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Saturday, March 25, 2017

VSS 007 - Dirty Colors


Dirty Colors
 
Very Short Story (VSS) 007

 

 

Holi - festival of colors, laughter and playfulness.

Every year, I went out and painted the town in all possible colors. I sprinkled color on all my friends, neighbors, people from my society, friends at school and then later on, even at work.

Till the day, I was painted in the dirty color of bare lust by a random guy. He felt that Holi gave him privileged permission to grope women and rape them taking advantage of his own color smeared face.

Scarred for life, I haven’t played Holi since then.

And yes, he died that day. Deserved it.

 
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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am behind target :-| 
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

VSS 006: Jump


Jump

Very Short Story (VSS) 06

  

Jump. Don’t hesitate now. Just end it.

My heart is beating fast. Faster than even the time when I first saw her.

Love filled my heart when I saw her but I knew she could never be mine.

But then we got to know each other and she was so nice to me. I am so sure she loves me. I definitely love her.

But then I told her and things changed. She left. Never again did i see her.

If only I could jump. Wheel chair bound for life - I can't even jump.

Sigh …




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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am behind target :-| 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

VSS 005: The Odd Couple


The Odd Couple
 

Very Short Story (VSS) 05

 

Yes. We are the odd couple.

 

I have known her since early college days and knew that she was the one for me. But I was the shy one and she was the extrovert bubbling with joy and energy. I could never even talk to her during college life.

 

Last year, during a business trip, I met her and she recognized me from college days. We had dinner together followed by drinks and then we talked through the night. Very next week, I met her parents.

 

She simply told her dad, “I love her” and we are together now.

 
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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am behind target :-|  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review: All That Glitters by Liza Treviño





Book Title: All That Glitters - A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams

Author: Liza Treviño

Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Koehler Books
Published Date: March 1, 2017



There are many books out there where the lure of Hollywood pulls a girl to the ultimate glamour destination where she arrives with dreams which are systematically shattered by the ugly truth. The girl may or may not get to taste success but she uncovers and lives the compromises while she becomes an actress. Sex, Lies, Drugs and a fake façade for a personality is what becomes of the character.

‘All That Glitters: A tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams’ promises all that directly through the title and doesn’t disappoint. Alex, our protagonist, along with Elly, her friend, encounter plenty of sex in the story. And that includes plenty of partners. Drugs are a part of story but they are just part of the scenery, hardly playing a role unlike sex which seems to drive the story forward in many places. And yes, our protagonist is not in for the glamour business to become an actress. Her dreams are behind the camera.

I lost count of how many men Alex has sex with. Sometimes out of attraction, sometimes just randomly for a one-night stand or to spite someone else. Personally, I found that very disturbing.

Alex comes out as a very strong character from the very start of the story. Incidentally, I was half way through the book on women’s day (8th March) and could relate to the strength of the character (but definitely not with her sex life).  But as the story moved into the last 25%, Alex seemed to have lost it. She becomes a sex slave to an obnoxious guy (whom she has earlier rejected … establishing her strength of character). She then becomes very successful.

At the end, I was wondering if the guy used the protagonist as his sex slave OR did she use him to become successful; compromising with his demands and becoming his sex slave willingly out of necessity rather than choice. The story does seem to show it as her choice which she questions herself.

There is no black or white or gold or yellow in the story. It is all a gray mess. It is extremely complicated. The characters are complicated (but pretty much real) and so are their thoughts and responses to situations. There is also a mess and mesh of relationships between the different characters and you have a tough time imagining how the other person would react.

It is a well written book. Easy to read, with a gentle flow albeit with a few surprises and climactic points.

But a book that is definitely difficult to rate. I don’t know whether I like the story or not. I don’t know whether I like Alex or not. I don’t know whether to sympathize with her or to hate/dislike her. All because I don’t understand Alex.

And that my friend is what is the absolute truth about Life.

People are not predictable. Not simple. They are complicated and they respond and behave in unpredictable ways. You prefer and like the predictable. The unpredictable can be fun but is not sustainable. You cant live with or like the unpredictability for long.

Liza Trevino has done a splendid job of capturing some sense of this unpredictability in her story.

I will leave a rating of 3/5 to this story – not because it is average. But because, I am not able to digest the character of Alex.

