Guest Appearance

The Land of Presents

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This gorgeous lady needs no introduction. So I'm not going to give her one. Okay, I can't be that cruel. Some of you may know her as the author of a "riveting piece of fiction known as The Lady in Black". Others may know her as the "unbiased reviewer who loves books". And yet some others may know her as the lady who brought the concept of "Silent Reading" all the way from across the globe to Bangalore. For me, she's one of my closest confidantes who I run most of my fiction posts by, and it gives me absolute pleasure to host a rather interesting piece of fiction authored by her, for one of my Project 365 prompts. So without any further ado, I hand over the proverbial "baton de fiction" to Seeta Bodke, who stays on The Write Side.
“Cindy! I am so glad you could make it. It is always a pleasure to see you” exclaimed Rita brushing her cheeks and kissing the air near them, religiously following the rules from left to right. But then she was always the type to play by the book, thought Cindy batting her eyelids and flashing a pearly white smile as she hugged her back. Dressed in a low-cut little black dress with her eyes intensified with kohl, large drops of diamonds twirling below her ears and a stunning red accentuating her notorious pout, Rita seemed dressed to kill she thought, rather than just host the cocktail party she had thrown to celebrate her birthday.  Glancing down at her own lacy peasant girl top paired with a turquoise blue short skirt, she wondered if she was under dressed for the party.

Outgoing and bubbly, Cindy was known as the smartest editor “The Written Word” had ever had. Just like the magazine she worked for, she had climbed the charts of popularity and success within days of her joining the office. With an eye for a story that would sell and Fiction that would be tomorrow’s literature, she knew she made heads turn in envy in her office. But Cindy didn’t care, her work was her passion and that was all that mattered to her. With a wide circle of friends she had an immensely social life, one that she thoroughly enjoyed. If there was anything that she didn’t it was these parties that her colleagues threw. Every smile that got exchanged there was laced with venom and every conversation over sparkling champagne triggered off gossip. Friendships were made and broken over dinner while enemies were toasted over dessert. She never did look forward to them; despite her love for the field she was in, these dynamics stood out as a sore thumb for her.

“Just 10 PM” she sighed, glancing around wondering whom to sip her glass of wine with. The party would go on into the wee hours of the morning and if she left anytime before midnight, she would be the juiciest piece of gossip that would be mongered at work the next day.

“Cindy darling, you are late, we just cut the cake but I am sure there must be some itsy bitsy piece lying around for you” her senior editor sashayed across the room towards her.

“Samantha! I am so sorry but I had to see tomorrow’s edition go out before I left” smiled Cindy.

“Oh yes, the edition…Silly me, how could I have forgotten that. That explains why you seem so hurriedly dressed for the party” smirked Samantha giving her a look over.

Cindy stopped the retort just as it was to slip of the tip of her tongue. Instead she batted her eyelids and smiled “You always get it right Sam”, waved at an invisible figure on the porch and excused herself. She needed a breath of fresh air.

“All she wants is my job!” hissed Samantha to Rita who had joined her; unaware that Cindy had caught every bit of what she said as she walked away.

Hidden behind potted plants, Cindy sipped her wine; she knew she couldn’t hide away for too long, she would have to mingle with the crowd sooner than later.

“Did you hear about Rita? She is sleeping with Alex the Photographer. He seems to have contacts with some fashion magazines, she hopes to use those to get away from here I guess” she heard a voice giggle from behind the plants that were shading her.

“Oh yeah, now that Cindy is here, she doesn’t stand a chance. Have you seem how sugary sweet she behaves with Cindy? Anybody would think they are best friends when all she does is bitch behind her back”

The two women continued their gossip oblivious of the audience they had.

Cindy shook her head and emerged from behind the plants and came face to face with the ladies.

“Kylie, Marissa… how is the party going? Did you try the cucumber sandwiches, they are delicious” she said, smiling brightly and making small conversation with her red-faced colleagues.

“Cinds, can we speak about next week’s travel piece?’ a voice boomed from behind. It was David, her travel writer; the only sane soul in her office. Happily welcoming the interruption, she eagerly dug into the discussion with him; it was probably the only authentic conversation she had all evening, she thought. From the corner of her eye she could see the phony embraces go up as the night got younger and shallow laughter fill the air.

“Was this really a birthday party? Were these real people?” she thought. “Why could birthdays not be simple, straightforward and fun anymore?” She reminisced over her childhood, the streamers and the balloons, the games and gifts...it was so much fun she thought.

“Care to dance?” a colleague called out. “Why not” she smiled...it was the first genuine smile of the evening. If there was anything that could keep her sanity going, it was dance, she thought as she hit the floor and let her hair loose just as she used to with her friends from school. Samantha, Kylie, Marissa, Rita… everyone was forgotten; she made the best of her time, laughing, joking and dancing with the crowd until it was time to make an exit that wouldn’t rise brows or make eyes roll.

Tired and exhausted, she headed home wondering why people couldn’t just stop with growing old instead of insisting on growing up as well. Why they couldn’t enjoy parties esp. birthdays for what they were. “Birthdays” she thought, they had been her favourite parties when she was a ten-year old.

”What had made me like them so much?” she wondered, delving into her past till she had hit dirt. A broad smile spread over her face, all her tiredness and irritation forgotten. She quickly unlocked the door, unaware of the noise she made as she slammed it behind her. Tossing her aching stilettos aside she rushed into her bedroom, squatted under the bed and pulled out a box that had gathered a thick inch of dust. Hastily she flecked it away, tearing open the strings that held the box close. Once she had it open, she rummaged through it, till she found the gem she was looking for. Carefully pulling it out, she plonked onto her bed, the enormous tree and its residents smiling at her from its cover page. She smiled, eagerly leafing through the pages till she reached the one she had been looking for.

How she used to wish then that she had a birthday liked the one Bessie had. How she wished she had parties with Moon Face and Silky. How she wished she had been to attend Bessie’s birthday instead of Rita’s tonight. Her sigh turned into a smile as she snuggled in her bed and devoured the chapter on “The Land of Presents” from The Magic Faraway Tree.

 [This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. After spending time with a group of people, do you feel energized and ready for anything or do you want to hide in the corner with a good book?]

