Sunday, 18 December 2016

Review of “Kashmir 90” by Vineet Mishra


Kashmir 90Kashmir 90 by Vineet Mishra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I give 4 stars to “Kashmir 90” by Vineet Mishra. It is a story from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

This is pretty good book on marriage, love, life and some events that shook India. You will feel the trials and tribulations of the lead character Shiv Pandit and his friend Vineet as your own.

The story starts with marital problems of Vineet and Mallika. They are a typical modern couple who has a lot of money but stress, no time for each other and rushed, tired life as side effects or price for that money. Shiv Pandit is always gregarious friend of Vineet. One fine day they meet for beer and Shiv is not in a joyous mood. He also rues that his life has become routine and dull. Vineet feels he can find remedy for his problems in Shiv’s experience. Shiv tells him that his story started from Srinagar, Kashmir. He joined Regional Engineering College, Srinagar in mechanical engineering. There he meets love of his life Maya who is from Kerala and joined Civil Engineering. Then due to terrorism in valley they have to leave college and lost touch. Then after many twists and turns story culminates in Mumbai during Ram Janambhoomi agitation.

The book kept me captivated. This is a brisk paced novel. It starts from Mumbai then goes to Baroda, Surat, Mumbai, Kerala. The romance is in beginning teenage but later one matures to married romance. The characters are real and relatable. I related with the story more as I also did my engineering from REC, Surat and had three friends who came from REC, Srinagar after terrorism. The lead character Shiv and his friends are very lively. Plight of Kashmiri Pandits who has to leave everything behind in valley and start from scratch is brought out beautifully. Love story of Shiv and Maya is very pure, likable and sweet. College time fun is described in detail. Ramjanam Bhoomi agitation and subsequent demolition of Babri Masjid led to friction between Hindus and Muslims. This is driven them apart and it will take a long time to bridge that gap. Even then the scar will remain.

Solution to keep the flame of love burning in married life is given thus:

“The relationship between you and Mallika can only stay fresh if you reinvent it all the time. The moment you stop working on it that’s the day it will drift. Work, kids and all the responsibilities must be kept aside for few moments once in a while. In those moments forget that you are husband and wife and are so annoying for each other. Take your thoughts to your college time and remember with how much difficulty you got her. That doesn’t mean you would seize to be husband and wife, and become perfect. That won’t happen. You will still fight and we will meet again to crib about our wives.”

To sum up a very good novel. Highly recommended. I will planning to read “Vinu, I am getting married” shortly.


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Review of “Shold I hate or love” by Kisnaa

I give 2.5 stars to “Should I hate or love” by Kisnaa.

The story is simple love story between Aayan and Siya. Aayan a simple, innocent, intelligent and hardworking boy. But he is from a dysfunctional family with a sadistic step dad. Siya is a beautiful simple girl in his class. They fall in love. They come close and then grow apart. This all happens in flashback. All this is being told by Aayan to Samaira, his current girlfriend. This is the story of Aayan journey from Siya to Samaira.

Though there is one boy and two girls, it is not a love triangle in traditional sense. Because Samaira comes when Sia leaves him. The story is moving and romantic. Lovers of genre will  like it immensely. Each chapter has one or two Hindi Kavita (Poems) which are also translated in English. Which shows that author is proficient in both Hindi and English as well as Poetry and Prose.

The story gives some gyaan too like doing things for happiness.

“You always take care of your health. Sometimes unhygienic food is good too. If for one’s happiness, one gets ill a time or two, it’s certainly worth it. You miss the mist beautiful days of rain by just sitting inside your home. Life’s enjoyment is in these small things. You are never going to get happiness if you’ll search for it outside.    Start living your life on your own terms for once, every happiness will come to you on its own.”

On the other hand the story is quiet meandering, tired and old. There is nothing new or fresh. It is all clichéd. The scenes showing his father sadism are repulsive. This is a not-feel-good story.

A strictly one time read only for those who are sucker of romance.


Friday, 4 November 2016

Review of Adhira by Aditti


Adhira: Love Lost & FoundAdhira: Love Lost & Found by Aditti Gaur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Friday, 4 November 2016 Review of Adhira by Aditti

Adhira: Love Lost & Found Adhira: Love Lost & Found by Aditti Gaur My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adhira by Aditti Gaur (one t more maybe numerology), I give this book four stars. Thank you Tushti Bhatia and author for providing me a review copy.

Adhira gives us a glimpse of how an independent woman reacts when life throws complex situations at her. The pace of book is very slow. But it is an interesting read. Aditti has a very deep understanding of women’s emotions. Adhira is very emphatic and compassionate.

Long distance marriages are a difficult thing to maintain and responsibility of women like explained below: “In this patriarchal society, no matter how successful a woman became, her real worth is measured based on how successful she was in handling her marriage, children, husband and other relationships”.

The love hate kinda relationship between Adhira and her friends can be visualised by the lines author mentioned: “Sometimes, you faked anger toward your loved ones for some time but once they start talking, every strand of anger melts away”.

At the same time author describes another couples story which is going through the tough phase of life.

It is also about the apprehensions of a girl who is about to enter in a love marriage are beautifully explained through “(I am) scared of losing my freedom after marriage. Scared to think about the upcoming changes that will happen in my life. I have to leave everyone behind, my papa- who is everything to me, my house- which comforts me throughout my life, my friends- who are more than family to me, and most importantly my surname- which is my identity.”

This and many more pearls of wisdom are there in the book. I feel Aditti is spot on in bringing out the emotions of the female characters of the book. The book has mention of Meerut and it being my home town I have special place for that place in my heart. It made me nostalgic.

There are some issues too. Pace of book is very slow especially the first half. The book is very predictable and nothing surprising ever happens. Love track of Adhira with so many people is another sore point. Either she is willingly ignoring all her lovers or she is a fool not to see. If someone loves a woman and is with you for a long time it is impossible she will not see that. Moreover, she is shown as very emphatic and emotional. The main angle is not explored adequately.

