Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Yes, Life is What We Make it

   I don’t know if it is a mere coincidence or luck but it is happening with me. Last month, after a break of more than four months, I decided to go on reading spree. I picked up three books, taking them guaranteed for their similarity. But no, each one of them was unique, poles apart in subject matter. I have already written about two, here is third one, Life is What You Make it by Preeti Shenoy. I have been following her, reading reviews of her books but unable to read any, just because my wish list was already very long and then in between I kept picking books recommended by friends, social media etc. As she has written many books, I wasn’t sure for which one I should go. I followed a friend’s suggestion. And it was indeed a good one.  

Life is What you Make it begins like a usual, popular love story and just after a few pages I was sure how it was going to end. Nonetheless, I was enjoying it, as I love romantic novels, when suddenly it shattered my perspective and took hold over me by its narrative. I hadn’t expected such a sharp turn in the middle of the story. Of course, there is mention of mental illness in the prologue, but the way the story turned was beyond my imagination.

Life if full of surprises, no doubts about that. Tide may turn either way, it can take you in or it may throw you out. But once you are in, into the deep water, it’s all up to your courage and conviction, your ability to fight and to struggle, and your desire to keep yourself alive. And that is what happens with Ankita Sharma, the protagonist of the novel. She is a disciplined, obedient girl who wants to excel in life. But a small passage of love in her life changes the course of her life. Had only she listened to her inner voice, it could have been altogether a different story. But that what we call the destiny.

A sensitive issue has been dealt in the most sophisticated manner. It is a book that gives us hope: hope to survive, hope to struggle; how to be winner, how to find alternatives and above all hope to not to be hopeless. Also it warns us not to be blind to follow a race: race for materialistic life or for dreams or for wealth or for happiness. This is my conclusion as a reader, writer’s perspectives or yours may vary.  But it is a good book. The readers looking for an intense love story may face disappointment but those who just want to read a good story will certainly enjoy it.

Preeti Shenoy is author of many books. Apart from Life is What You Make It, her other books are 34 Bugglegums and Candies, Tea For Two and A Piece of Cake, The Secret Wish List and The One You Cannot Have, It Happens For a Reason, Why We Love The Way We Do and most recent one is It’s All in the Planets. She is also an artist and is based in Bangalore.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Love in The Exile - Surkhet Valley to Kathmandu

            As my eyes fell on the piles of the printed copies of my first novel A Rose on The Platform, I noticed another stack of books, which had been printed and brought along with my book for the distribution. The first impression that the title of the book, The Exile, left on my mind was that it might be a political story.  Then I noticed that the writer, Bir Singh, was from Nepal. I felt an immediate affinity. Nepal has been almost a second home to me. Not only that I have many relatives over there but also my only sister is married to a Nepali. I have spent some memorable moments in bordering areas of Nepal during my growing up years.

Though from the day one I noticed the book, I wanted to read it, it took me a few months as I had been busy promoting my own book. Now when I have finished reading it, I really feel good that I read this book. It was a refreshing experience. I have read a few books and stories in Nepali but not anything written by a Nepali writer in English.

After knowing that writer was a Nepali, my impression about the book that it might be a political story got more solid as Nepal has been witnessing continuous political turmoil for many years now. But I was wrong.

The story of exile is very simple. It is a love story of two teenagers belonging to two different castes: Ruplal is a lower caste and Keshari is from upper caste. Finding that the guardian of social barriers would never concede their union, they elope from a small hilly village in Surkhet Velly to the largest city and capital of the country, Kathmandu.
What they had thought would be a simple way to start a new life, turns out to be an awful journey. Naïve and simple, as they are, they are cheated and rejected by the clever and dishonest city people. Not only that even to find a house, Ruplal has to struggle a lot. These simple and small incidents have been narrated in such a flawless and lucid manner, it grips readers mind immediately. The writer doesn’t intend to talk big things, he simply concentrates on very mundane and small steps, incidents of our day to day life; how two teenagers unaware of city life, the boy is only high school educated and girl is illiterate, struggle to find a house, to find a job, to deal with people etc. But these simple things underline brutal and tragic aspect of social evils that have been plaguing our societies, particularly Hindu society, for centuries. And even big city like Kathmandu is not an exception.
When I asked the writer whether it was a real story, he responded positively, ‘The story it narrates is realistic. It is based on a few events that occurred in my native village. Such events are almost frequent in our country, Nepal. Some five months ago, in the neighbouring district of Kathmandu they killed a boy of early twenties who being a dalit eloped with a Brahman girl. Situation is still horrible in Nepal.’

