Resolutions and Blogathon 2014



Hello people, A Very Happy New Year. Hope the year 2014 brings in loads of joy and happiness for you and your family! 🙂



A friend of mine sent this pic in whatsapp. I couldn’t help laughing. This is exactly how we make resolutions. We humans are indeed slaves of our habits. You know calendar has changed, we  haven’t 😛

In fact TOI had this article where celebrities were asked, which is one resolution that they make every year and break it soon and the timeframe till which the resolution lasts.

I am no different so keeping up with the tradition, let me go ahead and make some new renewed resolutions too.

  1. Exercise!
  2. Eat healthy not pseudo-healthy
  3. Lose (at least some) weight.
  4. Get out more.
  5. Do more things that scare me. Darr ke aage jeet hai 😛
  6. Post more often on blog. Successfully complete a blog marathon. Started already. 😀
  7. Successfully complete a running marathon.
  8. Stay in touch with family and friends and reconnect with some of those friends.
  9. Learn and complete a project with a new programming language.
  10. Be positive. Live more. Love more.

Okay now it sounds more like life philosophy so I am gonna stop. This is my first post in the series for Blogathon 2014 for Jan. Check out some more awesome blogs which are part of the marathon here


Blogathon 2014

Four years old

My blog completes four years this month. Of late I haven’t been a great blogger (both in terms of writing and commenting on other’s blog). But fortunately for me I have had readers who appreciated the content and given the feedback for the rare content I posted and replied to my late comments on their blogs.  I take this opportunity to once again say “Thank you!” and every one of your visits, comments and likes matter. Thanks for helping me see this blog through 4 years 🙂

Since we are talking about4 year olds, that reminds me of my childhood. The simpler times, when we were innocent and the times were simpler as well. When the heroes, villains, situations came labelled and stories had nice endings and also a “moral of the story”. Imagine a world, where the bad guys wear black (Actually, I like black so I wish they don’t), laugh in their signature bad guy style and are aptly named by their parent’s as “Krur Singh” or ‘Dushtbuddhi’. And similarly the good guys are given good names and look great and so on. Me being the trusting kid, believed when I read such stories. In fact, I idolized so many characters from those stories. Wish I knew this Japanese proverb then

If you believe everything you read, better not read.

I remember reading the Famous fives, Nancy Drews and Hardy boys and wanting to be like them. Only all attempts to do so failed. I wanted to drink ale as the characters in most English stories but when I asked around half the people did not understand what I said and the other half thought I had gone mad(Now I realise they were probably right). I also wanted to have blue eyes (Only looks good if you are white. Thank God for not listening to my prayers. God knows best!).

Then I read about these kids going to their aunt or granny’s place for vacation and we did that too 🙂 These well-behaved kids helped their aunt with setting up the breakfast table and some household work. And since I was a very good kid too, 😉 wanted to  help my gran. So one morning I went into the kitchen and started helping with some random stuff when I heard someone shouting from behind “You haven’t taken bath yet. Why are  you touching those Prasad plates?”(For the uninitiated  Prasad is an offering to God during Puja/religious ritual).  And here I thought I am helping. This is not going to deter me, is it? I took a bath came back to help when I learnt that I am too slow, don’t know how to set up the Prasad plates, …  and a million other ritualistic nuances I didn’t even know existed. That was the end of my “help elders during vacation” story.

At least I thought I will do something adventurous and  save some kidnapped kids from the nearby caves. But as it turned out, there were no caves nearby neither did any neighbourhood kids get kidnapped.  That ended my hope of being like those characters. I was disappointed but also learnt the hard way that real life is different.

I always thought I’ll own a convertible just like Nancy Drew someday. There still I do have hope 🙂 (I am optimistic you see).

I still get influenced by the books I read only now I am more selective of what I read and the influences are more subtle. And I am quite sure it is true for a lot of people. Which is why we need good stories especially the ones we read during our formative years. Which are the stories/characters who have influences you most? Have you tried being like any of them? Something like “Main Madhuri Dixit banana chahati hoon”?

Since we are on the topic f books one post you must check out Steve McCurry’s Blog Post. And here’s a thought on probably why we get so influenced by books

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul. – Joyce Carol Oates”

Go Goa Gone – Movie Review


I haven’t updated my blog from a long time and I thought Blogoversary( which is just a fortnight away) would be a good time for that. But then Life has its own way of spoiling your plans or should I say “Karma” has a way of getting back at you.

