Friday, July 02, 2021

Half Done

Halo Halo ... We are Half Done !!
The "half-empty half-full glass" visual is a common sight and kicks off a conversation that I don't want to get into today ... 🙂
half of 2021 is gone and the other half is before us. As they say, TODAY is the first day of the Rest of your Life.
Well, lets focus on 2021 for now.
2020 was a wierd weird wired year. (yes, I deliberately put 3 of them in there)
At the end of 2020, most of us had high hopes from 2021 and even made some lofty resolutions / goals for 2021 - challenging ourselves to achieve them and make the best of the year after the pandemic. 2020 gave us many revelations on personal and home front ... and we were determined to make changes in our lives in line with those revelations.
With 2021 half gone, its time to do a quick but exhaustive audit of where we are versus where we were supposed to be in the context of what we aimed for. (It like appraisal .. but its only you, and you gotta be honest)
The half year audit is important. In fact, its critical.
It tells you how much have you achieved so that you know if you are on track or need to speed up or maybe even need course correction. Some goals may have evolved and some may have become redundant. Some may have been ignored or completely forgotten. Time to check all of them and plan for corrective action within the next one week.
Your goals should be REAL to you and not a distant dream or a night-time dream .. or worse, a figment of conversation with friends. Time to prioritize them.
Would love to hear from you in the comments below - do share your audit findings or observations or advice to fellow auditors 🙂
And if, during the audit, you feel the goals have been largely ignored or not achieved and that you might need help with it ... , feel free to reach out. I will be happy to connect for a quick 30 min chat on your half yearly audit and how we can make your goals work.
- Coach Hemant Jain, The Unblock Coach - I help working professionals unblock themselves to go higher and further in life and work.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

VSS 033 – The Lottery

VSS 033 – The Lottery


It was a whim that he had purchased the lottery ticket. More influenced by the salesgirl rather than by his faith in luck.

And yet, with the ticket in hand, he would dream of all the riches and things he could do with them.

He made castles in the air and set up his dream world.

Result day shocked him when he won the lottery of 10 Million

Wearing the all new crisp shirt, he caught a cab to the lottery office.

Next day headlines – Drunken driven plunges cab in the river in broad daylight. No survivors.




Life is not just unpredictable but also cruel in its way and twists in the tale. It surprises and shocks us in the most unexpected ways and leaves us speechless and breathless … sometimes, quite literally.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Book Blitz - In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe (Millionaire Foe Quartet # 2) by Aarti V Raman



She Hates Him But She’s In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe 

Releasing on 25th October

About the Book:

When the songbird owes the business tycoon...

Former gangster, Devansh Thackeray has finally managed to carve the life he’s always aspired to.
Building a chain of seven-star hotels all over the world, a reputation for being an honest businessman...and all the women he could ask for.
Ansh’s life is perfect. Or so he thinks.
Because he is about to hit by a lightning bolt from the past that’ll make him question everything he’s worked so hard for.
And her name is Kahini Palekar.
Kahini’s life is a nightmare.
She works three jobs to pay off the loan sharks circling her.
But, Kahini doesn’t mind because she also gets to do the only thing she’s always wanted to do.
Even if it is at a shady nightclub in the backstreets of Goa, the beach paradise of India. 
Kahini’s day of reckoning arrives when Ansh arrives back in her life, right when she’s almost assaulted by the manager of the nightclub.
Ansh offers both salvation from her debt and a chance to sing at the most exclusive wedding of the decade.
But there’s just one catch.
Kahini hates Ansh’s living guts and blames him for the destruction of her life.
Even though he was the boy she once recklessly gave her heart to.
Can Ansh get to the bottom of the problems plaguing Kahini or will this songbird fly away again after repaying her debt to him? 
Meet the Millionaire Foes - rising from ruin through ruthless ambition, these self-made tycoons have everything. Except, the heart of the one woman who means everything.

The Millionaire Foe Quartet series contains four steamy romances set around the world, each of which can be read as a standalone. 

