Sunday, November 16, 2014

Open Letter: Penguin Random House India Regarding Its Annual Lecture

Every year since the last nine years Penguin India hosts an annual lecture which is delivered by some of the most eminent people of our times such as HH Dalai Lama, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Amitabh Bachchan and this year Dan Brown. I have been attending them since last year when I got to know about them. The talks are undoubtedly awe inspiring and mind blowing. Last year it was Mr. Amitabh Bachchan who spoke about his father, read a few of his poetry's and brought the audience to tears when he spoke about equality for women with the statistics of injustice like rape, foeticide, dowry , etc related issues happening in the nation. Everyone in the audience was spellbound. People got back home, posted videos, pictures and wrote blogs about it. It was an event to remember for a lifetime.

This year I got sleepless nights since the moment they announced that it would be none other than the man who got me interested in reading Dan Brown. He writes fiction concerning religion, symbols and science and his talk was therefore talking on the same topic. Being someone doing science and deeply interested in History, I hope you understand that his books give me and my kind of people a high. I would log on everyday onto Penguin's Facebook Page, Twitter etc. to see if the registrations were open and the day it was amazing to read a confirmation email for the same. I started thinking about the talk and would bring it up in every conversation I had with friends. Finally the day arrived and I was as happy as someone who discovered lief on Mars. It was great to listen to hear the man alive and I also got a chance to ask him a questions. Truly lucky there. 

However why I write to you today is for one thing that you hugely disappointed us for that day, getting our books signed. There were book counters outside the auditorium at Siri Fort. People bought them hoping to get it signed. The audience asked for it again and again and you said that shall happen in the end, but you just took him away. I would like to ask "Why give false hope?" "If he wasn't signing them why did you say he would do so?" 

While we understand there were a lot of people and in that case you could have limited it to one copy per person (Like Harper Collins did when Jeffrey Archer was here) but just taking an author away without a reason or an apology is really not what a publishing house of your stature is expected to do. As publishers you meet authors on a daily basis and I am not sure if you are crazy about anyone of your authors, but we as readers love books and people who write them. While we are really thankful that because of you we heard him live for the first time in this nation but you also have to understand that authors are not bollywood actors. People don't love them because they look good, the connect is intellectual. Readers like them for their thought and its presentation, their philosophies, etc. So unless the author himself is not uncomfortable in a crowd the least he should do is stay there for little longer and sign copies at the least. If not please do not give false hopes in future. Its okay to do that for bollywod actors not for a writer and we expect you as a publisher to understand it.  Though I have conveyed this to you earlier on twitter and you have chosen to neglect it (though you retweeted my other tweets with pictures and quotes from the lecture), I hope there will be a response this time. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Beyond School by Chitra Anand

Title:  Beyond School
Author: Chitra Anand
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing  
Date: 2014
Price: Rs 124
Pages: 201
ISBN -10: 9383562404
ISBN-13: 978-9383562404

About The Book:
Beyond School centres upon the weeks leading up to 17-year-old Shail s final board exams, as his world becomes a pressure-cooker and the weight of preparing for the exams sends him fleeing rebelliously in the other direction. Along with Shail s journey from boyhood to manhood, Beyond School vividly weaves between the narratives of four main characters, seamlessly uniting the past and present of Shail, his parents-Urmila and Sushil and his mentor-Gladys, in a story that is honest, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately, incredibly human.
About the Author:
Chitra Anand was born in Mumbai. She is a postgraduate in Physics and holds an Education degree. Beyond School is her first novel inspired by her journey as an educator.

Copies Available at all online stores:

Know More Inside Stories, Connect with The Author:
Twitter: @chtranand

Read the book? Write a review on Goodreads:

Fraudster by R. V.Raman

Title:  Fraudster
Author: R V Raman
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Hachette
Date: 2014
Price: Rs. 250
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9350098008

Fraudster : The Story of Corporate India’s Black Sheep:
Fraudster is a suspense thriller from R. V. Raman set in the world of corporate finance.

Summary of the Book
Some people will do anything to silence anyone they think are obstacles. They won’t stop at anything, not even murder. In this thrilling novel, a young banker deposes before a commission investigating large-scale financial fraud. She is found dead the very next day. Meanwhile, a leader of corporate India falls to his death from his South Bombay flat. In a multinational accounting firm, the high-security server room is hacked. The hackers want more than just company secrets. Illegal finance, high-profile crimes and brutal manipulation combine in this tale of greed, treachery and corruption amidst corporate India’s worst members.

About R. V. Raman
R. V. Raman is an Indian writer and the former head of KPMG's Consulting Practice and the co-head of their Risk Advisory Services. He was also partnered with A.T. Kearney and Arthur Andersen, and boasts an experience of over three decades and covering four continents. Currently a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Management, Trichy, he teaches Business Strategy. He is based in Chennai and this is his first book.

