Saturday, 9 December 2017

Review: Different Beads of the Same String : A collection of Short Stories

Different Beads of the Same String : A collection of Short Stories Different Beads of the Same String : A collection of Short Stories by Sujay Malik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anthology has an advantage of covering a lot of ground in one book. This book is a mixed bag like most anthologies.

Anahita found her mentor in an old professor. As sometimes happens she feels attraction but he has his own past.

Swini, a Hindu loves a Muslim boy and the cant marry.

Michelle finds that Indian kids are as pathetic in taking care of their parents as Americans.

Feelijus is one good lesson about justice delayed is justice denied.

The stories are shorts, sweet and relatable though the themes and plots are old. 4/5 stars.


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Review: Where's the good in a goodbye

Where's the good in a goodbye Where's the good in a goodbye by Ravi Shirurkar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When two lovers meet their lives change. Change may be positive or negative. Jesper and Sara had positive influence on each other whereas Arjun and Eva had mixed results.

The book is just average and had so many pop psycology quotes in italics. It breaks the flow and is irritating.

Sometimes it is just plain regressive and sexist. See this passage (Arjun telling Eva that kissing her boyfriend is cheap):

Your friends know that I proposed you but they don’t know you kissed me in the middle of the street – 4 blocks away from your home. How cheap does this sound?

Money is overrated and this book reinforces this notion, see the passage below:

So how do people like Virat and Elon become so irresistible all of a sudden? The answer is M-word! The M-word is not some Magic but it’s MONEY! One should just take care of his M-word, and M-word takes care of the rest of the things.

2.5/ 5 stars.


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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Review: Kartikeya: The Destroyer's Son

Kartikeya: The Destroyer's Son Kartikeya: The Destroyer's Son by Anuja Chandramouli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . . when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

The eternal fight of good and evil is not all black and white. This is my second book of Anuja. First one was “Shakti, The Divine feminine”. I see some common themes in her two books though I am writing about “Kartikeya” here. The story of Kartikeya is not very well known in north India from where I belong. Ganesh is more popular elder son of Shiva in these quarters. Though in south India Kartikeya (aka Murugan in Tamil Nadu) is worshipped with fervour. This books says that Karti is elder.

Indra is petrified to death due to rising power of Soora and his brothers Simha and Taraka. The rotten manipulator as he is, he approaches Vishnu for help. This is what he always does. It is foretold that Shiva’s son will kill Soora. So Vishnu ask him to wait patiently. Ananga (Kamdeva) and his wife Rati are distressed because Shiva incinerated him. Eventually Karti comes to world. Indra and Sachi are happy. Ajamukhi is daughter of Maya and beloved sister of Soora and company. Ajamukhi has nothing to do with their barbaric ways and happy to live away from them. She is killed by Sachi and they are livid. This sets up a deadly war. Indra’s daughter Devsena is Karti’s consort.


1. The best thing I found is language. It is powerful, intelligent, lyrical & poetic. It says so much in one sentence. I marvel at the beauty of it. I savored each sentence many times. The other writer who creates magic like this is Arundhati Roy. If all things are equal these two will score above all with their language. Language is first rate but I need to keep looking up the dictionary :).

2. The book is full of metaphors, symbols and allusions. It is poetry in prose and each reader can draw his own conclusions. I can give many examples but these two should suffice:

a) The instance where Devsena tells how her father took Surya’s chariot and took them for a ride. Surya was apoplectic as he himself denied that privilege to his own children. Don’t we see this everyday happening in modern India? People in position of power bend, flout and usurp rules at their whims and fancy. This is a satire on so called VVIP culture where might is right and different rules for poor and rich.
b) Description of Karti birth. The come of Shiva flew in universe and held by Agni, Vayu and Ganga. This is a clear indication of him being Ganga son though Parvati accepts him as her own. The gods are treated as humans here and though they have super powers they also have human traits.

3. Devas and Asuras are two sides of same coin. Indra is not above reproach. He has all the failings of Asura. He is manipulative, insecure and use every trick in the book to retain power. So after all Nietzsche is right. This is evident from his fall from grace in later religious texts and finally Krishna asks not to worship him (Goverdhan episode). This is happening in today’s politics well. All political parties use every dirty trick to stay in power. There is so little to distinguish them and we just vote according to our own prejudice, insecurities, paradigms and justify every bad action of the party we support. But the better course of action will be to oppose wrongdoings of every political party.

4. I don’t know anything about Kartikeya and hence there is no reference point unlike other mythical retellings. I liked Narendra Kohli’s retelling of Ramayan and Mahabharat in Hindi. He gave a socialist spin. Amish writes fantasy with epic/ mythic/ religious characters. Devdutt has some absurd conclusions/ interpretations in Jaya and other works. In Anuja’s books there are religious characters but treatment is very progressive and feminist. I see this as a very liberal interpretation of religion which is call of the hour. In the day and age of Beef ban, grih vapsi, religion sanctioned terrorism (called Jehad) these kind of books may help us to put things in perspective. My understanding is that our Vedic society was progressive, liberal and matriarchal but later on it became patriarchal and regressive during medieval period.

5. These books are for readers for want something to ponder about and not just some pot boilers (A la Chetan Bhagat). Anuja is a bestselling author and it makes clear that there a market for intelligent literature.


I give the book 5/ 5 stars.

P.S. I asked some questions to extremely talented Ms Anuja Chandramouli. She graciously and kindly granted me her valuable time from extremely busy schedule. This may throw some light on her thinking process for those who are keen to know more. Here is the link https://rajanmogha.blogspot.in/2017/1...



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Interview of Anuja Chamdramouli (Author of "Kartikeya: The Destroyer's Son”)

I had recently read the phenomenal book “Kartikeya: The Destroyer's Son”. I asked some questions to extremely talented Ms Anuja Chandramouli. She graciously and kindly granted me her valuable time from extremely busy schedule. This may throw some light on her thinking process for those who are keen to know.

