Because I need to tell them and I need to hear what others have to say. I need to get out of my little shell and explore. Because my life isn’t your life nor your thoughts mine. You don’t share my experiences, my way of life, or my religion. There are doors I want to open that I never knew existed. I want to hear new voices and opinions, concordant and discordant. Pretty and not so, often downright ugly. So many worlds exist within this world. I love me a good story.
Maybe you’d like to read some of my stories? If so check them out here.
It’s a Sunday. Not just any day. A day of so-called rest or restlessness. Let’s take a trip downtown. The weather is chilly, the sky is grey. The streets are deserted. Parking in the Whole Foods garage will cost you unless you spend $10 on groceries. Two boxes of cereal and some lemonade- $11 and change; not bad at all. Pick up some coffee at Starbucks (there is still no sitting inside) then wander along the streets.
The trees are finally springing leaves- makes for a nice contrast against the blue of the building across.
Walk through the Union Station which happens to the center of action to 17th street. A man wearing a purple cape slips into an alley covered with striking graffiti. Oxford Hotel, the oldest in Denver- had no clue.
As she turned the street corner, Ritu stopped to check her profile in the shop window. For a fraction of a second, not more. Guess I look okay, she thought and walked on after giving a brisk downward tug to the form fitting dress that ended just above her knees. It was a pretty dress with a cheery print of yellow and pink roses on an olive green background. “Perfect for the summer!” the salesgirl had assured her with a bright smile.
Ritu hadn’t just bought that two hundred dollar dress. She had splurged– in a way very uncharacteristic of her. She had acted on impulse. The print had caught her eye and the color looked really good on her or so she’d thought at the time. But she hadn’t got around to wearing it. Ever since that day it had hung in her closet to be perused periodically then passed over for something more ordinary and comfortable. Such as the dozen or so pants and blouses that fit her identity of sensible but bland Ritu. But today was different. She wanted to look her best.
The cafe was called Coffee, Tea and Me. The name had evoked a distant memory. It was the title of a book she had read a long time ago. She didn’t recall much of it but the gist had remained with her like some stories have a way of doing. It had something to do with a young woman. Or two young women who were stewardesses and their adventures. She had associated with the book as a young woman; launching herself into an exciting new career, of a stewardess, traveling to new places, meeting people, maybe some romance even. It felt silly now but at the time it had been wonderful. A different life.
I watched the dense thicket of clouds slide over the giant luminous cookie in the sky. A pitch-black darkness descended over the neighborhood, and there was not a single streetlamp to mar it.
It appeared that All Saints Eve was going to live up to its reputation after all. I glanced at my companion. I could tell she was thinking the same.
“Should we start? The time looks right,” Myra said.
“Yeah, let’s go.” I smiled at my long-time friend and neighbor.
She adjusted her lace-up corset and handed me her long and tattered train before gingerly stepping out of the alley that had been our hideout ever since the beginning of our ritual. Once again, I had to pause to admire her elaborate costume. She was pleased with it, especially since she had put it together herself. The delicate tea-stained ivory lace and tulle dress accented with droopy brown roses gave her a wispy and forlorn look. The many years of our adventures had supplied a precious aura of authenticity to the dress, as it had been tripped on and ripped several times.
The statement is absolutely true. At least it is for me. For example how often have you come across someone who’s gorgeous to look at but then they start talking and you realize they aren’t so hot at all. You almost wish they hadn’t opened their mouths. The opposite also holds true.
Its personality or character that makes or breaks a person. The same goes for a good novel too. What I’m getting at is character development. I may get drawn to a book by its attractive cover and plot summary but if the characters are insipid, if they don’t talk to me or get under my skin my interest dissipates rapidly and I will usually dump the book.
I’d like to say the characters in my books usually have several dimensions (they aren’t necessarily schizophrenic), with subtleties that are revealed slowly or kept hidden similar to many people we all know and acquaint ourselves with. I cannot write my characters unless I know them or I am them. Often I live them and dream them. They are my friends and I talk to them. I ask them how they feel then jot down what they say.
Inconvenient Relations and its sequel Now and Forever have some interesting characters.It is vital to read book 1 to enjoy book 2 because in essence this story is a study of a relationship and its various phases.
