"Which of these bottles can give the biggest of bubbles?" asks six year old Nathan to the shopkeeper who also is his father.

"Why do you want big bubbles?" the father curiously asks his son who is eyeing the bottles stacked up on the old shelf.

"Bigger bubbles look beautiful and are brighter than all the other ones" quips Nathan.

"The size of the bubble doesn't matter my son. What matters is how long the bubble lasts and spreads happiness" says the father and hands over a tiny bottle from the second shelf to his son who screams in glee.

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

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 31st July 2015.


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Pride is a very dangerous thing
It can elevate a person to the highest high
But it can also crash one to the ground
Without an answer to the how and why

All humans are born equal
Religions are created by man
High and low is preached everyday
With no one to come forward with a ban

Who defines the David and Goliath
Are the rich always considered great
What happens to commoners like you and me
Do we just have to succumb to fate

Money today can buy almost everything
But love and happiness it cannot
If you prefer to stay on the pedestal
Remember from below, you look like a dot

Flaunt everything while they last
It doesn't take long for the tables to turn
No matter how high you sit
When the fire comes, you too shall burn

No one is superior, no one is inferior
What matters is the goodness of the heart
Develop trust, love and relationships
Else be prepared to fall apart

Others might lie low and not talk much
While you yell the lies standing tall
If you do not get the basics right
Remember, one day even the mighty shall fall

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 280.

Want To Flaunt? Earn It!

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The best thing about 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns' was clearly Kusum aka Datto, the Tanu doppelganger. I absolutely loved the scene in which Tanu calls her a gawar(villager) and she retorts saying that she is not a gawar as she makes her own money and supports her family unlike Tanu whose underwear also is bought by someone else. I clapped the loudest for this scene. In my honest opinion anyone who is over the age of eighteen irrespective of sex should make their own money. I started earning very young, not because my parents couldn't afford to, but because I wanted to earn my own money. Financial independence is not only about the money. It is about the confidence and self respect that comes with it. Earning money gives you the freedom to do what you want with it. Constantly asking for money from someone else does no good to ones self confidence.

Age old customs and history has made the man as the money maker of the family while a woman worships him by providing him food and sex. In return, she gets to ask her husband for what she wants and if he is in a good mood he would buy it for her. Years have passed but still some women are stuck in that era. Earning money doesn't mean you have to earn and fend for the whole family. It means that you should atleast be in a position to take care of yourself and your basic needs financially. Yes, I used the word basic here on purpose. If a man or a woman above the age of eighteen is not able to handle his or her basic needs i.e food and clothing, then I have absolutely no respect for them. I agree that some people are still studying at that age, so let us push that age limit to twenty two. But what about the people who still depend on their parents or husbands for financial support? The thought itself is appalling.

You can always study and make money. You can have a steady job and make some extra money part time. It is the thought that counts and the push to achieve it. I make very good money and I work really hard for that, be it my regular job or my writing. My work is my worship and that is God for me. I don't believe in religions and pujas. My work gives me everything that I need today. Not only limited to money. Thankfully I make enough money where in I can take good care of myself and my family. My husband loves this independent streak in me. That day has never come where I had to ask him or anybody else for money. I buy whatever I want to without having to ask him for it. Any big purchase would obviously be discussed as both of us are really thrifty and spend money only where it is needed. I shop a lot online and am an impulsive buyer when it comes to certain deals. I place an order and it is done. More often than not I end up shopping for my husband only and I am glad that I have the capacity to buy him his favorite stuff.

Financial independence is much beyond money. The self worth and confidence it gives you is something else altogether. My mother was always a working lady who worked from home most of the time. In her late forties, she ventured out and started her own business which is doing very good now. Today at the age of fifty eight, she still handles her business and is immensely respected. Probably seeing such a strong woman around me, made me hate the concept of housewives. I do not understand it at all, about how a perfectly capable woman can waste her life. I do know of some housewives or homemakers who do all that they can to make some earning out of their passions. Atleast enough to take care of themselves. Most of the bloggers I know are home makers who work out of their house by giving life to some passion of theirs. Be it gardening, cooking, painting, stitching or anything else. But others just sit at home and crib about how their husbands don't make enough money to fulfill all their desires. Such women seriously need to develop some spine and go out and learn to fend for themselves.

If the woman has an health issue or any other personal issue apart from society, in-laws etc; staying at home for unavoidable reasons make sense. Society will talk no matter what, if women want to adhere to that then no one can help them. Like I said before, it is all about the intent.

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There is this certain breed of housewives who flaunt their possessions to one another. Be it a new appliance or a piece of jewelry. These women have not earned a penny all their lives and yet that doesn't stop them from flaunting. A husband's money is not equal to the wife's money. If the wife is working then the money together is theirs, but if a housewife is talking about something that someone else bought for her, it is never hers. Depending on someone else for basic needs is such a horrible thing. I pity such women who have to sit at home and beg their husbands for money to buy something that they want. Even if it is coriander. It is such a pathetic situation to be in. You might live in an own house, drive in the biggest of cars and own the most expensive gadgets, still nothing of it belongs to you. It exists because someone else worked really hard to get it. You only get to use it, that doesn't mean it is yours. It will always belong to someone else.

The amount is not important as that of the intention. Every woman has the capacity to earn money in some way or the other. But some of them have given up on life and have decided to live all their life by piggy banking on their husbands backs. I have some friends who were working initially but after marriage voluntarily chose to be housewives as they did not want to work. Shame on them. Today they sit at home and watch TV while their husbands toil at work and earn money. These women then pester their husbands to buy them jewelry and take them out on exotic locations and later crib when they don't get it. I wonder how they feel like it. I'd rather kill myself than be in a position where I have to ask someone else for money. That too to buy my basics like lingerie, toiletries and stuff. Ewww, even the thought of it scares me.

