Earning a Doctorate Degree

Disclaimer: Everyone’s academic experience is different. Mine was very different because I never chose to spend time in the college premises but opted to study on my own and earning a PhD or doctorate degree experience is independent learning.

I was in my 12th standard when I decided to have a prefix “Dr” by the age of 30 and fortunately I could achieve it. The journey to reach this was very difficult but the amazing end results made me happy to realise that my hard work was not wasted. You should really like the field you’re thinking about pursuing a PhD in. A doctorate is a commitment of couple of years (for me it was 1.5years), and if you’re not fascinated by your project, it feels like an impossible chore. There are a lot of things that are actual chores — writing the synopsis, getting it approved, research results and sometimes the rough drafts go against your expectations, all these pulls you through. I don’t know anyone who finished their PhD who wasn’t excited about the field in some way. I was allotted a professor but I hardly took his help because I wanted to achieve this degree without anyone’s support. I think a lot of people expect an adviser or Professor to have all the answers and give you specific directions during the submission of drafts for approval. It’s not your Professor’s job to teach you everything, at this stage; studying independent really does wonders to you if you are academically strong and have good access to information at your fingers.

I did not get worried much as I started to write my thesis. My strong foundation was my MBA in Finance. In this too I scored really well. I got familiar with business management and even after finishing my MBA I did not stop reading further on this subject which made me attempt my thesis easily. I’ve always been an independent learner. I did not feel to distance myself from anyone or anything. I went about with my normal life that of a blogger and a PhD research student. It’s important to have a life outside of critique work. Give your brain a rest. Despite what ever happens, a thesis does not write itself. I read and made my own notes on the subject of my thesis. Getting started (the synopsis) was hard for me as I was completely new to the topic I chose to do my project on. I did not worry about proper citing, what pronouns to use, and the tone of my writing. This stuff is easy to fix later. My full focus was on framework and outline. By the time I reached middle of my writing, I knew better about the topic than anyone else. It made my defense less painful. In between I did read about experiences of PhD scholars, some were encouraging and some were really scary. Those stories didn’t stop me from being really nervous or over confident though and probably it won’t help anyone’s nerves either, but there you go.

In June 2015 I submitted my project to the institute for final approval and the next 5 days were no less than hell. I had positive & negative thoughts lingering in my mind. Those 310 pages were not just printed pages or words typed on MS word, but my everything. The professor reverted a week later with a nice note with appreciation to go ahead with the final prints and make it into a book. By mid of July, my thesis was ready and I submitted it along with my 10 test papers and crossed my fingers.

On afternoon of 27th July 2015, the WhatsApp in my phone altered me of a notification and it was from my Professor who messaged me “Dear Student, please check your email and revert immediately”. It was a big surprise to find my mark sheet, appreciation letter and doctorate degree certificate. I could not believe what I read. A top grade for my thesis was something which I did not expect. This is my life’s biggest accomplishment to excel in academics and I am really happy to have it achieved successfully.

A PhD at a glance. Work hard, try to relax, and embrace the uniqueness of course. There are many challenges along the way, but try to learn from them rather than beat yourself up over them. A PhD can be fun if you let it. Nobody teaches you to learn in this level. That’s something you are expected to know before you get in, so why spend years and money on a niche unless you are going to work on something related? That’s precious time you could have used to learn things that you actually need to know for your work. If you’re smart enough to get a PhD, you’re smart enough to learn on your own.

Of the awards and rewards

Nothing gives me so much of happiness except in the realization that I have accomplished something worthwhile in my life. No matter how hard the circumstances have been in my life, I did achieve my goals, aspirations, dreams, and ambitions and I am happy of all that I have in my life.

Since I was a kid, I can say that I was an ambitious girl because I’m always dreaming of so many things for my future and I still dream. During the course of making my dreams come true, I experienced the unexpected which made me strong to face any challenges that will come along my way.  As what other say, “The virtue lies in the struggle, not in the prize”. Obviously, these things are just a small part for the eyes of others but for me, I consider them really big.

1989 – I was in 1st class; I won my first prize in best poetry recitation. I was given a hamper of 25 books. I remember most of the stories I read.

1990 – I gave my stage performance in 2nd class in Kathak and got the opportunity to come in a TV show.

1991 – I was awarded best student of the crafts class and I was given 5 sewing kits as prize.

1993 – I was in 5th class; I came first in Girl’s UN’s cross country race, 100 meters, made my team win Kho Kho.

1995 – I was in 7th class and by majority votes of students and teachers, I got selected as prefect.

1996 – In my 8th class, I wrote my first article on unemployment in Hindi which was approved and published and I was made sub-editor of the school magazine (students department) and became member of Fete and Annual school day celebration management.

1997 – In my 9th class, I was made to stand in elections by the school management and I got elected as deputy head girl, deputy sports head, deputy head prefect and deputy head of elocution, drama and debate society. I was literally called by every student as “Deputy”.

1998 – In my 10th, from deputy I was made the Head of school, sports, elocution, drama and debate society. I was the representative of our school in every competition. My project on Shakespeare was selected as one of the bests from ICSE schools of city. I was awarded as best social worker as a part of curriculum in Socially Useful Productive Work.

2003 – I had my first attempt at writing serious essays, debates and participation in quizzes on national level.

2004 – This year proved lucky as I won almost every essay contest and quizzes conducted by competitive examination magazines which I started reading since a year. I got introduced to blogging and I started to blog anonymously in Rediff. I came at 2nd position in Air India and Singapore Tourism RANK Awards (for the state of A.P. for excellence in studies and performance).

