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Friday, September 26, 2014

The Scibblers Orchard: Part 17

The Part before this story is here: Part 16 :

As Arjun reached his police station after barely sleeping a little and found each national newspaper on his desk roaring "Ismail Abdullah: Head of All India Muslim League Kidnapped", "The Man Behind Peace With Muslim Nations Disappears”, “First the PM and Now Ismail Abdullah, the Police has No Answers". He kicked his table, they were not wrong for it had been 6 days and not a clue about the Prime Minister was found apart from that one of his kitchen staff had drugged everyone in the security, the last supper, he made. It was an inside job and the man had fake identity, but that was a dead end and now this. As if that wasn't enough there was another one, what did they want? No sooner could he gather his thoughts his mobile phone started ringing, it was his team following the car where Rohi’s bag was found.

Shekhar Dutta was just amazed at another kidnapping. Already there had been one murder and two kidnappings and no news about the Prime Minister and now this. At first he thought it was some terrorist organization, his experience as a journalist could only suggest that because as far as history went only terrorists would dare such a feat, but this was more much more. The Prime Minister was loved by all, after a long time there was a leader people had selected by majority for he had tolerance and respect for every religion, why would anyone wish to harm him and if they were indeed terrorists why had there been no demand yet? 

As far as Ismail Abdullah was concerned, he was the most peace loving religious Muslim. As far as his story went he had only and only sent out messages of peace and been very active on the Prime Ministers mission to establish good relations with each and every Islamic nation. It was the combined effort of the PM with him that had led to better relations with the most difficult to achieve nations like Pakistan. So could it be some other fanatic group from one of these nations? There was just too much happening to focus and write; there had been no news about his darling daughter yet.

At the very moment his thoughts were perturbed by a door bell, it was Arjun. He requests Shekhar to go to spot where the Police had been surveying the abandoned car on Juhu beach. All they found was a ribbon, which Shekhar confirmed was Roohi's. The forensic team now searched for fingerprints or any other evidence. The car's papers were all false and it was not on Ahuja's name, though Shekhar was sure it was his, they need more proof to get a search warrant to this man's house. 


Acharya was sitting in his room. Its darkness a symbolic of the state of people's minds he thought. He burnt a candle. The flame reminded him of his family house, how each day he and his mother would light up the lamps of his temple. A practice he continued even after he became a father. He was closest to his mother and happiest with her. She was a religious woman and so the quality came naturally to him. There was not a single festival or an occasion Natural it was, wasn't it for the only son. His mother loved him most in the world too and was very proud of him. And why wouldn't she be? He had successfully handled his business after his father and made it reach new heights. He spun the millions that his father had made into billions, a feat not achieved by anyone in their families. Life seemed at its happiest with a successful marriage and a lovely little daughter he had. But can life be so perfect so easily? 

One day the dream broke and his mother was detected of leukemia. He wanted to do everything to save her He took her to the best specialists in the world and tried everything in the world possible for her treatment. He also appeased every God in every religion and every temple, Gurudwara or Mosque. He went to each place he thought God is and will give him back his mother's health. His focus was completely lost on the business and his partners took advantage of that. One day he was left with no money, not a penny to buy his mother's expensive drugs. What else was left to happen then, she left him. He was shattered, the grief was beyond anything he had ever felt. He felt cheated not for the loss of money but faith, the Gods he so lovingly prayed to, so regularly had all snatched away everything he had. It was then for the first time his mind asked for greater truths. "Was there any happiness at all or it was a myth?" "Was there anyone who would not leave you and love you for life?" Many said God will do right one day, but then God's had lost their chance with him, so he left home and went wandering. That was when he started feeling that he would find his answers. He worked for 3 days a week to fill his hungry stomach and the remaining three he spent in a library trying to read journeys of men similar to him. He read the life of Asoka, who was betrayed by his victory; that intrigued him to read more about Siddhartha or Buddha, who was illusioned by happiness that a mere glimpse of sadness broke him but the answers to his questions were nowhere. So he went into earlier times when Man had started worshipping elements of nature. He couldn’t find much on this and so he decided to travel to get to his answers.

