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book review

Tales with a Twist – A book review

Title – Tales with a Twist

An Anthology of short stories

Author – Varadharajan Ramesh

No. Of pages – 64

If you love stories with unexpected twists, look no further. Though this Anthology is the Author’s first published one, you can easily discern that he is no amateur.

There are 17 stories on varied subjects but each story succeeds in its own way, where the ending is quite unexpected though at the same time,  logical. In some of the stories, the twist made me curious to re-read the story and understand how the author has set it up for an unexpected ending. 

I won’t be reviewing each of the 17 stories but some, which made me go, ‘Oh, wow!’

It starts with a bang with ‘Repairing Cushions’ which brings a smile to your face when the reason for having this uncommon title becomes apparent at the end of the story.

‘Innocence’ says many things in so few words and certainly hits the nail on its head. A hard-hitting message there.

‘Dependent’ is a story of many families which shocks you with an unexpected ending.

Then I must mention my most favourite story in this Anthology, ‘The Troubles of Time Travel’ where two gentlemen argue and debate most seriously and scientifically on the possibility of Time Travel only to reveal the most mundane of reasons at the end. I loved the author’s thought process in constructing this story and his very obvious interest in time travel.

‘Good Ol’ Coop’ seems to be one story but when it ends it is a totally different one and gives a stark glimpse into what might happen if the usual human food supply dries up and the drastic solutions a man could think up, to survive.

‘Lonely’ is another story with a science background, this time on the loneliness of space.

‘Ultra’ captures the mindless violence indulged in by sports fans without any thought to the consequences.

All in all, an excellent read.

Yatindra Tawde

horror

A new world

After a long winding process of checking whether the bank branch is open or not, I make my way towards it. Yes, such checks are needed in these CoVid times, such is the uncertainty. 

Upon reaching, I extend my hand to push open the swinging door when suddenly the watchman rises from his stool and stands between me and the door. He points a gun and aims it between my eyes. I recoil in terror but then I realise that it is the plastic one measuring my temperature. Like it happens to many others who undergo this ritual, I don’t know whether to look at the gun with squinted eyes or just close them. “Theek hai”, he growls.

Again I extend my hand to open the door, when the watchman barks, “Ungli…”. Embarrassed, I raise my little finger and tell him, “No, no…I don’t want to go now”. With irritation in his voice, he shouts, “Arre, no! Your forefinger. Gentleman people like you, you don’t know even this?”

I don’t know where to hide my face as I feel a million eyes looking at me. I raise my forefinger, which he puts inside an oximeter. After few seconds which feel like an eternity he mumbles, “Ok”.

“Show me your hands”, he orders. He is really enjoying his current position of power. Being at the receiving end, I extend both my hands. Out of nowhere he fetches a dispenser and squirts few drops of sanitizer on my hands.

“Go!” He says and stands back, taking full precautions not to touch me even by mistake.

“And don’t take off your mask”. That’s his parting shot. 

This, then friends, is the new world where you are forced to wear masks and gloves inside the bank and the watchman points a gun point-blank between your eyes, outside.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Off the beaten track

Today, it rained cats and dogs, in Mumbai. And the good, old city weather bureau tells us that tomorrow will be worse. A few years back, maybe two, it would mean that the next day would be sunny but now it seems, they have pulled up their socks. Yes, nowadays they get it correct, more often than not. I am not sure whether it is due to better satellites or it is due to better clairvoyance.

When they enlightened Mumbai denizens about a long bout of heavy rainfall during the week, starting Tuesday, most people took it seriously and left for their work with an umbrella in hand. Well, atleast those who were brave enough to take on the combined threat of Corona and the pouring rains. So in addition to an umbrella in hand, they also had the twin protection of a mask covering their face. Till now we have seen cloth masks or the special surgical masks, however soon we may see plastic masks due to the rains. Or maybe not, since plastic masks don’t breathe.

As it usually happens every rainy season in Mumbai, people leave their homes in the mornings only to end up being caught in flooded streets or on flooded railway tracks. And today was no different.

While wild animals like leopards and pythons and deer have paid a visit to the fringes of the metropolis to check on their masked brethren, the fish haven’t been so adventurous. That is, till today.

Today, one of the stations on the central railway faced massive flooding; well, many stations did but this particular station made news with some rare visuals. While it is now a best kept secret that trains in Mumbai run through water during the rainy season, some visitors of the aquatic kind paid a visit to this station surprisingly.

