#Iam16IcanRapeWhen the nation was rudely woken up from its slumber by the brutal savage Nirbhaya Rape, I overnight graduated from a worried mother to a paranoid one. I will not deny that I have lost faith in men and look at every man other than my husband and father as potential rapists. With this frame of mind, when I heard about this new book inspired from Nirbhaya, I had decided not to read it assuming it to be another frivolous ‘masala-story’.

Then the author, Kirtida Gautam, asked me if I would be interested in reviewing the book. Honestly, I am honoured that the author placed such faith in me.

Kirtida Gautam, a clinical psychologist and an alumna of FTII, Pune did an extensive research on the rape laws of the country and knows her subject psychology well.

When the courier guy delivered the book, I did not start reading it immediately because the word ‘Rape’ gives me a headache. But once I started reading, I wanted to see where the story led to.

The story revolves around a 16 year old Aarush accused of rape. Each and every person who interacts with Aarush has been given a distinct voice in the story and story inches forward with all the characters of the story contributing in the character sketch and thought process of the accused.

The typical thoughts prevalent in the society have been brought forward in the story that for every rape committed it is the girl who is blamed and not the perpetrator. The author has identified through victim of the story how the society instead of sympathising and standing by the victim withdraws emotional and social support making rape a stigma for the victim”

May be it was my wishful thinking or influence of hindi movies which made me hope for a happy ending and triumph of good over bad but the end of the story was closer to the reality of the society. However being a fiction some things have been exaggerated like the stand of grandfather of accused. The grandfather’s attitude towards the whole incident is that of a compassionate and righteous person that is so desirable but again he is not what real society is made of….I would be so happy to see men like Rudransh Kashyap, the grandfather, in real life who believe in standing for what is right. But alas…

Some chapters on psychology are bit too heavy for me but then those are required to understand the complex character of the accused. Again because the work is a fiction, hence the ability of the accused to think through is understood but in real world men indulging in such heinous actions might not be even half as intelligent.

Author has raised the issue that while we instil the fear of rape, of strangers and of going alone somewhere in our daughters but then why we do not scare our sons of the consequences of raping a woman? Why we let our girls express all their emotions but dissuade boys to show emotions of fear and vulnerability thus forcing them to bottle up and in the process become frustrated? We stop our daughters to go out alone at night but why we do not teach our sons to respect and protect women?

By the time I finished the story, I was angry and felt murderous. The recent news of acquittal of the accused juvenile of the Nirbhaya’s case added fuel to the fire and I felt the need to stand against the juvenile rape laws of our country. I felt hatred against those politicians who have so carelessly given opinion that boys make mistake when they are growing up…

Rape is not the fault of women and not some ordinary mistake by men…it is an unforgivable crime and those who violate a woman’s body must be punished with an equal magnitude.

Author has handled the issue very delicately. The book is quite a tough read due to the topic itself along with serious psychology…not for readers who want a quick racy story. A poignant and thought-provoking book.

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First Brush On The Canvas

Book: First Brush on Canvas

Publishers: Half Baked Beans

Usually I am not impulsive when buying anything and more so from on-line portals, though my husband has grown very fond and comfortable with the concept of buying on-line. I have to, however, feel the thing first be it a dress, a kitchen gadget, décor accessory and even a book.

Book? What is that I have to feel in a book, to think twice before buying it on-line, someone would ask? Well, I love going to a book store filled with the smell of fresh paper of the books that sit pretty on the shelves showing off their bright coloured covers tempting me to touch them… I don’t however buy a book even if I get attracted to it unless I have read the author earlier or till I have read smallest bit review about it.

First Brush On CanvasThis time, however, I bought a book on-line, impulsively…. First Brush on Canvas by WritersMelon….. I wanted to find out what kind of stories had made it to a book….. so that when next time any such opportunity comes up, I could take part too. And honestly I have not regretted buying it!

Outcome of a nationwide contest ‘Melonade’ with stories by aspiring writers that were judged by the likes of Ashwin Sanghi, Preeti Shenoy and Arnab Ray and edited by Priyanka Roy Banerjee, this collection of short stories is a first for authors of stories as well as for WritersMelon.