An imperfect yet perfect couple—
Ruhi or my chile dulce (sweet chili pepper) as her spouse Shaan likes to call her,starts of as a young woman from a cherished background, with dreams of building a future with her one-in-a-million husband who has been carefully picked for her by her parents. But her hopes are challenged right from page one. She is coerced into taking on a role that is quite alien to her or maybe had been held back and didn’t have the chance to manifest so far. It isn’t uncommon to see certain traits reveal themselves only under times of duress. Instead of bowing down and mutely accepting what destiny has doled out to her, Ruhi chooses to stand up to it. She shows her husband the mirror by turning the tables on him. She disguises her vulnerability in a bold and brazen avatar, She is a novice hence rash in her ways and often undiplomatic in her conversation yet she is also coy and secretive. All in all she is a maddening bundle of fun and mischief who adroitly twists her willing hubby around her little finger and exhibits no qualms about it. She loves him with a passion and won’t stop at anything to get him what is rightfully his.She is a woman to be reckoned with.
Sona munda Shaan Ahuja (heat factor to the power of infinity) is a gorgeous nerd who falls for the wrong woman and ends up paying for it dearly. He quashes the dreams of his brand new bride by announcing on their wedding night that he loves another and then is forced to eat his words. Shaan is a sensitive man with an arrogant streak who is devoted to his wife and his job. He is a jealous lover and possessive husband. He falls for his wife at the outset and doesn’t recognize it or is kept from acknowledging it by his ego and maybe his insecurity. Regardless, she drags his feelings out in the open after a cat and mouse game and they have a wonderful time until life tests him again. But then he has his trump card at his side.
I cannot conclude without talking about Sunshine, who happens to be my favorite character in the books. A frail septuagenarian, she is the catalyst in Ruhi and Shaan’s bonding. But don’t be deceived, this little old lady has a zest for life that rivals even those a quarter of her age. Enough said, I have to leave something for my books. Happy reading!
Dil toh pagal hai, Dil deewana hai…sigh, thought Diva as he watched Shan follow Khanak’s progress back toward the Green Room. Go after her! What are you waiting for? Knock her senseless with a burning red hot smacker!
But Shan didn’t take his unspoken advice instead gave his head a strong jerk as if trying valiantly to uproot himself out of a trance. Poor darling…I feel for you babes! Diva empathized.
“Diva…” Shan looked at him, “it appears that Khanak has spun her magic on the Japanese.”
Just like she has on you! Diva smiled.
Shan looked at him suspiciously before continuing in a brusque clip; “They are so impressed that they want to book her for a couple of shows. In fact they are anxious to talk about it right now.” His tone then softened, “She’ll be so pleased.”
His face then broke out into a huge grin; “I will tell her later. Surprise her with it! Yes!”
Diva nodded enthusiastically, “Yes darling! Do that! She’ll love to hear it from you.”
“Cool! I will later tonight. That girl deserves the best. She has worked so hard.”
And she has you on her side! Diva thought dabbing his eyes with a tissue.
“I will see you later then at the party,” Shan said turning to walk away.
“What? You aren’t taking her with you?” Diva asked.
“No. I need to meet with these guys first and remember it’s a surprise!” Shan smiled. Then mid stride he paused back and pointed a warning finger at his friend; “You better bring her Diva! Or I don’t know what I’ll do!”
“Pretender!” Diva called out once he felt Shan was safely out of ear shot. “He thinks I’m his messenger boy. As if I can’t see the way his heart does balle balle when he is with her. Why can’t he just confide and be done with it?! And there that poor girl in such a state!”
His pristine hands fluttered like a couple of winged creatures in the air as he hurried to do Shan’s bidding; “Love is a weird thing. It turns smart sensible men into bumbling donkeys! But mein kya karoon?! I love them both so much! My babies!”
Diva knocked on Khanak’s green room door before he breezed in. But then he drew to an abrupt halt, his blue eyes opening as wide as saucers.
The girl in question was sitting in a chair staring despondently at the mirror.
“Khanak my jaan! Meri Shan ke heart ki armaan!” he exclaimed. “What happened? Why aren’t you ready yet?”
“C’mon quick! Get up! Do you want him to kill me? Hailaaa! Though I wouldn’t mind having those big sexy hands on my neck. But they’d look so much better elsewhere.” He then looked at Khanak. “Don’t you get me?” Then as she shook her head in the negative, he let out his breath; “Good! Because it’s censored! Girls should preserve their innocence till their wedding night samjhi?”
Khanak blushed furiously.
“And what are you wearing?” He said staring at her salwar suit; “Girl! This is a dance club, not your local mahila mandal.”
