Friday, February 27, 2015

Another Mashup/Catchup - LBC Post

Things have been crazy lately.  My nephew's wedding took place and my home was turned upside down.  It was like thousands of people were walking through our house on a regular basis.  This was an Indian wedding of the extremely traditional variety.  I can't say I had too much to do with what was going on, I was more of a fascinated bystander really.  A lot of the functions in the wedding took place in our home, so there were caterers, priests, domestic workers and of course, guests.  Relatives, friends, you name it.  My head is spinning from the surrealism of it all.  I woke up one morning and there was a  priest chanting mantras in my drawing room.  He was also creating the legendary Hindu holy fire.  Certain guests were invited and all dressed up for the 'hawan' as the occasion is called.  However, as a simple Christian woman, it was all a bit beyond me.  At one stage, the holy fire, traditionally meant to purify the air, seemed to get a bit out of hand and everyone in the house was practically choking and coughing.

Then there was the evening I woke up from having an afternoon rest (I need to as I have to go to sleep late at night and wake up early in the morning) and found a crowd of people dancing in the drawing room.  The music was very loud with a driving beat.  My head nearly burst.  A cook was hired for the ten days or so the wedding went on.  If there was ever a competition for the greasiest food in the world, this geezer would win, hands down.  Heck, I think even the salad was greasy.  We ended up eating sugary mithai until it came out of our ears.  The trouble with mithai is that it goes decidedly off after a couple of days so the kids and I had our fair share of gastric problems.

The thing is, I had this type of wedding myself, twenty years ago.  The difference between this wedding and mine was that mine, in keeping with my late father-in-law's simple ideas, was shorn of all but the most necessary ceremonies.  Our marriage ceremony took place at 9 am on a Sunday morning and was over and done by 1 pm.  My mother in law served some fresh mithai (holy prasad) to the guests and everyone went home so we, the family, could have lunch together. This wedding took place in the distant city where the bride lived, and entailed a procession and an overnight wedding ceremony.  I didn't actually attend the wedding ceremony, but I couldn't, as I had three kids with examinations on Monday morning.  My youngest, who had a role to play in the festivities, along with my husband, was the only one of us who attended.  But we were joined within twenty four hours by the bride and groom and of course, there was a big reception the day after that.  So like I said, I'm just coming back to reality now.

Now to get back to my routine.  I'm going to dash through all the recent blogging topics which I've recently missed.

A Winter's Tale (January 23rd)

Last winter, Irish author Sally Clements sent me a copy of her latest romance, SNOWBOUND SUMMER.  What an intriguing title, eh?  It was, in fact, a Christmas romance, so you get all the thrills and spills of falling in love in a situation where the hero and heroine are snowed in somewhere in the mountains in Ireland during some freak weather.  I read the book last week during a moment when I needed a break from the wedding of the year.  I must say, it ticked all the boxes where Irish romance novels are concerned but as we're now coming into spring, I'm really late with the review.  So my apologies to the author and I have to say that as your story is so nice, I'm sure readers would enjoy it all year round.

Common Sense (January 30th)

In the Irish language they have a saying, which roughly translated means: 'bought sense is the best sense'.  I love the idea of having common sense, but as I was always the type of person who had their nose stuck in a book, I'm afraid I'm very short of that obscure commodity called common sense.  It doesn't come naturally to me at all but I do hope I've learnt a thing or two down the years.  Personally, I think I really did bite off more than I could chew when I burnt my bridges and came out to India to live my married life.  I don't have any regrets of course and I hope my stock of common sense has increased.  If it hasn't, then things are in a bad way indeed.

Sleep (February 6th)

Sleep is definitely something of which I need a lot more.  My husband has a demanding job in the next city and seems to be out of the house every hour God sends him. In the last year, he has had such crazy working hours that my sleeping pattern has been literally wrecked as I've waited up to give him his dinner at unearthly hours.  Sometimes, I have literally woken up with headaches owing to sleep deprivation.  My doctor has prescribed some meds and advised me to sleep every afternoon which has probably just about saved my life!

