• Read and Write

    Being Consistent : Is It Worth The Effort When Nobody Reads Your Posts?

    Being Consistent:Is It Worth The Effort When Nobody Reads Your Posts?
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    These days, traffic is not consistent in my blog. It has been low. When I say low, I mean really low. There are posts which didn’t get even a single push in the LIKE button. Having said that, I wasn’t getting tonnes of likes and comments in my blog earlier either. This made me introspect what I am not doing or rather what I was doing before with my posts.

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    Was I publishing posts on more interesting topics a couple of months back?

    Am I not socialising enough with my fellow bloggers as much as I should ?

    Has my writing lost it’s charm (only if it had any in the first place) ?

    OR, should I look for ways to somehow enlarge the visibility of the LIKE button more than the post itself ? 

    I have not reached any ultimate conclusion as my quest for finding the exact reason is still on. But there is one thing I have to admit. I have been blogging less frequently since last two months.  One or maximum two posts a week. Why? Well, let’s put it in this way….few important stuffs that demand more attention popped in my life exhausting me physically and emotionally. I was not consistent with my writing. And who doesn’t know if you are not consistent, then things can get more difficult for you? 

    Be it sweating it out in gym or writing your heart out, everything depends on consistency. You miss gym one day. The second day, you won’t feel like shrugging your laziness and getting inside your workout clothes. Same is with writing. You press the ‘pause’ button and resuming becomes the next daunting job. Ideas seem to loose interest in you and framing even a few sentences looks like a tough call. Although Writing Breaks Draw Us More Closer To Writing, but there is a limit to everything. And top of that, if you see nobody is visiting and liking your post, then writing suddenly turns into a less inspiring activity. 

    The situation gets worse when you have a self-hosted blog like me. You can’t increase your blog’s exposure by participating in the various alluring ‘tags’ that a particular blogging domain offers it’s own bloggers. There are prompts, but these are not always enough to gain some more visibility. Shared links on Facebook and even Instagram’s ‘Link in Bio’ is not that successful to fetch more traffic. 

    What should you do when such lows make an entry in your writing life? Quit writing? Shut your blog with an excuse of poor traffic? 

    Obviously……a big NO. 

    Rather….

    Never quit something which gave you confidence and even a little bit of peace at a certain point.

    Bring back your writing back in track.

    Don’t lose your patience.

    Remain consistent.

    I know it’s very frustrating when the story or the article, you have worked on for hours, fails to draw any attention (read: likes and comments). Every writer/blogger works towards building an audience. And not seeing expected results is quite disheartening. Appreciation indeed matters a lot for every one. Especially for those who has anything to do with creativity. But what should matter to you the most is your inner passion for the craft. 

    Tell me one thing. What made you decide to start your blog or try your hand at writing? For  millions of followers? For a heap of likes and comments? Of course, they come as a part and parcel of this whole blogging/writing business. But, this cannot be the sole reason behind the creative juices flowing inside you. 

    You write because you are passionate about writing. Am I right? Then please don’t leave your passion behind you just because it failed to attract some audience. Have patience, keep establishing new connections with other bloggers, engage with them more and above all……BE CONSISTENT. Write even if you mange to publish one post a week. And write with full honesty. You never know when things will start working in your favour.

    As for me, I will continue writing for the rest of my life. For I am not sure what else I am capable of doing apart from putting down my thoughts into words.

  • Books

    Did You Meet “The Girl In Room 105” ?

    Did You Meet "The Girl In Room 105" ?

    The Girl in Room 105 is the latest novel written by renowned writer Chetan Bhagat. I got hold of the novel in the Crossword store during my last trip to Mumbai. 

    Do pay a visit to Kasa Kai Mumbai !

    Coming back to the Crossword store, The Girl in Room 105 ,a paperback and a product of Westland publication, was occupying the first position in the Fiction department. I wasn’t surprised as this is where Chetan Bhagat’s novels usually end up. What surprised me was that this was the first time he has involved himself with a crime story. Or should I say in his words an ‘unlove story’?

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    But back then, I had just started reading Erich Segal’s The Class. So Chetan Bhagat had to wait for sometime till he could introduce me to The Girl in Room 105.

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    #theclass – A delayed but worthy read from one of those #yettoread novels from my book shelf. It is the second novel I read written by #erichsegal after #lovestory . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The story is served as a delicious stuffing sandwiched between the #harvard class of 1958 and their 25th reunion in 1983. How did the things change in the students’ lives when they stepped into the reality after spending dreamy 4 years in Harvard? How did they finally realise their true emotions after 25 years of fight in the battle named LIFE? Although the story revolves around Harvard students, but I think this can be my story,your story and possibly everyone’s story. For we have all experienced life’s predictably unpredictable nature ! #lovetoread #bookloversalways #bookworm

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    I was in college when I first read Chetan’s Five Point Someone. From then onwards, his every novel has found a place in my bookshelf. Some may criticise his storyline, but to be honest that never stopped me from paying for a Chetan Bhagat novel. Not just because I am a big admirer of his work. But also for the fact that his effortless humorous style of writing always calms down my nerves. I look for that kind of humour in every novel I read. 

    Now, let us not keep the girl waiting in room 105 anymore and say Hi to her.

    ******

    The story starts on the New Year’s Eve of 2018. Keshav Rajpurohit and his friend-roommate-colleague Saurabh are in the middle of a party thrown by Chandan Arora, the owner of Chandan Classes. However, Keshav is in a sulky mood. New Year eve always reminds him about his ex-girlfriend and now somebody else’s fiancée, Zara Lone. Keshav has tried and failed to rekindle his relationship with Zara several times after their break-up. Zara has turned cold shoulder towards him every time. Keshav’s only access to Zara these days are her WhatsApp DP and Instagram photos. 

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    #thegirlinroom105 is the first take of #chetanbhagat with #anunlovestory. I genuinely felt like going through a #crimepatrol episode as put by Saurabh, the protagonist Keshav’s colleague-friend-roommate and a partner in all right and wrong things in Keshav’s life. However, even it’s a thriller, still you will not miss Chetan Bhagat’s signature sense of humour. In fact, it’s his humorous writing style that always draws me towards a Chetan Bhagat novel from the day I read #fivepointsomeone 😊 So, if you have not yet visited #room105 , then I would suggest you to enter there at least once and meet THE GIRL IN ROOM 105 ! P. S : Please have a little patience with Keshav as he is not a professional detective and adopts a numerous trial and error methods in solving the mystery in Room 105 😊😋 #chetanbhagatfan #chetanbhagatbooks #alwaysandforever #bookworm #readingisfun

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    A month later, one night Keshav and Saurabh are busy boozing up in their small flat in Delhi. Then Keshav receives a message in his WhatsApp. To his surprise, the message is from Zara.

    It is her birthday and she is upset why Keshav hasn’t wished her this year. The allegation made by Zara is true. Keshav has always wished Zara on her birthday even after they broke up. But this time, he has promised Saurabh that Zara will be a closed chapter.

    Of course, his vow doesn’t last for long before Zara’s subsequent invitation to meet her in the hostel room. She tells Keshav that she would keep her room 105’s window open. Keshav can enter climbing the mango tree(the way he used to do when they were dating). He sees a silver lining in the sky to bring back his relationship with Zara in track. He along with Saurabh, drives in a drunken state towards Himadri, the girls’ hostel in IIT. 

    At 3:00 am, Keshav enters room 105 through the window using his old tactics. And within minutes, he gets the shock of his life. 

