published book–

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It’s easy to get attached to your first work, and there are plenty of things to do to make sure that it reaches its intended audience. However, there’s a ques-tion to ask yourself - should you be hankering after the success of that first book or should you be spending that time writing your second piece? It’s a call you have to make. Ultimately, you should be able to define the role of writing in your life – what does it mean to you? Do you imagine that it is going to be your primary source of in-come? Or do you prefer to do something totally different as a job, and treat writ-ing as a pleasure and a passion? Is it something which you want to commit to on a daily basis, or does it work better for you to treat writing your books as a project to undertake at regular intervals in a focused manner? There are no right answers, but there is definitely one that works better for you as an individual than others. You can’t rush it, but finding that answer will probably bring you a lot of peace, and then you can do what you were probably meant to do in the first place - write, but with joy.

Yashodhara Lal is the author of Just Married, Please Excuse. (www.justmarried-pleaseexcuse.com) She is also a Marketer with 11+ years experience in FMCG and Digital Marketing. Most impressively, she’s a mother of three young chil-dren, and blogs atwww.yashodharalal.com, and is on twitter @yashodharalal.Her second book ‘Sorting Out Sid’ is due for release in December 2013.

5: Make a considered choice about where to spend your time–

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In good stories, it is not out of the ordinary to come across that one character that breaks your heart. We have all seen and loved these characters in popular cul-ture- right from DJ and Karan in Rang De Basanti, to Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, to even Mufasa from The Lion King. The arc of these characters teaches you the themes of the text, moves the plot forward, and reminds you to be thankful for the direction the other characters are driven in. The reader’s arc (their experience and what they take back from the story) is deeply affected by the journeys of these characters. Often, it is hard to create this character without causing a dent in your plot, or changing the atmosphere that you worked so hard to create. Here are five failsafe ways to create the perfect heartbreaking character:

Rule number 1: A reason to kill the character. Killing a character that you want your audience to ally with is usually an excellent way to cause pain to your reader’s literary soul. However, to truly do the job, having a reason or a “lesson” for your readers will strengthen the blow. Even if you want to create the understanding that there is no sense in death, that is your lesson right there. Knowing why and what you want to convey by killing the character before you even begin writing will create clarity and help enforce the themes of your story.

Rule number 2: Consequences of “the tragedy.”Once you’ve broken your reader’s heart by either killing, torturing, changing a char-acter’s comfortable setting completely or whatever method of tragedy you choose, it is important that the effects of “the tragedy” reverberate throughout different aspects of the story. For instance, if the character you want your readers to love is killed, it is important to remind your audience how his or her death affected the other charac-ters whether it be a positive or negative reaction. It might even be a good idea to give them insight into what the plot might have been like if that character were still around,

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just to show them how deeply it influenced the plot. If the consequences of the trag-edy fail to echo through each of the literary features of your story, it’s safe to say that the character will not truly make anyone’s heart ache.

Rule number 3: Don’t be afraid of flaws.While writing a character you want your readers to love, it is hard to express their flaws. While writing this character, making your audience aware of the character’s flaws can often help in the process of breaking their heart. The tragic hero, an age old literary concept, is usually endowed with a fatal flaw that usually leads to his or her death. Even Achilles, the invincible Greek hero, had a weak ankle that led to his downfall. Giving your character faults often makes him or her more tangible to the reader. Giving them real flaws (not the self-deprecating, undervaluing hero that we have all known and loved before), but borderline narcissism, or slight selfishness, or even something as simple as impatience can make your tragic hero more relat-able. When the time comes, this aids in increasing their misery when you hit them with any mishap that falls upon your character.

Rule number 4: Challenging a well-established character trope.While killing a character is an exemplary way to break a reader’s heart, challenging something that the reader believes to already know can hurt them as well. The hero, the star-crossed lovers, the loyal companion, the redeemable evil figure with ulti-mately good intentions and the true villain are all common archetypes that a reader has been familiarized with through several different types of media. Introducing one of these character archetypes puts the reader on a path that they feel like they have already walked through several times. George R.R. Martin has mastered this technique in his bestselling series A Song of Ice and Fire. He introduces characters like Robb Stark as a protagonist, puts the reader on a hero’s path (something that they have know and love already), and challenges the archetype with an unexpect-ed death.

Rule number 5: Knowledge is as dangerous and powerful as fire. Play with it.Another interesting method to break a reader’s heart is to play with the knowledge of the character’s tragedy. Foreshadowing is a common literary device that gives you little clues about what is coming next without revealing too much. Setting up what’s coming later in the plot can be an extremely useful in creating the atmo-sphere you want when the plot actually does play out. This method is displayed beautifully in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

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A story narrated by death, about death, the audience expects death throughout the novel but still resists it when it finally plays out.

These are failsafe methods that have been used successfully to break hearts. While they are useful to keep in mind, that does not necessarily mean that these rules are the only way to break a reader’s heart. If you love your character for whomever he or she is, and your plot puts them on journey that breaks your heart, it is likely that it is going to do the same for your readers (albeit assuming that your writing is clear and that your plot is organized). Go ahead, write your story, break hearts, convey themes and leave your readers with a character that they hate to love.

“Nidhi is a Writing, Literature and Publishing student at Emerson College in Boston. Being a voracious reader, she was exposed to the realms of fantasy fiction from a young age and adores all fictional worlds and creatures. Apart from reading and writing, she has a strong appreciation for other creative fields such as theatre, music and film.’’

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Interviewed and written by Mukesh Rijhwani

We noticed this gorgeous young Indian-American author be-cause her books sold out like hot cakes. Enamored by her beauty and voice, we started the interview on a different note.

Have you already got your Mr. Right or still looking for one?

“Fantastic question! ;) I think I’ll just keep it simple and say that I’m not married right now.”

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And with this we knew it would be fun along the way. We began from the be-ginning.Which part of India are you from? When did you move to the US?

“I was born in Lucknow, where my whole family is originally from. I moved to US when I was 4 years old.”

With two books in her kitty, we were curious about her schooling, what was it like? “I was always an artistic kid, draw-ing, painting…. winning art prize

since the age of 3 in India and then the US. I played the violin my entire childhood. I can still read music and recently became interested in sing-ing. I won a state wide poetry con-test in middle school which was my first affirmation to pursue writing privately”

With good looks and a good height, we asked this Chicago-based author and journalist about careers in sports and modelling.Did you play any sport in school / col-lege/ state level?

“I was too aggressive and ungrace-ful to play any sport elegantly but my parents put me in Tae Kwon Do which I studied till high school and had received a Brown Belt.” What about walking the ramp profes-sionally or as an amateur?

“No. I was asked to model once in college but my parents didn’t like the idea. In hindsight, I completely agree with them – at that age I was not mature enough to understand any-thing.”

Little Tulika with Aunt and Grandfather

I studied abroad in the UK during my undergrad-uate in Finance and then I did my Masters Fashion Design from Milan, Italy with further studies in Paris, France.

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And in col-lege did you major in literature?

“I studied abroad in

the UK during my undergraduate in Finance and then I did my Masters Fashion design from Milan, Italy with further studies in Paris, France. During my time in Europe – I had a chance to see so much of the world. I even attended the Cannes film festival! At the university of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - I was also a journalist and had my own column in the local newspaper.”

She did her Masters in Fashion Design and her worked as a contributing writer to Elle, Vogue, Grazia and India To-day Magazine which paved the way for Delhi Stopover. Published by penguin, Delhi Stopover explores the world of India’s evolving fashion landscape and chronicles many of her observations from the global fashion and entertain-ment industries.Take us through the journey of writ-ing Delhi Stopover.

“December 2008 - I started writ-ing... just free flow thoughts. With-in months, this had turned into a massive bloated mish mash piece of work that I *very mistakenly* pre-sumed to be excellence.

2009 - put it aside for a full year. Kind of forgot about itmid 2010 - returned to the docu-ment. HORRIFIED at the nonsense I had produced. Worked closely with an editor to try to fix the disaster.*Had the epiphany that my nev-er-ending, 100k+ word manuscript might actually be 2 books. This was the birth of Delhi Stopover AND Crashing B-Town.

March 2011 - on a research trip in India, met with a literary agent in Delhi. Though not terribly excited, he made some queries... including one editor at Penguin.April 2011 - received request from a number of publishers for the full manuscript. One in particular re-quested to know what my future books might be after Delhi Stopover.June 2011 - No news. I am at the verge of defeat. I have been to

They want to publish Delhi Stopover. But there is a catch.They also want Crashing B-Town!!!! AND they want to see a third book as well.