Brief bio as taken from Goodreads.com

Anuja Chandramouli is a bestselling Indian author and New Age Indian Classicist. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, was named by Amazon India as one of the top 5 books in the Indian Writing category for the year 2013. Kamadeva: The God of Desire and Shakti: The Divine Feminine are her other bestsellers. Currently all three books are being translated into Hindi, Marathi, Gujarathi and Bengali, a real achievement for one so young. Her epic fantasies called Yama’s Lieutenant and its sequel has received an overwhelming response. Her newest books are on Kartikeya, Padmavati and Prithviraj Chauhan. An accomplished orator, she regularly conducts workshops on Creative Writing, Story Telling and Mythology in schools, colleges and various other platforms. Her motivational speeches have also been well received. According to Chandramouli, her work with youngsters in the rural belt helping them improve their Spoken English and Writing skills has been wonderfully satisfying and enriching. This happily married, mother of two little girls, lives in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. She is a student of classical dance and Yoga. 

Interview:

Rajan: This is your second book I am reading. First was Shakti. Language is first rate but I need to keep looking up the dictionary. This coupled with the fact that you use metaphors and allusions makes it clear you are writing for intelligent audience and not popular fiction. Is it deliberate?

Anuja: I don't deliberate too much when I am writing. In my opinion too much analysis results in paralysis when it comes to action at least! All my thoughts are channelled into telling the story and I don't interfere with the flow of words or stop to worry if it is too complicated or what have you. It is an organic process and I am happy to just go along. And I am not thinking about the audience either in terms of critical or popular approval. All I care about are the stories and I am confident they will make their way to those who love them as much as I do! 

Rajan:  I read many retellings. I liked Narendra Kohli in Hindi. He gave a socialist spin. Amish writes fantasy with epic/ mythic/ religious characters. Your take is different. In your books these are religious characters but treatment is very progressive and feminist. What’s your approach?

Anuja: Absolutely delighted that you find my treatment of mythology progressive and feminist. When it comes to my books, I do a whole lot of research but while putting it down, I go with whatever makes sense to me. The idea is not to perpetuate regressive and narrow - minded ideologies in the name of culture and tradition. As a mother of two little girls, I would like them to grow up in a world where they are not made to feel at a disadvantage on the basis of gender. Hence, using my chosen profession to shape the narrative of tales that are treasures imparted by a glorious tradition, to render them progressive is the very least I can do. 

Rajan: Your books are low on dialogues and rely more on atmosphere and emotions. This is a different approach but coupled with first question it makes a slow reading because in one chapter you cover a lot of ground and a lot happens. Why it is so?

Anuja: That applies to Shakti perhaps, but I think there are lots of engaging dialogue portions in my books. Really enjoy working on them. But I do spend a lot of time shaping each chapter till it feels perfect so yes, they do feel complete and can often feel very intense. Hence, even during the writing process, I need to recharge my batteries between chapters and subsequently, some readers may need a break too. However, others have complimented on the pace and the narrative style which they have said have kept them hooked and reading through the night!

Rajan: The book are very serious and to the point. Where are the fun and light moments?



Anuja: Again, Shakti was a very complicated subject and there was not room for too many laughs. However, when it comes to my other books and overall writing, there is a lot of humor to lighten the proceedings. My tales are supposed to make my readers smile a little, cry a little and think a lot!

The end

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Review: Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life

Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life by Neeraj Deginal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Indian kids don’t understand finance till they marry. Till the time they are in college they are provided money by their parents and they don’t know how to manage it. Even after getting ot of college they do not handle and the parents usually do this for them. So naturally we are not very wise in making decisions regarding money management.

The same thing happened with our author Sh Neeraj Denigal. He married and incurred a lot of debt. He had three credit cards, 3 housing loans and one car loan. This became so stressful that he had a nervous breakdown. Then he managed his finances better and became debt free and stress free.

The book give tips about managing finances, time, health, work life balance and nost importantly valuing the things which matter.

However the way author paid his loan after taking interest free loans from his elder brother is not a path breaking advice. Everyone does this. But some tips in book are good and we should read it once. Word of caution though; it will not make you debt free. Just tell you the dangers of running into that trap.





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Review: A Girl Called Renee

A Girl Called Renee A Girl Called Renee by Ruth Uzrad
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The persecution of Jews was a sad incident. It ruined many lives. One such girl was Ruth Uzrad who escaped from there to Belgium.

Just imagine the horror of two young girls in a train with no identification papers. She is put in an orphanage by a kind woman. Then she goes to France and take a pseudonym Renee. Finally she settles in Israel.

It is a book by Ruth Uzrad herself and a moving portrait of trials and tribulations of hers when she runs for her and her sister’s life.



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Review: You Are Meant To Sing!: 10 Steps to Unlock Your Inner Voice

You Are Meant To Sing!: 10 Steps to Unlock Your Inner Voice You Are Meant To Sing!: 10 Steps to Unlock Your Inner Voice by Helane Marie Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book is of a fighter who suffered from multiple problem in the past. She came over all these and found her voice.

She suffered from anxiety, depression, PTSD etc and was afraid to show her talent. Her mother also dissuaded her to follow her dreams and advised to take the safe path. But she found the voice within her overpowering and then broke her shackles. Ultimately music is the cure for all her problems. It has to come from your soul and you have to follow your dreams. That is the message.


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Review: Dharmayoddha Kalki: Avatar Of Vishnu

Dharmayoddha Kalki: Avatar Of Vishnu Dharmayoddha Kalki: Avatar Of Vishnu by Kevin Missal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lord Vishnu is the operator of universes. He comes to earth in human form when there is extreme evil to finish it off. There are four Yugs. Lord Vishnu incarnated as Ram in Treata Yug and Krishna in Dwapar. It is prophesied that he will be born as Kalki in Kaliyuga i.e. the present age.

This is story of eternal battle between good and evil represented by Kalki and Kali respectively. Kalki is son of Vishnuyath and younger brother of Arjan. He is a simple village boy having amazing strength. Kali along with his sister Drukuti wants to establish an empire. Only hurdle in his path is Kalki.

