Sunday, January 29, 2012


Protecting her?
Was that the plan?
To nourish, to cherish,
To save from the evil man?

The endless sky
"Dangerous to fly!”
Wide crystal water
"Fatal to enter!”
Inviting golden desert
"Treacherous mounds of dirt!”
Morbid confines of home
"Your haven, your zone!”

So, Protecting her
Was that the plan?
I'm sorry you failed
She’s at best – Jailed!

 "You thought I was protected
Cradled in sound slumber?
I was shushing my heart from dreaming
Beating it to sheen-less amber"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Newsroom Mafia by Oswald Pareira- A Review

Is there a genre of fiction that can be called a masala thriller? Or a bollywood thriller? Well, if there were one, then Oswald Pereira's debut novel would effortlessly claim the golden throne among the list of books belonging to this category. What a read!

The Newsroom Mafia is a journalist's take on the crime syndicate that thrives in the dingy alleyways of Mumbai. Veteran journalist Oswald Pereira has woven a sensational story around the politics-underworld-media nexus which is routinely camouflaged, but which we all already know too well about. The excitement I felt while turning the last pages of this book is wanting to pour out in what will end up being an all out positive review of the book, but a synopsis is more than necessary if I am to express with lucidity why the reader inside me is so thoroughly satiated with Pereira's ingenuous screenplay-like-novel.

Narayan Swamy is the typical image of a Mumbai underworld Don, who self indulgently likes to be addressed as the "Godfather"- incidentally also his favorite movie. He is his own hero- a self proclaimed Robinhood who is the savior of destitutes languishing without any concern or empathy from the authorities. Our Don is a wannabe social worker, with, ironically, a criminal acumen so strong that is successful in transforming him from a deprived nobody to an A-listed celebrity in the power circles.This crime messiah prospers under expedient partnerships with influential politicians, legal and financial advisers, and media honchos doubling up as his investigative sources. Thus completes the perfect character of our Don- the mighty, invincible supervillain.

Enter our hero- Supercop Donald Fernandez, Commissioner of the Mumbai Police Force, 'second only to the Scotland Yard'. He is a genuine, but publicity hungry cop, stories of whose bravery are routinely splashed across the front pages of India's most widely read English language news paper- The Newsroom. This titular newspaper's star crime reporter, Oscar Pinto is Donald's favored media partner- who gets all the exclusive crime scoops right from the supercop's lips. The story begins with a false front page report in The Newsroom written by Oscar about Don's arrest by Supercop Donald Fernandez. But all hell breaks lose when the news spreads that Don has escaped before the Mumbai police could even sniff his scent. What follows is an all out war declared by the Supercop on the Don- a chase ridden with deception, seduction, betrayal, power games, conspiracies, cold blooded murders and most importantly, paid and planted media reports where the pen does more damage than swords could possible wreck.

Though the book promises a lot of drama, the author has done a fine job of excluding any unnecessary theatrics and sticking to the story which progresses at a thrill inducing speed. The crafty storyline keeps you guessing and each  page you turn brings with itself a new twist which makes it almost impossible to not turn the page again and be caught under the charms of a similar twist. The characters are straight out of some bollywood-rather tollywood screenplay described to such perfection that you end up making mental pictures of them which runs like an animated display as the plot unfolds. What works most for me is the earthy, crude narrative- an almost no nonsense exposé of the mechanics of crime syndicate as it operates in our country. The precision and the details provided keep the story real, but the spice element is not in the least compromised upon. When the cover predicts for you a foray into the sleazy and murky Mumbai Underworld much like a movie poster, your hopes already dart through the sky. Pereira does not disappoint at all with the expectations he keeps building up throughout the book.

As the plot thickens, the battle between the Don and Supercop becomes 'nerve-tinglingly' entertaining with dirty power politics and sleazy tactics being played in from both ends. How the fourth-estate, the media lusts after dollops of exclusive reports has been articulated with an insiders expertise. Also, the extent to which news is manipulated to serve not the interests of its own industry or of its readers but to pander to the insidious motives of the money backed, power hungry politicians and criminals puts your faith in the real life newspapers in uncertain waters. The novel is set in 1980s when the underworld had begun pullulating with concomitant maledictions like bootlegging, prostitution, money laundering, smuggling, power politics finding roots in the fecund Bombay climate. The anachronistic setting is too perfect to make each line of the novel seem close to inspired from reality.

I could go on, for there are so many elements still left in the book which excite me as I remember them. However, I will restrain myself to only mentioning my favorite among a bevy of more than a dozen characters as I end my post. Stella Kutty- a journalist draped in crisp cotton sarees, whose modesty is betrayed by the lurking sensuality behind all the covers is the perfect doze of seduction in story. She is the mysterious woman with an irresistible appeal who is the most potent weapon in Don's arsenal when needed.

I am hoping for a sequel. Or at least some more books in this relatively unexplored genre. Its 4 stars on 5 for me. Very strongly recommended!

