December 13, 2012

"Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai" By Rishi Vohra---Book Review

Title: Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai

Author: Rishi Vohra

Publication House:  JAICO

Genre: Fiction

Price: Rs 175/-

"Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai" is the innocent story of the life of Balwant Srivastav.Being a resident of Mumbai's Railway Colony, his day pretty much starts and ends with the rattling of the trains along the tracks heard from his bedroom window.
The story slowly unfolds with the hardships and struggles of day to day life that Babloo has to face.
Being autistic,he is slow at grasping things and suffers from family neglect as compared to his so-called-able brother Raghoo, the apple of his parents eyes.This causes Babloo to remain more socially withdrawn and befriend the imaginary voices he hears in his head, thus bringing an element of paranoid schizophrenia to his personality as well.

The story picks pace when we are introduced to Vandana, the prettiest girl of the neighbourhood whom Babloo is madly in love with.Vandana's empathic attitude towards him makes him fall deeper in love with her, all the while trying to prove himself worthy of her love.

The plot twists and turns with various other characters and subplots like the sleazy Sikandar who fools babloo into believing that he will help him woo Vandana (while carefully laying a well planned trap for her),  Manjeet singh---the happy sardar who meets Babloo along the way, Vandana's and Babloo's parents who bring forth an alliance which somersaults its way in and out of Vandana's life causing fragile emotions to go awry now and then and hence a lot of misunderstandings to surface.

As one reads on, one cannot feel a tinge of sadness for the blissfully oblivious Babloo who is so busy trying to prove his worth and finding an purpose to life before proposing to his lady love , that he forgets the cardinal rule of love "Say it right then or the moment will pass you by".

Does the career oriented Vandana have a heart?
Does Babloo finally prove himself despite of all his shortcomings?
Does he manage to confess his feelings to her on time?

The book blurs the line between what is considered 'normal' and 'abnormal' by society.It shows Babloo's strength of character.It emphasizes on how a little love (if taken positively and in the right spirit) can go a long way on the path of motivation and make him a superhero.

Rishi Vohra's writing is fresh and crisp.The  story is a little slow to begin with but then it gradually picks pace.One can see glimpses of Bombay life on every page, incidents encountered in everyday life and people met randomly on busy streets and this enables the reader to paint a better picture with words (the attractive cover page would help too).
However there were parts wherein I felt that the author should have researched a little more into the subject of mental illness to get a more accurate representation.But then reality can hardly make up such an entertaining story.

To sum up, a story with the potential in the reel world.
But 'RailMan'?? Yes, he is someone the real world needs.

About the author: After completing a green MBA from San Fransisco State University and a masters diploma in environmental law, Rishi Vohra relocated back to Mumbai.Prior to this he had a successful career in the indian entertainment industry.
Currently writing for delWine, he also holds the title of a certified wine specialist to his credit.

He is also a guest columnist for various newspapers in India. "Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai" is his debutant novel.

Personal Rating:  3 out of 5

(This book review is written on the request of the author, though the views above are entirely mine and are not subject to obligation of any sort)

August 24, 2012

"Rainy Days" By Samarth Prakash---Book Review

Title: Rainy Days

Author: Samarth Prakash

Publication House: Good Times Books Pvt Ltd

Price: Rs 125/-

Genre: Fiction

About the author: Samarth Prakash works with the engineering team at is passionate about writing. Be it ardently melodramatic to vividly romantic and quietly philosophical, his nature is reflected in the way he writes.
To read more of work, you can read hiim at his blog space "Misty Reflections"

"Every journey begins with a chase.We chase success. We chase happiness.But what happens when this chase is suddenly interrupted by a long wait? Will love endure that wait?" ...goes the book blurb which first allured me towards this book.
Being an old school romantic, I have always associated love with long waits, heartfelt poetry, a deep sense of realisation kicking in every now and then...and last but not the least, rain!!!

Samarth Prakash has amalgamated all these quintessential elements in his debutant novel---'Rainy Days'.
The story is a first-person account by Raghav, a smart, charming, young entrepreneur with an intact set of values and honest ideals, co-founder of RS3 (a website founded by Raghav and his friends Shantanu, Sandeep and Sachin which centres on the main stories they publish and feedback from the general public who can narrate their own stories in turn-ranging from corruption issues to political scandals to personal injustice-with their only motto being to support and reveal the truth) whose life takes a dramatic course when he falls head over heels in love.
Introducing Megha, an average girl from a middle class Maharashtrian family who leaves the reader confused and pondering if she is really in love or just in an equal state of confusion (as the readers).

The story progresses in flashback mode as Raghav tells us about their first chance meeting, their first date, the long drive to their favorite spot and finally Megha's abrupt departure from his life with the promise that she would meet him again after five years and still be in love (with him, of course).Having no means to contact her, a heartbroken and shattered Raghav takes up to doing what all smart charming wannabe entrepreneur with an intact value system and honest ideals would do...(no, not alcohol, you bonehead!!).He immerses himself in work and takes RS3 to new heights.
Unfortunately, life has not been that kind to Megha and when they meet as promised after five long years, Raghav is in for a shock.
The story then takes us through a series of twists.A murder case, an acquittal, hopes of a reunion and more importantly the one factor that sums up our entire life---the choices we make.

There are decisions to be taken...
Love over ideals?
Love over truth?
Love over friendship?
Love over life?

"Rainy Days" makes one ponder about these choices.
There are times when you feel the story getting too dramatic, but then again, who said life and love isn't?

So as Marilyn French said and i quote---
"Well, love is insanity. The ancient Greeks knew that. It is the taking over of a rational and lucid mind by delusion and self-destruction. You lose yourself, you have no power over yourself, you can't even think straight."

and so...
superstitions are justified...
her confusion is justified...
her impulsiveness is justified...
Raghav's risk is justified...
his passion (at the cost of seeming a tad bit selfish at times) is justified...
his approval to the fabrication is justified...

and just like that, love always seems to justify so many things which otherwise would seem unjustifiable.
However on reading how the story concluded, I was a tad bit disappointed.I guess the twists and turns of events had built up too much anticipation and expectations.
character is a little sidelined despite of being a protagonist and that left me wondering what reaction it would have evoked in the reader, had the story been told in third person and not by Raghav.Even the end has a tinge of bitter maturity, which kinda leads the reader into feeling that Raghav is the victim and yet a martyr.

However the memories of a lost love are always rekindled by the rains and with every monsoon, the bitterness (at least some, if not all) gets washed away.

To conclude, "Rainy Days" by Samarth Prakash is a refreshing read.The language is simple and the story has a easy flow.Written in first person, one can more easily relate to Raghav.The book is interspersed with random inferences and realisations, moments of introspective questions and reflective musings which help progress the story in an interesting manner, making us stop, smile and think about what relevance it has in our lives.
For a debut novel, 'Rainy Days' is an interesting piece of fiction with promising 'motion picture' potential.

Personal Rating: 3 out of 5

July 07, 2012

Just a "yellow" note...

It feels like ages since I visited this space. My regular haunt was getting neglected and although I am unable to cite one particular reason for my being out of the loop, I can quite surely say that I missed you all.
So today, when I opened up my dashboard to post in a draft, I was flabbergasted. It was the same uncanny feeling you experience when you leave behind a friend only to return after a while and find yourself staring into the eyes of a stranger.Yes, Blogger had changed its design. The look was different. The tools were unfamiliar. I was trapped in strange surroundings. I felt cheated.

However, much to my relief, this sense of betrayal lasted only for a while, until I figured that even though much had changed, all my posts were intact. So were my followers and side bar widgets.
Once I was out from the panic mode, everything seemed pretty much the same except for the fact that I would need to get acquainted to this idea of a new dashboard avtaar and a few nitty-gritty changes in settings.

Looking at the bright side, it was a new improved version.

Then what was it that made me panic?

That was when a totally unrelated thought got stuck in my head---Is the familiarity of the old so comforting that we fear to adapt to the vicissitude of the new???

