Monday, May 15, 2017

Readers Ask: WHY WAS ARYAN SO CONFUSED ABOUT SHEFALI?

When I wrote this book, little did I know the about the mixed reaction of readers I would be facing. Some loved it, Some adored it and some expected more. And some called it a Bollywood IshStyle Romance. And exactly what I wanted to do with this novel. Who doesn't need that magical love in their life? 

READER QUESTION

WHY WAS ARYAN SO CONFUSED ABOUT SHEFALI?

Have you ever fallen in Love? When you know that the other person is just not right for you - yet your heart beats faster for him or her. When you know that the whole society will be against your love, yet you brave every antagonist who comes your way with all those feeling bubbling inside you. But the worst enemy of your love is you - yourself. 

Love is confusing - especially when your circumstances refuses to help you out. And Aryan suspected her for stealing something very valuable to his family - yet Love crept in his heart. I know I know, next question will be how can you love a person you don't trust. Will answer that next time. 

If you have a question, do pm me  in my author page or email me at rubinaramesh1973@gmail.com  

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: Jihad in my Saffron Garden by Roxy Arora


Name of the Book: Jihad in My Saffron Garden
Author: Roxy Arora
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 


The Story:
About a young Hindu girl who had to leave Kashmir behind to survive. There are many such stories - so what's so special about this one? I personally feel, in this story, the author has taken a stand and portrayed a belief as to why this is happening and who are responsible for this. I just hope the readers get it - it's not about Hindus and Muslims believing in their ideologies, it's about selfish people using that belief to get what they want. 

Kashmiriyat
Every Indian has one dream. To live in a world where life is not controlled by your religious inclination. Where life can stop - to see the beauty of a field laden with the saffron flowers. Where Life does not wait to be snuffed out due to one sect's fanatism. That my dear friends, is the Kashmiriyat of Roxy Arora's Jihad, My Saffron Graden.

My bucket wish list is yet not fulfilled ...
As a child, I always had one dream - to visit the snowy peaks of the mountains of Kashmir. As I grew up, I saw many snowy peaks - from the Kailash in Nepal to Matterhorn in Switzerland but none could quench my thirst for the peaks of those peaks made popular by the movies of the seventies  - the Kishtwar Himalaya, popularly called  Sickle Moon Peak. But every damn time I planned a trip there, the news would be flooded with the bombings in Kashmir or the attacks on the same land. It has been a 'closer to the home' story for me too. My newly wed friend's husband was caught in the crossfire and gone fore ever. So yes, these senseless killings hurt. Hurt both the parties. Our heaven had turned into a battlefield. 

And here I was crying for not getting my pictures of the snowy peaks whereas out there many girls like Heena were getting raped, brutalized and killed - every day. My woe was a hobby unfulfilled and their woes were all about dreams never realized. My heart goes out for girls like Heena. I still believe that every soul has come to this earth to learn something. To do something very particular to it. But when cases like Jyoti and girls like Heena come in front of me, I often wonder what exactly did they sign up for? I can never ever believe that this was God's wish. I just cannot. Maybe I am not that evolved yet. 

When Roxy Arora introduced me to her Kashmir, I was a bit skeptical. I have always found such stories very limited in their views. We don't have the two sides of the stories on one page. But as an Indian, I really don't care to hear the other side. I want to know why my land is plundered so ruthlessly? The fight is over a land right? Then why spoil an entire generation of youth? Why impart the knowledge of bloodshed?  Where does it say in the Holy Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible that those who are not the true followers of our God are non-believers? 

There is a scene in this book when  Heena in order to protect our protagonist Roshan, cuts her hand and shows the blood to all - how same they are. I don't think we humans don't know about it, we just choose to ignore it. There are many such instances in this book which will make you question the very essence of human believe - what we see, how we see and why we see it.  You can feel the pain of both the sides, both Hindus, and Muslims, living in the fear of being betrayed by a friend or a family member. The worst kind of betrayal of all. 

Idealism...
Fanatics or not, this is one ideology which grips the mind of a particular section of the society. But I don't think that our dear author is also bereft of idealism. Her Kashmiriyat is a dream too. Her reasoning as to what exactly happened to Heena and who was responsible for it and why might be questioned by many. I, for one, want to believe that what Roxy says is true. For the other alternative would shake the very core of my humanity. 

Regarding Rosha Jaan...
There is such a lyricism in the name :) I just had to continue calling her that.  Her love for Aafaq was so subtle and passionate that it didn't overshadow the main subject of the story- yet formed a beautiful backdrop. But ultimately, even the author cannot deny, and as a reader what I felt was - the real enemy was not the fanatics, they are as usual used as weapons by individuals who have their own personal wars to fight. And that is one of the saddest ways to lose one's life. I just hope readers of this book can really understand this message that Roxy has beautifully portrayed. 

The reason for Star Rating:

1. Loved the way she has portrayed this sensitive topic. 
2. Writing is good. 
3. The first few pages is a bit complicated but you need to keep on for getting into the crux of the story and once you do, you will not regret it.
4. The author has taken a stand, and even if her reasoning can be debatable, I want to believe her. 

