On the wheel
They fly around
Of the constant conflict
Of picking up the gauntlet
Of being a ‘MAN’
Go on, heckle me
I don’t care
I am a coward
I have completed the manuscript of my second novel ‘The Accidental Wife’. Phew!
Book Blurb: Dr. Rihaan Mehta is a brilliant young neurosurgeon who has no inclination for love or marriage. According to him wives and girlfriends are annoying accessories that one can do without. But when his mother dangles the sword over his head in classic Bollywood style, he succumbs, and sets in search of a bride who would fit his ‘requirements’. But he could never have prepared himself for what awaits him.
Some accidents are meant to happen…
A big thank you to all my readers and fans for your patronage and constant encouragement. Couldn’t have done it without you 🙂
Watch this space for updates on the progress of the book– Excerpts, Cover reveal, release date etc.
Unless spiced with emotion
Prayer is without expression
Unless said with devotion
Love is an empty pot
Unless filled with trust
Earth is a barren spot
Without loads of dust
History is a blank slate
Without old tales to tell
Heavens wouldn’t be in demand
Without the ill repute of hell
Life would lack soul
Without the good and the bad
Friends make my life whole
For that I’m really glad
Mumbai’s historic Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
Humayun’s Maqbara (tomb of the Mughal emperor Humayun) in Delhi, India built 1569-70
Alongside Chicago river
Clean windows, plain, glass, open, close, bright,
Light, shaded, paned, shuttered, blinded, boarded,
Rusty, dirty, smoky windows.
Broken, shattered, run down windows
Windows that protect and hide, windows to the world outside
And sometimes to the world within
Unraveling layer by layer, revealing,
A tool for introspection and scrutiny,
A glance into a soul, full of secrets and smokescreens,
Evasion, denial, half-truths
Windows, they tell it all.
An Ideal Marriage
If husband and wife respect the independence of one another, then boundaries and rules become extinct. Just like agreement or acceptance is the body of a relationship, isn’t independence the soul or aatma?
How to be An Ideal husband (From the Mahabharath- ancient Hindu scripture)
Cherish your wife as a blessing sent to you from heaven; let the kindness of your behavior endear you to her heart.
She is the mistress of your house; treat her therefore with respect, that your servants may obey her. Do not oppose her inclination without cause; she is the partner of your cares, make her also the companion of your pleasures.
Reprove her faults with gentleness; do not exact her obedience with rigor.
Trust your secrets in her breast; her counsels are sincere; you shall not be deceived.
Be faithful to her bed; for she is the mother of your children.
“I bet you are one of the most beautiful brides in the world, but I’m sorry I cannot make love to you. There is someone else.”- Inconvenient Relations
Marriage is all about building trust and so is my book. When Shaan bluntly dismisses Ruhi on their wedding night, he leaves her feeling betrayed and disillusioned.
When something like this transpires it is very difficult to regain the trust, despite one’s best intentions and that leads to doubt, misunderstanding and emotional upheaval.
Chap 3: Dreams and Schemes
Introducing Trish: Shan’s neighbor and ‘unofficial girlfriend’ who had escaped the clutches of her way too rich and overbearing parents and chosen to live in ‘hiding’ in Mumbai. She was supported by her brother Tarun who had resorted to the same earlier and now had established himself as a pretty successful model and dancer working in Shantanu’s company. But she had been too lazy to look for a job and this was a frequent bone of contention between her and her brother and a source of amusement for Shan who tolerated her only because she made him laugh.
Mumbai city: Home of Bollywood and the financial center of India
“Hey boyfriend! What’s biting you? Why didn’t you call me when you came in last night?”A pretty girl strolled without bothering to knock, into the swank top floor penthouse apartment of Shantanu Khadelwal, owner and artistic director of Jhankaar; a leading music and dance company based in Mumbai. She had borrowed the keys a long time ago; never remembering to return it. Why would she, after all she considered herself Shan’s unofficial girl friend.
Shan didn’t answer; he didn’t to a lot of her questions. Either he pretended not to hear or simply shrugged his powerful shoulders and flashed his 1000 watt smile.
She looked on in awe while he did his routine 100 pushups with his large Akita ‘Horse’ on his back who weighed close to 75 lbs. He’d been with him since a puppy, (a gift from one of his Oriental admirers) and ever since he’d used him as weights. It was another thing altogether that Horse had decided that he liked the position and had stuck to it ever since.
“I hope he doesn’t get any weightier or he’s sure to break your back one day,” Abhay had warned him several times and Shan had dismissed it in his usual fashion; he loved Horse.
But there was no love lost between the Akita and Trish and he let her know so with a low growl. He didn’t like anybody acting possessive with his master whom he guarded jealously.
“Why don’t you get rid of him Shan? What will happen when I start living with you?” Trish had ventured hesitantly one day, though she knew the answer already.
“That won’t ever happen as long as I have Horse with me. I don’t intend to give him up for anybody!” Shan’s short and blunt retort had ended any further discussion on the topic.
He wiped himself down with a towel and looked at Trish absently, “When did you get here?”