May 28, 2012

Book Review---"Its Your Move, Wordfreak!"

Title: "Its Your Move, Wordfreak!"

Author: Falguni Kothari

Publishing house: Rupa Publications

Price: Rs 250/-

Being an ardent fan of crossword puzzles and word games, the cover page of this book beckoned me towards it.Besides being bright and colourful, what pulled me into reading the overview were the small scrabble tiles strewn randomly around the pretty 'Jasmine' (from 'Aladin' stories) lookalike which constituted the cover page of Falguni Kothari's debut novel "Its Your Move, wordfreak!"

The book blurb only managed to heighten my curiosity fruther and shoving off the tad bit irritating phrase about a cat who somehow got killed on similar lines, I decided to find out for myself.

"Its Your Move, Wordfreak" is a feel-good-feel-liberated chicklit set in contemporary India...modern day Mumbai to be precise where life revolves around page three parties, alimony matters, aspiring models and deep but not-so-apparent psychological problems.
Yet, somehow Madame Fate has it planned that the protagonists, Alisha Menon aka WordDiva and Aryan Chawla aka WordFreak meet under the most unique and suspicious of circumstances...not at a party..not at work...not randomly in one of bombays huge shopping plazas...but over a game of  online scrabble.

Just as Lee-Sha (as her super-diva friend Diya calls her) keeps away from a social life, so does Aryan (the same high profile 'Save the planet' architect who appears on the topmost google page ranks).
As they flirt their way through sensuous chat sessions over word games, they realise a connection and soon decide to meet up for real, only to find out that they are perfect for each other.
"The anonymity that type of communication afforded had given them a false sense of security and an unreal level of comfort.” Thus gets validated their perfect virtual relationship---a bond where the past does not matter and the two faceless and nameless identities finally form an integral part of each others lives.
The sexual compatibility bit goes a tad over the notch with pages and pages devoted to descriptive intimacy.
Comoe in the two families, we are introduced to some extremely amicable individuals exuding sweetness with their extremely good natured behaviour and genuine concern.
While Alisha's mom Savitri Menon is a woman with a golden heart (and surprisingly no maternal warning signs and i-told-you-so's despite her daughters relationship highs and lows), Aryan's Nanu (grandmother), Sameer (uncle), Neeta mami, Aryan's father, step mother and everyone in their whole little world seem totally high profile and at the same time, utterly selfless.

Just as the relationship gets clawingly sweet, reality intervenes and differences between Alisha and Aryan raise their ugly heads---differences which reveal their own insecurities springing up from some deep secrets of their past.
The story unfurls in rather a predictable Yet interesting manner as to how Alisha takes the few extra steps in bridging the fate intervenes in their favour...and last but not the least how love triumphs all odds.

"Its Your Move, Wordfreak!" is quick paced and simple which makes it an enjoyable read.The vocabulary is easy going and day to day which renders it fir for a lazy afternoon or on a trip.
A book which will be liked by flutter hearted romantics and bollywood fans, "Its Your Move, Wordfreak"  would evoke quite an interesting response in motion cinema.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

About the author:  Falguni Kothari currently lives in New York with her family and one utterly spoilt dog.Born and brought up in Mumbai, the author plays multiple roles in her day to day life which have won her esteemed titles like domestic goddess, soccer mom and canine companion.Despite her busy schedule, her faithful laptop keep her updated with the latest scandals in the online world.
"Its Your Move, Wordfreak!"  is her debutant novel.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

April 16, 2012


If everything that appears real is an illusion, then perhaps everything that feels like an illusion is real...

March 10, 2012

Book Review---"Urban Shots: Bright Lights"

Book Title: Urban Shots: Bright Lights.

Editor: Paritosh Uttam

Price: Rs 199/-

Publication: Grey Oak in association with Westland Publication.

Being in quite a complex state of mind since the last few days, I was feeling this dead weight inertia that I desperately needed to snap out from.
Times like these, even the slightest effort makes one feel like he/she is performing a herculean task--even if it means just curling up in bed and reading a novel.
So my mind decided to plunge for the first collection of short stories that came my way.

Lucky for me, it was Paritosh Uttam's 'Urban Shots' that was up for reviews by Blogadda which saved me the trip to the bookstore.
'Urban Shots-Bright Lights' is a collection of twenty nine compelling stories by twenty one talented writers.
This anthology revolves around interesting characters and their lives set in urban India.The foreword by Naman Saraiya concludes with a handy and apt suggestion that requests the reader to give each of these stories breathing space before proceeding to the next one.

The book opens with a short story titled 'Amul' By Arvind Chandrasekhar.This is a beautifully narrated first person account of a terminally ill girl.The sensitivity with which the innocence of a class five student is captured and subtly combined with the harsh reality she is facing is wonderfully reflected in the writing.

'Alabama To Wyoming' By Paritosh Uttam is an amusing story by the editor himself.This was one of my favorites in the book.Written in a very interesting way, the end leaves you wondering whether to laugh at Sid's naivette (which in small measure, is a trait we all possess) or feel disappointed by the way he was conned into making a fool out of himself (which in all possibility, we could all be turned into).

'Across The Seas' By Ahemad Faiyaz is an emotional account of the unconditional love and longing of an aged mother for her son who stays overseas.The author's note at the end is a very sweet gesture which mentions that it is a tribute to his grandparents for their selfless perseverance.

'Good Morning Nikhil' By Ahmad Faiyaz---A sudden change of course makes this story a very interesting one.Another of my favorites, 'Good Morning Nikhil' speaks of a heart warming grandparents-grandson relationship which tugs at your heart strings and leaves you moist eyed.

'Father Of My Son' By Roshan Radhakrishnan is a rib tickling comedy by a good friend and wonderful writer.
Having known and read him even before he got published, I can vouch that this man with his crazy sense of humour and comic timing is someone who can get you cracking up in seconds...and his story 'Father Of My Son' stands testimony to that.

'Double Mixed' By Namita V. Nair---Half hearted introductions, awkward handshakes and averted glances---the not so perfect party with 'infidelity' being the theme and 'Murphy' playing host.

The urge to break free from the usual monotony of day to day life, from the stress at the workplace, from inner desires suppressed and inner anger restrained is something that haunts the protagonists of 'P.K Koshy's Daily Routine' By John Mathew and 'The Wall' By Sourabh Kotiyal.Although these two stories are somewhat based on similar lines, they end differently as one protagonist manages to break free and feel liberated after years of succumbing to it, the other decides to continue pushing against the 'wall' just for a little while more.

'Cats and sponges' by Meena Bhatnagar and 'Paisley Printed Memories' by Sneh Thakur surprise you with their unexpected endings while 'You Eternal Beauty by Naman Saraiya and 'The window seat' by Salil Chaturvedi mesmerise you with a whirlpool of emotions and words. While 'Maami Menace' makes you giggle at her idiosyncracies, there is 'The Raincoat' which manages to leave you misty eyed.

Each of these twenty nine stories are short and crisp.The language is simple and the narration, easy flowing.
Although the book is fast paced, every story has a unique plot with a different setting which adds to the charm of the collection.Crafted by different authors, there is a certain freshness in the style of writing in each of these stories which holds up the readers interest all through the book.

The only pitfall is that a few stories end sooner than expected while a couple linger a little more than necessary.However this is a excusable glitch when it comes to a compilation of stories wherein the limitations one are overcome by the merits of the other.

Clearly, this anthology is to be devoured not all at once.It is to be savoured like a favorite dessert, bit by bit...story by story.
To sum up, 'Urban Shots-Bright Lights' is definitely worth a grab.A proud collection to be enjoyed at leisure!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

March 05, 2012

The acid test

In the middle ages, there used to be a very popular technique to access the value of gold.
Since gold, unlike all other metals was particularly resistant to digestion with almost all acids, the application of acid to a substance suspected of being gold confirmed its genuineness.

On a deeper note, we all go through some such tests in life whereby our genuineness and trust is tested.
Sometimes, the test is to test our strength and endurance to a particular situation.