Book Review Courtesy: b00k r3vi3w Tours  Website * Facebook * Twitter

Monday, March 06, 2017

Book Review: The Measure of a Man: Stories of 2017 - February Edition by Sharath Komarraju



The Measure of a Man: Stories of 2017 - February Edition by Sharath Komarraju

An interesting set of stories with the core theme of Love … since it was the valentine Month 

What Sharath has accomplished in these 5 stories is bring out love in not only different ways but very untraditional ways. The stories are very different from the love stories you would normally read. Maybe this is the ‘new age love’ genre.

The first story - ‘A Coffee Date’ - is a very interesting ‘love’ story ... but is it really a love story? There is no love 'yet between the 2 characters – just an interest. They do not 'date' in the story (but the title stll holds). And surely there is no romance 'yet' – there is no ‘I love you’ proclamation or even feeling. This short story begins and ends ... before the love story has begun ... yet, this one is a sweet love story. Good One

The second story - ‘The Measure of Man’ - is a sweet love story where ‘all’s well that ends well’. Remember the old Bollywood movies where the rich girl’s father would mock the poor hero and he would go about earning riches and come back to claim his girl. This story takes on a different route. The father helps the guy become rich and the girl falls out of love. Sounds strange … right? But Sharath has woven a narrative that is believable and plausible. A nice little love story with a twist in the middle rather than at the end.

The third story - ‘Happy For You’ - is a ‘relationship’ story ... Yes, there is love and it is between the only 2 characters in the story but it is definitely not your usual love story. In some ways, it is not a story, it is not fiction. It sounds/seems very real. The exchanges are realistic. We live in an age where relationships have become complicated in the sense that you can’t describe or explain them. And they have become simple in the sense that they are not bound by rules and stereotypes and one can choose to move on as well as be bound at the same time (well .. that does make it complicated again haha). Especially, a very nice format to experiment with and a very relevant style since whatsapp / chat interactions have 'replaced' human interaction (in-person as well as direct-phone-conversation) to a significant extent. heck, people don’t even call to wish happy birthday now.

The fourth story – The other Man - is several things in a story. The way today’s youngster would look at a crush-story and the way it would be seen by their parents and grand-parents ... generation gap one may call it, getting real might call others. The story isn't really about the crush ... it’s about grandma's reality ... the reality that is locked and put on hold in time in the picture from ages ago. That’s her reality and she wouldn't want to change it. The story is about a man and his perception of his Dad ... and what happens when his perceptions are shattered or changed by a realistic reliable credible source like his Mom. How easy / difficult / complex it is to digest the change. Different Love it is.

The fifth story – Rendezvous - is a funny little story that is all about sex. But the story has no sex although there is sex in practically every page of the story, maybe even in every paragraph. Also, the story once again seems very very real. Maybe, somewhere along the story title, the author could have added 'True Story' or 'Based on True Events' :)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

VSS 004: Suicidal


Suicidal
Very Short Story (VSS) 04


He stood staring at the calm river flowing under the bridge. There was a war within. A multi-dimensional conflict was tearing him apart.

On one hand, he had a loving wife and 3 absolutely lovely and very beautiful daughters who filled his life with love and warmth. On the other hand, he had a failed crop for the third time in 4 years and he was deep in debt.

The government’s compensation to the families of the farmers committing suicide seemed like the best thing he could do for his family.

He took the biggest decision of his life.


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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year.

Quick Note 2 : Just realised that 2 consecutive stories have a suicide theme to them. Pls dont be creative and attempt to read between the lines. I have none :)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: The Eyes of Abel by Daniel Jacobs

The Eyes of AbelThe Eyes of Abel by Daniel Jacobs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eyes of Abel is an international social-economic political thriller with a touch of environmental sciences

It touches upon the sensitive subject of Israel and its impact on the world as well as the impact the world has had on Israel. It touches upon the oil-economy and the heavy dependence of the world on oil/petroleum and how that is a political time bomb.

It touches upon airport security and how it has only created more terrorists while keeping us all safe from the next plane bombing. It touches upon how the initiatives/research/work around the fresh new energy alternatives are crushed by those who want the oil economy to continue. 

And to all that you add a high profile committed dedicated journalist and a girl who doesn’t seem to be what she says she is – at the same time, making the journalist fall head-over-hells for her … and you have a narrative that is political and social but keeps the interest levels intact.

