Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking Back: 7 Most Popular Posts of 2015

Yet another year comes to an end.

2015 has been a great year for the blog with over 70,000 hits which is close to 200 hits a day. The blog got mentioned as a popular offbeat travel blog on holidify and my travelogue got featured in Outlook Traveller. The year also saw me attending the largest bloggers' conference at BNLF and connecting with bloggers from across the country.

Here I bring to you the top 7 most popular and most talked about posts of the year. Chances are that you have read some or most of them. If not, here’s the chance of not missing out on them. Take a look:

1. Nainital: The Arduous Trek to China Peak

This travelogue got featured in Outlook Traveller, India's leading travel magazine.

“There are some things in life which we know we want to do, the ones on our bucket list, and there are some which we discover on the way. Reaching the summit of China Peak, would be one of the second types.”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: 'The Bestseller She Wrote' by Ravi Subramanian

Title: The Bestseller She Wrote
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Westland Books
Pages: 391
Genre: Romance Thriller

Price: 295

Having read ‘God is a Gamer’ last year and finding it one of the best suspense thrillers I have read (Check the review here), seeing Ravi Subramanian’s name was enough for me to apply for his new book. Soon enough, I received ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ from Blogadda’s Book Review Programme. My first impression was that the author has changed his genre from thriller to romance, and I am not very fond of the latter, especially from Indian authors. But I thought I would give it a shot since it came from the writer of God is a Gamer. It can’t be bad, I thought.

The Story:

Set in the present day corporate and publishing world, The Bestseller She Wrote is the story of an established and famous writer-banker Aditya Kapoor and how he meets Shreya Kaushik, a final year IIM student. The story is about the love story that flourishes between the two leading to a crash of Aditya’s personal and professional relations, Shreya’s ambitious motives, and a lot of commotion. All this happens in the backdrop of the debudant writer (Shreya) getting published under the guidance of India’s most successful fiction writer Aditya.

The story of a banker-cum-author written by a banker-cum-author gives authenticity to the background details in the plot. It starts as a pure romantic story but slowly reveals to be a good suspense novel by the end of it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Flipkart launches India's Biggest Online Kids' Store

A few years ago, my 7 year old cousin was insistent on buying a particular Rubic's cube which wasn't easily available in stores. All by himself, he checked for the cube's availability on online shopping sites and found it. Had there been cash on delivery option, he probably would have gone forward and ordered the item then and there. My uncle promised he would place the order. The next morning before heading to school, my cousin made sure that his father puts the item 'in the cart' and places the order in front of his eyes else he won't be going to school. And this was when we hadn't started relying on online shopping sites for almost all our needs. The Hamleys toy store hadn't arrived in India yet.

That's how advanced the present generation of kids is. They need the same toys, and they would look up sellers from across the world who deliver at the cheapest rates. Still, until recently, shopping for games and toys online didn't have much scope in India, nor were parents as inclined towards it.

Flipkart recently introduced its 'kids' range of toys and games. It is like an online treasure house of all kinds of toys possibly imagined. Even I, as a 24 year old, feel attracted towards the variety of games available and am eager to go ahead and order some of them. (Yes, I am one of those who still goes for the Happy Meal at McDonalds!)

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Bas kuch ‘aura’ ki baat (Just some things about ‘aura')

Last weekend I was walking from Gateway of India to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus with a few friends from Delhi. We were engulfed in discussions having left the Regal Cinema just minutes ago after watching Tamasha. The idea of a walk to cover the little over 2 kilometres distance wasn’t well-appreciated by my friends, but eventually amidst talks, we did the walk never realising the distance- From Gateway via the Bombay Stock Exchange building and the Elphinstone Circle to CST.

Picture this: It is the last week of November, a pleasant Saturday evening sans the usual humidity, art-deco architecture on the illuminated buildings in the Fort area- a blissful experience? For me, it captured the essence of the real Mumbai. The ‘aura’ as we called it, thanks to Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay from our Cultural Studies classes.

