Book: Curtain Call

Publishers: Half Baked Beans
Compiled & Edited by: Rafaa Dalvi
Pages: 230
Format Available: Print ( Amazon )
Curtain Call is an upcoming anthology releasing in August 2016. Featuring some of the best names in contemporary short fiction in India, the anthology chooses to avoid the traditional route of sticking to a single theme,  providing the reader with something different to look forward to within each tale.
From historical fiction to romance, horror and humour, there is something for everyone in this collection. 

Bragging rights

So what makes this posse different from the other collections of short stories available presently?
Simply a matter of class, really. 
Between the 20 who have contributed here, you have authors with not 1 or 2 or even 10 or 20 published stories in their combined quiver. You have a whopping 75 published short stories (both Indian & International) and no less than 13 published novels between these authors. That is talent that has gone through literally more than hundreds of short story contests, honing their skills through both success & failure till they got the art of storytelling down to a science.


One of the common issues that people have when it comes to buying an anthology collection is that they don't get to know what the stories are all about. How can you decide if you don't know what is in the package you are expected to buy? 

We hear you. 
Which is why with Curtain Calls, the authors decided to give previews of ALL the stories so that you, the reader, can make an informed decision for yourselves. So without any further delay, allow me to present to you the stories and genres you will get with Curtain Calls.

A Crimson Affair by Rafaa Dalvi
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
When a serial killer unleashes a reign of terror in Fatehpir Sikri, Emperor Akbar deploys Birbal to look into the case. When the next murder hits closer to home, Birbal realizes that there is far more to the killer than meets the eye.

Cooking up a Storm by Shawn Pereira
Genre: Thriller
A no-nonsense mob story wherein the protagonist channels his potent desire of revenge and goes up against the tightly knit, well connected Mafioso.

You can read the rest of the post here

This post would go on to be selected as one of the 
Winners of the prompt 'Vision 2050' 

Dear diary, 
I was listening to dad and grandpa talk and boy, am I glad!
  • I am glad that I can travel the length and breadth of my country and be called a fellow countryman, rather than be frowned on because of my state, religion or caste. That sounds so crazy. Did we really stand united in the past only on national holidays and during ball games? 

  • I am glad that my wife can walk the streets of my city and not worry if she will be molested, irrespective of whether she wears a burqa or a skirt. She is an Indian like me and all my rights and freedoms, by logic, are hers as well.
  • I am glad that I live in a country where I have the freedom to an opinion without having it being clamped down by those in power or my patriotism questioned. Ask anyone living in a regime how it feels.
  • I am glad that the party I vote for has a fixed manifesto. It means that I know that they share my beliefs and will not change after I pledge my vote to them. 

You can read the rest of the post here

Story / Project: Story of a Suicide

Author: Sriram Ayer (Founder, 'NalandaWay Foundation')
Genre: Contemporary fiction


The first chapter begins with an attempted suicide. Before the last word is read, there will be another suicide attempt. What binds the two incidents? Four young protagonists who are just as normal and average as you and I.

  • Hari is your average college student, doted on by his family. He is you and I. He also carries the scars of his past and holds a secret buried within his heart.
  • Sam is your average college student, good with computers and recently dumped by his first girlfriend. He is you and I. A failed attempt at a new relationship causes him to go down a dark path, one with far-reaching consequences.
  • Charu is your average college student, outspoken and adept at social media.  She is you and I. A hard exterior hides an insecure individual and the choices she makes via both halves of her character fuel a burning rage within that singes the innocent along with the guilty.
  • Mani is your average college student, worried he is considered inferior to others because his grasp of the English language is poor. He is you and I. The insecurity he suffers would leave him forever vulnerable, making him an unwitting tinder block for the final fire that burns them all. 

What starts off as multiple story threads slowly starts to wrap around each other, a cause-and-effect scenario building up slowly before the third act unfolds rapidly. It is a story of hidden insecurities & poor judgement - seen in most young adults today - and the choices we make. Shades of gray within the character will slowly turn to black or white as the story progresses and momentary lapses have devastating effects on unsuspecting individuals.   

'The Story of a Suicide' works because it is grounded in reality. 

You have met all of these people in your life already. Long before the story ends, you will already be thinking "This is exactly how ABC & XYZ used to be during my college days." And that is where the author really succeeds.

You can read the rest of the post here

Most of my Foodgasm posts tend to be non-vegetarian dishes. That is just me. But I do look to add recipes for dishes that strike me as being a touch above the normal. And one of the dishes we made at home that definitely fits that criteria is this outstanding Easy-to-Make Eggless Chocolate Cake.

We are only on to the second picture of seven and already I need to ask you - "Have you started drooling yet?" 
Because I promise you that by the time you see picture 7, you will be. (It is a different matter that you may also be cursing me!!) 