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writing conference and submitted to agents stateside without success. Thinking seriously about self pub-lishing. Eager to put this “writing business” behind me and start a new chapter that doesn’t entail so much creative rejection.July 4, 2011 - receive life altering email from an editor at Penguin. Contract is included. They want to publish Delhi Stopover. But there is a catch. They also want Crashing B-Town!!!! AND they want to see a third book as well.The rest of the year is a euphoric

blur.... the editing process begins with the Penguin editing team. I rewrote the whole book (again) realizing that Penguin might have higher standards for me. Discussion on jacket cover was an eye opener. I became very close to my editor after some major head butting. Realized that I should stick to what I know best - writing!!!October 2012 - Book releases across South Asia.Mid October 2012 - I nearly die of happiness every time I see the book in bookstores or anyone buying the book in front of me. Deeply humbled to be positioned along JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Ken Follett, and other biggies.

End of October 2012 - the book is selling out across major bookstores! Has received positive word of mouth from the generous national press coverage. December 2012 - Book has SOLD OUT of stock completely. My literary agent informs me that Delhi Stop-over has officially hit best seller!”

Her book uncovers some of the dark-est secrets of fashion industry, as well as displays the joys of being in one. We nudged her about the number of copies sold.

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How many copies of Delhi Stopover have you sold ?

“The head of sales at Penguin told me that they had sold out of ALL inventory and would be going to second reprint. My agent informed me that the book had become a best seller. I don’t have the exact numbers but am grateful to know that the book resonated so immediately with the readers and that it flew off book-shelves so fast!”

Have you sold the movie rights of Del-hi Stopover?

“We (my agents and I) have been approached by a number of directors and producers for the film options. We have not yet finalized a partner for that endeavor. A film will be a huge undertaking and I want the best collaborator for the job.”

Her second book Crashing B-town has just been released. While Delhi Stop-over was on Fashion, this one’s on Bol-lywood.

Tell us about your latest book Crash-ing B-Town?

“Released by Penguin, Crashing B-Town is a continuation of Lila’s story that left off at the end of Delhi Stopover. This time the story is set in Mumbai and uses the backdrop of the city’s prolific film industry. My hope was to not only reveal some truths about the insulated industry but to also open conversation on very serious subjects such as rape, sexism, violence, ambition, and finding our identities in a very fast

changing environment.” This month Crashing B-Town has hit the book stores across the country.Tell us more about your fashion state-ment. “I think my fashion style on a reg-ular basis is “comfort chic” which includes yoga pants and tank tops. I like to dress for the occasion and will definitely go all out glam for formal events from dresses to saris. I don’t believe in following fashion trends blindly. You will never find me wearing a short mini-skirt. I don’t

We (my agents and I) have been approached by a number of directors and producers for the film op-tions. We have not yet finalized a partner.

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like them. But I love heels (all the time!) and feminine dresses. It’s all about understanding one’s body type and wearing what makes you feel the most confident. While I am not a big fan of very girly fashion, I do enjoy taking some fashion risks with different silhouettes and fabrics. My gravitate more toward a sophisticat-ed, elegant, and playful style.”

And what is there in your purse?

“There’s barely enough room in my clutch for my keys, lipstick, and iPhone. I’d have to rethink my entire outfit if I had to switch to a bigger bag. Limited purse real estate is a major obstacle when-ever I go out. And frankly, I real-ly don’t want to take my pepper spray with me.”

Have you ever been mistaken for a celebrity?

“Yes. Multiple times. It’s quite funny and sometimes I play along for a few minutes! A few years ago at the Sundance Film Festival, I was asked for an autograph by someone who thought I was an indie actress from the middle east. In recent years, I have been told that I bear resemblance to various actresses from India. I won’t name

names because I definitely don’t see the similarity but it’s flattering none the less!”

Do you understand or speak Hindi?

“Despite being raised in the US, I picked up Hindi in college and now speak fluently and can also read and write Devnagri script.”

She grew up in the Midwest and she

Tulika with Billy

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completed her masters in fashion de-sign from the European Institute of De-sign in Milan, Italy. Following a short stint studying French in Paris, Tulika entered Manhattan’s fashion industry. Intrigued by entertainment’s ability to dictate trends, she soon sought creative outlet in media. Leaving New York behind for Los Angeles, she delved into the evolving media industry with a focus on India. Having looked at the fashion industry from close quarters we asked her

Wat advice would you give to people who are planning to take up modeling as a career?

“Modeling is an industry that re-quires a certain unique body type or image. The physical demands to achieve this very slim or muscular physique are not for everyone and usually not sustainable in the long term. I think anyone interested in modeling should remember that the industry judges solely on looks and while it may appear glamorous on the outside, it’s a very serious busi-ness with intense competition. Any candidate must have very thick skin

when it comes to criticism on their appearance.”

Which author do you feel has influ-enced your style the most?

“There are so many. I don’t think I can choose just one. I often find British writing to be the most in-tense. I recently read Juliane Barnes, The Sense of an Ending and was mesmerized by his style. Rosamund

Lupton’s Afterwards absolutely shook me. I love the witty humor of Marianne Keyes who writes about very serious subjects. I have fallen in love with dog lit. My favorite is Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

Two books in the kitty. What next?

“I’m working on my third book right now (unrelated to Delhi Stopover and Crashing B-Town) that will be done any minute now! It is a com-plete departure from my earlier work but still maintains the India connection. I’m also playing around

I’m working on my third book right now that will be done any minute now! It is a complete departure from my earlier work but still maintains the Indiaconnection.

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Tulika Mehrotra is a Chicago-based author and journalist. Her debut novel, Del-hi Stopover was published by Penguin in 2012. She follows up with her second, Crashing B-Town, releasing fall 2013. She is also a regular contributor to Elle, Vogue, Men’s Health, India Today and other magazines.

with some new ideas for a fourth. I am looking forward to seeing my first two books adapted for celluloid and television and am eager to be involved in those projects as well.”We heard that she’s a big fan of dogs. Tell us about your pet dog and your love for dogs.

“My dog is a cocker spaniel that came from a rescue shelter. His name is Billy. I have always had a dog in my life since I was a teenager and cannot imagine a future with-out one. I find their innocence and infinite happiness over tiny things to be the ultimate example for all of us. Dogs are wonderful teachers. They live such short lives but the kind of love they give us reminds us to be better humans.”

What a wonderful statement to end such an interesting conversation. We wish this young Indian-American author, a hundred more best sellers. Thank you Ms. Tulika Mehrotra.

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Tell us a bit about you? what do you do for living?

I’m a travel & lifestyle writer. I write on food, (occasionally) fashion and all sorts of travel experiences from whis-tling at peacocks (they respond in shrill cat-like voices) in a village in a Maha-rashtra and plucking oysters in Kerala to tripping on the creamiest prawn curry, rice and sambal in Sri Lanka on a day hotter than hell and wandering the chic streets of Melbourne. I’ve written a feature film screenplay – Dirty Little Secrets - that was selected for the Locarno NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab 2009. I also wrote and directed a short film – Fowl Men – which was screened at two film festivals, in Italy and Chicago.

And about the gemologist part?

I’m an IGI-trained gemologist, jew-ellery designer and diamond graders (though I prefer coloured stones to diamonds, which form an altogeth-er different branch of gemology and evaluating them requires tremendous expertise and experience) I’ve been sketching since childhood, so the incli-nation towards design was around for a long time; my maternal grandfather had a small pedhi near Kalyan (Mum-bai) and my mother – who worked as a bank manager for 30 years, quit her job to start a jewellery studio in Pune. I’m been writing and working with gems and jewellery simultaneously.

How did you get the idea for your book – Strike@36?

I think the germ of the book was want-ing to write a light-hearted story about single people in their thirties; compli-cated characters with intertwined per-sonal-professional lives and lots of emo-tional baggage. It’s a story with three main characters – Shobhna, Udayan and Sagar. I wrote Sho and Uday – who are ex lovers - as people with connec-tions to the film industry because that was a space I was in at the time. After that, a dozen odd characters sprung out, very organically, an assorted, all of whom I fell madly in love with, espe-cially Katya – my fierce Maharashtrian mafiaso lady and Sho’s Pathan boss, AK. Then there’s the surliest of them all, Sagar; a typical small town ‘vernie’ with massive talent and major attitude. I loved writing him! I hate sweet, happy, smiling characters. Sagar is anything but that. He’s also representative of tal-ented, skilled and intelligent small-town youth who have to adapt themselves to big cities. Just recently, someone asked if I’d mod-elled Sho on Kiran Rao (both from Bangalore, lived alone in Mumbai and worked in the film industry without any prior connections) That was unusual; I hadn’t ever thought of something like that! Some people also (rightfully) crit-icized that the book does not accurately depict Bollywood. That’s correct. It was never meant to. It was always meant to be exaggerated and absurd.

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How long did it take for you to fin-ish the book?

Just over a year. I wrote regularly, at least for a couple of hours on an average of four days a week; sometimes more.

Tell us what happened after you finish the manuscript and before you got a call from publisher?

The book was commissioned by Harper Collins. I’d pitched the concept to Pub-lisher and Chief Editor, Karthika V.K, and she liked it. Must have been the effect of one of Mumbai’s best Gujrathi thali restaurants!