Although fiction, the views and thought process presented in the narrative on the sensitive subject of Israel and Palestine and middle-east and terrorism is indeed enlightening. It gives the average reader a sense of balanced view … or at least convincing the reader that the world is NOT black and white and they should NOT believe everything that is printed in back-n-white (in newspapers) and now spreading digitally through social media.

Don’t believe everything they show you. Use your own head too. And that is NOT easy at all. You are subjected to a tremendous amount of propaganda is today’s world through Youtube, FB, Whatsapp, 24 Hours News Channels etc. and it is difficult to ignore them when they all say the same thing.

What if … these sources are just amplifying that they believe will result in more revenue. Anything else is just social service and as profit-seeking organizations, they did not have time for that. What if … the truth is something that will not result in TRPs or will not inspire a Like/Share/Comment or make the video go viral reaching millions of hits?
Boring Truth is NOT reported. It’s ignored.

So can we be sure of what is getting reported? Are they really objective in reporting ? What if their thought process is already clouded by a bias of their own?
Its complicated. World socio-economic-political maze is complicated, complex and unfathomable

The book attempts to enlighten the reader with a different point of view and I must say … Good Work.

View all my reviews

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: The Magician’s Workshop (Vol. 2) by Christopher Hansen & J.R. Fehr




Book Links: Amazon * Goodreads

 The expectation from Book 2 were low after reading book 1 – I was expecting the whole book to be focused on one event and nothing much. It sure did and before the book ended, it gave me what I was looking for. A hint of mystery and suspense. Now the storyline will be more interesting.

Carrying forward from Book 1, the color ceremony is conducted in first half while the second half is about some of the characters and their complex lives and colors.

The auhors show that the story has potential to spin out of control and storyline branching out into innumerable branched.

The color ceremony was indeed very colorful and glorious. The rest of the book was a bit of a suspense and other to support .
 
While i would look forward to the future books, the excitement level is not really high.  I personally like the series and the world that the authors have created. It has very exciting possibilities and there might be a very interesting and visually stunning movie in there.

But the authors need to understand that what they have written in Book 1 and 2 is just about 60 minutes of the movie so far. They need to cover more ground in a book ... to give a sense of pace and progress to the avid reader.

In their currrent format, a reader will need tremendous amount of patience ... and they will abandon after the first book ... waiting for the entire series to be written so that they can pick it up and enjoy.
  

 
 
 
 
 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: The Magician’s Workshop (Vol One) by Christopher Hansen & J.R. Fehr



Book Links: Amazon * Goodreads


The book blurb sounded pretty interesting so I decided to pick this up for review. I expected a fresh new magical world inside the book … and I was not disappointed. The authors have created a very different world and it was quite enjoyable to explore this new world along with the authors.

There is attention to detail and a sincere effort to create a parallel world with things that are different from our world. A strange world where reality has been replaced by ‘projections’.

The story revolves around a bunch of young kids who are all looking forward to the ‘color ceremony’ which is something sort of a ‘big thing’ for them and for all around. It will decide the future course of their lives kind of important event.

All that was fine. Lovely world created, a nice bunch of characters introduced who will no doubt make the story very very interesting. But … there is something that I did not like.

The Book 1 serves as a ‘chapter’ in which all the key characters are introduced. The whole book talks about the Color Ceremony but that does not even begin to happen in Vol. 1

I personally feel that even when you are writing a multi-part book series, each independent book should have a story of its own. AND the entire series should have a common theme and common enemy may be. These things bind a series together and individual books provide a sense of closure to readers while at the same time creating links and possibilities for the subsequent books.

Part 1 of the Magician’s Workshop fails on this front. It does not outline clearly the over-arching core plot of the epic story that it is building. There is no villain to be defeated or a battle to be won (except the internal ones).

I wish the authors had moved the story at a better pace so that they could have brought Book 2 also into Book 1 and also added something that the kids will fight for / against. While the foundation is being built with the setting up of the world and its characters; I am lost as to where is the story heading.


 
 
 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

VSS 003: The Accidental Suicide


The Accidental Suicide
 
Very Short Story (VSS) 03 

It was plain bad luck.

They drove to their favorite spot on the hill station to catch the sunrise. They arrived in time and parked. Holding hands, they came to the edge to catch the most magnificent of sun-rise.

