Monthly Archives: August 2011

How To Promote Your Writing

 

Writing is an enjoyable exercise, for most. It is a great way to express your thoughts and feeling with words.

And to garner appreciation for it just adds to the charm, doesn’t it? Further, the thought of “earning” a bit through your work sounds intriguing enough…true? The number of bloggers turning into writers speaks for itself. But not many writers/bloggers find it easy to promote their work. The key word here is “driving traffic to your site where you publish your writing.”
So I thought of putting together a simple list of things one can do to gather a bit of recognition, to begin with.

Attractive Blog Page
Once during our Marketing session in college we were told: jo dikhta hai who bikta hai. (One (product) that is seen is the one that is sold.)
So to begin with, make sure you have a decently attractive blog page. There are a lot of blogging/writing platforms available. WordPress, Joomla, Blogger, Blogspot, Drupal etc., and almost all of them provide members with easy plugins to further help you link it to social media sites. Choose the one that you find easy enough and start harping about your blog/writing.

Create a short and crisp (and may I add “killer”) bio or profile for yourself. Add a picture of yourself if you wish. Once people start liking your content/post, they do tend to read about you.
Blogging platforms also provide members with certain color and background themes to make the page more appealing. They also help with easy navigation layouts. This helps members to organize their blocks and make their “recent” or famed posts more accessible to readers. They provide space for certain ads as well. Easy navigation should be one of the key features of your page.

Do not forget to provide the RSS feed links for people who wish to follow you.

SEO and Link Building

Wise men have said: On the internet, Content is King! 
You have to churn out good, readable material. Know your niche, your strengths and your dominance. It will help you write superlative content.

And you needn’t be a techie geek to know the working of Search Engine Optimization. All you need remember is that SEO essentially banks on the structure of the content you put in. The content needs to be the one that readers are looking for. It needs to be of relevance to the readers to connect with. Make sure you keep the content current and update it on regular basis. This will help readers come back to your site and also share it amongst their friends.

Link Building refers to the back links your page is connected with. One easy way of doing it is by submitting to ‘bookmarks’. People suggest guest blogging and writing guest articles as an effective mean to creating and building back links.

You can also chalk out press releases and submit articles to promote your site. Make sure it has ample of back links to bring in readers.
Social Media Platforms
The mention of social media essentially pops two names in your mind –doesn’t it? FaceBook and Twitter. Yes, they are amongst the top ranking social media platforms to connect with people across the globe. And surely they are a great way to stay connected with people.

One major advantage of networking on social media sites is to help gather an audience and create more back links. You don’t really need to “know” people to gain popularity. Start networking and you’d be amazed to know how small the world actually is.

On FaceBook: You can link your blog/writing page to your profile information tab. You can create a Fan Page for people to “like” and enroll for updates.
Request feedback from friends and family regarding your post. Take criticism positively and work towards betterment.

On Twitter: Tweet in accordance to content relevant to your blog post or writing. Use keywords that work as links to your site. Be creative. Have fun. Tweet links to your content a few times during the day. Oh, don’t forget to re-tweet good posts to gather a good following.
Keep a track of what’s trending on Twitter.
Use hash tags, wisely please.
Place a re-tweet button on your post for people to talk about it.
Follow relevant, popular and interesting people. Reply to relevant, popular and interesting people.

Then there are other sites like LinkedIn (more professional), Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. The internet has millions of other blogging and community sites. Spend some time researching them and registering with them. Leave your blog post links at relevant junctures. This helps in generation of good will. Please make sure you don’t end up spamming. You have to look at it in terms of a long term investment. Make sure you don’t get in the “bad books” of people by spamming them unnecessarily.

Indulge in commenting on blogs you like and find interesting. The comments could be praising the blog post or adding value to the post. Writers can indulge in writing book reviews and posting them on relevant sites – like Amazon, Flipkart, GoodreadsBookChums!
Indulge in forum discussions on relevant sites. Register with forums that are of interest to you and interact with other members by answering their queries, if you can. Do this regularly. It helps in good brand building. Wherever necessary and relevant, leave links to your post.

 
Guest Blogging
It is always good to keep a check on the blogging community. Interact with bloggers/writers that have similar concerns and interests. Invite fellow bloggers to write on your site, and you write for them in return (with your by line of course). This free advertising bit helps in image building and gaining more exposure and visibility online.

 

Stay Active
Popularity doesn’t come in a day. It’s not magic. Unless of course you are controversy’s child. But considering how mortal we all are, there is a considerable patience we all need to hold for results to start pouring in.

You ought to stay active online and look for means to constantly promote yourself and your blog if you really want to stay visible and gain popularity. Always remember: Consistency pays.