Tell us what do you enjoy the most (and why) among travel, lifestyle and fiction writing?

Both travel and fiction writing. I’ve always wanted to romanticize trav-el writing; sitting on a dusty roadside café writing in first person in my artsy little notebook; experiences as fresh as dewdrops. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen! I sit in that café and I eat and I watch people and I’m blissfull. To write, I need a computer and a city in India.

Any interesting travel incident?

Many! Most of them involve food or animals and people who speak in a language I don’t understand. I’m also directionally challenged, so I get lost

everywhere. I’m stupid with maps and don’t get what the GPS is saying, so there’s no alternative but to ask peo-ple after every 1 km. That happened in Aqaba in Jordan. So a few kids invited me into their home and began yelling when I didn’t give them any ‘lipstick’ or ‘phone’.

When do you write? How often do you write.

’m a morning person, but I’ve stopped writing in the mornings. I reserve that for yoga. I also don’t write late through the night unless I have a deadline for a magazine story, or I’ve really gotten into the groove of it (very rarely, it goes on till 2 am without dinner or water) But my best output’s between 11 am to 6 pm. I write almost every day. No laptop on Sundays, no laptop during festivals, no laptop during travels (never!)

You’ve written for a film? Tell us more about that.

Not really. I’ve written a feature film script, which hasn’t yet gotten made into a movie. I enjoyed writing it.

Tell us how different screen writing is from the book writing?

Off the bat, screen writing is harder. You’re writing something that some-one’s going to read with the intention of translating on screen. It’s a collaborative effort or - if you’re lucky - it’s

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soon going to turn out to be a collab-orative effort. If your script gets made into a film, you write multiple drafts accommodating a producer’s, director’s and actors’ inputs. Writing fiction has no holy cows. Technically, again I en-joy the freedom a book brings. Having said that, I loved the long script discus-sions I had with my mentor – Philippa Campbell - at the NFDC Locarno lab. It’s lively, productive, teaches you how to incorporate other (smarter) ideas within the broad framework of your own story; it opens your mind (as op-posed to writing a book where you’re queen of your own castle; a bit of a Ma-rie Antoinette!)

Are you planning to continue to do screen writing?

Not right now. Perhaps in the future,

Tell us about your favourite au-thors and books?

I love animals, so one of my all-time favourite authors is that delightful Brit-ish veterinary surgeon and writer James Herriot. A P. G. Wodehouse can always be relied upon to cheer one up. From Indian authors, I’m a huge fan of Mun-shi Premchand and Pu La Deshpande. Nobody writes as beautifully about India as Indian authors in Indian lan-guages! Of late, the books that have stunned me are Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending (which

won him the Man Booker for 2011). The first is a fat tome, the other is very slim, but both are fascinating glimpses into the twisted human psyche.

Are you writing your next book?

I am! Two actually. A travel book and literary fiction. The fiction is all dark and mean. Very depressing. Wish me luck!

Any plans to cross over and be-come a full time fiction or screen writer?

I don’t think I have either the patience or talent to sustain that. Also, I have both Moon and Mercury in Gemini. Doing anything ‘full-time’ is not my cup of tea.

Do people mistake you for a celeb-rity?


Words of wisdom for our wan-na-be authors?

Don’t do it unless it makes you really, really, truly, deeply madly happy. The thrill of creating a kickass character or even a single sentence that’s perfectly written– that joy should be comparable to falling in love, or walking in the rain, eating potato chips, hugging a puppy or whatever. Writing is a very lonely job; you will eventually hate it, most of

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Aparna Pednekar is a Mumbai-based travel and lifestyle journalist and has con-tributed to Vogue, GQ, Travel Plus, Verve, Harper’s Bazaar, Hindustan Times Brunch, Lonely Planet, Elle, OK!, BBC Good Food and Femina. Besides being a travel enthusiast, she wrote a feature film script, Dirty Little Secrets, that was part of The NFDC Locarno Screenwriters’ Lab in 2009. Later, she wrote and di-rected a short film, Fowl Men, which was screened at a couple of festivals in Italy and Chicago. She is also an IGI-qualified gemologist and jewellery designer, and designs gemstone-studded jewellery out of a small studio in Pune. Strike@36 is her first book.

us don’t earn enough money doing it, people will hate what you write, nobody will buy your books. There’s no redemp-tion; so you’ll do it only if there’s a para-normal pull to tell a story. We already know that it’s very import-ant for a writer to read a lot. It’s also important to go out there and live life; especially if you’re an introvert and tend to use writing as a shell to crawl into. Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Eventually that will help in your writing too. The world’s too interesting to spend it all crunched over

a aptop. Physical exercise helps tremen-dously to focus on writing. It clears the cobwebs in your head.I’ve also got into the habit of taking notes on my phone calendar (you can carry a notebook to jot down thoughts) At the unlikeliest of times, a genius word or sentence will strike you. Make a note, immediately and go home and write it somewhere, because you won’t remember it later and you’ll kick your-self. Make a separate file of these inspi-rations.

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Tell us more about mom-lit genre. The mom-lit genre is well-established in the West, and authors like Jennifer Weiner, Allison Pearson and Jane Porter have written deeply compassionate and witty books in this space. Mom-lit is, essentially, the next generation of chick-lit. Mom-lit explores what happens when single girl Bridget Jones (using her as a metaphor), marries and be-comes a mother. The mom-lit, or mom-my-lit, genre is all about that messy, but wonderful journey called motherhood. It delves into the psyche of mothers, follows the antics of their children, and trains its lens on the various aspects of contemporary parenting. The idea is to keep the tone light, witty and humor-ous, without sounding too preachy and didactic. How did you get the idea for your book - Mom in the City?The idea took shape when my son was in playschool. I used to wait for him till pick-up time and started writing the story in my head. Like him, I too was experiencing the modern Indian playschool system, albeit from a very different angle! However, there was no real plan behind writing a book in the mom-lit space. The story grew organi-cally and there was no stopping the flow once the process started.

How long did it take for you to fin-ish the book?This was the challenging part. Juggling a full-time job, along with parenting

responsibilities and other life interven-tions, didn’t allow me scope to follow a more disciplined approach to writing the book. Sadly, I am not one of those writers who smugly claim they are at their desk at 5a.m. sharp and key in 1000 words a day. But I am hoping to join this league of authors some day! I wrote the book over the course of a year.Tell us what happened after you finished the manuscript and before you got a call from your publisher?I signed up with my publisher only on the basis of a synopsis and sample chap-ters. I was very fortunate in this regard. And a special word of thanks to my publisher for being so understanding when I encountered delays in finish-ing the manuscript on account of the afore-mentioned reasons.Tell us what do you do for living? I am a Commissioning Editor at Rupa Publications.How do you keep a balance be-tween the three jobs - Day Job, Mom and Writing?The last one year was an eye-opening experience because, I was, indeed, pas-sionately involved in all three roles! At times I felt like a tightrope walker—one wrong step and I could have come hur-tling down! I would write late into the night and at the neighbourhood coffee shop on Sundays. I could pull it off only because of all the love and support I got from my family. My mother’s extreme love and generosity ensured that my son was never neglected whenever my

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writer’s hat was on. My son was a real champ in seeing me through this book’s journey. His sunny demeanour and constant stream of jokes kept me enter-tained and motivated me to finish the novel.When do you write? How often do you write?By virtue of being an editor, I do get to indulge in a fair bit of writing at work.Besides, I am a journalist by training and hope to be more active on that front too. All this keeps me connect-ed to my craft. I guess, over and above everything else, multi-tasking writers need to become more adept at time management. I have started writing the next book and am quite pleased with my output so far. Alternate week nights and weekend evenings—post the kiddie birthday parties and play date circuit—seem to work for me!What does it mean to be a mom/parent in modern-day India. What sort of challenges do parents face these days?The rhythm of parenting in India has undergone a sea change from the time my generation of parents were kids. For one, there were no malls and other fancy distractions that burnt deep holes in the pocket. The pace of life was more laidback and happiness was inplaying hopscotch with friends, collecting shells in the beach, lying on the top berth of the train compartment enroute to summer vacations, or fighting for sofa space as the Ramayana or Mahabharata played on television. Even the Doordar-

shan news in Sanskrit was a source of great entertainment for someone like me!While parents from any era experience the same unadulterated joy from their offspring, in today’s India, parenting seems to be dangerously veering to-wards a competitive zone. It’s all about keeping up with the Joneses, or Shar-mas, if you will. As a parent, you can either choose to keep it simple and basic or get sucked into the cesspool of modern-day parenting that is all about lavish birthday parties, expensive Xbox games, or being super-ambitious by enrolling your child in one too many activity classes. I’m not sure if this is a view held by other parents too, but, in my opinion, a certain degree of stress has crept into the otherwise joyous ex-perience of being a parent.I guess it all boils down to how you wish to play the game. Did you take any creative writing course?No, though I often wonder what an MFA degree (offered by most US and UK universities) does for aspiring writ-ers.Tell us about your favourite au-thors and books?I love all the works of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Saki, Leo Tolstoy, Colleen McCullough, O. Henry, John Updike, Tom Perrotta, and numerous others to name here. Among Indi-an writers, I enjoy reading Anita Rau Badami, Vikram Seth, and Rohinton Mistry, to name a few. I read R.K.

