Guest Post - Sharath Komarraju: The Three Queens of Hastinapur

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Sharath Komarraju

As most of you will know, Soumya recently reviewed my book here on her blog. I secretly lurked around in the comments section, and was pleased to realize that many of her readers were interested in mythology in general and the Mahabharat in particular. So I asked her if she would like me to do a guest post, and once again to my pleasant surprise, she said yes. So here I am.

In a nutshell, the Hastinapur series (of which Winds is the first book) aims to tell the story of the Mahabharat from the viewpoints of all the prominent women characters. This doesn't mean just Kunti or Draupadi, but also those women whose voices we rarely hear in popular retellings and movies. For example, in Winds, the tale is told by Ganga and Satyavai, two incredibly strong women (albeit in different ways) who occupy little more than a paragraph each in the canon.

In this post I will give you a little glimpse into the second book of the series, tentatively titled 'The Three Queens'. Chronologically, it begins around the time of Pandu and Dhritarashtra's birth and ends with their marriages to Kunti and Gandhari. The three women who narrate this part of the tale are Amba, Kunti and Gandhari. (Like in Winds, the main narrator is still Ganga, and she will remain in the story until the end of the series.)

Amba


amba

In the introduction to Book One, Ganga, the Lady of the River, has this to say of Amba:

Her tale is a long and tortuous one, but in the end it is she who had a bigger say in the fortune – and fall – of Hastinapur. Fortune because she brought about the great marriage alliance of the age which merged Kuru and Panchala, the two great kingdoms, into one. Fall because the son she sired would grow up to be the warrior who killed Devavrata, my son, the undefeatable champion of the throne of Hastinapur.

I used to hear it being said that no warrior in North Country could drive a chariot as swiftly as Devavrata. No one could fight with a sword as skilfully as he. No one could shoot arrows as rapidly as he. He read the scriptures and understood them; he debated with Brahmins and was hailed as their equal. In politics and battle strategy he had no peer. It warmed my heart to hear such things, yes; but I was also wary. I was wary that Devavrata’s destruction would come about from that one place men scarcely care to look: from within him. He would be destroyed – as all powerful men eventually are – by the consequences of their actions, by the ache they cause people around them by their choices.

Amba’s tale, then, is also the first chapter in the tale of Devavrata’s ruin.

In some versions of the story, Amba undergoes a gender change and becomes Shikhandi herself. But since in my novel I am trying wherever I can to stick with realistic life spans, it made more sense to assume that Shikhandi is the son of Amba. This opened up possibilities, because if Amba had a child who has a claim to the throne of Panchala, then she must have been, at some point, Drupada's mate. The other man in her life is Parashurama, the sage who takes her under his wing when the world shuts down on her. How the three men shape Amba's life forms the crux of book one.

Kunti


paint_6289kunti

Little is known of Kunti's childhood. She enters the Mahabharat as a prominent character only after her wedding with Pandu. Of her youth, though, one incident is often talked about: her giving birth to the son of Surya, and then abandoning him. But Kunti must have had a life before she met Durvasa (who would give her the boon to summon the gods), and indeed, she was born into the house of Shurasena as a sister of Vasudev, the biological father of a cowherd who would grow up to be Krishna.

Once again, there are possibilities here. When Kamsa imprisoned Vasudev and Devaki, did Kunti not feel duty bound to rescue them? She must have, though the epic is silent on the matter. Did she have a hand in Vasudev escaping from Kamsa's prison to rescue his son? Maybe, maybe not. Her childhood and early youth must have been spent in a highly politically charged atmosphere between Shurasena, the kingdom of Kunti, and Mathura, that lay across the Yamuna, ruled by Kamsa. With a little bit of imagination, one can think up an interesting story for the princess, a story of adventure, love and loss.

In her own words:

I do not remember much about the day on which I first met Sage Durvasa, much like I do not remember the first time I must have gazed upon the face of my mother. But I remember certain flashes, of sight and smell and sound. As I think back now, I see a flash of brown, almost orange fabric that the sage wore. My nose seems to know the faint, sweet taint of wet sandal paste, and my ears still prick up at the gruff voice of a grown drunkard on the face of an innocent babe.

[...]I do not know where I got the courage to say such things to a man I had only met once, and perhaps I was no more than a lovelorn girl in pigtails. But there was something about the glow in Sage Durvasa’s face – whose mystery would be revealed to me later, when it was too late – which seemed to feed my soul and spirit, and I could think of nothing but to breach Mathura’s walls, break open the prison that held Devaki and Vasudev if need be, and bring them back safely to Shurasena.


Gandhari


Gandhari

Perhaps the most under-represented female character in the story is that of Gandhari. She brims over with potential in a storyteller's eyes, whether it is her life in Gandhar before she got married to Dhritarashtra, her choice to go blind herself, or her role in the events that followed between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, here is a woman who could have been a strong, memorable character if only Vyasa thought otherwise. But he didn't, which means people like me can.

Ganga again:

In Pritha’s tale, by the time of Durvasa’s visit to Shurasena and Mathura, Dhritarashtra was already married. Hastinapur had already taken her spot atop the pyramid of Great Kingdoms in North Country. But it was not always so. There exists a rocky land to the far northeast, beyond the lands of Madra and Kamboja, which first settled on the bank of river Sindhu but later migrated inward. They call this kingdom Gandhar, the city of gold.

