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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My entry for the Get Published contest- That feeling called love!

Raj, mujhe yahan se le chalo. Mere Bauji kabhi nahi manenge.’ said Simran. Who can forget the evergreen romance of Raj and Simran in the iconic blockbuster movie DDLJ? If you are an Indian born in the late eighties or the early nineties, DDLJ even after seventeen years of its release, serves as a guide to the idea of perfect romance. Films and television play a pivotal role in shaping our expectations about love. Usually, the twists and turn in the story often make us ponder if we’ll have such an extraordinary story. Real life love stories come in different shapes and sizes. Some come in the family size pack filled with family drama, while others come in economy size pack where everyone readily agrees, and then there are few that remain in the heart forever.  Natasha and Siddhartha’s story falls in the third category. 

Born into one of the illustrious business families of modern- day Punjab, Natasha’s life was easy. She went to the best school of the town and was one of the most promising students. With hectic school life, she never actually had the time to think about ‘love and its complications’. Her mind was focused , but her heart ached for that someone’s care and attention. After graduating from one of the best colleges of Delhi University, a management degree was an obvious choice. On the orientation day, when the dean was busy promoting 
B-School to the new students, she got distracted and started noticing her future competitors. It was then, she noticed a boy wearing stark red color shirt with mohawk hair style, and a goatee. Natasha thought ‘who'd come to a management school with such a casual attitude....’ Even though, secretly, she admired this guy’s style because he was defying the so-called norms.

When she formally met Siddhartha, during one of the class projects, she couldn’t help gushing. He was one of the brightest minds in the class and professor’s favorite, but, his eccentricity attracted her the most. Natasha knew she liked this Mumbai boy but refused to accept it. Maybe it was the fear of rejection or the fear of breaking her parent’s trust. Meanwhile, when she was contemplating on these possibilities and suppressing her feelings for him, Siddhartha comes and asks her out. She was stunned at this revelation. She liked Siddhartha but was worried if this relationship would work in the long run. She always knew that she’d get married as per her parent’s choice, like everyone else in her family ; but Siddhartha  didn’t fulfill the essential ‘Punju’ standards of three M’s – Money, Mercedes, and Mansion. He was from a humble background, settled in one of the modest localities of Mumbai, and total misfit, according to her family standards.

Despite this, material information, what mattered to Natasha was that, he had the guts to live his life on his own terms. Suddenly, she was caught in the classic debate of love v/s family. She never wanted to defy her parents, but she couldn’t  let go off her love. She was confused, depressed, irritated,and angry, but one thing was for sure, she was in love!

Note: This is my entry for the HarperCollins- IndiBlogger Get Published Contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Krishna Key- Your key to unlock the myths of the world

Religion is the sole belief that unites and divides people. The world has witnessed collisions among people based on different religious pedagogy. The atheists often criticize religion, to be based on myth rather on logic. Ashwin Sanghi gives all the nonbelievers a reason to believe in divinity through his latest book ‘The Krishna Key'.

In his quest to find the beginning of the world and the advent of a plethora of religious beliefs, he begins with the iconic character of Hindu mythology Krishna. The book does not divulge into the adventures of Krishna, instead, focuses on the relationship between science and mythology. For instance, the book establishes that the roots of the famous Pythagorus theorem can be traced to Baudhayana Sulbasutra, which was written, five hundred years before Pythagorus. The Greek name Heracles was influenced by the term Hari, the common expression used for Krishna.

This book is designed for the modern reader who perhaps is not well versed with the mythology. The plot is carefully weaved around the protagonist Saini, a history professor at Delhi University, and his trail to uncover the truth behind the mysterious killings of his historian/ scientist friends Varshney, Bhojaraj, and Cheddi. He is convinced that the killer is psychic Taarak Vakil who thinks himself to be Kalki, the tenth avatar of Vishnu- who is born to end the sufferings of the world in the Kalyug. What he does not know is that his doctoral student, Priya alias Mataji, who claims to be his confidant in uncovering the truth is the mentor of Taarak Vakil and the mastermind behind all the killings. Police inspector Radhika Singh is determined to find the culprit. She joins Saini in his quest to find the truth. Little did she know that love would ensue between her and Saini that will take her to Taj Mahal, the ethereal monument, where all questions will be answered.

