11

The FISHBOWL

It was dark and crowded. The DJ was in his groove and the music was too loud for my eardrums. The neon and laser lights kept on flashing and at times irritating me. Though the room had varied beauties dancing off to the latest numbers my eyes were still in search of something else. Everything that I was seeing didn’t seem to excite me.

They (eyes) started scanning the room from one end to the other slowly following a green laser light. The freshness of the sweat glistened faces had long gone. The intoxicated arms were beginning to loose rhythm and were now not in sync with the electro mix that was screeching through the human sized speakers.

Suddenly I felt there was a gaze constantly fixated on me. I took a sip of the single malt (my second large) and tried to follow it but the inebriated swaying bodies were making it difficult.

The DJ changed the track and made a hand gesture in the dark. A help in the form of a spotlight appeared. It kept flashing on random people till the time it was on her. It didn’t seem random anymore.

She was in a white breezy summer dress, something perfect for the weather and occasion, standing near the bar counter. Her gaze was still on me. If it would have been some other day, I might have felt uncomfortable but on that day the confidence was there in the right place (thanks to single malt). The moment her gaze met mine, her lips responded with seduction. She was like a true magnet and I, like a raw iron piece, started getting attracted towards her.

Unconsciously my feet started moving towards those eyes. I couldn’t care for the crowd, the pushing or the shoving. The hypnotized me kept moving on. I stopped a good three feet away from her. Smile was a permanent feature of her exquisite face. I realized my lips were already resonating with the shape of her lips.

I was yet to speak to her but something in her face especially her eyes through her round retro spectacles suggested that she was yet to consume any alcohol. For some strange reason I felt she doesn’t belong here and blurted, “Are you looking for someone?”

She moved her red lips and answered, “YOU”.

The ‘you’ echoed in my head. I felt this couldn’t be real and I had to regain my senses. I kept my drink glass on the counter and took a glass of water and guzzled it in a single go. She was watching me patiently.

“Yes you heard it right. I am looking for you”, She said playfully. There was calmness about her face and was sexy in a soothing kind of way. She was flawlessly beautiful.

“Do you like such crowded soulless places”, she asked.

“Not usually. Only with my friends”, I replied.

“Then how come you are alone today? What brings you here?” she questioned.

“I guess for the same reason that brings you here”, I responded.

“Oh! That means you are here for ME”, She said and broke into a gracious laughter. I was matching her giggle by giggle, mesmerized by the serene sight.

We both had signed up with a dating app, which after proper scrutiny of profiles organized events where singles could meet up. Their interview process was like obtaining a job offer.

“It is getting late and I don’t like it here. Shall we go to my place”, She asked. Though it was a question but she already knew the answer. After clearing the cheque we exited from the place and reached the car park and from there drove to her expensive high-rise apartment.

I know what you are thinking but she was way too classy to be an escort or something of that sort (at least that is what I thought).

It was a huge apartment, which was very tastefully done. We sat in the living room on the smooth plushy couch.

“Would you prefer whiskey or some wine”; She was being a good host.

She poured some wine for herself too. We sat there, chatted and had our wine late into the night. It was too blurry to exactly remember the time when we started melting into each other. She maintained great poise doing everything.

We made insane carnal love. It was pure bliss at least her expressions suggested. Completely spent we both dozed off with her head snuggling into my chest.

A tickling sensation broke my slumber. It was her hand on my chest. She was awake as if she never slept. We again started sharing talks.

I asked, “What do you like as in hobbies and all?”

She looked outside the window. The morning was just round the corner. She turned around towards me with a naughty smile and said, “Morning sex”.

Right after the morning session of love making just when that feeling of love and affection was about to sow its seed, she said, “Could you please do a favor for me?”

“Please go ahead”, I replied.

Photo by Sadiq Nafee on Unsplash

She handed me a small piece of paper and said, “Please write your name on this”.

“That’s it”, I said still unable to make anything of it. I wrote my name on the piece of paper and handed it over to her.