The logic is simple. If you want to flaunt something, make sure you have earned it. My husband buys me expensive presents but I never flaunt them. It will always be something that he bought for me. The love and the intention is clear though. I flaunt the things that I buy for him. Thankfully I am in a position where I can buy him the best of things and it gives me immense pride that I can do so. Everything that I own today is what I have bought from the money I have earned. It can be the smallest of things to the biggest, it is all mine because I have made the money that went into it. I'm fiercely financially independent and my only competition is me. I strive hard to be in a position to buy better things for myself instead of waiting for my husband to bless me with something. I do not want to compare myself with other women regarding what they own. It maybe self bought, then I would respect them for it but never compare. If it is bought by the parents or the husband, I would just laugh at them. They are no way close to my league. Tomorrow if my husband and I buy a car, it would be ours as we both would have invested in it. Same with a house. Sitting at home with a remote in my hand, I would not claim to own big things.

No matter how rich I get, I will always continue to work. As long as I have the strength I will. Even if I am bed ridden I will do something. It is not about the money at all. It is a feeling of self worth. Of confidence. Of pride.

Dear men and women, if you talk nineteen to a dozen about something and are flaunting it off like there is no tomorrow, the least you can do is to make sure that you have earned the money that went behind it. Else, please get out there and see how hard it is to earn a living. A safety pin bought from your own money is much much bigger than a mansion bought for you by someone else.

A life not capable of earning is a life wasted. Without a doubt.

In Your Words - Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

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Alisah woke up to see that the sun was already shining bright through her yellow curtains. She checks the time, 8.30 am. She always woke up late on Saturdays as she did not have to go to work. Her parents understood her work pressures so they do not wake her up during the weekend letting her get her required amount of sleep. After checking the messages on the phone and freshening up, she walks down. Her mother was already busy in her test kitchen and she could hear the blender going on and off. She peeped into the study and found her father buried in a book. She went to the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee. Black, strong and sugar less - that's how she liked it. She sat by the balcony sipping the coffee and immersed herself into the happenings of the newspaper. Her mother came up to her looking all confused.

"Al, does orange flavor taste better with white or dark chocolate?"

Alisah looked up from the paper and thought for a while as she examined the smoke emanating from her coffee cup.

"Definitely dark. You can use lemon with the white. That would taste fabulous."

"Thanks you darling, it sure makes sense. Call me when you are ready for breakfast, I shall pour in some pan cakes for you." She kisses her daughter on the forehead and walks back to the kitchen.

Alisah continues reading the paper for a good couple of hours. This was her routine. She always read her paper from front to back and she read every piece of news. Once done she went in for a long shower and came back to finish some yummy pancakes that her mother had made. Her father walks out of the study as she is eating.

"Good morning, darling. What are you up to today?" He asks cheerfully resting his reading glasses on his head.

"Mom wants me to go down to the bakery and try a few new items that she's been working on. Thinking of dropping by this afternoon. Care to join?"

"Naah, all that sweet gets to my head. Plus, I'm busy with Churchill's writings. You should read them sometime."

"Not that Pa. I find non fiction really boring, you know that na."

"Yeah, yeah." He walks back to the study.

Once breakfast is done Alisah goes back to her room and switches on her laptop. A few more comments come her way and she looks through them once before publishing them. She looks at the clock, quarter past eleven. She still had time, before joining her mother at the store. She decides to reply to the comments. She remembered that she she had not replied to the comments of her previous post either and sits down to patiently reply to every comment. As a blogger of many years she had come to realize the importance of comments and interacting with her readers. Some comments were easy to reply as they were just a "Good work", "Nice post" or a "Cool". Such comments only deserved a plain "Thank you" according to her.

As she finished the comments of her previous post, she came back to the comments of her latest poem. Her eyes fell on Kay's comment again.

"Interesting piece. The emotions and the longing are portrayed beautifully and this would stay with me for a long time. Would you mind if I re-wrote this, from the widow's point of view? Maybe she was in love with this man too, but couldn't do anything about it. Only if you let me, I shall write about it. Thanks."

Nobody had asked her such a thing before and she was a bit skeptical about letting him re-write it. What if it took away the original essence of her post? Worse, what if it was better and made hers look mediocre? Was she willing to put herself through this, she was not sure. After thinking for a while, she decided to go for it.

"Thank you Kay for taking out time to read this and understand the overlying emotions in the poem. Please go ahead and write your version of it. It would be interesting to read and I'll look forward to your interpretation of this."

She replied and re-read the comment again. It looked good. She then locks her laptop, changes quickly and heads off to her mother's bakery that was a fifteen minute walk away from their home.

The bakery was already crowded and her mother was running around with cakes and bread in her hand. She smiled at the Dev, the cashier and he smiled back. Alisah had been visiting this place for years and she knew all her mother's employees by name. Along with her mother, she had developed a bond with all of them too. Just when she was about to call out to her mother, Simi walked up to her. Simi was an excellent baker and was her mother's right hand in the business.

"Hello, Al. You look so pretty today."

"Thank you, Sim Sim. Looks like you are very busy today." She says looking around.

"We are adding five new items on the menu, so everyone is focusing on that. The customers are mainly here for the bread and the buns now. The cakes will sell only by evening." Simi says with a happy smile.

"Mom called me to try the new ones. Can I get some?"

"Sure, let's get to the kitchen at the back. Come with me."

Simi carefully gets her past the crowd and in to the kitchen where four chefs in crisp white uniforms are decorating and stacking up cakes and cup cakes. The aroma of this place took Alisah to heaven instantly.

"Al, you are here. Come, check this out." Her mother calls out from the other end of the kitchen.

As she walks up to the mother, she sees that there is an array of cup cakes in front of her. They looked so delicate, beautiful and delicious.

