Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

Jan 16, 2017

HINDU LIT FOR LIFE: Chennai Book Lovers Happy Journey

The most awaited event of the new year for me, since last few years, has been Hindu Literary Festival which comes to a close today. This year too, it brought me in touch with wonderful writers from across the world. The interaction with humble Markus Zusak - Author of the book 'The Book Thief', unassuming and prolific Author Shashi Tharoor - who could produce a well researched book on British Colonialism, based on his viral video. The  wonderful sessions of many authors and commentators, I attended was absolutely enlightening. Spending some time with Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, getting to know her thoughts and ideas, meeting my old friend and mentor Timeri N Murari as well as some friends from Chennai Blogger's Club added an extra interest to the festival. 

This year's Festival was also special as my two good friends Dr. Chithra Madhavan and Sharon Apparao conducted wonderful workshops which were not only interesting but  engrossing as well.

And as the festival came to an end, the winners of the Hindu Lit Festival are Chennai Book Lovers... who joined in a very Happy Journey (as the auto at the venue declared) on the day of Hindu New Year Festival - Sankranti which also kick started my own literary journey with twin city launch of the Hindi translation of my book "Songs of the Mist" - Kuhaase ke Geet at Mumbai (18th Jan) and at Delhi (4th Feb) by my publisher Story Mirror. Hopefully the year 2017 will continue to be on happy note, as I start off on another journey to Mumbai University where I am conducting my Workshops on "Writing and Haiku" @ SMYCC...

Kiran Doshi (Pic Curtsy Hindu Lit For Life)
But the real winner with a lovely acceptance speech was Kiran Doshi, who received this years coveted Hindu Prize of Fiction for his book - 'Jinnah Often Came to Our House'.

Vivek Shanbhag
The final days of the Hindu Lit Fest was interspersed with many interesting sessions, beginning with Vivek Shanbhag - the Kannada Author, whose mother tongue is actually Konkani, declaring that the first quality of a writer is to be courageous. I could relate to personally as well as to his quote that... 'The Word has so many memories'.

Kanhaiya Kumar
The session with Kanhaiya Kumar - a mellowed down iconic JNU Ex-President began with his thoughts on the topic 'Is India Ready for Revolution?'

"Forget revolution, we are fighting to save democracy - currently we have a crisis of opposition". as he finds that there is no real alternative to Narendra Modi and his vociferous bhakts. He went on to add in his english - hindi mixed talk (for which he apologised to begin with)...

"The current situation of young generation and education system is such that degree has become important, while education is not" - Kanhaiya Kumar

As was expected, he went on to talk about the BJP's imposition of brahmanism and safforon-isation of thoughts but he did not even spare the Congress Party as he defended the young generation which did not let 'Rajmata's son to become PM, while a chaiwala could become one with their support as they were misled by BJP's progress plank". Here is an endearing start of his talk at the session, have a look.

The most awaited session personally for me was of the author of the book "The Book Theif" - Markus Zusak. A very humble person, who when asked to read few lines from his iconic book, not only read as he would usually do but also read it in the way a professional will, which was hilarious.

"Writers love to be miserable, that's what being a writer is all about" - Markus

Markus Zusak

"The good part of the book is that it develops friendship." - Markus

This year the Hindu Lit Fest received record footfalls, as Nirmala Lakshmanan (Program Director and Director of Hindu Group) shared the fact sheet at the beginning of the festival that the festival has generated huge response to begin with. It has pre-registered 15K participants on the day one and I believe it was more than that... Here is a picture which endorses the view...

Leaving you with some pictures with some of my friends... from the Hindu Lit Fest.

Lovely to catch up with Srinidhi Hande - The Famous Traveller 
With famous music lover, Quiz Master and good friend - Sylvian Patrick
And wonderful conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner - Geraldine Brooks

Hope you have enjoyed the journey with me, signing off 2016 Hindu Lit Festival... Cheers
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Hindu Lit for Life 2017 - Day 1                                                  

Jan 15, 2017

HINDU LIT FOR LIFE: Day 1 - There is something about Trump?

