Amma & Beta

IMG_2050I took the bite. And I took the plunge finally, after dawdling over the decision for months.  Thus I have come to the profound conclusion (of course subject to market risks) that Binge Watching might be good for the brain but is terrible for the body!

Now that we have dispensed with the conclusion at the very beginning, let us proceed further.

Though my son and most have been raving about ‘Sacred Games‘ I was skeptical about taking the plunge. Why you may ask. ‘She is a prude‘, you may conclude. Well, you will understand my predicament better, once you understand my watching patterns.

Once the family has been fed to my satisfaction and Hmm-Husband vacillating between IPL and sleep while Darling-Dotty wonders looking at her mountainous pile of books, ‘what is the aim of all this grind?’, I finally settle with my plate of piping hot food for some serious streaming on my laptop, content with the knowledge that I have seen this day through.

When the very first scene is all blood and gore, naturally you can’t chew on it. Neither food nor the scene. But yesterday was different.  I was in a benevolent mood towards self, as I managed to finish penning a chapter. I was willing to traverse the whole nine yards. ‘Sacred Games‘ was my reward. Like a true blue binge watcher, gave up on beauty sleep and finished the entire series in less than 24 hours. ( Let me gloat Ya, a record for me 😀 )

All through Ashwathama…Sarama…Yayati, I plodded on, pushed myself,  ‘ab aayega twist, ab aageya twist.‘ Only to have the end credits roll. Concerned that I might have missed a vital point somewhere, I called my son to reconfirm the plot. Apart from the marriage of convenience between Bollywood, Mantralaya, Police, and Ganglands, with religious violence thrown as a seasoning, what else was in the offing? ( of course, this is a very simplistic and uni-directional summarisation of the two-threaded plot)

Wasn’t all this already dealt with in Satya or in Black-Friday?

My son answered, ‘Maybe so. I will Google about Satya. Some Manoj had an awesome role na?”

I counted till three and said, ‘Bhiku Mhatre! Manoj Bajpai!’  Sonny said, ‘Mom, my generation has loved the clarity, the sheer honesty with which this ganging up together has been shown in Sacred Games. It is very raw.’

I: ‘You mean this marriage of convenience between powers-to-be and unsavory fringe elements of the society?’

Sonny: ‘ Yup mom. You will take time to get this!’

At that moment it hit me of how paleolithic I was.

But I wasn’t giving it up so easily. ‘At least you wouldn’t categorize me as pusillanimous. Would you? I am open to watching a farrago of content’

I thought I had the last word.

Sonny: ‘Looks like someone is getting ‘Tharoorised

Uff! Me thinks, I won’t go bananas. I gotta ‘scale‘ it down and watch the boy’s head weight.

Who knows what will crash and when?

We are headstrong alright! Mommieee!

Hyderabad Literary Festival 2019

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Time flies so quickly. 

I cannot believe that a week has already passed by. It seems only yesterday I was at Hyderabad. Last Sunday, I was attending the Hyderabad Literary Festival, as a delegate, for the panel discussion about ‘Women on Top’. The feisty Ms. Sudha Menon was my co-panelist with Ms. Kinnera Murthy, Director, HLF, moderating us two.

Now on a cold afternoon, I’m reminiscing fondly about that wondrous day.

It all began somewhere in October 2018, when our nominations got the nod from the HLF’s scrutinizing team comprising of Ms. Kinnera, Dr. T Vijay Kumar, Director, HLF, Professor of English, Osmania University. 

I was going back to the city where I grew up to talk about my book, my work, with my parents in attendance. The stuff dreams are made of! My happiness knew no bounds as I read the confirmation mail.

The festival was to begin on Friday, 25th January 2019 and end on Sunday, 27th January. Once the entire schedule went online, travel arrangements were made, family and friends were forewarned to keep their Sunday free for my event.

The D-Day finally arrived.

On the opening day, I landed at the sprawling Hyderabad Public School, the venue of the festival, with my mother giving me company. We were in for a humungous surprise. Right in the middle of the center court, a huge banner showcasing some of the authors slated to speak at the festival had my mug shot too.

hoarding picIt was a moment for me to cherish forever as my mom sported a 1000 Watt smile. What a colorful spectacle awaited us! The venues for the enthralling sessions in store were meticulously planned and organized. The bookshop was strategically located right in the middle. There was a huge art installation which attracted all the selfie lovers. The traditional Telangana dancers grooving to the foot-tapping music set the tempo. The venue was buzzing with book lovers, artists, artworks while simultaneous activities happened at Karvy Kanopy, Telangana Pavillion, Shaheen Hall, Tree of Life. The attendees had ‘satisfaction’ written all across their faces. The volunteers oozed warmth and energy of the festival was infectious. Big names flitted around.