"This is a banana, with caramel topping." Her mother hands her the first one.

One bite and Alisah is transported to heaven. Again. The cake was soft and delicate, while the caramel topping was sweet and gooey. She loved it and told her mother that it was good. Her mother was already handing her the other cake.

"This is dark chocolate with orange peel and orange cream cheese icing." Her mother's voice was filled with pride.

Alisah also tried the poppy vanilla, the blueberry lavender and the white chocolate lemon one. She loved every one of it. She couldn't choose a favorite.

"I loved all of them, Mom. They will sell very well, I'm sure." She says, clearly proud of her mother.

"Thank you darling. I will be putting just a dozen of them each on the counter today. Based on the sale we make today, we shall bring out more." Her mother informs the chefs around her.

Pleased on having spent a wonderful time, Alisah got back home just in time for lunch along with her mother. Her mother, though a business women took it upon herself to serve her husband and daughter fresh food for every meal. Within thirty minutes she had whipped up some delicious fried rice and stir fried vegetables for lunch. Alisah's father went in for an afternoon nap, while her mother headed back to the store. Alisah went back to her room and unlocked her laptop. And yes there it was, a new comment. From Kay.

"Thank you Alisah. I'm glad you let me write about what I felt. Here is the link to my post. Please do take a look and let me know what you think about it."

Alisah went to the link and saw that he had used the same image that she had used as part of her post. He had given her credits in his post and let his readers know that it was his take on an existing poem written by her. It was linked back to her poem. He had titled his poem "Between The Curse and Me" and she thought that it was a wonderful title. As she read the poem, she fell in love with it. The widow's predicament was so beautifully told that she felt that her take was nothing when compared to it. Turns out the widow was in love with her neighbor too, but couldn't do anything about it due to the societal wrath. Her post had ended with the man's longing for the widow, while Kay's post ended with the widow ending her unhappy life. She frowned at the poignant ending, but it was somehow justified. The words, the rhymes, the emotions were so beautifully woven together that it tugged her heart. She longed to leave a comment but she had a lot to say.

She looked for his contact details in the profile and immediately found his email id. She thought for a while, and then composed a mail regarding everything that she thought about his post and how his writings had struck a chord with her. She went back to read a few other poems of his and wrote about each one of them in the mail. The mail looked much longer than any blog post that she had written so far. She re-read it once before sending it. Done.

She then read a book for a while and then decided to take a nap. She slept for a while and it was past five when she woke up. With blurry eyes she unlocked her laptop and checked her mail. There was a reply to her earlier mail, and this one was longer than what she had sent.

To be continued.

Rain Pain

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This is something that everyone loves
I absolutely enjoy moments in the rain
But at times it puts an halt to all my plans
Ruining everything, causing me terrible pain

I love the sweet smell of the petrichor
And the cold breeze that comes with it
But when you are living in a city like mine
Traffic is the first thing to get hit

I love the memories that come with rain
Causing me to smile, and at times to cry
The thing that I hate the most about rains
Is that the washed clothes never dry

The mild drizzle is a pleasure to watch
I love the sound of pitter patter on my window pane
But once done it is so difficult to step out
Due to the umpteen tiny pools in the lane

The air around feels so cool and nice
The perfect time for some hot coffee dash
But when you decide to take a stroll down the street
Someone is bound to spray you with a muddy splash

I love the chirping of birds during monsoon
They sound so happy, fresh and gay
With rains also come the dreaded power cut
Forcing you to have a dark day

The rainbow is a boon after the rains
Standing strong and pretty with all its hues
The reason why I get angry with the pour
Is that it spoils my precious shoes

Inspite of all the cons, they are wonderful
Nothing can beat the serenity of rain
Even though it can cause trouble at times
It also has the magic of healing the pain

Linking to Theme Thursdays.

In Your Words - Part 1

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"Al, come down for dinner. The fish is getting cold." Alisah's mother calls out for her.

"Ten minutes, Mom. I'm in the middle of something." She yells back.

Alisah was busy writing a poem on her blog. She had just come back from work with a poem running on her mind and she just had to pen it down. The words created havoc in her mind and she was typing away frantically mumbling the words along. Her manicured fingers graced the key board and her glasses now sat on the rim of her nose. She paused every now and then, squinting at the screen and thinking of rhyming words. She still was wearing her work clothes but her shirt sleeves were now folded up to her elbows. Her bag was carelessly thrown on her bed and her shoes were at the foot of it. She had a meeting today that had held her up until late. As soon as she got out of her cab, she had rushed to her room to make something out of the words that was troubling her mind.

"Al.... Are you coming? Dad and I are almost done." Another call.

"Coming." Alisah yells as she hit the 'Publish' button on her blog and gets up from her chair.

She rushes to the bathroom and freshens up and changes into her pajamas and her favorite Bat man T-shirt and walks down to the dining area.

"Finally. What was keeping you up?" Her dad asks sternly.

"Was writing something, Pa. Words were playing Kung-Fu in my head." She says as she carefully pours a spoonful of fish curry onto the bed of rice on her plate.

"What is it this time? Poetry or some other writing?"

"Poetry. Somehow I enjoy that more than anything else these days."

"Like father, like daughter." Her mother scowls at the other two people on the dinner table.

Alisah looks up at her dad who is now grinning.

"Ignore your mother, Al. She doesn't have one reading or writing bone in her body. You take after me." And after a second he adds, "Thankfully."

Her mothers shakes her head and walks up to the kitchen to replenish the bowl of fish curry. After other small talk, Alisah kisses her parents goodnight and walks back to her room on the first floor. Alisah was the only daughter of Mia and Alfred Gonsalves. Her father had worked in the Indian army all his life, and was now enjoying his retirement life in Bangalore. He was an avid reader and had a huge collection of books. He enjoyed poetry and war fiction. Alisah had taken after him when it comes to the love of poetry. Mia Gonsalves ran her own bakery and was very famous in the city.

