Sands of Time by Neelam Saxena Chandra.

Sands Of Time 
Neelam Saxena Chandra
‘SANDS OF TIME’ is a collection of twelve interesting stories which bring out the different moods and moments in the lives of women.
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Some Facts About the Author 

NeelamSaxena Chandra, an author of thirty-two books,is a record holder with the Limca Book of Records for being the author with highest number of publications in a year in English and Hindi (2015). She works as Joint Secretary (U.P.S.C.).  She has won award in a poetry contest by American Embassy, Premchand award by Ministry of Railways, Rabindranath Tagore international poetry award, Freedom award by Radio city for her lyrics. She was listed in the Forbes list as one of the most popular seventy eight authors in the country in 2014.

Awarded by eminent poet/lyricist Gulzarji in a Poetry Contest organized by American Society on the topic ‘Poetry for Social Change’.

Received the Rabindranath Tagore International poetry award -2014

Awarded PremchandPuraskar by Ministry of Railways (II prize)

Awarded by Children Book Trust, India in 2009.

Neelam also debuted as a lyricist in Shankar Tucker’s composition ‘Mere Sajan sun sun’ and the song has won the ‘Popular Choice’ award  in Folk Fusion category in Radio City Freedom Awards.

Neelam is a record holder with Limca Book of records for highest publications in a year in English and Hindi.

Neelam and her daughter hold record for being the first mother-daughter duo to write a poetry book for the book ‘Winter Shall Fade’ in Limca Book of Records, Miracle World Records and India Book of records.



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We leave you with a wonderful song penned by Neelam Saxena Chandra

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Tweenache in the Time of Hashtags



Blurb: #Tweenache101: First, there’s PMS (it’s real and it’s painful and can someone please make it stop?). Second, there’s #The Boy. Yes, that’s right. The BOY. And third, there’s a #New Dad in the picture. Actually, he’s an old dad, but if Nina’s never met him before, he totally counts as new, right? And worst of all, there’s the #Nerd Wars. There’s a new nerd in the classroom – and she might be even nerdier than Nina. From the author of How To Stop Your Grownup From Making Bad Decisions, here’s another hilarious season in the life of #NinaThePhilosopher.

About the Author: Judy Balan is the overthinking parent of an overthinking child. Reality overwhelms her at times, which is why she enjoys making stuff up. She loves reading, watching and writing comedy. How to Stop Your Grownup from Making Bad Decisions was her first attempt at writing for non-grownups. She enjoyed it so much she decided to make it a series and call it Nina the Philosopher because over-thinking tweens deserve their own series. For more on Judy and her writing, hop over to or check out Nina’s blog

Review: Tweeanache in the time of hashtags – is the second book of the Nina the Philosopher series. As I did not read the first book, I managed to read some of the reviews to get myself familiar with this 2nd book. Judy Balan’s How To Stop Your Grownup From Making Bad Decisions, the first book of the series seems to be a pleasant read. The girl Nina’s blogs are astonishing, considerate and appealing, and I was happy that I would see more of her in the present book I read of her. It was an easy and quick read for me. It has been a year to both the books being out and for me after reading the reviews of first book both have been quite fresh to the mind. Nina is in Class 7 now, grown up. The spoiler in the beginning of the book is larger-than-life. It offered great hint escalating my eagerness to read your blogs, to know your story didn’t grow fainter. Very clear and intelligent Nina. If last year Nina thought of making new fragrances creative, this year (the present book), she named her mother’s candles in a supremely uproarious way. Creativity at great heights, appreciate Nina. Last year Nina was super intelligent girl, managing children-stuck-in-grown-ups, this year she is extraordinarily perfect with her reasonable share in the big adults’ world from having a crush on someone to being envious and defeating it, by joining in a nerd war, seeing the exquisiteness of winning and losing, thoughtful on different types of sexual orientation, and understand mental wellness. First book had many quotes, Nina was a quote-vending-machine and this year glad she underlined most of the unforgettable passages. Now how can I not mention a few of my favourites from those underlined?

  1. Nothing can make you feel quite as alone as when your best friend agrees with the rest of the world.
  2. I don’t know what I’m thinking till I write it all out.
  3. It was like everything had changed and nothing had changed.

Nina, your first book was fine (of which I only read the reviews), this is your second book and it is really superior, it has won my heart. I am now waiting for the third one to come out which I am sure would be better than the preceding ones. Blogs are immortal reads for me and I hope the books (the series) hang about too.

#AdventureNme – entry #2


‘Unusual, exciting, typically dangerous, know-how or activity” or ‘A bold, usually risky responsibility” all these words together mean adventure. When I look at these definitions, it sounds a lot like my life to me. Life has been one colossal bowl of adventures one after another. My life is incredibly extraordinary and thrilling at times. I found myself living in one city and starting over in the next. I started with not so great job or did many jobs before settling into what I love. I imagine falling in love one day and commit to waking up loving that person every single day for the rest of my life. All these larger life events, getting into a new job, relocating to new cities often, falling in love or pursuing our dreams, are bold and risky just like adventure. They create a range of emotions which sometimes are a struggle to put into words. Adventure has to be experienced to understand it better.