I was bursting with pride just to belong.

On Saturday night the skies opened and it poured. Yet by Sunday morning on schedule, all the events rolled out. The eager volunteers made sure there were no hiccups, though the looming rain threatened to play spoilsport. Such was the enthusiasm and die-hard spirit of all involved.

Many blogger and facebook friends of mine took time out and came to support me. Their loving presence became the wind beneath my wings. Our session went well. The erudite Kinnera Ma’am asked very pertinent and thought-provoking questions and made sure the interaction was very lively.

IMG_0069The warmth we were showered upon throughout the festival made it very special. All sessions had a lot of takeaways. As the festival ended, we were left with a yearning and a longing for the sands of time that slipped by. 

With renewed energy and a stronger will to pursue our passions, we all came back with truckloads of memories to be revisited on a blue day. 

Hoping, HLF beckons soon

Fingers crossed.

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The History of Mathematics – Archana Talks

In her career as a writer, Archana has spun some terrific tales across genres. Whether it was her short stories, her Novel ‘Birds of Prey’ or the e-book ‘Tit for Tat’, they have all captivated her readers and brought in much-deserved accolades.

In ‘The History of Mathematics’, Archana touches upon known and hitherto unknown legends, mathematical concepts, mathematicians and serves up a delectable fare.

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There are 26 neatly arranged tales (nothing to do with the letters of the English Alphabet) with apt titles, captions, aided by drawings, equations, expressions and pithy quotes by the famous.

Archana Sarat speaks to us –

1. Congratulations Archana! Your book is just out and there’s a great buzz about the response to it. How do you feel?

Thank you, Anupama. Though I feel thankful that my efforts have been acknowledged and the book is loved by the readers, the entire process of writing and publishing is a surreal experience. The efforts of many people go into shaping the book: my editor, Percy Wadiwala, my publisher, Dipankar Mukherjee, my illustrator, Rayee Terdalkar and so many others. It is the Almighty’s blessing that I have all these supportive folks in my life. So, I cannot take credit for everything.

2. You have dabbled across genres. What made you take up writing on this particular subject and choosing it as a conduit for your creative expression?

I love to write very-short short stories, popularly called flash fiction. I had been toying with the idea of writing a collection of flash fiction stories on a single topic.  I have always loved mathematics and I enjoy reading books on the topic. When I chanced upon a book about the evolution of mathematics, the first few stories from ‘The History of Mathematics’ gushed into my head with hardly any effort.

3. How did you approach the writing of your novel? Was there anything particularly challenging when you took up writing on this subject?

Initially, I had just wanted to write stories that show us how math evolved. As my research intensified, I understood that mathematics, as we know it today, is the result of India’s invaluable contributions to this field. This was when I decided that at least half of the book must include India’s contribution to mathematics.

This decision became my biggest challenge. This was because there was hardly any information available about renowned Indian mathematicians like Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara I, etc. These men were extremely humble, and they wanted their work to speak for itself and did not believe in attaching their names to their contributions. Did you know that we have no historical data about Aryabhata who wrote Aryabhatiya when he was just twenty-three years of age? Except for that one piece of information, we know nothing else about him though he is our country’s leading astronomer, physicist, and mathematician. So, research became a nightmare while I worked on this book.

4. The scope of the subject chosen is vast. How did you decide, how much to tackle, when and where to leave?

I’ve hardly covered a drop in the ocean as far as the history of mathematics is concerned. In this book, I have covered the time period from early ages till the eleventh century CE. I haven’t spoken about the contributions of China, Egypt, and the Arabs. I’ve also not written about the Kerala mathematicians. I will cover all this in a sequel to this book.

5. Why should anyone read your book? Who is your target audience? Can you sum up the journey of your book in two sentences?

We are at a difficult time in history when half the population is disillusioned with our country and the other half is taking pride in all the wrong things. I think reading this book can help clear our perspectives and allow us to see what a great nation we are.

