There is something breezy about love stories that make them relatable and down to earth but in today’s age with countless saccharine tales flooding the market, it compels us to separate the wheat from the chaff. Being a self-confessed campus romance lover, it’s a genre that I love reading but at the same time, many novels fall into the drudgery and routine, having read and done that. Karan Surana’s latest novel, “I belong to the Stage” avoids this pitfall for it injects a dash of freshness in a tale of love that the college-going crowd will identify with and which brings back the days of innocence and thrilling adventure of falling in love. This romance novel celebrates not only love but also friendship and as a writer, Karan Surana proves his mettle in mixing the right ingredients and bringing the characters alive to strike the right chord with the audience.
Let’s jump straight to I Belong to the Stage which starts with a difficult love between Sahil and Natasha blowing hot and cold where they eventually drift apart. Don’t be disheartened for a second chance at love is worth trying and experimenting with.
What’s a love story without bonding with friends? It remains the forte and backbone of the story where Karan lightly broaches the topic of friendship and puts to the fore a chance meeting of Sahil with this gang Sneha, Vishakha, Puja and Vikram during a unique journey and strengthening the bond. The writer deserves all credit for the narration in depicting the flawless beauty, gaze and style of the girls in an effortless manner and which is no less than Yash Chopra’s candy floss romance.
There is something unique in the book which sets it apart from the rest in the way in which the ‘cute moments’ post-break between Natasha and Sahil sashays in the form of ‘love chits’. Call it cliché but don’t we all miss those tiny moments in our past love stories and Sahil has quite a list: “All of your romantic cells are buzzing today only when you are aware that my number is roaming….Baby don’t hurt my tushy…Remember your 10,000 watt smile and your crazily beautiful eyes.”
Our hearts beat for emotions, feeling and simply love what we crave in making quite a contrast and breeding conflict on eventually dating a friend. Love can be conflicting, complex, or simply like a windy breeze. We have all been there, right falling for a friend and such emotions can kill! Here’s the caviar. Visakha and Sahil make quite an unlikely couple in this tale about love, break up, and friendship. Eventually, friends turned into lovers where the author captures the emotions with ease be it about stars aligned in a straight line, naughty one-liners, intimacy and 11 pegs.
The naughty one-liners stand out: “Keep your fucking social services to yourself. If it is for some personal service, then I can think about.” The conversation between the friends turn lovers is a dish too tempting to resist, be it cuddling, padded bro and of course stage fright replete with failings in front of a live audience to become a stand-up comedian. I belong to the Stage is about love and aspiration, read following the heart or passion which the author injects in this tale of love. An interesting aspect in the book is love marries passion coupled with Karan Surana introducing blurbs in the text is a novel way of helping to capture attention and breaking the routine that can seep in from time to time. Truly said, “Life is all about connecting the dots.”
There is a long monologue depicting the character’s second attempt at stand-up or tips on what to do or not do while performing in a crowd. It gets a tad too long and boorish at some point which is clearly not needed while at the same time slows the otherwise pacy narration.
I belong to the Stage is an attempt to rewrite the rules of love fiction or what I call college campus romance and it remains true to itself owing to the honesty and playfulness with which Karan has penned in a light manner and making it a complete page-flipping affair. It taps into the aspirations of young readers in India and injects a dash of reality on how love is an emotion that keeps us going, echoing the pulse of youngsters when it comes to love and romance. It’s the almost perfect book for the young generation and Go, Get it.
The author contacted me to do the review in exchange for a free copy of the book’s e-version on Amazon. You can click to buy the book here. Connect with Karan Surana on Twitter.
There is something very unpredictable about life where now and then, we are served a constant reminder be it the COVID-19 pandemic or for that matter, countless people dying suddenly and young. I’ve been meaning to write this post for more than a month when actor Sidharth Shukla died at the young age of 40 and trust me when I saw the hashtag of his name trending, it sent a ripple of shockwaves.
Honestly speaking, I was not a fan of the actor but Mom was after following Big Boss 13, constantly bating for him and convinced me why Sidharth should be the deserved winner. Somehow, reality shows can give you wrong or pre-conceived nation and admitted that at that time about not liking him, for I saw him to be aggressive. But, then TV can push us to see things in a flawed manner and it dawns upon me how we shouldn’t judge people.
When I told Mom that Sidharth Shukla has passed away, she yelped in pain as if losing a close one or a son. Mom has never done it for any celebrity and it shows the power he had on the viewers. The point I am making is not about Sidharth as an actor but on how someone who has achieved so much in a short span died suddenly and it suddenly hit hard. There were days when my head ceased to function and was fixed on the actor, the human being. How can someone die so young and took dreams cum aspirations in his grave? Has life become so cheap that we can never know what will happen next? Is illness or habits excuses we put on death?