I admired the depth with which Aditti knows the emotions of human beings. This is a very mature book and maybe some younger audience might not like it. It will definitely strike a chord amongst married couples. After a decade of marriage some monotony sets in and the romance goes out of window. Marriage is not a bed of roses and with it brings a lot of responsibilities. Before marriage you are a free bird without a worry and answerable to none. When you marry you just don’t marry a person but marry a whole family. Then comes the kids and daily chores. It takes a lot of maturity, time and effort to keep the flame of romance burning. It all boils down to your values and upbringing how you manage the situation. Aditti brought out these facets of marriage beautifully. I liked the book a lot. Kudos to author to write such a value based, mature, compassionate and romantic book.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Review of Love Forever @ Rajpath


Love Forever @ RajpathLove Forever @ Rajpath by Kalpana Mishra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love forever @ Rajpath Approved …. As proposed by Kalpana Mishra, I give this book three and half stars. Thank you Tushti Bhatia and author for providing me a review copy.

As they say love is blind but in this case it is not so. Both protagonist Shalini and Kartik are very driven, intelligent, sensible and level headed. Their love is anything but blind. It is sweet simple love story, a classic office romance.

Shalini Pahilajani (surname is a tongue twister. Can’t figure out how to pronounce it) is a very intelligent and hard working girl. She is selected as a group B officer in Central Government and posted in a ministry located in one of the many Bhawans scattered around Rajpath. Kartik Vats is also posted in the same bhawan. Hence the name Love forever @ Rajpath. I will come to second part later. Shalini is a Sindhi whose family came from Pakistan during partition. Shalini does not want to marry as she thinks the marriage is against women and they are made to suffer and tortured on various pretexts. Kartik Vats is a Bihari and also very intelligent. He is besotted with her and finds excuses just to talk to her. As luck would have it Shalini is preparing for Civil services with Public Administration as optional. Kartik also pretend that he had Pub Ad as optional and thus they start interacting. As happens in all love stories he proposes and she accepts. Funny thing is that he proposes in a very official language on a note sheet (a green color note sheet is used for intra office communication) and she accepts. As the custom in central government offices she write “APPROVED AS PROPOSED”. Hence the second part of title. Then as usual chores of getting families ready, caste and regional differences, janam patris (natal chart) etc ensues. Finally when the families agree comes the tragedy. Kartik is kidnapped for jabariya shadi (forced marriage). How the two deal with it forms the rest of story. As expected all is well in the end.

Language if book is very simple. The romance is set in government office between two mid level government servants so it is subdued. Being a central government employee myself I can relate with the narrative. They are very traditional and please don’t expect any thing like corporate romance. There is no pre marital sex. There is only one kiss and that is all. It is all very north Indian if I can say. Though the girl is born and brought up in Delhi she has a very conservative outlook. Some stereotypes are mentioned like Biharis by Shalini brother Uday

“Suppose after marriage he shows his true Bihari colors?” Uday said.
“What are true Bihari colors?”
“If he beats you up, does not bother about you, might seek a lot of dowary or if his family does not accept you then..”


Similar apprehension is shown by Kartik family who thinks Sindhis are Pakistani and stingy.
But Kalpana did not stick to stereotypes and debunked those.


The book is debut effort of author and it is very commendable. Dowry is a burning issue and this led to this horrendous custom of Jabariya shadi in upper castes of Bihar. In this some goons kidnaps an eligible bachelor and they marry him to a girl at gun point. What happens afterwards is anybody’s guess. This is not a usual love story. The hero almost married another girl.

Shalini is very head strong and sticks to her ideals. She is ready to sacrifice her love also for her beliefs. Kartik on the other hand comes our as a honest but weak person. He has his reasons for that but still I felt he should have supported Shalini when she needed him most. She did not even care for her own safety to rescue him and he became so blind that he only saw her actions after he is rescued. So Shalini comes out on top.

A very good romantic novel with a message against dowry and girls’ education. Waiting for another novel from Kalpana.

P.S. The pairing of Bihari and Sindhi is inspired by a real life Bollywood super star. None other than Sharughan Sinha. Kamoshhhh




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Monday, 31 October 2016


Ashvamedha - The Game Of PowerAshvamedha - The Game Of Power by Aparna Sinha
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ashvamedha by Aparna Sinha, I give this book 3.5 stars. Hats off to a woman author to write an english thriller mystery in India. Thank you Tushti Bhatia and author for a review copy.

Come on a thrilling ride. Please suspend the belief and just enjoy. You will get your money’s worth and much more. The action start from first page with an accident and kidnapping and it is relentless till end. There is no slack moment except the unnecessary love track between Ashwin and Adya. Except that the action and thrill is unending and relentless.

It is a welcome break to see a thriller from an Indian writer that too from a woman (except maybe Ashwin Sanghi). The market is overflowing with mushy romance. It is said that Indian reader wants nothing but romance. So it is very courageous from Aparna to write a thriller mystery in English. There are many thriller mystery writers in Hindi; most prominent being Ved Prakash Sharma and Surendra Mohan Pathak. This reminded me of them both. In international authors I was reminded of Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum and David Baldacci.

As this a thriller mystery I will tread with caution in my remarks so as not to give away any spoilers.

The story start with the kidnapping of a dishonest politician Ashok Kumar Nandi (no need of adjective BTW saying politician says it all hehehe). He has illicit relations with Thandi group chairwoman Sumona. Both of them used each other in all possible ways for personal gains. The master manipulator Hades make sure they are killed. Hades is omnipotent, omnipresent and is able to manipulate things not only of national level but also on international level. Ashwin Jamwal is an honest and passionate Indian. He is brilliant orator and strategist. He wants to serve the country and clears civil services for that. He is honest DM but soon realizes that honesty will take him nowhere. So he start the policy of tit for tat. He digs up past of other dishonest people and uses these for doing the right thing. Soon he is trapped himself and he has to resign. IM Rathi is the founder of nationalistic party and Hades manipulates him to bring Ashwin into politics. Soon Ashwin becomes president of party and his power rises. So much so that Rathi is sidelined and commits suicide. Ashwin is elected youngest PM of India. Then story picks pace and it reaches international level. How Hades manipulates all and the mystery of his being is the crux of novel. In the end all is well (or is it?).

The story get hold of you from page one and once you start you can’t leave it in between. Simply put the book is unputdownable. I read it very fast and finished it in two sittings. The tension keeps building and one is curious to know what happens next.

