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Fiction: Love Xpress (2)

Mumbai 2018:


Thick air percolated and a burning sensation rippled through the bearded face dripping to the lip’s edge, the cheek and skin. It felt like being trapped into a burning stove. The humidity was not helping as he wandered aimlessly past the beach at Shivaji Nagar in Dadar pocked with a huge crowd swarming to celebrate the birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj. A familiar face ushered inside the coffee shop. Riyansh stared blankly and took two steps backward.

He didn’t enter inside and sheltered under the roof of the tapdi sipping tea and smoking, eyes furtively scanning her movement. Anika sat alone and smoked like a chimney, fingers twisting the hair lock and pulling the long hair falling on her eye. In the flipping seconds, she scampered on the busy road at Dadar, black-and-yellow cabs honking and swerving, bikes dashing cutting a swathe between cars, Red Best buses and trucks. She walked in frenetic speed, past the circle at Kabutar Khana and zigzagged on the pavement where old and wooden shops were housed, billboards occupying a space in front of them.

Anika disappeared in the air. Riyansh felt a thumping heartbeat and a chill down the spine, carelessly crossing the road, swerving from one end to the other, running like a madman, jumping bikes stationed and wriggled between the crowd. He reached Dadar station spotting a tall girl in a long skirt and Levis tee trudging the stairs.

It was a herculean task to sprint his way to the platform filled by human masses. He lacked the energy to beat the harrowing summer. She sat inside the train and pinching the thumbs, one by one. The train resembled a basket filled with eggs, halted. An impression of being followed by someone, Anika turned her head to see faces staring at her as if she was an alien. The compartment slowly chugged and reached Bandra station. “Anika”, a familiar voice raged inside her ear. She was preoccupied in getting off the train to pay attention in hearing her name out or to sense the steps crawling behind her.

Riyansh was at a touching distance outside the station and picked a novel on the pavement to hide his face. She kept walking. He followed her furtively by keeping a safe distance. Turning around, her eyes preened at the hotel selling cheap meat, book stall on the pavement and the stand to disappear inside a rickshaw. He forcefully entered the rickshaw behind and ordered the driver, “Aage ka rickshaw ka peecha karo” (Follow the vehicle ahead). The driver’s protest went unheeded and he upped his voice, “Sawaal mat pucho. Double paisa doonga aur time nahin hai.” The vehicle steered to life trundling on the potholes, following the vehicle ahead, twisting right and left to get out of the maddening traffic past the bus terminus, hitting Linking Road, surrounded by small shopping outlets and malls, American food and roadside eateries co-existing together.

Patience was wearing thin on Riyansh and in frustration kicked a hoof inside the rickshaw, wondering when the traffic will be cleared. The whistle of traffic constable was irking him. In a sudden jerky movement, the vehicles started moving and the rickshaw driver jettisoned in speed as if he is an air pilot zipping on the road by the sea at Bandstand.

The chased vehicle slowed, took a left and trundled on the upward slope behind Mannat before stopping. The stalker sat inside the vehicle, surveying every movement made when he saw Anika sashayed past the gate. He paid the driver 2000 bucks and pretended to walk behind her not to raise suspicion of the security guard. She stood in front of the lift and he hid behind a blue sports BMW at the parking.

She entered the lift and he stared at it, watching it stopping on the third floor. He didn’t lose a second and waded inside the second lift as she made way at apartment B-305 sliding the key in the wooden door. The phone buzzed suddenly and Anika walked inside forgetting to close the door. He took this opportunity to sneak in and skedaddled past the glass panel, slipping on the ginormous balcony offering a stunning city view, sea and towering buildings taking the shape and shade of a frieze in the still night.

He flicked a cigarette between the lip and was admiring the city’s view, eyes hovering at the gentle sea at Bandstand, the promenade, lovers making out on the rocks and people walking on the promenade, the paani puri seller, the lone girl, elderly couple stealing a kiss. An explosion almost ripped apart his ear apart taking the form of a resounding slap thrusting him on the floor. The cheek became red and Riyansh was flustered.