 

Lessons from a toddler

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Parenting is often compared to a roller coaster ride.“Why worry?” you think to yourself, rather smugly. When your time comes you take your seat on the ride, buckle up and hold on to the handrails tightly, hoping that everything goes smoothly. But nothing can prepare you for that ride full of twists and turns. I’m a father to an active toddler, and over the past 26 months, he’s taught me more than education, books or even my parents could have in almost three decades.  Who would have thought, eh? Whilst some lessons have been about realisation of self-worth and resilience, others have been about the more humorous side of life. Collectively they’ve been my guide to live a more positive life and today I’d like to share some of them with you.

Click here to read the rest of this post.  (Opens in a new window, so don't forget to come back and leave a comment)

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Sumeetha Manikandan (a friend and author of The Perfect Groom to come onboard a new project that she was taking up on behalf of a client. The project is all about sharing lessons that we've all learned from our experiences. And I thought, what better way than to pay a little tribute to my little monster who, as I mentioned, has taught me more about life than education or my parents could have. Check out the contributions by other authors at Lessons Learned

Milk Of Human Kindness

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A very special guest graces my online abode today, with an extremely special post. She is someone who is very popular in this little "blog world" of ours and is one of the best things to happen to me over Facebook. You may know her as Dagny Sol of Serenely Rapt. You may also know her as a person who is highly resilient, eloquent and someone who can tell you to "get lost in a place where the sun doesn't shine" in such a manner that you would actually look forward to the trip. But here at iWroteThose, I love a bit of a challenge. Dagny is someone is prefers to keep to herself. Yes, she loves to listen to people and will always be there to lend a helping hand and listening ear, but not many people know her. So when I glanced at one of my prompts for Project 365 this time around, I decided it was time to put the serene and calm Ms. Sol in the spot. And guess what, being the sport that she is, she agreed.  So without further ado, here's Dagny giving us readers a bit of insight into her childhood. Warning: It can be a bit of an explosive revelation.

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I’m an only child.

It might be a fairly common thing now, but in the time I was born, it was as inconspicuous as a vibrantly colorful bird of paradise in a colony of sedate penguins. Striking, if you know what I mean.

Actually when I think of it, nothing about my life conformed to the rest of the beige fabric.

Only child? –Horror!

Only child in a Nuclear Family? –Double Horror!

Only child of a working mother in a Nuclear Family? --Horrors on top of horror!

Only child of a working mother like my mom? --Speechless! And Scandalous!

What a mother! One who called her husband by name in public (and, to do her justice, in private), taught post- graduate English literature, caught rowdy students by their collar and slapped them hard before sitting them down and making them read TS Eliot with reverence. Did you say kick- ass? No my mother wasn’t kick- ass. The word is too tame for her.

But this post isn’t about her. It is about me.

I am an only child who grew up in household which was nonconformist to the hilt. My dad not only brewed the perfect cup of tea, he often fixed my breakfast and packed my lunch. Of course his parathas didn’t turn out very perfect, but he made up in enthusiasm and love what he lacked in skill.

The neighborhood aunties of my childhood always reminded me of cats. They opened the floodgates on the many rivers of milk of human kindness that heaved in their collective bosom. They always expected me to be starved to death and revoltingly filthy. I think it aggrieved them terribly to find I was neither. They tried valiantly to look for other evidence to prove that I was a neglected child. It was self-evident to them that the child of a working mother in a nuclear family, passionately devoted to her career, would look, smell and behave exactly as an orphaned street urchin.

They tried desperately to pity me for being left alone at home when my mom had to be at work. From the time I was three, my parents and I had this mutually satisfying routine. They would lock the house from outside and leave me alone at home. If someone was daft enough to knock on a locked door, I didn’t owe them the courtesy of telling them that my parents weren’t home. In other words, until my parents returned, I needed to please no one but myself. If that isn’t bliss, what is?

For a few hours every day, therefore, I was mistress of the palace. Never a naughty child, there was nary a danger of me setting the house on fire. I knew how to tune in the radio and I had plenty of toys and picture books. To say nothing of a very active imagination that created larger than life, intricate stories.

Each of my toys took on multiple roles as the script of the day demanded. The mechanized blue and white airplane filled in as the hero’s lance, the groom’s best friend or the mango tree in the yard from which rope swings were hung. Don’t ask me how I managed to assign such diverse roles to it and to the other toys. I just did, that’s all. And had a marvelous time in the process!

The truth is, I loved… just L.O.V.E.D…. my hours alone with myself - still do. I have always loved my company best. I am sure you’ll find it strange that in all the years of my life I have never felt bored. The only time I’ve used that word - and used it deliberately for some other purpose than to indicate ennui- is when nosy people (who also remind me of cats funnily enough) have asked me, “Why did you get divorced?”

I’ve happily grinned at them (even while I’m chatting online and they can’t see me) and said, “Oh I got so BORED!” I’ll let you imagine the pure joy I have gleaned out of their uncomfortable silence. Of course it takes them many weeks to figure out that they had been royally but gently insulted!

I’ve never been bored in my life. Who on earth has the time? I can sit alone for hours and hours on end- sans electronic gadgetry or reading material- staring into middle distance. I can spend many solitary hours with the river, the moon, the sky or a blade of grass. I hope you would think it an affectation, but I have honestly wondered how people get bored. I seem to lack the organ with which to acquire/ experience boredom.

When the neighborhood aunties turned on their milk of human kindness full force, I always knew that they have geared themselves to ask a biggie.

“Don’t you wish you had brothers and sisters, specially brothers?” they would ask me, putting a crocodile to shame.

Duh! Brothers and sisters! As in, 24x7 pestilence?! Were they nuts or just sadistic?!

No, I did not wish I had brothers and sisters. I was very happy alone, thank you very much! What did I need THEM for? I had friends who, as everyone agrees now, are the family God forgot to give you. They also (thank God) went to their own homes at night and stayed away until such time as I wanted to play with them again. That’s like having a wonderfully supportive and loving family- in another town.

Imagine one of them daring to co- own any of my toys and books! And worse, imagine them calling my Ma and Dad their Ma and Dad!! Uh huh! The thought makes me feel ill with disgusted outrage! Nope. Not happening. I don’t like people getting underfoot, especially little people. And I hate them muscling in on my parents, books and toys (not in that order).