What Is The Most Surprising Thing About You? (February 13)

The most surprising thing about me (for some people) is that I have actually broken with the church in which I was brought up.  I was born into a Roman Catholic family and was devout for most of my life.  However, I am sorry to say that I have found certain things about the Church don't square up with my beliefs anymore.  I used to think that in order to be a real Christian, you had to be a Catholic.  Now I believe that in order to be a true Christian, you simply have to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead.  I respect other religions too, of course.  My husband is a Hindu.  I'm not going to go into why I have broken with the Roman Catholic church, although I'm quite open about it and have actually discussed it in other posts.  I'm not anti-Catholic either.  But I am anti-superstition and anti-idolatry and quite anti-tradition too.  Nowadays, I consider tradition to be simply entertainment for the elderly.  I mean the old-fashioned elderly, not aware senior citizens like my absolutely amazing and fabulous elder rakhi brother Ramana.  There's another wonderful senior blogger Grannymar from Ireland who is more current than many younger people.  To name but a few.

Child Abuse  (February 20th)

The abuse of children and animals and of course, women, well anyone really, is something that breaks my heart.  As a child a certain person messed with my mind, speaking to me at a young age of things which were, in many ways, beyond me.  Although I wasn't sexually abused, I can identify with people who have been  because when someone discusses sexual matters with a kid who isn't up to the conversation, it is a form of abuse.

Abuse of children can take many forms.  One day, here in India, I was passing a Halwai (sweet) shop when I heard shouting and screaming inside.  The proprietor of the shop was beating up his shop assistant, a kid of about ten years old, who had made some mistake in his work. The man was shouting loudly and the child was screaming.   I was horrified.  Lots of people were around but not one person intervened to stop what was going on. I was quite scared too and had my two young kids with me.  I walked up to the shop and shouted at the man 'Kya kartha hain?  Chor do isko!'  Now, my Hindi is not the best, but I what I was trying to say was: 'what are  you doing?  Leave him alone!'  The tension was somewhat broken and I walked away.  I never found out what happened to that kid but wherever he is, I hope he's okay.  Whenever I remember him, I pray for him.

Christina Lobo Jha, a social worker from Mumbai who has recently moved temporarily to Lucknow, once started a 'ring the doorbell' campaign to help victims of domestic violence.  It means simply that if you hear a person being beaten up in their house, you should just go and ring the doorbell.  The abuser will realize that he or she is being watched and will probably not have the impetus to continue with their behaviour.  In India, people tend to look the other way when this sort of thing is happening and I think Christina is spot on in this regard.  I've been privileged to meet this amazing woman who is currently working in the area of animal rights and she is truly remarkable.

Abuse of children, or anyone else for that matter, is lamentable and should be stopped at once.  We should never look the other way when we see someone being abused.

Sabbatical  (February 27th)

A sabbatical means taking time out from the regular routines of life.  Well, over the last few months my life has been out of routine, this is why my LBC post is full of several topics instead of just one.  So you could say I've been on a blogging sabbatical...

If you've actually got to the end of reading this post, thank you for bearing with me.....

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, ShackmanLin and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Comfort Zone, Duty, Nondescript Items, Unmentionable Topics and the Travails of City Life - LBC POST Mashup ....Catch Up!

Duggu, my new dog.
I admit it.  I'm hopeless.  There I was, thinking I'd only missed a week or two.  I'd missed a freaking month.  Between getting a dog, writing a book, releasing another book, rescuing another dog, being ill........I guess there's only so much you can do.

My comfort zone?  I live in a combined Indian family.  My nuclear family, meaning my husband and I (oh, don't I sound like the Queen?) and our four offspring and dog, have a couple of rooms to call our own in the family home, but owing to circumstances beyond our control, it is impossible to make those rooms completely private.  My husband doesn't mind too much, but he's out of the house most of the time and not being able to shut my door completely and shut out the world is what you might call stressful at times.  So where's my comfort zone?  Inside my own head, that's where.  Someone once told me a long time ago that it is impossible to control the outer environment.  So I don't even go there.  I adjust myself to my circumstances and try to be happy as best I can.  And so do my children.  Upstairs in our house, we have some privacy, so we enjoy that.  And I'm good at switching off mentally when I need to concentrate on something.  A bit too good at it, actually.

