Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra

Isn’t a book jacket a crucial element, when choosing a book? “Remnants of a Separation” by Aanchal Malhotra boasts of one such book cover- a beautiful integration of title and image. And beyond doubt, it persuaded me to get started on a reading experience. I wasn’t left disappointed. It is a book that speaks volumes on partition, its effects with the passage of time, family ties and loss. Partition as we know it Post- independence from the British Raj, the country was divided into two separate entities- India and Pakistan. A major population exchange happened with over 25 million people

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Book Review: A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee

Desire and need, may well seem to be the two sides of the same coin. A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee, explores these complexities through five different characters, in five different circumstances. Reflections of contemporary India, these lives have an unquenchable thirst for a better life, as they push themselves beyond mere existence. Neel Mukherjee’s earlier published books include Past Continuous in India, which won the Crossword Prize. His second book, The Lives of Others (2014) was a shortlist for the Man Booker Prize and won the Encore Prize. A State of Freedom is Neel Mukherjee’s third novel. Sectioned into five parts,

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Book Review: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness- Arundhati Roy

I wasn’t all that sure if I should actually pick Arundhati Roy’s latest- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. The reasons were plenty. Firstly, despite all the acclaim and the Booker Prize, I hadn’t entirely enjoyed reading her first book – The God of Small Things. Secondly, her so called liberal opinions expressed on many occasions, on all things Indian, just didn’t go down well with me. And lastly, in just over a week since The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been out, there has been a complete mix of reviews bombarding social media. Some really juicy reviews that screamed out that

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The Ugly truth That Lurks Within

The news about the tragic death of Manjula Davek was doing the rounds on social media. All of 28 years, the young PhD student had been found hanging in her hostel room in IIT Delhi. It quite was disturbing to read about it. Here was a girl on the verge of completing her research from the country’s premier institute, having published papers in international journals. A girl of high intellect had been pushed to the extreme step of taking her own life. The police are clueless on the reason, as there wasn’t a suicide note left behind. However, her family

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Winning over those cold Russian days- I am More Indian Than You Think!

The wind was cold and harsh. Despite the heavy jacket, it seemed to cut through every muscle of my body. As the snow fell on the cobbled streets of Moscow, I cursed myself for having volunteered for the eighteen month long assignment, in the capital city of Russia. Much to my mother’s displeasure, I had packed my bags, knowing very well the temperature in winters could touch as low as -15 degrees centigrade!!! As I stepped out of the Domadevo Airport, armed with the one Russian phrase I knew- здравствуйте (“How are you?”), the gargantuan city of Moscow, simply took

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Ajanta Caves- Art Beyond Imagination

It was the summer of 1819. Captain John Smith, a young Cavalry Officer, along with a party of British hunters, was tracking down a tiger. In the thick forest of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, the animal’s footprints led them straight past a cavity in a rock face. They soon found themselves in front of a manmade façade, cut into the rock face. As the hunting party slowly made its way inside, a burning torch in hand, they were left spellbound. ’Coz what lay in front, was a long hall with octagonal pillars and a circular dome. All over the walls were

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Road From Delhi to Wagah-Attari Border

The Wagah Border gate may seem just like any other gate. Situated on NH1, it is partly built on the Grand Trunk Road which is one of the longest and oldest highways of India. The road extends up to Kabul in Afghanistan and still remains as a major trade route between both the countries. Interestingly, Wagah is a village in Pakistan, which shares the boundary with our border village Attari. The Wagah-Attari Border Gate is strategically the most important point on the Indo-Pak Radcliffe Line.  An exodus mix of Patriotism I took the road from Delhi to Attari( 32 kms from

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Cashfat Most Trusted Cashback Website in India

According to Wikipedia, “A cashback website is a type of reward website that pays its members a percentage of money earned when they purchase goods and services via its affiliate links”. So amidst all the hassles of demonetization, lies a way for shoppers to make that extra buck on their purchase. This is with the use of a cash back site. The concept of cashback sites in India Users of cashback site in India can stand to get back rebates, for their purchases at specific retailers. Sites vary on what form of cashback rebates they offer their users. Some programs

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#InfertilityNotATaboo- When it is Only About Her Womb

She bears the brunt of infertility……almost always! A test in every way! It was a hot afternoon in the month of April when I reached Poonam’s house in Raja Ka Tal- a small farming village in district Firozabad. The warm breeze gently swayed the trees, as their yellow leaves collected by her feet. Her body lay on the ground, a thin sheet covering from head to toe. It had thinned down considerably since I had first met her. Her husband Rajbir sat a distance away, quiet and somber. A year back, I was part of a Rotary Club health camp that

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To Rent a Womb- The New Surrogacy Bill in India

Let me begin by telling you a story- the story of Baby Manji. She was born in the summer of 2008, to a surrogate mother- using the sperm of a Japanese man and an egg from an unknown source (reportedly a Nepali/Indian). But even before she was born, her parents had decided to part ways. The wife who wasn’t genetically linked to the baby didn’t want her, and the husband whose sperm was used to create the embryo, wanted the baby. The actual twist, however, came after her birth. It was a catch 22 situation where Indian rules required the

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It Doesn’t Matter if Those Tiny Shoes Are Blue or Pink!