The book preaches a crucial lesson- we often look elsewhere to find peace and prosperity, but, it lies within each of us. The book mentions that, 'the philosopher is more important than the stone.’ The idol of the God, made up of stone, does not have power- When thousands of people stand before a stone idol and pray to it, they end up harmonizing their energy and turn it into God. Saini traverses the country to uncover the truth behind the ceramic plate Syamanataka, only to find that every stone is Syamanataka- the one that has magical powers.

The starting of each chapter is marked by Krishna recounting His tales of adventure on Earth and his role as chief strategist during The Mahabharta. It points towards the fact that there is no right and wrong in the world. What is righteousness for one can be wrong for the other. It is interesting to note that the hesitation of Arjuna to fight his kin or Yudishtra’s grief of losing his brothers in war, is apt in the modern world where sometimes one has to employ shrewd tactics to survive.

However, the connection between The Mahabharta and the story appears to be vague. The story is complex, and it sometimes, becomes difficult to keep pace with stunning revelation of the characters. The connection between science and mythology appears to be dysfunctional at times.

If you were always intrigued by mythology and wanted to know the advent of the world, The Krishna Key would serves your purpose. The book is well researched and addresses the allegations often casted on the religion of being illogical. Pick up this book from the shelf as it is the perfect amalgamation of science and religion- it's your key to unlock the myths of the world. 

Note- This review is a part of blogadda books review program. Visit blogadda and keep blogging. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

One day while washing clothes....

‘Ma can you, please leave. My friends are getting disturbed.’ said Khushi in an irritated tone to Sushma. With teary eyes, she moved towards the door, looked at her daughter with a kind smile, pulled the door with the heavy heart, and walked out of the room. This was nothing new to her. Sushma was used to being treated like a punching bag by her family, but today, was special. It was her daughter’s big day- Khushi’s graduation results were out, and she had topped the University. Sushma wanted to celebrate her success and discuss her future plans. She wanted her to pursue MBA but didn’t want to push.

Next morning, when Khushi came to the breakfast table, with the pounding heart, she brought up the subject in the presence of her husband, Raj. Next, what she heard not only crushed her heart, but also her self- respect. ‘Ma, what do you know about MBA? Do you even know what exam you need to clear?’ said Khushi mockingly. Instantly, she was transported to the year that changed her life. She remembered the date clearly, it was- June 25, 1994.


It was a hot and sweaty day in June. Sushma had got up late as her final exams had got over and there was time for her MBA classes to begin. She always asked her mother to make her favorite dishes during the holidays and today, she had asked for ‘aloo parantha’. She was expecting the pungent aroma of the paranthas but; instead, she saw her father and aunt, who arrived from Meerut, discussing her ‘kundli’ with the family astrologer. She was intrigued and rushed to the kitchen to ask her mother. Her mother was busy in preparation for the evening.

‘Sushi, you are up. I’ll just serve you breakfast. Finish it and then go to aunt Sunita's salon. I have fixed an appointment for your make up. Wear that orange saree we bought last week.’ said Sushma’s mother. She was confused and didn’t know what was going on. On probing further, she got the big news- some Raj and his family, suggested by her aunt, was coming meet her, and if they liked’ her, she would be married next month. She didn’t know what to say- she wanted to study further, find a job, and then settle down.

She protested, but nobody had time to lend an ear. That evening, when she was combing her hair lost in random thoughts, her mother came to the room to inform her that the guests had arrived. She saw the teary eyes of her daughter. She sat beside her and said ‘Sushi, I know you feel awful, but nobody in the house can defy your father. I persuaded him to change his mind, but he is adamant. Don’t worry! Everything is not lost. Your dad says, Raj’s family is modern. They might allow you to study further.’ Suddenly, Sushma saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

The meeting went well- Raj and his family liked her. They didn’t mind Sushma’s studying further. Both the families were elated. A month later, Sushma married Raj, filled with hopes of a happy-ending ever after.

Few days into the marriage, she was embroiled in the household duties, playing the role of a perfect wife and a dutiful daughter-in-law. One night, after a lot of procrastination, she decided to discuss with Raj about her classes. Raj came from the office tired and was relaxing on the bed. Sushma thought, it was the right time to speak to him. She got him a cup of tea and casually mentioned,’ Raj, you know my MBA classes start in a week. Did you speak to your mother? What did she say?..’ Raj smiled and held her hand, ‘Sushi, there is no need for all this. This household should be your prime concern. Forget about everything else. Plus, ‘Ma’ doesn’t approve of this, and I can’t do anything.’ She couldn’t believe what she heard. All her dreams were shattered just with a polite smile by Raj.