In Vedic times Ashvamedha Yagna was performed by kings to assert their dominion over all other kings. Lord Ram did it and so did Pandavas. A horse is sent in all directions and if it passes a king’s territory without interruption that territory is acquired. If some king impounds it he has to fight with the King who is performing Ashvamedha Yagna. If defeated he has to give up his kingdom. Thus the king acquires territory of all others and become Chakravarti Samrat, Sehanshan or king of kings. This is the method of asserting domination. There cannot be a better name for this book because Hades is so power hungry he wants to become the King of Kings, Most powerful man on earth. As in the yagna, this madness of Hades leads to so much spilled blood.

There are many inconsistencies though. I won’t dwell much here because it will give away spoilers. One the issue of international relations and international terrorism is too simplistic. In fact the whole treatment of novel is simplistic. The things are not so easy to manipulate as shown in the novel. Some of the facts mentioned in the book are not right. The biggest problem is timeline which is overlapping. There are so many loose ends which were not tied. Some characters were introduced for no particular reason and only thing it did was to slack the pace of book.

All in all a very good book. On back cover it is mentioned that author has some chronic disease. I pray it is nothing serious. Because I am desperately waiting for her next book.


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Friday, 28 October 2016


The Three Wise MonkeysThe Three Wise Monkeys by Jeet Gian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid 3.5 starts. Thanks Saheli Chatterji and author to provide me a review copy.

The author is a CA and the book is about money laundering. Though the book is light heated in approach but it deals with a serious issue of money laundering through bogus off shore companies. The book explained the concept in such a simple and interesting way that even a layman like me understood. There is an ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) or you may also call him/ her Unknown Beneficial owner ;). Then a chain of bogus companies is set up in countries like Belize, Panama, British Virgin Island, Cyprus and Cayman island etc. Then through these countries the money is finally parked into Switzerland. Even the name of UBO can be hidden by using share register or MOA. These countries are called tax heavens and they have double taxation avoidance treaty with India. So if the money is taken through this route it is almost impossible to trace it back to the original owner.

There are three main monkeys oops protagonists Amar, Akbar and Anthony. They are born losers and pass their CA exam after billion attempts. They are idiots and even after they set up the company, they don’t get work. At the same time they are honest and honest CA doesn’t last. Then there are twin brother Raj and Suhas who are married to Ruma and Suma. They are hen pecked husbands and has a common concubine Shobha. They have secretaries Farah and Meghna. Raj and Suhas have no morals and they are ready to do anything for money and bend any rules. There is a wily banker Ashwin who has assistant named Sarah. As expected all these people paths cross and AAA falls in love with Meghna, Farah and Sarah respectively (I failed to understand why in 2016 author is compelled to pair them as per religion). Anyways the Trio is set up in the money laundering scheme of Ashwin. Then all hell breaks loose and they are arrested for no fault of their own. There are many other characters and many sub plots. Finally all is well in the end.

I like the humor of the book. The book is hilarious. There are many tongue in cheek one liners. Sample these:
1. Tax is a burden but tits are a beauty.
2. Rakesh Manjrekar could not pronounce hard consonant ‘k’; instead he would say ‘t’.
3. There is only one way to convince a woman, whether she is your wife, mother or daughter. Don’t try to persuade her. Ask for her forgiveness.
4. Suhas intercepted that common unappealing look that adorns the faces of all women when they are pissed at their husbands.
5. The ACP shushed them, which was also a mistake, and it was against the United Nations support for women’s right.
6. Ashwin sold his Ferrari and became a monk; now he lives in baba Ramdev’s ashram.

Not all is hunky dory though. There are so many subplots and multiplicity of characters. This confused me and it became difficult to keep track of all of them like Shetty brothers track. Also many characters were introduced very late in the story and that became cumbersome. The climax is prolonged and three monkeys track albeit hilarious but it was exasperating. It read like a Bollywood script in the end. The author had such a wide canvas and in the end it was a desperate attempt to bring together in the climax. Generally in every novel there is one epilogue but here we have 5 epilogues which runs into almost 7 pages. In epilogue also there is story progressing which was too much for my taste. Maybe it would have been better that author would have written a part two instead of wrapping up everything in a jiffy.

All in all a very good book. If we ignore the deficiencies pointed out in above para the book is very hilarious and educational about money laundering in particular and corruption in general. I had a blast reading it and I recommend you also read it at the earliest. I am planning to read the three U-turns of my life soon.


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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Review of Raven Song by Ashcroft


Raven Song (Inoki's Game, #1)Raven Song by I.A. Ashcroft
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Raven Song (Inoki's Game, #1)
by I.A. Ashcroft
Format : Epub
Review copy provided by: Author Assistant
Star Rating: 3 stars
I was provided a review copy and thanks Author Assistant for that.
The book is set into not so distant apocalyptic future. There is radiation harming humans. The Geiger counter is everywhere. The main protagonists are Jackson and Anna. The story is meandering and confusing. It reminded me of Kurt Russel movie Escape from L.A. One reason maybe that it is just part one of four part series. So the story is just building and it will pick up pace later on. It is strictly a one time read.

Some excerpts:
The men are disposable machines as explained beautifully below:
“Besides, the Coalition will need your services in the future. Sort of stupid to poison you all now.”
The argument was quite logical.
______
Anna wakes up in a daze naked:
“She noticed then, in a distant way, that her palms felt only bare skin. Anna looked down, blinking, recognizing suddenly the warm brush of wind on her thighs, the hot scrape of earth on the soles of her feet. Her clothes were completely gone. She made a raspy, shrieking noise, sinking to the ground in a ball, covering herself as best as she could with her arms, the world tipping and rocking again.”
Anna wanted to live in a trance but ultimately face reality:
“Anna didn’t know what to say. Her denial of her reality had only recently fallen away. And then, as the memories came back, as every new, impossible thing kept piling up, she’d even started to wonder if she’d gone crazy. Heck, she’d considered reincarnation. But… she was real. She still had her DNA and fingerprints. She was fundamentally Anna. And, this thought almost made her cry with the comfort it provided.”
______
“Anna had been spared that, at least. The debris had bounced from her, bruising her, but causing no serious harm—and the hurts it did cause felt as if they were healing already. She bounded ahead of the soldiers, snagging a handhold in the maimed dirt. Her arms screamed as she pulled herself up, forcing her hands into new nooks, finding purchase for her feet. She never would have been able to do this in her past life. And yet, now, it seemed like she should, and she was hardly surprised when it worked.”
_____
Love can blossom even in time of dystopia:

