Into Dreaminess and Back

on Monday, March 12, 2012

It was an evening quite like today. The scent of the wet earth still lingered in the air. Yesterday, rain was the devil. It had in it's power to destroy what was going to be the most memorable day in the life of this bride But today, the rain humbly withdrew from the limelight. Today's star was going to be this girl, sitting pretty with her hand in his', still counting her heartbeats. In those heart beats she was counting time till when she would finally becomes his', when she can  would finally drop carelessly into his arms.

That night, was her night. I was lost somewhere in the grand crowd of eager faces, each of whom smiled for her happiness and comfort. I did too. It was an evening like today. The musty breeze seemed to be my only companion. I had come wishing for her happiness, but in that crowd, I had found myself to be terribly lonely. It was only the bride's face which was familiar. Rest were unpleasantly strange. My imaginations were running amok. Someday, in near, yet distant future, I shall also adorn a pedestal much like her's. To a sprawling acreage of lush greens, I shall also be the shimmering queen.

But for that day, I was lonely. In the unending multitude of heartbreakingly unfamiliar faces, I only had the naughty breeze for company, which also devoted attention to tickling the ribs of small bright lanterns suspended from each tree in the magically illuminated garden. That naughty, musty breeze might have remained my only companion had fate not been in a playful and yielding mood.

Tired searching for a soul warming cup of coffee from the mad array of exotic delicacies competing for attention, I could finally locate a near empty table which seemed friendly enough to accommodate me. I did notice a lone male figure occupying the seat across my own, but that his features would be breathtakingly gorgeous, I had not expected. Had I even meekly expected, I would have stayed away. A dreamy romantic and a hapless single are a lethal combination for a girl who suddenly finds herself in such a titillating zone. Boredom also plays its role in necessitating a leap of heart in thinking "now begin the bright times".

Was I crazy when I shared the first smile? I promise, I did not do it knowingly. His beaming, spotless face evoked a smile in my heart, which promptly ran to my lips. He smiled back. Effortlessly. No, eagerly. This, because, as I later realized, he was my male counterpart at feeling lonely in the deluge of people. Like me, he knew no one else. Like me, he had no company. Like me, may be he too needed someone like me. Yes!

The conversation began with pleasantries. It moved onto polite inquiries.  Name. Occupation. Weather. Food. Ambiance. The bride. The groom. The match. Back to occupation. And then, inevitably, life. Why I said inevitably? Because a part of me told me it would. He had small eyes, hidden behind rimless glasses, which became smaller when he smiled. He never stopped smiling. Consequently, my once sombre face too, did not stop smiling. Worries about reaching home early dissipated into the cold air as I concentrated on how dapper his black suit over a black shirt looked. Did I say dapper? Casually graceful would be more like it.

I am not a shy talker. I must've been talking a lot. I might have said something which made him remark- "You know, sometimes, its just fair that we count our blessings. Those lines of worry which crease your face will disappear in a nano second then." I did not know why he said this, but that is when I kind of came back to senses. What seemed titillating till now was seeming genuinely nice and warm. There was something about his happy countenance; he made me want to smile. It sounds mad, but it also made me want to show my sadness, for he seemed like someone who could still make me smile. There was an enormous amount of positivity radiating from him. What most soothed a nervous girl's heart most was that he was not being kind to me. He prized my chance company as much as I did his'. And this I know, because he was not interested to even look up when bride and groom readied themselves to command attention from each pair of eyes as they exchange the garlands of sacred flowers. He would have much rather continued the conversation, but I did not want to miss one of my favorite rituals from a traditional Hindu wedding.

I stood there, watching them lovingly garland each other. I loved the clandestine glances stolen. I loved the delirious applause filling my ears. I loved seeing her turn red as he claimed her hand back into his. I loved all this, and yet, I wanted to get back to that one conversation which I knew would ease me through the dreariness awaiting with open arms at home. Somewhere, in the middle of that celebratory commotion, I was commanded to head to the gate. My car awaited me. It was late. And I am a girl. A nervous tingle on my spine saw me running to the gate after saying a quick and polite bye. Nervous. I did not think of it earlier, but how many people had seen me laugh and joke and talk with this virtually strange guy in this crowded, yet lonesome place?

On my way back home, I felt silly for feeling all that I did. Sweet silly. I felt grossly silly for not knowing why I did not exchange numbers with him. We had clicked decently well, it would not even have been awkward. No regrets, facebook is the great savior of today. All I need to know about anyone to permanently invite him into my life is his name. I knew his'.

At night, a night like today, with chill pricking at my bare arms, as I sat with facebook friend finder open in front of me, I decided against 'finding' him. He was the perfect stranger. Straight out of books and poems I had read and fantasized about. He will only remain the perfect stranger if I abandon my pursuit. Meeting new people, good people, people who survive only as fond memory, is a dreamy concept in retrospect. I like the dreaminess of it  I closed that chapter there. Now I only revisit the pages when the blur in my memory turns inviting.

PS-Few days back, he 'added' me. I cursed facebook for interfering with my dreams from the past. Did I add him too? Well, I still am a nervous romantic and a hapless single. Should I?

Crossroads (Urban Shots) - A Review

on Monday, March 5, 2012

Now this is quality stuff. Genuinely. I do not know how many times did I find myself touched and connected and affected by the short stories compiled in this yet another brilliant anthology under the Urban Shots series. I do know, however, that this is one book I will strongly recommend to all book lovers out there, for the 30 stories told by 26 odd authors in this book are fresh, and textured interestingly. And as I stated earlier, this book is a quality affair. A pleasant, yet intense journey.

A glimpse through the foreword written by Rohini Kejriwal reveals to you what this book potentially would be about. As professed in the prologue, this book turns out to be a collection of tales on some very interesting and diverse characters, and mostly pivoted around a centrally important or watershed incident in their life. The simply yet elegantly told stories go beyond just that one incident and often make you stop and think. Each story here is a world of its own. Each character revels in a distinctness of his own.

What is truly commendable here is the selection of stories, due credit for which goes to the Editor Ahmed Faiyaz. This is perhaps the fifth book associated with him which I am reading, and I can now safely proclaim- he is one author who simply does not know how to disappoint his readers. Through this compendium, interestingly titled "Crossroads", Ahmed strings together some intense stories, each uniquely drawing you into the lull of its narrative. These are stories which find their roots in the urbane locales of India; each inspired by a different facet, human or physical, of the carelessly burgeoning and increasingly complicated urban existence of new age Indians. Some characters here pace too far ahead, much too quickly; yet others tell their tales about coming to terms with the world whizzing past them. There are stories here of complicated love, compromised relationships, pulverized identities, pressurized psyches, crushed innocence, thankless altruism, and unrewarded commitments. So many thoughts and emotions have been depicted in these 30 urban stories with such finesse that a constant eagerness to move onto and investigate the contents of the next story keeps you gripped throughout. An added beauty to all these tales is the fact that most, if not all of them are not easily predictable stories even though they build on situations one hears of or faces in real life.

