Sunday, January 31, 2016

I Can But Remain Silent

When you walk through life, feeling like a somnambulist, there will be a time when you get a rude awakening. For you are not in touch with your reality as life passes you by and you are standing on the sidewalk, an aloof onlooker. Often you live in the perception that this cannot ever happen to you – its news, happening to others.

But then, how can we forget that we are but a miniscule part of this humongous cosmos. Where our lives are already planned by a higher energy. Where we are born just to be squashed like an ant at the will of our maker.

This is the life of a mother who has buried her face in the sand, like an ostrich, so as not to face the stark reality of death that looms at every phase of her life.

Few days back my teenage daughter’s school was abuzz with a false death threat. False but scary nonetheless. Every time such a death threat comes, why are we so surprised? Angry that our cozy cocoon has been perpetuated by a teenager who just wanted a few minutes of glory and fun? Our lives lie bare at the mercy of others – teenagers having fun, youngsters wanting to prove a point. Men and women suffering from depression.

And we are supposed to sympathize with them too? Or we will be booted out as not having enough humanity in us? Of not having a large heart to sympathize with a man who is depressed. So what if he has gunned down 20 kids and those professionals who are considered doing the most holy service a (wo)man can do – teach? If I am expected to show understanding for such people, then I would rather be a willing sinner. For I do not have such a large heart.

So now that we have identified the fear that we live in every day of our life what is the next step? Acceptance? Ignorance ? Or just go with the flow? The problem is whatever we do, the loss will be always ours. A loss of family, friend or mental peace. How do I send my kids to school every day of our lives and not fear for their safety?

Yes, we can blame the government. Why are such people given free access to a country where the fear for life is increasing day by day? Mahatma Gandhi did teach us that love conquers all. Does it?  Is it true anymore in today’s world. If someone slaps me on one cheek should I give him jadoo ki jhappi? [hug with love]

I have no answers but only questions. I have no solutions only problems. For this is what our lives have become in every part of the world. I , Rubina Ramesh, a global citizen has decided to live my life in fear. I will be silent for I am but just a mom. This I refuse to do. I, Rubina Ramesh, a global citizen has decided to fight back and teach my kids to enjoy every moment of their life. Someone else's idiocracies will not dictate our lives.

What advice would you give to students who might face a lunatic with a gun?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Blitz: Karmic Kids by Kiran Manral

Karmic Kids 
The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You !
Kiran Manral 


Move aside Tiger Mom and forget Helicopter Parenting, Karmickids is the view from the other side of the fence – of laid back parenting, of giving in to food jags, of making unstructured play time mandatory and of not bursting a blood vessel when your child’s grades are not something you might want to discuss in public.

A roller coaster ride of love, laughter, and a few tears, Manral takes you through the beautiful chaos of the early years of parenthood. Written in a gently humorous style, this home grown, hit-the-ground-running account of the chaos of day-to-day parenting is peppered with anecdotes, reminiscences, a little practical advice and is a non-preachy, hilarious take on raising a spirited child while retaining one’s good spirits through it all.

Grab your Copy 

What others say about Kiran Manral 

“I enjoy reading Kiran’s books. The genre of easy reading and happy reading with inevitable style, she keeps you hooked on the book from the first page to the last.”-- Tisca Chopra, actor

“This quick paced, fun new book had me enthralled.”--Tara Sharma Saluja, Actress and Co-producer and host of The Tara Sharma Show
“Kiran's writing style is witty, humorous and makes you think. She has a penchant for making even the most mundane, interesting because of the razor sharp observations, served with a dollop of dead-pan humour.” --Preeti Shenoy, bestselling author

“Kiran's writing is that rarity in today's world - the ability to be really good without taking itself too seriously. This is writing that is effortless in its humour and also its fluidity. It asks not for heavy literary criticism but for a certain laid-back enjoyment.” --Parul Sharma, bestselling author

"Kiran's stories are fun, engaging and always fresh - and her droll style, of course, inimitable!"-- Yashodhara Lal, bestselling author
“Kiran's writing is delightful, her wit inimitable and her sense of romance untarnished by cynicism that is so typical of our times.”— Shunali Khullar Shroff,  bestselling author