Duty?  Well as a wife and mother it's my duty to put my kids and husband first always and my own needs last, right?  Women who do that are praised loudly in the environment in which I live.  Well, I beg to differ on that one.  I do wear myself out at times taking care of my significant others, all half dozen or so of them (no, I only have one partner, I mean the kids, MIL and dog, as well), but before I go completely bonkers, I have to take time out occasionally and recharge my batteries.  If that doesn't happen, I get ill.  I just get that I can't do anything and have to lie down for a day or two with a headache.  So taking care of myself is not selfish at all, it's a necessity.  I just need to do it more, that's all.

Now as to nondescript items which have had a profound effect on my life.  Many years ago, a friend of mine, Carmel, who had been a trainee hairdresser, used to help me out by trimming my hair every so often.  I used to pay her for it too, as I'm not in the habit of making people work for nothing.  It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, as she got some money and I got my hairstyle (such as it was) maintained, quite inexpensively.  My sister Bernie gifted me with a pair of sharp scissors so that I could be sure that Carmel could do the best job possible. A very practical gift indeed.Some twenty five years later, I still have that scissors.  It's still working very well too. My kids use it for craft. I guess some gifts just stay with you forever, while others don't.  A scissors, for heaven's sake!

Unmentionable Topics at TED?  What's TED?  I'm sure I have no idea.  But now regarding unmentionable topics, I could wax lyrical, so to speak.  I edit books and when my online boss, Serena asked me what were my preferred topics to edit, I replied that anything was fine except erotic material.  Because of the kids, you know.  I wouldn't want them to stumble upon anything unmentionable if they were using my computer for a school project.  Besides, I don't think my other half would be too thrilled at the idea of my editing stuff like that.

Travails of city life?  Well, what's the alternative?  Village life?  I wouldn't live in a village other than an Irish one, if you paid me a thousand Euros a week.  I live in the city, but I'm mostly at home taking care of the family, doing my editing and writing my book.  I don't know, half the time, whether I live in a high rise apartment or a cottage in the woods.  Or a freaking spaceship.  Cities have their advantages as does rural living.  Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

And that's about it!

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman, Lin and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Love's Labours Lost - Extremely Overdue LBC Post

If there's one thing I've excelled at lately, it's failure.  Love's Labours Lost indeed.  Lost and gone forever, as the song says, or so it seems.  Years ago, when I became a mother, I resolved to put my kids first no matter what and for the most part, I don't regret it.  But lately, I read in Facebook about Shirley, an old friend of mine and expat Irish woman who lives in Australia, where she moved about a decade ago.  Shirley took a trip home to Dublin to touch base with her family and friends, leaving her (Irish) husband and kids to hold the fort at their home in Perth.  I've never done a thing like that, not even considered it.  Well, now I'm considering it.  My youngest's eleven and once the kids are on school holidays, I think it would be great if I could take three weeks out and visit my mother.  This occurred to me when one of my offspring informed me that he/she didn't care about what I was doing, but he/she fully intended to take their holidays in Dublin next year.  And I'm like "Excuse me, if anyone is entitled to take time out and head for Dublin, it's me."  I would so much enjoy a break at my native place and feel all the better going back to Lucknow.  But will that happen?  There'd be howls of protest if I even suggest such a thing.  But it's true in a way - the more you do for those you love, the more they take you for granted.