(Reviewed on request from Grey Oak-Westland)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Love Quintet

I was asked a few days back by someone to recommend romantic novels which make for a heart warming read. I don't know what all names I blurted out under the assumed pressure of answering quick, but the question stuck by in my head for a decently long time there after. When I answered it for myself, I spotted five romantic books distinctly embedded in my memory which by far have been the best I have stumbled upon. Since romance as a literary genre encompasses a lot, I will specify that what I am about to share with my readers today are 5 of the best 'Love Stories' I have read, which I strongly recommend to you all as well. An important caveat, before I share my favorites, is that my reading habits are not the best around. I mean, I read a lot, but according to some literature aficionados, I read crap. Anyway, I often fall in love with even what is otherwise condemned as crap. So, not sticking to any stereotypes, from a wide variety of sub-genres- here are 5 love stories which conversed straight with my heart and whose essence flowed out through tears in my eyes.

#1 Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman 
Historical Fiction, I guess.
I found this book in a dusty, dingy corner of my college library. Picking it up on instinct, I could never even have imagined what an emotional rigmarole this book had planned to offer me. Set up during the earlier years of British Raj in India, this story, if I remember correctly, is the tale of two lovers haunted by a long history of family rivalries. Olivia, an American tourist in India and Jai Raventhorne, a local born of an Anglo-Indian union have nothing in common save an inherited animosity. However, they find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other and soon their attraction metamorphoses into passion. This passion is not only evident in their love, but also in their actions of vengeance on each other. To see the plot unravel, fluctuating between love, passion, animosity and revenge is a thrilling experience. Someone from you please remind me to read this book again :)

#2 The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
Fantasy fiction- Romantic fiction
Enough had been said and heard about this book. You can look down upon me for all I care, but I am in love with Edward Cullen, as much as I am in love with Bella Swan's character. Stephenie Meyer has constructed a scintillating plot, playing marvelously on an average girl's insecurities and an her dreams of a perfect lover. I have read the whole series twice over, and I will not shy away from burying myself in those familiar pages again when the depression of our 'practical' existence (the practicality even extending to matters of heart) becomes too much to handle.

#3 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Literary Classic
Need I say anything about this epic love tale which females of all age, around the world have read, and reread and romanticized over and over again? The story of unconsummated passion between Cathy and Heathcliff is a saga in its own self. The narrative of this book is not all flowery, but very dark, almost progressing like a mystery. Perhaps that is why this book was met with censure at first, but over the years has acquired ascendancy among romantic classics. Heathcliff is a character  immortalized in our memory, as that dark and intense hero- capable of passion, and capable of destruction too. Sigh. The wonderful Yorkshire moors. The intense yet unresolved passion. I feel the book is calling me again.

#4 I Too Had A Love Story by Ravinder Singh
Now, do not judge me for this. I read a lot of new age, commercial Indian literature (if we can call it that), and this book is by far the best I've come across in this genre. Ravin and Khushi, the protagonists of this novel, are the couple next door. The way their love progresses, their sweet murmuring, their first encounters, their brewing passion- everything in this book is painfully relatable. And when you (especially if you are like me) start identifying so much with the incidents and characters in the book, the climax has the potential for leaving you depressed for hours after. I, in fact, found myself wailing. The fact that it is believed to be the author's own story makes the read all the more emotional. Now, the sequel of this story has hit the market. Can Love Happen Twice? I got my copy today. Hell yes I am excited!

#5 Abhijnanashakuntalam by Kalidasa
Sanskrit Classic
Yes, it is an odd inclusion in this list, but for my UPSC preparations, I have gone through most of Sanskrit dramas, prose and poems. 'Erotic' (Shringaar) is the main element of most of the great Sanskrit works, and though I fell in love with a lot of love stories narrated by the likes of Magha, Bana, Bharavi and others, Abhijnanashakuntalam clearly stood out as the most amazing. It is a simple tale of love between King Dushyant and an ashramkanya, Shakuntala. On a hunting expedition, Dushyanta stumbles upon Shakuntala, falls in love, and their love in consummated in a simple Gandharva wedding. Crisis strikes when Dushyanta returns to his Capital City and forgets Shakuntala and their love under the influence of a curse from Rishi Durvasa. Kalidasa weaves a string of some exquisite verses detailing how the two lovers overcome the hurdles created  by Providence's chicanery. Trivia- India, Bharat, is said to have derived its name from Shakuntala and Dushyanta's son- Bharata.

I am all pepped up and reading a lot many books these days. Though I am in a mood for experimenting with different genres at present, I shall return to the trusted romances soon. Just as an concluding thought, I never find a story complete till it does not have an adequate doze of romance in it. A love story, may be as a secondary narrative always does its bit in keeping me hooked onto a novel, no matter which genre it belongs to. Hopefully, I will come up with another list of my favorites, really soon. Till then, keep reading!

Monday, January 23, 2012


Yayyiiieee! So after watching with 'green' envy all my favorite bloggers receive not one, but upto a dozen "The Varsatile Blogger" Awards, I finally manage to get my own. Without much ado, I will simply follow the rules concomitant to this award, which are-

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award
2. Nominate 15 other bloggers and inform them of the same
3. Share 7 Random facts about yourself
4. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your Blog Post

#1 Gratitude
A humbly uttered and heartfelt gratitude to a blogger whom I have really come to admire in the recent past. Jyoti Babel, who writes at Pages, is one of the best reviewers and culinary experimentalist I have come across. Her blog is always a treat to go through. Since I cannot cook to even save my life, I hope to mug up Jyoti's recipes by heart before the prospect of my marriage starts looming in front of my eyes. Given that a blogger of Jyoti's caliber has tagged me as a Versatile Blogger, the significance of the tag increases manifold.