As a hyper active person for me adventure has many meanings. It can be exploring places I’ve never been, or doing things I’ve never done before. Coming to exploring places, it is a must to leave the city I live in; it refers to exploring the same city in a better way. It’s road tripping to wherever a road takes me. It’s peering into each cave, over each hill, and exploring each and every nook and gap. I sometimes hop into my car and drive away without having any destination in my mind. Adventure is sleeping under the stars, enjoying campfire with friends and waking up to see the bright sunrise. Adventure is winning new challenges like learning to fly, learning a new language, living a debt free life, buying a house, starting a business, or even going for a bungee jump. Adventure leaves us with a new story to tell and share, which can be a soaring tale of distant lands and imaginary creatures. Adventure shakes up my day-to-day tasks and alleviates the stress and worries I face. It makes me smile, laugh, and at times cry, but until the end of time it makes me stronger and better person.

Adventure faces the unidentified. It starts with a challenge, but it has freedom, a release, a break from the norm, and it’s really FUN. We all need some fun in life and also we all need little adventure(s) in our lives.

Other than life, there is no big adventure anyone can ever have. This is what #AdventureNme is all for me. Let us fill up our adventure dishes and our lives with reason and importance. Just think of all the stories we’ll have to share with the next generations.

Check out the full video here:

“This post is a part of #AdventureNme activity at”

#AdventureNme – entry #1


Personally I sometimes feel tired of doing the same old things and expect some spice in my life. This is when the word ‘Adventure’ comes in my mind. For me adventure is not just travelling, climbing mountains or scuba diving. Being adventurous is something out of the box.

The dictionary defines ‘A risky or daring journey or undertaking’ as Adventure. Whenever I hear this word, I get a felling to “add” a new venture to my life, which asks me to take a riskier path, a path less known to others.

For me Adventure is to do something where my interests lie. I hated my full time job and turned freelancer again. I have no regrets. To develop something remarkable for the society or something for the needy. That’s a joy and I am proud to say I always help and contribute towards the betterment of my surroundings. If I find something wrong happening to someone, I don’t ignore, I join them in the battle towards the good. I love running and marathons are a great show of determination and are generally conducted for a good cause. Our minds are continuously bogged down by unvarying questioning about our decisions; I do whatever I feel is right. I exercise daily; it gives me the right perspective to be adventurous. There is no biggest excitement than meeting new people. I get so many ideas by just meeting people forms all walks of life and it teaches the dignity of people and of life.

Every time adventure(s) need not be something physical. It is just as much an adventure if you dare to think about things that might have been frightening to think about before. It is an adventure to present yourself to others in a way you would not have dared to before. It is an adventure to test yourself against what you felt were your limits previously.

The first time I drove my car, was adventure.

The first time I received my payment for my article, was adventure.

The first time I topped my examinations, was adventure.

I am sure in future my adventures would include – getting married to that man who loves me a lot, making love under the stars with him and getting to hold my new born child in my arms.

Life is a journey for me, I travel to discover myself. It is my inner adventure. Just like our finger prints the definition of adventure is unique to each one of us. At its centre, the spirit of adventure is being inquisitive and brave enough to do something new, go somewhere dissimilar or wander into that rough area between the familiar and the wild, mentally or physically. The solution is to listen to yourself, your inner voyager who saw the world as a mystifying place full of wonders and never stop venturing into the unknown. There is totally no need to remember what day or month it is. Just remember to have fun in what you do and make others around you happy, it is what I define as #AdventureNme.

Check out the full video here:

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Raakshas: India’s No.1 Serial Killer


Blurb: What made him a serial killer? Was he born with homicidal tendencies? Did a harrowing childhood render him criminally insane? The questions haunt, Additional Commissioner of Police, Maithili Prasad as she discovers the horrific murders across Mumbai. As she spearheads the greatest manhunt in Mumbai s history, she’s determined to contain the reign of terror unleashed by the ruthless serial killer. But before that she must grapple with her personal demons that surface to plague her with self-doubt. Just as it seems that Maithili has begun to understand the deep-rooted resentment that drives the serial killer, he turns around and makes her the object of his revenge. Will she emerge unscathed from this ordeal? This thrilling narrative of a serial killer s life and the unusual and challenging investigation to catch him, uncovers a chilling trail of unspeakable torment and cruelty the tale of… Raakshas.

About the Author: Piyush Jha is an acclaimed film director, ad filmmaker and the author of bestselling crime-fiction novels. A student political leader at university, he pursued a career in advertising management after acquiring an MBA degree. Later, he switched tracks, first to make commercials for some of the country s largest brands, and then to write and direct feature films. Piyush’s films Chalo America, King of Bollywood and Sikandar are noted for their unconventional subject matter and for their relevance to contemporary society. Piyush’s earlier novels Mumbaistan, Compass Box Killer and Anti-Social Network are page-turners that explore the gritty, noir landscape of crime in Mumbai. Currently, Piyush is developing a crime-based TV show for a leading entertainment channel and he s also working on his next feature film as a director/writer. Raakshas- India s No. 1 Serial Killer is Piyush’s fourth crime thriller novel.

