Posted in Random Thoughts

Little Treasures

One of my favourite writers, Pete Johnson from Beetley, recently wrote about his tin box and the memories within it.

It reminded me of my own. My treasured tin box holds:

  • Old coins from my late grandmother (1 paisa worth around 10,000th part of a pound, 3 paisa and 5 paisa) that went out of circulation before I was born and have no materay value;
  • A couple of leaves that were birthday gifts by friends with “Happy Birthday, Shaily” and “We Miss You!” written on them in red paint, gifted by two of my friends who were in a village with no access to birthday cards at the time;
  • Beads of a broken bracelet from my oldest friend;
  • The dollar my brother gave me when he returned from Texas;
  • The 1″ X 1″ Philips music player that my parents gave me as a reward for excelling in my MBA first semester (doesnot work anymore, but…);
  • My pen drive that holds my MBA research project (doesnot work anymore, but…);
  • A pair of beloved, well-used and, now, broken earrings that one of my best friends gifted me on my birthday, right before he got down on one knee to tell me that he loves me;
  • A single earring (well used and now deviod of its partner) sent by mail by the same person two years later on our first Valentine’s day apart; and
  • Five capsules, each one stuffed with a miniscule handwritten notes, saying “I love you” from you-know-who on the same day.

Some treasures I am unable to fit inside a tin box.

  • A couple of birthday post cards from Manpreet, my bestie, that have handmade paintings with 100+ “I LOVE YOU” hidden inside the design
  • My copy of Three Men in a Boat that I read too often to bother hide it inside a tin box, only to pull it out the next day
  • The invitation card of my marriage to you-know-who
  • Our daughter’s countless pictures

All of these treasures, except the coins, were acquired after I became an adult. What, do you think, does that say about me?

Do you have any treasure boxes of your own?

Posted in Random Thoughts

The World Ends When I End…

The world ends when I end…

I am the sun, the moon, the stars.

I am the rains and starving winters.

I am the ground upon which all I know stands.

When I go, the world as I know it goes with me.

When I am not, none of this will be.


In reaction to Colin McQueens’s latest ‘discussion’

Posted in My life, Random Thoughts

Social Distancing

Lately, I went off the social grid for a couple of weeks due to the new mobile I had bought.

I am scared of new technology and keep each of my phone until it almost dies. The last one was with me for 4 years and was a birthday gift from my husband. After four years of constant nagging from my over-indulgent husband, I agreed to let it go. It was still in a good shape. The only item I ever had to replace was the charging cord. The adapter was still good as new. I wouldn’t have given it up but the carrot my husband had hung in front of me was the much-superior camera quality. So, finally I took the bait.

Now, I have the new phone, but am scared to touch any button for the fear of triggering… something… Not sure what that something is but the fear of the unknown evil far outweighs the excitement of discovering something new. Hence, I haven’t downloaded the Whatsapp and WordPress applications.

Initially, it was weird to have nothing to do. I thought it was the end of the world. How would I exist without Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram…how would I connect with my friends and family? How would I live without checking WordPress comments every free minute I had…

Well, I survived.

Here I am–a new person who has more time in her hands than ever. I have painted, watched movies, created storage boxes for toys, mended clothes, resized old dresses, taken active interest in daughter’s home education…anything to kill time! I even need less sleep, I get up erlier than usual and don’t feel loopy all day.

And I made real phone calls to people–not just texting on Whatsapp but actually dialing the number, waiting for them to pick up while listening to the caller’s tune and talking to real people who mean something in my life! And I visited relatives who live in the same city–real people in flesh.

I know! Weird…

Posted in Random Thoughts

New Phone Fiasco

Hi All,

I’m getting a new phone tomorrow and will not be able to connect with you until I have figured out the WordPress app on it.

There will also be other things to deal with, like apps and security details for office, and moving pictures (2000 of them) and videos. And I’ll have to deal with my daughter’s excitement who will ensure to get one thousands pics clicked by the phone and with the phone. And then, she’ll demand to figure out You Tube first…because that’s next to breathing…

I hope to get sorted by this weekend. So, if I don’t reply your comments, you know why. 😁

Posted in Random Thoughts

To Slay A Dragon

A tale worth telling…

Tiny Tales

No sword or arrow or poison could slay the dragon. It came like a storm from the north, rushing on the wind and raining fire. The land turned to ash under its breath, and when the village had emptied, the dragon dug out a nest with razor claws and draped its scaly coils over the charred remains.

A field of crude tents now spread along the edge of the nearest city, and from that city, perched between the forest and sea, men waged war with the dragon.