The book has stories divided into sections ‘Romance’, ‘Comedy’ and ‘Thriller’. Of the five stories in romance genre I loved the story of a gay couple and their yearning for a child in  ‘An Adoption’ by Uttiya Ray. It goes on to show that people are accepting gay relationships in our country  enough to write stories about it. ‘Popping the cherry’ by Amit Nangia captures the dilemma of ‘how to fit in’ faced by young boys and girls and their willingness to experiment with their physical needs. Shaily Bhargava’s ‘Coffee conversations and you’ brought a smile on my lips because it reminds me of small arguments that me and my husband  have even now after fifteen years of marriage.

The Comedy section has three stories and I loved the ‘Godliness’ by Abhishek Mukherjee the most. The ‘Writer’s Block’ by Avishek Basu Mallick is a satire with a twist which came as surprise to me.

I love to read my thrillers….the stories in this section were very dark and sinister. The little girl Tina was the most scary. The troubled housewife killing herself in the story ‘Clue and Cue’ was also quite gripping.

In all I loved the stories much. I hope one of these days I will write as good a story as these talented aspiring writers whose stories have been featured in this first ever attempt by WritersMelon. Kudos to the writers.

A take-me-along-while-travelling kind of book and a good read for all type of readers.

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Bhima: The Man in Shadows by Vikas Singh

Book: Bhima

Author: Vikas Singh

Publisher: Westland Limited

BhimaI have grown up listening to the tales of Mahabharata, read Amar Chitra Katha books on various characters of Mahabharat and have even seen the mega serial on the same, directed and produced by BR Chopra with the faces of actors still etched in mind.

When WritersMelon sent me the book for review I was eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Having read the Mrityunjaya by Shivaji Sawant, Jaya by Devdutta Patnaik and Ajay, The roll of Dice by Anand Neelkanthan, I was expecting this story in similar vein with great characterisation and detailed narration of various events.

The Epic story of Mahabharata has a plethora of characters, each with a story of its own. Each character of the story is capable of telling and retelling the story from his or her own perspective.

Author Vikas Singh chooses to be the voice of Bhima, one of the Pandavas. In this short volume, Bhima is the solo narrator who voices his view in a sort of monologue. Vikas has wanted to portray Bhima’s feelings for Draupadi. The story weaves Bhima’s passion towards his shared wife into all events since the day of swayamvara till the great war and final journey towards heaven.

I liked the way author has attempted to impart some life lessons with the help of events like Bhima’s meeting with Hanuman, . When Bhima meets his half-brother Hanuman, he is taught the importance of humility…

There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is good, arrogance can prove fatal.

When Arjun returns with new wife Subhadra, Bhima consoles and advises Draupadi…

“We can’t  force someone else to feel particular way about us… You can choose to be resentful…Or be grateful that the person is a part of your life”

However, the story nowhere highlights Bhima’s virtues properly. From the beginning of the story it looks as Bhima has broken into a tirade against all people around him. He laments how his mother was always biased towards his younger brother, how his teacher was always partial to Arjuna, how his wife who is also the wife of all brothers pines only for Arjun and even in the most passionate moments imagines she is with his younger sibling, how Devas keep on beckoning Arjun, how women are almost always attracted to Arjuna, how he never gets credit for the wars he has fought and so on..

Vikas Singh has made Bhima look like one who keeps harping about all his exploits at various situations himself and is always jealous. If he was aiming to bring out his virtues, I haven’t been convinced. Instead I feel Bhima is resentful, jealous and always complaining… a sign of an under-confident person.

I found the passionate episodes in the story very undesirable. The brothers are shown discussing their personal post-marriage first-night experiences which is very racy and like the juvenile jokes.

Bhima was never in shadows….he was considered the most powerful….most of his exploits and adventures are known to many. He was not under-confident even or else he would have succumbed to his own flaws.

The fact that there is so much information about the various events is proof itself that Bhima was never in shadows. I feel the great warrior has been wronged in this story. I am hugely disappointed with the book.

The story is good for readers who are interested in reading a juicy racy story without much details of history and mythology.

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A world of colleges at CollegeDuniya

*This is a sponsored post.