I've missed a lot of topics in the LBC lately, including the most over-rated artiste, one which I definitely wanted to participate in. Now, without a doubt, I love watching Bollywood movies and any other Indian movies when time allows.  I enjoy the glitz, the glamour and the sheer entertainment value.  I thoroughly enjoy the antics of Bollywood filmi heroes like Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan.  These guys can dance, fight and entertain with gusto.  But can they act?  Well that's a moot point.  They may be great entertainers, but neither Shahrukh nor Salman, charismatic and talented though they may be, would ever be in the race for the greatest actor of all time award, should such an award exist.  Why? Because they play the same role in every movie, that's why. Shahrukh is nearly always called Rahul in his movies and he plays the same singing, dancing lover boy.  Same with Salman.  Salman Khan is seriously handsome and has immense sexual magnetism (or so it would seem as I've never actually met him), but he is not an actor.  He plays the same singing, dancing lover boy called Prem in nearly every movie.  Now, having said that, I'm certainly not complaining about it.  I'll just say "so what" and "pass the popcorn" when the next Khan Bollywood movie does the rounds.  An exceptional Bollywood actor is Amir Khan, who plays the role of a mentally challenged individual in his new movie "PK".  Now there is an actor who stretches himself.  He started out with the lover boy roles but can tackle playing a villager, a mentally challenged person, an idealistic young teacher and various other challenging assignments. He's an entertainer, but there's more to him than the basic Bollywood package.

Another missed topic was "Emotional Alchemy".  Now what is emotional alchemy?  I've heard of sexual chemistry, but emotional alchemy  evades my understanding.  It reminds me of an Indian dance reality show "Nach Baliye", when a dancing couple were told by the judges that they had no chemistry.  "No chemistry?  I'll show you biology," replied the male of the couple. Very funny indeed.  Alchemy is some sort of ancient pseudo science which was supposed to help scientists turn lead into gold. So emotional alchemy could be that process by which emotions lead a person to view a grim situation through rose coloured glasses.  Such as the rosy glow of being in love can blind you to a person's obvious faults.  Yes, well, if that's emotional alchemy, I'd prefer to keep my distance if you don't mind.....

What about the topic "Role Model"?  Well, I haven't got a role model.  I might admire certain people for certain things, but at the end of the day, I want to be the first  Maria Perry Mohan, rather than a carbon copy of somebody else.  I admire Indian actress Madhuri Dixit for her vivaciousness and her dancing skills, I admire Anni-Frid Synni Princess Reuss of Plauen for her beauty, as she is the one woman in the universe whose looks I envy. I admire lots of writers for their writing ability...there's also my former teacher, Jacinta Kitt, who in addition to being a fantastic teacher, went on to do some pathbreaking psychological studies, in addition to being the wife of an Irish government minister and the mother of a renowned musician.  Then there's the Biblical Proverbs 31 woman who runs a home and has a rich and fruitful existence in addition to being a wife and mother.  Who is my role model?  It varies according to mood, I suppose.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  We've just been joined by Lin.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so.  Image courtesy of Ventrilock at

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Comedy of Errors, Blame and Expectations - Long Overdue LBC Post

Life has been so hectic that weeks are hurtling by like a truck falling over the side of a cliff.  Lots of stuff going on, plenty of projects to keep me busy and a family to take priority over all of that.  The next person who asks me what I do all day is going to hear it from me!

The first post I missed out on was A Comedy of Errors, a title which I contributed.  Now as for a comedy of errors - it's the title of a play by Shakespeare, not one of the Bard's plays that I am too familiar with, unfortunately.  I'm sure I'll get around to studying it one day.  But I have to say I identify wholly with the title.  Life is a comedy of errors and misunderstandings for me at the best of times.  Ever since I married out of my culture and went to live in a foreign country where the main language is not English, misunderstandings have become a way of life for me.  I don't know what it is anymore to live without them.  Recently, some visitors to our family were regaled with the impressive story of one of the hilarious mistakes I allegedly made when I was newly arrived in India. As the visitors roared with laughter, I was not at all amused.  Even as a newbie in India, I know I was very aware of the culture and the ways in Indian society.  I did a bit of investigation about how the misunderstanding arose and it appears to have come out of a remark made by one of the smaller kids in the house at the time of my wedding.  That child's misunderstanding has given rise to a totally untrue story which is now, apparently, part of the family lore.  Well, I wonder, if this story is such a part of the family lore, why haven't I heard it before?  Have people been laughing at me behind my back for the past twenty years, I wonder?  If so, then the joke is on them.