That’s when their own car hit them from behind and pushed them over the edge, a 1000 feet fall broken only by boulders and rocky edges. Damn the hand brake that didn’t hold.

Next day, it was reported as suicide, with people wondering why the happy couple committed suicide. It was a love marriage after all; arranged by their families.

 
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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Info: A Way Back Into Love by Veronica Thatcher

~ Release Day Blitz ~
A Way Back Into Love by Veronica Thatcher
21st February, 2017

 

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love… Well, that makes complicates everything complicated. When you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.
Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life is turned upside-down when she realizes she's in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home... to the man she left behind?



Book Links: Goodreads * Paperback * eBook


An Excerpt:

Emily stepped back from him and shook her head. “Oh, you know damn well what I mean. You know what, Derek? I’m done having this conversation with you. I’m so done with this conversation and I’m so done with you,” Emily spat out angrily before brushing past him.

“Emily, wait,” Derek said, catching her by her arm. “Where are you going?”

Emily spun around and gave him a bitter look before looking down at his hand gripping her arm. “Leave my arm,” she said in a low yet threatening voice, “And why do you care where I’m going? It’s none of your business.”

Derek didn’t leave her arm in spite of her warning and said, “Em, you’ve had too many drinks. You can’t drive in this condition. I’ll drop you home.”

Emily jerked her arm free from his grasp and replied in a bitter voice, “Thank you, but no. I’m perfectly capable of getting myself home on my own. I don’t need you to drop me home. Do you get it, Derek Thorpe? I DON’T NEED YOU!” Emily yelled the last words, causing a few people to look their way.


The Author:
 
Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them.  She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!
 
Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it. You can reach Veronica through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad and Gmail.

Author:
FB Page * FB Profile * Twitter * Wattpad






Sunday, February 19, 2017

A mindbending convoluted sci-fi story - Kaalachakra Bar

I read this story almost 11 years ago and found it again by chance while doing some 'gmail maintenance' (since I am at 96% capacity usage). Read the story again and had to read it again twice to make some sense out of it ... and realise all over again the brilliance of the story.
Never knew the author and even a google search did not yield anything ... So if you are the author or know the author, pls leave a comment.
 
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Kaalachakra Bar!
 
1975 Jan 1
It was about five in the morning. Father (I am not bothering with names) woke up with a start. Many years had passed since he had founded the orphanage. He had named it ' X-Orphanage ' , a rather funny name. But looking back, everything about his life seemed funny now. Hearing some noise outside, Father decided to have a look. A child lay there in front of the orphanage. It was a girl. Seeing her abandoned like this in the cold morning, Father felt a sense of anger for the merciless being who had thrown her away like this. He took her in his arms. He would raise her like his own child.
 
17 Years Later
The girl had now grown up. She was now staying at a hostel. She met a man and fell in love with him. Soon she got pregnant.But the man disappeared. She was thrown out of the Hostel. Father came and took her back to the orphanage. She gave birth to a girl, but the baby was mysteriously stolen. Unable to bear all this, the Father committed suicide.
 
5 years later
Due to some serious health problems, the girl went to see a Doctor. The doctor having examined her, said with a sad expression on his face, "Adrenalo Sytosis, a serious case of hormone imbalance" . An operation was performed in which the doctor had to change the sex of the patient. The girl was now transformed into a man. The man was very depressed because he had lost his child, his father had committed suicide, his lover had betrayed him, he had to change sex and so on. He eventually took to drinking.
One day he saw that a new bar called 'Kaalachakra Bar' had opened in his locality. He went in. He saw a bearded man to whom he related his sad tale. he bearded man took pity on him and told him that he had a Time Machine and that he could use it to change his past. He accepted the gift from the bearded man. He decided to go to the past (to the year 1992) and started the Time Machine.!!!! !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!
 
1992
The man arrived with the Time Machine in the year 1992. There he met a girl and fell in love with her. The girl got pregnant. The man, unwilling to marry her, left the town. He went to another city, earned some money and five years later came back to the city where the girl lived. Wanting to conceal his identity, he grew a beard. He started a bar named 'Kaalachakra Bar'. One day a man came to the bar and narrated a sorrow tale. Out of compassion, he gave the Time Machine to the man. The man started the Time Machine and went back to the past.
Suddenly a man wearing a mask came into the bar. He pointed a gun at the bearded man. He said that he had a Time Machine and forced the bearded man into it along with himself. Taking the bearded man with him, the masked man started the Time Machine. When they reached the past, the masked man suddenly gave the Time Machine to the bearded man and ran away. The bearded man found himself in front of X-Orphanage. He went inside and found a woman lying there with her new born baby. It was a girl. Since the mother lay unconscious and there wasn't anyone else nearby to take care of the girl, he took the girl and started the Time Machine to go to the past.
 