Alisah worked as a content writer for an e-commerce fashion firm and loved her job as it blended both her love for writing and fashion. They lived in the poshest area of the city, in an enviable bungalow. Alisah had the whole first floor to herself, while her mom occupied two rooms on the ground floor for her test kitchen. Her father was comfortable in his study that had ceiling to floor book shelves on three of its four walls. There was cozy table and chair in the left corner where her father spent most of time reading classics. The room adjacent to the study was her parent's bedroom, done up in shades of gold and beige. Her parents were suckers for simplicity while Alisah enjoyed bright bold colors.

Her room on the first floor was done up in yellow, pink and teal. Her cast iron bed was pink and her cupboard teal. The rims of the windows were painted yellow and the curtains complemented all the colors beautifully. In one corner stood her working table, that had her personal black laptop on it. As she unlocked it now, she saw that her latest poem had more than a hundred views already. Her mail box showed a few comments and she looked through them before approving them. There always was someone who commented something totally unrelated to the actual post and she hated those comments. This current poem of hers was called 'The Curse' and was about a man who was in love with his neighbor but couldn't have her as she was a widow. The idea was planted in her head by her colleague who told her a similar story that day.

Just before she was about to log out and go to sleep, another comment came in.

"Interesting piece. The emotions and the longing are portrayed beautifully and this would stay with me for a long time. Would you mind if I re-wrote this, from the widow's point of view? Maybe she was in love with this man too, but couldn't do anything about it. Only if you let me, I shall write about it. Thanks."

The blogger was someone called Kay. She clicked on his name and it took her to another blog, 'Kay's Musings'. She laughed out a little. Such blog titles were so cliched. Using the words diary, musings, thoughts in a blog's name was so common. Her blog was called 'The Third Eye' and she loved it that way. This Kay's blog was really good. It had a subtle brown layout and dark grey words. He mostly wrote poetry as well. She read a couple of his poems and was impressed by the use of words and his portrayal of emotions. Strangely, she had not come across his blog before nor heard about him in any of her blogger meets. She quickly book marked his page, published his comment and logged out.

As she lay in bed in the dark, she quickly drifted off to sleep completely unaware of how her life was about to change.

To be continued.

My 1000th Post

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Six years ago I wrote my first post and here I am today writing my 1000th post. Yes, the thousandth post on LOL! Phew! I cannot believe that I have written so many posts here. This was my first post and I still remember how skeptical I was about publishing it. Blogging was relatively a new concept in 2009 and very few had treaded there. When a friend saw a few poems that I had written, she asked me to start a blog. Heartbroken and sad, I needed a distraction. That was when I started this space. To pour out my feelings and everything that was happening in my life. Poems, fiction, rant, frustrations - this place has seen everything. Today as I write this, I feel a sense of satisfaction and acceptance. For making it this far and for lasting all this while.

My blog has been my best friend all these years. Every feeling and emotion of mine has found its place here. From a heartbreak to falling in love again and again. My poems are a piece of my heart and every story of mine has a part of me. Every rant and frustration echoes everything in my mind. This place is just like me. Straight forward and no nonsense. I have carefully chosen not to use the word bold here, as it makes me feel like I write porno content. I write the truth. The raw unfabricated truth. And this is not something that everyone can accept. Owing to this, my blog has been prone to a large number of controversies. I didn't care then, I don't care now. My genuine readers know me and love me for exactly who I am. The others who come in just to keep a tab on my life are the ones who look to find comparisons and dial to spread the word.

Yes, I have written about a lot of people in my blog. Both in a good and a bad way. But whatever has been written is true. How do I know that you ask? The very fact that people relate it to themselves and get angry about it. Had it not been true, they would not have been able to relate to it. If I had mentioned a name, then it would have been something else altogether. Now that I think of it, I should have mentioned the name and should have probably linked it back to their Facebook accounts! Wow, how awesome would that have been. People read and dissect every word. Then print outs are taken and circulated. Then calls are made to discuss the content and me. No wonder they say that weak minds discuss people and strong minds discuss ideas.

I do make money out of my blog. I write sponsored posts and I have no problem with it. I only accept topics that I can relate to and I quote my price. No compromise there. Book reviews are done on the request of the author who sends me the book, or a book that I have recently read that I bought myself. If I feel like talking about it, then I do a review. I have received fair amount of criticism for my book reviews as well. Some say that my reviews are biased, some say that it is too detailed and some say that I am way too harsh with the concept. I don't care. I am someone who grew up reading classics and I know my expectations very well. With Indian authors I know what to look for and do not over expect. My reviews are my view points and more often than not I have way too many of them. My reviews are indeed very detailed and I talk about every point that bothered me or the ones I liked. Most of the authors send me their books for review for this quality of mine alone. They want an honest and unbiased review. That is what I give them.

My blog is also like a news paper to some people. Any one who wants to know anything about me or the people in my life stalk my blog like there is no tomorrow. Since my blog is linked to my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts, people know everything about what I do. And that does not bother me at all. Else, why would I link my other accounts to my blog? Some jobless housewives sit and stalk me on all my accounts and tell others that I am in regular touch with them and give them details about whom I meet and what occasions I attend. This makes me feel like a celebrity. After all I stalk Kangana Ranaut online for her sense of fashion and I blog about it often as well. Some others spend days thinking about a particular character I wrote about and try to decipher who that could be. Try that with my fiction posts. Now that would be some challenge!

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If people say that I write bold stuff, then so be it. If people say that I write vulgar stuff, so be it. If people say that I am not a good writer, then so be it. Atleast I don't have to fabricate stuff to write about. Ah wait, actually I do write fabricated stuff. I call them fiction. I am here today writing my 1000th post, while all of them are sitting jobless at home doing what they were doing six years ago; stalking others and spreading gossip aka nothing of use.