Having been thoroughly satisfied by this outstanding collection, I was reflecting happily on a lot of them to pick my quintet. I have to admit, that selecting only five from a potential 30, each one of which stood as a strong contender to be included in my favorite five, was a task ridden with fond anxiety. After much thought, here are the five stories I found best..

1. Mindgames by Manisha Dhingra
A tale about psychological setbacks, one which turns ripe only at the very end. This was my absolute favorite from the lot.
2. Gautam Gargoyle by Shailaditya Chakraborty
Brilliantly written, beautiful wordplay and extremely intriguing plot. A complex take on what you might be tempted to dismiss as a rather mundane phenomenon. Understandably, this one was the Editor's pick.
3. Songs Of The Summer Bird by Anita Satyajit
I loved this story for its simplicity and  poignant portrayal of a misunderstood but well meaning library watchman. Simple sometimes is richly beautiful.
4. Jump, Didi by Sharath Komarraju
Dark, complex, intense. This story reveals itself to you in layers;. each new layer a whole new dimension. This story is about the innocent baby sitter next door and her forbidden sercrets.
5. Footsteps In The Dark by Mini Menon
A girl, penury, needs and exploitation. A sensitively told story of an aspect of our corporate society we need to feel ashamed off.

Also, Crossroads by Ahmed Faiyaz, the story which lends its title to the book is easily one of the best you will come across. Depicting love, lust, desires and commitments in a seamless manner, this story essentially themes around the concept of infidelity in urban relationships.

As a last thought, this book is one of those which makes me believe that contemporary Indian fiction has come of age. That said, there still are a lot more avenues to explore and experiment with. Crossroads is one book which has something to connect with everyone of you. 3.5 stars on 5 is what I will award it with.

And yes, the cover is totally gorgeous too. Quite prophetic of the gorgeous content waiting to be unveiled.


on Saturday, March 3, 2012

If you are incapable of tears, you will become incapable of laughter. A man of laughter is also a man of tears- then a man is balanced. They both go together. And out of this togetherness of polarities a balanced being is formed.

I have with me a screen shot of my success from about half a year ago. I also have with me a screen shot of a success my name does not feature in. In other words, I have with me a screen shot of my failure. A moment back, I was looking at them together, hoping for some divine vision to alight upon me. None did. I shut both the screen shots, and started laughing. The last I checked, that laughter was genuine.

Three days ago, I was crying. What could have been one of the most important days of my life had turned out badly. I was not able to shine in the one exam I pinned my future hopes on. Cry, I did. In fact, I wailed. But that, I was supposed to. I did not cry because I felt depressed. I cried because a castle that could be had just gone poof. And I could do nothing now to make it real. 

There is only an extent till which we can try; and try we must. With honest and diligent efforts behind me, the tears did not last for long. In fact, some sudden alacrity filled me. Now that this one door had closed, that too not forever, I had with me the opportunity to explore numerous others. Also, I could sense in me an urge to undertake shorter trips on hitherto avoided destinations which my dreams are made of. Stronger resolve, greater hunger. And a smile of my face. 

I always feared failure. I think I feared the ignominy associated with it. I also feared assimilating myself and standing up all over again. The same is now giving me a reason to look ahead with brightness. As one of my friends said, " I am glad you did not peak so soon." I, too, am glad I did not. With no major disappointments in my arsenal, I felt if I was equipped enough to be by my own in the world out there. Continued success makes people risk averse, so quoted Namita Bhandare in yesterday's HT. Even when I was not looking, answers were coming my way.

The tears have now lived their life. The smile and excitement are increasingly becoming subdued. The resolve to turn it around for myself is maturing steadily. Now is not the end. Now is the time to begin.

The Love Collection (Urban Shots) - A Review

on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Love is sacred, yet to many lost and caught in this web of society, it remains forbidden. Love is universal, yet to most who devote all their senses to its pursuit, it remains elusive. Love is ethereal, yet it is defeated more often than not by considerations real and pragmatic. Love is love, yet in this one word lies a myriad of emotions ranging from happiness to anger to jealousy to possessiveness to sorrow to calmness. Love, as we see and feel it around ourselves today is simple and complex at the same time. The variegated hues of this simple-and-complex phenomenon and its diverse manifestations- some lovely, others ugly- is what is explored in another brilliant anthology published as a continuation of the Urban Shots series. This offering of short stories is aptly named- The Love Collection.

The above paragraph surmises with flair the moods, thoughts and emotions I underwent while reading the stories picked up by editor Sneh Thakur to be published in this compendium. Compiling 31 stories by as much as 27 different authors must have been a daunting task for Thakur (who quite adorably refers to herself as 'pint size Rapunzel'- a description I cannot quite get over), given that 'love' is an emotion all of us like to talk/write about. It serves perhaps as the first motivation for nascent writers to put pen to paper. Not guided by a uniformity of writing style, guided solely by a common emotion running through the 30 odd stories- the book could have faltered on many aspects- the most important being monotony or stereotyping. Love is not always dreamy. It is not always like a bollywood movie. And much as we would like to argue, in real life, it is not always depressive and unyielding. This book does well to explore the many shades, including the greys, of love and compile them in neatly. Each story stands out on its own. I could not compare or hold any two similar in the essence they portrayed. For this, the editor and the various authors deserve a proud pat on the their back.

Having stated in clear terms that I loved this book, two or three stories left me sorely disappointed. May be because they did not appeal to the dreamy lover in me, may be because I hate to associate depressiveness (almost clinical) with love. Very rarely does it happen that I leave a whole book unfinished; much too rare is the case with short stories. In this book, while there were stories which I devoted time to rereading, there were some I did not feel like finishing. That said, I would still strongly recommend this book to readers of contemporary Indian fiction. The stories contained in this book are stories about characters whom we meet in real life, characters we identify with, characters we hope we would meet someday and characters we thought existed only in stories. Exploring diverse backgrounds, wading through different emotional topographies, these stories are perfect to discover and understand and even amuse oneself with varying facets of love. While in some stories this emotion dominates, in others its subtle; in yet others it chooses to lurk around the periphery.

Importantly, reading for quite sometime titles under the Urban Shots series, I have come to realize that short stories are the perfect, breezy metro reads that can fit into demanding schedules of the day. You can leave anywhere, pick up anywhere, and still not feel lost. If the book lover inside you feels suppressed unwantonly because of compulsions of material world, The Love Collection might be a good place to start at. 3 stars on 5 it is for me. My quintet from this collection-

1. Making Out by Hina Siddiqui
The Editor's pick, and appropriately so. The title explains much, and hides much for what this story might be about.
2.Strangers by Ahmed Faiyaz
Begins normally, ends eerily. One of Ahmed's best short stories I have read.
3. Twisted by Lipi Mehta
You thought it was simple, but actually it was not. Exploring a different side of love.
4. The Jhalmuri Seller by Bhabhani Shankar Kar
The simplicity touched me. Simple, but beautiful and a little more than just a tale of nascent love.
5. Reality Bytes by Anitha Murthy
Will touch you, I guarantee. This was one of those I reread.

and I would also mention one which does not leave my mind, for it was one of the only which pandered beautifully to the romantic within me- A Girl Can Dream by Ayesha Khanna.