I still think the photo does no justice to how beautiful and magnificent CST looked that evening

I tried initiating a conversation about it with my friends- about experiencing these little things, about remembering these moments as being an integral part of our Mumbai experience. Surprisingly, all I was met with was indifference. I was amazed and realised it at that moment that probably not everyone can appreciate the art & culture that makes a place different from another and probably that’s what differentiates personalities of people. Or perhaps they simply were not interested at that particular moment-thank hunger.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

When work becomes overwhelmingly inspirational

There are loads of people across the country who are doing extraordinary things with the little resources they have. We come across these stories almost every other day in the form of the ‘Real Heroes’, ‘Amazing Indians’, and so on.

It is one thing to hear about them from someone, and a completely different experience to be with these heroes and hear their stories first-hand. Since I started working a month and half ago, I have been closely associated with some of these iconic stories and frankly speaking it has been an honour to have known these people.

Story 1

In the very first week of my joining the company, I got to know the story of Prince Tiwari, a guy who teaches homeless street kids in Kandivali in Mumbai. Over the next few days we met him and captured his story on camera. The fact that this guy was 23 - my age - and doing something that I probably never imagined doing struck me. Check out his inspiring story

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dawn of the Mumbai Way of Life

As compared to some of my friends from Delhi, moving to Mumbai was easy for me because at the end of the day, whether Delhi, Mumbai or any place else, I was away from home. The field I have chosen as a career demands my presence here, and I can’t help it.

Moving cities isn’t an easy task and most people avoid it. It’s usually the home base that comes by default and the work place is chosen accordingly. Someone who has lived their entire childhood and college life in one metro city, wouldn’t want to leave the comfort of home, friends, localities and everything that comes with it, to move to an unknown and different metro city altogether for getting settled with a job. But then it is completely subjective and non-conclusive.

Decorations for Diwali on a street in Lower Parel, Mumbai
It’s close to two and a half months now since I moved here, a little over a month since I started my first job and frankly speaking, it’s been quite a ride!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Book Review: Khel- The Writings by Vishal Goswami

Title: Khel- The Writings
Author: Vishal Goswami
Publisher: Frog Books
Pages: 146
Genre: Horror
Price: Rs. 145

The book arrived a week before Diwali and with my packed schedule at work, I decided to read it during my local train journeys to and from work because that was the only free time I could find.

The Story:

Khel- The Writings starts of as the story of a haunted house in a desolate location where a group of friends are found dead. An investigative journalist who is suffering from a loss in the family is assigned to the open-and-shut case. As expected there is a lot more happening than is visible to the eye and our protagonist is pulled into a horrifying mess that she must try and get out of for her and her family’s safety. You want to know what’s next, how is she going to tackle the ever increasing fear building inside her, what new mystery is going to unfold in the next chapter and will she live to report the story.

With an old story of a Nawab, a witch, a burned girl, and a deck of cards playing all the supernatural games, Khel is a clichéd thriller that keeps you hooked till the end.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

This is How Awesome BNLF Mumbai 2015 Was

I have attended a lot of IndiBlogger meets over the last 4 years. None of them come anywhere close to how grand and epic #BNLF Mumbai 2015 was last weekend. And I knew this when I got the first glimpse of the preparations at the venue a day before the event.

'BNLF is actually going to be inside an aeroplane and a grand one at that!' I told my sister that night. Her interest had been piqued. ‘Complete with check-in counters, baggage counters, boarding gates, security checks, an aircraft with a cockpit, windows and everything else’.
The Grand Bloggers' Group Photo, BNLF Mumbai 2015; Photo Courtesy: IndiBlogger
Being an insider has always excited me more than being just a guest/delegate, and so early on I had applied for the IndiCrew pass for the event (even before I moved to Mumbai). I had been selected for the IndiWelcome team and so on the first day of the event, had to reach by 7 AM. I was too excited to check out the venue and the completed mock-airport setup.

The lounge at The Lalit Mumbai was completely unrecognisable from how it looked the previous evening during the crew briefing session. I was awestruck with the details, the planning and the execution of the entire event.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Little Joys of the 'First Job'

After years of thinking to myself and telling the world that I would never have a job or work for someone else, the past week saw me getting on board a corporate media house as an employee. As hard as it is for me to accept the fact and the sudden change in my routine, there is no denying that there sure are little joys that one gets sans anticipation from one’s first job. It is a time when you are exposed to something completely new. It is a time when you have actually no clue of what to expect and of how things work. A new phase of life begins and getting to know the nitty-gritty of it is actually fun.