All this hate is just a drop in the ocean of love that I receive every day. I have met so many fantastic bloggers out here and have made so many friends. My parents have encouraged me to write more and more and write whatever I feel like. As long as it is the truth. It is funny at times. I write something thinking that it is a rumor, but the concerned person creates such a furor over it and proves that it is true. Almost all the credit of this blog goes to my husband. For standing by me through all controversies and drama. For reading all my posts and providing feedback. For loving my poems and stories. For motivating to write more everyday. For calling me his inspiration to write. Without his support, I would never have got this far.

So here we are. At 300 odd followers and close to five lakh page views, this place has continued to rise since its inception six years ago. A thousand posts is just a small milestone, I still have a lot more to go. People can say or do what ever they want to, I shall continue to write. And as usual I'm not going to be bothered about any of them.

Because this is my place and I can write what ever I want to.

Free Fall

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There is this tingling sensation that I feel
Of butterflies and the chant of a saxophone 
I hear the birds chirping more clearly
Every sound has now taken a musical tone

The world suddenly seems like a better place
Even a sip of water intoxicates me
I am lost in an endless dreamy trance
That is prettier than what my eyes can see

This feeling is extremely beautiful
I never want to let go off it
I see an array of endless candles
And my life is now miraculously lit

Nothing around bothers me anymore
Happiness is the only thing that I feel
Finally I have an answer to all my questions
All the loose ends are now tightly sealed

Colors now have a new meaning to me
Every shade takes me to a different land
My mind is busy spinning a bright tale
Larger than life, something very grand

They say once you are in, you cannot get out
But I have already made up my body, mind and soul
I have left behind incomplete parts of me
This scintillating feeling makes me whole

People call this an inviting endless well
But I see you standing in there from above
I am no longer afraid of jumping in
Catch me my dear, for I'm falling in love

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

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Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Author: Robert Gailbraith aka J.K Rowling
Publisher: Hachette India
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Price: Rs. 499 on Flipkart.
Pages: 550

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger.

I had heard so much praise about this book that I bought it immediately. But since I had a few other books to be finished, this one was put in the back seat. Finally towards the end of last year I picked it up. I have not read Happy Potter as I'm not a fan of fantasy fiction, so I did not expect anything from J.K. Rowling's writing. But the praise that this book received and since almost everyone I knew had given it a four plus rating on Goodreads, I thought it would be really good. Due to work and time constraints I could not find time regularly to read it. I had read 150 pages of it and had let it be. I picked it up again last month. But yet again, I could not get enough time to read regularly. It almost felt like J.K Rowling's books were cursed for me. In my defense, I tried reading Harry Potter. But after the first two pages and when the owl turned into a boy, I put the book down. But this one I was determined to finish. When my office release was done and work slowed down last week, I picked it up and was determined to finish it within a week.

When Lula Landry the super model falls to death from her balcony, it is considered a suicide. Only her brother John Bristow thinks otherwise, and brings in war veteran and private investigator Cormoran Strike to investigate the case. Strike along with his temporary assistant Robin, do all that they can to crack this case. But as much as they delve into it, things get more darker. Lula is the adopted daughter of the powerful Bristow family, but was she accepted? Why does her uncle Tony Landry hate her and her family? And why is Lula hell bent upon looking for her biological family? These question plague Strike as well. Strike who is battling a broken heart and loneliness, immerses himself in this case. He discovers many more characters who have an answer to the death of Lula. Be it her friend Ciara Porter, her designer friend Guy Some, the singer Deeby Mac or her boyfriend Evan Duffield. Her neighbors The Bestuigis add to the mystery as does the presence of her another friend Rochelle. All these characters are woven delicately together to create a mystery that does engross you and keep you hooked to it.

The story is fairly simple and well executed. But it is unnecessarily long. At 550 pages, this book is one of the longest that I have read in a really long time. The story based in London has beautiful descriptions of places and characters, but the story only picks up after half the book is done. I re-read the first 150 pages again and realized that I had not missed anything. The story almost remains the same for about 250-300 pages with unnecessary footage being given to Strike's ex Charlotte. The relationship between Strike and Robin seems too tepid and weird initially. Although this angle picks up later, it is a bore initially. It was interesting to see how Strike could put the pieces together and solve the mystery in the end. There was too much happening and it was getting difficult for me to keep up with the story. I guessed the mystery half way through the book although I did not understand the motive clearly. As the story unfolded later, the motive became clear and I knew how the book would end.

The writing is fantastic and the language used is brilliant. Although it became a bit tedious later. Too many characters and too many details made the other wise exciting mystery a bit complex. But for one who has read all of Shakespearean classics before the age of fifteen, nothing is tedious or complex. The story packs a punch and opens up gradually. At times a bit too gradually though. Had the book been a little shorter, it would have been more better. But maybe a powerful story of the rich and famous needed all the drama in it. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, inspite of guessing the ending half way through. The writing style is excellent and Strike is someone I would want to read about more.

Verdict: Brilliant mystery and fantastic writing. Might seem bit tedious and long though.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

All That Matters

PHOTO PROMPT- © Sandra Crook

She walked slowly in the scorching heat, carrying a bag on her head and two more in each of her feeble hands. The blisters on her feet hurt and burned, and yet she did not stop; she couldn't. Turning around the corner, she found her regular place and was glad that it was covered in soothing shade. She emptied the contents of her heavy bags carefully, separated and laid down the vegetables for sale. Ignoring the pain all around her body, she said a quick prayer and put on a big smile to greet her first customer for the day.

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

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 17th July 2015.

