Category Archives: Et al.

5 Lessons by Calvin and Hobbes on Tablets et al

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Let me start by giving you some context for this lesson. I would urge you to please bear with the madness that the monster of a Delhi summer is driving into me. It so happens that in this relentless heat, with rain nowhere in sight, Calvin and Hobbes playing with snowmen is my best bet at relief. Each morning, when I tune into music on my Dell Venue and slip into the artificial cool of the Delhi Metro, I visualize a snow world. The trees topped with white icing, the courtyard windy and chilled, and a cup of hot chocolate the closest thing to heaven. Gradually, my favourite music attempts to soothe my frayed nerves, and the air conditioning pats me comfortingly on the back. I am drawn deeper into this wonderful world – of snow, music and interestingly, a non-intrusive electronic device. It is then that I wake up to a spate of interesting things about my new tablet. Here goes.

1. The world has really learnt to entertain. For all our cribbing about contemporary television, there continue to be a host of good movies, documentaries, games and songs. What’s more, there’s no need to hunt around in a ram-shackled video-tape store in a sultry afternoon to access them. For instance, you could go here. Delve into the HD graphics and have a fun time being a critic.

Calvin and Hobbes

2. No one need be cursed for being dis-organized anymore. The world has moved beyond sticky-notes and chits of paper that are prone to being blown away in the capital’s heat wave. Aside from basic organizer facilities, the tablet is compatible with several other apps that let you manage your time better. That aside, the battery backup rarely catches you unaware, storage space is ample (and extendable), and notifications ring out loudly enough. Yeah, it works great even if you micro-manage.

Calvin and Hobbes

3. Sometimes, it is essential to actually walk to the other side to see how green the grass is. The neighbour’s lawn-mower could be fancier or you could be in a rain-shadow area. It helps to slip into the other side’s skin, viewpoint and language to understand the scenario. Dell Venue, for instance, lets you pick the language you prefer most. It also offers neat customization settings and an intelligent playlist.

Calvin and Hobbes

4. There’s an optimal time to philosophize. When all your work worries are attended to, say you have no fear of missing an important e-mail, or can steal an early evening out since you can work on the go, you turn philosophical. This is the juncture when you can observe a fellow passenger, click pictures of the faraway skies, debate a new route to take using the GPS location tracker, pull together the courage to browse through a new recipe on the internet, and wonder where your life is headed in general. Finally, you can address issues more pressing than extending a deadline at work.

Calvin and Hobbes

5. Role-play and make-believe can be your best fall-backs in life. It’s good to believe you have a great deal of strength and walk into the world with a song on your lips. It’s okay to conjure up some happiness – some comfort food, a childhood book – and pretend you’ve been just told God is in his heaven. For instance, I feel all charged up to wrap my Dell Venue in its waterproof case, venture out into the front porch and play raindrops-are-falling-on-my-head in full steam. Bring it on!

Calvin and Hobbes

While I am out looking for rain, you might like to check out Dell’s Facebook Page. Or, you could also tweet tagging @DELL_In and use #DellVenue. Last thing I heard, people love getting surprise gifts at their door.

Stay tuned for more on this, shortly.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

 © Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Dwelling on Dell

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Closet

While sifting through some stuff in my closet the other day, I came across the thinnest phone mankind has ever known. Okay, that may not be entirely correct, but the mere sight of the malnourished phone took me back to an era when slim was completely in. Companies vied with each other to produce a phone thinner, yet packed with more features, than the adversary. We eventually moved to larger screens till they became so large they ceased fitting into pockets, purses, handbags and suitcases. We are still confused; the markets abound in all shapes and sizes of cellular devices. And then we have tablets, phablets and goblets. Do we really need a tablet? What can it achieve that a phone today can’t? Is it wise to introduce kids to electronically manufactured delight early in life? In the light of recent queries I have received on my new Dell Venue 7, I intend to dwell on some answers.