2005 – I won my first big title “Miss Intellectual” of the super brain super youth of India contest by Competition success review. I was on the cover page of the magazine.

2008 – I turned a freelance writer and my big was being selected as citizen journalist and I wrote more than 50 news pieces of some are even liked and commented today.

2009 – I got my first full time job as deputy editor of a business magazine and research associate at IIM, Ahmedabad. I came all India 3rd position in The Goi Peace Foundation & UNESCO Writing for better cause activity.

2010 – I won title “Miss Intellectual” of the super brain super youth of India contest by Competition success review for the 2nd time.

2011 – I joined Outlook group as their senior features writer and I was head of current affairs and general studies section of the magazine. I joined Twitter.

2012 – I started a new blog with a new name (this present one in wordpress) and passed my MBA with brightest colors.

2014 – I won for the first time few first and second prizes in blogging.

2015 – I earned my doctorate degree in business management. My blog turned 3. I received, read and reviewed almost 250 books. I won blogging contests by – Jabong, Asus Zenfone, Gillette, SBI, IDBI, HDFC, Pampers, P&G, Housing, Kellogs, Coca cola, Snapdeal, Pepsi IPL, Airtel, Vicco, Colgate, Ambipur, Vicks, Dabur.

I have more to achieve and many stairs to climb. I thank God to have made me in this way. Now I can say that I’m already contented of what I have now, to be in this world and continue on living is such a great opportunity. My greatest achievement so far is that I’ve been able to continue with my normal life with all these awards, rewards and accolades. I love what I do, but more so, I’m glad to have very few people who appreciate my efforts.

ENCOUNTERS by Sumana Khan

Sumana Khan 
Someone Is Always Waiting 
Watch It 
I stare at the cement bench covered in pigeon shit and spot the dim outline of the granite slab embedded in the backrest. Years ago, when the bench was new, the granite slab was a shiny black mirror inscribed with the words ‘Dedicated to the courageous people of Thirukadal’. Four cyclones and many pigeons later, the words have disappeared. The place is so choked with weeds that the bench appears to rest on the thorny plants. Behind me, beyond a muddy track, the Bay of Bengal hisses and sighs in a treacherous language.
I look up at the sky, as if to decode the time. My watch says it is half past seven in the morning, but the sky, clotted with grey clouds, remains secretive. It could be evening as far as the heavens are concerned. A depressing form of rain is assured; the kind that only occurs in this eastern coast of South India—skies that sob continuously for forty-eight hours, increasing humidity, mosquitoes and the stench of choked drains, damp walls and wet clothes. I wonder if the sky had been just as morose on the morning of 26 December, 2004.
I tie a handkerchief around my face, covering my nose and mouth, and hack away at the weeds. Swarms of mosquitoes and flies rise in a static buzz and hover over my head like a satanic dark halo. It takes me an hour to clear a small area around the bench. The sky starts its weeping just as I scrub the bench with a coconut husk and Vim detergent powder.
After half an hour, the granite slab gleams into existence once again. I’ve got my memorial ritual paraphernalia in a Food World plastic bag. I bring out a strand of jasmine that I loop around the granite slab, its fragrance weak in the rain. I crouch under my umbrella that won’t open fully and light a couple of incense sticks. I’ve forgotten to bring the incense holder, so I stick the smouldering incense into a banana that was to be my breakfast. I place it on the bench in front of the granite slab and hold the umbrella over it. I close my eyes in an attempt to pray. All I can think of is the angry allergic rash that’s spreading on my legs and hands thanks to the weeds and that the incense smells like a cheap aftershave.
I give up and sit on the bench, still holding the umbrella over the incense. The rain stings my skin like the rash. The hard, wet seat numbs my thighs instantly and a dull arthritic pain blooms in my knees and lower back. I squirm, shifting my weight from one butt cheek to the other. I wait, just as I’ve waited in vain for the last seven years, for the storyteller to show up. The incense is all ash now. I may as well eat the banana and tell you the story of how I met this mysterious man.
About The Author 
Sumana Khan was born and raised in Bangalore and currently lives in the UK. She is a blogger and a student. Her debut novel was The Revenge of Kaivalya.
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Encounters - Someone's Always Waiting by Sumana Khan

Encounters – Someone’s Always Waiting

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MASTERING TAI CHI by Linze Brandon

Mastering Creative writing is almost as easy as mastering tai chi. It is almost eleven months since I started doing tai chi. I have blogged about that a few times. Now you might rightly wonder what that has to do with writing, or creativity, or anything related to a book tour, but I ask your indulgence for a few seconds.

When I received a request for a guest post from my book tour host, with ‘any topic’ as the subject, I almost went into a panic. Isn’t the blogger suppose to give me a subject and then I can just think about my approach for a few minutes and then get down to writing the post? Sometimes they do. Not this time, though.

Now, I don’t blame the blogger; she is already so kind to be a host on my book tour, so the problem had to be with me. I am the writer. I am supposed to be the one that can conjure ideas with the speed of a magic fireball. So what topic could I possibly write about that has not been done to death and back?

I went to my planned blog post list for the year to see if there was a topic I still haven’t covered on my own blog. There were many, but they all had to do with tai chi in some form or the other, so I thought why not?

As mentioned, I started almost a year ago and have yet to master the whole of the Yang style 24 form. I use the word master very loosely because David Dorian-Ross (whose course I am doing) would probably laugh himself silly when he sees my forms. Sorry, David, but I am trying.