“Kiran Manral's sparkling sense of humour leaps off the page, every page. Her blog posts, books and columns have given me great joy over the years. She has a distinct original voice that brought a breath of fresh air in the world of Indian Writing in English.” – Devapriya Roy, Bestselling author  

About the Author 

Kiran Manral worked as a journalist with The Asian Age and The Times of India before she quit full time work to be a full time mommy. One of the leading bloggers in India, her blogs were listed in Labnol's list of India's top blogs, and her parenting blog, Karmickids, was ranked among the top five parenting blogs in India by Blogadda. She was also a Tehelka blogger columnist on gender issues.

She was listed among the 10 non-celebrity 'social media stars' on twitter by the TOI and IBN Live named her as among the 30 most interesting Indian women to follow on twitter and among the top 10 Indian moms to follow on twitter in 2013. Fashion named her as amongst the most stylish authors in India. listed her as one of the 20 women authors from India to be followed on twitter.

Post the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai, she founded India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims post 26/11 and has worked on long term rehabilitation of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack victims and 13/7 Mumbai bomb blast victims, amongst others. She was part of core founding team behind Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month ( and Violence Against Women Awareness Month (, two very well received social media awareness initiatives.

Her debut novel, The Reluctant Detective, was published by Westland and her second novel Once Upon A Crush, was published by Leadstart a couple of years later. Her third book All Aboard! was published by Penguin Random House in August 2015. Karmic Kids is her fourth book and first nonfiction book. She has one more book due for release in 2015.

She is on the planning board of the Kumaon Literary Festival, an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi, an Author Mentor at and a columnist at She was awarded the Women Achievers award by Young Environmentalists Group in 2013.

She currently blogs at and is on twitter @kiranmanral.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Maya's New Husband by Neil D'Silva

Rating : 4 stars 

A powerful story from a then debut author, Neil D’Silva in the indie publishing world is rare.  Of course Neil D’Silva has walked many a miles since and published “Bound In Love" and I have heard a few more very powerful novels are in the pipeline. But reading the first novel by an author always clearly shows his uncorrupted, unmarred and un-commercialized talent. 

The Story
Maya is a young widow whose first husband had died under mysterious circumstances. She works as a biology teacher and is very dedicated to her profession. Her mother had struggled to bring her and her sister up and she never forgets the past.  Then Maya meets Bhaskar, the art teacher. Initially she is revolted by his overall personality just like her other colleagues. 

But then, circumstances forces her to work with him and Maya is slowly drawn towards him and soon starts finding many of his quirks to be an attractive quality in him.

​As they grow closer, she alienates her friends and family and then one day against her family’s wishes she marries him and her journey towards an unknown destination begins. Her first shock comes when she sees where Bhaskar lives followed by what he eats and lastly – the inner iron man in him, the one who protects her from every lecher on the roadside and their roving eyes. But who will save her from Bhaskar once she comes to know about his true identity?

The Layers. ..
The story unfolds in many layers. Though I would say that most of them were predictable, yet when it happens you are awed by it. For instance I knew why the heart was stolen and who stole it  - yet when it occurred, the feeling of disgust is too profound. 

Bhaskar is portrayed, to the readers, from the beginning as what he actually is. Mr.D’Silva had never hidden the fact of what Bhaskar is capable of doing. But threads that connect him to Maya has been woven very intrinsically around his actions. Why he did, what he did and what was the reason for him to choose this path in life are the revelations here. It might be only me, but as a reader, there are moments when you almost feel sorry for him. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

PRADYUMNA by Usha Narayanan

I have read The Madras Mangler by Ms. Narayanan. She had given me quite a bit of chills and thrills in that read. When I got the copy of Pradyumna, a mythology no less, I was a bit surprised. The genre-jumping author has a talent which very few authors can only boast of. Adding to her list is an upcoming romance by Harlequin, India. So keeping her versatility in mind, one must confess, we have very few authors who explore multiple genres with such an ease.
The Story..