[...]At that moment we come to know that it was all but futile, and we forgive. We forgive all. On her deathbed I found Gandhari smiling and tearful, and her eyes told me that she had made her peace with the world, that she had come to see both those she vanquished and those who vanquished her with the same eye. But she was not always thus. I remember the time when she sat on the throne of Gandhar and ruled with great hope and wisdom. I remember her and her brother, who were just children but fought with more valour than the bravest of warriors for the good of their land.

I must beckon the reader eastward now, and a few moons back in time, so that he can peer through my eyes into the royal castle of Gandhar.

Who are some of your favourite characters in the Mahabharat? Whose stories would you like to know in more detail? Tell us in the comments section below.

On his blog, Sharath Komarraju has written much more on the topic. Head over there and participate!

Images Courtesy: Asia Society, Oil Paintings Online, Inquisition

~ Sharath Komarraju

Rajinikanth Helps Lady Gaga Shop

Images Source: Google

So Rajinikanth is just about to log out from Skype, when he gets a call.

"Hello Vanakum. Who is this?" He says through the microphone attached to his finger tips.

"Hola... Sir. I am big fan Sir. Big fan." A pleasant voice comes in.

"Hahaha kanna, all people are my fans. You are nothing special." He says lighting a cigar with his other hand.

"I am special. I am special." A shrill cry.

"Wokay wokay. Who are you by the way?" Rajinikanth grins.

"Ah ha ha ha ha, oo ooo ohh la la." A giggle follows this tone.

"Why are you laughing? Yena rascala, how dare you laugh at me." Rajinikanth puffs away harder.

"That's my song Sir. I am Lady Gaga. The one and only."

"Oh ho ho, the lady with the meat dress ah? Sorry I am vegetarian only."

"No no sir. I want to ask you question. That's why I called." An urgency is heard in the voice.

"Sollu. Tell me." Another cigar is lit.

"Sir, I am in India now and I want to do some shopping. But no time you see. So I can only shop online. I googled for the best online shopping site in India. The reply came back to ask you Sir."

"Hahaha... I understand." A loud laugh.

"So? Tell me Sir." Gaga pleads.

"Baggout. Period." And Rajinikanth logs out to go have dinner with his pet Lions.

Image Source: Baggout

Lady gaga finally enters the Baggout site. And her eyes go pop! More wider and open than the way it was on her music video. She quickly creates an account and enters her "My Stream" page. The 'Trending Products' page entices her as she goes on clicking from 'Women' to 'Home' categories and back and forth. She lusts over a black Faballey dress from Jabong and clicks on it. It say Rs 115 cashback. She is stunned. A cashback of Rs 115, for a dress worth Rs 1700? Wow, Rajinikanth was right! This site is indeed awesome. But deciding to check out other products before placing an order, she 'likes' the dress and sees that a lot of others have liked it too. Satisfied with her taste, she moves to the 'Home' tab. Here she falls in love with a Fab Furnish bedsheet that reminds her of the Burberry pattern. Rs 93 cashback for a price of Rs 1558. Without thinking twice, she clicks on 'Buy now' and is immediately redirected to the Fab Furnish site. She places the order and enters the Baggout coupon code, to enable the cashback. She gets a success message and the order is placed.

The 'Trending products' tab is a personalized product stream based on what your friends and other Baggout users seem to like and buy. She sees that Adele and JLo have liked the same products. She did not care. She would have them customized to suit her image anyway. The social layer over the product aggregation impressed her, it was not done anywhere before. This would help her discover great products, through her own social circle. Thrilled and satisfied, she now clicks on the 'Ongoing Deals' tab of the Baggout home page. The online stores that feature in the page blows her mind. All the big online retailers were present there. Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal, Jabong, HomeShop18, Yepme, Fernspetals etc. And each one of them either offered a deal, a cashback or both. Lady Gaga had heard about Limeroad, the last time she visited India. Here it said that she would receive Rs. 225 cashback on all purchases. She gave it a click and soon she was redirected to the Limeroad website and she placed an order for a pink waist coast worth Rs. 850 and activated the deal for Rs. 225 cashback. She was now earning while she was shopping. Rajinikanth was right, this was the best shopping site indeed.

Image Source: Google

Even though Gaga dressed weirdly, she was awed by the amazing deals for clothes and accessories on Baggout. She decided to buy some and wear them as is, and some she would get customized to suit her wacky image. She wanted to steal the deal here, by making maximum cashback. Probably she needed to send a thank you gift to Rajinikanth too now, since it was he who had told her about this site. She decided to get him sunglasses from Flipkart, as Flipkart had a lot of deals available. Plus Rajini Sir has always had a fascination for sunglasses, especially the way he twirls them in his hands. He will be impressed, she was sure. She might earn some brownie points and get some cashback in the bargain too. A snicker escaped her lips. This is how she placed the order.

Clicked on Flipkart View All Deals--> Activated the deal for 70% off on Sunglasses--> Was redirected to Flipkart--> Placed the order-->  Entered the coupon code--> Checked out.

In six simple steps, she was done!

