Monday, December 31, 2012

"A matter of chance"- My entry for the get published contest


Inspiration, that fragile thread ruling the pattern of creativity, doesn’t always need to be hard-hitting. Anything subtle like the moist wind grazing your cheek or the softly sung words of a song that makes your heart skip a beat works just as fine; anything that forces you to put your pen down on paper and tell a story.

It is really strange how you come across muse unexpectedly sometimes. You search in vain for it across the world when it was right in front of your eyes all the time. It happened with me, this sudden subtle burst of inspiration that came out of nowhere from a person who has been living with me in the same room since one month and who never let me have any inkling of the heartfelt story that was an essential part of her.

It runs like a roll of film in my mind, the story she had shared smiling, sitting on my hostel bed, the story which I try to do justice through the yarn of my words.

Even more than the touching elements of her narration, what caught my attention was the simple declaration she made at the beginning, that love is nothing but a chapter coincidences.

It struck me like a lightning bolt, the simplicity and absurdity of what she said- surely love isn’t like that, surely love is as much glorious and inevitable as they state in stories!

But it became evident, the truth of what she had stated in passing and I had to agree- love indeed starts with a chapter of coincidences and this time, it started with a few random strokes of pencil…

This isn’t a story that speaks of perfect love because for people so imperfect, ‘perfection’ isn’t an analogy that would suffice. This isn’t a story where everything goes as planned and it is only love that holds the first priority. This is rather the story of  Adarsh and Dakshita two college going teenagers uncertain about the true meaning of the feelings they hold for each other. This is the story of not just the joy and elation that comes from the beautiful thing we call love but also of the confusions associated with it… the dilemma. But most importantly this is the story of two people trying to make it work.

Excerpt:
“Some things can’t just be explained. Like why despite being so antagonistic about talking with stranger guys, she gave him her number that day. Like why instead of jumbling up the numbers like she usually did, she made the combination of the right number that day- just like her life decided on the correct permutation of bringing a new face into her existence that day”

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs fromYashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

If you want to hear the rest of this story, like my entry and help me get published!
You can like it here.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Banquet on the dead- A book review



Contrasting to the bright red design cover of Komarraju's debut novel which screamed murder announced, it is the title of the second book that would grab your attention. Questions would spring up in your head that would demand to be answered and the crisp preview on the back cover will inflame your curiosity more.

The story revolves around the supposed accidental death of Kauveramma, a rich woman at the head of a large family, benefactor of many generations but at the same time a source of grudge to nearly all the family members in one way or the other.
It was the way of her ‘accidental death’ that arose questions otherwise, because drowning in a well was highly unlikely for a woman who was so terrified of water that she didnt eevn go near it. Drawn into submission by her grandson Koteswar Rao’s request for further investigation, Inspector Valmiki Nagarajan was forced to approach Hamid Pasha, an elderly Muslim reformed criminal with previous associations with the Inspector.

One question leads to the other and the duo find themselves amidst a highly complicated maze of family drama, lies and hatred. As the mystery deepens, it comes out that every single member of the family had something to gain from the old woman’s death and evidently, each one had a motive, opportunity and temperament to do her in.

Banquet on the dead, running along the lines of a classic murder mystery has a better story than Komarraju's first book. The plot is well thought of and well executed; there are enough questions that would keep your grey cells entertained throughout the 262 page long story.

The brains of the duo, Hamid Pasha is a well etched character- eccentric and poetic, funny and charming, and thoroughly mysterious with his sudden out of the box questions. The interrogations with the different family members, the emotions it brought out, and the connections between the various accounts of the incident keep the story going with a definite pace.
Other characters in the story are etched in detail too; the family feuds and animosities are well brought out. The story is interesting throughout with small puzzle pieces cropping up now and then and complicating the mystery even more.

What I liked about the story was the intricate detailing into the characters- something characteristic of Komarrraju.Hamid Pasha as the detective is interesting and I would certainly look forward to more stories with him in action. The delightful details over things like the habits of old Brahmin women, places of Warangal, the story of art theaters if Hyderabad adds a definite charm to the story.

What didn’t tick off well with me was the vague motive behind death of the women. For a well executed plot with decent motives awarded to each member of the family, the actual drive for murder at the end was a disappointment. I had to check twice to see if I missed the motive behind the crime but it seems as if the motive was missed out by the author himself and there are several unanswered questions in your mind at the end.
Also, having read scores of detective mysteries made my mind point out towards the criminal halfway down the story which didnt dampen the reading experience though; I had to prove myself right in the end :D

Overall the book is a fine read- good language, good dialogues, detailed characters and a fairly good plot would make me round up the review with a rating of 7/10 . Mystery lovers wishing to try Indian mysteries should definitely go for this one. 

You can read the prologue of the story here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The right question


Shweta started to pick out cards for her marriage and the memories immediately flooded her heart. This was not the first time she was getting married. Two years ago her first fiancĂ© Rohit had died in a car accident only two months prior to her wedding date. She wondered if she would ever heal from that loss. She was merely 23 when this tragedy happened and her family and friends expected her to move on and date others, which she did. But marriage?

Marriage, she felt was something different entirely. A delicate thread of new beginnings, new relations that had once been snatched away from her and the scars from that were still raw. Everything had happened so fast that she didn’t have the time to sit and reflect. After Rohit’s death, it was as if everything was covered in a film of dust and she was left squinting her eyes to figure out the swiftly changing images. A couple of men entered the reel of her life as dates through mutual acquaintances but she never had taken them seriously. It was as if she was scared of another emotional blow.