Anika lit his cigarette with the lighter and folder her arms sporting a mocking smile. “Well! You deserve this slap for following me in every space of Mumbai. Hi, stalker! Riyansh. Dude! I got an iphone tracking all your movements. Before you ask anything, I’ve dated a couple of guys and broke up several times. Even thieves are ashamed of entering someone’s house like that. Were you an insurance agent in your past birth? Can I ask Sir what were you thinking to enter my house like that?”

Riyansh flicked the cigarette butt from the balcony and saw it zigzag to land on the road. He still couldn’t believe that Anika slapped him hard but recovered sufficiently. “You almost turned me into Baba Ramdev selling Patanjali noodles and I rejected half a dozen proposals that there is every chance to turn into Devdas,” he said innocently.
She guffawed, “Are you in love with me? Simple and direct?”

“Simple or direct, I don’t know! Just love. After all, I am your stalker,” Riyansh kissed her cheek.

Riyansh and Anika lay naked on bed kissing each other. “Did it hurt,” she asked in doe-eyed expression. “A little bit,” he replied, “Not anymore for you are with me. By the way, where did you disappear that night?”

“I went back to the bus and Mumbai,” Anika told. “How did you find me?”, she whispered.

“I didn’t but love did,” he kissed her lip.


The end.



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Fiction: Love Xpress

Part One:


The bus moved at weltering speed, trudging on the sloppy terrain surrounded by the mountains and quaint village, offering a stunning view of the ravine flowing at night. A head buried in the Kindle and felt woozy, slouched on the seat and stumbling at the same pace as the bus trundling on the rocky terrain. He yanked on the seat and held on to the steel handle as if hanging to a cliff.  The bus stood at a standstill for few seconds and screeched like lightning in the dark.

He slumbered on the seat and felt something moving in rifling burst at the edge of his shoulder’s length, feeling like balloons popped in the sprawling forest he played as a child. A gentle, feminine and soothing voice called out, Riyansh. The child was running on his tiny, naked feet chasing colorful balloons flocking past the huge tree and jettisoned towards the azure blue sky.

In a spiraling movement, a hand stroked his shoulder and Riyansh jostled at the sight of an angular face sitting next to him, a mocking smile and smoldering eyes in a slim body wrapped under a green skirt. “Excuse me, will you?” she says. He muses, “You are kinda welcome.” “I mean, sorry to disturb your sleep but you were bent on me….not very comfortable, you see,” she warbled.

Riyansh was struck by her beauty, confidence and elegant composure, thanking the stars and moon for this chance encounter. He wore his funniest hat, “Sorry. Now, you won’t be uncomfortable now that I am awake seeing green all over the place,” he winked. She stared straight and compelled him to apologize again, “Again bad joke like the smart phone typo,” he playfully said.

She winced and turned her face away. Twisting hair locks, he loquaciously asked, “Which village you are from?” The girl smirked, “As far as I know, Mumbai is not a village”. “Riyansh,” he introduced himself to save face. She hesitated, “Anika.”

“You have beautiful eyes,” he flirted and she beamed. The bus bumped and she tripped over him, lips meeting accidentally. He was gobsmacked. Anika uncomfortably said, “Stranger-man Riyansh! Don’t think too much and no one saw it in the dark. Don’t get ideas.”  She didn’t want to look stupid. The bus stopped for five minutes at the Terminus.

Anika scampered in the dark and he followed her with a warning, “It’s the night and don’t venture too much.” She was amused, “Why? Are you a ghost warning me about your friends?” He wouldn’t let the moment slip and simpered, “Hey! I am not following you. You can never know! There are wolves at night and we are still in an unknown village.”

“Why don’t you walk ahead? I will follow you and looks like you are well versed being the wolf in the pack,” she said. He walked an inch in front of Anika and went into Mannequin mode, striking an SRK pose with hands flung in the air.

