Book Review: Wanderers, All by Janhavi Achrekar is a good journey but with a bit of sluggishness

Book Review Janhavi achrekarWhile reading ‘Wanderers, All’, there was a constant thought in my mind if this book leaves its readers empowered with knowledge & understanding at the turn of final pages of the book. Or if the readers will highlight quotations and twist corners of important pages; but I reached to a conclusion, as I finished the book, that even pearls go unnoticed when they are in abundance. The author has beautifully recreated the old Bombay city of 1900s era when it was infected with plague and communal riots. Retelling the stories of her ancestors, she has talked about her great-great grandfathers and grandmothers with a bit of realism that is really appreciable. It was the time when females were not given enough respect but Achrekar’s female characters are embodied with sense of self-respect & self-dependency. She has even shown that despite progressive thinking and educated mindsets, the women of that era were cursed with social evils like difference between girl & boy child. With respect to these attributes, it’s a rare book that talks about the Mumbai metropolis of 1900. The author has painstakingly researched & shown us the lives of people that lived in this certain era. The characters are developed like real human beings, affected with real like emotions and challenges to Indian lifestyle in British Raj. The book encapsulates the beginning of freedom movement in the region of Maharashtra.

However, the problem lies with the length of the book. It’s a part memoir & part narrative of new age wanderers, stretched to 420 pages with dedicated chapters on Marathi plays and references to songs & poems. The first seven chapters introduce ‘Kinara’ – that’s possibly writer playing herself. She is young independent unmarried girl of 35, who wanders around the world. In these chapters, you travel along with Kinara and literally feel the weather of Goan beaches. She shares her philosophy about love, home, traveling and cosmopolitan lives. She is up to tread on the paths that her ancestors have once treaded. After brief intro to Kinara, the book goes on telling about three brothers, who were the top heads of Khedekar clan which she too belong. In these pages, readers feel the bit of adventure as it’s about nobleman and three sculptor brothers, who successfully made their fortune by impressing a king.

In case of books with parallel narratives, the risk of losing readers’ attention lies with author’s capacity of keeping both narratives attention-grabbing. Ashwin Sanghi has beautifully used this pattern in ‘The Krishna Key’ and Paulo Coelho did this in ‘Eleven Minutes’ (though, it goes with a main plot and sub plot of the story). Ashwin Sanghi has beautifully kept both narrations interesting and of page turner quality. At one side, he was narrating the quest of an ultimate weapon in modern time and secondary narration was about the Mahabharata war. The length of each chapter was equal. If it is not then chapters of secondary narrative were shorter than primary ones. So, the reader keeps on reading on and on, anticipating what is going to happen next. In ‘Wanderers, All’, the first few chapters are set in modern age and then the book goes on retelling the lives of author’s ancestors, lived in the 19th century. There is a certain part of the novel where it loses its readers like when there is a sole chapter on a Marathi play and two page long poems. The reader can still be carried forward if the story set in modern time hooks on.

Still, it can be said that this is a rare book and the readers should be patient enough to know all the intricate details about the people lived in the 19th century. Some books are like journeys, they bring you to distant places, make you meet new people while keeping you at the comfort of your home. So, it’s a good book but it could have been better if concluded in fewer pages than it is.

Correction: The reviewer pays sincere thanks to the author for reading this review and posting comment about the mistakes that earlier version of this review carried.


Book Review: No Direction Rome By Kaushik Barua

No Direction Rome book reviewWhat if in a war between evil and good, evil wins? He then will go on executing all the good people at mass gathering spots of his newly owned capital. Like Lord Ned Stark got executed at Kingslanding in front of thousands of people; this includes her daughter, some infants and his ardent followers. After all the executions done. He – the evil will start passing strict laws to strike down all the hidden enemies to his newly formed state. It will set more stages of public executions. People will cheer on seeing perpetrators’ head rolling on ground. They will fill the sky with religious slogans. Then the peace will fall. Years will start passing on. He will make sensible rules to prolong his rule on land he won. He won’t let some war mongers create war like situations out of nothing. Instead he will setup a group of analysts and spies who will get him sane advices to run the state where everyone can feel that they belong to the state and the land which has just been won belongs to them. So the land can become the motherland for their kids and to the kids of kids. So someday they can go on waging wars for their motherland, which was, a war ago, motherland to some other kind of people. The kids will hear glorious war stories that how their forefathers won that important war over good people. The meaning of good in that state will be bad. So they will cheer being called bad. Then who was bad and who was good. You get directionless and that’s Kaushik Barua’s latest book is all about.