#2 New Set Of 'The Versatile Blogger' Awardees
Now, this is the most difficult bit. I have been asked to nominate 15 bloggers, but to call someone 'versatile' is a huge responsibility. Many blogs I follow ascribe to a particular type of content, which the bloggers seem to have a proven mastery over, scarce venturing out of their comfort zones. I will, hence, mention only 5 blogs and bloggers, who in my view justify the definition of 'versatility'.
Anup Bishnoi at Grass On Fire
Aavika Dhanda at Nirvana
Achint Mathur at Aman Ki Aasha
Aakriti at Yarn of Words
Anshul Thakur at Aesthetic Blasphemy 

Yes, I know I am repetitive in terms of the bloggers I place topmost on my blog roll, but then, these are the ones I am incorrigibly hooked onto. The five I mentioned here have a peculiarity- each one of them has their initial as 'A'. Only a random coincidence. As I stumble on more blogs of significance, I will keep augmenting to this list. 

#3 Seven Random Things About Myself
1. I love giving and receiving gifts.
2. I am a recent twitter addict and I love to play on the trending twitter topic.
3. Writing reviews of books is a fond hobby and there are more chances I will end up appreciating a book than denouncing it. 
4. Sufi songs and ghazals are my most preferred genres of music.
5. I am a decently good singer. In fact, at a time I aspired to cut an album of my own. Childhood dreams, left amid the glory of childhood only.
6. Caffeine is the only sinful addiction I admit to. May be, chocolates are my second most sinful attachments.
7. Ruskin Bond is one author I have romanticized throughout my life.

I wrote a similar list for my first ever blog award, which can be glanced through here- The 7X7 Link Award

#4 Picture
Already added above.

Once again, thanks Jyoti! I only hope that in the coming days I only become a better and better writer, and Nascent Emissions becomes a blog more and more readers are able to find their own reflection in.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Canyon Of Souls by Ronald Malfi- A Review

Coincidences in life are can sometimes be amusing, and sometimes a little spooky. It is due to a coincidence that the book 'The Canyon Of Souls' hit off with me instantly. And this coincidence was a spooky one. I had undertaken a literary quest sometime back for understanding the deeper meanings of words like 'Nature', 'Providence', 'Divinity' and 'Man'. Specifically, 'Nature of Man'. More specifically 'Insidious Nature of Man'. In Ronald Malfi's The Canyon of Souls does not lie an understanding of the above mentioned terms-but in it lies a story while builds upon these concepts to skillfully weave together a light thriller, with thrill emanating from both- natural and preternatural sources.

The Canyon Of Souls is what the Tibetan lore accords the status of a beyul. Beyuls are places of mythical significance, the lands between our world and the next, or, between the world of mortals and the world of immortals. Beyuls are believed to be hidden in the womb of Nature, which has a way of preventing man from discovering them. The book narrates an extreme adventure story of a group of seven explorers, who set out in the search of Canyon of Souls, nestled somewhere deep in the belly of the arduous Mountains of the North.

The protagonist of The Canyon of Souls, doubling up as the narrator is Tim Overleigh, a one time famous and dexterous sculptor who abandoned his art after the death of his beloved wife, Hannah, in a fatal car accident. Being chased continuously by her ghost, Tim takes recourse to a number of adrenaline pumping adventure activities. He nearly escapes death while on a spelunking expedition, after which most of his time is spent inside his morbidly dull home. A chance meeting with his long lost acquaintance, Andrew Trumbauer -an enigmatic, adventure junkie- opens in from of Tim an invitation for joining 6 other men on a peregrination through the icy Godesh Ridge in the Himalayas to seek the still unscaled Canyon of Souls. Convinced that this is his one chance to escape the dullness of his surroundings and put his life back on track, Tim and Andrew, and some more explorers set on a journey through not just the unforgiving weather and impossible terrain of Himalayas, but also a journey through Tibetan mysticism, deceit, death and life altering realizations.

The Canyon of Souls, before saying anything else, has one of the most promising plots I have come across in a long time. To add to the glee of a reader uninitiated in the adventure fiction genre, the author Ronald Malfi does a fine job of scripting a tale which becomes towards the middle a compulsive page turner. Quick paced, and laced with vivid imagery, what I like about the book is that it is not an idle read. As much as it makes you gape and tremble with unforeseen twists in the plot, it makes you think too. What begins as an inquiry into the legendary conflict of Man versus Nature metamorphoses into an even darker and enduring conflict of Man versus Man. A little scratching on the fabric of the story reveals the underside of a bevy of thoughts on human psyche- its glory and its darkness, and although this aspect has not been investigated enough in Malfi's narrative, it still feels that these yet incomplete investigations are running like a stream under the very plot of the story.