The sun was spreading a dark shadow at the forest’s feet when soldiers and archers came through the trees, bloodied and blackened, hauling carts of the dead behind them. Ahna stood among the tents, a hand resting on her swelling stomach, watching them come.

Roderick, a tall man with a sword and an army and a hall of stone, led them. He stopped…

View original post 587 more words

Posted in Random Thoughts

The Forest Bed: The Making

After an year full of pain (and I am not even talking about the pendemic or my back injury…), our first book, the Forest Bed, was finally released worldwide in June.

Manpreet and I are still so excited, which is weird considering that we have been working on it for an year now.

Those who have followed my blog in the past one year probably know that I had been creating a short story collection for quite some time now. I had believed that since the stories already written, self-publishing them would be a breeze. As you would have already guessed, I was wrong. It was an year filled with dismayed discoveries one after another. Here is the journey and lessons learnt.

Selecting stories: Choosing the probable candidates for the book was a pain. As a mother to 400 (now 500) stories, it was impossible for me to choose the best. So, I chose around a hundred and threw them in Manpreet’s way, knowing that as my best friend, she is duty-bound to help me and she’s too loyal to back out later. She chose forty stories that she loved the best. Then she told me the loopholes and words that didnot make sense to common readers. I went through the stories again and tried to give them more character and less confusion.

Providing a flow: I read in a very informative blog that a short story compilation is successful only when one story flows into another. There should be an underlying theme and a natural flow. I created an excel sheet to find a theme based on underlying emotions, starting and finishing emotions, keywords, age of characters, the timeline/chronology…nothing made sense. So I pitted the stories against each other, reading and re-reading, moving them around in the excel sheet until they started to flow.

Creating illustrations: All this while, I was working on the side with Manpreet to create illustrations for each story. Manpreet is a freelance painter with a gift of open-mindedness, which is rather rare. Most painter try to create and stick to a certain style. Manpreet, on the other hand, experiments with various mediums, just to see where it takes her. Hence, she was my natural choice. There one glitch in the whole plan–she lives 500 miles from my home and we had no way of putting our heads together except Whatsapp…

She began with hand-drawn illustrations and, then, experimented through various means to enhance the experience. Finally, she discovered a way to digitalise handmade illustrations through applications already available on the phone. It was surprising what one can achieve with a little imagination and strong resolve to learn. As an example, the painting on the cover page was created solely on her phone–No colours, no pencil. Just stickers and effects!

We spent several months on getting the correct illustrations for the stories. It was a process of discovery and understanding how to visualise a story without giving away the content. We laughed and cried while sitting 500 miles apart, joined together through the very inadequate means of phone that allows us to hear and see, but not hold hands. It was an emotional journey, reconnecting with my best friend of twenty years on a daily basis, just like we did during our Bachelors degree.

Creating a template: When I began with creating the template for the book, I looked up my old books to see the basic courtsies required from a writer. And to think, I had never even looked at the Copyright statement and Acknowledgements pages of any book ever before. For a week, I researched how to copyright my book, only to find out it wasn’t even required since books are automatically copyrighted upon publication. It isn’t like I’ve invented a car that uses sea-salt as fuel…hey, that one has a potential for a story…

Anyway, when it came to Dedications page, I started to mention each person I wanted to thank, but I couldn’t fit them all in one page…it was a moment of realisation how lucky I am to have countless people to be thankful for…family, extended family, friends from schools, colleges, jobs, neighbours, roommates, family-by-marriage…and the many people I’ve met through them. They have all moulded me into…well, me!

And then, there were people who hurt me…who taught me that life was not all pretty and gave me the challenge of fighting back with grace. How could I fit all these people in one page?

The About Author page mystified me. What could I ever write about my mundane life that would be of interest to readers? I could, of course, blabber till eternity pointlessly but the short stories concept did not allow Author description to be pointless. It had to be short and succinct with humour to keep people engaged since it was going to be the last page of the book.

Header and Footer: I thought I knew MS Word, until I had to set up the Header and Footer. Pagination had me down on my knees praying for divine intervention, which came, eventually, through Google.

Editing: It was a herculean job and I was doing it one story at a time. Editing your own work is like searching for grey hair out of platinum-blond. You believe all’s well when actually it’s not. You read a story for the 15th time, only to realise that you had missed typing an article, conjunction or preposition while your perspective had been filling in the gaps for you all the while.

Proofreading: When it came to proofreading, I realised I could not be relied upon anymore. I needed someone who was a pro at finding loopholes. That’s when, I begged my father, an Indian taxation writer, for help. He did it overnight and, for the first time, praised my stories, which, I think, is all that I had been aiming at for all these years since I started this blog. He also helped me cut out a couple of stories that were killing the flow. In the end, I was left with 30 good stories.