We promise to count on each other---life is built on a silent yet strong faith.

Count on one another we do.But as we seek the much needed comfort in each other's soothing words, little do we notice that our relationship is being tested only in fine weather.

...until one stormy day, sharp words carve their way into what we had considered a life long bond, snapping it into two and making us realize that perhaps it was just for a season that things were meant to last.

...that perhaps the connection we shared was never strong enough to survive the startling cold of an unexpected winter.

...and that perhaps we failed the one most important test of all relationships---the acid test!!!

February 25, 2012

Holiday diaries: Rewind-Pause-Play...

They say, if you walk the footsteps of a stranger you learn things you never knew before.
While most would prefer to sleep or read a book during a long leg of their journey, I am someone who prefers to keep her eyes open and observe people and occurrences happening around me.This is a trait I have possessed since childhood, thanks to which my journeys have never been drab or boring, even if it means long hours of foot-sleeping travel.

Besides, most of my trips are impromptu because that is when they seem to materialize best.
Perhaps it is just a notion that I like to harbor but a vacation to me, has always been a getaway from the mundane humdrum of day to day life.
Hitherto, a trip always provides the much needed respite and space to get away from all reasons of stress and strain...a chance to see new places, to meet new people, to learn about new cultures and traditions, to learn from experiences and create a montage of beautiful memories before you get back to your routine existence feeling rejuvenated and all ready to kick start life.

Being the travel enthusiast that I am, I always prefer exploring the place on my own and hence comes handy a well prepared itinerary which I undoubtedly plan according to personal convenience.

Coming to think of it, I have had the most memorable experiences and met the most interesting people during such travels.While some of these have gained me wonderful friendships that I hope and intend to keep for life, some have just provided much needed comic relief during long hours of travel by their bizarre behavior.

I remember this particular family that occupied five rows of seats on the Delhi-Goa flight I was on, some time last year.
Apparently, it was a huge clan of loud free spirited people traveling to Goa for a family function.One could not but help wonder if they had jumped straight from a daily soap. What ensued was three whole hours of action packed family drama which did not miss to catch the eye of all the other passengers around (including yours truly) and included bouts of public display of affection, loud yells from family members in the last row of seats to those in front, constant chatter amongst children and women, people opening up handbags which revealed a food supply that was enough to feed a small starving nation---packets of chips and tetra packs of fruit juice passing them around (much to the disgust of the stewardess-who kept passing them dirty looks from time to time-all in vain of course), guys showing off their muscle power by reclining their seat to the maximum and crushing the passenger seated behind them and so on. The only thing short of a Bollywood flick was some loud music and a few dance steps to go along with it.

As I giggled to myself, my co passenger (who belonged to the same extended family)decided to show her hospitality and offered me an apple.
The forbidden fruit from the forbidden family-I laughed in my head and politely declined.
I am assuming she must have taken it rather personally or perhaps it was because she developed a sudden fancy for me---but she kept insisting I eat something and opened up a huge polythene bag which contained an even greater variety of food stuff.

Sensing me panic, the stewardess came to my rescue and served lunch.Hitherto the big fat Indian family (as I fondly call them) enthusiastically put away their booty and attacked the airline meal with equal gusto.The peace and quiet lasted only until the meal ended.
Since I could no longer concentrate on the book I was reading, I decided to cure my intrigue by casually striking a conversation with the middle aged woman seated next to me.A few minutes into the conversation and she told me that she was attending her nephew's wedding in Goa. She seemed to be genuinely warm and very polite. Apart from the fact that she kept munching all through the flight, she seemed to me a very sensible woman.

After a while into the conversation and much friendly banter later, she told me that she was the groom's maternal aunt.I was then introduced to her sister who was the groom's mother---a short plump woman in her mid fifties who had been against the marriage and so had decided not to attend it, initially.Equally agitated were the girl's parents who belonged to similar orthodox households.

Each coming from a conservative Hindu background, the two families had wanted their children to wed within the same sub caste. The couple had almost given up but had been lucky to have an aunt who was not ready to sacrifice their love for petty issues. As she convinced each and every family member for the marriage, the younger generation of the family worked their way into making things possible.

Here, in front of me was a woman in her mid forties with a super huge family along with her who had an equally super huge appetite, but what was more important was that each of them had an even bigger heart that respected feelings and stood out for each other even before themselves and that was all that mattered.

Another stamp ink memory comes rushing to mind when I think about my travels.
It was a simple encounter with an ordinary woman, unique in her own way---a character you do not find commonly in today's day and time...a meeting which leaves a mark in your memory and makes you believe that its not such a bad world afterall.

I remember this like it happened yesterday--it was during one of my trip to Chennai.I had gone there for a P.G program which extended for a period of three days that month.
The seminars usually concluded late in the evening, after which we would go straight to our lodging and call it a day.
Fortunately, during that trip one of the senior doctors who was supposed to conduct a talk got busy and hence we finished off a little early.
With a little spare time on hand, we decided to go see chennai's most talked about beach---Marina beach.
That was where I met Yellama and Shaheen.

As a child, I remember my love for air balloons.I would love to see them blow up into different colors and shapes.I would be fascinated by the way they morphed from small deflated pouches to huge shapes and faces.
I remember thinking that the balloon vendor was a very strong man with iron lungs--one puff and he could inflate the largest balloons in the world, I thought.
My eyes would light up at the sight of any balloon vendor on the beach back then and I would pester my parents into buying me balloons of different shapes and sizes. Just like all other children of my age, I would be pacified with a balloon after which I would run away happily to play with my friends.

That day on Marina beach, I saw for the first time in my life, a five year old not pestering her mother to buy her a balloon but instead helping her to blow up one.
As I watched closely, I noticed how weak the mother looked---pale asif not eaten for days.She seemed poor yet content.Her cotton Saree seemed torn at places but clean.
In one hand, she carried a host of bright colorful balloons of different shapes and sizes.Tired around her waist was a small bag full of deflated balloons that were yet to be blown up. When someone would stop and buy her wares, she would replace them by filling air into the deflated balloons from the pouch. A few passerby's would stop by and fulfill their children's demands. But the woman in the cotton saree never once coaxed or persuaded someone into buying anything. She stood calmly till someone stopped and asked her for her balloons.
"Rs 4/- per piece," she would say and receive the handed over money with a smile. She would always give back the exact change. If she did not have the money, she would ask him to wait and run to the stalls nearby for change. Even if the buyer would insist that she keep the change, she would refuse and implore him to wait until she got the money. If he was in a hurry, she would not let him go without handing him a few extra balloons worth the change. At a distance, I saw another balloon vendor standing with a bunch of attractive balloons, coaxing people as they passed by into buying them. Unlike him, this woman did not advertise her product.It was this very thing about her that made me go and ask her story.

Yellama was a woman from a very poor background.She had three children, Shaheen (the girl along with her) was the youngest. While Yellama strived hard to make ends meet, she wanted her children to lead a life of self respect, and this was her way of teaching them a lesson in integrity and dignity of labour.

She did not want them to beg, borrow or steal. She told me that she wished them to lead a respectful life.While her older children were sent to school, Shaheen would accompany her to sell her wares.
"She will go to school next year" she said with a smile. She did not say why but I guessed that it was because she could not afford it yet. I saw Shaheen's eyes twinkle with joy with the mention of 'school'...the same way they would twinkle every time her mother filled the deflated balloons with air. She knew she could not keep the balloons for herself and sought comfort in looking at them change shape as they were handed over to the children who bought them from her mother.
It was as if by that very action, she could see her dreams ballooning up. Whenever a balloon went up in the air, she would jump in glee---as if that ball of air contained in it her hopes of soaring to the sky someday.

I placed a hundred rupee note in Yellama's palm and told her that I needed fifty balloons.I knew she would not accept the money from me otherwise. She said she did not have as many balloons right then, to which I told her I would come back the next day.
Immediately, she handed me my money and told me to pay the next day upon delivery of the goods.Shaheen was watching her mother with big brown baby eyes. I knew I could not let her down.
Here was standing in front of me, a woman who despite of going hungry for days wanted to teach her children never to beg or accept favors from the world...someone who wanted her children to learn that they had to grow up and earn for themselves and not accept or expect help from people especially strangers.

