Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Hug

Soulders tense, neck strained.
He stretched himself out but it still pained.

Looking at his watch, he realized it was late.
Even then the place was crowded with people resigned to their fate.

For some, it was the month end.
For others, it was tight deadlines to fend.

All faces had the same weary look.
After, it was a lot of energy that the toil took.

Finally, battling the traffic and incessant rain,
He drove homewards and into his lane.

Dragging his tired feet up the stair,
Was just about all he could bear.

Entering his home using his keys,
He finally found a moment of peace.

The two pairs of bright twinkling eyes surprised him,
Even the late hour had not made them dim.

They both jumped up in joy.
At once impish as well as coy.

They wrapped him in a tight hug,
Their little hands on his back gave his heart a tug.

The warmth spread through his being.
The strain was also not long in going.

God bless these little souls
Whose little hugs can even make climbing a mountain seem like a stroll.

Monday, June 24, 2019

It's Never Really A Good Bye!

The setting sun lighting up the twilight sky.
It's never really a good bye.

The birds flying 'home' for winter.
It's never really a good bye.

That hug from a close friend after a lovely evening together.
It's never really a good bye.

Those bitter sweet moments from the days of a teenage crush.
It's never really a good bye.

The shedding of leaves from trees at autumn time.
It's never really a good bye.

The tearful bidai of a newly married girl.
It's never really a good bye.

The passing of a loved one into the afterlife.
It's never really a good bye.

The circle of life is always turning.
What goes comes back or it's memories do.

Which is why I don't like good bye.
Good byes mean finality.
And I am not done yet.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

She opened her eyes.
The grey dawn was spreading in the skies.

Memories of last night came back.
Of her so called "beloved's" brutal attack.

The beatings and the disgrace.
Her own pillow pressed into her face.

Suffocating her, smothering her.
Till the brink when her life was in danger.

Even now her body felt the pain.
Her pillow was still damp and it wasn't due to the rain.

Outside her window, the thunderstorm burst.
She clamped the pillow over her head and cursed.

She always thought he loved her.
Now she knew better.

It was easier to hide below her pillow.
Life there was comfortably dark and slow.

But it was time to pick up the pieces.
Time to get up and iron out the creases.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

What is Love?

What is Love?
This is the age old question that has been discussed, debated and done to death (sorry for the alliteration).  These are a few personal thoughts – consider this as more of a ramble of an idle mind travelling back home in a crowded local train.

Love is loving yourself enough first to be able to love someone else.

Love is in the sparkle in those eyes as they gaze at you (when they do).

Love is the grateful feeling on seeing the first rays of a rising sun.

Love is in the slow smile that exerts its power over you.

Love is being able to let go when needed.

Love is in the heartache you feel after an argument with someone special.

Love is in the blind trust you bestow upon those few people.

Love is when you see your sleeping child and knowing that she or he is your flesh and blood.

Love is something that cannot be controlled or guided, it just is.

Love can be calm or tempestuous.

Love is in the little things.

Love is in the small hand that slips into yours when scared or sad.

Love can make you restless or settled and sometimes even both at once.

Love usually shines through your actions and not your words.

Love is taking someone and making them part of you, for life and even beyond.

Love is a tight hug when you need it and just saying "I'm there for you."

Love starts slow but holds strong. True love does not fade.

Love is pure, undemanding and does not expect.

Love cannot be seen, it can only be felt.

Love is quick to forgive and does not hold grudges.

Love is not only romantic; there are different kinds and each one is beautiful.

Love is acceptance, of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Love can change you for the better, if you let it.

Love is always positive; it can make you kinder and nicer than you were.

Love is something larger than life, something bigger than you and me.

Am I even close to being someone who imbibes all of what I have listed above? Hell, no! Do I want to someday? Oh yes! 

Having said that, it's not easy to be objective in love for most of us, and least of all, me. We can only try and hope to get there, eventually.