No, no, NO. Get out and stay out was just about IT for me. I don’t share my stuff or my loved ones. Yup! I’m possessive. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Brothers and sisters indeed!

I really wish one of those neighborhood aunties could read this post. It would render them cross- eyed and curdle all that milk forever.

Alas, milk of human kindness is wasted on some!

 

Dagny

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[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.  Oh, and in case you are wondering, it is Dagny (aged THREE years) in that picture]

The Surprise|Guest post

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  Pixie and I share a very strange friendship. We are rather close, discuss everything (and everyone ...yes, beware!) under the sun (especially fellow bloggers/writers) and also leave no stone unturned trying to tease  and get one up on each other. "What's strange about that?" I hear you ask. Here's the thing. Pixie and I have never met. And we have never ever spoken. Probably because I'm not much of a phone person. But more on than later. Yes, we know almost everything that is there to know about each other and our families. Then why do I use the name Pixie, I hear you ask. Because Pixie, just like her pseudo-name, has a streak of mischievousness and just like the folklore, she is someone who is very fond of dancing. She writes with a passion that is so rare these days amongst lot of us writer-folks and her blog represents her space and her thoughts on anything and everything.  

You can find more about her, here : http://mytakeoneverything9.wordpress.com/

If I had to describe our friendship with the help of a YouTube video, this would be it:

http://youtu.be/UBMNP6x3PA4

And on that joyful note, here's a short fiction post that she wrote for me. Read it. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. And Pixie, Thank you !

 

*******

Helen smiled as she read the quote inscribed on the first page of her best-friend Aaron’s novel. It felt good to see her words imprinted in ink, that too on a book that had already sold over a million copies. She glanced at the clock on the wall. She needed to leave now, if she was to arrange everything for the party that was being thrown for Aaron. For a first-time author, the book was an unprecedented success and Helen was thrilled for him. Together with his wife Elise, Helen had planned the whole party and had even managed to keep it a secret from Aaron.

The bakers had confirmed the delivery of the cake to the apartment. Helen had personally picked out the design and had decided that it was going to be shaped in the form of an open book with an inscription from the book. It was even to have the pages marked. As Helen ran around her apartment trying to get the decorations ready, she thought about the story that Aaron had written. It was about a mysterious shape-shifter, a man who was a creature of the night and protector of the city. The protagonist Adam Roock, was a normal man by day. But as night slipped in, Adam changed into different forms to help the people and Police of the city of New York. Whilst Helen loved the story, she couldn’t help but smile at the resemblance to the famed Harry Potter series. But since it had appealed to everyone from kids to teenagers to even adults, the publisher and editor had already started to pressurise Aaron to write a sequel. Being a stickler for details, Helen had decided that only Aaron’s favorite food was to be served. She’d taken the pains to ensure that all the families and their kids had RSVP’d  and had even set up a bar for the adults and a juice counter for the younger kids. The food included bite-sized calzones with marinara sauce as a dip, potato wedges with a white cheese and chilli sauce and generous helpings of portioned garlic bread and tomato soup. In addition, knowing Elise’s fondness for Indian food, Helen had also arranged for some spicy deep-fried Cauliflower florets (known as Chilli Gobis) along with vegetarian kebabs with the cocktails. They’d decided that Helen’s 13th floor apartment would be perfect for the party since it was spacious and most of her modern décor furniture could be rearranged to accommodate the guests. Though she’d mentioned that the party would commence at 6:30pm, guests had already started trickling in by 6pm. Helen fervently hoped that Aaron and Elise would be able to make it at least by 7pm.

*******

Across town, Elise stared at Aaron with a look of worry etched on her face. This was one party they couldn’t afford to miss. But Aaron was reluctant. “Couldn’t you have just postponed it? The timing of this whole supposed surprise party sucks!” he said straightening his bow. Elise nodded and said, “I know Aaron. I know. But, Jim’s babysitter said she was free only tonight and you know how hard it is to get someone on such short notice. Please act surprised and we will try to leave early.” She walked over to him, kissed him lightly and said, “You look very handsome in a tux, Mr. Bestselling author!” The tension left Aaron’s shoulders and he smiled at his gorgeous wife wondering how he had gotten so lucky with her.

As soon as Aaron and Elise walked in to Helen’s apartment, the party started. Though he’d known about it, Aaron was genuinely surprised because he hadn’t expected it to be on such a grand scale. Extremely touched by Helen’s sweet gesture, he thanked her for the lovely party. He signed a few books and even posed for a picture with an over-enthusiastic 15 year old and her parents. After the initial chitter-chatter, Aaron slowly pulled away into a corner. He wanted to be happy. The success of his book meant everything to him, but tonight just wasn’t the right time to celebrate. He watched as some of the young couples danced around. There was even a book-reading session set up for the young adults in one of the guest-bedrooms. “Helen has surpassed herself.” he thought fondly as he saw her bring the beautiful cake into the room. Amidst a lot of laughter and festivity, Aaron cut the beautiful cake. It was whisked away by Helen to be cut into neat pieces and served to everyone. He loved the food and the drinks but didn’t eat much. He could feel his insides twitch and struggle. He checked the watch constantly dreading that it might be too late to leave.

As the clock hit 10:30pm, Elise signalled to a beaming Helen and pulled her closer. With a smile on her face, she said “It’s time for us to leave darling. Please make our excuses to the rest of the gang. Aaron needs to be home soon. Jim will need his feed too.”  Though her face dropped, Helen nodded sombrely. She hugged Elise and said, “Call me if you need anything.”  Mouthing a thank you, Elise and Aaron quietly left the apartment. It was close to midnight when they reached home. As he always did, Aaron went into little Jim’s nursery and kissed him. As he watched Jim sleep soundly, he knew a time would come when Jim had to know the truth. But, for now, he felt blessed for little Jim and his cute innocence.