I don’t know what possessed me that I thought of watching this movie “Go Goa Gone” after reading a few online reviews. It is a good movie no doubt just not my kind. It is not a horror movie but a zomcom i.e. a zombie comedy or whatever that means. Dark humour at its best you can say. Who can imagine running around trees with a zombie while a romantic song plays in the background?

Though I personally loved a few comic scenes, I am not able to get a few macabre scenes out of my head. They are just too gory for my taste. Why am I writing this? Coz although it is a good movie if you can’t take that extra bit of violent scenes or take pleasure in dark humour, Think twice before you enter the cinema hall. Ditto if you are expecting a horror movie or a Hollywood type zombie movie or only a comedy movie. Everyone else will love the movie or so I hope. Nice story, characterization & acting. At least different if nothing else.

And yes no matter what is the reason, please don’t take your kids along. I saw a few kids in the hall & wondered why would any parent/ parents do that? Any thoughts?

Chanakya’s New Manifesto – Book Review

The author, Pavan K. Varma, is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, where he studied history and took a degree in law from Delhi University. He is at present India’s Ambassador in Bhutan. Prior to this he has worn many hats and held many important positions. He has been press secretary to the President of India, official spokesman of the Foreign Office, and director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

He has authored many bestselling books including  Ghalib: The Man, The Times; Krishna: The Playful Divine; The Great Indian Middle Class; Being Indian: The truth about why the 21st century will be India’s; Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity and When Loss is Gain. He has also translated works of Gulzar, Kaifi Azmi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee into English.

Pavan Varma is hailed as one of the greatest social commentators of contemporary India. I had missed reading his previous works, so when I came across a chance to read his book “Chankya’s New Manifesto” through Blogadda I grabbed the opportunity.

The book aims to apply the Chanakya’s strategy (Chanakya neeti ) to the woes of contemporary India. What would Chanakya do if confronted with the various crises that beset contemporary India? forms the basis of this book. “Chanakya (c. 270-380 BCE) was classical India’s greatest thinker and teacher. Through his unparalleled ability to devise result-oriented military, political and administrative strategy, he overthrew one king, crowned another and paved the way for the establishment of India’s first great empire. His seminal work, the Arthashashtra, arguably the world’s first comprehensive treatise on statecraft and governance, was written approximately two thousand years before Machiavelli’s The Prince.”[From the book]

History is testimony to the results of Chanakya’s strategy and not utilizing such a great resource as his work can only be termed a crime. His work is relevant and also most required today when The Time called the most important man of our country an under-achiever, when we start everyday with news of a new scam, most of our leaders tainted and trust in the system is at its lowest. An urgent action is needed on our leaders’ part and an equal need for others to question the system, to ask for answers, to ask the right questions and debate on the right ways of bringing about a change and infuse a fresh lease of life into our system and country to really make it a Shining India.

Pavan Varma’s book has taken the first step towards that change. In his book, divided in five parts, he has analysed the current situation in detail and provided the solutions that he thinks can be used to overcome these problems. The five parts he has focused on are

  1. Governance
  2. Democracy
  3. Corruption
  4. Security (of the country from external threats )
  5. Inclusive society

The best part about the book is that there is great focus how can the situation be remedied instead of just detailed problem analysis.  Plus, the points are not dry theory or wishful thinking but practical implementable, and workable solutions. His rich experience shows in the analysis and the solutions devised. However, neither the content nor the language overwhelms the reader and in fact the book is quite a light read in spite of the topic at hand.  The book made me run to Google plenty of times to get the facts, to verify something, to counter a theory or to defend my counter-views. And, for me, any book which can make you think in such a manner is a winner. He provides his perspective on the important issues and even when you don’t agree you’ll find the views and theories quite intriguing. The book makes you think deeply on all the issues.

Anybody who thinks about being a part of social change, changing the status-quo, interested in current politics, interested in statesmanship or knowing the art of statecraft and governance should read this book.  Also, anybody who wants to read a great piece of non-fiction with practical outlook should pick a copy of the book. Not for casual readers though. Be ready to rack your brains if you want to read the book and some amount of patience is required to understand what is written if you aren’t very familiar with the ways of governance.