As 14th January is our Hindu New Year, let me treat you with the how the Hindu Lit Festival celebrated it.

The Grand Entrance to the Hindu Lit Festival

... and the beauty of new year
I have been writing about Hindu Lit Festival since its inception and as my friend Nirmala Lakshmanan, the Director of the Festival said that this time has been the most promising start with 15K registrations even before the festival began. Looking at the brochure with the details of its program, I think Hindu Lit Festival has surpassed itself in the content, quality and footfalls and above all the participation of the citizens of Chennai.

And then the session began... with the reluctant artist, opening up the festival.

...and remembering Chandralekha, by Tishani Doshi who in the beginning was even scared to ring the bell....

The best session of the day was reserved for Shashi Tharoor, who was able to manage a book out of a viral video "Era of Darkness" which is doing great but as it goes for a print in Britain but for obvious reason not with the same title...

Though it is not difficult to say, why the change of title but here are some of his quotes from his talk, which might let you know...

"They not only colonised the country, but also colonised the mind"

"Manu's thought was always there since 2000 years as Caste was, but the British were able to systemise it, which even continues today."

As I listened to him, tearing apart the systemic approach with which British went on being hypocritical about the reasons they were in India, I did not realise that I was sitting next to Geraldine Brooks, the pulitzer prize winner journalist, who in her next session talked so lovingly about the India, she has come to recognise....

"India has so many examples of moral leadership, who could stand opposite to oppression" -  Geraldine Brooks

And as she launched into the reasons for her book 'March' which won her the award in 2006, she was able to pinpoint the different way it came about. She was looking forward to an answer to the question she had in her mind...

"What happens to an idealist, when he goes to war?"

'The decay of ideals in times of war' and probably is the reason I find her voice resonating with me as she said...

"I think there is return to kind of nationalist Militant-ism" as she watched the twin towers going down, rhetoric of whites supremacist and the winning trump card - which brings to me to the most interesting phenomenon...

Ok, there is no denying to it that it has arrived. Mark's Kurlansky - An American Author and journalist, who's daughter Talia (She co-authored a book with him at the age of 12) said that the day Trump became president - elect, her english teacher said...

"I am so sorry that my generation failed yours"

But I believe, as long as artists like Molly Crabapple, who called 'Spade - a spade' in declaring the Trump Mantra of 'Lets Make America Great Again'... is nothing but a call to 'Lets Make America WHITE Again"...

there is still a chance that the old generation has not failed the young generation. As in the end of the session, Brooks said, in an answer to the question from the audience...

"Art, freedom, thinking thrives most when its under threat" 


Looking forward to next few days .... Hope you have enjoyed this journey with me in Hindu Lit Festival. Please let me know your views..

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Hindu Lit for Life over the years             A Chennai Book Lover's Happy Journey                              

Jan 3, 2017

SPOTLIGHT: ‘The Other Side of HIm’ - Alice Rene (Action Thriller)

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.
“Have a good look, ladies. This is the face of a woman who just plunged a dagger into her boyfriends back.” - Alice Rene in “The Other Side of Him

Few years back, I had visited Vienna and fell in love with it. SO much so that one of the character of my own book is based in Vienna. So when I got a chance to interact with the author of the book “The Other Side of Him” - Alice Rene who is from Vienna herself, I had to have her in the Spotlight. I was quite sure that it would have the necessary creative ingredients to keep my interest growing from page to page. Coming from the land of Secessionist movement of the artists in early last century, my interaction with her was as creative and interesting as art lined up on almost every street corner of the city.

Though I was surprised by the choice of her subject in the book i.e. Stalking in the 1950's, but as you read on, you tend to agree with her. Published in January 2016, “The Other Side of Him” has won a IPPY AWARD, Bronze Medal in Regional Fiction and was a Finalist in the 2016 Beverly Hills Award Competition in the Category of Suspense.

She says that her purpose in writing the book was to highlight the issue of stalking and what it was like in the fifties for anyone being stalked when society had not established any institutions to help such victims.