Written in unconventional style, ‘No Direction Rome’ seems like a 189 pages long Eminem song. You see angst, aggression, hopelessness and a frenzy race in present towards future. But that so called future doesn’t seem coming and protagonist keep running till their lungs lasts.  No Direction Rome’s protagonist Krantik is living in Rome and leading a life full of hopelessness. He works in a multinational company where he doesn’t find solace. Having a dead-end relationship with a daughter of an MP, he is trying to figure out where his life is leading him. On her fiancée request, he visits to Amsterdam where his fiancée Pooja tries to commit suicide. She then flies back to her family in India and here begins the unending rant that only ends in the final pages of the book. He goes on travelling alone, interacts with strangers, goes on stalking and talking to a girl standing alone in a corner then visits a place he has not prior intention of.

I doubt if dead-end relationship has anything to do with the psychologically upheaval lifestyle of the protagonist. He goes on dating a girl, he doesn’t familiar with and talks of crony capitalism on his first unannounced date. The real good thing about Kaushik Barua’s second book is its vivid descriptions. But I am reading him for the first time so I felt overwhelmed with the pace and bombarding of psychological rant. In one paragraph, he talks about having joint at his colleagues’ apartment and in second line he goes on telling that Rome is filled with crazy people. He says that the city is a big mental asylum where crazy people have been kept. Since relative of the inmates haven’t come to receive them so they have been let loose on streets like animals. And, to keep the streets safe they have been again locked up in their shiny offices. Then after few words he goes on saying he had three joints with his friends. He took orange juice and his friends got gin and tonics. In his long rants, he beautifully creates a window to interact with his readers to keep them engaged. While talking about the asylum rant, he says they had this asylum on the outskirts on the city, and then they had to shut it down, fiscal tightening etcetera (I like writing etcetera, it’s so much classier than abbreviation).  With his small comment as an author, he reconnects with the readers. But what I seriously felt that this seems good as long as you have got good stuff to throw on your readers because in some pages the pace goes extremely slow and boring.

The cover has been designed by a London based independent book cover page designer Arati devasher. Arati has used small caps font for the book & author’s name on the background of a whirlpool of dust and smoke. And, sides are adorned with symbolic Colosseum building which is upside down like a scene in Christopher Nolen’s movie Inception. The whole design of the cover collectively creates directionlessness mood of the book.

Collectively, it’s like a record of human life where everything is being recorded. The spoken and unspoken words, private thoughts and privates acts, conscious thoughts and unconscious thoughts, dreams and inner dreams too. It’s like a Spiderman prose where writer jumps from this scene to that scene within words and five to six word long sentences. You can miss an important event if reading casually.

Book Review: From Home to House – Writings from Exiled Kashmiri Pandits

kashmiri pandits“From Home to House: Writings of Kashmiri Pandits in Exile” is a beautiful collection of heart wrenching short stories. The book hold excerpts from celebrated books like The Garden of Solitude, Blood on Forehead and Refugee in My Own Country. It carries stories of a fanatic friend, an aging old man, encounter with militants, and with non-fiction essays all by exiled Kashmiri Pandits. Some are translated from Kashmiri and Hindi to English. Stories like Addition, Subtraction and division, Under the shadow of Militancy and Garden of Solitude stands out of crowd.