The author has given a note in the beginning itself that this is a fantasy and not a modern retelling of Kalki Purana (I didn’t know there was a book like that Wikipedia link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalki_P... ). The influences are many from GOT, star wars, LOTR and Bahubali. He wanted to create epic characters and not epic story. Fair enough.

The book is long and this is just book one. I liked the format of very short chapters and crisp clear dialogues. There are numerous characters and tribes, details of which are given in end. Subtle but significant difference between Pisacha, Asur, Rakshahsa, Nagas etc is told. All these details were difficult to assimilate and confused me at times.

I can see the influence of Amish Triptahi’s Meluha trilogy clearly. The Soma and Nagas are mentioned in that too. Amish also takes puranic characters and weaves a imaginary fantasy around them. However Amish kept the plot tight and story interesting, here the plot went sideways many a times and story slackens. But it is too early to pass judgement as this is book one. I will wait and watch.

3.5/ 5 stars.




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Saturday, 18 November 2017

Review: The Way of The Cat: Surviving Metastasized Cancer

The Way of The Cat: Surviving Metastasized Cancer The Way of The Cat: Surviving Metastasized Cancer by Itzhak Be'er
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is about fight with Prostate cancer. It is s deadly disease and afflicted person loses all hope and descends into depression.

Itzhak Be'er is a fighter who came out triumphant. He is optimistic, active, assertive and adaptable. A new chemotherapy protocol named Logothetis is used. It drains you but worked.

This is Book of hope of survival.




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Review: Touches of Grace: Philanthropy and Social Involvement in Israel

Touches of Grace: Philanthropy and Social Involvement in Israel Touches of Grace: Philanthropy and Social Involvement in Israel by Haim Dahan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Haim Dahan is an entrepreneur. This book gives detailed background and details of philanthropy in Israel.



As per him Israel wealth distribution is highly unequal. Though government has social service programs these are not adequate.


Then voluntary donation comes into picture. Philanthropy is imperative for a just fair and equitable society.


Though book becomes boring at places due to dull nature of subject and many charts and tables, the underlying message is excellent.


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Review: Listen to Your Soul and Heal Your Body of Chronic Disease

Listen to Your Soul and Heal Your Body of Chronic Disease Listen to Your Soul and Heal Your Body of Chronic Disease by Meirav Harel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

HUMAN BODY IS a complex machine. No one can understand the full working of it. Even the so called expert doctors know only a fraction of its mysteries.

Disease is our soul telling us there is something wrong. We have to learn to listen. First key is that only we can cure us from disease.

This is a good helpful book and have practical application.


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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Review: When Opposites Meet

When Opposites Meet When Opposites Meet by Sachin Garg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Love is a strange thing. It can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter who that person is. Love knows no logic. It can happen with someone who is like you or totally unlike you. The book is about love of polar opposites.

There are three love stories in the book featuring polar opposites in each.
1. Main story is of Ritwika and Chetan Jadhav. They both suffer from a rare genetic disease. Ritwika is differently abled and wheel chair bound. She is studious, creative and intelligent but very weak and frail physically. Chetan is a wrestler who is accused of using drugs. He is very strong physically but not so bright mentally. They are different like chalk and cheese.


2. Indu Dua is Ritwika’s mother who is very bindass with her. Indu and Ritwika are more like friends than mother daughter. He meets her professor Lokesh who is brilliant scientifically but awkward socially. They also fall for each other.


3. Jayant Arora is Ritwika’s cousin who is an orphan. He is silent and introvert. He meets a mentally unstable girl Aditi Sharma who has a strange disorder. She swallows things which are inedible. She is a chatterbox and can’t stop talking.


The book is paced well and tries to bring forth the love between different people who are fighting their own demons. Ritwika is sad because she is handicapped whereas Chetan is hurt because he is accused of doping. Indu is a widow with a handicapped daughter and depressed nephew and Lokesh is sad because he is trapped in a marriage. Jayant is depressed due to death of his parents and Aditi is sad because of her mental disorder. So it says love can bloom despite all odds and unfortunate circumstances.

Weather love can blossom between opposites can be a matter of debate. But is agree with Sachin Garg on one thing; It is a good thing because they complement each other and make up for each other’s weaknesses.

3.5/ 5 stars.


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Review: The Last Chai: Bringing the Nation to a Halt

The Last Chai: Bringing the Nation to a Halt The Last Chai: Bringing the Nation to a Halt by Varun T.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With evolving technology and counter terrorism methods, even the terrorists has benefited. They also become more tech savvy and use deadlier weapons to kill and spread terror. And the network is global and their motives are many. With a nationalistic PM they want to thwart the progress of India at any cost.

Ajay Kamate is under a lot of stress and is sent on leave by Doshi, The PM. But he is paranoid for his safety and come back before end of leave. Now the terrorist are using cyanide as their favourite weapon. He has nabbed a young boy who killed Bhardwaj his partner too. They try to get information from him but in vain. Now with Bhardwaj gone Ajay is under double pressure. Poorvi is a left leaning journalist who breaks the story of that young terrorist. When Doshi goes to Pakistan for SAARC summit Ajay goes with him. Somehow Doshi is poisoned and he goes in to coma. Ajay is arrested and Poorvi is sent to Israel by some mystery helper. What happens next?

Book is very topical. Even the latest Rohingya issue is incorporated. The writer does not try to mask the identity of politicians or other players. Terrorist threats are real. Biological warfare threat is also real. The plot is complex and spans the globe. Left leaning media’s hypocrisy is brought to fore. The pressure under PM and security agencies work is brought out nicely. So many agencies working like RAW, IB, NIA, SPG etc is shown.