This was until her parents finally intervened and decided that it was time to settle their only daughter’s life. So enter- Virat Ahuja, son of Shweta's father's boss. Virat was everything a girl could dream of-handsome, intelligent, highly qualified, decent and well mannered. But more than that, he was everything a girl’s parents would dream of- prosperous family, steadfast Hindus and he himself- a foreign educated NRI. In fact, Shweta’s parents considered her extremely lucky to have found such a match. It started as casual meetings for them and Shweta found herself liking him; there was something charming and self assured about his self. Talks began to get more serious between their families too till a mutual agreement with the relationship was reached. It was then that the underlining things started emerging.

It was just a tiny fling of a remark in the beginning; something said by someone in the family but slowly the whispers and murmurs slowly took the shape of something more substantial.
“Is it true that Shweta’s fiancĂ© was killed just weeks before the wedding?” they had enquired.

Shweta had been surprised at the question; she had been open about everything with Virat from the very beginning. but the real surprises were yet to come. That small enquiry fired into a prolonged questionnaire to decide if she was 'manglik'.

“It is my grandmother who believes in all this superstition that it will bring hurdles in marriage. And it is a simple matter of rechecking your horoscope Shweta, why are you reacting so much over this?” Virat had said when she shared the cause of her anxiety with him.

But one thing led to the other and the pandit proclaimed her astrological combination did have some ‘signs’ of the same and things could get murkier if the ‘mangal dosha’ wasn’t brought in control right then. Their relationship was in danger then because nothing could have deviated Virat’s superstitious family from their steadfast notions.
“But there is still a way” the pandit had offered leisurely “we could perform rites to bring it under control. It is nothing that couldn’t be erased by utter devotion and grace of God.”
And thus the rites began; the sanctum of 'utter devotion' but to Shweta it seemed more like a penance- endless pujas, hawans and fasts... inevitably fasts.



She had felt frustrated more than once, but the beautiful band on her ring finger kept her going. There was no one she could share these agonies with- not even her parents as they were loathe to let such a good proposal slip from their hands- except for her friend Abhishek.

Friends since college days, Abhishek had been the best bud of Rohit. Shweta didn’t know him that well then; with Rohit after the entire world around her just ceased to matter. He came into light only after Rohit's death; while she shunned the world away unable to face their pity, it was Abhishek’s brutal honesty that made her realize that he had something more than just vacant sympathy to offer her. And they became friends, just like that and they bonded to an extent where she started sharing all her troubles with him.

She remembered what he had said when she had told him about her in laws belief that it was something related to her horoscope that caused Rohit's death, “If you like him enough to stand doing all this then only it’s worth it Shweta. But remember one thing. Only liking won’t suffice. You must feel that one day there is a chance of you falling in love too…”

She didn’t reply to him then, the only person she had come close to loving was Rohit but that was a thing of the past and she decided to live with it.

So she had endured. Endured living on meager meals, days of going hungry to a point where she became ill and started losing weight but his family seemed oblivious to it all. But what pained her even more was that Virat himself seemed oblivious to her agony- both physical and emotional. Despite his claims that it was not him but his family who were insisting on this, Shweta could understand that somewhere to some extent even he believed in her being potentially unlucky for his life.

But all those hurdles had been crossed fruitfully and the wedding bells seemed sure to ring this time. There was a last hawan to attend that day and everything after that would be fine.

She smiled at the thought and her hand automatically reached to the two sided photo frame at her bedside. One side was empty; Rohit's picture had been taken away from there just as he was taken away from her life. But she knew that the time had come to fill that void again. 

She sifted through photographs scattered on her bed and paused at one, smiling widely as she remembered how she had taken it without telling him. So much for claiming he was not photogenic, he looked adorable there; hair ruffled and carefree, a small hint of smile playing mysteriously on those thin lips and dark, brooding eyes seeking something out of the window.

After a moment’s thought she added that photo next to hers in the photo frame and smiled hesitantly; though he had never said in so many words, she knew that he loved her; loved her in his own quiet, intense way but more than that, he respected and cared for her almost unconditionally. And as she looked at their photo together, she heard a small voice in her heart telling that she would love him too. Someday for sure, their married life wouldn’t be barren and empty without love.

Shweta went down just in time before the hawan started. She looked gorgeous in a bottle green lehenga and she bit her smile on seeing Virat’s expression. She greeted her in laws graciously, everyone looked happy that day; even the unyielding grandmother had a smile for her.

Everything looked normal but a sudden ominous feeling clouded Shweta’s heart and left a deep sense of foreboding in her mind. The hawan started and soon the air was filled with smoke and chants. Turn came for Shweta to add the hawan samagri in the fire when suddenly, the flames flickered and died.

A quiet hush fell over the room and the fire was lit again but after a few handfuls of the offering in it, the fire died again. “Maybe the logs are wet” Virat suggested and the wood was checked but nothing defective could be found. Mercifully the hawan was at a ending stage and was somehow completed.

The stricken looks on Shweta’s parent’s faces turned a bit back to normal and Virat’s grandmothers ominous mutterings ceased as the pandit told Virat to break open the coconut. “Now you do the same thing beta” his mother instructed.

Shweta broke open the coconut with such a force that the water and small pieces fell in her eyes. “I’m ok” she said a bit irritated when everyone turned to fuss over her.

“Look, look!” Virat’s grandmother exclaimed, pointing not towards Shweta but towards the broken coconut. The seemingly white surface of the coconut was slowly turning black.