Aaron walked over to Elise and gave her a tight hug. He slowly walked out of the house and shut the door gently behind him. As he turned a dark street corner, he noticed that they had a full moon. As the clock on the church tower struck midnight, Aaron felt himself transform. He came from a family of shape-shifters. For centuries, their secret had been guarded. If History was to be believed, they had started off as killers, unsure of their powers and frightened of the changes. But, since his great-grandfather’s reign, they had done only good to their communities. The Police often kept quiet as there was no way to explain the strange occurrences. So they did the best they could; they took credit for the exceptionally low crime-rate and accepted the accolades that were bestowed on them. The gift was passed on through generations to only the first child in the family, when they turned 13. Little Jim still had plenty time before he came to know or even understood the huge responsibility his forefathers had passed on. The leaves on the trees rustled as the cool night breeze passed through them. As Aaron took the shape of a moving shadow and slunk away into the darkness quietly to play the saviour once again, he thought fondly about the quote that Helen had inscribed in the first page of his book.

The quill moves  The soul struggles The story stays The plot moves Characters get involved Reality shifts Fiction becomes the truth....

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was  "Plan the ultimate celebration for the person you’re closest to, and tell us about it. Where is it? Who’s there? What’s served? What happens? "]

Let Us Play | Guest Post

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What do you do when you find a person who is a unique combination of yin and yang? Someone who can reaffirm your belief in yourself yet will not hesitate to kick you should you wallow in self-doubt. Someone who not only listens to your incessant rambling, yet can literally talk sense into you. Someone who will help you unleash your inner true self, yet will NEVER EVER claim to have helped you. Someone whose beautiful words can sometimes make you well up (in the good way of course) and some other times make you smile from ear-to-ear like a little kid reading his favourite book. I’ll tell you what I’ll do with such a person. I’ll make sure I never let her go. Because genuine gems like her are rare and few. I know, I know. I sound selfish. Wouldn’t you be, if you knew someone like this?

That someone for me from the online world is Dagny Sol, who writes at Serenely Rapt. Writes is an understatement. Her words flow like a magical river, taking what shape and form you want it to and refreshing you with every touch. And when she asks you to write something for her “online abode”, you hope that you can come up with something that will make her proud. Thank you for opening up Serenely Rapt to me and my words.  

Below is a snippet of what you can expect.

 

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As a work-from-home father, I’d like to think that I’m more involved in my little one’s day-to-day activities than most other fathers can afford to be. (Did I hear you gasp at the work-from-home father part?)

With gorgeous (did I add sticky, messy, humid, and sweat-inducing?) summer already here, the little one is home a lot more than he usually is, courtesy of a two and half month long summer holiday for his play school. Of course, this means that a large part of my morning is now dedicated to “reliving my childhood” with him doing fun activities.

Whilst there are days I’m inclined to stick him in front of the TV or the iPad and just zone out, I’ve refrained from doing so. At least so far. Truth be told, some days are harder than the others. But I’ve pledged to keep technology-related activities to a minimum and teach him things that I used to do for fun. Yes, they were activities from almost three decades ago, and probably stuff most kids will frown upon and dismiss as silly these days. But at two-years old, fortunately he doesn’t oppose me. Not vehemently enough anyway.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

I'd love to hear your comments on the post.

Onus of the oath - Epilogue

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* This is an epilogue to a recently concluded novella titled "Onus of the Oath" by Jairam Mohan. Kindly do ensure that you read that first, before reading my epilogue **

Unless you’ve been living in a shell, or you’re new to the blogging scene, there’s no way you wouldn’t have heard of Jairam Mohan aka “mahabore”. But let me assure you that his writing is in no way boring. Whilst his heart beats for “Indian Mythology”, time and again he dabbles writing in the genres of fiction, parenting, political satire and humor.  His love for blogging shows in every thing he writes. Yes, he says his days are made up of Excel sheets and PowerPoints. But even then, he’s still thinking about the next post he can put up. One thing you must know about him is that if there was ever an enthusiastic writer, he’s it.

This post is actually an epilogue to a novella that Jairam had recently penned. The novella itself was adapted slightly from a hugely successful Malayalam movie, but I assure you that he’s “twisted” the plot around. And now, I’ve done a bit too. So before I sit here and spill the beans, before you read my epilogue, please do read all six parts of Jairam’s novella, “Onus of the Oath”.

Here’s a link to Part 1 of Onus of the oath.

And if you’ve already read all six parts, here’s the link to my epilogue :

Now, this is a forced guest post. So technically, Jai didn’t ask me to write one. But I had a number of reasons to write the epilogue for this post:

a. The prompt required the following: Head to one of your favorite blogs. Write a companion piece to their penultimate post. [This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided.]

b. People have mentioned that they’d like to see how I’d tackle “fiction with Indian characters”. Now considering this story is filled with Indian characters with their mannerisms, I figured it’s a good decision to “mess about with it”.

What? You're still here? Go on...Read the post now ! Here’s the link to my epilogue 

 

"Ellan Vannin"

Before we go ahead, I’d like to do a group activity. So stretch your right hand out. And now your left hand. Now, rotate your hands so that your palms face each other. Now spread them apart a bit more. A little bit more. Aww….here’s a hug back for you. Welcome to my first ever travel post. And I’m pleased to have the lovely Sugandha host it on her gorgeous blog "Shades of Life"

I "met" Sugandha through a common writing group, and what inspired me most is her zeal for writing, and of course books. She's superbly easy to talk to  and is a bibliophile who finds time for reading, no matter how busy she gets. She says she's a sporadic blogger and can at times, not write anything for a week, but can also be found churning out quality posts back to back. Which frankly, I believe is the sign of a good writer. Unlike a lot of us writers, Sugandha is unusually quiet over social media, jumping in to mostly respond to a conversation. I personally think that she's just observing us crazy folks and trying to figure out which one of us to use as fodder for her next amazing post.  Ask her to describe herself, and she says "in her own words:

"I am wrong and I am right, I Crawl and I fly. I love and I hate, I live my life learning. I am what I am... A human with making"

 

Travelling is something that is very dear to me. Probably as much as both writing and photography are. So, when Sugandha told me that she’d like me to do a  guest travel post for her, on a place starting with the letter “I” (so it blended in with her A-to-Z challenge), I pondered over it for a few minutes. My mind had gone blank. And then I looked up, and glanced at my MacBook's wallpaper. There it was, literally screaming “Me, me…..talk about me!”. I smiled, and typed a “yes” to Sugandha and connected my hard drive up to get the photos that I required.