Taking advantage of some calm waters on the railway tracks, a few fish had a great outing, swimming on those very tracks. While they gaped at the TV cameras with their pouted lips and graceful movements, the people marveled at their excursion far inland, which was certainly off their usual beaten track.

I have seen visuals on social media which show the nullahs in Japan towns brimming with colourful fish. Now, the time has come to replace these oft-repeated visuals with these newfangled fishy images of Amchi Mumbai.

Last heard, the fishermen are now making a beeline for Mumbai railway tracks and no, it is not for performing the early morning ablutions which have hitherto commanded a pride of place on the sides of the tracks.

Yatindra Tawde

Movie review

Shakuntala Devi – a Movie Review

SPOILER ALERT

Watched Shakuntala Devi – the movie yesterday. It’s a very well made movie by Anu Menon. I think it’s her third movie.

The movie captures the life of Shakuntala Devi who was known as the Human Computer due to her dexterity with Mathematics, right from her childhood. 

Frankly, I wasn’t keen to watch this movie. How entertaining a movie on a mathematician can be, I had thought. I am thankful to my wife and daughter for pulling me in front of the TV screen.

In no time I was sucked into the narrative, thanks to an effervescent child artist and the capable direction. How a grown-up Shakuntala’s attitude was moulded at an early age, has been depicted wonderfully.

I loved the depiction of Shakuntala Devi’s independent behaviour and never-say-die attitude.

And what can I say about Vidya Balan, who has lived a role which progresses from a teenager to a matronly figure, never once slipping out of character. I just loved her characteristic ‘Havier with J silent’ whenever she interacts with the Javier character.

While her effervescent act of Shakuntala Devi’s youth is lovable, I was blown away by her depiction of Shakuntala Devi’s later years, especially after her motherhood. The struggle to live an independent, jet-setting life conducting her Maths shows while raising a daughter singlehandedly has been shown without being over dramatic. 

Few scenes from the movie will remain with you long after it is over. Her hate for her overbearing and exploitative father and a silently suffering mother; the scene where her husband tells her that the first word spoken by their daughter is papa; her confrontation scene with her husband over their daughter’s custody, well their are many such.

But the scene-stealer is her solitary scene when she goes back to her childhood home and breaks down on seeing the yellowing newspaper cutting’s of her Maths exploits, which her mother had been religiously collecting in an old trunk; the same mother whom she had hated all along for being the silent, all-suffering woman.

Also noteworthy are Vidya’s scenes with Sanya Malhotra, who plays Shakuntala Devi’s daughter. Sanya reminds the audience that she too is one talented actress. 

Jisshu Sengupta, who plays Shakuntala Devi’s husband, plays his part with sufficient restraint.

Shakuntala Devi is an excellent movie of a strong, self-made woman and a loving if, overbearing mother. Recommended for everyone.

It is a worthy addition to Vidya Balan’s movie repertoire like Parineeta, The Dirty Picture, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Kahaani, et al.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Death at midnight – A book review

Book title – Death at midnight

Author – Dr. Manoj Paprikar

Publisher – #ArtoonsInn Room9

No. Of pages – 167

Death at midnight is a medical thriller set in a town near Nashik, Maharashtra. It is a story of a Doctor couple who get caught up in unfortunate circumstances.

Though it starts slowly with the author introducing the various characters, it soon captures your attention as soon as the Doctor decides to take up a difficult pregnancy case even after knowing that the woman has been brought late and time is running out to save both, the mother and child. He takes fast decisions to retrieve the situation after involving the father, but still tragedy strikes.

This unleashes a wave of misfortune on the Doctor couple, when the father’s influential friend indulges in goondaism inside the hospital. During this mayhem the Doctor is grievously injured.

The novel captures today’s trend in india, of patient’s relatives attacking doctors if the treatment doesn’t work and there is loss of life. 

It also captures the media trials where the media usually paints a negative image of the doctors, all in the name of social responsibility but which is nothing but a race for garnering highest TRP’s.

It  brings into focus the Nexus between politicians and media and the extent to which they will go for their mutual benefits. All this at the expense of responsible doctors and the common citizens.

Yes, there are some doctors in the real world who would put their patients life in danger for extra bucks. But which profession doesn’t have black sheep? It does not mean that every doctor is dishonest. In fact, majority of the doctors are very responsible.