I convinced Yellama that she could use the money to buy more balloons since I knew that she would not be able to buy the many that I needed with her earnings, in a single day.
She hesitated but then saw the truth of the matter and accepted my offer.She thanked me and I saw her daughter dance with joy on realising that her mother had done good business.I left Marina beach a happy soul, glad that I was able to help little Shaheen in whatever little way I could.Yellama however thought I would keep my promise and return the following day to receive my money's worth.

When I reached my hotel, I was already feeling home sick.As visions of my childhood flashed infront of my eyes, I reflected on how we take small things for granted.Yellama and shaheen had left an imprint on my mind---an imprint on help offered by a little child to her tired imprint on values ingrained even in dire imprint on humility learned even on an empty imprint on hopes harbored even when dreams crashed.

The next day was a blur. Time to ponder on life's lessons got left behind as patients and case studies took over. The seminar continued with fellow doctors from all over India flying in and discussing all types of ailments and treatment protocols.
When all discussions concluded late in the evening, some of my colleagues wanted to visit the beach again. I declined the offer since I was very tired but my friend took it up.Having loved the experience the previous day, she was tempted to breathe in the fresh air and rejuvenate her senses after they had been clobbered dead by incessant hours of medical discussions.
It had been a long day and I immediately crashed in my bed upon reaching my hotel room.

I had a flight back home the next morning.I had woken up at 5.00am to finish with my packing.
It was 6.15 by the time I reached the hotel lobby and I was still half sleepy but nevertheless ready to check out.
As I completed the hotel checkout formalities, the concierge informed me that there was something for me. As I stepped aside in the side room of the lobby, I was caught by total surprise as I saw twenty five brightly coloured heart shaped balloons tied together in a neat bow.
When the concierge told me it was a middle aged woman with a young child of about five who had come in to deliver the balloons at five-thirty am in the morning, I was not surprised.Having waited for me the previous day, Yellama had spotted my friend amidst the tourist crowd and asked her where I was staying.
As I looked at the bright play of coloured balloons in front of my eyes, I smiled to myself---nothing could match the colour of Yellama's scrupulous character...the untainted hue of her principles.

In life there are times when we meet people we might never meet again.Strangers who meet across a bend, share notes during the journey and quietly go their separate ways.
Maybe they are there to teach us something. Something that we need to learn...something that we need to believe in.
A brief encounter with a beautiful couple I met during my holiday in London made me think along these lines.
After having had a scrumptious meal at Cafe Rouge, I was waiting for a bus at the stop opposite St Paul's Cathedral, lost in my own little world of unhinged thoughts...when they happened to catch my attention.
The lady was well dressed, had a petite body structure and sharp features.Beautiful brown eyes set in a heart shaped face accentuated her beauty.Her dressing sense was impeccable---with a style that was chic yet not too dandy.
She seemed to be in the mid thirties and had a friendly disposition.The man with her was a robust good looking man and seemed to be in his early forties or so. Together, they made a pretty couple.
Our eyes met and the woman smiled at me and asked me if I was new around.When I told her that I had come from India, both of them were very happy. They told me that they had been to India a couple of years back and had loved the place.The lady told me that she thought the Taj Mahel was the most beautiful monument she had ever seen and that it was a beautiful way to immortalise love.I laughed at that and told her that 'love' like that does not exist anymore. She smiled at my comment but said nothing. The look in her eyes made me a little nervous as I somehow sensed she was looking right into my heart and reading my utopian expectations about love, which lay hidden under a thick dusty blanket of dark cynicism.
After a moments pause, we continued to speak about other tourist attractions in the two countries.

All this while, the man with her had been quietly listening---providing us with inputs every now and then. He seemed a warm and friendly person and even though he hardly looked at me in the eye, one could not miss the happiness on his face when he proudly spoke about his lady love and their marriage of ten years.When I complimented what a handsome couple they made, the lady blushed a little and thanked me.
Their bus arrived in a while and it was only then that I noticed that the man who I was speaking to for so long was visually impaired. As his wife helped him step into the bus, she looked back at me and smiled.
"I might not be able to build a Taj Mahel for him but I am never letting go" she whispered and bid goodbye.Stunned, I could only smile and wave back at the moving bus.On that day, right there on that busy street in London I had met this beautiful made-for-each-other couple who knew the secret of true love...the strength, faith and commitment to never let go.

As I traveled through life, I met a lot of other such interesting people along the way and I know I will continue to do so.To think of it, every person has some element of surprise in them---some strength or weakness that acts as a common link.
We learn lessons along the way and then we share these lessons through our encounters.What we learn might be of help to someone somewhere in a way very different.
Journeys are one way of connecting with each other, may it be only for a while.But the time spent is unbiased.
In retrospect, all it takes to create this beautiful mosaic of refreshing 'rewind-pause-play' memories is a strong connection---sometimes on the basis of similarity and ironically at other times, on the basis of difference.

They say, strangers are friends you have yet to meet.
But in my case, strangers have often qualified as not just friends but philosophers and guides too and

February 16, 2012

In wax and stone lies a story known...

"I cannot take it anymore.You are selfish and cold and will never understand my love," cried the wax statue as it melted into a hot pool of droplets.

Its stone counterpart stared in silence as the world around mocked at it being so unyielding to emotions. As it was kicked around with scornful words and hurtful taunts, nobody noticed it was slowly getting chipped---the heartless one was made of stone after all, they thought.

As time went by, the winds of change blew again. The wax statue was remodeled into an exquisite design once again, by the artistic hands of a talented craftsman. Being made of wax, it molded itsself smoothly to the flame of love and passion, and soon enough the world was captivated by its breath taking beauty.

The stone sculpture that once was, however refused to adapt to the breeze of love---for it had already known its brunt.
Being made of stone, it had silently stepped into remorse and self destruction---neither uttering a cry nor offering any explanation, the grief gnawed its way to reach its core. So disintegrated became its personality, that no artist in the world could change it into anything akin to its original self, leave alone something better. The flame of love and passion could only make it hold its self for a while---always until old memories swept in and then it would crumble again to bits, taking down unexpressed hopes and hearts along with it.

The hurtful words of a loved one had slowly chipped it off its strength and splendor.The isolation from someone it considered no different than its own self had eaten away the very essence of its existence, which was once the very reason it stood proud and tall.
The misunderstanding had chiseled out an abyss of pain beneath its tough exterior.

While the wax statue was surrounded by applause and accolades, its stone counterpart had transmogrified into a good-for-nothing pile of grit confined to one end of a dilapidated construction site.
Soon the quarry workers would decide its future.But either way it was doomed.

However, there lied a strange kind of solace.
At least now, no one was complaining...

February 10, 2012

Book Review--"Faceless-The Only Way Out"

Book Title: Faceless-The Only Way Out.

Author: Tapan Ghosh.

Publishing House: Frog Books.

Price: Rs 145/-

It seems like somebody misguided the author with the not-so-secret formula for a B grade hindi flick---characters singing songs at the drop of a hat, trashy hindi dialogues and lots and lots of sex scenes...
...thus "Faceless-The Only Way Out" came into being.

Embarrassed about mistaking a vibrator for a bomb, the anti terror squad go looking for its owner and this is how the story begins.
It then proceeds to introduce each of the characters in quite a crisp and novel manner giving the reader the feeling of a well planned plot ahead.Here, we are introduced to Swapna, Natasha and Sara other than Khush and Shom.

Now coming to Khush and Shom, these are the two of the three (the third being Raima) lead protagonists in the story---successful businessmen in their 40's with families and responsibilities of their friends since childhood.
Although the book blurb introduces Shom as reticent and Khush as the flamboyant one in the duo, one cannot help but feel throughout the book, that both the forty plus men with their swinging life style can be best described by just one colloquial word---"tharkee" (Well,I presumed that overwhelming usage of hindi slang in the book gives the reviewer the privilege to use at least one apt word from the vocabulary, doesn't it?).
Also you cannot help but wonder time and again, whether the character sketch of Khush and Shom would have been more apt for two 23 year old (with raging hormones) college dropouts, instead.