But that is also the weakness. With this extensive plot the book length should have been more because many things remained unexplained. Varun Tejwani weaved an intricate web but the resolution and explanation did not satisfy me. The Akahdn Bharat Bal track is so outlandish that nobody leave alone seasoned espionage agencies like Mossad, ISI etc will buy it. Emergency also is treated very lightly. And neutralizing 7000 terrorists in one go seems improbable. First thing is how come they knew their exact locations? Nalini and Raghuram track according to me is totally irritating and it slowed the pace.

But keeping in view the pace and intricate plot 4/5 stars.




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Review: Voyagers into the Unknown

Voyagers into the Unknown Voyagers into the Unknown by Ruchira Khanna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A trip to Tajmahal is all that it takes to unload your mental and emotional baggage. Taj is one of the seven wonders of world and symbol of love. Raj is an emphatic tour guide who has a gift to heal others. Meera is his ideal companion.

Raj is a tour guide who does no promotion or publicity. His business run on word of mouth publicity. He has a knack of feeling emotional traumas of others and heal them. He is in a way a therapist though not having a professional degree. His method is also unconventional. He makes the person feel and work through his/ her pain. There are five main tourist on this trip.

1. Ira is a beautiful woman who is deceived by her lover Peter. She became depressed and suicidal. But her well-wisher send her to Raj tours.

2. Darci and Lennard is a couple who went through a rough patch due to recession. This put financial strain on them and Darci does the unthinkable. Lennard never forgives her for this.

3. Carl is a millionaire who is so lost in making money that he ignored her wife and son completely. Now he is an irritable, moody, despondent, disillusioned and disappointed old man.

4. And finally there is Asha, a widow who is dealing with her grief.

Raj takes them on a trip to TAJ and they are made to see their sorrows in a new light. Ira meets the driver Peter and finds a new ray of hope. Darci and Lennard come closer. Carl relaise his mistake. But then an accident takes place and all are hospitalized.

The book has some interesting insights. Some passages which I liked are:

1. ….I have always had a fear of committing to a relationship because I want to avoid the sorrows that occur when life doesn’t live up to your expectations.

2. Sometimes a few words of flattery can break boundaries of any kind, leading to an unexpected friendship.

3. It is amazing how one expression of gratitude can make a person melt and go beyond one’s capacity to do something for another individual.

4. It is amazing how sharing of one’s intimate details can make human beings forget the formality of a relationship and bring them closer together. They can identify themselves just as mere humans since we all share the same kinds of mental states. Emotions tend to entwine Earthlings together. Happiness and Sorrow are the two fundamental states that we all go through, and when shared with another person, we benefit from invaluable support and guidance. Humans are fascinated by emotional material.

5. Presentation has always been the key for any individual. Is it the lust between two lovers that makes them look at their respective reflections prior to a meeting or just the fact that appearance is the key and it helps to start conversation between two known or unknown people?

The book is not an easy read. It is not hunky dory and is tedious. All of them have some issues. Even Raj is commitment phobic. But if you work through till end it will be satisfying.

There are some issues too. One is that the mental and emotional issues shown can’t be treated in one trip to Taj. Some like suicidal tendencies, depression, grief etc. need medical supervision and prolonged or sometimes lifelong treatment. Second issue is that this book though set in India is not meant for Indian readers. Though human emotions are same everywhere, I had a feeling that it is written keeping in view western audience. One such examples is the process of wedding where Pheras are described in a very westernized way. Third is the slow pace of book and sometimes it doesn’t move at all for many pages. They keep wallowing in their own sorrows for on and on. Lastly the issues shown are of very rich people who have plenty of money and spare time so they create problems for themselves. Even Darci action shows that she put more emphasis on money then on her children. By her logic no poor person will ever be a parent.

To sum up it is a very slow read but reward the patience if one sticks to end.

4.5/ 5 stars.




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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Review: Destined

Destined Destined by Rubina Ramesh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Which is better marriage: love or arranged? Nobody knows for sure. Common sense says that love marriage is better. Two people fall in love, have a courtship period and know each other. Then they decide to take it one level up. That is marriage. But what happens to arranged marriage couples. Do they suffer a loveless marriage forever? Is it inflicted on the hapless couples?

What is marriage? Is it a holy bond or just a legal contract between two parties? Religion says this is a bond till death do them apart. Law says this is just a contract between two consenting adults.

This book tries to answer these questions. What is the answer? For that you have to buy the book and read it for yourself. Here is the amazon link:

https://www.amazon.in/Destined-Rubina...

https://www.amazon.com/Destined-Rubin...

Esha is desperate because she has to arrange money for treatment of her father. She has lost her mother to cancer and now the same monster is afflicting her father. She tries to get a loan from her relatives who mercilessly refuse. Her childhood sweet heart and fiancée Ayush is also not helpful. Ayush and his mother come out as selfish, heartless people who think only for themselves. When she become dejected from everywhere, her boss Rohan is only the only ray of hope. He agrees to take care of all the expenditure but have a bizarre, humiliating and ridiculous condition. Will she agree?

The book has good emotional quotient. Esha feeling for her father are pure gold. But her feelings for Rohan are love or lust. Rohan gives her electric shocks every time which poor Ayush can’t. is love the name of electric shocks.

The book worked for me but only in parts. Plot device known as McGuffin is good if it is used once. But it is used too many times and that takes away too much from book. Say for instance why Zaira married Rohan’s father? If she was gold digger, then it makes more sense to marry Rohan because then she has all the property rights. As his mother she has to share property with him. Then why Rohan has to marry Esha (or any other girl for that matter) if ultimately he has to give Zaira her share. But everything else falls flat because of the poor and wafer thin plot. In the end no matter how hard Rubina tried to salvage Esha and Rohan conditions, they come out like doing it only for money. Live in has been better. And Ayush has been treated unfairly because if Esha knew him from school days; then either she is an idiot (which she is not as per her portrayal) or Ayush is a better actor than SRK.

3/ 5 stars for the effort.




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Destined by Rubina Ramesh

Which is better marriage: love or arranged? Nobody knows for sure. Common sense says that love marriage is better. Two people fall in love, have a courtship period and know each other. Then they decide to take it one level up. That is marriage. But what happens to arranged marriage couples. Do they suffer a loveless marriage forever? Is it inflicted on the hapless couples?