Final Verdict: 8/10

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

Book details:

 Name: Chanakya’s New Manifesto: To Resolve the Crisis within India

Author: Pavan K Varma

Publisher: Aleph Book Company(2013)

No. of pages: 248


Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013

New Start for a New Year. Happy New Year 2013 to everyone! Hope you had a blast sending off 2012 and welcoming 2013 🙂

Indian Quills Reading Challenge is an attempt to create a database of reviews for books by Indian authors. With the Indian literary scene buzzing with activity, 2013 looks like a promising year for both desi readers and writers.

I am committing to read & review at least 20 Books under this challenge in 2013. Wish me luck!!

Thanks Reshmy for letting me know of the challenge 🙂

Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013

Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013

2012 in review

Hasn’t been a great year in terms of blogging but a good report nonetheless. 2012 in review for my blog by

Thank you all lovely readers for reading, liking, commenting and sharing! Hope you enjoy reading my posts as much(or more) in 2013. 🙂

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Interview – Rishi Vohra

Rishi Vohra

Rishi Vohra

Rishi Vohra is the author of ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’. He recently relocated back to Mumbai after completing a Green MBA from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law, prior to which he had a successful career in the Indian Entertainment Industry. After featuring as a guest columnist for various newspapers in India, he currently writes for delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW).  ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’ is his first novel.

First of all, thank you for the interview.

Autism and schizophrenia aren’t popular themes among Indian authors. Esp. not the ones who write for the masses. How did you come up with the idea of Babloo, an autistic hero for your story and what was the inspiration behind your story? 

The idea of Babloo’s character germinated from the conversation with a friend of mine.  He is much older and has the similar mental disorders as Babloo’s character.  He is very intelligent and used to follow newspaper headlines, and report the same to me.  One day, he was irked by a headline about a particular railway crime and said that he wished he could do something about it.  That got me thinking – what if he could do something about it?  How would he do it?
This friend of mine is in India.  A year later, I moved to the U.S. for graduate business school.  When I sat down to write, this conversation with him came to mind.  I created the character of Babloo and wanted to give him a life on paper.  At the time, all I had was Babloo.  The story unfolded with each page.
Sapna, I wouldn’t call Babloo an autistic hero.  He is a hero who happens to have autism.  The difference is that he is prompted by his disorders rather than a sense of reasoning.  This helps him create an alternate reality for himself.
Even though Babloo is just a character in the book, for me he became a real person.  So to answer your question, my inspiration was to give Babloo a life and help him find normalcy in his world which had ostracized him all along.
Did you face any challenges while writing the novel? 
The biggest challenge was getting into Babloo’s head.  Because of his disorders, he lacked a sense of reasoning typical of normal adults.  Though I had researched about his disorders, it didn’t seem enough to understand him or his thought process.
At the time, I was just about to start my MBA program at San Francisco State University (SFSU).  SFSU has a renowned Psychology department.  I met with one of the faculty and spoke to him at length, trying to get an understanding of these disorders.  Please understand that at this point, I had no idea that I was going to write a novel to be later pushed for publication.  It was just a story I wanted to get on paper, and was actually looking to write it as a screenplay.  Anyway, this faculty member put me in touch with people with such disorders, on the condition that I would talk to them normally, and not try to learn about their disorders from them.  So, over a duration of time, I spent time with these people who soon became friends.  Our interactions helped me shape up Babloo’s character.
That is a commendable effort. Your friend must be proud of you. Now that you have mentioned you didn’t have an idea of publishing your work. What prompted you to publish the story and what were the challenges publishing as a first time author? 
Once I wrote the book, I kept it on the shelf and dived into the MBA program.  I was also working full-time, so didn’t really have time to think about the book.  However, I did give it to my wife and some other friends to read and they loved if for the story and “easy style of writing.”  They were the ones who encouraged me to push it for publication.  So I started writing to literary agents in the U.S., and received only rejection letters.  I asked the last agent for her feedback and as to why no one wanted to pick up my work.  She told me that the book didn’t cater to Western sensibilities and so it would be difficult to find takers in the Western market.  Coincidently, she was aware of the rising mass fiction market in India and advised me to push it for publication in India.  So, I rewrote the entire book and started writing to publishers in India.
As a first-time Author, my main challenge was publicity.  I realized that an author has to do a large amount of marketing and publicity on his/her own, which makes it challenging for someone without the financial resources.  People should hear about a book before they see it in a bookstore, otherwise they are hardly likely to pick it up.  A similar comparison, Sapna, would be when you go to a multiplex to watch a film.  If you have no particular film in mind, you are more likely to watch a film, the promos of which you have already seen and liked.  Even if you see a film hoarding at the theatre with big stars, but which you have heard and know nothing about, you are less likely to choose that film over ones that have repeatedly caught your attention.
Our country is diverse, and getting the attention of a Pan India audience is a huge effort and can prove very expensive.  For authors who enter the market with backup financial resources, they are able to get a good publicist on board and push press to the doorsteps of their audiences in both cities and the inner areas.  For other authors, first-time or otherwise, they have to hope that word-of-mouth gets their book to readers.
In my case, I was fortunate enough to get press so far without a publicist.  But I still feel that the book hasn’t completely reached it’s audience and hope that the positive reviews that the book has garnered so far, goes further through word-of-mouth.  On another note, Mr. Prahlad Kakar and Mr. Kabir Bedi were kind enough to read the book and lend their comments to the front and back cover of the book respectively.  They both are celebrities adored by mass audiences, and their endorsements add further credibility to that of the positive print and online press so far.