Review: I received a copy of this book from WritersMelon for review. The book has been published by Westland which was launched at the Crime Writers Festival at Delhi. Having read author Piyush Jha’s earlier books, his new book grabbed my attention very easily. His earlier books were about detectives, and this time Raakshas is on serial-killers. As this theme is also one among the crime, suspense & thriller genres I just could not wait to read it. The tale is a gripping storyline of a serial killer’s life and the extraordinary and exigent enquiry to catch him while edifying a frightening shadow of awful anguish and nastiness. Raakshas was the name that serial killer’s grandmother slapped on his forehead as soon as he was born, the name that came to define his life and the way he was destined to live it, the name that slipped deep into his heart and became a cancer that could not be cursed. Just 10 pages into the book and I was happy that the author did not disappoint me and it deserves to be filmed. The development of the characters with the story has been author’s greatest strength. Not just in general but the psychological state of each character has been written well. Whatever the characters do, are vindicated. It was easy for me to get into the head of the killer, in the way the character was represented. The novel was fast paced and it took me just few hours to complete as it was really very interesting. The book has been written very well with simple language. I loved that the hero is a woman IPS officer who carries out hazardous enquiries to nab the criminal which is definitely an off the point from author’s usual pattern of portraying women as negative characters in his earlier stories. The story as I kept on flipping I could comprehend how the mind of the monstrous criminal had worked as the personality was so well shaped. I liked that part where the serial killer takes the camouflage of Ruzbeh and wears Salwar kameez, who comes to shot the cop hero (Maithili Prasad), but instead she shots him and before he dies he passes a pen drive to her with all the answers to his crimes. ‘Raakshas’ is an examination of human inspiration that forces one on the path of good or evil. The plot of the book is compounded by the background of a swarming metropolitan area that appends to the complications. A distressing happening in upbringing and adolescence absolutely sends/makes one go behind the path of diverse conduits. In the present case one is moved by responsibility to become a meticulous advocate of law and order and other ones malformed by rejection and brutality turns into an unconscionable serial killer. The book has a surprise in form of a bonus section which clears the air that serial killing is not solely a western phenomenon. This section throws light on a whole bunch of serial killers in India and the youngest serial-killer in the world is an Indian. I highly recommend this book to everyone irrespective of preferring crime/thriller genre.

Woman’s safety by being Sathvikam

She appeared to be a perfect flawless artistic form carved out by the finest creator, her radiant brown eyes, an oval shaped dusky skinned face with diminutive chin, above all a perfectly round shaped Bindi which was placed a bit above her fine-looking eyebrows showed her elegance. Clad in a beautiful saree hiding her voluptuous curves. She resembled ‘Sathvikam’.

In sanskrit the language which is considered to be the mother of all the languages has defined a woman in three forms – Sathvikam, prachyodhakam and biyanakam.

‘Sathvikam’ is called to woman who is said to be very generous and kind-hearted, in one word a woman who is respected by holding both hands together in a Namaskar posture.

‘Prachodhakam’ is called to woman who seems to be very sexually attractive and ‘Biyanakam’ to woman who look scary.

The way we dress up resembles our thoughts. Getting attracted to the western culture, changing the lifestyle is good, but to what extent should be questioned by our thinking. Should we have to put our traditions at stake? Instead of being Sathvikam in our dressing style and thoughts why a few woman are getting attracted towards being Prachodhakam? One need not present themselves only in Sarees to look generous; it can be anything until it is decent enough which means not being Prachodhakam. Sathvikam doesn’t entertain revealing dressing style, late night parties or turning into drunkards or alcoholics. I see many woman fighting for it saying it is their choice – ‘My Choice’. But a change can have both pros and cons. If there is good there will also be bad because for every thought, idea, feeling or action there will always be an opposite.

In this world there are both good and bad men, likewise there are both good and bad woman. Keeping aside the good men, the qualities of bad men when they are highly drunk and do not have conscious about ethics obviously gets attracted towards Prachodhakam type of woman more. And if these woman without protection are available as prey to these drunkard vultures’ then I must say the rape rates would be very high.

Recently, I came across a play in one corporate firm asking for woman rights, and urged men to stop rape on woman which is true, but to what extent is it correct to quote – ‘let woman dress up whatever they want, let them drink, let them ware short skirts etc’. With all due respect asking for these things is up to woman’s choice as it is her wish if she wants to be Prachodhakam, but she should also be prepared with the vultures’ existence out there in the dark nights. Last but not the least what is the point in performing these plays in corporate because the major casualties are done by people belonging to BPL. Awareness must be brought to these people as the percentage is high here. My only question and conclusion is can’t woman get saved by being Sathvikam instead of blaming the government? Not concluding that being Sathvikam will make the rape rates zero, but at least the percentage falls down drastically.