1975 Jan 1
The bearded man arrived with the girl. Thinking that it was the best place for the child, he left her in front of X-Orphanage. He joined a college, studied hard and became a doctor. One day a woman was brought to the hospital. He examined her and found that it was a serious case of 'Adrenalo Sytosis'. He performed an operation in which he had to change her sex. One day, fed up with the complexities of modern life, he started the Time Machine and went back in time.
 
1968 May 12
He arrived at a time of great famine and suffering. Seeing all this, he decided to become a priest and serve the people. He started an orphanage and named it 'X-Orphanage' . Years later, he found a girl lying in front of the orphanage. He took her and brought her up like his own child. Many years later he heard that the girl was pregnant and was thrown out of the hostel. He brought her back to X-Orphanage.
She gave birth to a girl and fell unconscious. The father desperately searched for help, but since there was no-one nearby to help him, he decided to bring a person back from the future. He wore a mask, took a gun for protection and started the Time Machine. He materialized in front of 'Kaalachakra Bar'. He went inside, found a bearded man and forced him to travel with him to the past.
Reaching the past, he felt very guilty about forcing the bearded man to come with him. He gave the Time Machine to the bearded man and ran away to see his daughter. When he reached there, he heard the sad news from his daughter that the baby was stolen. Unable to bear the sorrow, he committed suicide.
 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

VSS 002: Flying Umbrella

Very Short Story 002: Flying Umbrella

It was a strange sight. A black umbrella, lying on the dry leaves strewn, wet road.

As I drove towards it, it suddenly reminded me of couples sharing a private love-filled romantic moment on the Mumbai sea side, hidden by umbrellas. It reminded me of my own singular experience of 'kiss under the umbrella' at Bandra bandstand.

My reverie was broken when the umbrella flew with a gust of wind. The umbrella soared and so did my heart.

We hadn't spoken for over 3 decades and I wondered if she remembered our evening under the umbrella. I definitely did.
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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year.
So far, I am behind target but hopefully catch up soon.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Book Review - A Special Friend: Stories of 2017 - January Edition - By Sharath Komarraju

A Special Friend: Stories of 2017 - January EditionA Special Friend: Stories of 2017 - January Edition by Sharath Komarraju
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting collection of 5 stories. Most of them had a surprise in the end – often in the very last para/sentence. Gave you a kick after reading that and also made you go back and re-read the whole story. I would easily and readily recommend

The first story – Kinnara - leaves you thinking. It leave a hundred questions in your mind. Could the characters have behaved differently? What happened to them after the end of the story?

The second story – Rescue – You literally understand it in the very last sentence. A very well written suspense story with a touch of supernatural without being a horror story.

The third story – The Good Son – had no surprises in the end though. Just the nagging feeling about the dead son. Was he a part of the story or not? Did he have anything to do with the outcome or not? Fortunately or unfortunately, the answer is both Yes and No … and that’s the real kicker.

The fourth story - Special Friend - is a pretty scary and intriguing twist to the classic invisible friend :).

The fifth story – Bijli – It’s creepy in more than one ways - whether it is the man talking to his dead wife through the cat or his own relationship with the cat and fact that he is contemplating suicide and is being actively dissuaded by the cat ... who is also @&… phew


View all my reviews

Very Short Story 001 - My Life in the Art Gallery


I am at Tasveer Art Gallery in Mumbai. I come here often.
Most of the times, this particular room is empty.
Once in a while, there is an exhibition next door and some people randomly walk in, stare briefly and leave right away.

But I stand here, staring at the painting for hours. I see what others don’t.
 
I see dreams, laughter, ambition, aspiration, endless conversations, love, affection and silly cuteness. I see all that in the strokes of the paintings.

I see my daughter in there. Because I can’t see her otherwise.  Just because some rich kid decided to drive while he was drunk. Stupid Idiot.