“And, for just a moment, he’d been wired directly into Anna’s being. What she’d done had taken that strange sense of familiarity he’d felt with her since they’d met and amplified it a hundred times over. The connection had been electrifying. And, so help him, he wanted to feel it again. He wanted to lean in close to her giggling, bright face dusted with ash and dirt, and he wanted to kiss her, wanted to run his hands through her hair, wanted to hold her to him until the militia got there and dragged them both away.”
____


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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Ketamine

Ketamine

2 Oct 2016
Dev Chakravarti was having coffee with Aditi at Starbucks.
‘Dev, don’t you become bored with chasing all these drug lords and criminals. It is such a boring field I guess. How do you feel being ACP, Homicide, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)?” Aditi teased him.
“Dear what you do by the way? MAM of Spiel advertising.” Dev asked.
“I study consumer habits and spot trends.” she said.
Dev phone buzzed. Name of Mohammad Najeeb, ACP, anti Narcotics branch of NBI flashed. He listened the call for full five minutes. Then he remained lost in thought. After five minutes when the silence became too much Aditi touch his hand lovingly. He came out of his reverie.
“What?” She asked.
“That’s cool yaar. Can you do a study of consumer’s trend of a drug for me Aditi.”
“Which one?”
“Ketamine.”
“What is the need?”
“There are murders committed because of this as far as I know. Ganesh and Najeeb are already there. I have to go now.”
“I want to come with you.”
“OK. Tag along. We have to reach Munka village”
Dev and Aditi reached Munka village within 15 minutes. Najeeb and Ganesh greeted them.
“Najeeb! Why are you here if it a case of murder.” Dev asked.
“Dev it is not just murder. It is drug deal gone bad. The victims are identified as  Salman and Kallu. We have found 2 kg of Ketamine. Apparently whosoever has to take it further got into a tiff with them and killed them.” Said Najeeb.
“”Look they are very powerfully built persons and it is not easy to kill both even with a gun. So it seems the killer is very quick, ruthless and strong.”
Forensics (National forensic crime lab NFSL) people has come to crime scene. Ganesh told that this building is on rent and nobody cares about neighbors. So even if somebody saw anything there are no witnesses.
“We have to tackle it old fashioned way. And I hope we get some idea from forensic evidence.”
_____
They all reached NBI headquarter.
They settled in Najeeb’s chamber. Najeeb ordered tea for all.
“Najeeb please tell what you know about this drug” Dev said.
“Ketamine (Ketalar) is a dissociative general anesthetic that has been available by prescription in the U.S. since the 1970s for human and veterinary uses. It has also been used for pain control in burn therapy, battlefield injuries, and in children who cannot use other anesthetics due to side effects or allergies. Ketamine has become a drug of abuse and recreational drug. Ketamine for recreational purposes is sourced illegally via the diversion of the prescription products. Ketamine is available in a clear liquid or off-white powder form. Ketamine may be injected intravenously or intramuscularly, consumed orally, or added to marijuana and smoked. Abuse of ketamine can lead to powerful visual hallucinations that are intensified by environmental stimuli. When higher doses of ketamine are abused, it is reported to produce an “out-of-body”, “K-hole” or “near-death” hallucinogenic experience, often reported as terrifying. More recently, ketamine has become popular in the U.S. as a “club drug”, often used by teens and young adults at dance “rave” parties. Ketamine has also been used in instances of “date rape” due to its strong side effect of confusion and/or amnesia.”
“Wow that is so fast. We did not get half of it” Aditi said.
“In short you can say that this is a prescription drug but is being misused as a recreational and narcotic one. This is a menace and we are trying to stop it. Dev as this is the case we need your help too. We will from a team with the orders of Jt CP” Najeeb said.
“I want to hire Aditi as a consultant because we need to know the consumer behavior too”. Dev said.
“Let’s do it” said Aditi with enthusiasm.



5 October 2016
Aditi has done a lot of research in the intervening period. Also NBI has done the work in their own way. Once again they were in the chamber of ACP, Najeeb.
“Listen guys I have found an interesting pattern here. Maybe it can help you.”
“We are all ears” replied all three.
“The drug is popular in party circuit of Bangkok, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong kong etc. it is also used in Australia, Eurpoe and USA. As it is apparent Europe and USA are too far and supply there is from other centers. So from India supply can be to Bangkok, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong kong and Australia. A report says India's strategic location — situated between Southwest Asia (the Golden Crescent) and Southeast Asia (the Golden Triangle) — makes it an attractive transhipment area for contraband bound for Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and North America. The Golden Crescent is the name given to one of Asia's two principal areas of illicit opium production (with the other being the Golden Triangle), located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Western Asia. This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent.” Aditi took a pause.
“You are right Aditi. While much of the contraband like heroin, opium and cocaine come from abroad and use India as a transit point; Ketamine is largely sourced domestically. The modus operandi, say Indian drug enforcement agencies sources, is illicit diversion of stocks engineered by licenced Ketamine manufacturers from states like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. It is estimated that about four-five tonnes of ketamine go missing every year from legitimate production.” Added Najeeb. “We need to closely monitor legitimate Ketamine production and stop illicit diversion. The clandestine manufacture of Ketamine is a complex and costly process, therefore the main source of illicit Ketamine is through the diversion of legitimate pharmaceutical products,"
Dev and Ganesh are listening attentively.
Najeeb continued “Much of this diversion is taking place from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. Himachal in particular has an industry-favourable tax regime that has led to proliferation of Ketamine manufacturing companies. Several of these firms have been found to be unscrupulously diverting Ketamine to illicit markets,"
All were silent for a while. Then they proceeded to Joint CP Brijesh pande Office.