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Narayan whenever I need a shot of cheer and inspiration.Which is the best feedback you’ve received from a reader?My debut novel, The TamBrahm Bride, seemed to have touched a chord with several women going through their fair share of humorous (and not so funny) experiences in the Indian arranged marriage market. One reader wrote in saying that the characters and settings in my book were so real that she de-cided to keep her antennae up when it came time for her to enter this melee! Are you writing your next book?Yes, I have started writing my next book and am having so much fun creating the characters.

Any plans to cross over and be-come a full time writer?I love being an editor and an author, though it does make for aschizophrenic existence!Words of wisdom for our wannabe authors?Passionately believe in your story, get into the skin of your characters, and don’t let the stress of the writing process get the better of you. Take a nice long walk to clear the cobwebs in your head. Keep the faith—you will triumph, dear writer, in the end.

Kausalya Saptharishi works in the publishing industry in India. She holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is the proud moth-er of a sprightly six-year-old boy with whom she is re-discovering the small and beautiful moments of life. The TamBrahm Bride was her first novel.

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What kind of books do you read ?

I read anything and everything that interests me and catches my attention. Books are my best friends :-), some of the books lately which have left an im-pression are Meditations by Marcus Au-relius, Flourish by Martin EP Seligman, The Strategist by Cynthia Montgomery, Change by Design by Tim Brown, Start-up Life by Brad Feld

Who are your favorite Indian au-thors ?

I like Subroto Bagchi’s all the books and recently loved “The Captainship” by Ananya Gupta

Which is your favorite book ?

Most of the books that i read leave a mark and shape up my thinking, will be difficult to choose only one. The Strategist by Cynthia Montgomery is the latest book i read and really enjoyed the take of the author on how to think strategically, unlike many books in this genre its not prescriptive but leaves you with clear pointers on how to run your business.

How did Yourstory.in happen?

Working in the corporate media setup, I saw that young entrepreneurs starting out did not have a platform to share their stories,challenges and learnings, Traditionally, we have been a nation

that celebrates successes. YourStory was started with the intention of providing a forum so that budding and aspiring entrepreneurs can find one place which becomes their voice and storytelling platform. We believe that we need to celebrate stories of people who are just starting up and giving them the much needed confidence to carry on in their journeys. Moreover the focus remains on sharing the stories of entrepreneurs from small towns and cities.

How do you choose topics for Your-story.in ?

As I mentioned, YourStory.in was launched with an intention to provide visibility to entrepreneurs and change-makers who were not given their due coverage in the “mainstream” media, so we have been very broad when it comes to topics. From women entrepreneurs to software developers, from artists to ecommerce entrepreneurs, we have varied and diverse topics. If you have a story we are the platform.

How different is storytelling in Your-story.in ?

We believe storytelling is a very pow-erful tool for any business and more specifically us. As Storytellers, we bring out real journeys of entrepreneurs. We focus on the founders’ personal stories, their motivations, their strategies and learnings. It delves deep into the human aspect of entrepreneurship and

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storytelling. I am a strong believer of emotional quotient as a driver to growth of entrepreneurship and we strive to bring that out. Somewhere in the noise of getting funding, building the next google etc, we forget that the “entrepreneur at helm” is everyday liv-ing his or her vision, we celebrate, en-courage and try to ignite that.

Any suggestions/ advices for young entrepreneurs.

Be yourself, i have seen in the long run its the only thing that matters. Being an entrepreneur is not easy at all, de-velop a thick skin if you don’t have one already :-), be humble and be a seeker of knowledge..it works big time in the

overall satisfaction that you will have from your venture and more important-ly your life.

One book you would recommend to young entrepreneurs.

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Anything else you might want to say to our readers.

Make your mistakes and evolve, all the bad things that might happen to you are actually/totally blessings in disguise, i can say this as i have lived to tell it :-)

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Ipad is the most sought after gadget in the world. Because of it’s beauty, it has brought so many new readers to the market. The Rich User Experience has no-match when compared to a physical book.

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Kindle : Considered a most important invention in the publishing world after Gutenberg’s Printing press in 15th Century. Set to replace physical books because of its epaper technology which does not cause any strain to read-er’s eye and battery which stays on for weeks. This is a killer product.

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Kindle : Considered a most important invention in the publishing world after Gutenberg’s Printing press in 15th Century. Set to replace physical books because of its epaper technology which does not cause any strain to read-er’s eye and battery which stays on for weeks. This is a killer product.

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Mobile: This gadget has touched almost all aspects of our lives. Millions use it for reading as well. The mobile reading apps like Wattpad is spreading like a wild fire. This gadget may end up being the winner.

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Neloy Bandyopadhyay is an Award winning Photographer & Wildlife Filmmaker. His pictures has been published in many International and National magazines , National Geographic, Saevus to name a few. He works as a Security Analyst in an IT company and he is the Photo Editor in Storizen.

Sandeep Sulakhe is a software professional based in Mumbai, got hooked to photography in 2010.

Amit Mitra is a Documentary Filmmaker & Photographer. He also works as Analyst in an IT company. He has co-found-ed Storizen.

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A true Gemini always guided by twins I am communicative, curious and thoughtful. A mechanical Engineer by profession writing is like a passion for me. I follow a straightforward direct Dil Se approach, writing on anything that affects my heart and forces my brain to think.

A thousand words to be heard, a thousand talks to be said,As we move together in our life ahead.Yet your silence covers it all,Leaving me absolutely enthrall.

Silence is the speech of Love;The music of the spheres above.And so I promise to complete you;Even when you say nothing at all!!!

You keep emotions buried under the floor;But now I hear your silence,As I enter in your world understanding it more.Saying nothing sometimes says the most;And I promise I will fulfill those unstated dreams of yours.

Your silence is as deep as ocean,Enriching the passion and emotion;As I look into your eyes,Only to learn those words still unspoken.

Unexpressed array of sentiments and a table of reveriesThe unstated things down the lane of memories.I comprehend it as your eyes speak,The essence of our relationship unique and mys-tique!!

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A Company Secretary by profession, Saru writes poems, articles and stories on varied topics. Her creativity in both English and Hindi has received commendable response in a short period of time. Her work has been showcased on many Na-tional and International forums.

Polish me twice,Shine - shroud for a broken shoe.Dump me on next pay-check,Bid me adieu. Patched sole hides,Holding the stitches tight.Tattered, broken; yet smiling,I sympathize with your plight. Feet sob often,Incessantly complaining to me.Why can’t you end?...Its naked odyssey. Throw me on next pay-check,You deserve a new pair.Don’t hold onto your misery,Now even I’m beyond repair. Four bucks you earn,Aren’t enough for feeding two.I ponder, My Master!How would you buy a new shoe.

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In her own words ‘Engineer and Management Graduate (IIMB Alumni) by Edu-cation | IT / Innovation / Marketing Specialist by Profession | Daughter / Sister / Mother by “Divine Grace” | Wife by ruling of the Heart | Philosopher by Circumstance (after I became a mother – essential for BALANCE)

Are you EVERTruly Independent?Totally Dependent?Completely Interdependent?

At DawnYou are totally dependentIn the quest for independenceMaking lives interdependent

In the MorningYou are dependentAsserting your independenceAdding complexity to interdependence

At NoonYou think you are no longer dependentYou are strongly independentAnd don’t like the interdependence

In the AfternoonYou realize and accept dependence

You realize and accept independenceYou realize and accept interdependence

At duskYou are as dependent as you choose to beYou are as independent as you choose to beYou are as interdependent as you choose to be

And then at nightYou are as dependent as they choose to beYou are as independent as they choose to beYou are as interdependent as they choose to be

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I could not help stealing long glances over at her, hunched over my diary in the small coffee shop that had become my haven in this little lost town. For a very weird reason I was trying to figure out the correct pronunciation of buf-fet – the one with the food, not the one with the smacks(just thought I’d clari-fy), so there I was struggling with buff which rhymes with rough –ay and buff that rhymes with woof-ay when in she walked, well in truth she struggled a fair bit with her umbrella right at the door before she stepped in.That is what caught my attention to begin with- for she carried an umbrella just like mine, the rainbow umbrellas as they were called were quite popular in this part of the world( well I’d let you figure out why they were called Rain-bow umbrellas).The weather over here had been very fickle, it would be sunny all day and then in another moment it would start raining, it was much simpler to carry an umbrella wherever you went. When it

did not rain people would use them as a walking stick to help with the gradi-ent. Every eating place in the city had a tall basket kinda thing in which people tossed in their umbrellas as they came in, she put hers in right next to mine.So there she was- framed in the door-way, her hair hung out behind her being buffeted around by the wind, she wore a white top that seemed to curve around her almost casually, as if the perfect fit was solely by chance and had been completely unintended, the skirt ended a couple of inches above her knee. She wore no jewellery.Before I knew it I was writing her de-scription into my book. She was signif-icant in some manner, in what way-I did not know? There were no moles, no birthmarks, no scars, no pimples or the evidence of any ever existing, her fair skin was unblemished, the lips were neither too big – you know the kind when you already have bee-stung lips and then a bee actually stings you so that they grow to twice the size, and neither were they too narrow- they