While writing this piece, I was constantly thinking about how many people actually read the preface of any anthology. This book’s preface made me learn that preface works like the holy symbols imprinted on front doors. They tell a lot about house owner like religious leanings of house owners. In case of such books, we get to know how book publishers think about the issue. The preface leads us to the fateful night of 19th January 1990 exactly when exodus begun. But it tells a different story and contradicts with Rahul Pandita’s book especially on part of Kashmiri Muslims. In RP’s memoir, we have learned that Kashmiri Muslims played the role of a catalyst in the crisis. They got overpowered with greed and religious extremism. This book describes helplessness on part of Kashmiri Muslims. Yet it gives a new perspective. As the book carries personal experiences and echoes the voice of KP groups so it must be read widely.

Stories I loved: 

The Garden of Solitude: Excerpted from Siddharth Gigoo’s famous book The Garden of Solitude is a great read. I am quoting one line from the story: “Everyday I live the life of a centipede, I crawl. I lick. I hide. I sting. I wake up to the fumes o f kerosine in the Morning.” Siddharth Gigoo has shown the refugee camps in such a way that while reading you begin feeling the pain of exiled KPs.

Addition, Subtraction and division: It shows the discomfort of an exiled KP in other caste marriages. The pain of losing ages family tradition reflects beautifully. But as survival demands a big price so Kashmiriyat is the price for exiled KPs.

50 Words Verdict
It is an easy read for people who are interested in reading stories from varied people. Multiple accounts on one specific topic helps the reader in understanding the problem and pain of affected community collectively. Hence It’s a good book to read.

In a Free State by VS Naipaul (Hindi) – A Tasteless Translation

in a free stateकिसी भी अनुवादित किताब की सार्थकता इस बात पर निर्भर करती है कि वह कितने सरल अंदाज और परिचित शब्‍दों के साथ मूल किताब के तत्‍व को अपने रीडर्स तक पहुंचाती है। एक मीनिंगफुल ट्रांसलेशन अपने रीडर्स से एक अदृश्य गाइड की तरह जुड़ता है। यह कुछ ऐसे है कि आपको गांव की संस्कृति में रचे-बसे एक ग्रामीण को गांव से बाहर निकाले बिना फ्रांस की यात्रा करानी हो। लेकिन इस यात्रा की सार्थकता इस बात में है कि ग्रामीण आपकी बात सुनते-सुनते फ्रांस की गलि‍यों में नंगे पैर चलते हुए पत्‍थरों की छुअन को महसूस कर सके। एफिल टावर के गगनचुंबी शि‍खर पर खड़े होकर पेरिस शहर की भव्‍यता को अपनी आंखों से देखने का अनुभव प्राप्‍त कर सके। पेरिस के कॉफी कैफे में बैठे लोगों के बीच फ्रेंच भाषा में जारी बातचीत को सुनकर पैदा होने वाली उत्सुकता महसूस कर सके। और कभी मौका मिलने पर फ्रांस पहुंचे तो ऐसे अनुभव करे जैसे वह उन सभी जगहों को दूसरी बार देख रहा हो। लेकि‍न यह एक कठिन काम है। ऐसा करने के लिए आपको डिक्शनरी को किनारे रखना पड़ता है और जिंदा लोगों के बीच उतरना होता है। उन शब्दों, संज्ञाओं और परिचयों की खोज करनी पड़ती है जिनसे आम जनमानस का रोज साबका पड़ता है। कोल्ड-ड्रिंक के जिक्र के लिए ठंडा पेय की जगह ‘ठंडा’ शब्द ढूढ़ना पड़ता है। कारिंदों की जगह मजदूर या वर्कर्स शब्द की तलाश करनी पड़ती है और पोशाक को ड्रेस या पहनावा कहना पड़ता है।

ऐसा ना करते हुए हम डिक्शनरी की सहायता से ट्रांसलेशन को तो ठीक करते जाते हैं। लेकिन शब्द दर शब्द रीडर्स से दूर होते जाते हैं। वीएस नॉयपॉल की किताब ‘इन ए फ्री स्टेट’ के ट्रांसलेशन को पढ़ते समय मुझे कुछ ऐसा ही अनुभव हुआ. ऐसे लगा जैसे कोई कोर्स की किताब पढ़ रहा हुं। जैसे सुगर होने पर बिना चीनी की चाय पीनी पड़ रही हो। बिना तेल मसाले वाली लौकी और तौरई की सब्जि‍यां खानी पड़ रही हों। किताब के ट्रांसलेशन के बारे में कोई भी राय बनाने से पहले मैंने ट्रांसलेशन के समय पर नजर डाली तो पता चला कि किताब को साल 2013 में ही ट्रांसलेट किया गया है। ऐसे में ट्रांसलेशन को कालांतर में शब्‍दों के चलन में आने वाले बदलाव का फायदा नहीं मिल सकता है। इस बात में कोई दो राय नहीं है कि समय के साथ आम बोलचाल की भाषा के शब्दों उलटफेर होता रहता है। ट्रांसलेशन को इन चुनौतियों से होकर गुजरना होता है। लेकिन कथानक में भाव की प्रमुखता अहम है।

जरा किताब में झाकें –  
“सबसे बुरा होना तो अभी बाकि‍ है। हमें लड़के के मां-बाप के साथ भोजन पाना है। जो कुछ हुआ उससे वे बेखबर हैं। और हम दोनों, मुझे और मेरे भाई को नीचे बैठकर जीमना है। और लाश घर में है,  एक संदूक में। और भोजन उसी घर में। ठीक वेसे ही जैसे कि रोप फ़िल्म में था। ऐसा शुरू-शुरू में है, ऐसा सदा के लिए है, और बाकि हर चीज किसी बिडम्बना की भांति। पर हम खाते हैं। मेरा भाई काँप रहा है; वह एक अच्छा अभिनेता नहीं है। जिन लोगों के साथ हम खाना खा रहे हैं, मैं उनके चेहरे नहीं देख सकता, मुझे नहीं पता कि वे कैसे दिखते हैं।”

50 Words Verdict
अगर आप किताब के दिए अंश को देखकर इस अनुवाद को पढ़ने में सहजता महसूस करते हैं तो आप इस किताब को पढ़ सकते हैं. लेकिन यदि आप नॉयपॉल सर की अंग्रेजी की किताब पढ़ सकते हैं तो जरूर अंग्रेजी की किताब को पढ़ें.

Book Review: Pluto by Gulzar – The mastery in brevity

If it bleeds, It is but a wound,
Otherwise every hurt is a poem…


Pluto is a collection of Short Poems, created out of small little moments and emotions like the planet itself. Gulzar sahib has crafted these little poems in such a serene manner that you end up expecting living more into the immensely beautiful world of these short poems. With each poem, you feel like seeing new short worlds through the poems.

Penned by Gulzar sahib and translated by Nirupama Dutt, the book doesn’t seem unfamiliar to Gulzar lovers. Each poem is translated in such a beautiful manner that you feel as if Gulzar sahib’s grave voice is landing on your ear drums. The certain feel and warmth known to only Gulzar sahib verses echo from the translated poems too. Though, translation misses nuances. But it’s treat to poetry lovers who lacks knowledge of Urdu. For example, there is a poem:

If I had not left her she would have left me,
Union and parting are unavoidable in love,
but there is also the magnet of the ego,
After all how many nights can one pass with your back towards the person you love.

मैं अगर छोड़ ना देता तो मुझे छोड़ दिया होता उसने,
इश्‍क में लाजमी में हिज्रे-ए-विसाल मगर
इक अना भी तो है चुभ जाती है पहलू बदलने में कभी
अब रात भर पीठ लगाकर भी तो सोया नहीं जाता
मैं अगर छोड़ ना देता तो मुझे छोड़ दिया होता उसने।

In the hindi verse, the word ana and hizre-a-visaal may not be a cup of tea for everyone. Thus, the translated version turns into a treat for people. See this poem:

I Looked at You…

I looked at you like everyone else did
But then it so transpired
On my way back
The memory of your face lit up my eyes.

Shaken by a gust of breeze, a flame fell.
Momentary Darkness – and then
A blaze which turned into a forest fire.

The first sight of love has been so beautifully crafted here. The first line keeps you unattended whereas second line immediately takes you to the sight of magical eyes you love. Third and fourth line shows the happiness that comes up on your face when you think of your lover. Let’s see one more poem:

Why are your hands…

Why are your hands so silent?
Neither do the reach out to m
when you sit at the edge of the bed,
Nor do they call out softly
from across the windowpane.
They don’t rise to rebuke me, either.

Forever still
I see them always, like a flame lit,
Invoking God.

What have the doctors told you?

In this poem, Gulzar sahib has talked about the parting stage of any relationship. When one feel being bereft due to cold relationships. First lines are about the unmoving gestures of loved person. He expects his love to show love, hate or even anger but frustrates because she is still like a flame.

The next thing, I truly like is the design of the book. On the cover, Gulzar Sahib’s name is in top font with italics touch that gives a poetic feel to the cover. The descending of fonts continues with book name ‘Pluto’ then translator’s name in smallest font. When you get inside, you find all the poems placed in the bottom left corner of each page with whole page left blank. It makes them look small. The thing that breaths life in these pages is Gulzar sahib sketches. Each poem is adorned with beautifully drawn sketches like the groom wears the flowery headdress (Sehra) on his wedding day. We have seen such experiment with a recent Hindi book “Ishq main Shahar Hona” by Journalist Ravish Kumar. In that book, sketches have been drawn for short stories like a lyricist writes song to a movie. It helps the reader in developing imagery when it comes to telling short shorts or poems.

50 Words Verdict:

If you love poetry then it is a must have book for you because the way Gulzar Sahib has captured beauty and ugliness of life no one else has done. He talks about first sight of love with same freshness & simplicity as he does to the demise of his lover.

Book Review: Banaras Talkies By Satya Vyas

banaras-talkiesकॉलेज लाइफ को जिंदगी का गोल्डन फेज कहा जाता है। कहने वाले ने हॉस्टल लाइफ पर कोई टिप्पणी नहीं की है। अगर की होती तो शायद इसकी तुलना डायमंड या उससे भी ज्यादा बहुमूल्य चीज से की जाती। हॉस्टल की जिंदगी से भी ज्यादा रोचक होती हैं इसकी कहानियां, जिनको सुनाने वाले अपनी आपबीती बयां करते-करते पुरानी यादों में ऐसे खो जाते हैं जैसे कोई शहर के सबसे एलीट रेस्‍टोरेंट में अपनी गर्लफ्रेंड को प्रपोज करने के बाद हॉस्टल का रास्ता भूल जाता है। कुछ ऐसी होती हैं हॉस्‍टल की कहानियां।

इसलिए अक्‍सर लोगों को कॉलेज और कोर्स से ज्‍यादा हॉस्‍टल के लिए परेशान होते देखा जाता है। कई बार लोग हॉस्‍टल के लिए सब्‍जेक्‍ट से भी कंप्रोमाइज कर जाते हैं। लेकिन कमबख्त हॉस्टल में भी ना एकॉमोडेशन सीमित होता है। कई नए-नए हॉस्टलर्स की तो सरकार से अपेक्षा रहती है कि हॉस्टल को यूनिवर्सिटी परिसर से भी बड़ा बनाया जाए। और हां फ्री वाईफाई और अच्छे खाने की डिमांड मौ‍लिक अधि‍कारों की तरह की जाती है। धीरे-धीरे हॉस्टलर्स अपनी नई जिंदगी और दोस्तों में मशगूल हो जाते हैं। फिर खाने और वाई-फाई का भी ध्यान नहीं रह जाता।

लेकिन हॉस्टल लाइफ सबके हिस्से में नहीं आती जैसे स्‍कॉलरशिप नहीं आती। कुछ स्टूडेंट्स को अच्छी रैंक मिलने के बावजूद हॉस्टल नहीं मिल पाता तो वहीं कुछ के लिए यह दूर की कौड़ी की तरह होती है। चार सेमेस्‍टरों की फीस के साथ हॉस्टल की एकमुश्त फीस कई बार घरवालों के बस से बाहर हो जाती है। अब हर महीने रूम रेंट की तरह लिया जाए तो कुछ बच्चे मैनेज भी कर लें। लेकिन एकमुश्त इंस्‍टॉलमेंट बात बिगड़ जाती है। सामान्य आर्थि‍क हालातों वाले घरों में हॉस्टल वाली पढ़ाई की मांग करना ऐसे होता है जैसे लव मैरिज की मांग करना। घर वालों से लेकर रिश्‍तेदार तक बच्चों को हॉस्टल के चक्कर में ना पड़़ने के लिए ठीक उसी तरह समझाते हैं जैसे लड़के ने दूसरी कास्ट की लड़की से शादी करने की जिद पकड़ ली हो। हॉस्टल ना जाने के विरोध में जारी दलीलों के बीच कॉलेज कैंपस ऐसे दिखाई पड़ता है जैसे लव मैरिज करने को तैयार लड़के को कुछ ऐसे ही इमोशनल अत्याचार के दौरान अपनी लवर दिखाई पड़ती है। कानों में सबकी दलीलें सुनाई पड़ती हैं लेकिन आंखों को सिर्फ वही नजर आ रही होती है। हां धीरे-धीरे जैसे-जैसे ब्रेनवॉश होने लगता है तो लवर की आंखो की तरह कॉलेज कैंपस भी धुंधला होता जाता है।

hostelब्रेनवॉश मिशन के शि‍कार लड़के अचानक से यूजीसी से लेकर सिक्कि‍म मनीपाल तक हर डिस्टेंस लर्निंग कोर्स की तरफदारी करना शुरु कर देते हैं। लेकिन दोस्तों का क्या किया जाए वो तो हॉस्टल जाएंगे ही। और जब जाएंगे तो हॉस्टल की कहानियां भी साथ लेकर आएंगे। अब ना तो दोस्तों से किनारा किया जा सकता है ना वो दिल को छूने वाली कहानियों से। अगर आप भी ऐसी ही कहानियों को सुनकर मन ही मन कह उठते हैं काश साला, हम भी हॉस्टल वाली पढाई करते तो जिदंगी कुछ और ही होती। कुछ कहानियां और अच्छी यादें हमारे पास भी होती तो आप सत्यव्यास की किताब बनारस टॉकीज को हॉस्टल की मानिद मिस ना करें।

यह कहानी है बनारस हिंदु यूनिवर्सिटी के एक हॉस्टल भगवानदास में रहने वाले तीन दोस्तों सूरज उर्फ बाबा, अनुराग डे उर्फ दादा और जयबर्धन शर्मा के हॉस्टल में बिताए उन खास दिनों की जब वह रॉलिंग स्टोन से माउंटेन बन गए।

अच्छा दादा, एक बात बताओ तुम कभी किसी लड़की को प्रपोज किए हो?” मैने दादा के हाथ से चाय लेते हुए कहा।

“B।Com में एगो को बोले थे, I Love You” दादा ने कहा।

“फिर?”, मैने पूछा।

“फिर लड़की बोली OK। साला! हमको आज तक समझ नहीं आया कि I Love You का जवाब OK कैसे हुआ। यस नो, कुत्ता, कमीना, जानू, पागल कुछ भी बोलती; आइने में शक्ल या पांव का चप्पल दिखाती; लेकिन OK का क्या मतलब?” दादा ने चाय पीते हुए कहा।

“अबे हंसाओ मत, मर जाएंगे।“ चाय मेरे नाक तक चली गई थी।

“हां। हंस लो साले। अभी तुम्हारा फंसा है ना। अब हम हंसेंगे। पूरा भगवानदास हंसेगा।“ दादा ने चास का कुल्हड़ फेंकते हुए कहा।“

यह किस्सा बीएचयू के भगवानदास हॉस्टल लाइफ में दिन रात चलने वाले इश्क, रोमांच और जीवन बदलने वाले अनुभव की एक बानगी भर है। बनारस टॉकीज आपको ऐसे-ऐसे मोड़़ों से लेकर गुजरेगी जहां पर आप कभी खुद को खुल कर हंसने से रोक नहीं पाएंगे तो कहीं पर बाबा और दादा के तनाव का हिस्सा बनते नजर आएंगे। कहीं सुना था कि किताबें भी ट्रेन की तरह होती हैं जो आपको आपकी मंजिल के बींच आने वाले हर मोड़ से रुबरू कराते हुए आगे बढ़ती हैं। बनारस टॉकीज भी एक जीवंत ट्रेन की तरह है जो आपको हंसाती है रुलाती है और कभी-कभी आंखे नम भी कर देती है। तो पढ़ें क्‍यों‍कि पढ़ना जरूरी है।।।

अंत में अश्वि‍नी भाई को अनन्‍य धन्‍यवाद क्‍योंकि उन्‍होंने ही मुझे भगवानदास हॉस्‍टल की यात्रा करने की सलाह दी।

Author Interview: Shreya Prabhu answers tough questions on Urban Relationships

shreya-prabhu-jindalIn metro cities, life runs faster than metro trains. People infused with multipronged ambitions work day and night to make things work. In all this, relationships face the worst part of such rollercoaster lifestyle. People begin hating people whom they loved months ago. Our author Shreya Prabhu Jindal has encompassed urban relationships with its all kookiness in her Book Simply Complicated. In this interview, she has answered tough questions relating to urban relations.

Anant: How do you come to write about the complicated relationships of young professionals living in metro cities?

Shreya: I write what I know, what I see and observe around me. I have always lived in big metro cities and my friends are young professionals- as am I. So it made sense to write about the complications that exist for that age group.

Anant: There are similarities in you and your characters like the alma mater and professions. Did you see these characters as real people in your life?

Shreya: Yes, many of them are based on people I know and come from a similar background to myself and my friends. The professions are very typical ones for young working people, and so are the kind of problems they are faced with. But beyond that, they are all fictional characters.

Anant: Do you really think two couples can live happily despite the bitterness and regular fights?

Shreya: I think it depends on the couple. How much are they willing to try and make it work? I think that if the couple is happy on more days than they are fighting, it’s worth it. It depends on the kind of people they are.

Anant: Do you think it will be easy for a girl to behave with someone as a friend for whom she had got real feelings? Can such feelings be curbed for the sake of anything even friendship?

Shreya: This happens all the time, everyday. Everyone has crushes which aren’t returned, and people struggle to get over their exes and remain friends with them. Behaving normally with an old friend, even if you have developed feelings for them, isn’t that hard!

Anant: Which character was closest to you and why? I believe she was Astha!

Shreya: Yes, Aastha, because I am always playing the role of the single friend who’s giving relationship advice to others. But that’s where the similarity ends. She can be very judgmental and irritating- something which I hope I’m not.

Anant: Did you intentionally give Rahul’s character a gray shade to make him relatable and real?

Shreya: Rahul was initially supposed to be a complete “douchebag” with no redeeming qualities, but when I started writing from his perspective I had to change my portrayal of him. He is as human as any of the other characters. They all have their flaws and problems- none of them are perfect.

Anant: What have you just finished reading and what are you reading now days?

Shreya: I am reading fanfiction based on Harry Potter and the popular TV show, Sherlock. I don’t have too much time for reading, so I end up reading fanfiction in my spare time, since I prefer that.

Anant: Please tell what qualities of a book makes you read and reread with one example please?

Shreya: A good book should have strong characters, memorable dialogues, and a conflict or crisis that the characters have to work to fix. This is a formula which works for every genre- from The Fault in Our Stars to Harry Potter!

Anant: Please share this book’s journey from an idea to a paperback. Hope it will help young writers.

Shreya: It takes a lot of work to write a book. Getting the ideas in place is the easiest part. After that you have to force yourself to keep writing at least 300-400 words on days when you might be feeling very tired or uninspired. You can only succeed as a writer if you’re able to keep writing regularly.

Anant: Please share how was this interview round? You can pinpoint which question is good and which is boring.

Shreya: The advice to young authors and the questions on what inspired me and the journey of writing the book were great, but you shouldn’t be too specific about characters and situations in the books which people reading the book might not have read. Otherwise, it was a good interview.

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