Once again, a very satisfying read. 

(Reviewed on request from Grey Oak-Westland)

With A Smile

on Sunday, February 26, 2012

When I entered the festooned gates of JMC on the morning of 23rd February, I found the atmosphere inside ridden with confusion, with some palpable heat and anxiety flowing around. Reason? The Women Studies and Development Center, my alter ego while I was still in college, was waiting to launch one of their most prideworthy initiatives of the year in the august presence of the Mayor of Delhi, Ms. Rajni Abbi. Quite obviously, my juniors, who now hold the reigns of WSDC, were facing essential bouts of pre-event jitters.It is not everyday that the Mayor of Delhi herself agrees to walk in through the gates of your college to give to your endeavours her blessings and encouragement. However, that is precisely what Ms. Abbi consented to do- to be with a bunch of enthusiastic young scribes wanting to make their quill their sword of revolution- and the kind of person she is, we were easily stunned and mesmerized by her.

"Still I Rise"- this is the name of  a recently launched monthly newsletter by WSDC, JMC, which seeks to address bold topics relating to gender issues- the concerns and the celebration. It is a unique and unprecedented initiative, at least as far as the history of JMC is concerned. If the first issue of this journal is anything to go by, I am more than sure that the forthcoming issues will only get better and more interesting, and will carry lots of informative and entertaining content which will definitely appeal to the sensibilities of the young, the concerned and the daring. You can know more about this newsletter by clicking here. This link directs you to the blog of this still nascent product of young imaginations, trying hard to mark its presence among people who take interest in issues relating to women empowerment, gender parity, inter alia

A simple half hour rendezvous with Rajni ma'am ensured us that their could not have been a better icon of female strength and achievement whom WSDC could have invited to launch the first issue of Still I Rise. The fact that they invited me, their ex-President alongside her is something that makes me swell with pride. Tantamount to pride also lingers the humbling feeling of gratitude. Rajni ma'am had a personality that makes one instantly like her. She is a teacher by profession, a teacher at heart, and somehow, I always believed that teachers make for excellent leaders. They already know how to shape futures, mold young minds into mature ideals, and be inspirations without having to try too hard. 

Professor Rajni Abbi heads one of the three municipal corporations of Delhi, namely the MCD. The designation of a Mayor has a lot of pomp associated with it. So while we were expecting a VIP to enter our college at 11:30, Prof. Abbi nonchalantly walked into our campus at 11:25, not as a VIP, but like a humble leader who belongs to the masses. Her punctuality and humility were immediately noticeable, but what was even better was her keen understanding of a student's life and an urge to cooperate with us. She was friendly, and gave us helpful sermons which we ought to remember for our own benefit. No moment spent with her lacked the dynamism she effortlessly exuded. It was the first time I met her, and though I have no idea of what her accomplishments are, I still felt like sharing the first impression she left on me. Political ideologies, I have none. But an addiction to recording the best of experiences in life I certainly do. This was one of them.

My best wishes to the WSDC team. Make sure each step you all now take only takes your forward. What you have began should not end with college. Your passions should accompany you everywhere you go. You all make me proud, for all the right reasons.

PS- Sometimes, its just a smile you need. A smile that you carry, a smile that you can lend. I think some of you reading this will understand what I am referring to :)

With Ms. Rajni Abbi and a copy of Still I Rise in my hand

Freedom At Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins

on Thursday, February 23, 2012

Here, I am attempting to review a classic historical treatise, which has won acclaim for itself from diverse corners of the world. I feel inadequate. To exacerbate my feeling of inadequacy, the fact that it has been more than a month since I finished this 700 page long book looms large over my head. Still, I have now been infected by this incurable urge of expressing my view about any and every book I read, here, on Nascent Emissions. So this post, essentially, is my 'view', not a 'review' of Freedom At Midnight.

History is not a hailed discipline in our education system. It is pursued by those whom science rejects and commerce repels. Even still, those who brag about their knowledge of historical occurrences do so on the basis of extensive reading of world history- the wars, the revolutions, the socio-economic evolution. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, but how many of us are actually aware of the history of India, and I here mean that part of Indian history which has perhaps been pivotal in shaping the landscape of India as we know it today? All of us have a decent idea about the Indian National Movement, the struggle for freedom, the Gandhis, the Nehrus, the Patels, the Partition; but are we really aware of what was it that went into making India one of the world's most successful secular democracies?

Lapierre and Collins, through their characteristic exhaustive research, attempt to answer the above question, and a lot many more. Their research was conducted precisely to recreate the drama and the hysteria surrounding just one event, perhaps the most important in the history of Modern India- that of Independence, concomitant to which was the Partition. The idea that I would be reading about 700 pages delineating just one event, however mammoth its significance, was both, intriguing and putting off. I am glad that intrigue prevailed. This book is not a mere collection of words, or recollection of incidents. This book is a magnum opus. And had it not contained its own set of controversial detailing, it might as well have been an indispensable reading for all students of history in India. For me, it still serves much as an authoritative text. When you go through page after page of tireless details, a certain amount of credibility and an acceptance of the veracity of facts builds up inside you along with respect for the authors for their painful investigation of even the minutest of events surrounding India's independence.

For those not used to Lapierre and Collins' writings- and they do have to their credit other historical works of unquestionable repute, viz, Paris Is Burning and O Jerusalem- the opening chapters of the book can baffle the reader with both, their verbosity and a little over-the-top detailing. However, that is how the authors set the scene. When you revisit events from Indian history via the narration of these authors, you will be certain to feel a thrill and gush of personal emotions even though everything they've written about is a veritable anachronism in the 21st century. Their book is layered with interesting trivia, the most interesting perhaps being the chapter dealing with the lifestyle, the essentially eccentric and amusing lifestyle of Indian Maharajas. Their role in consolidated Indian politics becomes relevant when the independence plan grants them an autonomy to decide which side of the border to join, or to remain independent. More trivia about the division of state property when India was being partitioned can leave you astonished, with anecdotes you would perhaps want to sit over with a coffee and share with your friends.