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were perfect in proportion just like the rest of her– I somehow stopped my inappropriate train of thought. Yet I could not help looking at her every few seconds. She held her mug of coffee in her hand and I could almost feel the sensual pleasure that she was experi-encing merely by holding that cup, the way her fingers came through the mug handle and wrapped around it, wisps of steam rose from the mug and disin-tegrated just before it could strike her face. She ran a hand through her hair pushing them back only for them to fall stubbornly back in place a second later, she had the grace of a figure skater- she made the mere act of pushing her hair back seem like a 10 point act.I had to get out of there, I picked up my diary flung it into my bag, grabbed my camera and walked over to the counter to settle my bill. I casually glanced at her again as I fished for 100 bucks in my wallet, she was staring right at me. She moved her eyes over to the guy behind the counter and then to other people in the shop as if I had been a part of a careless scrutiny of her surroundings and nothing else. But something about her look disturbed me, I looked over at her again but she was looking out of the front window now.I was very conscious of all my move-ments as I picked up my umbrella from the basket, my mind had to fall back on every bit of its cognizance to stop me from looking at her. the outline of her shoulders stood at the edge of my vision as I reached for the door, the line of her top as it snaked around her neck, I had

no idea what I would do if I stayed here for another second. The few drops of rain helped me get back to reality, what had I been thinking? That she would stop me in the doorway and ask me for my number? I could not help scoffing at myself as I started walking the short distance from the coffee house to my hotel room.“Umm Excuse me.” She had to say those words a few more times before I real-ized that they were addressed to me.I almost gasped as I turned around. Was there really a God out there? “Yes?”“I think that’s my umbrella you’ve got.” I barely registered her words as she ges-tured to the thing in my hand. “You see, they are practically the same umbrella but yours has a straight handle while mine has a curved one.”I finally caught on. “I’m so sorry” I mut-tered unintelligibly, “I guess my mind was elsewhere.”“Not a problem.” She stretched out her hands, one held out my umbrella while the other waited for me to return hers, remarkably, if you took the umbrella out of the picture she looked as if she was asking for a hug, stupid umbrella. Our fingers brushed slightly as we ex-changed them and for a moment it felt as if we were holding both hands- again if you took the umbrellas out of the pic-ture- damn the umbrella.“Well. Thanks.” She said, and started to walk away.

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I stood rooted to the spot as if all aware-ness had slowly seeped out of my body, as if my capacity to think had been taken away as our fingers had touched. She stopped and turned, “umm can you help me with another thing please?” She said.“Sure.” I said slowly.“Actually I just got into town a short while back, could you please direct me to a pharmacist nearby? I have a brain splitting headache.” She gestured back to the coffee shop we had both stepped out of, “I thought a cup of coffee would help, but well, it hasn’t.”My eyes followed every movement of her body; “Sure” I said again, “There is one about 100 metres down this road.” I paused, “I’m walking in the same di-rection, I can walk you if you want.” Sometimes, just sometimes, I surprise myself- this was one of those times.She gave me an appraising look as if assessing how much of a flight risk I actually was, “That’ll be great.” She said finally.“How long have you been here?” she asked me after a while, “You are defi-nitely not from around this area, where are you from?”I nearly stepped into a puddle as I tried to put words together to answer her, it felt as if the mind knew what the an-swer was, but the words kept moving around and I could not form any intelli-gent sentences, so just when I was about to step into 6 inches of freezing water her hand reached out to grab my elbow, “Careful over there.”I thanked her with a smile. “No, I’m

not from around here. I’m from Delhi, been here for a couple of weeks.” She just kept looking at me as if waiting for more. “I’m taking a break between jobs, I quit one a little while back, and I’m giving myself a little time to relax before I start somewhere else, see a few places, and click a few photographs.”She muttered something that was too low to make out.“What about you?” This was starting to feel more and more normal with every passing second.“Oh, I really don’t have anything as interesting as that to tell you.” she said, “I’m only here for a couple of days, a mini-vacation and then I’d go back to my same old job on Monday”She was an intriguing person; she both stood out from everything around her yet at the same time seemed to be as integral a part of the landscape as the mountains in the distance.“Maybe we can catch up for a drink later tonight.” I said as I dropped her in front of the pharmacy.“I’d like that.” I quickly gave her the directions to a popular Tibetan place nearby, worried all the while that she might hear the loud thudding noise my heart seemed to make.I lay back in my bed a while later star-ing at the ceiling. It was one of the cheaper hotels in the city; if you are planning on staying indefinitely you take special care to scrounge wherever you can. I could not begin to imagine why that woman had affected me the way she had, I could still feel her hands on my elbow, as If a part of

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her- the faintest of essences had wrapped around while she stopped me from falling. There was something dif-ferent about her, something in her eyes; it felt as if I had never seen an eye twin-kle in my life until I had seen her eyes. Hours later we sat opposite each other at the back of the restaurant. The city was full of small narrow restaurants, there were seldom more than 5 tables in a place and they stretched in wards rather than along the road.Nobody who saw us would’ve felt that we had known each other for only a few hours. She had changed into a jeans and a sweatshirt, again- nothing she wore tried to accentuate her curves, but neither could they camouflage what lay underneath. We talked of a hun-dred different things as we sat there; we talked through the courses, and before we knew it we were walking down the narrow roads into the night.A couple of guys glanced at us as we walked past a brightly lit ice-cream shop. “Do you have a boyfriend? “ I finally asked her. I felt stupid for asking it, I had known her for like half a day and I had no business to know it, I si-lently cursed myself for acting like such a dork.She didn’t seem to think so though, “no.” she answered, she looked sideways at me as we walked, “do you?”I muffled a laugh, “No”. She looked sheepish but did not try to broach the topic again.I showed her around the whole of the weekend, and when it was time for her to leave she decided to stay back for

another couple of days. We ate all our meals together, she left her hotel room after a day and took a room right next to mine- apparently she did not mind the mildew one bit. It was a small three lane town, and we must have walked through the place at least a couple hun-dred times. The night before she was finally scheduled to leave for home she asked me to come along “You’ve been here for almost three weeks already. Don’t you think it is time to head back to the civilization?”I told her I wanted to write, that this was the reason I had come here in the first place, no laptops, no mobile phones, no emails, just me and my jour-nal, colouring pages.“You could colour pages back in Delhi.”“I could.” I muttered, “But I’ve been working on this story and I’m sure I’m very near the end.” I told her I’d leave for home as soon as I finished.She kissed me at that instant. I was more shocked than pleased. Before I could start taking any sort of pleasure from it, before I could start thinking, before I could get past the amazing soft-ness of her lips she broke contact. I had stood frozen all the while. She carefully curled her arms around my neck and pulled me close, the fact that I knew what was coming did not do anything to prepare me for what was coming, her lips made contact with mine for a sec-ond time. She seemed almost indiffer-ent to the fact that I was frozen still; she alternated between my lower and upper lips. She broke apart for a second time and looked into my eyes, less than

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an inch of air stood between us and she waited for me to get a bearing of my-self, I could feel her slightly hastened breathes, I could feel the warmth that exuded from her and seeped into my cold body. A faint smile played across her face, “Do not be afraid” she whis-pered. I finally made the journey across the abyss to her waiting lips. We kissed in that alley for a while more before ducking into our hotel rooms.Later that night as she lay next to me she finally asked, “So you found the ending to your story?”All that had happened in the last one hour had been a surprise. When I had set out for this place I hadn’t ever thought that something like this would happen, finding love in a strange land, I

had read things like these before, even fantasized about it, but never in wildest dreams could I have put it together the way it played out.“I think so.” I finally said.“Then you’ll come back with me tomor-row?”“Yes.” I felt her sigh with relief. What had she thought I’d say? “You know something Dipannita?” I said after what seemed like an hour, “I’ve never done anything like this in my life.” She started to smile.She sat up on an elbow and gazed down on my face tracing a finger along my chin, “you know something Shruti. . . .” I waited for her to finish, “there is al-ways a first time.”

In his own words, Atul says I’m a software developer, an occasional writer and a sporadic photographer. I spent an inordinately large amount of my childhood reading books, to write a few stories myself was a natural progression. I’m currently working on two e-book projects, as well as working to establish a Bob Marley themed coffee house in New Del-hi. I love to travel whenever an opportunity presents itself.