Now as to blame, another LBC topic(contributed by Maxi and Rummuser) whose post I missed out on....if what I've been told is true and some small child thought they saw me making a mistake and told everyone, well I wouldn't blame the child, no, not at all.  I do, however, feel that the adults who laughed at the child's story and didn't bother asking me for clarification about it are responsible for letting this silly and untrue story get around.  Why is it that people find it easy to laugh at and ridicule those who are different?  If that had happened to an Indian woman living in an Irish situation, I believe it would be construed as racism.

This weeks topic is expectations (contributed by Rummuser). Well, I never had high expectations of what was going to happen to me in my life so I can never say I've been disappointed.  In fact, life is often wonderful beyond expectations.  I just believe that we make our own lives.  If we expect a good and happy result, we'll get it.  And of course the reverse is also true.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so.  I thank (photographer David Castillo Dominici) for the above image, 'Work Stress'

Friday, November 14, 2014

Indian Fiction - GOD IS A GAMER by Ravi Subramanian

Hi Ravi Subramanian.  I was eagerly awaiting your latest, GOD IS A GAMER.  It finally arrived and I was so pleased to be able to get a signed copy via Blogadda in exchange for an honest review.  A signed copy from an author is a treasure.  I'm going to hold on to mine for dear life because when the time comes for my to bequeath my property to my heirs, my signed first edition of the Ravi Subramanian thriller will probably be among the most coveted items.  I don't doubt it for a minute, especially with the ebook explosion.

So as I eagerly took the time to find a nice, quiet spot where I could read your thriller undisturbed.  It took some doing, as I'm a busy mother with three teens and a preteen and they all need Mom now at some time or another. Yeah, they're all grown up, but they sometimes  need someone to give them undivided attention, to listen to them and give encouragement - and that can be more intense than taking care of youngsters.  Then there's the MIL, the nemesis of the Indian wife.  But the less said about that the better. The husband is no trouble at all, but I guess I'm lucky.  So there I was, turning page after page.  Bitcoins?  A new, virtual internet currency?  Wow, I had no idea.  An American bank with branches in India and an ATM heist, executed in an army type operation?? Wow, could it be possible. A US senator assassinated on his way to meet Obama?  Chilling!  You know what, Raviji, you are a game changer when it comes to the writing of thrillers.  I mean, who needs crazed serial killers when you have high finance?  Seriously. I can't look at an ATM machine anymore without a quiver of anticipation running up my spine. I'll never think of the boring old bank down the road in quite the same way again.  Who woulda thunk, as the Americans say?  Well, some of them.  And as for gaming?  There's a virtual universe in itself.   My experience in gaming hasn't really gone beyond Tetris and Pac Man, but I do know that gaming is going extremely sophisiticated.  In fact, it's a type of storytelling now.  An online university, Iversity, ran a course on the future of storytelling last year and the basic conclusion was that gaming is the new storytelling method.  Are you sure you didn't do that course, Ravi Subramanian?

Your method of storytelling is something rather innovative and I have seen at least one other Indian thriller writer using it.  It reads like a movie script.  The chapters are short, just one scene at a time. One scene gives way to another and the story proceeds seamlessly. It's action all the way, no meaningless meandering.  In fact, reading a Ravi Subramanian, any of them, is a viable alternative to watching television or a movie.  

Yes, Ravi Subramanian, your book ticks all the boxes when it comes to fulfilling the requirements of the most discerning thriller reader.  Suspense?  Tick.  Excitement?  Tick. Characters for whom the readers can feel and with whom they can identify?  Tick.   A compulsive storyline? Tick. Tick.  Tick.  Double tick.  In other words, my message to readers is:  get this book.

And you know something else?  Your book was educational.  Yes! I found myself  Googling bitcoins and the onion router.  Just imagine that there's, like, an alternative world wide web where people with dark desires hang out without fear of exposure. Shivers up the spine again......  What a bold move, revealing the identity of the bitcoin founder, Satoshi Nakamoto.  That's a real person and, like, no-one knows who he really is.