(An insight)
About Khush in his hey days---
"His idea of a gigolo was quite a noble one.He wanted his manhood to be put to use to service a woman in need"

About Shom, the 'reticent' one---
"Shom was a very responsible family man and while he had needs he made sure he satisfied them discreetly."

Raima who is supposedly the 'soul' of the book is a young girl half of shom's age, a part time architect and a part time escort who has an ailing mother to take care of.

As the story unfurls,
---Shom and Raima meet over face book.

---Raima begins to flirt with him on the first chat its self and after a couple of such chats expresses the strong desire to meet up with him.
The notion she harbours about Shom being a genuine man with a great heart and how she falls madly in love with him even when Shom treats her as nothing but a high class escort--throwing money for her services every now and then (with the excuse of staying detached) and making her sign 'no commitments' contracts, is something which is beyond my understanding.But nevermind that.
Raima and Shom (with their differences in age, wealth and background) get along like a house on fire.

---One meeting leads to another and they end up indulging in wild sex every chance they get (which is apparently claimed to be 'sensual' and 'spiritual' though I don't see how since what follows is pages of unplugged passion and corny BB conversations (emoticons et al) which (according to me) qualifies for poor literature-almost bordering on the line of crude porn, which to a limit is acceptable (and if used wisely can add to a good story but not make up for one).

To top it all, Shom's 'butt classification---tori spherical, ellipsoidal, hemispherical yada yada yada' (which he somehow manages to make seem like some kind of well studied rocket science) and Raima's agreement to be a sex toy (all ready to gain weight to look older and at par with Shom and adhering to his advice on butt exercises according to his whims and fancies) rendered her a kind of slutty image and made me cringe and wonder if its the writer's lack of creativity or the male chauvinist in him that is making him stoop to levels like these in the name of 'unconditional' love.

Dialogues like "If you can buy as much as you want of the best quality milk in the market, why do you need a cow?" and
"I think Salman Rushdie has a fascination for shemalesWhy else do you see him with girls who are taller and stronger than him?Look at his ex wives." left me open mouthed at their audacity.
The expletives by Khush and Shom, the topics they discuss and the pick up lines they try further emphasise that perhaps in the bodies of these two 40 plus year old's sugar daddies lie trapped two 'I wannabe a cool stud' ultra desperate retards.

As the story progresses with accounts of escapades in 'The Land Yatcht' and BB conversations, one encounters various exaggerated and half baked explanations clearly overpowering the almost-believable parts which are too few and far in between.

The end is hurried and left loose at the seams.
There are a few instances wherein the author has tried to justify the title of the book.But they fall short to meet the motive.
The plot is clumsy and makes a little sense towards the end with just mention of past life connections, terror attack associations and soul mates---making the reader feel that they are just being used to help make up for the loopholes in an otherwise inadequate script.

The numbers that the characters keep crooning decreases the sensitivity and seriousness of the situation and the 'soul mates' philosophy also seems far from the mark. (If Mr Ghosh wants to use the term 'soul mates', he should back it up with a lot more than just sexual energy between the protagonists.)

Sara, Swapna, Natasha and Aneesha are apparently forgotten along the way and Shoms wife Shantu seems more reticent (read 'daft') than Shom for she is hardly mentioned nor given much thought to.
While the author tries hard to justify why 'prostitution' should be legalised, one cannot help wonder how that would defend the infidel nature of cheating husbands or partners. (Even though legalising prostitution might help decrease the crime rate, it would with equal intensity continue to crumble the hearts and homes of those who indulge in it--on the sly or not.)

The 'Aruna' angle to the story did catch my interest and had the ending been more elaborate than just a mad rush to fix the missing pieces, it would have made much better sense.
The 'soul mate' connection had much more potential and should have been handled with fragility...and so should have the terror attacks.

The one good thing about 'Faceless' is that its a super fast read.The language is easy though the writing is way below the line.
However there is an autobiographical element in the book.With the backdrop being South Mumbai, one manages to catch glimpses of familiarity in the random happenings---a tact which Tapan has used quite interestingly.

The intriguing cover page and book title would definitely attract the reader into buying this book.How far it succeeds in carving a niche, is entirely upto the reader.

As far as I am concerned, I expect better from a book and would personally rate 'Faceless' to be a tad bit disappointing.
However the writing has potential and this being a first attempt, there is surely scope for improvement.

About the author: Tapan Ghosh is an engineer by profession and an adventurous man at heart who has lived life on his own terms.
This is his first attempt outside the field of science and technology.
His website:

Rating: 1 out of 5

February 06, 2012

Book Review---"The Secret Letters Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari"

Title: The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Author:Robin Sharma

Publisher: JAICO Publishing House

Price: Rs 250/-

Published in more than 46 different languages, Robin Sharma has come up with this wonderfully crafted and brilliantly depicted tome which has made its way into the hearts of more than five million people across the world.
An author of international fame and much deserved accolade, Robin Sharma continues to make a mark in the history of non fiction literature and life's philosophy.

The story revolves around Jonathan Landry, a marketing sales executive who wants to make it big in life and in the pursuit of success and wealth, has forgotten to stop and smell the flowers.
With his marriage and family life at stake, Jonathan refuses to acknowledge the root cause of the problems (though they are forever gnawing at him in some corner of his busy mind) until his mother urges him to meet his cousin Julian Mantle--a former high powered courtroom litigator, whose only memory Jonathan has is that of a weathy successful man who owned a ferrari, the last time he met him years back.
Surprised and bemused by his decision to give up all the worldly pleasures and live the life of a monk, Jonathan decides to go meet him just for the sake of his mother.
What follows is a series of trips which Jonathan feels compelled to make across various countries with the mission of obtaining the talismans from different sources as directed by Julian---which Jonathan agrees to make only because he fears somebody close to him has his/her life at stake.

Spending time in Istanbul, Paris, Japan, Mexico, Sydney, Halifax, China, Phoenix and finally Delhi, and meeting up with the talisman bearers (who each have their experiences to narrate to him) slowly but surely affects his course of thought and help him make some much needed life altering decisions.
Each talisman has something new to tell Jonathan and it is these wise words that focus the readers attention to wisdom that the heart is aware of, yet doesn't always see.

"The secret letters of the monk who sold his ferrari" is a tome of simple phisophy and life's learnings wrapped in the beautiful tapestry of interesting travel involving the gleaming towers of Shanghai, the grand spice markets of Turkey, the haunting catacombs of Paris, hte sensual tango halls of Buenos Aires and not to forget, the beautiful Taj Mahal in India.
With each place, is described its accompanying culture and custom---which gives us a futher insight into not just its history but also (in subtle ways) into the phiosophy the talisman will speak about.
Also the style of writing takes you back and forth into what the talismans speak and you are reminded of the wise words on the pieces of parchment paper, lest you forget them.

What stood out besides the wonderful secret letters, were some carelessly strwen about quotes which got etched in my heart along the way---
"Courage is the only way to live and remember, bravery is not something you feel.Its something you show"

"What holds us back in life is the invisible architecture of fear.It keeps us in our comfort zones which are the least safe places in which we live.Indeed the greatest risk in life is taking no risks.But everytime we do that which we fear, we take back the power that fear has stolen from us---for on the other side of our fear, lives our strength."

"It doesn't matter where you are going, just who you are becomming."

"Why is it that we allow ourselves to treat family in ways we wouldn't treat friends or even those we dont know? Probably because we assume they will forgive us.But that's no excuse"

"If we are mistrustful of others, we are distrudstful of ourselves."

These besides so many others, which add to the magic simply because they are something we all can relate so well to.
Ofcourse the story features majorly around the message each of the talismans had attached to them---simple yet important...general yet life changing.