    How does Keshav wish Zara on her birthday? Why is Zara showing interest in Keshav when she has ignored him throughout? How does Keshav’s life change after he meets his ex in room 105? I have no desire to be a spoiler. You need to read the novel to know the answers…

    The story moves back and forth in different times giving a clear picture about the lives and backgrounds of Keshav (a boy from Rajasthan) and Zara(a girl from Kashmir). How they met in the Rendezvous Fest, IIT Delhi in 2010 and started dating each other shortly. When they decided to take their relationship to the next level, how complications creeped in and gradually set them apart. What Zara really expected from a relationship. What she received instead. How Keshav, a mediocre IIT student and a faculty in Chandan Coaching Classes lands himself amongst an upheaval after meeting Zara in room 105. The novel also subtly touches certain painful areas India is facing at present such as terrorism.

    ******

    The novel is a crime story. Still Chetan Bhagat’s hilarious writing style will keep you entertained without cutting down the thrill factor. His easy way of story telling has always been his USP. And he hasn’t disappointed in this department this time either. As far as the story goes, it has got a wide range in terms of characters and locations. The plot is interesting and a complete page turner. Those who binge on Crime Patrol episodes (like me) will enjoy the bumpy ride with Keshav Rajpurohit.

    So, if you haven’t met the girl in room 105 yet, I would suggest please meet her at least once 🙂

  • Short Stories

    Hammer, Hammer, On The Wall…

    Hammer, Hammer, On The Wall...
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    Bang….bang…bang…bang 

    Who the hell is busy with a hammer on Sunday morning? I toss from one to another end of the bed but fail to hold back my sweet morning sleep.  

    Bang….bang…bang…bang 

    There it goes again. 

    The sound is coming from the other side of the wall. Kabir informed that a family has shifted in the adjacent flat last night. I think they are trying to settle down, without giving a damn that their act of settling down is actually unsettling the neighbours. I sit on the bed and give an irritating look at the wall. And not finding any way to stop this noise, decide to seek refuge under the pillow. 

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    Bang….bang…bang…bang

    Bang….bang…bang…bang

    Bang….bang…bang…bang

    What the hell? Going by this rate, they will knock down the entire wall soon. For a second, I got scared thinking if that is their intention in the first place. 

    Bang….bang…bang…bang.

    Oh good Lord !

    ‘Kabir…wake up,’ I kick the body, weighing eighty kilos, sleeping peacefully on the other bed. How can he sleep amidst this noise? Not everyone is lucky enough to booze like him on Saturday night and have a hangover the next morning. Some people like me need to work even on weekends to meet deadlines. And they badly need some sleep on the Sunday morning. 

    ‘Moron,’ I kick Kabir’s bum. His bed gives a creaky sound in response. 

    Bang….bang…bang…bang

    I open the door in full Hindi film hero style and ring the bell of the next flat, the source of all trouble.

    A middle-aged grey-haired man, with the celebrated hammer in his left hand, opens the door. So he is the one who has screwed up my Sunday morning sleep. I take a look at the rest of his hand and then his physique. Must have been a gold medalist in weight lifting in his younger days. No wonder the sound of the hammer is so loud. I compare his well built frame in an Adidas training suit with my lean one in a Rupa vest and striped boxers. My brain debates whether it would be wise  to complain about the noise. 

    ‘Yes?’ he asks in a hoarse tone.

    ‘Hi….I am Vishal Patel. I stay next door,’ I answer.

    ‘So?’ he asks in the same hoarse and equally anti-social tone.

    ‘Nothing. Just if you can slow down the hammering…..only if it’s not much of a problem to you.’

    ‘Will try. Anything else?’

    By that time, a woman comes in the room and asks, ‘Who is it, Mahesh?’ Must be his wife. 

    ‘Nobody.’ 

    When you are a nobody to someone, then it’s always better to leave that place. I walk towards my rented flat and the body builder closes the door with a thud.

    ***************

    I was locking the door before going to work when a female voice attracted my attention. 

    ‘Hello.’

    I turn around and see a beautiful girl smiling at me.

    ‘I am Mahi. We are your new neighbours.’

    ‘Hi,’ I tell her. She is a complete beauty. 

    ‘I am sorry you had to face inconvenience because of all the noise yesterday. You see, we had just shifted.’

    ‘It’s completely okay,’ I reply. A beautiful girl doesn’t look good apologising and explaining things unnecessarily. By the way, who is she? Mahesh’s daughter, I guess. However, she is definitely more polite and civil than her father.

    ‘Come and have some tea with us.’

    ‘Oh! thank you so much…’ I tell her. ‘But some other day. Need to rush to work.’ A part of me wants to chat with Mahi for some more time though.

    ‘Okay. No problem,’ Mahi says. ‘Have a nice day.’

    God knows why, I press the lift’s button while blushing to my core.

    ***************

    ‘Wake up, buddy and get ready,’ Kabir pushes me in my sleep.

    ‘Why? What happened?’ I squint as he removes the blanket from me. Why is everyone on earth trying to ruin my weekend sleep?

    ‘We have a lunch invitation.’

    ‘Invitation? From whom?’ 

    ‘The Kumars .’

    ‘Who Kumars?’

    ‘Our new neighbours,’ he says as he sprays deodorant all over his body. Kabir is an eco-friendly person. He believes in saving water in Mumbai by skipping a bath as much as he can. And he is also sensible enough to take care of the air pollution part. A nice portion of his salary goes behind buying deodorants. 

    ‘Mahi came to our flat last evening and invited us for a lunch today.’

    ‘Who? Mahi? She came here?Why didn’t you tell me?’ Violin starts playing around me when I hear or think the name Mahi. I have often replayed our first and last conversation throughout the week. Andher killer smile.

    ‘You came home late last night. So, couldn’t inform you. Now hurry up. I don’t want to be late to have some delicious home-made food.’ Kabir and I are ever ready to gulp some free food. And if that offer is coming from Mahi’s end, then I can’t miss it even for my life. Wasting no more time, I jump out of the bed.

    ***************

    ‘Welcome. Have a seat. Mahesh is taking bath. He will join you guys soon,’ Mahesh’s wife greets me and Kabir into their living room. My eyes are eagerly searching for that beautiful face.

    ‘Hello,’ Mahi comes out of the kitchen. ‘So kind of you for accepting our invitation. Lunch is almost ready. Please sit and do feel at home.’ 

    ‘Don’t rush. Take your time,’ I tell her as we sit on the sofa. 

    ‘You must have met my mother,’ Mahi says. 

    Namaste aunty,’ Kabir and me fold our hands like obedient children.

    Namaste beta. I am Anuradha. This place is really good. They have these first-class amenities here…’ Anuradha aunty starts telling how much she likes the apartment. Meanwhile, I glance at the opposite wall. Lot of pictures are hanging there displaying the Kumar family and the reason of using the hammer last Sunday vigorously.

    In one, Mahi and Anuradha aunty are enjoying the waves in a beach. In another, Mahi is all dressed up as a Kashmiri girl and standing in front of the Dal lake. There is a picture where Mahi, Anuradha aunty, Mahesh and a teenage boy are smiling in a restaurant. Who is this boy? Mahi’s younger brother? This boy is sitting in between Mahi and Mahesh in a different picture. 

    ‘Say hi to uncles, Sonu,’ Anuradha aunty brings out the same boy in the picture from the bedroom.

    ‘Hello,’ Sonu says.

    ‘Hi. What do you do, Sonu?’ Kabir asks.

    ‘Sonu, ask them if they know any good cricket academy nearby,’ Anuradha aunty says. ‘Sonu  wants to play cricket. Isn’t it Sonu?’

    ‘At present, I just want to have food. Can you please serve food soon, Mummy?’ Sonu turns towards Mahi in the kitchen. And I watch him in horror. Am I mistaken somewhere or is he actually addressing Mahi as Mummy?

    ‘Sure beta. Check if Papa is ready or not,’ Mahi replies from kitchen.

    ‘I am ready,’ the ever grumpy Mahesh Kumar, fresh from his bath, enters the scene.