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spotlight: The Indus Challenge by R.Durgadoss



THE INDUS CHALLENGE
by
R. Durgadoss





Blurb

Bharat is in chaos. While the kingdoms fight each other, Alexander’s forces gather for the assault, their leader lured by tales of supernatural weapons and the elixir of immortality. Only one man can save the subcontinent from domination by the Greeks: the young Chandragupta Maurya, trained under the aegis of the ‘dark brahmin’, Chanakya.

When an ancient seal is found, sharing the secrets of the brahmastra, the redoubtable weapon of the Mahabharat, it is up to Rudra, young commander of the Mauryan Nava Yuva Sena and lifelong friend and confidante of Chandragupta, to decode it. Along with his fellow commandos, and with the able guidance of his guru, Rudra embarks on a quest that takes him from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the seas of Rameshwaram, hunting the clues that will lead him to the brahmastra. On the way, he meets the Chiranjivis, ancient beings tasked with divine duties, and learns the secrets behind his own birth and his mysterious powers.

But Rudra must be careful, for not all enemies were dispersed with the death of the mighty Alexander. Treachery lurks in the home, and when Rudra is framed for the attempted murder of his sovereign, he must pull every trick at his disposal to reveal the enemy, and save his kingdom from plunging, once more, into bloodshed and chaos.

A historical, mythological adventure story, The Indus Challenge is sure to appeal to readers interested in the storied past of India and the legends woven into its soil.



Read an excerpt of The Indus Challenge here:

Prologue
330 bc

The Macedonians and Greeks came with Alexander the Great to the Hindu Kush range. They were mesmerized by the land of the gods, snow-covered, forested mountains higher than Olympus. The sun rising and setting among the glistening peaks painted a breathtaking picture. They were entranced by the stories of the magical kingdoms of the air; of the heavens; of Vishnu and Shiva; of cities in the sky inhabited by sky demons. They were fascinated by the story of Surya, the sun god, who galloped across the sky each day in his golden chariot, pulled by the five horses, while down below in the dark bowels of the earth were giant serpents, red-eyed, flesh-eating demons and other creatures of the underworld.

It was at this time that the people of Bharat were looking inwards, while the Macedonians aggressively explored outwards and wanted to conquer the world. The kingdoms of Bharat were threatened by the aggressive Macedonians. No king or kingdom was free from the aggressor’s attack. Fragmented kingdoms, disunity and distrust among the rulers made these kingdoms an easy target for the Macedonians.

During this period, several events are shrouded in mystery—what brought Alexander to India? How did he die at such a young age? What were the origins of Chandragupta Maurya? How did a young lad of humble origins take on a mighty king? How did a poor Brahmin pundit help a poor young man rise to power from nowhere? What extraordinary powers did Chandragupta possess that made him so successful? Who were his key generals? Who won wars for him? The questions are endless.

There are several seemingly unconnected dots, as the history of this time is shrouded in deep mystery. Rudra effortlessly unlocks the ancient secrets and aligns the unconnected dots. Mystery unravelled; secrets decoded…

In the second avatar (Janam Two) as Rudra during the tumultuous times of Alexander and Chanakya, he offers stunning clues and revelations. His decrypting skills leave a trail that answers several mysteries in our rich history.

At last, Rudra, heading the Nine Unknown Men Army (NUM), has arrived to decode the secrets to save humanity from cataclysm and extinction.

1
Parthiva year, 306 bc, Kartika (November) month, Friday evening.

The Massaga fort in the Hindu Kush had surrendered to Rudra, the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan army. He was taking stock of the situation. At this hour, a cry hit his ears. ‘Meri raksha karo! (Please save me from the barbarians!’) A woman’s shrieking voice reverberated against the mountains.

‘Why does this lady cry so?’ asked Rudra, looking curiously at his companion. He turned in the direction from where the voice was coming. To his surprise, he saw two cages in which two persons stood, chained. There was a young woman around twenty-two years old, and in the other cage was a bright young lad.

Rudra looked at the cage closely. The woman was gorgeous, seductive, shapely. Her hair was kohl-black, and cascaded over her shoulders. She had thin eyebrows, velvety eyelashes, sea-nymph ears, a sharp nose, shiny white teeth, almond-shaped eyes and glossy skin.

She was wasp-waisted, and her pouting, luscious lips conveyed her displeasure. Her hips and bust were almost of equal size. Her perfect shape reminded him of many icons of beauty he had seen. Her fleshy rounded back attracted his attention.

Rudra realized that he was going overboard ogling at the young women. But in spite of her beautiful features, she seemed to be a fading flower, possibly due to her weakness and exhaustion.

He turned his head towards the surrendered commander of the opposing army, Dharma Sena.

‘Dharma Sena, who are these caged persons?’ asked Rudra.

‘Forget these idiots, Commander. Let me take you round the fort.’ Dharma Sena said, ‘This is Massaga, the great fort city of the Asvakas, the tribe of horsemen. To the south and west are gigantic rocks which defy climbing. To the east is the swift-flowing mountain torrent, the Masakavati river. This famous fort is situated on a hill 6,000 feet high and has a circumference of twelve miles. At the top of the fort, there is arable land requiring a thousand men to cultivate it. This land is capable of feeding more than 30,000 men indefinitely. There are also perennial springs and reservoirs. Every hill here is a natural fort, Commander. Every man here is a horse soldier, Commander. A mighty rampart of stone, brick and timber surrounds the fort, which also has a moat on three sides and the river on the fourth.