Okay, for starters, I find there are certain things a tablet can do that a phone simply cannot. It is simply not the same experience watching a film or playing a game or video-talking on a phone. It may be the bigger screen, the superior graphics, the better sound, or, it may be just me. I infinitely enjoy tuning in to my favourite music or watching a much-loved film on my Dell Venue, the noisy world around gradually dissolving into nothingness.

It isn’t just that of course – I end up saving much-needed phone battery by delegating my mail sync, random internet browsing and note making to the Dell champ. It is like a walking-talking desk computer, cozy in my arms, comfortable with its identity. While I am comfortable with the touch-induced typing, the tablet does come with an external keyboard that can make the process smoother. On its part, the tablet does a great job of running on battery. Considering the innumerable tasks I end up using it for – not to forget, the incessant looking up of documents, and the battery consuming Wi-Fi surfing – it lasts me a good couple of days.

Now, this easy-peasy access to delight is a key incentive that pushes several parents into buying a tablet for their little ones. Indeed, I see billboards around town advocating the need to buy a new tablet in the new school season. Well, there is plenty that the Dell Venue has to offer in this department – hordes of educational apps on the Play Store, an easy-to-use user interface with intuitive navigation and decent reception to touch, efficient streaming and playback of AV content, and the sturdiness to blend in well with clumsy little hands. Nevertheless, I don’t recommend acquiring one of these in place of a nice collection of books, a fun movie once in a while and a good bout of fooling around in the evening dust.

That being said, I think this can be a terrific gifting idea for, say, parents. My Mom, for instance, would be spared the pain of typing long messages to me on her small phone. Friends too – especially at its value-for-money price.

I had my little cousin over the other day. She gave my phone – and me – a dirty look. “Why don’t you get a new one? You’ve had that for a whole year!” I rushed to seal my closet lest she catch sight of the malnourished phone. This was before she spotted the new tablet. I instantly rose in her estimation. Dell Venue saved the day.

Stay tuned for more on this, shortly.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

Welcoming a new Blogging Assistant

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I remember having a little do-it-yourself kit for furniture. The set, if used properly, would produce a neat pair of tiny chairs and a round-table. It’s another matter that the toy furniture would be too small to use (I remember having tried). As I grew older, watching the furniture kept neatly on the windowsill, I would visualize a large armchair I could keep in my balcony. I could then make myself comfortable, listen to the birds singing in the evening, serenade a keyboard and lo and behold, the words would flow! Except that the proposition had one major problem.

While I possess a fairly loyal laptop (it hasn’t fallen off my hands/been stolen once in all these years), it doesn’t fit in with the scheme of things in this hallowed balcony I am referring to. I mean, imagine lush green trees and imagine a big, bulky laptop on my lap. Moreover, much can’t be said about my internet data-card or my laptop’s battery backup. I guess I would look a funny sight rushing in and out to charge my batteries. Or the laptop’s. You get the idea.

This is where the Dell Venue tablet comes in. You probably remember this new companion of mine, the one who helps me tune out noise. In this mission, it goes one step ahead. It helps me attune to the very sounds this noisy city suppresses in her fist. With the Dell Venue, I can now get on to Wi-Fi (no nonsense to be taken anymore from the data-card), logon to my WordPress application and bingo. I have it all in front of me – the dashboard, the posts, the blogosphere. The tablet is just the right size and lets me be comfortable in my armchair (yes, I now have one). Far from the maddening crowd, I am free to be keyed in to all my thoughts, to key in all my thoughts. The tablet has decent battery backup and this is considering I also use it extensively for A/V content. To be charged once (and not plugged out in between!) in a couple of days and we are done.

While the Dell Venue is proving to be a capable companion to me as a blogger, this is a competence that is extremely malleable. I have a feeling it could come in handy for me as a social-networker, an information-seeker and a reader. Enjoying other blog posts and commenting on the same, for instance, is enhanced manifold due to the portability and efficiency the tablet provides. Akin to rides on the Delhi Metro, this could come in handy at all sticky locations – a boring party, a sickly meeting, and an incessantly chattering acquaintance.