It was time to let the world know about one of the lesser known places in Europe - the beautiful and dynamic, Isle of Man.

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Click here to read the rest of this post, and explore the magical Isle of Man here on Sungandha's blog. And don't forget to leave a comment. Either there or here.

Four Seasons - A Guest post for Pixie

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Strange as it may sound, Pixie and I bonded over a conversation that started on a rather crazy note. Needless to say, we both saw the reason behind the “craziness” and bonded over our love for food, writing, Bangalore, Mysore, reading and most of all, Enid Blyton. Pixie, just like her pseudo-name, has a streak of mischievousness and just like the folklore, she is someone who is very fond of dancing. She writes with a passion that is so rare these days amongst lot of us writer-folks and her blog represents her space and her thoughts on anything and everything. When she’d originally asked me to write her a guest post, I was apprehensive. I mostly write fiction and humor posts, which are based on the principle of generalisation. Though she didn’t impose, I knew she wanted something that was simpler and purer, sort direct from the heart, so to speak. I spent weeks trying to come up with ideas, and when I saw this prompt, I knew this was something that I could write on. And of course would fit the style of her blog. And with that note, I’m going to jump right in. divider I grew up in a magical Arabian desert land where it was summer, pretty much all year long. Now, before some of you go “Wow!” and “You’re so lucky!”, let me tell you this. It’s not as fun as you’d imagine it to be. Yes, we had seasons too, but it wasn’t the typical Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter that you would so often read about in those lovely books. Oh no! It was more like “Warm, Warmer, Warmest and Hell", particularly during the months of July and August, when the average temperature was often just shy of 50 degrees celsius. But then again, I suppose I shouldn’t really complain about the heat so much. After all, the only time that I was exposed to the sun was during my weekly P.E. class and when I tried to fit in a game or two of basketball after school hours and before my tuitions. Like they say in those MasterCard advert, “everywhere else, there was air-conditioning”. But even so, I’ve always complained about summer. Particularly because my threshold for heat is minimal. There are plenty of things I’m appreciative about. Sweat running down my face and down the my back and into my underwear, is not one of them. For me, the only things that’ve always been synonymous with summer have been those two-month holidays (which were promptly reduced to one month ones when I started 9th standard) and of course, the mind-numbing heat.

Read the rest of the post here on Pixie's blog : Click here

Please do leave comments either on her blog, or back here.

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was “For many of us, winter is blooming into spring, or fall hardening into winter. Which season do you most look forward to?"  ]

 

Wish, Hope, Believe

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I don't care what she says, I really wanted my wife, Janaki to write this post. And it took a lot of convincing to get her to write out her "rants and thoughts" as she calls them. But I finally managed to get her to grace my blog. If I did take part in the #100 days of happiness thing, this would undoubtedly be up there on the top. So, without further ado, here goes - Ladies and Gentlemen, my wife Janaki, with her first ever guest post. Do give her a round of applause and leave your comments in the box below.divider Wish, hope , believe - To me, these three words are independent, yet interlinked. To me, they signify the triumph of the human spirit and of a never-say-anything-is-impossible attitude. For if you don’t wish, you can’t hope. And if can’t hope, then you sure as heck, aren’t going to believe that it can be done.

So when Sid asked me if I wanted to do a guest post on the prompt "What are the six impossible things you believe in?”, I was a bit stumped. Whilst I know for a fact that he asked me to write a post, because he was busy working on a “finale” to his short story, I did find the topic quite intriguing. But I didn’t want to write about Fairies and Santa Claus and Unicorn and Magic and the rest. (For the record, I do believe in them ) I decided that I was going to “twist” (Sid’s own words here) the prompt around and write about two things that I wished for, two things that I hoped for and two things that I believed in. And well, this is it.

I wish:

….that somewhere in an alternate universe, I could be a career oriented woman, a home maker and a mom, whilst being able to give my 100% to each of my different persona

Image courtesy Google Search

Before I go ahead, I’m going to take a minute to thank Sid. Yes, you heard right. I’m thanking him for all the compliments about me (and every other mother) being a “Superwoman” in one of his recent posts. Yes, I manage being a working woman as well as a mother to rather naughty toddler. Yes, it’s also true that I probably have it a little bit easier because Sid helps me out too, in whatever way he can (though there are days when I wonder if I have two kids). The truth is I manage somehow. But there have been days, where I’ve had to leave an unwell Rishi at home, because I couldn’t afford to miss an important client meeting. There have also been days, when after putting him to sleep, I’ve worked away through the whole night to meet a deadline. Yes, I manage. But I want to do so much more. I want to be able to be there for my son, whilst not compromising on my work either. If only I could come home from work with 100% charge, like a smartphone taken off charge, and pay my undivided attention to my little son. But then again, there is dinner to think about. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for one of those “Time-Turners” that Hermoine had, in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Things would be so much simpler for a working mother.

….that the people in our society would actually be sincere in their thoughts and actions

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It could very well be, that I’m the only pupil from this school of thought, but I’ve always wondered why we need to do things, just to make people happy. No, I’m not talking about phoning an aunt that you haven’t spoken to in ages to wish her for her birthday, just because your mom played one of the many “you-owe-me” cards. Or being a nice to others and generally polite. I’m talking about words like “love”, “thank you”, “sorry”, "please" and plenty more adjectives being thrown around without people actually meaning it sincerely. I mean, if you do care, then make an effort to say so.  People who know me well, will tell you that I don’t do that. I do things only when I strongly believe in them. For eg. I believe in apologising when I'm in the wrong. But I'm not the kind who keeps saying "sorry" over and over again, without actually meaning it. For if I was truly sorry, I wouldn't repeat it. But these days, people think they can get away with everything if they say a "sorry" or "just kidding".The problem with that is that it often makes me come across as a snob. But then again, do I actually care about what others think of me? I’m sure you know the answer to that one by now.

