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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

VSS 016: Reader's Block


Reader’s Block

 
Very Short Story (VSS) 016

 

The writer’s block is common. As a writer, you just cannot write. Your brain feels jammed and it positively hurts to think about writing.

Ever heard of Reader’s Block.

Yeah. It exists and is equally painful.

When you suffer from it, no matter what you read, it hurts your head and feels totally uninteresting. You want to give up reading. You want to read no more.

Have you ever suffered from it?

I have suffered. Those were the worst times of my life - It was crazy and my Mind was in chaos. I couldn’t find solace in books.

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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year which is about 12-13 every quarter. Currently I am behind my target by a few stories but gradually cathing up :-)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

VSS 015: Untill I Met Her


Until I Met Her

 
Very Short Story (VSS) 015

 
Consulting is not as glamorous as it was made out to be during the campus placement talk. They said you will travel and see the world.

They deliberately left out the detail that you will end up seeing only the airport, the hotel and the client office.

I hated my job but still persisted … until I met her.

She was a victim of overbooking. Wanted to join her friends for a Himalayan trek but airlines declined boarding.

Something stirred inside me. I talked to the airline and offered my seat to her.

I sent my resignation via blackberry.

 
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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year which is about 4 per month or 13 per quarter. Currently I am behind my target but cathing up :-(

Friday, May 12, 2017

VSS 014: Spy Chase


Spy Chase

 

Very Short Story (VSS) 014

 

Trust Me. Spying isn’t as glamorous as James Bond makes it look like. And the chase is highly unglamorous as compared to what Hollywood shows. It is downright dangerous.

And more often than not, the chase ends in the criminal escaping and you tearing your hair out.

Every once in a while, the chase ends up bad for you … the one doing the chasing.

Today is one such day.

I am chasing. And I can see that I am heading for a head-on collision with a wall.

And I can’t do anything to prevent it.



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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year which is about 4 per month or 13 per quarter. Currently I am behind my target but cathing up :-(

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

VSS 013: Worlds Colliding

 
Worlds Colliding
 

Very Short Story (VSS) 013
 

Arriving at the coffee shop before time to meet her was part luck part chance. And there she was, parting with someone she was already meeting.

I saw them parting and froze in my tracks as I saw them kiss good bye.

I felt betrayed. How could she do this to me.

She was my best friend and I was hers. I was supposed to be the first person to know about him … even before him.  

But then the guy turned and I got a jolt.

How could my very own brother not tell me?

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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year which is about 4 per month or 13 per quarter. Currently I am behind my target but cathing up :-( 

Monday, May 08, 2017

VSS 012: The Delayed Flight


The Delayed Flight

 

Very Short Story (VSS) 012

 

Airports can be as interesting or as boring as you want them to be. I always found them boring and hence was always submerged in a book. But that one journey changed everything.

We were on the same flight that got delayed. Held up in the airport for over 6 hours, we got talking.

We talked over coffee & sandwiches and then continued in-flight. We talked literally non-stop for over 12 hours as if we would never talk again and had to finish every thread we started.

By the time we landed, I knew I had found my soulmate.

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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year which is about 4 per month or 13 per quarter. Currently I am behind my target but cathing up :-(

Friday, May 05, 2017

Book Review: Eating Robots and Other Stories by Stephen Oram


Eating Robots and Other Stories by Stephen Oram

  
The cover of the book says “Nudge The Future Volume 1” and it makes sense once you have read the book. This is unlike any other sci-fi short stories book that I have ever read.

While the total count is 30 stories spanning 125 pages, the fact is that there are only a few ‘stories’. Others are ‘situations’ of a future world. These so called stories are just about a few page in which Stephen introduces a futuristic real-world very-believable situation to you.

Having read the short story, you pause, close the book and think about it. Think about the implications and the consequences. Think about how could humans end up in a situation like that and what will it lead to in further future. Often asking the questions … “How could we mess up so royally?”

The stories in the book are meant to make you think. They are not entertainment but fodder for the fertile and intellectual mind to question and think. The thought provoking stories are in effect, a social commentary on the pace and direction of technology.

The author has taken up various advances in science & technology and extrapolated them into their future shape. Then he created a situation of amusement, horror and even despair as a result of that technology.

The common theme is technology and how it is invading human beings and taking on more and more tasks that humans were doing. As this encroachment increases, will there be anything for the humans to do other than exist?

Will that be in a way ‘machines overtaking humans’ since everything that needs to be done is being done by machines and there is nothing the humans have to do. Won’t the humans die of lethargy and become suicidal due to inactivity … or replace their real life activities with virtual activities … a la Matrix.

I will easily recommend this collection of stories to anyone interested in future tech and sci-fo genre of books. I would even recommend this book to those interested in philosophy – they are sure to find some interesting angles in there.