Images Source: Baggout

Next, she wanted to buy some lingerie. Having heard of it before, she clicked on the Zivame deals and was done placing an order within ten minutes. Plus she had earned Rs 188 cashback. She continued her shopping spree with click after click. And only stopped when her cashback had crossed Rs 2000. Chumbak, India Circus, Shop Clues were some of the sites that she visited. India Circus was her favorite though, will all those quirky bags and clutches. She bought almost all that she could lay her hands on. So finally a thrilled Lady Gaga who was on a second visit to India for a month, decided to stay back for longer. To make the most out of her shopping and by winning cashback, all thanks to Baggout.

Just before she could log out she sent a Skype message to Rajinikanth.

"Thank you Sir, this site is awesome. I would not have known it, if it was not for you. Lady Gaga bows down to you Sir. My next song will be about this. Rajinikanth rocks, Baggout rocks, India rocks!"

But Rajini Sir does not see this message. He is busy checking out what his contemporaries are buying on Baggout!

Image Source: Baggout

Baggout is a cashback site with other wonderful features. With Baggout you can do the following.

~ Browse Products from all stores
~ Discover great products
~ Get cashback and coupons
~ See what your friends love
~ Buy products or save them for later

Rajinikanth uses Baggout, do you need more reasons to check it out now?

Well Deserved

Image Source: Google

He grabbed me into the empty meeting room. It was past eleven, and there was hardly anyone left in the office this night. Only a bunch of us were working to complete the release on time. I had walked up to the pantry to get myself a cup of coffee while he got me.

"Say it, say it now." He murmurs into my right ear.

"Oh come on, let it go. You know I am married now." I try to push him away.

I felt one of his hand on my back and the other on my head. He is feeling my hair and trying to catch a glimpse of my scent. His eyes are hungrily looking into my eyes waiting to hear something else. I look away.

"I am married too, but I still love you. I know you love me too, come on say it!"

"What is wrong with you Varun? Shilpa is a very nice girl. Get away from me." I push him away and try to walk away but he grabs my hand.

"Shilpa? You know I do not love her. I married her just to get back at you. It was a big mistake. I want you back Reena, its you I love. I'll leave her. I promise I will." He begs.

I look at him in shock. We were in a relationship years ago and it had ended because Varun did not want to make a commitment. Later, I fell in love with Sagar and married him. A year later, Varun tied the know with Shilpa. We worked in the same team, Varun and I, but had maintained our distance. But of late, he had been trying to get close to me.

"Wow! It was you who did not want me back then...." I say and stare back at him.

"That was then. And it was not like I did not want you. I have always wanted you, just that I did not want to get married then. But now I want to."

"Haha, you are such a loser Varun. I love my husband. It is better that you go back to your wife."

"No, you cannot leave me. I walked out on Shilpa this morning. I am only yours Reena." He grabs my hand again.

I slap him hard this time.

"You are a horrible person, you know that! People like you deserve to be alone." I reach for the door.

"Reena, you cannot do this. Listen...." He tries to hold me again.

"You touch me again, I shall call the authorities." I say sternly and walk away.

The next day, Varun quit the company.

Introducing: LOL's 'Roar & Soar' Award

Image Source: Google. Edited to a badge by LOL.

When PeeVee started 'U Rok My Sox' award on her blog a few years ago, I was more than impressed by the idea. I also wanted to start an award on my blog, to honor the writers who impress me. Somehow I never got around to doing it. Also, back then I used to only follow a limited number of bloggers who already had more than enough awards to their credit. Soon, the idea drowned in my mind and I did not think about it again. Until I came across Aathira's blog. One fine day, this lady leaves a comment on my blog as 'A' and I go back to see who this actually is. The minute I stepped in to her space, I was hooked. The first post of hers that I read was a fiction piece titled 'Desire'. I remember reading it again and again and again. As beautiful as it was, it reminded me of a few old posts of mine. Not in terms of content, but in terms of emotions and feelings. This post till date, remains one of the best pieces that I have ever read. Including all that I have written.

Day after day, I used to visit her blog wondering why I hadn't come across her before. Especially when her blog archive shows that she had been around since 2011. Her old posts were primarily book reviews and later moved up to fiction and poetry. I read all her previous posts and was overwhelmed. I finally had found one person who thinks just like the way I do. The way her characters behave is exactly the way I would have made them. The way her stories flow is exactly the way I would have written them. The way her emotions shine is exactly the way I would have perceived them. Every word was a delight and I looked forward to read her everyday. The minute I logged in, I used to visit her page and devour her writing. I do that till date. Her post 'Just Friends' reminded me of my own 'More Than Friends' and 'Pretense'. Her post 'Something about her' was so beautiful that I could visualize it in front of me. I was mesmerized by how beautifully she had created those characters. I usually write my stories imagining myself to be one of the characters and I could feel the same connect with her characters too. Then she wrote 'I am Sita' and sealed the deal for me.

I don't know her in person, but I applaud the wonderful talent that she is blessed with. Each of her story strikes a chord within me and I feel blessed to have read her. Just today I read her poem titled 'Ferris Wheel', a simple poem that warms your heart. Every single post of hers leaves you with something that lasts long even after you have left her page. Check her space out guys, you would not be disappointed. She calls it 'Bewitched by Words' and you sure will be bewitched by her words.