He quickly sifted through the dresses on the rack. “Yes this will be perfect. Wear it.” His eyes were shining. “Shan teri toh vaat lag gayi! (Shan it’s your funeral.)”
“I am not going.” She said. “Can you take me home?”
Then when he raised his exquisitely arched eyebrows, she tried to explain with her hands clasped tightly on her lap; “I…I’m not really a party person and I don’t know anybody there…”
Diva affected a loud cackle…; “As if anybody does. To tell you the truth half of the invitees hate the other half’s guts! But everything is obliterated for the cameras. They’ll kiss, make up and embrace each other. They will show off their latest acquisitions, their Lamborghini’s and Louis Vuitton’s and their sparklers just so they can make it on tomorrow’s Page 3.”
But he succeeded in making Khanak even more anxious; “I definitely don’t see myself hobnobbing with such a crowd.”
“My dear girl, the choice is out of your hands now! You are part of that crowd! By doing what you did on stage today, you have taken your first step into show biz! Everybody is sitting up and talking about you. They want to know more such as where you came from; what were your beginnings; how you met Shan; everything. Besides you are Jhankaar’s new face!”
The hand he placed on her head was almost paternal, “It’s a tough deal yes, but fame is not an easy game. You are forced to wear a lot of faces and do things you’d hate to do otherwise. Because talent is not everything here. Its visibility…being the media darling will make or break you! And you do want to be famous don’t you?”
“Yes I do… but…”
He smiled. There was a shrewd glint in his eyes. “You’re worried you’ll be pitched against that Tash and you are afraid you’ll lose. Yes she is a force to reckon with, a seasoned player. But you can’t wish her away. She won’t vanish into thin air if you don’t face her tonight. Rather it’ll reinforce he to use all her deceit to get you out of the way…and you can’t let her do that! You have to buck up and face her!”
“My dear Khanak…,” he sighed standing her up and held her arms. “You are beautiful. Your talent is so fresh that you shine like a beacon. People are already falling under your spell. You have nothing to fear. In fact Tash is the one who feels threatened because she can see you usurping her place in Shan’s life…even though she is really living in a delusion. You have to show her you are here to stay. Besides Shan needs you by his side… and I know you want to be with him…”
CRAZY HEARTS NIGHT CLUB, Bandra:
A place where insane hearts find each other and have a wonderfully awesome time
The club was rocking to the latest in dance music. Every night it was a different theme. Tonight was devoted to the engaging rhythms of hip hop and jazz to which grooved a rambunctious crowd of the young and restless from the upper echelons of Mumbai. All having drifted in to let their hair down and dance until the wee hours of the morning.
Tash had just completed a sizzling routine, dressed in shimmering white a la Kylie Minogue. But she didn’t look very thrilled.
“You were brilliant Tash! …Ooooohhhh all those sexy moves! Were they choreographed with Shan in mind? And btw your ankle, it looks as right as rain!” Trish said.
“Yes in a way… but I’m not so sure now. He looked sort of annoyed,” Natasha said doubtfully. She seemed to have grown a permanent frown.
“Of course, I’m pretty sure he took notice even though he was watching the door most of the time…” Trish gushed with a flutter of her false eyelashes and a wide smile on her vampire red lips though inside she wasn’t feeling very sympathetic–You stuck up bitch! Your days are over! Shan could care a hoot! …hope you break your back this time and get permanently laid up!
“You think so?” Natasha turned to her.
“Yes, I know so. But you know Tarun is game anytime, maybe you should get connected…”
“Tarun? Never! Your brother is a big time loser!” Natasha’s eyes flashed.
“Yeah I know.” Trish nodded agreeing wholeheartedly; that’s why I think you are both made for each other!
“Wonder where Shan has disappeared…”
All of a sudden there was a commotion near the entrance. Someone had arrived. People stopped dancing and looked up. It was a new face and a popular one– always a worthy distraction.
Trish grabbing a Bloody Mary from the bar and joined the crowd while hollering at Tash; “C’mon! Let’s check them out. Must be some money bags…”
“OMGEEEE! Who do we have here? Mousey Ms. Sweetie Pie herself!” Trish exclaimed, her mouth agape when she saw Khanak.
Khanak looked stunning in an elegant raspberry red flowing cocktail dress with spaghetti halter straps and a gold and silver broad sequined belt, the skirt just stopping short of her pretty knees. Her hair was set in wavy curls and caught up in a red, gold and silver bow and her feet were clad in strappy red and gold sandals. With minimal makeup and a dazzling smile she looked as fresh and alluring as a new born daisy.