She kissed the piece of paper and put it in a flashy fishbowl that was kept on an antique table right next to the window.

“What happened? Why did you do that? And why doesn’t this Fishbowl contain any fish and more importantly Why are there so many pieces of paper inside it”, I quizzed.

She stood there quietly. My expression told her that she would not get away without giving an answer.

She replied, “The pieces of paper in the Fishbowl contain all the names of men that I have made love to.”

For all those who have been in such scenarios,

For all those who have made morning love,

For all those who have fallen for beauty,

And

For all those who still believe in true love.

It’s not a Goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas “Sameer” Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

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204

Death on Karnataka Express

Death on Karnataka Express

The sudden jerk of the train coming to a halt shook me out of slumber. I was sleeping on the middle berth of a three-tier AC coach. I moved the pungent smelling inflexible curtain and tried to peep through the window. The sun was yet to rise but the morning blue had taken over the milieus. It looked like the train was moving through the outskirts of a city. I got my wristwatch out of my backpack and checked the time. It was 6:30 am.

We were travelling in Karnataka express from Bangalore to New Delhi. My initial job training got over in Mysore and I got posting in Chandigarh. Mom was paying a visit to my sister in Bangalore and hence was accompanying me back till Chandigarh.

The last time I checked in the night, when we reached Bhopal, the train was running on its scheduled time.

I thought, ‘we must be approaching Agra by this time.’

I slid to my left and looked down at the lower berth. Mom was still sleeping peacefully. A sensation urged me to use the washroom. I slowly got down in a crouching position, making sure not to wake her up, slipped into my slippers and walked through the narrow passage towards the washroom.

Death on Karnataka Express

After using the washroom, I decided to look outside the entrance door of the coach, since the train hadn’t yet moved. There is no more serene sight than countryside right up early in the morning. I leaped outside the gate but there was no one in sight. ‘Probably most of the people are still sleeping’, I supposed. ‘It was a good four hours still left for us to reach New Delhi, if the train reached at its timetabled arrival time.’

The huge iron wheels slowly started moving making a screeching sound. I shut the door and walked back to my berth. The berth opposite to mom’s berth was empty.

‘The elderly man would have got down at a station somewhat late in the night, as I was pretty much awake past midnight’, I pondered.

Five more minutes passed by and the train gathered momentum. The rural dwellings in the landscape were being replaced by more urban infrastructure. I knew that the railway station was about to arrive and considered having a cup of tea and some biscuits. Mom usually is an early riser and it was way past her regular wake up time. ‘

‘I guess she wouldn’t have an idea what time it is’, I assumed.

She didn’t prefer tea prepared at stations but I, nevertheless, thought of asking her before the station arrives. I feebly called out, “MOM.”

“Mom…Mom…MOM”, I kept calling gradually increasing the pitch of my voice. She didn’t respond leave alone waking up.

I touched her feet to wake her up but she didn’t respond this time either. I started shaking her arm slightly and simultaneously calling out ‘mom…mom…mom.’ It felt as if she was intentionally not waking up.

I touched her forehead. It was damp and cold. Initially I thought that the air-conditioning might have done it. Her cheeks were even icier. I didn’t know what had happened to her. I kept shaking her arm and calling her for more than two minutes but she didn’t budge a single bit.

I was beginning to get worried. I didn’t know what to do. I could see the train slowly entering the station through the window and thought of trying to wake her up one more time.

She didn’t respond.

By now the glitter of sweat was shining on my forehead. I was getting more and more nervous and anxious as time passed. Somehow in these sorts of situations, negative thoughts are the first ones to swarm your mind.

They didn’t spare me either and for a second I thought, ‘Is Mom dead?’

The more I was trying to wake her up, the stronger the sinking feeling became. I knew I had to remain calm and try to think my way through, ‘what if she was actually dead.’

In my custom and tradition the first thing that happens is, as soon as you get to know that either of your parents or any blood relative has passed away, we aren’t supposed to eat anything till the final cremation rituals are performed.

