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Review for ‘Under The Shade of the Banyan Tree’

Hi friends!

I’m very excited to share with you an excellent review for my new book ‘Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree’ from US review:–

“I am the mistress of my own destiny.”

The author’s unique work takes its audience on a voyage. The journey begins in the banyan tree’s shade, where ‘Gods recline and meditate’ beneath the tree that, in every Indian village, is the center of activity. Then one wanders into loneliness, that ever-present friend who asks, ‘Where would you be without me?’ From there, the reader encounters daughters and strangers, wars and tyrants, until one finds the lone koi who declares defiantly, ‘I am the mistress of my own destiny.’ As the journey ends, one experiences romances and losses, rants and insights, strong women who continue finding their voices and places in their relationships, the conquering of everyday mundanity, the depiction of everyday items, and love that is found in even the smallest actions.

This book propels readers into the philosophical, the social, and the cultural by fusing poetry, art, and short fiction narratives that depict the everyday lives and existence of characters, animals, figures, and objects. In short verses that jar readers to examine their own existences and beliefs, the poems in this book serve as quiet meditations that ease and distract readers from the hectic, workaholic lives so many live. The short fiction narratives interspersed throughout the collection cleanse the palate by offering a small serving of humanity, promise, and hope. The sketch-like artwork incorporated throughout makes one contemplate the ties between art, literature, and life without superimposing an interpretation on the piece accompanying the art. Thus, this unconventional yet intriguing work becomes a meditational reading. Fans of poets like Nefy will truly appreciate this book.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review of Books

All the reason for you to get a copy. Available as both Ebook and Paperback!

Amazon.com

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Barnes&Noble

Written Dreams Publishing

HealthWise: COVID 19 Overview

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Rotator Graphic for af.mil.

Disclaimer: This is a general overview of COVID 19. A lot of the information is evolving so refer to CDC or your country’s public health agency. 

I am a practising physician, an Internist and hospitalist working in the USA and this is my small attempt to raise awareness about this virus.

What is COVID 19 or SARs COV 2?

COVID 19 or SARs COV 2 is the virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2)  which is responsible for the pandemic across the world. It originated from Wuhan, China. We first learned about it when a cluster of cases with severe pneumonia was reported around New Year’s Eve 2019. 

Some facts: As of today:–

World over 12.9 million cases and over 571 thousand deaths. 

Equally important! Over 7 million recoveries!

US: over 3.3 million cases; 137,000 deaths and over 980,000 recoveries. Curve going up again. 

India: over 878,000 cases. Over 23000 deaths 553,000 recovered- cases still rising

UK: 290, 000 cases. Over 44800 deaths. 

China 85,522 cases. Reported Deaths: below 5K 

Italy: 243,000 cases Deaths: 34,954 and 1.9 million recovered. Less than 300 cases are being reported everyday now. Lockdown worked!

Spain: 254,000 cases. Deaths 28,403. 150K recoveries. 

South Korea: 13,479 cases. 289 deaths. 12,204 recoveries. Over 90% recovery rate!

Japan: 21,500 cases.. Below 700 deaths.

Hongkong: 1522 cases. 8 deaths. 1217 recovered! 

One death is too many. Yet it is important to know that most people who get the infection recover. 

Overall death rate is probably less than 1% (as many cases are asymptomatic and undiagnosed). It’s also important to keep in mind that this rate is considerably higher in the at risk population. 

The mortality (death) rate in India is much lower than other countries – (why?- unaccounted deaths (doubt), underlying resistance/immunity which ‘protects’ against severe illness?)

Besides the above the cost of the infection has been much higher- people have lost their livelihoods, their jobs and businesses have been shut down- some permanently. It has also had a huge mental health cost– such as isolation, lack of contact with your loved ones and dying alone from the disease. 

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The Fickle Mind

the mind is a strange thing it can be brilliant and irrational Often generating senseless chatter Don't take to heart Ignore it.

 

The mind is at the center of the body. It controls/ influences every organ. Yet, a lot of its workings remain a mystery. How it does or doesn’t control or manipulate our thoughts and emotions. How things long ‘forgotten’ manifest in our subconscious in our dreams and influence our health and behaviour. How we carry our trauma with us like a back breaking burden.

There are many ways to heal- nature, meditation, mindfulness, counseling, etc. But first we have to recognize and be aware that sometimes we are our greatest enemies.

 

The Ritual (A Short Story)

ritual

It was at one of the five star hotels, Marriott I think, the fancy one in Juhu. Thank heavens it wasn’t at his home.

The room was cavernous and daunting with creepy shadows all over created by the hidden lighting everyone is so crazy about nowadays. I was led there by two of my new husband’s giggly cousins. I’d have loved to smack their pretty faces but that’d have invited a ruckus. Besides, I was preoccupied. I was terrified. Terrified of doing it with someone I didn’t know anything about. What little I did could be googled on the web. But then was my lot different from other women. Examples were all around me–my mom, aunts, cousins, friends.

Maybe it was because everything had happened so fast; because I had no clue of the future; because the ghost of Rohan still clung to me like my own shadow. Because. Because. Because.

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Sugar, Shakkar and Cheeni– Did you know?

 

various types of sugar on wooden table

Sugar or sarkara शर्करा (sanskrit) or shakkar शक्कर (hindi) (gravel or ground sugar) was originally produced from sugarcane in the Indian subcontinent around 800 BC. Prior to that there was only the crude guda (sanskrit) or gud or jaggery which is the raw concentrated sugarcane juice which is very delicious and still used in India. 