Then I realised that creative writing had many things in common with my attempt to learn tai chi. For a start, I had an idea to learn tai chi, as I would sometimes have for a story.

But as the saying goes, writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. The same can be said about tai chi – it is not something that just happens. You have to do the work. You have to put in the hours.

I have been writing for much longer than I have been practicing tai chi, and it shows. I have not yet mastered the 24 forms of tai chi. But I still have a lot to learn about the craft of writing too.

Maybe not as much as I did ten or even five years ago, but I cannot claim to be a master of creative writing.

So I practice my tai chi forms on a daily basis. And I write every day.

Will I ever be a tai chi master? I doubt that since my passion lies with my writing, and so does my focus.

And that is the point I have eventually arrived at: you have to decide where your passion lies. Where do you focus your time and energy?

Writing a novel is not easy. It requires time, dedication and practice to learn the craft. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices to pursue our passions. If we don’t, will the result be worth anything? Only you can answer that question for yourself.

As for me? I am still practicing my forms and my words. Maybe one day someone will point to me and say, “she has become the writer that I want to be when I grow up.”

Will someone point to me one day and say that they want to do tai chi the way I do? I do live in hope, but I am not going to hold my breath.

About the Author:

Teaching herself to read before she went to school, it was the start of her life long love affair with books. Trained as an engineer, Linzé has worked as an export consultant and is presently a project manager. Although she still loves to read, she also enjoys counted stitch embroidery, archery, tai chi, fly fishing, painting, her husband’s medal winning photographs and watching Manchester United play. She counts both novels and short stories to her publishing credit. Her fourth novel, Waiting for Adrian, is planned for publication early in 2016. Her story, The Vernal Equinox, was a finalist in a sci-fi flash-fiction competition in 2015. Linzé Brandon lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her engineer husband and German Shepherds who are convinced that the world revolves only around them.

Follow Linzé Online:


Book Blurb:

Story of a girl Meera, who is unwittingly drawn into a conflict from where she finds it difficult to emerge unscathed. It’s her journey from being a simple, medical graduate belonging to a middle class family to the uncharted territories of corruption and caste based politics. Her path is crossed by the two men, both compelling yet completely contrasting characters, who are forever going to change her life. If it is Aman who can challenge her ideals and defy her resolves, and makes her the person she finally becomes, it is Abhay’s sublime love which enables her to go through the vicissitudes of life. It’s also the story of her loss as well as triumph against her own demons to find her true self.

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About the Author:

Dr.Madhu Vajpayee- the writer was born somewhere in those hospital corridors where she has spent the last two decades of her life. Witnessing life at such close quarters pushed her to capture its enigma in her words and slowly it became her passion. After writing several scientific papers and chapters in books, this book is her first step in literary world.  Having done her graduation, MBBS from King Georges Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow she went ahead to pursue her post-graduation, MD from AIIMS, New Delhi. She was a consultant at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi having been associated with management of patients living with HIV/AIDS. She is now settled in Melbourne, Australia with her family, where she is devoting most of her time to writing, the passion that she couldn’t pursue earlier because of the demands of medical profession and commitment it requires. When not creating stories, Madhu enjoys reading and travelling.

Reviews for the Book:

It was a perfect book and can motivate one. ~ Nidhi Author on Goodreads

Wonder full book.Clearly highlights the current problems faced in India as a result of reservation! ~ Nikhil Dave on Goodreads

It is one of the amazing fiction I have read in the near past. Highly recommended. Cocktail of Corruption, politics and love. ~ Akshay_Tripathi on Amazon

What Madhu does well with this story is to highlight many factors that need change. She brings out facets like reservation. She talks about the more rigid mindset of an Indian family ~ Vinay Leo @ Booworm’s Musings


What was the motivation/inspiration/idea behind this particular novel?

To put it honestly, this particular novel was born at one of the lowest moments of my life. Any crisis in life is also an opportunity to know an indestructible part of you hitherto unknown to you. Incidentally a professional crisis in my life that almost changed the course of my life including my relocation to a foreign land, forced me pen down the things that was until now remain buried in life’s ongoing drama. For me, this was one such opportunities. Instead of losing myself in confusion and dilemma, I tried to channelize my energy into something that I always loved but never got enough time to pursue. And the book Seeking Redemption happened. As a doctor working in a medical institute, for a long time I was witness to the difficulties faced by the youth in education and jobs because of the caste based reservation. I also observed how corruption is slowly destroying the medical system of the community. I felt like highlighting these issues, albeit in a fiction form. However, I had to have it weaved around a love story with characters from the different caste and backgrounds. Firstly, because I enjoy writing about love and all the overflowing emotions associated with it. Secondly, because my idea was to give the message that although the narrative is against the caste based reservation but not against any caste for humanity is bigger than anything else. And the heroine of my book, Dr. Meera was born in those very corridors of hospital where I spent best parts of my life. Although the story of her journey, specific events of her life, problems faced by her was not exactly mine but her principles, belief and faith are mine. I saw myself in her dilemmas, in her pain, in her loss, in her triumph against her own demons.