From the day I forwarded my CV in lieu of the opening to the day I got my offer letter, an entire month passed. Out of the 30, the last 5 days were the most difficult- the wait for the offer letter on mail after everything has been finalised verbally. Early one morning, I finally received the HR’s call asking me for a revert on the Offer letter that now waited in my inbox. There was no way I was going to sit quiet and facebook saw my excitement clearly. Of course I was shouting it out. My family members reminded me of things like 'There was a day when you couldn't even hold a cold drink bottle', 'I used to scare you with the speakers', and so on. Why did everyone feel that I had suddenly grown up?

That's probably the second post, in all the time I have used facebook, that has crossed 200 likes.
The first was last September when my film won its first award at a festival.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

A Game of Truth & Life

The last quarter of the year dawns. It’s a Sunday afternoon and the overcast sky seems like a welcome relief from the hot weather. Noise from the main road does not allow a moment of peace. He sits with his laptop, staring out of the huge stained glass windows, a liberating song playing on loop in his ears, and thinking.

Thinking. He has had a lot of time to do just this over the past month. He feels he has been living in a make-believe world for a long while now. It’s a bubble that he unintentionally has created for himself. Secure and happy, but with a lie. He doesn’t want to be engulfed in the daily grind for survival. He doesn’t want to get lost in the crowd. He still searches for his true calling.
Nature playing a game of conflicts and contrasts at Marine Drive, Mumbai
He thinks about the one month that he has spent in the new city and the choices he has made. He thinks about the disconnected chain of events over the last week that has led him to his current state of mind. ‘It’s not something new’, he thinks, ‘I am used to it’. Or perhaps, he is too used to camouflaging it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Movie: ‘Time Out’ (2015) is worth your Time

This is not a review. No spoilers.

I got to know about this new film ‘Time Out’ when I accidentally stumbled upon its trailer about a month back. What surprised me was spotting a batchmate from Jamia playing a character role in the film. I had never actually interacted with him but sure I recognised the often-seen face. And as has been the case with Lunchbox, Ship of Theseus, Shahid, Queen, Bombay Talkies and some other films, the appearance of the name of someone I know (either as a good friend or acquaintance) in the credits of the film, superbly excites me. And I'm yet to actively start working in this industry, so I guess the naive and kiddish attitude is fine for now.

This being a Tuesday, apparently the cheapest movie tickets day in Mumbai and because I was in mood for a light-headed entertainment, I decided to go for this film at the nearby multiplex. As I reached the ticket counter, I spotted my batchmate from the trailer with a couple of other mates from college. A brief round of introductions later, we realised we were there for the same show.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

For the love of trains, experiences and the Wardha bond

Train journeys have fascinated me ever since I was born. And for some reason, even after 23 years and uncountable train journeys, if I spot a train somewhere unexpected, I would cry out loud in excitement. No wonder, trains have seen a prominent presence in so many of my blog posts.

It’s a Saturday night in early September and I am sitting comfortably on the side-lower berth. My bedding is ready and most of the compartment lights have been switched off. Going by usual Indian train etiquettes and timings, 11 PM is very late and people are already midway through their sleep schedule. But train or no train, I doubt I can ever go to sleep this early. As per plans (since the moment I noticed the side berth had a laptop charging point), I should have been watching another episode of Suits Season 5, but events of the last couple of hours resulted in me sitting calm and writing this entry.
With a lot of time to bide, I took a good stroll around the station platform when I came upon this
huge name board and a thought- In the time of internet ticket bookings, there still is a huge population
that relies on these signposts to head to their destinations!
A few minutes after 9 this evening, my train arrived at Wardha. My ‘link’ train from Balharshah waits here for 1.5 hours for the ‘main’ train coming from Nagpur. The two trains then connect and proceed on the journey to the destination together. For an Indian train to have a 1.5 hour long scheduled stop is uncommon, and probably only links like these demand such huge time gaps ‘to be on time’.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mumbai Mayanagri’s Mystic Melodrama

This post got featured in the Spicy Saturday Picks on Blogadda.