    ‘Oh Mahesh, meet our guests, Kabir and Vishal,’ Mahi says. ‘And he is Mahesh, my husband. You have already met our son, Sonu and…..’

    Have you ever seen that beauty soap advertisement? All the boys are awestruck by the beauty of that new girl in the college. And suddenly there runs a kid towards her saying ‘Mummy’. The new girl embraces the kid giving everyone around an electric shock of thousand volts.

    I got the same shock of my life in the Kumar’s living room. Mahi has no regular signs of a married woman. And even if she is married, still she definitely doesn’t look like a mother of a teenager at all. Does she bathe with the same beauty soap? Anyway, how does it matter now to me? It’s my fault that I started dreaming about her from the very first meeting. After all, not everything you see is what it appears to be.

    ‘Lunch is ready,’ Mrs. Mahi Kumar gives her charming smile and invites us to the dining table. 

    And I follow Kabir’s enthusiastic steps like a loser.

  • Read and Write

    Writing Breaks Draw Us More Closer To Writing

    Writing Breaks Draws Us More Closer To Writing
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    Writing breaks are an integral part of my life. So much so that I can bag an award for being more consistent in taking breaks from her writing spree than indulging in the actual act of writing.

    Feeling lazy to write today? No problem. Take a writing break.

    Just laid hands on an eagerly awaited incredibly interesting novel and life would look meaningless until I finish reading the story? Then what am I thinking? Take a waiting break for a couple of days and start reading the novel right now.

    Planned an outing with family when I should be working on the ending of that short story?What’s wrong with me? Is the story more important than my family? I can always sit with the story tomorrow. Take a break.

    There is a world TV premier for the movie that I missed to watch in the multiplex few months back. But I also need to submit the draft to the publication. So what? The last submission date is two days later. A break from writing won’t hurt my deadline. Let me enjoy the movie with some popcorn right now.

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    If you need to hire someone who excels in making excuses, then by now you already know whom to contact. I promise that you wouldn’t find anyone more suitable than me for this job. A demo of my potential is hanging right above.

    I agree of being someone who looks for an opportunity to take writing breaks. Although, I don’t let go of writing ideas when they decide to visit me, but keeping a distance from the writing desk has proved to be a good decision for me many times.

    Exercise can be pretty exhaustive. And, writing, in my opinion, is the most demanding form of workout. An hour spent in the gym will not make you as tired as sitting for even half an hour with pen and paper (or your laptop). But you cannot exercise throughout the day. Similarly, you cannot be a creative genius always as well. After all, there is a difference between creativity and 24×7 open restaurants.

    You must have heard and read a thousand times that consistency is the key to improve writing skills. No, I am not trying to mean the consistency level that was discussed in the beginning. The less you follow my example of consistency, the better. This is procrastination.What I intend to convey is that writing daily is the only way to improve your craft. You know the trick very well. At the same time, taking a little break too will not harm your creativity quotient.

    Of course, do not look for excuses to take a writing break like me. But do allow yourself some leisure time when things are not working out as planned in that blank (or half filled) word document of yours. I am afraid, simply staring at the page and pressing your mind for those exact words will not erase the writer’s block. Rather, shut down your laptop(if you can afford to do so) and try doing any one or all from the below :

    Grab a cup of coffee or tea.

    Enjoy some good music.

    Spend time with your family and friends.

    Read your favourite authors’ novel.

    Do some physical activity.

    Keep your brain’s windows open and let the fresh air in.

    Relax your mind.

    And then, you would soon find yourself bubbling with new ideas.

    I may not be the best illustration of someone who takes a break from writing wisely. Still, my hands itch during those breaks.

    On the first day, my mind roars I deserve a break.

    On the second day, it says so what if I am not writing today. What about those days when I had rubbed my bum on the chair and fingers on the laptop?

    On the third day, right after waking up, I long to open the laptop with no more lame excuse playing in mind and start working on a new (or an unfinished) post. Name it guilt or love for writing, nothing can keep me away from the writing desk anymore then. To my surprise, the struggle, I had two days back, with the story’s ending disappears like a magic spell.

    Friends, don’t feel guilty about taking small writing breaks whenever necessary. Those breaks don’t mean negligence to your art. Rather, they help you maintain your sanity and make a come back with an insuppressible zeal. You love to write. Correct? Then trust me. Forget writing breaks, not even the world’s most enticing and distracting elements can divert you from your goals.

    Moreover, if I can, then you DEFINITELY can.

  • Short Stories

    Bonding Over The Milk

    Image Source : Pixabay

    ‘I will keep an eye on the milk, aunty,’ Ritika assures. 

    ‘Are you sure? I can boil it once we are back,’ Madhavi says. Any mother-in-law would be happy to give her daughter-in-law some responsibility in kitchen. But Madhavi appears reluctant in this department.

    Three days after Soham and Ritika’s wedding, the newly wedded bride was supposed to prepare a sweet dish for her in-laws. To Madhavi’s surprise, Ritika was scared to even switch on the gas. It was Madhavi who finally did the entire preparation. All Ritika did was to stir the milk occasionally. She held the ladle as if it was a pen.

    Soham and Ritika fell in love with each other in college. Ritika is beautiful, soft-spoken, works as a software engineer in a reputed MNC and comes from a well-off family. Madhavi was too impressed to ask any typical question. And cooking? Well, even boys can cook some dish or other these days. Then why should a twenty-eight year old woman like Ritika be asked do you know cooking?In Madhavi Sen’s opinion, periods and cooking are the two things that come naturally to women. 

    However, Madhavi has a different opinion now. She is confident that given a chance, Ritika can even burn water. So, will it be a good idea to trust Ritika with a vessel filled with milk on the gas? 

    ‘You don’t worry,’ Ritika says. ‘I will boil it nicely.’

    ‘Okay…but be careful,’ Madhavi replies. It can be a matter of grave discussion though whom she was more concerned about – Ritika or the milk. Anyway, Madhavi needs to visit her best friend who is lying in the hospital bed with a fractured leg. Domestic stuffs can be dealt later on. 

    ‘Are we good to go, Mummy?’ Soham asks swirling the car keys around his index finger. He looks at Ritika with love in his eyes. But Madhavi’s presence makes him to hold a control on his emotions.

    ‘Papa is waiting outside,’ he says.

    ‘Lock the door, Ritika. We won’t take much time,’ Madhavi says while taking out her purple flats from the shoe rack. 

    Standing behind his mother, Soham was making naughty expressions at Ritika. The moment Madhavi turned towards Soham, he straightened his face like an innocent kid. Ritika somehow suppresses a laugh and says, ‘It’s okay. Take your time. I will be fine, aunty.’

    When will this girl understand that Madhavi is not her aunty now? Madhavi thinks and steps out of the house. Soham follows his mother’s footsteps after giving a flying kiss to a blushing Ritika.

    ******

    Who wrote those words in his car’s backseat? Only Neha can do this. She has done it in past too. But how is that possible? Neha is dead. Anirban himself killed her last night and buried the body in her backyard. Then? Lost in thoughts, Anirban drives his car. Suddenly the driving mirror catches his attention. Neha !! She is sitting on the backseat of his car. His heart comes to mouth. He looks back. No, Neha is not there. Suddenly he loses control and the car hits a tree. Anirban’s head is now resting on the steering wheel as blood oozes out of his forehead. 

    End of episode four. 

    Ritika scrolls down to click the next episode. But to her utter dismay, she realises the next episode is yet to be released. She was waiting eagerly to watch the second season of this web series, which was out last week. The wedding kept her busy. She found some lone time today and decided to watch the series. But what a pity! Why do they always end an episode with a twist that keeps you restless until you see the next one? Ritika shuts down her laptop and enters the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. A chill runs down her spine. The milk ! 