The target audience for this book would be anybody from 8 to 88 years of age. Both math enthusiasts and history enthusiasts would enjoy the book.

To sum up the journey of my book, I must say that it was a labour of love. Nothing else but the unfettered passion to the idea kept me slogging through a dozen books on this topic.

6. Why do you think some children fear maths? Any tips to them to overcome their fear? Does this book help in any way overcoming those worry pangs?

Not just children, all of us fear things that we cannot understand be it cooking, ghosts or rappelling. The only way to overcome this fear is to make efforts to understand and appreciate the thing that scares us. This is where teachers, parents, and books, like this one, can help. When children read that the knowledge of mathematics is inborn, it dispels their fear of the topic. Also, the book contains a few tips and tricks from the Egyptians that make certain mathematical calculations easy.

7. Some say we are dumbing down as we are becoming tech-dependent by the hour.  Would a peek into the history of mathematics make us more analytical?

Becoming tech-dependent may not be a bad thing. When books became popular for the first time in history, parents chided their children for reading. They wanted them to go out and play. Parents did not allow the kids to read while eating. Now, I’m sure all parents would be happy to allow their child to read rather than sit glued to the computer or mobile screen. So, these things keep changing with the times.

However, even in these times, I strongly feel that being analytical may be good in certain things like reading and studying. The mere act of scratching out numbers on a paper using a pencil feels therapeutic to me. This is the reason why I have included many stories that talk about clay tablets, maintaining accounts using tally sticks, counting using beads, etc.

8.  What next? What defines you? Do you have anything specific to share with your readers that you learnt while writing this book?

My hands are itching to write a thriller next. It is my most favourite genre. It has been a long time since Birds of Prey, my debut psychological crime thriller.

Two things I learnt while writing my recent book are tolerance and perseverance. All new ideas face opposition. People cannot tolerate change and they find it easier to remove the person suggesting the change rather than remove their old habits. This is where perseverance comes into play. Our yesteryear mathematicians stuck on steadfastly and stood for their views. If you don’t stand up for something, you will fall for anything!

9. What do you think is the future of reading/writing in India?

A research study shows that we are reading much more than ever before in history, though this is predominantly in the form of Facebook posts, WhatsApp messages, Quora answers and Scroll articles. The future of reading and writing is bright in India provided the content is engaging and is presented in a pleasing manner. Shoddy covers, pathetic editing and meandering stories will not work anymore.

10. Any advice for other writers and budding writers?

Read.

Read in the genre that you write.

Read in other genres too.

Read bestsellers.

Read prize-winners.

Read all others too.

For every 1000 words that you write, read 10,000.

Verbal Violence

marriage3NO‘ isn’t just a word but a complete sentence in itself. Doesn’t need further clarification! ” – AB senior baritoned intensely on the telly.

Uff! How many times will you see this nonsense? Can I see some news now?” Husband took the remote from my hand – grabbed more like it – and began to get high on that raucous pseudo patriotic renditioning of events by that finger-wagging news-caster. I slid down the bed, turned and began to play with my phone.

Without any preamble, the husband switched off and grabbed me. He was panting already. “No, not today, I’m extremely tired.” I tried pushing him gently but he was on the top as always. “This is an everyday story.” I went flat, both in enthusiasm and position. My eyes were wet. He thought passion made them so but only I knew the truth. The deed done in two minutes, he was snoring almost immediately like a boring machine.

I finally slept in the wee hours after liking random posts, happy-couple pics. I woke up with a murderous rage, wanting to pound someone. Husband had been up already, tending to his flower bed in our tiny balcony.

Morning, Why do you get up so late? Now you will rush for work, leave a mess behind, get caught in the morning traffic and blame everyone else for your slothfulness. No wonder your boss doesn’t give you important tasks.

Luckily my brain was still fogged out to get the full blast of his words.

Don’t sulk now. I made coffee for you and told the cook to pack some sandwiches too. Don’t waste time on trying to reverse my instructions to her. Get ready fast. We are leaving in 40 minutes

I don’t remember when I started switching off at his sermons. I walked into the kitchen to pick up my coffee.

The cook smiled at me. “Morning Didi” I grunted in return.