What is marriage? Is it a holy bond or just a legal contract between two parties? Religion says this is a bond till death do them apart. Law says this is just a contract between two consenting adults.

This book tries to answer these questions. What is the answer? For that you have to buy the book and read it for yourself. Here is the amazon link:



Esha is desperate because she has to arrange money for treatment of her father. She has lost her mother to cancer and now the same monster is afflicting her father. She tries to get a loan from her relatives who mercilessly refuse. Her childhood sweet heart and fiancée Ayush is also not helpful. Ayush and his mother come out as selfish, heartless people who think only for themselves. When she become dejected from everywhere, her boss Rohan is only the only ray of hope. He agrees to take care of all the expenditure but have a bizarre, humiliating and ridiculous condition. Will she agree?

The book has good emotional quotient. Esha feeling for her father are pure gold. But her feelings for Rohan are love or lust. Rohan gives her electric shocks every time which poor Ayush can’t. is love the name of electric shocks.

The book worked for me but only in parts. Plot device known as McGuffin is good if it is used once. But it is used too many times and that takes away too much from book. Say for instance why Zaira married Rohan’s father? If she was gold digger, then it makes more sense to marry Rohan because then she has all the property rights. As his mother she has to share property with him. Then why Rohan has to marry Esha (or any other girl for that matter) if ultimately he has to give Zaira her share. But everything else falls flat because of the poor and wafer thin plot. In the end no matter how hard Rubina tried to salvage Esha and Rohan conditions, they come out like doing it only for money. Live in has been better. And Ayush has been treated unfairly because if Esha knew him from school days; then either she is an idiot (which she is not as per her portrayal) or Ayush is a better actor than SRK.

3/ 5 stars for the effort.



Monday, 6 November 2017

Review: Undelivered Letters

Undelivered Letters Undelivered Letters by J. Alchem
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second book of J Alchem. First one read is “The Highway Man”. Review can be read here:-
https://www.amazon.in/gp/customer-rev...

Letters have become like dinosaurs now a days. We have e-mail, Facebook, Whatsapp and twitter. This is the age of instant messages. All these IM apps can’t hold candle to a real letter. Letter has emotions of the writer as it is handwritten. The recipient also feels a connection as the person took out time and effort of writing and posting it.

The book about letters which are undelivered for 20 years. Some of the person died or separated. Aron is a postman who forgot to deliver 9 letters. He finds them after 20 years and decide to deliver them on the advice of his wife. What happens?

The book is written in a concise language. This has some real emotions. But I find this book unsatisfactory. First the stories seems rushed. Second the reactions after getting letters and even the content of letters itself gas little or no impact. As this book is set in Europe or USA there is the problem of facts also. In 1993 letters has become obsolete. The concept is not new and I have seen a similar serial on Doordarshan long back (not able to recall the name).

Still 3/ 5 stars for the good effort with an interesting yet difficult concept.





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Friday, 3 November 2017

Review: The Guardian

The Guardian The Guardian by Anna del Mar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Africa is rich in flora and fauna. Now many species are on the verge of extinction. But there is someone who is fighting the poachers.

Jade Romo, a journalist comes to Africa to uncover some secrets. Game warden Matthias Hawking is ex navy seal and fighting against the poachers. He admits here reluctantly knowing full well she means trouble. But he is attracted to her as well. He saves her from deadly thugs and then what happens?

Book has both erotic and thrill elements. The pace is good and story keeps interest going. It is a good one time read for sake of thrill and romance. 3/ 5 stars.


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Thursday, 26 October 2017

Review: The Falcon's Revenge

The Falcon's Revenge The Falcon's Revenge by J.E. Holling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Warrior brotherhood is a deadly secret organisation. Revenge is powerful motivator. They hatch a plan to assassinate president. Eric Tyson and Ex FBI agent will have to step in to thwart their plans. Will he be successful?

This is a ok thriller. 3/ 5 stars.

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Review: Becoming Hero

Becoming Hero Becoming Hero by Jen Finelli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is innovative, this is kind of a graphic novel. It has two versions

1. A text only version.
2. Text plus comic version.

This is story of Skye who is a superhero. It has lots of action and good illustrations. Good for lovers of novels and comics both. 3/ 5





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Review: Touch of Fire

Touch of Fire Touch of Fire by Jasmine B. Waters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a paranormal book which is a rage these days. Mari Elwood family is peacekeeper. She has gift of empathy. Then her dreams become almost real and takes over her life. How will she deal with it.

The book has an interesting premise and entertains. 3/ 5 stars.


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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer


AvishiAvishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

India has a rich heritage. The civilization is almost 5000 years old and started with Rig Veda. Most Indians are not aware of this rich heritage. We have rudimentary knowledge of Ramayana and Mahabharata and not beyond this. This book is a commendable effort by Saiswaroopa Iyer to bring to forth that legacy.

There is mutiny against the General Ugra and Sukratu, his loyal bodyguard is killed. Avishi, his daughter is saved by a transgender and taken to another kingdom. What destiny has in store for her?

Language of book is rich and concise. Avishi is brave, intelligent and loyal. This is god book to be read but not in hurry. One has to spend time with it.


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Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali #1) by Falguni Kothari

“...the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic.” 
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

I am tempted to open the review with these words. Mahabharata is a great book. It inspired countless authors to retell it in myriad ways. Everyone has their own interpretation.

Karna is a character from the epic which deserves our sympathy. Same is done by Falguni in her book. He is shown as immortal and is present in current day also. He can see the asuras, devas and shape shifters by their aura. There is the eternal battle going on and he is playing his part.


The book has interesting premise and almost all the characters of Mahabharata are here but with a twist. This book has a large canvas and took time to sink. 3/ 5 stars.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Five Shields :The Lost Souls by Ilan Dvir, Joseph Fackenhiem (Translator)


The Five Shields :The Lost SoulsThe Five Shields :The Lost Souls by Ilan Dvir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fantasy as a genre has enthralled us since time immemorial. This is liked by children and adults alike. Fight between light and dark forces is also eternal.