I still have the furniture set on the windowsill. There’s an umbrella too, which can be pinned onto the top of the table. The umbrella reminds me of the impending rains. I will sit in my balcony then, with a bowl of pakoras and a cup of coffee. Guess what I will capture then? The rhymes the raindrops compose.

Stay tuned for more on this, shortly.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

Tuning out Noise

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In the course of a Delhi day, there are few silent moments. The sun rises on a busy street, several cars and their owners already enroute their destinations. Birds complain of the smokey air, their song laced with grievances. Onboard the Delhi Metro, I tried several methods to tune the noise out. Excuse my non tolerance, but it continued to get to me – the endless chatter, the people sitting on the floor despite instructions not to, the wailing children, the sleepy morning faces, people announcing their Europe trips to all the people in the coach! My phone hasn’t exactly been designed to play/store much music; the poor network connectivity impedes conversation with anyone I feel like talking to at that hour. To cut a long story short, the Dell Venue tablet came to me as a gust of lifting wind, breaking right through the layers of dust a Delhi day puts on my being.

I received the tablet a week or so ago, as part of Dell’s Blogger Review Program. Now, I am not your typical gadget freak. I get snide remarks when I am honest about that. “Didn’t you study Engineering, many moons ago?” That doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoy going about with tons of electronic devices on my person, for God sake! I convey the same by rolling my eyes. That said, I have always, by strange quirks of fate, laid my hands on enough smartphones and tablets to know a good one when I see it. The Dell Venue tablet, packaged in a neat black base, is simple, basic and non-flashy. Just unlike Delhi. This is precisely why I am warming towards it, slowly but steadily.

Loaded with my favourite music across the ages, and my most cherished reading material, the tablet is now completely my own. Thanks to its decent memory configuration (2 GB memory and 16 GB hard drive) and screen readability, my Metro ride has become infinitely smoother. What is surprising is how the music (smart playlists based on your listening habits et al.) makes it much more bearable to scan through work documents as well. I find myself more tolerant of people trampling on my feet in their rush to get on/off board. Most importantly, the tablet is small enough to comfortably hold even in the rush of the world around, and large enough to make reading/editing simple.

“Do you use that – err, thing – as a phone?” an interfering little neighbour asked me one evening, as I danced my way into the house, music filling my ears.

“Yeah. That way, I can tell people it’s hard for me to listen for too long, holding this to my ears.”

The neighbour gave me a scornful look. She wouldn’t call me anytime soon. But yes, the tablet can double up as a phone – it has a Micro SIM slot. In the remaining months (and posts) of the review program, I am sure the tablet will unveil several more aspects of its persona. For now, though, I am content with using it as my entertainment and work on-the-go device. Quiet and sturdy, without needing too frequent pampering in terms of battery-charging, it is my exception to a usual nonchalance about new gadgets.

Helpful yet unassuming, the Dell Venue tablet is my all-new, fun companion.

Stay tuned for more on this, shortly.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

Ten Things to Learn from Modern Day Advertising

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Over the weekend, I spent some time flipping television channels. Subsequently, I exposed myself more to commercials than actual programming content. Nevertheless, I realized the gamut of knowledge that we have been missing out on, what with the number of television watchers dwindling with time. Presented below is a list of a few life-lessons waiting to be learnt on TV:

#1. Children of the new generation are massive know-it-alls. They have opinions on the latest gadgets, the way their Dads should have built the house and how their presence in the room prevents Uncle and Aunt from sharing a private moment. With all the new knowledge, they are also infinitely more irritating and make parenting sound intimidating beyond belief.

#2. A party isn’t complete without scantily clad women, a water body, booze and music. You might argue that this is old news. Ah, but the demand for these parties is now high enough to warrant men, especially the hairy types, call random numbers to get themselves invited.

#3. Forget cars, money and all that jazz, a man’s true self-worth comes from the whiteness of his clothes. It is a worthy enough subject for mothers to argue over, for security personnel to prevent you from entering the premises and for you to look at yourself in a whole new light.

#4. The world is now extremely health conscious. To cut down on sugar intake, they actually call their beverages “calorie-drinks”. They run around, claiming they are ‘impatient since birth’, before grabbing their bottle of cola.