Everyone stared horrified at the sight and Virat’s grandmother stood up to leave when the pandit came forward and handed Shweta another one. This thankfully turned alright but the ominous sign of the spoilt coconut was stamped in everyone’s minds. 

Shweta’s parents couldn’t wait for the event to end; they breathed a sigh of relief when the day closed with Virat’s mother handing Shweta her bridal dress. She took the plate with a smile when suddenly, without any prior notice, the fabric was set aflame. She dropped the plate on the ground horrified and with every flicker of the lilac flame; she saw Virat and her family walk away from their house. Virat tried to say something but he was dragged away vehemently by his grandmother.

Shweta stood dumb as the agonized bustle and cries of shock ceased and turned to a deathly hush. She stomped away to her room as her mother tried to approach her and with a thudding heart shut the door behind her. As she slowly collected her thoughts she checked her mobile- 5 missed calls from Abhishek. She smiled bitterly at the irony of the fact and proceeded to call him back.


She cut away his questions and told him quietly “My marriage is broken Abhishek. Yet again…”

And then slowly, her lips set into a smile. 

She remembered the exact moment when she realized how her life would be with Virat. Right or wrong he would have never stood by her side. She couldn’t directly deny her prior assent for the marriage; it would have been a huge blow to her parents, especially to her father professionally and moreover it was already too late. So she had to take a more drastic measure. 

The question from the very beginning wasn’t the marriage itself; it was the marriage with the right person. She just had to make up her mind about it; the rest was easy.

She knew that it would take just a splinter to fire the shimmering coals of her in-laws superstitions and she acted carefully on that. CO2 in the form of dry ice mixed with the hawan samagri prevented the fire from burning. 
Though it took so much time to start working that she had panicked it won’t work but it did in the end. The coconut stunt had been tricky but thanks to hours of mad devotion towards being a magician as a kid, she could pull it off. Hiding the black organic paint was easy enough, delivering it into the target a bit tricky. The distraction made in the form of breaking the coconut too hard helped her.

The sari stunt had been the easiest of all. Just few potassium pellets taken from the chemistry lab and slipped under the fabric under the pretext of arranging the plate. A few sprinkles of water had done the trick- thanks to potassium being such a reactive element. 

The real danger had been Virat seeing through it all, because it had burned with a characteristic lilac flame instead of normal blue but thanks to the superstitious grandmother, he was taken away before he could suspect anything.

She breathed in relief, a load was taken off her chest. She was shook out of her reverie by Abhishek's voice on the line; th epoor guy was freaking out at the news.

“Hush. It’s ok now Abhishek, it’s ok now.”

“OK? How can it be ok? You loved Virat!”

She took a deep breath and said “it was never Virat that I loved Abhishek. It was you…”

She looked at the photo frame and smiled even before she heard his reply- she knew what those brooding dark eyes would say…
* * *

I know this is a mad, crazy story but I had huge fun writing it and discussing the plot with Arpita :D
Million thanks to her for some brilliant ideas she gave. And also for the roll :P You rock girl!

Keep reading, keep loving
Kirti 


Monday, December 3, 2012

Mia on a shopping spree!

Mia is very excited this month. A series of events were coming up that needed dressing up and looking gorgeous. And when the word 'dressing up' comes, can 'shopping' be far away? :D
Firstly she has a Christmas party to attend. OK wait; that comes much later. Firstly she has her 1st semester exams to end(sob)
Starting on 5th and ending on 23th, that didn't leave her much time to decide her apparel after she comes back and she didnt intend to go the party in her same old boring dresses when her mother had sanctioned her a shopping trip. So shopping was intended. And that too as soon as possible!

Complete with all her battlements, donned with multiple scarves and sweaters(since her mother would kill her if she went uncovered in the cold) Mia set out with her sister Lia for the task at hand.
Lia was just as excited as she was; and a marvel she was too in selecting good stuff, a designer brain she had from the start.
Happy and buoyant, both sisters sat singing in the backseat of their car, waiting impatiently for the shopping mall to come.

But alas! a shopping trip wasnt written in Mia's destiny that day. Traffic jam got them stuck for more than two hours and since Mia had to return back to her hostel early the next morning, their mother badgered them till they got back home from half way back.

Mia was bitterly disappointed, so was Lia but there was nothing that could be done. Going to the party in the same old wear from her wardrobe was indicated.

Mia flung her leather bag in anger on her bed as soon as she reached home and wept bitterly on her pillow. Her mother tried to console her but nothing could pacify her. Finally, in an attempt to distract herself, Mia decided to download question papers from the previous year for exam preparation.

"It was going to be such an exciting party too. And I have nothing good to wear" Mia kept thinking; conveniently choosing to forget her already overflowing wardrobe.
"That too my first Christmas party with my new college friends. Oh poor me!" she wept internally, pitying herself.

Suddenly, a bright advertisement popped up as she launched the web browser.
"Trust such silly things to pop up just when my head's heated up!" thought Mia angrily and moved the cursor to the bright red cross, intending to shut that thing vehemently.
"WAIT" her inner voice told her in huge capitals and she did the same, pausing to look at what the ad said. It was the advertisement of Shopper's Stop online shopping website inviting them all to make the best of this festive season.
Mia's eyes grew wide; all her dreams came true and she shouted loudly which made her mother and Lia come running into the room.

"Perfect!" Lia said. "We can just sit at home and shop for you!" and that's what they did!

This is what they selected in the end- a classy, stylish black dress!!
This was going to be Mia's first dress ever so she was mighty excited for sure!


For shoes they selected evening boots. Both stylish and cozy at the same time!