He travelled the country far and wide where he had lost all sense of time, space and location. He had walked into the dense woods in search of food unknowingly. It was growing dark and all he had managed to get was wild berries. He was hungrier and needed more but wasn’t adept at hunting. He then saw fire and heard some chanting. He walked in the direction trying to get a sense of it all. He found a bunch of men and women barely dressed in leaves chanting around fire. Their faces shone brighter than any he had seen. When he went near them to ask for food, they fed him with whatever he had, they cleaned his bruises from walking in the forest, thorns etc. and then began talking. They were the kindest people he had met in days and they told him, they too like him had given up on the world; each one had travelled to the forest and met their leader who was the first enlightened one. They believed like the ancients in the worship of Fire, which was one true God. He now thought maybe he had found his answer. After spending six months there he decided this was the truth of life. This is what the world had to learn. There is only one God out of which all life is born and that is Fire, and it was time for him to spread his message far and wide.


Arjun heard back from the forensic team. The fingerprints didn’t match anyone with criminal records. They were all now at the orchard. Some of his people in civilian clothes were keeping an eye on the place. Jeniffer had also come there hearing about the car. There was no evidence against him, and Shekhar began to break. Tara wasn't there to soothe her husband but went ahead with her work saying that was the only thing that kept her sane in tough times. He was fine with it but at that minute when Roohi's kidnappers had left no clue he felt just too lonely and really wished he could hug someone.

Arjun couldn't see his favourite person Shekhar in that state; he was worried more than anything else of what could happen to Roohi. He couldn't give them more time, if Ahuja was a suspect they had no option but to break into his house and survey and all of them agreed to the plan.

The next moment they were standing at Ahuja's door.
Read the next part of the story here:

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Scribblers Orchard : Part 9

The parts before this one are here: "RECAP"


The chants of "Om Shree Ganeshay Namah", "Ganpati Bappa Morya", reverberated outside. He sat in his dark room, thinking, contemplating if he would be successful? He had never failed, never ever failed. He was called “Acharya-the learned one” for he was the one who knew the truth. Nobody, only him. He smiled at the foolishness of people who went crazy in the frenzy of their Gods to forget the world, fast ceremoniously and make all the noise for days. It angered him to no extent. The dark veil of ignorance of believing in a God that doesn’t exist, that never listens to their prayer’s, the one they had never seen. He smirked how as a little boy even he was the same. As a child born in a Hindu Brahmin family, he knew the word “Bhagwaan or God” before his own, recognized their idols before his own people. He was lucky to realize the truth, the truth that there was no such God as they all believed. There was just one true God “Fire” that gave birth to all, right from The Big Bang. It is fire that cleanses, fire that teaches you selflessness when you give something to, it is the fire- the spirit within your body, fire is what the body is given to when this journey ends. Fire was the only God, one of the Pagan Gods, worshipped by the ancients and lost to the materialistic modern. However his life’s mission was to bring the lost wisdom back. Whatever it may take he would fulfill his wow of making people see it. Initially he tried to explain it to people, but what would these un-evolved souls even feel? They couldn’t sense everything logical around them, the mere inequality in a society, the fact that their God was no where when the innocent were killed.  They were blind so was their fate.

But may be it was he who was destined to bring humanity into the light, again the opposite of darkness and “Fire” stood for light.  He was a master strategist and his life was his lesson. Very early on he learnt in life to trust nobody and he did just that. He was successful for nobody ever knew his plan, not even the people who worked for him. They just knew their part and the big picture always came when it was all done. Nobody even knew him, or his voice. Only his shadow communicated. He never physically met anyone and spoke through a machine generated voice.  The blind human race did give him some tools to accomplish what he wished for, being the one, the anonymous one. Oh! How he loved to be smarter than the smartest.

There were just a few people left and then the world will listen to him, he was the true preacher, he was “Acharya”

A sound baffled everyone,  Arjun whose mind was just  trying to comprehend “Where was the PM?” turned and so did Jeniffer and Tara. An array of crackers lit up surrounding Cyrus and within seconds the fire grew monstrous engulfing a large part of the ground. The crowd screamed and started running haphazardly. Cyrus wailed, tried to move, but half drugged his efforts were in vain. The bomb squad team now had to save him, rescue him. Arjun luckily had men in fire proof suits, keeping all circumstances in mind, he ordered them into get into action. The smoke from the crackers blinded vision.

Jennifer tried calling the worried Shekhar to report the incident. Arjun’s team managed to take Cyrus out. The bomb squad then began working to diffuse the explosives all around him. Arjun tried to get back to his bearings the best and ordered the rest of his men to search for all the actors in the last play. They left the very second. 