#5. Nothing gives a man strength like a clean, well-fitted vest. It is the most coveted weapon if you need to handle a mob, rescue a girl from eve teasers or generally throw around your weight. It works quite like the fairness cream does for women, starting from getting them jobs to giving them the confidence to reject a potential husband.

#6. You aren’t truly contented/at peace with yourself till you can sit back in your car and chew some pan masala/elaichi. This is the stuff that makes you grand and the world then looks upon you with awe. It also makes you big-hearted.

#7. It’s so much fun calling a couple of friends home and testing the newest facewash/moisturizer/shampoo. You can compare results, do patch tests on the skin and the winner gets a big smiley face. The days when friends used to sit back and watch a movie/talk are passé. Bring on the consumerism!

#8. Like the sun rising from the east each morning, there are truths one must accept at face value. For instance, the coolest celebrities wear bathroom slippers on the ramp, attribute their fitness to umpteen different dietary supplements and oh, colour their hair at home, using cheap little packets.

#9. It is awe-inspiring how certain products can, subliminally, enhance your patriotism and sincerity towards national duties. A good bike, a good vest, chocolate, noodles – they all do the job. You have no excuse for not visiting the polling booth.

#10. The world is now supremely confident. Whenever you feel low/nervous, try one of the following: deodorant, an ‘intimate’ wash, a new wardrobe from an online retailer, shampoo, bleach. Check back for additions to the list.

We welcome inputs towards the ongoing work on a ‘Compendium of Life-lessons from Modern Day Advertising’. Please write in with the same below. :D

The Kite Flyers: Book Review

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The Kite Flyers

With a title that so resembles Khaled Hosseini’s renowned work (“The Kite Runner”), it is impossible to not draw up a comparison. This is especially so when the book in question deals with friendship and fate – themes not far removed from Hosseini’s masterpiece. However, to Sharad Paul’s credit, what he has managed to create is a refreshing read that holds its own throughout.

The Kite Flyers is the tale of three friends – Raman, Kumar and Lakshmi – who grow up together in erstwhile Tamil Nadu. This is a time when MGR is the state’s revolutionary leader and there exists a fierce, almost obsessive attachment to Tamil, the mother tongue, as opposed to Hindi, the alien language with its multitude of contradictions. The three children learn together in a little village-school, taught by ‘Gowri Teacher’, and spend delightful evenings flying kites and enjoying the delicious barfis that Lakshmi makes. In a bizarre turn of events, fate takes them down roads they had never prepared to tread. This is a world of misplaced notions, of eunuchs striving to live in an unfriendly world. This is also a world where messages written on a kite sometimes make long and enduring journeys and the Kaveri river flows with several secrets in her bosom. The tale converges at Cool Cut, a barber shop, but in more ways than one, the convergence is a whole new beginning.

Sharad Paul’s style is staccato; he doesn’t mince words. It is a style that is perfectly suited for the fast-paced novel, involving several changes of scene and protagonist from one page to the next. A relatively short book – almost a novella – it can be easily completed in one read. For a book of this nature, Sharad manages to keep up the momentum and the interest very well. The political backdrop adds several layers to the tale. It tells a story of its own – that of a state and its people. To top it all, the book is intricately laced with a Tamilian flavour, never defaulting on that front.

On the flip side, the story sometimes seems to have integrated too many sub-plots to fit into its length. A forced marriage, a religious rescue mission, violence against women, adolescence – there are several more. This is not to say that the book doesn’t deliver on these accounts but the focus is sometimes perfunctory.

In this age that churns out umpteen books unfailingly – and poorly, if I may so – dealing with college romances, The Kite Flyers comes as a welcome surprise. For its interesting writing style, brevity and sensitive handling of several delicate subjects, it deserves to be read.

Rating

*Written as a part of Indiblogger and Harper Collins’ Book Reviews initiative

Two Little Children

*UPDATE: The two twins have now been successfully separated! :)*

Conjoint Twins

It was an average morning in Tanzania. The little village of Kasumulu was slowly awakening from slumber. But for an expecting mother, the day was rife with possibilities. What could be more wondrous than bringing new life into the world? With eyes full of dreams, she went to the dispensary in the village for her delivery.