She flitted past him and waded aimlessly in the dark, standing on the edge of the deserted road facing the bus terminus, untying her long hair fluttering with the sudden, gentle breeze and looking like a hippy in the white shirt, blue denim and Reebok sneakers, face wearing a colorful gaze.  There was something about Anika’s face, the glint in her eyes and face lightning up, the enraptured smile lending a shade of mystery. Riyansh felt a thumping heartbeat and dashed to cross the road towards her. In the fleeting seconds, she pulled his hand and dragged him to the opposite end of the road, under the kiosk, inching closer and pressed his chest. Lips pulled together. She guided his hand beneath her white tee and traversing under her bra. Every inch of the mouth explored and saliva dropped as Anika’s mouth smothered on his lip, inside and outside like a taste of sponge cake. Riyansh hand lay on her waist and pressed on the back, lip on neck. She licked his neck like a sip of beer and nose stroking as if it’s a morning ritual. Their bodies were glued together, caressing each other’s skin, at times with thunderous force and the next moment loosening up with fingers interlocked, touching on the skin lightly and ticklish sensation spurting in electric wave.

Riyansh’s heart almost stopped and they pulled apart from each other.  No question asked. Sheepish smiles and grinning faces. Anika wore a sensual look on her lower lip, a softness hiding the smile. She was walking on the elongated road without uttering a word and he ran towards her. “Hello! What’s wrong?” he was confused.

She took both his hands, “Listen! I just broke up with my boyfriend and not looking something serious and carrying the load of a new relationship is scary. I don’t care whether you are dating someone or single. So chillax babe and it’s not like I am interested to keep Karva Chauth for the rest of my entire existence on earth. Live a long life with good laughs, smooch and the booze, Okie,” Anika winked.

“Oho! It’s not that am into hot pursuit. The bus stand is on the other side and not on this directionless road,” he pretended to be unaffected.

She was amused, “Ok! Baba! I promise to come back but want to take a lone walk. Now, close your eyes and shall be back.” Riyansh protested but hid his face, sitting on the pavement, counting two minutes.  He opened his eyes slowly and looked furtively ahead. Anika has disappeared. He was restless and walked back towards the bus. It has already left. He stood alone at the bus stand, surrounded by a dog licking its claws and a lone man splaying on the floor under the shelter.

To be continued


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Sufism of love

You are love,

hello stranger,

connecting souls,

a shadow,

our gaze met,

speck of dust,


relationship nurtured,

scorned by society,

some bondings can never be understood,

transcending time and rules,

secret lies within,

my heartbeat,

your violin,

strumming an eternal music,

sufism of hearts,

maketh love in unlikeliest place,

breaking free from society’s shackles,

carving a nest,

to love freely,

we shall not be judged,

for only Us matters,

not the world.


With love


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It won’t last!

It won’t last,

i shall bulge,

swayed by the tide,

no joy shall stay forever,

relapse has become my favorite word,

of pain,

this dreaded voice,

spelling trouble and terribly scary,

wish to live without it,

being back to normal,

self killing filtered from my life,

learning to live with the devils,

a hyper mind,

why can’t I sleep for the whole day?

better still,

running away from everything,

carving a new identity,

a new me,

only to be caught and trapped by the shadow,

eerie silence,

ghost of the past,

i shall reach,

overcoming everything,

after all, i have come a long way,

holding myself,

So what?

A bumpy journey,

vulnerable in mind, soul and flesh.




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Book Review: I’ve never been Un (Happier), Depression’s unveiled truth

Book Review:

I’ve never been Un (Happier)

Author: Shaheen Bhatt

Released by Penguin

Genre: Mental health

Rating: Four and a half stars



“I’m silent but the screaming won’t stop, I’m calm but the restlessness goes on, I’m smiling but my frown won’t fade, I’m laughing but the tears don’t die away, I’m living but that won’t stop death from coming my way.”

Shaheen’s journal–Age 15 (2003)

Depression is real and not made up or imagined by a vulnerable mind capable of bursting like a pressure cooker at any moment.  Speaking or writing about mental pressure shows there is no lack of spine and no vanity tale or fiction.  Shaheen Bhatt is the daughter of maverick filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actor Soni Razdan and sister of the toast of the town Alia where one may well argue about an entitled life smeared with fame and money. The fault doesn’t lie in the stars nor does the unhappiness of being happy.  Depression doesn’t select faces nor does it knock before entering.