Finding publishing platform: Once all was done and dusted, I thought, “Well! Now publishing a print and ebook would be a breeze…” But then, I tried finding a platform that would create an ebook out of a massive 100 MB word document…and failed…over and over. When I finally found one that would accept my file, the result was horrible. The text was all over the place. The chapters began and ended at their free will and images floated around like helium-filled baloons. There was no guarantee where the text would appear in the next page and I was losing my heart…and brain…in the process.

Finally Amazon Kindle became my hero. It accepted my superheavy manuscript and converted it into a sleek book, both ebook and printable version. It also helped me understand the problems and gave probable solutions. Most of them worked. It also created an eye-catching cover using Manpreet’s illustration.

Distribution: Finally, after I was done whooping around for the victory, I learnt that Amazon doesnot distribute prints in India, my homeland. I realised that my parents would never see my book (that is, if they want to see it again after reading the manuscript). So, I began a fresh search for a local distributer. Most of them cost more money than my three-months’ salary. While I can afford it, it is certainly not the kind of flight I would sit in wondering all the while whether it would crash.

Then, while going through site reviews, I came across Pothi.com that publishes and distributes in India free. It works on a zero-inventory, print-on-demand basis. For a minor fee of Rs.1500 (around 20 US dollars), they provide expanded distribution through Amazon India and Flipkart. So, now I am publishing our book through Pothi, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk and Amazon Kindle.

I hope that would suffice. I am thoroughly exhausted and wish that I could simply lie down and leave the headache to others.

But now, I have a marketing campaign to deal with. Manpreet is dealing with Instagram while I am with Facebook and WordPress. I don’t understand Twitter at all, so I will leave that to fate and you. So, help me dear reader to spread the message and get my dream across that bridge where earth meets the sky.

In case you are wondering where the book is, click this link for details.

Posted in Random Thoughts

As Things Begin to Take Shape

My daughter was born Leonardo Da Vinci and she is just improving from thereon.

I still remember the eight legged lion with its legs sprawled out like a pretty spider, the minimalistic designs of a fish without fins and tail, the cat without limbs and kittens with various degrees of abilities (no hands no legs, hands but no legs, legs but no tail) and her adopted monkey baby.

But now those days are gone and what I see is real stuff.

Please don’t ask the logic of the train, elephant and giraffe in front of the cottage. The cat and rabbit make sense with the girl, so please be grateful for that. I have seen weirder stuff.

The new and improved variety of lion and tiger, along with giraffe half-hidden behind a kangaroo, along with a hippo (pink), gazelle and crocodile (guess?). The outline of the girl can be accepted as a jungle sprite looking over these creatures…

And then there is stuff like this which is actually is superb considering it comes from a 4-year old working only with her imagination.

I’m sure she’ll turn out to be a far better painter than her mom. 😁

Posted in Random Thoughts

The Forest Bed: Free ebook

Go grab your free ebook. If you are unable to provide reviews on Amazon/Kindle, please provide reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58388632-the-forest-bed?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=Co2fykm2EX&rank=1
Or on Facebook/Twitter or any other social media. Help me spread the word!

Short Stories | Fish-eye Perspective

It is finally here! My very own short stories collection: The Forest Bed and other short stories. After long delays for ‘technical’ reasons, my book is finally available worldwide as an ebook. What’s even better?

The ebook is free.

The Forest Bed ebook is available to readers worldwide for free on Amazon Kindle

Offer valid from June 22, 2021, 12:00 AM PDT till June 26, 2021, 11:59 PM PDT.

  1. Open your Kindle app.
  2. Type The Forest Bed in your Search bar.
  3. Select the book.
  4. Download and read.
  5. Provide an honest review.

Or depending on where you live, you can find it on Amazon. Just click the relevant link below:

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Just type in the comment box if you can’t find it. I’ll provide the link.

Book in Print: If you are more of a love-the-smell-of-books person like me, you can order the printed book from Amazon or…

View original post 98 more words

Posted in Blogging, Published, Random Thoughts

The Forest Bed: Free ebook

It is finally here! My very own short stories collection: The Forest Bed and other short stories. After long delays for ‘technical’ reasons, my book is finally available worldwide as an ebook. What’s even better?

The ebook is free.

The Forest Bed ebook is available to readers worldwide for free on Amazon Kindle

Offer valid from June 22, 2021, 12:00 AM PDT till June 26, 2021, 11:59 PM PDT.

  1. Open your Kindle app.
  2. Type The Forest Bed in your Search bar.
  3. Select the book.
  4. Download and read.
  5. Provide an honest review.