These are questions I asked myself and a reminder of how we must cherish the moments we have at our hands. How do we make the most of everything? It’s never easy in today’s times when travel is compromised and at some point, I felt whether things would be as normal in fulfilling dreams. If someone nurtures the passion for travel, how difficult it is to make the most of everything in today’s times that we are missing out and eventually leads to another question on how as human beings, we tend to postpone our dreams and happiness often thinking when we get the moolah, we will be able to achieve our dreams.
There is no guarantee for anything on earth and we shouldn’t let a third party claim power on what works for us or not. It’s becoming a common place where we get influenced by others who impose their limited beliefs on us. I have done that far too often for not being assertive enough or failing to call them out on theirs and my lack of conviction. It did impact my mental health in a way and sometimes I wonder why on earth giving that power to people. It’s my life and not someone else.
A big tragedy is how we end up taking life for granted and never push ourselves on what we could have achieved as a person, tapping into our inner side, exploring our horizons, and breathing life every single second. Ask yourself this question honestly, how many times in a day do you breathe happiness?
There is no guarantee for tomorrow and if we think it does, we are hinging on the delusion that tomorrow shall be bigger. I am not being negative but making a point on the need to weigh all the pros and cons, to ward off negative thoughts as well as simply walking away from toxic people. This is what I’ve been trying to do for quite some time.
It brings me to the next point on the A for Acceptance. We need to take things in our stride and go with the flow, something I’ve been trying to do for nearly a decade. But, I haven’t been able to do it for some reason or the other. It should be a prayer that there shall not be sunshine every day and fuck ups or shit will knock us down. This is ok. Accept the low points or days of darkness for it’s not fair for the individual to feel guilty or drive themselves to the wall.
Take the plunge is what I’ve been meaning to do and of course, paying attention to the physical and mental health matters a lot. There is something about our busy and personal lives, or for that matter running away from reality where we tend to ignore our health because deep within there is this personal scare. I am planning to go for a complete medical check-up next year and in case there is something, it pays to detect early in taking care of the self. One thing that I’ve learned from a friend is listening to the body. It matters in paying heed to the signals.
Reflect on this and take good care of your unique self.
As we celebrate World Mental Health Day, it has become significant to remove the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety to embrace Acceptance that issues such as depression and anxiety are like any form of illness. It’s about time that we remove the stigma and ingrained prejudices that we tend to harbor that something is not ‘normal’ in our heads.
Depression ails us and trusts me about this that there are days when we don’t want to wake up in the morning or stay awake till the wee hours in the morning. I have faced depression for quite some time with the feeling of emptiness wherein the start blithely ignoring what was ‘wrong’ with me.
The unwanted feeling and emotions were building up in my brain. It made me feel like shit on why I was thinking in this fashion and refusing in listening to signs in my body. I was driven to the wall and blaming myself for thinking in a particular manner. What I am going to tell will perhaps shock and so many times wanted to delete what am going to express. I am bad at expressing what ails me.
There was a time when I wanted to kill myself. Don’t believe me! Yes, You’ve read it right. I wanted to commit suicide thinking that all my woes would end. It was when a friend told me to postpone my suicide for another five years. I am not alone and convinced that there are many like which at some point or the other, wanted to end their lives. While I am beyond that phase, there is no telling that depression or anxiety never ends for I have realized that depression will be an inherent part of my life. It is intrinsic to my individuality as a person and happy that A for Acceptance is what has helped me to grow as a person.
Today, I can say about being in a happy space as a person where efforts are undertaken to shut off negativity. Toxic feeling keeps coming up now and then. Trust me, it does not always give a happy feeling with all the negative emotions keep haunting me. I hear voices and conspiracies where there are days when I just want to shut people. But, there is no point to become so much angry with the world or for that matter, lashing out.
Not, many people understand what depression is all about and trust me, it can kill you at every second where there is no control over emotions. Someone may have said something to us and we have no control in giving them the befitting reply that could have made us strong. I face it from time to time where in my mind I’m giving it to the other person in a violent manner.
What I portray on social media is far from reality! I mean the anger burst to myself and yet it impacts my mental health. It’s a messy situation. The problem with people like us is that we tend to often react emotionally which is not always good. The hitch with depression is that it triggers a gamut of unwanted emotions and remember a friend told me about someone facing issues. I recommended a therapist friend but for some other reason they never reached out to her. The girl spent days not sleeping for three days which led to a stroke and death, recently.
I didn’t know the girl but when I heard she died, it led to some guilt feeling inside me about doing something to help her deal with issues. Life could have been saved. One thing that I would like to tell is to reach out for professional help and it can take the form of consulting a therapist or Psychologist. Just go and seek professional help. It’s extremely important for nobody deserves to be stuck in a gut or lose themselves.
On average, we battle with so many emotions inside us and often driven to desperation. Let’s not judge our situation and maybe kind to ourselves. Don’t feed the negative emotions to haunt us but remember to Acknowledge the situation we are in. Acceptance is what will take us to places.
Be proud of who you are for tough times never last. Celebrate the Unique you and celebrate Mental Health.