 

Other Cool Stuff
Make sure you do something new each day. You’ll have something new to write about each day.
Get creative with video blogs and upload them on various portals. There’s YouTube, Tubemogul, etc. to experiment with. Check out Scribd. That might interest you too.

And if all this is still mumble-jumble for you…I’m around to help you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

What’s Your Fantasy?

 

Right from childhood days, most of us have grown up with stories of prince and princess’, of kings and queens, of fairies and witches and of God and his magical ways – of casting spells, swishing wand, riding dragons and brooms, and zipping-n-zapping people in to animals and vice versa. Most of us grew up reading (or listening to) stories from the desk of Enid BlytonL. Frank BaumTerry PratchettRick Riordan and the like.
The mystical land was left open for us (readers and listeners) to explore and at times, create.  
We were free to mold places, people, settings, ideologies, laws. We could defy any notion; make our own Universe; have a tryst with fate as per will; and for all that you know- be a hero…correction- Super Hero!

Writing Fantasy –Fiction gives the author the levy to create just about anything anyhow anywhere.
I don’t know if many remember Margaret Bhatty – Indian writer of adventure, fantasy and science fiction, short stories, and picture books. She penned quite a few fantasy-fiction tomes besides one science fiction and some adventure fiction novels. (Kingdom of No Return, Himalayan Adventure, The Mystery of the Zamorin’s Treasure, The Secret of Sickle-Moon Mountain, Travelling Companions, The Never- Never Bird, The Evil Empire, etc.)

But of late, why is it that we have to bank on the wizards and fun of Pottermania, the mystics of the Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings), survive Twilights and save the world with just the X-Men?

It’s not surprising that Indian readers who enjoy fantasy fiction opt more for established Western authors than their Indian counterparts.

Let’s not forget, this is the land of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. This is the land with a host of mythological and super powerful fictional characters of the fantasy world. Then why are there only a handful of Indian fantasy writers who are able to rekindle the lost interest?
Like:

Samit Basu who has authored five novels: The Simoqin PropheciesThe Manticore’s Secret and The Unwaba Revelations, the three parts of The GameWorld Trilogy; a fantasy trilogy – Terror on the Titanic; and Turbulence, a superhero novel set in India, Pakistan and England.

Sonja Chandrachud- our ‘Desi Rowling’.

Sonja deftly brews up fantastical tales filled with magic, mayhem & mischief. The Potion of Eternity & Pearls of Wisdom are the first two novels in the much loved Hilarious Hauntings Adventures five book series. Her next YA series – DOA Detective Files takes you deep into ancient historical times where cryptic curses, mysterious murders.

Thankfully, mythology is another accessible avenue for plotting fantasy-fiction, since it establishes an immediate connect. Religious/Spiritual fiction is coming of age.

Mythological characters like Rama, Ravana, Arjuna, Jesus Christ, Lord Shiva, Ganesha and others from the great epics are becoming fodder for contemporary Indo-Anglian literature. Most writers find this a new way of looking at Indian culture to draw young readers.
Also, Indian spirituality and the concepts of reincarnation and past life regression, karma, etc. give it a new literary theme.

Shashi Tharoor’s “The Great Indian Novel” is a contemporary re-telling of the epic Mahabharata in the context of Indian polity.

Amish Tripathi’s Immortals of Meluha (his first book in the series of the Shiva Trilogy), followed by The Secret Of The Nagas created waves in the world of Indian Fantasy Fiction writing.

The book shows Shiva as a tribal towards the beginning of the novel. He is the chief of a tribe residing by the side of Mansarovar Lake at the foot of mount Kailash in Tibet. But as the story progresses with the invasions and battles, Shiva emerges a hero. One of the highly acclaimed books of recent times, this one is a MUST read.

Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Rozabal Line” brings Gods back from their heavenly abodes to play action games on earth. And his other offering “Chanakya’s Chant” draws a parallel to the practices implemented during the reign of Chadragupt Maurya, in today’s time.

 

Angela Saini’s “Geek Nation” is a quest for the truth behind India’s ‘geekiness’. The plot revolves around space centres, gleaming technology hubs, and biotechnology labs, and juxtaposes them against anacient scripture libraries, rationalist societies and portals of public sector. Absolutely fine reading material.

And among young fantasy-fiction writers we see Giti Chandra coming out with her debut novel - Fang of Summoning, that has been described by critics as a fantasy novel in the same mould as Harry Potter. The novel is about a war between ancient good and evil; between Vasuki (the Indian snake king) and Edasich (the orange star in astronomy).