The book begins with the appointment of Lord Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of India, and goes onto scan in detail many incidents gone unnoticed by famed historians. Particularly interesting are chapters dealing with Cyril Radcliffe's predicament. He was the cartiographer deployed to undertake the surgical division of Indian mainland, the irony being he had never ever visited India prior to this assignment. The bloodbath which preceded and followed partition has been narrated in a manner to leave you shocked and stirred. Marvelous are the portions dealing in an elaborate manner with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

What I personally loved about the book was the theatrics. Many events, including the riots, were not just described, but narrated as a story from the perspective of that one person who could be easily lost in a crowd, but who as an individual was profoundly affected by the same. The story builds up on you, in a way that you understand the magnitude and consequences of events you read as dull parts of draggy history text. The book dithers a bit too much upon the role of Lord Mountbatten, gloriously described, in the pre and post independence times, so much so that you are forced to feel if the authors had a predilection towards him. However, the latter half of the book more than redeems itself with the kind of aura it builds around the person who inhabits the very soul of India- Mahatma Gandhi. Many a book, including his autobiography, have I read about him, but none has made me fall in love and awe of him as much as Freedom At Midnight. The book also paints interesting portraits of Nehru, Jinnah and Patel- the other big players at the fore of the political battleground. And, most importantly, trust me, you really want to read this book to delve into the chilling details of the fanatical plan which was put in place to end Gandhi's haloed sojourn among us mortals.

On a scale of 5, not less than 4and 1/2 stars for me. This is one book we all should read, with a warning, it might just bore you in parts, but at the end of it, you will feel immense satisfaction for having dared to undertake this journey. The following are the protagonists of the saga of independence, and any story which builds on them, along with numerous other faceless characters, can be nothing less than outstandingly thrilling.

Lord Mountbatten

Mahatma Gandhi

Jawahar Lal Nehru

Mohammad Ali Jinnah

Of Patch Ups and Filibustering, Two Roses and Some Debating

on Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time".

Don't read much into it. I just wanted to start with something catchy. And this line more than fitted the bill. Two days of lecturing an unfortunate score of eager debaters on filibustering, and here I am, doing precisely that. However, this filibustering conveys what I dedicatedly follow in life. Each moment we grow, each step we take ahead, we are inevitably heading towards a dead end. Where we arrive, when we arrive, is irrelevant. How we travel is what is important. I like to travel savoring each experience as unique, and not having too many of one kind so as to keep them special. One recent experience which has raced to the top of my favorite moments from college life transpired on 11th and 12th February this year. To relate a little about that is why I hold the quill in my hand today. (Yes yes, I am tapping away on the keyboard, but, you know, this is called setting the mood)

Just so you know, I am not late in writing about an event that occurred almost 10 days ago. Yes, blogs are a lot about prompt display of thoughts, but I intended only to write when the memories in my mind had crystallized. Now, they have.

The Delhi Technological University, on 11th and 12th February, as reported earlier on Nascent Emissions, hosted a two day, multicommittee MUN, called the Deltech MUN'12. As a first, they simulated a double delegation, non MUN committee under the same event, namely, the G20 Summit. Amid an Executive Board with tonnes of experience, and participating delegates with mad and enviable MUN resumes, I felt a little lost. The amazing hospitality of the organizers did put me at ease, but it was not till I met Sakshi Aggarwal, the hastily deputed, charming Director of G20 that I could finally locate my comfort zone. In her, I rightly saw an amazing support for the two days I was supposed to spend at DTU.

The first few moments were spent in anxiety. 'Will we have a good participation' was the only persistent thought on our minds- mine, Sakshi's and Vrinda's, Vrinda being our sweet rapporteur. Little by little, beginning with a warm up session, things get into motion. Rest is indescribable in words. I am not a regular MUN person, only about attending one or two in a year. I resolved last year to never attend- participate or chair- a similar conference ever in life. And I am only glad that that turned out to be a hollow resolve.

We, as a committee, debated two very contemporary, dynamic, sensitive, pertinent, but dry topics over the two day session. Thanks to my well read committee member, the debate was anything but dry. I can safely mention now that Canada, China, UK and USA were my favorites to be the winners at the end of two days. A demure but determined Indian delegation made a strong case for itself by the end of second day, and ensured a High Commendation for itself. As countries, I might forget them, but as individuals, I promise, if you are reading this, I will always remember and recognize you if at all we meet again in future.

Amrita and Anmol- They were my favorites. Clean favorites. Charming and composed, both of them formed an effective pair to keep up with the pace of debating in the committee. (The Laurel and Hardy)
Priyakanksha and Hisham- They were the smartest and most confident speakers in my committee, whose confidence dripped from their faces. They were clearly more experienced than myself, but the respect with which they treated me was overwhelming and precious. (Rangeen Jodi- Runner's Up)
Kirithiga and Pranav- An adorable duo, where Pranav dominated with his eloquent speeches but Kirithiga matched up with her grace and composure, and a very amiable personality. (Rangeen Jodi- Winners)
Bhavya and Akshay- As I said, demure, composed and focused. Whenever my committee went crazy shouting and being uselessly animated, they were the only sources of solace I resigned my attention to. (Hope of Diplomacy)
Anup and Prashant- The youngest bravehearts of my committee, willing to take over those whom I was scared of debating with. These were two precocious school students who effortlessly contested, paralleled and even dominated the other committee members at times. Got into trouble, but got out of it soon enough. (The U-Turners)
Saumya and Siddharth- They were the next best on our list, just missing out on the awards. A little late to pick up, but their NSIT connect ensured they get enough attention from me!

The exemplary deliberations, debating and negotiations were accompanied by a lot of fun moments in the council. Discovering an unnamed rose under my placard was one of them. Breaking into long lectures about reading habits, concept of diplomacy, nuances of public speaking, and a little gyan on life in general was another. I had my tiffs only with the IP, but they too, were so fantastic at what they did that retrospectively, I remember them with a lot of respect. Exhausted after chasing consensus on two lengthy Declarations, a little photo session, preceded by a melodious rendition of Maeri by Pradit was only what was needed as the perfectly sumptuous icing on an already delicious cake.

I could never end this post without mentioning some more names.
Saad and Akhil- Prior to meeting them, I never realized that conference staff could be so diligent, endearing and eager to help. They displayed hospitality at its best. Water, coffee, projector, charger, chits, pens, stationary- I think we harassed them in every possible way. The only thing they gave us in return was a heart warming smile at the end of it all.
Soham- He is a school junior I am proud of. Had it not been for him, I would have suffered because of my over punctual self. Thanking him in few words is simply not possible. I can only say that the warmth, concern and respect  he loaded me with I shall never forget.
Shobhit- The sheer awesomeness he displayed at handling an event of this scale is something I could write essays upon. For now, I'd just mention that there could not have been a more perfect Sec Gen for Deltech MUN. Being invited by him was humbling and pleasing at the same time.

The best frames from then.

Two Hours Of Eternal Splendour (IV)

on Friday, February 17, 2012

Part I- The Ending

Part II- The Premonition

Part III- The Celebration

Part IV
The Last Song
Love is not what you arrive at. Love is what you travel through. 

