Friday, February 28, 2014

The Perfect Match

“Excuse me, I’m here to meet Nisha”, Mahesh Shah said with a slight flutter in his voice. Used to making and breaking deals with total suave, control and assertiveness, he wasn’t his usual self today. This was probably the first time that the ball was not in his court. In fact, this tennis match was a two-sided game where a rejection from the other could lead to a game set match in a single go.

“Mr Shah, you may go in now” the receptionist said, pointing towards a door that read Miss. Nisha Karamchandani. 

Mahesh walked towards the door and stopped just before opening it. Adjusting his coat and tie he checked himself in the vague reflection off the door. Using his fingers as the teeth of a comb he put the few strands of hair in place that had violated their Line of Control and disrupted the parting of his hair. Clearing his throat, he turned the door knob and spoke, “Nisha, may I come in?” 

With a smile on her face, Nisha replied, “Mr Shah, please come in.” 

Extending her hand forward, she welcomed him and asked him to be comfortable by pointing to the seat that lay before her. After the exchange of pleasantries she said, “Mr Shah, welcome to”. 

“Thanks, but please call me Mahesh.” Nisha smiled in acknowledgement. 

“So Mr Shah, I’m sorry Mahesh, let’s get started.” 

“Yup, let’s start”.

Going through the file that contained the set of questionnaires Mahesh had filled and brought along, Nisha gauged the person Mahesh Shah was, and the kind of girl he would be interested in. When she was almost done, she realized one thing. In all the cases she had handled, this would be, if not the toughest, one of the toughest.

Mahesh was not a usual client. He was different, better said, very different. He had topped every exam he took, went only to the best schools and institutions and stood out from the rest in every way. He was tall, smart, good looking; a fabulous singer and loved horse-riding. He had his own business, and that too, just like his academics was among the best. In other words, Mahesh was perfect in every way.
Getting a girl that matched all these qualities would be a find. Still, hoping for something different Nisha asked, “Mahesh, what kind of girl would you want?” 

She held her breath as Mahesh opened his mouth to speak. “Just like me, perfect in every way.” Mahesh said with pride and a smile on his face. “We should be able to connect. She should understand me, even without any exchange of words. No matter what the topic of discussion, she should be able to contribute. She should love only the best of things and places and be a class apart. She should be able to do everything and be the best at it. In short, perfect.” 

Nisha waited patiently for Mahesh’s impromptu speech to end. At one point, she wondered why she had asked the question. 

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Diamonds Are Forever

The city of Bombay woke up to a news that sent shivers down the spine of everyone who read it. Super cop Surjan Singh, one of the best police officers to lead the police force of the maximum city was caught red-handed with diamonds worth crores of rupees in the wee hours of the morning. Newspapers and tabloids, having no other bones to chew on, didn’t relent and shot every spade they could in delivering the news. No matter which paper you picked up or wherever you went, it was the same news that was the talk of the town. 

President Award recipient Surjan Singh caught red-handed with diamonds’.

“Nowadays you can’t trust anyone. If people in the police force itself act like this then who is the common man supposed to turn to?” “This country is going to the dogs; only God can save it” was the gist of discussions at every street corner across every section of society. Scams and other news of corruption had always given their daily attendance, but this news was different as it was about an officer whom people looked up to and regarded highly. It was about Surjan Singh – a man you could bank upon.

News channels leaving no stone unturned broadcasted the live happenings as and when they happened. “Surjan Singh has been taken to the Bandra Police Station where he will be questioned. The police will file for a fourteen day custody to investigate the matter further” a middle-aged, suitably well-dressed but with an unkempt beard correspondent reported.

“Surjan Singh has shamed the entire police force. It’s a sad day for all of us serving this city with honesty and pride”, a senior police officer replied on being questioned. 

“Such people should be flogged to death, only then will they understand” was the reaction of a few commoners.

‘BREAKING NEWS: Surjan Singh to be presented in court’ flashed across the TV screen. Though the courtroom proceedings wouldn’t be covered live, this news made sure that the interest of the audience was kept intact and would prevent them from shifting focus to other topics or channels. However, in the courtroom, things were different.