Contact the Author:
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MICHEAL’S MYSTERY by Linze Brandon

*** BOOK  TOUR ***

It was time for the Lords of the High Council to step in when the Grandmaster of Kryane is accused of murdering his own people. They had little choice but to prevent the collapse of the whole magicians order, so they sent Michael to investigate the allegations.
The people of the desert planet were an enigma, but none more than Andesine, the healer assigned to assist Michael. Why did she report the Grandmaster? Was she involved, or was there something more sinister going on?
The more people they interrogated the more they suspected that nothing was as it seemed. Not the murders, nor the Grandmasters’ motive as everyone thought.
Unable to resist the growing attraction between them, Michael and Andesine learn that they had to trust each other with their own secrets, and risking any future they might have.
Time and again the High Lords had to step in to prevent chaos on Kryane, but time was running out for Michael and Andesine. They had to get a new Grandmaster in place before the Kryane Order collapsed completely. And they had to find the who the true culprit was.
Fortunate to escape an attack from this monster once, they were risking the lives of many others in the process. Before the High Lords could formulate a plan, Michael and Andesine were captured, leaving the High Lords helpless to prevent it.
Kidnapped and imprisoned, Andesine was confronted with the realisation that if they were to survive their ordeal, it was up to her and her long suppressed powers. But as a healer she saved lives, would she be able to destroy the monster before he forces her to unleash her power to destroy the future of mankind?

About the Author:

Teaching herself to read before she went to school, it was the start of her life long love affair with books. Trained as an engineer, Linzé has worked as an export consultant and is presently a project manager. Although she still loves to read, she also enjoys counted stitch embroidery, archery, tai chi, fly fishing, painting, her husband’s medal winning photographs and watching Manchester United play.

She counts both novels and short stories to her publishing credit. Her fourth novel, Waiting for Adrian, is planned for publication early in 2016. Her story, The Vernal Equinox, was a finalist in a sci-fi flash-fiction competition in 2015.

Linzé Brandon lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her engineer husband and German Shepherds who are convinced that the world revolves only around them.

Follow Linzé Online:

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Reality bites me…of friends (1)

I am very friendly and always helping. I don’t like comparing people; everyone is different and special in their own way. I really wish people who know me understand this. I try to be careful when I talk or behave with people. I do not lie or use people for my own benefit to dump them later. I cannot even in my dreams think about deceiving anyone but since decades I have been taken for a bad ride, betrayed and hurt by people who call themselves as my friends. Perhaps I deserve it as I think everyone is good and don’t judge them instantly; this is why I get punished.  I talk to everyone, I am polite and cordial, just because I have been treated poorly, this doesn’t make me turn like them. It is not in my personality to change colours. There are such friends too who have made lifetime promises to me and never kept their word. I don’t ask for promises, until I make one. I am glad I haven’t made any promise. There is no scope of being blamed or land in awkwardness.

I like if I am remembered, or friends call me/text me, be in touch share moments of life, but unfortunately no one calls me and I have no one to call. People whom I know over the internet (my blog or on twitter) are someone whom I have never met (I did get invitations in the past for twitter meets but I politely refused and I don’t regret), with whom I have limited, funny or friendly conversations. I don’t use my real name in both the places so I am given a name by everyone I communicate with. Friends/people who know me personally – by my real name and by face don’t know I write a blog, I exist in twitter and I have a different identity online. It is a fact that no one except me knows the both sides of my individuality.

I am not a loner or forever in isolation, I socialise, I meet people, I talk with my neighbours, I play with children, I greet my acquaintances, I accompany my parents to relatives, temples, shopping and other places, I teach students, I smile at those regular faces whom I see at walking park, but at the end of the day I am not their friend and vice versa.

I don’t like boasting of having hundreds of friends as I keep hearing from people I know about their implausible friend list. My contact list of my phone has my maid, driver, my parents and my brother – in all just 5 numbers and only 2 apps (twitter and instagram) uploaded. Hike, Whatsapp, BBM or any other chat platforms are a big NO for me. I am dead in Facebook, it’s been few months I did not login, may be it must have been deactivated by the company. In twitter I follow less than 50 profiles and have 250+ followers and I can count how many I talk with. My blog has 280+ subscribers, they read me but I read only 10blogs. I believe in quality than quantity.

मेरे माजी के ज़ख्म भरने लगे…आज फिर कोई भूल की जाए
दोस्ती जब किसी से की जाये…दुश्मनों की भी राय ली जाए

To be continued…..

In search of my authentic self by Laxmi Hariharan

The current theme in my life is about finding my authentic writing voice. I liken this to a gradual quest/ metamorphosis/ search to leading a life that is more ‘me’. It’s a result of beginning to write with intent since 2012 and I seem to be headed somewhere with this; not sure where yet, but watching and studying my own evolution has been enlightening for me. Yep, that’s the writer in me who seems to take perverse pleasure in watching and studying my own reactions. Sounds weird but I am sure many of us observers of human nature do this a lot. And I often find myself talking and thinking about this, so I figured I might blog about it too. Especially because I spent much of my gold dust hours this morning when I write best, vacillating between writing this blog post or writing my current novel, I figured I’d better bash this post out, so I can get on with the other story.

And this by the way is my barometer for an idea that has legs aka a theme which sticks in your gut and which you then cannot get rid off for days, weeks or months on end and then you know you just have to get it out. And therein lie the makings of a novel or a story or a post. That thing which will not rest till it has been poured out and painted into a semblance of a vision for the world to see.

A few days ago I met another another, Jule Owen who’s just released her first novel, an excellent climate change themed science fiction story. We got to talking about those ‘aha’ moments in our individual lives that had made us want to reach out for more. Largely those times when you re-discover that you are real, and your feelings exist and you have this weird, so real-it’s-surreal sense of connection, painful sometimes, euphoric at others, with the world around you. Perhaps it’s a bit like being born or reborn?