Is one which many of us have heard as 'grandparent's tale', cuddled in our blankets during the cold wintry nights. I did. My tryst with mytho started with Rick Riordon. Not very authentic but he got me interested in the mighty ones above us. Pradyumna or rather Kama is my personal favourite. Not because of Kama Sutra, but due to the pain he has endured in love, after being the God of Love. Strange how the Greeks, Romans and we Indians have the same sagas for our Gods. Cupid or Kama both  come out as star-crossed lover of their respective realms. 

Don't miss the Author Event for this novel @

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman

Goodreads Link 
Disclaimer : I got this book from the Author. It is my personal opinion and NOT a commissioned one.
She is Sangita. Introduced to us as the head of an NGO for downtrodden and homeless women. But not many eons ago, Sangita was one of them. Ah well, not homeless but a woman doesn't need the deprivation of a 'house' to feel homeless, now does she? An abusive husband is a gift enough to make one feel so. 

Sangita's first marriage is introduced to us as abusive and violent. Marital rape is such a hushed up subject, both in India and on the western shores. Ms. Venkatraman has not glorified it nor has she made it the core subject of this novel. But the anger is equally potent and can be felt only by a woman after reading the story. The most criminal part in this whole story is when a woman is told time and again, 

"A woman's place is with her husband, Sangita. She has no respect if she stays away from him." 
I only have one word for this - Bull!

What many don't realize is that an abusive person wants only one thing...

"They were unable to understand that Giridhar was doing his best to break down her will ..."

That sums up Sangita's circumstances.

Lady with dignity..

But Sangita is not shown as a downtrodden woman in any frame of the story. I would call her a subdued fighter. When she first hears about her husband's demise, I loved the lack of pretence in her. 

"I feel as if an extremely vicious curse has been lifted off me.” She gave her sister-in-law a small, nervous smile.
Frankly speaking, if she had mourned the death of her husband, I would have shut down the book. So kudos to Ms. Venkataman for being very honest with the emotions here. Time to be  a angel is over. :D

It is sad when a woman and an innocent child are blamed for the death of man who was riding a bike after consuming alcohol. But I suppose, the way of society is still in its infancy stage and reasoning is yet to be a developed 'organ' in a human body.

And in the midst of all her troubles, she meets Gautam....


He is Gautam Sinclair. Ms.Venkatraman's blue eyed boy. A man who comes with his own set of weaknesses and strengths. A man who comes across as a normal human. Leaving his American way of life behind, he settles down in India to teach. When he meets Sangita for the first time, he is bowled over by her simplicity and beauty. But with the constant fear Sangita had with regard to her parents, she is unable to accept his love. From the time he met her, he understood her. Like two soulmates meeting after a long time. 

The Story ..

When Gautam meets Sangita, she is a widow with a young child. Moreover the society she lives in does not encourage widow remarriage. Gautam has lived in the USA all his life and all the taboos of the society are beyond his understanding. 

Sangita on the other hand cannot break the chains of tradition yet the attraction she feels for Gautam slowly consumes her. But her earlier marriage has left her with many scars. Will she be carrying all her scars into this new relationship? Will Gautam be able to accept Sangita with all her baggage?

The Love Story..

Every love story must have a villain. And so does the love story of Sangita and Gautam. The society. Widow remarriage is slowly catching up in our society but it was not always so. What surprised me in Sangita's case is that it is her own parents who were against her remarriage. In the beginning, it was only Sangita's mom who did not get any brownie points from me when she made Sangita go back to her abusive hubby. As the story unfolds her lack of sympathy towards Sangita really riled me as a reader. Moreover Sangita is shown as a woman who wants to please everyone. So will she be able to convince her parents regarding her second chance?

Growth of Characters...

I might sound biased here but for me, as a woman, Sangita flowered as a character. But I cannot say the same with Gautam. He is really a 50 shades of emotions for me. In some scenes you will love him while in some he comes out as arrogant. There is one scene where his human weakness is totally naked for all to see... and a few to admire. It takes a lot of guts to give your protag a few moments of weakness - especially when one expects him to be the savior of Sangita. 

Touches of Reality....