The two hours are about to end. I will have to wake him up. Should I just let him sleep? If he misses his flight, it'll buy me some more time with him.Should I be fooling him? He has trusted me in one of his weakest moments. I have this feeling that he will love me for fooling him today. The question is, should I? What I can't figure out is- will it prolong the celebration, or will it prolong the pain?

I am still looking at him. He is sleeping with the serenity of an angel. Each trait of his, including this serenity, has complimented me perfectly. Each time he intertwined his fingers with mine, he fit the gap perfectly. The hopeless romantic in me always concluded that the Creator had crafted him only to fit into my life. It made sense. It seemed perfect. He was never just the lover. He was the 'love' in my life itself.

His brow now appears slightly creased. Is that a bead of sweat trickling down the shadowed part of his face? As if in a fit, his whole body just jerked. I quickly crept closer to him, and held him in a reassuring embrace. A fierce embrace in fact. I know it was fierce because when I withdrew, his eyes were open. With a dizzy confusion. He looked at me, at first as if figuring out if I was real. He then managed a goofy smile on that ruthlessly handsome face of his, the smile I knew the contours of which by heart. He closed his eyes, preserved that smile, dug into my bosom, and slept.

This moment is real. As real as it can get. Tell me, should I be sad or angry? In his love, in his embrace, have I not already gotten more than my share of bliss in life? There is this sweet pain lurking somewhere in the rear corner of my heart. I cannot for sure know if its normal, but some part of me feels happy in this moment which is heralding the close of an era of love. His infinite worth has become apparent to me. I've seldom valued him more than I value him this moment. He is grand. Priceless. This is how I will forever remember him.

"I love you. I always will", I whisper softly while pressing my lips to his ear. The crease on his forehead has now disappeared. The serenity returns.

In a few moments I will wake him up.

After a few more moments, he will be gone.

And after some more moments, I will cry.

Two Hours Of Eternal Splendour (III)

on Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Part I- The Ending

Part II- The Premonition

Part III
The Celebration
 If this was the last hour I was allowed to spend with you, I would spend it like it was the last hour I was allowed to live. When you walk out, love walks out, life walks out. 

I was only adjusting the smile on my face when my heart gently leapt out of its place. The bell rang. He is here. My cheeks flushed red, perfectly complementing my dress.

I clicked the lock open, and peeked out, hiding my body behind the door. Clad in a black shirt and denims, there he stood, ready to massacre the hearts of a dozen females. Aah. A sigh still escapes my lips when I see him stand with that casual grace in front of my eyes. He is not any Greek God personified. He is but love and passion epitomized.

He was gazing at me. Unnervingly so.

"Hey." I said. I smiled. I calmed my racing heart down. Really? Has it really been five years of our togetherness? "You are not carrying your luggage sweetie? Left it at your apartment already?"

He pulled me out from behind the door, lightly revealing my demure frame to his eager eyes. He appraised me from  head to toe. I think I saw a hint of a smile on his face. A tired smile but.

"You look gorgeous. Much lovelier than I ever remember having seen you."

"Stop flattering me. I mean, I like it. But there, you again did not answer me directly. Where is your luggage?"

"You know you could ask me to come in first."

"Oh! Sorry! Its only excitement. Come in. Make yourself comfortable."

He walked in straight towards my bedroom, only pausing near the table in the living room for a brief second to place on it a pretty red rose. My Valentine's gift. The one I had always liked. It was the only luggage he carried, hitherto hidden behind his back. I see his body disappear into my room. I stand frozen for a second, a little perplexed. Closing the main door, I pick up the elegant rose, the hues of which match precisely the tone of my dress, and proceed towards him. By now, my heart has stopped racing. It has begun to sink.

I halt at the door of my room, and lean against it. Seated at the edge of my bed, facing away from me, I can tell he has worry writ large over his face. He is staring at the floor with a burning fierceness. He looks up. Its only confusion, painful confusion he sees in my eyes.

"I am going back by the evening flight. In about two hours, I leave."

He takes a deep breath, averts his gaze, and continues. "This is it. My father wants me back there. He has wielded contacts to find me a job, and expects me to marry a girl of his choice next year. He wants me to settle down and be with him and ma."

An even greater sigh. "Angel, I won't be coming back."

He returns his gaze to meet mine. His deep, expressive eyes are moist. I feel pain. I feel an even greater urge to lessen his pain.

I walk up to him and tousle his hair while he sits still, looking down in an emotion I reckon as guilt. He curls his arms around my waist and presses his face against my belly. I can feel his tears permeating my dress, touching not my skin, but defying gravity and racing up to hide away in my heart.

I don't cry. I smile. I know I am his strength. I have been, for long. I keep still for a while.

I then withdraw, sit down on my knees with my hands in his lap. I look up at him. Again, I smile.

"We knew this had to happen. We did. We loved each other, but we promised not to hurt our parents."

He keeps mum. He keeps looking at me, but remains mum.

I look deeper into his eyes.

"For the next two hours, you are mine."

Our eyes are now locked in an intense gaze. Not breaking it even for a moment, he supports my shoulders as we both stand up facing each other. An inaudible "Love you" escapes his dry but luscious lips. I draw closer to him, burying myself in his chest. His labored breathing becomes all the more palpable in the rhythm of his heart. He lifts my face up, perfectly accommodating my slightly plump cheeks in both of his palms. I cannot stand the heat of his gaze. I close my eyes. The next moment, I can feel his soft lips on mine. One of his hands reaches the zip of my gown, the ease of unfastening which, I always suspected, was what made him buy it in the first place. In a swift motion, my gown slips off and collects in a heap near my feet. He knows I turn shy. He draws me closer in his embrace and enters the coziness of the blanket to escape the prickly Delhi cold. He also does this to hide me away from the prying eyes of the fan, the wall and the mischievous mirror.

What began as an eagerly anticipated Valentine's was fast culminating into a final celebration of love. 

(Part IV-The Last Song- last of the four parts, coming up soon)

Two Hours Of Eternal Splendour (II)

on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Part I-The Ending

Part II
The Premonition
Its only a single heartbeat of yours I need to hear in order to understand truth of life as we know it. You say so much, even when you say nothing.


"Hey. You're asleep?"

"Brilliant question to ask honey." *Yawn* "What else do you suppose I would do when my darling refuses to spend time with me on the Valentine's Eve? Gosh! Its three in the morning! Is all good baby?"

"Yes Yes. Nothing much."

"Wait. Am I imagining things, or your voice is actually heavy?"

"Chuck that. Can you take off from work tomorrow?"

"You always do this. A question in reply to my question."

"Hey...don't be upset. Tell me, can you?"

"Wait, let me see. Why would I take off from work tomorrow unless that darling mother of yours lets her only son come back to Delhi where apparently he has a job and a girlfriend waiting?"

"I am coming back tomorrow. Should be there by the afternoon."