Arjun's phone kept ringing all the while, however he couldnt hear it at all in the commotion that there was. When he finally did, it was from the police headquarters, the Prime Minister had gone missing.

And then there was a gunshot.

--------------------------------------------------------Week One Ends Here--------------------------
...............................................................To be Continued.............................................................

 “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

Week 2 Begins:

Part 10:

Monday, September 8, 2014

MindRocks14: A Youth Summit by India Today

MindRocks is a youth summit by The India Today group with a mission to motivate the young generation of today, the future of tomorrow. It is held every year in different locations and I was happy to be a part of in for two consecutive years now. The choice of speakers are always in line with the theme "those who have achieved it all beyond circumstances" and who doesn't wish to listen to their own icons and learn from them what failure was and how they moved past them to live the dream. Read on and get motivated, here is the to the point coverage of the event.

The event began with an electric band performance by a Delhi based music band.

Kaveree Bamzai, Editor At Large, India Today Group gave a short and crisp welcome note inspiring youth with a smart "What not to do" (as she believes we do just the opposite) and ignited the session. For more watch it live here :

 The first session began with with Minister of Power, Piyush Goyal. Piyush was interviewed by Rahul Kanwal and was asked to play brand manager on Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. He was very honest in his opinion of these and without any reservations sahred his ideas. He was also asked what are the bad qualities of Narendra Modi and when it comes to Modi everyone in BJP cannot just speak anything bad, that's not honest atleast, everyone has bad qualities, common guys we can see what you are doing there! What I enjoyed the most here is Rahul Kanwal's series of questions, so well planned that he was sure to catch the minister in his act of propagating Modi.

In the end they  finally encouraged him to dance, and a Power Minister dancing can only happen at India Today MindRocks!!. He was joined by people from the audience and Head of India Today Group Mr. Aroon Puri.

The second session was Arjun Kapoor, the recent heart-throb of the nation. He received a very warm welcome from the audience as he made his 'entriyaan' with the 'ghantiyaan ' step and was very happy about it. He said he had no type when it comes to girls and is ready for a relationship. So girls just got crazy there. He said the reason he was lucky to have parents who didn't force him to be what he didn't want to be. When asked about his parents divorce he said "one grows sub-consciously". Well what I like about him is his deep intense eyes. He also danced to "Saturday" song from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. Watch him here:

After this we had none other than Deepika Padukone.  What I liked about her was she was simple and down to earth and she is very slim and good looking. Above all she is very hard working. She said she worked for 30 hours sometimes, living only on coffee to honour her commitments of shooting for 4 films. So that is what it takes to deliver constant hits , that Filmfare black lady doesn't come to you, you have to really work so hard. She also is very sincere since childhood and has been a child that doesn't miss school and till date shoots even when is feverish and calls it off only if the director does so. I must say she is a director's dream and a true youth icon in every sense.

When asked about her four hits last year, she said there were four flops before that and that the cycle goes on. Now that is what I call being modest and genuine.

She also danced on her songs "Nagada Sang Dhol" and "Bootiya". Watch her here:

After this we had a political wave, a very interesting session on politics "Are Politicians Our Masters or Servants". The session was hosted by Rahul Kanwal with speakers from all the leading parties, Manish Sisodia from AAP, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore- MP, Satish Upadhyay from BJP and Haroon Yusuf From Congress. The session began with Rajya Vardhan Singh Rathore being questioned about his decision of joining politics and the motive behind it, to which he said was purely in the service of the nation. The debate than began on the question and the best answer was by Manish Sisodia citing their own example of removing the Red Lamp car culture when they came into power. He also claimed that the 49 days of AAP there was a huge reduction in corruption , which I know is true from my own survey of auto-drivers, there was no bribery then. However he was pounced upon by the more experienced BJP and Congress leaders in the name of youth, The most disgusting was Satish Upadhyay not even acknowledging Anna Hazare's contribution to the movement of change, he just said youth is responsible, really? how? without a leader?

Rahul Kanwal with Manish SisodiaRajyavardhan Singh RathoreSatish Upadhyay and Haroon Yusuf .

Watch the entire episode here

The main question was why did BJP trying to enter from the back door and not fight it real. Well depite Rahul Kanwal's pushing they just didn't agree to re-election. Looks like something is wrong there isn't it?