My flatmate pointed at a white SUV coming from the opposite direction and told me, “Nawazuddin Siddique is often spotted in a white car like this one, and he sits on the front seat.”

I looked carefully at the car, but it obviously wasn’t the actor’s.

A few seconds later, we overtook another white car from the left and I looked to my right inside the car. Less than a couple of feet away, Nawaz sat in the car in a blue shirt and looked at me for a second before looking away.

Lo and behold! What kind of timing and co-incidence was this?

This was couple of days back. It was late afternoon and raining slightly. I was pillion riding on a bike with my flatmate in Versova and we were on the topic of celeb-spotting in Mumbai.

Yes, Mumbai.
Caught in an unexpected spell of rain on the Juhu beach, Mumbai
After months of planning, apprehension and discernment, last Sunday I finally took a leap of faith and arrived in Mumbai. For the social media loving person that I am, all my friends immediately knew that I had arrived in the city.

“But why?” many asked.

“The future,” I simply replied.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

And His Delhi Sojourn Ends

A Thursday morning in the midst of summer 2008, the Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express chugged into New Delhi Railway Station, bringing a 16 year old boy face-to-face with the capital for an unexpected and yet undecided short visit. He had been to the city a lot many times since childhood, but this was going to be a different kind of visit. Amidst a lot of chaos and uncertainties, he had already set on a long journey of self-discovery, unknown to him at the particular moment in time.

Amidst situations both good and bad, he met some people who really cared for him. While some people brought out the best in him, his abilities, his works and his learnings, some were doing their best to get him out of his shell, to see the world the way it is, to accept the obstacles and move ahead, while still others were the reason he learnt the basic virtues of friendship. Every single person he met on the way, affected and impacted his life, and every lesson learnt was a step taken ahead in the right direction.

He came with a lot of worry and inhibitions, as one who cared too much about things; Delhi brought him face-to-face with people who understood this. Slowly he started letting go, taking life as it comes, and enjoying every bit. Even if he didn’t feature prominently in the memories of a lot of people who met him, he made sure his camera captured every moment of the meeting. He treasured the thoughts and the moments spent together more than anything else.

From the small joys of seeing an AC chicken shop to a mall as huge as the Ambience, from visiting every place as a tourist to being a regular part of the city life, from meeting new people and sharing space with strangers to being the best of friends, and from falling in love to understanding the harsh reality of life, Delhi saw him grow from a boy to a man, helping and nurturing at every point and taking care to make sure he falls in love with the city to an extent that it is synonymous with ‘home’.

In Delhi, he spent the last two years of school and lived in a hostel- the experience of which he never wants to replicate; he got into a college of his choice- a place where, in three years, he was about to learn the biggest life lessons while doing some of the most significant work of his yet-insignificant life; and finally he went to a university where in the most adverse psychological conditions he was reaffirmed that people do care, understand and support you if you have the will do something different.

He had arrived as a boy in the big city, one with a lot of attachments, one who had never imagined how the world outside the well is, but at the same time he was filled with curiosity, he had the zeal to explore, he wanted to experiment as much as he could, and most importantly, he wanted to learn as much as possible. 7 years later, it is all still the same; the eagerness to learn still drives him.

A day after his arrival in Delhi, in the most casual way, he started writing a blog. It became a habit, an addiction that grew over the years. His name became synonymous with his blog. And today, after 7 years 2 months and 18 days, as he bids adieu to the city that made him who he is today, he writes his 293rd blog entry- the last one while the capital’s soil still lies under his feet and on the last night that he spends in the city. He will continue blogging, but the home-base would change. Changes are difficult but an all-important part of life and he moves to unexplored waters with the hope of keeping the quest of learning of the kid in his heart alive.

His arrival in Delhi never told him how long his stay was going to be or what important life-lessons he was going to be taught here. He never knew he would be making the best moments of his life in the city with some people who would be a definite part of his future. He had no clue he would get so attached to the place that it would become difficult to leave. He was here on a short visit after all, and it turned out to be beautiful beyond his best thoughts. And that’s exactly how he would like to remember it as his Delhi Sojourn comes to a close.
120 of the best pictures summing up the 7 year Delhi journey. Click and open to view in full size.