“Sir we now have several leads. This is not a case of simple homicide. It is a drug deal gone wrong” Dev said after briefing him of the information already obtained.
“Dev and all you have done a good job so far. What do we know about Salman and Kallu?” asked Pande.
“Sir they were low level dope pushers and carriers. I guess they became greedy or liability and so the boss asked them to be eliminated. But this is a dead end as we don’t know who ordered hit or who killed them. We contacted their families but they have no idea and they do not live in Delhi.” Ganesh updated. “The slugs removed were 0.32 caliber gun but in absence of gun we can not trace the killer”.
“Dev and Najeeb forget about killer. I think we should approach it from supply side. Let’s find out where they are supplying and how. If we can catch their carrier all will be well. There are reports coming from Calcutta, Goa and Chennai that ketamine carriers are nabbed. It seems it is an international level ring. Najeeb you go to Chenaai, Ganesh you go to Calcutta and Dev & Aditi you should go to Goa. I shall tie up there for all cooperation. Interview the nabbed carriers and then when you three come back we will compare notes. I am hopeful we will crack this one.” Said Pande.
When Dev and Aditi came out a mischievous smile was on her face as she was going Goa, land of fun and frolic, with her crush Dev.



10 October 2016
In Goa they went straight to the nabbed pusher Joseph. He told them to talk to Bajrangi Mishra in Delhi. He is the one who used to give him orders. Ganesh and Najeeb also got the same name. Dev and Najeeb carefully set up surveillance on Bajrangi. After careful investigation they got warrant against him.
Then they all four went to his palace like home in south Delhi.
“Bajrangi, How are you?” asked Dev.
“Never been better”.
“You won’t be any longer. We know all about your Ketamine business. Are you telling me now or later at HQ.”
“I guess I will talk here first. Maybe we can settle something”
“That depends on what you can offer me. And I am not talking of money. Start singing how you do it and who killed them”.
“I guess you know everything Dev. I will not say anything. Do whatever you want.”
------
He was sitting in interrogation room of NBI and Dev and Najeeb were sitting in front of him.
“How you take these drugs outside?
“I am not talking. Do whatever you want and get me a lawyer”
Dev knew that Bajrangi is a seasoned asshole.
“Listen carefully you Madarchod. I hate crime and criminals like you. I despise you from all my being. This is not America. I will beat you black and blue and keep you locked for as long as we want. You can either tell now or later. But later it will be painful. Choice is yours. We will come back after five minutes” Dev eyes were red and Mishra understood he meant business.
“Sit Down Dev. Salman and Kallu were being very greedy. They were stealing from us and selling it in party circuit of Delhi. In our business we just can not allow that. This is based on fear. So I ordered my hitman Shamshad to take care of them.”
“Hmm where can we find him?”
Bajrangi gave them and address and Dev gestured toward Ganesh and Aditi who were looking from one way glass. Ganesh was on his way to arrange his nabbing.
“How do you manage to take these drugs outside?”
“These are many methods. In south India there are many established red sanders smuggling ring. We use them for ketamine also. There is no problem and modus operandi is almost same. That is why you got tip from Chennai about me.” Mishra said “With the law catching up, we are trying innovative means to stay ahead. We are peddling drugs through the foreign postal department.
recently we hid 
Ketamine in a set of earphones and in a pack of bedsheets to be sent out to Australia. This is our new modus operandi.”
“How innovative. Najeeb take his full statement. I will go check on this Shamshad”.
____
In national level raids around 5000 kg of ketamine and a big lot of red sanders were seized. Shamshad was arrested and the gun was found. They have made around 150 arrests. The whole operation was brought down. All four were praised and as usual Dev Chakravarti ended up on top.
 When Dev and Aditi were alone she looked at him wistfully.
“What?” He looked into her eyes.
“Nothing. Nothing at all. I just need a JD. Let’s go to a bar. I am a market analyst not a daring officer like you Dev!”
“Oh you are very brave Aditi. I know it.”
Was it adoration or something else in his eyes? Aditi thought maybe someday she will know. Maybe……..










Sunday, 2 October 2016

Stolen hope


Stolen Hope (Ramayana: The Game of Life, Book #3)Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A solid five hundred stars. The copy is provided to me by Sh Shubha Vilas as a token of affection with these remarks.

“Dear Rajan! Here is a book that integrates Ramayan with our lives….and hoping that these life lessons become your life time companions.” Regards Shubha Vilas

This is not an ordinary book. This is a gem. This is an epic. This is not merely a retelling of Ramyana. It is interpretation of it. It has pearls of wisdom. You can not give it a casual reading. It is so intense and enlightening you have to read each page 5-6 times so as to get the full meaning. It gives the deeper meaning of actions of various characters especially lord Rama.

Sample some of the pearls of wisdom:

1. At the right time, when the desire to control is not given up voluntarily; it will be taken away involuntarily.
2. Responsibility is not a choice it’s an honor.
3. Nonfulfillment of our desires is not always someone else’s fault.
4. The lowest nature of a leader often becomes the highest hallmark of a follower.
5. Surfing is the art of focusing on one wave at a time. Happiness is the art of focusing one joy/ aspiration at a time.

There are countless others. I became a better person after reading this. Hoping to read others in the series soon.


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When my father cried


When My Father CriedWhen My Father Cried by Manisha Bhatia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A solid five stars. This is a debut novel of extremely talented Manisha Bhatia.

The copy is provided to me as a token of affection with these remarks

“Dear Rajan! With lots of love and best wishes for today and glorious future tomorrow. God bless.” Manisha.

From here itself the compassion of author is evident. For a debut novel quality is first rate. You don’t feel you are reading a novel of a first time author. It reads like a work of a veteran.

This is a tome of a book. It is thick and above that the font is small and line spacing is single. There are almost 400 pages. So when I first got it I felt daunted by its sheer size. But once you start you will fall in love with Malini Malhotra and you wish that the book never end. It is simply unputdownable.

I identified with her and her emotions. To tell you the truth I cried with her and laughed with her.

Ms Bhatia has written with a lot of heart.

In the end I reproduce the part poem “my father cried”:

Darkness ceased affairs retrieved
Ordeals overcome
Debacles healed
Universe celebrated the success
I cried…..
My father cried!


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Friday, 30 September 2016

Lemon girl


Lemon GirlLemon Girl by Jyoti Arora
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a very good book. Thanks to Jyoti for providing me a review copy.

