Sunday, November 20, 2022

Sleeping Dogs by Archana Sarat

 

Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie? It certainly does make life easier, I suppose. Archana Sarat’s latest thriller titled ‘Sleeping Dogs’ introduces Aarna, a 21-year-old girl who lost her mother, Devika, when she was young. “I have always lived with my mother in my imagination.” Aarna’s words wring the heart especially because she lives with her maternal grandparents in Chennai in a home that has no traces of her mother, not even a photograph.

Suddenly she receives a summons from her father, who is living with his second wife. A reluctant Aarna makes her way to Mumbai and almost immediately, gets embroiled in her own investigation of her mother’s suicide.

Why does Aarna have horrific nightmares about her mother who died twelve years ago? Even worse, why are there huge gaps in her childhood memories? Why is the girl’s relationship with her father, Yugan, strained? Even as Aarna goes for professional counselling, she strives to connect the dots in her life in a logical fashion. As her psychologist advises her, “Listen to stories and you will discover the truth.” She is no pushover, as is proved by the determined way she goes about trying to solve the mystery that has consumed her childhood.

Archana Sarat is a gifted writer. The way she intertwines the past and the present through the accounts of Devika and Aarna forms the main narrative of the book. These are helped along with the bits of information the latter pieces together, like a jigsaw puzzle, at the end of which the daughter has a clear idea about the intriguing personality of her mother.

The book deals hints at issues like parental responsibility, sexual misdemeanour, the importance of consent in relationships and professional impropriety. The narrative is fast-paced and gripping, and as the mystery comes to an end and the final piece of the jigsaw is placed on the board, the reader sits back with the satisfaction of a tale well told.

The cover image is mystical, vibrant in its hues, eye-catching in its detail. ‘Sleeping Dogs’ from the Readomania stable lives up to the promise of the earlier novel by Archana Sarat, ‘Birds of Prey’ which is now a major web series featuring ex-ACP, Anton Pinto, who makes an appearance in this book as well.

                                                                     Archana Sarat


Friday, September 23, 2022

Mis(s)adventures of a Salesgirl by Aashisha Chakraborty

 

The cover image of Aashisha Chakraborty's debut novel, 'Mis(s)adventures of a Salesgirl', catches the eye as the traditional Chennai landscape reveals a modernity that transports the reader straight into a story that promises to be entertaining. Shobhaa De’s endorsement adds to the feel - ‘Young and interesting’. Further praise is showered on the young author within the book by seasoned voices.

At the age of 25, the world seems one’s oyster, or so one would think. Enakshi Chatterji, a germophobe and a bit of an introvert, has a job in an IT organization. Wanting a bit of fun and time before she is pushed on to the matrimonial bandwagon, she decides to do her MBA at the prestigious IISM.

However, when she mentions that she wants to go in for sales and marketing, her mother reacts in shock, leaving unanswered questions in Enakshi’s mind. Exactly a year later, she begins her summer internship at Telescion where she receives a jolt when she realises that she has to intern in Chennai instead of Gurgaon.

Imagine being posted to a place without knowing the language. If that were not bad enough, Enakshi finds that being a woman in a male-dominated company makes it even worse. The cherry on the cake is her OCD and her horror of anything remotely unclean. As she moves into her role, clad in formal wear, blazer included, the heat of Chennai unsettles her.

Ram Reddy, her present mentor, develops a blow hot-blow cold relationship with her, which keeps her off balance. The GBM, Mr. Nagavenkata, who is otherwise known as the Dragon, is far-removed from her, but gives Ram instructions on how to make her internship even more challenging than it already is.

Leela, Enakshi’s roommate and Pavan, an erstwhile stalker, bring in a hint of colour to Enakshi’s mundane life. However, the stress of her job proves too much. At the end of her tether, she snaps at her parents when they call up. There is a 25-year-old mystery concerning her mother that she wants to solve, and she takes the support of her best friend, Ankita, to do so. As Enakshi battles it out, determined to finish her internship and end her Chennai stint once and for all, she begins to slowly understand that she has to do things differently to make an impact. By the end of her three months, she realises she has finally ‘adulted'.

Aashisha Chakraborty has nailed the emotions and the angst of a young intern stuck in the wrong place. The narrative is peppered with sales tips, starting with “Learn the local language” and “Speak the local language for God’s sake” to “Keep your temper in check” and “Use jugaad”. Her subtle sense of humour comes through at various places in the book.