By, Harshita


About the writer: Harshitha Vallem has multiple interests – Ramanujan’s thinking, Screen writing, History, Epics and Puranas, and Satyajit Ray films delights her imagination. She is an Accidental writer. Her first book – ‘The Third Day – Dwapara Yuga’ got released in September 2015 which took about 3 years to complete shows her determination and perseverance. The one liner that describes her is – A gutsy personality who doesn’t think about the existence of negative consequences when a seed of thought gets implanted within her. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. To dive more into her thinking one can refer to the blogs – Link 1 and Link2



Voyagers Into the Unknown 
Ruchira Khanna
In the historic Indian town of Agra, you can find a very unusual tour company, which is owned by a charming young man named Raj. Although Raj’s official job is to show off the historical landmarks of Agra, including the legendary Taj-Mahal, his true mission is to heal the souls of his broken “birds,” as he affectionately refers to his tour participants. His business operates purely upon word-of-mouth referrals, ensuring that all of his tour members arrive in Agra with their hearts in their hands, ready for the spiritual growth and cleansing that Raj is known to provide. Healing the hearts of the spiritually damaged can be a difficult job, and in this particular tale, Raj finds himself faced with his most challenging tour group yet. First, there is Ira, a stunningly gorgeous but fragile young woman on the brink of suicide. Next, we meet Darci and Lennard, a couple on the verge of divorce. Then there is Carl, an irritable, antisocial workaholic who has burned all of his bridges. Lastly, we meet Asha, an elderly widow who still yearns for the company and comfort of her late husband. When disaster strikes the tour group, everything is thrown into jeopardy, including lives, relationships, and Raj’s very reputation as a tour guide. Raj must find a way to lift the spirits of these five special travelers, even in the face of death and despair. Venture into the unknown and discover how Raj Touristry heals the brokenhearted, one soul at a time.


Dawn had risen over the historic Indian town of Agra. Agra was a city of monuments, which stood tall, their unmatched grandeur telling of their long and fascinating history. The morning air was filled with the sounds of roosters calling, birds chirping, and morning prayers and salutations. Dogs and cows were being hustled through the streets and errand boys on bicycles hurried along to their respective chores and deliveries.

Amidst this vibrant chaos, a man in his late thirties with an athletic physique, broad shoulders, and unkempt black hair was briefing his colleague in a quiet, affable tone. He held a bunch of papers in his hand, and the other man nodded obediently as he glanced through them, making notes on the pad in his hands. “So, are you all set?” inquired Raj, the black-haired man.

“I think so,” replied the other man confidently, as he took his seat behind the wheel of a mini-bus.

“Call me if you have any questions, Albert. You know where to reach me,” added Raj as he shut the door of the driver’s seat, giving his driver two thumbs up. Albert started the engine quickly and began to roll away from the curb. He was abruptly halted by a sharp knock on the door of the vehicle. The driver slammed on the brakes and looked to see who was doing the hammering. Raj reappeared on the other side of the glass with blank boards and a sharpie. Albert opened the door and reached out for the additional items. “Write the names of my birds on these planks. It will be easier for them to spot you,” explained Raj.

“Birds?” inquired Albert with a confused expression.

“Sure, Birds. Since they will fly back to where they are coming from in a week’s time.”

“Aha! Yes, boss!” Albert winked and started his journey.

About The Author 
A Reiki Master where she passes out information about channeling universal energy and conducts sessions. The author of “Choices”, “The Adventures of Alex and Angelo” but just another soul trying to make a difference in this lifetime.

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The Mother I Never Knew by Sudha Murthy


What secrets lurk in a family’s past—and how important are they in the here and now? Sudha Murty’s new book comprises two quests by two different men—both for mothers they never knew they had. Venkatesh, a bank manager, stumbles upon his lookalike one fine day. When he probes further, he discovers his father’s hidden past, which includes an abandoned wife and child. Ventakesh is determined to make amends to his impoverished stepmother—but how can he repay his father’s debt? Mukesh, a young man, is shocked to realize after his father’s death that he was actually adopted. He sets out to find his biological mother, but the deeper he delves, the more confused he is about where his loyalties should lie: with the mother who gave birth to him, or with the mother who brought him up.

It’s been since long time I have been reading Sudha Murty’s books and till date she never disappointed me. I am an ardent fan of her simple yet heart touching stories. She is an inspiration. This book comprises of 2 novellas dealing with two very different men and their family secrets. The first novella, is about Venkatesh, a middle-aged man with a wife and two grown-up kids who discovers a decades old family secret and his dilemma about them. I really like the character of Venkatesh – a nice man, with old fashioned values and morals. A total ideal dad like character. The way in which this old mystery/secret comes out and the way in which he goes about piecing the truth was all very attention-grabbing and forceful. Along with Venkatesh’s investigation into the past we get to see Venkatesh’s family- money and status obsessed wife and son. His daughter who is more like him and is his confidant till the last. It was nice reading about this family and how even in the same family people can be so significantly different from each other. The novella, even though the ending felt a bit abrupt and sudden, it was still pleasurable. The second novella, features Mahesh who finds out he is adopted after the death of his beloved father and then goes on a journey to find his birth-mother. A fast paced story, bits of it were a dragged but very interesting for me. The story went by really quickly and I wish it lasted little longer.