In the midst of the tsunami of people, a simple maroon tee-shirt clad man wearing loose fitting jeans made his way or rather was pushed to the front section. Unless seen carefully, you wouldn’t be able to recognize him as the Surjan Singh everyone knew. Always seen in his uniform, with an upright posture and no-nonsense demeanour he carried out his duties to the very best of his abilities. Be it any case and of any complexity he was always there with his force, even putting himself in the line of fire. It was always service before self and not vice versa. So much so that even his own family life was in peril with his wife feeling ignored and no kids, even on the anvil. However, today was different. The aura around him was missing; his face was pale and eyes droopy. You could easily see that he was lost in thought with anxiety, irritation and worry causing multiple lines to appear on his forehead. The crisscrossed nature of those lines somehow reflected the state that he was in - nowhere to go and no solution in sight. Things had happened too fast for him to react.

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

The one piece of advice every Indian author or blogger should heed to

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A casual Google search could give you many results on advice to newbie authors, but nothing beats this.

One mistake every author or blogger makes is he forgets the audience he writes for. Some write for their friends, some write for an organization or group of people while some write for the world. But let me tell you, that if you write for any of the three mentioned above then you will get utterly disappointed. 

Against common convention, writing was never meant for the world or masses, unless of course you're satisfying a dying man's wish or trying to record a message for future generations. The only person you should be writing for is yourself. Period. If you ask me why, here's why. Because writing gives you something that no other thing can. It gives a sense of joy which only you can enjoy, feel and understand. It emancipates your soul like no other. Have you anytime observed children closely? You play some music and they're on their feet moving to the beat. Do they dance for an audience? No. Do they care if there's an audience? No. Then whom do they dance for? Themselves. Why? Because it gives them immense joy.

When you write for yourself, you'll never get disappointed if people don’t read or comment on your work, since you have already got what you wanted. If people do comment or appreciate your work, take it as a bonus but not as the objective. Secondly, when you write for yourself, you are writing for the one single person you know the best - YOU. If you try to write for the world, your target audience is so jumbled up that it's likely to fall more on deaf ears. Simply put, if you try to make love to the world you’ll only get pneumonia.

Another piece of advice one should heed, which is closely related to the first is being true to yourself. Write what pleases you. It’s only when things come directly from the depths of the heart it touches the heart of the reader. Challenge yourself to convey the exact emotions that you want the reader to feel. If need be Google, read, ask people, visit websites like or or simply Google any word by prefixing 'define', but make sure you find the right words to describe the precise feeling - nothing more, nothing less. Till then keep hunting. Once it’s out on paper, use your mind. Format it well so the style is gripping and it makes the reader want more. Blatantly review it and get it reviewed for grammar, sentence construction, punctuation, etc. Edit, re-edit, write, rewrite, crop it & polish it. After all it’s only after a shinny stone is polished it’s called a diamond. 

Tip: This is something I have learnt the hard way, which I wish I had learnt from day one. 
One thing that I do is after I have written a piece I take some time off it to concentrate on some other unrelated stuff and come back to it after a couple of hours or days. Normally when we write, we are filled with the emotions of the moment that words just flow from pen to paper. But while we are in that zone, we often miss out on the right words or the grammar. Getting away for some time helps us to reset our brains and see the same write-up from the eyes of a reader. Automatically the errors begin to show. Remember, when you're too close to a project, loopholes become too obvious to miss.

Once you've done this, you have done your best and have been successful. Remember, success is user-defined. If you have done your best you are successful. What happens post your hard work is beyond your control. All the best for writing that bestseller. 

Is there any advice you follow which has helped you? Please mention it in the comments.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

The Love Letter

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“Even if someone wishes to forget this day, he will never be able to”, I said to myself as I glanced through the various pages of the newspaper which were covered with advertisements of the oncoming Valentine’s Day. Special gifts, offers, discounts and related news made the task easier for people who either had run out of ideas or time to mark the day. Love articles and some news write-ups of a few cultural groups protesting against the day of love filled the remaining space. Though the newspaper resembled an advertiser’s paradise, it helped by giving a break from the ‘Sauna Belt’ and ‘Height Plus’ advertisements that featured on other days. Also love stories made for a far better read than articles on murder, theft and this country going nowhere. 

Husbands would be happier if reminders of their anniversaries could also be flashed in the newspapers. Not necessarily to celebrate the love that existed between them and their spouses (if there was any left) but more importantly to avoid the All India Radio-type sermons and uncalled for expense on gifts which had to be bought as damage control in case they forgot, I wondered. 