Thoughts welcome….

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Book Review: The Vikramaditya Veergatha

Book Review: The Vikramaditya Veergatha by Shatrujeet Nath (Book 1: The Guardians of the Halahala, Book 2: The Conspiracy at Meru, Book 3: The Vengeance of Indra)

The Game of Thrones TV series has gone on to become one of the largest runaway successes of our times with a viewership that could rival or maybe even beat any other series. Having said that, the series originated from the books written by George R. R. Martin and any book lover worth his or her salt would swear that the books are so much better!

And with that seemingly random fact, let me get to the topic on hand, my take on the Vikramaditya Veergatha by Shatrujeet Nath. Mythological fantasy fiction as a genre has evolved tremendously in India over the last few years and many authors have dabbled in it some to resounding success and others who were way in over their heads. When I first heard the name “The Guardians of Halahala”, I didn’t know what exactly to expect and while the genre is one of my favourites after pure fantasy, I did not pick it up until a chance found me in the possession of the first 3 books of the series.

Having read a large number of books of this genre, I am sure that making your presence felt and standing out is a herculean task for any author but Shatrujeet from the very first book has raised the bar and how. I had decided that I would review each book of the series as I finished it but the first book flowed into the second and the second into the third so seamlessly that I found myself reading through them at breakneck speed and I write this after having read all three. As an aside, my wife started with The Guardians of Halahala after I was done with it and overtook me while reading The Vengeance of Indra – having quietly taking it away when I was only a quarter through it!

The story starts with Lord Shiva entrusting the dagger of Veeshada to Samrat Vikramaditya for safekeeping knowing him to be an upholder of all that is right and a worthy opponent to the best of adversaries. This dagger contains the leftover of the deadly Halahala poison that was revealed as a by-product of the churning of the ocean by the Devas and Asuras, rivals collaborating to find the much sought after Amruta. Both parties have been striving to get hold of the dagger and Shiva thought that Vikrama would be the ideal candidate to keep it away and foil any attempts by them to wrest it away. The books take us through the numerous conflicts Vikrama and his trusted aides have to grapple with in carrying out Lord Shiva’s charge.

The author starts weaving together a tight storyline from the first book itself and the plot, though complex, keeps you hooked from start to end. Samrat Vikramaditya (adapted from the Vikram Betaal story) of Avanti and his 9 councillors form the mainstay of this grand tale and every other sub-plot intermingles with the main story. The Samrat rules over Sindhuvarta, which comprises of many other nations, each with their individual ruler who is allied with Avanti, Vikrama’s own kingdom. Along with the humans which also include the Huna and Saka tribes, there are Devas, Asuras, Yakshas, Danavas, Pisachas, Garudas etc playing an equal and important role in the story. With so many characters, there is bound to be a lot of confusion and a general dilution of the plot. But this is where Shatrujeet surprises: each character in the books has been carefully etched and given enough background to ensure that their role in the proceedings is clear to the reader.

The level of detail amazes in many small but important ways; the Hunas and Sakas, both of which are imaginary races who are sworn enemies of the kingdoms of Sindhuvarta have been given their own language, which is as distinct from anything than I’ve ever read before. The physical descriptions of the multitude of characters are detailed so well that I could see each and every one of these in my mind’s eye with clarity. The same level of detail is also found in outlining the lives of different kinds of people described in the books including soldiers, tradesmen, palace attendants, merchants, nomadic tribes of the desert etc not forgetting the Devas, Asuras and Yakshas themselves.