I often equal these moments to landing on Earth after a trip through space when you have been weightless, and then gravity pulls at you and you hit the cold, hard, ground and feel every single ache and pain in your body. It’s all too real then, and there can be no mistake that you are alive. And you are grateful you are still here and back on Earth, and know you have to embrace it fully; that you can’t shy away from the good and the bad, the ups and the downs. And you ask yourself why you’ve been afraid? What are you really afraid of? And that’s just the start. You ask how you’ve lived so far and realise your own mortality and that there are but a few precious years left. And that’s when you make that first conscious decision about how you want to spend the rest of your life. And for me this isn’t just about the writing. Yes writing is a very important aspect of how I want to use up many of the hours in the rest of my mortal life, but it’s really just a tool, a bridge to living a more authentic life.

Now does that mean I have been living a lie all these years? No, but definitely I have been influenced by my past, my conditioning to live in a certain way (and I am still living as per those rules in many ways today.) But once I started really writing from the gut, I realised I was plumbing my own sub-conscience to tap into a sea of the unsaid and unexpressed. Both due to the kind of person I am and due to the society where I grew up, where expressing what’s really in your mind is not something that you take for granted. Perhaps this is why when I write and through no conscious decision I seem to want to reflect the socio-economic-political realities of my origins and of the place where I live in today. It’s permission to have and express an opinion. Something I have never felt I have had (or have even today) in real life.

And so the more I write I become what I am and feel and think and believe. A more authentic version or rather a person who is authentic and real more of the time than not. And by this I mean someone who is able to express and see and feel and think and be on the outside as I am on the inside. Is that a bit of a mind-bender or am I making sense?

 Enter a $10 festive giveaway HERE 

About Laxmi Hariharan

She had an awesome time launching TV channels for MTV and NBCUniveral (Syfy) around the world, when a near death experience convinced Laxmi Hariharan that she had to get writing. NOW. A one time journalist with The Independent, she is now the author of the multi award winning fantasy adventure, The Ruby Iyer Series. She also blogs for the Huffington post, has written for The Guardian and has been featured in publications including The Economic Times, The Times of India and Verve. Married to a filmmaker and fellow author, her life often resembles a dramedy of errors film script. Born in Bombay she now lives in London, where she writes while listening to electronica and is an avid street art photographer. She is also the proud owner of a mononym Twitter handle @laxmi

Receive a free copy of THE RUBY IYER DIARIES when you sign up to her newsletter
Reach Laxmi, on Facebook , Twitter  and Instagram 

Suggested reading order in The Ruby Iyer Series (Each is a standalone book)
The Ruby Iyer Diaries :   http://bit.ly/RubyIyerDiariesAmazon
Many Lives (of Ruby Iyer) :  http://bit.ly/ManyLivesofRubyIyer
First Life (of Vikram Roy) : http://bit.ly/VikRoy
Inside Dark (The Elusive Life of Kay Braganza), coming soon
Second Lives, coming soon
Secret Life, coming soon

Stories set in the Ruby Iyer universe

UnTamed : Leana the Wolf Girl (Part of the UnCommon Bodies Anthology)