Every story of Ms. Venkatraman has a touch of reality. Feminism is subtle. Some might protest even at the lack of overt feminism. But it's there. It's not the kind where a woman can blatantly stand against a man or will demonstrate feminism holding a placard. It's more subtle. It’s more deep. It's more real. Sangita is an ordinary girl who becomes extraordinary due to her circumstances. 


The above five stars are for the beautiful flow of the story and the meticulous editing by Indrani Ganguly. There two things which I should mention here

  1.  I felt the 'weak moment' of Gautam did not suit his character portrayal. 
  2. The backstory of Sangita's life could have been reduced to one telling. By the time Sangita tells Gautam everything, we already knew it. That tends to take us away from the main plot of the love story. 

But the above points are my perspective as a reader, it is not a grammatical error nor does it hamper the flow of the story. Many of you might think otherwise. .. but to prove me wrong, you of course, have to read this one. :D

Would I recommend this to anyone... 
A must read for all Romance lovers. 

The Line that Stayed with me ...

“Oh,” interrupted Sandeep impatiently. “I’m not talking about my Giri Daddy. He died. Are you going to be my new daddy?” he asked again.
Such innocence! 

Buy @

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Author Mindset by Falcon Storm

Disclaimer : I got this book from the Author. It is my personal opinion and NOT a commissioned one.

Just what I needed. I had least expected to read such a book at this point of my life. One that screamed at me and accused me of procrastinating. If you are a writer who is writing on a daily basis, there is nothing this book can offer you or enlighten you or to teach you the art of  writing. It's not going to act like your guide, philosopher or mentor. It's a kick on your rear when you procrastinate.

The Only Thing You Need to Change is your Mindset:

There was one line under this heading which mocked me. Every writer becomes a writer out of choice. I have become a writer out of choice. If I was a doctor or an engineer - the whole family would have supported me but being a writer is a lonely journey. I knew it; I chose it - but am I doing justice to my choice? Am I giving it the 100% that it demands. Is anyone?

The author Falcon Storm makes it very clear that one should be goal oriented. I felt like doing a ch..cha...

1, 2 write, 
3,4 Edit, 
1,2 rewrite
3,4 wait for a publisher and then..... 

the twirl - find a publisher. If you cannot, self publish. 

So simple, yet so difficult to achieve by most. 

What is that small factor that holds you back? 

Fear of rejection? Fear of not finishing the story or is it just the fear of facing the fact that you are a mediocre writer and once you write - the world will know just what you are. Everything is in your head. Facing the fears and overcoming each one them - is what that is trapped neatly in between the pages of this small novel.

There are few pages devoted to being a Plotter as vs being a panstser. I am a Panstser. "Go with the flow" is my motto. Do yourself one favour, don't follow this path. It's full of self doubt and going backwards.  

"You are about to take a road trip with these characters, and it's best to know where you are going so you don't run out of gas in the middle of the desert."
Capish ?

Is the time right?

Topics like Time of the day one should write has been beautifully explained. I understand most of us will smirk as a thought flutters through one's mind. How can a stranger tell me what is the best time to write? Is there any worse time to write by the way? I think not. But then to each his own. 

Taking Breaks...
Oooh La la .. how many of us take a break for chatting on the FB. Or catching up the notifications. After all the likes are a fuel to our mundane life. JFYI  dislike button is coming up. I am sure many of us will stop peeping after that :D But what kind of break can one take while writing? Definitely not the long ones. 

What I felt here was that that author is telling us to be more professional. This should not be an extra curricular activity. I plan to implement this -even for my reviews. Planning and executing that plan must be done professionally. I agree there with Storm.

Do I hear a groan? Are we not the best editors in the world? An emphatic no. It cannot be said enough... you cannot be your own editor. Those who think they can are fooling themselves. We can never see our own errors. You need that second set (sometimes third) eyes to tell you your fault. 

A wealth of information about marketing. One message that stood out .."DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR WRITING TIME FOR MARKETING." *facepalm. 

A Personal Note:
I have literally savoured this little book.Only 75 pages yet the nudges, and the kicks were well placed. Sure to cure your writer's block. 


It could have been more detailed. There were many sections that were not explored or should I say I needed more. It's more like a booklet to keep whenever you want a motivation. But one thing is for sure. It packs a punch where needed.  