Read an Excerpt from In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe (Millionaire Foe Quartet # 2)

Ansh entered the bar when the lights had dimmed, already in a foul mood from the altercation he’d had outside Grungy’s.
The term “bar” was a loose translation for what the seedy confines really were. It was set in a shady part of Calangute Beach, where the locals lived. It was not the area the posh, firang tourists frequented. The air here smelled of brine and fish and cheap liquor.
The smell of the ocean was everywhere.
It was, after all, Goa the beach paradise of India.
And to everyone who came here, it promised nothing but a good time.
The patrons of Grungy’s, the small-time bar that operated till four in the morning during season, had that look about them. They were local men, embittered and looking for cheap thrills. And some willing victim to provide that for them.
Ansh knew the type. They resented the tourists for showing up and flinging their foreign currency around and expecting their silly demands of room temperature water and late-night cruises to be catered to.
And they really resented needing the silly tourists and their foreign currency too.
A classic catch-22.
But, tonight, these patrons, and that was a loose term too for what the customers of Grungy’s were, were not looking for foreign currency or cheap thrills.
They were all gathered on the rickety tables that the bar owner had graciously provided and murmuring amongst themselves while the poorly-named stage was being set up.
She was the main act tonight.
Ansh frowned and sank deeper into his chair while the bar-back set him up with a glass of the local feni – a local toddy made from fermented coconut water and rum. He frowned deeper when he saw the lipstick mark around the edge of the shot glass and gingerly cleaned the lip with his monogrammed handkerchief.
Places like these reminded Devansh Thackeray of his squalid past.
He couldn’t stand them anymore.
Then, the spotlight hit the stage. The band struck a chord and a woman in black walked up to the mike.
Ansh sat up straighter.
Was she going to start stripping or something? He hadn’t heard the best things about these places on the wharf and this one didn’t have a stellar reputation either.
And, what the hell was she doing here anyway?
He’d sent her plenty of funds seven years ago, deposited in the account her brother had set up for both of them when he had turned eighteen.
Kahini had enough money to keep her in style, because he’d instructed the company’s bankers to always replenish the funds in that account should the need ever arise. The need had never risen, to the best of his knowledge. Even though he knew the money would never bring back her dead brother.
So, was she doing this for kicks?
Some poor little rich kid slumming it thing that all the society madams were doing these days?
He honestly had no idea. And that ate at his insides, like the strength of the feni he’d gingerly taken a sip out of.
Ansh had come here to find out what the hell she’d been up to the last seven years. Since the last time he’d seen her and she’d flung bitter, accusing words at him.

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Aarti V Raman aka Writer Gal. I have been a former journalist, editor, and even a sometime-teacher before I plunged into my dream job. That of being a full-time writer.
In fact, my three favorite words are ‘happily ever after.’
This comes in handy as I primarily write bestselling contemporary romantic women’s fiction, which is all about living happily, after going through some hard times.
My more notable works include the Geeks of Caltech and Royals of Stellangård series, Something Old, Something New, More Than You Want, and The Perfect Fake among others. My chicklit family drama, The Worst Daughter Ever, has been picked up for screen adaptation.
I always love to hang with you, my dear reader friend. I’ve created Writer Gal’s Reader Pals on Facebook for this reason and I hope to see you there.
If not, I’m there on all social media as @aartivraman but I’m most active on Instagram

Thursday, August 27, 2020

VSS 032 – You are never too old to learn

She was 50. She had staunchly kept away from computers and smartphones.

She did not need them in personal life. People at work understood her limitations and helped her around. She did not need the computer even for her work.

And then COVID struck the world and she realized that as a primary school Teacher, she had to connect to the Internet via a computer to connect to 'her kids'.

She scaled the steep learning curve and got over her technology inhibitions.

She is now beaming at her kids on the laptop. You are never too old to learn.   






Teachers across the world had to re-skill themselves to meet the challenge of online schooling. A large population amongst the teacher were the not-so-young and they were not tech-savvy either. For them, the challenge was massive. Not only did they meet the challenge and got up to speech with tech, most of them have gone above and beyond to bring in the same level of warmth and ingenuity to the screen that they brought to the classroom.

