Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Year that was 2015

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Is the year really coming to an end? How fast time flew! 2015 has been a year that brought me both pain and joy, immensely. It saw me ticking off quite a few items on my bucket list. I visited Switzerland, which has been a dream for a long time. I read a lot of great books. Writing wise, I had started writing Gouri, a novella that I'm working on at the moment. Thanks to the A to Z challenge that I attempted in April this year, it made me realize what I was capable of and for laying seeds to Gouri. 

My blog was also selected in the top five personal blogs in India by Blogadda. I did not win, but the fact that it made it the top five in itself meant a lot to me. It gave me more confidence in my writing skills, for one. Writing for me is a therapeutic and healing experience. Couple of years back, writing did not play a major role in my life other than the occasional scribbling. But now, I can't imagine one without writing in it. That is how much I have come to value it. So much so that it is the very essence of who I'm today. 

Also, my blog was selected in the top 15 socially active book blogs by Baggout! Yes, I was cribbing and moaning about how miserable 2015 was, and I decided to stop complaining and focus on the achievements alone without dwelling too much on what didn't go as planned. Turns out, I did not do bad at all. Thanks to everyone who has stood by my side and been a part of my journey. Love you all. 

That brings me to 2016, I have big plans for the coming year. I want to do a lot more of travelling, read those books that have been piling high on my TBR pile. I also want to cover some of those classics that I have been meaning to read for quite some time now. There are a few that I read many years back and so re-reading them is on the agenda as well. 

I want to step out of my comfort zones and explore all that I haven't before. No, no resolutions for me other than to write more and be a more disciplined writer. As far as resolutions and me go, we seldom work out, so I'm going to refrain from unrealistic expectations without losing focus on the silver linings. Happy New Year, you all! 

I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Book Review - Half Life by Roopa Farooki


From the book cover: 'It's time to stop fighting, and go home' 

Those were the words that persuaded Aruna to walk out of her East London flat in the middle of breakfast, carrying nothing more substantial than a handbag. Leaving behind her marriage to Patrick, she boards a plane to Singapore, running back home to the city she had run away from in the first place. There she finds her childhood friend and former lover, Jazz, troubled by the pleas of the dying father he refuses to forgive. 

After years spent fleeing the ghosts of her past- the life that she and Jazz had together, the terrible revelation that tore their relationship apart, and the troubling diagnosis she would rather forget- Aruna is about to discover that running away is easy. It is coming home- making peace with herself, Jazz and those they have loved- that is hard. 

Set against the backdrop of London, Singapore and Malaysia, Half Life is an extraordinary, brutal yet also lyrical novel of love and conflict, friendship and sacrifice. 

My thoughts: I remember reading Bitter Sweets by the author many years back and liking it. Though much of the story has escaped me today, it was a good read at the time. So when I saw this book at my favorite bookstore, it captivated my interest from the blurb alone. It seemed just my kind of book.

The book alternates between the past and the present, narrated from views of three characters- Aruna Ahmed Jones, her ex lover Ejaz 'Jazz' Ahsan and his father Hari Hassan. All their lives are intertwined and the actions of some have consequences that echoes back many years later. 

All the characters were well etched. I particularly liked Aruna's character. Confused and a rebel, she protests vehemently against her unfair circumstances. What I also loved was that none of the characters were stereotypes. They all had flaws, regrets and a need for redemption and closure. Aruna is diagnosed with bipolar which comes to surfaces on the death of her father. She has mood fluctuations, is on and off medication and how she deals with it is written very well. I could really relate to her character, as dark as it may seem. 

Jazz is a popular commercial fiction writer who writes novels with couples who have adventures and their happily ever afters. He tries to write down what he couldn't in real life. Which is Aruna leaving him without a clue and disappearing from his life for two years only to surface back again. Their relationship, again is something that you can relate to. 

Hassan is a character that I felt sympathy for. Be it his helplessness in being tied down to a bed at the end of his ears, or the love and longing he felt for a woman that he could never have. He is a popular poet and writer of his times; his story is set against the backdrop of the partition and the politics that prevailed at the time. 