Then at the end of the story, after many years of his arrival in Kathmandu, the protagonist of the novel visits his village Gandapani though in the darkness of the night. What he finds there terrifies him. The protectors of caste had not only destroyed his home but also the lives that had nourished him. And Keshari too had lost so many things. He somehow places her letter to her mother at her brother’s house, in which she, who has by now learned to read and write, opens her heart to her mother, the story of her elopement with Ruplal.

The writer believes that writing can change the society. ‘Of course, it does. Writing can bring about a desired change in the society. It pokes the ear of stake holders, politicians and phenomenally the media persons who propagate the issue raised by a writer. When the issue airs around everyone, it creates discussion that definitely finds solution.’

Bir Singh has certainly made a place among emerging writers in Nepal writing in English. By profession, he is a teacher and lives in Kathmandu. Though he started writing long back 1982, this is his first attempt in English, which is certainly remarkable and worth reading, and more so if you (Indians) want to know what is going on in your neighbouring country. His other books are in Nepali, which include Chetana, Pradesi, Abhiyan and Andheri Raat.

About the Book:
Title: The Exile
Writer: Bir Singh (Kathmandhu, Nepal)
Publisher: Mahaveer Publisher, Delhi.
First Edition: 2016
Price: £5.95 $ 7.99
Available on Amazon and Leading book stores in Nepal


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

SHOES of the DEAD: a story of poverty and suicides vis-à-vis power and ethics

       Well, first of all I wish to declare that I am not writing this review as a reviewer but as a reader. Though I have been an avid reader since childhood and love to sleep with books by my side even now, it is just my third attempt to write a review of a book.  And I am glad to say, this is one of the books, I have found very close to my heart. It took me to my roots and left me with tears at the end. It is a story of Gangiri Bhadra, a destitute, vulnerable farmer (and believe me most of the farmers in our country are like him, so it becomes the story of famers not of a famer), who fights the world and wins, but is not able to handle the personal tragedy and commits suicide. The turn of events left me gasping.

Kota Neelima is hailed as a political novelist, but this novel, Shoes of the Dead, is not about, at least it seemed to me, politics but about farmers: farmers living in distress, farmers in debt, farmers who feed the world but cannot feed their families, farmers trapped in moneylenders’ vicious cycle of debts, farmers being betrayed by their protectors, their leaders and farmers committing suicide.

Being a farmer’s son, though in my region the suicide by famers is rare, I can feel it. As my eyes scanned the page after page of the book, pictures came alive. As a child I have seen my father and other farmers running banks to moneylenders for loan, for credit, for irrigation facilities, for seeds, for fertilizers. They didn’t and don’t wait impatiently for monsoon to get respite from the heat but to get enough water to plant paddy, and good monsoon not only provides them food for the year but also help them to repay the debt, to buy other basic items for survival.

I appreciate the way, the author has portrayed the lives of farmers and behaviour of our politicians. And only someone, who has closely watched the lives of farmers, their struggle, and believe me, they have only struggle in their share, can portray such images, which become alive as we read the words.

The story begins with the well of power, Delhi, and we find Keyur Kashinath, Member of Parliament from Mityala, a constituency which has witnessed many cases of farmers’ suicide, talking to journalists about the rising number of such cases.  And a collage of pictures taken from the lives of farmers appears before us and we also notice that how the cases are being manipulated by a chain of powerful and rich persons, holding positions; how the people entrusted with welfare of the farmers, and who live with them, create the situation and stage-manage every step for their gains; how they wait like vultures for another death to usurp the deceased’s property; and how ruthless the greed of power and money can make the people.

On the other side, we have journalist, Nazar Prabhakar who still believes in ethics and is not subdued by anyone’s authority. He highlights the plight of farmers and help Bhadra in turning the tide. And in the last, we do witness the change of hearts but at the cost of another suicide.

It is a gripping tale and it captures our attention at the outset. No wonder, it is Kota Neelima’s highly acclaimed book and has won accolades from all quarters.

About the Book:
Title: Shoes of the Dead
Writer: Kota Neelima
Publisher: Rupa Publications
First published: 2013

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rose On The Platform | Love in a metro by Tanya Mathur

Herewith I share a review of my novel by Tanya Mathur published in Millennium Post, Delhi 

A book on Delhi is not a new thing. Every aspect of the city has been explored by one writer or the other. Delhi Metro, on the other hand, can still be counted as a ‘virgin’ zone. A Rose On The Platform by Binod Mairta takes care of this untouched aspect of metro life. 