Or depending on where you live, you can find it on Amazon. Just click the relevant link below:

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Just type in the comment box if you can’t find it. I’ll provide the link.

Book in Print: If you are more of a love-the-smell-of-books person like me, you can order the printed book from Amazon or Pothi and they will deliever it at your doorstep. Just click the link of your favoured distributor.

Site name
Amazon.co.ukBlack and White Coloured
Amazon.comBlack and WhiteColoured
Pothi.comBlack and WhiteColoured

Free sample: If you are wondering why you should spend your money on the book, here is a free sample with five representative stories from the book. Please click DOWNLOAD to take a sneak peak and provide reviews that would help me raise the sale.

Spread the word!

Share the post, if you will. Please, pretty please! 😇

Posted in Random Thoughts, Writing Tips

Learn from the Masters: Sketching a Character

Author’s note: I have always loved To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I never tried to dissect the love to understand why until recently. When I was reading it for the nth time, I realised…

The book sketches innumerable characters from a small town, I am not into documentaries and the entire thing should have been absolutely boring and I shouldn’t have been able to distinguish between characters. But I love it. The character sketch is woven into story and narrator’s interactions with them. It brings out not just the physical traits but the entire personality. Here are couple of excerpts.

“We lived on the main residential street in town—Atticus, Jem and I, plus Calpurnia our cook. Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment.

Calpurnia was something else again. She was all angles and bones; she was nearsighted; she squinted; her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard. She was always ordering me out of the kitchen, asking me why I couldn’t behave as well as Jem when she knew he was older, and calling me home when I wasn’t ready to come. Our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side. She had been with us ever since Jem was born, and I had felt her tyrannical presence as long as I could remember.”

“Dill was a curiosity. He wore blue linen shorts that buttoned to his shirt, his hair was snow white and stuck to his head like duckfluff; he was a year my senior but I towered over him. As he told us the old tale his blue eyes would lighten and darken; his laugh was sudden and happy; he habitually pulled at a cowlick in the center of his forehead.

When Dill reduced Dracula to dust, and Jem said the show sounded better than the book, I asked Dill where his father was: “You ain’t said anything about him.”

“I haven’t got one.”

“Is he dead?”

“No…”

“Then if he’s not dead you’ve got one, haven’t you?”

Dill blushed and Jem told me to hush, a sure sign that Dill had been studied and found acceptable.”

Also, the author was not in a hurry to give away everything at the beginning. It is almost half way through the book when you realise that Calpurnia is black and Dill’s character sketch waits until we are a couple of pages through with him.

Let’s learn from the masters.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Why Do We Need a Pride Month?

The fact that we need a Pride month is a matter of shame for us all.

Did you know that around 5% of population across that world has a problem with gender identity. You say, “Well, I’ve never seen anyone…” That’s because they are foresaken by their families upon birth, killed, left in orphanages, handed over to the LGBTQ+ societies in your area or their families hide their ‘defect’…

The fact that we need a Pride month is a matter of shame for us all

because it means we are still not treating people right;

That we need a whole month every year to remind ourselves that people who are different deserve an equal footing;

That we still forget that gender is not black and white but hues of rainbow;

That people are commiting suicide every year because they are pushed to marry the ‘wrong’ gender to prove they are ‘normal’ and those who resort to violence to prove they are ‘man enough’;

That there are sports for women and sports for men, and people who are allowed to enter none;

That there are people who laugh at those who wear their colours with pride;

That every year, too many children are forced to drop out of school because they can’t deal with the physical, mental and emotional abuse by their classmates and teachers alike;

That we are still teaching our sons that boys don’t cry and daughters that girls don’t talk back;

That we are raising another generation that is just as unforgiving to those who don’t fit in the unyeilding boxes of gender roles…

The fact that we need a Pride month is a matter of shame for us all…

Posted in Life and After, Random Thoughts

The Taboo (Real Life)

My earlier post, The Taboo, sparked a lot of conversation and it reminded me of a real incident from my college days.

I was travelling by car with a bunch of family friends to a marriage. We were all between 20-25 years of age, celebrating the momentary freedom from parental supervision. (In India, you are under parental supervision as long as your parents are alive.)

On the way, we saw a scooter at a distance. A girl in her late teens was travelling with an old person, probably her father. One of my friends said, “Hey! Guess what? I can touch her hair while sitting,” and he began extending his hand to touch her.

I shouted at him to stop. He was rather surprised and said he won’t hurt her, just touch her hair. But I held my ground–Just the act will hurt her; that girls are afraid of travelling because boys take such liberties.

He was shocked. He had no idea.