Thank you for the 7 years of awesome memories. Good bye Delhi!

Also read:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

When the Clock struck 6: An Independence Day Post

A chain of thoughts led me to the realisation that it is for the first time that I am at home on the 15th of August since I moved to Delhi over 7 years ago from Odisha. Why is it significant? Because in the years before that, we used to organise a flag hoisting ceremony on the rooftop of our apartment early morning at 6, before we proceeded to go and attend the function at school. A practice that stalled when I moved away from home.

The tricolour hosted on our rooftop. Picture dated: 15 August 2006
It used to be an elaborate process. We were a group of 8-15 year olds who had formed a children’s club in the colony. We called it ‘Jagriti Amar-Tinkle Club’ or ‘JATC’ in short. (Yes, there was a ‘Tinkle’ link) We met on Sundays, twice a month, usually at one of the member’s house in rotation, and organised activities and contests for ourselves. We would get elders in the colony, our parents and grandparents, and teachers from school to judge the events. We went on to even celebrate our sports meet and annual functions with full-on performances over the three years the club functioned (2004-2007). Uncle Pai, the founding Editor of Tinkle, was my guiding force, who helped me in setting up the club and kept an eye on its activities.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Gauri shares her #ColgateMagicalStories

This Saturday when my mother invited our maid's 9 year old daughter, Gauri, she was anxious about the visit. I wondered if she would be okay to be on camera. We handed her the packs of Colgate Dental Cream and implored her to look inside for a surprise. Shy of the camera at first, but within minutes the young girl was all pumped-up and working her way with the scissors to bring her magical stories alive. Take a look at the vlog of her experience:

After over two hours when we asked her what she wanted to do now, all she said was "I want to play more". And so, she carried the Colgate characters home and as her mother tells us, "spent the entire evening and some days after that, creating all kinds of amazing royal tales." The power of constructive parenting.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Watch the Teaser of 'Told Untold' (2015)

I take immense pleasure in releasing the teaser for my new documentary film 'Told Untold' for online audiences. The film premiered on 31st May 2015 at Kunzum Cafe, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi for a limited audience (Details & Photos- here). It is common practice to have a trailer for a film long before the release so as to create a social buzz about it, amidst other reasons. Surprisingly, the premiere of the film happened long before the trailer was cut. There is a special reason for this. The premiere in a way was a test-screening of the film so as to gather feedback and suggestions from the audience and accordingly incorporate changes in the final cut. The final cut was completely last week and keeping in view the timing, the teaser is being released.


About the film: 'Told Untold'

Friday, July 31, 2015

Crossing the Tropic of Cancer on the way to Sanchi

When we are headed to a tourist destination, we usually do our research about it. We know of the location of famous monuments from the years of well, knowing about them. (India Gate is in Delhi- didn’t you know this from always?) We know why Mumbai, a coastal city, is so close to the western ghats if we paid a little attention in the Geography classes in school. But there are times when certain things and their location surprise us, when we cross our paths unexpectedly.

This was in May 2012, at the peak of the summer season. We were visiting our family friends in Bhopal for a weeklong holiday. Now, we all have heard about Bhopal thanks to the infamous gas tragedy of December 1984. But it wasn’t before this trip that I knew that the famous Sanchi Stupas were located close to this Central Indian city. As we headed to the UNESCO world heritage site of Sanchi, a surprise greeted us on the highway connecting Bhopal to Sanchi- Tropic of Cancer- the famous imaginary line the early geologists and Earth scientists drew for easier location scouting (Do I put it right?)

We got down from the car to take a closer look at the cemented board proclaiming that the Tropic of Cancer passes here. Two parallel strips of white paint across the road showed the exact latitude: 23 degrees 26 minutes North (approx).  The signboard, as is the case with all monuments in India, was defaced by random people.

