Book Review: Europa

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Book: Europa

Author: Hywel Richard Pinto

Genre: Science Fiction

Publishers: Story Mirror

The closest I have come to read science and fiction together are books by the ‘Robin Cook’ who mixed medicine and thriller for his stories. And I loved his stories. Though in past few years haven’t read him.

I grew up watching television series ‘Star Trek’ with Captain Kirk and Mr Spock. It used to be a much awaited series every week with the crew of the space ship tele-porting from one place to other, fighting aliens and traveling non-stop in space.

It is with these kind of influences playing on my mind, that I started reading the book ‘Europa’ by Hywel Richard Pinto.

The book is very ambitious in its space travel story. Though the unmanned spacecrafts have flown past planets Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune but as yet no man has traveled and walked on surface on these planets.  The story of Europa however sees a crew of astronauts and biologists travel to Europa, the moon of planet Jupiter, in search of earlier mission survivors and collect samples from the surface.

The time that the space ship Europa takes to travel is over one year when most of the crew sleeps in life-sustaining pods. But two of the crew who have been planted by the crooks to do nefarious activities wake up earlier than others to carry out the plan. However surprisingly the captain and his first officer wake up too. Mystery shrouds the strange waking up cycle till the time other crew members wake up six months later. And then the discovery of a crew member’s death creates trouble.

When the crew lands on the moon of Jupiter, they come face to face with not only the previous mission’s survivors but also strange hypnotizing creatures who all have survived in caves of that moon which is surprisingly filled with pure oxygen and has a large water body.

Through various twists and turns the mission is accomplished and the crew returns to earth where the captain of the Europa mission has to answer a lot of questions about deaths of crew members during mission. The crooks meanwhile out of greed become each other’s doom and all ends well.

The book is high on imagination and sees continuous action without losing its grasp on story. The investigative court however seems to have not been given much thought and it ends abruptly. The part of story dedicated to assassins though written well but doesn’t really concern the mission. It is parallel and mentions the mission very marginally.The Indian connection of the assassin and his master was not really required.

The book also has some grammatical errors. Another big mistake on part of publisher may be is that pages 7,8,9,10 and page 66 are repeat pages. The problem this creates is that if you are involved in reading the story and suddenly similar text starts appearing, it breaks not only the rhythm but also confuses the reader for few seconds.

But even with such silly mistakes, the story is a good science fiction with thrill and suspense thrown in. Not a bad read.

Indeed a courageous and good effort by the author.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Book Review: Bhrigu Mahesh, The Return Of Damayanti

Book: Bhrigu Mahesh, Return Of Damayanti

Author: Nisha Singh

Genre: Thriller

Publication: Partridge Publications

Whenever I go to book stores, I invariably reach out to the mysteries and thriller section unless there is some super attractive history book that I was waiting for. Needless to say, crime fiction and thriller stories are my favorite genres for a leisure evening.

But the books that I have been reading in past few months were luke-warm as far as nail-biting thrill is concerned. I wasn’t really very sure whether I did the right thing by applying to review this book.

It turns out that I was wrong. Bhrigu Mahesh, the detective in “The Return Of Damayanti” by Nisha Singh reminded me of our very  own Vyomkesh Bakshi or the Brit pair of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.

A keen observer who analyzes every situation in detail, Bhrigu Mahesh is approached by a retired petrified clerk  with a strange request. The poor clerk is at his wit’s end as he is scared of the ghost of his dead wife and he wants Bhrigu Mahesh to get rid of the ghost. Intrigued at this odd request, Bhrigu Mahesh drags his friend and confidant Sutte to the village of Krishnadwar. As is his habit he observes all the people closely related to the household of the clerk to zero in on the culprit who has been troubling Natraj Bhakti, the clerk.

As he contemplates, Natraj Bhakti’s sister is murdered and the story takes a sinister twist. Investigations lead Bhrigu Mahesh to the mastermind who for satisfying his weird experiment on human behavior has been manipulating unsuspecting people into doing out-of-ordinary acts that lead to eventually killing.

Though this is not a fast paced action story yet strangely the narration doesn’t bore you and you don’t feel like skipping anything. Story meanders through the lanes of the village and grows on you with little details hidden in the narration. Characteristics and habits of the people involved become evident subtly in the story. The friend of detective, Sutte, provides interesting breaks in the narrative by showing his annoyance about the village facilities and Bhrigu Mahesh’s habit of slipping into thoughts.