"What?! Really? Yayyiee! But really? You're fooling me? Tell me you're not! Oh honey! You always give me the best of surprises. I should have known you would not let my Valentine's go dull. You know I love these little celebrations of life, these little celebrations of love. I should have known. I'll be waiting. Or should I come to receive you at the airport?"

"No. Stay at home. Will you do me a favour?"

"Anything for you baby. Just command."

"Will you wear that red silk gown you wore to the quiet dinner date we had on your last birthday? The one I had bought for you?"

"Ahaan. Someone's getting romantic already. I would, of course. When I open the door for you tomorrow, you will see me as the girl you could fall in love with all over again."

"I know you will look gorgeous. See you tomorrow."

"I'll be waiting."

"Love you, and a Happy Valentine's angel."

"Love you too. My Valentine's will begin when I look deep into your eyes tomorrow."


I try drifting back to sleep. Yes, I felt happy that he, after a really long time, will be back in my arms. But some part of my heart challenged that elation. Something was not right. Am I thinking too much? I must be. When he'll be here tomorrow, everything will be fine. My edgy heartbeats will settle down into a peaceful rhythm. He will make that happen. He will.

(Part III-The Celebration, coming up soon)

Two Hours Of Eternal Splendour (I)

on Monday, February 13, 2012

Part I
The Ending
Loving you is irrevocably drugging myself to a form of living I know I can spend my life in. Loving you is living.  

Few not so bright rays of sun manage to percolate through the thick oriental curtains on the window to rest on the left side of his face. Penetrating the aquatic blueness of the window tresses, they fall on his face like luminous ripples of water. I gaze at him. I sigh.

He lies on his back, covered upto his chest in the soft, velvety blanket I share with him. The blanket protects what we seek to share only with each other from the curious eyes of the fan, the walls, and the mischievous mirror. I plant a careful kiss on his glistening shoulder. I then draw out from the blanket.

I do not intend to get away from him. Having savoured him in every other possible way, I now wish to savour him through my eyes. I lift myself up, leaning on my elbow, and cast the most loving gaze at him. My lips instantly register that same smile he described as the sexiest curve of my body. I smile imagining things, both pleasant and forbidden.

Oblivious to my shenanigans, he sleeps. Peaceful, calm, radiant. I am sure he is dreaming. Dreaming about us. I can feel him sigh behind his closed eyes.He is definitely dreaming about us. It is easy to read him. It was easier to have fallen in love with him. Almost instantly. Like a sudden revelation.

Half of his face is playing host to the mild rays of the distant sun. The serenely illuminated countenance of his is reminding me of his admirably illuminated inner self. The other half of his face bears a shadow of his own features, reminiscent of the protective shade he has been nurturing me in for so long. His perfectly chiseled, smooth shoulders give but a peek into the majesty that he is. His right arm, so far a pillow for me, is now lying with a casual grace on the softness of the blanket. He is perfect. His aura is perfect. But soon, it'll all be gone.

(Part II- The Premonition, coming up soon)

Trek Up To The 100th!

on Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yes. Through this post, I am out here celebrating the century of nascent words which have escaped my heart over last 3 years. It feels incredible. When I go through the neatly drafted older articles, I often sense pride and warmth serenading my being. The words were always reflective of my thoughts. Honest thoughts. Not one word here has an element of fabrication. Each single post of mine is written with personal care, tenderness, love and thoughtfulness. Emotions have been my guides. People my inspirations.

What I would want to dedicate my 100th post to is my inspirations. The three people who have been a distinct part of me and who have inspired me not from around me, but from within me. Their faces lurk behind most of my writings. What I share with them prompts me on. Whether the happy moments or the sad, they either cause them or help me live through them. Invariably, they metamorphose into some exquisite thoughts which my quill itches to paint into some precious words.

Here they are. Here is who they are. Here is what they mean.

The Love
He is the Guardian Angel of my solitary heart. I read about love. He taught me about love. The feeling that filled me with his arrival in my life was so overwhelming that it needed to flow out. It had to flow out. He made me feel so much of love that I could finally begin to understand it. Once I understood it, I felt a need to write about it, share about it. Love has been an experience of learning and unlearning. Nothing stands absolute in its path except for the fact that it exists as an Absolute need for all of our survival. I did mention about having understood it. But love is a spectacular panorama. Not one to be understood easily. He says, "So what? Live it, feel it, flow with it." And the words flow along too. Gracefully. Dancing under his magic.

The Care
He is solace of my heart. My reason for feeling good. My reason for looking forward to a new day. In his face, I've seen a frown which I sensed a need to smoothen. In his eyes, I've seen some pain which I always yearned to help flow out. In his heart, I've seen a coldness which I felt I could help thaw. He is the majesty which stands tall to the respect of the world. He is the softness which has always been cared for by me. In caring for him, I have felt infinite warmth being reflected back towards my heart. Each time I watched over him, I sensed some faith building up in me. Can there be a more potent inspiration that faith itself? The care, taking care, being cared for, lent me that faith, and the consequent inspiration. Its friendship at its best. The fights inspire me more than the good times. My writings carry lessons and emotions I gained via the periods of distress, the periods of taking care. Its is not the cherry on top of the cake I am claiming, it is the whole cake of memories I am sharing.

The Smile
She came into my life with the glow of sunshine. Funny I call her that despite heliophobia being one of her prominent attributes. Her innocence, silliness and childish purity has been comfort of my heart in the darkest of hours. Happiness deep down within has been ascertained by me to be a prerequisite to aid clear flow of thoughts out into comprehensible words. She channelized the best of positive energies towards me with that one bright smile she flashed at me on the first day I noticed her, and continued to flash the same at me each day we met and began getting closer. Her brightness, her contagious positivity, her infinitely pretty face, and the stupendous happiness she is always sprinkling around- all these factors have been the greatest motivations whenever I have sought to make anyone happy through the words I share on my blog. If she did not lent me all that bliss, I could not possibly have passed it on.

And We Turn 100
 I am not thanking them. They're all mine. My own. And they've stuck by in my good and bad times. I've fought each one of them with bitternes. I've loved each one of them with passion and tenderness. I was in three different worlds while I wrote the above three, but that in now way means they are distinct or isolated sections of my existence. They inspire and encourage me together.
In his love lies tender care and plentiful smiles.
In his care I find smiles and the warmth of love.
In her smiles hides a reason to love and to take care.
They all hurt. They all are close. They all are behind my expressions.

For having come a long way. from writing my post #1 to now writing post #100, I am ecstatic. Each one of you reading it has been a part of my journey. Thank you so much! I know you are happy for me and are sharing that ridiculously beautiful smile with me. Thanks again. Hope to keep seeing you around.

A Montage Of Memories

on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What is the time of the year that as a college student you most look forward to? Definitely not the exams and assessments. It is, indubitably, the time your whole college is drowned under a spirit of celebration- your annual college festival which is not just a time to have fun, but also to work your asses off and proudly show off your college to the whole world out there.