I hope:

………...that it will be possible, once again, for a woman/girl to travel alone at night without being reduced to a nervous wreck

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I hope, because I know it is possible. When I was in London, I’ve travelled alone a number of times. And sometimes during rather un-earthly hours, say post 1am.  The transport network operates perfectly and you can go where you want, when you want. Why, I’ve even taken a cab flagged off the main road, without wondering if I was going to be safe. But now that I’m back in India, I don’t even try doing anything like that. I’ve been reduced to having to take my trusty little can of pepper spray. And I hate that. As much as Sid tries to make sure I have my space, I hate that I’m not able to step outside a 5 km radius, without being inundated with calls from family concerned about my safety. Which eventually makes me treat every man, woman and sometimes a child, with suspicion. While the media, the NGO’s and the politicians have all been playing the blame game, no one has actually benefitted. Yes, I’m an “Aaj Ki Naari” (Modern-day woman) so to speak, but I’ve been reduced to a situation where I have to think twice before I venture out alone at night (or even during daylight sometimes) without a male companion. And I hate it.

……. that old age homes don't become the norm of the society

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Having had the chance to stay abroad for a number of years, I’ve had the opportunity to observe a lot of people. Especially a lot of familial relationships. Both the parents and the kids are relatively independent. The kids are often biding their time, till they can “move out” of home. And the reality is that in a lot of families, as soon as kids hit their teens, they do just that. Yes, they probably return for their Christmas or Easter breaks, but apart from that, they are busy for the parents. Yes, I understand the need to be an independent person. I'm one too. But I can’t even start to imagine leaving my parents in an old age home, not just abroad, but even in India too. Of course, I am not painting every one with the same brush. But the amount of “retirement homes” popping up (which by the way, is just a fancy term for an old-age home) frankly scares me. Yes, it took me time to understand what my parents have sacrificed to take care of the three of us. Often, I hear my parents and in-laws talk about arrangements that they would like to make, if the inevitable happens to one of them. And, I end up getting offended. Because the mere thought that someone could be reluctant to take care of their own parents is, well, let’s say almost blasphemy.  But then again, I guess when their “friends” are being offered similar solutions by their off-springs, they can’t help but think that we may behave the same way too.

And finally, I believe:

….. that it is possible to share joyous moments socially without it being promoted via social media

Image courtesy Google Search

Even though I’m an engineer, I have my share of issues with technology. The more Sid and I discuss this topic, the more we agree to disagree. Of course he’s a social media addict. And frankly, I’ll be surprised if he even decides to publish this point. Here’s the thing. According to me, technology is something that is supposed to aid communication, and not become a substitute to communication. There is a very thin line between the two. I sincerely can’t remember the last time someone said, “I’ve got some happy news that I need to share. Let me call them!”. Now, we just tweet about it, or Facebook it. Recently I received a marriage invitation from a close friend. It wasn’t a phone call as I would have expected. It wasn’t even a personal email. And this is someone I’ve known for over a quarter of a century. Someone who even calls my mother, Amma. I got a rather impersonal Facebook group invite. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to react. Of course I complained. And in turn, I was told “Oh, you’re too old fashioned”. Today you receive most information such as child birth, marriage, promotion, and sometimes even death, through social media. But then honestly, hasn’t it been a while since technology started replacing communication. Forget communication, think about this. How many times have you stopped in between having a really good time with a friend, or your family and said “Here, let’s take a picture. I need to put it on Facebook.” I do my bit of sharing on Facebook too. After all, it is probably one of the best ways to share. But the lack of "social etiquette" and "opening out your entire world, from what you had for breakfast to what you're going to do next?", sometimes is a bit too much. Just my opinion. This also goes for all the people who keep at their keypads (oh sorry, touch screens) whilst at social gatherings, birthdays or dinners.  Sadly, my husband is one of them too.

…. that  at some point in my life, I will go travelling the world. 

Image courtesy Google Search

Risk - now, that’s a term that I'm not too familiar with. I am planner, a pretty meticulous one at that. I carefully plan and have always taken well informed decisions. I’ve often been told that I tackle most of my situations like the character of Ross, in FRIENDS - with a pros and cons list. The fact that Sid is the one deciding to explore his career options at this stage, is a testament to that. I don’t think I’d have ever done that. I’d still be making a list :) But the other thing is that I love my job and sincerely cannot see myself doing anything else, at least not for a while. So, as a planner, I’m not the kind to drop everything in one go and take the next flight out to a destination that I don’t know. I really wish I could. Why, I might even get till the airport. But before I hand over that card (or cash) at the counter, I will stop re-think. But I live in the belief that at some point in my life, I will be able to do that. Last weekend, I happened to watch the movie “Queen”. The protagonist and I couldn’t have been more apart in some of our thoughts. But the one thing, I did say to Sid after watching the movie was “Someday, I want to travel the world. And I definitely don’t want to be sitting with one leg into the grave, when I do that ! I want to live life on my own terms, some day.”

I guess Sid’s “writing” has influenced me a bit more than I gave him credit for. I have no other explanation as to how I weaved my way through completely random topics from “Time-turners” to “retirement home” to “social media”. And with that, I shall take your leave. Thank you for taking the time to read some of my thoughts (and rants) on some really random topics, which remain close to my heart.

- Janaki

Oh, and if you do spot some typos or grammatical inconsistencies, blame Sid. He was in charge of editing :P

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland. What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)”]

The Runners

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I first met Kajal through Write Tribe. Even though we read each other’s posts quite frequently, it was a particular post that actually “ignited” this friendship of ours - a post of mine called “Summer and me”. And then we got chatting via Facebook and before you knew it, we even discovered that we shared not just the love of writing, but also the love for movies. Kajal, in her own words, is what she terms as a “mind vagabond”. And to exercise the plethora of thoughts that fill her mind, she writes not one, but two blogs. The movie aficionado side of hers is clearly visible at Movie Massala where you can find her honest and unbiased critiquing of the latest blockbusters to grace the lovely theatres near you. Her personal blog, Rainbow Hues, is a diverse and colourful collection of beautiful posts written straight from the heart, and can range from  “put-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat” fiction to “relating-sitcoms-to-real-life-scenarios” to “modern-parenting” to “life-lessons”.

As a person, Kajal is bubbly, effervescent (no, she’s not a can of soda!) and totally in love with colours. After all, her life also revolves heavily around her beautiful daughter, aptly named “Dhanak”, which means, no points for guessing, Rainbow.