What I liked about the narration was that all the suspects of the ghost mystery and later of the murder are treated equally which keeps the reader guessing who the murderer was or who was troubling Natraj Bhakti with ghost activities. The culprits that emerge after complete investigations and deliberations of Bhrigu Mahesh are a surprise for the readers.

Even the title presents a mystery. Reader becomes curious to find who Damayanti is. While the reader is getting used to the idea of story revolving around a paranormal phenomenon, the sudden twist gives a new dimension to the story.

There could have been though more details of the house and village to complete the picture in the mystery. The house, the murder scene and the temple where the god-man instigated ordinary folk seem little less connected. Even the room which Nataraj Bhakti built for himself is described to be little away from the haunted room so I wondered how the clerk knew about ghost visits.

But in all the book is an engaging read. Readers who find thrillers interesting will enjoy this. Have a read.

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Book Review: Open Eyed Meditations

Book: Open-Eyed Meditations

Author: Shubha Vilas

Genre: Self-Help

Publisher: Finger Print Publication

open-eyed-meditations-blogaddaThe Epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, besides being great stories are treasure trove of ancient wisdom. The short stories within these epics can become important life lesson…we just need to look, to understand.

It becomes easier to learn and comprehend this wisdom if someone guides in the right direction.

The book ‘Open Eyed Meditations’ is an attempt to help understand and answer the puzzle of day-to-day life.

I have read the earlier book ‘Ramayana…….’ by Shubha Vilas and though I was not much impressed by it, I still opted to read this new book mostly because I got curious.

And, I find this one better than the previous one. “Open Eyed Meditations” has small nuggets of wisdom derived from the stories of the epics and applied in today’s world.

Take for example the chapter ‘Magic Carpet for Relationships’ where author has given the perfect example of Krishna’s love for Arjun. Krishna addressed Arjun by various names that were his qualities. By appreciating all his qualities Krishna had a lovable bond…a everlasting relationship with Arjun. Shubha Vilas has summed it well “The 5Cs of appreciation are continuous, constant, costructive, contemplative and conscious…it then become contagious and comes back to you”

Another chapter on whether love is defined in kisses and gifts, he gives the examples of deep love of Sita who sacrificed the worldly comforts to go with Rama and of Urmila’s love who sacrificed her right to be with her husband so that he may fulfill his duty. For a loving relationship what is required is an unconditional love and not superficial things like gifts etc.

An example which I found most interesting was in the chapter dealing with the choice of quantity or quality. In today’s social media trending world, I have often wondered about those bloggers who claim to have thousands of followers and at times I have felt helpless when I compared myself to them. The example of Arjun who chose Krishna instead of Yadav army for Mahabharat battle and Duryodhana chose the entire Krishna’s army clearly shows who chose quality and who chose the quantity. The Pandavas were victorious despite having smaller army because they had the quality…the brains and blessings of Krishna.

This example made me realize that number of followers on social media might not always mean that my work is of lesser or better quality! This story and the wisdom associated came to my notice at the time when I was feeling little dejected and it made sense to me….I am less worried now…I guess I knew this truth somewhere at the back of my logical thinking…it just needed to be prodded to come out.

There are 64 such chapters reflecting on life lessons that include little insights on love, relationships, leadership, courage, success, emotions, character and personality development. This book has tried to bring forth ancient wisdom for the modern lives in a very easy and simple way.

It is a good read and reader may get an unbiased third person viewpoint on certain issues that my ring true to them.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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Vijay Diwas

“Tomorrow we start our fireworks”

17 years is a long time but I remember his phone call like it was yesterday. I could literally hear the excitement that he was so trying to mask in an attempt to quell my anxiety and fear that threatened to swallow me.

Indian Air Force was cleared to launch air-strikes against infiltrators on 26th May 1999. The Kargil Conflict which lasted almost three months began early in May 1999 with the Pakistani intrusion and capturing and inhuman torturing of soldiers of Indian Army patrolling the area. The situation escalated soon enough and Air Force was called upon to provide air support to our men in olive-greens around mid-May.

For any fighter pilot worth his salt, being trained in air warfare, an opportunity to engage and thwart the enemy is the biggest high. But while all the warriors of sky at Srinagar prepared for show of strength, the families back home sat glued to television fearing the worst turn of events.

When the Kargil conflict reached its frenzy, I was engaged for almost seven months and eagerly waiting for month of October when I would finally be in arms of my beloved. That phone call from my fiancé, a pilot posted in Srinagar, on 25th May 1999 set the tone for coming days till next two months for me.