Tropic of Cancer on the Bhopal-Sanchi Highway, Madhya Pradesh (May 2012)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dawn to Dusk: Captured Moods of the Taj Mahal

There is absolutely no dearth of “beautiful amazing glorious splendid magnificent fantabulous” pictures of the Taj Mahal on the internet. When you got your first glimpse of the Taj on entering its gates, probably all the above adjectives “couldn’t describe the beauty in front of your eyes.” That’s how we all like to describe the wonder that is Taj. I have been to the Taj Mahal thrice over the last 3 years since setting my eyes on it for the first time in October 2012. They say “The Taj changes colour through the day”. Here is a set of pictures of the Taj, captured at different times of the day in different seasons.

Look and behold these pictures of the Indian beauty from dawn to dusk. No filters, zero editing- natural clicks. The Nikon/Canon pictures are by my college friends Kshitiz, Sahil and Shivangi during our first trip to the Taj. Pictures you see me in are clicked either by them or my family members in subsequent trips. All the others are by me. Read through the captions...

6 AM, April 2015, Camera: Apple iPhone 5S
My favourite picture of the Taj. Clicked immediately after the gates were thrown open in the morning.
The sun has probably just risen above the horizon. Not a single soul in sight- hard to believe!
Minutes later, the place was crowded. I felt privileged at being there at the specific time and clicking this picture.

Friday, July 10, 2015

How I spent 34 hours on a train without getting bored

This post got featured in the Spicy Saturday Picks on Blogadda.

2318 kilometres, 34 hours, 7 states and a LOT of time for food and sleep, welcome aboard the Bengaluru Rajdhani Express.

I arrived at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station on Wednesday evening just as the Bengaluru Rajdhani pulled in to Platform #4. With enough time in hand, I decided to take a trip to the end of the train and then come back and take my seat. The 5 digit coach numbers started with ‘11’ and I checked the date at the end of the coach to make sure- yes, this was a 2011 build, brought into service early in 2012. As I entered my coach, I was actually impressed with the neatness of it. I put the luggage and settled comfortably on my seat, waiting for the 34 hour journey to kick off.

“34 hours.”

“34 hours? That’s like I would sleep tonight, wake tomorrow, sleep tomorrow and wake the next day and you shall still be in the train!” My friend had replied in shock earlier in the day.

I laughed.

The Bengaluru Rajdhani waits for its go-ahead signal at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station, Delhi, July 2015
Exactly at 8.45 PM, as the train began its long journey, the catering and housekeeping guys sprung to action immediately.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Experiencing a Maharashtra State Transport Bus Journey

“Don’t tell me we will be taking those rickety red buses that ply on the roads here,” I asked my father.

“Yeah, those buses indeed!” he replied.

The only thought on my mind was how I was going to survive a 3 hour trip on one of those old iron buses whose engines make huge noises, the entire bus body crackles and on which I am bound to get motion sickness.

After a much needed respite from the heat, it had rained continuously for the last two weeks. It was a relief to see the sun up in the sky on Thursday morning, the day my sister and I were to leave from Chandrapur for New Delhi. Delay in planning had led to no direct train tickets availability on the route and so, we had got our tickets booked on the Bilaspur Rajdhani Express from Nagpur. This meant we had to cover the 154 kilometre distance from Chandrapur to Nagpur either by road or a local train to catch the Rajdhani.

The Government Bus Stand, Chandrapur, Maharashtra
We reached the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) government bus stand in Chandrapur around 3.15 PM and waited for our bus. There are regular services between Chandrapur to Nagpur every 10 minutes, and the buses almost always run with full capacity, my father informed us. I haven’t been on one of these local state buses in many years and was absolutely apprehensive about the journey.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

'Nabakalebara': Why the Jagannath Rath Yatra is special this year

I am not a religious person but some tales are so mysterious that they fascinate me and I am urged to share them.

Puri in Eastern Odisha houses one of the char dhaams of Hinduism (4 of the most sacred places that every Hindu ought to visit in his/her lifetime), the others being Badrinath (North), Dwarika (West) and Rameshwaram (South). Each of the dhaams has a deity, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, that has resided in a temple complex for centuries. While the stories of how the other 3 dhaams came into existence are very known due to their repeated telecasts in some form or the other in mythological tv serials, the story of Jagannath Puri is hardly known to non-Odia people.

The Jagannath Temple, Puri, viewed from across the 'Bada Danda'
This being said, I can very safely assume that even less number of people are aware of ‘Navakalebara’.

