Book Review: God Is A Gamer

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Title: God Is A Gamer
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Price: Rs. 299
Pages: 310

What happens when you cross a gamer, a banker, a politician and a terrorist with virtual money?

I had never read any book by this author before. I was told that he is good. The gist of the book and the intriguing cover piqued my interest. But having read some horrendous Indian author books in the recent times, I was really skeptical about this one. But somehow the interest remained on this one and I applied for the review. This book introduced me to bitcoins or virtual money. I was not aware of this concept of currency until I read this book. Either this is a new concept or either I was too dumb. Anyway, I have to thank this book for this new found knowledge of mine. This novel is said to be the first ever bitcoin thriller and I couldn't wait to read it. Having grown up reading Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, mystery always excites me. And I was waiting to plunge myself in the book and finish it as soon as possible. 

Gillian Tan, the senator of the United States Of America is murdered and FBI agents Adrian Scott and Tony are investigating this case. Malvika Sehgal, the chairman of New York International Bank (NYIB), plunges to her death one fine day. Media believes this to be a suicide but her daughter Tanya thinks otherwise. And Malvika's affair with a high profile minister only adds fuel to the fire. Aditya, the head of a gaming company is battling his own beliefs as his prodigal son, Varun, is set to change all the rules of the company. Josh, the terrorist who is responsible for a series of ATM heists that rocks the whole of NYIB and the USA. All these plots move around in a fast pace making this an interesting read. The element of mystery is high and it sure evokes a thrill in the reader. There are other subplots too as part of this story. An illegitimate daughter, a drugs trail, a hooker, phishing attacks and a BPO company. This was too much to take at times, but the mystery still remained and so does the interest in the book.

The story is fast paced and moves back and forth from Mumbai to the USA. The characters are strongly etched (except Tanya) and each one holds on its own. The entire story revolves around a web of love, sex, drugs, power, deceit and revenge. Although the revenge part is not clear until the climax. The execution of the scenes is brilliant and the language used is perfect. No typos and no out of place words. The English used is layman and it can be read without a handy dictionary. Politics is already an interesting genre, add to it the thrill of murder and conspiracy and you have a winner in hand. Bitcoins form the crux of the story and it stealthily shows the greed of the rich and famous. The author has used real names of companies here like Visa, Mastercard and Facebook. Indiscape, the gaming company also sounds real and hooks the reader by talking about real addictive games like Farmville, Townsville and Mafia Dons. The author however chooses to show the Indian police force in poor light, with a lame and rusty ACP Shome assisting the two FBI agents in their investigation. The story definitely has the potential to be a good one, but it falls short towards the end.

I guessed the climax half way through the book, but I read on to know how it unfolds. At one point the story gets so overloaded with talks of politics, money, terrorism and bitcoins that there was chaos in my mind for a good few hours. Individually, each topic is brilliant. But when put together it becomes too much to take. If the story only revolved around bitcoins, this one sure would have been a winner. An assassination is understandable but the murder of an innocent victim somehow did not make sense to me. That angle was not required at all especially when the idea was to convict a person who had committed various other crimes too. The actual brain behind the plan is kept hidden until the end of the story. The story actually completes only after the epilogue, which I quite didn't understand why. The book at 310 pages is not that long, but the 98 chapters were not required. Most of the chapters end in a page or two. And each chapter shifts from one parallel story to another. Racy, yes. Easy for the reader, no.

The story could have been more compact and solid if it was condensed to around 20 chapters with great detailing in them. The sexual abuse angle which is revealed in the climax, makes sense but there is no build up around it. It suddenly is revealed and it almost immediately forms the actual motive of the entire book. Tanya on whose shoulders the book rests, is the weakest character. Nothing about her is detailed and she seems very lost and out of place throughout the story. Even when minute details of her life are ripped apart by the FBI, her reaction seems to be denial and confusion. This is not what a heroine is supposed to be like. The story then ends on a false note. Why false you ask? The cops arrest someone who is set up by the actual culprit. When the cops realize their folly, they do nothing about it thinking that if they reopen the case they might be thought of as idiots. The actual culprit gets the revenge and the happily ever after. Funnily for a thriller, the actual cause of the entire revenge and the soul of the book remains love.

Verdict: Chaotic. But worth a read. The mystery is gripping and hooks you to the book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

A Piece Of My Heart

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A pen is mightier than the sword they say. In the age of computers and tabs, the feeling of writing in a brand new book is something else altogether. The smell that fills your senses with each page is magical and hypnotic. Since my childhood, I have had the habit of writing and maintaining a diary. It gives me immense pleasure, when I write down my thoughts and feelings in a book. Typing a journal does not hold a candle to writing in your own handwriting. When the nib of a pen touches an empty paper, it has the power in it to make or break the content. The words that flow from the pen write a story and create characters. Feelings are then splattered in the page as emotions shape up to form lives. The hand glides smoothly along the page singing with the written word. Years later, when you flick through the pages of the book, you would relive the story in your own words and writing. A hand written later till date rates higher in the equation of love when compared to an e-card or a diamond ring. 

There is something extraordinary about the written word that no technology or font can match up to. Your own handwriting, be is calligraphic or almost illegible shall always remain close to your heart. For me, writing is sharing and the art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to yourself and to others. To the world. A glossy computer screen can never match up to the rawness and the feel of writing on good old paper. Knowing that the written word cannot be erased is a strange yet powerful feeling. A backspace and the story can be erased in one shot. But once it is hand written, no matter how much you erase it, some remnants remain. It is embedded somewhere or the other. There is something extremely powerful about the written word, knowing that it cannot be taken back. Although it is not engraved in stone, the impact of it remains. Almost forever.