 
Rohit Prakash’s debut novel - Arindam and the Kalyug Debacle Premonition revolves around a young boy, Arindam. He is packed off to a boarding school by his parents but ends up in a mysterious land and entrusted with the mission to save the ‘the third world’, ‘the real world’ and ‘the land of the unknown’. The book surely ranks as one fantastic read.

Priya’s debut book Prophecy: The rise of the Swordshows Neha Sharma’s search for the last land of Atlantis leads her and Atlantologist Nick Halliday on the adventure of their lives. This one is based on the Greek mythology. Sounds like an interesting read.

Another good fantasy fiction writer is Payal Dhar. Her first offering was the hugely enjoyable and gripping – Shadow trilogy, and now she is back with the first of her new trilogy, Satin: A Stitch In Time.

Then there are a few new fiction tomes about to grace our bookshelves– The Ganesh Scripture by Alice Albina, The Golden Sacrifice of the Mahabharata by Maggi Lidchi Grassi and Kalika and Dimna: The Panchatantra Retold by Ramsay Wood use Ganesha, Vyasa, Arjuna and mythical demons to narrate gripping stories –but all by foreign authors.
Publishers too have recognized the growing demand in the fantasy-fiction category. They are entertaining new entrants of this genre. Possibilities are aplenty. It’s just the push that Indian writers need to explore this genre further more.

4 Comments

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

Controversial Books

The Macmillan Dictionary describes the word “controversy” as: a disagreement, especially about a public policy or a moral issue that a lot of people have strong feelings about.
Now to think that a book can cause a disagreement about social or moral issues is not all that astounding. Don’t get me wrong, but the multitude of such books has only risen with time. I know we say we don’t need reassurance from anyone regarding our selection of reading/writing books and our interpretation, but some books seem to have unknowingly fueled such flurry among society based on their content, the language used, or if there is too much of (graphic) violence and/or sexual descriptions, traces of racism, religious degradation or extreme political views and opinions.

Some books that I happened to come across include:

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
A non-fictional read, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, the book states that Jesus was not divine, married and had sex with Mary Magdalene, had children by her, and that these children or their descendants emigrated to Gaul (France), and founded the Merovingian Dynasty, which has two of the most famous Frankish kings, Charles the Hammer, and Charlemagne.

Now, this is sure to upset a lot of Christians, obviously. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the authors backed their information with hard facts. But sadly, all information gathered by them was dubious and notorious.

 

 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 

Surprised? Well, I was too.

Written by Mark Twain, the book has seen the usage of the word “nigger” quite frequently. No wonder this one ranks high amongst the list of book banned by schools. Due consideration should be given to the fact that at the time Mark Twain wrote the book, the word was the most common vernacular used for black people.
Also, the story shows Huck faking his own death, befriending a slave, and they both set out to seek liberation. Issues of equality, justice, human rights surface this children’s book, contrasting childhood dreams and harsh realities of life, mixed with some coarse language makes this one quite controversial.

 

 

The Catcher in the Rye

Written by J.D. Salinger, the book was intended for adults, but many teenagers ended up enjoying the classic because of its central character Holden Caulfield. He represented everything “anti-right” –he became an icon for defiance and rebellion.

Alcohol abuse, prostitution, sexuality, defiance, alienation, blasphemy, undermining of family values and moral codes, offensive language, premarital sex. Aren’t those sufficient reasons for banning this classic novel?

 

If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer

 

 

So O. J. Simpson swears that he did not commit the crime he was accused of, but the description of Simpson’s “hypothetical” scenario is so perfect and pristine that it’s as good as the actual confession. He puts forth the case that had he done it, this is how he’d do it. How weird is that?!

 

 

The Satanic Verses

By far, one of the most controversial of all books –for its controversial topic of course. The mighty unrest this one caused goes beyond measure.
Salman Rushdie tells the story of making an alternate Prophet Mohammad –a dispute between fact and fiction. The book was considered blasphemous since Rushdie referred to the Prophet Muhammad as Mahound, which is the medieval name for the devil.
In Pakistan, there were riots in 1989 over the book where a few people were killed, and many were injured in India. In spite of Rushdie issuing an apology, the Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini condemned the author publicly, and went to the extent of putting a $1 million bounty for killing the author, increasing that to $3 million if the assassin was Iranian. Even Venezuelan officials threatened 15 months of prison for anyone who owned or even read the book. Japan imposed a fine on anyone selling the English edition and a Japanese translator was said to be stabbed to death for getting involved with the book. Major U.S. booksellers removed this book from the shelves because they received death threats. Rushdie himself lived in hiding for almost a decade. Such was the animosity towards the book, and in a way it makes it all the more appealing. Despite all this the book was still listed for the Booker Prize in 1988!