However, the dispensary directed her to the District Hospital, considering she had previously undergone a caesarean section. Little did she know the tumult that was to unfold. Painting her dreams in a cruel shade of black was life’s crooked prank. She gave birth to two little boys – conjoined at the buttocks. Her pygopagus twins were joined at the spine’s end and had a shared phallus and urinary passage. Frantically seeking help, the distraught mother journeyed for three days with her newborns to reach Mohimbili Hospital in the capital city of Dar es Salaam.

If there’s anything more frightening than seeing your child in pain, it is uncertainty about his life. Her dear boys were a one-in-2,00,000-deliveries phenomenon, among the 40 percent who are not stillborn in such cases. Then again, the two were among the minute 17 percent of conjoined twins joined at the buttocks. In a convoluted play of fate, the boys were only the fifth set of males among the total 30 pygopagus twins reported thus far in medical literature. Statistics were however but numbers to their mother…the one who had woven loving stories to narrate to her children now caught amidst petrifying digits of probability.

Apollo Hospitals

She sits in Apollo Hospitals Chennai today, waiting for the morning of December the 16th. When her boys – Ericana and Eludi – were four and a half months of age, they were shifted to Apollo Children’s Hospital which is closely associated with the Tanzanian government by the Save a Child’s Heart Initiative (SACHI). Doctors from across the specialties of neurosurgery, plastic surgery, paediatric surgery and paediatric urology will attempt the mammoth surgery to separate the twins and lend them a new lease of life. They will be assisted by paediatric surgeons and anaesthesiologists from London. One of the biggest challenges the doctors will face during the 14-16 hours long surgery is the separation of the phallus to ensure both boys have a functional penis.

The past few months have been full with preparations for the big day. Tissue expanders have been placed in the back, buttocks and thighs in order to let skin cover the defects that surgical separation will leave behind. Today, the little children are 9 months of age and weigh 16 kilograms. They are the nurses’ favourite and fondly called ‘Ammukutty’ and ‘Chellakutty’. In response, the darlings mumble ‘Thatha’* and ‘Athai’*. Lying in their beds, they are blissfully unaware of the situation confronting them. Their mother, though, senses every bit of it. Every single day.

The year is drawing to a close. Christmas trees nod cheerfully from store windows; children stare dreamily at glowing streamers of light. This festive season, let’s do our good deed of the day. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the little family and their big ordeal. If – and here’s hoping it will – the surgery is solemnized successfully, not only will it be a huge leap for Indian medicine, but will also bring a wave of optimism for others trapped in similar situations.

Here’s wishing Apollo Hospitals Chennai all the very best for December the 16th. This Christmas, may Santa bring good cheer and drop by an early surprise of a happy mother and a pair of healthy little boys.

 *Thatha – Grandfather, Athai – Aunt (in Tamil)

When Safety Gets Evasive

Safety

*picture from http://www.wshc.sg

I distinctly remember the time when I first moved out of home. The suitcases were jam-packed with homemade snacks, the handbags rife with religious symbolism. “The Gods will help ward all danger off, my dear.” drawled my dear Granny. She tucked in a bottle of pepper spray when she thought I wasn’t looking. The Gods too, I nodded mentally, need a weapon of action. My point being, leaving one’s safety to intangible assistance is hardly an option in these – as Lord Krishna points out in Mahabharat – corrupt, self destructing era of kalyug.

Pune conventionally has a ‘safer’ reputation than good old Delhi. All the more reason to take safety in your own hands and let the beautiful city remain thus. Here goes a bunch of safety tips that have always held me in good stead in lands away from the comfort of sweet home:

#1. An Eagle’s Eye is your best accessory

There was a time when stalkers were as loving as Amol Palekar in Choti Si Baat. These days, they more often turn out to be goons, idlers and psychopaths. Keep a lookout for these species and warn the local police station if remotely suspicious. Sporting the muscle-man of your kin or your pet Swiss Knife – just casually, once in a while – could also do the trick.