“Ena was a private person, as private as a person could possibly get without turning into a character from Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

“She was young and pretty. Pretty Awful.” (A lady in the HR Department)

Aashisha Chakraborty’s debut novel is a breezy read, with Enakshi garnering much sympathy in the heart of the reader. The author’s triumph is in the fact that nowhere, despite all her trials and tribulations, does Enakshi come across as a defeatist or a loser.

The following lines particularly resonated within me as I read the book. Maybe because I too believe how true they are.

“Time, like light, decides the way it moves around people. Sometimes, it moves in a straight line. And at times, it bends around certain obstacles to reach where it wants to reach.”

Author: Aashisha Chakraborty

Publishers: Rupa

Buying Links: https://rupapublications.co.in/books/missadventures-of-a-salesgirl/

Available in print and e-book

 


Thursday, September 15, 2022

A Piece of Your Mind for Peace of Mind - Manali Desai

 

Blurb On Amazon: 

We all feel a certain way during different times and think that we're alone in living through it all. Maybe our experience is unique,  maybe the way we react to a situation is exclusive to us. But that sentiment we feel in a particular moment, that's not ours alone. We are bound by the way our minds feel various emotions, right from anger to excitement, and from fear to pride. Dive into the world of these emotions through poetic expressions in this book. Each poem focuses on one single sentiment with the intention to show how each emotion or the way we feel because of them, can make or break us; while also convincing you that it's completely normal to experience such things. These emotions are mostly what we would conventionally refer to as 'negative' but reading about them in these 40+ poems would surely leave you feeling positive.

Genre: Poetry
Pages: 92
Format: Kindle eBook
Price: Rs.73 / Available on Kindle Unlimited

Author Manali Manan Desai

My Rating: 4.4

In today’s world, where life has turned into a rat race, and people depend on their devices, using emojis to express their feelings, Manali Desai has used the self-same emoticons to illustrate the forty-five poems through which she has presented an entire kaleidoscope of life. Every poem begins with an apt emoticon and a feeling expressed by the poet, which serves as a hint to what lies ahead. Many of the poems are also accompanied by cute doodles and illustrations which further add to the essence of the content.

The eye-catching cover image is in grey and blue, maybe denoting the various hues of life, the yin and yang, the good, the bad and the ugly. The pun that makes up the title is unusual and effective!

Manali Desai’s poems cover a plethora of emotions, both positive and negative, that people go through in their day-to-day lives. The message they convey is that it is normal for humans to experience the ups and downs of life, to ride a seesaw of emotions. The language is simple, revolving around one central idea, denoting the commonality of emotions experienced by humanity.

The themes range from relationships to friendship, from self-doubt, shame, lost identity and frustration, and self-acceptance, self-assurance and love. There are references to ‘Home, Sweet Home’ and occasions when the poet wonders about 'What To Do, What Not to Do'.’. The poem ‘Full Circle’ talks of how after years of anger and frustration, the poet accepts that “life had come full circle/ I knew that what I had felt most of my life was something I could let go of/ And just like that my anger was replaced with acceptance.”

One of my favourite poems is ‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall’, where little barbs create a dent in a person’s confidence, but at the end, “the self-assurance dominated the self-doubt again.” ‘My Bad’ touches on the topic of doublespeak, where words convey dual emotions, hurting loved ones, and ends up with half-apologies.

The author’s emotions shine through her poetry. She treats life as a learning process, where she urges the readers to go on with confidence, trudge on and learn and grow. However, she also warns them to ‘Take a Break, Don’t Break’, and instead pay attention to the signals that the mind and body give at regular intervals. Life is ‘Sometimes Easy, Sometimes Tough’, and ‘Instability, Uncertainty, Unsurety’ play their roles in adding tension to life.

Manali Desai’s biggest forte lies in her ability to choose apt titles that give a hint of what lies within each poem. Nowhere does she claim that life is a bed of roses, and the nuggets of wisdom she imparts are invaluable. While most of her poems are in free verse, there are examples of acrostic poems like ‘Breaking the Norms’, and ‘Moments of Joy’ which talk about the sources of joy from A to Z. The latter, along with ‘M For Mischief’ are two poems that touch the heart with their joie de vivre, especially the statement that works as a page breaker - "I Solemnly Swear that I Am Up To No Good.” The poems titled ‘Don’t Stop, Make it Pop’ and ‘Not A Regular’ seem to define the attitude of the poet… quirky, fun and “A something that sets apart/The regular from the not-so-common.”