Shaheen Bhatt’s bares her soul open on her struggle with depression and provides a heart to heart account about her father swearing by the bottle or leaving alcohol days after her birthday and mother confessing how the baby burst the childbirth romance.  The instance about the photo shoot with sisters Alia and Pooja where she was edited out of the picture for not being spunky is telling. It provokes us to ask questions on depression where a smile doesn’t wear thin on the face and the feeling of being ‘unwanted’ and taking a walk outside the studio. The desire to go sleeping with this monster called depression for years is someone many of us would relate to and the dark, uninterrupted days or the pathos of an unfair life. The tale is compelling yet pierces the heart with the fleeting speed of an arrow. There is an unveiled truth in our understanding of depression.

From the romanticization of suicide, the author comes face to face with the death of a house help which the sisters grew close and fond of, shaking off the young girl, sucking deeper into this abyss called depression. I could identify what Shaheen has been through and wonder about the tiny voices of anxiety that keeps popping inside our heads which she calls Syl, a stark reminding that death is looming large like a running commentary, pretty much like in football or cricket matches.


“I imagine death so much it feels like a memory,”–Lin Manuel Miranda


The constant battle with sleep and the inner fear taking the form of an unvanquished monster looking to hit us hard is a real struggle. The lack of sleep is the mind disruptor compelling her to carry an inhaler for asthma when she doesn’t have.


“In other words, you can buy happiness off the rack-but sadness is tailor-made just for you,” –Shaheen Bhatt


Feelings often come alive as simple questions asked on identity, Who am I? on being alive or our purpose forming human consciousness which we often blithely ignore. The crux lies in the fact that these questions must push us to explore the inner self and Shaheen advocates not shy away but be aware of existence. In these questions is embedded the answers may be to address fears or predicament of death.


“It is this acute awareness of transience and impermanence that constitutes depression,” Andrew Soloman.


The best thing about writing is the quotes and notes from ‘Shaheen’s Journals’ about life, death or depression. Cognizant or self-awareness remain the central focus to people afflicted by depression which becomes our sole focus and intrinsic part of life like this pesky relative or friend we cannot chuck out. She advocates therapy as education, which is very important in today’s times where we still treat depression as taboo or personal shame. Shaheen drives an important point home on therapy not limited to someone being ‘ill’ but anyone. I feel it’s extremely important for anyone to seek therapy from time-to-time.

An entire chapter is devoted to the incapacity of loving, the anger or bitterness, negativity taking a toll on relationships. I know what the author is hinting on and there are still instances where I feel like burying my face with the bed sheet not to face anyone or sleeping forever, meeting new people or saying No to relationships and constant comparison to successful people while being held up by unforeseen circumstances. There is this sadistic pleasure of indulging in self-blame and one of my favorite pastime has driven oneself to the wall.

“Depression robs you of the capacity to love. This is because a depressed person is so often incapable of seeing, giving and receiving love.”

We need to address the issue that depression doesn’t choose its victims, whether you are born with a silver spoon of fame or a struggler for life. Your bank balance is not important nor being a constant flyer in the skies. The perils ‘to be the only person…who isn’t famous or a ‘famous family’! Life is a constant struggle and not a tiring award or the cultural reverence for fame and celebrity makes for convincing arguments that we are not enough the way we are. I am happy that Shaheen says it loud and clear for we are all shaped as products of ‘mass media’.


Final words:

The book, I’ve never been Un (Happier) is a personal account of the author’s struggle with depression and shall refrain from pointing at minuses. We got to respect that and the author’s courage in flaunting not glamour but her struggles as a human being. The 12 step approach recommended by Shaheen Bhatt as a guideline helps to draw meaning is a must read and makes sense for anyone facing inner demons. The book has jolted me off my safe shell to seek professional help. Thank you, Shaheen. A short book and easy-to-read at one stretch with the author recounting her battle with depression makes this book comes alive, real and uncensored. Highly recommended.

Click on Amazon to buy the book and read the blurb.