After this session was the one I was waiting for "The Women Athlete's" of India who truly made it shine in Olympics and Cricket. The panel had Jhulan Goswani, Cricketer- the fastest cowler in the world; Mithali Raj- Captain_Indian Women's Cricket Team; Geeta Poghat and Babita Kumari- Wrestlers, Olympic Gold medalists.

Their journey's had been very different, Jhulan Goswami living in a remote village travelled 3 hours one side for her cricket coaching. Her training started at 7:30 and the coach would just not let her enter even if she was five minutes late. Babita and Geeta, sisters gave credits to their father a wrestler himself for encouraging them into wrestling. Their story was a lesson for the parents more than the youngsters to let the child dream and help them follow it. Babita left a lasting impression when she said the best moment for her was the Indian National Flag go up for her win and the national anthem being played after the win as the best celebration. Truly if you have ever witnessed an Olympics or a common wealth it is the best moment ever to see the flag rise, and very disappointing when it doesnt.
To listen to them just click the link:

This was followed by a lavish lunch  consisting of the popular American fast food Burger, Chinese noodles, Indian Shahi Pulav, Punjabi-chole Bhature, Mumbaiya- Pav Bhaji and the South Indian - Gulab Jamun with Icream/ English Brownie with Ice-cream combination.

The next session had popular tv star and VJ Andie and the singer Sophie. This session had for the first time someone talk about the real deal with "Reality Shows". Andie in his style straight forwardly said that they only show one thing repetitively and Sophie said the "real" in reality is missing. If you just run a harsh statement said by someone again and again one would think its the truth and not see the hundred soft sentences the person might have said during the day. They said it was difficult and things turned very easily from someones favour to being against them. They also danced and entertained the audience.

Check their entire session live here:

The next session was that of popular designer Suneet Verma, who said he knew inside his hear from the beginning that he was made for something creative. Life is all about dreaming and achieving it. The best thing is they invited some 11 people and he gave them remarks about their dressing. He was thorough checking right from how the hair is done, to the choice of nail enamel. This was followed by a ramp walk by the participants, those who were up there surely had the time to remember all their lives.

He also spoke about sexuality and that one must be open about it and not hide oneself in a closet, well that is a lesson to learn from.  Here is his complete session:

                            Designer Suneet Verma at India Today Mind Rocks 2014

Kunal Bahl, Snapdeal CEO was the next speaker and it was all about Start up and Mantra for Business success. He said any business will change as it evolves at every stage. There is no mantra to success other than being true to oneself. Upon asking about Ratan Tata's investment he said it was a great validation for them and that he has been a great mentor. He also disclosed that the next season of the reality show Big Boss. that's a big one, isnt it?

Talking about his competitors Flipkart and Amazon sized giants, he simply put it away saying he is not looking at a short term but his plans for his company are for the next 15 years. Watch this motivational session right here:

                                CEO of Snapdeal, Kunal Bahl at Mind Rocks 2014

 After business it was time for some dance and who better than Shubh Kaur Ghumman, known as one legged dancer can motivate you? She shocked every judge on the reality show India's Got Talent right on day one with her dance. Since I don't watch television at all, I saw her yesterday for the first time and I must say she was the most motivating person I had met. Her statements like  "I hate the word - handicap" and "Handicap is the one who despite of a healthy body doesn't help themselves, i am not - handicap" were the words that will help me and many more throughout life in failure and low times. She danced on "Fevicol" and says her expressions come best in these fast raunchy songs and so she likes them. Her favourite so far has been Katrina Kaif as most of these type of songs are filmed on her. But no actress can motivate you like this woman does, and when a short clipping of her journey was shown the entire auditorium had tears in their eyes. She has really worked out to build her stamina post her accident and has great looks and body. She certainly is an icon. Watch her here:

 Bhagwant Mann, a combination of a politician and a comedian who delivers his message ironically well. When asked why poetry, he simply said my party just had six minutes in parliament and BJP has hours, so they can go on and on despite of various warnings for hours, but to emphatically put forth my point I have to use poetry for I just have a few minutes. he gave various anecdotes of hilarious moments in a parliament. He clearly said his was a live commentary and not something he needed to prepare for. He taught us one thing, just work on your tone and method of delivery. He also recited "Acche Din Kab Aane Wale Hain?"  very popular poetry of his. He mimicked various politicians including the chief of his party AAP, Arvind Kejriwal. He was truly one politician who rocked AAP back to its glory when Arvind Kejriwal spoke in 2013 and the nation was with him in the very auditorium. He is certainly one of the strongest contenders of AAP, some in the audience also asked him why doesn't he stand up to be the chief minister candidate for Delhi elections, Kejriwal certainly not the favourite.
The next session had

