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Book Review of ‘Shades of Sin: Behind the Mask’ by APK Publishers

‘Shades of Sin: Behind the Mask’
By APK Publishers

Shades of Sin

Shades of Sin

Call it my love for short stories but I simply loved this book

An anthology of 25 stories by six authors connected by a single thread: the dark side of human nature in all its hues.

Vices in us, we know, exist and breed. What fans them further and do we tame them (if at all)?

The diverse settings, relatable experiences, and the very humane nature of each story intrigued me. Every single minute of my “me time” was dedicated to the book.

The book is divided in to three portions: Light Grey, Dark Grey and Black. The stories in each section portray/reveal related darkness – not depression. Most of the stories are sure to linger in your mind even after you put the book down. They evoke emotions that we deny ever exist in us.

I appreciate the selection of the stories. I like the way each author has consciously contributed to each section, bringing out the apt “darkness”. It’s not easy to pen out such feelings strongly that stir the reader with each sentence. It reflects maturity – the work of seasoned authors.

The narrative skills of Vivek Banerjee, Upneet Grover, Saksham Agarwal, Aanandita Chawla, Vrinda Baliga, and Shreelatha Chakravarty are praise worthy, offering a different perspective, a refreshing take, a unique outlook towards the different shades of the dark forces within us all.

For anyone who loves short stories, I definitely recommend this book. Pick It Up! No second thoughts!!

This is one book I will keep going back to- just like the Urban Shots series.

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Interview with Dr. Vivek Banerjee

Dr. Vivek Banerjee, the author of ‘The Long Road’ is a self-confessed “full time pediatrician (by choice) and part time author (by chance)”. Also known by his pen name Ben, for his blogs earlier, Vivek shares snippets of his writing career with us. Read on.

Could you share with us your earliest memories of writing? What got you blogging and finally writing a fictional tale?
The earliest memories in writing are contributing to my school magazine and later editing it. Blogging started as an experiment and then became an addiction. Rediff iLand (the earlier and hugely successful avatar of now moribund Rediff Blogs) provided the proverbial fuel to the fire. The Long Road started as a serial story called Doctors on Rediff iLand. It was hugely popular and my fellow bloggers got more and more involved as the story progressed. Eventually, the idea of presenting it as a full-fledged novel came to me and I decided to take the plunge.

What kinds of books grab your attention?
I love fiction. From adventure to science fiction; thrillers to classics and novels to short stories, I love them all.

How was the experience of writing a novel, given the fact that your profession barely leaves you time for other activities? What inspired you to come out with a full length novel?
Agreed! There is hardly any leisure. This novel and all my writing is generally done deep in the night. Many a time, I have to attend calls at odd hours and find it difficult to sleep after returning.  The only option left is to pick up the laptop and start typing.

Any character from the novel that reflects or resonates with the real you?

No, I don’t think so. I do wish that I could be like Prof. Patil from the book.

The language used is quite simple and coming from a highly specialized industry, one tends to use the jargon of the field. How easy or difficult was it writing a book based around your profession?
It was very simple to write a book based on my profession and many parts of the book are inspired from real life happenings. I did make a conscious effort to avoid medical jargon or get too technical. I hope that I have succeeded in this aspect.

Would you like to share a memorable incident that happened during the writing process? Or an instance that clicked the writer in you (while at work), wherein you felt that the incident would make for an interesting mention in the book?
Considering the fact that I joined Medical College in 1983, I had a rich reserve of memories and experiences to draw from while writing the novel. But one repetitive incident that causes me a lot of anguish and finds a mention in the book is our inability to prevent very sick children from dying despite best efforts.

An ebook or a hardcover– your pick? and Why?
I guess I am traditional in this matter. I am a huge fan of printed books. If you visit my home, you’ll find a lot of books everywhere. E-books are not for me.

Name some your all time favorite reads.
To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an all time favorite.
I am partial to almost all the books by Isaac Asimov, Wilbur Smith and Jack Higgins and have read them multiple times.

A Quote that inspires you – in personal life / professional life.
This too, shall pass…

A book/author in the recent past that has captured your interest?
Anish Sarkar’s Benaami and the Urban Shots series.