The journey leads to whole lot of improvement in the life of Jonathan Landry as he discovers his flaws at every step and proceeds to correct them.
Understanding the importance of accepting his fears and embracing them, he moves on to overcome some of his greatest apprehensions.
The realisation of what true happiness actually means, the fact that he needs to forgive others as much as he needs to forgive himself, the secret to living an authentic life, the small deeds of kindness and self improvemnet, the basis of life being love, the choice of positive influence, the simple pleasures of life and last but not the least, the mission of making a difference---succeed in making Jonathan Landry a wiser man and more importantly a happier one.

After realising what he has been missing all this while and after reflecting and retrospecting (in the journal Julian has asked him to pen his thoughts into), he is now able to step out of personal dilemmas, decide on priorities, work towards tasks he has put off and stop avoiding the one major guilt that has constantly been haunting him.
As his life falls in place, one cannot ignore the small nudge coaxing the reader to do the same.
The tome ends on a very interesting note, opening up a surprise that leaves a smile on the reader's face.

On closing the book, I realised what Robin actually wanted to say.
Perhaps each one of us has a secret to share---an experience we need to live, a story we need to tell, a talisman we need to recover.What is often missing is the time to search, reflect and pass these on.
Albeit, one can easily say that Robin Sharma is one man who has clearly proved to make a remarkable difference.

About the author:
Robin Sharma, LL.B., LL.M., is one of the world's top experts on leadership and personal development.He is the author of 11 major international bestsellers, including The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Greatness Guide.
He is CEO of Sharma Leadership International, Inc, a success coaching and training firm with clients such as Microsoft, Nike, IBM, GM and Panasonic.
A highly influential blogger and social media celebrity, Robin is also a much sought after speaker who has helped millions live a better life.
His personal website-

Rating: 4 out of 5 (in the genre of non-fiction)
Highly Recommended.

February 02, 2012

Untitled---for the one who need not be named...

Unaccepted apologies...

Silent tears...

False allegations...

Hesitant explanations...

Stony indifference...

Blame games...

Uncomfortable numbness...

Elusive memories...

Friendship that once was...

Friendship that always will be...

Ego that never was...

Ego that now is...

You hesitate to accept my apology because you think history might repeat itsself...

I hesitate to try too hard because I am sure it will...

You think i dont care enough to change...

I think you have changed too much to care...

'Me' missing 'you' hurts but not half as much as 'you' misunderstanding 'me' did!!!

January 30, 2012

Book Review---''Zero Percentile-2.0 missed IIT kissed Gurgaon''

Title: Zero Percentile–2.0, Missed IIT kissed Gurgaon
Author: Neeraj Chhibba
Publisher: Rupa & Co.
Price: Rs 140/-

'Zero Percentile-2.0 missed IIT kissed Gurgson' is a sequel to 'Zero Percentile-missed IIT kissed Russia' and takes forward the story of Pankaj, Motu & Priya.
In this book, Pankaj and Motu start a small software company called Numerosoft.
With big dreams full of hope and ambition, they invest a small fortune with the overwhelming desire to conquer the world.
Little do they know that success will turn out to be so stubborn.
As things get messier on the work front, friends drift apart and the business is divided.Their closest friends and business associates are forced to take a call.

ZP2 is a story of these friends and their struggle in the software industry, the trials they have to face in their professional as well as personal lives, the emotional turmoil they have to go through yet putting up a brave front---bending but never breaking as life twists and turns into a series of unexpected events.

What makes the book interesting is that it is divided into three distinct sections over a span of several years and with each section the plot unravels itsself a little more---the first section opens with tension looming high as Numerosoft is facing a threat from a mysterious source, the second part of the book delves into the past and brings to light the relationship between all the characters involved---strong bonds of friendship and love, gratitude and respect come into play in this segment and finally there is the third part, the climax where everything finally falls into place and perspective (bringing a heave of relief to the reader).

While on one side, there is the loving father-daughter relationship between Divya and Arjun which pulls at your heart strings every now and then...on the other, there is Nitin's story running on a parallel track as continued from 'Zero Percentile' (the prequel)---which speaks of the struggle of an HIV inflicted individual to live a life of respect and dignity.

Its true that there are parts when the story gets a tad bit confusing with too many things going on at the same time.Also the amalgamation of so many issues makes one a little disconnected from the attention each of the characters actually deserve.
Small exaggerations like the helicopter ride to Haryana, the hullabaloo everyone creates over Nitin's HIV status, the interviews and international fame that follows suit and the passionate chemistry aka love he shares with the lawyer fighting his case feels a little too sudden (to develop over such a small time period) and immature.
But then again, maybe these are the much needed elements needed for a box office hit, which ZP has a rather good chance of.

As the story proceeds, the plot thickens and eventually after what seems to be a bitter fight for control, power and success, there is a hostile takeover bid which ends in a dramatic climax.
Neeraj Chhibba's writing is simple and easy.Explaining how things work in the software industry would score him brownie points amidst those in that sector and I am sure they would be able to relate to it in ways more than one.
As for me, ZP2 was a quick read which slowly but surely picked up both pace and interest.

About the author: Neeraj Chhabba's first entry into the literary front was in 2009 with his first book Zero Percentile {ZP1) which went on to achieve the status of a national bestseller.Widely read and appreciated, it led to the genesis of his second book Zero Percentile 2.0 (ZP2) which is a sequel as well as his first attempt to write about life in the software industry.
Neeraj currently works with a high-end software services company , Nagarru Software, in Gurgaon.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

January 24, 2012

Book Review---"A Calender Too Crowded"

Book Title: A Calender Too Crowded.

Author: Sagarika Chakraborty.

Born in Kolkata, Sagarika Chakraborty studied law at National Law University, Jodhpur and is currently studying management at IBM Hyderabad.
She is an avid salsa enthusiast.
Apart from her contribution to the field of research, she writes light fiction and poetry for online and print media.

Price: Rs 295/-

Publishing House: Niyogi Books.

A smile crossed my face as i switched on my laptop to post in a review about the book i had just finished savouring.
The calender reminded me it was the 24th of January---The National Day Of The Girl Child..What better day to write about a wonderfully crafted book on the need of emancipation of women and awareness about their status in society than today?

"A Calender Too Crowded" is a collection of poignant stories that revolve around the theme of womanhood and their continuing subjugation in society.
It deals with the need for emancipation of the fairer sex in an unfair society.It reveals the ugly truth carefully camouflaged by a hypocritical society of so-called 'equals'.

The book is divided into segments based on the calender months, carefully listing out the special days heralding woman rights in each month---before proceeding to narrate heart wrenching tales from rural and urban India.
While stories like 'The witch without a broomstick' and 'When the Ganges ran dry' speak about the injustice stemming from widowhood and biased mindsets, there is 'The homecoming' wherein a woman is given complete freedom to make a difficult decision and how her heart helps her in sorting out the confusion.

Repeated mention of characters from The Mahabharata helps the reader relate an era gone by to the present day world and likewise the position of women in each.

One amongst my favorites is a beautifully written letter addressed to Krishna by Panchali, wherein she reminds him on how a sense of equal friendship had prevailed over her as she ripped her Saree to dress his bleeding wound, when he was attacked by Shishupal.
Her innocent questions like "If the same was acceptable then, why is a hue and cry raised today when a woman stands up for a friend, who incidentally happens to be a man?" makes one ponder whether we are really living in a progressive society or a society in which women's emancipation (that we believe we are fighting for) is something that had already existed since time immemorial and is just covered under layers of dust?

The myths associated with the glamour world is discussed upon and so is the concept of the 'nice girl' who deserves much better.
With an equally sharp razor edged cynicism, Sagarika speaks of the insensitive remarks passed by society on rape victims 'inviting' it upon themselves, by blaming it on the way they dress or the timing that they return home.
Topics like prostitution, dowry deaths, infertility and single motherhood are also woven into stories that make one not just feel a lump in their throat but also swallow the acrid taste of reality and bitterness that surfaces up from time to time, while reading---the reality and bitterness that comes from the guilt of living in a society where womanhood is still cursed and trampled upon.