Kajal, I’m ecstatic at having been able to guest post on your lovely blog, and I sincerely hope, I’ve been able to do it justice. And with that, let's take a peek at what my devious mind has cooked up today.


I go for a morning jog.

What was that sound? Oh, was that you falling off your chair and rolling on the floor laughing?? Haha, very funny! Let’s get back shall we?

One of the best things about a morning jog is that you get to observe what’s around you. No, I’m not talking about the beautiful sunrise, the chirpy birds, the hot babe in those really tight shorts and even more tighter top or that buff young man, who believes that running shirtless showing off his six-packs, biceps, triceps and other muscles that I never even knew existed, is the only way to do so.

Click here to continue

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the post. Feel free to drop your comments either here or on Kajal's blog and I promise to reply soon :)

"So, What do you do?"

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Quite honestly, I don’t accurately remember when I started reading Rachna’s blog. I do remember that it was during one of my crazy blog-hop frenzies. And I was glad that I’d stumbled upon this little treasure trove of interesting posts. A multi-faceted writer, there is one clear word to describe Rachna’s approach to writing, be it her personal blogs or her other literary contributions - Professional. The posts on her personal blog can vary from parenting to social issues and emotional to hilarious, and in her own words “is a strong reflection of my thinking, opinions, perceptions and wisdom”. So needless to say, when she asked me for a guest post, I was more than happy to oblige. And being the very patient person that she is, she waited. And waited. And waited. Until one day, out of the blue, I decided to pen it. Truth be told, the only reason that I delayed the post was to make sure that my post would fit in with her other top-class pieces of literary artwork.

So without any further ado, here’s a snippet of my guest post for the lovely Rachna Parmar.


“So, what do you do?” asked my first cousin’s wife’s sister’s husband’s father whilst he sipped on some lovely coffee that my wife had served. I almost spat out my coffee in surprise. It was the first time that I’d met this person and this was the question that he chose to start off the conversation with.

“Umm…Well, I am an aspiring writer. I also do a bit of content writing for some websites. And some basic graphic designing too” I reply. “I work from home, so I get to spend time with Rishi too” I quickly add, pointing at my little one who’s busy in the corner, trying to uproot a potted plant. The only reason that I’d added that last statement about working from home, was to ensure that I wasn’t asked a follow-up “why” question. But that didn’t really work out.

“But, aren’t you an engineer? That too with a Masters degree from abroad? And so many years of experience working in London? And you want to make a career in writing?” queries the man, seriousness oozing from his every word.

Flashing him a grin worthy of a toothpaste advert, I reply, “Yes, I am. And this is what I do!”. Though I sense that he is quite dissatisfied with my answer, he returns to reading the newspaper whilst I rush to stop my little one from uprooting another plant.

Click here to read the rest of the post on Rachna's blog

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the post. Feel free to drop your comments either here or on Rachna's blog and I promise to reply soon :)

A New Endeavour

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Ah, the first day of the brand, sparkling new year. The best time to forget all the not-so-good things of the previous year. Which is also the best time to forge new friendships, make better resolutions that you can keep and maybe time to learn to live a little. Just like you, I make resolutions too. Every year. Sometimes I follow them through. Sometimes I don’t. But this year, for one of my resolutions, I’ve got a specialist support group. Okay, that sounded wrong. I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested :)

This year, four of us have conspired (yes, you read it correctly) to make our presence felt all across the virtual world. In order to do that, we’ve taken a wee bit of help from the lovely people at the DailyPost (dailypost.wordpress.com), who have been kind enough to provide rather lovely and random prompts for each and every day for the year 2014.

So today, all four of us are committing that we will endeavour to collectively publish one post daily on our new collaborated website We Post Daily. For more info, check out the About the blog section.

Now, it wouldn’t be right, if I don’t do my personal introduction to the three lovely writers that I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with. So here we go, in alphabetical order:

Jairam Mohan

In and around blogging circles, he’s popularly known as “mahabore”. But let me be the first to assure you that he’s not boring in any shape or form. He’s our resident Mythological guru who specialises in fiction, parenting, political satire and humor. But that doesn’t stop him from writing pieces that tug at our heart strings ever so often. He’s a SuperDad who is absolutely meticulous in everything he does. His love for blogging shows in every thing he does. Yes, he says his days are made up of Excel sheets and PowerPoints. But even then, he’s still thinking about the next post he can put up. This man can make you laugh and cry at the same time. Laugh on his funny posts. Cry with laughter on his superbly witty posts. One thing you must know about him is that if there was ever an enthusiastic writer, he’s it. Though a collaborative project, he is brains behind this endeavour and the “energiser bunny” who keeps us motivated and going. You can check out more about him on his blog : Mahabore -  http://mahabore.wordpress.com/

Rekha Nair Dhyani 

Some of you may already be familiar with Rekha and her loveable dil-se writing style from one of the guest posts that I’d done for her quite recently titledInterpreting women. Though I’ve already given her an introduction, I’ve gotten to know her a bit more over the past few weeks, so it’s time for a refresh. Rekha is one of the kindest souls you’ll ever meet. She really cares about each and everything thing, and it shows. Her writing is like a breath of fresh air, and you can see that she puts her heart and soul into everything that writes. But no, she’s no pushover. She stands up tall and strong when she believes in something (which is most things) and you don’t want to mess with her then. Because she will politely put you in your place. But hey, she’s one of the most friendliest and cheerful people that I know of, and she’s helped me deal with some troublesome brickbats in the past as well. Rekha - I know this intro doesn’t do you justice, but if I could sum it up in one phrase. You Rock! I’d have never said in a million years that you are an introvert. Okay, make that you were an introvert. You’re a superstar. You can get to know her a little bit more on her blog: Dewdrops (http://rekhadhyani.wordpress.com/

Sakshi Nanda

Okay, so I’ve only recently done an intro piece on Sakshi Nanda for my guest post on her blog : Bedroom Brawls. Whilst I’m really tempted to just copy-paste that intro (which I’ve been told was lovely:)), I’d like to do the honest thing and re-type some of it. As I’ve said before, Sakshi is someone who is extremely cheerful, transparent and endearing. She calls it as she sees it. She often complains that she’s slightly on the slower side when it comes to “certain technologies”, but the way we all see it - Once she sets her mind on something, she’s determined to learn it and make sure she’s a pro at it. For example, she had to take a huge jump to move on to the WordPress blog format from her much-more-used-to Blogger format. But she made it work, and wonderfully as you can see from the post on our website. She writes about almost everything and anything. Humor is her forte and she has the enviously ability to transform “every day items” into a laugh riot. She’s an amazing mom (based on the things that her son say) and  a blogging heroine to many. Above all, she knows when the say the right thing and when to dismiss things with an emoticon. Get to know more about Sakshi in through her blog  - Between Write and Wrong (http://sakshinanda.blogspot.in/

And then of course, there’s me. But hey, you’re here. So I must be doing something right :) So I’ll skip my paltry intro.