However, the character that I felt most sorry for was Dr. Patrick Jones, Aruna's husband. Though he does not have much space in the book, his devotion and love for Aruna shines in all the little things that he does for her. His frustration at having to deal with her weird mood swings, and how hard he tries to give her what she wants was all commendable. There were times when I wanted to shake some sense into Aruna; her attitude was tiring at times. Though we know why she acts the way she does, watching her husband suffer for her misdemeanors was something that made me squirm.

There are no major plot twists. The one that came towards the middle was something that I guessed when I was a little while into the book. That can be labelled as the turning point of the story and we know why Aruna takes off to London without a trace. The backdrops of London, Singapore and Malaysia served as an exotic background for the story and the author has done a good job in providing you with a feel of the respective places. I have also not read much books which deals with mental disorders such as this one and it is evident that the topic has been well researched from its tone. So, yes, for me the book wins a point for that alone. 

Overall, it was a good read. The climax at the end in revealing the big mystery was a tad disappointing. It would have helped if we were given more of a glance into the past to know what really happened. All the characters however, get their closure and I was happy with the way things turned out for all of them. At 250 odd pages, the book is a short read and I finished it in over a day. A light read with interesting characters that dwells into their psyche, it is well worth a read and your time. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015



Missing you comes in waves. Sometimes it's the gentle lace wave caressing my feet, carrying the sand beneath them without a moment's notice. 

At other times, it comes crashing down, drenching me from head to toe. And when I least expect it, you are a whirlpool as you drag me down under. Smothering me, the salt water in my eyes and throat, blinding me, not allowing me to breathe, cutting down the flow of oxygen in my blood. 

But I'm still waiting for the day to let go, when I can finally drown in you. Won't you come? Or would you leave me here dying alone on the shore...

Monday, December 21, 2015

One Kiss

Image Source: Magpie Tales

In one kiss you'll know all I haven't said 
When Neruda wrote those words
He must have been where we are now
With that one kiss you sealed my destiny 

In that one kiss, all the unspoken words 
Were heard, crystal clear as the skies above
You fill my head, my lungs, under my skin
In the hollow of my throat, under my fingernails

In this one kiss you drown me in passion
I don't want to let go of you 
Who can say when the next time would be?
Every cell of my being is etched with your name

It maybe time for goodbye, yet in this kiss 
All that I hold dear is mine to cherish 
Until next time, my dearest, my love, my life
Let me carry the imprint of your lips on mine...

Linking this post to Magpie Tales - Mag 299

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Memory Box - Part 2

Read Part 1 here.
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My Dearest M, 

How I long to be with you right now. Vacations may have taken me away from you but my mind continues to linger on you, on us. Your smile that warms my heart even on the coldest of nights, your dark eyes that holds so many secrets in its deaths... How I yearn to hold you in my arms once again. I pray that these days would just fly and you would be my side soon...


She takes a deep breath and moves on to the next letter. Some are short, some long, running many pages. 

My Darling M,

Please accept this rose as a token of my love. Yes, I know that a red rose is definitely the mother of all cliches and I know how you detest stereotypes! But when it comes to love, I couldn't think of anything better than this. Yes, my mind seems to stop thinking logically when it comes to you. How else can I give you what you want? I want to grab the world by its throat and place it in your palms. Consider this rose, that I have painstakingly grown on my own, one that is a part of me, of my world, as a small token of my love. Call it a coincidence, I planted it the day I saw you for the first time. But I like to think of it as destiny...


Her hands begins to shake as she skips the many letters and moves towards the last one in the bunch. 

My Love, 

It is with a heavy heart that I write this. We can no longer meet, it would bring disastrous consequences to both our lives. I wish things were different, that there was some way for us to be together. But our love seems to bring only hurt to those around us. I wish I could throw caution to the wind and run away with you to a world that we have dreamt of together. If only things were that simple..