Personally speaking, I hated Valentine’s Day. Not because of any other reason but because to celebrate it you had to be in a relationship and have the prerequisite – a Valentine. I was single and wasn’t in one. And because I wasn’t, the heartburn was more. I would love to be in one but thanks to my work schedule I hardly had time for myself, having time for another was way out of the question. I was happy being single but not on Valentine’s Day. Seeing so many couples around sharing warm moments together, the heart, as irritating it can get, cites a need for someone. The heartache then transcends into something way bigger that’s easier felt than explained. Hence, all these years I locked myself up in a room with no access to the internet, TV, radio, newspapers or any other modes of communication so the day just passed by without my heart knowing about it.

My thoughts were broken when I saw my train chug into the station, that too when there were still two minutes for the train to arrive as per the display. Caught off guard and not having much time left, I folded the newspaper and rolled it up. To keep it safe, I held it between my thumb and index finger as I reached for the door beating a few hundred passengers who expressed greater interest in catching the same already crowded local as me. Irrespective of  the capacity, ‘find a place and fill it’ has always been the mantra in India. We never shy of it and live by example. We can proudly claim that we can fill any mode of transport to at least three times its capacity with ease. On some days, we beat our own record. In addition to carrying people way beyond capacity, the local trains in Bombay have this special state-of-the-art system for picking up and alighting passengers. The beauty of this system is it works best during peak hours. All you need to do is position yourself near the door. The rest is taken care of, all thanks to the system made up of the ever-in-a-hurry people who will do anything to get in or off the train. 

As I made another successful entry into the train and continued a dream run so as to say I chose to head to the seats on my right instead of the left. Activating my mental radar, I began the search for a seat to sit. But along with the seats I observed my fellow passengers as well. 

Man is a complex animal. No matter how much you study him, it’s never enough. In fact, he will continue to throw surprises. The more you study him the more amazed you shall be. As a pastime, I’ve always enjoyed observing people - the way they think, behave, act, and talk. Animals learn a lot merely by observing. That’s so correct in the case of humans too.

A trio of college boys were around who seemed more interested in their virtual mobile world than the real one they lived in. They kept passing around a BlackBerry phone...

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.
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Friday, February 07, 2014

It’s Not Easy

Nikhil was not his usual self. A sense of uneasiness had gripped him. If there was ever a doubt, his sleep laden eyes bore witness to the fact that he was disturbed at least for the last few hours. In fact, the uneasiness was so much that there was no need for the couple of cups of coffee he used to have daily to put him into gear. He picked up his phone to check if he had received any message or call. There was nothing. “Damn it” he said. 

There was no new notification since the last time he checked his phone, which was just two minutes ago. Unable to suffer the agony anymore, he dialled the first number listed in his favourites. The recipient’s phone rang and continued to ring. Finally a voice spoke, “The number you are calling is not responding.” 

Heaven Megs, answer the bloody phone” he thought. 

Tapping the ‘Call Again’ button on his iPhone 3GS, he held the phone against his ear hoping that at least this time he would get a better response. The phone at the other end rang once, then twice…he waited with bated breath, counting each ring but before the entire cycle of rings could be done, he got a reply, that too a different one but still not convincing. 

“The number you are calling is currently busy. Please try after some time.” 

“Megs…” Nikhil let out his frustration. His irritation was increasing. 

“Can’t she just reply to my messages or pick up the damn call?” 

He decided to try a third time. He needed an answer. Things were getting out of hand and fear was taking over which would soon lead him into doing things, not in his control. This time again the rings went through and again, he got a different reply, “The number you are calling is currently switched off or not reachable.” 

Nikhil couldn’t take it anymore. Placing his thumb, middle and index fingers on either sides of his forehead, he brought them towards each other hoping to quell the slight headache that had started its way into becoming a full blown migraine. Mental peace was at a premium and he was losing it fast. It was nearly two hours since he had walked into office, but it had been many hours since the anxiety had begun to creep in. Never been used to this kind of worry, he didn’t know what to do. He had loads of office work pending and timelines to catch up with, but with most of his mind blocked with thoughts of Megs he just couldn’t concentrate. To avoid unnecessary eyeballs, he sat at his desk and stared at his screen with his Outlook open. Using the direction keys on his keyboard, he moved from one mail to another. He didn’t read a line in the mails, all he needed was some solace.

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Some good news to share on a personal front

Over the last few days, my book State of the Heart became the #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the 'Single Authors Short Stories' category.

If you wish you can purchase the eBook at or the Print book at a 35% discount at Proceeds would go to charity in the buyer's name on Valentine's Day.

Needed to make the Valentine's Day charity a success:


Please get your family, friends and colleagues to join in.
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