Jess, May, Johnny, Rose and Kiyoshi have a secret. On their 13th birthday they come to know that they possess shields with gems in them. They are the soldiers of light forces against the darkness. They are set on a journey to find a scroll and set free the persons of light.

It is a thrilling ride. The book kept me hooked and I liked the fantastic elements. Though the story is same as told countless times it is still enjoyable. I liked the chemistry between the five. This is book one and I hope Ilan Dvir writes next instalment and the book ended with a hint of further books.


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Friday, 20 October 2017

Devil's Bride by K. G. Isaac


Devil's BrideDevil's Bride by K. G. Isaac
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Devil is real or just a figment of our imagination. If there is a god there must be a devil. Because plus and minus are opposite side of the same coin.

The opening of book reads “This book is dedicated to those who believe devil exists, but do not know where to find him. If you believe in devil and feel your search will end after reading it, you will be disappointed big time. I failed to understand whether Rabbi Mendel Schul is mentally disturbed or does devil possessed him. He searches a wife for devil like a fanatic and in the process destroys lives of two women.

This is sick, confused and very long book. Very boring and idiotic to say the least.



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A Universal Storm by Gershon Shevach


A Universal StormA Universal Storm by Gershon Shevach
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If we can have one nation for all religions, races and skin colour life will be great. But it requires a revolution and that means blood have to be spilled.



A reporter finds there is no power. Then he meets a person with no name but just “Engineer”. Leila is a Muslim girl from Pakistan who is rescued by Engineer from a building rubble. She is taken to Israel for treatment and she hates it. Eyal is an idealistic young man from Israel. He is not impressed by Zionism. Eyal and Leila meets in picturesque Manali, Himalayan foothills of India. They plan for something g drastic.

The book has some interesting idea. But it read more like a disjointed stories which have no plot. It was more of a non- fiction feel. The characters are flat and you don’t feel anything for them. There is no purpose either and it ended as abruptly as it started.


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Just A Few Lies by Sandeep Sharma


Just A Few LiesJust A Few Lies by Sandeep Sharma
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mind is complicated machine. It can lead us to believe things which may or may not be there. Love, guilt, crime of passion and stealing away someone’s love may lead to losing one’s mind.

Anant is a popular writer and his friend Raman is his publisher. He feels his beautiful wife Kavya has an affair with Raman. Then enters Sagarika and Raman asks him to mentor her. Then it becomes like a love quadrilateral or a maze.

Psychological thrillers are a new hot trend. This book also has a mysterious character Alka Thakur who may be imaginary. This is many insights like about the second woman. There is always guilt and the second one gets less love. Lies are good or bad for relationship?

There are some issues also. The book is jumbled and motivations of Raman and Kavya are not clear. Sagarika is also confused it seems. Anant condition it seems affected all. As this book is told in third person but mainly from Anant point of view the result is confusing.

3/ 5 stars.



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Thursday, 19 October 2017

My Evolution: An Amazing Journey from Zero to Hero by Gili Weintraub


My Evolution: An Amazing Journey from Zero to HeroMy Evolution: An Amazing Journey from Zero to Hero by Gili Weintraub
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life is a riddle to be solved by us or by philosophers. It is a complex and finding meaning is tough. What is the point of life? What is success? How to live life on our own terms?

The book answers these question with help of animals; rabbit, zebra, lion, salmon, crow etc. Gili answers the life biggest question in a very funny and light way. You feel that the answers were in front of you all along but you filed to see them.

Say for example Zebra. Horses are trained and subjugated. Zebra is from same family but he is never tamed. He teaches us to be free and independent; how to take our own path.

Success is not material things. It is growth within. I liked the book very much and learned few things.



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Playing with Fire (FIRE Trilogy, #1) by Devika Fernando


Playing with Fire (FIRE Trilogy, #1)Playing with Fire by Devika Fernando
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paranormal romance is a new rage. This adds another dimension and tension to stories. Otherwise love stories tend be pretty boring. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and marry. Or don’t.

The story opens with a burning house. She is fire and can’t burn. But Joshua doesn’t know this and tries to save her. Then they meet again in the library where she works. Sparks fly and attraction she feels is electric.

The story has potential and as this is book 1 story is developing. Characterization is good so is descriptions. Language is impressive. I liked the book though I don’t read paranormal. Let’s see what book 2 has in store.


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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Two Princes and a Queen by Shmuel David


Two Princes and a QueenTwo Princes and a Queen by Shmuel David
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world has only heard about atrocities committed by Nazis on Jews. This is history lesson and we read this in terms of numbers and dates. So the real horror of situation doesn’t come out in terms of human tragedy. But through a book or movie we can see the human tragedy that the holocaust was.

Hanne is living in Yugoslavia with his family. They have to flee from there when it becomes to much a life and death struggle. They go to pre Israel in a make shift boat. What happens next?

The book is good and gives the perspective of persons who has to face this persecution first hand. I gather that this is translated from Hebrew in English and translation is good but sometimes becomes jerks. But that is understandable. You should read it if you want a human angle of those events.



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Breathing Two Worlds by Ruchira Khanna


Breathing Two WorldsBreathing Two Worlds by Ruchira Khanna
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is it easy to settle in a foreign land? There is so much craze to go to USA or Canada or Europe to earn and settle. Indians (especially Punjabis) are crazy to go abroad and to be called NRIs. But is it all hunky dory?

Neena a Delhi girl goes abroad and meets Adan. They hit it off and when she comes back to India, she feels trapped between two cultures.

The language is lucid and crisp. This book has a message that we have to take the best of two cultures. Clash of east and west is old and both civilizations have good and bad traits. It is up to us to choose. 3.5/ 5 stars.