I asked him how he would feel if someone did that to his younger sister. He growled, nobody would dare touch his sister. I reminded him that she probably dealt with this on a daily basis and never told him because of the fear of retaliation or the fear of being grounded for life.

He had no idea…

Posted in Random Thoughts

Published Our First Book!

“After an year of toil and tears, it is finally here! Our very own short stories collection…”

-Manpreet and Shaily

The Forest Bed and other short stories

Our book is now available in India in print on Pothi.com. 😊 😃 They deliver across India through courier.

Soon, it will be available worldwide as ebook and in print.

Spread the word!

Share the post, if you will. Please, pretty please! 🥺

Posted in Random Thoughts

Dreams and Crop Circles–Is this a Sign?

Earlier this morning, I had a dream that was on a fairytale-meets-star wars theme with princesses, prophecies, sabers and spaceships. As I sat down to prepare lunch, I was greated with this sight.

A dried top of bottle gourd had this design.

Had I been a supestitious person, I would have run out of my house declaring that Lord Ganesha (with elephant face) has visited my house in his triple face avatar. But thanks to the dream, I was on a Sci-Fi cum Fairytale mode. Hence, I decided it was a crop circle inside my house. You may say, “Hey, a crop circle is a circular pattern in crops.” I say:

  1. Bottle gourd is a crop.
  2. It’s top is circular.
  3. This one a has pattern, a pretty one too. Many progressive Indian women, henceforth, shall use it in their rangoli designs.

I wonder which TV channel to contact–

  • Aaj Tak that will turn it into Doomsday prophecy
  • NDTV that will call it the next attack of a deadly microbe
  • National Geographic that will call it a visitation from aliens and add it to their existing series of crop circles…

Any suggestions?

Hey! Small aliens that fit inside my fridge! Now that’s a plot for story. What do you say?

Posted in Random Thoughts

Gille, The Bard of Falutia

A penny for your thoughts…

Tiny Tales

Between the treacherous forest where only foul spirits dared to tread and the wide waters of the Alamanthanine Sea, there stood the small kingdom of Falutia. And in Falutia, there lived a bard of such renown that his name was spoken in hushed whispers from the sandy shores to the peaks of the snowy mountains. The mere mention of his arts upon the lute strings sent a shiver through even the most brutal mercenary, for he was, without a doubt, the worst singer ever heard in those fair lands.

His name was Gille.

His singing brought to mind the scratch of dead branches against gravestones, and his lute playing stirred even the most war-hardened soldier to tears of despair. Wherever he went, always in cheerful song, the road cleared before him. Thief, trader, brave wanderer, or stalwart servant of the king, it made no difference. All fled at the first…

View original post 1,259 more words

Posted in Random Thoughts

The Mountain Road

The car glides on the smooth mountain road,

making the turn barely in time

to watch a herd of deer

run through the grassy meadow

that rises up on the far side.

The air is filled with the sweet fragrance

of fresh grass and pine.

I’ve been here too many times

on this mountain road

to watch this herd of deer

and smell the air

that fills me of longing for more.

Yet I don’t know where…

I’ve never been here…

Not even today…


Photo by Murat Gün on Unsplash

Posted in Random Thoughts

Phone Call at 3a.m.

Beware, don’t pick up unknown international calls at late night. They’ll cost you in ISD rates.

John Malone

I get a phone call at 3a.m.

Who calls at 3a.m?

You think the worst.

I glance across at the screen.

The call’s from Algeria.

I don’t pick up.

I don’t know anyone from Algeria.

I used to get phone calls from ‘my mate’

in Mogadishu asking me how my bank account’s going

but since I told him I’m a pisspot he’s stopped calling.

But Algeria?

I don’t even know where the fuck it is.

Africa somewhere?

But here’s the funny thing.
It rings three times then silence.

What’s the point of that?

Is it a scam?

How can you scam someone unless you speak to them first?

Perhaps he’s inordinately shy.

Perhaps he’s a mute.

Perhaps he only speaks Martian.

I knew a young man once, Simon whose father was the Lord Mayor of Mars but that’s another story.

I look up Algeria on the map.

No clues there.

View original post 23 more words

Posted in Random Thoughts

Aloof

In all relations, I keep myself slightly aloof. I try not to talk very often or discuss pain because I can’t sympathize…

I empathize.

With people I really care about, once I begin to feel their pain, I feel it as my own…until I cannot separate the borrowed pain from my own feelings. Gradually, it begins to push me under and I struggle to keep floating and breathing. Eventually, I drown in a pain not my own and am unable to resurface until I open the floodgates or someone fishes me out.

I prefer to not drown.

So, if you find me impassive and aloof, now you know why.