“I’ve been here for the past 10 minutes talking my head off but you never listen; do you?”
Shan smiled taking off his ear phones, “now what were you saying?”
Trish rolled her eyes–Shan and his music, constant companions.“Why didn’t you call me when you landed last night, I could have come over. I missed you like anything.”
Shan disengaged himself from her embrace, went over to the kitchen and poured himself a tall glass of Orange Juice. “Is there some sort of rule that I should call you?”
“Am I not your girl friend?”
“You’re just a friend, nothing more.”
“What about all those kisses and I love yous?”
“Just friendly ones; have I ever implied anything else?”
“No…,” she had to reluctantly agree knowing well she wouldn’t be able to win the argument. They’d had it already several times in the past.
Choosing to change the topic, she settled herself on one of the bean bags which lay scattered on the floor while her host made his eggs and smoothie breakfast.
“Want some? It’s a new recipe.” He asked knowing well she’d been aiming toward a size zero and had chosen to go on a salad and soup diet so to bag a top modeling assignment or audition for a movie. He didn’t approve of it at all.
“Naah! Too much cholesterol and calories!” She waved a royal hand in dismissal. “By the way did you hear about Tashu’s accident? Have you found a replacement yet? Why don’t you give me a shot?”
Shan laughed watching her try to do a pirouette. “You should try out for the circus, they will snatch you up in a heartbeat. You have two left feet. The girl who is going to dance for me has to be exceptional because Jhankaar is exceptional. Tashu did fit the role perfectly.”
“Blah, blah, blah! Tashu, Tashu all the time! Isn’t there anyone else besides her who can dance in this world?!” Trish exclaimed rolling her eyes.
“There is somebody who could take her place; if only she knew what she wants.” Shan murmured softly thinking of Khanak.
“What did you say?” Trish asked absently turning up the volume of her favorite TV show.
Chap 2: Tumult
Khanak flipped the card over, feeling the texture with her sensitive fingers. Hmm expensive card stock; Mr. SK isn’t exactly foraging for a living. She perused the lettering;
Owner and Artistic Director
Jhankaar music and Dance Company
It was followed by a contact number; simple and to the point.
Very unusual for an entertainment company; it either spelt arrogance and self confidence or simply fame.
Then out of impulse she brought the card up to her nostrils and sniffed—a distinctive, unmistakably male scent that immediately conjured up an image of a pair of gorgeously seductive brown eyes. She recoiled as if stung and let the card drift to the floor.
What am I thinking? A hand drifted up to a rapidly fluttering heart. Control yourself, Khanak… such thoughts are forbidden. Girls such as you don’t think that way, at least not before marriage and not for somebody other than your husband!
She glanced at the card as it lay innocently on the floor. Let it lie, she had no use for it. This was her home; where she belonged. Turning the lights out, she settled down to sleep.
Meanwhile at the Chennai airport:
“Shan! It’s of no use dude! She won’t come! Girls like her are very traditional. Her parents would never agree.”
“But I thought I saw something in her eyes, a hunger to break out of the mold, to become famous! She has it in her Abhay!” He waited till the very last moment before dejectedly joining the line.
A Bright and early morning at the Mishra household in Chennai:
Like everyday it was greeted with the fragrance of agarbattis and the rhythm of bells; dancing bells which Khanak wore on her feet as she practiced her dance routine. She had done so without interruption ever since the tender age of five when she had begun learning Bharathnatyam.
Her aunt Komal, Shreya’s mother, frequently advised her to take it easy, “After so many years, dance must have become ingrained into every atom of your being; then why the need for such rigorous practice?”
“No matter chachi (aunt), the first and foremost principle of mastering any form of art is practice, practice and good practice, without which the artist will become a langur (monkey) as my Guruji says and I certainly don’t want that, do you?” Khanak laughed.
Komal shook her head, laughing along. Despite being a very mature and talented artist Khanak at times younger than Shreya who was two years her junior, “No baba, then your sasural wale (in-laws) will accuse me of sending a chimpanzee instead of the orangutan you already are!”
“Oh no chachi! I’m not going anywhere! I want to stay here with you as your monkey forever.”
“Yes my dear, you will stay with me always.” Her aunt nodded though without conviction.
Khanak was Komal and Sharat Mishras niece. Ever since her parents had been killed in a train accident when she was barely two years old, Sharat (her father’s younger brother) and his wife had taken her in and she loved them as her own parents. They had never differentiated between her and Shreya or their older son Shyam who adored her and was very protective. He was an officer in the Indian Army and had just been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. They were all very proud of him.
But this morning found Khanak distracted and unable to concentrate. She was feeling unusually irritable and listless.
She turned around briskly to see Shreya standing at the door grinning mischievously.
Khanak snapped, “What’s up? Don’t you see I’m busy?”
“What’s the matter di? You look all red and flustered as though you’ve been caught doing something you shouldn’t.” Shreya sauntered in hiding something behind her back.
Khanak ignored her cousin and began practicing her mudras–she had beautifully expressive hands. Shreya watched fascinated.