Would I recommend this book?
A must for every procrastinator. 

A Line that Stayed with me..
This time not a line but a whole topic. Do's and Don'ts of Social Media... Every author should read it. Especially those who criticise the reviewers.

Ah well.. sometimes I do like unsheathing my claws too :D 

Buy @

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fantastic 40 by Reetwika Banerjee

Disclaimer : I got this book from the Author. It is my personal opinion and NOT a commissioned one.

Micro Stories are short, sometimes intensely mesmerizing and often saying a lot in few words. A difficult feat to achieve no doubt - especially when we are so much caught up in the world of show and not tell. Whether Ms.Reetwika Banerjee has achieved it, is yet to be seen. Forty short stories painting every walk of life has been gathered in this Micro fiction anthology, Fantastic 40. 

Socialism: I felt the drift of Ms.Banerjee's inclination towards socialism in most of her stories. In Clumsy Old Lady you come across a genuine heart trying to understand human nature. Even those who are below our social standing. I found this story specially reverting since the story preceding it was a light and 'almost' a funny read. Hacking Into a 'Green World' is another subtly told message to go 'green' or be prepared for self destruction. 

Splattered Humor :
Is no doubt the backbone of this anthology. A great amalgamation of humor, lessons and few woes has be strategically placed throughout this anthology. Friends can me 'Bubu' is one of them. Something naughty and nice to read. Another one which made me literally have a good laugh was Ice Tea. Where does blind date lead you to? 

You have got to read this line from this story :

"And after dating him (or her) my juniors are taunting me now. The folly that crept into my life with a careless scratch left my life with a careful lesson."

Vanishing smiles
But the next moment Ms. Banerjee puts across another emotional drama Met her On Board which is a story of two lovers meeting after a span of time. Though I love Rabindranath Tagore but in this story to maintain an ambiguous end did not bode well with me. I am one of those readers who love to see children sprouting up in the arms of a happy couple when the credits roll by. So definitely the line-
"They got down in Dubai. I flew ...."
 made me grit my teeth. Where the heck are the kids ? :D 

Personal Favorite 
Was definitely The Cursed Well. A story about how two girls are sacrificed in the name of  religion. I loved the way it has been narrated. Almost a touch of reality. If the author had not declared that it was imaginary, I would have called this a powerful narration. One story that will stay with me. One story the author can think of turning into a novel one day. 

"In front of her eyes, both the sisters were utterly tortured in the name of holy sacrifice; rather slaughtered to death in sooth. "
Powerful lines.

Different Genres explored 
Whether intentional or by fluke, Ms. Banerjee seemed to jump from story to story with an ease in exploring different genres. Stories like Need for General Quota, My Lost Note are to name a few. While General Quota comes across like a satire mocking the reservation of  seats in our education system, My Lost Note is self deprecating, exploring human nature and errors made. Well written. 

Since it is 40 short stories, writing about each of them is a bit difficult but I have covered those which have left an impact on me even after closing the book. All the stories have a message to impart. Sometimes with hard hitting truths and sometimes with a tinge of humor.



Too many topics were clubbed together in one paragraph.  

"She stood quiet at her son’s silent struggles. This was his daily life. Hardly could she do anything but to encourage him! Utterly upset, one night he threw....." 

Paragraphs like these turned out to be heavy reads in such micro stories. When viewpoints are changed, a change in paragraph would be appreciated by the readers. 

An anthology is easier to read if  it is woven keeping certain things like tenses, POV and the Person remains similar in each story. One Rainy Day was a bit confusing since its written in First person and when "I" falls in love with a girl, it makes ones imagination run wild. :) Either the author has to clear in the very beginning who the 'I' is or maintain the same Person throughout the anthology. 

Would I recommend this?
Those who love a serious thought provoking read  do give this book a try. Will leave you with many thoughts about you and the people around you.

Line that stayed with me :
"Calling an innocent kid a handicap on his face and rejecting his adoption on the basis of that is so brutal. Our Father says a couple’s biggest handicap is their childlessness." - from the story Handicap

You can buy the book  @