I was introduced to 'Matrikas' by Knitha. Matrikas Paper Products presents you with the premium space to stimulate your mind and unleash your creative best. Their range includes exquisitely designed and finished journals, diaries, notebooks and other stationary. Matrikas gets its name from the Sanskrit word for mother, denoting pure love and powerful energies. I am a person who was always into writing. I have a huge collection of books and diaries. But when I saw the Matrikas products I was blown away. These are not just plain and mundane books. A lot of thought has gone behind each and every book and it shows. The books are crafted with a lot of care and of course love. When I visited their site for the first time I saw a diary which had a ship, a compass and a globe on its cover. I was drawn to it in an instant. The cover spoke to me and wanted me to write its story. The ship looked tired, but held on its own fighting the long journey successfully. The compass acted as the perfect companion gliding the ship carefully across the globe. Anybody else might find this silly, but the people at Matrikas did not. When they sent me their products for review, this diary was among it too! I was thrilled and touched. The products came to me neatly and individually packed in a cardboard box. I thought that I might get only one book for review, but I received four stunning books each one different from the other and standing out on its own. Along with the books came a personalized letter, thanking me for being a part of this campaign.

Cube Works Privy: This book stands out for its color. The hard bound cover is green in color and is pleasing to the eye and is foil stamped with the logo. It has an elastic for safe locking and it can hold a pen within its pages easily without falling off. It has an envelope type pouch on its back 
cover for holding your important documents related to the data you are writing in this book. The pages are white and ruled, making it easy to write with a free hand. It has a satin page marker for you to bookmark your page. The book is compact and easy to carry around in a small bag. 

Diary 2015: Like I said above, this book for me symbolized hope. The ship on the printed laminated metallic cover along with a compass in the backdrop of a globe, was fascinating. The diary has individual pages for each day of the year along with inspiring quotes at the bottom of each page. At the beginning of every month it has a monthly planner and at the end of the diary it has an yearly planner too. This is the perfect diary for me to jot down the events of a day for reference later.

Mother Teresa Journal: While filling up the registration for this campaign, I was asked who was my inspiration. On an impulse I had said Mother Teresa and before I knew it they had sent me the Mother Teresa journal. The hard bound cover has a velvet touch to it and the white and blue cover perfectly complimented the image of Mother Teresa. The first page of this book is a short biography of her. The following pages surprised me with space for 'Books to be read', 'Works to be accomplished' and 'Places to be visited'. I had never seen such headlined books before. This was amazing! The following pages were monthly planners with a to-do list and a one dimensional pin board to jot down important points. Every other page has quotes by the great personality herself. I cannot wait to start using this one.

Toss & Turn 6 Subject Note Book: This hard bound metallic cover has a special effect with ludo embossed on it. Yes ludo, the age old game. The book is divided by colored partitions into six. So you can use one partition as a journal and one of the other partitions to store your secret recipes or poems. The last page of the book has the history of Ludo written on it making it an interesting read. This book can hold a lot of data and thanks to the awesomely designed cover you can carry it in your hand and flaunt if off!

The pages of each book is thick and smooth. The pages don't blot nor do they smudge, making it a wonderful writing experience. To hell with the notes app on my phone, I now know where to put down all my thoughts. 2014 has not ended yet, but I know that 2015 is going to be great, and I'm going to write down every act of my life in my diary. Years later when I read it, I want to have a smile on my face. I am an avid blogger and thoughts crowd my head every second. And now I have enough books to fill them. Books for me have always been a vital part of my life as it holds my life inside them. Books are a piece of my heart, beating to tune of my pen and dancing to the chimes of my words. My books are like my babies too and I take care of them with pure love and concern. Just like a mother, making me a Matrika too!

I would refer this brand to everyone. The book is worth the price and will soon become a part of you. Check out their site here and their Facebook page here. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.


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Why let him take up
Rent free space in your own mind
He is not worth it

He is not worth it
Let go of the memories
Release the sorrow

Written for Haiku Horizons: Prompt - Release.

To Be Or Not To Be?

Image Source: Magpie Tales

They sure do look beautiful
The epitome of innocence known
But I still have doubts about
Wanting to have one of my own

Children are a blessing they say
But I have never felt the need to have one
My life is complete in itself
I don't need a daughter or a son

I love my husband more than anything
This love I do not want to share
People shall call me selfish for this
But honestly, I just don't care

Having a baby is a huge thing
It turns your life upside down
I am so not prepared for this
I do not want the maternal crown

My husband shares my thought too
We are not at all ready for this
This is something we are sure about
The choice is mine as much as his

Although people rejoice in it
I have seen some cribbing as well
Some say that parenthood is heaven
Others agree that it is close to hell

It is different for different people
A boon to many can be a bane to some
But if you want something out of the norm
Then society shall beat the rule drum

It is not like we cannot have babies
There is nothing wrong with him or me
After marriage if there is no "good news"
Then people will refer doctors to see

It doesn't make me any less of a woman
If this is the path that I choose
Why should it be such a big deal
I have the right to accept and refuse

I don't know if I shall feel like this always
But for now, this sure is the case
It is a choice made by my heart and mind
I do not want to join the baby making race

I will not cave in to expectations
People will talk as they like
It is a personal decision for me
The others can go take a hike

They say that it is an awesome feeling
A form of love like no other
I sure have a lot of love to give
But not necessarily as a mother

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 242.

Falling Forever

Copyright- The Reclining Gentleman

I can feel the chill in the air as we sit and watch the still water, our hands entwined with each other. This place is serene and gives me immense peace, or maybe it is just the effect of being around you; since I gush like a child and feel pretty as a woman when you fail to take your eyes off me. It has been fifty years now and the feeling is still the same. And so is the magic. Fifty years ago, it was at this place that I realized that I had fallen in love with you.

This five sentence fiction is written for the topic 'Falling' at Lillie McFerrin Writes.

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 24th October.