Beautiful earrings to go with the whole thing



Next came the debate about whether Mia would take a handbag or a clutch.
"Clutch seems more classy to go with that dress " their mother had the last word and so clutch it was!
They ended wrapping up the apparel by picking two very pretty bracelets. Two because Lia developed a fancy for the starry one.



So thats how Mia and Lia solved their problem of not being able to shop physically at a mall and instead had dollops of fun shopping at home!!
All thanks to Shopper's Stop :D

This is an entry for a contest on Indiblogger by Shopper's stop.
To celebrate this festive season go to www.shoppersstop.com

PS: Thanks to Jagruti Didi for helping me choose the outfit :D and for having that amazing fashion sense too!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Of Godavari and Grandma...



It has been so long since I made a proper blog post that it feels weird now, typing away like this as I try to organize the thoughts in my head. I wonder why I haven't been writing lately. As in, writing nothing at all. Maybe it is the loss of my notebook which had a new un-posted story in it. So new that I didn't even read it  after I wrote it, so I don't really remember what went into it. Or maybe it is because I have been talking a lot and observing very less lately- I am not blaming anything but college and hostel seemed to have got into my way of pouring my heart through words.

Whatever be the reason, I decided that I would write today. Good or bad, happy or sad, I would write today and not because it was an obligation of some sort, but because I felt like writing (read ranting) and hence I did.

I stop here now, mentally picturing what I really want to say; but no such image springs up... It is as if I am looking at a really blurred photograph. That is what my mind seems like these days, a confusing blend of so many things thrown together that I am breathless trying to figure out each entity and in the end, I just stop trying and start talking to get myself distracted. Talking about what? Seemingly pointless and stupid stuff.
I really wish someone would just come over and tell me to stop blabbering but no one does that; I guess I would be very hurt if someone really does but it would be better than seeing people faking interest in what you say. I may be wrong, but thats what it feels like to me anyways.

I guess I am really upset over not having my brother back home like he said. Postponed exams and practicals really do screw up a student's life. We talk on the phone everyday but it isn't enough for me. And strangely it seems vacant. Because I know that in person my brother doesn't talk that much. I have to squeeze things out of him but its fun that way. I remember Uma didi's mother telling me that this is how things would be like from now on. Dates wouldn't match for you to be together and I remember feeling really sad about it- its never kind to be reminded that the things have changed.

To think of what we do when my brother comes home, I would say that its nothing special really. We talk- rather I talk and he listens; laughing at something I say. And I feel happy at that because its a good feeling to have someone you love very much smile at something you say. So I just go on saying stuff, making them more interesting than they really are but I dont feel hollow or empty like I do these days when I talk because it amuses my brother and that is the way I like it.

So apart from talking a bit, discussing about books and stuff, him cooking and me eating, watching movies , we dont do anything specific together. But its just the presence. The presence of having him around that is so comforting. And I am very bad at expressing things physically so I dont hug him or hold his hand or say something about how much I appreciate the fact that he is my brother. So , many things go unsaid. But I hope he understand it. I really do.

Talking about presences, I am being all gloomy remembering stuff unwillingly and missing the presence of my grandmother around. Sometimes I think I could never totally accept her death . Because I didn't cry as much as I should have; considering the fact that I cry at verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry small things-so small that my mother gets exasperated with me. And it scared me then, how everyone were gathered around her body and saying shallow things about her being such a great woman and all, crying , and I didnt even shed a tear. It scared me how my mother noticed this even in all her pain and told me repeatedly to sit beside them but I didnt... I just couldnt.

All I could think of was that butter hadn't been churned in our house that day and then it hit me that my grandmother would never do that anymore. Never make me wait patiently by her side as I admired her soft wrinkled hands deftly and neatly take out the white, delicious butter, pat it in the steel utensil which already had mounds from the previous days, take out a lump and put it in my hand. I wouldn't go away even after that; at first it was because I was purely greedy but later it became a habit, to have her  give another lump lovingly. The mounds in the steel utensil had her fingerprints on them; ones that got imprinted as she patted the butter. They still have them now, but it isn't the same is it? My mother's hands aren't the same.

That is what I could think of that day. That is what I said to my uncle when he came searching for me in the garden. Not in a crying, whimpering way; I said it very matter of factly and I still dont understand why that made him cry.

I was made to stand beside my brother after that; he wouldn't go near her body too and it was then that I slipped my hand into his. I dont know why I did that, being a very non-physical person and all (I could count the times I have hugged people. That too my friends. Girls) but it felt nice. His hand is very big and soft and warm and he has beautiful nails... Not like mine, small and ugly and I remember feeling happy then but sad at the same time too. Sad because it took the death of someone I love to make me hold my big brother's hand.

I felt proud when I saw so many of my relatives and family friends come as far as Rajamundry to pay their last respects to my grandmother. So proud that I didn't mind them crying either. And I feel proud now again, because the same people, and many more are planning to come there again this coming Feb for her first death anniversary where my family has to perform the required rites.
I told my mother about this last day and she looked at me very softly and said that my grandmother was so good to so many people that they are all willing to take break from their busy lives and pay their tribute. And that means a lot to me; having known someone who is so good and is so respected. It also makes me wonder how many people would be broken over MY death. I am not that good to everyone I feel but I would like to be. I would like to be good like my grandmother was so that people remember me lovingly too.