The author’s debut adventure stands praiseworthy with the story revolving around a very common mode of transportation- The metro, where more a lakh people commute in order to reach their desired destination. 

People living in the city and using the service every day would identify to this excellent work of fiction. Mairta’s close observation and equally unique narrative style deserve a big salvo.

The plot revolves around Anubhav Anand, a bank manager by profession who commutes daily by metro. En route his journey, he comes across the interchanging station Kashmere Gate, which according to him is the ‘alpha and omega’ of metro life. 

As he aptly observes, “the four perpendicular lines, like vessels carrying blood, ran through it from east to west and south to north of this city. Many of the layers seemed just like the one’s in life, layers of human heart and mind.” 

One fine morning while commuting to his destination Anand comes across a dazzling damsel Shivali Rao. The beauty clad in her girly attire makes our protagonist feel the wave of  ‘first love’. 

Off the metro and out in the real world, Anand stumbles upon his newly found adventure with the excruciating thought of his existing, yet compromised, love life- Meera!

A freak accident changes Meera’s life forever, forcing her to take a strong decision of not coming back in Anubhav’s life again. The plot progresses with Shivali, who dramatically reciprocates Anubhav’s love for her.

But he proves to be a “doubting Thomas”, dwindling between an ardent lover and a caring friend. During the course of her courtship, Shivali comes to know that not only is Anubhav married but he is also a father to two children.

Infuriated over Anubhav’s sudden revelation of his past life, she takes the drastic step of kidnapping his two children, bringing abut a sudden twist in the story. Anubhav starts looking for his children but his search goes in vain. It all comes to a time when Abhinav finds out that his kids have been in their mother’s custody, all this time. To his surprise, the trio is accompanied by Shivali, the other woman! 

Mairta has used very simple language which is both easy to understand and succinct. The description of each character is meticulously articulated to make a sense of real characters around us. The close observation of different activities during a metro journey have been picturesquely put on the canvas by  the writer.

The novel also touches the issue of woman emancipation. Three female characters - Jaya,  Sejal and Kiran have been depicted as rebellious characters, braving the male chauvinistic society head on. 

Sometimes, these characters seem to be one up in comparison to the main protagonists- Anubhav and Shivali. 

Sometimes, readers could find the poetic justice missing from the point of view of Meera, but a sudden twist in the story towards the end proves soothing and just. 

Overall, an age-old subject of  love affair treated on a new platform, interwoven meticulously the social issues and winking at the probable solutions.

Author: Binod Mairta
Publisher: Mahaveer
Price: 175

Thursday, September 1, 2016

New book on extra marital fling revolves around Delhi Metro

I herewith share a news that appeared in Business Standard and many other online portals about the launch of my recently published novel, A Rose on The Platform.

New book on extra marital fling revolves around Delhi Metro

IANS | New Delhi Aug 31, 2016 05:16 PM IST

Just how integral the Delhi Metro has become to the lives of lakhs of the capital's denizens can be gauged from the fact that it provides the backdrop for an extra-marital affair that begins at a train station.
"The novel is dedicated to Delhi Metro and its commuters as its story revolves in and outside the Metro. It is a romantic novel with a lot of suspense that stays till the end," journalist, translator, blogger and writer Binod Mairta said at the launch of "A Rose on The Platform" here on Tuesday.
"Extra-marital affairs are a normal thing today," he said jokingly, adding: "It is the story of a man's love for his wife. If you read till the end, you will know that it's a love story."
The protagonist Anubhav, a bank manager, is resolute that he doesn't want another woman in his life. But one day when he comes across Shivali at the Kashmere Gate Metro station, he not only forgets his resolution but also lies to her that he is not married.
It develops like a crime thriller as Shivali is responsible for the disappearance of his children and creates a lot of other problems. What happens next? That's for readers to find out.
Author Kota Neelima appreciated the writer's efforts, saying: "His first attempt is spectacular. I am glad that Delhi Metro is being represented through the emotion of love."

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why reasons of success are a few but of failure so many?

 Have you ever paid attention to the excuses made by a person, who has recently failed to do something?

For last one week, every night before going to bed I have been promising myself that the next morning I would rise early and would go to park for the jogging. And each morning I have failed to follow it. And when doctor asked me about it, I had so many excuses or reasons: felt tired, had to work till late night, some family tensions etc. I continued and if he had allowed me to speak, I could have gone on for half an hour till I had made him agree with me completely.

This is just one example. Failure has so many reasons- uncountable, unimaginable, unstoppable, undeniable reasons. The list can go on. I think I can write a book in fifteen volumes on the ‘Reasons of Failure’, because I have failed so many times and in every field of life. Only problem is that I don’t know how to give up.  