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The independence day parade was going on in full swing in the local school. Parents did not fail to notice a four year old waving at the audience. Couple of the parents turned their head to notice an 70-80 year old man sitting at the back of the stadium waving back at the girl. Music continued playing as the toddler’s sang national anthem and gave a salute to the national flag.The old man looked at the flag and smiled, 67 years of freedom, ah free-dom. He took a deep breath of the fresh air and got up from the audience. He whispered in his son’s ear sitting next to him, “Going for a power walk.”The son nodded in acknowledgment and kept clapping at the parade in which his young daughter had taken part.The old man took a stroll around the school and kept walking on the streets of the old city. “The city has changed a lot,” he thought, remembering the old city before independence. This was the same street where he had chased seven British police officers with a lathi, he laughed remembering the incident. The funny part was the police officers were carrying pistols and had no idea he had no weapon on him other than the lathi.

His nostalgic mood was disturbed bru-tally by a shout, “Baksi you bastard.” He smiled turning around, “Hello then, Jagmohan.”“Do not play games with me,” Jagmo-han said pointing to the gun he was holding under his khadi jacket.“So you finally come to finish me off, is that it?” Bakshi asked, “Well, good for you. Would you like to have some tea?”“Bakshi, you very well know why I am here,” Jagmohan said, “You have ruined me completely.”“Ah well,” smiled Bakshi, “Did I now? Come, lets take a walk.”“Don’t move.” Jagmohan said.“You do not want to kill me here, Jag-mohan. That was always your problem, you were always too eager to do things. Come Jagmohan, you hold the gun, I only have this walking stick. I want to see her one last time.”“Fine, but I will walk behind you and if you turn back, i’ll kill you.”“Sure,” smiled Bakshi remembering the last time Jagmohan was with him.

“Is the information correct?” sixty years ago 18 year old Bakshi asked the 16 year old Jagmohan.“Yes,” Jagmohan said, “The mistress of the governor, Julia told me today. They are holding 10,000 Rs for the salary of the English police officers in the bank. Imagine if we rob it.” Jagmohan eyes gleamed, “Azad would be so proud.”

Jagmohan poked him with the gun.“You were just like him,” Jagmohan said, “Always with the plan. Always

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planning to bring down the British em-pire.” “We succeeded,” smiled Bakshi.“Shut up old man,” Jagmohan said, “You did not succeed. You just replaced the foreign rulers with local scoundrels. Look at the state this country is today. Tell me all that was worth it?”They reached the oldest church in the city, Bakshi smiled again, “You should have seen my four year old grand-daughter in her independence day program, Jagmohan. If you had seen it, you would believe our mission was a success. Had you not betrayed us, you could be there today watching your own grandchild in the Independence day parade in our old city instead of carrying this rusty old gun on a helpless old man.”“You drove me to this,” Jagmohan said, “What did I do wrong, Bakshi? So I just took the money that we robbed and ran away. So I was worried about my new wife, yes call me selfish. She was just pregnant with my unborn child. I had needs. It was easy for you to fight for independence. You were a vagabond, a rowdy who loved to bully people. You were arrested and Azad was shot dead, I panicked. So blame me for that.”They had entered inside the church and were turning to the graveyard. At the end was an unmarked grave. Jagmohan was leading Bakshi to the grave.“I do not blame you for anything Jag-mohan,” Bakshi said, “I understand. We were young, we had never seen so much money. We should thank these British-ers who made the old kings bleed. We saw the king as human after the rule,

we saw that we could control our own destiny. But you had to understand, the cops could not hold me for long or had you wished they had shot me, like Azad?”Jagmohan was silent.“You know I walked right out of the jail using nothing but a lathi and a mythol-ogy. You should have seen the fear in the police after that. It was marvelous,” Bakshi laughed, “Imagine my horror when I find you missing after my re-turn. I tortured five of them... those Brits to divulge information about you. I had assumed you were killed in cold blood.”“It was Julia who found me.” Jagmohan continued, “In london. I had assumed you will come chasing after me then but for many years nothing. Nothing at all. I had built a decent life for myself out there. Made a few investments in the rail roads,Indian spices company,chain of Indian restaurants. I made some-thing of myself.”“You were always the business type, Jag-mohan,” Bakshi said, “You always were, yes Julia told me about it. She came back here.” he pointed to the unmarked grave, “said she wanted to be buried with us here. Poor girl, as slave to those white monsters as we were. Yes, I came to london few years back and saw your empire. It was magnificent.”“Then why?” Jagmohan said, “Why did you destroy it? Why my family?”“See,” Bakshi said turning around,

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“It was nothing personal. I was in fact proud of you. You had made something of yourself out there but you made one mistake...”In a flash of a motion the walking stick hit Jagmohan hand. There was a loud crack as the bone broke on impact. The gun collapsed on the ground as Jag-mohan watched in horror as Bakshi hit him on the legs and other hands.Bakshi kicked the gun away and opened the gravestone, it was hollow inside.“You should have never betrayed me” Bakshi said as he lifted Jagmohan on his shoulders and threw him into the hollow grave. “See when I was asking around about you, I received this infor-mation about the informant who gave the police my whereabouts.”“You knew?” Jagmohan said.“Yes and so did your family,” Bakshi said, “I told them, right before I killed them. Those hotels of yours, it just took a few ounces of poison in your food and a bunch of live rats. These God fear-ing Brits are scared of everything that moves. I knew once your empire was down and you are left alone you had

only last move left. You had to come back and find me.”“You left me with no choice.” Jagmohan screamed from inside the grave.“Always eager to finish things,” Bakshi smiled. “I still don’t blame you Jagmo-han,” Bakshi said as he pulled a spade, “I really do not blame you. We were young, we had never seen so much money. It was all adrenaline and hor-mones but” Bakshi started filling the grave, “you chose the wrong person to betray.”Bakshi sealed the grave and walked out of the graveyard. Humming the new tune of ‘Kadam kadam badhaye ja...’ as he entered his house.“Had a nice powerwalk?” asked his daughter-in-law serving him hot cup of tea.“The best walk of my life.” he replied smiling.

pis al•ler n.The final recourse or expedient; the last resort.[French : pis, worse + aller, to go.]

Siddhesh is creative enterpreneur, witty blogger and pas-sionate story teller. He’s got an awesome website. Go visit.

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Sushma’s eyes refused to blink after they caught a glimpse of the column in the local newspaper which said:“The cleanliness of the Meharkot is marred by tufts of garbage that border the sidewalks of every lane. Majority of its residents complain that their taps spray out slurry in spells. Epidemics have run their course and nothing has been done. The government is numb to the gripe of the citizens. Its devil may care attitude heralds its fall. It is high time that the residents of Meharkot take the bull by the horns and elect new bodies for supervision area-wise. Inter-ested residents who have to vision to bring up a change may …”“I have to make it to the municipal board. It is my time to be in the lime-light once again, Dhananjay,” she said with a vicious smile. ”Meharkot is going to dogs, so they are electing a new body for governance. If I were in the munic-ipality, it would mean free publicity, a new job and I can mint green notes again. I should stand for the elections

this time.” Her eyes gleamed as they met the eyes of her beau, clad in white dhoti and kurta , who was ensconced in the dark velvet sofa that contrasted the off white wall.“Sushma, Sushma, Sushma,” he said in an attenuating pitch. ”Politics is a dirty business. I know how this game works, being an MLA myself. I don’t know who will even vote for you. People know you as an actress of the yesteryears and now you are shadowed by the new comers. Plus, being a woman, it is hard to get votes.” As Sushma sighed, her eyes rolled all over the room adorned with expensive paintings and crystal ware. She pon-dered on the thought that her luxurious life may have to be put to bed if she ran out of ad offers, which would eventu-ally happen in the short run when her wrinkles became prominent. Already she could see a subtle web of fine lines surrounding her eyes. As she wasn’t yet married to the Dhananjay, she had no fallback option either. On the flipside, if she were to get her hands on the