If there is one good thing about the power outage on Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp which sent us in a tizzy is that it also reminded us time and again how our social media lives hang by a thread or for that matter, there is a life beyond phone apps. It almost paralyzed our world of writing on personal walls, arguing constantly, retweet, sharing and stories. A huge bomb that fell on our head where somewhere, someone in some far-flung world’s corner would be impacted on many levels, be it mental and psychological.
This is how we have grown dependent on social media and little realization on how it is interlinked with mental health. It’s about time for experts to raise awareness on social media and mental health, something I have seen very little about. The time is now.
I thought something was wrong with my internet that normally blinks for a few seconds to be restored and landed straight to Facebook. It’s the human instinct. Sensing something was wrong and immediately surfed on Twitter typing the classic question, “Is Facebook down?” Hail the lord for Twitter and the answer came right away. The caviar was messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp were all brought down. It serves as an important lesson to all of us and a constant reminder on how we have become increasingly and obsessively dependent on social media. Call it ‘socially unable’ in place of differently able, lives did crash for many.
It took the form of businesses, lovers, social networkers, marketing genius whose lives, business or even meetings depends on social media, to the exception of zoom call. The only savior was Linkedin and Twitter coming to the rescue and not ‘yet’ taken over by Facebook. Would you imagine the chaos?
Immediately after the blackout, a friend messaged on Signal, right, Signal, saying, “I wonder what the Facebook marketing experts will claim themselves now.” I think this says a lot about business in the era of digital market, the loss of money but more or less, our quest for immediate connection with a friend or ‘acquaintance.’ And to think FB played an important part when we shared updates for help during the COVID times, looking for ICU beds or oxygen.
My personal experience this time was that it’s been quite a departure from the usual obsession or ‘social illness’ that would normally ail by logging obsessively. We all have the Fear of Missing Out. Social media has become such an important and personal ‘toolkit’ on how we exist, breathing, think and react a bit like our emotions. It is US. How can we live without the US? Similar to how the brain is wired and the emotional cushion to everything.
On doomsday, I was feeling pretty tired after a meeting in the morning and came back home sleeping for a good four hours during the day’s second half. The fact that I was too tired gave me hardly anytime to feel flustered about the momentary lack of social media and didn’t crave for social network and quite surprisingly, crashed during the night.
A bigger lesson is that we can survive and thrive without social media where we don’t need to connect every nanosecond or share stuff. From time to time, we need to learn in switching off from apps and reclaim our lives, breathing fresh air or to borrow one of my favorite expressions, declutter. It has served us right, the need to cut off and yes, start creating this space for ourselves.
Not all stories need to be told on social media or for that matter, be all over the place. We can do without this obsession and Mark Zuckerberg just showed us how. Don’t fret or be obsessed with every single thing for trolls just died silently.
There are some days when you wake up all zonked up and after helping with some cleaning chores, the mind loses steam and all. Guess it, right! Erhm! I mean the writing stuff and all. It’s Saturday sitting and staring in front of the laptop. The scene unfurled since Friday when I was planning to write something related to Pune Memoirs which normally flows easily and smoothly but the outcome is the blank page staring at me.
Why not address the issue in this post? I think the best thing is to open notebooks and keep them to the right, left with pens scattered on the workstation. The problem is not yet solved. Let me come to the second idea and think that I cracked it right now. Don’t force the writing and this is what I told myself yesterday. There have been times when I forced and tried pushing the self going back to the past whether memoir, fiction, or even poetry that turned out to be unconvincing. Let the juice flow effortlessly and naturally.
There is something called affirmations about Writing. In my case, it is notepads and pens that I keep buying to push me into the writing groove. I’ve been doing that since last year but is somehow not helping my cause. I again got a few colorful ones this week with quotes on the funky, colorful notebooks and pads that got me buying them with the lady giving me two cool bookmarks for free. It’s about time to fill them all. See, how cool they are and just waiting for me to be friends with.
Every page carries a story that needs and deserves to be told. Let’s come up with the affirmations every single day or week to help us kick the block in its ass. Making a daily quote to share on social media and on the top page of your notepad is something many among us should consider doing to beat the blues. After all, why be bugged by foes in the head telling us that we cannot write? Remember, the Nike Ad, Just Do It and at the end of every chapter, shortie or poetry, we can always be naughty telling, Just Did It.
Meditation can also help at the start of the day and particularly, before every creative writing routine which is a reminder that I need to be more regular sitting in a state of awareness more often. Concentrate on the fear factor or mental blockage that ails us and perhaps if we are not able to do it right on paper, just wriggle 100 words on Facebook or Insta.
One thing that I’ve never understood is the entire writing routine of waking up at 6 a.m, during the day or at night past, or even before dinner time. The reality is that either as full-timers or freelancers, we got a job to pay our bills which is never easy or the outside assignments we take. How about keeping 1-3 times a week and hours suiting your writing schedule? Maybe just write and don’t get too much into this entire writing discipline. Yes! Truth is that I need to write more.
Don’t they say Writing is like Sex, you don’t get it right straightaway.
Do share in comments what do you think for would love to take some nuggets from you all.