Making of Babaji Inc



Blurb: In an era, where the self-appointed Godmen/women are making headlines, and very often for all the wrong reasons, Making of Babaji Inc. is a satirical take on the rise of one such Godmen. In a witty way the story showcases circumstances where superstitions win over logic and ridiculous solutions, often termed as Upaay, given by the Godmen, become the last resort for their devotees. Billu, a middle-class bank cashier, loses a bag containing lakhs of rupees belonging to a high-end customer. His superstitious wife convinces him to seek the advice of a Babaji she knows. Billu undergoes a change of faith. His mediocre life takes a humorous turn and sets off for a distinctly accidental journey called…Making of Babaji Inc.

About the author: Shravya Bhinder graduated in English Literature from Delhi University and went on to qualify as a Business Communication trainer. Before writing her first novel, Making Of Babaji Inc., she worked for leading IT & Consulting companies. She is married and currently lives in New Delhi. An avid reader and observer, she likes to draw inspirations for her writing from real life characters and incidents.

Review: This book was my first read of February 2016. Congratulations to author Shravya Bhinder for her debut. It was fun reading the book which never had any single boring moment. It took me quick 2hours to finish it. I have never read any book penned by author Ravinder Singh but I have heard and read a lot about his work, so when this book was associated with him, my thoughts were clear that it would turn out to be an interesting read and I was not disappointed. The story had many funny parts which made me laugh. The unexpected turn the story took was amazing and I do recommend this book to everyone. Not just the cover but even the content and characters entertained me a lot. Being a Delhi born person, I could easily relate to the book. The simple and straight language makes this an easy read to all.  Not to forget I read some good one liners in the story too. I look forward to read more from author Shravya Bhinder. Good Luck.

I won the copy of Making of Babaji Inc as a prize for winning the year end 2015 TP contest on twitter hosted by TalesPensieve and Author Shravya Bhinder.

The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oohmerbhoy

★.•**•.★★.•**•.★ The Avalonia Chronicles Book Tour ★.•**•.★ ★.•**•.★

About the Book:

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad. Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear. With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever. 

Book Links:
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World of Avalonia


Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 3
For a second that felt like a lifetime, everything stopped; I felt like I was floating in nothingness. Then I blinked, and, when I finally opened my eyes and focused again through the tears, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 
I found myself standing at the mouth of a small cave situated on a hill and overlooking a quiet, moonlit valley. On my left, a dark forest stretched out as far as the eye could see, treetops glistening silver in the light of the full moon. The hills around us undulated into wildflower-filled meadows that lay sleeping in the dewy night.
Far down in the valley, I could see a little village, its lights twinkling in the distance. To my right, a waterfall splashed playfully into a small river that ran down into a lake, next to which the little village was built. The moon here was fuller and larger than I had ever seen it, and the night sky was awash with a fantastic array of glittering stars.
Had I passed through the tapestry? Where was I?
I looked around, disbelief clouding my judgment. I was still trying to get my bearings after that strange moment when I had been inside the tapestry and nowhere at the same time. It gave me a funny feeling, as though I had been lifted out of my own consciousness and then
put back into my body.
A warm breeze brushed past my face and played with my hair. Gone were the cloudy grey mist and the cold, nipping wind of the English countryside. I drew in a sharp breath—the air was crisp and clear, sweet smelling, and fresh. The moonlit valley was filled with fruit trees, wildflowers, and rolling meadows.
“How did we come here? Where are we?” I asked, still confused.
“You really are ignorant,” said Oblek, glancing at me. “I take it your uncle didn’t tell you anything?”
I shook my head and looked down. Oblek had tied my hands with a rope he had with him while I was still dazed and looking around. It was humiliating, and the rough ropes cut into my wrists, rubbing them raw every time he pulled me forward.
I had to find some way out of this. And, at the moment, the only thing I could do was discover more about where I was. Then, when I got an opportunity, I could escape and find my way back up to
the cave on the hill, where we had arrived out of the tapestry.
But then what?
Christopher was probably dead, and Aunt Arianna would doubtless blame me for everything since I had disappeared at the same time. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t really want to go back, and, now that my adoptive parents were dead, I had nothing to return to.
I was starting to panic. I had nowhere to go, and my mind was imagining an array of horrible outcomes of my kidnapping. My palms had become sweaty, and my racing heart was thundering in my chest as I half-walked and half-ran, desperately trying to keep up with
Oblek’s giant strides.
“Why are you doing this?” I pleaded with my kidnapper.
But Lord Oblek said nothing. He didn’t even look at me. He just kept walking ahead and dragging me along behind him, with no more explanations as to what he was planning to do with me.
I was terrified, and I had no idea if I was going to survive this. But I tried to be brave. Maybe I could talk my way out of this?
“You do know that this is called kidnapping?” I said, trying to reason with Oblek.
He didn’t bother to answer.
“What will happen to me now?” I squeaked, my voice breaking, as I tried not to cry.
“Queen Morgana will decide what is to be done with you,” said Oblek, finally.
Queen Morgana! The woman from my dream? It was not possible that this, too, was a coincidence. It must be the same Morgana, the one who had tried to kill my real mother.
Who the hell was she?
Suddenly all of this seemed extremely scary. I hoped that I was still dreaming and that there was no way I had actually traveled through a magical tapestry into some strange land. It all seemed very exciting in books. But actually being kidnapped and then hauled around like an animal, traveling deep into a land I knew nothing about, was not
my idea of fun.
I had to get away from this horrible man, and fast.