As it progresses, the storyline transforms from being another of those explorers' diaries to a gory macabre tale which kept me glued to itself. Even though I continued turning pages at a more than decent speed with due intrigue, I still could not help being put off by Malfi's verbosity, unwelcome in places. The author, however, deserves accolades for his brilliant descriptions of Himalayan topography, of the action in the story, and even of the subtle details of Tim's haunting visions. His metaphors and similes are striking and aid the reader's imagination to flow with that of the writer's.

As far as the story line is concerned, it was riveting. I did have an issue with half sketched details of the other characters in the story. The five other explorers with Tim and Andrew included Petras, Curtis, Chad Nando, Hollinger, and Shotsky- and these are people you can picture in your mind only skeletally; knowing not their background, but may be only one defining trait of their personality. In some parts, the book disappoints as it does not reveal few motives for vengeful actions either clearly or convincingly. For curious readers who revel in details, this can be a key low point of a narrative.

As for a definite verdict- the book is nice. For a one time rapid read, it is totally worth its salt. Three stars on five for me it is, for giving me some eye widening moments, and also making me believe in guardian spirits- a dakini- as the author has put it.

(This was reviewed on request from Grey Oak-Westland)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Ruhani Sojourn

"Gori sove sej par, mukh par daare khes.
Chal khusro ghar aapne, saanjh bhai chanhu des."

Nestled at the heart of alleys bustling with religious books, flowers and chaadar for worship, food shops to feed the lesser privileged, and beggars hauling you from all sides is one of the most inspiringly spiritual places in all of Delhi- The Dargah of Khwaja Nizam-ud-din Auliya. Whether you visit his dargah with the faith of a devotee, or the curiosity of an explorer- the unmistakable aura in the air flowing through its sacred precincts will touch you in a pleasantly memorable way. Each visit of mine to this dargah has been a mystic experience. Here, I've always experienced tranquility and clarity of thoughts; and an urge to explore the ruhaniyat experienced in Auliya's presence a little more. 

Hazrat Khwaja Syed Nizam-ud-din Auliya was a sufi mystic belonging to the Chishti Silsila (meaning a chain or lineage) of Sufism, the other known name from the same silsila being that of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer Shareef fame.In Delhi Nizam-ud-din Auliya is arguably the most venerated sufi peer, with the largest list of devotees thronging his dargah each day of the week, at all hours of the day. My luck was shining bright the day I made my first visit to his dargah. While I was lost in the magnificent golden hues which reflect off the dome of the main shrine, some enamouring sufi music greeted my eager ears, and I squatted down for close to two hours on the cold marble floor of its courtyard, soaking in the beauty of the whole atmosphere. Maati ke tum deevare, jo suno hamari baat...

One of the gravest anomalies in my life is that I have not found myself touched by spirituality or divinity in the slightest measure. That was precisely the reason why I explored the whole courtyard of Auliya's dargah with a childlike curiosity and amazement. I was informed of Auliya's almost filial love for his mureed, Amir Khusrau, the last in the line of great peers to have consecrated our land with their presence. Auliya willed that a devotee first pay obeisance at Khusrau's dargah (lying in the same complex) before he proceeded to worship at his own shrine- such was his love for his devoted student. Sufi diaries are filled with fables of  the interactions between Auliya and Khusrau. The dance of dervishes first manifests in one of such fable. Listening to these fables in an erudite company while staring at humble heads bowing down in prayer at Auliya's doorstep is an experience I may not be able to put fairly to words.

I do distinctly remember this very fair, middle aged lady, dressed in a rich black fabric, sitting on the right side of the main shrine from my first visit to the dargah. She had her forehead pressed to the wall lining the inner sanctum on which were engraved some religious words in Arabic script which I obviously could not decipher. Upon close scrutiny I realized that she is mumbling something. On closer scrutiny I realized that she is cring softly, huge beads trickling down her cheeks. I checked myself immediately, for it felt grotesque to be intruding in someone's personal moment of connection with her Lord. But I did settle down myself near her. She was reciting one of the chapters of Quran, the Sura-e-yaseen. Did I say reciting? No, she was singing it in a lovely husky but muffled voice, stopping only to kiss the Arabic calligraphy decorating the wall. I sat for almost as long as she did, listening intently to her, not understanding a word, but experiencing something overwhelming. The last thing I remember from that day is some tears in my own eyes before I left the sacred courtyard.

Ever since, I do feel overwhelmed when I visit this dargah. Devotion, faith, amity, honesty, miseries, smiles, desires, gratitude, divinity-all of these are palpable in the very air of this place. Since spirituality is not my domain, I end up shedding soft tears, sometimes in confusions, at others in relief when there. Each time, it is an overwhelming, yet liberating experience of its own kind. There is so much still for me to understand about things which are not easily perceivable. The only thing I understand as of now is that Auliya preached a message of love, patience, tolerance and secularism while he was making his important contributions to our city's rich history around 13th century AD. Tolerance and patience are virtues I am attempting to imbibe in. Love is what I make sure to carry within myself each moment the way Auliya and other sufi mystics preached it. When it is to that love that one surrenders, the peace and bliss we so yearn for can be the only natural thing to follow.

Do visit the Nizam-ud-din dargah complex if you still have not. There are lot of other historically significant sites in the vicinity, more on which I would perhaps write later.