This makes me feel sad again somehow, because I dont think I ever really expressed to her how much I love her. But this never came into my mind before. My grandmother was a part of my life that I had taken for granted. So much that even now after 9 months since she passed away, I have a hard time accepting that she is truly gone. I dream about her sometimes- dreams about very normal stuff. Like she is asking me to do something or telling me something and I wake up in the darkness finding it hard to believe that she isn't there anymore. I look at her empty bed beside me and I think that maybe she has gone to the bathroom but she doesnt come back and I end up feeling sad and eventually fall asleep.

I will tell you why I miss her so much today. It is some sort of festival today (we are not supposed to celebrate it but my mother asked me follow some rites all the same) and it is required to wash your hair today. So usually, it is my grandmother who puts oil on our heads and blesses us saying a very interesting thing which I wont say here as no one would understand but it ends with her blessing a 100 years of life. When I was little I remember enjoying the brief massage on my head very much so I used to beg her to do it once again and she would repeat the whole thing. My brother would joke about how I would live for 200 years after this and there was a time when I used to believe him.

But now I think this stuff doesnt really hold (yes, I knew it before this also, but its just fun imagining some things up. like my kids going to Hogwarts) Because when my grandmother wasnt the eldest in the family then someone would have put oil on her head on special occasions, wishing the same thing for her and maybe she had also begged her grandmother to do it twice, but she didnt live for a 100 years did she? She died at a mere 75.

God... what rubbish I am talking!! Ignore the last two paras will you? Rather, ignore this whole rant altogether. I have no idea what had gotten into me today!
Talking about the coming Feb, I am very excited to go back to Rajamundry. My parents could have easily done everything here in Kgp- the easy way out, but my father chose to go back there again... end everything properly. I think its very decent of my parents to do that but then, I am not the only one who loved my grandmother, is it?

Excited about going to Rajamundry because of the Godavari. It is strange how I never mentioned it on my blog... but maybe its because I can never properly say in words what it felt like to be there.
That was the first time I fell in love I think, and not while talking to someone over phone who seems like a total stranger now. I know its weird of me talking about love and a river but no normal person would write something silly like this post. So I AM weird. Admit it. Accept it.

Anyways, I cant describe what I felt like the first time I saw the river (well the first time was years ago when we went to a marriage. By first time I mean seeing it for REAL) It was as if little things dont matter anymore.. all that matters is that you are alive. All that matters is the sand beneath your feet that slips with every step you take... all that matters is the stretch of blue around you and you are just a speck of life in it... so small but yet a part of something big... something whole.
And when we left the dirty banks of the river behind us and went a bit into the middle, you could see the bed, all you could see was blue... the sky and the water seem to be a single entity in total harmony, in total unison... just like you and the parts of your body that are your true soul mates. And the pure, white spray that hit my face suddenly then couldnt have been more fresh, more alive...

Godavari is beautiful and I simply love it... I feel at peace when I am anywhere near it. Godavari is so beautiful that despite I feel sad that my Grandmother's living  presence wont be felt anymore, I cant help feeling happy that she is a part of it now...

Sorry for being such a bore,
Kirti.




Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Bankster- A book review


Its really strange how my mind gives instructions to me to jump at anything that says 'thriller'. Thanks to Blogadda, I got another wonderful opportunity to review a thriller, The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian.
The cover page is excellent and definitely hooks a reader's interest from the start. The grey, blue and black color combination along with the sinister looking man deliver the title extremely well.

The synopsis speaks of a series of murders that threaten to destroy the reputation of Greater Boston Global Bank(GB2) and as Karan Punjabi, press reporter and ex-banker digs deeper, he finds that the matter has roots into a global conspiracy of greater dimensions- something that could not only destroy the bank but also cast a shadow on the entire nation.

The story revolves around the corporate lives of the bankers of GB2 and describes some jaw dropping, cunning exploits of the senior level executives. The dirty games, manipulations taking place in the inner circles of the bank were a highlight for someone like me who has no prior knowledge about banking(expect for depositing pocket money savings in an account from which I cant WITHDRAW :-/) Simultaneously, the plot is woven with the one man struggle of Krishna Menon against the commissioning of a nuclear power plant that had the safety and lives of the people from his neighborhood at stake.
An attempt to give power to his struggle triggers greater evils of dirty politics, deceit and treachery and eventually the bigger picture of the entire scam comes up.

The author takes the readers to many locations- from Angola to Vienna to Mumbai and Kerala and I really like the detailed description of the site, its geography etc. The characters are well sketched; they are realistic and imaginable. Not knowing much about banking wasn't a minus as I had feared from the title and the tagline that says 'Meet the John Grisham of banking' because the author briefs in about everything related to it and gave me lesser Google searches to run.

The plot line is good; it has its moments that makes you apprehend over what will happen next but it wasn't gripping enough at times. The murders were predictable, and a few characters were suspicious right from the beginning so it didn't come as a surprise to see them hauled over coals at the end.
The best part I think was the totally unpredictable culprit and the interesting way the various incidents that had no relation in the beginning were woven up in one thread at the end. Another plus would be the decent writing style and good narration.

The story I felt, was a bit slow at the start. It took too long to move over the background detailing for all the conspiracies hatching, the intricate character backgrounds and come to the point when things start boiling.
The conversations too seemed a bit halted and it was confusing at first to understand the relations between the GB2 employees. I found the entry of Karan Punjabi, the supposed lead character a bit late and the chemistry between him and Kavya wasn't much of my interest either.

Something I loved the best and want to give the author kudos on is the page turning excerpt on The Big News Debate. I simply loved the pacey debate and the way everything shifts in the blink of an eye!!