I quelled my mind and focused on the difficult task at hand. I started deliberating, ‘should I get down at Agra or should I continue till New Delhi and seek some help there? Should I call someone right away?’ Should I seek some medical help in the train itself?

My heart was breaking in fact shattering.

I knew it was going to be a long…really long day ahead. The thought of not eating anything for the next two days was already eating my mind. I decided to get down to at least have a cup of tea and couple of cookies. The train was about to move and I had to act fast.

I immediately got down and went to a railway tea stall. The vendor was selling some stale tea but there wasn’t any other option in sight. I decided since I might not get anything else; let me purchase two cups of tea. I purchased a packet of biscuits and put it in my jeans’ rear pocket. I thought of having one cup right away but that same screeching sound of the iron wheels started.

I hurriedly reached the metal door and a fellow passenger helped me board the train again.

I was making my way through few people who were beginning to wake up, making sure I don’t spill any of it.

The eerie feeling of having tea right next to my dead mom also came over me for a second but the contemplation of being hungry for the next two days made a starving sensation in me and I thought, ‘what the hell! Let me have it. There wasn’t anyone who knew me or would complain that I had tea and cookies after mom passed away.’

As soon as I reached my berth, I was dumbfounded and speechless by what I saw.

Mom was wide-awake sitting upright and combing her hair. She annoyingly looked at me and began, ‘how many times have I told you not to get down on every station. What happened to you is everything all right? Why do you look so astonished?’

I handed her a cup of tea interrupting her and sheepishly said, “I got down to bring you some tea and biscuits.”

“In all these years have you ever seen me have this railway station tea?” she added.

I knew it was embarrassingly awkward what had conspired into my head and decided to tell her the ordeal of buying two cups of tea.

She broke into a loud uncontrollable laughter. I joined in. I told her that the first thought that came to my mind after seeing my mom dead, was to have tea and biscuit.

We kept on laughing till we reached New Delhi.

To this day, whenever we discuss a train journey, we roll in fits of laughter remembering this episode.

For all those who love their moms,

For all those who have lost loved ones,

For all those who are fed up of such rituals,

For all those who love trains,

And

For all those who love humour…

It’s not a GoodBye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

20

Interview with Manas #AuthorChatter #anshuasks

Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Manas Mukul is human – an MBA, a Business Consultant, Actor, Software Engineer, Writer, Blogger, Joker.

authorchatter, author interview, contemplation of a joker, ebook, blogchatter, blogger Manas loves Sports, Travel and Dance. He is humorous and fun loving.

‘The Contemplation of a Joker’ is the child of his pen!! Excited to know him!

Which is your favourite story in the collection ‘The Contemplation of a Joker’?

Can a mother differentiate among her children? No. Right. But I would still say ‘Made for each other’ is the most complete and elaborate of all the stories in The Contemplation of a Joker.

What does joker stand for in this book? Is it your alter ego?

Jostein Gaarder said, “A joker is a little fool who is different from everyone else, he is not a club, a diamond or a spade, he is not an eight or a nine or a king or a jack. He is an outsider”. Here I…

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21

Deal of Death – Book Review

Cover Page – Deal of Death

Deal of Death – Book Review

Book: Deal of Death

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 65 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

Watching ‘Vyomkesh Bakshi’ on Doordarshan is one of the favorite memories of my childhood. It was a prominent and popular Indian detective series in the early 90s. Since then I am huge fan of this genre. Nothing noteworthy popped up on the Indian TV scene after that.

Breathing books reintroduced me to genus once again. To review a detective thriller is simply bliss. If a writer can come up with exhilarating suspense stuff, nothing can be better than that as it always gives the writer an opportunity to convert the protagonist or the lead detective into a character associated with a series. I feel that if you can write and can cook up surprising roller coaster events then one must definitely try their hand on a detective novel. Most of the books that I have reviewed so far belong to the same category.