Complaints?  Nope, not too many.  Apart for the fact that the narrative is sometimes so fast paced that it leaves me breathless, not a complaint when it comes to suspense thrillers.  But Ravi Subramanian, you need to talk to some of your characters.   Some of them have multiple personalities.  Take Tanya, for example.  She starts off as a bechari with a problem mother and ends up as a very black character indeed who is nonetheless more sinned against than sinning.  And that Nikki Tan has to be the worst mother I've ever come across, giving her daughter carte blanche to use the Onion Router for criminal activities, however soft.  And Varun?  Don't get me started on Varun! He makes my blood boil and that is just about as nice as I can be.  Tell me, Ravi Subramanian, why did you create a paranormal monster in what is so obviously a contemporary suspense thriller?  Frankenstein has nothing on this guy.   Varun is like  freaking Dracula. Be you in Brazil or in Goa, he will step out of the shadows, into your life and sweep you off your feet.  And then he will make mad, passionate love to you on the beach and .....well, I'm not the reviewer who will provide spoilers for the readers.  But I tell you, I have severe difficulty with  Varun and some of his escapades.  Is he black or is he white? Speaking metaphorically, of course.  Is he good or is he bad?  I'm still not quite sure what the heck Varun is supposed to be, but if I ever run into that guy, I will give him a piece of my mind for sure.  He's a most amoral character and all I can say is, the man is surely endowed with multiple personalities.

But Raviji, I want to thank you for a great read.  Do keep them coming.  But go easy on the multiple personality type characters. They freak me out, somewhat.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Commitment To The Unverifiable - LBC Post

Commitment to the Unverifiable, this week's LBC topic, seems to be a euphemism for belief in God, about whom we know but of whose existence we are unable to verify.  At least, not in the natural world.

So how do we know God exists?  Simple!  I read it in the Bible.

When I was a kid growing up in Catholic Ireland, we were more or less given to understand that you didn't have to take the Bible seriously, that it was written in a very different time by immature people. We only had to do what the priest told us and everything would be grand.  Grand, altogether.

I now know that that was a load of rubbish.  Complete nonsense and utter trash.  Sadly, many of the priests I met during my formative years mouthed platitudes and cliches and didn't believe even half nor quarter of what they were teaching us.  Of course, we didn't know what many of them were up to back then, but Jesus very wisely advised us (through the Bible) that anything done in darkness would one day be shouted from the rooftops.  That was completely true.

But I've also learnt that you have to be in the spirit when you're reading the Bible, reading along with the Holy Spirit and letting Him into your heart to tell us what the book is saying.  You also have to understand context and time and place regarding when the Book was written.

That's how I remain committed to the (apparently) unverifiable

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so.  This week's topic, Commitment to the Unverifiable is the contribution of  The Old Fossil, that amazing blogger from the USA.  My thanks are due also to for the above image, courtesy of Arvind Balaraman.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Writing Along With The Bards Of The Blogosphere - A Special Experience

It's been a crazy couple of weeks.  I made eight great new writing friends.  There were around 300 of us bloggers brought together by the Indian blogging hub, Blogadda, to #CelebrateBlogging and participate in the Game of Blogs.  The group in which I found myself, which subsequently named itself 'Bards of the Blogosphere', was the most diverse group, with members in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Mangalore and Lucknow.    We collaborated on WhatsApp and email, had umpteen discussions  and took the given set of characters and made a book out of them.  Our Excel spreadsheet was our most trusted tool.  Some of us write prose, some poetry, some of us write long pieces, some of us prefer to write short pieces.  Some of us write light, humorous stories, some of us write darker, more brooding prose.  But somehow, this diverse group of bloggers took the set of given characters, Shekhar, Tara, Roohi, Cyrus and Jennifer and made up a plot and a story.

As I've already mentioned elsewhere on this very blog, I wrote the opening chapter of the Cyrus/Jennifer love story.  When I read Arpita's chapter on that romance, which closed the story, I got goosebumps.  The very same characters who had lived in my head had literally transported themselves to Arpita's.  They were the exact same pair, except instead of being the author, I was now the reader.  And the characters were consistent all through, no matter who was writing them.  See, we were all in touch in a virtual manner while we all went about our daily lives, wherever in India we were.  But every time another Bard picked up the torch and ran with it, the story just consistently flowed.  Which showed the connection.