Copies Available at all online stores:

Know More Inside Stories, Connect with The Author:
Twitter: @RVRaman_

Read the book? Write a review on Goodreads:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How To Build A Fictional World?

As writers most of us love being more in our own worlds rather than the reality. So do many of the readers when they actually try opening a locked door with "Wingardium Leviosa". But what exactly in the stories is the element that makes the world believable? We can relate to that world which is not ours as well as we relate to ours. We even learn those languages, spells and name people we dislike as Lord Voldemort. What makes some stories like Harry Potter, The Lord Of the Rings or The Matrix so profound that they though talk about a very different world are immortal through generations?

In this talk Kate Messner who writes fictional for children beautifully describes the process  of writing fiction, the points to think about etc. the video as is with all Ted Ed Talks is beautifully aided with graphics to explain you the process that will stay in your memory for long. Start playing....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Nostalgia: Diwali A Time For Family #GharwaliDiwali

I love family gatherings especially the festive ones, mostly because family to me means meeting my grandparents and elders who would teach me a thing or two about our mythology, culture and religion, which I had previously unknown. This year being a final year of my PhD I shall not be going home for Diwali and so here is my tribute to the ones I spent earlier especially the childhood times with my maternal grandmother.

             (image courtesy:

The Fun:
As a child my utmost enthusiasm was in buying the crackers and just to prove I was the bravest amongst my cousins buy the most dangerous ones, only to be scolded by may parents again. But the earthlings started contaminating the planet and therefore me and my brother educated other people years ago not to use crackers and so that fun went away. But I still miss the fuljhadi, chakri and rocket. Rockets are nasty and you can really scare people by flying them.

The Food: The next part comes the sweets and while mom makes a few of them really well, my cousin aunt makes some more out of the world. The head of the gang is my maternal grandmother who can even make shrikhand, jalebi's, and Gujrati khajas very famous in surat). Being a child that has spent most of the time studying in hostel, Diwali time is nirvana for the soul. The other dishes my grandmother makes amazingly well is Khandvi (lovers of gujju food I am sure your mouth is watering), Khaman, Dhokla, Patra, Undhitu, Fafda, etc. Well my Jijaji came to India from the USA during Diwali and they put on 10 kgs in 2 months so you can imagine how delicious and irresistible her food is.

The Puja:  Our Kuldevi is Bhavani ma, a version of the Ma shakti or Parvati, the goddess of power. On the Kali Chaudash day we celebrate it with decorating the entire temple with diya's and sing thaal dharavanu bhajan , other bhajans and the most important one being the main aarti. The temple looks amazing and when the aarti begins you are transformed into another world. One of the purest forms of divine intervention I felt on this day. I love this puja over any other in the festive season obviously.

This year since my family is not with me we shall be celebrating it with friends and all time party partner #Pepsi. Check how you can always celebrate with pepsi

I understand that Pepsi tries to bring people together through this video and I wish it was always possible. My grandma is now is in Australia and there is no way I can reach her. The Diwali was in our ancestral village where nobody lives now so cant go back. In the urban world, living our modern lives I miss on every festival the togetherness our simpler lives offered which is elusive now. I am not sure for how long world will be same, things here will be similar but as much as we can try to make the best out of times spent with family, they never come back in the same setting, either its a different place or a set of those people have gone to another world.

A very Happy Diwali to everyone reading this post.

This Post is for Indiblogger #GharWaliDiwali activity.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#Celebrate Blogging by BlogAdda: The Game Of Blogs

An experience of team based story writing #ScribblersOrchard:

Blogadda this September came out with a very innovative concept "The Game of Blogs" wherein they made a team of bloggers (10 bloggers per team) and gave them five characters. We had to spin a tale around it. I joined it because I wanted to take up the challenge of writing a story. Being a blogger poplulary blogging about books and consulting for some publishing houses it was always a dream to write one myself, however the fear of landing up in mediocrity, of not being a good one in the first attempt stopped me. However this was a way to challenge the fear of failure and so I filled the form.

This activity was to be judged by a panel of six eminent authors with Ashwin Sanghi and Ravi Subramanian, my favourite Indian writers judging the writings of ours, novices, was thrill and kept the pressure on to write better each time. I was allotted a team where like every other team there was a difference of opinion from point one- the team name. We made a facebook group and I believe even a whats app group existed (I couldn't be a part of that as my cell phone was snatched from my hands on Delhi roads and stolen, I was very sad then and without a smart phone). However as all of us were on facebook we decided to discuss everything there. 

Coming to the team name, I wanted something on the lines of The Game of Thrones as The Game of Blogs was inspired from there. However be it any competition I am stuck with people who have unidirectional thinking so "The Big Bang Bloggers" a cooler name (I think) couldn't be our team name and we were now the Scribblers Orchard. This name was thought of as the lead character of our story was a journalist and also we were writing a story so scribbling. 