A Thousand Unspoken Words
Paulami Duttagupta
Publisher: Readomania 


A hero, a person who displays great courage for the greater good, can also fall. But what happens to a fallen hero? A Thousand Unspoken Words is the unique journey of a hero who falls.  The champion of the underdogs, the writer who uses the nom de plume Musafir is famous in Kolkata. His incisive criticism of the injustices around him earn him many enemies but he holds his ideals above all else. Scathing attacks at his books and a night of hide and seek from political goons leads Musafir unto a path he never liked, faraway from his ideals. He runs away and chooses the comforts of money over the travails of following one’s ideals. The hero falls. But Tilottama, passionate fan’s hopes don’t. When he comes back after many years, emotions, love and lust take charge and an affair brews. Will she bring back her hero? Will he rise again? Or will the thousand untold words, the many stories of the ideal writer be lost forever?
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Wahan kaun hai tera, Musafir jaayega kaha’, the retro radio show played the SD Burman classic. Tilottama looked at her radio once and tears blurred her vision.
‘O Sachin karta this song reminds me of him.’
Tilotamma quickly wiped her eyes and turned the radio off. The day had been taxing enough. She needed to unwind, get Musafir out of her mind. How crazy could some people get? He had just written a fictional piece. How could fiction humiliate a government in power with an absolute majority? Wasn’t this a democracy? How could the supporters of a faith or political party get all insecure and burn his books?
The object of Tilottama’s despair, Musafir, was a writer supposedly based out of Kolkata. He wrote books at irregular intervals, and hid behind the veil of anonymity. His pieces were mostly social commentaries and satires on the state of Bengal. They were all fictional but had come under severe criticism in the past few months. Little paperbacks in funny covers, his books were available in old, rambling, bookstores across the city. Some were also available with the book vendors on the footpaths of the city.
When the news of the pulping of Musafir’s books had reached her a couple of days ago, Tilottama hadn’t thought things would go beyond a protest or two. The people of the city wouldn’t let go of things without a sign of protest. They got agitated at trivial things like who was included in a cricket team, and burned effigies and tyres in protest. They took out processions for Vietnam and Gaza. They could protest against him; but there would also be scores who would come out for her Musafir. They did when Firaz was hounded for his paintings of Goddesses.
‘And when they come out in large numbers, these goons will realize what it feels like standing before a civil society. They just can’t stifle Musafir’, she had confidently told her friends. What she did not realize was Musafir wasn’t exactly popular with the masses. His works were mostly literary and catered to niche readers. Her admiration for him had made her assume he was more popular than he really was.
Things had happened much faster than expected and spiralled out of control. Musafir’s printing press was vandalized and set on fire. Even as she and other Musafir fans watched, his books were dumped into that raging fire; words and hopes lost. The hundred odd fans tried to put up a bravefight, sang songs of freedom and stood with placards. But nothing worked. A couple of local channels had tried to stand by them in solidarity. The protest ended as a camera was smashed by the hoodlums on the road. People started fleeing fearing more violence.
‘They would kill us if they could’, Tilottama angrily spat out. ‘We were just so outnumbered. These were organized cadres. Yes, they were. Their bosses just can’t pretend to be innocent.’
A handful of policemen stood by pretending as if nothing was happening. The printing press was in one of the dingier parts of North Kolkata. It mainly did odd jobs like printing leaflets and bills, a few little magazines etc. and would print Musafir’s books on the sly. That is where he gave shape to his voice. The place was reportedly registered in the name of a man long dead, and people were left guessing who Musafir was. Some said the owner was a refugee who was avenging years of discontent. Some said his son was murdered by members of the ruling party. Some said he was just a frustrated man using the medium to lend himself a voice. To some other the entire idea was amusing and fascinating.
Tilottama grimaced and wiped her face clean. She was cutting a very sorry picture indeed, covered in grime andtears. All she could think of was her Musafir. She fought back her tears wondering what could have happened to her hero. For the past couple of years a strong wind of incumbency was blowing and Musafir’s voice had become stronger. Everything came under Musafir’s attack; from Dhaniajhapi to the burning of monks, the ban on English in government run schools, the apathy in the use of computers and much more. However, recently he had become vocal against all forms of religious appeasement and challenged the special religious laws. He had also set the stage against land acquisition bills, mismanaged industrialization plans and pre-election harangues. Musafir wrote as many books as possible bringing the discrepancies to light. And that is what brought about his downfall.
Tilottama sat on her bed and hugged her knees to her chest and went over the events of the day. She bit back the memory of the man who had asked her to let go of her placard, but that face would just not fade.
‘What had he called himself,’ she wondered, ‘Ayushmaan . . .no Riddhimaan.’
He was a photographer! How dispassionate could he be?He had watched the carnage, merrily taken snaps and asked her to throw away her placard. If even the press did not come out in support of Musafir, then who would? Weren’t both of them fighting to make the pen immortal? Why was the media silent now; because Musafir didn’t have international backing, or corporate sponsors? She was upset that Poltu had shamelessly praised the man. Riddhimaan and the likes of him would give importance to writers only if they had a South Block or Writers’ Building backing.
‘I wish this government goes down. They will go down. I promise you Musafir they will,’ she told herself.
The loud banging of her window pane broke her reverie. The rains had lashed Kolkata with all their fury that evening.
‘Even Mother Nature is angry. Drown the city, drown all of us. Since we have nowhere to go and hide our shame,’ Tilottama said aloud.
She continued to rant as she shut the window. She had hurt her finger in the process. Then she walked into her bedroom looking for the first aid box. As she cleaned the cut, the antiseptic made her skin burn and her thoughts drifted to Musafir. There was no way to divert her mind. Maybe reading Musafir would help, or maybe writing. Musafir always said he wrote to look for answers. Maybe she could do that too. But nothing gave her peace; maybe she was obsessed with the writer. The gag on Musafir was beginning to become a personal loss to her.
About Paulami Duttagupta 
Paulami DuttaGupta is a novelist and screen writer. She shuttles between Kolkata and Shillong. She has worked as a radio artist, copy writer, journalist and a television analyst at various stages of her life, having been associated with AIR Shillong, The Times of India—Guwahati Shillong Plus, ETV Bangla, The Shillong Times, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath.As an author, her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and literary magazines. A Thousand Unspoken Words is her fourth book. Paulami also writes on politics, social issues and cinema. Her articles have appeared in Swarajya, The Forthright and NElive. Paulami is associated with cinema and her first film, Ri-Homeland of Uncertainty received the National Award for the Best Khasi Film. Her second film Onaatah—Of the Earth is at post production stage and will release in 2016. She is currently working on her third screenplay. A short film tentatively titled ‘Patjhar’ is also in the pipeline. Paulami is a complete foodie and is almost obsessed with watching one film every day. She also loves reading—political and social commentaries are her favourite genre. Literature classics and books on cricket are also a part of her library, apart from a huge collection of romances. Jane Austen’s fictional character Mr. Darcy is her lifelong companion. She is an ardent fan of Rahul Dravid and has been following all news about him for almost twenty years now.
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Khel the writings


Blurb: The abandoned Haveli in Brahmdev, a hill station near Mumbai, is known amongst the local population to be haunted. People keep away from it. A group of youngsters decide to explore it and what follows is a horrifying reality they do not live to relate. Sanya Sharma is an investigative journalist, with a shattered life and a grieving past. Having lost her husband and little daughter within a span of six months, her once perfect life is a distant dream. Depressed, unable to concentrate on work and barely paying attention to her ten-year-old son, she takes help in alcohol and regular visits to her psychiatrist. Her last chance at redemption in a case of mysterious deaths on small hill station. What follows is a series of mysterious, eerie and horrifying events that Sanya cannot understand and finally with the help of a local police inspector turned friend, it draws upon her that the Haunted Haveli is not just small town hocus-pocus but a reality that had turned on her. The evil that she encounters slowly affects everything around her and she knows that it will finally consume her. But why? What were the deep, dark secrets of the Haveli’s past? What was the Nawab family’s past? Who is the old woman haunting her? What are the cards and what is the card game? How is such a horrifying situation merely a game and how is she to play it? Why do the writings on the cards come true and people die? She has to find a way to save herself and her son from the evil and the game of cards that makes everything come true. People around her are dying one by one making her wonder why she is spared. Will she play the final KHEL – The Writings – or will it be the evil that will end the game?