And these reasons of failures are, believe me, genuine ones. They are mostly not lies. Some maybe exaggerations, but most of them are true.

Take one example. If someone says, he couldn’t attend the exam because his father died on that day, he is not lying. He has a reason. If someone says that he met with an accident just on the day of a life-time-opportunity like the last attempt for the civil services or some important job, he is right and he has a reason. But then these reasons add to their failures without giving them any chances. We can’t blame them yet we cannot take away the burden of guilt or failure from their shoulders. And that is because just after that they blamed the destiny for their failures and stopped making further efforts or look for opportunities in other fields. Had they continued with their efforts, perhaps they would have succeeded but they got an opportunity to blame and abuse destiny for rest of their life. And what is ironical is that they would rest of their life use it as an excuse and it would satisfy them.

On the other hand, reasons for success are a few. I set the target, I worked hard, I remained positive, I understood the value of time and I succeeded. That is all.

From the time immemorial, we have been following the same mantra. The formula for success has not changed. The way, method, technique etc might have changed, but the basic formula or mantra has remained same for thousands of years. Whatever the field, whatever the goal, whatever the line the successful person has followed the same steps:  decided goal, decided way, worked hard, kept hope and tried again and again and succeeded. So simple yet so difficult to follow.

Why such simple things are so difficult to follow? 

I think, and you too may have some other ideas, that is because it doesn’t have any space for the excuses of which we are so fond of. It doesn’t allow us to live as per our whims. We have to live a disciplined life. And discipline is such a boring and tedious thing. And hence what looks simple becomes very difficult.

Watching a TV for two hours is easy, but reading a book for even half an hour is difficult unless you become habitual of it, addicted to it. Dreaming is very easy, but planning to achieve that dream is difficult unless it becomes a passion, an urge that cannot be pacified until it is achieved. Working is okay but hard working is difficult unless it starts giving you pleasure.

So the first requirement to keep simple thing simple is passion. When we become passionate about our goal, we want it at any cost and we give our best. Second requirement is to derive pleasure. If we don’t get pleasure in doing something, ninety nine percent chances are that it would be a failure. Third requirement is that it has to be meaningful. We put our all efforts only when we are doing something meaningful. An act done for momentary pleasure, hardly ever gives us any satisfaction.

And the most important thing is if you failed in a particular field, never forget to try some other, whichever, but is should be closest to your heart.  Maybe you had come on this earth to achieve that second thing.
(Just trying to motivate myself.) 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Here is the first step towards realization of my dream: A ROSE ON THE PLATFORM, my debut novel. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Past Is Still Present

Though ink-business days-
The days of long, long letters
And long, long waiting-are gone,
I keep waiting like an ancient bride
For a brown cover, which I know,
Will bring an emotional tide.

I know, it will talk about many things:
The stolen cows and old dead oxen,
Ruined rabbi crops and untimely rain.

Sometimes it takes me
Hundred years back
And I forget that I live
In the jet and pepsi age.

I see oxen, plough and spade
Still herald the day
Followed by labour march
And breakfast carrying mothers,
Sisters, wives or children.

It reminds me of the time
I spent my days in sublime:
Rainy days and cloudy nights,
Gloomy mornings and evenings bright;
Talk and walk, dusk and dawn,
Joy and mirth, bigger than crown.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Slipping Nights

As the night comes,
I stare at the mirror
Searching for your face
My hands open the windows
Feeling for your breath
My eyes pierce the darkness
Looking for your smile
My feet move to the door
Waiting for your footsteps
My palm sticks to my chest
Counting your heartbeats
My ears avoid the ticking clock
And I try to hold the slipping nights.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Billion Writers

After writing a novel at the age of sixteen, I almost stopped writing for 20 years. A few years back I was once again bitten by writing-bug and after almost two years’ struggle, only now I can see the end of tunnel and some light. During this period of struggle, I have come across all kinds of people- writers, editors, publishers, agents, and their ideas, opinions (negatives and positives), their whims, their arrogance, they humility, their kindness, their revenge (even on an unpublished author!). So this post has been going on in my mind for a while, and at last, I thought I must write this for my friends, for those who are dreaming, struggling, and striving to make their place in this world.   

There are three points that have been intriguing me:  

First, I am surrounded by a number of people, among them some are writers already, some are in the process and some have the potential to be, successful or unsuccessful, that is not the matter of consideration at all and even if it is, no one can predict that. But it is really interesting that all of them want to be writers. At first, this scenario bogs down an aspiring writer. But I think it should not be. And punch line is, ‘Eh! Everyone wants to be a writer!’

