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Rohini's Challenge

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In a quaint old city, deep in the hinterland of the country, a rich merchant once announced a reward of a thousand gold coins for anyone who could spend a whole winter night standing knee deep in the river.   In the same city, lived an old man and his young daughter, Rohini. The old man was poor and burdened with debt – he had nothing more to lose but his life. He decided to try his luck and accepted the merchant’s challenge.   On a cold wintry night, the old man mustered up all his courage and waded into the river. A little off the bank, as the freezing water knocked against his quivering knees, he steadied himself and stood facing the bank. A little crowd gathered and twittered amongst themselves. Most concluded he wouldn't last even until midnight. As the night grew deeper, they grew impatient and drifted away homewards. Eventually, the river bank was empty, even the howling dogs having retreated into warmer corners of the city.  When dawn broke the next morning, the old man wal

A Sea, a pirate and the birth of a lake

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  How Raktabahu’s evil intent was undone and Chilika was born   I love stories with fantastical elements, peppered with larger-than-life characters and dollops of magic realism. On a recent trip to Lake Chilika on the eastern coast of Odisha state, I stumbled upon some quaint legends surrounding the lake, especially its formation. And, like with all stories, I love embellishments. So, here is my ‘decorated’ version. The story goes, there was a roguish pirate king by the name, Raktabahu. Literally, that translates to one who’s arms are drenched with blood. He did have the blood of many on his hands, metaphorically speaking. He had looted , pillaged and killed many in his violent attacks on trading ships sailing the eastern seas. The ships laden with merchandise for foreign shores, with their weather-beaten but honest sadhavas (sailor merchants) would be caught unawares on moonlit nights on the high seas. The moon would be a mute witness to the murders as masked bandits sprand aboar

People at the lake in Unlock 1.0

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The first whiff of freedom after a long confinement…smells of wet earth. After almost 3 months, I stepped out of home for my routine walk at the lake. Before this viral pandemic stopped us all in our tracks and made us hunker down in the confines of our homes, I used to be a regular at the jogging track around the Mahadevapura lake.  Well, truth be said, it’s not really a jogging track, just an unpaved, narrow meandering path around the lake. But, it is like a little watering hole in the concrete jungle around us. It draws walkers and joggers of all kinds, shapes and sizes. And, to my delight, they are mostly back in Unlock 1.0! On my first day back, it gave a semblance of normalcy. Like, nothing had changed. Except the ubiquitous masks. There is the lanky old man who prefers to walk in a lungi and t-shirt. The words on his t-shirt are meant to reprimand you if you even think of smirking at his choice of attire.   They say in bold - ‘Old is Gold’. There is the Gen Z youngster, w

Written, Published and Sent Out Into the World!

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This lockdown has influenced us all in unique ways. It made me do some of my favorite kind of writing….fiction.    I wrote a very short romantic thriller (Amazon Kindle e-book) titled The Saviour - Love and Danger in Pandemic Times.   This is my first e-book and I am excited to see how it fares. It’s available for free download on Kindle Unlimited . Pick up the book  here .     What's the book about?   It’s a fast-paced urban story set in today’s pandemic environment. A viral pandemic ravages the world. As death lays waste everything around the protagonists, Jahnavi and 'Doc', love doesn’t stand a chance, especially one that not many speak about. In times of pandemics, nothing acquires greater precedence than the quest for a vaccine. In the race for the vaccine, some sacrifices will have to be made. Whose will it be? And, what will the survivors be left with? Read to find out.  You'll breeze through the book in 30 minutes! That's a quick read and I hope you smile

40 on 40 - Lessons from 40 years

Yes, I just hit 40. Sounds like I hit a tow truck.  We’ve been socially conditioned to treat it as some dead-end, or worse, a hill top. After this, it’s only downhill. The truth is its one of the most liberating milestones in your life. By 40, you are mostly wiser, professionally established, (hopefully) financially secure and personally surer about what you want in life. You are also still young enough to chase some new dreams, enjoy the fruits of your labors and reinvent yourself, if need be. Running up to my 40th birthday, I started thinking of listing out all that I had learnt in the last decades. All those years had to count for wisdom, if nothing else. Some of the below lessons, I learnt myself. Some were taught to me by others. Some will make me sound profound, others plain stupid. If some sound familiar to you, give me a shout. 1.      If you want something in life, really, really want it, go get it yourself ! If you are sitting around waiting for the universe to conspi

Too much India in New Jersey

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Time Magazine apologized earlier this week to Indian-Americans for publishing an article by Joel Stein that was offensive and derogatory to the community. I agree, the article IS offensive in parts. Its like Mr Stein started out writing a humor column but somewhere midway he gave in to the strands of subconcious racism that he can't deny have woven themselves into his diatribe against the Indian onslaught in his precious New Jersey hometown. Come on, "dotheads"?!! You cant imagine you'll get away with language like that in a magazine like Time. Celebrities get flak for using politically-incorrect terms all the time. Mel Gibson was in trouble for using the 'N' word recently. Public figures are made to apologize for using the 'F' word. So, I am glad Joel Stein was required to tender an apology for using the 'D' word. Not that the apology sounds sincere to me. He says "I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people." What? He

You see, he didnt know corporal punishment was illegal!

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And, as if that justifies everything. As if it justifies that 12-year old Rouvan Rawla was repeatedly rebuked, harrassed, humiliated and finally caned by Principal Sunirmal Chakravarthi of Le Martinere school in Kolkata. He was caned so hard that the cane snapped in two. Worse, it broke the spirit of the boy so badly that he hung himself in his room four days later. In response to the protests and outcry, the Principal has now "apologized". He said, ""I have to admit that when I caned this boy, I made a mistake and am willing to face consequences of that. But to link the caning of this boy to his death 4-5 days later is stretching it." Really?!! Is it really such a stretch to understand the connection between a 12-year-old's fragile, impressionable psyche and the emotional trauma caused by physical and public humiliation? Hmmm, doesnt sound like rocket science to me. And the Principal is supposed to be the expert of children's education, personal