Today, when Khushi made fun of her, she was torn apart. She returned to household chores, cursing her father. Lost in her thoughts, she started to gather clothes for washing, when she saw Surf Excel Matic kept on top of the washing machine. Subconsciously, she started reading the instructions on the box. It said that with its "powerful vibrating molecules", it penetrated deeper into the stains and removed them effectively, so there was ‘no need to soak’ the clothes before washing.

The concept of ‘Soak No More’ inspired her, and that moment she decided to tame the CAT. Yes, she decided to appear for the entrance exam and accomplish her long cherished dream.

When she told Raj about her decision, he appeared to be supportive, but she knew deep down, he had no faith in her. She had to prove her detractors wrong. With her savings, she enrolled into a coaching center. She got disturbing glares from her fellow students who were in their early twenties, but she was not perturbed. It was difficult for her to get back to studies, but she was determined. She solved all the possible mock exams and was ready to take the exam.

One day, before the exam results were to be announced, she was nervous. If the results were not in her favour, criticism from the family awaited her. Nevertheless, she was just happy to take the risk.

Next day, she got up at the usual time- practiced yoga, made tea, and woke up her servants. Somewhere, she had forgotten about the results. She heard the doorbell and wondered who it could be. When she opened the door, she couldn’t believe what she saw.

There were reporters and cameras outside her house congratulating her on her success. Yes, the banal housewife from New Delhi, had topped the coveted CAT exam. The journalists were keen to interview her. One of them asked her, ‘Who was your inspiration?’ She looked at Raj and Khushi, who were standing by the pillar expecting her to say their names. She smiled and said, ‘I am a housewife finding inspiration from smaller things in life. So obviously, it has to come from the things you expect the least. My inspiration comes from my Surf Excel Matic that taught me to soak no more.’

Note: This entry is for the Surf Excel contest by

Find out more on Surf Excel Magic

Thanks to Google for the image. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Arranged ya Love- Whatever works!

‘Oh no papa! Not again. I am just 25 years old. What’s the hurry?’ said Natasha. ‘Beta, at least see the profile of the boy. The broker told me that he has done MBA from a prestigious American university, and I know his father personally. Just meet him once and it is not like as I am going to force you for anything.’ said Natasha’s father. It was a routine in the Malhotra clan. From last two years, the dining table conversations usually revolved around finding the right man for Natasha. Her parents wanted her to settle down. They had sought all ways and means to find the suitable groom for her- newspaper, matrimonial websites, and marriage brokers, but no luck. Natasha had met several boys over coffee, discussed the same old, boring topics, and as fate would have it, nothing worked. She had almost given up on finding the right man. Right now, she just wanted to get married, not for herself but for her parents.

Natasha, like any other girl of her age, dreamt about getting the perfect gentlemen. Her idea of love was totally filmy. Somehow, that never happened. Natasha was a bright student, focused on academics. She never actually had time for any ‘sightseeing’. When it was time for her marriage, arranged marriage seemed to be the obvious choice. Natasha wondered maybe she’d find love in the old school way. She readily agreed and prepared herself to go through the grind.

She was eager to meet the first prospective groom and his family. The meeting went smoothly. She was herself, and the boy was a smooth talker, but it was difficult for her to take the decision only in one meeting. With prior knowledge of the families, an informal meeting was organized at the cafĂ©. Everything was going strong, and both of them were about to come to a positive conclusion until the topic of ‘women’ came up. Those next ten minutes were about to change her life. She discovered that, even in the facebook era, men haven’t changed. This guy was a total MCP who looked upon women no more than an object of desire. Natasha gave him a kind smile, stood up and started walking towards the door. She didn’t even feel like saying him a goodbye. She just realized groom hunting was going to be a herculean task.

The next two years of her life were spent on finding the right groom. There were meetings after meetings. She was asked to dress in a conservative manner, speak in a diplomatic manner, and transform herself into a damsel in distress. Natasha tried every trick of the trade, but nothing worked. She had given up all hopes as boys in arranged marriage thought that they were out on a shopping spree. They wanted the best and would not settle down for mediocrity.

So, when Natasha’s dad showed her the profile of Siddhartha, she scanned through it, and agreed to meet him. She knew it wouldn’t work because she and Siddhartha were about the same age and he was a new entrant in the marriage market, but she honestly didn’t care. The first meeting went as usual. Siddhartha’s family came to her home to meet Natasha and her family. Pleasantries were exchanged, and they were sent to the other room to discuss the typical, mundane topic of their likes and dislikes. To her surprise, she discovered Siddhartha was different from the other boys she met. He was sophisticated, pleasant and most importantly, openminded.  