    Soon after Madhavi left the house, Ritika lit the gas and put the stainless steel vessel on a low flame. She thought of checking the milk after a few minutes, went inside her bedroom and the web series engrossed her entire mind. Few minutes have become three hours. 

    Ritika comes near the gas and peeps inside. An entire vessel full of cow’s milk is now reduced to a miserable quantity. Madhavi has invited few guests at home this evening and planned to prepare rice pudding for them. Ritika’s legs are shaking. She switches off the gas, covers her mistake with a lid and sits on a chair. Madhavi has never criticised the fact that Ritika is not good in kitchen. Still, that does not give Ritika any liberty to mess with simple chores like boiling milk.

    An idea strikes her. What if she goes to the nearby store and buys milk packets before anyone comes back? Madhavi is not a fan of milk sold in markets though. A milkman, who is serving the Sen family for a long time, brings fresh milk in the morning. But now, Ritika can’t waste anymore time. She adjusts her dupatta, takes her purse, proceeds towards the door and suddenly the door bell rings. A glance through the eyehole makes her numb.

    ‘We were stuck in traffic. Hence got late,’ Shuvendu apologises to his daughter-in-law unnecessarily after she opens the door. ‘Hope you didn’t feel bored.’

    ‘No, uncle,’ Ritika says softly and looks at Madhavi from the corner of her eyes. Soham is parking the car in the garage. 

    ‘Let me freshen up. Then I will show you the rice pudding recipe. It’s very easy,’ Madhavi says enthusiastically. ‘Oh! You have boiled the milk. Great. I was thinking if…..’ she ends her sentence midway after removing the lid. Madhavi’s enthusiastic face turns into a question mark. 

    ‘I put the milk on low flame. But forgot to check……..I am sorry,’Ritika says with tears in her eyes.

    In Ritika, Madhavi sees a twenty-two year old girl. That girl, whom her parents pampered so much, was married off to a big joint family. As the girl was not an expert in kitchen, she became a matter of joke in front of her mother-in-law and rest of the sister-in-laws. It took immense patience and  humiliation for her to learn the craft and gain respect in the family. She knows how it feels to be judged and never wanted the same for her own daughter-in-law.

    Madhavi comes closer to Ritika.

    ‘Why are you crying?It’s only some milk,’ she pats Ritika’s cheeks gently. ‘Silly girl. How will you learn new things if you don’t make mistakes? And don’t feel so scared. You are in your own home.’ 

    ‘But what about the rice pudding?’ Ritika asks.

    ‘Rice pudding !’ Madhavi laughs. ‘Don’t worry. I will prepare something else.’

    ‘Please forgive me, aunty.’

    ‘Only on one condition,’ Madhavi says.

    Ritika frowns.

    ‘Start calling me Mummy, my child and cheer up.’

    Madhavi brings out sugar and some more ingredients from the cupboard. Probably to prepare another sweet dish. Ritika heaves a sigh of relief inside. Mistakes too play an important role in building a beautiful bond sometimes. Today’s situation has taught her this lesson.

    ‘Why don’t we check some recipes from internet, Mummy?’ she stands beside her mother-in-law. Madhavi keeps the milk aside, puts another vessel of sugar on the gas and continues listening to Ritika’s culinary tips with a smile. 

  • Read and Write

    Did You Look Back At Your Published Post Once More?

    Did You Look Back At Your Published Post Once More?
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    Did you ever look at a published post of yours and felt embarrassed about it ? No, I am not talking about that very first post you wrote years ago. Having said that, to every blogger or writer, the first post undoubtedly holds a very special place. It reminds of the hope with which you started writing. You even laugh at the silly shape your craft was back then. But, year (or even month) old posts are not what I am concerned about here.

    On the contrary, I am talking about the post that you published this week or just yesterday to be precise. You wrote it with great enthusiasm, revised it several times carefully and finally hit the publish button. But….but….have you looked at it today? Of course. You must have. After all, it’s not possible for everyone out there to be an overconfident blogger like me.

    Taking care of all the nitty-gritty in the post always comes at the top of my writing priorities. But I don’t understand, how on earth, the very next day, I end up discovering in my published post :

    1 Spelling mistakes.

    Yes. Even an in-built dictionary in a powerful word processor cannot stop me from misplacing (or missing) the letters in a word. I am so overwhelmed about writing a topic at times that the words underlined in red get completely ignored. These misspelled words make me cringe after going through the post next time. They remind me that I am not here to become the Usain Bolt in the blogosphere. Rather I should not mind in taking some more time and relook at each word before hitting the publish button.

    2 Wrong words.

    Spelling mistakes are something which you can at least detect by seeing the red underlines beneath them. But the words that I have typed accurately yet they don’t fit well in my post? What should I do with them? Sea instead of see. Tail while I intended to write tale and last but not the least typing fishing in place of finishing. I need to have an immense concentration, a hawk-eyed scrutiny and a calm mind to pinpoint these minute gaffes.

    3 Poor Grammar.

    Only the proper usage of grammar can beautify a particular sentence. Else, it has the ability to destroy the entire post. An in-built dictionary or auto-spell checker can do very little in this regard. So, I tend to implement my knowledge of grammar carefully. Still heinous crimes such as Did he did the task well ? I are the happiest person in this world take place in my writing sometimes. These shameful mistakes often don’t get caught when I write the post and revise repeatedly on the same day. They come to my notice only the day after I have published the post.

    4 No punctuation.

    Punctuation often decides to act in it’s own free will in my posts. A comma appears when a full-stop is utterly necessary. The full-stop comes when there should be a pause in the sentence. But this is one mistake that I don’t feel much ashamed about. Maybe, I was too engrossed in the story or the subject matter to notice such mistakes. But that doesn’t spare me from the responsibility of taking care of the problem in the published post later on.

    5 Irrelevant sentences.

    Every sentence resembles a shiny diamond necklace when I am on my writing spree. In my opinion, I am kind of allowed to feel this way after pouring in a whole day’s effort on the keyboard. The 1000 word post has enough reasons to make me super-excited and publish it as soon as possible. Next day, I open the same post and find at least 100 words that add absolutely no value to the content. They are nothing but repetition of the previous line in a different way. And this realisation comes only after I adopt an impartial attitude towards the post. Taking out the now-appears-less-shiny diamond pieces from the necklace looks like an intelligent thought in those moments.

    It is quite natural to jump at your desk when an idea hits you. Even I don’t let go of writing ideas when they decide to visit me. Finishing a post on something close to your heart doesn’t take much time. For you have already felt and visualised the entire scene. But what I have learnt from my mistakes is one should wait for some more time before touching that Publish button.

    Thinking and writing at the same time can be a pretty exhaustive job for the brain. To burden it with another crucial job of revision right after you are done with your draft may not be a good decision. I would suggest you to take a little break. Grab a cup of tea and then come back at your desk. This will help you to find the five mistakes mentioned in this post much easily. And that too before publishing the content. 

    Read your draft again, again and again till you are unable to point out anymore flaws. And if you are not in a rush to submit your piece today itself, then please book the very next day in your calendar for revising it once more. The chance of rectifying the range of mistakes will make you feel glad for not publishing the draft a day before ! After all, you are here to write, share and connect. Not to create any world record of publishing the maximum number of posts in your blog. Remember?

  • Read and Write

    I don’t let go of writing ideas when they decide to visit me

    I don't let go of writing ideas when they decide to visit me
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    Writing has never been a sit-get the idea-write-publish job for me. Having said that, I guess it’s not that simple task for anyone either. Even before opening the laptop, I have to think, think and think harder to write even few lines. The act of thinking often takes much more time than writing and networking. First, think of an idea that I really feel excited to share. Then I try to fit in my audience’s shoes and figure out if this would appeal them too. If both these conditions work in my favour, then well and good. Else then I need to shake my idea basket once more and repeat the process. But this is obviously not as easy as it sounds.