There is a smooth intermingling of characters most of us are familiar with from our own knowledge of Indian mythology and our epics and while I have never observed any connection between them prior to reading these books, I found the interplay more acceptable and craftily executed to give us a masterpiece of a story, one that can hold its own against any of the other giants we have read and love. Many of the principal characters are ones that we know such as Samrat Vikaramaditya himself, the lord of the Devas – Indra, Hiranyaksha and Holika – the sibling consorts ruling the Asuras, Brihaspati, Narada, Shukracharya, Kubera the Yaksha, Betaala of the Underworld and a few others I might have missed out. These are ably supplemented by many other characters created by the author including the 9 councillors of Vikrama’s court, each of them with a definitive character that shapes the narrative ahead, the various kings who are allied with Avanti or in a few cases are against it and the Devas and Asuras who form part of the Indra’s and Hiranyaksha’s kingdoms respectively.

Shatrujeet has moved from the traditional definition of good and bad when it comes to the Devas and Asuras and given them both a common cause – getting the dagger of Veeshada for themselves so that they can defeat the other and are willing to go to any heights, right or wrong, to get hold of it. Given that nothing is truly black or white and there are a lot of varying shades of gray in between, this concept works really well in this day and world. The description of Indra, Holika and Hiranyaksha is a thing of beauty and challenges any other impressions you may have had of them previously. The same is true for many other characters but you will need to read the books to find out for yourselves.

As I have already mentioned before, the story is larger than life and each and every event in the book fits perfectly in place in this mammoth tapestry that Shatrujeet has woven. There was obviously a reason I’d mentioned the Game of Thrones books right at the start of my review and just like in it, the Veergatha too has many different strands running through it each having its own place and each coming back to seamlessly integrate into the main plot and hitting home hard. Not one place did I get the feeling of something being in excess or not required to keep the story going. I cannot fathom the amount of research and tracking that must have been required to make this happen. Ashok Banker’s Ramayana was another book series that I had loved and have re-read it multiple times – the Vikramaditya Veergatha is right up that alley and I am proud to acknowledge that there are Indian authors who can be compared with the best of them out there!

I could go on and on about these books and why you should read them but I guess I have almost written a chapter’s length and am in danger of not being read. To end with, a subtle hint for Shatrujeet: George R. R. Martin wrote the first 5 books in his series almost one after the other and hooked millions of readers worldwide to the Game of Thrones. He has still not released the ‘last’ book of the series and along with the bouquets has had many a brickbat thrown at him just for his tardiness in this matter. Enough said!

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Sunday, September 16, 2018


1. That 'near to run' walk from home to school in record time each morning that ensured we reached on time everyday inspite of starting late. The myriad teenage conversations along the way.

2. Rushing down to play cricket or spend time with building friends, true friendships for life. Everyone now spread all around getting together once in a long while and laughing uproariously at the same jokes all over again.

3. Being lucky enough to grow up with my paternal grandmother and feeling the love she had for us; the way it manifested itself in her actions.

4. Spending hours browsing / rummaging through the multitude of books at Kings Library and then selecting the 2 or 3 most wanted to rent for reading. Running through them at breakneck speed and then repeating the above process all over again.

5. Being to able to bowl overarm for hours on end at a reasonably fast clip in the building compound. Playing tennis ball 'seal' matches with neighboring apartment building teams where the losing team forfeited the tennis ball got by them.

6. The feeling of anticipation while walking for Maths / Science or Hindi / Marathi tuitions depending on what was going to happen that day. As an aside, being the only boy in a batch full of girls at Hindi / Marathi tuitions; feeling very uncomfortable about that.

7. Travelling to Lamington Road with Dad to his place of work and getting special treatment from all his colleagues and friends. And a great lunch to follow with Dad.

8. That delicious tangyness of mom's dry aloo preparation (called batatya wagh in Konkani) and the explosion of flavours in the aftertaste. And so many other such dishes of her and my grandmother's making.

9. Walking into Bhavan's College on the first day for FYJC as part of a large group of over 25 Franciscans believing safety is in numbers from the 'ragging' phenomenon and gratified knowing the belief was correct. Enjoying the freedom that a college provides. Experiences of bunking, also physics and biology practicals, hanging around in the college campus.