Do not miss his amazing session here:

The next session was with Rabbi, nothing can be said about him more than the fact that his music is soulful. He has sung my favourite song "Tere Bin Sanu Soniya" and I just was so mesmerised that I simply closed my voice to drink in his voice. This session was interrupted by Yo Yo Honey Singh who introduced his team and they performed on all their hits, followed by Rabbi's final performance which was a memory of a lifetime. I am listening ti his songs even now but that feel of live music was more powerful, enchanting. The best part was he also sang two unheard songs.

                                             Yo Yo Honey Singh at MindRocks 2014 Delhi

 Thus the day long event ended in the melody of music leaving fond memories in every one's heart to return next year to motivate the youth of Delhi again. It shall be hosted at various cities across India do stay tuned through their facebook page:

I thank India Today Group (Sumeet Sinha and Arpit Vij) for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the same once again this year. This event have given memories to cherish forever.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Cover Story: Story No. 1: Fade Into Red by Reshma K. Barshikar

So here is our first story in the segment "The Cover Story" where we would be telling you all right from the ideation to the execution of the same. We interviewed the author Reshma and she has been very supportive in sending a detailed story. Unfortunately we couldn't get the artist's (designer's) perspective on the same as the person had switched jobs, so if you are the one and reading this, please let us know. We will be more than happy to hear from you.

Presenting the beautiful cover page of the book:

What attracted us was a beautiful, lonely woman staring at the road ahead, wine yards around as if pondering whether to take the path. Many questions and doubts within her, a ref election of uncertainties of today's youth. This emotion portrayed beautifully by the selection of bright colours that being the entire image to life.  So lets hear what Reshma has to say about it all.

Here is the story in Reshma's words:

Designing the cover is one the most exciting and nerve-wracking phases in the publishing process. It’s the first thing a reader sees in a bookshop and that quote- Never judge a book by it’s cover’ is of no consolation. I never realized how many elements we had to consider. There’s the audience and then the genre. There’s a budget and time. I was initially torn between a contemporary abstract cover, a photograph or a watercolor illustration. 

There was a particular abstract idea I liked- a beautiful drop of burgundy wine splashed onto a white textured cover- with the title in the middle. My editor, Faiza, was very helpful on guiding me on what would and wouldn’t work and said my audience would prefer a more traditional cover. The other idea was a landscape photograph of a vineyard much like Únder the Tuscan Sun. We knew it had to be bright and airy; it’s not a dark book, so no dragons. But it’s also not a rip-roaring comedy and so had to have an appropriate sense of introspection about it. It was imperative that vineyards or wine be incorporated into it but I also wanted it to be figurative.  I realized I needed Ayra, my protagonist, in the cover in some way. This was her journey. So I envisioned a woman walking away from us and into the vineyards, her back turned to us, wondering where her life would lead. (aha! and from what you read above, the picture so perfectly conveys this, doesn't it?)

Once we decided on going with an illustration, my editor related the brief to the designers. The drafts were good but focused a lot on the title itself, which they believed, was very inviting. While my character was not walking into the vineyards, she was nevertheless still looking away from me, which fulfilled that need. So we decided to make the borders richer. I also had to tweak the figure to make sure she matched the spirit of the character with small changes like tucking in her shirt. My sister in law suggested we add heels and put her in a skirt. And we had our cover.

When I think back now, it was actually very little. My editor did a wonderful job in translating my vision to the designers, who got it spot on. So apart from changing her attire and enriching the border with more grapes and foliage, there was very little to be done.

The fact that she’s looking away from us and is barefoot shows she’s trying to get back to her roots; that was important to me. I loved that interpretation. I also love the fact that they put her on the spine; it gives it so much character. The Cyprus trees are referred to repeatedly in the novel and so take center stage in the landscape along with the cerulean grapes, which are the exact colour of the Sangiovese grapes that go into making Chianti.

I thank the designers Joy Gosney and Gavin Morris for the most wonderful cover. I am also seriously chuffed by the way the title jumps off the page and hopefully off the shelves.

So though we are yet to understand how the book does, we sincerely hope it jumps off the shelves right into the readers hand and wish Reshma all the best.