 

American Psycho

 

This satirical novel, by Bret Easton Ellis, highlighted the farce nature of the yuppies in America through the story of Patrick Bateman, an insane yuppie and a serial killer. Upon its release, the book garnered huge controversy due to its extreme levels of graphic violence and sexual torture.

 

 

The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown’s book gives a fictional account of characters revealing a hidden truth concealed by the Catholic Church for centuries, including the divinity of Christ, his celibacy, and the possibility of a genetic heritage. So why wouldn’t it be controversial?!
Many complained that the book has misinterpreted the history of Roman Catholic Church and the basic questioning of the tenets of Christianity. The book was also criticized for inaccurate description of history, geography, European art, and architecture. The book and the movie ended up topping the charts.

 

 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou’s autobiographical work gives an account of her childhood and youth filled with trauma, tragedy, frustration, disappointment and eventually independence. She describes the racism she and her grandmother encountered, in spite of her grandmother being richer than her white counterparts. She describes how she was raped when she was just eight years old by her mother’s boyfriend and how her grandmother’s influence helped her overcome the hardships in her life.

So what caused the controversy? The graphic nature of the book, depicting details of abuse and rape.
This book was also nominated for the National Book Award.

 

Lolita

Published in 1955 in France, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita caused a storm of controversy that still shadow the book.

This novel explores the mind of a pedophile (Humbert Humbert), who narrates his life and obsession for nymphets like the 12-year-old Dolores Haze.
The book was banned in France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina. But in America, it was a huge success and is said to be the first book since Gone With The Wind to have sold 100,000 copies in the first three weeks.

 

Brave New World


Aldous Huxley’s most popular novel published in 1932 showcases Huxley’s vision of a future based on science and technology. The novel depicts drugs, sexuality, and suicide and reveals Huxley’s disdain for the culture of the United States. People challenged and tried banning the book on grounds of highlighting and accentuating negativity.

 

Then there are books around religion and divinity that have been the subject of discussions all around, like The Book of MormonThe God Delusion, The Quran and The Holy Bible.
If you know of any, please let us know. You may add them here in the comment box below.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

To Date Or Not To Date

There was a blog by Rosemarie Urquico on “Date a girl who reads” that created ripples. That was a response to Charles Warnke’s “You should date an illiterate girl”.

 

Since I was almost facing a “writer’s block” and couldn’t think of a blog idea, I thought, why not jot points for people who wish to date. So we can take a look at pros and cons of dating people who are well read, vs. others who disregard books.

Let’s begin with the cons. (No, I’m not a pessimist. I just want the negative out of the way.)
•    A person who loves to read and write would know just too well when you are lying.

•    They would be your grammar police when you least expect them to be.

•    They would be more crazier than you –speaking like Shakespeare, imagining likeRowling, reciting like Keats, talking about Gainman and what have you!

•    They will be master storytellers telling you off. They would have their expectations running high –thanks to all romantic/mystery novels they would’ve gulped by now.

•    They would be gaining more limelight, than you, amongst your peers. And sometimes more weight, sitting around with books as their sole companions.

•    They might, sometimes, be too engrossed in a book to pay attention to you. And sometimes they might end up paying more attention to details than expected.

•    They might lose their cool and snap at you, just because the protagonist behaved like an ……..
And now for the pros:

•    Cost

One of the most important of all factors. (Yes, let’s be practical.) Dating a person who reads implies an inexpensive affair. Books nowadays do cost a lot. Unless they are from some of the Indian publishers who save on the paper quality and offer books for like a mere Rs. 100!
Getting him/her a library card would go easy on your mind and pocket. And also relieve you of thinking, “What should I gift him/her now!?”
Dating a person who does not read implies there is greater cost involved. Imagine the kind of shopping some people indulge in – guys and their electronic gadgets; and girls with their (bare) clothing. Oh this is much more expensive!!!

 

•    Conversation abilities

Hands down I think a well read person can engage you in intellectual conversation, over a person who absolutely scorns books and newspapers. A well read person adds value to your knowledge bank. He/she can help you spin fantastic stories, and dwell in a world of goblins and fairies when you need some cheering.

•    Personality
A person who reads would be wise. (Let’s just say so for conversation sake.) He/she would be more composed and mannered than a person who doesn’t. He/she will understand that failure doesn’t mean the end of the world. A sequel can be written and life will move on. Success will follow. After all, you are the lead of your life story.

•    World of fantasy
There can be so much to talk about, so much to imagine, so much to fantasize about, with a person who reads, (and reads good stuff) over a person who can’t even make decent stories to save his/her life.