I know the story because my grandmother narrated it to me while I was very young. And there hasn’t been a dearth of news stories appearing all over the internet for the past year.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

13th of June- Completing 7 years of blogging

13th of June 2008: It was like any other day but unlike in many many ways. It was the first time that I woke up in Delhi that morning with no clue that I would be spending the next 7 years in the city pursuing ‘education’ at three different levels (My 10th Board results had just been declared). A combination of curiosity, lack of having anything else to do, a lot of inspiration and a little flair for writing- I think that’s what put me on this long journey that afternoon, 7 years ago.
Celebrating the blog's 6th birthday last year by cutting
a 'donut' for a cake! Location: Inorbit Mall, Malad, Mumbai
Having expressed the wish to meet my blog’s inspiration in last year’s 13th of June post, and then in less than 10 days, actually meeting and working with him- that’s what I call a proud feeling. I couldn’t show my blog to him in that limited time (I do hope someday he will take notice), but come on- working with him- it was something I never bargained for! (Yes, I am talking about Mr. Bachchan!) Chaos theory effectively applied to that little inspiration, 7 years ago.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Premiere of Told Untold- Thank you!

It had been a dream to have a screening for my film at a public place for over two years. I really never imagined that what I called the 'Premiere' of my film solely for the sake of creating a buzz, would actually become such a huge event. No wonder the guys at Kunzum said that they have never seen such a crowd at the cafe before!

The feeling still isn't sinking in that something big has happened. I think what made all the difference to me (much more than the reactions to the film) was simply YOU showing up for the show.

May be all this is just the beer speaking, (that my school friends thought was absolutely essential for the unexpected and absolutely amazing 'Afterparty' that they roped me into) but yeah, I haven't known a prouder moment in my life than seeing the houseful Kunzum cafe.

For every single person who showed up- my friends from DAV, hostel mates from DPS, batchies and juniors from MBICEM, friends from MCRC, my teachers, my guides, my friends, friends of friends, friends of my parents, friends of my sister, people I had only heard about earlier, people I didn't even know, and of course, my family- THANK YOU SO MUCH for being there.

The feeling that college is over, now finally is starting to sink in. I don't know what's next in life. Delhi or Mumbai, writing or films, good things or bad- I have absolutely no clue of anything. Things have always had a way of falling into place, and I hope they will work out even now. One thing that I am certain of is the presence of you amazing people in my life- I don't know what I would have done in any alternate situation or way-of-life. Thank you, every single one of you, for being there at all the times I needed you, for all your support, and more importantly, for being there at the times I had no clue I could do with a little help of yours.

Thank you for everything. :)

A few pictures from the eventful screening aka PREMIERE of TOLD UNTOLD:

Eagerly waiting for the premiere to begin. But then, we are in India, and we 'follow time'- Kunzum Travel Cafe

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Last Day: The pie stands consumed

9th May, 1:50 AM (Pre-Farewell Party)

Hey guys

Seriously what the hell am I doing? You guys say you read my blog. Some of you probably do. But still, you are not reading this, without me poking the link to you, are you?

Haah.. Gotcha!

Haha.. Okay so that's not me. You know that well. (I don't know how and when I decided to let that happen)

Two years ago when my graduation ended, I wrote a letter to all my friends at MBICEM- it was something I had wanted to do. It contained things I wanted to share with people but had never been able to, I wanted to clear a lot of misconceptions about me through it. And I knew one thing for sure when I joined MCRC- a letter like that would never be written by me again for the friends I make here. You know why? Because I never intended to have any kind of strong bonds with you. I just didn't want to have any connection. None of any kind. Spend 9.30 to 5 in college and then leave the place, the people, the work and go back to the people and things I enjoyed doing. I just hated this place. I hated each and every little thing about here. And it was not because of anything, but an unwise choice made by me. I was stuck.
26-05-2015- Last Day
I distinctly remember the last working day of our first semester. End of November 2013. I got out of the lab and the sky was already darkening. The corridors were completely empty. For the first time an unusual and unexpected thought struck me- three semesters later, I am going to miss seeing this view every evening.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bombay Velvet: And why YOU need to decide if it is good or bad

NO SPOILERS. This is NOT a review.