Any other genre that you’d like to explore now? What next do we see from your desk?
I am writing short stories. In fact, there are two projects in the pipeline. One is a collection of stories about the paranormal in collaboration with Faraaz Kazi. An anthology of stories about the darker side of human nature is the other project. Upneet Grover, Saksham Agarwal, Amit Kumar Gupta, Anandita Chawla and I team up for this one.


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Interview With Sudha Menon


From a business journalist to an author, Sudha Menon’s journey hasn’t been an easy one. Her debut non-fictional, Leading Ladies, inspired her all the way to show the different facet of the lives of women who have indeed made a difference to society by sheer determination and focus.

The book covers the stories of: Amrita Patel, Anu Aga, Kalpana Morparia, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Lila Poonawalla, Mallika Sarabhai, Mallika Srinivasan, Meher Pudumjee, Naina Lal Kidwai, Priya Paul, P T Usha, Shaheen Mistri, Shikha Sharma, Shubha Mudgal, and Vinita Bali.
Sudha Menon reveals to her readers the real women behind the names by focusing not only on their stories of their rise to fame, but also accounting stories of their vulnerable moments, their uncertainties, their failures and their resolve to carry on, undaunted and perhaps more determined.
Read on to know more about Sudha Menon and her forthcoming novels.


You’ve had a rich career as a business journalist for more than 20 years. Would you like to share the ups and downs of being a journalist?

I think there have been more ups than downs in my career. It was in this period that I transformed myself from a painfully shy, almost reclusive young girl to a woman who is confident of holding her own in any company. I think by its very nature journalism requires, indeed, pushes you to open up even while you encourage your subjects or interviewees to reveal things to you that they would not dream of telling anyone else…
I think journalism also gave me the opportunity to meet people from so many diverse fields and in some ways each of these people left their impression on me in a way that added to my own personality. Be it a meeting with Kapil Dev and Amitabh Bachchan , Infosys’ Mr. Narayana Murthy, badminton ace Prakash Padukone or much earlier in my life, the world’s first heart transplant surgeon De. Christiaan Barnard, or a meeting with Dr. Abdul Kalam our former President , or SEWA’s Elabhatt who brought economic and social liberation to over one million poor women, all of them left their indelible mark on the person I have shaped up to be.

The downs of the journey would be the age-old issue women have: time for their own families, sometimes the guilt of not doing stuff for your only child, not taking time off to stand and stare if you will, not being able to spend time with your ageing parents , siblings….. But in the end, it has been a memorable, soul-fulfilling journey and I would not change it for anything in the world.

Also, the downside would be that the profession gives you a real close look at how human beings, the most intelligent species on earth, can also be selfish, arrogant, infinitely cruel and insensitive to other human beings and also to the planet on which they live. I covered the horrific Mumbai bomb blasts following the fall of the Babri Masjid and in my mid-twenties, that was a horrible wake-up call to my dreamer’s soul.

Do you think there is a difference in the way the current age journalists/reporters work?

Absolutely. When I was on the field, covering the beat that was the only way journalism could be practiced. You had to be out on the field every day, meeting people, hearing their stories, verifying everything you heard. I think my generation had a socialist inclination, we were sensitive, sometimes even partial to stories of trade unions, women, the underdogs trying to get justice. Today it is all about fashion, films, society soirees, the bold and the beautiful. Our biggest celebrities today are not social activists, reformers or change makers but film stars, Page 3 denizens and reality show stars.
And yes, journalists are increasingly under pressure, especially the electronic media, to produce breaking news and that to a large extent has spawned journalism that is not always very objective. Call it pressures of competition but the truth is that things can be much better.



What was the turning point in your career? What inspired you to write a book – a non-fiction inspirational read at that?
The turning point in my life would be my decision to walk away from a career that I painfully and passionately built up. Something that happened at my work place conflicted with my idea of what was right. My sense of doing the right thing conflicted with something that my seniors thought and for me the only choice was to walk away from a situation which was not ethical. That one decision changed my life. Suddenly, I was free to do my own thing, the master of my own time and the road ahead was crystal clear: I was free to write the book that had been rattling around in my head for a long time.

The non-fiction, inspirational book was a no-brainer. For over two decades I had been following the lives and journeys of so many sterling people who were doing so much meaningful work for themselves and for the community. Some of these were women and a woman I wanted to know their best-practices, what are the philosophies, the believes that gave them the extra edge in such a competitive man’s world, the X-factor that made them winners in a country where women are still trying hard to just be able to finish their education and try and have a decent career for themselves.