•    Priorities
Well…at times his/her books would gain priority over you. But it’s better than indulging in mindless banter with a person who knows not much. True you will be given all the attention and pampering by a person who doesn’t care much for books, but is that of any value when there is no growth, individually or together. If you crave for intellectual challenges, be prepared to not indulge in any with the person who cares not for the written word.

•     Simple living. High thinking.
Apart from the fact that this is Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, it is quite relevant in life. The person gobbles up words like a hungry reader is sure to find pleasures in simple things in life. A flower, the rainbow, the first drop of rain, a butterfly, a coloring book, colors, stationary, anything that brings in a smile instantly without any effort. He/she would inspire you more than life itself, someday!

 

•    Life

Life will no longer be bland with a person who reads. Imagine adventures, treasure hunts, fantasy world stories. You might end up having weird (in a nice way) kids with weirder tastes and observation powers. Growing old with that person would be so much easier and fun. It’s true when they say, marry a person who you can talk to, because when you are old, it’s only good conversations that keep you going. He/she would recite KeatsWordsworthShakespeare,WhitmanWilde with much ease when you wish to hear a few words of love.

•    Other factors
It’s better to have you partner check out books than check out other people when with you. And who doesn’t make mistakes? We all are human after all. At least you can expect a well-worded apology in case you partner goofs up at some place.

All the places that you cannot afford to visit can be imagined and improvised in the company of a partner who utilizes his/her creative abilities to the hilt. He/she will lend you a listening ear. Always. Because, he/she knows how to give someone their undivided concentration.

He/she would know when to get serious and when not. He/she would appreciate your passion just like their’s.

So you see…there are too many pros of dating a well-read person. So go ahead, find yourself a…

good book and begin reading. NOW!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

Interview With Adithi And Chatura Rao

The launch of Growing Up In Pandupur in Mumbai gave us a chance to interact with two very versatile and creative authors - Adithi and Chatura Rao.

Growing Up In Pandupur is a marvelous collection of 13 short stories for children. And parents alike.

The writing is mature and stable, but at no place does it feel commanding or overbearing. So kids will have no difficulty breezing through the stories.

Talking to the author-sisters would really make you feel as if you are talking to a friend…a mature, responsible and a really caring friend, who will always guide you through difficult times.

Yes, the book in a way brings to light certain topics/issues that kids face but are unable to communicate with their folks. The book comes as a friend and a guide to not just children, but parents too.
Well, the sisters are good at hearing you out as well. No wonder kids and parents wouldn’t leave a chance to strike a conversation with them, at the launch. Their observation and insight to finer things, usually overlooked by most, is admirable.
I got a chance to interview the sisters and here’s a bit of the conversation:

How did you chance upon the title of the book?
There is actually a small town by the name of Pandavpur between Bangalore and Mysore. We passed through it many a times and it is quite scenic. While we were penning out the stories, we modified the name to Pandupur.

How did you think of writing a short story collection for kids?
Between us sisters we have three kids. And we discuss every issue our children are facing or undergoing. There are a lot more challenges you face as a parent. There are times when kids cannot really express what they feel, and this (writing stories of different themes that revolve around kids) was a way of connecting with them.
We already had a few stories around the theme of growing up, and we added a few more to complete the book.

Broadly, what would you say are the diverse topics the stories touch upon?
From sibling love-rivalry, to the loss of a family member, to child sexual abuse, to growing up –most of the stories cater to topics any child can relate to. For that matter, any parent can relate to.

Amongst the stories in this book, which ones are your favorites?
Grandfathers and Trees
Sister’s Song
The River Came Home
The House Painted Blue

Could you name a few of your favorite books?
Chatura: I like fantasy-science fiction work by Ursula K. le Guin, novels by Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck.
In children’s fiction, The Bridge To Terabithia, the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. le GuinJ.R.R Tolkien’s ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’Ruskin Bond and R K Narayan, and Winnie the Pooh, and Huckleberry Finn.
Adithi: I like the work of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mocking Bird). Her ability to get into the psyche of a child is commendable. I also like R.K. Narayan’s  Malgudi Days and The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Toomey.


What were your growing up days like?
Charuta: We had a typical middle-class childhood. Grew up in south India, moving between Chennai and Bangalore. Played a lot with large groups of kids. Cycled, went for music classes, stole mangoes, befriended stray dogs and adopted their puppies, ran a book library from a friend’s garage, spied on crabby old neighbours, got together and put up plays and dances at Christmas in our grandfather’s garden…
Adithi: Pretty much as Chatu described it! Bangalore was my Pandupur, complete with the magician grandpa and a grandmother who was never too tired to read, cook, feed, sing, play, talk or listen when it came to me…

Would you share an incident (from childhood) that has stayed with you till date?
Chatura: I used to be petrified of having my nails snipped by my grandfather. He was an ex-armyman and believed in crew cuts! So I’d hide around the house, sneak around quietly, until inevitable he’d shout for me, and then i’d go to him like a lamb to slaughter! I remember the undersides of beds and tables a lot because i was often playing behind/ under them with my dolls, and also hiding from people. One time my sister got an injection and while she yelled, i hid behind the bed and cried too :-)
Adithi: “About Grandfathers and Trees” pretty much tells of my most poignant childhood memory.


