Picturesque Memories

Mum(me) at Batasia Loop, near Darjeeling, circa 1991.

Mum(me) at Batasia Loop, near Darjeeling, circa 1991 (photograph taken by my father).

*The image is perfectly old, from a non-digital camera, untouched and unedited. I have just scanned it and added a watermark to thrust my copyright on it.*

Memories are sometimes like the silver bubbles of surf on the top of a wave which are transient, and yet linger even after the wave is dissipated. I am a very picture person who loves to store and cherish photographs as testimonials of the time passed by. The crumbly texture, pale yellow tinge, musty smell and flood of memories captured in an old photograph are often priceless.

The photograph posted here makes me recall a memorable trip to Darjeeling in my younger times. It was remarkable for more than one reason. For starters, it was my first trip to any hill station. The excitement for the journey was more than exploring the destination. I was old and thoughtful enough to start enjoying overnight train journeys. But, the part that followed was so much more interesting – it was traversing uphill from Siliguri towards Darjeeling, stopping by famous stations like Ghum and Batasia Loop (where this photo was clicked). Our deluxe bus (yes, they still have those running in West Bengal) had stopped at the Batasia Loop for tourists to take a look. It is the same spot which has been used innumerable times in many Indian movies, most famous being the track ‘Mere Sapnon ki Rani…’ from Aradhana (1969). Sadly, the charming toy trains shown in the movies didn’t run the year I went.

The photograph actually depicts a mesmerized me humbled by the view of Kanchenjungha mountains and soft misty clouds floating low enough to brush my face once in a rare while. In contrast, my mother seems too happy with the fact that I was enjoying the most. I am still in awe of this image of ours together which is a gem, finely cut and sparkling from my resplendent childhood trips.

This post is my entry for the ‘One Picture From My Photo Album’ contest conducted by My Yatra Diary and CupoNation.”

I nominate these three fellow bloggers to participate in this contest:

1. The Whitescape (

2. Mixi (

3. Jas (

Book Review: Tantra

Blurb View: 

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Anu is a leather wearing, no-nonsense professional guardian with a reputation for killing the most dangerous vampires in New York City. But when her enemies murder the one person she truly cared about, all she wants is vengeance. The only clue points to New Delhi, so Anu puts in for a job transfer.

In India, she finds more than she expected. For one thing, her fellow operatives have made a truce with the vampires. For another, it’s way too hot to wear leather.

At first, it seems Anu’s biggest challenge will be evading the nice boys her aunt wants her to marry. But when children start disappearing, she discovers forces older and darker than anything she’s faced before. All of Delhi is in danger, especially the sexy stranger who sets Anu’s pulse racing.

To prepare for the coming battle, Anu must overcome her personal demons and put aside years of training. This time, her most powerful weapon will come from her mind, not her weapons belt.


As I glanced the blurb, I was not too impressed since fantasy/vampire thrillers are genres I mostly stay away from. It is futile to explain why they fail to arouse the core column of interest inside me. Perhaps I like being grounded to reality through the books I savour. Nonetheless, I chose to read the book solely to review it. And I have to admit, I am impressed, indeed. Owing to the ‘vampire’ and ‘vengeance’ mentioned on the blurb, readers would tend to assume such in the initial chapters but the plot unfolds gradually.

The protagonist Anu Aggarwal is portrayed as a no-nonsense professional guardian, who despite of being utterly professional gets emotionally involved in her profession for reasons personal. I liked the idea of the heroine being the so-called ‘coconut-type’, putting on a stern persona but having a perfectly sensible and emotional interior. She is shown as a skillful vampire-hunter with no mercy for the bloody creatures. Having confessed that I haven’t read a single vampire thriller till date, or watched the popular series of vampire movies, I certainly felt clueless about the techniques of fights and jargon used. I wish the author would have explained the background to some extent as to why or how Anu became a guardian, and how do her likes take down vampires. Little episodes about how Anu tries to cope with the Delhi culture, her doting aunt, relatives and the process of arranged marriage are well sketched to grasp the readers’ interest. Few of them are hilarious and reflect the show-off traditions of upscale Delhites.

Continue reading

Thirty Seasons of Summer

Summer is already here! As you feel the swelter and wipe the sweats, read more about summer in Thirty Seasons of Summer – my guest post today at So Much Yet So Little. Muchas Gracias to The Whitescape for selecting my article as a guest post in her blog. She’s accepting more guest posts at the moment, so anybody game, do jump in and contact her. 

Hope my readers wash down the post with a super summer chiller! 

So(u)ldiers of My Life

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with

I was apprehensive to write something on this topic, as I felt the term ‘Soldier for Women’ was irrelevant. Women don’t need soldiers. They have been fiercely independent since the Neanderthals started evolving further. They hunted for themselves and the whole gang, worked hard to keep their caves clean, fed their children and elders. As the evolution progressed, various epics all over the world suggested that women created wars, perhaps because they wanted to live independently, breaking through the patriarchy which had started forming worldwide. But now, after eons of human life, women probably need soldiers. I too, like many others believe that women are capable of any and every work that men do. And yet, they are physically a weaker race which makes people gang up on them. Yes, I mentioned ‘people’ and not only ‘men’, since there are many women who gang up on their fellow kind too. It is all a matter of power. Women try to take care of themselves – at home and away – but sometimes, a little push from someone might help taking the battle for survival further.