So introducing the first ever award from LOL. The 'Roar & Soar' award for the blog that is roaring currently and for sure will continue to soar. And the first recipient of it is Aathira. Thank you Aathira for your wonderful work and thank you once again for reminding me about the award I wanted to start years ago. I cannot think of anyone else, but you, to give this one to. Please accept this humble award that comes straight from my heart. You can choose if you want to display this on your blog or not. You can right-click and copy the badge. I know it is nothing big, but it is something very heartfelt. I leave it to you to write about this, if you want to. Incase you decide to acknowledge this, please talk about how these ideas are conceived in your beautiful mind. Also, please mail me your address at soumprasad@gmail.com. This award comes with a tiny gift too, that I shall be sending to you. 

This award would be a constant on LOL. As and when I find a blog or a blog post that drives me crazy, in a good way, I shall pass it on to the writer. Aathira deserved this for all her posts. Yes, for every single one of it. I have a list of bloggers on my mind already. I guess I shall make this award a monthly feature now, What say?

Beach Romance

Image Source: Google

Your eyes are inviting me
Oh girl, what is that you want
That golden tan on your body
Is perfect for this taunt

Your pink lips mesmerize me
As you sip on to your drink
What is that on your mind
It makes me want to think

Your hair is far from messed
In the pleasant summer breeze
Who are you, dear stranger
Watching you gives me peace

I can't take my eyes off you
You cool me in this blistering heat
As the waves make their sound
The sand slips through my feet

Is that me you are smiling at
Oh God, should I make a move
There you go dancing again
My jaw drops watching you groove

I now slowly walk up to you
The music plays with my mood
The beats do not distract me
To you, my eyes are glued

You welcome me with a tease
I crave to be a part of you
Your touch sends me a chill
Even as a hot wind blew

I can now feel you reciprocate
For me, it was love at first glance
I want this day to never end
The beginning of our beach romance

Linking to Theme Thursday: Prompt - Beaches.

Fenced

Copyright - Mary Shipman

I could see that old building through the fence of my house. The neighbors said that no one lived there anymore, as the building was supposed to be torn down years ago and was left abandoned since then. I used to peer from my fence and try to look inside, through that broken window hastily covered by a card board. I could hear noises come from the building throughout the day, but no one else could hear the commotion. And no one believed me either, when I told them that everyday a face stares back at me from that window.

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

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 20th June.

Open Up

Image Source: Google

Why just nod your head
If you have an opinion
Share it with others

Share it with others
Your wonderful ideas
Don't fear anyone

Don't fear anyone
Everyone is still learning
Give it a good shot

Give it a good shot
Open up to the world around
It is not so bad

It is not so bad
Try to embrace everything
Make your mark out there

Written for Haiku Horizons: Prompt - Open.

Rags To Riches

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Unless we are born to a Tata or a Birla, none of us are born with a golden spoon up our butt. All of us come from middle class families or at least came from. At least I do. I came from a lower middle class family where we struggled to make a decent living at first. Later as my sister and I completed our studies and started making good money we rose up the ladder to an upper middle class family. But I do not act like I was born into luxury. I still remember those struggling days and hence I know the value of money. This is how I am always gonna be. I see a lot of people around me who act like they were conceived on the bed of luxury, when that clearly is not the case. Unless you had a gold crib as a child, you still are a part of the rags to riches story. Whether you contribute to it or not, is something else altogether.

One of the biggest examples that I see around me are those people who come from small towns to a big city like Bangalore. Suddenly, their mannerisms change and they act like they took their first breath here. Brand names like Puma, Nike are thrown in during regular conversations. For majority of their life, they would have shopped at local markets, but suddenly all they can see and talk is about Levis. Do not get me wrong, I totally respect people who come from small towns and make it big in the city. But they should never forget where they came from. When you are living with limited money, every basic is a luxury. All we wanted then was a shirt and a pant. Screw the brand. As long as it was a new piece of clothing, we were happy. But now, people conveniently forget all of these and shell out thousands for a single piece of clothing, just to keep up their "image". I have not got the meaning of that word right until now. Its all about status and proving to people that you can afford that particular brand.

Such people clearly forget the past when they struggled for a decent living. A car bought on EMIs clearly overtakes an old scooter, and local snacks are soon replaced by gourmet pastries. Is it that easy to forget where you came from? Or does the value of money decrease when you have more of it? A friend of mine says that she has never travelled by the local bus and only takes an auto to travel. She was the same girl who used to travel with me everyday to and from college in a local bus. Today she can afford to take the auto, so she happily erased the old memory from her head. People who only wore clothes stitched by a local darzi, suddenly only shop at malls and look down upon those small shops. This is exactly what troubles me. Everybody out there is struggling for a living. People should not forget that once upon a time they were there too. People who thronged tailor shops, to get the cheapest deal suddenly act like they do not even know who a tailor is.

Image Source: Google

I can afford almost anything I want with the money I make. But I do not try to over compensate for the years where I hardly had anything. I know the value of money and I know how hard it is to earn a decent living. I cringe on a few things and spend on the mandatory ones. It is not like I have lost memory of how I was a decade ago. I look back at those memories fondly and I am proud that such memories have made me the person that I am today. I have lived in a single hall and kitchen when I was young and today living in a duplex house does not make a difference to me. It has eased a lot of things yes, but I have not forgotten the closeness we had then.