I would easily rate this book 4/5

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Book Review: The 365 Days by Nikhil Ramteke


 
The 365 Days by Nikhil Ramteke

Not an easy book to review for multiple reasons.

It is a story, fiction essentially BUT it is so close to reality that it is more like reading a documentary rather than reading a story/fiction.

I have lived in Dubai around the timeline the story is taking place and even right now living here. While I could identify the storytelling, i could also easily point out (and be irritated about) the error in the storytelling - factual errors. There were one or two times, when i felt the author was making self-contradictory statements thro the protagonist which kind of disturbed the reading flow. BUT those are minor things. Important is how the book was written and did it achieve its objective of creating awareness.

Overall, the book is an insight into the ugly dark world of the laborers life in Dubai. While Dubai is enjoyed and toured by the rich, it has been built by the labor of the huge labor population which remains out of sight. The average well-to-do resident ignores their existence normally and the tourist hardly encounters them.

They have a tough life (And that is an understatement). The subject has been raised in local as well as international media several times - the conditions of the labor camps and the life of the laborer in Middle East (not just particularly in UAE/Dubai).

The author makes a good attempt at describing the plight of the average laborers and their daily struggles. Its a good documentary. Commendable.

I assume, the book's objective is to raise awareness. Which will happen as more and more people read the book. BUT people don't read documentaries. They will read an interesting story with twists and turns and surprises; even if it is a sad one. I personally feel that the story could have been made more interesting increasing the chances that it would be picked up by an average reader.

With the documentary approach, the readership is limited.

I am not saying, that the book is not written in story format and is purely documentary. Its just that there needed to be more of story telling while retaining the pain and hardships - which I must say, the author has captured beautifully. Once again, I would congratulate the author for doing a good job of capturing the underlying sentiment ... besides the conditions of the laborers. The average laborer is not afraid of hardships. They are demoralized by the treatment they receive.

I will rate this book at 3/5

Saturday, April 22, 2017

VSS 011: Untitled


Untitled

Very Short Story (VSS) 011

 

Some stories in life remain untitled.

These are relationships which are not bound by a definition.

A friend who is more than a friend but not exactly your lover.

A spouse who becomes your best friend but there is still something missing.

A sibling you fight with but share secrets with while jealousy bakes you.  

A colleague who is fast becoming a best friend and dangerously close to becoming a love interest but you haven’t yet figured out the other person.

We live simple lives with complicated relationships.

The story of our lives is just like this story. Untitled.

 

Friday, April 21, 2017

VSS 010: Shadow Life


Shadow Life
 
Very Short Story (VSS) 010

 

I sit at my desk. Contemplating the next string of words to weave a story.

Across the street, I see a man trudging along the road towards the street light, deep in thought, his shadow shortening with every step.

He comes to the street light and holds the lap-post with his unsteady hands. For a few moments, he stands still and then staggers before collapsing on the ground.

Seems like his shadow was indicating the life left in him. He died when directly underneath the lamp-post with the shadow hiding completely under him.

In life’s tragedy, I find my next novel.


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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am way behind my target :-(

Thursday, April 20, 2017

VSS 009: Mhaari Chori ka Baapu


Mhaari Chori ka Baapu

(My Daughter’s Father)
 
Very Short Story (VSS) 009
 


Aamir Khan’s dialogue “mhaari choriyan, choron se kum hain kai?” inspired me.

I had always loved my daughter more than my son but had always thought of them as a financial burden (huge marriage expense).

While there have been movies about women and girl power; Dangal gave me the father’s perspective. It told me that before the women or girl showed their power, their parents had to show their confidence in them. Only then does the girl power get a chance to surface.

Don’t know how many people realized THAT. Now my daughter will also rise and shine.

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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am way behind my target :-(

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

VSS 008: Morning Walk Motivation


Morning Walk Motivation
 
Very Short Story (VSS) 008


The morning walk was prescribed by the doctor for my ailing heart. The pollution in the city had gone up so much with smoke, dust, smog, fog, fine construction debris and what not; that even the early morning was not devoid of these lung punishers.

During these walks, I would see this lone cycle rider selling tea to joggers and walkers. His face beamed with smiles and he brought laughter on the otherwise silent stretch of jogger’s lane.

His smile and the ringing laughter became the reason I would step out every morning. They made my day.

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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am way behind my target :-(

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Book Review: Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Four Legged Scorpion by Rajesh Talwar


Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Four Legged Scorpion by Rajesh Talwar
 


‘Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Four Legged Scorpion’ is a play on Untouchability in India during the pre-1947 era. Its not a novel or a regualr story. Its based on real life incidents with a little bit of writer's creativity thrown in.

A Warning: First things first. This book is NOT a novel and not a story. It relays a part of history – about Bapu and Babsaheb – in the format of a play. It took me some time to get my head wrapped around the ‘stage / theatre / play’ format but once I got into the groove, I enjoyed it. It was indeed refreshing to read the play. It has been a long time since I have seen a play and would love to see soon. So don’t be discouraged when you are slightly uncomfortable reading the play format. Give it time and you will enjoy it.