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municipality it would be easy for her to keep the ball rolling. So, she could not afford to let Dhananjay’s words throw cold water on her moxie.A film runs best at the box office if it is preceded by great trailers. At this junc-ture, this was the sacrosanct principle that underlay most of Sushma’s actions. She had to garner the attention of the masses in the canniest way possible if she needed their votes. As her eyes rolled through her bank account state-ments that morning, her brows tight-ened as she was too sensitive to part with something so dear to her in the name of philanthropy. And then, when she looked around the room and got a glimpse of her overflowing wardrobe, something struck the chord of inspira-tion in her.Within an hour, Sushma was heading down town in a car filled with her old clothes. As the road got more and more undulating and her car hit more bumps her face lit up with the very thought of approaching her destination. The roads were strewn with litter and semi clad urchins ran about hither and thither to get a mere glance of the car. Hawkers sauntered about the streets with their big carts filled with vegetables, making it impossible for the vehicle to proceed at its original pace. They peeped inside the car with a streak curiosity on their faces. Finally, at Sushma’s behest the car was pulled over and she got out with a bundle of clothes in her hands. People thronged around her like bees.Someone tipped off the media as per the plan and the charity session

began. It prolonged for a couple of hours as camera men captured shots of the donation. Finally, by evening Sush-ma was back at home resting her tired feet when her attendant knocked the door. “Madam, someone is here to take your interview,” he said.There was a surge of alacrity in her heart as Sushma got up stroking back her hair and dabbing her face with compact. “Let them in, “she said.Three men walked in - one with a huge camera and the two others with mikes in their hands. “Madam, we are here from CK TV, can we start now?” Sush-ma nodded in affirmation.“Roll camera, action.”“What inspired you to visit the slums? What is the motive behind these dona-tions?” Someone popped the first ques-tion.“Well, I really want to help the people from the slums. They deserve to wear better clothes. The down town was a horrible spectacle. The people seem to work so hard for a simple livelihood. The whole place bears a stench and I found it hard to stand there for min-utes. The people look starved; they need to have good food and someone with compassion to work on that front. Right now I don’t have the means for all that, so I did the least that I could.”“Tell us about your relationship with MLA Dhananjay Kehsav. Sources say that he you had quite a tiff with his

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wife, the bone of contention being your alleged affair with him. Is that true?”“Well, I am a compassionate person and I care about people. Nothing is more important at this point of time. I have heard, just like you would have, that Dhananjay’s marriage has been rocky off late. He will decide what he wants. As far as the allegations of the fight are concerned, I prefer to keep mum. Can we put this topic off for now?” said Sushma raising her voice. Her face con-torted and her pupils constricted.“I think we are done for now,” said one of the interviewers much to her cha-grin.“Alright. I just want well for the people,” said Sushma.For the next two days, Sushma used to scan through sections of the paper hop-ing for news of her philanthropy to hit the headlines. Each day her face would sink in despair. On the third day from the act of chari-ty, Dhananjay stormed into her house. “What have you told the media about me?” Sushma gave him a befuddled look. “Haven’t you read the article which quoted us and said things about our affair? I cannot hold my head high when I walk into my office any longer,” he yelled.As he threw open his laptop furiously, his bracelet jingled in the jolt. “Come here. Sit. Read”, he said as he pulled her forcibly by the elbow.And then he typed “Chatpata Khabar .”The page opened. The caption read: “Chatpata Khabar: We serve you with the latest news, the latest controver-

sies, the latest buzz and yummy masala about Page 3 celebs hot on your plate.”Sushma’s eyes grew wider as she scrolled down the page. The article had a picture of her taken during her “Act of selflessness.” It said:“When tinsel town meets shanty town…Her pretty face might have been in-visible on the silver screen for the last two years yet her affairs suffice to keep her in limelight. Recently we spotted yesteryear actor Sushma Agrawal on a donation spree in downtown Meharkot. Clad in a simple yellow saree , she was seen offering people her old clothes that mostly comprised Vintage party wear and Van Heusen formal wear. Will her branded couture really help in feeding the starved, is a question that can be answered only by them.Upon being asked about her affair with MLA Dhananjay Keshav and the re-cent alleged tiff with his wife she said,” I am a compassionate person and I care about people. Nothing is more import-ant at this point of time. I have heard, just like you would have, that Dhanan-jay’s marriage has been rocky off late. He will decide what he wants. As far as the allegations of the fight are con-cerned, I prefer to keep mum.”It looks like someone is trying to fish in troubled waters!Well Sushma, we need neither Solo-mon’s wisdom nor Argus eyes to make out what you are doing here. We aren’t sure if your old clothes would help the poor people of Meharkot but as you said, the compassion you manifested is

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sure to win the heart of Prince Charm-ing, who you have suddenly put on the map. Does donation of your party wear mean an avowed adieu to Bollywood or does it mean that you don’t fit into those dresses anymore? Anyhow all we have to say is that re-lationships like this help forgotten ac-tresses keep themselves alive in the rat race for fame. “Sushma’s eyes were watery when they met the eyes of Dhanajay who resem-bled a furious bull. She could feel her heart beat accelerating at a bizarre pace. “I only went down town to show people that I care for them. That was for the election, I..I mean votes,” she stuttered in a broken voice. Gritting his teeth, Dhananjay turned his face away. Sush-ma’s hands trembled as she proceeded to the comments section.One said, “These actresses are bimbos. How does this one think that her old branded clothes are of any use to the poor people?

I’m sure that she has out grown those clothes. That’s why she wore that voile saree to camouflage her flab. She should understand that her shelf life is over.”Another said:”What a home wrecker! These women do anything to steal a guy and after they get bored of him they jump on to another guy. Then they say that they mutually decided to move on. What’s wrong with that MLA? He is just a standard example of those govern-ment employees who have paramorous affairs when they should be on duty. No wonder normal people like us struggle for even electricity and water.”And finally this comment was the cher-ry on the top: “Check out the coral necklace she is wearing. I think that the MLA gifted her that one. His wife wore exactly the same necklace to a school function last week. Either DJK availed a buy one get one free offer on it or his wife must check if her vault has some-thing missing.

In her own words, Priya says, am a software developer who dreams to create waves in the writing world. I be-lieve that the most efficient faucet of creativity is the pen. So here I am, with a pen in my hand, trying to use it as a brush to paint the world around me with my imagination and make it reality.

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Aisha walked in hurry as she was almost late for her appointment. She gave her name to the nurse in the desk, while she was surfing the shelf to fetch her case file, Aisha scanned the room for the empty seat. The entire place was strangely quiet. She glanced at the entire room and the faces of some 50 women waiting at Dr. Kundavi, Gyne-cologist’s reception at a famous hospital. Everyone was there for the same rea-son – They can’t get pregnant without a doctor’s help.No one cared to speak or even acknowl-edge to one another, yet having so much in common. Everyone was sitting in their own world, reading a magazine, fiddling with their cell phones or ad-justing their sarees and dupattas. Those few who are accompanied by their hus-bands or mothers — they didn’t seem to be in a talking mood, either.Aisha, a 33 year old IT professional, was there for her pregnancy treatment with her husband Sam, who was also in the same field. He was trying hard to hide his nervousness and holding his wife’s

hands with hope and comfort. As the clock ticked, Aisha sat there silently and lost in her own thoughts.

It was 2005 May, 5 years before that day, Aisha, a lovely, vibrant and a religious girl, got married to Sam, the love of her life. Happily married with her loving husband and caring in-laws. But after few years of marriage, what more she or her family could ask for – a baby to show their affection and to prove as a symbol of their love? Or do you think is it too much to ask for?For every married person, however rich and well settled they are, the question they couldn’t escape is – ‘How many kids do you have?’They too did come across such phase in their lives. But at first they weren’t much worried as they have decided to wait. So they both didn’t give much urge to start a family, instead concen-trating on their profession and earning money, like any newly married couple.2007 – As their second anniversary passed by, they decided to start a family

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and started trying for a baby. She nat-urally thought getting pregnant would be as easy for her as everything else that had been in her life. After all, when she really wanted something and worked hard for it, it always seemed to have fallen in place. Few months passed by, nothing happened. She eventually start-ed getting tired and depressed as she spotted the redness month by month. Two more years passed in the blink of eyes. Being religious, they believed that God would bless them naturally with the bundle of joy.2009 – They started feeling more wor-ried but they both didn’t show it ex-plicitly and pretended to be happy. But when they have lost almost all their hopes, their family friend suggested this hospital. And they visited Dr. Kundavi, but after the basic tests, nothing seemed to be wrong. She prescribed her with Folic Acid & other hormone pills and asked her to come for regular monthly checkups. After several fruitless months passed by, doctor advised them to go through further detailed procedure and advanced treatment.Meanwhile directly n indirectly, their relatives started questioning about her fertility. Now, those talks and questions made Aisha grew depressed. Because it is expected from you, from the woman when she gets married, it is an unwrit-ten rule. With her growing depression, Aisha became weaker and feeble day after day. She quit her job and stopped going out. She stayed most of the time inside her room just to avoid talking to people. She hid herself from the society.

She built a void around her, as she start-ed feeling that her life has no meaning without a child to give her love and care. Even though Sam was a loving and supportive person, her own wishes and dreams of getting conceived, made her go down with stress. For her, nights grew longer than ever. When her hus-band was asleep, she sat crying in the bed for hours in her anguish and de-spair. She couldn’t sleep properly and found difficult to concentrate on any-thing. That’s when his parents started insisting him to remarry for the sake of heir to the family, Sam felt restless and started working for long hours simply to stay away from home and face the issues.One day when he returned home late from work, he found Aisha swallowing sleeping pills to end her life to give a peace of mind to everyone she loved. He slapped her hard and hugged her tight. As she started losing her con-scious, they took her to their family doctor immediately and gave her first aid. Later she apologized for her mad-ness and they both cried at their inca-pability.When she recovered from it, Sam took her and other kids in the family and neighborhood to picnic to uplift her mood but at the end of the day they were both gloomy. He insisted her to go to work again to get rid of her void. And they waited for God to answer

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their prayers someday soon.But only later did they realize that God will not just come down and grant their wishes but He has provided the facility and already showed them with the pos-sible way through modern medicine.