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Second Chance by Sandeep Jatwa


Second ChanceSecond Chance by Sandeep Jatwa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a review copy from Vinfluencers in exchange of honest review.


Life gives us many chances. But this book is about second chance. Life is a continuum. It never stops for evil as well as good persons. Do people change? Maybe.

Shekhar is a businessman whose father is paralytic. He is a selfish, nasty and ruthless person. He is totally indifferent to feelings of others. He does not believe in marriage. He needs new woman daily and does not want to be tied to one. He has a new manager Manish whose only capability is that he acts as a pimp for Shekhar. He arranges girls for him for sex. Kailash is old manager from his father’s time and he demoted him. He insults him all the time. Unnati is a nice girl in his office but he does not promote her. Hrishita is new girl in the office who is ready to sleep with him. He takes hostile over company of another businessman. Then he start receiving warnings from mysterious “City of Justice”. They warn him either to mend his ways or be ready for dire consequence. He ignores the warnings. And one fine day he meets with a fatal accidents. He is taken to this city by a mysterious person. There he sees hell and realize his folly. Then he comes back to consciousness. It may a dream or reality but it changes him completely. What happens next?


Unnati explains about “Near Death Experience” which he felt in 2 minutes when he was dead. It is felt by those who has been very near to death and they might feel extreme fear or total serenity, security or warmth. In 1975 Raymond Moody wrote a book “Life after Life”. In 1981 “International Association for Near Death study (IANDS)” was founded. Many famous people has experienced it.


The book starts off well and is written in a simple language. The description of hell is clichéd and so are many other things in the book. Shekhar character lacks development and transformation is very simplistic. He is shown as a very cruel person initially and then he becomes diametrically opposite. He even made a list of wrong deed done by him, which is very short considering his character. After the accident book became very boring. It is a one time read.


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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Flying Without Wings by Rishabh Puri


Flying Without Wings (Ravinder Singh Presents)Flying Without Wings by Rishabh Puri
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second book by the author. First one was “Inside the Heart of Hope”. The hero has some kind of disease. Live is hard to find both for rich and for poor. Rich can never be sure whether the lover loves his money or him. And who loves a poor person?

Mili work at Chandigarh airport shop. Her brother Karan was an army man. She lives with her mother in a despondent atmosphere. Karan Singhania is a rich businessman. He has many girlfriends but no lover. Then they connect through a dating app and hit it off. What happens next?

I find this book much, much better than the first one. The editing and language is better and so is the narration. Character development of Karan and Mili is good. Their love develops steadily and it is heartening to see. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to romance readers




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Craziotic by Anika Vedh


CrazioticCraziotic by Anika Vedh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Heart break or heart attack. Which is bigger killer? Earlier it used to be attack but mow heart break is a real threat. It leads to depression and suicide.

The girl in the book meets Chris at her work place. They are poles apart in personality. They fall in and then out of love. And our heroine heart breaks and she is extremely sad. There is a mystery caller also who warns her from time to time.

The book is an out and out romance. It is told in first person from point of view of the heroine. She lives in a dream world and then in a hell. This is part one of the series and many questions remain unanswered. A better editing would have been good.





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Army Girl Steals Civilian's Heart by Oswald Pereira


Army Girl Steals Civilian's HeartArmy Girl Steals Civilian's Heart by Oswald Pereira
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love in the time of communal tension and ghar vapsi. Its like fighting a herculean battle. Though the book is printed in 2017 period seems old. But the issue is evergreen. Inter religion marriages are always tricky.

Amrita Datta and Oscar Pereira are as different as chalk and cheese. She is an army officer daughter having loads of money. He is also from an erstwhile landowner family; but they were ruined due to drinking. She is an intern in the newspaper where he is a seasoned reporter. She is a hindu and he is Christian. He has a heavy drinking problem? But after he falls for her, she ask him to choose between her or booze. What do you think he chose?

The way Oscar family integrates her is commendable. She goes to church and gifts the priest “Bhagwad Gita as it is” after he gifts her a Bible. He also respects her decision and is very open.

4/ 5 stars.


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Friday, 6 October 2017

Until Sweet Death Arrives by Amnon Binyamini


Until Sweet Death ArrivesUntil Sweet Death Arrives by Amnon Binyamini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mental illness is much more devastating than physical illness. The reason is simple. Brain controls the whole body and if brain goes kaput. Whole body stops functioning. Alzheimer’s disease is especially cruel.


Nahum Patterson, happily married to Edna, is a talented journalist. He is not afraid to take on powerful people and exposes the wrong doings. He is highly regarded in the professional circles. But his life becomes pathetic due to his disease. He starts forgetting things but his enemies don’t forget.

The book is fast paced and keeps the interest going. The pace is good and the conditions of Nahum evokes sympathy.

4/ 5 stars.



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One Last Time by Anubhav Shrivastava


One Last TimeOne Last Time by Anubhav Shrivastava
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Teenage is a crucial age. You are at the cusp of childhood and young age. Your body and mind are changing. It is also important from the career perspective.

Nakul is an upper middle class spoilt brat. He goes with his grandma to Bardoli and meets Prakash. There is no modern amenity there and Prakash lives in poverty. He is unlike Nakul and Nakul learns a few things from him and in turn teaches him English. Akansha is a beautiful young achiever. She is good in studies and dance. All the boys are in awe of her and thus don’t approach her. Nakul and Akanksha become friends.

This is a story of bonding. The friendship of Nakul with these two is special. They teach him few things and in the process they also grow.

The pace is slow and plot is missing. It is a simple straight line story with no turns. The climax is also predictable.

I give the book 3/ 5 stars.



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Friday, 29 September 2017

Lean In To Relationships


About the Book:
Doubt has pivoted many a relationship across the centuries. Whether it is Othello suspicious of Desdemona or through the rise of paranoia as a trope in twentieth century writings. While paranoia naturally suggests the vulnerability of individual mind to social rhetoric, it is also the space for deep interrogation of the individual that renders him/her to paranoia. This novel presents that doubt has the potential to be a space of liberation.