‘Commander, “Masika” means “serpent’s hole”, a name indicating the supposed impregnability of the fort and the valour of its defender.’

‘I realize how impregnable your fort is, Dharma Sena. I had to use my best skills to tame you and your fort. By the way, I am impressed by the seven gates leading to the citadel. Can you give me an overview of your fort, Dharma Sena?’

‘You have sharp eyes, Commander. You noticed our seven gates? I am impressed. Let me show you around.’




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About the author


A consistent Top Rank holder and a Gold Medallist throughout his academics, Mr. Durgadoss has had a career spanning 30 years comprising of depth from industry and width from management consultancy as highlights. He has held various senior management positions in top notch companies. Having travelled extensively on consulting assignments, he has interacted with prominent International Bodies like the UNIDO, Investment Bankers and companies held by Professors of Harvard Business School. He has a rare exposure to multiple cultures namely, MNCs, Home grown large groups, family concerns and public sector undertakings during his career. He is blessed with 360 degree analytical skills, which in turn emanates from his all round experience as a Functional head, General manager, Entrepreneur and a Board director. He is an advisor on the board of Directors of several companies benefiting the organizations with his remarkable cross functional skills and his up to date knowledge. Currently he is the Group Director – Finance and Strategy, House of S.T.Bhatia, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition he is the chief mentor, coach and Co – Promoter of Icon Management Services (IMS), UAE. Unceasing ‘Value Addition’ and not just ‘Validation’ is the mantra of success for IMS, a multi – disciplinary management consultancy organisation. He has multi-sectoral / cultural/ territorial/ functional exposure with proven track record of success. He is a PhD on Corporate Governance which involves CSR dimensions. He has delivered several lectures in various forums on Character, Competence and Consciousness (3Cs) towards the society and also has several articles to his credit.

Track travelled...

Raising the altitude from a functional entrant to a functional champion, extending his width as a management consultant of a Big 4 firm, he took up the profit centre head position, with a challenging revival assignment in the mid nineties.

Then he moved up to the entrepreneurial mode by taking up the role of a Managing Director of a new venture. Due to several macro economic factors, the venture went into deep trouble. He faced the worst disaster of his life on this venture, losing money, peace and friends, who invested along with him. From the brink of bankruptcy, he fought back to reach the basin of wisdom & wealth in the current assignment as the Director of a large group based in Dubai. The turbulence he went through during this phase tested his character & confidence. Now, along with Dr. Yerram Raju, his co-author, he has penned down this book on Character driven Competence, which elucidates practical ways of ‘Winning without Sinning’. He always says ‘Momentum leaders don’t wait for the waves; instead they build their waves and ride on them’.

After having fought the greatest wars in the deep chambers of his soul, he came triumphant, obtained his PHD in Corporate Governance and now presents the book with the worldly wisdom, gained by him during his career. 

‘Experience is the greatest from of Education’ says Dr. Durgadoss.




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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: Hearts & Hots by Ruchi Singh

Name of the Book: Hearts and Hots
Author: Ruchi Singh
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A collection of short stories that touches the various phases of  romance. Love, an emotion we all have an opinion on - some call it a wastage of time while others pen poems about it. But no one can deny that it makes the world go around. Ruchi Singh has handled the different phases of love in these short stories.

Head over Heals

Made me fall in love with Ruchi Singh's writing. Very Bollywoodish. I could almost imagine Sanaa climbing the veranda to meet Aaryan. It has all the features of romance - the cuteness of the first meeting, the innocence in love, the excitement of the first kiss and the twinge of heart break.


You and Only You

The tone changes in the story. Two lovers separated due to circumstances and meet again after one of them is already married. Ms. Singh has handled the complications of relationships quite well in this one. One thing I would have wanted more, in this story in particular, is the pain. The pain of heartbreak and more than that the pain of knowing that your husband is -  (For this of course you must read the book.)

Love is Silent

This was my favorite of the lot. Love can be silent and yet very powerful.  Breaking over barrier of social norms and morality, sometimes love can be very selfish and demanding. Though I didn't understand Arjun's reaction to Anjali, yet the relationship between Arjun and Radha will steal your breath away. But here I found that  Love can be a  bit selfish too, where as in all the other stories, the generous and giving tone of love is maintained yet here, love is about getting.

A Promise Is a Promise

A very practical love story.  This is the only story which has touched how our past effects our present. Why one has to be afraid to fall in love and how we paint everyone in the same canvas, if our experience is bad. Love is Silent is my favorite of the lot but in this one Reet lodges in my heart permanently. A very strong character who knows her duties even in love.

Whole Nine Yards 

This story is all about second chance.  Overcoming cultural taboos and turning love as a gift from God. Ruchi Singh has covered all in her short stories.


Will I recommend this book:
A must read for every romance lover.

Grab your copy here