One of my college friends has taken up teaching as guest faculty in Architecture College in Mumbai…Honestly I felt jealous.

After much brooding I realised now that my child has grown up and does not need me 24 x 7, I should be catching up with the changed times. I graduated as a Bachelor of Architecture, and after working for few years gave up my job to be with my husband who has a transferable job and to raise our kid. I have long been out of touch with the functioning of an Architect’s office and am not sure whether I would be able to take up the same job again.

But that does not have to mean that all is lost for me… I could always do a master’s degree and apply as lecturer in an architecture college, like my friend. With this renewed hope, I sat surfing the internet to find out colleges which will offer my choice of course for post graduation. It was no easy task and I was getting frustrated when I stumbled upon a listing portal collegedunia which, with information of more than 10000 colleges in India, is one extensive and thorough site for one and all seeking information about colleges, graduate and post-graduate courses and entrance exam dates.

I found all those colleges which were offering Master’s degree in Architectural Conservation with the detailed information of course and the fee structure of individual college. Since I found the portal very useful, I recommended it to my niece who will be appearing for her board exams in March 2016.

I wanted my niece to come to Pune and stay with us for her college. But my sister, is not very eager to let her precious daughter stay away from her. She is hoping that her daughter gets a course of her choice within universities in Kolkata.

Well, to each her own…. And I am sure she will find what she is looking for in Kolkata, which is an amazing city with its musical, literature and historical heritage and why not when portal like collegeduniya.com is there to help!

*This is a sponsored post and I have received compensation for this article. 

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A night to remember…

I stood staring out of the window, not very happy to see the heavens pouring down. It had been raining since last two days…the roads, clogged with plastic packets everywhere, looked like big drains…Hundred thoughts wrestled in my mind… power outages had left inverter overworked, washed clothes had not dried and maid was on an infinite leave….I stared at load of house-chores without any human or electric gadget for help….

All of a sudden, Shashank, in a rare romantic mood snuggled up from back, nuzzling at my ear…planting little kisses on my neck….

“Remember…?” He whispered.

“What..?” Though distracted by his tickling nose, my brain was still thinking about the looming mountain of workload!

“Ummm….” he nibbled on my ear sending a sweet shiver…..“Our first kiss! It was raining as much that day and you were so nervous!!”

Memories…..they ebb and rise just like waves drawing us into their sweet-sad folds!

Yes… I did remember. How could I forget my first ever kiss…. it was only weighed down under responsibilities and duties of married life. A little dusting and the memory showed up like fresh dew drops on the early morning leaves.

Love seems much sweeter with little stolen moments…

Our families being friends, we had seen each other grow up. We had teased, fought and consoled each other till our families shifted to new cities…. We lost touch for many years.

Six years later, we met as two young adults; he a freshly commissioned fighter pilot in the Indian Airforce posted somewhere in Punjab and me, pursuing a college degree in Nagpur. He sought me out and landed at my college hostel…..And I was secretly thrilled at his impulsive act!

Bogged with a nervous energy and loss of proper words, we only managed to convey that each of us had thought about the latter all through those years….We parted as friends again and began the journey of really knowing each other through letters which still lie in a box at home…

Six months rolled by in proclaiming our love through letters before he managed to take leave again…..since our second meeting had the benefit of acknowledged  feeling towards each other, so the day was spent in holding hands, silly laughter, coy smiles and shy longing gazes….just like they show in movies!

By evening when I dropped him at airport, heavens conspired in our favour… sending dark clouds over-burdened with rain. It was a deluge….and the flights were cancelled!

To my pleasant surprise, he returned at my hostel gates dripping wet and grinning sheepishly…

“I forgot to kiss you!” is all he said. Scooping me up, he kissed like there was no tomorrow….sudden, fiercely passionate lingering kisses soaking wet with millions of raindrops… our love sealed with the first kiss, stolen from the world, right on the road!!

Not only did the raindrops on my windowpane, bring memories alive, they also had recreated a perfect setting for a romantic rendezvous.

And just like that our lips locked again….

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A Drive Along the Picturesque Pacific Coast Highway 1

“Visiting USA? The drive along the coastal highway is a must-do.” So advised our cousins who had made the country their second home.