I'll add one more thing to the above generalization. Not just for the incumbent college students, but also for the nascent alumni, the most looked forward to occasion is not the Convocation or the Reunions, but again, the college festival. I say this from personal experience. Reunions are good in their place, but they do not recreate the fervor and frolic associated with college life. Festivals certainly do. With a bunch of old friends, heading down to your own college with a cup full of memories in your hand and a sparkle of expectations in your eyes is an exercise many of us would like to undertake to revel once again in that relaxed, carefree air. My lips widen in a huge smile as I recall to mind that a similar trip I shall be undertaking towards to my college just about a fortnight hence. It is that time of the year again. It is MONTAGE time again!

Splashed all across my twitter timeline and facebook wall are updates and more updates about this year's edition of Jesus and Mary College's Annual Festival- Montage'12. It is heartwarming to see juniors take the oars in their hands and row towards the D-Day with such skill and innovation. With each successive edition, we at JMC have gone a notch higher in terms of the quality and enthusiasm with which we decorate the fest. More spunk has consistently been added. More shimmer sprinkled. More care observed in organization. More efficiency achieved. More events conducted. More participants attracted. More fame gained. And if I am to go by the words of the college president, Kanika Chaturvedi, this year, Montage promises to be nothing less than EPIC. Dear Kanika, make it an advanced version of epic. I know it lies in you and your team to do that!

The team. Aah. Now they are an enviable lot. A bunch of young, smart girls, who put the most passionate sections of their heart and the most creative sections of their brain into making certain that the fest is pulled off with uncomplicated meticulousness and stylish grace. One of the many new things they have tried this year is reaching out to people via an interesting blog. Oh, they have made some awesome teaser videos too, but since I am a blogging person, I am glad that my lonely, nightime occupation is being taken seriously by some cute damsels. They are churning out some cool posts with a candour and lightheartedness I wish God blessed all of us with. The feel you get while reading all those posts just makes the air around the road leading to the fest all the more energized. The countdown has begun.

Hit the fb page, or the Montage official website, but what I will strongly recommend is that stop by Montage's official blog by clicking here. Take a moment. We want you to laugh with us. We can be pompous about ourselves, because all the awesomeness JMC lends to us is prone to spilling out now and then. But with this blog, the creative scribes of JMC are out there to make you feel at home even before you step into our campus.

Its here. Montage '12. So, are you ready?

PS- If you are one of my male friends reading it, FINE, I know I have to make sure I take you along. I will. I promise. But don't you dare pester me to introduce you to femme fatales from my college. Please.

An Era Of Mausiqi Ended

on Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Log kehte hain Jagjit na raha. Ghazal ro rahi rahi mera manmeet na raha. -Manoj Kumar on Jagjit Singh's demise on 10th October, last year.

Ghazal kehna bahut zimmedaari ka kaam hai. In other words, conveying the pathos of a poet with musical embellishments is a job of immense responsibility. Jagjit Ji, without fail, discharged this responsibility with enviable perfection. Ghulam Ali Sahab was true when he remarked on Jagjit Ji's demise that "With the going of Jagjit, a pillar of mausiqi has been lost." However, more touched was I on reading as a eulogy Manoj Kumar's above quoted expression. Jagjit ji's loss cannot be captured more lucidly in words. In his going away, ghazals have been left bereft of their most beloved humraahi. Humsafar. The face of ghazals as catches the popular imagination today had been chiseled by the dexterous of doyen of contemporary Indian light classical music. On 10th October last year, he decided that it was time now he serenaded the heavens with his silken voice. If he had not been so hasty in his departure, today we would have been celebrating his 71st birthday.

Jagjit Ji's voice is a magic potion. Much about him shall always be said in present tense, for he has immortalized himself via some priceless jewels. Rare gems like him never recede to the past. Their worth and glory enhances as time progresses. Jagjit Ji's soulful renditions of some great poetry can make reality hit you hard, or transport you to a surreal world. They may intensify your gloom by echoing with surprising precision a personal sorrow. The same ghazals could exude a salubrious air- an air capable of setting right the ills concomitant to deeply, passionately felt love.

Besides being a prolific singer, Jagjit ji was a great storyteller. Ask me what sung by him is my favorite ballad and I won't spare a nano second in pointing towards these lines. These lines are a chain of thoughts. Lyrically beautiful. Rendered sublime in Jagjit Ji's soulful voice.

Baat niklegi toh phir door talak jaaegi
Log bewajah udaasi ka sabab poochhenge
Yeh bhi poochhenge ki tum itni pareshaan kyun ho
Ungliyan uthengi sookhe hue baalon ki taraf 
Ik nazar dekhenge guzre hue saalon ki taraf
Choodiyon par bhi kai tanz kiye jaayenge
Kaanpte haathon pe bhi fiqre kase jayenge
Log zaalim hain har ik baat ka tana denge
Baaton baaton mein mera zikr bhi le aayenge
Unki baaton ka zara sa bhi asar mat lena
Warna chehre ke taasur se samajh jayenge
Chaahe kuchh bhi ho sawalaat na karna unse
Mere baare mein koi baat na karna unse

Now, doesn't this story sound all too familiar? If you have not, I implore you with all my heart to lend an ear to this just once. For this composition, veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar is said to have remarked - Baat nikal bhi gayi, aur door talak jayegi bhi. These were Jagjit Ji's early days. Javed Akhtar's words proved prophetic for the heights extraordinaire which Jagjit Ji was destined to climb.

He shimmered like the brightest star in the sky of Indian music. A sitara, however, has not been lost. He is, in fact, shining ever more brightly, firmly, coruscating in the hearts of millions who loved him and will continue to do so till eternity.

Today is his 71st birthday. I wish it were in my capacity to reach out to him and wish him just once.

Achchha sa koi mausam, tanha sa koi aalam
Har waqt ka rona toh, bekaar ka rona hai.

Down The Road- A Review

on Sunday, February 5, 2012

My short sabbatical to an internet free zone was spent with my nose poking deep into the pages of Down The Road- A collection of short stories by various authors about life on campus, edited by Ahmed Faiyaz and Rohini Kejriwal. What I felt about the book shall come later, but I must share with the readers that I was often found by concerned family members sometimes sharing a ridiculously personal smile, at others a worried pensive stare with the pages of the book. It was not merely because the book was handsomely engrossing. It was certainly because the book shared stories which seemed personal. 

Life on campus is a rigmarole for most of us. It, invariably, occupies a very special place in the chest where we preserve our precious memories. Growing up, finding ourselves, making friends, understanding love, learning, unlearning, failing, trying, enjoying, crying- you look back at college and you find yourself enveloped by a dozen emotions you once lived through, the ones which have played an important part in shaping you as you know yourself today. Quite obviously, I had my hoped pinned high on Down The Road, especially because I am fresh out of DU, and still not quite over the feel of campus life.