In my opinion, one of the most understated and yet beautiful poems is ‘Not in So Many Words’ where love is conveyed in different ways, ending with the query “Does love always need to be verbal?”

While this book has many plus points, the only point that maybe, went against the grain, was the fact that some of the poems seemed repetitious at times. However, this takes nothing away from the content of the book, which packs a punch even as it illustrates many hard hitting truths, both positive and negative, which make up the essence of life.

 About the Author: Manali Manan Desai: Manali is a full-time freelance writer and editor cum blogger. Currently, apart from her ad hoc writing and editing assignments, Manali runs a blog and is also a partner with Pachyderm Tales. In her authoring journey, Manali has written and published five solo books, been a part of a few co-authored books, and has helped new and aspiring writers publish their books as well. She has been a multiple-times bestselling author on Amazon with all her books ranking in the top ten in many categories. Her short story The Walls Have Ears, helped her bag the Best Short Story in 2019. She has also won the Best Author: Fiction Award, and the Book of the Year title in 2021 for her debut novel, Love (Try) Angle. Her short story titled The (Un)Blind Date, which is a part of her Christmas special anthology, Under the Mistletoe & Other Stories, won the best short story prize in an online contest before the book's release in December 2021.

The book is available at:

https://www.amazon.in/Piece-Your-Mind-Peace-ebook/dp/B0B9CK19NC/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1663178060&refinements=p_27%3AManali+Desai&s=books&sr=1-1

 

 

 


Friday, August 5, 2022

FOUR THINGS I’D LIKE TO WORK ON IN AUGUST

 

The month of August is here with all its leonine tempestuousness, and life follows suit. The month ahead is one of hectic activity, and I visualise myself hopping from project to project (No, I am not talking about the Blogchatter Bloghop, mind you!) there is no time to stand and stare, as the poet put it, but only time to dip a finger in all the pies ahead.

The 75th year of Independence has come around; a year of much rhetoric as old vows are renewed, and patriotism is the most toted word on every Indian’s tongue. This year, the national flag can be flown on rooftops of common citizens, a gesture that will make hearts fly as high as the flag itself. My only hope is that the national flag be respected as much even after the 15th. Often, my heart breaks to see tiny plastic flags lying on the road and in garbage heaps once the day is done. One thing I would like to work on in August is try and prevent the people around me from doing so. Working in a school gives me the leeway to speak about the significance of the flag and it is heartening to see how much our children respect the national symbols. August is the time to remind them all over again about the core idea of respect.

                                                                     pngtree.com

The toughest thing in the world is exercising and walking to keep one’s health ticking. A battery of tests done recently enlightened me to the glaring fact that I do need to walk at least four times a week, follow a strict diet and get enough sleep. Like I mentioned, there are only twenty-four hours in a day, and so much to do! A Utopian dream, of there ever was one, but I guess it is time to get on with my sports shoes and earphones!

                                                                     DepositPhotos

Being a writer has its ups and downs, and there are times when one wishes that a day had forty-eight hours. There are many prompts which I am not able to meet and as Douglas Adams laughingly put it, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” That is exactly the crossroads I am standing at, and I am reminded of Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’. Have I taken the road not taken by turning into an educationist after having been a teacher and writer for many decades? Then it hits me that I am truly blessed – imagine being able to do both things I dearly love? Mentor young children and write whenever the impulse takes me. In both cases, an imagination that runs riot is a must! August is the month when I need to catch my deadlines before they whoosh away and stick to all my deadlines in school as well. Phew, hectic, but exciting!

                                                                pngtree.com

Finally, I have a new book out of which I am the co-writer, the life sketch of my mother, Ms. Nalini Chandran, an ace educationist who began a school over forty years ago, with all the experience she had gained from teaching in schools across the country as an Army wife. The book titled ‘Defying Destiny: Nalini Chandran – A Life Sketch’ is a walk through her inspiring life, where she brought up thousands of children, many of whom are in different parts of the world, creating a niche for themselves. The cover reveal is over, and the book launch is on the 20th of August. Now comes the difficult part where one needs to garner interest for the book. Hence, my final task for August is to spread information about a book so close to my heart. A task that is tougher than getting pigs to fly, no doubt! However, hope lies eternal in the human heart and strive I will, along with a wonderful army of my mother’s students, friends and admirers.

August, you do ask a lot of me! I hope I can keep up with you.