Sultan-ul-Mashaikh Nizam-ud-din Auliya's mysticism is all that has charmed an amateur Delhi explorer's quill as of now.

1. The couplet at the beginning was composed by Amir Khusrau at the time of Auliya's demise. Succinctly, yet hauntingly it captures Khusrau's crestfallen state when his object of devotion had escaped from his mortal body.
2. Sultan-ul-Mashaikh is an epithet for Nizam-ud-din Auliya, often used as a prefix before his name. It toughly translates as the "King of spiritual guides".
3. A rickshaw ride from the Jangpura Metro Station on the purple line is what you would need to have your own personal rendezvous with Delhi's greatest sufi peer, and also his mureed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I never cleared the dust off that window. I always knew what lay behind it. I mean, I could guess. It was not a big window. It was small. Not tiny, just small. Often I would see sun's rays filter through its dust rich glass and cluster in a small square of light on the grey floor. This square of light would stealthily broom across the cracking grey floor, leaving behind not footsteps of light, but a trail of darkness. Rather, greyness. I often liked to play with that little square of light- skip in and out of it. My darkened, weather beaten, less than ordinary looking feet would momentarily be purified by sun's white light as they skipped into that square. When they skipped out, they would enter again the ordinariness which has for long been their home..

This game with light was a passing distraction. My larger fascination was with that small window on the opposite wall. The window accumulating dust, giving only a hazy glimpse of the picturesque scenery that lay beyond. A chirping bird perched onto the overhanging branch. Glistening dew precariously hanging from the tip of a luscious green leaf. Orchids-white and purple and carnations-white and purple lining the fence in a mad array of grandeur. Just a hint of redness of an occasional rose, breaking the sacred monotony of my favorite white and purple flowers. A pair of rabbits, white balls of fur with their beady red eyes, dashing playfully through the greenery at the edge of the pond. The pond divided in two zones, each rich in fishes of differing hues. Its left side green under the overhanging canopy of huge summer trees. The right side bare, allowing sun's rays to prance around it's watery surface. Through the dust, I could figure out all the silhouettes-the flowers, the trees, the fence, the branch, the pond.

All this lay beyond that window. Yes it was a small window, but it was my only window. As the four ugly walls of that dingy confine of a room seemed to close in on me at times, the presence of that window would provide me respite. I feared the world beyond my door, with known foes and known miseries- I seldom ventured out. I was enchanted by the world beyond my window- I always kept an eye on it. I painted happy pictures and waited for the day I could be one with the wilderness the scene beyond had to offer.

I had never gone near the window. I always kept basking in the balmy light it sent in my cold room. I always kept imagining the scenery that lay beyond it, the beauty I remembered from more than two years ago when I had last ventured out. I had romanticized its translucent potential. I even spoke to it sometimes, beckoned to the heart of nature which I had believed to be sacrosanct. The window was my companion, I was its. I trusted it to open itself to me when it thought it should. May be when the heart of nature ripens to glory.

Today, its tiny panes flew open. I smiled at the invitation, but then I feared. There was some stench of ill-begotten pandemonium. I took a few steps towards it. The silhouettes I saw through dusty haze were there, but they were just that- empty silhouettes.  The scenery that lay beyond the window was as per my thoughts, with only one marked difference- there was no life in any element which I had painted in my imaginations. The outlines were there, the colors conspicuously absent. The leaves, the flowers, the water- was shivering under a windy pandemonium. They seemed lifeless, but attempting to exist somehow.

I felt a surge of sorrow. Then a surge of empathy. I thought I could get closer to the window, peep out, and see how I could help restore the beauty. I took but one step more and a strong gush of wind forced the rattling panes to shut with a bang.

I looked back at the door- a world I had consciously shut out.
I looked at the shut window panes- a world no longer the calming beauty I had thought it to be.
I looked at the walls. For the first time I felt faithless. For the first time, trapped.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The 7X7 Link Award

I have just been initiated into the world of blog awards, primarily due to the kindness of a blogger who writes under the curious guise of The Serious Butterfly. Her name is Sanchari, and this colorful butterfly flaps her wings over numerous ideas and issues and employs some beautiful words to provide contours to hitherto formless thoughts. She is an artist too- the hues of creativity splashed on her blog will make you realize her caliber.

And the reason for my current obsession with her and her blog is that she has conferred on me my first ever blog award! Honestly, the concept of Blog Awards has still to appeal to me in full glory, but accepting it as a gesture of appreciation does wonders to nourish the writer inside me. It makes me happy for the fact that while I am but a miniscule speck floating amid the current of millions of upcoming writers of brilliant potential, some people out there are  noticing my words and encouraging me to keep them flowing.

I am following Sanchari's lead. As I have learnt a few hours back, there are rules to acceptance of this award. They are flexible, but the ones adopted by Sanchari are fun, hence I'll make use of her research, with some special words of gratitude being sent her way.

Rules to this award:
1. Thank the person who gave it to you.
2. Share 7 unusual things about yourself.
3. Share 7 of your worthy posts under the following heads- Most Beautiful Piece, Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, and Most Pride Worthy.
4. Nominate seven other bloggers and notify them.