Hats off to all the teachers, young and old, for dealing with the COVID catastrophe without giving up on the kids. For meeting the challenge head on and coming out on top. For being patient with kids and now, being super patient with the kids parents too, who can be more troublesome than the kids.

Note - VSS are Very Short Stories of less than 100 words. My attempt at writing 😊 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Book Blitz - Itsy Bitsy Spyder (The Spyders #0.5) by Apeksha Rao


~ Book Blitz ~
Itsy Bitsy Spyder (The Spyders #0.5) by Apeksha Rao
Young Adult / Espionage
15th to 17th August

About the Book:
What do you do when your mother feels that you don’t trust her?
If you’re Samira Joshi, and your mother is an elite spy who works for RAW, the first thing you do is … hide the knives.
After that, you go straight to the therapist that she has chosen.
For, when your mother knows seventeen different ways to kill a man, you don’t argue with her. Much.
Unless she’s trying to destroy your dreams.
Then, you fight dirty. Like a spy.
Samira is sweet, sassy, and almost seventeen. She dreams of becoming a badass spy like her parents.
And, why not?
That’s exactly what her parents have trained her to be.
So, why is her mother suddenly acting like a typical Indian mom and pushing her to be a doctor?
Samira can swear on her stack of covert operative manuals that it has something to with her mother’s last mission.
Her therapist disagrees. She feels the key to the mystery lies in Samira’s childhood.
Between her mother’s drama, a trouble-making grandmother, and a confused therapist, Samira’s life is spinning out of control.
What’s a good spy to do when her dreams are in danger?

Book Link:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt from Itsy Bitsy Spyder

The cold war between our family and Seema Kaku’s began with gunshots at her son’s thread ceremony.
I was attending the ceremony under duress, without even the comfort of a good book.
“Oh no, missy! The last time you carried a book to Sarita Maushi’s daughter’s wedding, you became the laughing stock of the whole clan,” scolded Ma.
You’re caught curled up with a book under a table, once, and you never hear the end of it.
I was sitting at a table with my older cousins, listening to them boasting about the boys they had kissed.
Eww, I thought.
When they glared at me, I realised that I had said that out loud.
“Why are you here, Sam? Go and play,” one of them ordered as if I were six years old, instead of twelve.
I sighed and moved to another table, at the other end of the room.
After an hour of sitting by myself, I just wanted to go home, but my mother wanted me to socialise. And, when your mother knows seventeen different ways to kill a man with her bare hands, you don’t argue with her. Much.
When I heard gunshots, I was happy about some excitement, finally. Until I realised that someone was using my Baba for target practice.
Thankfully, Baba had amazing reflexes and managed to duck under a table.
As luck would have it, for the first time ever, my parents were stuck without any weapons.
I had never ever known them to be unarmed. Baba always carried his .9mm Glock, even when he went vegetable shopping. As for Ma, she was an expert at carrying an arsenal on her person.
This was the woman who had turned up at her own wedding armed to the teeth, with knives strapped to her shins under her Banarasi silk sari, and a small country revolver holstered to her thigh.
Don’t worry. I wasn’t born then. I only know what Baba let drop on one of their wedding anniversaries. This was his idea of a toast to his awesome wife. But, from Ma’s fierce glare, I was sure his toast had put him in the doghouse.
On that fateful day, Aaji had put a complete and non-negotiable ban on weapons at the function.
She made Ma empty out her purse before we left, and when Ma’s tiny Swiss mini-gun fell out, Aaji had yelled at her.
“Calm down, Aai. It's fake. It’s just a keychain, see,” said Ma, showing her the keys attached to it.
In response, Aaji picked the gun up and pointed it at the floor near Ma’s foot, and when Ma stared at her with a blank face, she placed a finger on the trigger.
I reacted by diving under the dining table.
“For heaven’s sake, Samira!” Ma said, with total disgust.
I knew she’d been trying to bluff Aaji, but I also knew exactly how much damage that tiny gun could do. It was not a fake. So, she could growl at me all she wanted. I wasn’t taking any risks, thank you very much.
“Can we at least pretend to be a normal family? What is wrong with you people? Who carries guns to a family function? Ranjit, lift up your kurta right now,” ordered Aaji.
Baba sheepishly pulled up his kurta to reveal the Glock he’d holstered to his thigh over his churidar.
“Children, please don’t embarrass our family name. Keep all your James Bond hijinks to yourselves, and let’s just have a nice day with our extended family,” begged Aaji, with a tired sigh.
As she stared in horror at the masked assassin who was pointing a gun at her only son, I was sure Aaji was regretting her decision. If Baba had his gun, he could have dispatched the guy within seconds.
But my parents were not elite spies for nothing.
Everyone in the hall had hit the floor the minute bullets started spraying from the assassin’s Uzi.
Baba grabbed a couple of empty trays from a waiter who was hiding under the next table and using them as shields, he ducked behind tables and advanced on the assassin.
Meanwhile, Ma crept up from behind the guy, silently. His attention was on Baba, so he didn’t notice Ma crouched on the floor right behind him.
She reached up and pulled out the hairpin holding her French twist in place. It was a Trojan hairpin, with an extendable stiletto blade that Ma pulled out and stabbed into the guy’s foot. So much for Aaji’s ban on weapons.
When the assassin screamed and bent to grab his foot, Baba hit him on the head with a tray and Ma turned his own Uzi on him.
They hustled him out of the hall, and people slowly started getting up off the floor.
When my eyes landed on Seema Kaku who was helping her poor son out from under the priest - oh yeah, when she heard gunshots, Kaku totally pulled the priest over to cover her precious son - I saw her furious face, and I should have realised right then, that we would never hear the end of this.