The book had to be inspirational because as a young mother struggling with home, a demanding career and the need to look after her only child, I had often looked around for inspiration to allow me to stick to my chosen path. I think each one of us can do with some inspiration in life.


How did you choose the genre and title of your book – Leading Ladies? 
The name leading ladies seemed just right to me. The women in my book are stars in their own right, even if they might not be the kind of leading ladies in films. But by virtue of their work, they are the leading lights of their organizations. I was playing with words when I called the book Leading Ladies- These women actually lead other women to follow their lead and chase after their dreams, isn’t it?




What is the book essentially about? How would you describe the role of women in our society?
Leading Ladies is an inspirational book that follows the journeys of some of India’s most-admired women achievers who have made a difference to society with their stellar work and other pursuits that touch our lives, in more ways than one.  My book  brings alive their unique stories with personal anecdotes that will serve as a beacon for many of us.

While a lot has been written about how these women have achieved success, Leading Ladies highlights the guiding principles of their lives, the personal and professional beliefs that drive them, the life and management practices that have always stood them in good stead, and the non-negotiables that have guided them on their path to success.

What makes the woman professional/ entrepreneur/achiever/leader tick? What is it that drives them? What are the rules by which they play the game? Is there a level playing field for women? Do women need a level playing field? Is there something males can learn from their female colleagues? Are women leaders also from Venus along with the rest of their clan or do they belong to Mars too? My book seeks to answers to these questions.

(L-R: Karen Anand, Anu Aga, Sudha Menon, Meher Pudumjee and Shaheen Mistri, at the Pune launch of Leading Ladies)



How did you short-list these women? What was the kind of research and process you had to undergo to gather information on the women and assimilate the book?
Being a business journalist has its merits in that I was always expected to know the trend-setters in the business world. And a journalist has to try and be above things as they develop. We are generalists too so the sheer amount of reading newspapers gives us in-depth, current knowledge about people. I spoke to the women themselves and the people who have been associated with them extensively. The short listing actually did not happen. My initial list itself was some 100 women and I had to actually stop with the first 17 women confirmed their participation in the book, because people don’t have the patience to read more than 400 pages at a go. So, there is volume 2 for sure and more later.


The lives of these personalities (mentioned in the book) have been documented in various publications earlier too. What is it about your book that makes it different or worthy of being picked up?
The fact that they spoke to me unedited. Somehow, I struck a connection with each of these ladies in such a way that they let their guard down and shared things from their lives, thoughts, dreams, their inner fears, stuff that they would otherwise never , ever think of putting in the public domain. These anecdotes transformed them from being perfect beings with unattainable, achievable women in books and magazines to women like you and me, who have their share of problems and fears and weaknesses. There is something infinitely charming about that and people are interested in learning from such stories.


Of the 15 women you’ve mentioned in your book,
o    Who has inspired you the most? 
P.T. Usha and Lila Poonawalla. They came from backgrounds where the odds were stacked heavily against them. Usha ran without shoes till she was about 16 because there was no money to buy shoes in a family where the father had a tiny village store to run. Lila’s initial life was spent in a refugee camp and from abject poverty she rose to become the first woman CEO of a multinational company in India. SEWA’s founder Ela Bhatt. Being in the same room as her is like being in the presence of an energy field that instantly charges everyone up. For a 70plus woman to do so much for a sisterhood of women and also work simultaneously for global change, is awe-inspiring.
o    Who has impressed you the most?
Naina Lal Kidwai, Kalpana Morparia, Shaheen Mistri of Teach for India, Shikha Sharma… In fact, all the women in my book are my stars. They work hard for themselves and for the community around them. Each of us can learn something from them.


What makes you tick?

My work is my biggest energizer. That and the fact that I have a family which adores me, admires and supports my work and gives me unconditional approval for my endeavors. My 20-year old is the guiding light of my life. Each day, when I set out to do something, I say to myself that I have to make her proud of me, I have to be her role model.



Leading Ladies – volume 2 is on its way but it’s being penned in a different format I gather – will it appear in interview form then?
Each of my work will be based on interviews because there is nothing like making a person talk unedited, to get a great story.

