Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Book Review: ABCs of Horror by Anmol Rawat

When a fellow writer whose style of writing you respect, publishes a book in a genre you don’t fancy much, you let curiosity get the better of you.

This is what I did, when Anmol Rawat came up with his book, ABCs of Horror. I have never been a fan of horror…it quite gives me the creeps. But this book did not disappoint me at all. 

The Concept

If you look closely at the title, it is a giveaway to what the reader can expect from the book. The book is a terrifying collection of 26 horror thrillers, and the titles of the stories are alphabetic. So, the stories begin with Atheist (A) and go up till Zapped In (Z). The stories come from the author’s participation in an A to Z Writing Challenge in April, 2017 where he penned blog posts throughout the month, on all the letters of the English alphabet.
The author has explored almost all kinds of horror imaginable, from bloody tribal rituals and voodoo to vengeful spirits and toys coming alive to witchcraft and sorcery. The themes are as diverse as they are inter related. This serves as a huge plus point to bring in continued doses of drama and suspense in good measure and to keep the reader hooked till the very end.


There are a lot of factors that advocate picking up this book:

1.      As I said before, the diversity of the tales is enough to make the book an enjoyable read.

2.      The brevity of the stories is another factor that helps keep the reader interested, story after story. The language used is simple and can be easily understood by even the most casual readers.

3.      What enhances the scare factor is the unexpected twists in the stories. The setting of the stories points readers in one direction, and the ending brilliantly maneuvers them into a different place altogether. Some stories leave you asking yourself, “Damn! How could I have missed that!” The twists are simple, yet cleverly done.

The Result

I finished the book in two sittings, flat. It took me a while to adjust to the gore in some stories, but the pace of the narration, and the rapid unfolding of action kept me going, ceaselessly. That is something, coming from someone who doesn’t enjoy horror, ordinarily.

The spook factor may not be too pronounced when you’re reading this one in the light of the day. But, when you wake up at night for a glass of water after reading, and feel the haunting presence of the devil himself, remember- You had been warned.

The book has some gory scenes and profane language. However, in my personal opinion, it is not really offensive. So, the author has balanced the necessary evils (pun intended) quite well.
I’ll name some of my favourite stories here- Bloody Mary, because of the way it ends; Killer Doll, as it had me fooled, and Nightmare, because it cooked the traditional horror recipe to perfection. This, by no means, implies that the other stories aren’t good enough. You may find new favourites as you explore the realm of terror and darkness so well crafted in this book.

My verdict

I’d rate the book at 8 out of 10. I deduct two points because of

1.      Minor (and I mean very minor) grammatical/editing errors. But, you needn’t worry about them, unless you’re a Grammar Nazi like me. The flow of the book is pretty engrossing, so you may not even notice them at all. But, I couldn’t help it.

2.      The fact that there were just 26 stories in the book, when I wanted it to have at least that many more. J

So, I recommend horror fans to definitely pick this book up. And, I recommend it to those looking for something easy and engrossing to read on a journey, and also to those who want to experiment with this genre for the first time. The book deserves applause for its strong presentation and stronger content. And, the author deserves some for his hard work, his fabulous imagination and his on point narration.

And, you can check out the author’s profile, here: http://www.anmolrawat.com/

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Half a poem

For more quotes and poems like this, check out my Instagram handle :)

TTT- Stranger

Isn't this moment etched in the minds of every SRK lover, forever? :)

Dear Mahi (Happy Birthday, Dhoni)

Sharing a post i wrote on MSD's birthday :) It fetched me over 10k likes on FB and around 35k on Instagram :) I'm proud of this piece of my writing. Spare a moment, maybe?

Dear Mahi,
I'm not a cricket fan. I share my birthday with Sachin Tendulkar. But, I'm not really a Sachin fan, either. I can't quote match stats. I don't remember who played when and against whom. I am least bothered with records and runs. But, I guess, I'm a Dhoni fan, after all.
No, it isn't particularly because I witnessed a small town boy from the interiors grow into the coolest captain India has ever seen. It isn't because I saw somebody who shied away from press conferences, become the wittiest, one of the most camera friendly cricketers the world has ever seen. It isn't because of the huge list of unparalleled statistics in your favour, nor is it because of the laurels you've brought to our nation.
As I said before, I've never been impressed only by cricket.
There are many other things about you that impress me. It doesn't take me a lot to fall for people. A smile, an act of chivalry, a little compliment and I will gush about it for months. So, you can imagine why I fell for you, over and over again.
You didn't give up. It's easier to stay down when life kicks you than it's to dream. Losing people you love, giving up a secure job, chasing your passion ceaselessly are all hard things to do. I fell for your grit.
Taking tough decisions, going against popular mandate, bringing tectonic shifts to a team more fanatically worshipped than God are all risky things to do. I fell for your courage.
Sharing the spotlight and not taking all credit are tough things to do. I fell for your humility.
I fell for you every time you brought a wicket from matches won, home. I fell for run outs quicker than lightning. I fell for helicopter shots, brave sixes that helped us seal victory and earned you the befitting tag, Finisher.
I'm not a cricket fan. But, I watched the whole of the 2011 world cup for you. Every single match. I cried when we got the trophy. And I fell for you, once more, when you let your team hold it for you.
Because you made me bleed blue.
~ garima behal