Tomorrow is a new day. I want you to move forward. Burn these letters, destroy it, if it will only bring forth pain each time you come across my words. I do not ask for anything more, allow me to live on in your memories. Where our love is never questioned and distance no longer tears us apart. Do not think that I have ever stopped loving you. I will continue to love you till my last breath, my dearest M, no matter what...


She closes her eyes as a tear drop makes its way across her cheek. Outside the rain seems to have stopped sometime while she was lost in his words. It feels like someone has clicked a pause button on time; her heart feels heavy. Life was offering her a second chance as her mind lingers over the phone call she received that afternoon. But does she dare cross those boundaries once again? The call had taken her all those years back, a time where two souls belonged only to each other. A second chance at love was being offered to her. But was it worth it? And if she took it, what would be the price to pay?

... To be continued. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Review - Without You by Preethi Venugopala

From the book cover: When Ananya, a bubbly twenty-year old engineering student, reaches her Grandmother's house in Sreepuram on a month long vacation, romance is the last thing on her mind. However, she meets Dr. Arjun there and falls head over heels in love. 

As it often happens, the path of true love never runs smooth.. Circumstances force them apart even though they were madly in love. She becomes a victim of depression. When everything fails to return her to normalcy, help arrives from an unexpected source. Will she ever find happiness again? Will time allow her heart to heal and forget Arjun? What indeed is true love?

Travel with Ananya to the picturesque Sreepuram, face the chaos of Bengaluru, and relish the warmth of magical Dubai in this heartwarming tale of love, betrayal, friendship and miracles. 

My thoughts: When the author is a good friend and when it's her debut novel, you are definitely curious as to what her story would look like in print. I have been a small part of this book before it got published and it is one very dear to me. I was one of the lucky few who got to see the first 3 chapters initially and so I couldn't wait to read the rest. 

When I finally started reading, Preethi managed to surprise me still. There were quite a few plot twists that I did not see coming. Coming to the story and characters, they are well etched, especially that of Ananya, her grandmother and friends. Coming to Arjun, another version of Mr. Darcy, though he is in love with Ananya, he has his own flaws, which makes him believable. Of course, I could relate to Ananya and love her a teeny bit more. 

The description of the places, be it Sreepuram, Bengaluru or Dubai, the author has done full justice in bringing out a clear picture in the minds of readers who haven't been there. Living in Dubai myself, it was fun to see this place through Ananya's eyes. Turning points in the story like Ananya trying to commit suicide and later her coping mechanisms in dealing with her depression are expressed very well making it easy to relate to. 

Ananya's traits are borrowed from the author herself, like her love for painting and reading and journaling. This is not just a romance novel, it is a story on relationships and I loved the various themes that Preethi has explored, be it the relationship of Ananya with her grandmother who plays an important role or the friends that Ananya makes in Dubai, they all have a vital place in the book. 

I do not want to give too much of the story away, as it will take away the fun in reading it. But read this one, it is an excellent debut and I'm definitely looking forward to the next book from Preethi. The book is well edited and has impeccable language, as is to be expected if you are familiar with the author's blog and her writings, which in itself makes the overall read a pleasant one. A light read, I read the book in a little less than a day. Read it and fall in love!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Learning to Live with Anxiety

Image Source: Purple Clover

I'm a born worrier. Yes, I worry right from the little, insignificant things to the major, life altering decisions. Add to it, my OCD and you have a mess, right there.

While travelling: Did I forget anything important? I'm sure I must have. What about my passport and tickets? Let me double check. Just in case. OMG, did I switch off all the lights? 

While talking to someone: Oh mind, why do you wander so much? Why can't you listen to whatever it is that the other person is talking about. Wait, did she actually ask me something while I was dissecting something I read earlier on in my head?

While starting a new book or movie: Oh wait, this one doesn't seem to be that interesting. What about the other one that I had been planning to read/watch since forever? Now that I started this, should I continue and finish it off anyway? 

Well, you kind of get the drift. This is me. This is the way I function. Yes, it is utter chaos in my life and head most of the time. Worries can quickly turn into anxieties if not addressed properly and at the right time. I have not suffered any anxiety attacks so far and that's just another one to add to my list of anxieties today. The day is not too far away, a nagging voice at the back of my head reminds me.