The fiction that you are working on at the moment – a few words about that please
It is the story of Karthu, a young girl growing up in coastal Kerala, in the period of the gulf boom. That era brought great wealth to the state but also corrupted the society in shocking ways. Karthu falls victim to an older man’s lust and the story follows her from being a victim to an unwed mother in a disapproving society and her eventual coming of age. An excerpt of the novel was published recently in Indian Voices, an anthology of emerging Indian writing from around the world. Honestly, I have not touched my fiction work for a year now because real life stories inspire me so much more than fictional characters.

Non-fiction and fiction –both of your works are woman-centric, is it just inspiration or that’s the realm you would like to focus on for now? 
Women fascinate me. They have such complex lives, there are so many layers to their personalities, they have to deal with life at so many layers and play so many roles. Their lives are so challenging and each day is a new chapter of that struggle. I want to focus on the stuff that makes women the fascinating creatures that they are and so, my writing is preoccupied with their stories.



Tell us about a few of your all time favorite authors and books. 
A J.Cronin’s The Citadel, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago, Emile Zola’s The Dram Shop,P.G. Wodehouse’s amazing books. Gone with the Wind and The Thornbirds were books that I grew up reading maybe dozens of times. I get moved my powerful characterization, intense people, settings that make you yearn to be part of that story…and by passion, be it for someone or for something.

Your advice to budding writers…
Read a lot. Read stuff that you like so you learn from them and read stuff that you don’t like so that you learn to avoid that style. Live a life that is rich with people and experience because in the end, powerful writing is about the powerful experiences that we ourselves go through. Armchair writing is infinitely less interesting than the writing about a person who has lived life rough, on the edge, lived dangerously and lived life as if each day is his/her last day on earth!

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Book Review of “Down The Road” by Grey Oak Publishers

Down The Road

Edited by Ahmed Faiyaz and Rohini Kejriwal

Urban Shots set the ball rolling for Grey Oak Publishers I feel – in the shot story segment – especially in and for the Indian society.

Urban Shots was a major success and rightly so. And Down The Road is a good follow up.

Focusing on the main theme of campus fiction, the book has 28 short stories, contributed by 16 authors, edited by Ahmed Faiyaz and Rohini Kejriwal. All 28 short stories revolve around growing up years in schools, colleges, universities and also forays into adulthood.

Ahmed Faiyaz has contributed 9 stories, Rohini wrote 2, just like Ira Trivedi, Sneh Thakur, Paritosh Uttam and Malathi Jaikumar. The rest 10 authors have one story each. And they span the entire canvas of growing up years –from being in school, getting suspended for making trouble, harassing the teacher/professor, falling in love, falling in love with the teacher/professor, arranging illegal parties in hostel rooms, bunking college, getting ragged, falling in love, getting your heart broken, procuring a good placement, hanging out with friends, politics in college life, friendship, growing up, saying good-bye…oh the moments are unique and countless!

It’s a wonder how all the stories bring back a certain part of life we’ve lived carelessly. Looking back, those moments seem more loved than present life- thanks to Down The Road.

Quite a few contributing authors are first timers while most have shared and basked in the glory of Urban Shots.

Yes this one indeed is an exciting and eclectic collection of short stories that brings out all those memories – unforgettable, warm, thrilling, and at times embarrassing – of life in school and college campuses. High on emotions and sensitivity, all the authors have portrayed different styles, ideas and narration techniques.

My personal favorites include:

*The Music Room by Ira Trivedi – the emotions portrayed touch your heart.

*Welcome to St. Gibbs by Ahmed Faiyaz – a very relatable story, for most guys I’m sure!

*That’s It? by Sahil Khan – the thing about his stories is that they might not be as unique overall – but the endings – boy! Does he nail it or what! It’s usually the last para or the last line of his story that makes it shine. And leaves behind a smile.

*Call me biased but I do like Paritosh Uttam’s stories. Sororicide and Between Friends both of them are well crafted.

*An Accidental Start by Kunal Dhabalia has a wonderful concept and it instills the idea of reading and writing in us.

*Just A Moment by Nikhil Rajagopalan is very realistic.

*Remember Me? by Ahmed Faiyaz again is a good one.

*Bellow Yellow by Chinmayi Bali is very touching.