Book Review: Chaos Down Under

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Title: Chaos Down Under
Author: Nishant Kaushik
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Genre: Fiction/Corporate Comedy
Price: Rs. 295
Pages: 277

This is the second book of the chaos trilogy, written by Nishant Kaushik. Apparently his first book, 'A Romance With Chaos' was a best seller; but sadly I had not heard of it nor of the writer. This book revolves around Nakul Kapoor and his career at a Telecom firm called Bytesphere. And like most of the other Indian protagonists so far, he also is plagued by bad luck. The girl he loves, does not love him back. His boss hates him and doesn't approve his reimbursements on time. Such is this man's glory that one day he receives a call from a recruitment company asking him to take up an interview at, wait a minute, Bytesphere! This incident is soon forgotten and then, his boss Chirayu Chaudhary is asking him to head a team to resurrect the dying relationship with their Australian client Oz-Mobil (How creative!). This is a task near to impossible, but since there is no one else willing to do it, it is handed to him. The entire book is all about how he builds a team, impresses the client and wins the love of his lady. Yes, this book has all the necessities required for a typical bollywood flick. I can already see Sajid Khan acquiring the rights of this book.

Writing humor is an art. Obviously not everyone is P.G Wodehouse, but there needs to be some subtlety while using words like asshole, fuck, slut and ass at every page. Sadly, this book is not so subtle. I do not mind the language but the incessant use of it was certainly annoying. It is a corporate drama alright, but the story in the book is only enough to fill around fifty pages. The plot is cliched, and some characters are caricatures. Nakul Kapoor is someone whom you can never feel for, unless the feeling is anger or sheer irritation. He seemed like a decent guy at first, but when he thinks of pushing an entire beehive into his manager's buttocks, I changed my mind. Yes, that actually happens within the first thirty pages of the book. Also what is more annoying is the constant references to the first book. I am sure had I read the first book, I would not have picked up this one. As a stand alone, this book is silly and irritatingly long. I wanted to put this book down after a few chapters, but I wanted to do justice to this review. Sigh, if only I did not take my writing that seriously.

The only good thing about this book are the names of its chapters, like Benetton, Jordan, Cheesecake, Curry Boys etc. They are catchy, weird and interesting. But sadly, no chapter lives up to its name. The other guy in this book is Sameer, the other contender for Mehek, the girl who Nakul is in love with. Duh! Sameer's character is as irrelevant as the book and he appears and disappears at regular intervals. After the first half that takes place in Mumbai, the second half moves to the client location Australia. I hoped that this will lift the book with maybe a third angle, but sadly none appears. In all honesty, the story does have potential. But like I said before, only to hold about fifty pages. If you are reading a book that has more than two hundred and fifty pages, you expect more and not just two interconnected story lines. And these two stories are nothing but the professional and personal lives of the protagonist. Even the girl in question, Mehek seems very ordinary and boring. If Nakul is so crazily in love with her, then there must be something about her right?

Among all the characters, only two characters were worth mentioning. Suresh Shah, Nakul's technically handicapped neighbor and Chirayu, Nakul's pain in the ass manager. Both these characters are the only ones that provide decent bouts of humor and that too in impromptu bursts. The way the south Indian girl Radha Murthy was shown, was terrible. You just cannot typecast someone like that. Akshat was a decent character too, I wish there was more of him in the story.

The meek highlight of this book is the language. Although it uses a lot of crass words and expletives, the English is decent and much much better than a few Indian books that I have read recently. There are a lot of attempts at sarcasm, but most of them fall flat never to rise again. The cover of the book is interesting, it speaks immensely about the humor that the book is supposed to carry. But then again, never judge a book by its cover. Right? Oh so right.

Verdict: If humor to you means Sajid Khan, then you can pick this up.
Rating: 2 out of 5, and I'm being really generous here.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Having It All

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Best portrayal of gender inequality till now.

So ladies, have you asked for that raise yet? 

Gender inequality has always been a highly debatable topic, and I doubt if that would change in the years to come. First it was Pepsico's Indra Nooyi's "Women can't have it all" statement and then followed by the much hyped Microsoft CEO's not so soft words about women having to wait for their karma, instead of asking for a raise. Both statements make no sense to me. If a woman cannot have it all, then there is something that she is not doing right. I know this is mainly defined by the society as to a woman has to take care of home first and then her work. But do we conform to all societal norms? I am a working lady who works from 9 am to 7 pm, five days a week and at times this is extended to weekends and late nights too. In between all of it, I manage my writing and the household chores. I make breakfast and lunch before I leave to work and cook dinner once I am back from work. I do have my mother in law to help me out at times, but I am sure I can manage fine even without her. Why? I have my husband by my side who is always willing to help me with these chores. He knows and understands that he is not the only one who was at work that day. I was too and it is the responsibility of both of us to take care of these chores. Screw society. When there is equality within a home, then a woman and the man can have it all.

Apparently Nooyi's mother sent her out to buy a packet of milk, the same day that she was announced to be the CEO of the FMCG giant. What is the big deal about it? I buy vegetables on my way home for cooking dinner that night. And I have my husband with me while shopping. I am not the CEO of any company but I work my ass off at my current role and I sure am exhausted by the end of the day. But there needs to be food on the table right? For us to eat. Some people are rich enough to hire cooks and helps, but I cannot afford them and I am more than happy to take care of these chores. Irrespective of our roles at work, my husband and I handle all the household work together without complaining or pointing fingers at each other. Remember the furor this Airtel ad created? First the chauvinists spewed fire, for showing the woman as the boss. Next, the feminists added fuel to it by saying why is the woman shown cooking for the husband? Cooking a meal for someone is a gesture of love, and has nothing to do with gender. Most of the successful chefs in the world are men, what do people have to say to that? Of course, this would create a huge storm in our country, where a woman is the only one expected to be a part of the kitchen. It is time that such notions change.