Continuing with the books from the Blogchatter Ebook carnival my third pick is a suspense thriller. It is actually one of the most downloaded novellas, ‘Deal of Death’ from Sonia Chatterjee.

Deal of Death is the story of Raya Ray, the leading lady, who dons many hats. The beginning of the book showcases how Raya Ray and her supporting husband tries to cope up with their stillborn child. The greatest loss for any woman…any mother. It’s a journey of how she overpowers her emotions and tries to get her life back by opting for a new place and profession.

Raya ray’s character is multi-layered but it is the thread of her unquenched motherhood that plays the underlined theme. The case she entrusts herself is also of a stillborn baby, where the mother of the child, Sharmila, is indubitably confirmed that the baby was alive at the time of birth and had suckled on her in her half conscious state. Hence the story is about whether Raya is successfully able to unveil the mystery around the missing child.

The major portion of the plot is based in and around ‘Munshiganj’, a forgotten city, which had a lot of prominence in the pre-independence era. It was once the capital of old Bengal during the early 1900s. The city helps in blending the cocktail of Bengali backdrop with Nawab connection. Sonia puts in few photographs in the book to bring that old bucolic lure and pragmatism to the content. The selection of such a city was important as the plot discusses supernatural and blind-faith.

The story has few characters along with Raya Ray but each and every one of them gets their space in the narrative. No character has been introduced unnecessarily. It is a fast read with only 65 pages and modest vocabulary.

No story is perfect and Deal of Death also has its share of negatives. The story doesn’t answer the question as to what happened to Sharmila’s Child. There are some sub-plots, which are unnecessary since they don’t add to the main plot and sometimes work as extra information. I also felt that more detailed work would have made the story more compelling but given the time constraint in which Sonia has come up with this is still appreciable. The book calls for basic editing, including grammar and formatting. I good re-editing of the work would definitely benefit the book.

Deal of Death, portraying an empowered woman with a gritty character, is a good debut effort by Sonia Chatterjee. Raya Ray certainly has a lot of scope for future novellas. I am going with three out of five for Deal of Death.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can Grab a FREE copy of the book HERE

The Joker has published his own ebook and you can give it a try for free here

7

Insta Gita – Book Review

Cover page – Insta Gita

Insta Gita – Book review

Book: Insta Gita

Author: Nupur Maskara

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 74 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

For centuries the world has been intrigued by the Indian ancient text of ‘Bhagavad Gita’. It is one of the most translated scripts of Hindu mythology. ‘Bhagavad Gita’ literal translation means ‘the Song of God’ and it serves for both – literature and philosophy.

Every reader has since tried to translate the conversation and the context of Bhagavad Gita to the best of their abilities and understanding. It is a complex text aiming to give the simplest of meaningful messages and in the process has transformed into one of the greatest self-help books.

I have been always fascinated by the iconic image of ‘Krishna’ and ‘Arjuna’ in the middle of the war, where Krishna masterfully and patiently untangles the turmoil that had taken birth within Arjuna. I haven’t read Bhagavad Gita, and hence ‘Insta Gita’ was my first taste of what it is all about.

Nupur Maskara’s ‘Insta Gita’ is a modern rework of Bhagavad Gita in English poetry. She has intentionally kept it short and crisp and focused majorly on the part, which holds the utmost importance ignoring the paraphernalia that unnecessarily surrounds it.

The book begins where Arjuna decides to quit the battlefield confronting his beloved ones, friends, brothers and teachers; who form the majority of other side. He was caught in a tussle with his conscience about raising artillery against his own blood. The conversations between Krishna and Arjuna have been given a fresh outlook by Nupur in her poetry. Wherever she feels the milieu becomes arduous, she complements it with due rationalisation. Each page has some highlighted text, which signifies the theme of that chapter.

The three paths to salvation as emphasised by Krishna have been vividly discussed. The book gives Arjuna’s inner dilemma a new voice through poetry. An inner conflict that antagonises everyone during the journey called life. It also showcases how Krishna eloquently teaches the lesson of detachment and how not to expect anything when performing any action.