The reason I am talking about all this is because it irks me whenever I see people who act like they were born with a diamond encrusted spoon up their ass. I know children of successful business men who have all the money in the world yet choose to lead a basic life. It is those people who are between the lower and upper middle class, who act like they eat gold coins for breakfast. Such people take loans after loans and buy all the appliances in the world, to prove a point to their neighbors. Ladies with nighties and duppattas suddenly wear only kanjeevarm sarees to go out and buy vegetables. Local footpath slippers, make way for 'Metro' and 'Soles' and nukkad ki chai is replaced with green tea and lime. The struggle to survive is taken over by the urge to become upper class. Its a very sad thing. 

Never forget where you have come from. This is something I firmly believe in and this is what keeps me rooted. I live for myself and not for anybody else. I speak of my struggles as easily as I speak of my achievements. I do not find a need to hide them, because I do not think that it is something bad. And there is no way on earth that I am ever gonna forget them. You might forget happy moments but you can never forget those times when you worked your ass off for something small. And if you are one of those people who forgot that they were poor once, believe me, what goes around, comes around.

Soul: Lost & Found

Image Source: DeviantArt

I come here and sit alone
I can see nothing nor feel
My soul is lost somewhere
I don't know if I can heal

How could the world be so cruel
Snatched you away so soon
I am lost in this loneliness
As I await impending doom

I feel completely hollow inside
I have no purpose to live
Everything around pierces me
I have nothing left to take or give

Just when I was about to give up
Something held me back tight
I do not know what exactly it was
Yet it kept me up all night

Then the reality finally struck
You were now breathing inside me
Cocooned and safe inside my womb
A piece of you that now I could see

Destiny has played its game again
I now await your presence 
Our child brought back my soul
Enveloped truly in your essence

I no longer feel lonely now
The life inside me keeps me alive
I feel your love all over again
Helping me breathe and survive

Linking to Poetry Jam: Prompt - Lost and Found

Linking to Theme Thursday: Prompt - Lonely

Book Review: The Winds Of Hastinapur

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Title: The Winds Of Hastinapur
Author: Sharath Komarraju
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Mythology
Price: Rs 299
Pages: 300

I have always been fascinated by mythology. Even though I had never read the books, I have seen the adaptations on television ever since I can remember. I know the tales of 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata' pretty well, all thanks to my grandmother who used to explain the story to me while we were watching it. I have wanted to read the original stories though. After reading the 'Ramayana' I fell in love with the mythological genre. The only problem is that it takes a really long time to finish the books and it has so many characters that you need to read it with a keen eye. Thankfully Sharath Komarraju's adaptation of the 'Mahabharata' comes in a series of books, told in the point of view of the lesser known ladies of the epic. So when, the author himself asked me to review the first book of this series, I jumped at the opportunity. I had not read any of his books before. For the record, Sharath Komarraju is the author of 'Murder In Amaravati' and 'Banquet On The Dead'. So, I read this book like as if it was his first. 

"My hair is white and thin, now. In a few moons, the Goddess will claim me, and I do not have a fresh young virgin by my side to absorb my knowledge and take my place once I am gone. The Mysteries of Ganga and her Sight will vanish with me, and the Great River will become nothing more than a body of lifeless water.. It is my intention, therefore, to tell you the story as it happened, as I saw it happen."

'The Winds Of Hastinapur' is the story of Mahabharata indeed, but it focuses on the women instead of the famous and infamous men of the epic. No one has tapped into the emotions of the women of Mahabharata until now, apart from the tale of Draupadi told in the 'Palace Of Illusions'. The very fact that the story is told from a woman's point of view makes it more interesting. 

The book is split into two parts. The first part is the tale of Ganga and the second part is the tale of Satyavati. The first part starts in the past with the river maiden Jahnavi also known as Ganga, who lives among the celestials of Meru, who are immortal, thanks to water of the great lake. Prabhasa, the Vasu cursed by a sage’s wife, asks her to bear him and his brothers in her womb as the curse ordains them to be born as humans. Ganga is hence cursed and sent to earth to be the wife of Shantanu. Her sole purpose of coming to earth is to bear a son to the great King, the son who shall one day rule the land of Hastina. The son who shall rule Hastina would be the eighth son of Ganga and Shantanu. Hence, she kills seven of her own sons by drowning them in the river. The only son that survives is Devavrata. The first part ends with him leaving the place where he grows up, Meru.

The second part is the story of Kali, the daughter of a fisher man who is later known as Queen Satyavati when she marries Shantanu. This part is mainly about how she gets to be the second wife of Shantanu. She is the powerful one here with a keen eye on matters of politics and everything else. She symbolizes total power that takes down everyone around her, mainly the destiny of Ganga's son. The contrast between Ganga and Satyavati is enchanting and brought out beautifully by the author. But it is the story of Bhishma that stands out here. Marvellous and spellbound. Sharath uses simple words to convey the story and portrays the characters as normal beings and not like the ones who can fly or go invisible. Each character has a story to tell and it is refreshing to read it. I loved the character of Satyavati more than anyone else as she is more real than anyone around. Ganga comes with her share of fantasies, but is an underrated character here. The author does a wonderful job in bringing out the emotions of the women. Be it sexual or otherwise. These feelings were not shown in any of the adapted sagas on television.