I work in the biggest IT company in the world, and it head by a woman. And I am sure it was not karma that got her there. I joined this place six and a half years ago, straight from college. It was not karma that got me here, it was six rounds of rigorous interviews that lasted for more than twelve hours. Getting chosen out of a thousand people was not karma too. It was something called hard work. I could not just depend on karma, and stare out of the window during the interview right? Today I am at a very good position at work, thanks to my hard work and I am earning well. I receive a raise based on my performance at work and it has nothing to do with the fact that I am a woman. The men receive the same raise too and sometimes even lower. It is all about the dedication and interest towards the work in hand, and not the gender. Anyone who thinks that they are not getting paid what they deserve, should ask for a raise, with enough proof of their hard work. And this is irrespective of being a man or a woman. Someone who takes home a pay of 112 Crores a year, has no right about commenting on a woman who asks for a raise. Nadella's hard work got him to where he is today. Or was it his karma alone?

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I am a feminist who believes in equality of men and women and not in the special privileges. I do not want special reservation for women or special treatment. I just want to be treated like a normal human being. Just like the way a man is treated. Of course in certain areas, a woman needs the help of a man and that is only because he is more physically stronger than her. That's it. Period. Everybody has a sense of thinking and a level of intelligence. That is what gets people to places and not the gender. If there are fewer women in the police force or the army today, it is only because of the prejudice of the Indian society. It is not because a woman is weaker or the fact that she has bad karma. I am a firm believer of karma too. Karma influences situations in your life; do good you get good, do bad you get bad. It does not define situations or take you high up the ladder. Maybe luck plays a factor somewhere, but definitely not karma. A girl at work got promoted because of her hard work. But all people could talk about was how he seduced influenced the manager and the others involved. Another guy got a promotion too and soon people were talking about his dedication and good luck. Wow, I sure am proud of the Indian mentality.

My husband snores at night at times and I am a very light sleeper. There are times when I cannot sleep a wink at night. People say that I am girl and hence I need to adjust as a man snoring is signs of stress and tiredness. Well hello! My husband and I leave to work together and get back together. Both work for the same hours at work and at home. How is the stress and tiredness different for him and me? Of course I gave a fitting reply. There is no one to blame here. It is the rules defined centuries ago, by people who are now turned to dust and yet people go out of their way to follow this. I think some people get a kick out of putting the other person down or trying to order them. All this is done to satiate one thing. The ego. If a woman makes more money than her husband then the man feels insecure. If she is more good looking than her husband, then he feels insecure. If she is successful in her field and is getting recognition, then he feels insecure. This is where the problem lies and not in the karma of the woman. The seed of fault is sown in the human mind and all they can do is water it. Gender equality can easily be achieved, once the thinking process changes. Once the man believes that the woman is also a human being just like him and deserves all the privileges that he does, then both he and she can have it all.

And for the record, karma has nothing to do with the materialistic things you receive in life including your pay check. If you have the capacity to earn and the talent and dedication to stick to your job, then no one and nothing can stop you from getting or asking for a raise. And just because you are at a good position at work, doesn't mean that you are excused from doing the household chores. If something at home has to be done, then it has to be done. Either by the man or the woman. 

Doing it all, is the only way you can have it all.

Garden Of Love

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A bit of the water sprayed on my face too, as I laughed away in glee feeling the sudden chill. The water hose was having a life of its own, as it swayed in my hand watering everything that came in its path. My skirt was soaking wet by now and sticking to my thighs and calves. As much as it was uncomfortable, the feeling was beautiful. I felt alive. The roses echoed my laughter and their velvet petals embraced me. Strange enough, the thorns shied away and let me enjoy my time here in my little garden. I had set up this entire place all alone, with my family pitching in only to lift the heavy pots. I had mixed the soil and the compost and I chosen the pots and the seeds. I was particular about what plant goes in which pot. For example, I wanted a crescent shaped pot for my roses, as I felt that the roses looked more beautiful when spread across and huddled together. I had chosen many colors in them; bright red, raspberry pink, subtle orange and the sunshine yellow one was my prized possession. A lot of my neighbors had the same cutting, but their roses always turned out to be slushy yellow or pale orange. None of their roses bloomed like my perfect yellow ones. For me, they were perfect droplets of sunshine.

The daisies always smiled at me as I passed by them, their subtle white and yellow patches cheering me up every time. The sunflowers pointed towards the Sun God all the time, except for when I was around. They looked at me and played with my skin. At times I could almost feel their colors on me. The lilies were my favorite as they bloomed every single day. I plucked them every morning and they sit proudly on almost every corner of my house titillating the household with their fragrance. The aromas were no match to any room freshener in the world, and the house felt fresh and bright every day. Those who visited were envious, about the happy atmosphere within. They coaxed me to give them a few cuttings of my beloved plants. I was only happy to share the joy, but almost all of them came back with only one complaint. That the flowers bloom in different colors and not their actual ones, making them look ugly. Till date, I have not been able to figure out why. My parents say that my flowers only bloom right to my touch, and that there is magic in my hands. I don't know what to say to that.

My skirt is more wet now and so is my hair. The money plant creeper has somehow crept to my hair and is tickling me. I laugh as I gently push it away. Turning the tap off and keeping the hose back in its place, I walk around the garden, with my eyes closed and arms stretched out. I wanted to feel the touch of the delicate petals, the strength of the shrubs and the divine concoction of fragrance. It transported me to another world altogether. This here was my life, this here was my passion. There was no other place I'd be, apart from here. Heaven to me, was this. I found peace in the daily routine of watering the plants in my garden. I knew these flowers at the back of my head and I felt that they listen to me while I speak. Why, once I even felt the sunflower laughing with me, as I watered it. These plants are a part of my family and I share a special relationship with them. 

People think I am foolish for spending so much time with them everyday. But then again, I have nothing else to do. They envy my green fingers and try to ooze out as many gardening tips as they can from me. I being an emotional fool, let it out too. But they don't seem to work for them. What am I supposed to do. Probably they do not love their plants as much as I do. The love I feel for my plants are pure and unadulterated. And I'm sure they love me back. I can feel the love their love in my heart and their beauty all over me. I know they look gorgeous and just their touch takes me to a beautiful place. A place where I am surrounded by them. I feel it all within me. I feel the love. Maybe the others do not feel that. It is very easy to say that I feel more, because I am blind and I cannot see them. But that is no excuse, right? 