The chinese learned  about sugarcane cultivation and the technology of producing sugar from India in the 600s BC.  They didn’t like the brown variety and invented cheeni or chini, what is now known in India as the refined white variety. Hence cheeni. By the way, Cheeni means Porcelain (white) not China. 

Timeline:

4000 BC- sugarcane juice extracted from Sugarcane plants. 

800BC (between 1500- 500BC) invention of crystal sugar (granulated sugar) in India

600-650 BC sugarcane and technology for production of sugar reached China. It was actually smuggled from the court of King Harsha by the Chinese ambassador during the Tang dynasty.  

300-500BC Persians and medieval Arabs discovered from India the “reeds that produce honey without bees” which was initially only used for medicinal purposes. 

1700– the spread of sugarcane cultivation and manufacture of sugar spread to West Indies and America then the rest of the world. 

As mistakenly thought among most Indians sugar is not a gift of the Chinese, it is India’s gift to the world! Proud of being Indian and ashamed I wasn’t taught this in school. 

Hence Cheeni Kum, Shakkar zyada! (reduce Cheeni, increase Shakkar). 

Eternal Quest

quest

 

And then I want to walk down this path

That goes on and on

From my town to the next

Across cities and states

And countries

Oceans and seas

Continents

I want to see faces different from mine

Speak languages I haven’t heard

I want to feel

I want to know

Words and Images: Ancient Giants

20180701_102106

 

It wasn’t just a grove. It was a magical, mystical jungle of living, breathing giants that left Shaan awe struck. Neither of them spoke as they ambled slowly on the well-worn dirt paths and listened to the trees, some almost two thousand years old, as they related tales of times gone by. Of emperors, and kings and queens, and of battles fought for love and for greed.

A sudden transformation came over Ruhi when they came upon a fallen tree. She leaned against the dead trunk; her frame dwarfed by its girth, then closed her eyes and whispered in a voice rife with melancholy. “Who am I but a speck of dust this poor soul can’t even see?”

Shaan couldn’t keep his emotions in check. He hauled her into his arms and they wept together as they grieved for their mutual loss.

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Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Ch 32: Toxic

RNB-32

chap 31

“Alright! Playtime is over my darlings. Now for the juicy part.” He announced to the two of them. “I want a really hot…and I mean HOT NO HOLDS BARRED dance session.”

“I know for Shan it would be a walk in the park but Khanak…” he placed his hands on her shoulders. “My dear..you are going to have to change your persona entirely.”

She raised her eyebrows while looking doubtfully at Shan.

“I mean..you have slip out of your nice girl next door avatar and become the femme fatale! Imagine yourself as the sexy sassy wild gal who men go crazy for. You tease, you tempt, you dangle the carrot…Your moves are so hot, and desirable that Shan’s passions are ignited and he can’t rest till he has had you, tasted your skin… But you don’t give in…you just lead him on and torture the heck out of him!” Sebastian exclaimed dramatically, he was breathing hard, just getting into his groove.

Khanak flushed pink, “I can’t do that… That’s not me!”


She turned her back to him and walked out of the studio. 
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A Life Worth Living Ch 5 (1): The Center of her World

solo man

Chap 4 (2)

It was close to ten in the morning. Last night I’d come back to the room quite late and had found both mom and baby fast asleep. It was tough to get comfortable on the recliner but somehow I’d managed to fall asleep and woke up just a few minutes ago. I’d chosen to remain in my position and watch the play of expressions on my wife’s face as she interacted with our little one. I found them delightful as they were all brand new.

“Don’t you think the bump is smaller today?” Ruhi asked when she realized I was awake. I tossed aside the thin blanket the nurses had provided and loped over to the bed. I caressed the little head with my hand. It did appear less prominant. I could feel the slight irregularity, it was soft, cushion like, as if there was fluid inside. It didn’t appear to hurt the baby at all. She was wide awake, her clear black eyes drifting around, coming to pause for a moment on our faces then drifting again. I wasn’t sure if she could see us, or make out our faces. If she could, (which was highly improbable) did she know who we were? Regardless, I was sure she knew she was safe. She was going to be beautiful, just like her mother, and brave and strong. I saw Ruhi was waiting impatiently for my assessment. “She’s going to be just fine, jaan, she’s her mother’s child afterall.” 

“And her father’s.”

“Yes, she’s our child. Congratulations my love.” I leaned forward and kissed Ruhi. It was a kiss of reassurance and love; a promise that we were in this together no matter what. For godsakes why was I having such morbid thoughts.

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A Life Worth Living Ch 4 (2): From 2 to 3

solo man

4 Part 1

The lobby was deserted. The automatic sliding doors of the entryway were locked. The Afterhours Exit is to your Left—a sign pointed toward the ER. I saw lights flashing outside and people running. Curious, I walked over to the doors. A helicopter had landed on top of the hospital. A few EMTs rushed out with a stretcher. I guessed they were ferrying someone to another facility. Someone very sick. It was one thirty in the morning. Just like babies, sickness too arrives unannounced. The thought left a bad taste in my mouth.

I turned to the vending machines and scanned the repertoire—chips, salted peanuts, sunflower seeds, trail mix, fat free popcorn, pretzels, power bars. They even had one dispensing hot sandwiches. Yuck!

I was engulfed by a sudden craving for homecooked food. Ruhi’s parathas; mom’s baingan bharta—If I closed my eyes, I could smell the aroma, almost. Mom–the word stirred a flurry of emotions. I felt my heart squeeze inside my chest. What would she be doing now, I wondered. Lunch would be almost over if things still operated as they did before. After I’d left home all those years ago. Of course they did. Why would anything change?

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