The coffee tasted bitter. As is usual, health-conscious-he decided that one spoon of sugar is enough, knowing fully well that I liked three. As I added sugar, the cook said, “You are very lucky Didi! Saab looks after you so well!”.

Too well!” I muttered.

Where are the sandwiches?” I was mild enough, taking care not show how I felt about her take on my marriage. After all, the husband needed her fawning culinary skills to keep his six-pack thriving.

I sipped the coffee as I scanned the dailies. “You are still here! Go take a bath. We are leaving in 30 minutes. Wear that red dress of yours. It brings out your black orbs very well. I will pick you up from your office at 6:30pm. We are having drinks with the Das’s.” Husband declared.

What? I told you, we have to visit Raji’s studio! I promised her. Today is the last day of her showing.

We can always see her concoctions at her home. Das is my new boss and we can’t say no to him. Good for my career, good for us. Now, go rush. 25 minutes to the takeoff!

Why don’t you go ahead? I will take time, I need to shampoo. I will take an Uber.

Really! Leave the locking to you? Have you forgotten how you left the balcony door open last time and the monkey came in and wreaked havoc? Why spend on Uber when we both are going in the same direction? Why are you wasting time chitchatting? In twenty minutes, I will get the car out. You better be ready.

A hurried bath, and a clumsy effort at getting dressed, I was finally out at the stipulated time. Husband had banged on the bathroom door restlessly 5 times by then. Thank God for my humungous tote, which gladly accepted the dry shampoo, straightener, Kajal and the works. I could spruce up at leisure in the restroom later. I packed in the red dress too.

Why aren’t wearing the red dress I told you to? And please be more presentable than this! We are meeting my boss, not some hippy friend of yours! God knows what you do with all the designer stuff I buy you.” Husband was visibly angry as he locked the front door after multiple checking on the various doors and switches of the house.

I don’t know when his words stopped stinging. “ I will…” I mumbled incoherently.

He dropped me at my office. The entire ride was spent in silence as a punishment to me for my lethargy. I was grateful for the non-communication though.

At 6:30 sharp! In a better shape than this!” Those were his parting words as he sped away.

Have a good day, you too!” I waved at the disappearing car.

Mom called as I swiped my card. “Have you reached your office? Guess who was visiting us? Son-in-law’s Uncle. I was telling him, how lucky you are! How well the son-in-law looks after you…Pray, when will I get the good news?

Somehow the entire building looked blurred through my moist eyes! I must change my mascara and the Kajal pencil.

They keep making my eyes wet.

‘House-Wife’ Unplugged

promisesThe humble ‘house-wife’ has to be a pro at so many concepts to make sure her house runs like a well-oiled machine. Don’t believe me?

For example –

Chemistry

She can instinctively rattle off what spices go into which item and unnecessary condiments can ruin a culinary delight.

She easily manages to have a rapport with all the teachers and tutors or with the moms of class WhatsApp group

She can smell the chemistry or the budding romance of her brats.


Physics –

She very adroitly balances so many distinct personalities at home.

See-saws between twenty activities simultaneously.

She is the fulcrum. On the flip side, try applying force on her to get work done! You will just have to accelerate your way out of the tempest that could get unleashed.


Maths –

She knows what sells where at what rate.

Commodities pricing is her playground. Try beating her at this purchasing game.

Just watch her divide the food amongst family. No one remains hungry or unhappy. She also remembers every single mark her brat gets, using it to leverage as and when the situation demands.


Arts (Dramatics/History/Linguistics) –

The stories she can spin at bedtime for the moppets can put a Shakespeare to shame 

Her recounting of all the past misdemeanors to win an argument can put the Gyaani Google, out of business.

Words? Words are all she has, to make the heart melt!


EQ – By god, she knows how to make the maids stick and tick. That itself a herculean task to accomplish.

She knows when to pamper the child and when to bullshit the hell out of her brat. Can see through husband’s tall tales uttered to get out of a sticky situation.

IQ – To manage the above said, her IQ has to be stratospheric ain’t it?

Still any doubts?

So, husbands, you have some very big shoes to fill in.

Time to ramp up your act.

Lady, time to flaunt that killer smile and walk ten feet tall!

/author’s note – it is just a funny write-up, no agenda involved whatsoever – Amen */

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Kahani Ek – Teen Endings

 

Kahani #1

“Neha, I’ve chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone deeply”

“Girl, Mine works in a Fortune500 company”

“Daddy, mine says I’m his good fortune, has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my Raj will take you for a cruise on the Thames, for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my Rahul will take me to Tirthan and serenade”

“Neha, think about your FB profile after marriage!”

Neha thought deeply.

After fifteen days NehaRaj updated her FB, Instagram with pictures of her honeymoon in Europe with hashtags like #soulmate #truelove

Love is also being practical!

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Kahani #2

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Nainital and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into a Grad-School with hashtags like #LoveCanWaitStudiesCan’t  #LifeGoals

Love is also about loving self! Deeply!!

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Kahani #3

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Shimla and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha Rahul updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into an Airbnb with hashtags like #LoveMakesTheWorldBetter #LifeGoals

Because Rahul completes Neha! Neha treasures Rahul

Because True Love is a difficult treasure to find and hold onto!

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When Hemoglobin Bani Low

Around mid-March, this year, I started feeling breathless when I walked short distances or climbed a few stairs. I thought this must be due to the pollution in NCR. Afterall I did have weak lungs, thanks to the TB of glands that I suffered in 2013.

On April 5th, 2018, my novel #WhenPadmaBaniPaula debuted on Amazon.in

This was a dream come true for me. A newbie, with no formal training in writing, no literary connections whatsoever managed to churn out a solo novel in a short span of 4 years. I was delirious with joy and somehow my breathlessness and niggling pains didn’t seem to matter. Almost all the forums that I wrote for were very generous in their support for my debut novel.

As I got busy with the promotional activities, I developed a severe ache in my right hand and my back. I could barely lift my right arm. Most of the time I was on pain-killers. I grit my teeth and tried to march along and soon I barely managed to get any work done.

A dear friend Amar suggested physiotherapy. The doctor checked me up and suggested corrective measures. Shortly, I left for Hyderabad to meet with my parents.

First four days were spent catching up and eating. Soon I met with my mom’s doc for increasing aches. The moment he saw me, he ordered a slew of tests.

And then the biggie was dropped via the test results.

My Hemoglobin level was at 5.6 g/dl.

Hemoglobin levels (7 – 8 g/dL), according to new clinical guidelines from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) is treated as critical often needing a transfusion. Here I was merrily scamping around with a 5.6. Luckily for me, I tested negative for Sugar, therefore, Diabetes, Thyroid. My Liver and kidneys hadn’t been affected so far, BP was fine though pulse remained pretty high.

The Doctor said I now needed a Hematologist working with a reputed hospital for the next steps. But this new doctor had no appointments till July end. We called in another standby doctor who suggested immediate drip with a series of injections spread over 10 days. The whole thing was spiraling out. Panic was setting in. To think I had come to Hyderabad to chill, meet pals and do a round of bookshops selling #WhenPadmaBaniPaula!

As we were mulling our options, we turned lucky. Almost immediately, we received a call from the hospital. A slot had opened up as a patient had canceled his appointment.

The Hematologist suggested an immediate drip with an injection to absorb the medicines that would be pumped in. The top layer of my digestive tract was gone and hence I could stomach only barely seasoned food.

I still remember the horrible night after the drip. My system took time to this new medication. I had a fever, acute gas attack and my back had given away. I spent the whole night standing and howling loudly.  But in a couple of days, I was on a path to recovery.

All because of my family. My wonderful parents and my loving husband with the support of my Darling_Dotty (and Sonny’s calls). I couldn’t have recovered this fast otherwise. I owe it to them entirely.

Before I left Hyd, I met the Doc again with the tests redone.  My Hemoglobin level now was at 7.9 g/dl. I have to undergo tests every month for the next 4 and I am on medication for at least 3 months.

Now you might wonder dear reader why do I bore you with my medical troubles.

The good doctor said I had been functioning at 30% of my capacity. That boggled the living daylights of me. I could do more if I turned fitter.

Most of us Indian women have a terrible Hemo reading. It has become an accepted norm sadly. Our needs come last. Our health is tended to once the family has been looked after. A Healthy Us is paramount for the smooth running of our family and their greater achievements. Because we are the focal point of our tiny kingdom.

Take your tests today before it becomes dangerous. Invest in yourself. You owe it to self!

And today I climbed 6 flights of stairs and I was barely breathless. Very Happy!!

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