#1 Gratitude
Dear Sanchari, I formally thank you for making me feel awesome at the dead of the night. My first blog award will always be remembered. It might so happen that it will be the only one to be remembered, since I do not foresee more coming my way, but that dismal picture shall be painted some other day.

 #2 Seven Unusual Things About Myself
One- I am a very clumsy eater, and I try to hide this fact, resulting into a clumsier eater in the attempt. This is the reason I never eat my subs in company; they are always packed and eaten in the solitude of home.
Two- I love silver jewellery, and often think that on the progressive path, I will skip gold and graduate to diamonds and platinum straightaway. For the time being, I am saving to buy some silver pieces I have been eyeing for a long period.
Three- I have a habit of hugging special words and sleeping. How? By clutching to my bosom my journal, a nice novel, some rare letters or even my phone if it pings with a touching SMS.
Four- No matter where I go, I always carry a pen and my journal along.
Five- Agrasen Ki Baoli and Nizam-ud-din Auliya's Dargah are my favorite places in Delhi, at least for the time being.
Six- I am a listener and observer- I think that in each element around me hides a story waiting for me to discover it.
Seven- I hate being answerable for any of my actions. I work hard towards avoiding any situation where I am answerable, but often ruin things by trying too hard.

#3 Seven Posts
Most Beautiful -  An Engagement Mills & Boon Style!
Descriptively the most beautiful, this post takes inspiration from a real live love story to paint some fictional scenes. Among my own writings, it has a sacrosanct status.
Most Helpful - At The Edge Of Sunshine
In this post I record some musings which I want to remember forever. Written based on a chance meeting with a relative stranger, this article talks of the importance of been shaken out of our comfort zones to realize our true potential in life and the perils of stereotyping our own selves. Helps me, has helped a few others too.
Most Popular- Valentine Art Affection
Sitting on top since the very day it got posted, this post based on the magic of Leonid Afremov's brush strokes beats all the other in number of individual page views by miles. It is a visual delight, and a welcome break from my customary lethargically long posts.
Most Controversial- Revelation
It is a nice post, once again extremely close to my heart, but it is the only one on which a critical debate has arisen right here, on my blog itself. While the content was appreciated, the controversy hinged around my proclivity for grandiloquent words, my untamed verbosity of expression..err...and I think I did it again!
Most Surprisingly Successful- Understanding Them/ Beauty Lies In Distortions
This was my first guest post with which I ventured into an area I seldom explored- psychological vestiges of experiences during adolescence. More than comments, it fetched me numerous words of gratitude sent via personal mediums. When we are brave enough to share thoughts we feel tormented with, we might actually inadvertently end up helping someone else- this I learnt from this guest post experience.
Most Underrated- Winter Reminiscences- That Story
If the comments are anything to go by, then I feel this post did not get the attention it deserved. I tried to figure out, but could not find reasons as to why. Motherhood is not a topic I touch upon often in my post, and when here I did, I thought I did a decent job of it.
Most Prideworthy- That Walk Down My College
I know I did a good job with this piece of writing. Besides getting me noticed among some people of reckoning, it narrated with devoted honesty a simple incident which left a profound impact on me.

#4 New Set Of 7X7 Link Award Recipients
Yarn of Words by Aakrity Malik
The25thHour by Archika Poria
Monumental Crankiness by Rahul Biswas
A Portrait Of Emotion by Priyanka Tampi
Nirvana by Aavika Dhanda
Words by Saru Singhal
Hausle Buland by Kunal

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dewy Diamonds

Moist pearls tickle my toes
Smell of dew runs up my nose
Bare feet nudging at rich wet grass,
Droplets reflecting the sheen of stars
Eyelid touched by a rainy cue
My lips curve at the magic of dew.
The darkest hour enchants like a spell,
Dawn crawls in with a musty smell.
Morning bliss derived from that,
Nighttime's glow in the nature's lap. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dancing For Real

With the Masterchef India Season 2 drawing towards a finale, I was fearing that my weekends will now acquire a dull hue. Not to be. At the perfect moment was launched the third installment of Dance India Dance, indubitably India's finest and most loved dance reality show. Whether the simplistic original, the cute children's special or the recent doubles- I have followed each episode of all these three variations with frenzied devotion, much to the chagrin of my not-so-enthusiastic-about-dance family members.

Geeta 'Ma'
I carry a little spirit of a dancer in myself. I am not trained, neither very nimble on my feet, yet I can pull off Odissi and Bharatnatyam performances with deceptive ease if I stick to the basics. Learning ballet was a childhood dream, lost sight of in childhood itself. Folk was masti embodied in music, spilling over easily to flamboyant yet graceful dance movements. Dancing for me was like talking to the flowing wind, smiling at almost nothing, and a medium for expressing angst and resentment for things not fine in life. During school time, dancing was perhaps my only workout, the absence of which is my college years was visible in the pounds piling on around my tummy. Eschewing my attachment to each single distinctly remembered performance, I can safely claim that I was happiest when I performed a musical drama as a protagonist beleaguered by the conflict between inner and superficial beauty. My mentor combined elements of puppet dance, jazz and contemporary to create a performance which was lauded and remembered for days to come.
Remo D'Souza- "Gabbar"

Anyway. So today concluded the Mega Auditions of the show ruling my mind, DID Season 3, with the selection of top 18. These have been divided into teams of six to be mentored by three choreographers who are now cult figures- Geeta Kapoor, Terence Lewis and Remo D'Souza. While Geeta Kapoor, more famous as the often jested about sobriquet of Geeta 'Ma', claims all my predilection, it is Remo Ke Rangeele who seem poised to become the favorites once the Gala Round kickstarts on next weekend.