The book is a delight to read and keeps the reader wanting for more. I cannot wait for the next book to be out now. However, I found two negatives in the book. One, the spellings. There are quite a lot of spelling mistakes in the book which I found troubling. Also there is an unwanted use to capitals every now and then. Not the author's fault, the editing team needs to proof-read it once again, before the next print. Second, the cover. The story inside is so captivating that the outer cover does not do justice to it. At all. It looks too plain and mediocre. The contrast between the two leading ladies of the book would have made for a better cover. Hopefully, these two points will be taken care of in the coming sequels.


Verdict: A delightful read and keeps the reader hooked. Not only for the fans of mythology. Fiction lovers can enjoy it too.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Note: I received a copy of the book from the author for a review. This is not a paid review.

The Wishing Well

Image Source: Google

"Oh you believe in all this?", I asked Naman as he walked me towards the wishing well, in the middle of the jungle.

"No harm in trying right", he smiled as he handed me a coin and asked me to close my eyes to make a wish.

I closed my eyes and wished that Naman would forgive me for 'that' mistake. I did not intend on cheating on him, just that I was really drunk that day and Sahil happened to drop me home.

Before I could complete my wish, I felt Naman's hands on me pushing me into the well.

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

Movie Review: Citylights

Image Source: Google

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Patraleka, Manav Kaul
Direction: Hansal Mehta
Genre: Drama
Duration: 2 hours 7 minutes

My husband is not a big fan of Bollywood movies hence I was surprised when he told me that he wanted to watch 'Citylights' instead of 'X-Men'. I was intrigued by the trailers too because anything off beat immediately catches my fancy. 'Citylights' apparently is the official remake of a Phillipines movie 'Metro Manila', a movie which I had never heard of. I hadn't watched 'Shahid' either, but I knew that Rajkummar Rao is a fantastic actor. Extremely underrated though. While everyone was praising Kangana's acting abilities in 'Queen', no one noticed the restrained acting by Rajkummar Rao. He was brilliant in the movie; his attitude, the loser look and the loss in his eyes. For him and for the praise Hansal Mehta received for 'Shahid', I decided to watch the movie.

Deepak Singh (Rajkummar Rao) and his wife Rakhi (Patraleka) live along with their daughter Mahi in Rajastan, where Deepak owns a small cloth shop which is the only source of their survival. As expected, he loses the shop to debt and along with his family decide to come to Mumbai, to make a living. Rakhi is against it at first but Deepak manages to convince her, saying that they can take the help of Omkar, his friend who is a driver of a badi gaadi in Mumbai. Yes, the naivete here is heart wrenching. The family comes to Mumbai and looks around for Omkar who is never to be seen. Soon, they are tricked in the promise of a house and lose their sole savings of ten grand. The scene where Rakhi and Mahi are thrown out of the house, the scene where the family spends a night on a footpath, next to a dustbin broke something within me. Thanks to a bar dancer, they find an under construction building to stay in and Deepak sets out in search of a job. It is disturbing to see him return everyday without a job and with a packet of three buns.

Image Source: Google

While Deepak is struggling to provide, Rakhi takes up a job as a bar dancer to support the family. Her audition scene had me in tears as she slowly gyrates to the cheap music being played. The scene in which she discloses her newly found job to her husband is one of the best scenes of the movie. Both of them sitting in separate ends of the frame crouched in their own arms crying their hearts out. Wow, what a beauty it was! Equally poignant. Soon, Deepak finds a job in a security firm under the guidance of Vishnu Sir aka Manav Kaul, who dazzles in a sharp act. Deepak and Vishnu become partners and soon Deepak is entangled in a web of deceit. The poverty and helplessness wins through and Deepak is soon forced to resort to weapons for the survival of his family. What happens next is totally unpredictable and unexpected. 

A special mention to the enchanting music that appears in intervals. "Soney do, khwaab bune do.." by Arijit Singh is as haunting as beautiful it is.

Deepak's innocence moved me to dangerous extents, which is even used as a line in the movie where Vishnu tells him "Aap itni dheemi gati ke film hain!". His posture, the helplessness, the tears, the silence, he aces it all. Patraleka as Rakhi is endearing and balances the act perfectly. She is stunning and it is hard to believe that this is her first film, especially in the scene where she is confronted by her drunken husband. Manav Kaul who was more than impressive in 'Kai Po Che', shines here too. He plays the role of a frenemy to the tee. The ease in his dialogues is enchanting.

But in the end, the city wins. Mumbai, the city of dreams which is known to swallow people and spit them out elsewhere, does just that. Drowning the poor in darkness and dazzling the rich with its lights. Yeah, Citylights it is.


Verdict: Although the concept is tried before, 'Citylights' stands out on its own. It sure is not a typical commercial movie, but it has its heart in the right place.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Escape


I looked around and saw them all sleeping. I peeped out of the door and slowly walked towards the exit. I was in pain, but at this moment the only thing that I wanted to do was to get out of here.

The newspapers next day spoke of an abandoned girl baby in a hospital.

Master Of The Game

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You think you shall win
I know that you are playing me
Misusing my love

Misusing my love
For your dreams and benefits
Yet you cannot win

Yet you cannot win
Cos you don't know that I am
Master of the game

Written for Haiku Horizons: Prompt - Master.