If there is one thing that I have learnt after all these years is this: there may be days when you will feel better, much better when the worries and anxieties decide to give you a break and go for a break themselves, but they will be back. The trick is not to let them take over your life completely. A healthy amount of worrying is normal, it is only when it escalates out of your control and turn into an obsession, do you need to be concerned. 

Here is how I try to deal with mine. 

1. Accept it. Ignoring the issue is not going to make it go away. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do to solve it. There are a lot of things that are beyond our grasp. In such cases, accept the fact that you have done your best. Learn to let it go. 

2. Writing down your thoughts. Yes, writing is my form of therapy. I write down my thoughts, even those crazy ones. Start a journal, if you want. I have a lot of folders on my laptop where my deepest, darkest thoughts reside. These are for your eyes alone and you don't necessarily have to show it to anyone if you are not comfortable with it. Of course, there are others who go ahead and post them online. It's entirely up to you. Whatever rocks your boat. I make sure mine are locked and safe, it's way too intimate for me to share with anyone else. 

3, Talking about it. Well, if you have friends or family who understands you or who have gone through similar experiences themselves, you may want to confide in them. The fear of judgement will always be there, lurking in a deep corner of your mind, I know. Yet, talking about it helps. Sometimes, a listening ear is all you need. 

4. Meditation. This is one exercise that I started and gave up after a few days. As easy as it may sound, learning to quieten your mind is no easy feat. Especially when you have thoughts and stories buzzing around your head all the time. But I'm determined to at least try. A few minutes a day for beginners like me. 

5. Make time for yourself. Pamper yourself, enjoy your me time. Do not always rely on others for your happiness. Happiness is definitely an inside job, as I read somewhere. Take up a hobby and concentrate on just that. Reading, painting or even just coloring can be great stress busters. 

6. Living in the moment. This one can be a struggle. At least for me it is. I worry too much either about the past or the future that I end up not really enjoying the present. So, I'm trying not to rush and savor each moment as it is handed to me. 

7. Do what you love. You are the only one who knows you best. So do all those things that make you happy. Do not give two hoots about what others may think. If it makes you happy, go ahead and do it. Listen to your heart, follow your passion. Nothing makes me feel alive as much as writing. Find what you love and follow it. 

All the above mentioned points are easier said than done. One step at a time is the key. Do not be too hard on yourself. Accept that all those broken parts of you are beautiful too. Learn to be kind to your own self. Have you had similar experiences? If so, how did you cope with it? Write to me at if you are not comfortable in posting a comment here, I would love to hear from you. 

The Chosen One

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He watched her from the corner of his eye. His hands holding the newspaper in front of him, his eyes taking her in. Drinking in the sight of her. Bouncy curls that kissed her naked shoulders, a laughter that made him go weak in the knees, rosebud lips and a pink tongue that snaked out to lick the chocolate sauce that had dribbled at the corner of her mouth. He wanted to reach out, take her in his arms. 

She was the chosen one

He felt a stirring in his loins, making sure that he couldn't simply sit by and continue to watch the tempting receptacle in front of him. He had to do something and fast. He wanted to know what she would smell like, what her skin would feel like under his fingers. 

2 days later

Girl, 5 years old found brutally raped and murdered...

In the comfort of his home, the man ran his fingers over the picture of the smiling girl. Such a delicate child. How she had cried, this one. She had smelt of milk and candy as she struggled in his hands. And later, the pungent smell of her blood had repulsed him. 

Calling out from the next room, his wife reminded him of the movie date that he had promised his 13 year old son. Pushing aside the newspaper and shaking the thoughts of the little girl from his head, the man got up to get dressed,

The beast inside him gave a satisfied yawn and went to sleep. For now. 

P.S. There are certain stories that come to you when you are least expecting it. Like a festering wound, it stays lodged in you, oozing blood and pus finally forcing you to do something about it. This is one such story that broke me. 
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