Love to ya


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Pale version



no emotion,


not every feeling can be expressed,

no joy manifested at every moment,

killing and tearing into shred,

the little remaining bit of me,

lifeless tears,

running away and disintegrating!

head not in place

I can’t recognize this person!

Is it really me?


a paler version,

I used to EXIST.




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Book Review: Miss Malini’s commandments To The Moon

Book Review:

To the Moon: How I blogged my way to Bollywood

Author: Miss Malini

Publisher: Harper Collins

Rating: Four and a half




A brand name and inspiring, iconic figure whose name epitomizes excellence in flawlessness in bringing showbiz glamour to our doorstep and through the stroke of sheer talent revolutionized the world of fashion or celebrity blogging. Miss Malini, the Malini Aggarwal needs no introduction for the whos’ who of celebrities swear by her name. During the Mumbai days, I lapped on Mid Day when her column Miss M brought titbits of glam sham gossips and the real killer deal. Malini’s book, To the Moon: How I blogged my way to Bollywood is a real eye-opener spurning creative splash narrating her blogging journey, tapping into the lives of celebrities that the commoners can watch from a distance and won’t be wrong to say that Miss M has made them more human to our eyes!

The book is the real deal from brand Malini narrating the Bombay days-the city which makes us dream big to B-town, candid tale of screw-ups in a radio interview with bluff master Abhishek Bachchan, juicy stories, layout in dotted boxes encapsulating testimonies, quirky MM Pro Tips, IFS Brat vs UN Not so Brat as an antidote to the war of sexes with husband Nowshad, blog entries and advice to bloggers, the radio stalker, Bandra Bada$$es, digi entrepreneur and Pay Forward, something everyone should try making the book our own desi secret to tread the path of success. #TotheMoon is not just a book but the secret recipe, alluring as it gets and glamour ritual blended with spooling the purpose for life.



Miss Malini’s book’s USP is the step by step approach be it blog entries, A to Z of Digital Entrepreneurship, MM birthday cruisers and of course the Instagram Rules-Man! I’m sold on her Insta commandments and after staying away from that world, planning to join the party soon and risking my friends’ dig at me. Let’s follow Mumbai’s Malini style sheet in a methodical fashion to narrate the quirky tale of what makes her a trusted brand. First thing first, Bombay, we call amchi. Don’t they say, Mumbai is a city, Bombay is an emotion! There is something lyrical about ‘Bombay’, the sea waves crashing at Marine Drive or Bandstand that taught us to nurture dreams and take the kick jettisoning us in the air. I am swooned by the author’s telltale of Maximum City, deeply embedded in the emotional, swag, pangs and making me time travel back to those days. Malini scores high in her depiction of the city and making the raw emotions come alive.

“When I first came to Mumbai…I had two suitcases, knew one friend and lived in an apartment with six girls and a pigeon. And every night, this suicidal bird would fly around the living room where I slept…and threatened to impaled itself on the ceiling fan…”

This vivid picture of the initial days in Maximum City is familiar, plonking tons of luggage in the hostel at Churchgate, facing Marine Drive when a white pigeon clawed the window, threatening to enter my room, scything its way to freak me out. No wonder, we all have a Mumbai tale sounding oddly familiar and makes it an intriguing Bombay affair.

“I remember it was raining that night and cars and rickshaws whooshing by me on the highway from the airport. The pink and green neon lights from restaurants and shops were reflected in the puddles and potholes along the way. I rolled down the window of my signature black and yellow Mumbai fiat taxi and, as I felt the rain and cool breeze on my face. And, I knew I was home.” Such kind of breezy language woos me and I am already sold on it. The moment I knew Malini’s Mumbai, albeit, book, gonna be a roller coaster ride and mate, wasn’t wrong for all the monies and goodies To The Moon.

What makes blogging click? Is it money or pure love for writing? One thing which irks me when people pester me on whether I can run my kitchen with it or make the moolah for a lifetime and asking how much they can earn if they jump on the bandwagon. It irritates me to no end being a journalist and blogger for whom nothing matters more than the content. Being a maven that altered the destiny of movies and celeb blogging, Miss M comes with the perfect answer for all bloggers’ intent to make a killing by penning online.