You can check our more about the authors on the About the authors section of the new blog.

Finally, before I sign off,

You know how social media works right. A like here, a share there and some spreading the love goes a long way. So what are you waiting for, check out our new collaborate website here (link below) and follow, like, tweet and G+ us. And of course, we will continue to update our individual blogs too. So stay tuned. We’ve made one of your new year resolutions for you  - READ. Our blogs of course !

Bedroom Brawls - A guest post for Sakshi Nanda

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Seldom do you come across people who you can connect with on so many levels. You almost feel like you’ve known this person your entire life. Sakshi Nanda is one such person for me. That we’ve only been acquainted virtually has not been a thorn in our friendship. Instead by closely observing (she calls it stalking) her Facebook mannerisms, I’ve managed to gauge her personality, some what accurately. She’s fairly transparent that way. Not to mention cheerful. Sakshi is mother to an adorable almost-three year old, who unsurprisingly is one of the pivotal characters of her many parenting-related posts. She also writes about relationships, friendship and social affairs amongst others, from time to time. The first thing that you’d notice about her writing is that it flows almost effortlessly. Her magical words strike a chord with the readers and they’re often hooked from the title onwards. And of course, humor. She has the exceptional ability to take completely banal and everyday items such as the humble baniyan and women’s lingerie, and turn them into a laugh riot. Check out her posts “Lingerie Inside Out” & “Shreeman Baniyan”. Be warned though. You’ll be clutching your stomach from the pain of laughing out loud.

Sakshi blogs at “Between Write and Wrong” and is the first person who has ever successfully convinced me that eating baby food is therapeutic. So as you can see, I admire both her work and her as a person immensely, and you can imagine the excitement that I experienced when she asked me for a guest post. I know my tongue-in-cheek humor isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea. However I sincerely hope I’ve managed to deliver. So without further ado, here’s the link to the my guest post on Sakshi’s wonderful blog :

Bedroom Brawls

Oh, while you’re there, do take a peek at her posts and I guarantee that you’ll keep visiting for more. And do be a gem and drop a comment on this post, either here or on Sakshi's blog

Interpreting women

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Rekha is no longer a fellow blogger. She’s now a dear friend who blogs. And amazingly at that. Her writing is pure, unique and inspirational. Whilst some of us try and “redefine” topics, Rekha is someone who writes directly from her heart. The phrase I like to use to describe her writing is “Direct Dil-Se”. One look at her blog Dew Drops and you’ll be captivated. She can depict emotions through her words, in a way that only a few elite people can. So when out-of-the-blue, she requested that I write a guest post for her beautiful blog, needless to say, I was ecstatic. And a wee-bit nervous. She even added that her husband had found one of my previous posts “quite interesting”, which usually in man-terms means “How dare you let our secrets out?”. So it was only fair that I turn the tables, and give some insight into the intricate world of what women expect.

puss-in-boots-shrek-4971261I am completely conscious that this post may stand to dis-engage some of my more ardent women-readers (yes, believe it. I have reasonable readership); however I remain confident that they’ll see the humor behind this light-hearted post. (Puss-in-boot eyes) So without further ado, here’s the link to the post:

Click here to read

(Oh, and don’t forget your sense of humor. It might just save my skin)

Why believe

As with any blogger/writer, I have days when I jot down random thoughts playing ping-pong in my head. Today was one of those days. Usually, once I’m done with the jotting down act, I re-read it, and then join them together - sort of like the famous game of join the dots - in an attempt to make some sense of it. So here I was, weaving my random thoughts together, and evaluating it, when the final product threw me off guard. Somehow it had turned into a "Motivational/Self-help" kind of post. And the shock - because I'm the last person who should be writing such a post. (Curious ? Read the post to understand why.....)

That’s when I thought of Richa’s blog and her theme for the week - I believe. Strangely enough, my post seemed to fit in with her theme. There was a tiny problem though - I’d virtually known Richa only for about a month and I felt it was too short a period to actually voluntarily send her a guest post. But nevertheless, send I did, and she’s been kind enough to humour me and put it up on her blog.

 

Now, before I give you the link, there are few things that you need to know about Richa (at least what I know of her):

She has an absolutely amazing and one-of-a-kind blog with an even more uniquely adapted title - The Philospher’s Stone (Note the missing O - Sorry Ms.Rowling, this one isn’t yours)

She claims that fiction is her forte, but one look at her blog posts will tell you the actual truth - she can weave her words beautifully on any topic that you throw at her

Her Twitter profile describes her as “Writer, Photographer, Wife, Design Engineer, Blogger, Trained classical singer, Kathak Dancer, Sister, Daughter, Human- all stumbled into in reverse order.” 

She is passionate about books and writing and her energy and zest for life is completely infectious

She believes that her blog will help keep her thoughts alive  in cyberspace - surviving natural disasters, technology failures and epidemics; basically even the extinction of the human race. See - she’s such an optimist! Bless her:)

 If you’re a fellow blogger or a writer, I’m sure you all know how much a little “pat” on the back means to all us in terms of encouragement and motivation. Richa (aka subzero Richa :)) is someone who can constantly give you that motivation to push ahead, and a kick up your a** if you need that too.

So without further ado, click on the link below, and be prepared to read a pretty mediocre post which may give you the illusion of being well written, simply because it’s located on such a magical blog.

 Believe (1)

Why Believehttp://subzeroricha.blogspot.in/2013/11/why-believe.html

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, either here or there .....