A page from Insta Gita

Use of ostentatious coloured background on alternating pages, with sketches and pictures depicting the theme of the chapter is very refreshing at the same time subtle and contemporary. Nupur has made the best use of the ‘ebook’ format because I am not sure the representation would have come like this if presented in a paperback format. I liked the title, which signifies ‘insta’ and equates to a readymade sachet of instant coffee.

The use of font could have been better. The current one doesn’t help in lending the seriousness attached to the subject and it doesn’t help the readability either. There was an error in numbering of the pages and an acknowledgement, which should have been in the beginning.

In today’s times when everybody is delivering content based on the number of characters at disposal and reading news consisting of 60 characters, Insta Gita is surely a must read for them. In its petite form also it delivers the main messages of Bhagavad Gita. With only 74 pages and tiny poems it is definitely a fast read. Its small and concise yet powerful and impactful.

I am going with three out of five for Nupur Maskara’s Insta Gita. It definitely packs a punch in its small ‘avatar’.

I want to express my gratitude towards all those who have been sending me the books to review from authors to publishers to marketing teams. I have just hopped on from a mystical thriller to a book on mental health and now one on Bhagavad Gita. It is a luxury in disguise, which only lucky ones can afford.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can download Insta Gita for free HERE

My Ebook is also listed for a Free download. Download the same here

1

A Carnival of Life

I take on the Baton of Blogchatter EBook Carnival from Nausheen whose ebook ‘Blogging Basics 1.0’ is also part of the mix. 
About Nausheen’s ebook: Blogging Basics 1.0 gives basic insights about blogging. It includes topics that bloggers struggle with. It is based on Dr Bushra’s 2 years blogging experience and tries to keep it simple and give clear ideas. It is the first part of a Blogging Basics series.

 

A CARNIVAL of LIFE

Our lives are sometimes marked by events that literally alter the course of its journey. For some people such moments are blessings like your first job, first love, marriage, birth of your child and many more. I am of a little unfortunate kind. August of 2017 made the biggest impact in my life. It took my first coach, my lifelong friend, my mentor, my biggest critic…my father away from me.

My father always wanted me to pursue my passion, something, which brings happiness to me. Till his last I knew, he was unhappy with the fact that I hadn’t figured out my path. Six months down the line and I was still busy with the things left scattered after his sudden demise. Innumerous visits to government offices, banks, court, etc. had started taking its toll on me and more so on my creative abilities. The fear had started surfacing that I would never be able to write again.

Then something happened which gave a new leash of life to my writing. I got an email from Blogchatter for an Ebook carnival, where one was supposed to come up with a book for self-publishing on their platform. I had previously given self publishing a lot of thought, but sometimes because of lack of conviction, sometimes content, sometimes simply the ‘will’ it never saw the light of the day.

This time, with a more resolute will, I had to do it for my father and more importantly for me. I knew I had to take the plunge come what may. But the bigger question that loomed was where is the content and on top of that I had only twenty days for submission. I knew I wouldn’t be able to come up with something afresh. Finally, I decided to edit and compile the existing top blog posts from my blog ‘The contemplation of a Joker’ and give this activity a real chance.

Today I can proudly say I am an author of a ‘self-published’ book. I get goosebumps every time I remember the emotions and the sensations that ran through me when the cover page was unveiled. It got an unimagined overwhelming reaction. I know there are, many loved ones out there who have urged me on to take this step from a really long…long time.

There are a few people without whom this compilation wouldn’t have come through. They have been duly acknowledged in the book and for that you have to download a copy 😀 .

Blogchatter Feature – Click to download my ebook

I would definitely want to take this moment to thank Blogchatter for giving me this delightful opportunity with all the blogging community and marketing magic to go along with it.