Madeeha works in Jordan to rehabilitate Syrian refugees. Zehen, a political analyst from India, meets her in the US during their social impact program. He is intrigued and charmed by her, and falls deeply in love. But the world political climate, with its accompanying cultural narratives about terror and pain, infects Zehen’s mind. Zehen begins to suspect Madeeha as a possible mujahid. Will he find his truth?

Fear doesn’t devastate; it stirs the inner pot. It is a tender love story that triumphs heartbreaks and sets the foundation of deep lasting future relationships - a delightful emancipation from social intrigues and cultural constraints.



Read an Excerpt:

Zehen was experiencing sweet joy in his heart. Memories bustled in the head.

When did he first see her? Zehen searched his head madly. Orientation session? Corridor to the classroom? However, he tried, he couldn’t pinpoint the moment. A whirr of images, of moments, yet-to-be collaged. And a heart that already had a narrative, waiting to be inset.

We imagine that all romantic stories will have a sigh-worthy romantic beginning. But beginnings are when the heart awakens, when the soul remembers. A presence stills and emerges from the shadows of time.

His first memory was when she introduced herself in the class. They had gathered at Presidium University for a one-year course on Social Impact Leadership. Outside, the white fringe tree was laden with its grape-like fruits. The pine, oak and spruce waited for winter to tell the world how unchangeable they were. And the old Redwood stood proud like the institution itself. Inside, in the warm classroom, students from various cultures across the world had gathered. Icebreaker session was on and the usual round of introductions.

Introduction is a ritual. A cumbersome ritual. How does one reduce the tapestry of one’s entire existence, the colors, and the many weaves into a single palatable thread?

The Book is Free on Amazon on 29th & 30th September. Grab it here: Amazon

Anecdote

I published my first book in 2015 and my second book in early 2016. I was single at the time and using dating apps to meet other single people. I met a girl in mid-2016 who took fancy to my dating profile, especially that I am an author. After a couple of meetings, She demanded that I write about her. I jokingly told her that I am a Phoenix writer, i.e., I fall in love, get dumped, and write about my failed relationship. She broke-up with me, and still invariably pings whether I am including ‘her and our relationship’ in my upcoming book(s).

———————-

The genesis of this book came about while I was on a cross-country train ride in the US. I met Mark who had been a successful marketing professional with considerable international marketing experience. He had travelled to all of Asia and understood the regional peculiarities.
He was later diagnosed with lung cancer. By the time, it was detected, it was stage 3. He was put under radiation and intensive chemotherapy. He went in for three other opinions. All of them agreed that the cancer was aggressive and spreading fast. He searched for the latest treatments and sought to enter clinical trials. The process lasted for two years.

In the meantime, the cancer advanced. The doctors said the cancer was incurable and he didn’t have long to live. It took him weeks of denial to come around to the truth – he didn’t have long to live.

He returned home from a long walk one evening and asked himself a crucial question: “If I am going to die, then I might as well die straight away. What is point of waiting for death to show up?”

That evening he ate well, watched a movie with his girlfriend, poured himself a rare scotch and sat at his study. It was time. He wrote out his letter – love and wishes to his family, loved ones and friends, his last wishes about funeral, information on his will, and a general note thanking all. He placed it in an envelope. He planned to kill himself early morning. He finished his scotch, brushed and went to bed.

In the middle of night, he woke up to a noise. The light was on in the study and he could hear sniffles. He walked cautiously up and there in the study, his girlfriend was holding his suicide letter and crying. He watched her as her body crumpled and sink into chair. Her face contorted in agony. In her face, he saw what was the consequence of his action. The penny dropped.

I paled and listened in horror. Mark continued, “I realized that our life is never ours. We are nothing but a bundle of emotions for the people who love us and the people we love. The meaning of life is to optimize for the happiness of such people. There’s nothing more to living.
That day on, I have been living for maximizing the happiness of my loved ones”

That’s how I stumbled on lean in to relationships; it has become my life philosophy.


About the Author 

I was born into poverty. At the time of my birth, my parents shared a one -room hut with six other family members in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Delhi.

It was a hot day in the month of March 1995. I was in standard 4th and had an examination the following day. As was regular in that locality, we didn't have electricity that day. I couldn't study or sleep properly. One of the watershed moments happened when I came back from school the next day. We had an inverter installed at home. I knew we couldn't afford an inverter. But my dad was always convinced that the way out of poverty for our family is through education. 

Despite an interest in creative writing, I chose to study a subject that society values more – Finance.  Later, I got into one of the top colleges for finance in the country. My first salary out of college (in 2007, when I was 20 years old) was higher than that of my dad's salary at the time.

When I was 24 years old, I had everything that makes one happy – loving parents, great partner, close-knit group of friends, and career path that exceeded every goal. Yet, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad either; but it never felt like my life. I had carefully and meticulously built that life though. Contextually, it was the safe thing to do.

Following year though, I had to deal with the loss of my 7 year old relationship and of my 5 year old job. My identity was crushed. My biggest lesson was that you can fail at what you don't want, and what you consider safe; you might as well take a chance at what you truly want.
Next year, I got my ‘ideal’ job but walked away from it. Failure had taught me to be more ambitious and audacious. I had reached a point in my life where I wanted my work to have more meaning; and to stand for something more important than myself.

I started a political consulting company to maneuver social ascendance of marginalized communities by equalizing access to political capital.  I primarily did topical research for MPs for their debates in the parliament and on TV shows.  Partial project list includes:

1.   Providing 108 rape survivors with medical, legal, financial, and social support over six months through one of my client's NGO
2.   Getting amendments passed in the communal violence bill that tackle systemic bias towards Muslims
3.   Helping three social entrepreneurs raise a combined total of INR 43 lakhs from their MP for community initiatives

Along with running my own company, I focused on my passion for writing and traveling as well.  I solo travelled to all seven wonders of the world, and did two-cross country trips by train in India and in the US.  I have also written and published three fiction novels.