Next day, Siddhartha’s father called up her father and dropped the bomb- that Siddhartha liked Natasha. She was stunned at this revelation. She wanted to get married, but now when it was happening, she was confused. The news spread like fire in her entire family. Everyone was thrilled except Natasha. She liked Siddhartha but wanted to be sure. Just when she was trying to digest this sudden bout of information, Siddhartha called her up. She was apprehensive but didn’t let it show. He asked her out for coffee, and she agreed. In those two hours, over coffee, she realized that they had a lot in common and were perfect for each other, but what about love? When would that happen? Or will that ever happen?

Over the next few weeks, they were constantly in touch. They met on the weekends, dined with each other’s families, and everything was going smoothly, but Siddhartha didn’t say those three eternal words. Somewhere, Natasha ached for that M&B romance. She convinced herself that perhaps, in arranged marriages, there was no room for all the fiction romance. Nevertheless, she was happy.

Meanwhile, to attend a month long training in New Delhi, Natasha was selected by her company. It would be a great for her career, and Siddhartha was extremely supportive. First week into the training, she realized that she had to pull up her socks. She was busy and hardly got time to speak to Siddhartha. She missed him and wanted to meet him that weekend in Delhi, but was skeptical.


On the lazy Saturday afternoon, relaxing in her nightclothes, she heard a doorbell. With a mild irritation, she opened the door, and what she was about to witness was going to be the moment of her life. Siddhartha was standing outside her door with a bouquet of flowers. ‘I missed you and couldn’t wait any longer to see you.’ shouted Siddhartha excitedly. ‘I love you, Natasha!’ finally Siddhartha told her.

Natasha thought, it certainly didn’t matter if it were a love marriage or an arranged marriage. Each marriage was incomplete without love and each love story was incomplete without an arrangement for marriage.

Note- This entry is for the contest LoveyaArranged on

The debate continues at : 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ice cream and Life

There is an adage 'Your family is a haven in a heartless world' While growing up, my elders  often passed me these pearls of wisdom, and pat came my response ‘yeah right’! Now thatI have begun to experience the fine print of ‘life’, I concede to their belief.

I was raised as a regular kid with the usual chase of marks, peer pressures, evergreen sibling rivalry and the unfading craze of summer holidays. However, more than just the ease of waking up late, I had one more thing to look forward to in my June holidays- my cousin brother Rahul whom I fondly called ‘Bhaiyya’ who was eight years elder to me. He was my maternal aunt’s son who stayed in Meerut and they visited us in summers. He was my guide, a mentor, and the role model in my life. He would patiently hear all my ‘guy stories’ and critically analyze them. He motivated me to improve my grades and always encouraged me. We often went for evening walks, and he always bought me my favorite ice cream. It was a ritual so religiously followed that even the shopkeepers started acknowledging us. As the holidays ended and it was time to pack bags, my planning for the next summers had already begun.

One summer Bhaiyya could not make iowing to his tuitions and other school activities. I was dejected but consoled myself on the pretext that he will make up for it the following year. However, tradition once broken was difficult to mend.  Eventually, I also got busy with studies, and moved to Delhi for my college. Meanwhile, he moved to America for further studies and settled there. We barely spoke and even during the customary conversations on birthdays and New Years, the vibe was missing. Thanks to Facebook, I used to get regular updates about his weekend trips with his wife and kids.

One day, as I was getting ready for work, I got a call from my mother. Initially, I thought it was a regular call as she usually called me in the morning. When I picked up the phone, she was wailing. I got worried and all sorts of negative thoughts crossed my mind. I asked her repeatedly about what happened and then she told me the dreaded news that, Rahul, yes, my dearest Rahul Bhaiyya was no more. He met with an accident while driving back from the hills and lost his life. His wife and kids also succumbed to injuries but were stable. This news broke my family.

It is already three years since the tragedy. His kids come and visit my family in summer holidays. I make it a point to take a furlough for a week and visit home to spend time with my nephew and niece. Each time I take the kids out for ice cream to the shop where Bhaiyya abd I used to go, the owner acknowledges me with smile. I see the same excitement in my niece’s eyes as there was in mine fifteen years back. It is a win-win situation. The kids of course, get their ice cream and as for me, it gives me a chance to meet my brother and tell him that, he will always be missed and will remain in my heart forever. 

This entry is a part of the contest at <a title="The Largest and the most active community of Indian Bloggers" href=
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