About the Author:

For Farah Oomerbhoy, writing is a passion and reading her solace. She is a firm believer in the fantastic and magical, and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. When she was pregnant with her first child ten years ago, a story popped into her head she could not ignore. “I was at my grandmother’s house, and as I looked at the image of a beautiful forest with a castle in the distance on a tapestry hanging on the wall, I imagined myself being whisked away into another world,” she said. It was at that moment the world of Avalonia, with its powerful mages and fae and the evil Queen Morgana, was born. Farah Oomerbhoy’s debut novel, The Last of the Firedrakes, was released in the summer of 2015. Farah lives with her husband and three children in their family home in Mumbai, India. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Mumbai. Her first novel is The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of the Avalonia Chronicles.
  Contact Farah:

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement from Test Cricket

Few years back a young Jharkhand lad with well built body and long hair grabbed all the eyes of Indian fans of cricket. With his fast and furious innings ( 148 vs Pakistan and 183* being his career best) vs Sri Lanka in one day cricket got him a prominent place in Indian team as a wicket keeper batsman for whom India was in desperate need of. Slowly stretching his career in all the formats of the game he came out as a captain cool with most of the decisions wrapped under calm posture and he was Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

In 2007 World Cup, India couldn’t make in super eights. Hereafter the real journey of the M S Dhoni started. He got an opportunity to lead a young team for the first ever T20 World Cup. With some brave decisions he held things together and won the World Cup. When Anil Kumble hanged his boots, captaincy of test team was handed over to him. As a test leader he led the giants – Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Harbhajan and Zaheer Khan in top form. By winning most of the home series he won overseas series for which India was less known. But in the later half with near exit of the great ones and relatively younger side team suffered blows of whitewashes in England and Australia. His defensive tactics came under scrutiny. Throughout the career, MS Dhoni lacked the violent bowling attack which could snatch 20 wickets of opposition. India did well in other formats that followers could not digest the failure in the tests. India also lost hard earned 1st rank in the tests in between. MS Dhoni was also nowhere near in tests of his own landmark as best finishers in ODIs. He struggled batting on fast bowling tracks with the new ball. His unconventional methods got shacked in sturdy situations, still he managed to gather around 5000 runs and considerable dismisses behind the stumps. His hardworking propensity, adaptableness, capability to read the situation well stood behind him as mentioned by “The Wall” in an interview.


When India drew the 3rd Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Melbourne, Australia in 2014, it was curtains for the most successful Test Captain of India- MS Dhoni in test cricket. India lost the Test Series 2-0 against Australia which marked the end of his tenure as a Test player and Test Captain of India, at the age of 33 years, at which many players are at the peak of their cricket career.

The current field of the game of cricket in all its three formats i.e., Tests, One-day and T-20’s are based on the fact of ‘Perform or Perish’. The player’s position in the playing 11 is certain in all formats and as long as a player is performing well, his place stays certain in the team. The same yardstick applies to MS Dhoni particularly in Test Cricket. After 2011 his performance as a captain and player got dipped as he failed as a Test-Captain and player by indentation and his exit was foreseeable from Test Cricket. He had become a prey of the ‘perform or perish’ condition of the game of cricket.

As far as MS Dhoni’s test career is considered, he made his Test debut versus Sri Lanka at Chennai in December 2005. His record as batsman, wicket-keeper and captain has been amazing. In Melbourne Test against Australia in 2014, he made the record of scoring highest runs as a captain in Test cricket for India making 3,454 runs outshining Sunil Gavaskar’s 3,449 runs. Melbourne Cricket Ground also observed another world record from him as he caused his 134th dismissal as a wicket-keeper against Australia. He reached the landmark in his 460th innings while Sangakkara of Sri Lanka has 133 stumping from 485 innings. He has earned the merit of being the most successful Test Captain for India. He played 90 Tests – 60 as Captain, won-27, lost-18 and draw matches of 15. In spite of all these, he had many negatives too. He has to his credit 8 Test Ducks beating MK Pataudi with 7 ducks.

Another portion of MS Dhoni’s cricketing career was his stint in IPL as captain of Chennai Super Kings.IPL brought money to the game of Cricket but also brought ‘Club vs. Country’ debate in Cricket. T-20 bonanza led to many retirements in cricket to begin with it was Kevin Peterson of England and next MS Dhoni. The match-fixing allegations of the Chennai Super Kings weakened the image of cricket and cricketers.