I want to highlight a definite change that this carnival has brought in me. For the first time in my life I am reading as much as I am writing, and to my surprise and benefit, I am relishing this change. This activity gave my writing a good exposure and helped me in forging new friendships along the way. The journey from a blogger to a published author has been a real rewarding one. I got some great reviews along with constructive feedback for me to work on and improve my writing. The value of which is immeasurable.

No amount of words can express my gratitude towards my Sister who has been involved with my writing long before this blog was even conceived. From every critical review to hearing my point of view patiently, from grammatical corrections to helping me with vocabulary she has been there in every inch of the stride that I took and it would have been impossible without her.

For all those who have read my blog,

For all those who have downloaded my book,

For all those who have read my words,

For all those who have reviewed my work,

For all those who urged me to publish,

For all those who gave me a platform,

And

For all those who are yet to download and read,

Its not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han… Keep downloading, Keep reading, Keep reviewing and Keep sharing the Love.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can download my book HERE

Some of the reviews:

From Sona Grover: read here

Sitharaam Jayakumar: read here

Souravi Paul: read here

I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter EBook Carnival to Mahak whose ebook ‘Diary of a Baby’ is also part of the mix. 
About Mahak’s ebook: Have you ever wondered what goes on inside your baby’s mind? “Diary of a Baby” is a candid, witty take on life from a baby’s perspective written as diary entries, followed by an interpretation phase of baby’s life from the author’s own parenting experience
1

A to Z of Mental Health – Book Review

Front Page – A to Z of Mental Health

Book: A to Z of Mental health

Author: Arjun Gupta

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 60 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 2.5/5

According to WHO, India is one of the most depressed countries. The modern frantic lifestyle, stressful workplace environment, toxic social atmosphere, nuclear families, alienating individuals and to some extent genetics; all are playing their part in making our lives more taxing and hence the exponential surge in cases of mental illness and depression.

Gone are those days when visit to a psychiatrist was always tagged as ‘one’ has gone mad. People these days are more open to discuss their mental illness and have slowly started getting acceptance that whosoever, is suffering with mental issue is not a lunatic. With proper medication and supervision along with affectionate care and love these mental illnesses can be better dealt with if not cured.

‘A to Z of Mental Health’ by Arjun Gupta tries to put this issue into spotlight. He gives his best to bust the myths, state facts, highlight causes and suggest remedies pertaining to several mental issues including depression. For me to do this review honestly I do have to mention this. ‘A to Z of Mental Health’ seemed less of a book and more of a detailed case study on depression. Now that it is out of the way lets move ahead with the review of the content.

The book doesn’t have a cover page plus there is a knight of steel logo that embeds a Dark knight and a superman logo, which doesn’t have a correlation with the book and about which Arjun might have some copyright issues. Furthermore, there are few images missing and a lot of formatting issues, which I am sure Arjun will take care before taking it forward.

There are a lot of positives going for the book. The content is diverse and adequately researched where the author touches base with many topics that lend a lot of credibility and depth. I still felt he could have gone all out and incorporated more areas. Some of the stats are really astonishing and can really work as an eye-opener for people working in this sector. This one really caught my attention – ‘In 2008, the number of people at risk of suicide in India was 2.1 out of 10. This number rose to an astonishing 8.21 out of 10 by July 2016.’

The vocabulary of the book is decent and only 60 pages surely helps it being a fast read. The author carefully tackles the gloomy and difficult theme of mental illness and depression and brings life to such context with few jokes and quotes stitching it close to his personal encounter with depression. ‘It is easy to smile, it is much harder to be happy’ – a quote from the book.

In this fight against mental illness and depression this is just a start and we have a really long way to go. But I would like to congratulate Arjun that it is a promising start and would encourage him to pursue his path. I am going with two and half out of five for this good debut effort from Arjun Gupta for ‘A to Z of Mental health’

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Click the image to Download

One giveaway, he is soon launching his youtube channel to discuss on the same issue. Do look out for that. You can download a FREE copy of the same Ebook here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Blogchatter for giving me an opportunity to publish my work in an ebook format and showcase my work to the world. You can download my Ebook from the same carnival here.