She loves to write in her study, where she has a great view of her garden. She likes quiet places where she can think and her study is the perfect place for the same. She says that it usually take her 3 years to write and edit a book. Mostly her inspiration for the book comes from her personal experiences.

Born in Vienna, Alice came to the U.S. as a young child and survivor of WWII. She grew up in Portland, Oregon and came to California for college and graduate school. Her first book, award-winning "Becoming Alice” is a memoir. She has worked as a medical social worker and travel consultant, escorting groups to exotic foreign destinations, before starting her writing career. She now lives in southern California where she plays tennis, works in her succulent garden, and writes her next book.

My inspiration comes from watching people’s characteristics, how each person deals with conflict, and why.

1)...."he's the most eligible bachelor in San Francisco...Be an angel and do your brother a favor--go out with this guy, okay?"
2) "With his free hand he lifted my chin to meet his lips. The kiss! The passion! I all seemed to come from his heart. I wrapped his my arms around his neck and responded in kind."
3) "Dusk blanketed the neighborhood, the time of day ordinary hoodlums turned into thieves--or killers if their victims put up a fight.

Inspired by true events this story is about Claire, raised in the Chicago tenements in the 50's and eager to escape her humble and dangerous surroundings. Her ticket to get out of the projects is to win a scholarship to college in California. She achieves her dreams, and even meets a man on a blind date, handsome and rich, who introduces her to a life she'd only seen in the movies. In time she learns he is also deeply flawed and attempts to break up with him. However he is not ready to let go of her and becomes her stalker, a situation in which her very life is threatened. In a time before society had any institutions set up to help victims of abuse, Claire must find her own solution to escape he danger she faces.


– Shashi 
CEO & Partner ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” | Haiku Poet
Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind


ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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The Resurrection of Evil - Neelabh              

Dec 30, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: ‘The Resurrection of Evil’ - Neelabh Pratap Singh

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.

“You cannot question the existence of anything just on the basis of the fact that you haven't ever seen it” - says Neelabh, Author of “The Resurrection of Evil

When I met Neelabh in Story Mirror’s Youth Conclave (The Book is Published by Story Mirror - one of the most vibrant and upcoming Publisher from Delhi), where I was conducting a workshops at Delhi University, he gave me his book “The Resurrection of Evil” to read and review but as the luck would have had it, it travelled from Delhi to Mumbai with another friend. Finally last month, Neelabh caught up with me at Story Mirror office with another book, as he knew that I still have not got it back from its all India tour. During our conversation, I tried to find his views about the book, his style of writing and the purpose he has written the book. So here is the interaction. Hope you will like it.
Me and Neelabh at Publisher Story Mirror's Office

The Resurrection of Evil : A fast-paced mythological thriller weaved around the battle of Good vs. Ancient Evil.

To begin with, I must let you all know that I am biased, as the genre - Mythological Thriller, he has written in, is my favorite genre. As is usual, I always ask any author about the reason he / she has written the book. Is there a purpose behind the book? As Neelabh settled down, he relives his young days. His love for reading developed in his early twenties. he loved to share his interest with his friends. He would gift his friends his favourite books on their birthdays. But later on, he realised that they wouldn’t read the book as they believed ‘Reading’ to be quite a ‘nerdy’ thing. It wasn’t cool. So, when it came to write a book, he wanted to write in a way that makes a non-reader intrigued by the story. It should be as entertaining to a non-reader as they would find a movie or a game.

“In a way, the purpose of my book is to promote reading.” - Neelabh Pratap Singh

He quotes cricketer Yuvraj Singh who said after one of his brilliant T20 knocks, “I just wanted to express myself”, in the same way writing entertaining and interesting stories is a way of expressing myself, And that’s the first and the major reason for him to write. Although he admits with mischievous smile with another quote, this time of George Orwell, “It is humbug to pretend Ego is not a motive, and a strong one,” that In introspection, ego could also be a reason for him to write.

When I asked him, if some one he respects and love a lot, ask him to stop writing, he said that he can not and will try lots of reasoning to convince the person. But if the push comes to shove, he will survive by reading at least.