Black Widow

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I chose to live life on my own terms
Without bowing down to any body
They pointed their filthy fingers at me
And hailed my upbringing shoddy

I laughed out loud and marched ahead
All alone, without any worry
For being strong and believing in myself
I do not have to be sorry

Since I don't adhere to the norms
People made all sort of stories about me
They lived in a world of pretense
Through their blind eyes I did not want to see

I stayed positive and made a name for myself
I did have to let go of few people on the way
Others told me to find someone and settle down
It did not make sense to me what they had to say

I was happy just being with myself
I was in love with everything around
From the blue sky to the flaming sun
To the birds and their chirping sound

Most of them do not understand this
They think that something is wrong with me
I do not care about their various perceptions
For me, I just wanted to let be 

I cannot fake things and impress people
I am not the one who changes her shade
In this era when people are trampling each other
I bought myself up and am proudly self made

I shall walk with my head held high
No matter what, I shall always be the same
Since I walk alone in my journey
People have given me a new name

The others have no identity of their own
They just go where things seem bright
They call me the black widow
But atleast I don't fade into light

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 278.

A Free Period

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I pass by a temple everyday as I walk to the corner of my street to hail an auto that would take me to my work place. Today I noticed a girl standing outside with a glum look on her face. She must have been eleven or twelve I guess. Her face was smeared with turmeric and the yellow streak on her pale brown skin was disturbing. A minute later her mother walks out and the girl stretches her palm forward for the prashad, but her mother stops her saying that she should not eat this today. It did not take me long to figure out what was happening. The girl frowned and slowly walked ahead as her mother looked for stains around her skirt, and after a self approval she walked ahead of her daughter. I stood and watched this while waiting for the auto waalas to ferry me by agreeing on the meter price. This incident irritated me. It angered me more that it is 2015 and people still treat a girl on her period as something disgusting.

Menstruation is a natural process and is a sign of a healthy body. Since I studied in an all girls convent, we were educated about every aspect of menstruation. It is as natural as breathing and I don't know why people make such a big hue and cry about it. One fine day I woke up to my first period and informed my mother about it. She gave me a sanitary pad and that was the end of it. I knew how to use it so it was just normal for me. My grandmother came in to see me and refused to touch me. I was so annoyed that I stopped talking to her for a good while. My parents did not fuss much over it and I was allowed to go out and play just like how I was used to. My mother did not put in any restrictions while I was on my period. It came in every month and went away after a while. I was always an agile and sporty person and I did not stop being any of those just because I was on my period. Those four to five days were nothing special to me. It was just like any other day and nobody troubled me over it.

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But the whole thing changed after I got married. Questions were asked about when I got my period. I don't think that it is anything dirty or embarrassing to let people know, but what annoys me the most is the indifference that comes with it. There were so many rules and restrictions and it troubled me to the core as it was something with zero logic and was implemented just because it was passed on from one generation to other. I wasn't allowed to walk around without taking a bath, had to stay away from the God's area and had to oil myself and wash my hair everyday. I hated every bit of it and yet clenched my teeth and did it. But it did have a very adverse effect on me. I was made to feel like I was disgusting and untouchable if I had my period. This thing troubled my mind to such an extent that I began cursing myself for being a girl and having periods. It affected me psychologically so much that one fine day the periods stopped. I did not get them for months together. This caused my body to bloat, acne increased and the mood swings were crazy. Worst times of my life, ever.

While you are married and are desperately trying not to have a baby, you know what a heart attack a missed period can lead to. I went to my doctor who confirmed that I was not pregnant and that PCOD combined with stress was messing with my menstruation cycle. I felt that because of the way I was getting treated during my period, maybe I did not want it to happen at all. I know it sounds stupid, but somehow makes sense to me. During the early days a woman on her period was kept aloof so that she is not prone to any infections during that time. People were trying to protect her, but as centuries passed this whole thing turned into a damned circus. Women are not allowed to touch anyone during their period. Or even pickles for that matter. I still don't know what is the logic behind that. The woman is expected to wet herself from head to toe and her clothes the minute she gets her period, irrespective of what time of the day it is. A woman is expected to not sit in the seating area before a bath. Almost like as if a bath is going to stop her periods forever.

I have seen some women who do super drama while they are on their period. Some take the route where they consider themselves disgusting and sit on the floor or in some corner and give elaborate hints to everyone around that they are on their period. Some others take the route where they expect TLC from their partners while on their period. They do drama about not being able to stand, sit, walk etc. Maybe some women actually go through such stuff, but most of them do it just for the attention. I for one, continue doing the things that I would normally do. Ever since we moved to a place of our own, I know that there are no restrictions what so ever. The first month I moved here, I got my period. After a long long time. Maybe my body wanted me to relax as well. I walked around the house freely as I wanted to and did all that I normally do. I was thrilled to enjoy a happy period. My body understood too and my cycle became normal since that day. Like clockwork and without any medication. A day on my period is just like any other day for me. I exercise, do yoga, cook, dance, pray and do exactly the things I do on a regular day.

Image source: Do we want boards like this?

I'm not a person who visits temples often but I do not see the reason why a menstruating woman is not allowed inside a temple. If there is a situation where I have to go to a temple, I would go. Yes, even if I was on my period. At some temples there are huge boards set up citing that menstruating women are not allowed. What about rapists? Or that man who beats his wife everyday? Or that woman who steals from her neighbors? Or the lady who abuses her children? All of them are allowed. Except for a woman on her period. If it was something impure than God would not have created the concept of menstruation at all. It is a natural phenomena where the uterine lining sheds every month if there is no pregnancy. And if there is no pregnancy this lining is not needed as it is important only to protect the fetus. Every healthy girl gets this every month. It does not make her impure. Not does it makes her sacred for going through it. It is nothing big at all. People need to stop treating women indifferently while they are on their period. Every woman deserves a safe and healthy period where no one bothers her with unnecessary questions and subjects her to indifference.