#2. Chuck that music on late nights out

The fanciest of gadgets are put to dust if they can’t bring you help when it is needed most. Moreover, the gadget isn’t to be blamed if your incessant music drains it of battery. Until you arrive home safe and sound, especially from a low-traffic, late-night ride, it’s best to let your phone rest. You may need it to contact people through a dialler or through a utility app such as Smart Suraksha which connects to five pre-chosen contacts at once and also sends them your location.

Otherwise, you may want to invest in one of those 24-day-battery-life (or is it 30?) monsters.

#3. Bear responsibility for the beer

Whoever defined independence as a chance to make ourselves better, did a neat job of utility moralizing. Indeed, the probability of being safe goes up manifold if you can hold your head high and walk straight. Pune’s vintage breweries and lounges may be too tempting to resist. But if you’re alone and will be late coming home, drink responsibly. The romance of uninhibited and inebriated grandeur is no good in a confrontation with a goon.

#4. Carry a self defence weapon

God alone can keep count of the number of articles that my purse, on an average day, contains. I am told by several that if only Robinson Crusoe had managed to get hold of it, the classic would have had a very different plot. But the bottom-line is that irrespective of all that jazz, there’s nothing to beat Pepper Spray or a Swiss Knife. Easy to use and work wonders, both of them.

#5. Develop a loud, high pitched scream

A shout-out never fails to attract attention, even when you think no one is looking. If suspicious, nervous or plain scared and at your wit’s end, scream. Don’t let an empty lane unnerve you; your shouting may bring forth a couple of ferocious, helpful dogs. Pune has a lot of these.

#6. Choose to trust… and to mistrust

We trust easily, despite voicing bells of warning to others. The prepaid auto-wallah at the airport or railway station still stands superior to the independent seeker you haggle with to save a buck. The housemaid your neighbour recommended to you may be worth her weight in gold but that is no reason to let her miss her police verification. Weigh your object of trust and weigh well.

#7. Consider a lesson in karate

A packed lifestyle may prevent us from devoting time to painting that masterpiece or composing that novel. But picture a dreary lane and a clump of hideous goons at its end and that lesson in karate seems immensely inviting. Give it a thought, perhaps during that new-year-resolution-week, when Pune brims with optimism and wintry sunlight.

#8. Choose your wardrobe ‘safe’-ly

Colour, style, occasion notwithstanding, the times necessitate ‘safe’ clothing. The frills and fancies are sure to be cursed when entangled with barbed wires and street signage. When cognizant of being alone and late, rule out footwear and clothing in which you can’t flee. Pune has several lanes which resist repair and remain, well, unfriendly. And hurling high-heeled footwear to injure an assailant comes only with practice, trust me.

#9. Don’t be untraceable in wanderlust

Our streets don’t really lend themselves to solitary travellers, without a care in the world. Pune does offer a number of delightful destinations, for instance the lovely hills of Matheran. But no matter what your destination be, make the effort to let your immediate family/friends/neighbours/whoever-you-have-in-the-world know. If calamity were to strike, there will at least be someone who can come to your rescue.

#10. Understand the landscape keenly

Nothing like the local map at your fingertips – the road directions, the local businesses, the streets and their traffic conditions, police stations and hospitals. This comes with spending time in a city and brings untold confidence. When alien to such knowledge, tag along a native to act as a substitute.

Better safe than sorry, they say. Granny and I strive to be responsible for our own safety. And then, we leave the rest to God. 

What are your recommendations to be safe in these trying times? 

~

*I am sharing my Smart Suraksha Tips at BlogAdda.com in association with Smart Suraksha App.

Not Only The Things That Have Happened: Book Review

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Not Only The Things That Have Happened

“…it’s important to remember not only the things that have happened. She said it is important to remember what will happen.”