“Nothing, I’m just not myself today. I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Aha! So that’s the secret behind the card. Your prince charming! Mr. Shantanu Khandelwal! Shall I tell brother and Anand?”
Khanak broke her pose and snatched at the card that Shreya was brandishing over her head. It wouldn’t do for her to spread the word. The whole household would turn upside down. The only reason why she’d been able to continue learning classical dance was because of Komal aunty’s and Shyam’s continued support and only because she had caught the eye of her Guruji as someone who possessed the potential of becoming a major exponent of the art.
Her uncle had never been for it. He was a staunch proponent of the old school which maintained that girls from good families do not perform on stage. “After schooling daughters take care of the home and hearth. It is our culture,” he often reiterated.
“Stop it Shree! He was someone who saw me as Shakuntala and wanted to know if I would be willing to join his dance company and I refused. That’s all! And don’t you dare tell anybody!”
“Aww… but di! What an incredible opportunity! Big city stage, international exposure, name, fame, I can already see your name blazing in neon: Khanak the diva of dance!” Shreya exclaimed, clasping her hands together and gazed dreamily into the distance unaware that she was giving voice to Khanak’s dreams.
“Not all dreams come true. So stop before chachu (uncle) comes to know about it!”
“Now what are we hiding from chachu? Are we making plans to go to a late night movie?” Komal walked in smiling brightly, bearing a string of fresh mallipoo (Jasmine flowers,) which she attached lovingly to Khanak’s luxurious mane; a daily ritual.
“Now my Khanak looks like an angel; Anand is very lucky indeed.” She stepped back to admire her niece whose thick black tresses contrasted most wonderfully with her smooth, glowing complexion and her classically perfect features which she had inherited from her mother.
Anand Vaidyanathan and his family had been their neighbors for as long as Khanak could remember. Her senior by a few years; he worked as an engineer for a major software company and was doing very well. Khanak had always considered him a close friend and confidant.
“Why is Anand lucky? Are you hiding something from me chachi?” Khanak asked, suddenly anxious.
“Bubbly di, Anand and his parents…” Shreya began.
“Shh! Let me tell her.” Komal said turning to Khanak. She grasped her hands, “Anand and his parents are coming over to see you today!”
“Well, for some time we have known that you like each other and Anand is a gem of a boy. He worships the ground you walk on.”
“What are you implying?”
“I’m just saying that Anand is leaving for the States soon. His parents want him to settle down before he leaves. So when they asked him, he made it quite clear that he wished to marry you and no one else. Your uncle obviously couldn’t refuse such a wonderful proposal!”
Khanak witnessed her whole world come crashing down around her. “But what about my opinion; did anyone care to ask me what I want? Yes, I do like Anand but only as a friend. I don’t love him; for me that is key for a happy marriage. Anyway I’m not interested in all that right now. I want to make a name for myself and I’ve barely begun my journey! Please, say that it’s a joke; a very cruel one but a joke nevertheless!” Khanak pleaded with desperation in her eyes.
“My child, I wish it was but it isn’t. You know your chachu quite well; once he makes up his mind no one can change it. I tried very hard but he is not willing to listen.”
“But I cannot marry Anand! I cannot!” Khanak collapsed onto the floor.
“But di!” Shreya interjected, “Anand is such a nice guy!”
Komal said, “From what I’ve seen, Anand is a young man with a very steady head on his shoulders. If you speak to him, I’m sure he will understand. He will never force your hand. He loves you way too much to hurt you.”
Khanak stared at her Aunt through tear filled eyes, “What do you mean?”
“Yes, I’ve seen it in his eyes, whenever he looks at you. Though he has probably never said so. He won’t refuse you anything.”
Khanak smiled wanly. She’d always thought she knew Anand very well. She’d never had any inkling of his feelings towards her. Never had he done anything to make her suspect it. He had always been a ready, caring companion and friend— her best friend.
Under the Shade of the Banyan
Banias conduct business
Gods meditate and recline
My leaves dispense knowledge
My structure reflects the world
Material and Spiritual
I am the eternal tree
The Banyan tree is the national tree of India and Bangladesh. The word Banyan comes from the Gujarati word Bania or trader. The word was picked up by the Portugese to refer to the Hindu traders who used to sit under the shade of these trees to conduct their business and passed it on to the English who began to refer to the ‘Banyan’ trees. 🙂
Interesting? Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banyan
About 25 miles from Agra is the city of Fatehpur Sikri (Hindi: फ़तेहपुर सीकरी, Urdu: فتحپور سیکری), founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, which also served as his capital from 1571-1585. Here he proceeded to build a grand walled city which today is one of the best preserved collections of Mughal Architecture in India.
The Tomb of the Sufi saint Salim Chishti (descendant of Khwaja Mouniddin Chishti of Ajmer) built inside the imperial complex is particularly mesmerizing. Facing south toward the Buland Darwaza, the shrine is enclosed by delicately carved Jalis– marble stone screens and topped by a single semicircular dome.
Jama Masjid courtyard
The atmosphere of the place is beautifully exemplified in this haunting melody from the movie Garam Hawa (Hot Winds), 1973.