The author has written a story of hope which is a recommended read for all doctors as well as the general public to understand such social issues from the doctors point of view. Especially those doctors who sacrifice their personal and family life for their patients heath. 

An apt book to read in these pandemic times, when you see the entire medical world working selflessly and tirelessly, putting their own lives at risk.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Ebook review : Bhumi

Bhumi : A review

EBook title : Bhumi

Author : Tina Sequeira

When I came to know that Tina Sequeira has published her own ebook, ‘Bhumi’, I had to add it to my e-library. Tina is a multi-talented writer, a winner of Rashtriya Gaurav Award in association with the Government of Telangana for ‘Author of the year’ (2019) and many more.

Here’s my humble review of ‘Bhumi’.

All stories are of strong women or who became strong as they faced various gender-related challenges in their lives. Of women who fight various kinds of societal pressures. 

I recommend all men to read this book to understand the range of challenges women go through, irrespective of whether the women are from the top most rungs of society or from the lowest. And I recommend all women to read this book to keep their morale high when facing such challenges, as each story is a learning experience.

The very first story, ‘Amma’ grabs you by your tear-ducts, if that is possible. Its an ode to a woman, a mother, a wife. Anything more and I would have to include a spoiler alert.

‘Stark illusions’ captures the dark underbelly of any city, where women are used and thrown by lusty men. It’s hard-hitting and stark and makes you reflect.

‘Third time lucky’ is a short one but packs a punch.

Then comes my favourite one, ‘Grey’. Why is it my favourite? In addition to reading an engaging story, it took me to the beautiful landscapes of God’s own country, Kerala, it’s exquisitely tasty cuisine and the warm, hospitable people. Loved the cute and strict Ammamma too much. It also talks of an innocent, old world childhood which switched on, my own memories. And though I am a Maharashtrian, I love the Kerala way of life and it’s warm, friendly people.

‘Mirror mirror on the wall’ brings with it the horrors of acid attack and the possessive, deranged minds of the perpetrators of such attacks. At the same time, it also shows the strength of the victim in overcoming all obstacles and triumphing over them. Hard hitting!

‘First Lady’ starts like any other Saas-bahu battle and then gives a very touching message. And the author has managed to find humour in those situations which could be so difficult for a less accomplished writer. 

‘Saira’ captures the challenges faced by a free-spirited girl and how she overcomes them to live life on her own terms.

‘Juxtaposition’ is of another strong woman who makes decisions, whether grey or white, and doesn’t feel guilty about them.

‘Fire and Ice’ begins like any other teenage love story but basically a story of the woman. She lives her life as a docile woman for a larger part of life, but takes strong decisions when destiny demands.

‘Climax’ is very effective in putting across the message that when a woman says ‘no’  it means ‘NO’, whatever the circumstances.

‘Unbridled’ is a story  of two friends who make opposite choices in their lives and still find happiness, irrespective of those choices.

‘Fat chance’ is another one of my favourites where the protagonist finds her own path in all the madness of body-shaming indulged in by family, friends and the society in general.

‘Pound of flesh’ highlights the discrimination a woman faces irrespective of religion.

‘Switch’ talks about the progress women have made over generations and a positive outlook for the current generation. It also talks about imparting the right ideals to the new generation. 

‘Bhumi’ is a story of a woman who looks after her family without any expectations, almost ignored during better part of her life and how the family realises her importance only when she falls seriously ill. But the story ends positively.

To summarise, Tina Sequeira has written a masterpiece which is recommended for everyone.

Yatindra Tawde

Book introduction

Blood Runs Cold – an E-book introduction

The Hive is live with its second offering “Blood Runs Cold”

It contains seventeen edge-of-the-seat thriller stories written by seventeen authors. -Ratnakar Baggi, Varadharajan Ramesh, Tina Sequeira, Sarves, Rashmi Agrawal, Srivalli Rekha Mantrala, Anshu Bhojnagarwala, Priya Bajpai, Sreeparna Sen, Christopher Dsouza, Aradhna Shukla, Ell P, Kanika G, Sheerin Shahab, Pranav Kodial, Pavan Kumar and Yours truly.💛💛

The efforts are being noticed and appreciated by well-established and well-respected writers like Neil D’Silva and Damyanti Biswas who have written the forewords for ‘Route 13: Highway to Hell’ and ‘Blood Runs Cold’ respectively.