    The basket shows up to have nothing inside it sometimes. It’s like searching for ingredients in the kitchen to prepare dinner and realising you have forgotten to buy groceries in the first place. This is one of the most helpless situations to be in. Therefore, keeping a regular check on the basket would ensure there is no dearth of new ideas to write about. But how to keep the basket full?

    I am not sure if this happens to you, but ideas don’t strike me when I am staring at the blank page in the laptop. On the contrary, an inspiring post, a story plot, an old memory worth penning down and many such random thoughts visit me when I am doing everything else but writing. What should I do in those moments? Should I wait till I grab the laptop? What if these ideas decide to be impatient and fly out of my mind’s window?

    A smartphone plays an important role in such situations. Got some ideas in the middle of an evening stroll?Or say, I am busy preparing breakfast or packing the lunchbox and a wonderful thought crosses my mind. But the domestic stuffs, that too deserve my attention, will make me eventually forget what I was thinking to write about later. Maybe, I don’t have the time to work on my ideas immediately but can’t afford to lose them either. To handle such situations, I note them down in my phone just like one uses sticky notes to remember the to-dos.

    Jotting down the haphazard but some fascinating ideas in my phone helps me to :

    1 Always keep my idea basket full.

    It is quite possible that the very same idea might look silly few hours later. But the probability of getting a wonderful writing plot has become higher for me after I started taking notes of my random ideas in the last few months. You cannot think of not-worth-writing-about ideas every time. At least, 2 out of 5 such ideas have the capability to see the light of the day.

    2 Maintain a distance from these two dreaded words – Writer’s Block.

    I don’t need to look out for writing prompts or bite nails to get writing inspirations. My phone’s notes has my own fresh ideas saved in it. Believe me, I have thanked myself a number of times for having this habit of scribbling few lines in the phone now and then.

    3 Never forget what I exactly tried to convey through my posts.

    For my notes save me the pain of thinking about the topic again. They help me remember and not to deviate from the purpose of my post when I sit down to write. For example, this post would have been forgotten long back had I not cared enough to list down the points a fortnight ago.

    However, I have taken a few steps backward while taking notes of my whimsical mind. A diary has replaced my phone’s position these days. And I must say, this age-old tradition of writing in the diary is a true delight. Yes, a diary may not accompany me most of the time like a phone can. But I am willing to nurture this habit for lifelong. Ironically, I am writing more in the diary than I had scribbled in my phone ever. No matter how many gadgets technology gifts you, the power of a pen and a paper will never fade.

    And if nothing else happens, at least your handwriting will get back in shape. Mine was a real mess when I started writing in the diary. It puts me to shame as my teachers always appreciated my handwriting. But I don’t want to put the entire blame upon myself. After all, the chance of writing on a piece of paper comes very rarely when you have laptops and tablets.

    Long story short, whether it’s a diary or a gadget, make it a habit to note down your random thoughts in them and add more potential to your writing. Good habits always yield good results and this one will definitely prove to be a game changer.

  • Turning back at the week

    Wrong numbers, politics and weddings !

    Wrong numbers, politics and weddings !
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    Last week started with a call from a wrong number.

    Have you ever picked up your phone and looked at the unknown number flashing on the screen? You say Hello anticipating it to be an important call from a job agency or a prospective client or a family member in distress? And then you realise the caller is asking for someone whom you never knew existed in your life before this call. You say wrong number politely and put your phone down. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Of course, it does. Each one of us have said wrong number at least once in our life. But I can bet you don’t say these words as often as me. 

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    I changed my sim card with a different number an year back. Few days later, I got a call :

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    Me : Hello.

    Caller : I am calling from the Police Station in the north east line.

    Me: Yes? (with a heart throbbing like a jumping jack)

    Caller : Can you please switch on the air con ?

    Me : Switch on what? (relived for not charged of any crime but equally surprised by his request)

    Caller : The air con.

    Me : I think you have called the wrong number.

    Caller : Is this XXXX XXXX number? 

    Me : Yes, it is.

    Caller : You are the ABC air con service provider, right?

    Me : I am afraid, I am not. You have dialled the wrong number.

    Caller :  Oh I am so sorry (his voice did sound more confused than apologetic)

    Me : It’s okay.

    Only if I knew, it was not okay at all. Throughout the year, I received many such polite requests to switch on the air conditioners. The dialogues were almost same as above, only the locations changed.

    Situation is such that I don’t get goosebumps now if someone says, ‘I am calling from so and so police station.’ For I know the poor guy just wants to switch on the air conditioner. You must be thinking why I didn’t block the numbers. But, I get calls from different numbers every time. How many times can I block them? Or was I enjoying attention?

    Talking of attention, it reminds me of the badminton session (yes, one more round) with husband.

    Normally, we play around 8 o’ clock in the evening when you get the badminton courts free from toddlers and gossiping aunties. But last week (maybe because it was Saturday), we got some spectators for our game. Three old men sitting on the bench, two kids riding the bicycle (whom we had to strategically keep away from the court), two young women chatting, a granny who had nothing to do – I mean we had a varied flavour of audience.

    But the P.V.Sindhu in me was not happy with such attention. I am a person who is comfortable behind the scenes. Attention makes me self-conscious. Same happened here.

    My mind became busy  in thinking that I shouldn’t disappoint my audience and stressed on not missing any shot. But I missed a couple of good shots. A man, who was watching the game eagerly, finally picked up his toddler and walked away from the scene. I set a wrong impression upon him. Damn! How do these International Players cope up with the pressure? 

    However, the real pressure reflected on TV (including Singapore channels).

    In today’s date, the news channels provide more entertainment and thrill than sitcoms and crime shows. The assembly election results in 5 states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana  and Mizoram gave ample of reasons to let the TV on throughout the day. The battle between the two political parties – Congress vs. BJP or  Rahul Gandhi vs. Shri Narendra Modi to be precise reached it’s peak.

    People in Telangana and Mizoram voted on forming government with separate parties. But the limelight was on Congress which defeated BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

    Rahul Gandhi, who is otherwise the subject matter of jokes and taunts in BJP, had the last laugh in this election. A wining smile was on his face throughout the press conferences. That’s why they  say never underestimate your enemy. Your enemy can prove you wrong at any point. A pretty good Christmas gift for Rahul Gandhi !

    Oh ! My Christmas tree is now out of the bomb shelter by the way.

    Looks like I am ready for Christmas 🙂

    Wrong numbers, politics and weddings !

    However, weddings too attracted a lot of attention last week.

    Open the news channels or Instagram and the image of a newly married celebrity couple would emerge. Saina Nehwal & Parupalli Kashyap, Kapil Sharma & Ginni Chatrath, Shweta Basu Prasad & Rohit Mittal, Raghu Ram and Natallie Di Lucio. Phew! As if the whole celebrity circle decided to walk down the aisle in December after Ranveer Singh & Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra & Nick Jonas

    But…but guys…the award for the no. 1 big fat Indian wedding definitely went with the Ambanis. Mukesh Ambani, the Indian business magnate, was giving away his only daughter, Isha Ambani to another billionaire industrialist Ajay Piramal’s son, Anand Piramal.

    Almost a week long festivities, with Sangeet ceremony in Udaipur, Rajasthan and a larger-than-life wedding in Antilla kept the tongues wagging and media busy on the streets. Presence of Pranab Mukherjee, Hillary Clinton and Beyonce’s performance are just few of the highlights from the wedding. Some even coined this whole affair as Real-life Crazy Rich Asians wed in Mumbai. But if you ask me, anything less than this from Mukesh Ambani, who is one of the richest man on this planet would have surprised me.