You can read the rest of the post here

  • A black man is the President of the United States of America.  
  • I can see the map of any corner of the entire world with my small pocket talking device. 
  • Children and adults run on the streets staring at their mobiles and chasing cartoon characters that are not visible to the naked eye. 
  • People will be getting up early in the morning and 'liking' or 'loling' inane random thoughts written by total strangers and acquaintances even on a single website where billions converge everyday.
  • Last month, a man jumped off an aeroplane without a parachute and fell 20,000 feet. He landed safely! Another guy jumped from space and landed on Earth with a parachute.
  • I can sit in India and watch people from all over the world with it. I can chat with them for free. 
  • I can store thousands of songs and movies in a device smaller than the nail of my thumb. 

'What are you reading?' I hear a voice behind me and turn to find my colleague, Dr Renjith. 

I stare at the diary in my hand as I shake my head and toss it to him. 

'More wishful thinking from our patient in bed 21. His diary entry for 6th August 2016.' I say with a smile. 'I don't think our medicines are working. He is still rambling the same old nonsense.'

As I start to write my morning notes in the file, Renjith continues flipping through the pages. 
'Wow. Check this out. It's later on. President Donald Trump. PRESIDENT? Hilarious. I can understand some of those science fiction things like a cult like website where everyone converges every morning or those devices with maps on them. But that guy who just filed for bankruptcy for his casino Trump Taj Mahal last month is our future President? Ya right. 21 is really delusional.'

When I don't reply, he tosses the diary back on my table and heads off to chat with the nurses as I complete my notes in the patient's file. 

  • Patient continues to believe he is from the future and has been sent back to the past to save the world from the path it has chosen. 
  • Claims seem senseless and illogical (black president) and closer to science fiction (magic devices that act as a GPS,  camera,  wireless button less telephone, video camera).
  • His story of being sent back from the past to save the world coincides with the theme of upcoming Hollywood science fiction movie Terminator 2.
  • Efforts to find relatives or family members of patient still ongoing.

  • Continue electro convulsive therapy. 
  • To consider increasing dosage till patient stops insane ramblings of future.
Dr Roshan R 
Consultant psychiatrist 
6 August 1991

I catch a glimpse of the words written in capital letters on the page in front of me. Patient 21 had written them on many a page prior to this one too, I remember as I shut the book. Too bad he doesn't make any sense.

And what does 'I can be your saviour. I can save you all. We must STOP 9/11. The end of the world begins there' even mean? How does a mathematical fraction save the world? 

Poor fellow. I have faith that the increased electric shock therapy will bring him back to reality.
Hopefully I can be his saviour.

Authors note:
This is my anecdote for the theme "Wishful thinking" for the blogger challenge Blog-A-Thon by Blog-A-Rhythm. You can read other entries for this theme by fellow bloggers here.

During this 7 day challenge, I have written on:
Day 4 - Caught Red Handed - Doggone it! (Dog years)
Day 5 - Robert the Doll (Horror/ Real life)
Day 6 - The Saviour (Short Fiction) 

I do not want to use the word ugly but he is not a handsome doll.
Barely humanoid in features, his face is pockmarked as though ravaged by disease. The sailor's outfit is a size too large. Not even the dog sitting upon his lap encourages a grin from you.

The word that does come to mind is definitely creepy.

Robert the doll was a gift given to 4 year old Robert Eugene Otto by his family's Bahamian maid. Otto got quite attached to the doll and took it with him everywhere. His parents would overhear him having conversations with Robert and always assumed the voice responding was merely their child in a deeper voice.

As Otto grew, so did his attachment to the doll. And so did the unexplained phenomena. Broken silverware and furniture upturned were attributed to the doll by Otto.
"It was Robert." he would proclaim.
"It really was Robert." he would beseech his parents to trust him.
But surely not? 

You can read the rest of the post here

2 months ago, a young doctor died in Trissur when she choked on a piece of food while at the mall food court. What was really tragic was that she was not alone -  there were hundreds of people in the mall at that time. And yet,  none could help dislodge the piece of food that went down her airway. Residing in India, you all would have read this news article,  I assume. You would have lamented the tragic loss and shook your head, I am sure.

Here's my question to you - did you go online and read what should have been done under such circumstances to save a life? 

I am guessing the answer to that is no. 

I had written in detail about this years ago but now is as good a time as any to review this topic on the blog so that everyone can learn/recall what they know about it. 

The Heimlich maneuver requires no specific medical expertise. Dr Henry Heimlich devised this precisely for that reason - because doctors cannot be everywhere and a person can choke to death in minutes. 

Choking is defined as the inability to breathe due to obstruction of the trachea. It is a medical emergency as the obstruction prevents air from entering the lungs. If this obstruction cannot be relieved, the lack of oxygen will eventually lead to death.

Every year, nearly 1,00,000 people die due to accidental suffocation of food or a foreign body.

Signs and Symptoms of a blocked airway :

Choking is usually a sudden event.

  • The person may desperately grab at his throat. 
  • He maybe unable to cough or have a weak cough.
  • He won't be able to speak or cry out.
  • As oxygen-lack sets in, his face will turn blue and he may lose consciousness.

For the sake of clarity, we'll discuss the Heimlich maneuver under six separate categories :

  1. Adults
  2. Children more than 1 year of age.
  3. Infants ( less than 1 year of age. )
  4. Pregnant women / Obese people.
  5. If you start to choke when you are alone.
  6. Pets

You can read the rest of the post here

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