No sooner had Air Force struck on the enemy when two aircrafts were shot down by Pakistani stinger missiles with one of the pilots taken prisoner of war and another brutally murdered by the Pakistanis. The news sent fear waves among all the families of pilots participating in the Kargil war.

I can only imagine what the martyred pilot’s wife must have gone through on hearing about her husband’s sacrifice. Though I was yet to be married but the news had made me numb….never had I prayed as much as I did then….everyday.

The day began with newspaper. Only after scanning each and every page would I get on with rest of the day. The most routine work seemed never ending and incomprehensible. I kept checking the wall clock willing the day to end soon….I often thought the clock wasn’t working and would check other clocks of the house to reaffirm that time was indeed slogging past.

We did not have cell phones then. The air base at Srinagar had all but one public phone booth and obviously everyone wanted to call back home to assure their families of their well-being. Every night at eleven I would sit by the telephone waiting for his phone call before calling it a day.

Even during such times he would call up and whisper sweet nothings from the public telephone booth unburdening my worried heart. Everyday I made him promise that he would call me back the next day….it was my way to assure myself that he would be safe next day and talk to me again…

As we celebrate another “Vijay Diwas” for the victory of Indians over enemy, for reclaiming the land, for remembering the brave hearts and for honouring their sacrifices and indomitable spirit, I feel immensely fortunate that my soldier is safely back with me.

Wars are most devastating for the families of men in uniform….the casaulties are merely a number for others….Yes, our husbands, brothers and friends are paid for their jobs…but how many of those who say so will be willing to go and stand before the enemy for same amount of pay?

This ‘Vijay Diwas’, I wish people start respecting defense services and their personnel with more compassion….and not measure their sacrifices and their committment to duty.

I am proud to be associated with these brave courageous men who put their family life and comfort at stake for the service to nation.

May they always win all battles of life. Jai Hind


The Unsung Hero…

When people visit the Bahái Lotus Temple, they are taken in by its beauty and amaze at the peace it exudes.

Lotus temple, New Delhi

Lotus temple, New Delhi

Or when people travel on the Bombay-Worli Sea link, they are awed or when prices of shares go up or down at Bombay Stock Exchange, people are worried about their own profit and loss or when Delhi metro is delayed, people create a fuss….

Though we often take pride in the iconic structures like Lotus Temple and Bombay-Worli Sea Link, which have none other than Tata Tiscon rebars running in their veins, but not one of us gives a thought to the effort that goes in and hardly do we think of the bones and skeleton of these magnificent constructions…the invisible steel that holds and strengthens the complete structure.

Even I, as a fresh architecture graduate, though fantasized myself to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe…the Howard Roark of Fountainhead…the unassuming iron bars that would go in silently in my buildings however never found themselves in my dreams….

Eighteen years ago, I was excited to put my newly acquired knowledge of designing and planning into the construction of a house for my parents….my first project. I was of course in love with the idea and had a dream to fulfil…the house even before it was built was my baby and close to my heart.

home 1

Clinic cum home under construction

There was not much of a difference between me and others, common people who dreamt of getting their house constructed. The only advantage I had was the basic knowledge of the structural design. It was easy for me to point out the anomalies and rectify those in the structural elements like beams, columns, footing and the slab.

Finally the house cum clinic was completed in about a year and in fact it was where the guests during my wedding first assembled but the amount of stress that me and my father went through during the entire process of building our home was actually nerve-wrecking. I remember when the first slab was under construction and it rained…it was a frantic morning and humongous effort to cover the entire grid of iron rods for the slab. A whole day later when we rechecked the bars for displacement, re-tied some of the binding wires…the slab could only be laid the next evening…

The only time concern for the quality of steel bars crosses an individual’s mind is when he/she is involved in making their own house of dreams!! And it was no different in my dream project either…I was concerned about rusting and breakage of binding wires or failure of the structure…

It was then that I, for the first time, woke up from my world of dreams and glamour of the glass façade buildings and ‘saw’ the real hero…..

The humble TATA TISCON Rebars


Few weeks ago, I was at TATA CENTRE, Kolkata attending a presentation on structural steel for building construction. I couldn’t help but agree about the time it takes for unskilled labour to cut and bind the bars during construction or about the margin of error in accuracy by manual bending or the wastage of steel during construction.

Come to think of it, back then if I had access to a reliable, branded corrosion resistant steel bars, stirrups and wires of standard sizes and consistent composition like those of TATA TISCON combined with services of trained local thekedars (local contractors), masons and rod binders half of my worries, time and effort would have been reduced…..