I decided, finally, not to get carried away by emotions and write about a few souls who have protected me knowingly or unknowingly, whether I needed it or not.

# Unknown So(u)ldier

If I recall correctly, the incident happened about eight or nine years ago. I was pursuing master’s degree at the University and had to commute for about half an hour every day by bus. In my city, the buses are ever-crowded, people love to jostle with each other, climb up and down running vehicles and verbally abuse the ticket conductors. The scenario is not very impressive, neither the vehicles are, but the transport system is quite efficient. I didn’t like the commute much as there were always too many people aboard a bus and all of them were not benign. I used my backpack as a shield quite many times against rough co-passengers. One such day about nine years ago, I had boarded a bus back home from the university. As usual, it was a minibus bustling with people and I had barely a few inches to put my feet on. That day, my backpack wasn’t enough to protect me from men wanting to take a chance in a crowd. I felt somebody wanting to stick around my back, who did not budge even after I tried to shift my position several times. I was just contemplating treating the fellow a lesson amidst a sea of people when I realized he had disappeared somewhere else. I craned my back and had a fleeting glimpse of a very sober bloke who assured me with his eyes and the faintest smile. He meant he was there being a shield, maintaining the best possible decent distance from me and yet acting my savior that day. I never got a chance to offer my thanks to him; rather I’d respect and reserve him a spot in my memory.

# Known so(u)ldier

Us (self-clicked)

Us (self-clicked, copyrighted)

Now this person is closer to my heart, perhaps the closest at this juncture of my life. It is much easier to guess – he is my best friend, my guide and philosopher, my personal chef, my soul mate, and my husband. I refer to him as a so(u)ldier for me because he stood up for me innumerable times at home and away. He fought for me with his nearest ones, never for a moment deserted me. I wouldn’t have dared the aspirations of being a writer if he hadn’t supported my decision of dropping a doctoral degree. I write, in peace, as he is always there for me. I dare to be myself, as he is always there for me.

These are the so(u)ldiers of my life, near and far, known and unknown, thanked duly and unacknowledged, embossed in my memory forever.

Lost in Translation

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 38; the thirty-eighth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is “The Woman on Platform Number 10”


Paddington Station, London [clicked by myself]

Paddington Station, London [clicked by myself]

I was standing in the main courtyard of Paddington station with electronic display boards, men and women wrapped in scarves and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee surrounding me. When written this way it may feel surreal, but in reality I was late and the scenario didn’t seem pretty. The antique clock up high reminded of my boss Alex’s face which looked like a beetroot when he got angry. For a moment I went blank in my head, not knowing where to go next. I had my tickets, I already knew where to board my train, and still, my feet were glued before my favourite coffee kiosk. Like every Tuesday, I saw her again today. She was whom everyone referred to as the woman on platform number 10. She wore a mustard yellow parka with a skirt and stood there on the same platform every Tuesday for the whole day. She was the only passenger who never boarded a train from Paddington. I guess today she’s late too, she passed by me hurriedly towards her platform.

I have been witnessing her act for the past few months. She never seemed to miss a Tuesday for her day-out at the Paddington. I had, like all others, wondered why she would do it week after week. She was not a homeless asking for help, or a beggar. She looked quite well-off in her clothes and accessories. Yet, she looked as hapless as anyone could be. At times she looked as if she has lost everything in life. Her attire kept changing with different climates and seasons, but the mustard parka was always there. The pale mustard seemed to reflect its paleness on her face too. Some days I noticed her, other days I was in a hurry or pre-occupied with books or my tiny music player. I too inquired about her, like everyone else. No one had the courage to ask directly about her plight, and yet everyone seemed to know her reason. My co-passengers had always whispered among themselves about her, on Tuesdays. From the scrapes of their conversations, I gathered that a man had left her, boarding a train from platform number 10 in Paddington, and never came back. She waited, every Tuesday for him to return. She is not insane, she works somewhere nearby, leads a normal life and yet there is this bit of insanity in her to wait for her lover every Tuesday.

I lead a normal life too – I have a grumpy boss, a demanding girlfriend, irritating friends and distant parents. Yet, every time I see her, I seem to gradually realize her insanity and loneliness. Her pale mustard parka and black scarf in contrast have become a symbol of something to me, something unexplainable, not insanity. People around me whisper how she’s wasting her days waiting for an imbecile. I feel a pang when I see her though, I feel as if she’s giving back her debt of memories to life in the form of a few days. I feel I too will become insane some day, and wait for eternity, perhaps in Paddington itself.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: Google Search Engine, Participation Count: 01