It was May 2010, Aisha and Sam were waiting outside the doctor’s cabin clutching their test reports in her hands.Whole room was in silence until the nurse called for Aisha. She came back to her senses, stood up and walked slight-ly tensed holding Sam’s hands towards the doctor’s office, with their final hope alive.Dr. Kundavi, a very nice lady in her 50s, smiled as they entered the room. ‘How are you Aisha? Please have your seat...’ As they sat down, she went through their reports for few minutes and said, ‘Everything seems to be normal but it is diagnosed as unexplained infertility’. She looked at both of them, ‘Now it’s been 5 years you got married, no symp-

toms of pregnancy even after we tried the medications n other treatment. We tried our best to make it naturally but as you’re getting older Aisha, I advise you to undergo the IVF treatment.’Aisha and Sam both were bit hesitant at first but they have no other options to refuse as they saw it as their only hope. When Doctor explained about the pro-cedure, it was like a light lit in their dull gloomy life. They started their treat-ment in the following month. Aisha got conceived. The whole family floated in joy. And the following 9 months was like a mixture of happiness, anxiety and also a difficult period for her. She was in a complete bed rest and every month she underwent Ultrasonic Scan test where they able to see the healthy movement inside her womb. Finally yeah, God has answered their prayers by blessing the whole family with the bundle of joy.. not one but two.. a boy and a girl - blessing to fill their empti-ness and a meaning to their life.

In her own words Meera says “I am a novice writer and an amateur poet who loves to rhyme with words. I discovered my interest in writing and photography only after my blog happened. I always look forward to learn something new in life while I prefer to stay under the veil. Do visit my blog to know me more.”

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From education to aviation to writ-ing, Rajshri Raajgopal has got a taste of various avenues in life. She has written a couple of children’s books. And this one is her first attempt at entering the world of adult fiction. Does it work? Let’s check it out.

The blurb goes like this –

Set in a scenic village on the outskirts of Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, this is the story of the struggles of a wom-an in its hostile society. The journey of Anna through her battle for free-dom from an unhappy household, her first love, a debilitating marriage and a stressful divorce shows the reader how difficult life is for a young woman even in this modern era. Her remarriage is a blessing in every way but it comes with a curse too Anna finds an unusual

friend who is determined to destroy her new life.

With a darkish blue cover and the sil-houette of a woman, you expect this to be in intense story of one woman and her struggles in life. The presentation and the font style of the text is quite well done.

The concept is quite interesting to start with and as the story moves ahead, things become really gripping. The story can be quite literally divided into two parts. The first part deals with how Anna suffers through a stressful mar-riage. Rajshri has beautifully portrayed the stress, the troubles, the problems and the issues a woman goes through in a troubled marriage. You can almost feel the pain Anna suffers.

Just as Anna remarries and starts living a happy and beautiful life, you wonder what next is in store. And then comes Anna’s unusual friend. Though noth-ing seems wrong at first, the buildup to the climax and the climax in particular is quite sensational. Till the finale, you keep thinking on how its all going to end. There’s reality, there’s fantasy and there are emotions. It all comes across as a heady cocktail which leaves you wanting for more.

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Aseem Rastogi is a passionate blogger, published author and an avid lover of books. He has opinions on anything & everything under the sun which he keeps penning on his blog.

The narrative is well structured and keeps the reader interested till the end as there are no subplots to cause any confusion. The characters – Anna and her friend are beautifully portrayed. Things seem so life like that you can feel that you are standing next to them when the two are talking to each other.

The only negative if one could think of it as a negative was the fact that in the first part of the story, Rajshri could have

edited things a little bit. Though reading all the troubles of Anna provoke empa-thy but somewhere, the reader may feel that he / she wants to move to a lighter point in the story.

All in all, quite an awesome start for Ra-jshri in adult fiction. Go for it!

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Finished reading One & a half wife by Meghna Pant (Westland Books: I wonder why Westland has changed it’s logo!!). It’s her debut novel and her second book “Happy Birthday” collec-tion of short stories has been released recently.

One & a half wife deals with relation-ships, bonds and emotions and says that change is inevitable. The story tells about Indian immigrants who desper-ately want to achieve American dreams. Do they always live their desired dreams?

Amara Malhotra is a very good (Shy, Thoughtful & Caring) Indian girl whose future has been declared by a punditji that she will be one & half wife (Sadly,

I didn’t understand the meaning, even after reading the whole book :( ). Her mother Radha (Biji) desperately prays to move America to fulfill her and Amara’s American dreams and desires and finally one fine day, Amara’s Dua mama opens the door of America for them.

After unexpected rejection from her dear cousin Riya and not so interesting teenage life, Amara enters a suffocating marriage which leads to a painful di-vorce or in biji’s language die-force :)

Is this the end of life for Amara (as she thinks so)? Definitely not! Actually it’s a new and beautiful start of her life, back in so called modern India, that is going to transform her life and persona.

How? Go grab the book and read. It’s a wonderful book that you’ll find hard to put down. It’s a very well crafted sto-ry. There are well defined characters. And the author creates a lovely imagery through believable incidents and neat and crisp writing style.

There’s an interesting touch of humour also. I always smiled when I envisioned Biji’s temple face. And her English is really amusing!

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I really liked the idea of starting and ending the book in same pattern but on a different note.Overall, it was a fantastic read! I would

say that every book lover especially women should read this book. Highly recommended!

In her own words Tarang says “I’m a freelance writer. I write poems, short stories, articles and book reviews. Some of my works have been published in magazines like Woman’s Era & Alive.”

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Pavitra S TandonUI Designer, Pune

Jacob Hills:By Ismita Tandon

Being an illustrator and an artist at heart, books with interesting covers make the cut for me. One such book is the recently released Jacob Hills by Ismita Tandon. Contrary to my above statement, the cover isn’t all that mighty, what caught my attention was the lone path and the humongous big bold title. Reading the prologue alone made me read the entire book, and it was no waste of time. Me from a civil background, Army life has always been a fascination - Jacob Hills is a murder mystery within the Army - with a twist. The third person narration is clear and well done. Extremely interesting read!

I have been following her poetry online too (A lesser known poet) and man, has she got the talent to speak her heart out!

Pooja Dave Obsessed Bookaholic, Mumbai

Chacha Chaudhary:

It can be safely said that the adventur-istic voyages dished out by British chil-dren’s writer Enid Blyton opened up the realms of the reading world for many of us. However, I grew on a steadfast diet of Pran comics that included Chacha Chaudhary, Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman and Channi Chachi!! These indigenous cartoon strips created by the “Father of Indian Comics”- Pran Kumar Sharma, were my first brush with read-ing. The anecdotes of a sharp, wise old man* along with his herculean & alien sidekick Sabu, never failed to perk me up. The combination of wisdom and strength with a dash of humour was just what I needed to lift my spirits after a tiring day at school!! Needless to say, these timeless comic strips that sent me tumbling down the lane of imagination & reading are my favorite part of Indian Fiction.

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Ritesh Agarwal Freelance Writer, Kolkata

I too had a love story:By Ravinder Singh

Though some may cringe at this rev-elation, my favorite Indian book is Ravinder Singh’s ‘I too had a love story’. Granted that the writing is amateurish and the book is not literary enough for someone like me who thrives on clas-sics. Yet, the novel draws you in with its compelling narration, sucking you into a vortex of emotions. It is the sincerity of love, more than anything, that moves you and you stick to the book till the end, despite sensing what is going to come, and feebly hoping that it never does.Another book which deserves a space here is Amitav Ghosh’s ‘The Hungry Tide’. This is the book which taught me a lot and the one which I thoroughly respect. Satyajit Ray’s Feluda series is equally enchanting and Jhumpa Lahiri’s book ‘Unaccustomed Earth,’ which I am currently reading, is another volume which has tugged at my heartstrings.

Saurabh Chawla Business Analyst, New Delhi

The Taj Conspiracy:By Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

Being a suspense/thriller genre lover, I have read many of Sherlock Holmes’s novels as well as Sidney Sheldon’s. But this time I thought of giving a try to The Taj Conspiracy. I was totally blown away by the mix of intriguing plot with the history. While reading, I was totally lost in a different world. The research conducted on one of the Seven Won-ders of the World is exemplary and worth praising for. Reading the book itself changed my entire viewpoint about the mausoleum. The overall con-spiracy along with the chosen locations makes it a sure page turner. Being a female writer, Manreet has left no stone unturned in proving that writing Sus-pense/thriller is not mainly limited to the masculine gender. I am eagerly waiting to put my hands on the next book of the series, The Hunt for Kohi-noor by her.

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