The steel bar is the unsung hero….the embellishments which attract our eyes to a built space…the paints, tiles, marble floors all come later. When Maya Angelou said “There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in black women…It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet” she unknowingly also commended the role of the humble steel rod that goes in the concrete structures strengthening them to stand for years.

Its importance is realised only when structures fail…One wrong bone…displaced, added, ill fitted…and the entire structure comes crumbling down…slabs cave in, columns bend, floors sink or at times entire building tilts….I am reminded of a tagline from a popular advertisement here…“ye banaye andar se strong (it gives you inner strength)”

We often overlook and forget the silent crusaders, the good Samaritans….the real heroes. May be it’s time now we give credit to all unsung heroes….be it our men with guts of steel guarding the borders or be it the steel rod itself.

So next time somebody compliments you for what a wonderful house you made, you could humbly say….

“Ye andar ki baat hai…” 😉

This post is a part of the #BuildingBlogsOfJoy activity of TATA TISCON  in association with

Prank That Sealed Our Love

There is a popular saying among the men in armed forces the ‘faujis‘…. “We work hard, we party harder”. What the others might not be aware of is that these men in uniform are big pranksters too!

One such prank not only showed me the lighter side of my husband but also reiterated that he meant the world to me.

Married to an Indian Air Force Officer, I was welcomed in ‘fauji style‘ into the folds of unit posted in Srinagar in 1999. Kargil war was fresh in my ‘civilian’ mind. The terrorist activity was also at a high in Kashmir Valley…. Jhelum flowed with her waters red..

The day I landed in Jammu as a new bride, there had been a fresh attack on the military base in Srinagar and there was a high alert. Men in olive-green army fatigues armed to their teeth could be seen keeping eye on every nook and corner. Deserted roads and closed shopping areas all were reeling under a pall of gloom. The tense atmosphere had already registered in my mind…and I was quite visibly disturbed.

After an overnight stay at the army transit camp, we flew to Srinagar. We were received by two officers who were the part of a prank that awaited me in the Air Force Station. Those two officers appeared very sad and quiet. Later in the evening one of them arrived at the door of the room we were putting up in…The prank was taking up its form. What I did not know was that my dear husband was also a party to the larger prank…!!

We were informed about a terrorist attack and that all hands on deck needed to report back to duty. Aby, my husband played along and psyched me further. He went away leaving me fretting in the room of Officer’s Mess. Late night I sat at the residence of Commanding Officer of the unit still worried. And then one officer walked in ….heavily bandaged, blood on his clothes, dishevelled, limping…. He told us that due to a landmine blast all in the vehicle were seriously injured particularly Aby and he was fighting for his life in the station medical centre.

I was totally shocked…. The other ladies were also a part of prank but they showed a concern causing me to panic. We all rushed to the hospital where the doctors scared me even more… I saw Aby lying on the table with blood over his chest, hands and eyes. As I sat near him shaking like a leaf, the doctor tampered with the wires of ECG machine. Soon enough the machine started showing a flat line denoting that there was no heartbeat !!

I had totally lost my cool and screamed for the doctor. The doctor did come and played the last cards of the prank. He very seriously informed me that I would have to resuscitate my dying husband by administering a mouth-to-mouth respiration!!

Without giving any thought to the doctor’s suggestion and not wanting to waste a single second, I complied though I had no idea how to administer a mouth-to-mouth respiration. No sooner I bent and my lips touched my husband that everyone broke into claps and Aby woke up from his supposed serious condition laughing….he kissed me back right there with everyone shouting “welcome to the Air Force”

With relief flooding me, I too joined in the laughter. With a loud “I love you” he folded me in his arms sealing our love.

I remember the evening as if it happened yesterday though it has been sixteen years now. We still laugh about the whole episode and he teases me no end.

And that moment of love and laughter and the twinkle in his eyes still tugs at my heart.

“This post is a part of #LoveAndLaughter activity at BlogAdda in association with Caratlane.”


2015: A Year of Books and Blogposts

The past year has been very fruitful for me. I loved every bit of the year with lot of travel, lot of blogging and not to forget two wins.

BlogAdda Activities:

Blogadda had announced the World Remade activity in February and I did not get time for many days to write anything for that. But then one fine day inspiration struck and I typed away in a mad frenzy to come up with a poem “World Remade” . For days I waited for the results and as the dates for the India Today conclave neared I lost hopes of making it to the conclave.

I went about my day as usual, went for a walk in evening and all this while did not bother to take a peek at my cell phone. Later in the evening to my surprise there was this mail sitting pretty in the mailbox by Blogadda guys….I was one of the winners and was being asked my willingness to attend the Conclave. Ha! there was no doubt that I would miss such an opportunity even though my daughter had her final exams in March.