"Daughter-in-law's can never really become daughters and mother-in-law's can never really become mothers, but when do they cease to be human beings with minds and hearts?"
In her story about the dowry system, Sagarika makes us wonder whether the mark of the vermillon is a reason for security or the cause for insecurity.

Not disclosing a single name (neither real nor imaginary) in any of the twenty-two stories, Sagarika stands totally justified in saying that each of the story represents millions of oppressed souls, waiting to be heard.

Poetry is another strong form of expression which has been successfully made use of in "Can you hear me, ma?', 'Beyond those whispers' and 'The 'positive' negativity'.
Behind the rhyme and verses lies the harsh truth, subtle cynicism and a hint of optimism carefully wrapped in a neat little package.

The letters exchanged between chipku and her ammi in 'selling a body to gain a mind' are indeed heartwarming and speak volumes of a mother's love---ready to sacrifice every bit of her life for her daughter's good.The realisation that it is only when the girl child is educated that she will be able to get out of the drudgery that her mother had to face and will be able to live a life that is different and better than hers, is something that should not be ignored amidst the sea of emotions here.Very cleverly crafted, this story makes a special place in your heart.

What i particularly liked about Sagarika's writing is her optimism---the tiny beam of hope that is reflected in each of the stories, no matter how dark and sombre they may be---a hope that things can change..the optimism that things will.
The easy language and interesting flow of the stories compels the reader to be pulled into each of the stories and stay engrossed.
Sagarika Chakraborty's choice of topic has not only managed to impress me, but has also fuelled the flicker of hope that in the age of better selling romantic novels and Chick lit's, there still exists young minds that choose to write about topics far more important and yet far less discussed.

However, I only wish some of the stories could have had a little dialogue exchange between characters as that would probably have had a little more of an impact on the reader's mind.

All in all, I really liked the book and highly recommend it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

January 19, 2012

A million brilliant lies...

You had a million brilliant lies,
when I asked if you missed me...
You had a million brilliant lies,
when I asked if you cared...
You had a million brilliant lies,
for every time you kissed me...
You had a million brilliant lies,
and at last, the truth to speak you dared...

You tell me now that you love another,
and that things are not the same...
You tell me you see a bit of heaven,
whenever she calls out your name...

You tell me she means something,
but think i am the one for you...
You tell me that you love her,
but say you love me too...

I have a million brilliant lies,
when you ask me if i will stay...
I have a million brilliant lies,
to promise to 'share' you this way...
I have a million brilliant lies,
to keep this wedding band...
I have a million brilliant lies,
to vow and hold your hand...

You chose to speak the truth at last,
and now I should do that too...
I have to let you know today,
that i am no more in love with you...

When i asked you if you missed me,
I could never believe your lie...
Everytime that you kissed me,
I would whisper a silent goodbye...

I had a million brilliant lies,
to think our love hadn't faded...
I had a million brilliant lies,
to tell myself we were fine...
I had a million brilliant lies,
to keep my heart from getting jaded...
I had a million brilliant lies,
to say that you were all mine...

But creeps in reality-through slits and cracks,
and paints the whole world blue...
And as she entered into your heart,
I fell out of love with you...

For a heart that loves always knows,
when someone else arrives...
and love is just a matter of trust,
not a million brilliant lies...

January 09, 2012

Life as a doctor---The Hippocratic Oath

A sharp mind should know to care,
a fiery tongue should neither curse nor swear,
for a caring mind is the one that wins,
and a tongue that swears is a tongue that sins...

"Mr Dattatray Dessai, you can go home today.You are completely fit for discharge" I said handing out the discharge card to the dhoti clad man sitting upright on the hospital bed.
The air smelled of incense sticks and talcum powder.Entering that private 'VIP' hospital room was like entering a parallel universe especially after having inhaled the smell of savlon and betadine dressings in the general ICU outside.

There were no follow up details to be mentioned and neither was there any prescription to be instructed upon.The patient had insisted on getting admitted and much to my disdain, the authorities had decided to humour him.
But there was not much a humble intern could say in such a situation---and so I had watched a perfectly healthy Mr Dattatray Dessai (bag et al) comfortably walk into the private room with a cheeky grin on face and an apparently long holiday in mind.

It was just the beginning of my internship then.After the tumultous 4 and a half years of MBBS torture, I had finally started living my dream (one that every medical student looks forward to, right from the first day of medical school) in the department of internal medicine. as a doctor had just begun.

"I have already informed that i would like to stay here for atleast another couple of weeks" frowned Mr Dessai, like an angry tenant who had been suddenly told to vacate from a comfortable lodging.

A little taken aback by his rude reaction, i said "You are absolutely fine, Mr Dessai.Yours was just a case of mild diarrhoea which could very well be managed at home itself."

I was trying my best to smile but my patience was wearing thin.
On the one hand, there was this Mr Dattatray who had been seeking shelter under a hospital roof, in the comforts of a private ward in the ICU for the last one week for no specific medical condition.While on the other hand, there was a shortage of available ICU beds due to which a lot of patients had to be shifted out into the general ward as soon as they would show the slightest sign of recovery.

"Doctor, we have spoken to your senior in charge about this.You seem to be new here.The matter has been settled." snapped the relative standing near the bed.

He then proceeded to punch some numbers in his cell phone and talk to a man he addressed as 'bhau'.
All this while, Mr Dattatray was comfortably peeling oranges and popping them in his mouth.
The room now smelled tangy and soon it would smell of all the other fruits kept on the side table.
This man was a threat to the fruit kingdom, i thought to myself---there had not been a single time i had entered his room and seen his mouth at rest.

Visions of mafia had started drifting in my head with the utterance of the name 'bhau'.
I whisked it away as a case of over imagination combined with a rather generous dose of bollywood influence and thought it was better to confirm what the senior resident in charge thought about the case, before i said anything more.

"You don't understand, Priyanka.This 'Bhausaheb' is a very powerful man.He has a lot of political connections.Dattatray Dessai has been working with him for over 15 years now and is almost like an older brother to him.I cannot take the risk of declining him any sort of privilege, no matter how unreasonable.One call to the dean and my job can be at risk."

In a low voice, he continued, "Look, everybody at the hospital knows that this man does not require any treatment anymore.In fact he never needed any hospital care to begin with.
When he insisted that we admit him, we tried to talk him into being shifted in the 'observation room' in the general ward.
But the private room is the only room in the whole medicine unit which has a functioning AC and now that he is so comfortable with all the other VIP facilities there, he is refusing to budge."

"But sir, there is a serious case of Falciparum malaria in ward 115.We cant deny that patient intensive care.You know that there are only two interns in that ward and 80 beds there.He needs to be here instead...under constant vigilance."
I could not believe my ears.We were bargaining a life for a stupid air conditioner.How much sillier could it get?

"I know about that Falciparum case and i have discussed it with the consultants as well.Everyone knows the seriousness of his situation.His latest blood reports show a haemoglobin level of 4gm% which could prove fatal." He looked at me for a second, his eyes reflecting a helpless guilt.

"We had planned on shifting him on to Mr Dessai's bed....but..." he stopped with the realisation that i already knew the story.
Looking at the residents crestfallen face, i realised that he was pretty much helpless.
From what it seemed, the Dean was in a vulnerable spot too---the pressures of hierarchy.

I was on call that night and i couldn't sleep a wink.As i repeatedly called Ankita, the intern in ward 115, i was informed of how much Gangaram Shirodkar--the F.Malaria patient, needed to be moved to the ICU.
While we cribbed and ranted about the hypocrisy of the entire system, i saw Bhau Saheb's relative sleep peacefully, snoring away to glory in the cool confines of the air conditioned room which was now smelling of what seemed to me, a nauseous mix of fruit salad and sandalwood.