“People often ask me how to become a rich and famous blogger and I have a simple answer: Don’t start by wanting to be a rich-and-famous anything. Step back, close your eyes and imagine the one thing you’d want to do for the rest of your life even if nobody paid you to do it. Find a way to make your career, and fame and fortune will surely follow. And, hey you’ll enjoy the ride no matter what, right! The passionate pursuit of happiness, THAT’s what it’s all about. If they ask you, tell them Miss Malini told you so and off to the moon you go!”

Yo! Attagirl! I bet nobody can ever teach you the way Miss M does even if blogging was taught in colleges to earn a diploma or degree.

I don’t call it a book nor a rehearsed account but every drop taken into the tiny ocean feels like an extraordinary and adventurous trip. There are somethings, the splashy moments that takes me back to one incident or the other in life. If a name like Malini can screw things up so can we! Nothing can be kosher be it relationships or work. The screw up with Abhishek Bachchan during a radio interview…full panic mode, being in love and blogs he reads! Ahem! Ahem! I screwed majorly during my first journalist and editing days. Trust me, it haunted me during the nights that I couldn’t sleep at all. I love ya Malini! The midnight or 4 am boyfriend anecdote and her mom’s answer is the real killer. Read it! Of course, Malini has had a radio stalker and would be bizarre if she never had one but her down-to-earth and mushy narration made the anecdote-no matter how much scary-sound like a terrific scene-stealing reel from a movie. She is an ultimate rockstar. Or, flirting with danger during one of her Dad’s assignment in Beirut and still feel the pang flitting page 103.

To the Moon is a book to make way into your most prized collection and a treasury that cannot be parted away from. The design is out of the world and I mean, the inside pages, dotted boxes of celebrities testi, reminding of our childhood slams or Orkut scrapbook. Trust, Miss M to bring them back to life. Or the cool boxes where she sketches tales and tales like Grandma stories making us sleep to perfection. MM Pro Tips! I haven’t seen anything like that and mean it in a super creative and novel way, the birthday cruises, pre-whatsapp era Bombay or whatsapp folks who matter, gossip sources, pinging Farhan Akhtar on FB for a show-yeah! I’ve done that for an interview as a scribe, blurbs and love the countless blog entries on Pay it Forward post. You should all try it once and what makes us grateful bums.

The A-Z Digital entrepreneur journey on how Miss M made the cut and Ikiga and Purpose turning into your go-to Guru, the simple questions that we have come across but making us comfortable. Miss M lends her glamorous touch to the simple questions on purpose, deleting the scare and discomfort, Venn diagrams-sounds familiar, right with Japanese insights, Gualaosi. Here you go! Miss M will guide you like this coach you could fork money on like magic for you only splurge on the book price to find your passion and the real you.  Not a bad deal, right!

What’s Not!


What’s not to like? After all, you are buying a free trip to The Moon. Okay! Ain’t know what imma smoking or puffing right now. A to Z of Digital Entrepreneurship goes a bit lengthy and diluting the fun quotient for someone wanna it to be an all-out fun trip to starry heaven. But, then who I am mango person to complain about the flaws lie the perfection spurned by Miss M. Ah! Wait! Here another one me donning the garb of the Joker in Superman, lack of gossip and she could’ve have revealed more about our stars that none wanna hear but public lapping on. Dekho! How unfunny I am!


Final words:

Me hope there is no final and a sequel is soon on its way to continue this extravagant tale larger than life. Honestly, it’s been after a longish time that I have enjoyed a fun book, full masti and trusts Malini who has inspired not just this review but a handful of posts so much it earned me an Indi blogger win. Miss M has taught me an important rule, learn, unlearn and learn again as a blogger and writer. What sets her apart is the honesty and not putting anyone in the wrong just for effects and the flair in building personal relations which are vouched in the sheer amount of goodwill she earned with celebrities footprints in To The Moon. Of course, give credit where it is due. Touche Miss M! You wanna make it and losing the brain to crack the secret code! Go and buy To The Moon for it will unravel the treasury box and give you the time of life. Yeah, miss Mumbai’s Malini! I really do! Perhaps a book will do.


Love ya