Delegate card for Conclave

Delegate card for Conclave

Reservations to travel to Delhi were made in a hurry, friends informed of my stay with them and I reached the venue finally got my delegate card and made new friends!! Can’t thank BlogAdda enough…

The Conclave was a great experience and I attended sessions of some great personalities that included Sachin Tendulkar, Vishwanathan Anand, Moni Mohsin, Shobhaa De…

With new friends Arvind Passey and Tennyson Thomas

With new friends Arvind Passey and Tennyson Thomas

A To Z Challenge:

April saw me participating in a daily blogging challenge where each day except Sunday was to correspond with each alphabet. I was not confident of seeing the challenge through but I surprised myself with 26 posts from A to Z. Some posts came out good and some were disasters but I realised that if I really tried, I could write at least 500 words everyday. That means that when I decide to pen a book some day, it definitely is possible 🙂

Huffington Post:

I am one staunch supporter of freedom of women and often get into hot discussions if anybody says anything anti-women. I wrote a post for the Independence day and sent it to Huffington Post blog editor Ms Kavita. Now Huffington Post Blogs is one huge platform for any aspiring blogger and i had my fingers crossed…literally.

That evening on 15th August my article was active on Huffington Post and of course I was jubilant.

Three other articles of my travels also were published in 2015 on Happy Trips and WeNomad sites.

Book reviews:

I became addicted to books right from school days when in a day I used to finish three Noddy books by Enid Blyton much to my library teacher’s headache. After graduating to Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys, I however skipped Mills and Boon totally and instead got into reading all thrillers with the earliest being the Bourne series which was in my father’s collection. My husband introduced me to Richard Bach and later I simply fell in love with William Dalrymple. I read and read…. But never wrote a review. I never thought anybody would be interested in my opinion!!

This year however, I got into reviewing books with Writers Melon sending me the first book to write review about. Kirtida Gautam too sent me her book #IAm16ICanRape . I have been busy reading few mythological stories these days. The best among them was “Maneka’s Choice” by Kavita Kane.

I have started enjoying airing my views about a particular book now and it feels good when the blog visitors, author and the publication house appreciate the review.


The year ended with another good news, again courtesy BlogAdda. They selected my post Six Steps To Responsible Tourism as one of the entries which won me an early invitation to Outlook Traveller Summit. Though I could not make it to Delhi from Thanjavur at half a day’s notice but it definitely boosted my morale to have been selected!

With such a wonderful year gone by, I have become greedy and hope 2016 brings more joys. Yes, one good news is already in my pocket…my article on Adalaj Vav, with some cuts and fine tuning is now active on Open Road Review… Yay!

Bring it on 2016…am ready for you!!

“I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.”

Book Review: The Best Seller She Wrote

Book: The Best Seller She Wrote

Author: Ravi Subramaniyam

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: Westland Books


Having heard about Ravi Subramanian and his financial thrillers I never made an effort to buy his books because once years ago when  I picked up a  book by John Grisham, my young mind refused to comprehend all legal jargon and the courtroom story after first few pages. Since then I have steered clear of thrillers which deal with subject I barely understand and that implies lawyer talk and finance…..The only financial thriller that I have read is Tom Clancy’s ‘Debt of Honour’ just because it was always there on bookshelf at home.

Since this was the first book by the author that I read so I had not much clue of what to expect and yet the tagline at the book cover ‘soon to be a motion picture’ gave me a fair idea that the story might be ‘one masala mix like our movies!

And sure enough with the story revolving around a banker who also is famous author, a wannabe smooth-talking ambitious B-School graduate beautiful girl and a little detective-story-like twist almost at end, it is one crowd puller. The lead character and some events in his life have a strong resemblance to one certain popular Indian author. I couldn’t help laughing when the protagonist of story agrees to be a judge for dance reality show on TV and his wife comments:

“Don’t be so blinded by the arc-lights that you make a fool of yourself”

Now only the authors concerned would know better whether the comment was just a friendly jibe or not!

The story, basically about love, betrayal of trust between friends, between a husband and wife and coming back to senses of strayed man to reunite with wife is however very predictable; a famous much married banker turned author who falls for a sexual charms of a good-looking girl, his ardent fan and cheats on his wife. How the lead character gets into some sleuthing and resurrects his broken marriage is the little twist. Even though I could guess how the relationship would play out as soon as ‘Shreya’ the attractive fan started interacting with ‘Aditya Kapoor’ the author yet I loved reading the story with the backdrop of publishing world nuggets.