    Here are some glimpses from the much talked wedding :

    The normal middle-class Asians, however, spent their Sunday evening with a friend from United States. Also an ex-colleague of husband, the friend is on his month long tour of the Asian countries. After a short tour of Malaysia, he is now in Singapore and has plans to visit Vietnam and Thailand. We went out for a tour of Gardens by the Bay. The Supertrees looked more vibrant amidst all the Christmas decorations. 

    The week ended beautifully with a dinner in Little India, an order for Biriyani that was already over in the restaurant’s kitchen, discussions on the differences of lifestyles between Singapore and America,  and a gift from the friend in the form of Danish cookies. 

    If you liked reading this, you can also check :

    Am I ready for Christmas or just want to continue feeling blue?

    Kasa Kai Mumbai : Turning back at the week with a cup of tea

  • Books,  Jeffery Archer

    Charity Begins At Home

    Charity Begins At Home
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    Charity begins at home. How many times did you hear this phrase in your life? A number of times, right? It tells us that we should take care of our own needs at first before helping others. But there was a Henry Preston who once took the meaning of this phrase to a whole new level. Jeffrey Archer talks about Mr. Preston, an employee of Pearson, Clutterbuck & Reynolds in his short story CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME ! Once I read the story, I felt like I had to share it.

    ******

    Henry Preston, an extremely shy guy and with an almost nil social life, joined Pearson, Clutterbuck & Reynolds as a clerk. Neither Henry had any hobby nor he had any addiction to sex or drugs. His only indulgence was occasional gin and tonic and that too on Saturdays. In Jeffrey’s words – frankly, if there was a club for introverts, Henry would be elected chairman – reluctantly. 

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    But Henry’s dull life changed forever just few years before his retirement from Pearson. He got the task of managing the accounts of Angela Forster’s company, Events Unlimited. Angela, after her husband left her for a younger woman, opened a small business that specialised in organising events – from annual dinners to Balls. Her natural organising skills made her business eventually more  successful than she had expected it to be. 

    ‘Why don’t you come along to one of my functions, Mr Preston?’ Angela one day asked after her meeting with Henry. 

    Henry accepted her invitation for a ball for African famine relief on Saturday evening. In his mind, Henry, a born introvert, was regretting as attending the event would mean missing his regular Chinese takeaway with gin and tonic that tops his priority list while watching the film of the week in television. Moreover, he had to be in time on Sunday morning for checking the church collection.

    Still on Saturday, Henry found himself in the town hall for the ball, dressed in an old-fashioned jacket his mother gifted on his 21st birthday. Once Henry got the chance to slip away, he met Ms Forster. After few moments of conversation, he realised Ms Foster took back home a meagre amount of what her company earned from all the events annually. Ms Forster said she was unable to increase her income. Whenever she demanded a hike in her fees, her clients reminded they ran a charity. Henry thought something, asked Angela out for dinner and hatched a plan. 

    Henry commented, ‘Don’t forget that any winnings made from gambling are tax-free.’

    Charity Begins At Home

    Angela’s Westminster and City Conservative Association’s annual ball saw Henry entering the ballroom with an empty Gladstone bag in one hand and an umbrella in the other. The ball fetched £22,370 that evening. Henry gave Angela a receipt in exchange of £19,400 cash (which he later dropped in the nearest HSBC bank’s safe deposit) and entered the Black Ace Casino with the remaining £2,970 cash. 

    At the roulette table, he exchanged £2,970 for blue and white chips in the next three hours. After leaving the table, he reached the bar, carefully put all the chips from his pocket into the open handbag of a woman sitting next to him and made an exit from the casino. Angela, who sat showing no interest on Henry all the while took her bag and exchanged the coins for a cheque in the name of Mrs Ruth Richards at the cash counter. 

    In next three years, Angela managed to make £267,900, £311,150 and £364,610 annually as a charity to herself. Upon Henry’s advice, she transferred her first million to an offshore bank in the Cook Islands. 

    It was Miss Florence Blenkinsopp who discovered a shortage of  £820 from an event’s earnings after an uninvited guest with a Gladstone bag entered the ballroom. Miss Blenkinsopp didn’t doubt Angela, her ex-pupil from St Catherine’s Convent, and reported the matter to chief constable. Detective Sergeant Janet Seaton was assigned the task of investigating the issue.

    Janet followed the old man with the Gladstone bag from one of the events at Bebbington Hall to the casino. She understood Henry’s addiction to gambling and cracked his plan of exchanging cash at the roulette table for chips in return. What she could not understand was if the lady sitting on a stool near Henry was also involved in the plan or not. Was she Angela? Janet wasn’t sure. 

    However, police arrested Henry and his lawyer suggested him to plead guilty. The Special Crime Unit spent days trying to confirm Angela’s involvement in the crime. But they failed to trace any cheques   made in the name of Angela Forster even after enquiring in all the casinos across London. Her bank account also didn’t reflect any suspicious transactions. 

    Henry, on the other side, admitted his gambling addiction and got three years sentence in prison. They released him 18 months later. Henry took his personal belongings in a Gladstone bag and headed towards the local railway station. Nobody saw him after that day. 

    ******

    Mr and Mrs Graham Richards have a happening social life in the island of Majorca. Mr Richards, the owner of a small and front-line villa overlooking the Bay of Palma, manages the accounts of the Royal Overseas Club in Palma. The chairman boasts the accounts of the club is well-managed ever since Mr Richards took the position as treasurer. He also informs the club’s AGM that Graham’s wife, Mrs Ruth Richards has agreed to organise their annual ball.

    ******

    How do you find this act of charity that begun at home? Let me know in the comments. 

  • Turning back at the week

    Welcome To The Humble Abode Guests !

    Welcome To Our Humble Abode Guests !
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    ‘Guests ? Then what should be the menu?’

    This is the first question me and my better half ask each other whenever we plan a get together in our humble abode. The menu often gets more attention than the guest list. Don’t believe me? 

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    Last week, we decided to invite few friends over dinner. It had been a long time since we had some fun together. So Sunday dinner looked like a perfect excuse to catch up. But there was this ultimate confusion. 

    ‘What should be the menu?’

    I have seen people who invite guests at Sunday lunch and start thinking about the menu only on the Saturday night. But the Paul household is a bit different from the rest. For two very poles apart people live there. A typical insane Virgo wife who likes to plan everything to the T days ahead even if the house agent is coming merely for a signature on the agreement papers. And then there is the Taurus man who prefers to get into action only at the 11th hour. So you can very well imagine the turbulence inside such a family expecting some guests. 

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    In my opinion, a well arranged dinner invite demands a week’s planning. And I fully commit myself to nag the husband and remind about the grocery shopping list now and then based on the menu decided.

    And what’s the menu? 

    After arguing for days and suggesting each other new new dishes from the internet, we end up having the same chhole (chickpeas curry tasting like I don’t know what), paneer (cottage cheese whose only variation is the colour of the gravy), chicken (husband’s signature dish), fried rice and chapatis(Indian flatbreads). 

    The last week was no different either. 

    Husband realised we were going to serve our guests the same age old menu. He tried to play safe and expressed his wish to order food from restaurant this time. But I didn’t see any logic to make guests eat hotel food at home. Naturally, the wife in me had to protest. It is then when I decided to twist the menu a little here and there. 

    There will be no chickpeas curry rather the small white peas cooked in true Bengali style will grace the dining table. Palak paneer (cheese made in spinach gravy) will replace the usual boring curry. Husband decided not to use potatoes in chicken this time. He also insisted to prepare custard in dessert. Fried rice and chapatis were the only constants. 

    If one gives a little thought, then they will easily realise we are selling old wine in a new bottle. But who cares as long as the recipes look different?

    Now, apart from the turmoil in the kitchen, there are some pros of having guests at home :

    1 Any impending invitation demands the house to have cleanliness of the highest order. It creates a good impression upon guests. Hence the house gets a special facial and spa massage (read : mopping the toughest corners) apart from it’s usual dusting and cleaning beauty regime.