Terence 'stylish' Lewis
For those of us who ridicule dance as a long term career option or write it off as at best a hobby, the auditions of DID Seasons 3 provided some nice background stories to convince us towards a fresher perspective on dance. True, melodramatic flashes into the personal plights of contestants may be a put off when the competition is in full swing and the vote count critical. But during the audition stage, it is these documentaries shot about the personal lives of the contestants which add just enough zing to keep me glued to the television set even during repeat telecasts of the show.

The top five stories which I will try and remember from the auditions of DID Season 3.

1. Furkan- This is a story from the neighbourhood. Uttam Nagar's Furkan is an auto driver's son who earns a daily stipend of Rs. 70 by volunteering for trafiic management of haywire West Delhi roads. Since financial situations at home are bleak, it is from this stipend that Furkan manages to fulfill his needs, primary among which are videos he procures to learn dance. And when this boy comes on stage looking lost, nervous, unsure, but pulls of an astounding Robotics performance wittily choreographed to "Teri tirchhi nazar ne..", you are forced to sit up and take notice.

2. Raj- He comes from Ranchi, has no formal training, but different to most like him who lack a Guru, he does not even have the privilege of watching videos and aping them to train himself. He just has music, an enthusiastic heart which gives him a sense of rhythm, and a talented mind from which originate smart and hilariously entertaining choreography. He couldn't survive the tough DID competition, but upon being eliminated, all he sought was a chance to see his huge portrait decorating the background once to his heart's content. Him, I hope to see again in the next season.

3. Mohina- Or I should say Princess Mohina Singh of the Kingdom of Riva, Madhya Pradesh. One of the few happy stories from the auditions. My reading on royal women informs me of the added restrictions on their movement (and flight) for they carry on themselves the burden of royalty, with izzat and maryada as the ruling keywords. But this princess broke free, and with what charm! Besides her talent, what was heartwarming was to see her father in the background, informing the audience of their traditions, yet standing behind his daughter as she set out to pursue her passion.

4. Pradeep Gurung- When this lad from Guwahati performed an air cartwheel with stylish ease, I stared at the television set in disbelief. He runs a successful dance school back home, but his insistence on making a career out of dance won him disfavor with his mother. He had to move out, has not met his mother in years, misses her, but knows in his heart that if he is able to attain success while following his passion, it is his mother who would be the happiest and proudest of him. His audition performance was dedicated to his mother. Touching. Amazing.

5. Neerav- He was Terence Lewis' assistant in the first two seasons of DID. He participated in this year's auditions without informing his mentor to whom apparently he is really attached. He had wanted to participate earlier, but being the bread winner for his family, continuing with a stable income had been an unspoken mandate on him. This season he felt he was at ease, but some awkward, surprise filled glimpses from his stunned mentor were enough to lead to copious tear showers on the set. His dance was just about okay, but his story, quite compelling.

Pradeep and Mohina are the only ones who have made it to the final leg of the show. I have picked my favorites, but am waiting for the curtain raiser of the gala round to be sure of people I will be rooting for. Until then, I'll keep irritating my folks with this revived penchant for dancing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Being Elizabeth by Barbara Bradford Taylor- A Review

"Just that....Love won't wait. You have to immediately grab hold of it, hang on to it, when it suddenly appears in all its glory. Yes, you really do, because it certainly has a way of disappearing on you. In fact, you could say it's ephemeral. It evaporates...just like that!"
"You and I certainly grabbed it, didn't we?"

The above is a conversation between Elizabeth Turner and Robert Dunley, the romantic couple who star as the protagonist in another of Barbara Taylor Bradford's family sagas, this time about the Deravenel Dynasty. At the outset itself it must be remarked, that Bradford, OBE, the best selling author of A Woman Of Substance, does not quite live upto her reputation in this book. The author claims at the end of the book that her story is inspired from the life of Elizabeth Tudor, one of England's most dynamic monarchs. However, it is a classic case of how sometimes too much inspiration is bad inspiration. A plot summary might be apt before I sum up my views on the book.

Being Elizabeth is the story the eponymous Elizabeth Deravenel Turner, the last in the line of what has been fictionalized as the oldest conglomerate in the world, the Deravenal Dynasty. In a story that spans a decade, from the mid 1990s transitioning into a new millennium, culminating in the year 2006, Being Elizabeth essays the journey of Elizabeth as the Managing Director of the Deravenel's which she inherits at a tender age and in a devastated condition owing the reckless handling of business operations by Elizabeth's now dead half sister, Mary Turner. Together with her trusted comrades, Cecil Williams and Roberth Dunley, and with the aid of her impeccable business acumen, Elizabeth succeeds in putting back Deravenel's on the path to glory. With the latter gent, Elizabeth has a scandalous romantic involvement since he is an already married man. Having had an abusive childhood, yearning for a single hint of love from her father who married six women, Elizabeth develops a phobia of marriage which becomes the most significant obstacle in the stability of her relation with Robert Dunley. Problems in Elizabeth's life are compounded by constant threats to her sovereign business empire and her claim to the Deravenel inheritance as well.