The book lived up to its name. Quite effortlessly, it took me down the memory lane. It is a fresh and pleasant collection of short stories by young authors from diverse background and with diverse writing styles. It tells simple tales of incidents we've lived through in school or college. Most of the stories which appealed to me dealt with love and friendship- the discovery, the innocence, the misunderstandings, the whole experience in fact. The book is divided into five sections with 28 stories by 16 authors. The individual authors have explored many different facets of campus life including elections, politics, ragging, teachers, passions, lessons, crushes, placements inter alia.A thumbs up to the editors for selection of stories included in this anthology. Some of the stories will make you smile as you remember the hazy face of that first crush, some others might touch you where you are most sensitive and feel some pain or regret. Narrated with an almost personal tenderness, many of these stories make you reflect on those trivialities which seem to acquire meaning only in retrospect.

What I did not enjoy was the last section of the book, with two essays about campus fiction and campus based movies. I was riding high on the nostalgic atmosphere which the stories created around me, and quite honestly, I did not feel like forcing myself through those passages which seemed a little dry after the wonderful and touching stories. I would give the book 3 on 5 stars. It is worth a read, in fact a few stories are worth reading many times over. Some warmth and some nostalgia you are sure to feel while you involuntarily find yourself living your college days.

My favorite five from the stories published in this anthology-

1. Smells Like Home by Aashish Mehotra
About the reluctant return to his homeland of an NRI student, who experiences comfort in the company of a girl whose presence he takes for granted.
2. Bellow Yellow by Chinmayi Bali
A commendable, mature and intense story about the darker tendencies which inhabit a student's being. Well narrated, delicately handled.
3. The Music Room by Ira Trivedi
The forbidden love story of a bright young student and a docile, out of place music teacher.
4. The Cafe With No Name by Sneh Thakur
A gently narrated tale of the brewing relationship between a student of limited means and a concerned and doting Parsi owner of the roadside cafe. Heartwarming.
5. Remember Me? by Ahmed Faiyaz
This one because it made me revisit Ruheen and Aditya's love story, one I had gotten quite attached to while reading Another Chance.

Another Chance by Ahmed Faiyaz- A Review

on Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"At the end of love there is unloving, when you can engage in the ceaseless hunt for all those things to be taken out, and somehow discarded, when you can fight against the new roads and try, futilely, to return to what you were before." -Page 180, Another Chance.
Much thought goes into deciding the title for a book. No matter what genre, what subject, what type a book, a title is supposed to provide just enough peek into a book's soul, without revealing too much about it. It is your first impression of the book, and in case of novels, fiction novels such as the one I am attempting to review, the title of the book is supposed to hold the story together, even guide the reader when he feels lost about the direction the book will take after the next turn in the story. Ahmed Faiyaz's Another Chance boasts of a title which is precise and perfect. It encapsulates the very essence of the book in a mere two words- Another Chance. To a romantic's heart (read:me) these two words are almost a philosophy. In Ahmed's novel, they are a simple expression of the desire which harries many a unlucky-but-still-in-love hearts. The Desire For Another Chance.

The plot of the book revolves around a single girl-Ruheen Oberoi, described by the author as a depressingly gorgeous woman in the prelude to the novel. She is a hep, free spirited girl, sought after girl, brought up by an indulging grandfather, who lost her parents when young. Aditya Sharma, Ruheen's enduring lover, a young corporate trying to make his mark, is the second protagonist in this novel. His commitment to Ruheen is almost dreamlike- but much comes in the way of consummation of their love. A string of men enter Ruheen's life at successive junctures- A politician's son and Ruheen's obsessive stalker-Vishal, Ruheen's childhood friend with feelings for her-Varun, and then Ruheen's good-for-nothing, abusive husband-Rohan. Luck, as is guessable, does not favor Ruheen's relationship with any. At a young age, battered by the chicaneries of life, Ruheen gives up hope for finding love and comfort in a man's arms, when Aditya re-enters her life. However, love, as we know it, is not a simple road to tread on. It comes with its own complications, its own compulsions, its own tests. Will Ruheen finally find happiness? Does love deserve a second chance? Is the human heart, with all its weaknesses, a sound guide to consult while making life altering decisions? All this, and more, you ponder as you flip through the pages of Another Chance.

After Love, Life & All That Jazz... it is the second book by Ahmed Faiyaz that I am reading. Like the earlier one, this too has done a decent job of providing me a good, entertaining, and moving story which is not too heavy and easy to relate with. Having read these two books, I can conveniently say, that Ahmed does fabulously when it comes to painting close-to-home, real life characters. While in the last book, what could have been three independent stories were intertwined in the narrative, here it helps to have just one rather simple story to follow and focus attention on. Simple, but replete with exciting twists and turns.

It took me about quarter to four hours to read the book, and I am by no means a fast reader. It is much like a bollywood romance, which engages, touches, entertains, and leaves you with happy tears in the end. Do not pick this book to satisfy the literary critic in you. Pick this book for catching some fresh air, a simple break from your otherwise ridden-with-anxieties life. As I said, not heavy duty stuff in this book. An easy, light read, whose climax builds up like that of a mushy, romantic flick. When during the course of the book you start sharing the agony of the character and get desperate for them to achieve happiness, you know that the writer has succeeded in casting his spell on you- in binding you together with the narrative. I have a proclivity towards falling for nicely narrated romances. This one gets 3 on 5 stars from me for primarily two reasons. First is its ending- they way it builds up, gives you hope, then perturbs you, then leaves you with fond tears. Second is for the author's handling of human emotions- their gullibility and resilience- and for his treatment of the dynamics of a new age, urban relationship. The narrative of the books shifts between many locations, Indian and foreign- and the screenplay like storytelling makes it conveniently possible to imagine vividly the characters and their setting. If you read with as much passion as I do, you'll lose yourself to the story. And in my view, that is how one should read to draw maximum satisfaction from a book.

I cannot end this review without mentioning the brilliant cover portrait of Bruna Abdullah which almost brings Ruheen's character alive in front of your eyes. Her expression on the cover was the first thing that made me want this book. For all of you wanting to a read a little mature and not an utterly cheesy romance with no load, do remember to pick this up on your next trip to a book shop.


on Saturday, January 28, 2012

Protecting her?
Was that the plan?
To nourish, to cherish,
To save from the evil man?

The endless sky
"Dangerous to fly!”
Wide crystal water
"Fatal to enter!”
Inviting golden desert
"Treacherous mounds of dirt!”
Morbid confines of home
"Your haven, your zone!”

So, Protecting her
Was that the plan?
I'm sorry you failed
She’s at best – Jailed!

 "You thought I was protected
Cradled in sound slumber?
I was shushing my heart from dreaming
Beating it to sheen-less amber"