What next do we see from you – individually and / or together?

Chatura: I’m working on a collection of stories for adults in the style of magic realism. Nothing being co-written with Adithi right now.
Adithi: Together we haven’t planned anything yet, although we’d love to do a “Pandupur Too”! Individually I’m sure Chatu will come out with a book. As for me, it has to be a film or I’ll burst!


If there was one advice you could give parents today, what would it be?

Chatura: Listen to the kids.
Adithi: That if it’s happening with your kid it is probably happening with lots of others as well, so it can’t be that bad. Let it pass with a sense of humour, things do have a way of working themselves out. This is advice for myself as well as for parents out there… I too forget, more often than not.
Psst: For people who still haven’t picked up a copy of Growing Up In Pandupur, “fie fie!”
Get it here!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

Book Review of “Third Best” by Arjun Rao

Third Best

By Arjun Rao

 

Campus Fiction seems to be the flavor for most people today.
Bringing back memories of school days is Arjun Rao’s debut novel – Third Best. Though quite a lengthy read, it is interesting and well written.
Set in a fictional co-ed, boarding school Shore Mount, Third Best highlights the story of a batch of schoolmates – essentially Gautam, Nirvan, and Faraz. The other characters you come across are Ruma, Natasha, Bose, Zoya, Gomez, Adi, and Billy.

While Gautam is the noisy and obnoxious being, who doesn’t get frazzled by the bullies, Faraz is the most sophisticated of the lot, with his ideals and morals strongly set, but ends up falling in love with his teacher Zoya.
Nirvan Shrivastav, a shy, reluctant hero burdened with a family history of achievements at Mount, stands up to the bully Nanda and wins his girlfriend Ruma.

The book reveals small-time lies and big heartaches kids face; it highlights the expectations parents hold over a child’s wish; it portrays peer pressures and troubles faced in childhood; it reveals the depths of friendship expressed through fights and quirky nick names given to each other; overall it brings back memories of school days that now seem long, lost and forgotten.

The background about the school’s rituals and location and legend etc are overtly detailed ones. They not only slow the pace but also irk the reader sometime. Too much detailing is never appreciated.
But the characterization shows the author’s keen observation and the talent of getting into a child’s mind/psychology.
The author shows an interesting perspective on life in a residential school with house masters, prefects, bullies, friends, making adolescence quite a trying period in a person’s life.

It sure is a sweet story about school, friendship, loyalty, love – and how not to get caught while you’re making out. The humor, the innocence and the seriousness are quite balanced and the reader is sure to relive school days reading the book.

3 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “Bombay Rains, Bombay Girls” by Anirban Bose

Bombay Rains, Bombay Girls

By Anirban Bose

 

The unique title made me pick this book from a friend’s bookshelf. Weird funky cover page design.

The story is about Adityaman –a young, small-town lad (with a big inferiority complex) who seeks admission in Bombay’s medical college. When Adi is leaving his hometown, the advice he gets is ““You’ve got to see two things in Bombay: The Bombay Rains and the Bombay Girls.” No wonder the title!

The initial part of the book felt quite Bollywood-ish. But I continued reading.
So, Adi lands in B-town only to face the horrors of ragging, the culture shock, and the new-found hassles of settling in a new environment. His fears, insecurities and naivety are quite heart-felt.
Soon, his natural leadership streak overtakes and he is looked up to by the rest of the batch. Of course he gets good grades, makes good friends, gives good advice to the clueless few, and yeah sure let’s not forget, he does get the girl!

And the two years of college seem to have imparted more than just medicine gyaan to Adi – love, work, politics, religion, morality, friendship –all areas covered!

Talking about the other characters in the book – they all have a story of their own. Toshi, Pheru, Sam, Harsha, Renuka, Isha –all strikingly different personalities sharing the common bond of friendship based on their genuineness and simplicity.

