Apr 15, 2014

"Read. Write. Listen. Evolve. Repeat." - My guest post

I ‘co-wrote my first script’ when I was in the ninth standard. A satire on the popular Star Trek series, it was written over the period of a single week. Over the years, I would continue that trend, writing 'romantic comedy sci-fi action fantasy thrillers' based around my friends during high school and later on, even in medical college. 

The last book I wrote in medical college for my batchmates.
I'm still waiting for James Cameron to come and direct the movie based on it!
Eighteen years after I wrote that satire in a classroom where I was supposed to be learning algebra and geography, a story of mine did make it to print in 2011. In the three years that have passed since that day, I have been lucky enough to win a few national anthology contests, find my name in print more often and attend book launches at stores.

Indireads asked me if I would like to share any tips on storytelling. I would. 

It involves a very simple mantra: Read. Write. Listen. Evolve. Repeat.

My guest post for Indireads deals with what inspired me to dream of getting published someday and how being a blogger helped me achieve that dream.

Apr 5, 2014

"Captain America : The Winter Soldier " Movie Review


I've said it before and I’ll say it again: Marvel deserves credit for taking risks with their movies. In what they call Phase 2 (starting after the Avengers Movie), they have taken Iron Man and Thor on unfamiliar journeys in Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 respectively, leaving them significantly altered from where they started off.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (CA:TWS) takes it a step further, looking to change the outline of the Marvel Universe entirely. Designed less as a superhero film and more as a taut political conspiracy thriller, it succeeds in that aspect, blending the famous storyline from the comic books with present day paranoia against government agencies.

In CA:TWS, Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) finds himself still working for S.H.I.E.L.D. though he is less enthusiastic about their preemptive methods of delivering justice. His differences with Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) soon take a back seat when an audacious attack in broad daylight on one of their own results in tragic consequences. Left with only an encrypted device and the final words of the victim not to trust anyone, Captain America finds himself targeted by the very agency he works for and on the run.

 From there on in, the movie turns into a stylized conspiracy thriller with each unearthed clue opening up another box of questions which need to be answered. Aided by the only two people he can rely on, Cap finds himself disillusioned and struggling to come to grips with the reality that the only institution he believed in and worked for may not be what he thought it was.

Mar 29, 2014


She stared at the young man, moving rhythmically on top of the girl and her frown deepened. She couldn’t allow herself to be distracted by the family members waiting outside, angry at not being let in. She needed to focus. She watched as he continued pressing down upon her tiny frame and in her gut, she felt the girl’s heart begin to heal.
“Stop.” She said. He did as he was told and she turned to the defibrillator, watching the squiggles start to form rhythmic waves.
Dr Afreen suppressed a smile and nodded at the paramedic. The child would live.

 Author's note: This is my take on WriteTribe's "100 words on Saturday" prompt which must feature the sentence "S/He felt her/his heart begin to heal…………"
100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

Mar 22, 2014

Thank you for dropping by...

No blog is complete without the love bestowed upon it 
by those who pass by and share their views.

While I do have a ‘top commentator’ widget on the blog always, it tends to showcase the most recent 1000 comments only on the blog. So I was overjoyed when I found one which actually calculated all the comments on the blog right from 2005 onwards. Unfortunately as it turns out, doing so slows down the loading of the widget (and hence the blog) considerably so I had to remove it. However, I did want to use it as an opportunity to thank everyone who’s been by the blog over the years. 

It’s truly heartening to see that even when I extrapolate to TOP 100 COMMENTATORS, the widget still gives me people who’ve commented a minimum of at least ten times.

Click the picture to see the enlarged version

Thank you. I mean that sincerely.
While I do write to let my own thoughts out of this confining bald cranium, without people dropping by to comment, I don’t think I would have had the extra motivation to keep writing for as long as I have… 3035 days today, apparently.
Even those who drop by, read and choose not to comment but later drop in a private message or line – thank you. It feels nice to know I've made you laugh or look at things from a different perspective.

Mar 16, 2014

Off to Malaysia? Check out these awesome places.

Very few countries are truly blessed with the amalgamation of such rich and diverse cultures and landscapes as Malaysia. Unlike so many other nations in today’s world, Malaysia has always embraced its diversity and even celebrated it via its “Truly Asia” catch phrase. That welcoming nature which it has preserved across generations has always made it a personal favourite among my dream destinations. Of course, there is another more personal reason behind it but I’ll come to that later.

Let’s be clear on some things at the very beginning. When I go for a holiday, I want to relax and enjoy the place. You will not find me indulging in anything akin to rock-climbing or chasing after wild animals! Nope, take me to your beaches, my dear friend, for I must find me a hammock to lie down and sip my pina coladas.