Being Elizabeth is a story told in a monotone, granting no serious jolts or gasps to the reader. Having read Ms. Bradford extensively, I have figured that one of her peculiar characteristics is that she weaves the crisis into the very fabric of the story. So it lurks around always. As a reader, you keep waiting for that one serious eruption which will set the protagonists life haywire, and then the story will pick up pace. Alas, with Being Elizabeth, nothing like that actually happens.

Bradford spends a lot of time giving vivid description of Edwardian art and architecture, which, unless you are an aficionado, can make things a little draggy. Still, you will but marvel at her for creating that theatrical ambiance in your mind, in which you can easily place the characters and imagine their story. She does her research well, and in this case, since her characters come inspired from real life figures, their development in the story is rather admirable. They are steady and lucid and distinctly identifiable.

Although it would help readers if they have read the previous two installments of the Ravenscar Dynasty, this book would still not rev up the intrigue which makes one want to turn pages. It is predictable. Highly so. The descriptions about imminent family coups, takeover bids, business strategies, and much else, are intelligent and informed, but also lethargically long and repetitive.

For me, the high points of the book, besides Bradford's amazing prowess at writing impeccably beautiful and poetic English, are two. First, she, like always, has for the subject of her book a smart, empowered and a woman in control. You would never find her heroines shedding tears or feeling oppressed. Her heroines always rise above their predicaments, and shine bright. Secondly, I love the love angle in the story. As stated earlier, the love story between the protagonists in this book is inspired by the rumoured affair between Queen Elizabeth Tudor and Robert Dudley, her closest aide, and the first Earl Of Leicester. Bradford does a fine job of carving out an intense, passionate and touching love story, though I find the erotic element a little over emphasized in the book, unnecessarily so.

I would give it a little less than 2 stars on 5, and that for a Barbara Taylor Bradford family saga is a little disappointing.
The Author- From her, you instinctively expect more.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beauty Lies In Distortions

The quote I have used as the title to this post I came across in one of the episodes of the musical travelogue- The Dewarists. It intrigued me, and stayed somewhere at the back of my mind. A day back, I used the same as the opening line for a Guest Post I had been invited to write by a blogger friend, Gopan. Guest Post- I had not quite known of this concept, till I came across a few blogs which encourage different writers to come together and air their views on a common portal. On my part, I felt ecstatic at the knowledge that a person who knew me only via my writings wanted a splash of my thoughts on his blog. I was given an absolute free hand to choose the subject of my article, only with the appendage that something on social issues would be slightly more appreciated.

I did not exactly pick a social issue, but something close enough. Like most of us, I too have had a tumultuous adolescence. Growing up had its beauties, but it also gifted me an alternate set of experiences which could baffle, obfuscate, frustrate, anger, depress, irritate, and cause a deluge of many more not-so-positive emotions to infect my brain. Transitioning into adulthood, looking back at the period which has left the most pronounced effects on my current and lifelong personality, I could discover a lot of thoughts inside me which I wanted to put to paper. I have always been a worshiper and admirer of the beauties which lie within subjectivities- and it has always beat me how people care not to appreciate or understand the innate subjectivity each human carries in his demeanour, emotions, psyche,  and (needless to say) in a combination of those three.

My reflections on adolescence as I had experienced it, primarily hinging on the lack of understanding which as adolescents we faced in our times, the impacts of it on our individual and collective psyche- combined with the pathos of the subjectivity which remains most consist in the Universe, waiting to be included, appreciated and not ridiculed, form the broad basis of my article, titled Understanding Them.

The wonderful blogger who invited me to contribute to his portal, quite aptly named My Open Voice, was gracious enough to post my article without any editing on his blog. His name is Gopan. A Kerala resident, soon to be flying to UK to pursue further studies, Gopan, as I found out later is, academically at least, a bright psychologist. I was initially skeptical to attempt a piece of writing which naively touches upon psycho-social contents for the perusal of a psychologist, but his balanced appreciation of the same has left me glad for having done it. I would be happy if my readers would visit the link specified below and give me their feedback, even if it contradicts my beliefs as projected in the article.

Understanding Them 


My Open Voice

Coupled with the happiness of having written my first guest post, was the mirth of having completed 100 followers on Nascent Emissions. Thanking each single one of you for all the support you gave, I would specially like to thank Nishant Jain, who, a little after midnight on 3rd January 2012 officially became my 100th follower. For information's sake, Nishant is a dear buddy from school, and had insisted that he be informed as soon as my blog completes 99 followers, so that with a little promptness, he could have the distinction (insignificant, I know) of being the 100th name to be associated with my Nascent Emissions. Graduating to triple figure followers base does feel amazing, and a cup of coffee is what I shall be treating myself with.