Set her free. Let her be.

A Piece Of Cake

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A little bit of plain flour
Along with a dash of something sweet
Choose the right flavor to go with it
Then gently mix around and beat

Now add the softest butter
And an agent to help it rise
Watching it bloom inside the oven
Is more of a treat to the eyes

Add everything that your heart desires
Chocolate, fruits, cherries or rum
Each of it has a unique taste
And yet all of them taste yum

Once baked, eat it with your sight
Never let the aromas go waste
Baking should always be done with love
Nothing tastes good when cooked in haste

Life and baking are really similar
You need to put all your heart into it
Your hard work will start to pay
And you will rise bit by bit

Choose people who come into your life
Be wise and make the right choice
Do not be afraid to try something new
But for every decision, have a voice

Mix your flavors carefully
Make sure it doesn't over power the base
Always remember you come first
No matter whatever is the case

Let go off things you do not use
It is all about what you make
If you get your ingredients right
Life indeed is a piece of cake

Crash Your Diet

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Nobody likes to be overweight. When PCOD struck and I became a size M from XS, I almost hit depression. I was known to be a size zero person, and suddenly everyone you meet were asking you about your weight and only that. Some people offered tips on losing weight and some asked me to visit a doctor ASAP. And me being me, I did not pay heed to any of these advice. I knew my body the best and I knew what was troubling it. PCOD is caused due to the increase of sugar levels in the blood and increase in weight gain. More weight gain would worsen the situation and I was asked to maintain my weight at a particular scale. I was not overweight as such. Thanks to being 5 and a half feet tall, the weight doesn't show much. While most people think that I look and feel healthy now, the medical implications of the problem could not be ignored. I did not want to lose weight, I wanted to maintain my current weight and not gain any more. This is what helped me.

1. Acceptance: This is the first step to a healthy lifestyle. Accept the changes that your body is going through and understand why. Take your doctor's advice seriously and make note of the changes that you can make. You do not have to change everything, from diet to exercise. You just have to make some small changes in your existing lifestyle. You need to accept your flaws first, in order to do that.

2. Have realistic expectations: This is where most of us fail. Nobody can lose like 10 kilos in a week. Target a kilo or two per month. And plan a diet around it.

3. Never crash diet: There are way too many diet plans available online that promise one to lose all their extra weight within a week or so. I have never tried it, so I'm not sure if they work. But I know one thing, that it is not healthy. One Monday, I decided to go on a fruit diet for a week. I ate an apple for breakfast along with some orange juice and a few spoons of pomegranate. I thought of ordering a fruit bowl for lunch, but instead ended up having a complete South Indian meal. By eleven AM, I began feeling week and I had a terrible headache. Green tea did not help and I began having empty burps. I knew it was time to feed myself and I had a complete lunch. Crash diets are not for me.

4. Smaller portions, more meals: I cut my food portions almost by half and divided them into two meals. So I was now eating six times a day every two to three hours. Although I stayed away from fried and processed foods, I did not give up on rice or curd. I need to have them everyday along with a good portion of meet. Earlier since I was hungry, I used to eat a lot at one go, but ever since I divided my meals from three to six, I end up eating exactly how much I should.

5. Include honey in your diet: The first time I had warm water with honey, I hated its taste. I still do infact. I am not a fan of sweet things and having sweet water was a nightmare. Cinnamon came to my help then. A little sprinkle of it on the concoction and suddenly the taste seemed better. Not great, but better. I just gulp it down in one go, with my eyes closed. Did you know that honey has antioxidant properties and aids in tissue healing? I didn't until sometime ago. Warm water with honey if had early in the morning, increases your metabolic rate and does not let you over eat.

6. Green Tea: It took me a good week to get used to the taste of it, but when I finally did, I cannot go without having atleast two cups a day. I have the plain variety, without any added sugar or honey. And yes, it does help me keep my weight in check. I cannot guarantee a weight loss with this but I definitely feel toned and healthy now. Also research suggests that five cups of green tea a day can aid weight loss better.

7. Exercise: This is a no brainer. And I don't mean a gym membership here. Small forms of exercise like taking the stairs, walking, jogging or yoga will do the trick. Every morning after a cup of warm water, cinnamon and honey, I eat a fruit or something else. Doctors suggest that you eat something within one hour of waking up. After that I sit down for an hour of yoga. Some suryanamaskars and asanas later, I feel fresh again. I follow it up with some weight lifts to tone my arms and some more breathing exercises. I even include facial exercises to tone my face muscles and my almost double chin. I only take the stairs at work and at home, for some added exercise.

A balanced healthy diet coupled with some basic exercise is enough for everyone to keep their weight in check. Crash diets are followed by stars and celebrities, but they have someone to get their work done for them. Crash diets focus on losing muscle along with the fat. This takes away the energy to do anything else. As a working woman, I need to take care of my office work as well as a household. I need all the energy to be able to do so. Hence crash diets are a no no for me. The seven steps that I have mentioned above, help me keep my weight in check and make me feel healthy and energetic everyday and throughout the day.

So now it is the time for you to crash your diet and start eating healthy instead.

Remember, a healthy body is a happy body.

You See Cricket With UC Browser

"Indian women's cricket team defeats New Zealand in the final ODI to clinch series", this news screamed out to me from today's newspaper. Another news article spoke about Shahid Kapoor's recent wedding. Another one spoke about Hema Malini and her tweets blaming the father of the little girl who died for his daughter's death. India is a country obsessed with cricket and Bollywood. And I don't think that this is ever going to change. Festivals and religion divide us and cricket unites us as a nation. Like every other Indian, I love cricket. I do complain a lot about how the authenticity of the game has decreased owing to IPL, CCL and other money making leagues. And yet, I wouldn't stop watching it. My interest in cricket started from when Sachin and Sourav were the openers and has remained until this era.