10. Navratri nights in our building complex learning, enjoying and mastering the Garba steps; something we looked forward to every year. Dancing away till the wee hours with the same gusto as we had begun.

11. Getting a rick (alone) from college to Uncle's Kitchen (a small but well known local Chinese joint) and splurging on delicious Chinese food! Yes, really!

12. Going to NIIT Borivali three days a week for the GNIIT course and discovering that I did have a head for computer programming after all. The thrill of writing hundreds of lines of code and running it without any errors.

13. Hours spent discussing all and sundry with my friends in the college campus and dreaming about the future.

14. Having the capacity to devour surprising quantities of food with no apparent ill effects; being a welcome guest at my best friend's house and eating the most delicious non-vegetarian food.

15. Sunday mornings spent going through NCC drills in college; loving and hating it at the same time for the extremes of joy and pain it brought me.

16. The butterflies in my tummy as I first walked into a room for my first ever Group Discussion as part of the MBA program selection process and seeing other candidates and their aggression. Wondering if I would ever make the cut.

17. The days (and sometimes nights) spent on campus working hard towards earning that MBA degree; learning life lessons along the way and making lifelong friends inadvertently.

18. The first job and going through the shock of learning everything afresh and unlearning some of what I'd learnt through my school and college years. Late nights spent at work that went by in a flash in the company of some exceptional colleagues the likes of whom that it is still difficult to match.

Nostalgia is a strange mix of reliving happy memories of the past and missing them in the present. These and many others like them live on in my mind and from time to time bring on a wave of remembrances looked upon fondly and with wistfulness of those days never to come back.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Will I Be Remembered For?

Sometimes life throws you into certain situations which make you realize the futility of the rat race that we are all part of, willingly or unwillingly, and how little the achievement of our materialistic goals mean. You begin to question what really matters to you and whether everything you wanted till now is really what makes you happy.

Thinking about death or talking about it is never easy for most of us. However, we all know that it is a certainty. A recent event in my life that shook me to my very core and got me thinking along those lines also made me think if my life has been one worth being remembered either by my or those who know me. Other than the familial ties which one obviously cannot shirk off, at least IMHO, am I someone who would be remembered by others? And if so, then what would I be remembered for? And what would I want to be remembered for?

If there could be a list for this kind, then the following would more or less be it for me.

1.    First things first, would my family remember me as having been a good son, a good husband, a good father, a good brother and so on? Not just because they are family but because they mean it?

2.    Have I been a good friend? Do my friends think so? Have I let time and distance take them away from me? Have I been there for them in their happy times and even more so, in their trying and sad times? How many close friends do I have?

3.  Will my colleagues think of me as someone who made a mark at work and whose contribution to their profiles and the team and organization at large would be missed? Will I only be remembered for my work or have some of my human qualities had an effect with people at work?

4. Am I a generous person? Did my generosity remain only within me or was I able to reach out with it and make a difference by sharing not only my worldly possessions but also of my heart?

5.    Did I follow my passions and make the most of what they had to offer? I am a voracious reader and love books. Did that make me a better person?

6.    Did my education and limited knowledge of the world at large show up when it was needed the most?

7. Was I a compassionate person? But for a few people, compassion is a quality that needs to be inculcated over your entire lifetime because it needs one to empathize with other people who may not be related to you but leaves the receiver full of your love and joy.

8. Was I open-minded or judgemental in my outlook? Did I hurt people knowingly or unknowingly? Are there some people who I would want to apologise to or mend rifts with?

9.    Was I the kind of person who placed money above people and relationships? Did I burn bridges with some people in this manner?

10. Lastly, would I be remembered as a nice person, someone who could bring happiness and joy to people, someone who could be depended on come what may, someone they could look back and think about with a smile? Would I be missed?

Too many thoughts crowding my mind at present, haphazardly at best. I can only hope that with some time, these will resolve into something that helps me become a better person and someone who leaves behind memories worthy of being remembered with love.