Overall, the book is good; it hits off the unpredictability prerequisite for a thriller quite well and I would rate it a 7/10.
Thriller lovers definitely have something to treasure in their book collections like I do(a SIGNED copy too by the way :D) and if you havent read it yet, go grab it!!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com . Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Book Review- The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi


I jumped at the chance of reviewing a thriller that too by Ashwin Sanghi; I mean, I hadnt read any of his previous works, but who hasn't heard of Chanakya's Chant and Rozabel Line?
The cover of the book is decent enough for a thriller. The slightly open doors with an ancient looking lock binding them together creates a ready impression of some secret waiting to be unfolded.

The back cover with the one paragraph gist is where the actual magic of the story begins. It is crisp and short but the ending line gives you a proper punch on your face and you cant wait to get started with the book.

The story revolves around a serial killer who believes himself to be the last avatar of Lord Vishnu and is intent upon finding the four similar seals from the time of Lord Krishna which would ultimately lead to the 'Krishna Key' which would establish concrete facts about the actual existence of the Indian Mythology.
The protagonist Ram Mohan Saini, a historian was wrongly suspected for the murder of his best chum Dr. Varshney who was the archaeologist behind the search and retrieval of this ancient secret of Krishna.

Hoodwinking the police, and dashing from Dwarka, to Somnath to the chilly Mount Kailash, Saini along with his doctoral student Priya embark on an exciting and dangerous quest to find the base plate and save the other confidants of Dr. Varshney from a similar fate as him. 

Fast and intense, The Krishna key flows at a heart-stopping pace and ticks every box in making for a good thriller. Sanghi shows a flair for combining mythology and history with suspense and the vedic shlokas laced in between add a different interest to the story. So do the symbols, maps and images which make the plot even more detailed and exciting
I really love the story of Krishna written in 1st person which is told simultaneously with the main plot; it was refreshing to recall the stories from Bhagavatam.
The extensive research done by the author on Mahabharata, Indian civilizations is evident from the novel itself, though so much information makes it a bit confusing and tedious to follow. But Ashwin Sanghi's narrative style erases off whatever lag there was in the story due to all the details and twists it in an interesting manner at the end. The character sketches done by the author are commendable too.

The only thing I didnt like about the story was the haphazard arrangement of certain events. As in, the event takes place before and the dialogues and scenes related to it are described later. So its brings a matter of doubt regarding the exact time of the event in question. Moreover for the readers well versed with the Hindu Mythology and Avatars of Lord Vishnu; the revelation of Tarak Vakil comes much before the literal revelation by the protagonist Saini. The name of the village, his family background associations with the stud farm, the sword, Shuka the parrot point in obvious directions

The Krishna Key despite being an excellent, refreshing story in itself holds strong resemblance with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

Nevertheless, owing to the crisp writing style and good plot, I would rate this book a 8/10 and would suggest all thriller lovers to grab a copy now!
As for myself, I am getting Chanakya's Chant and the Rozabel line as soon as possible :D

This review is a part of Book Reviews Program at Blogadda. A million thanks to Blogadda for giving me the wonderful opportunity to review such a great book!





Sunday, October 7, 2012

From treasure hunts to tags...

Its been a long time I wrote anything, or even came close to making a post on my blog. Result- my blog is a sorry, lonely sight from the past two months and most people have been wondering if I have done a bunk and left blogging. But college has been so hectic that I don't have time to breathe (read doing Fb and listening to songs) forget about blogging :P

So busy Kirti has gotten, people might say, but the question is, what does she do all day?
My day at hostel starts and ends with a treasure hunt. Breakfast- treasure hunt for traces of butter on the piece of 'bread' (read Rubber) they give us. College- treasure hunt for traces of wakefulness in my eyes that seem to be at the verge of dropping down every moment. Lunch- treasure hunt for some other vegetable other than potato. Hunt for grains of dal in the yellow water that smells and tastes suspiciously like... WATER. With dollops of turmeric in it.
Treasure hunt it is from the first day of college. Hunting for at least ONE decent looking guy in a class of 64 with just 8 girls. Alas, this favorite hunt of mine came to a dead set stop the very first day of college where my classmates look older than my father. No kidding, I am serious when it comes to matters like these :P

Rants apart, I am here to do a very interesting tag from Leo along with college updates. So under this 'introspection tag'. I have to analyse my blog under 7 categories and pass it on to five others. So here it goes!

1. My most beautiful post- Like the rising sun is a story I love a lot. And though people have said it wasnt my best, there is something that makes me go back to the story again and again. Maybe the name I love so much, or the subtle love it shows but it is a story that is very close to my heart.

2. My most popular post- Surprisingly, it is neither a poem nor a story of mine. The post I made wishing Antara a happy birthday is the most popular post till date on my blog.

3. My most controversial post- You cant expect a poetry and story telling blogger to make controversial posts can you? :P

4. My most helpful post- Please. My rants arent of any help :P

5. A post whose success surprised me- My first BAT entry Once Again which I wrote in much doubt but it somehow won me a gold batom :D

6. A post I feel did not get the attention it deserved- My first free verse Incandescence which I love a lot didnt get a lot of attention.

7. A poem I am proud of- It has to The voice of messenger. It has a depth that amazed even me!

Tagging 3 more people for this interesting task-

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stars

The sky that hides your
pain in clouds, betrayed by your 
eyes sparkling like stars.


Thanks to Leo for another 4-day poetry assignment :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

As I stand unmoved...


In the midnight that cried
the story of dawn,
In the storm that chased
all traces of light,
I stand on the altar of blood-
hands of steel, heart of stone
and eyes frozen at your gaze when they lost love for me.