As the 352 pages of Mridula Koshy’s ‘Not Only The Things That Have Happened’ narrate a tale – and so compellingly at that – crypticness gives way to wonder, melancholy and loveliness. In a story that unfolds only in a matter of a few hours, life travels across time and geographies, across other lives and lives that could have been. A woman grows up from a little mother to the rightful mother of a lost boy. The lost boy, on his part, struggles to complete the tale of his broken childhood. And if for nothing else but the scope for introspection that the tale provides, this is a book that deserves to be read.

‘Not Only…’ starts off in Kerala, the resounding voice of the little narrator Nina bringing to the reader ocean mist, sunlight and shadow all at once. Her ill-fated Peramma dies, her last wishes unanswered. The woman who was both Annachechi (big sister) and mother to her little sister, the one who had lovely hair and black skin, the one who was sent off to a nunnery but brought apparent disgrace to the house…the one who was coerced into sending off her son to a German family but breathed her last praying to meet her lost boy.

The boy with the mismatched name, across the oceans in American Midwest, tries his best to make sense of the words he had randomly scribbled years back. They include ‘box’, ‘magician’ and ‘swing’. Though he supposedly has a world of his own – a little girl, a house, a wife – what he craves for is memory. In the process of giving up his mother, the one who spent her years concocting his facial lines, he cannot come to terms with his present.

Koshy’s strength lies in her words. Right from the way she coins the titles of her book (Remember ‘If It Is Sweet’?), the way the chapters are named to the shifts in narration that take place so subtly it’s almost clandestine. Her characters don’t need to announce conversations through quotes. Cities don’t need to be expressed through geographical descriptors. Without seemingly taking any effort, however, all the facets of her tale make their presence felt. The choice of words is perfect, the tone crisp yet full of yearning, the flow reminiscent of misty monsoon afternoons when you can never get over the fact that evening is but a couple of hours away.

Though the book is divided into two sections based on the two key protagonists, it never seems to take anything away from the book’s slice-of-life flavour. Nina’s innocence, Anna’s strength, her one-legged companion’s affection, the young priest and his insistence, the policemen and their lack of empathy…Koshy has achieved a new high in characterization and the brilliance is one that will invariably linger on in memory long after the tale has been told.

On the dim side, Koshy sometimes gets a tad too liberal with the pace. The emotions of her lead characters  – though always emphatically expressed – and the change of scene/subject create a muddle or two which make you wish for a clearing among the clouds. But this is rare. For the most part, the text demands attention and arouses feelings of distinct déjà vu in a manner that is inexplicable.

‘Not Only…’ is a treat. Befitting for those hours of solitude when life looms large with questions of existence, dependence and persistence. As Anna puts it herself – “If I could, I would go back to the beginning. But I can’t. I can only go the end.” And this tale, by all means, is one that deserves to be accompanied till the last page.

Mridula Koshy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Fiction
INR 499/-
352 Pages

*Written for Indiblogger and Harper Collins Book Review initiative 

An Early Spring

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Kaleidoscope

Spring is nowhere in sight. Delhi is reeling under raging summer winds, with mangoes and watermelons trying their best to ease the heat. But the good God up above has brought in a whiff of spring early for me this season. Here’s how.

So Spring Tide, an Indian youth magazine, collaborated with Parlance Publishers to host a short story writing competition called ‘Kaleidoscope’. Being fresh to the industry themselves, they invited entries from aspiring writers of all age groups and geographies. And now it seems, yours truly has actually made it to the top 5 of the final 25 entries. Unbelievable? Yeah! :D

The final set will be published in a book that releases on the 26th of May, in a book launch event at Jaipur. Among the stories will feature the tale of old man Harilal whose house has lately started behaving in mysterious ways. To read about the workings of “The House”, you can even pre-order a copy from here. Yes, so P&P reserves the right to endorse its dear own D.

Needless to say, I am pleased as punch. Though this is merely a teeny-weeny peg up the ladder, it gives me the confidence that the day I dream of will one day be here. I would like to thank the sponsors of the event for facilitating such a platform and wish them luck in their future endeavours. On your part, dear readers of P&P, how about showing some love and sending us a few hugs and high-fives? :D

Woo-hoo!

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