Then of course are the articles and essays that paint features of campus life in our lives.

Wait…am I almost jotting down all of them?!

Sorry. Can’t help it – they all are fantastic and readable.

This definitely goes up in my bookshelf along with Urban Shots – which can be read over and over again without losing any bit of their luster.

So for kids in schools / colleges and even us – workaholics who sometimes are unable to spare a moment from our busy lives to reminisce the ‘good old days’, Down The Road urges you to take a while off and bring back memories to cherish forever.

Enjoy it and treasure it.


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Book Launch -Down The Road by Grey Oak Publications

The road blocks (literally!), due to Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations did not deter book enthusiasts from attending the book launch of Grey Oak Publishers’ new offering – Down The Road. An electic anthology of 28 campus tales by 16 authors brings back unforgettable memories of life in the campus. We all have had our share of school and college incidents that bring out emotions and feelings attached to the carefree life we truly miss now. And reviving those memories for the audience at Landmark, were the people who made the book a success.
On the panel were – Ahmed Faiyaz, Sahil Khan, Paritosh Uttam, Rohini Kejriwal, Naman Saraiyawith me moderating the discussion. After a crisp introduction of the authors and the editors what followed was a lively dialogue with the famous five (as they would be known by now).

The evening opened with a conversation with Ahmed Faiyaz – a renowned author with two popular bestsellers to his credit – Love, Life and All That Jazz and Another Chance; and of course memorable short stories contributed to Urban Shots.

On being asked about the selection of the title, Ahmed spoke about how an online poll was conducted with a few options competing for the title position and how the most voted title was finally chosen.

“Short stories are easier to write as well as read. When we were compiling stories for Urban Shots we had a few stories set in the campus life. So we thought of compiling just such stories that brings back memories of campus life,” smiled Ahmed on being asked about the ideation of compiling short stories.

Paritosh Uttam, Pune based software engineer and the prolific author of Dreams in Prussian Blue as well as the editor of Urban Shots (and of course one of the authors of the anthology), spoke about his two short stories featuring in Down The Road. “One of them is entirely fictional and the other one is written from personal experience, but I won’t tell you which one that is,” blushed the soft spoken author.

Sharing her experience of co-editing the collection was Rohini Kerjriwal, a 19…ooppss 20 year old PYT. “Grey Oaks has been kind to give me an opportunity to co-edit the stories. It really has been a wonderful journey.”
Naman Saraiya gathered most accolades from the audience, which of course comprised more girls. Need we get into details – nahh! We’ll let Naman’s “love” stories do the talking. His story, he said, is based on a friend’s encounters. Well captured and brilliantly put.

And of course, Sahil Khan – a lifestyle activist, a hard-core foodie (don’t be fooled by his skinny appearance and innocent looks), and one of the Young Turks of Pune, shared his experience of writing his short story “That’s It?”

Reminiscing about their campus life, the panelists shared a few experiences of their “good old days” and gathered a few laughs, trying to take a dig at each other.

(L-R) Paritosh Uttam, Sahil Khan, Ahmed Faiyaz
(*Pic by Aniket Dasgupta)

Down The Road is sure to connect with each reader- be it an adult or a youngster. The entire collection brings out feelings and incidents that readers must’ve experienced at some point in their life,” affirmed Rohini and Ahmed as they spoke about the USP of the book.
Wondering about what’s next in line from the desk of these brilliant writers -this is what we found out.

Ahmed has his hands full -scripting “Another Chance” (for hopefully a movie tie-up) and working on another novel; not to forget, the next Urban Shots anthology – a “Love” collection.
Paritosh too is working on his novel which possibly would be out this year. He is also contributing to Urban Shots Love Collection.
Rohini, Naman and Sahil would definitely continue working together for TossedSalad.com as well as for Urban Shots further anthologies. We sure hope Sahil keeps his commitment to delivering a full fledged novel soon.

The evening ended with a quick book-signing session by all present on the panel and the crowd hung around for quite a while, talking to the authors.

All said and done, Down The Road is sure to strike a memorable chord in your heart. All you have to do is -read it!