About the Author:
Apeksha Rao is a multi genre author from Bangalore.

She is the author of Along Came A Spyder, which is the story of a seventeen year old girl who wants to be spy.

Apeksha has written many short stories based on the same series, The Spyders, which are available on this blog.
She is a voracious reader, and a foodie.

Apeksha's current works in progress: A middle grade book, a chick lit featuring a detective, and a horror novel (the writing of which is giving her sleepless nights).

Apeksha on the Web:

Monday, August 10, 2020

VSS 031 - Everything is planned. Not quite.


VSS 031 - Everything is planned. Not quite.


He had it all planned out. Everything was set. Life was a breeze.

With a job paying millions in salary and a hefty bonus, he had already bought a house, fancy cars and travelled to a couple of countries on vacation – pretty much all of it on bank loans with installments spanning several years.

Married to a gorgeous homemaker and with an adorable set of twins, life was a dream.

Everything was planned. Everything was in control. Everything was happy.

And then COVID-19 hit the world and he lost his job.

That was one thing he hadn’t planned for.





I started writing VSS (Very Short Story – less than 100 words stories) in 2017 and had a good run of writing 30 of them. Restarting it now in 2020. Lets see how long can I sustain these.

The story above is a direct reflection on what COVID-19 has meant for millions out there. All their plans got tossed out of the window by a microscopic invisible virus that wrecked havoc across the world. And no, it does not reflect my life and situation. 

I lost my job and my dad within the same month. While I did find another job immediately (must say, I was lucky) but the loss of my guiding light and biggest support is irreversible. Over 735K have already lost their lives (that’s over half a million families impacted directly). My prayers for them. May the invisible force of faith give you strength.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Blitz Pack ~ Truly Madly Crazily in Love by Esha Pandey

~ Book Blitz ~

Truly Madly Crazily in Love by Esha Pandey 

About the Book: 
What happens when you can't let your first love go? What happens when you keep hoping that the one that got away, will be yours again...forever?
Sue is short, vivacious and dreamy. Viv is tall, spirited and focussed. Dressed to the nines on School Social, she bewitches him. He kisses her. She kisses him back. They fall in love. But the kiss that should have sealed their love, becomes their undoing.
Sue is truly, madly and crazily in love with him. There is no one like Viv. She pines for him, but he can't be hers. Days go by and she is still head over heals in love with him.
When she finally lets him go and is ready to start over, he walks into her life again.
Hearts are broken. Promises are shattered. Lives are wrecked. Love is tested.
In a tale transcending time, Sue and Viv weave a story of love like none other. Will hope, trust and love win the test of time? From Lucknow, to Delhi to London, will Sue finally have her happily ever after? Read this sweet romance to find out.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt from Truly Madly Crazily in Love by Esha Pandey