The other interesting thing that happened was our POC left the team the very first day due to some unforeseen circumstances and our tenth member didn't respond. Blogadda replaced her with another blogger who responded initially and then alas! two days before the deadline of round one she quit. While we all had to write this was one huge problem and that too at the last minute. However Blogadda considered it and had a criteria of minimum seven posts, plus we weren't given a negative rightfully as it wasn't our fault.

Now came the discussions, we had thought of four plots for round 1 and out of them was finalized based on voting of course. I being a PhD student in Biological Sciences am someone who is extremely difficult to convince and so plot 4 had to be revised and rethought an re-revised before end of round 1.  All of use had different comfort in terms of timing and availability but most of us always were involved in the ideation and that was the strong part. Also we critiqued ourselves thoroughly which I feel was the USP of our team. 

Our real story was formed at the end of round 1 where we gave each of our team mates the freedom to take the plot ahead as they wanted and I lived my dream of creating the ultimate, invincible supervillian Acharya.  He is a character inspired by the amalgamation my love for comic books and Dan Brown. Our story post round 1 was really strong and we were confident of getting through to round 2 only to realize sadly that all the teams were sent to round 2. 

The true challenge was Round 2 now, the ideation here was simpler as we already had the plot in mind. We followed a simple strategy "Divide and Write" . i.e.  We divided the story to be disclosed per round and gave each one a part they would love to write. Thus went by round 2 peacefully. We were extremely overwhelmed to be on position 2 (with three other teams), so technically 4. I was happy but there was lot to be done to reach the position 1.

Our collective writing had been beneficial so far but where there are vessels they are bound to collide, and round 3, the grand finale where the climax had to set was the point. In the beginning we had to form the road leading to the climax which took two nights of thinking (post 14 hours of PhD slavery in my case). We had a couple of endings however some people felt a moral ending was the best one. I personally do not agree with the end that we have written as it didn't give me a high and I do not think stories have anything to do with morals, if that was so The Game Of Thrones once again could never be a good story. I sadly couldn't convince my team and so what we wrote in my opinion is a no so interesting climax but moral. I am not sure if morals are valued in real life but now since we have written that Voldemort never made the horcruxes as it was immoral, I sure as well hope we win. Fingers crossed.

Having said that it was good learning experience and I could happily say i gained from it . I am better at story telling now. I also have a better understanding of the mindset of Indian audience so I know what will sell in this country if I ever write a book. Also though I think too many cooks spoil the broth, and nine was huge number, I am happy for those that didn't participate actively.I am happy for the ones that did were very sincere (despite our difference of opinion). Managing to write within those office hours, sneaking during lunch time, correcting work multiple times (we had 7 revised versions of the final document for heavens sake, yeah that crazy) were the qualities that got us so far. I hope everyone enjoyed each part as much as we did. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Scribblers Orchard Part 29

The part before this one is here...
They say all is well that ends well, but is every end a full stop? Sometimes it can be a comma post which there is a new and different beginning. The nation that lost one of the greatest Prime Ministers, a man whom they elected with such a huge majority wavers at the thought. Some sad for the progress and the promise he showed now left for the incompetent scavengers, many shocked at the revelation of his true identity and many for whom it will still be time till the truth seeps into them for their love for him was blind.

After the roller coaster ride of the past few weeks Jeniffer returns back to her home in Kochi. She now feels a new zeal towards her profession, it saved lives after all. Arjun's team is appreciated for their efforts is solving one of the greatest murder mysteries of the decade. Though more medals are added to his existing records, he feels his responsibility growing towards his nation. He has no time to ponder for a next life waits to be saved, another mystery to be solved and another perpetrator to be caught.

Shekhar is just more than happy to be re-united with his family especially his child. He is more careful now and sometimes wakes up many a times in the night to check on her. Even Tara realizes that her daughter means everything now. She has one true relationship with her daughter, unspoilt by time unlike the others that have and will change even end with time. She feels the world when she sees her sleeping safely in her bed each night and wonders why the child that went through the most in the whole process is least scared.


Tara takes an off that weekend. It has been just a lot of news, the incidents with her family and her father being in the centre of it all. Shekhar decides to take her to the nearby temple which has lush green gardens. The holy smoke of the havan kund rises to purify the negativity around, the atmosphere is divine with the chants of the sadhus performing a yagna. They enter the temple and Tara and Shekhar bow down to the idols of the various gods and goddesses. Suddenly they don't find Roohi around. Shekhar's heart misses a beat and he starts frantically searching her. Tara is extremely scared and begins asking people if they saw a little girl and then at that moment her eyes fall on a little child with folded hands sitting amongst the sadhus with concentration of an adult, praying to the one true God that she has found her faith in "Fire".

To be continued............

 “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.”