The retirement of MS Dhoni, from Test cricket was debatable off and on the field. Some welcomed this decision while others opposed this by disagreeing that it was not the right time for announcing the retirement. Virat Kohli, who served as the captain of the Indian team for an ODI against Australia was on the front runner and the credible player who was bought in the place of MS Dhoni. Some cricketers felt MS Dhoni’s declaration of his retirement in the middle of the ODI’s was not a good decision and that too when the team’s performance was under scanner ahead of the approaching World Cup 2015 Series. He was still the best wicketkeeper and Batsman. Understanding his retirement has many angles. There might be some other factors like internal conflicts but they are less likely. If they exist they have no much importance. It was MS Dhoni’s personal call and not the one who takes decision arbitrarily. Goodwill of Indian cricket is definitely pragmatic behind the decision.

MS Dhoni was a pillar of strength to the team and the Indian fans. He was a symbol of hope as he maintained the interest in the match and in many such situations didn’t let the fans down. And in between all this the major responsibility shifted on the shoulders of Virat Kohli who had not so good prepared team under him. If T20 is dessert, ODI is breakfast and Test match a meal. In the swift world where all are attracted to the thrill of T20s, it is not undoubtedly less thrilling to watch conflict between excellences of bat and ball. India cricket team would surely miss the great man but history is not just of the great men but about their great time and contributions and achievements and MS Dhoni has written a grand part in the book of India’s cricketing history.

‘This blog was posted in response to the The Sports Mirror Blogging Contest in association with Blogchatter!’

The Professional League Tournaments

We learnt the art of sports, with that we did comprehend the push for compete. The word chills down every back who, has ever competed, may be for a single time. Some people with practice became better players. Among them a very few are in the professional ring of sports. In the United States 50,000 people have tennis as a hobby- 25,000 are kids; 10,000 play for clubs;, 5,000 are coached, 500 are qualified to play in a competition; 100 enter the game; 4 play in the semi-finals; 2 in the finals and just 1-the winner. The winner takes home all – the fame and money. These things make a person choose sports as their profession.

In India more than the game, the players are worshipped. Admiration often turns into hero-worship, patriotism turns into uncalled for riots. People pay Rs.30, 000 to just watch Roger Federer play on the court. Since people would pay huge sums, professional leagues started as a shortcut to generate quick revenue and to make the sport gain popularity. The best example to analyse is the IPL (Indian premier league) – the budding young players get an ocean of opportunities, and the viewers gets entertained. It is a win-win situation for all stakeholders too.

In our country, academics is given more predilection as compared to sports therefore the materialization of Professional league tournaments gives a suitable platform to our young sportsmen and also encourage a skill of various diversified sports amongst our citizens. This will lead to more people taking up sports as career.

In India cricket is an anthem Professional league. For other sports like Indian Badminton League, Indian Soccer League, Hockey India League, and Indian Tennis Premier League are platforms indicating that a change has occurred in its awareness and the resultant players will be mentored for their activities. Native games like kabbadi is getting importance and it can be an objective for many youngsters that apart from job opportunities the sport might give them an identity in international sporting community for playing a game that they loved.

Today Professional league tournaments include hockey, tennis, and football as well. So many talented players who had no opportunity came forward to join. This sets the wheel of Indian sports in motion. This very idea of regional sports captured the attention of millions across our country.

With every advantage comes a power; with every power comes great responsibility. One such responsibility is hiring “Indians only” in any sport. When only Indians are recruited, more and more people would practice with the hopes of actually getting into their respective sports professionally. We often witness players from other countries playing. Even after six decades, it looks like we prefer to be ‘led’ and not ‘lead’. Some people would contradict this by saying people only would pay to watch international players, and that would bring back not just what one has invested, but also hit profits. But isn’t this restricting opportunities to promising players? It is.

Villages in India are often regarded as the backbone our land. People with poor economic background also have great talent. Their skill sometimes remains unmatched with the foreign players. Professional league will prove beneficial to these players only if the team will completely sustain Indian players. Else this will again prove to be a monopoly of the foreigners’.

Sports at the end of the day, is just not a game. It is so much more than that. It’s just not about winning or losing. It’s about the sheer pride and joy and the spirit of the game played. In India people understand that it’s not about the victory, but all about the journey. People will respect the burgeoning players even more, for all the fight they put on in the game. And players find it a matter of honour to win on their soil, more than anywhere else. By training and letting these promising Indian players play in the professional leagues, one day India will be counted among the countries where champions are made.

‘This blog was posted in response to the The Sports Mirror Blogging Contest in association with Blogchatter!’

Sachin Tendulkar – The Pioneer

No one’s retirement in any sports or sporting history has been like that of Sachin Tendulkar. There were tears in the millions of eyes when he announced his departure from the sport – cricket. I agree with Andy Flower ‘There are two kinds of batsmen in the world, one- Sachin Tendulkar and two all the others’. Sachin will always remain one of the greatest cricket icons of this world. He is a symbol of excellence and a personification of personal humbleness. Much of his greatness comes from the fact that he has time after time pleased the expectations of the people. He played with effortlessness in all conditions against all types of bowling with a wonderful disposition. Sachin took up cricket at the age of 11, at the age of 16 made his Test debut against Pakistan in 1989. The question was asked in the historic selection meeting for the tour- “What if he fails?” It was reported, “Tendulkar never fails”. His professional career was untarnished and non-controversial. He has inspired a whole generation by his determination and discipline in the game.