#tasks #Independence #health #exercise #deadlines #DefyingDestiny

 This post is part of #BlogchatterBloghop

Buying Links of Defying Destiny:

Defying Destiny - A life sketch of Nalini Chandran https://amzn.eu/d/24U9LZl

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Wishing Upon a Star!

           
      depositphotos

When I was a little girl, I remember being fascinated by the story of Pinocchio, the little wooden puppet who was naughty and yet so sweet. Geppetto, a carpenter, created him and looked upon him as a son. What I was petrified about was the bit where Pinocchio’s nose grew longer and longer every time he told a lie. I made sure that I stuck to the truth as far as possible, even though I had a tiny snub nose which could have done with some growing.

  That was the first time I heard the song ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ from the animated movie, Pinocchio, (1940) sung by Cliff Richards for Jiminy Cricket. The wonderful Julie Andrews also sang a version of it.

“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”


                                                   Jiminy Cricket - Fandom

That was when I understood the concept of wishing upon a star, of watching for a shooting star, to go out into the world and look for the magic inherent and make a wish with a fervent hope that it would come true.

There is a way to wish upon a star, according to various articles on the subject. One of them advocates that you should go and sit down comfortably under the stars, close your eyes and say, "Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight: I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight."

Do not tell anyone what you wished for because then, it may not come true. Finally, believe in your wish and think about it often. Positive affirmation, it is said, can make wishes come true.

The only time I did try to wish upon a star was when I was staying with my grandparents to do my 9th and 10th standard. My father had been posted to a tiny place which did not boast of any reputed schools. My grandfather, who had begun a school for boys, and was a renowned headmaster got me admission in one of the convent schools round the corner. He and my grandmother doted on me, and tried to give me everything I needed, including a bedroom which they painted a special shade of pink for me.

My grandfather was a holy terror as far as his students went. They had to follow strict timings, wake up early in the morning and study for three hours before they went to school. I had always been a late riser, and that was the one thing that I dreaded. Of course, I was also averse to the idea of leaving my parents and my little sisters. However, the move was necessary if I had to do well in my studies, and of course, in my Board examination.

Two weeks before I was to leave, I sat outside my house on the verandah, looking up at the starry sky. What could I do? I trained my eyes on the brightest star of all and stared at it till I felt quite dizzy. The stars seem to explode inside my head, and I closed my eyes, and thought about my wish. I was quite clear about what I wanted.

“Please, please, shining star, help me to find a way to be able to sleep in at my grandparents’ home. I do not want to wake up early!”

It might have seemed a silly little wish, but to me at that moment, when I was leaving home and those I loved, it suddenly seemed all-important. I knew I would be loved by my grandparents, but I loved my sleep as much.

The day came when I had to leave Mom and my sisters. Dad came along with me to Kerala to drop me off. I kept a stiff upper lip, trying not to bawl my eyes out. Once we reached our destination, I found everything ready for me – my room, my favourite food and snacks, and of course, my grandmother waiting to play my favourite game of Scrabble with me.

Dad stayed for a week. Two days before he was to leave, he had a discussion with his parents. I stood outside the room, and I could hear what he said clearly.

“Dad, Mom, she is going to be homesick for all of us. She loves being with you, of course. However, there is one thing that we, as her parents, would like to ask of you.”

I could hear my grandfather’s raspy voice say “Hmmm!” My grandmother asked softly, “What is it? We want her to be happy with us.”

“She loves her sleep. Please do not wake her up early in the mornings. That is what she has been worried about all these days.”

Another “Hmmmm!” and the matter was settled. My father came out of the room and winked at me. “All done, Deepush!” he said as he gave me a bear hug.

                                                                       Pinterest

I spent two wonderful years with my grandparents and was taken care of like a little princess.

Not once was I woken up by them before seven in the morning. I had my parents to thank for that! And of course, the wish I had made upon a bright star!

This post is part of #BlogchatterBlogHop

#BlogHop #Wishes #


Star #Happiness #grandparents #FatherDaughter


Saturday, July 16, 2022

IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN READING AND WRITING...

 

A choice between reading and writing? Would that be a choice at all? No, siree, it would be more of a Hobson’s choice, a kind of a “my way or the highway”!

The most popular example of Hobson’s choice is “I’ll give you a choice; take it or leave it.”