The Honest Post - Phase 11

The story so far.
Image Source: Google

Once you have decided in your mind that you want to marry a certain person, nothing, absolutely nothing can change your mind. The commitmentphobe in me was gone for good and I looked forward to spend my life together with Cal. Apart from going back to the same house, we were living together in every possible way. After a busy day at work, I would meet him and stay together for as long as we can. He would then drop me home and head back to his place. Once my parents too knew about our relationship, things were more than smooth. My parents have seen him since he was born and they adored him completely. My mother cooked special dinner for him almost every day and I was glad that he was getting along so well with my folks. 

Then came the day when we had to start off the whole wedding preparations from the start. The start here, means the bride seeing. According to the Tamilian Iyer clan, the girl comes to the boy's house, instead of the other way round. So, I had to go to his house and display myself in front of his entire family. I had been to his house many times before, but this day was special. Decked up from head to toe and struggling to handle my sari, I walked into Cal's house along with my parents. The house was filled with guests who were checking me out from every corner of their eye. Of course I felt awkward. I hate the concept of arranged marriages primarily for this reason. But unlike all the other brides, I was not shy nor did I act coy. I was just myself, talking and enjoying the attention. Cal was his usual goofy self by cracking jokes and keeping me comfortable.

Cal and I had already decided on a venue for our engagement. One of my close friends had got engaged there and the minute Cal and I had walked into that place, we knew that we too wanted to get engaged there. Also, it was at that venue that Cal and I had attended a function, for the first time as a couple. Oh yeah, we are emotional fools you see. We were clear from day one that this was the place where we would get engaged. But then, the parents had plans of their own for their beloved children. Soon, our dream venue was sidelined and they started talking about other places where we could host our engagement. And then Cal did something that made me fall in love with him a hundred times more in a single second. He stepped up, put his foot down and said that there was no other place where we would want to get engaged apart from what we had decided. Some tried to reason out with him, but he stuck to what he wanted. The scene still is etched in my mind like it was yesterday. My man of five foot six was standing among a twenty people, some almost double his height (obviously exaggerating) and putting his point across without budging from it. As much as the thought brings a smile, I was so glad of choosing the man who knows to keep his word. Beaming with pride I look at him and he gives me his usual sneaky wink. Ah, how lucky I felt!

The date was already decided, December 9th 2012. After everyone agreed on the date and the venue, and after answering a zillion questions asked by Cal's aunts, my parents and I took leave. The wide grin on Cal's face still remained as he led me to the car. I was thrilled and exhausted too. I had had a long day at work and then the pressure of getting ready and the stress of what his relatives will think about me had taken a complete toll on me. But I was glad that the evening went well. As soon as we got home, there was knock on the door. On opening the door, I saw Cal standing there! I was shocked. It had just been an hour since I had left his place. But he had come to check with us, if everything went fine at his place. He wanted to be sure that my parents felt right and that they did not find any shortcomings in his place or in the engagement plan. Such a darling, my man was!

The minute I saw him, my exhaustion bid goodbye and he took me out for a long ride. I sat behind him, holding him close, thinking what have I done, to get so lucky in life.

To be continued.

Luscious Red

Image Source: Google

It symbolizes the heart and its beat
It is the best feeling it is said
This color describes love so beautifully
That is the magic of this splendid red

It is in the curve of the scarlet lips
Talking and smiling with grace
It gets smudged but never disappears
After a happy and tight embrace

It adds feeling to the texture of a rose
Embossed with shyness and innocence
The perfect gift for lovers of all ages
The only present that actually makes sense

It adds to the joy of flowing wine
Oozing of love and pleasures within
A single sip and its transports you
Pushing you to commit the darkest sin

It adds beauty to a newly wed bride
Sitting bright and proud at the head
Counting on a serious commitment
Even though it remains unsaid

It acts like a warning too
Wanting you to slow down and stop
If you do not pay heed to it
You are forever sent to the top

It remains the bond of life
Flowing inside like controlled flood
A drop can make and break relationships
Nothing spills better than blood

Chapter 26: Deliver Us From Evil

Team Supernova is participating in a writing competition on blogadda. We have chosen a fast paced crime thriller as our theme. You can read the previous chapter here.

Image Source: Google

"It's Jennifer." Tara re-read the message just to be sure again.

Her eyes opened wide as she thought about what Shekhar was trying to say. Jennifer was the girl who was sitting next to him in the coach, that was all that he had told her. So, what did this message mean? Were they after Jennifer, or it was Jennifer after them? She thought hard to think about what else had Shekhar told her about Jennifer over their last call. She couldn't remember anything, except for the fact that she was a photographer. Tara looked at Roohi, who was now clutching the teddy bear hard and looking out of the window in glee. Roohi was a fearless child, and by what she had done today she had proved that too. Tara caught sight of the heli base and began descending down with a prayer on her lips.

Shekhar was still sweating when he reached Sasha's compartment. He looked outside the window, the train had entered the Mumbai sub-urban region now. Cyrus looked very lost and was looking desperately at Shekhar. He was still wondering where Jennifer was. Almost like answering his thoughts, Sasha opened the door to reveal Jennifer seated in the corner looking out of the window. Shekhar clenched his teeth looking at her and Cyrus was relieved. He ran towards her.

"Jennifer, are you okay. Did these people hurt you?" The concern in his voice surprised Jennifer.

"Cyrus, haven't you got it yet? Smoking has eroded your brain cells." Shekhar spat out.

Cyrus looks shocked and confused. Jennifer holds his hand.

"I am fine Cyrus. Nothing happened to me. My partner took very good care of me." She said.

"Partner?" Cyrus looked at Jennifer.

Jennifer smiled and got up and walked towards Sasha and hugged him.

"My partner." She proclaimed.

The world stopped moving for Cyrus at that instant. Shekhar was seething with anger as Jennifer and Sasha laughed out loudly.