Sukirti lingered on at the gate a bit longer than necessary. She wondered if her mother had noticed how she was lost in her thoughts when she walked in. She certainly didn’t comment on it. Sukirti went directly to her room. She had never experienced the kind of rush she felt with Vaibhav. When she was pressed to him on impact because of the speed breaker, it was as if her whole body had exploded. She was tingling wherever her body had touched his. She knew this was different than anything she had ever known. She remembered her elder cousin Garima telling her about her boyfriend and how he made her feel. At that time, she had not thought it was possible to feel like you were on fire. That day, she understood.

Was she developing a crush on Vaibhav?

About the Author:

Esha Pandey, is an author and a police officer. She made her debut as an author with her book I Will Meet You There, a collection of short stories.
Esha is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 2010 batch. She has a Masters in International Relations and Masters of Philosophy in American Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Before becoming a civil servant, she dabbled with the idea of being a journalist and worked with Times of India as a copyeditor. She has won a United Nations FPA Award for Excellence for the “Best Short Story”.
Esha has kept her passion for writing alive through her tough assignments in policing because writing is music for her soul. Her TDH hero is her partner for life, her husband Rajiv, who supports her in all her endeavors. When she is not doing either, policing or writing, she is busy dealing with her two bundles of naughtiness, her sons. 

Esha on the Web:
Twitter * Facebook * Instagram

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Book Blitz - Prisoner of Yakutsk by Shreyas Bhave

~ Book Blitz ~

Prisoner of Yakutsk by Shreyas Bhave
The Subhash Chandra Bose Mystery
Final Chapter 

About the Author:

What exactly happened to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose?

• In 1945, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Leader of the INA leaves Singapore to take a series of flights, and dies in Taiwan after his plane crashes near Formosa. Or so it seems.
• In 1947, Mr Mrs Singh, an illustrious army couple, both veterans of the Indian National Army, are last seen in Delhi, and then never again.
• In 1949, the plane carrying the first deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, mysteriously disappears for seven hours.
• In 2012, following the fall of WikiLeaks, a female hacker of the notorious X group is on the run as most wanted by everyone from Interpol to the KGB
• In 2015, the millionaire CEO of a Fortune 500 company suddenly resigns and vanishes from the public eye.

A set of seemingly unconnected disappearances emerge to be woven into a single fabric as the answer to one leads to another… In this riveting narrative, bestselling author Shreyas Bhave, takes the reader on a thrilling adventure to solve the greatest mystery the Indian nation has known. 

Book Links: Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

Colonel Hardy looked at his wristwatch. It was almost time for the Court Marshall to begin. But then there were so many trials squeezed into one day that it was natural for his colleagues to be late for this one. He decided to start without them. “So, born in Lahore, eh?” he asked, eyes still on the files.
             “Born and brought up there, Sir,” Major Singh replied. “I graduated from Government College, Lahore, and then sat for the Military Entrance Exam, passing which, I went to the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Doon.” Major Singh’s English was impeccable.
             “Which year batch was it? “Hardy asked, impressed by the Punjabi’s resume. He himself was an alumnus of the same institute, though a few years junior to this man.
              “Good.” Colonel Hardy gnawed his lower lip. So the Punjabi Major was his senior by almost half a decade.
              “I was commissioned as Second Lieutenant on the Special List in early 1939,” Singh said, standing straight in the dock. “2nd Battalion. The Highlanders!”
             “Secunderabad, right?”
              “Indeed. A boring year until we were sent to the Far East to hold a garrison in a quaint little British port.”
               Colonel Hardy read further. “Singapore, huh.”
               “The war was soon to come.”
                Hardy smiled as he went through the war records in the files. “I see one promotion after another. In less than six months, you were Acting Captain.”
               “I served with distinction. Your army promotes on talent alone; I’ll give you that.” Singh bowed.
                Colonel Hardy closed the files and looked up. “Japanese prisoner-of-war in Malaya, 1941 – what happened?”
                “I was captured in Malaya.” Singh twisted his thick mustache. “I had taken my regiment on a midnight raid on the Japanese docking station on the island of Java.”