I had to wake up for a few RBSL (Resting Blood Sugar Level) checks at 5.30 am.That meant there was hardly a couple of hours left and all the patients were stable.
The only sign of instability in the ICU was the whirring motion of the ceiling fan in the duty room and the racing thoughts in my head which kept going back to Gangaram, who should have been there instead of Dessai who could have very well gone home.

Since i was not sleeping anyway, i decided to go and help Ankita in the ward by then.Asking the nurse to call me on my cell in case of any emergency, i walked out of the ICU.
Along the long corridor which connected the ICU to ward 115, i saw one relative of Mr Dattatray Dessai, leaning against a wall and talking loudly into his cellphone, like he owned the hospital.
On seeing me, he smirked a little---as a sign of acknowledgement.

When i reached ward 115, Ankita greeted me with a nervous look on her face.She was entering with two pints of blood in hand.

"for the Falciparum patient?" i asked.

"Yes Pri, I don't know what is happening.There are so many patients here.I cant manage all this at once.Rashi has called in sick.I'm the only intern managing all this commotion." I was almost beginning to feel Ankita would collapse any moment.Her teary eyed face spoke volumes of responsibility.
Besides it was unfair of Rashi to have not arranged for another intern to compensate for her absence.But then, we couldn't blame her either---Sickness doesn't come with warning, does it?

I took the pints from her hand and asked her the details.She seemed like she could need all the relief one could possibly give her.I had one hour and 50 minutes to offer, if all went well back at the ICU.
Walking towards bed 22, i noticed a scrawny man of about 30.He looked pale and emaciated.The charts showed a fever which was peaking every two hours that day.Gangaram Shirodkar 32/M, the case papers read.
Below in big bold letters, the diagnosis read 'F.Malaria' with the used falcivax kit taped to the paper, showing a line at the place marked 'F' for falciparum.
As soon as i reached the side of the bed to transfuse the blood, a woman who was sleeping on the floor crawled out from underneath the bed.
Adjusting her tattered but clean cotton Saree, she greeted me and asked when her husband could be discharged.
When I told her that we would be shifting her husband to the ICU for better care, she immediately asked me when that would be possible.
Snippets from the conversation with Mr Dessai and later with the SR came to mind, and I fumbled for an answer.
"soon" I muttered.

She said nothing.She just smiled like someone who had been promised life so many times, that she did not believe in life (leave alone 'promises') anymore.

Behind that smile, i saw pain---pain of seeing her husband suffer in the suboptimal conditions in the ward when he needed intensive care.
Behind that smile, i saw hurt---hurt that we doctors were not doing anything about it and still claiming that the govt organisation was there to help the needy.
Behind that smile, i saw terror---terror of the unknown, of the darkness that lied ahead had the sole earning member of her family to disappear, leaving her and her three children in the jaws of poverty and inhumanity.

That was when i couldn't take it anymore.As i transfused the pint of blood, i felt a hot shame flush my face.

If we doctors ignored our judgement skills and refused to take action on something as simple and clear cut as this, then what use was our medical education, our long hours of burning the midnight oil to study for the exams and vivas that we rejoiced so much on clearing, the Hippocratic Oath we had taken such great pride in reading on graduation day?
What use was a medical degree if it enabled us to save a life and we still refused to save it?
My chain of thoughts was interrupted by the sudden grunting sounds coming from Gangaram.Even in his sleep, his wheezing could not be ignored---a sure sign of respiratory distress.
His rapid breathing, chest retractions, weak appearance screamed of his ailing condition, albeit in silence.

As i saw the woman fold her hands and shed tears in front of me, a surge of anger came over me---anger at the hypocrisy...anger at the injustice...anger at the politics...anger at the indifference.

Leaving a baffled Ankita alone to deal with the patients, i rushed back to the ICU.
Some things could not wait.

"Mr Dessai, can i come in?"
It was 5 am in the morning.A sleepy Mr Dessai mumbled a lazy 'good morning doctor' and shifted his posture from one arm to another.
I went inside and switched on all the lights in the room.By this time, he was fully awake and covering his eyes to accustom himself to the sudden brightness in the otherwise dimly lit room.

"Look Mr Dessai" i continued, "this is a Government hospital and the first duty of a Government hospital is to treat patients who cannot afford treatment elsewhere.I am not saying that you don't deserve to be treated here..but the simple fact is that you do not require any treatment and you should be extremely happy about being so lucky."
He was now sitting upright and staring at me.I felt like a ghost and hoped that he was awake enough to comprehend what i was saying.

"There is a patient in ward 115 who needs critical care.He is a daily wages labourer on a construction site, has a wife and three children to support.
While your relative is constantly with his ear attached to the phone, his children are crying in the hospital corridors because they are starving.
There is an intern in that ward going crazy with the workload and still trying her best to make sure that all her patients there receive at least half the treatment they are actually supposed to be receiving, hoping against hope that her effort will be enough to keep them alive.

and do you know who is responsible for all this?"

He looked at me like a lost child now.

"YOU Dessai...its you." The bitterness had started to surface in my voice.

"You mean to say that I am responsible for all the people suffering in your ward? how many people do you think would fit in this room if I vacate it?" he snorted angrily.

I had to maintain my cool now.I reminded myself of the power this identity had over the authority and I still had 11 months of internship to finish.

"Well, you are a wise man.You should understand that its not of luxury or comfort that we are debating about.
One case of Falciparum Malaria, if admitted in the ICU can receive much better care and optimal monitoring than in the wards which has over 80 beds.In fact its not even about the private room or the air conditioner.
These comforts are of no significance to that mason or his family---all they want is to get out of here...get out of this hospital, so that he can start working again and feed his hungry children.
Unfortunately, for that he needs your help."
my voice trailed off again.

Mr Dessai was quiet for a while.

"Watch it, Doctor. Do you know who you are talking to? One call to the dean and you could be interning in some Godforsaken rural place instead." he said, in a haughty tone as he pulled the plate of fruit near him.

It was true, i had gotten myself into a sticky situation.But by now i no longer cared.

In a firm and clear voice i said, "Very well sir.If that is what it takes to stand up for what you believe in, i don't mind that at all.
Because no matter where i am, that one family out there will never forget me for what i tried to do but could not...
and never forgive you for what you could have done but did not."

"These are VIP rooms.You cannot depend on these.As far as i know, they are opened up only when special people are admitted." he muttered.
I noticed his tone had sobered down.I was not going to give up now.It was true that the room was labelled as a VIP room and it was also true that someone who the authorities feared, was considered a VIP.
I had to come up with a satisfactory reply to convince him.

After a moments pause, i asked "Mister dessai, what does VIP mean?"

"Very Important Person" he answered with a quizzical expression wondering where this was leading.
"Exactly!! Now take a wild guess, between a patient with F.Malaria requiring blood transfusions and one admitted for a simple bout of treated diarrhoea, which according to you would be more important to treat?"
I smiled and continued "You mister dessai, might read this sign here as 'Very Important Person' but I as a doctor would always read it as 'Very Important Patient'.
The abbreviation is the same.But when used at a hospital, it changes meaning and that makes all the difference."

The chair creaked as i got up to leave.

"Have a good day" i said and walked to the door keeping my fingers crossed, hoping the man would have a change of heart.
But this time he did not say anything.

As i continued with the BP (Blood Pressure) check, sugar level monitoring and morning rounds, i noticed that the lights in mister dessai's room never went off...they stayed on, just like how i had left them.

Tired from the night's duty, i dragged my feet back to the hostel at around 8.30 in the morning.
It was lucky that our new time table gave us interns a day off after night calls---I silently blessed Vithal, the ward boy who had helped us make the duty time table.
I slept the whole morning and woke up right on time for lunch.

There were 3 missed calls from Ankita and one text message waiting to be opened.

I could not help but smile as i read the text.
It was from the ICU SR and it said, "Dessai agreed to the discharge--told me to thank you..Falciparum patient moved to ICU.Good job!" as a doctor had just begun!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A special thanks to KFC and Indiblogger for the KFC gift voucher---a small excuse which stood testimony to a wonderful day out with friends.

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Cheers to faith,
cheers to life!!! :)

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