"Now give me those papers Shekhar. Else you will lose your wife and child." Jennifer looked notoriously at Shekhar.

Shekhar was shocked looking at Jennifer now. Her body language, her poise and her mannerisms were all changed. Even her voice had a different hint to it now. But Shekhar knew that Jennifer was bluffing. If Tara was in trouble, she wouldn't have been able to call him. But he still was not sure where she was. He struggled to get his hands free, but the guards were holding him tightly.

"I have nothing. It is all with Tara." Shekhar said angrily.

Before Jennifer could say something, Cyrus interrupted.

"Jennifer? You are the Xombie head? I cannot believe that you were the same girl who was crying in my arms some time ago. I feel so cheated." He was almost sobbing.

"Now, now, spoken like a true Parsi. Don't like to be cheated eh?" She smirked.

Cyrus lunged forward to hit her, but was soon held by the guards.

"Come on Cyrus, be a good boy now. After all it was you who funded this entire operation." Jennifer smiled.

"What?" Cyrus and Shekhar said in unison.

"Bhalla Sir, from your accounts departments helped us get into the savings of your furniture business. Technically, your fathers, but yours too somehow right? Top secret this was, even Sasha was not aware of this." She laughed as Sasha looked hurt.

"What? You guys were stealing from my father to fund this Xombie business? You bi....." Cyrus's face had turned red.

"How much would only one fund help us? We had other sources too, of course. Like Shekhar's wife." Jennifer butted in.

"No way. If you were stealing from Tara, she would know." Shekhar said in disbelief.

"Not exactly her. Her boss." Sasha spoke this time.

"Sarit Ray? But how?" Sweat tricked down Shekhar's face.

"He was not aware of course, we had our sources. But somehow he found out about the discrepancies and was about to report to the cops, that is when we had to take care of him." Sasha said.

"Take care of? You mean?" Shekhar asked with fear gripping his throat.

Sasha places two of his fingers on his temple to show a fake gun and says "Boom".

Shekhar kneels down sadly and then realizes something.

"But both of you were here on the train. So who was outside? Purohit Sarkar killed Sarit?"

"I wish, but the home minister couldn't keep up his promise of retrieving the documents from your wife, so he had to be punished. Aryan Ahuja took care of him for us. Just like the way he arranged for all three of you to be in this train and in the same compartment at the same time." Jennifer beamed.

Shekhar now realized that Aryan Ahuja was his neighbor along with Sasha while they were at Lonavala. Ahuja was the one who broke the news to them that Sasha was dead. The fake news obviously. Tara and he suspected Sasha, but not him. Sasha had to go, and what better way then having a Xombie member deliver the false news of his death. So Sasha and Ahuja were working together from the start. Shekhar suddenly addresses Sasha.

"You cannot hurt Roohi, Sasha. She loved you so much."

"I love her too Shekhar. Just like my daughter. If Tara co-operates, then nothing will happen to Roohi." Sasha's promise sounded sincere.

"Will you just shut up and stop whining about that kid." Jennifer glares angrily at Sasha.

"But she is just a kid." Sasha said slowly.

"Stop thinking about her, will you? I know she reminds you of your dead daughter. But remember, your wife killed herself and your child when she found out the truth about you. You had just hacked the accounts of a small IT firm and the cops were after you. She killed herself for that. And your daughter too. Do not forget that pain Sasha. If you have to kill anyone to salvage that pain, then you must. Plus, you get all the money to move else where and start a fresh life after this is over. Do not forget that." Jennifer played with Sasha's mind, as he slowly nodded.

Jennifer stopped to take a deep breath, and continued.

"The files that the lady has will kill us all. She has the all the information from all our previous projects, including the names of the people and the money involved. By now I guess, she is aware of the missiles too. The one to blow China is already ready and we are on target. If she goes to the cops before that then we are gone. She has all the information, the codes, the locations, the scale and everything else. If I have to kill anyone to get that information back, then I will. I did not struggle so much, to rot in prison. I want power, I want to make India the number one power of the world. And I will rule this country, once I get rid of the Prime Minister. Everything is planned. No one can stop me from having all this. And definitely not some meek journalist." She looks at Shekhar angrily.

"Give me the documents Shekhar. I need to wind this up quick as I need time to prepare of the exhibition tomorrow."

"Eh?" Cyrus and Shekhar looked at each other blankly.

"What? Just because I am the king maker doesn't mean I cannot have a hobby. I need to win the best photograph contest and that prize money to make it to the news. In that way I will be a poor girl who had to win a contest to pursue her dream. And then, I can operate from underneath this facade of being a painter. When all goes well, I shall come out and claim my power. Then my parents will know, what a smart daughter I have been. They never believed in me and always mocked me for my creative ideas. They shall know soon what my ideas have turned into." Jennifer spoke dreamily, almost like she was living this.

"The photo? What was Purohit Sarkar's son's photo doing in your wallet?" Shekhar asked Jennifer.

"Ah that! Boyfriend. I needed him to get close to his father and make this whole plan. He was with Alka just for the money for his father's campaign. We had other plans. We wanted to rule the country together, but thanks to his father's mistake he has to go now too." She smiled.

"Go?" Cyrus spoke this time.

"He obviously is alive. He was in hiding. But now we need to eliminate him for his father's mistake." Jennifer examined her gun.

"But Jennifer, you promised no more deaths." Sasha yelled.

"Some lives have to end for ours to begin Sasha. Don't get emotional now, I'll double your pay." Jennifer tempted him.

"No, I would not let you do this to Roohi. You cannot take away this child of mine." Sasha says and walks away from the compartment grabbing a gun and locking the door behind him.

Soon, he enters the main train engine, points the gun at the driver and asks him to stop the train at Mumbai central.

You can read the next chapter here.

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Music For The Soul

Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

"I can't believe that you have turned my library into such a huge mess", my dad scowls as he looks around in disgust.

"Oh, come on daddy, this is exactly what I want to do with my life; make music and teach it to others, you know that", I say grazing the piano with my finger tips.