Book Trailer:

About the Author:

Shreyas Bhave's love for history since his childhood prompted him to write his take on the story of Asoka who was one of the towering figures in the history of India, which has been taken up as ‘The Asoka Trilogy’ by Leadstart Publishing. The first part of the trilogy called ‘The Prince of Patliputra’ has been published in January 2016 and the second part called 'Storm From Taxila' was published in 2018.

Connect with the Author: Website * Facebook * Twitter

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Click Matters

Photography was considered an art with only a few artists - photographers. People had a camera which would be seldom used and the 36 photo roll would be developed in one go. Each photo was well thought out and carefully taken.
Then came the DigiCams that made it possible to take endless photos. This resulted in the 'care' being replaced by endless clicks. Slowly, the digicam moved into the handy mobile phone and it got better and better. And we found ourselves in the age of endless clicks.
We click literally thousands of photos and hardly go back to see them. In contrast, we still cherish those 36 photos from a trip from yesteryears (ours or our parents/grand-parents).
The most recent trend is that the camera in the phone is improving the quality of photographs itself – with portrait mode and numerous filters. But still, nothing beats the artist. The Photographer. The one who understands balance, light, composition, …. And also focal length, lens types, brightness control and manipulation, depth and contrast …. And a whole lot of other things I am not even aware of (leave alone understand).
The difference in a photograph clicked by a professional versus anyone-with-a-phone is evident once you see the output. While the one with the phone will have a chance masterpiece (I have had a couple of amazing shots from the thousands I have clicked); the sign of true professional is that their hit-rate is significantly higher. Every other click of theirs is high quality.
My recent experience at Studio 77 in Dubai reinforced this thought process. AS you can see from the two family portraits that we got clicked there in fun mood. These were clicked with practically no preparation and we were done in about 5 minutes. We just walked-in into an event at Studio 77 and got clicked. If 5 minutes and no prep could result in these wonderful clicks, what would some good time and preparation result in. Think about it.  
These are of course only 2 from the 40 odd clicks. Judge yourself.

For those in Dubai who would be interested, Studio 77 is located in Jumeirah in Wasl Vota mall. They collaborate with various brands to create rich content, marketing videos, business profiles, corporate films, social media content and also documentation and coverage of events. 
Studio 77 specializes in Studio and on-location Photography and Videography so they do photo shoots of various kind like Wedding, Product Photography, Branding videos, events coverage, Business Portraits and even content marketing Videos
You can catch Studio 77 on the social media via their Instagram Handle  or Facebook Page  or even their Youtube channel and of course their website


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Book Review: Aqson Level 1 by Sreejib

My only question for the Author at this point: How many books are you going to write in this series?  (And can you complete the whole series quickly please?)

Aqson is a refreshing read. Its fantasy, mythology, sci-fi - all mixed up together to create a gourmet dish to be relished. 

The author had my complete attention when the novel began with a jeans-n-Tshirt clad 'Lucifer' riding a bike to a meeting place where he flirts with the receptionist (and is reprimanded) before we are introduced to a similarly jeans-n-Tshirt clad 'God.


This meeting is presided by a few gentlemen, and the minutes of the meeting being taken by none other than Brahma. Lucifer is given the permission to initiate another game with God; with an ultimate objective of installing their player as the Prime Minister of India. 

This had my attention. 

What got me hooked to the book was the refreshing writing style which resonated well with the 20-yr old young-adult characters in the book and showed their life as it should be rather than as adults imagine it to be. 

A great cast of well defined and gradually refined characters sets the stage for an engaging novel. 

A little bit of suspense thrown in at different intervals of the story covering different characters keeps you guessing and maintains the edge-of-the-seat as well as nail-biting feeling alive all through the book. 

Its a fabulous start to a promising series ... 

Few books that I have read have been so captivating all through from start to finish ...

I would highly recommend ...

This book review is a part of "The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours, for details log on to