Yet Another Warning: The summary or book blurb tell you everything about the main theme or plot line of the play that you are about to read. And the introduction and preface and other things that appear in the book ‘before’ the play begins repeat the theme and its details and other aspects of the storyline. So much so, that there is nothing you get by reading the play except details. The book/play is intended to convey a message, enlighten the reader about an aspect in history. The play does that effectively BUT in the book format, this is spoiled by everything else that the reader reads before reading the play.

If you are going to pick this book, skip through the initial pages and go straight to the page where the play begins. DO NOT read the introductory pages. Read them AFTER you have read the play.

There is too much repetition in the introduction and there is a lot pre-content which should have been at the back in the book as notes for those want to enact the play and want a deeper understanding of the same. The stage notes also should have been at the back.

Point to be Noted: Don’t go literally by the title of the book. There is Gandhi and Ambedkar but there is literally no scorpion. The concept behind the scorpion is explained in introduction /preface of the book BUT it never comes up in the play. So if it was a play that people were watching in the theatre, they would leave wondering what happened to the scorpion unless the team enacting the play took liberties to modify the script and introduced the relevant explanation of the scorpion by way of narration or a monologue by one of the characters.

And finally the Book/Play: By itself, the play was written nicely. Not perfectly but nicely. There were quite a few places where the choice of words and language used did not sit well with the time period or the characters. It seemed like some modern slang slipped into the dialogues unnoticed by the author.

The author manages to convey the conflict between Gandhi and Ambedkar during the freedom struggle but at the same time, it does seem a bit superficial. There are those incidents incorporated which played a role in shaping Ambedkar in the role that he played for the Dalits but that was not enough.

I would have expected a lot more monologue by Gandhi as well as Ambedkar; as it is through monologues that the personality of a character is built and not though interactions with other characters. Wish the author would have taken that route to give more meaning and impact to the characters of Gandhi and Ambedkar.  It would have been meaningful to see the characters evolve through their life incidents and monologues.

I will give it 3/5 rating as it was a good read BUT do heed the warnings and points to be noted above.

 

 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book review: The Bearded Prince by Rajesh Talwar


The Bearded Prince by Rajesh Talwar


 

I guess my expectation was high and the book did not deliver as per my expectations. It was a nice little short novel/novella about a princess caught up in her prejudice and perception. She is finally released from the same but along the way, ends up letting go a good match due to astrological hindrances. In teaching one lesson, the author ended up highlighting/promoting another thing which should have been discouraged.

 
For me, the climax of the story was pretty anti-climactic. The story had a dull ending with no impact. In fact, the reasoning given at the end for the princess’ decision is neither eye opening nor logical. I definitely did not see something in there that I could convey to someone as a learning.  

 
I kept wondering what the key message was ... it did not even seem like 'dont judge people by appearance' (which I thought it would be) and the life changing thought process of the princess (explained in the last chapter) was not convincing enough.  

 
The story was written for kids and the author does mention that he had refused to dumb-down the language to make it suitable for kids (Good idea). Not sure how much will that matter though, since i am not going to give this book to my daughter. I refuse to confuse her by this book. Actually, I am just saving myself the embarrassment of not being explain to her the message of this book when she eventually comes to me confused asking why I asked her to read the book.


The story was supposed to have a strong character in the princess or the prince ... it had neither. And that is something I dont excuse a writer from. Your characters need to be strong to create an impression and send out a message. They should be memorable and  not easily forgettable.
 

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, March 25, 2017

VSS 007 - Dirty Colors


Dirty Colors
 
Very Short Story (VSS) 007

 

 

Holi - festival of colors, laughter and playfulness.

Every year, I went out and painted the town in all possible colors. I sprinkled color on all my friends, neighbors, people from my society, friends at school and then later on, even at work.

Till the day, I was painted in the dirty color of bare lust by a random guy. He felt that Holi gave him privileged permission to grope women and rape them taking advantage of his own color smeared face.

Scarred for life, I haven’t played Holi since then.

And yes, he died that day. Deserved it.

 
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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am behind target :-| 
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

VSS 006: Jump


Jump

Very Short Story (VSS) 06

  

Jump. Don’t hesitate now. Just end it.

My heart is beating fast. Faster than even the time when I first saw her.

Love filled my heart when I saw her but I knew she could never be mine.

But then we got to know each other and she was so nice to me. I am so sure she loves me. I definitely love her.

But then I told her and things changed. She left. Never again did i see her.

If only I could jump. Wheel chair bound for life - I can't even jump.

Sigh …




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Quick Note: Very Short Stories are approx./max. 99 word stories that i am going to write through the year. These very short stories are part of my writing resolutions of 2017. My target is to write at least 50 VSS this year. Currently I am behind target :-|