"So, this is your future?", he looks upset and disappointed.

"Yes daddy, I have this weird hunger within me, that only music can satiate. This is the hunger that comes from within my soul", I say as my dad smiles and walks away.

This five sentence fiction is written for the topic 'Hunger' at Lillie McFerrin Writes.

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 10th October.

Flying Without Wings

Image Source: Google

Life is never straight
It is filled with ups and downs
I will not give up

I will not give up
For I have hope by my side
Helping me through it

Helping me through it
It gives me strength to survive
To dream and to live

To dream and to live
In the best way possible
Without any strife

Without any strife
I have now learnt to fly high
In the clear blue sky

Written for Haiku Horizons: Prompt - Sky.

Action Replay - September

Image Source: Google

It is six days since October started and I have written only one post? And that too as part of an on-going activity? So not good. Especially since September was such an eventful month and I have so much to talk about. But then again, work kept me impossibly busy and they blocked all other sites on my client network at work. That is what I call a catastrophe. That means while at work, there is nothing else. I cannot even use google or read any other blogs or do anything else for that matter. Most of my writing happens during the weekdays and it is usually when I am taking a break from work. But now since I have to switch ports to do it, it is highly tedious since I have a lot of live sessions open and will have to reopen them again if I do. And I do not like opening my laptop once I get home or on weekends. So I guess somewhere between comfort and convenience, writing took a backseat. Well, not anymore. I am going to use every free opportunity I get to write now. No matter what the situation is. Now back to the month that was, September.

September started with a promise, the promise of a vacation to Goa. That was enough to perk up the whole month. Before that, I was buried under work and I was so looking forward to a break. Almost the entire month revolved around the husband's birthday and I left no stones unturned to make sure he enjoys every minute of it. I wanted a personalized gift for him, so I got a wooden box made for him with all his characteristics printed on it. Neha from Noodles, helped me realize this and soon I had the perfect looking box in bright summery yellow, to hold his large collection of watches. He was thrilled to the bone. I also bought him a lot of books that he had wanted to read since a long time. And then came the big gift of all, the big fat vacation. Goa was not at all like Goa this time of the year, but we got what we were looking for. Peace. Our resort was surrounded by water and the view from our balcony was breathtaking. We just lazed around and basked in madness. Goa was strangely empty and the roads looked stranded. We could ride around freely and gorge on some delicious food. There was a light drizzle during evenings and while it might have disrupted plans for others, Cal and I enjoyed it. It added to the flavor of romance.

Once we were back, we were drowned in work again. I have loads of Flipkart vouchers pending and I picked up a few books with it. 'Rebecca', only because of the wonderful review I read on Aathira's blog. 'The fault in our stars', only because of all the hype around it. 'The Cuckoo's Calling' and 'The Silkworm' because of the intriguing gist and the mystery that surrounds it. Sadly, I am hardly left with anytime to read any of them. I started 'The fault in our stars' and haven't been able to continue after twenty pages. The plot so reminds me of 'A walk to remember', and the writing style is almost a replica of Nicholas Sparks. I can comment more only after I finish reading it and hopefully I shall complete it soon as I have a lot more books to sink my teeth into. Reading gives me peace like no other. The only other thing that comes close is writing. But then again, if it isn't for my reading I wouldn't have had the nerve to write a single word. I am so looking forward to read them, especially the last two because I haven't read anything by J.K Rowling yet. Yeah, I am one of those weird species who owns all of the Harry Potter books but hasn't read even one of them. In my defense, I did try reading the first book. But when the owl turned into a boy, I put the book down and buried the series in the darkest corner of my book shelf.

Image Source: Google

Apart from Cal's birthday, the other main highlight of this month was that I finally learnt to embrace hate. Yes, hate. I have been receiving anonymous comments and mails since a while now, and now I have finally learnt to accept it and then ignore it. I used to take it to my head earlier and stay worried, but not anymore. And Cal made me understand that. If people are taking out their time, to try to put you down, then well, I must have done something to get to them. And I am proud of myself for having the ability to tick their wrong nerve. Well I am sure most of you do not understand what I am saying here. See, if these comments and mails were about my writing then well I would have easily accepted it and tried to improve myself. But they were personal attacks and that is something that I hate. First of all, being anonymous is a sign of weakness. If you have a point to put across, then I guess you should even have the balls to come out in the open and yell. And then these people think that they are extremely smart by hiding themselves. Thanks to some highly intelligent friends, I traced back these comments and mails and when I saw who was sending them, I was not surprised at all. I know these people and this is exactly what I expect out of them. And I highly applaud them for investing their time in creating fake accounts with generic names. Slow salute to them!

It is 2014 and these people surprise me. Until now some of the most hilarious comments that I had were on this post. I still go back there time to time to have a good laugh. But now, people send me comments like "What do you think of yourself", "How can you write about that" and so on. Some people even send me porn pictures. I wonder what that is supposed to convey. Dude, if you think I haven't watched porn before, then you are in for a huge surprise. I had to block most of these fake profiles as they were getting disgusting and too hard to ignore. There was this person who left derogatory comments and as a rule I have for myself, I never publish anonymous comments and so I did not. Then they decide to leave sugar coated comments from the same id to check if I would publish them. Anonymous comments are anonymous, irrespective of their content and hence I did not publish them too. Next, this person created a fake google profile and tried to tick me off. The IP from where the comments were coming was still the same. I wanted to laugh my ass off, but then again some poor people live their entire life thinking that they are the smartest thing to happen to the planet.

Well, some people hate me. Good for them. I do not care if they exist or not. Good for me. Some of these mails go directly to trash and to those who still have some time to create more fake profiles, I look forward to reading your comments now. The fact that I could tick you off, yet again, is an accomplishment in itself for me and the hate loaded comment that you send my way would now be a trophy. So go ahead and fire away. You only know to spew fire, but then, I am born out of fire. 

So September was all about love and hate for me. And as usual, love triumphed. Yet, again.