    2 Bathrooms. They say if you want to know the true nature of any family, visit their bathroom first. And Paul family prefers to have a clean bathroom in a usable state in front of guests.

    3 Dining table is a piece of furniture that serves manifold purposes in the Paul household. Apart from providing a place to have food, it is a habitat for various non-living helpless immigrants.

    6 big and small water bottles, 2 salt & pepper containers (1 chaat masala container is the latest addition to this family), 1 plastic bottle containing toothpicks (which finds more use in scratching ears by husband than cleaning teeth, much to my annoyance), 1 basket with a rabbit face(contains misc items starting from medicines to room keys), 1 bottle of Hajmola (spicy and tangy digestive tablets), 1 green coloured casserole, 1 jar containing dry fruits and 1 glass flower vase standing like a cherry on the cake above all of them.

    If the description of the dining table requires the use of so many sentences compared to 1 & 2 points, then you can imagine how much effort one needs to put for making the table ready for guests. 

    4 Finest crockeries come out of the wardrobes and see the light of the day. They give us a good chance of arguing which ones should be used to serve guests. Wife insists to use all of them so that guests can have food in a civilised manner. Whereas the husband favours the minimal use of utensils (so that he has to wash less dishes later on).

    In India, we have this philosophy Atithi Devo Bhava meaning the guest is equivalent to God. And when you have invited God over dinner, then the responsibility of serving God with utmost devotion multiplies by ten times. Although the huge pile of dishes and leftovers develop some creases on the forehead, but smile and satisfaction on the guests’ faces makes the effort a worthy one. Moreover, you get a good sleep at night too ( there is no other option with a strained back either).

  • Short Stories

    Happy Valentine’s Day Baby !

    Happy Valentine's Day Baby !
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    ‘To heck with Valentine’s Day,’ Mallika thinks as she presses Aditya’s number one more time. Same announcement.  

    The number you are trying to reach is not reachable.…

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    ‘No, I am not going to call him anymore.’

    A big box of heart-shaped Ferrero Rocher chocolates, a red rose and a jewellery box containing a pair of diamond earrings are resting on Shruti’s(she showed these to Mallika) desk. Looks like Himanshu has spent a large portion of his salary on Shruti this Valentine’s Day. And here is Mallika, totally clueless about her boyfriend’s whereabouts. She looks away from Shruti’s desk. The gifts are pricking her eyes badly. 

    ‘Okay……’ Mallika hangs up the call. ‘If work is that important to him, then let it be,’ she says to herself. 

    Mallika doesn’t believe in the concept of Valentine’s day. Still, when people around you receive gifts and go to candle-lit dinners, then mind expects surprises automatically. She looks at her watch. It’s 1:50 pm in India, that means 7:20 pm in Sydney. Aditya must have left work by now. Unless he is stuck in team meetings as usual. Workaholic Aditya often puts his mobile in flight mode during meetings. But how much time does it take for him to at least send a text saying Happy Valentine’s Day, baby?

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    Mallika goes back to her unfinished article on 10 Tips To Write A Good Post For Your Blog. But her mind is roaming on the other part of the globe.

    She and Aditya met while doing their Masters in a prestigious college in Mumbai. They hit it off well as friends and started dating shortly. Good GPAs fetched them nice jobs in Mumbai. Everything was going well. Suddenly Aditya got a job offer from Sydney and shifted there two years back. 

    Thanks to Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and sex in Mallika’s rented apartment (whenever Aditya is back in town for a short break) for making their long-distance relationship survive this far. But off late, she has noticed a change in Aditya’s behaviour. Office meetings, work trips and deadlines – Mallika often hears these excuses whenever she insists him to spend some more time on phone or video calls.

    Gone are those days when Mallika wanted to hang up the call. But Aditya used to hold her back by saying, ‘Five more minutes, honey. I am feeling so lonely without you here.’ Nowadays, Aditya appears to be in a hurry. He has ample of time to party with his colleagues though. 

    ‘You know how important it is to maintain good relationship at work,’ this is how Aditya explains his pictures from different parties in Facebook. 

    And Sienna? That girl from Aditya’s team always needs to lean upon him while clicking pictures. There have been moments, when Mallika thought of asking Aditya about her. But she didn’t want to be a nagging girlfriend(like her ex-boyfriend often complained). She has forced herself to believe that Aditya would never cheat on her.

    Failing to concentrate anymore on work, Mallika grabs a cup of tea from the canteen. She was about to take a sip from her cup while scrolling the Facebook timeline in her phone, when a selfie almost knocked the air out of her lungs.

    Sienna is standing (read: leaning) on a smiling Aditya in the airport. The post says :

    Sienna White is 🙂 Feeling happy with Aditya Sen

    Now she gets why Aditya’s number is unreachable for so long. This is the price Mallika pays for having so much faith in Aditya. Tears flow down Mallika’s eyes and she dials Aditya’s number.

    The number you are trying to reach is not reachable…

    ******

    ‘Maa, why don’t you enjoy your potluck party without worrying for my dinner?’ Mallika stands in the middle of the stairs and frustratedly searches her apartment’s keys inside the bag.

    ‘Yes, I will try to come home this weekend,’ she says. 

    ‘No. Tell her, you will be very busy with me this whole week,’ a voice comes from somewhere. Mallika looks up and her eyes see a six-feet tall, strikingly handsome guy with sharp features and a dimple hiding under the stubble. Aditya! He is winking at her.

    ‘What the…What are you doing here, Adi?’ Mallika asks astonished.

    ‘To give you a surprise,’ he replies. ‘And going by your look, it seems that I have succeeded…..Happy Valentine’s Day, baby.’ He spreads his arms and within seconds Mallika surrenders herself to him. They remain like this for sometime without caring that someone might see them.

    ‘Gosh ! I am waiting since an hour for you here. Why is your phone switched off?’ 

    ‘Look who is complaining! Do you have any idea how many times I have called you since morning? Your number was unreachable,’ Mallika says.

    ‘Sorry baby. Saw your missed calls. But I wanted to surprise you, so…..my flight also got delayed.  Thankfully, Sienna was also travelling. Hence got some company in the airport.’

    ‘Sienna? Where was she going?’ Mallika wants to dig more into this character.

    ‘New York. To spend the Valentine’s Day with her girlfriend.’

    Mallika raises her eyebrows. 

    ‘Umm…yeah…she is gay,’ Aditya shrugs. ‘Anyway, forget her. Now don’t you want your Valentine’s Day gift?’

    ‘Come inside first,’ Mallika brings out the door keys with relief. Sienna is gay! 

    ‘Before you let me into your room, can I say something?’

    ‘What?’ Mallika frowns.

    ‘See, you know a Finance guy like me has never been very good in such things. Still….Mili, I think this long-distance relationship is taking a toll on both of us. You waiting for me here and me unable to give you the attention you deserve from there. I want to put an end to this waiting-and-missing game.’ 

    Mallika’s heart is beating drums inside. What does this mean? A break-up?

    ‘So, Miss. Mallika Roy,’Aditya puts his hand inside his jacket’s pocket and brings out a small box. ‘If you don’t have any objection, then will you be kind enough to allow me in your life as your beloved husband?’ He opens the box and Mallika finds a stunning diamond ring inside it. ‘Marry me, please.’

    Mallika is dumbstruck. She feels short of words. Fifteen minutes ago, she didn’t know how she was going to live without Aditya. And now, as if the whole world has fallen into her lap in a moment.

    ‘I will marry you,’ she says shyly. ‘Only if….’

    ‘Only if?’ Aditya asks.

    ‘Only if you promise me to never let your number be unreachable again.’