About the author: Vishal Goswami is a MBA-Finance graduate from Boston, U.S.A and is passionate about reading and writing in all its forms, whether fiction or non-fiction and also all other genres. He is active on Twitter as “WriteNow@WritetoFite,” tweeting about more contemporary topics and new movie analysis and ratings.

Review: Horror tales are terrifying for a specific reason. With some of our most famous horror stories—ones that follow knife-wielding masked madmen, houses that consume humans, scorned clairvoyant teens, children or adults—the victim, even in death, retains control of his or her own mind. KHEL-THE WRITINGS is a beast to power through, but it’s a fresh take on horror tales. Three cheers to the author of this book Vishal Goswami for attempting to write a frighteningly creepy and terrorising writings in the name of KHEL-THE WRITINGS. I am an avid reader of mystery, thriller and horror genre and this book correctly came in that category. I can never stay away from horror. The first few pages in horror genre really has the calibre to make or break the story and fortunately, author Vishal Goswami has successfully managed to amazingly captivate the reader as the next pages were not put down by me and it urged me to read further. Vishal Goswami could actually generate the thought WHAT IS NEXT in the reader’s mind. KHEL-THE WRITINGS is one of those books which even you read will haunt you and force you to think about what the author wrote. This is from my heart, I recoomend this book to everyone to read at least once if you like reading good fiction and for those who prefer horror genre, this can be re-read many times. Vishal Goswami’s writing style is very elaborate that while reading, it enables the reader to visualise every sentence and makes you have those goosebumps on your body and it has even raised the hair in few pages. I would like if this book is adapted into movie by the Hindi film industry. Readers who have had no experience with fearsome reading should definitely read this book once to experience it. The The haveli and the narrative kept me trapped in to the story till the end. Every line, every page was exciting and horrifying. KHEL-THE WRITINGS is spine chilling, super entertaining with dramatic events and meticulous description. Kudos to author Vishal Goswami.

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My journey with Shanti

For many years I have been practising yoga and meditation as well as studying the Kabbalah. My exploration of spiritual teachings motivated a commitment to self-development which in turn created a new path and goal in life. I’m positive that 
Shanti and the Magic Mandala was born from this inner journey.

I have always had the dream of being a writer.

Ever since I was a child I liked very much to read and transport myself to the places I was reading about, and also traveling with the story.

One day, during my spiritual practices, I had an insight to write a book in which I could express myself.

I have written a book for the teenager I was, the book I would have been amazed to read.

Shanti and the Magic Mandala is an multicultural adventure in which fantasy and reality are mingled. The book tells the story of six teenagers, from different religious and cultural origins and different parts of the world, who are mystically recruited to form two groups – one in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern.

They eventually gather in Peru, and through a single alliance, begin a frantic chase for the sacred object that can stop the black magician’s final plan…

I my opinion young people are the ones who will be able to change the world. That’s why I have decided to bring them something, to plant a seed in their lives, to be able to germinate good feelings related to the planet, related to the rights. I decided that it could be a good idea to use a playful approach with these themes that are so important for the planet. That’s why I decided to write an adventure, but it is a fantasy as well, but also there are many mystical and spiritual approaches.

This is the reason why I had the idea to use distinctive characters from different cultural and religious backgrounds, trying to show that it doesn’t matter your cultural or religious background to create a union and harmony to be proactive regarding humankind, animal defense and environmental issues. So I think my story can inspire good actions for better world aiming freedom and compassion to reach peace.

Also I love the diversity and I think the world is so big to explore new flavors & tastes, different colors, unique cultures, different religious, beautiful landscapes, distinctive architecture; always admiring and respecting the differences. That’s why I used different locations with completely different aspects as well. I think we have to be open for the new, mainly because we live in a globalized era in which we are very connected.

Writing, for me, has been such an amazing and incomparable experience to express myself by giving a new purpose for my life.  In fact I want to turn Shanti and the Magic Mandala into a book series, and by the way I have already done a great research in other countries in Asia for my next book.

About the guest writer

F. T. Camargo is an Italian Brazilian living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. An award winning architect and author, he also studied Arts and Media and has a post degree in Economics and MBA in e-commerce. He is a vegetarian because of his love for all animals and has been deeply involved in causes for their protection and freedom. He is a world traveler adventurer, outdoor sports lover, speaks 4 languages and has published a travel book “Rio, Maravilha!” For many years he has been practicing yoga and meditation and studying the Kabbalah. His exploration of spiritual teachings motivated a commitment to self-development which in turn created a new path and goal in life. Shanti and the Magic Mandala was born from his inner journey.