Chapter 18: Keep Your Enemies Closer

Team Supernova is participating in a writing competition on blogadda. We have chosen a fast paced crime thriller as our theme. You can read the previous chapter here.

Image Source: ShutterStock

"Don't over-think. All will be well." These words reverberated in Shekhar's mind.

He had definitely heard those words before, but he couldn't recall who told it and when. The food on his plate was the typical Rajdhani food. Chapati, curry, dal, rice, sweet and papad. The food had gone completely cold as it had been more than three hours since it was served. The dal has turned watery and the papad all soggy. He cringed at the sight of it, but his stomach growled. He then realized that he had not eaten anything for more than ten hours. He looked at Cyrus and Jennifer, they had the same expression on their faces too. Nevertheless, all of them were hungry and they ate in silence, thinking about what their lives have come down to.

Cyrus chewed hard on the chapati, suddenly missing the delicious food cooked by his mother. Ever since he had left home, he missed his mother's cooking. His room mate was a pretty decent cook, obviously considering that he was an aspiring chef; but still, it was not his mother's cooking. His mother had had to go through a lot, thanks to the issues between him and his father. But all that was now coming to an end. He was on his way to Mumbai, to meet his father and reconcile. He had decided to join his family business after all, but on his on terms. He wanted to set up a legal team of his own for the company. He had never thought of this, until his mother once mentioned discrepancies in the accounts of the family business. It was during the research of this issue, that he had stumbled upon the Xombie group. If only, he had decided on joining his family business earlier, he would not have been here today. He suddenly longed to see his parents and hoped that they see him alive too.

Jennifer had totally different thoughts. She had a photography exhibition to attend the next day. Six of her best photos were on display at the exhibition and she was hoping to win the coveted 'Photographer Of The Year' award. This exhibition was for amateurs and it encouraged them to no end. Along with a trophy, the winner would be given a cash prize of a lakh. She needed the money to take up a course on photography. No one offered her jobs, because she did not have a official degree or a diploma. She was hoping, this one victory would change it. But would she be able to make it to the exhibition to show case her paintings? If she doesn't make it there, she would be disqualified. She thought of Alka and that fateful night. She then thought of her parents at Cochin, waiting for her to make a name for herself. A lot of things were going through her mind as she slowly nibbled her food.

Shekhar threw his tray of food into the dustbin at the corner of their compartment. Half his food was still intact, but that was all he could eat. A second later, he picked it up again and examined the note on the tray. It was hand written albeit haphazardly with a black felt pen. The handwriting seemed familiar, but then again Shekhar's mind went blank. There was too much running in his head. He was worried sick about Tara and Roohi. Thinking about his daughter took him back to the time where Roohi spent more time with Sasha, than him. Since he always travelled on work, Sasha had been the father figure for Roohi. He read out to her and helped her with her homework and played with her. Shekhar tried to spend as much time as possible with Roohi, in order to make up for Tara not being there. But some how it was never enough. Roohi was born to them after years of trying, but then, their careers had always been their priority. Shekhar felt guilty as he thought of his family. But he was sure of one thing now. That Sasha would not hurt Roohi. The emotion he had seen in Sasha's eyes for her, were not fake. As a father, he knew that. Sasha just needed the Xombie information. But what if he decides to take Roohi too?

Cyrus suddenly starts coughing, as Jennifer hands him a bottle of water.

"Are you alright?" Shekhar sounded worried.

"Yeah, this stupid food. I can't believe, people pay for this." Cyrus spat out.

"Eat Cyrus, you will need the strength for tomorrow." Jennifer sounded weird.

When Cyrus looked closely he noticed that she was crying.

"I need to get out of here tomorrow. My entire career is at stake here. If I do not make it, then it is all over for me." She sobbed.

Cyrus leaned towards her and gave her a hug. She was only too happy to oblige. Shekhar just looked at them and smiled. In unimaginable circumstances the three of them had gotten closer. Life is an awesome reason to bond, and so is death. After all misery loves company. Jennifer finally calms down and lets go of Cyrus.

"I have a splitting headache." She says pressing her temples..

"Damn, let me see if I have a pain killer." Shekhar checks his case, but doesn't find anything.

"No problem, I might have some in my wallet. I usually keep them there, for my migraines." Jennifer digs into her purse and pulls out her wallet.

As she searches all the compartments of her clutch like wallet, something catches Shekhar's eye. He noticed a picture on the opening flap of her wallet. He looks at Jennifer in shock but she is busy checking for a tablet. He looks at Cyrus, he is staring at his cigarette packet, all set to go have a smoke. He points to Shekhar and leaves for the washroom, the only place within this train where he can smoke.

"Got it!" Jennifer claims and immediately gulps down the tablet.

"I am tired too. I shall lie down for a while." Shekhar says and climbs up his berth as Jennifer lies down on hers.

Shekhar is still reeling from shock at the truth that he just stumbled upon. What was a picture of Purohit Sarkar's son, doing in Jennifer's wallet? He was her friend Alka's boyfriend right? Then why did Jennifer have his picture with her? A thousand thoughts raced his mind as he felt his breathing get heavy. He grabbed his bag and put it under his head to lie down, but soon realized that it was Cyrus's bag instead. As he put the bag away, he found Cyrus's hand book inside it. Without a thought, he opened the book and his eyes went wide in shock. This was the same handwriting that had been on the note of his food tray. Shekhar's mind was completely clouded now. Why would Cyrus write a note? And only to him? Was he just trying to calm him down? But then he could have told him directly, instead of sending him the note. What the hell was going on? Cyrus had disappeared enough times by now, in the pretext of having a smoke. Where was he actually going? And Jennifer carrying Sarkar's son's photo meant something too. But what?

In a minute, the truth dawned upon Shekhar that he was definitely trapped in all possible ways. The people whom he was now considering his friends, might not be what they seem after all.

You can read the next chapter here.

Me and my team are participating in Game Of Blogs at #CelebrateBlogging with us.