The man woman equation in our society is still skewed. It is good that I read it after watching pink. The story of lemon girl gives the same message. Is rape the mistake of girl? Is she too inviting through her dress or manners so that the boy became horny?
Jyoti points this out beautifully:

‘How can anyone treat a victim as culprit and the culprit as victim? If a rapist is a victim. of temptation, then all thieves and robbers and corrupt people are blameless too because they too are victims of temptation and opportunity.’

It is story of Arsh and Nirvi, the Lemon Girl. It is told form their point of view in alternate chapters. There are other characters too like Tia, Kusum, Sam etc but protoganists are Arsh and Nirvi. Nirvi is a happy go lucky girl when Arsh first meets her. Then she is raped by her own brother and her mother blames her. She hates them for it and leaves the home. Then she lives the life of a Gypsy and Arsh meets her.
Then it is a journey of healing and love as Jyoti puts it beautifully in this poem:


"As long as we stare
at the shadows of the Past,
our eyes find only darkness.
But the world of Future
is a portal of possibilities,
and the path to it is paved
by the choices we ourselves make."

The book is a mixed bag of humour, sadness, poignancy, romance and hate. It is a roller coaster ride and finally in true Indian fashion all is well. But it is heart-breaking at times which leads to a satisfying climax.

Some excerpts:

How is it that the things that you don't notice while they are happening often come to haunt you years later and raise their phantoms vivid to the last detail? How is it that I now can see clearly how you stood, how you looked, and how you looked at me there in the market in Ghaziabad, five years ago, even though I scarcely noticed any of that then?
_______

She heard a million soothing words in your silence that night, a million calming embraces in the stillness of your hands. She stood bare before you, and felt you look into her, your core touching hers and finally bringing it to rest. And the reverberations that had been ringing through her since ages calmed down. She felt comforted, because she thought you cared.


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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Let the game begin


Let The Game BeginLet The Game Begin by Sandeep Sharma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks Mr Sandeep Sharma for providing me a review copy. A solid 3.5 stars.

I lost hope on Indian writers because apart from Ashwin Sanghi everybody is writing either romance or Myth. So this book is very refreshing. This covers a very long time span, 4000 years to be excat (now that is something). The basic outline is given in blurb and saying more will give away the plot. I hate to give spoilers of a mystery thriller.

It starts with two kingdoms Chaturang and Sarprakt and comes to present day India. There was a massacre in the past and it is/ will be repeated on the highest functionaries of the Indian Government to low level persons. The killer always leaves a chess piece at the crime scene. The game of chess is very intelligently integrated into the plot.

The language is very simple but there are many grammatical mistakes which are eyesore. sometimes the author try to use flowery language and complex/ compound sentences and that creates problem. Here the role of Dhivya Balaji, editor (that name sounds familiar) is important.

All in all a very good book. It ended on a cliff hanger and waiting for second one.

One good definition of science as given on page 104

"The scientific knowledge we have at the moment is based on is based on theories. Our 'science' is just incomplete bits of information based on some assumptions and some theories backed by experiments".



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Grinning gorilla


The Case of the Grinning GorillaThe Case of the Grinning Gorilla by Erle Stanley Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable. I completed it very fast. Like i used to in younger days. Do i need to say more





Some excerpts :

“You don’t get to understand human nature,” Mason said, “by listening to what people tell you when they’re talking to you.”




“You don’t?” Fallon asked, surprised.




Mason shook his head. “That’s when you see them with their make-up on, with their best foot forward. You learn about human nature by watching people when they don’t know they’re being watched, by listening to conversations that they don’t know are being overheard, by prying into their thoughts whenever you can find what their true thoughts are. You learn about people when you see their souls stripped naked by suffering.”
________

Mason’s eyes narrowed. “Addicks was experimenting along modern lines, trying to make animals neurotic. And he had some peculiar ideas about hypnotism. Apparently he felt that a man could not be put into such a deep hypnotic trance that he would do something that would outrage his higher moral sense, but he felt that gorillas were so closely related to man that they could be hypnotized, and taught to commit a homicide.
_______

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Amorous aunt


The Case of the Amorous Aunt (Perry Mason Mystery)The Case of the Amorous Aunt by Erle Stanley Gardner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a tedious read. The narrative is convoluted. I did not like very much.


Some excerpts :

Della Street, Perry Mason’s confidential secretary, said, “A couple of lovebirds have strayed into the office without an appointment. They insist it’s a matter of life and death.”


“Everything is,” Mason said. “If you start with the idea of perpetuating life, you must accept the inevitable corollary of death—but I presume these people aren’t interested in my philosophical ideas.”

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The prediction


THE PREDICTIONTHE PREDICTION by Swarupa Chavan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book about something which gives you a peek into future call it ESP, Premonition, sixth sense, intuition or clairvoyance. This is also about levitation. Science does not accept these things but as a character in book explains

" Well Mr Tandon, despite the difficulty in understanding precognition, it is easiest form of ESP and has been tested and proved. The most popular theory holds that precognition is a glimpse of [possible future that is based upon present conditions and existing information, and which may be altered depending upon acts of free will." Dr Mehta countered.

This is not a happy gay book. This is very dark and depressing and the protagonist Tia is a cursed soul or so she thinks due to this gift or curse of ESP. She predicts death of her mother and her whole family especially her father distance from her. She is sent to a boarding where again unfortunate things happen. Without giving away much it is suffice to say it is depressing.

One thing is that i feel, Swarupa took the premise of ESP and built a story around it. She succeeded completely in her efforts. She did her research well and it shows. it is not easy to write a story based on ESP. ESP is at the core of story here. I am amazed the way she seamlessly integrated the concept into her story.

Depiction of feelings of characters especially Tia. She feels that due the the premonition she knows about impending disaster, but as she is powerless prevent it, that leads to sense of despondency, loneliness and felling lost. That is depicted beautifully. The english is first rate. I wish she could give me english lessons ;). That is why 4 stars.

Well done Swarupa Chavan. best of luck. Eagerly waiting for next book.



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Monday, 25 July 2016

Rukhast departure


Rukhsat The DepartureRukhsat The Departure by Sujit Banerjee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thnx Sujit Banerjee and goodreads for providing a review copy of the book.