Second point is more intriguing, everyone who is related to book world has their own opinions. General people often talk about falling readership, publishers talking about falling sale, readers of rising price, writers of difficulty in getting published or inability to sell their books. And punch line is, ‘Who reads book these days?’

The third, the most interesting point is, amidst all these claims and counter claims, the number of publishers, writers and number of books published each year are on the rise. Literary agents or agencies, earlier limited to the west, have made impressive entry into Indian publishing world.  It is true that books shops are closing down but it is also a fact that several other platforms for book selling have emerged. The number of successful writers may be decreasing but those who are successful are breaking all records of book sale. And punch line is, ‘Oh My God! He got 5 crore rupees in advance!’

So what future holds for us?

We can’t deny that everyone has the potential of doing something creative and story telling is quite common. What is a story? Just an incident told in an interesting manner. Now that can be told orally as used to be earlier or in a written form, be it as story, play or novel. There are other mediums too but basically it is just a story. And it can be told by anyone, even by an illiterate person.

Recently during my visit to hometown, I was talking to one of my relatives, an illiterate one. There was a feud in the family and she took almost half-an-hour to describe a simple incident. You would think, it would have bored me no end. No, not at all. The way she narrated the episode, with shades of emotion, with use of gestures, and intricacies of language, I was left astonished at the end of her narrative. I still wonder how she could tell so beautifully. Had she been educated, she could have written a wonderful story or novel or would have been a marvelous actor. Mind it, that was only a tiny incident of her life.

That means all of us are story tellers, and therefore all of us have the potential to become writers. The other day I was reading a blog post by Karan Bajaj, author of The Seeker, in which he had quoted an American business strategist Benjamin Gilad, “There are 313.8 million potential writers out of 313.9 million Americans.”

I think statement applies to India also. In fact, it suits more to us, because we are numero uno in gossiping. If applied, India can have at least one billion writers or story tellers, considering the fact that almost 75 percent people are literate in the country. But we must include the illiterates too, because some of them are amazing story tellers, like the one I mentioned.  Hence they have the potential of becoming writers.

If it happens, I think, it would be a win-win situation. Just consider, if we have a billion writers, we will have a billion readers too, simply because, reading is a must for the writers. As much one reads so much chances of becoming a good writer. Whatever subject, whatever genre, one will have to read the books. In my opinion, without reading, it is simply impossible to become a writer. So, my calculation is 1 billion writers= 1 billion readers. And if a reader reads only 50 books in his life, we will need 50 billion books. Isn’t that a huge number? And with this writers will have no problem of readers. Some will get thousands and some will get millions but no one will be without readers.

What we need to do is to promote people for reading and writing. You too may have people around you, who have the potential to do something creative in their life and are struggling to make it happen. This world is full of Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Chetan Bhagat or Karan Bajaj. The other day when I was reading about Karan Bajaj, I thought of Neeraj Bajaj, my friend who can write a masterpiece, and reading Pankaj Dubey I thought of Shankhdhar Dubey, whose satirical Farzinama is already being talked about and is having his readers in fits and has generated a large fan following even before publishing it in a book form. And Raj Kamal Jha reminds me of Ranjan Kumar Jha, another friend, whose every one- liner, we wish to preserve for posterity. But all depend, how they use their potentials. Every line of action has its own trials and tribulations and they will have to face them.

So dear friends, let us read, let us write and let us get published. Reading and writing will end only with the end of the world. Paper production will closed down but books publishing will not. Instead of hard copies, tangible pages, we will have soft copies, sliding pages on kindle, tablet, big mobile, laptop and desktop, but it is granted that neither reading will end nor the writing will stop. Those who talk, let them talk, we just need to read and write.

What is good or bad, should be left to readers. We need all kinds of books: interesting and boring, thrilling and dull, soothing and irritating, because only bad can define good and vice versa. And do keep in mind that most of the successful writers today are the ones who have been rejected by most of the publishers.

So, get ready now, take you pen or pencil or tab or laptop or desktop, whatever you have and start writing. India need one billion writers, one billion readers and 50 billion books and these are minimal targets, maximum can be anything. The sky is the only limit.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016


We came into the world
Giving pain to our mothers
And as we spread our wings,
We gave pain to others.
We searched the smile
Running away the pain
And ignoring the all
Who said it was in vain.
We never felt it
Till it happened with ours
Body that we thought was forever
Melted with fire in hours.