Though all the short stories in here are brilliant, my preference would be:

Down The Road – By Ahmed Faiyaz

Rishi & Me – By Ira Trivedi

Sororicide – By Paritosh Uttam

One Bump Does No Harm – By Naman Saraiya

That’s It – By Sahil Khan

The Cafe With No Name – By Sneh Thakur

The Worm That Turned – By Malathi Jaikumar

Growing Up – By Rohini Kejriwal

But most importantly – go pick up Down The Road and revive your campus days memories. This one is sure to “rock”!

Oh and do not miss my essay on Page 209 – Fiction on Campus. This marks my debut as a contributing writer.

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Author Interview – Sneh Thakur

From Kuwait to India via refugee camps; from being a Brand Manager and winning awards to now writing short stories by the beach and photographing the mountains, Sneh Thakur has lived quite an exciting life.

I got talking and digging for more about this beautiful, chirpy and multi-talented lady.

In a nut shell, tell us about Sneh Thakur.

I would best describe myself in 6 words as: Pint Sized Rapunzel. On a Cloud.

I’m 29 years old, born to a Rajput father and a Malyali mom – so dinner conversations were never dull! With 6 years of a career in FMCG under the belt in various leading FMCG companies in roles ranging from Sales, Business Intelligence, Innovation and Brand Management, I’ve travelled and explored India in a ‘real’ way which is one of the reasons why I love my job. My life-long loves have been of music that moves- U2, the lyrical quality of Jim Morrison and reading – A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry being my all time favorite.
Is it true that you made your way to India travelling across refugee camps? Looking back, is there an experience you’d like to share with us?

I was born in Kuwait and spent the first decade of my life there. When the Kuwait war broke out, the NRI community had to leave the country under difficult circumstances. It was at that point that my parents, who had every luxury in the world, had to bring me (then 11 years old) and my younger sister back to India. The journey involved travelling from Kuwait to Jordan on a long bus journey and camping as refugees in the deserts of Amman, Jordan till we got to safety and were flown into India. I believe in seeing the brighter side of life and remember an incident – it was midnight and the light from an innovatively created lamp (cottons wicks dipped in the remaining sardine oil from canned foods) lit the tent we were in and my sister and I spotted for the first time in our lives a Scorpion in the sand and almost picked it up. Thank god mom was close by! We all have a good laugh about “Deepti (my sister) and Sneh’s adventures in the desert” now.
We also read about you selling candy on the streets of Howrah. Could you elaborate that account?

My first assignment in the corporate world was as a Management Trainee for a major FMCG Confectionery company. I was based in Kolkata and as a trainee was expected to go through the learning ropes in Sales (due to which I am a better professional today). The first step involved starting from the scratch and seeing how “field sales” was done – so we could in time become better managers and leaders. This involved going to the market with boxes of candy and making sales calls – almost 55 to 60 shops a day. It was an amazing, tough experience but I must say that the shopkeepers in Howrah were very kind and generous and a smile was often enough to convince them!
Would you like to share, with your readers, your tryst with writing?

My tryst with writing started as a teenager when I’d keep a journal and play out with great drama my life, my friends and my angst at times! But in recent years I found myself turning to it very naturally as a form of self expression in blogging, notes, short stories, flash fiction and poems. In the corporate world you draft out oodles of memos and presentations every week, and I guess all the quick typing practice had to find a more creative outlet!
Tell us about your stories in “Down The Road”. What brought about the ideation?

I have written 2 stories in “Down the Road”. The first one is called “The Café with No Name” and is set in a Parsi café in Mumbai. When Ahmed Faiyaz of Grey Oak offered the opportunity for me to contribute, he mentioned that the tales had to have a campus connect. “The Café with no Name” is an off beat campus story revolving around the protagonist Dinshaw, a Parsi Café owner and the unlikely friendship that develops between him and a student who visits the café. As a student at SIBM, Pune I often used to travel in Pune and Mumbai for unique culinary experiences. This story is inspired by many a gastronomic delight!

The 2nd story “Fresher” is set in Indore and is about a spunky girl from Delhi who lands up there and her experiences in settling in to her new life from school to college, a different city, being a fresher and dealing with the challenges presented in a brave, resilient way. For me, this was an important story to tell as I know of many young kids from cities who end up going to smaller towns very different from their cocooned city life and getting bogged down by ‘seniors’ and ‘introduction sessions’. For me the ideation on this was to inspire young college goers to be who they are and not worry about the rest.
An exciting weekend for you would comprise…?