Which authors or books have influenced your writing the most? And what genre do you like reading the best?

Well Sapna, I have been reading various authors right since school so it would be tough for me to pinpoint as to which authors or books have influenced me the most. My writing is more influenced by films as I have worked in the Hindi Film Industry for many years. But, two of my favourite Indian Authors are S. Hussain Zaidi and Vikram Chandra. In their books, they have given Mumbai a unique voice and captured the true essence of the city and its people.

I like reading mostly fiction. I do read non-fiction but only when it’s based on crime, an inspiring person, or a unique philosophy.

Are you working on any other book currently or do you plan to bring out another book anytime soon? And what genre would that be?

I have finished my second book, but haven’t placed it for publication yet. Now that ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’ has received an encouraging response, I’m going to go further in the process with my second book. It’s set in the Hindi Film Industry, and is laced with all the humour and drama of a fun, fast-paced read.

Anything you’d like to say to aspiring authors.

Keep writing! Getting published is very difficult, but not impossible. And it requires a huge effort from the writer’s side. You may get rejection letters, but if you have a good book, you will definitely find a publisher. You just have to keep trying.

In India, nonfiction sells more than fiction. So if you’re writing nonfiction, you need to be somewhat of an expert on the subject (proven through your credentials) and you shouldn’t have a problem in finding a publisher.

There are a lot of fiction writers out there. And just because you’re a good writer, doesn’t necessarily make you a good story-teller. So write a fiction, only when you have a story to tell. That will make it much easier and make you more appealing as a writer. Of course, don’t hide your book as the next ‘masterpiece’ and let it collect dust on the shelf! Share it with close ones who you can trust with honest feedback. These are the people who are going to buy your book so their opinions matter! The criticism might hurt in the beginning, but it will steer you in the right direction!

Thanks Rishi. All the Best for your future ventures!

Blog of the Year 2012 and Reality Blog Award

Wow! Two awards in a single day. Must be my best blog day. First the Blog of the year 2012 and then reality award

Blog of the Year Award 2012

Blog of the Year Award 2012

Thank you Randomuzings. I feel deeply honored that you think my blog is worthy of this award.

I am greatly touched. Thanks again 🙂

Here are the rules to accept this award:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
5 You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

ok, let’s start…

Blog of the Year Award 2012

Here are my nominations for the Blog of the year 2012 award:

Collect the star and grab some more before it ends!

Reality Blog Award



Thanks Vina for the lovely award. I am truly grateful.

Below are the rules for the REALITY blog award:

1. Answer the 5 questions

2. Nominate 8 other bloggers


1. If you could change one thing, what would you change?

A. If I could, I would change and reverse the environmental damage we humans have done to the Earth.

2. If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

A. I would be 21. Just out of college and you have all the confidence in the world and you think  you can take the world in your stride.

3. What one thing really scares you?

A. Creepy , crawly creatures

4. What is one dream you have not completed, and do you think you’ll be able to complete it?

A. A World tour and yes I think I can. Being a little optimistic here 🙂

5. If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?

A. Hmmm I would like to be Neil Armstrong the day he landed on the moon.  I’d literally be “over the moon” 😀


Happy Blogging! 🙂