So this morning I went to PVR Saket and saw the much talked about (and criticised) film of the week: Bombay Velvet. My first reaction at the end of the film: Why do I suddenly feel that this entire thing against BV is some serious kind of negative propaganda done by the media, critics and filmmakers together against Anurag Kashyap?

I haven’t read a single review of the film till now (I never do when I know that it is a film I have to see. Else I would have a biased opinion about it even before I see it and that would absolutely influence my movie watching experience). But with the kind of negative response coming from all sectors (you can’t avoid the internet right?) I did my best not to get influenced by any of the comments until I saw the film myself. Yes, whoever wrote it, said it right- the internet IS killing Bombay Velvet! And it’s not just BV. It is the internet (and facebook specifically) which is killing good films and encouraging stupid ones. And most of us have fallen into this trap. (Completely. Without knowing probably.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bolting our way to Neemrana Fort #BoltDrives

“How much driving experience do you have, Antarik?” Arvind Sir asked me from the backseat.

“Frankly, not much,” I nervously replied.

“Don’t worry. Just be calm and drive,” he told me.

I kept my attention on the road, the speedometer close to 90 and the highway almost empty on the Sunday afternoon.

It had been a surprise when I had received an email from Blogadda a week ago inviting me to be part of a test-drive experience of the new Bolt from Tata Motors. Going by the minimal driving experience I have and the lack of confidence generated mostly by the paranoia of my family members (that I would crash the car), my response had been reluctant. I responded to the email saying I wouldn’t be comfortable driving a new car all by myself. A little communication over the next couple of days and my excitement of getting to drive a car without any of the ‘paranoia’ made sure I finally agreed to be part of this first-time experience.

The Godfather Lounge at Hotel Galaxy, Gurgaon #BoltDrives
Came Sunday morning and I was headed to the Galaxy Hotel in Gurgaon, the start point of the drive to Neemrana Fort & Palace. It was a warm welcome at The Godfather Lounge of the hotel where I was handed over a goodie bag and got to know about my team members and co-drivers. To my surprise, I was to join two fellow bloggers who I have known after having met a couple of times at previous blogging events.

Friday, May 01, 2015

A Different Delhi

As I took the turn towards my place, I finally took my phone out. It was a few minutes past 11. I saw that the main gate of the building was open. I thought it was unusual since the gate was usually locked before 11. Quite a few things have been unusual this evening, I thought.

I was out in Saket this evening. Experimenting with the bookmyshow mobile app, I had earlier in the day booked a movie ticket. I left home well on time for the show and for some reason I realised I had a feeling of uneasiness as soon as I stepped out of the house. It’s probably just because I haven’t left the house whole day, I thought. I had a little difficulty on finding myself an autoricksaw, but managed to get one and reached PVR Saket well before time. 
A most unusual sight greeted me. There was a loud sound of someone speaking on the mike with instrumental music in the background. I wondered where it was coming from. There was no difficulty in spotting the source. The entire area in front of the multiplex was occupied for some kind of function. The decoration seemed nice but seeing something like this here surprised me. I didn’t bother finding out what exactly was happening, having realised it was some kind of religious function going on.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I am Lost!

Another month and I would be done with my course. End of the two year Masters degree. Obviously, the question on each and every person’s mind whenever they meet me these days is: “What’s next?” I don’t know if it is the most obvious question or the easiest question to ask. Whatever the case might be, (it doesn’t matter actually) it sure is the most difficult question to answer for me these days.

Whether it was the college magazine we made in straight 20 days in 2012 or the revival of the 'impossible' First Frame international film festival in 2013, I knew and was repeatedly told that I am great at managing work and working under the tightest deadlines.

At the end of a college event few days back, which was effectively done in less than a week and was able to garner coverage in the local newspapers, a faculty of mine told me, “There is something about you that makes people listen to you. People want to work when you ask them to.” And frankly, I was surprised. Nobody had ever told me anything like this before. I just had a smile on my face and was wondering, This man has known me hardly since a few weeks and has absolutely no clue of the work I have done previously. How did he judge me so well so soon?
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