Of the light that cast a shadow on my soul-
already dark from the veil of lies you made,
Of the ashes that smoldered last splinter of my love-
already burnt to extinction;
I stir away of what stands me weak,
tonight as I stand on the altar of blood.

To plead for you the wind might be tricked
but what breathes this wind is a trick of mine
and as the dust rises to choke your misery,
the thin line of my lips
might just be a smile.

As clawed hands reach for your bone,
rotten breath fills the air.
Of scented summers your voice reminds me,
but my ears are deaf to your despair.

"In return for something foul,
you pay with the death of a soul"
the chants drown your stuttering heart,
as I watch unmoved on this altar of blood...
altar of your blood.

In your eyes that mirror defeat,
I stare at the tears you made me cry
I turn away in the pool of your remains
"Death of a soul" the chants still claim
truth had never been so clear on my face,
Death it was... death of MY soul
because as I watch you being killed
I see myself slowly die...

"This post has been published by me as a part of IBL; the Battle of Blogs, sponsored by WriteupCafe.com. Join us at our official website and facebook page.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Dove: The origins


Lily gazed down with increasing excitement at the black leather diary she had unwrapped from its gift cover. The diary looked quite ordinary from outside; dark brown textured leather with subtle carved embossing at the corners to give it an ancient look and feel. Yes, the diary looked pretty ordinary from its cover but what was extraordinary about the diary was the small golden scribbling on it which said “Tom Marvolo Riddle”.


  • ·         Replica of Tom Riddle’s diary, Horcrux of Lord Voldemort.
  • ·         Officially licensed Harry Potter collectible.
  • ·         From the movie Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets.
  • ·         Contains blank pages, may or may not contain the Dark Lord.

These were the product specifications that came along with the package.

“May or may not contain Lord Voldemort”. Though Lily knew it was stupid to fantasize something so highly improbable, she felt a surge of thrill rush into her blood as she opened her precious gift.

It looked exactly how she had imagined it, or even better. The pages were a dull cream color and looked more like parchment than ordinary paper. Lily instantly wished for a quill to write on it, and complete the magical ‘Harry potter’ effect.

Yes, Lily Edmonte was a die hard potterhead, ever since she was caught into the magical world of JKR at the age of 10. So when she saw the ad of the diary on a FB Harry Potter fan page, she begged her dad to get it for her birthday. And finally, after a long wait, her priceless dream diary was in her hands. Without wasting further time, she unscrewed the top of her ink pen and wrote in her childish, bold scribbles-

“My name is Lily Edmonte”, she wrote, copying Harry’s words from his first experience with the riddle diary.

Though she wasn’t expecting anything to happen, she still sat with bated breath for a while.

Only to meet that expected disappointment.

“Never mind Lily. Voldy or no Voldy, this is still such an awesome diary to write on!” she consoled herself.

And that was when the magic started.

The words she had written… disappeared.

(So anticlimactic wasn’t it? :P)

She screamed and jumped out of her bed, staring at the diary in shock. Her parents scrambled into the room to inspect the nature disturbance and it took her a long time to explain its cause.

“It… it… disappeared” she managed to splutter.

“My words! They disappeared! Just like they did in the books!” she elaborated seeing her parent’s confusion.

“You are just imagining it baby. You are tired and excited with the party today. Get some rest honey” her mother said soothingly.

“No!”, Lily shouted “daddy look. LOOK. There are still traces of my pen scribbles. I am not imagining it!”

Her father inspected the diary and started smiling “Look Martha, how clever these people are” he said, as his wife joined him curiously. “See the paper here. Its thicker than normal paper is. I think what went in there concealed cleverly beneath the layers of parchment” he looked around to see if he had their attention. “Blotting paper” he finished, looking pleased with himself.

“And it must be a pretty good one too, to leave no trace of ink” it was her mother this time, looking impressed.

But lily couldn’t digest such a simple explanation for the first magical thing that happened with her. So it was a thoughtful and brooding little girl who went to bed that night, after her parents kissed her goodnight for the second time.

“It cant be just blotting paper. That’s too simple an explanation!” she thought.
She opened the diary again, staring at the blank page that had sucked in her ink and oozed out nothing but disappointment. “Write back Tom. Write back!” she pleaded but nothing happened.

She sighed and was about to shut it when she spotted something unusual.

A drop of INK.

Before she could even start to digest what was happening, the magic started the second time. The diary started writing back, but what it wrote was something no one could ever expect.

“Hello Lily Edmonte. My name is Lily Evans”

Lily stared and stared. She pinched herself twice to make sure she wasn’t dreaming and after the second rather painful confirmation, she realized that it was happening. It was really happening.

“Are you really Lily?” she wrote, to make sure it wasn’t old Voldy with his bag of tricks.

“Of course. This is my diary. From my 4th year at the Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry.”

“This isn’t a horcrux?”

“A… what??”

“Never mind. You are able to write back to me. Can you show me your memories too?”

“Of course. Memories are what my diary is all about.”

“But… how does that work?”

“Why don’t you join me so that I can show you in person?”

After that it happened exactly like it happened in the book, may you rot in misery if you haven’t read the book :P

Lily felt solid ground beneath her feet after something that felt very similar to a hair raising roller coaster ride. Blurred shapes came into focus slowly and to her surprise she saw a red headed girl standing beside her, smiling.

Lily looked around her, to make sure the girl was looking at her. “Can you see me?” she asked.