Sachin all the way: A collage of paper cuttings featuring Tendulkar made by artist Manu Kallikkade.

Sachin remains the most talented batsman of his time. His batting is a combination of great principles of balance perfection, movement economy, stroke-making precision and expectation. He is dexterous regularly at a range of orthodox shots that he is not a legend of signature stroke but a master blaster of every shot you name it, and he has done it perfectly from straight drive, paddle sweep, uppercut to pull shot. The seriousness of his batting lies in the fact that he can score all around the world in all conditions. It was not an inborn skill of Sachin; rather one which was crafted by his enthusiasm, aptitude, devotion and hard work. Nobody in the Indian cricket Team forgets to mention Sachin’s magnitude, in their speeches. This is an indication of Sachin’s concern for his teammates. Leadership is intrinsic in Sachin, leading and appealing his colleagues in his own way.

Sachin has a huge list of records tagged to him, some of them are:

  1. Leading run-scorer and century maker in Test and one-day International Cricket,
  2. First player to score one hundred international centuries,
  3. The first player to score a double century in a ODI,
  4. The only player to complete 34,000 runs in international cricket.

He is the first sportsperson to be awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force exclusive of aviation background. In 2012, Tendulkar was made an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia. He contributed his part to the 2011 Cricket World Cup winning Indian team. He was the only player of the current generation in Bradman’s Eleven. For a country known for unity in diversity but also for communal riots, Sachin inspired the billions irrespective of their religion. He is an icon of every Indian. He name unites every Indian. This is the reason why we get to see his fans holding posters during matches stating- ‘Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God’. He has won the hearts and minds of the billion cricket fans globally. Australian cricketer Mathew Hayden said – “I have seen God. He bats at number 4 for India”. The Indian motherland in return laurelled him with many honours such as the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian award) and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna( India’s highest sporting honour).

Despite being a celebrity, Sachin remained unassuming and self-composed person. He is regarded as a perfect man on and off the field. He brought sophistication to the game of cricket and lived to the repute that cricket is a gentleman’s game. Sachin started as a batsman, elevated to be a hero and retired as a God. He is unarguably the biggest crowd puller and a performer in the game of cricket. He forever will be the most admired and adored cricketer. His final addressing of the crowd where he spoke about the end of his career as “between 22 yards for 26 years”, shows that he has considered this 22 yards as his shrine and his journey to the crease as a pilgrimage as he has relinquished the whole lot for cricket. Never in his life, has he ever made a fuss of competition with others, his only competitor then and now until the end of time has been only cricket.

He is one such person who has travelled with time and retired at the appropriate time but we never comprehended that time has flown by so fast. Watching him play and grow as a player had been a big part of our lives. Never did we imagine that the time would come so soon when Indian Cricket team would be without Sachin. But this is what it is, life and cricket has to go on.

‘This blog was posted in response to the The Sports Mirror Blogging Contest in association with Blogchatter!’

Monkeys, Motorcycles, and Misadventures


Blurb: “After having recurring dreams, a man considers retracing Lord Hanuman’s epic journey from India to Sri Lanka. While rationality argues against the pursuit, the dream appeals to something deeper and he sets out with two friends on a 1200 kilometre trek across South India. The journey however, doesn’t turn out to be quite what they expected. Along the way, through encounters with evil cans of pepper spray, wise men, pimps, hellhounds, and manic elephants, they are forced to confront their personal demons. At one of their lowest moments, plagued by doubt, they lose all hope. That’s when they experience a sign, the first of many, which renews their spirits and helps them push forward. Monkeys, Motorcycles, and Misadventures, provides a candid account of the trio’s incredible journey – their misgivings, sufferings, and triumphs, all in search of faith.”

About the author: Harsha is a freelance writer and the author of ‘Monkeys, Motorcycles, and Misadventures’. After graduating with a Master’s in Business Administration, he worked with a large IT company for a few years, before taking a sabbatical to trek the Hanuman route. In 2013, he moved to a beach town, where he spent a year beach bumming, mooching off family, and writing ‘Monkeys, Motorcycles, and Misadventures’.

Review:  This was my first time reading a travelogue, a genre I hardly read or prefer reading but this book ‘Monkeys, Motorcycles and Misadventures’ by author Harsha did not disappoint me. The book was indeed a fresh read for me. It was a well written and maintained appropriately journal than a book. The book is a travelogue mapping the route Hanuman had taken to rescue the kidnapped Sita from Ashok Vatika in Sri Lanka and the author Harsha in fact ventured out with his friends on a 1200 km path across South India and book also highlights the journey of the trio and their many experiences congregated on the way. Though I love travelling I have never been on long trips, and while I was reading this book I imagined myself the trek, the roads, the troubles, the sun, the moon and the terrains. With the right amount of humour, wit and insight and those verbal exchanges among the friends made this book a special read. Apart from being a travelogue, the book is also the author Harsha’s memoir with the loss of his beloved grandmother and subsequently that of his faith; he seeks a resolution on this journey. I found the book to be funny, adventurous mythology with a dash of humour and excitement. I would highly recommend this book to all those readers interested in travel, and adventure.

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