Well this is supposed to be a short story collection. Which in a sense it is. I dont know what to say about it.

Let's start with length. Stories are short and you can finish some of them in less than 5 to 10 minutes.

Language is pretentious sometimes but most of the times it is normal english. Nothing great but it conveys what it wants. Take an example of first story Abhimanyu The Beginning passage

"Moments pass. Or are they days, months, years, decades, centuries? Moments that hesitate between darkness and the lush green of ripe field. Moments caught amidst the smog of city that is in a hurry to reach somewhere, but still not sure where."

Does it convey something? Maybe to author or a reader who can make something out.

Lets go to technique and structure. Stories have characters, dialogues and their interplay, emotions and psyche.

These stories has none of these or maybe some have like Farzana -The Needles or Manu or Yasmin. But that is only because author has some how decided to title the stories from A to Z and the easiest method is to name them after a character whose names start with A to Z. Real title is after the name like, Omi- Looking for Palash or Utkarsh- Unfinished business. What purpose it served I don't know. Again Maybe the author or a reader who can understand some rationale.

So by default author is forced to have at least one character and that is it. Most stories has one character and hence there are no dialogues in most of the 26 stories. The narrative oscillates between first and third person. So sometimes you get to know how that one person feels. But as there is no other reference point you can make out no meaning. Like in Nitin- Bent minds, the story is very confusing.

Still some of the stories are good like Yasmin who is divorced by triple talaq and how she copes up with sharia law. Last one Z for Zayan is clearly about Azmal Kasab, but I dont feel any sympathy for Z for Zayan.

Many stories like Gustav, Eklavyya, Manu etc deal with homosexuality. Still because of the singular narrative they fail to leave any mark or show the gay point of way (I am assuming that is what the author was trying).

To sum up the author tried to experiment in form and say his stories in a new way but it did not work for me.

In all a mediocre and confusing/ confused effort. 2.5 stars. But considering this is author's debut, varied subjects of stories and experimental stuff I raise it to 3.





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Friday, 24 June 2016

Review of beyond lyrical

Beyond lyrical

I was all set to write something again,
A soulful music playing in the background, intensifying emotions,
Evening walking towards a melodious night,
And all I could think of is You.  

I don’t know what to write anymore or how to write,
There are too many emotions bubbling within me,
Words fall short and expressions too limited to contain,
‘Coz ain’t you and I limitless?  

I leave everything aside and close my eyes,
Thinking I’ll sleep it off and you’ll be gone,
But there you are again, looking at me like a dream,
Was it? I question myself…  

Your name running through my head, your eyes into mine
Your hands hold me, and our legs entwined,
My heart smiles, eyes dance and everything brightens,
You are my comfort even when it’s dark.  

It feels like a lot of other things besides love,
I fight myself, argue with my emotions, my feelings,
I think may be life gets in the way, takes you away,
At the same time, I never want you to be gone.  

And I look up my screen, there it is, I can see my words weaved,
Finding its way to you like it knows what to write,
As if it knew all along, what calms me, what makes me believe,
And it tells me that you and I are beyond lyrical.


Review

A difficult one to understand. Maybe the poetess is having so ideas. The heroine just can’t forget her lover. The music reminds her of him and evening is turning into night. Is it the night of their relationship too? What she wants is not clear. She wants him to be with him desperately. But somehow she feels it is not possible. It maybe because of the nature of relationship. It is not acceptable in society on account of caste, religion or extra marital. But to both of them it is the ultimate thing. They know deep down it is pure but afraid of society or family.
It is very deep and abstract. It is clear only to poetess what she is thinking. But it is very good. The way words are played and juxtaposed is brilliant. One of the complex ones from Indrani.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Review of Mysteries WIthin

This poem makes you think. What is the purpose of life? We come into world, study, grow up, work and family and finally death. We have so many life experiences along the way. We cheat, lie and steal and other do the same to us. We are in a constant state of flux. Because of all this turmoil there is insecurity and stress.
Sometimes we feel to run away to Himalayas away from all this cacophony. But there is no peace even there because the turmoil is within us and not without. You can’t run away from yourself. One can lie to whole world but never to himself. And there is something within us, call it soul, Atma, conscience or anything which always tell us what is right and what is wrong. We can suffocate its voice but can never kill it. We chose to ignore and over the years it becomes so faint and low we can’t hear it.
Amid all this chaos sometime we hear it unexpectedly and wonder what the purpose of this torturous existence is? It leads to angst, existential crisis or mid life crisis. One has the Angst from the realization of one's true freedom. It is like standing on the edge of a cliff. Someone with anxiety may fear falling off, but someone with Existential Angst, however not only fears falling off but dreads the possibility of throwing themselves off in a sense that "nothing is holding them back".
So should we jump and end the pain or should we do something positive.
Swami Vivekananda said “Education is The Manifestation of The Perfection Already in Man”.
So as poetess very cogently pointed out in the last three stanza, we should strive to achieve the unseen, unheard, unborn, omnipresent and omniscient. It is the true purpose of life and the answer is not without but within us.
Ohhhhh. It is just a guess work and you may want to strangle me for misinterpretation. Very difficult to find out what u mean without any information about you, or your muses, inspirations, influences and how are you in general. Anyway it is how I interpret it and once it is out in open you have no control how your audience interpret it. Hope you like it.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Review of The speechless me

Tried writing a review of poem of a very talentd poetess Indrani Samajpati titled "The speechless me".
The poetess described true love as opposed to the Bollywood love we see in movies. This is how the love should be and as rightly pointed out by her it is not in material things or physical intimacy.
It starts with conversations and slowly graduates to the state where you understand and enjoy the silences of each other. Love is in between the dialogues and in pauses. It slowly builds up and before you know you are head over heels in love.
Ture love is neither in material things nor physical intimacy. She touches your heart and make you feel like you never felt before. The true lover accepts you as you are with all your fears, shortcomings and imperfections. She makes you rise in love, not fall in love. True love is where you both become a better person. She touches your heart and soul and you become one. She is the one person with whom you forget all your worldly problems and is transported to another world albeit for a instant. But that second is more than a life time.
It is very difficult to review poetry because it is a very different medium than prose. It is more abstract and very personal to the poetess. The poetess uses metaphors or similes which are sometimes universally accepted and sometime have very personal connotations. In a way you review poem and the poetess both. You never know where one ends and the other begins.
In the final stanza poetess may have alluded to Osho statement in his most (in)famous book that sexual union can lead you to ultimate state of meditation.
Very difficult to review for an unromantic person like me. But in the end a very touching poem and that’s the way love should be IMHO. Keep writing.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Suggestions to a poetess

I read your poems and they are very sensitive and beautiful. You asked for reviews and suggestions. I tried review a few and found it very difficult. Here is the sole suggestion.