There have been many similar stories and many such movies so I did not find anything fresh except that the character was IIM graduate, banker and author. The few sexual scenes were not enticing enough and at times story dragged a bit. With all the promotions and hype surrounding the book, story is quite ordinary.

There are quite some inputs about the way publishing world functions. Using names of Anurag Kashyap and Nirav Sanghavi of BlogAdda also seems like a very into your face advertisement and again gives a glimpse of behind the scene requirements in the business of book publishing.

In all, the book was a nice package and with some sizzling song dance sequences thrown in would make one mass pleasing movie. With no heavy philosophy and no moral preaching, book is good bedtime read for young readers.

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

India Today #Conclave 15

Monday 9th March 2015, 1830hrs:

Ping….ping…ping…‘ The phone desperately tried to grab my attention towards the mails that were delivered. I had just returned from a 2km evening walk and was more interested in a glass of water than in checking out the emails.

But the addiction to constant updates is such these days that I too succumbed to the pings and opened my mailbox. The first few mails were some promotional ones. And so I scrolled down hurriedly for any relevant mails that the inbox might have, when a ‘Please moderate a new comment….’ mail caught my eye. A  fellow blogger and a visitor to my blog had congratulated me on making it to the winners’ list of @BlogaddaWorld remade‘ activity for India Today #Conclave15. I obviously had missed that mail in a sea of all those promotional ones !!

Once I read the mail by @Blogadda, I couldn’t of course keep a lid over my excitement and having confirmed my participation to Team Blogadda, quickly made calls for train reservations, forgetting all about the glass of water and my daughter’s pending 6th grade final exams.

Wednesday 11th March 2015, 1730hrs:

The remaining Monday and the whole of Tuesday went in a flurry of activity mentally preparing myself and my daughter to be away from each other for almost a week. I cooked some of her favorite food and stored it in refrigerator for her to have later.

Wednesday morning flew and it was my time to board the train to Delhi and I left after a lot of hugging and instructing. I planned to stay with a friend as the pass did not include an accommodation (that however would have been the perfect PASS though, if it included a stay at TAJ PALACE…..but alas!! our travel and stay was not sponsored).

I reached Delhi on 12th March 1020 hrs and me and my friend giggled away the whole day and the whole night in anticipation of the upcoming events at conclave 2015.

 Friday 13th March 2015, 0745hrs:

I rushed about at my friend’s place gathering laptop, watch, chargers, bag, trying to look presentable….after all I was going to be at the TAJ PALACE. It was already 7:45 am and I was supposed to reach the venue at 0800hrs (Blogadda guys really fooled us with this one! They said the passes were first cum first serve basis however they had already reserved a table for the winners. We could have easily and comfortably reached the venue without any rush at around nine in the morning)

After a little bit of scampering on the footpath I managed to flag down an autorickshaw. The driver gauged my desperation and charged me fifty bucks for a distance less than 1.5km 😦

Conclave I-card and red bagOnce at the venue at around 0805hrs, I rushed to the registration desk sweating and panting and was met by Sumit and Mayank from India Today team who did all the formalities on my behalf. I now got the official delegate i-card…people!! And then it sunk in really….Yes I was at the INDIA  TODAY #CONCLAVE 15!!

At the conclave venue

 While I waited for fellow bloggers who also won the passes to the event, I got Mayank to click my photograph at the conclave wall.

The session was to start at around ten so the four of us winners had time enough to acquaint ourselves with each other. We continued our introductions in the Shahjahan Hall over  tea-coffee and refreshments before the session commenced.

over morning tea-coffee

After the strong hot coffee and some tidbits, Aroon Poorie addressed the guests with a welcome speech introducing the speeakers and outlining the two-day itinerary.

The conclave session kickstarted with the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar sharing his Sachin Tendulkaropinions on life. Such modesty and humility could only be seen in a personality like him who believes in sharing his luck with the society and has adopted a village providing solar electricity through an initiative called ‘Spreading Happiness’.

An important life lesson that I could assimilate from this young achiever was to not let success go to one’s head, practice…practice….practice and to have a foundation of solid morals….something we can all give to our kids.

The next three session were not what I was much interested in because I feel politicians mostly lie about the promises they make to public and they don’t even bat an eyelid while lying through their teeth. However, I would like to hope that maybe slowly skill development and dignity of labor will gain ground in our nation too.