About the Book:

Shanti and the Magic Mandala is an adventure in which fantasy and reality are mingled. The book tells the story of six teenagers, from different religious and cultural origins and different parts of the world, who are mystically recruited to form two groups – one in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern. They eventually gather in Peru, and through a single alliance, begin a frantic chase for the sacred object that can stop the black magician’s final plan.


Awards & Recognition for the Book:

– Winner of 2014 London Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
– 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards: Bronze Medal at “Young Adult Fiction – Spirituality” category
– 2014 New England Book Festival in Boston:  Honorable Mention in the category “Young Adult”.
– Winner of 2015 Paris Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
– Winner of 2015 International Book Awards in the category “Fiction / Young Adult”.
– Winner of 2015 New York Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
– 2015 Los Angeles Book Festival – Runner-up in the category “Young Adult”.
– 2015 San Francisco Book Festival – Runner-up in the category “Young Adult”.
– 2015 DIY Book Festival in Los Angeles: Honorable Mention in the category “Young Adult”.

About the Author:

F. T. Camargo is an Italian Brazilian living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. An award winning architect and author, he also studied Arts and Media and has a post degree in Economics and MBA in e-commerce. He is a vegetarian because of his love for all animals and has been deeply involved in causes for their protection and freedom. He is a world traveler adventurer, outdoor sports lover, speaks 4 languages and has published a travel book “Rio, Maravilha!” For many years he has been practicing yoga and meditation and studying the Kabbalah. His exploration of spiritual teachings motivated a commitment to self-development which in turn created a new path and goal in life. Shanti and the Magic Mandala was born from his inner journey.

Contact the Author:

Check out the Cover Reveal Event

Chasing Illusions


About the author: Utakarsh Jayant, 24, is an engineer, from DCE, now pursuing MBA from MDI, Gurgaon. After his graduation he started working with ‘Bristlecon ‘ in Noida. He worked here for three years and used to travel all the way to Noida from Dwarka. He utilized his travelling time in weaving the story. Besides, writing and academics, Utakarsh is a diehard football fan. His favourite football club is Chelsea. He even went to Rio de Janeiro to watch world cup. He is also managing his own blog -http://ersth.blogspot.in/since last five years.

Review: Utakarsh has recently created a buzz by publishing his first book ‘Chasing Illusions.’ The book is the story of an honest, but befuddled young man’s growth in the hazy real-estate sector of Delhi. Set against the backdrop of the rapidly changing social and economic scenario in villages of the National Capital Region during the early 2000’s. It relates about his struggle under the omnipresent shadow of corruption, deceit, and swindling at various levels of politics and society in developing India. It speaks of his ultimate metamorphosis into an unscrupulous, cheating, and bullying goon, blind to right or wrong. The author Utakarsh has definitely made an impression in my mind, though it took me 2months to read his book. The writer has beautifully explored the various relations which the protagonist shares with people around him. Though the author is a debutant, he has managed well to keep the reader glued to the story. Despite it is a fiction story, the author has written hard hitting realities in it. It was a new change to read a book based on real estate business. The story goes like Ajay lives with his parents in Bagbola. Confused about what to do in life, he falls in love with his neighbor’s girl. To give direction to his confused son, Ajay’s father pleads his friend Ramu Kaka to let Ajay work under him in his real estate business. After working sometime, Ajay finds interest in this field but soon realises that Ramu Kaka was indulged in fraudulent activities. Time passes, he moves ahead in his life with his own business as a real estate agent. Will he be able to live an honest life or the evil of greed will take him under its shadow? Read, the book Chasing Illusions to know what happens with Ajay and his journey as a real-estate agent. If you want to read something different, this book is a must. Goodluck to Utakarsh for his next book.

The Dance Bible – Connecting everyone to dance with dance

Dancing has been first love. My mother enrolled me for kathak classes when I was just 4 years old. I believe dancing opens up my soul to the world. Despite learning classical dance, I loved the bollywood style too and in school and college I was the main lead in the dance groups and did manage to win many titles in inter school and college dance competitions. My best performance was for the song Bumroo from Mission Kashmir. I never danced in anyone’s marriages because I always missed having a great dance partner. Overall I love dancing and do so as often as I can. It’s one of the greatest ways to have fun in my life. It’s a great work out that just leaves me feeling amazing. I hope I’ll be able to dance until the day I die.

I am sure there are many dance lovers like me around and for them I have a great piece of information to share. I have discovered a very useful website which is mainly for dance lovers who would love to know more about dancing, it is called as #TheDanceBible a platform for all dance lovers to come together and connect through dance. The motto of The Dance Bible is to connect all the passionate and aspiring dancers with the beautiful art of dancing. The website can make one gain knowledge about various dance styles such as aerial, ballet, jazz, and tango, contemporary and also on dance anatomy. There are amazing dance videos which can be watched and some foot tapping dance audios on the website are uploaded which are highly inspirational for you to get up and shake a leg. There is an option to create portfolio in The Dance Bible. It is hassle free and very easy and it took me few minutes to create mine. Now at the comfort of your own house you can learn dance through this website. There is an interview section where renowned performers and trainers have given their tips to motivate to reach your dance goals. The platform also has a blog that articulates numerous posts about dance and dancers. There is a list of artists with their detailed biographies.  In Dance Forum Section, you can ask anything related to dance and get them answered. The Dance Bible provides a best stage to dancers to connect and share their ideas to the world.

To know more and get connected with TheDanceBible on their Website and Facebook Page now and be a part of this amazing thing called dance.