Pinterest

 When I was just a little girl, (no, I am not singing ‘Que Sera Sera’ here!), I was surrounded by books of all sizes and shapes. My parents, my grandparents, every person I knew, and his neighbour, were voracious readers. You could not enter my home without being waylaid by a book. Of course, the tastes varied – my grandfather read the Bible, the Gita and literature in all its glory, my grandma was more into cookery books and pampered us by creating delicious pin wheel sandwiches. Dad and Mom were more into fiction, but they did share a love of the classics. So, from an early age, I was happy listening to interesting content from books from all the adults in the family.

When I started reading on my own, it was as if all the delights of the world had been thrown on my lap, and I could not wait to savour them all. The world of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and classics like Black Beauty, Heidi and Oliver Twist to the more complicated but the equally intriguing Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Daphne Du Maurier, PG Wodehouse - my life seemed comfortably crowded with adventure, suspense and humour. Later, as I graduated to the senior classics, and encountered characters like Miss Havisham, Elizabeth Bennet, Jo March, Rip Van Winkle and my favourite of all, Edmond Dantes, all of whom played havoc with my imagination, my mind moved on to the exciting horizon of writing.

                                                                 Figment.com

I was ten when I wrote my first poem titled ‘The Blue Marble’. I wrote, not exactly because I wanted to attain literary acclaim, but because I wanted to impress my mother who seemed too impressed by far with the writings of a friend of mine. The girl would land up with her poems and, much to my chagrin, sit through the evening, drink tea, have dinner and then leave, very proud of herself. A fact which burnt a hole in my heart, a hole that was repaired only when I began to write!

So, I read, and I wrote, and the two were so intertwined that not a day went by when I did not do both. They were to me like my two eyes; I could not imagine being without one of them. They were the companions of my growing years, and today as I look back on the way I have lived my life so far, there have hardly been days when I have not read a book or written a few lines.

 After my tenth Boards, when I decided to take up Literature, there was a general hue-and-cry from my teachers who had predicted that I would take up Science, slog through my years in school and college and end up being a doctor, none of which had any place in my plans.

I wanted to be a writer. And continue to read! Period.

 Hence, if I had to choose between reading and writing, I wouldn’t, thank you very much.

 

Inspiring Quotes

This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop.

https://www.theblogchatter.com/



 


LIFE WITH A PINCH OF SALT BY ASFIYA RAHMAN


The yellow cover with its twin bottles of pepper and salt is one of the cheeriest images I have seen in a while and the message conveyed by the author, Asfiya Rahman, at the beginning is even more heart-warming.

“This collection of short stories and flash fiction is a small attempt to remind us that life is messy and adventurous and full of surprises.”

 A statement that impels one to dive headlong into the stories that follow! The eleven stories are filled with life, (pun intended), as they fill one with good cheer, along with a sense of anticipation.

The first story titled ‘Romantic Adventures’ brings a smile to one’s face as Nachiketa bungles a rendezvous with the attractive Ketaki, a tale told with good humour.

‘Bhai and NRI’ is imbued with dramatic irony and brings out the fascination of Indians with Bollywood.  

As one goes through the stories, the sense of anticipation increases, especially as the flash fiction tickles the imagination and ends with a twist particularly intriguing. For example, ‘The Muse’ hints at an unpleasant past, and ‘Devi’ ends with a twist that makes one ponder. ‘A Picture to Remember’ catches an elusive moment.

The Big Indian Wedding often has its hits and misses, as is reiterated in ‘Wedding Vows or Woes’. Asfiya Rahman’s creativity knows no bounds. ‘Death Lurks in Every Corner’ is wonderfully suspenseful and keeps the reader wondering till the end.

While I did enjoy the whole book, two stories interested me in particular – ‘Is it Kinder to Give or Receive?” which reminded me of the stories of O Henry, and ‘The Best Mistake of my Life’, which was magnificent in narrative and intent. I would be indulging in spoilers if I said any more.

It would be a pleasure to read more from Asfiya Rahman for she has the flair to make her stories sparkle. I end with her quote – “Life isn’t meant to be perfect, it’s meant to be lived.” Exactly my sentiments!

#BlogchatterEBook #BookReview #ShortStries #heartwarming #Life 

You can download this book by Asfiya Rahman from the link below:

file:///C:/Users/deept/OneDrive/Desktop/1654924692_AsfiyaLIFEWITHAPINCHOFSALT.pdf

Sleeping Dogs by Archana Sarat

  Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie? It certainly does make life easier, I suppose. Archana Sarat’s latest thriller titled ‘Sleeping Dog...