Silver Spell

Image Source: The Magpie Tales

You look so calm and serene
Under this silver moonlight
I can feel your eyes on me
As I shiver in the cold night

I know you want to come up to me
Trying to make some conversation
Waiting for a train has never felt this good
As we are the last two souls in this station

As my eyes finally meet yours
You have a lot to say I could tell
I sit back and soak in this moment
The moon seems to have cast a spell

Adding to this hesitating moment
I can hear a slow song somewhere
I trace dance steps with my toe
Wondering if a dance we can share

Your eyes remain fixed on me
I play with my hair and give you a smile
You smile back and heave a sigh
This game was happening for quite a while

Can't you see that I need you
Why are you not approaching me
What are your stares supposed to mean
What is that you want me to see

Tonight was meant to happen
Don't think much, just give in
Come on stranger, come closer
Let us sing, dance and spin

My feet soon finds its rhythm
As the radio plays another song
I get lost in the mild symphony
Dance always makes me feel strong

I can see you slowly approach
Oh dear, come let us get lost in this tune
Who knows what this might lead to
We might be spinning on our love dune

Come on, hold my hand and dance with me
For now, in this feeling let us dwell
Let us together make hypnotic music
Under this intoxicating silver spell

Linking to The Magpie Tales: Mag 223, Theme Thursday - Prompt 'Loving' and Poetry Jam - Prompt 'The Moon'.



Change Is Here #TimeToTransform

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People on Twitter think that they are wise, people on Instagram think that they are photographers, people on Facebook think that they are surrounded by a million friends. Life has become that way now. No matter how much you want to avoid it, technology never leaves you. Gone are those times when vacations were all about relaxing and having a chilled out time. These days it is all about check ins and photographs in front of famous monuments. The age old Kodak camera has now become a monument too. It is now an antique piece in the showcase. Nothing more than that.

When we were young, we were filled with enthusiasm to become something and change the world. But alas, the world changed us. All thanks to technology. I do not remember the last time when I spent an hour without the Internet. Be it on the laptop or on the phone. Newspapers have long been replaced by e-papers, and the first place I look for updates regarding anything now is on Twitter. While we are now living in a phase where we are so dependent on technology, we might atleast do it right. 

I'm a Telecom engineer and my world revolves around the need to be connected on the move. Be it 3G or 4G, I am contributing to an American Telecom giant big time. I see the struggle people go through for better network connectivity. Every Telecom company needs to provide first class connectivity on the move to stay ahead in the game. I am a part of this race too. Seamless connectivity on the move is every individual's dream and that is what companies like mine, strive for day in and day out. Of course only in terms of software. The hardware is taken care of by companies like ASUS anyway.

Image Source: Google

What keeps me hooked on to Technology all the time? 

My passion for doing the things I love. Primarily, writing. Where ever I go, I make small notes about my experiences and something that catches my mind. I take pictures too. So that, they later become a beautiful blog post that I can go back and read to relive the experience again. Its always wonderful to pen down your experiences while you travel. My phone is like my handy book without which I feel paralyzed. It is my life and it has everything about my life in it. It has all my details, right from my account numbers, to to-do lists to the reminders for a million things. Another reason I depend on technology is my dedication for work. I have configured my office mails on my phone, so that I can check them on the go and be prepared for the next day. I promptly reply to the mails and I'm 100% updated about what ever is happening. All the time.

Another thing that keeps me hooked on to technology on the go are the perks. Yes, I am being honest here. Now a days, every social network is having a contest every five minutes. Where you definitely stand to win something or the other. Twitter contests usually mean speed and the number of tweets and retweets within a short period of time. Being glued to technology has won me a lot of things for myself and the people around me. And I love it. No, its not only about the materialistic things that come your way. These contests challenge your brain to dangerous extents and it becomes a mind game to rise about the rest. That is what I like. Its like an adrenaline rush for me.

Of late, I am hooked on to Instagram. Its not only about putting up the pictures I click, it is also about checking out the pictures of others and reliving their memories with them. Miley Cyrus's Instagram account not included though. I do not bother much about likes and comments. I like to see what others find fascinating. Be it pictures of food or their selfies. A picture speaks a lot about the person who clicked it. I like to tap into that thought.

No matter how much we curse technology, we cannot do without it. And let us face it, it has taught us many things today. For one, multitasking. How many of us have multiple tabs opened up on our browsers every time? The tabs on my browser overflows. I read, write, check on expenses, buy stuff, learn new things all in one shot. And most importantly, we are now more connected with people thanks to technology. I have the habit of checking in where ever I go, and my friends are updated about my where abouts. They consult me on the place and based on my experience they choose to visit that place. I depend on technology to stay updated. Be it sports, economics, news or entertainment. I am updated up to date thanks to technology on the move. I feel good about myself and that is why I am so hooked on to technology today.

Image Source: Google

Although I am not a big fan of tablets, the ASUS Transformer Book T100 is something that caught my eye. I'll tell you why. I do not like the concepts of tablets at all. I refused to buy one until now. But the ASUS is not a tablet alone, it actually is a laptop which can be turned into a tablet when needed. How cool is that? I depend on my phone for everything, but I hate typing out blog posts or creating documents on the small screen. This book is like boon to someone like me, who can pluck the tab off while on the go to make notes and click pictures and come back home and convert it into a laptop to write down my experiences. This one brilliant gadget will keep me hooked on to technology for life.