Light bulbs flashed in a frenzy as people elbowed each other out of the way to get near her. Autographs were requested and signed while a couple of paparazzi hounded her and thrust their mikes in her face.
Diva meanwhile butted in. “Leave way! Ms. Khanak is here to have fun. Direct all interview requests to me, I am her secretary.” He said clearing the way for Khanak.
Then he spied Trish and Tash and gravitated towards them dragging a confused Khanak with him. “Here’s your honored guest Ms. Natasha. What happened darling? Did you bite into a particularly sour lemon?”
Trish forced her mouth closed and looked at Natasha who was glowering at Diva who said;“Haaye if looks could kill! Tash, you should consider the horror movie genre…the directors would save plenty on makeup.”
Khanak tried to shroud her snigger behind her hand when something bright caught Trish’s sharp eyes.
“Nothing.” Khanak said snatching her hand away.
“No. It’s a ring! Tash…look!”
When all of a sudden;
The entire club was plunged into darkness except a sole beam that spotlighted Khanak.
The sun goes down, The stars come out
And all that counts, Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came
Then as the foot tapping music sprung up, several cross beamed lasers in a multitude of colors lit up the small stage where stood a lone tall flamboyant figure with his legs splayed wide, his head turned to one side and his hand holding a black glittering fedora cocked jauntily over his forehead. He was dressed in a white checkered plaid shirt, sequin red tie and baggy khaki cargos.
Khanak’s heart jumped into her throat and she grew lightheaded when she recognized the smile on the handsome profile.
The crowd screamed as one when the dancer smartly snapped his feet together and began to sing with his outstretched arm pointed directly at Khanak.
Khanak felt irresistibly drawn to the strikingly gorgeous man who also seemed to have eyes only for her. Everything else faded into the background.
You cast a spell on me, spell on me
You hit me like the sky fell on me, fell on me
And I decided you look well on me, well on me
So let’s go somewhere no one else can see, you and me
He sprung off the stage. The crowd shifted en masse and gave way as his long legs covered the distance to Khanak in a few effortless strides. He vaulted over the railing that cordoned off the small enclosure where she stood and grabbing hold of her waist lifted her back to the floor, all the while gazing intently into her eyes and ignoring everyone else.
Turn the lights out now
Now I’ll take you by the hand
Hand you another drink, Drink it if you can
Can you spend a little time, Time is slipping away,
Away from us so stay, Stay with me I can make,
Make you glad you came
She followed him in a trance as he led her to the dance floor and stood there in the middle hypnotized while he danced around her in light fluid movements… limbs loose and dexterous…living the music…interpreting every word and making it his own.
His moves almost made him appear to float. His feet glided on the floor as he did complex acrobatic moves that were mesmerizing to watch but hard to breakdown. It seemed like he was wooing her, making tantalizing advances and trying to win her over. He was without a doubt succeeding hands down.
The sun goes down, The stars come out
And all that counts, Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came
Then switching pace he jerked her close making the crowd gasp with anticipation. She did not resist when he made her stretch both her arms above her head as his hands skimmed over her torso then hoisted her up in a single smooth movement. She scissored her long legs around his waist and arched her back while he hugged her body and rested his forehead on her chest.
A loud applause peppered with whistles and catcalls erupted around the attractive couple who seemed lost in a world of their own.
“Glad you came Khanak;” he whispered huskily in her ear then lifted her hand and kissed it. She lowered her gaze in shy distress.
“Atta boy Shan! Way to go!” Diva yelled his approval.
“What’s the hell is going on here?!”
PS: Sorry about the delay but I’ve been busy with several things including the promotions of my new book MILAN. Yes it’s out! And you can get ithere!
We run around everyday busying ourselves with mundane routine
Getting the kids off to school, soccer practice, summer camp
Going to work, coming home and working again
Getting dinner ready, walking the dog
Worrying about the future, finances
We continue doing the same old mundane things
We fear to stop and think
Beyond the mundaneness
We continue like busy little ants until
Something steps on us with a giant shoe
And life is over as we know it
If we survive we become philosophers
To give others mundane wisdom
That no one cares to hear
Since they are so busy living their mundane lives
Occasionally I come across someone who is not so mundane and is able to delve beneath the surface. Sid Sharma is one such person. He interviewed me recently for Asian American News and I think he got me right!