I wasn’t very happy though when the Union Minister of Defence commented that most of the air crashes of choppers and fighter aircrafts happen due to human error. It is so easy for a minister to wash his hands off the  by blaming the pilots but ask people like us…..the air warriors’ wives, mothers, friends….whose dining table discussions include stories of pilots who have perished or who have survived to tell the tale of the mishaps.

Lunch after the morning session was a treat for the gastronomically inclined and I for one was delighted to taste all the spread.

The post lunch session had two interesting guests Lisa Haydon and Katrina kaif. While Lisa spoke well about every woman’s right to feel beautiful and how the color of skin or the attire doesn’t define who the person really is, Katrina Kaif was a regular filmstar evading questions on her relationships. She could not answer intelligently two questions  posed by Shobha De and an Australian gentleman.

The two short interesting sessions about Volvo’s crash resistant cars and fututistic 3-D printing besides a long long boring monologue by Deepak Chopra, the wellness guru who promotes Yoga, Ayurveda in scientific way to the westerners, made way for the evening tea-coffee break…..a much desired one at that, post the mind numbing Deepak Chopra.

Later again the political discussions commenced till dinner time. Dinner was a lavish spread which I thoroughly enjoyed before calling it a day and heading back to my friend’s home.

Saturday 14th March 2015, 0900hrs:

All five of us, the winners and new friends decided to reach venue earlier so that we could grab better seats than what we were offered on the first day of the conclave. Though we were still too far, we did manage to occupy a table little closer to the stage.

Though the pre-lunch session wasn’t my cup of tea, however I appreciated the comments made by ambassadors. While the German Ambassador remarked ‘India will stun the world on global platform in coming years’, the British High Commissioner referring to the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Britain said that the British have finally acknowledged (and i quote) “Mahatma Gandhi beat us”. The Japanese Ambassador hoped India would host Olympic Games in 2020.

Mehbooba Mufti, President of political party PDP, had it seems forgotten that the whole country has suffered enough due to the five terrorists who were released in exchange of her life and safe home-coming years ago, when she commented that for Kashmiris to feel like being a part of India, the rest of India has to feel the pain of Kashmiris. Somebody please tell her that it was for her safety that the safety of rest of the Indians was jeopardised….so its not anybody else who needs to feel the pain but she needs to understand that she is living a life indebted to all Indians be it Kashmiris or Maharashtrians or Delhiites.

Moni Mohsin and Shobha DeIt was post lunch sessions that I was looking forward to with the Butterflies who sting like Bees….Moni Mohsin and Shobha De ! They read out the letters to each other and Moni Mohsin was too good! Her animated voice was engaging and hilarious. I for one, am going to grab books written by her soon.

Vishwanathan Anand, was again a celebrity who was so unassuming and humble. He played two people simultaneously on stage and check-mated both of them in five moves. Again the take-home nugget of his wisdom was ‘Practice…practice…practice’.

The post tea session in the evening was intereting with the AIB team’s spontaneous replies. Since I have not seen their controversial ‘Roast’, I could not really understand the sudden interest of people in these twenty-something boys.

The biggest crowd-puller of the event was Ranvir Singh’s presentation post a chat and live demo of skills of Chef Gaggan Anand. Ranvir Singh entered the hall amidst lots of claps, hooting and dancing to the bollywood songs. He took the audience by storm pinning them to their seats with his mimicry of Amitabh Bacchhan, Jitendra, Amrish Puri, SHahrukh Khan. From my seat I could see a few grown-up women, the Delhi Socialites giggling, waving and screaming like teenagers at every word that the actor spoke. He was no doubt funny and entertaining totally and nobody seemed to mind his presentation eating into the break for evening cocktails.

After another round of ministers hooting their own horns the dinner was announced and brought an end to the two-day wonderful experience at conclave.

I had wanted to put up a question to the Chief minister of Maharashtra who is spending tax payers money to build a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in middle of ocean arguing that he will develop it as the tourism spot. I would prefer if he spent the money in cleaning up the dirty roads and improving the existing tourist spots to pull in the crowd and not creating another spot where garbage will accumulate after few months.

At lunch and dinner I noticed something else too…..The socialites, do they really think that if they have money and wear much expensive clothes have the right to do whatever suits them right? I was in the queue to pick up a plate and followeing the direction in which the line headed but some women (God knows who they were) and some pudgy old men broke the queue now and then to wiggle ahead of others and helped themselves with food without bothering about those few who tried being disciplined. I am sure food on table wouldn’t have finished, for God’s sake, if they had stayed in line!!

conclave decorThe privilege to be a part of Conclave 15 was an amazing experience. Not only did I get to hear from great personalities like Sachin and Vishwanathan but also got a taste of high end society life and all this because the Team @Blogadda selected my post among the winners. I will be forever grateful to  Blogadda for giving me this opportunity.