The ASUS Transformer Book T100 comes with the following features:

~ 25.6 cm (10.1) HD Glare Touch Panel screen.
~ 2 GB LPDDR3 1067 MHz RAM.
~ 32 GB EMMC storage.
~ Windows 8.1 OS
~ Intel® AtomTM Processor Z3740(Up to 2.3GHz, 2M) CPU.

All this at a low price too. At under thirty five grand, this is one of the best deals you will find. It is a laptop and a tablet. And it is ultraportable. Change is here guys. I changed my mind about tablets, now it is #TimeToTransform yours too.

This is my entry for the 'Time To Transform' contest on Indiblogger, in association with ASUS.



Rich Richer Richest

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I come from a middle class family. Both my parents were working in order to fend for my sister and me. Yet, we were content and happy. But somehow, the people around were not. There was a constant comparison by others, trying to put us down. Oh you do not have an own house, you guys don't own a car and more blah blah. Any normal person would feel bad when such questions were hurled. We did too, as it was offending to say the least. The people talking had their houses and cars, yet they only felt content when they compared themselves to us. Reassurance perhaps. As a child, my parents gave me everything that they could afford. Strangely, I was never a demanding kid. I was content with whatever came my way and my folks made sure that I was taken care of well. I was put in the best of schools and thankfully for my parents I was a topper and received scholarships one after the other. I went to one of the best colleges for my degree, in which I secured a free seat, after scoring a ninety eight percent in twelfth standard. Nobody saw the fact that I had secured a free seat, everyone kept wondering how my parents could afford to get me studied at this big college. Some of them are still wondering.

The word rich never existed in my dictionary. I never dreamt of pretty things or anything extravagant. Luxury is not something that I crave for and I definitely do not get a kick out of comparing myself with someone beneath me. My luxury could be someone else's basics. And some rich soul's luxury could be my basics. I was aware of that. Such is life. And who are we to define who is rich and poor? Is richness only measured by the amount in your bank. Or by the gold on your body? Some people save money to dangerous extents. Saving is good, but stinginess is something else altogether. At times I wonder what these people are saving for? For a gold grave perhaps? It is disgusting to say the least. I know the cost of living is getting higher by the day, but why live in poverty now in the hope of a better tomorrow. What if you die tonight?

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I feel rich every time I look at the smile on my husbands face, or the joy on my parents face. I feel rich when I see the appreciation I receive at work or for my writing. I make enough money for my needs, and unlike a lot of other people, I know the difference between 'Want' and 'Need'. Someone once told me, a person should have an own house, a car, and the capacity to buy anything he wants. Such a person is a happy man. Seriously? How many of you think so? What if this same person is a lone divorcee battling cancer? You think he is happy then?

Everyone has ambitions and dreams, but it is really important to keep them realistic. Comparing yourself to your siblings or neighbors is like suicide where you dig your own grave and lose the people who would come to cry at it. Money, money and only money. Some people can only think about that. I have seen relationships crumbling around me for the sake of money. The rich want to get more richer wringing the neck of the poor. Who cares, as long as their bank balance improves, right? Oh you have money, great, then I shall be your best friend from today. What if I am a cold blood murderer hiding behind a facade of dollars? Who cares, as long as you get to see the green.

I own a lot of wonderful things. Big branded watches, clothes, shoes etc. But why? Because I like them. Not because I want to show it off among the people around me or blow my own trumpet with the richie rich song. I know the things that I can afford and I only buy things that I have the money for. Buying stuff on credit or on EMI's is something not for me. People have been bugging me and my husband to pick up a car, since we are married now. I wonder what the connection is. We have a bike and both our workplaces are within three kilometers from home. He drops me and picks me up. What would we do with a car? And that too in Bangalore traffic. I love bike rides and hence we both are more than happy with our bike. We are not buying a car because we do not need it. Not because we cannot afford it. The same thing applies to everything that others think that we don't have.

Image Source: Google

Ever noticed that richness can only be calculated in comparison. He is richer than her. She is more richer than him. He is the richest man on earth when compared to him. Total bullshit. People use such statements to feel good about themselves. That's about it. Such people only thrive on comparison, without bothering about happiness, love and the small day to day things.

I feel rich when I dine at the Taj, as well as when I dine at a roadside joint. Because, I can afford a decent meal for myself. I feel rich when I wear a Ralph Lauren, as well as when I wear something off the street. Because, I can afford to dress nicely. I feel rich, when I write. Because I am blessed with the talent that some others can only dream of. I feel rich when I dance, because there are some poor disabled souls out there. I feel rich when I cook, because I know I can afford the basic ingredients. I feel like the richest person on earth when my husband hugs me, because I know I have all the love in the world. That is all I need. And want.

So tell me, what makes you feel rich?




Retreat


Doesn't seem to work
Our marriage is long over
Should I now retreat

Should I now retreat
Or hold on for some more time
For our two children

For our two children
Don't know about your cheating
Why should they face this

Why should they face this
They do not deserve this pain
It is my problem

It is my problem
That I shall learn to ignore
I shall not retreat

Written for Haiku Horizons: Prompt - Retreat.