As an individual, Adi faces a tough battle of principles and morality vs. emotional bonds. His personal and professional life experiences turmoil only to be soon restored. It’s nice how every time he walks himself in to any kind of trouble, there seems to be a pretty coincidence waiting round the corner, to get him out of the pangs. Doesn’t that happen to all the main leads? (Bollywood-ish)

Many incidents, descriptions, expressions, and behavioral patterns, portrayed bring it closer to reality. The good thing is that this ain’t a stand-alone story, dragging readers or forcing them to read on. The sub plots and mini stories within come across as small bursts of emotions – mostly fun.
And yes, finally the “happy ending”. (So really Bollywood-ish)

The writing could have been tighter. The number of pages might boggle an put off some readers. The art of storytelling will ripen (I truly hope so) with the author’s further offerings. But as a debut work of fiction, this is quite pleasing.

Good font size, smooth narrative, decent characterization, quite a few relatable incidents, good setting, glimpses of reality, philosophical trips, words of wisdom, a budding love story – all woven together neatly makes this a one-time read.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “Keep The Change” by Nirupama Subramanian

Keep The Change

Nirupama Subramanian

A new author with a new offering. But how “new” is this one?

Quite a chick-lit, ‘Keep the Change’ tells the story of a certain B. Damayanthi. An ambitious 26 year old, unmarried, Tamil Brahmin girl who has to fight her way to steer clear of the unending prospective groom-hunt her mother keeps pushing her to.
Damayanthi, an accountant from Chennai, eventually moves to Mumbai to climb the ladder of success. And as she does so, her mother’s parting words of wisdom are, “Be good. Don’t do anything silly.” Translation: ‘Stay away from sex and alcohol!’

(Don’t all moms say that?!?)

She ends up sharing an apartment with a size-zero, sophisticated, anti-thesis to Damayanthi – Sonya Sood and they, more often than not, end up battling for the tv remote; at work she has to impress C.G.; understand the complicated words of wisdom imparted by Jimmy; try and not get seduced by Rahul; and try harder to not lose her original self in the corporate maze.
Women (read: girls) face situations, in the corporate world, wherein leaving behind ethics is one of the most difficult decisions they have to take for the sake of success. Not many are able to do that in an un-jeopardizing way.

The second half of the book sees Damayanthi write personal letters to her best friend Victoria. The revelation at the end is quite err…touching.

I only wished certain parts were more tightly or crisply written.
Though lengthy, Keep the Change is humorous and emotional. Overall quite entertaining.

The narrative is smooth flowing and the perspective, yes, new!! The writing is fresh and captivating. (Good job there.)

The character of Damayanthi is quite endearing and relatable to. Breaking the chains of protective, homely, and orthodox surrounding only to walk the new-found path of corporate world, you see how Damayanthi transforms…for the good or for the bad is what I leave for you to find out.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “In Pursuit Of Infidelity” by Sujata Parashar

In Pursuit Of Infidelity

By Sujata Parashar

 

*spoiler alert*

Infidelity nowadays is as common as a headache. It can happen anytime. And it really isn’t as weird. Or so people say/think.
People write/talk about what they observe. Looking at the number of stories being written and published on this subject (of infidelity) it makes one wonder about the changing times of today.

In Pursuit of Infidelity by Sujata Parashar is one such story about Sheena, a busy professional, happily married (or so she thinks) to Gaurav. Both are trapped in the worldly woes of a professional life in Delhi, trying to make for a better future for themselves and their son Krish.

Sheena does not really feel the love towards Gaurav, but it’s her commitment to marriage and family that keeps her going. That is, until temptation comes calling. She bumps into her long lost love/crush- Nikhil and when he too confesses of being in love with her, Sheena faces the eternal dispute between her conscience and her heart.

Her work takes her to Mumbai and she ends up giving into her heart’s desire with him. She decides to walk out of her marriage. But when she returns home, it’s time for Gaurav to leave for Singapore on business. She decides to hold on till his return. But what happens in Singapore doesn’t remain in Singapore.
Gaurav ends up being attracted to Anita and one drunken night sees them breaking all inhibitions. Anita realizes their mistake and requests Gaurav to never contact her or be in touch with her.
Back home, Sheena stumbles upon Gaurav’s deed and feels cheated. She then walks out on him and demands a divorce.
What happens next is something I leave for the readers to find out.
(Yeah, it would be too bratty of me to give out the entire story here –albeit I’ve marked the spoiler alert!)

The narrative is quite smooth, yet captivating given its decent pace. The characterization is quite relatable to. But there were some points that ticked me.

Sheena was anyways set to call quits. So why did she feel so hurt and cheated on Gaurav’s infidelity? Ego hurt you say? Well, I don’t quite seem to agree with that. It was quite selfish on her part. Just because she wasn’t “caught” being unfaithful she put the entire “fall out blame” on him. Super selfish!