“Of course” said the girl, who could only be Lily Evans, with the trademark green eyes and flaming red hair.

“So how come… I am here in your memory?” Little Lily asked her.

“I enchanted this diary in a way that I could record my memories in it and revisit them later. So whoever I choose can see them with me” Lily explained.

“Like a video recording camera!!” Lily crowed in excitement. “Er… so which memory are we in right now” she said hurriedly seeing Lily Evans’s curious glance.

Lily cleared her throat “This memory is a very special and memorable one because this is when I did something really helpful for a friend of mine and made something that helped everyone in years to come”

“My friend suffered from really pathetic hair trouble. Hair fall, grimy hair that looked oily and dirty all the time, hair that would stench from half a mile away. My friend didn’t care much about physical appearance but as we grew older, people started noticing things you wouldn’t expect people to notice in a school of magic. Anyways, when the taunts and the mockery got too much to bear, my friend broke down completely and sort of… stopped socializing and became bitter and withdrawn.
I wouldn’t have known about all this if I hadn’t gone into Myrtle’s bathroom once… you know who Moaning Myrtle is right?” She asked lily.

Lily nodded hurriedly, not wanting her to stop.

“So Myrtle, the sick sadist she is, took particular glee in telling me how my friend spent most of the free time moping and pouring about hair troubles to her, who by the way, doesn’t have very impressive hair herself” Lily said contemptuously, running fingers through her own spectacular mane of red hair.
Little Lily felt conscious suddenly; she had never bothered much about her own hair.

“So I decided to help my friend out but it was a bit tricky as that person usually avoided any sorts of confrontation and turned particularly rude and aloof. I first checked the truth of this matter by sneaking into my friend’s inbox one day which confirmed Myrtle’s tale as it contained several messages seeking help  from reputed hair care companies and…”

“Wait… hold on. INBOX??? MESSAGES??” Lily asked in shock.

“Surely you know about Inbox and the communication tablet we use to send short messages to each other in the school and beyond?” Lily Evans asked, taking out a small square tablet from her own robes which looked like the primitive brother of the cell phones we use today. Except, it had no numbers.

“Of course I know about Inbox and messages and cell phones but what are they doing HERE?” Lily asked baffled.

“Cell phones?” She looked at her curiously. Then light dawning on her face she said “Is that what you call these in your world?”

Lily nodded.

“Don’t mind it dear but the muggles do have this habit of copying our ideas sometimes.” Lily Evans said, assuming a slightly superior tone.

“Anyways, so I went ahead and confronted this friend of mine. After a lot of coaxing the matter was finally revealed to me and to end my closest friend’s misery, we decided to find a solution ourselves. For seven weeks, we concocted a potion, even stealing from Prof Slughorn’s personal store which wasn’t too hard, sitting at stolen hours in Moaning Myrtle’s abandoned bathroom amidst her wails and mourning, and after a lot of changes and experimentation, we finally got the product of our dreams. It was so beautiful, it frothed and bubbled issuing a delicious, warm scent, and it shimmered like the soft wings of bird. It looked so clean and pure that we named it… Dove…”

“And then…” Lily asked in a whisper.

“The beautiful potion had only to come in contact with my friend’s hair, and everything changed just after the first wash. The grime and dirt accumulated for years with bitterness was washed away leaving soft, silky hair that smelled and felt wonderful. My friend was overjoyed with the instant result and we sent a sample of this beautiful potion to a famous hair care company so that other people across the world facing hair trouble could heave a sigh of relief too. My friend ended up as the brand ambassador of this company and was seen holding a bottle of our potion with a sunny smile saying and that was the end of my hair problems!’ “finished Lily, smiling a sunny smile herself.

“That is… such a wonderful story Lily!” Lily Edmonte crowed with delight.

“I know. It’s a true pleasure to see your friends happy Lily. And since you are my little friend now, I would like to make you happy too” She swished her hand swiftly once and a small, beautiful packet with two bottles came floating up to her.



“Thank you so much Lily!! This has to be the best birthday gift ever!” she squealed.
Lily smiled and hugged her. “You are most welcome dear. Off you must go now; you must be in bed by this time!”

Lily stood back amidst fiercely blowing wind again when she suddenly remembered something and shouted “You didn’t tell me who this friend was!”

Lily Evans smiled and said “It was my best friend… Severus Snape…”

***

“This is such a crappy idea Kush! Its too lame to even THINK about writing! I think I should just trash it and be done with it” said Ruhi in frustration, mindless plucking the grass beside her.

“No its not. Its funny and original. OK, it is crazy no doubt and you humor in writing needs wee bit more honing but it’s worth a shot! It doesn’t matter you win or not, you would still have a good story on your blog Ruhi!” Kush said gently.

“It SOUNDS good. I doubt if it would READ good.” She said dejectedly.

“It would. Trust yourself. Come on Ruhi, you can do this!” he encouraged her.

Ruhi looked at him and whispered “Maybe I will…”

“That’s the spirit. And by the way, your hair looks beautiful today” he said, running his fingers through them. “Wonderfully SOFT…”

Ruhi smiled and said “I know. The wonderful ‘potion’ of Dove put an end to my hair problems too” she winked as Kush laughed. 

***
This was written for a Dove contest on Indiblogger.
Dove has an awesome hair aware application. Check it out here!

This is purely a work of fiction. Thanks to J.K.Rowling for making awesome characters like Snape and Lily!! :D :)


And yeahhh. The diary EXISTS. It really DOES!! someone get it for me PLEASE!
Here you are. And i fell out laughing reading the description.