    Aditya laughs as he slowly slides the ring on her finger. 

    ‘Promise, baby,’ he gives a peck on her lips. ‘I have one more thing to say.’

    ‘Now what?’ Mallika asks as she puts the key inside the keyhole. 

    ‘I got a promotion.’

    ‘Really? That’s such a wonderful news, Adi. You are giving one surprise after another….’ 

    Mallika opens the door and switches on the lights of her room leaving behind the insecurities and anxieties on the other end of the door. 

  • Turning back at the week

    Wedding Anniversary Special

    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    Republic Day and Wedding Anniversary – both these days hold extra special place in my life. For they come on the same date for me. 26th January. Yes, on this date, two important things happened : 

    1. India became a Republic nation, and 

    2. Mr. Paul decided to tie himself with me for the rest of his life.  

    When the wedding day was finalised, my friends started teasing me asking, ‘Are both of you going to hoist the tricolour first and then walk down the aisle?’ 

    No, we didn’t hoist the tricolour though. 

    But from that day, Republic Day celebrations undoubtedly jumped into a new level for us. However, there are pros and cons of having your anniversary on a red-letter day. Ask me what ? You will be at very low risk of forgetting your wedding date (even if you want to). It will get etched in your memory forever. 

    This year’s Republic Day aka Wedding Anniversary was even more special as we completed 5 years of marital bliss. I know 5 years are nothing compared to those who celebrate silver and even golden jubilees. But, there is always something magical about the numbers 5,10,15,20. For us, 5 years went in a blink of an eye. As apart from the numbers, nothing much have changed between us. We were fighting in Rajasthan on our 1st anniversary  then and we are fighting in Singapore on our 5th one now.

    But this year was slightly different. Do you remember me telling about a prize husband won in my post Am I ready for Christmas or just want to continue feeling blue? We availed that prize and enjoyed one day stay on our wedding anniversary in Sofitel Singapore located at Tanjong Pagar. The hotel was a new  one in the city(opened in 2017).

    As the staffs knew about our anniversary, they put some extra effort for us in arranging a few romantic add-ons in our 12th floor room. Two ducks (made from towel), looking totally inseparable from each other were sitting on the bed forming a heart. Their romantic mood put us into shame. We decided to leave them alone and rather plunge on the fruits placed specially for us on the table.

    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special

    I felt pleased with the arrangements and also thanked them in my mind for not making me cringe inside by decorating the room with hearts and roses. The kind of stuffs hotels decorate in their honeymoon suites for couples.

    The part of the hotel that I liked the most was the 6th floor. That’s because it had a terrace garden and a swimming pool. And plenty of fresh air so much so that it was hard to stand still at one place with neatly arranged hair and pose for photos. An hour near the poolside in the refreshing breeze went away like in a minute. Don’t remember when I had sat in peace last time before that evening.

    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special
    Wedding Anniversary Special

    The food, however, was mostly on the non-Indian side (excluding the complementary breakfast that we binged on the very next morning ). Moreover, we were not new in Singapore. Hence there was no need for us to experience the Singaporean cuisine. The deep fried snacks and Dum Biriyani of the Indian restaurants in Little India allured us more for dinner. After all, why go for a Chinese menu on the Republic Day ?

    In short, this year’s wedding anniversary got sponsored by husband’s office……accidentally. But it surely made our special day extraordinary. 

  • My Perceptions

    Time To Go To Sleep

    Time to Go to Sleep
    Image Courtesy : Pixabay

    We all know how 9/11 attack shocked the entire world. Those horrible scenes of the blazing twin towers and people jumping out of them hoping to save their lives are still fresh in our memories. 9/11 became a permanent black mark on the face of humanity. But the atrocities didn’t end with the dead bodies and the rubbles of the towers. With time, this day had a rippling effect on those innocent lives who had nothing to do with the shameful attack. Reason? They belonged to a particular community. 9/11 was born from an evil mastermind. But what followed after that in the name of justice wasn’t fair either.

    As a child I once saw an advertisement in TV whose main aim was to teach us some basic human etiquette. The commercial ended by saying :

    To become an evil is very easy. But is it too difficult to remain humane?

    Jagraj Singh Wasan’s video reminds me of this important lesson one more time. The below video of Jagraj is a small tribute to those who suffered unnecessarily (and are still suffering) because of meaningless Social Ostracism and Acts of Terrorism in every corner of the world.TT

    Please do watch his video and share it to your friends and family.

    More about Jagraj Singh Wasan :

    Jagraj Singh Wasan is a songwriter/filmmaker. He grew up in Singapore, spent about 5 years in the States, and now is back to pursue music and film. He wrote a song and created a music video based on two issues he was deeply affected by in America. One being the multiple school and mass shootings on a regular basis, and the other being how Sikhs are bullied and harassed for looking like terrorists in the eyes of the ignorant. The project explores what it takes to push someone over the edge of no return. Social Ostracism, and Acts of Terrorism: Are they linked? Are they preventable? And is there something we as a people can do to help?

    After all, we must always remember :

    An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

  • Turning back at the week

    Where Are Those Golden Days?

    Where Are Those Golden Days?
    Image Courtesy : Google

    Which were your golden days? What would you answer if someone asks you this question? To me, they were my childhood days. And I am sure, many out there reading this post would say in their minds – mine too, mine too. Having said that, I am not someone who often looks back at her childhood and starts feeling nostalgic now and then. Who has so much time these days? Everyone is busy in living the present and making plans for the future. We open the old suitcase named past only when we need to find something that would make our today better. Yes, you are correct. Right now, I am also sitting and brushing the decade old box full of memories. As a matter of fact, I am occupied with this job since last two days. Makar Sankranti is the excuse this time.

    Makar Sankranti once again invoked the child in me and took me back to those golden days where any festival meant relishing on sweet dishes. We also call it as Poush Sankranti (the last day of the Poush month in Bengali calendar). A wide variety of pitha (prepared mainly with rice flour, jaggery and coconut stuffings) and payesh (kheer or rice pudding) forms the base of the feast. Needless to say, women in the house used to remain busy in kitchen on that day. 

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    I remember my father used to tell stories about the way he and his siblings used to celebrate Makar Sankranti in their childhood. Just a day before the Sankranti, they would build a small hut (they called it Buri Ghor, don’t know why) with the help of hay and bamboo in the courtyard in our village home. At night, all the siblings and their friends cooked non-vegetarian dinner and dined under the open sky. The very next day, ignoring the teeth rattling cold January weather, they used to wake up very early in the morning, take bath and burn the Buri Ghor

    My father’s eyes brimmed with joy every time he mentioned this story. I guess, he felt nostalgic thinking about the golden days from his childhood. However, building a hut on one day and burning it later looked like an impossible wild adventure to me. After all, it was not a wise idea for me and my younger brother to continue this same tradition on terrace, the only open space we had in our city lives. Moreover, building something needs a lot of planning and hard work, a job quite unsuitable for a lazy bum like me. I was more than happy and content with my oral exercise of pitha and payesh

    But alas! Gone are those golden days. 

    Fast forward fifteen years, things have changed drastically. Now I am the one who is supposed to  prepare those pithas and payesh for the family. And, I am still the same person who prefers gulping pithas rather than making them in the kitchen. And, on top of that, there are other things like blood sugar and calories to take care of too. My last stint with sweet dishes on the Poush Sankranti  was the one after my marriage three years back. Only the Almighty knows how an inexperienced sole ended up preparing rice kheer and not-so-soft Malpuas in the kitchen. Feedback from husband helped me to understand that preparing pithas can never be my forte.

    If you ask my opinion, then sweet dishes tastes even more sweeter when prepared by your mother and grandmother. What do you say? 

    How did you celebrate Makar Sankranti this year? Or should I say Pongal ? Enjoyed a feast? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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