That's what you call 'crystal clear'
For this purpose, I would definitely rate Palau Langkawi as a spot to tick on my itinerary. A duty free island, “the Jewel of Kedah” is a favourite for many because it has everything you want. Mystery lovers would do well to read up or hear from locals about the history behind “the mysterious island” while wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the three geoforest parks where you can see animals as diverse as the last of the dinosaurs (the monitor lizards) or just have some fun with the swimming macaque monkeys (Any resemblance to me is purely coincidental.) 
Of course, Langkawi’s many crystal clear beaches and pristine white sand are the main destination area for a romantic evening with Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah considered the best in terms of a combination of privacy and fun with hotels and bars.

While I’m a fan of fine dining, I never miss the opportunity to try street food while traveling and Malaysia has always been famous for serving some of the best flavours in that regard, haven’t they? Walk down the stalls of Georgetown in Penang and you will something truly heartening. Oh, I’m not referring to the yummy dishes alone, I’m referring to that amazing mix of all ethnicities that is so visible in the influences of the food on display. Malay, Thai, Indian, Chinese… all those wonderful food cultures and the flavours specific to them meet here and by God, it is heavenly. Cooked fresh and served to lakhs of people everyday, it’s easy to get confused as you walk down the array of stalls and your stomach starts demanding his pound(s) of food. Dishes I have on my personal agenda include:
  • Char koay teow - authentic stir-fried rice noodles, street food style.
  • Har gow  - shrimp dumplings. 
  • Chee cheong fun - rice flour rolls filled with barbecued pork.
  • Mai gai - Rice with chicken, black mushroom and savoury Chinese sausage.
  • Bak-kut-teh. A breakfast meal, it consists of a rich pork and herbal broth brewed for hours, then served with pork ribs, mushrooms, tofu and fried dough.
  • Satay.
  • Malay nasi campur - mixed rice topped with various meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and fried-shrimp.

Penang Street Food. Stop talking, start eating!

Jalan Alor in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is another alternative for awesome street food in case Georgetown doesn't fit your schedule.

Mar 8, 2014

Who will you really listen to, men?

During the course of this WriteTribe Festival of Words, I've already spoken about two women ( here and here ) who inspired me with their deeds. So now, when the topic is Women and it's Women's Day, it's kind of ironical that I choose to talk about a bunch of men, instead.

I personally don't believe in the logic of advertising agencies that roping in a big celebrity helps sell a product (eg: Abhishek Bachchan selling me Prestige cookers and Sunny Deol selling me underwear comes to mind.)
But then, I don't know everything. I may very well be wrong. If that is true and having a big celebrity tell you to do things works for you, then I would like you to listen to why women are and should always be considered as equals, not from my mouth but from some people more famous than me.

You know him as the geeky Ross Geller from the sitcom F*R*I*E*N*D*S*. This 'dinosaur doctor' was easily the dorkiest of the three men on the show. But did you know that in real life, David Schwimmer is the Director of a Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica? That he used to frequently appear in ads aimed specifically at men, telling them it was not okay to be silent if you are witnessing a rape/drugging of a drink with intention to rape and imploring them to intercede? Or that he used to actively campaign to have 'date rape drugs' banned in the USA? Still think he's a dork?

Mar 7, 2014

The killer's distraction

“How many more must die?” she asked him angrily.
But his eyes remained focused on the targets running in front of him. Exasperation dripped from his voice as he responded.
“Just two more ghosts I have to kill and this level of Pacman will be complete, Mama! After that, I’ll come for dinner. Mommy promise!”

Author's note: This is my post for the "55 word fiction" prompt in Write Tribe's Festival of Words 3.

Mar 6, 2014

You can't keep a good heart down.

She's been a waitress, a sales girl, a bartender and a house painter. Over time, this woman became a standup comedian and then got a part in a tv show. She played the lead role in a comedy sitcom that was earning rave reviews after four solid seasons when she came out as being gay. Though there was support for her from the industry, a year later her show was cancelled. With no great offers coming her way, she went back to doing what she did best... making people laugh as a stand up comedian. That's where the story would have ended.

But you see, here's something I learned over the years. You can't keep a good person down. They will have their falls but they will get up... and they will get up stronger. And if they still retain that smile on their face after everything they've faced, well, that's the power of being good kicking cynicism in the ass.

Chosen as one of the
Spicy Saturday Picks of the Week
Three years after the comedy show was cancelled, she returned on a new network with her own talk show. She hosted actors, singers and tv celebrities. But it was the episodes with everyday people where she listened to their troubled stories and helped them out instantly that won the world over once more. Within three seasons, her show had won a staggering 25 Emmy Awards.