Since this is an fantasy question, I’m gonna have fun with it, so let me pick my favourites from all the cities I have lived, worked in:

A play with Naseeruddin Shah  at Prithvi Theatre, Lunch at one of Bandra’s world class restaurants; Endless conversations with friends; the rain in Delhi, the smell of the scented earth after and an evening walk at Lodhi Gardens, and perhaps a boat ride and barbeque in Muscat, Oman!
Read her stories in Down The Road and see the talent of this real Pint Sized Rapunzel. On a Cloud.

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Book Review of “Urban Shots”

Urban Shots

[28 (not 29) urban tales by 13 writers]

What a lovely anthology!

Urban Shots comprises 29 short stories by 13 writers (edited by Paritosh Uttam, who has also contributed 10 stories to the collection).

The stories revolve around relationships, in urban cities (metros), as they exist today. Relationships not just amongst youngsters but relationships shared by married couples, an old father and his son (and daughter-in-law), friends, colleagues, and people overall.

The stories talk about friendship, love, infidelity, hope, liberation, serendipity, angst, longing and a hoard of feelings that we sometimes don’t take time to notice. The best part is that you can read this book as per your convenience and not worry about dropping it mid-way to attend to other things.

So if you are travelling or waiting at the bus stop or sipping coffee alone – this book guarantees to be your best companion.

Paritosh’s stories are very crisp and brilliantly woven. They describe a certain instance or a day of a person’s life in a way that makes you visualize his/her (almost) entire life in a jiffy. I absolutely loved his writing.

Ahmed Fiyaz has contributed three stories and all of them are a breezy read. The simple day-to-day tone and language used by Ahmed make the instances very familiar and relatable.

Kainaz Motivala’s first published work of fiction – “Hope comes in small packages” is a very cute little story about a mother’s loss (of a child) and how she finds “hope”. Kainaz also is the face of Urban Shots.

Malathi Jaikumar’s story – “Liberation” – revolves around the life of an uneducated rural woman (from South India) married to a man who later moves to the city; she bears two children and faces the wrath of her drunk husband every weekend –and finally one fine day she finds her way out of the assault.

Her second offering, “Just average”, is about an otherwise average woman who shows extraordinary courage in a certain situation.

Bishwanath Gosh’s “Morning Showers” is a crisp tale about infidelity. Simple and well written. His second story “Women in Love” shows an almost precise picture of how women in love behave.

Abha Iyengar’s “Slow Rain” talks about a woman’s feelings of love and longing that have almost disappeared from her married life and her friendship with another man.
Prateek Gupta’s “Apple Pies and a Grey Sweater” revolves around love and friendship just like Kunal Dhabalia’s “Love All” but his “Driving Down the Memory Lane” treads the fine line of infidelity.

Sahil Khan’s “The Untouched Guitar” is extremely refreshing. Though what feels like a regular story told by a youngster recalling life through college years – the last line is what brought a smile to my face. And if I may add – it’s Kick A** !!!

Vrinda Baliga’s “Stick Figures” is a very touching tale and so is “Dialects of Silence” that peeps into the life of an Indian woman.

Rikin Khamar’s “The House in Alibagh” is a bit mystical and different from the rest.

Naman Saraiya’s “Trial and Error” makes up for a quick yet engaging read.

This collection of part-fiction-part-real stories makes up for a great start by Grey Oak Publishers. The new young-age writers have shown a knack of keen observation of human tendencies and behavior in today’s fast-paced life, especially in the metros. We no longer think twice before indulging in extra marital affairs or living in the fast lane where loving someone a moment ago and dumping them the next doesn’t really bother us. Instant gratification is what rules our behavior and preferences nowadays. Emotional attachments barely exist.

Reading this book made me wonder about the sea-change in perception we have undergone in the recent years. Aren’t we somewhere down the line losing the real essence of words like – love, sacrifice, marriage…?

We are not the ones to judge a certain thing as “right” or “wrong”. What appeals to us in a certain moment is what we indulge in. No time for deeper thoughts – or the consequences that follow.

Maybe this is the way of life for most of us. No wonder thirteen writers have penned similar feelings in their work (!!!)

Overall, a great attempt and a good read. I highly recommend this one.

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