Secondly, all of us have moments of weakness. In this case, Nikhil happened to catch the right nerve and press it hard. People, especially girls/women, need to be the ones in control of their lives. The moment you show that you are vulnerable, people prey on you.

Also, being dissatisfied with (married) life doesn’t give you the license to cheat. You better be brave enough to own up to things.
And what about the sacred vows couples take during their marriage ceremonies? Why marry at all then? Why not just live in the moment with “no strings attached”?

Sheena is scared and worried about societal pressures and anxieties that come along with. But why doesn’t she think about them while indulging with Nikhil? Yes, there is no such thing as right or wrong, and sometimes everyone gives in to the moment…then why does she not come out clean with Gaurav? Why is he made the scapegoat who ends up carrying the entire blame!?
Well, to each his own.

Coming back to the writing, the “bedroom scenes” have been crafted very subtly. The mellow version of passionate love that the characters indulge in is quite concise. She could’ve explored that a bit more.

The author has well presented a hard-hitting fact/reality of life. It is a perceptive story that makes you think about the on goings in your life. Quite deeply. Overall, a good read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Thou Shall Read. Everyday.

There are a lot many distractions nowadays for everyone. Work, Internet, Playstation, Xbox, or simply the idiot box. Who has the time or patience to read? Right??

But if you put your mind to it, you’d see it’s not that difficult. Here are some pointers to help you:

Gather good reading material: There is no dearth if you just look around. With so many books stores, book stalls (those small road-side vendors have to make a living too and more often than not, you are sure to find a book of your liking instantly!), and yes abundant ebooks. Books are all around us. All we have to do is look. And pick up the ones that interest us.

Always carry a book: You never can say where you can get stranded. And a book becomes a boon at such times. Even while traveling for that matter.


Make a Reading List:
Make a list of all the books you want to read or bestsellers suggested by friends/family. Add to the list when you hear about a good book. And strike out the ones you have read.


Get yourself enrolled in a library:
Libraries might be almost facing neglect. But each city at least one library that hoards volumes of reading material –some which you wouldn’t have even heard of. If you happen to find a small library close to your house, give it a try. The enrollment fee is never too much considering the deals you get in return.

Set aside your reading hour: Create a reading ritual of sorts. Everyday for an hour or so, make sure you read, without interruptions. Preferably a book. Else a magazine or the newspaper. Or if not an hour, break it down into 10-15 minute spans between other activities.
You could also encourage your kids to read with you and discuss things out. Sometime company does matter. Joint reading sessions with friends or family members will help you push yourself that extra bit to read ahead.

Time Management: We all have busy schedules, no doubt, but we also are efficient time managers. Utilize this skill to set your reading schedule. If you can’t think where to squeeze in a book, reduce TV/Internet time and use it for reading. Problem solved!


Reading Space:
If it helps, choose a reading corner for yourself. Certain spaces give you more peace and relaxation. It could be corner in your house or your room, or a park bench, or roof, anywhere. If there is no quiet space around you, go ahead –create one!

 

Join a book club: This is one of the most important points, I feel, that helps you get into the grove of reading. Be it an online or an offline book club, join it. Read the book within the timeline set by the members and indulge in discussions. You will be surprised with the results.


Indulge in discussions: Even if you are not a part of a book club, indulging in a book discussion is an asset. If you have a partner who you can talk to about the book, the plot, the characters, the ideation, the author and the entire gamut, it would add to your fondness for reading. Tyr doing it over mealtime, you might enjoy your food more.

Associated Activities: Attend book launch events and book reading sessions. Interaction with book lovers and authors is known to open up your perspective in different ways.

 

Blog it: If you don’t have anyone to discuss it with, blog about it. Blog it all –your reading list, books you’ve read, write book reviews, or just about anything about books, authors and the like.
Oh, and don’t be surprised on being contacted by other book lovers after that.


Read, write your own stories: What better way to read books that are of personal interest. Or better still, write short stories (to begin with) about things you notice, or things you personally would like to read.

 


But remember:

You can never force yourself or someone to read. Over time if a person starts enjoying the habit of reading, it can turn out to be one of the most wondrous of all activities.
Also, don’t be over enthusiastic when you first begin. Don’t set high goals for yourself, because if not met you would end up hating the activity forever.

Books indeed are the best friends of mankind. They can be most satisfying at times, yes better than chocolate! Reading is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable of all activities.
Reading not only sharpens your thought process, but also increases your attention span. It broadens your vocabulary, your perspectives and your outlook. It boosts your imagination and creative skills. It brings you closer to people with similar taste. But most importantly, it brings you closer to yourself.

Reading (books) is one inheritance your children will cherish forever.

Read them. Love them. Treasure them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews