Saturday, June 8, 2019

Book Review: Unheard Verses by Tiasa Ray

Title: Unheard Verses
Author: Tiasa Ray
Format: Hardback (139 Pages)
Genre: Poetry

'Unheard Verses' by Tiasa Ray is such a beautiful read. I was hooked to the book right when I read the opening verse of the book. Each and every poem is so relatable and very beautifully crafted. If you're an artist or a one-sided lover, this book will win your heart. 

'Unheard Verses' is a quick read but I took my time to savour the essence of each poem. I have too many favourites and I will mention some of them in this review. I also love the font that's used for the title of the poems; it's cute. This book is a treat to the senses. The quality of the book is really good as well.

The language used is simple, beautiful and effective and that's what I loved the most. There are poems about love, loss, loneliness, embracing solitude, and finding peace and comfort in art. These are my favourites from the book: He, Lost, Till Now, Coffee, Thoughts of You, You'll be Remembered, Alone, Mother, Muse, Voices. I found the poem titled 'It's Okay' relatable on a different level.

My favourite lines are from the poem titled 'Pretensions':

"Oh! All the pretensions
will fade away eventually 
when the time plays
its game of inevitability." 
-Tiasa Ray

The cover art and the illustrations are all done by the author herself and I LOVE THEM. The cover, again, is simple and classy. The illustrations are so pretty and cute, I fell in love with them. Here's one of my favourites:

The book ends with an unsent letter and it is the best part of the book. The letter has that melancholic, poetic feel in it. It's truly touching and heartwarming. A letter of a one-sided lover for a man whom she saw only once in her life years ago and fell in love with him such that he became the muse behind her every artwork. A letter that she never sent.

You'll surely love the book like I did. You may buy your copy from here or DM her on Instagram @tiasaray for a signed copy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Yes, I’m An Introvert

I’m an Introvert

Artwork: Vibhu Joshi (Instagram @artist_vibhu)

Yes, I am an introvert 
and I am not ashamed of it.
I do stay in most of the times
and I do love it.
I do not interact with many people
but to whom I do,
I am with them completely 
honest and true.
When my energy starts draining
I do leave conversations in the middle
but there are those too
whom I never get tired of talking to.
I am rude at times
sometimes, I am blunt too,
I never mean to hurt anyone
but sometimes, I unintentionally do.
I do not dislike going out,
I too love to step out of my home,
but I do require my chosen company
because I hate going out with people 
who are not inside my comfort zone.
Yes, I am an introvert
and I hate a lot of people,
but those whom I love,
I love them with all my heart.
Trickery, treachery and betrayal
are not my cup of tea,
I prefer being alone
than having some fake company.
There’s nothing wrong me
nothing at all,
I just choose not to adjust
in a world full of pretentious souls.
Yes, I am an introvert
and I am not ashamed of it.
I’m rather proud that

I am more than enough for me.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review: The Last Color by Vikas Khanna

Author: Vikas Khanna
Format: Hardback (224 Pages)
Publisher: Bloomsbury India (2018)
Language: English

Blurb: It's Holi, 2012, the Hindu festival of spring, and back in Varanasi after twenty years, a young advocate is celebrating a nation-wide Supreme Court order against an age-old tradition of social injustice meted out to the destitute widows of India - to whom even the simple joys of color were denied.

It was in this city that, twenty years ago, Choti, a sassy, tight-rope walker befriends an old widow, Noor. As a member of the ashram, she lives a life of complete abstinence, but her young friend's innocent exuberance and joy of life fills her with renewed hope.
The two form an unlikely bond, with Noor looking out for Choti, inspiring her to 'fly high' by seeking an education and fighting for her rights with dignity. Choti listens enraptured by the memories her friend shares: of playing Holi dressed as Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna, and flinging great bursts of her favorite pink-colored gulal into the sky. Choti promises her that they will play the next Holi together.
But then, one night, another friend of Choti's, Anarkali, is murdered by the heinous police chief and his goons. Being the only witness to her murder, Choti is imprisoned on the eve of Holi. Everything falls apart in the ensuing chaos.
Will Choti be able to keep her promise of playing Holi with Noor?
Pitting the smoke rising from the funeral pyres of Manikarnika Ghat, against the joyous color-bursts of Holi celebrations, Vikas Khanna's marvellously layered story of the survival of a delicate friendship, is brilliantly told and poignantly life-affirming.

Review: I think that the blurb gives away enough information about the central theme of the book and its characters. So, I will just review the writing style here and what I loved about the book. The Last Color is Vikas Khanna's debut fiction book and it is a heartwarming tale of love, friendship, promises and of overcoming social taboos. The book keeps you hooked right from the prologue! Page after page, the world of Choti unfolds before your eyes. The characterisation is so strong that some of the characters give you goosebumps, like the Woman in Yellow Saree. 

The language used is easy yet effective, the imagery is vivid and profound. With minor details, each character comes to life before your eyes, one after the other. I love the way chapters have been titled. The Last Color reflects how closely Vikas Khanna observes life; certain people, things and situations which other people often overlook in their life. 
The Last Color takes you on a journey through the alleys of Varanasi drenched in the vibrant colors of Holi. Even if you have never visited Varanasi before, you won't feel like you haven't after visiting it through the eyes and words of Vikas Khanna.

Choti, the rope-walker; Chintu, her partner; Anarkali, the transgender; Noor, the widow; and Raja, the heartless cop, they all are the major characters of the book. If you have been following Vikas Khanna since long and know him good enough, you will find traces of him and his passion for food and nature's beauty in Choti.

The Last Color revolves around society's major issues. Anarkali's flashback is the most heartbreaking part of the book (at least for me) but Noor's backstory is no less. However, the book balances all these heartwrenching sequences with Choti's innocent humour and her friendship with Anarkali and Noor. The title 'The Last Color'... I never understood the meaning/reason behind it until the middle of the book and it was as beautiful as the characterisation of the story. One thing I didn't like about the book is that we didn't get to see what became of Choti and Chintu's friendship at the end. I really wanted to see them rekindle their friendship.

When Choti learns about the colorless lives of the widows, she promises to play Holi with Noor. Will she be able to fulfil her promise? Will she able be bring justice to all the widows who are devoid of colors? You so got to read the book.
Overall it was a heartwarming and touching read. I am sure the movie will be amazing as well. 

You may buy your copy from Amazon: Click Here

Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Review: A Night Under The Shooting Star

A Night Under The Shooting Star published by Artson Publishing House is a beautiful collection of poems by four poets from India and Germany. They are Miriam Otto, Chirag Kumar, Mandeep Singh and Dhruv Anurag Khurana. All four poets have a unique style and they all excel in their respective styles.

Miriam Otto creates strong imagery with her words. Her poems are about life, nature, the importance of now, self-love and something as simple and as vital as breathing. Her poems make you believe in the magic of yourself and in the magic of life. The poems of her that I loved the most are Bliss; Detecting The Alchemist; and Land of Fear.

Dhruv Anurag Khurana writes about life and experiences. His poems are long but they keep you hooked till the end, more so because you can read some of your own experiences too in them. The poems I loved by him are The Lesson: From School; I Know, Everything (this one moved me to tears, literally); Salt and Memories; and The Sword.

Chirag Kumar is the only poet with Hindi poems in the book and his first poem "मैं चिराग हूँ... " is itself an amazing one. He writes about love and the issues faced by the society. My favourites from him are "ख़ामोश आवाज़ें" and "आदत". I am not well-versed with some of the Hindi/Urdu words used in the poems and thus, I cannot write much about their beauty. However, I am sure that a lover of Hindi poetry will fall in love with his poems.

Mandeep Singh, a veteran Army Officer, plays well with words and knows how to beautify pain through his poems. His short and heart-touching poems about love, loss and heartbreak could not give a better ending to the book. Each of his poems is worth reading and re-reading, so I'm not mentioning any of my favourites here as it is too difficult to choose and name a few.

The book A Night Under The Shooting Star can indeed be a perfect companion while you spend a night under the moon and stars, where you want nothing except peace and the magic of words.

The book is available on Amazon, to buy Click here.

P.S. Today marks the 6th Anniversary of my blog 💖

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fuzia: Global Community Exclusively For Women

6 years ago, an 11-year old girl learned that she had inspired a 6-year-old girl to write her own book, and from there sprung the idea of Fuzia. Riya Sinha, the founder of Fuzia and the author of The Runaway Twins, always wanted to do something to encourage women to pursue their dreams and share their talent with the world. Thus, she created Fuzia (, an all-women online platform where women from around the world share their talents with other women. The website was initially created for writers but now it supports writers, painters, photographers, Youtubers and artists of all sorts. Let’s take a look at what Fuzia is all about.
What started as “Fuzia Writing Club” in 2012 has now become a global platform helping girls pursue their dreams and supports the talent of every kind be it writing, painting, photography, singing or any other talent.
Riya Sinha, Founder, Fuzia (left) and Shraddha Varma, Co-founder, Fuzia (right)

Founding Members, Fuzia: (L to R) Riya Kumar, Ria Singhal and Sakshi Shrivastava

The core team of Riya Sinha (Founder, Palo Alto, US), Shraddha Varma (Co-Founder, Mumbai, India) and Riya Kumar (Mumbai, India), Ria Singhal (Kanpur, India) and Sakshi Shrivastava (Bhopal, India) [Founding Members] dedicate their time daily on building and marketing Fuzia so that it reaches all the women who can benefit from it. Their focus is on global marketing, management of the team, PR and networking along with website engagement. Additionally, to make Fuzia more interesting for the users, the team also works on holding new campaigns and contests almost every week, generating riveting content and working on member relations to build a strong community.

Fuzia aims at making the web-experience for women free of online abuse and harassment. They aim at making each woman financially empowered. Fuzia is a platform where their voices will reach a wider audience and receive the recognition they deserve. The name ‘Fuzia’ is a modification of the term ‘fusion’ to make it more fun and interesting as Fuzia brings together women of different cultures with similar or different talents from around the globe on one platform.

Fuzia also has the feature of Fuzia Counsellor where women/girls can find advice on myriads of matters whenever they are in need of it. They can receive advice regarding emotional, psychological, academic, personal or any other issues. Fuzia is also working on providing freelancing projects so that women can become financially independent. For now, a number of contests are organised with cash or other prizes. 

Unlike Instagram, it’s not a game of hashtags or like for like or follow for follow. An artist receives genuine recognition and feedback from Fuzia users for their work. They can meet like-minded people and start discussions through Fuzia chat-box and public channels. 

The Fuzia Lounge is your timeline where you see recent posts from your friends and other Fuzia users. You can sort posts by categories and see only the ones that are relevant to you. You can also create your post by clicking on ‘Add Post’ and submitting your artwork or video. You sure will receive a warm feedback from other users and get an appreciation for your work. 

Fuzia is now a community with more than 3.5 million followers from all over the globe and growing bigger each day. Fuzia now has more than 10,000 registered users from more than 35 countries and they have shared on Fuzia more than 15,000 creative works. Fuzia app for iOS users has also been launched and is now available for free on App store. 

Riya Sinha, the founder of Fuzia was recently awarded the “Iconic Teen Entrepreneur and Innovator” award at Women’s Economic Forum in Canada.

"Women empowering other women" puts a smile on my face, and Fuzia is all about smiles, talent and growth. Sign up on Fuzia:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Look At How Far You Have Come

Image Source: Pixabay
You are alive, you are breathing. This may not be one of your best days, or may not be good at all but remember you already survived your worst days yet, and you can survive more. 

Look at your younger self, you have grown, you have learned so much, you struggled every day to become as good as you are today, and my friend, you can’t give up on yourself just because someone refused to see your worth. They were blind, they could never see through your soul. You were not at fault, it’s just that your love was too much for them to carry in their little heart. They could never understand what it took you to know, accept and work on your flaws. You are a much better version of your old self and you deserve someone who will appreciate the person you are, who will admire you for how you have overcome your flaws, your fears, your insecurities, your every imperfection over all these years. Look back and see what you have done, what you have undergone, what pain did you endure to improve your weak points. 

Do not settle for less than what you deserve and you surely don’t deserve someone who never saw your worth. You deserve someone who would love you for who you are, and love you more for your flaws. Look at how far you have come; know your worth and honour your efforts and struggle you have faced becoming the person you are today. You have got a long way to go, you need someone to become your strength, not your weakness... and that someone is none other than YOU. Be there for yourself, the right ones will follow. Love yourself and let go of those who don’t nurture your soul.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: Buried Seeds by Karan Bellani

Title: Buried Seeds-A Chef's Journey
Author: Karan Bellani
Format: Hardcover (188 pages)
Publisher: Wisdom Tree (28 November 2017)
Language: English

Blurb: A young boy in Amritsar learns to cook in his grandmother’s kitchen while doing sewa at the legendary kitchens of the Golden Temple. He works as a delivery boy for his father’s video cassette library, makes blankets, cooks at weddings and opens a catering business in the back of his house at the age of seventeen.

The boy, now a young chef, makes a journey of a lifetime to New York, only to face stiffer challenges―that of being homeless and facing discrimination almost every single day.

Buried he may have been, under failure and hopelessness, but nothing could keep him down, for he had the power of passion and perseverance, and the strength of skill and self-belief.

He rose and how!

This inspirational and page-turning account of the transformational journey of India’s most celebrated chef, Vikas Khanna, is a priceless gift―a gift of hope and fulfilling one’s dreams―for you and for everyone you love.

Review: The bookmark that is lying beside the book in the above image bears a quote by me: "the moment you replace fear with faith in God, the rays of hope pierce through the darkest walls." The reason I put this bookmark there is that Chef Vikas Khanna's life journey gave meaning to these words. He had faith in his passion, in the power of food, in the power of his Biji's blessings, and he had faith that he could achieve his dream of taking Indian food to every corner of the world... and he did! He faced all his fears and overcame them.
Chef Vikas was born with clubfeet (as per Wikipedia, Clubfoot is a birth defect where one or both feet are rotated inwards or downwards). Doctors said that he would not be able to run, but his mother was firm that he wasn't born to run, he was born to fly.
He walked,
he ran,
he flew.
He had the wings
which his family
nurtured and grew. 

To my fellow fans of Chef Vikas, you must be thinking you know everything about him as you have seen, heard and read countless interviews of him, but NO! There's so much in the book Buried Seeds that I had never heard before. Every time I flipped a page, I learned something new about him and his life. Be they his stories of fun times with his friends at WGSHA, or his near death experience while he worked in a small deli during his initial days in the US, or his days of street plays in childhood with his sister, or how this shy lad from Amritsar became New York's Hottest Chef. The book kept me hooked (which is a difficult task as I easily lose focus). 
The chapters in the book are as beautifully titled as the book itself. My favourite chapter title is 'Broken Pearls'. The first chapter of the book is titled, 'Failure'. Yes, the story of tremendous success begins with failure. Quoting Chef Vikas here: "I've failed many times. Life has hit me in the gut over and over. And that is why I succeed. These failures have acted like milestones."
His words have been quoted throughout the book and that's what makes it more inspiring. It is as if Chef, himself and the author are telling the story together. From his broken pearls (milk teeth) to the person he is today with numerous feathers in his cap, the journey of his life which is no less than a roller-coaster ride has been beautifully described by Karan Bellani. The language is simple and easily understood, you won't have to keep running for the dictionary! Still, there's wonderful word-play by the author at some points. There are also few lines from the Chef's favourite poems which makes Buried Seeds even more interesting. 
Buried seeds ends with a poem by Chef Vikas Khanna, titled 'A Humble Seed' and there could never be a better and more poetic end to the book. 
If you feel stuck in life and need the inspiration to keep going, read this gem. And those who are already inspired by Chef Vikas (like me), you will have better insights into his life through Buried Seeds. 

He is blessed with a family who became his weapon to conquer all odds and rise above them.

Concluding the post with his favourite proverb: "They came to bury us, but they forgot we were seeds."

P.S. Do you know what does Chef Vikas do when he is hit by a creative block? Or do you know what memories does he keep intact on his noticeboard in his office in New York? No? The answer is in the book.

About the author: Karan Ballani is a biographer and culinary historian with expertise in the gastronomic and cultural evolution of the Indian civilisation. He has worked with Ernst and Young, Penguin Random House, and Bloomsbury. He lives in Mumbai and loves a game of chess over cold coffee.

You may buy your copy from Amazon: Buried Seeds