For me, the best experience I've taken away from this has been how to stretch oneself as a writer and leave the comfort zone.  When I was writing Jenny and Cy's love story, I was very comfortable.  When I was writing Roohi's kidnap scene, I was not.  yet I never felt more alive as a writer.  A new, temporary character in the story, Ramesh, emerged, from my own Uttar Pradesh, a common man who, for the moment, was the hero of the story, a man who had been bowed down by the tragedies of life, yet who could come out of his own misery to rescue a little girl who reminded him of his own beloved sister, tragically lost.  Also, the darkest character in the story, Aryan Ahuja, emerged in the story from my chapter, even before we knew his name, a good man soured by a system gone bad.  Evil though he is, Ahuja could be, in the words of William Shakespeare, 'a man more sinned against than sinning.'  Ahuja suffered horribly to become the near monster that he was and I think that the Bards have told his story in a fair manner.

I think we've all somehow been powered by a sense of outrage against human trafficking.  People generally dismiss this evil in our society on the grounds that it happens to other, poorer, people.  This story of a middle class child who was trafficked and the effect it had on her parent would have been terribly difficult for me to write on my own, but in the company of the Bards, it was possible.

Thanks to the Bards of the Blogosphere and to Blogadda for this amazing experience.  I hope our story wins, yet even if it doesn't win, I'll never forget this season in my writing life.

Meet the Bards:

I interviewed each and every one of us (including myself) for my book blog.  Read all the interviews at the following links and you'll get the lowdown on each and every Bard, including links:

Doc (Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan)
Divsi (Divyakshi Gupta)
PRB (Priyanka Roy Banerjee)
Nupur Maskara
Sulekha Rawat
Arpita Nayak
PeeVee (Priyanka Victor)
Datta Ghosh
Maria Perry Mohan

I think the lowest point for the group was when our initial discussions were heating up, one of our members had to drop out owing to personal circumstances, which left us with just nine Bards instead of ten.  But all the Bards chipped in to make up for the shortfall without a murmur of complaint.  Various Bards chipped into help, one with editing, another with the spreadsheet, another with the collage - everyone helped out whenever needed.  We agreed early on that even though Doc (Roshan Radhakrishnan) was the head of the group, we were all equally responsible for the group.  A happy moment came when we discovered that both Doc and I were winners in the Indireads short story competition.  But whatever happened in between, the chapters were plotted and written.  We're all going to keep in touch and it would be really great if we could write another project together sometime.  I do hope it will be possible.  We seem to work well together.

And now, the book:

Week 1: 
Chapter 1 - Princess' Day Out
Chapter 2 - The Weekend Brunch
Chapter 3 - The Journey
Chapter 4 - The Phone Call
Chapter 5 - Through the Eyes of a Stranger
Chapter 6 - The Princess and her Pied Piper
Chapter 7 - Shadow play turns real
Chapter 8 - Mysterious Tattoo
Chapter 9 - The Confrontation

Week 2:

Chapter 1 - I'm coming to get you, Princess
Chapter 2 - The evening before
Chapter 3 - A Good morning
Chapter 4 - Trigger happy
Chapter 5 - The Calm before the storm
Chapter 6 - What lies beneath
Chapter 7 - Pandemonium
Chapter 8 - Whodunnit
Chapter 9 - The Divulgence

Week 3
Chapter 1 - Shadows In The Night
Chapter 2 - Taken
Chapter 3 - Truth and Pretence
Chapter 4 - The Perfect Crime
Chapter 5 - Standoff
Chapter 6 - The Return
Chapter 7 - Catharsis
Chapter 8 - The Reunion
Chapter 9 - Epilogue

It's currently a free read online, with the different chapters found at the various blogs of the writers.  Please visit, follow the story and above all, respond. Leave comments on our posts and Facebook page.

The Bards of the Blogosphere are on Facebook.  You can get to our page from here.