“Phir se ladki hui he!”(You have given birth to a girl again). This was the first thing I heard, when my second child was born. The duty nurse walked in and placed her by my side. I was exhausted after the long labor and was bleeding excessively. I glanced at her, all pink and tiny, when a single tear drop slipped down my eye. I was happy. My baby was just fine. Hubby and I were elated when we realized that our second bundle of joy was on its way. The nine months seemed too long for us three- and my

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The Great Indian IIT Dream

“The mind of a child is fragile. Their emotions touch their future. Your words shape their destiny.”-Anonymous As I picked up my morning newspaper, a bunch of leaflets slipped out of its pages. Oh boy! The newspaper as it is bombards me with advertisements, and the leaflets just seem to add to the agony. As I got picking the leaflets that were strewn across the room, a little pink one caught my eye. It was an advertisement placed by a coaching institute located in a thriving medieval era colony- Kālu Sarai, in Delhi. “A Guaranteed Programme”, it said. “Give me

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India’s Third Gender

I saw her walk across the road swaying her hips. She was dressed in a black sari that seemed to shimmer in the morning sun. As she approached my car, I pulled down my window and for a brief moment, my eyes met hers. And at that very moment, amidst the constant honking on the roads, her eyes spoke volumes… On a busy working day, I sat in my vehicle waiting for the signal to turn green. It would be a long wait- the timing system at the signal indicated 90 seconds. I was on one of Delhi’s busiest roads near

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She Was Born For The Blue Skies

They say- “Truth is stranger than fiction”. Our life can be amazing, and difficult to believe sometimes. A lot of things happen with or without any meaning, and like the butterfly effect- a chain of events happen! Take the life of Shital Mahajan. A chance meeting with her friend’s brother- an Air Force Officer, in the year 2002, led Shital to be introduced to skydiving. She decided to learn the basics from him then. So intrigued was she by the adventure in the sport, that she decided to go in for further training. However, at that time, a civilian could not

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We Aren’t a Country of Just Snake Charmers

My family was excited. The “cousin” in the household was to wed a beautiful French damsel. The youngster had left the country to pursue his masters in the United States, and seek greener pastures in corporate America. It was here that love blossomed between the two and after a whirlwind courtship they decided to get married. The family in India took it all easy. They were happy that their son had finally decided to “settle” down, and were excited at the prospect of interacting with a family that was not only foreign to them but also spoke a language that

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She Cracked the UPSC Exam Not Once But Twice!

In 2013, Dr. Ruveda Salam, from the remote Farkin village in the border district of Kupwara, made history by becoming the first woman from the Kashmir valley to crack the UPSC exams. After serving as the Assistant Commissioner of Police in Chennai for a year, in 2015 she yet again cracked the UPSC exam to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer. Living in the Kashmir valley poses its own set of challenges. Political disturbances, strikes, curfews and local stone pelting episodes are many and frequent. Twenty seven year old Ruveda Salam had to face these challenges on

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Yippee for the Yatra!! #AtoZChallenge

Yippee!! I just won a “ticket”- not a lottery or a lucky dip, but a rail ticket! The best way to get to places in India is through our very own Indian Railways. Train journeys well become the reason to travel many a times, especially when you have small children, who enjoy climbing up and down the narrow blue berth. The Indian railways is the third largest passenger rail network in the world, comprising 115,000 km of track over a route of 65,808 km  and a whopping 7,112 stations.   YET, WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO DIFFICULT TO GET A

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#AtoZChallenge – I beam the "Theme"

“If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India”, said the French Philosopher Romain Rolland. Volumes have been written about this country, and nations across the globe already have much to say.  Yet, here I am making, an attempt to showcase it in an all together different avatar. Because… It is here that you find abundance… And loads of courage…. Determination aplenty… And prayers galore.. You could rejoice here…. Or soak in some

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The Ghost Town Of India- Kuldhara, Rajasthan

About 20 odd kilometers from the desert town of Jaisalmer lies Kuldhara. As I took to the dusty road that led to this ancient town of Rajasthan, I noticed the scant presence of humans around. The sun was at its fiery best and an unusual silence prevailed. I reached Kuldhara, eerie and desolate. I had heard it had been abandoned by its people more than 200 years ago.  I spotted a few villagers grazing goats nearby. What really was the story of Kuldhara? For a paltry amount of Rs. 10/- two little boys came up to me to narrate the

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What Lies Behind The Station Wall?

Have you ever wondered what lies behind the walls of those small railway stations that we come across on long journeys? As I sit travelling from New Delhi to Jaisalmer by train, I am reminded of  a story- ” Time stops at Shamili” -written by Ruskin Bond, in which he expresses his curiosity about how life would be outside the railway station. My train  traversed through bigger known cities -Alwar, Jaipur, Jodhpur. And some towns I had never really heard off- Marwar Mathanya, Phalodi,Ashapura Gomat… A ghost station it seemed, for not a single vendor I spotted, just a couple of

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