I remember those days when cricket was watchable only on Doordarshan and we had to adjust the antenna atleast a hundred times to watch an over. Then came various channels broadcasting cricket in various languages. The entire household would stay cooped up in front of the television set while pakoras and hot tea would be passed around. Those were some awesome times. But now, with technology taking over human interaction in every form, cricket comes to us in our palm. There are a lot of cricket apps that give you the ball by ball update almost instantly. But these apps take a lot of space and make the phone slow. At work we have a big screen put up in the cafeteria during important matches, but I'm too loyal to my work to go sit there and watch the match. I am a multitasker who handles work, writing my creative blog, writing my fashion blog and other things at the same time. Sitting down to watch a match would eat up a considerable amount of my time.

I need an app or a browser that works like lightening. It needs to be quicker than quickest. I need this so that I can take a quick glance at the match and get back to doing what I love. I need a browser that works very fast and loads quickly giving me an update on the score when ever I want. In an instant. When I heard of UC Browser I thought it was too good to be true. UC Browser is a really fast browser that even works seamlessly on 2G speeds. You can surf any site on this browser and it will load in an instant. When it comes to the love of cricket, UC Browser is a blessing. It comes with the UC Cricket package that is integrated into it. It displays the current status of the match, including scores, wickets and individual performances of all the team members. Thanks to wonderful speed, you get all this information in an instant and do not have to worry about wasting too much time.

UC Cricket helps me keep up my work and other commitments. I can watch the match while I take a break from work, to have my green tea. Or in the middle of work I can sneak in a glimpse of the updated score. While writing a blog post, I can spare just a second to check out the match status. Or in the middle of cooking I can touch my phone and trust it to give me the updated status of the match. I do not have to compromise on what I do, I can continue giving my full attention to my work and yet indulge in a few seconds of cricket fever.

UC Cricket is a guilt free indulgence for every cricket lover.

12 Things In A Woman's Closet That Will Never Go Out Of Style

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Every woman has an overflowing closet and yet nothing to wear. As I read this article I realized that when you can have a list of summer must haves, why not a list of items that is a must have forever. Trends change, styles come and go, but there are a few wardrobe staples that never ever go out of style. Investing in these products would never be a bad idea.

1. A well fit denim.

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Nothing spells comfort better than a good old pair of denims. You can choose your own style; high waist, bell bottoms, distressed or skinny. Suitable for both formal and casual wear, this is one item that would never go out of style for centuries. I for one, have never let go off my skinny jeans since they came into fashion years ago.

2. A classic white shirt.

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This one is class personified. Nothing oozes more sensuality then a well fitted crisp white shirt. Pair it with denims or a skirt, and people will know you as that sophisticated lady. But be very careful to not have any stains on it. Even a small stain will show on a white shirt. Make sure the shirt is washed well after every wear. Whites with a yellow tint are a major turnoff.

3. A black blazer.

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Although they come at a high price, they are totally worth it. Just a blazer is enough to transform your entire look from fun to business. Wear it over a white shirt and a pencil skirt for formal meetings or throw it over a grey tank top and denims for a casual party. Make sure they fit well, as ill fitted blazers can be an eye sore.

4. A little black dress.

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If you thought that this one will stop being in fashion, then you are wrong. Perfect for every party, a little black dress can never go wrong. Work it different ways by choosing the right accessories and you have a new look for every party. Also, black is slimming. So, nothing like an LBD to shed one size instantly.

5. Floral prints.

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These prints are God sent and can be worn in so many ways. Be it a girly top, a frilly dress or a silk scarf, floral prints can never look bad. It adds fun to an outfit and perks up the entire ensemble. Go for smaller prints if you are on the heavier side. If you do not want to look too feminine, you can wear floral prints on a shoe or a bag.

6. Polka dots.

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Centuries may pass, but polka dots will never go out of style. Although considered a retro trend, this style has stayed on the fashion scene ever since it made its appearance. A simple frock or a plain dotted shirt, they will always stand out in the crowd. You can even go for polka dotted shoes or bags to include them in your wardrobe. Nothing like polka dots to get you spotted.

7. Black pumps.

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Black shoes are a must in every woman’s wardrobe. It goes with both formal as well as casual wear. Opt for a glossy black finish shoe and brush them before you wear them every time. A black shoe that looks grey is a big turn off. If heels are not for you, you can even go in for flat ones. They look just as classy.

8. Nude pumps.

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Nothing better than nude colored shoes to go with every outfit. These are the best shoes to wear when you have nothing that matches your clothes. They are like second skin and make you look neat and proper. These are the best shoes to wear with bright colored clothes or neon shades.

9. A big dial watch.

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We all are now used to checking the time on our phones. But a watch is more than just a device to tell us the time. A big chunky watch can be the perfect accessory in more ways than one. With one on your wrist, you don’t need anything else. Opt for leather ones or metallic strap ones in shades of rose gold, black or silver. They go with almost everything that you wear.

10. Checkered shirts.

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Checks or plaid can and will never go out of fashion. Tuck a checkered shirt in your formal trousers for that business look or throw one unbuttoned over a plain old tee and look casual and funky. They are life savers when you have to get dressed in a hurry.

11. A multipurpose tote.

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Every woman is known to carry her world in her bag. Clutches and satchels come and go, but the good old tote always remains loyal to every fashionista. From carrying makeup, scarves, keys, water and what not, this bag is a favorite to every woman. Pick them up in shades of blue, grey, brown and black, to match almost every outfit.

12. Wayfarers or Aviator glasses.

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No closet is complete without these. The good old wayfarers or aviators are all that one needs to lift up a look from chic to uber chic. Wear one over denims, a checkered shirt and flats to get the ‘Don’t mess with me’ look effortlessly.

You can check out more fashion tips here.

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