Neelabh Pratap Singh is a mechanical engineer by profession. He hails from holy city of Varanasi. He has spent his school life in the steel city, Bhilai and pursued engineering from National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra. He has been associated with premium motorcycle manufacturers like Honda and Triumph. Being a technocrat by the day, he has to resort to the nights to follow his passion for storytelling. He is a great lover of action thrillers and is highly impressed by Indian mythology. Hence, his debut book, The Resurrection of Evil, is an amalgamation of both.

I was a storyteller right from the childhood. I would sketch comics on notebook papers, color it with crayons, and would give them to my friends to read. As I grew up, I left comic book making. But the stories would still develop inside my head and poke me to get out in front of the world. That desire of sharing the stories dwelling deep inside my head with the world inspired me to become a writer. Till this date, it is this desire, which inspires me every day to write.

I had no prior experience of writing before this book. I had never written anything creative before. I had no hope at all that I would ever be able to write a novel. But I knew one thing for sure that the destination of writing can be met by the path of reading. And hence, I started my love affair with books. Even after the research and plot outlining, I had a doubt whether I would be able to convert it into a full-fledged novel. But the till then, the books had given me enough confidence to conquer my fears and take a plunge into the world of writing.

a.         The gods are heroes and daemons the villains only because of their Karma.
b.         No matter how powerful one is, he will always be perceived and treated as his Karma drives people to feel about him.
c.         You cannot question the existence of anything just on the basis of the fact that you haven't ever seen it.
d.         Humans have always been puppets in the hands of the Devas, subjugated and terrorized by the Asuras. But not anymore

When an antique artifact is stolen from National Museum, Delhi, a reckless and stubborn police officer, ACP Aryan, is placed at the helm of the case. Uncovering each layer of the truth, Aryan discovers that the people on the hunt for the artifact are the descendants of those who are found only in the scriptures of Indian mythology—The Asuras.

From the gateway of Lord Vishnu—Haridwar—to God's own country—Kerala, from fiery pursuits to narrow escapes, the mystery of the artifact draws Aryan into a lethal maze of vengeance, betrayal, and dreadful secrets. With time slipping out of hands like sand, Aryan must unravel the secret motive of his adversaries. Else, this story of Good vs. Ancient Evil might not end with the victory of Good.

Neelabh says that it took him three years to complete the first book, right from idea generation to writing the last word. He dedicated the first year for research, homework, and plot outlining. The next two years took him to write the book.

Being a technocrat and working for a multinational company like Honda, he had to find time and places to write his book on the sidelines of his work. His first book “Resurrection of Evil” was written at random places like office, airports, and flights on laptop or mobile phone.

“Now, many would find it weird but I did it on purpose. Procrastination is something, which gets the better of many writers, and it started to get the better of me too. To counter it, I completely dissolved the requirement of right spot and right atmosphere for writing.” - Neelabh

I mentioned before that I was never a writer. But I had been associated with various art forms right from the childhood. I loved sketching and painting (I used to sketch comic books). In college, I was a passionate dancer. My friends were actually expecting me to do something in the field of dancing. But destiny had its own plan. I still take out some time for sketching and dancing.

I consider this book’s publishing as the biggest achievement, and there isn’t any other thing which can be compared to this one. However, there are two achievements which I can consider here, for they were life changing for me; both being academic. First one was during the first stage of my career when I competed for All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE) and secured a seat in National Institute of Technology (NIT), Kurukshetra. Second one is when I bagged a job in premium motorcycle manufacturer—Honda motorcycles—during college campus placement.

GENRE: Thrillers
This genre is multi-dimensional. They are engaging and entertaining. They display extreme side of emotions. When they are coupled with different subjects, they teach us about those subjects in a very entertaining way.

THE DA VINCI CODE: I love Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”. It was an absolute entertainer, and along with entertainment, it taught us various things about Christianity.

THE KRISHNA KEY: I also loved Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Krishna Key”. It gave some great insight about Lord Krishna being a historical figure rather than a mythical.

– Shashi 
CEO & Partner ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” | Haiku Poet
Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind


ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Mock, Stalk & Quarrel - ReadoMania             The Other Side of Him - Alice Rene

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