Aware that Indian driving licence is valid on US roads for about a year, we did not need much coaxing! We rented a car and were soon cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The satiny black ribbon like road lives up to its claim of being the most picturesque route. It was scenic all along with blue water splashing on rocks, frothing, misting, roaring….every rock and wave was camera worthy. The wide smooth road with hardly any traffic, was flanked by hills on one side and ocean on the other. The ocean changed colours as the sun rose up higher in the sky.

Along the Pacific Coast

Crashing waves make a beautiful picture

Sea and rocks

Scenic… all along the highway

As we reached Monterey Bay, we saw some other tourists walking downhill to a small not much frequented beach. Huge waves crashed on the hills pulling kelp from the ocean and spitting it out on beach.

When the wave subsided, we quickly clicked some pictures because we had not catered for wet clothes and shoes…what with rented car and all.

beach somewhere at Monterey beach

Huge waves crashing on the rocks

Some 190 km south of San Francisco we reached the Bixby Creek bridge which is tallest single-span concrete bridge in world. Till 1932, the residents of Big Sur were almost cut-off in winters as the old coast road used to be impassable.

We couldn’t resist stopping for a quick picture, though leaving the car unattended at Highway was not advisable.

Monterey bay

Bixby Creek Bridge…the tallest single-span concrete bridge in world

Further on, a detour led to Pebble Beach, but we drove to Big Sur instead and stopped at a river-side-inn for a quick bite only to find the food a little too expensive. Moreover, the view of the gurgling stream and birds chirping in the woods from the wooden chairs kept in the stream seemed much inviting than the glass windows and carpeted interiors of the restaurant.

It feels refreshing being closer to nature

It feels refreshing being closer to nature

Big Sur derives its name from Spanish ‘el pais grande del sur‘ and refers to the 90 mile beautiful, rugged coastline between Carmel and Hearst Castle. Highway 1 through Big Sur is called American National Scenic Byway.

It was no doubt beautiful. Many fitness enthusiasts were busy cycling, biking  and running in the bright sun with the breeze bringing in the sea smell.

Big Sur

Scenic views all along the Big Sur

wild plants

Even the wild grass looked beautiful

By the time we reached ‘Whale Watchers Cafe’ we were hungry and the place was very attractive. The sandwiches and salads here were not as costly and we were past the stage of bothering about expenditure!

Whale Watcher's cafe where we had sandwiches...

Whale Watcher’s café where we had sandwiches…

We were told that there were tours to watch Humpback Whales, Orca and White-sided dolphins which were a regular sight in October. We stared past the road side railing in the deep blue ocean but it was just not our lucky day.

over the railing

Beyond the railing, in the deep blue frolic the whales and dolphins

Energised, we sped on as we wanted to make it to Los Angeles before dark. We were advised to avoid the chaotic traffic at LA. Had we, however, gone even a bit more faster, we would have missed the wild seals sun-bathing on a rock.

As we drove past, the corner of my eye caught a sudden movement. I insisted we stop….. And there they were lazing on the rocks! One  seal raised its head to look at us equally surprised as we were!

wild seals

Surprised seals looking right back at us

Later, further ahead we came across a seal spotting deck and to our surprise the beach was full of large elephant-seals playing in sea, snoring, lazing around. it was a rookery where every year the seals come to breed, the alpha males show-off their strength to females and the best man….er…seal wins!!

Huge Elephant Seals lazing on the beach

Huge Elephant Seals lazing on the beach

Sun had set by the time, we left coast highway and drove inland. Even after driving for so long with many stops and the hot sun, we were not the least bit tired instead the breathtaking views that our eyes had literally feasted upon along the PCH 1 had  left us wanting for more …..

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Weekly Photo Challenge:Monochromatic

At a recent visit to Udaipur we spent time at Fatehsagar lake boating in its placid waters. The lake shimmered in beautiful blues…reflecting the skies and enveloping the distant Aravalli range in its bluish hues..

shades of blue

Fatehsagar Lake at Udaipur

As the evening advanced to surround everything in its darkness, the view transformed completely to the shades of grey….

Fatehsagar Lake at Udaipur

Fatehsagar Lake at Udaipur


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