Your poems talk of utopian love, longing, silences, loneliness, pain, tribulations of an unquiet mind and the journey within. It is said beautifully. In fact this is the origin of poem as told by Shelly and Pant (quoted below):

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
---Percy Bysshe Shelley (Husband of Mary Shelly of Frankenstein fame)

वियोगी होगा पहला कवि, आह से निकला होगा गान।

उमड़ कर आंखों से चुपचाप, बही होगी कविता अजान॥

To be a poet you must have experienced pain. If I put it in engineering lingo, having experienced extreme emotional pain and having a compassionate, sensitive heart is necessary if not the sufficient condition of being a poetess.

हैं सबसे मधुर वो गीत जिन्हें, हम दर्द के सुर में गाते हैं
जब हद से गुज़र जाती है खुशी, आँसू भी छलकते आते हैं

Poem is like tear drop which comes out of your heart and not mind. That’s why it is so different form prose and very difficult to fully understand for others unless the poetess herself explains it. And you need equally intelligent and sensitive audience to be able to understand it, otherwise you will just get cool, awesome, beautiful, poignant, god bless etc type reactions.

One of my favorite poems on pain is ‘Aansoo (teardrop)’ by Prasad:

जो घनीभूत पीड़ा थी
मस्तक में स्मृति-सी छायी
दुर्दिन में आँसू बनकर
जो आज बरसने आयी।
ये मेरे क्रंदन में बजती
क्या वीणा? - जो सुनते हो
धागों से इन आँसू के
निज करुणा-पट बुनते हो।
रो-रोकर, सिसक-सिसककर
कहता मैं करुण-कहानी
तुम सुमन नोचते सुनते
करते जानी अनजानी।
----प्रसाद जी की ‘आँसू’

So you fulfil the necessary condition of being a poetess. But is it sufficient too???

I guess not. Your poem can be safely categorized into Chhayawadi (approximated in English as "Romanticism") or Proygwadi (experimentalism)  camp of Hindi literature. Being a huge fan of Jagjit Singh a listen him a lot and marvel at the imagination and sensitivity of Shayars. But these is something missing. Because all the Ghazals and Nazms just talk of broken heart and alcohol. Similarly these poets of above camp are talking about their own misery, angst, existential crisis, anxiety, apprehension, worry, perturbation, foreboding, trepidation, malaise, distress, mid life crisis etc. they are prisoners of their own mind and their own little problems. Ageya is their leader and they are followers of writers, philosophers like Jean Paul Sartre (Existentialism), Friedrich Nietzsche (God is dead and men is free) etc.

Thankfully your writing is not that depressing. Your writing is about journey within, spirituality and being comfortable in your own skin even if it means being alone. Keep doing that.

But sometimes the cure of unknown pain and longing you feel is not within but without. So expand your creative reach. Write on diverse topics which pains you from without. It is your prerogative to choose topics on what to write. Not everything moves everyone. And unless you feel deeply about something you can not do justice to your poem. But still sometimes it will be nice even for you to step out of your comfort zone and write of things which ails society at a macro level. Being a woman you may write on feminism, female foeticide or being an Indian you can write on Dalit issues or poverty. It will give you more satisfaction as a creative person.

Everyone sees the same thing and then goes on with their lives. The difference between a poetess and an ordinary person like me is that they have the God gift to see what is unseen, hear what is unheard, and feel what is not felt by persons like me because of the gift of sensitive heart and sharp intellect. And secondly they have a gift of gab. They can express themselves eloquently, coherently, beautifully and cogently so that it strikes a chord with the audience. Even if person like me is moved by something close to his heart he can not express it because he does not have a way with words.

I can think of two writers like you. Mannu Bhandari and Dharamveer Bharti. Mannu Bhandari wrote extremely sugary romantic novels. If you saw movie Rajnignadha (Vidya Sinha, Amol Palekar), it is based on her story ‘Yehi sach hai’. But then as a break she wrote a political novel ‘Mahabhoj’ and it is superb. Bharti also was in Proygawadi camp but later on he become disillusioned and wrote “Suraj ka Satvan Ghoda’. It is still a romance but main premise is that “love is conditioned by economic factors”. Read my review here and watch Shyam Benegal Movie too if you already have not. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18759957-sooraj-ka-satvaan-ghoda?ac=1&from_search=true

To quote from the novel "The Love which cannot contribute to social progress and individual development, is not love"...... You made that point in one of your poem also.

So go ahead. Expand your horizons. Write on diverse things. Not always but maybe 1 in 10 or 1 in 20. I think you can do it.

Freedom of expression is nothing without freedom to offend. Use your gift to jolt the conscience of ostrich like mango people who are so ensconced in their selfish, mundane routines that they can’t see anything beyond their offices and homes.

With great power comes great responsibility (spiderman ;)). So use you god gift for greater common good. I don’t say it. Dushyant Kumar says:

हो गई है पीर पर्वत-सी पिघलनी चाहिए
इस हिमालय से कोई गंगा निकलनी चाहिए

आज यह दीवार, परदों की तरह हिलने लगी
शर्त थी लेकिन कि ये बुनियाद हिलनी चाहिए

हर सड़क पर, हर गली में, हर नगर, हर गाँव में
हाथ लहराते हुए हर लाश चलनी चाहिए

सिर्फ हंगामा खड़ा करना मेरा मकसद नहीं
मेरी कोशिश है कि ये सूरत बदलनी चाहिए

मेरे सीने में नहीं तो तेरे सीने में सही
हो कहीं भी आग, लेकिन आग जलनी चाहिए
--दुष्यंत कुमार