I made some new and wonderful friends in the fellow bloggers too @tennysontea @arvindpassey @yogita and @shreya. We helped each other and in a sea of unknown people connected very well with a common thread of blogging.

However, I still couldn’t bring myself to overcome my shyness and hobnob with media people like representatives of Harper Collins, India Today etc……I regret that…missing the chance to introduce myself on such huge platform.

May be some time again when I get another opportunity….Hey, I am going to stick around you guys though at Team Blogadda 😉

The Last Day……

It is six in the morning…..a Sunday Morning. I have always lazed on other Sunday mornings but this Sunday morning is totally different. I could not sleep last night….how could I, knowing that the morning will bring along my last day…last to breathe, smell, see, touch and taste?

Today is the last day of my life !! Really? But I have hundred things to do….thousand words to say…. and  zillions of moments to discover!! My two treasured possessions, eleven-year old daughter and an extremely handsome loving husband……Will they miss me? Will they remember me?

Whether they miss me or not, I have loads to do before the day ends….yes, things to do, words to say and moments to live!! I  decide to write them both individual letters.

My most precious and dear daughter,

I love you a lot even though I keep pointing out your mistakes and tell you a long list of do’s and don’ts. But you see that is what mothers are like…. I point out your mistakes so that no body else can point you out as wrong. I tell you what not to do because I have made those mistakes and I want you spared of heartbreak though I know a person can best learn from mistakes. But I can not bring myself up to see you broken and disheartened…..

To be honest today I might be the one to break your little heart… see today is my last day and I won’t be there tomorrow to wake you up for school, cook your favorite cake, dress you up in your favorite gown, style your hair or to tuck you in bed with a big noisy kiss. So whether you hate the rules …the do’s and don’ts,  here I am again with some fresh ones….

  • I know you will study hard and become somebody important in society one day but DO NOT forget to enjoy the journey to success.
  • I know you are compassionate and loving but DO NOT try to make each and everyone happy by suffocating your own happiness. DO NOT bend backwards for anyone to achieve something.
  • IGNORE and FORGET those who hurt you… may not easy to forgive them but believe me such people are not worth your attention. So forgive too. World is very small….who knows when you might come face to face with those whom you hold grudge against…your anger will only hurt you not them.
  • One day you will grow up and fall in love but DO NOT love to give up….commit and nurture your love yet NEVER let anybody abuse your love, faith, honor and respect.
  • Making love is the most sacred and wonderful emotion…..casual sex is not. DO NOT indulge in wasting away this precious gift.
  • TRAVEL, EXPLORE and widen your horizon. DO NOT let duties bog you down.
  • Gossip is good to hear but dangerous to spread because it muddies the rumor-monger too. Listen and keep it to yourself and BE WARY of the person who spreads it and cautious of whom it is about.

I might not be the best example or the best teacher or the best mother there is…..but there is nobody who will be happier than me to see you succeed in all stages of life. So live, love and be happy always.

Your ever-loving


My dear loving husband,

Today is my last day…..I have been always honest and direct with you even if at times it has led to a big argument. You have been a wonderful, caring and loving partner to me and a wonderful hands-on father too. You are capable of doing everything even if I am not around yet I have few words for you too…

  • You have to play my part too now…..BE mild and gentle to our daughter. She will be at a stage when she needs a woman’s ear to offload her growing up concerns….. BE that WOMAN for her. DO NOT let her be on mercy of others.
  • Live your life…..

I might not be the best partner and support but my love for you has been true.

Yours ever-loving,


And I sit and cry again…..till my tears suffocate me and I feel a heaviness on my chest….I am gasping for breath…. Its only six in morning…..Do I have only this much time!!??………Suddenly a little sleepy hand lazily creeps out of sheets and clutches my thumb and another adult palm sleepily caresses my shoulder. I wake up with a start…

It was all a dream!! Oh! Thank God it was just a dream….I start crying and kissing both of my gems…… They wake up….

“Ummmm….Mamma its Sunday…why did you wake me up today?” says my daughter. My husband is more tuned in… he guesses correctly that I must have seen a bad dream. He folds me up in his arms, pats my head as if I am a little girl and lets me cuddle up resting on his chest…..

Sigh!! I have hundred things to do, a zillion moments to live and thousand words to say TODAY…. but this cozy embrace is to die for!


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.