With diverse voices on board each story has something for the readers.

Grab your copy of ‘BLOOD RUNS COLD’ from here:

http://mybook.to/BloodRunsCold

Fiction

Coming soon…a Thriller anthology you will love

#Project3 #TitleReveal #BookCoverReveal

Hi all, 

I am a contributing writer in this exciting venture by The Hive.

The Hive is a non-traditional publishing collective. The first anthology was Route 13: Highway to Hell, a horror anthology. 

The anthology experienced tremendous success. More than 200 copies were consumed by eager readers. It might seem like a small number, but it’s not. In the world of self-publishing, these are great numbers, especially for a brand new entity like The Hive. Route 13 topped the horror charts on Amazon new releases for a whopping 6 weeks in a row and remained in top 3 for more than 12.   

Now, The Hive launched #Project3. They invited submissions and nearly 50 entries were received.

All the entries were subjected to a stringent two-round selection process and SEVENTEEN stories were selected to be part of #Project3. I am elated that my story is a part of this exciting anthology.

#Project3 is ‘An Anthology to Thrill,’ and the seventeen stories are going to do exactly that – thrill you, the readers. It has stories about scorned lovers, devious criminals, supercops, sleuths, violence, blood, danger, suspense and, murder. You are going to enjoy this. 

Delighted and proud to present to you the title, cover and release date of #Project3. 

                        BLOOD RUNS COLD 

                    Book Release: 17/07/2020

Why July 17th? Well, it is a very significant day for crime and mystery. 

1. The Romanov family were murdered

2. Erle Stanley Gardner, author of Perry Mason, was born on that day

3. The 100-year war ended with the battle of Castille

4. July 17th is the Day of International Criminal Justice. 

I hope ‘Blood Runs Cold’ gets the same support and love which ‘Route 13: Highway to Hell.’ enjoyed. 

Enjoy!

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Hawk’s Nest : An Introduction

Book title : Hawk’s Nest

Author : Assorted, includes myself

Pages : 211

Hawk’s Nest is an anthology of brilliant short stories in various genres, brought to you by Room 9 : ArtoonsInn. 

This room is dedicated to inhouse publications by ArtoonsInn.

Something about ArtoonsInn –

ArtoonsInn is a virtual inn lead by its dynamic CEO, Mithru Rachamalla and his equally dedicated team. It is a platform for Artists of various kinds to gather under one roof.

The members of ArtoonsInn are called Artoons and I am proud to be one of them. In fact, I have been associated with ArtoonsInn right from their first event, a story writing competition.

About Hawk’s Nest –

It is an anthology of 16 stories of varied genres written by some of the leading writers of the inn. 

I am fortunate that one of my stories, Providential Encounter, was selected to grace the pages of Hawk’s Nest.

Providential Encounter is an emotional story of a lonely man in his old age struggling to come to terms with an decision taken in rage.

I hope you like it as well as all the other astounding stories of Hawk’s Nest.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Jai’s Assorted Tales : A review

EBook title : Jai’s Assorted Tales

Author : Sitharaam Jayakumar

Pages : 102

I always love to support new, promising writers and Sitharaam is one of them. His writing journey mirrors mine when he says that he started writing his blog a few years back while working in the corporate sector.

These are nice, short stories which will surely regale you. 

The Section 1 which is in the Horror/Thriller category is the best part of the book. What especially grabbed my attention, is the subtle twist in the tale at the end. 

Played for a sucker and An Unspoiled Girl, are my favourites, precisely for that reason.

However, having same names of protagonists in consecutive stories which are not related to each other, might cause confusion in the mind. 

The other stories in this section are also good.

Section 2 is Science Fiction / Humour. In this, the protagonists names like Captain Haddock, Din Din and Professor Candyfloss Calculus will trigger some pleasant childhood memories.

Section 3 is Science Fiction / Public Welfare, Section 4 is Science Fiction / Miscellaneous and Section 5 is General, which have some thought provoking stories.

This is the author’s fourth book and is good for some light reading. Some of the stories in this book can be developed further into bigger short stories by the Author, especially from Section 1. Thriller/Horror seems to be a genre which is the Author’s strong point.

Other Books by  Sitharaam Jayakumar –

Eighty  Hours To Save  Karen 

The Krishnapur  Kidnappings 

A  To  Z  Of  Men  And  Women  Who  Excelled  In Sports