Monday, 3 July 2017

I write

A lot of people over the past few years told me my words had an impact (no matter how minute) on their lives. Now, I am looking for them to have an impact on mine. I start this series of short poems/quotes today on my Instagram handle @half_a_poem. I will be honoured if my words resonate with you :)

TTT [Wordrobe]- Absence

Thursday, 8 June 2017

You and Me :)

For that one relationship that's beyond labels. For that one person in your life who, you wish, could be more than just your 'good friend.' :) I believe this to be one of my better pieces. 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Scribble your heart away with MatrikaS Creative Woman's Journal :)

I got to know about MatrikaS Paper Products through a blogger friend who directed me towards their facebook page and from the moment I checked out the super colourful and vibrant page, I knew I had to try at least one of their funky stationery  products. Luckily for me, I got a chance to review their beautiful journal- the MatrikaS Creative Woman's Journal- which was delivered at my doorstep with a super sweet letter in tow. The letter introduced me to the wonderfully wrapped journal and coaxed me to open the package and find out what awaited me. :)

As a sucker for stationery items, I have been a regular at the Stationery Fair that accompanies the Delhi Book Fair every year in the national capital. I have come across spectacular products, ranging from combinations of bottle openers and sharpeners to minion shaped pen drives to lock and key journals and what not. So, I was pretty excited when I set about unwrapping the Creative Woman's Journal. My excitement grew even more as I found out how lovely the journal was, exactly as I had expected.

Here's a collage from various angles, to give you a sneak peek.

The journal is available in four different variants of colours and design, each aimed at encouraging a woman to discover different attributes of her dynamic persona- the pink cover with a golden butterfly, for the woman who wishes to dream; the brown cover with a golden dragonfly for the woman who wishes to fly; a rust cover with a printed feather for the writer and a mermaid like fish in blue, for the woman who glides through life. I had ordered the one with the dragonfly, in check with my spirit that always wises to soar.

I was amazed by the plethora of innovative features the journal had. Not just limited to ruled sheets, the journal comes with-
1. 8 adult colouring pages
2. Blank doodling pages
3. Customised pages to list the books on your to be read agenda and the places you wish to visit someday
4. A page for displaying personal details
5.  Dedicated, sassy stickers you can use while describing your day in the journal, or on your doodles

The journal is hard bound with rounded edges, so that you can carry it anywhere, without worrying about it getting harmed, or the corners getting damaged. Not just this, there's a pen holder, too. (very convenient for people like me, who keep misplacing pens by the dozen!) There's a very cute pouch attached to the end cover, and it comes with an elastic band for safe-locking.

If you'd like to visualise and experience the features before you actually order the journal... Here's a video that is very elegantly done.

The paper quality is excellent, the ink doesn't seep through to the next page and it looks exceptionally classy when you step out with it, rocking the intellectual look. The best part? It is neither oversized nor bulky and fits easily in your hands. It is convenient enough to be taken anywhere and everywhere. ;)

So, I guess, what I'm saying is, it isn't just a journal. It is more like your personal companion to the end of the world, especially if your're somebody who loves their stationery as much as I do, and carries a penchant for writing/scribbling/doodling. So, if you're looking for a gift for the adorable lady nerd in your life, look no further. Oh, and of course, you can gift it to yourself, too. Check out more of their offerings, here. So, happy journalling with the MatrikaS Creative Woman's Journal, ladies. I hope you enjoyed my review :)

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

India is a way of life

India, more than an emerging economic superpower, more than a storehouse of demographic dividend, more than a pioneer of innumerable sciences and streams of knowledge, is a way of life. It runs in your blood, brave and sacrificial saffron instead of scarlet; it shows in the purity of your selfless soul, white as a dove, and it presents itself in the green of your optimism, come what may.

To me, this way of life is manifest in how Indians conduct themselves, not just on their home turf, but also abroad and slowly sneak into the hearts of those they love - whether Indian or not- one joke, one careful consideration, one jugaad, one smile, one gesture of hospitality at a time.

Lufthansa’s latest campaign: #MoreIndianThanYouThink will make you appreciate the unique and refreshing allure that India enjoys in the world, today. Catch it here: https://youtu.be/TIgVoRK-A1o
What I like best about this TVC is the recognition of India as a superpower, as an influencer rather than a mere wallflower in world events. 

It pays heed to everything we hold sacred in our culture- the respectful and hospitable bow of Namaste, which stands for “I bow to the good in you”, recognizing equality with the person standing before you; the spread of delectable cuisine, which has placed us on the global map and our affinity for celebrating and dancing, irrespective of the occasion. It is no wonder that this ad will attract Indian audience like me, coaxing us to venture into a Lufthansa fight at the earliest and experiencing #MoreIndianThanYouThink for ourselves. For further information, here is the link: http://bit.ly/2oQTj8q

There’s no denying that the Indian way of life is why we have become a force to reckon with, in recent times. I will share some facts and some instances to help you see how. Read on!

1.      We are a happy, loving people

For an allegedly ‘poor’ country (reference to the Snapchat fiasco), Indians are a joyous people. You know you’re in a good place when the street urchins selling balloons flash their pearly whites at you as you purchase their bundles of joy from a rolled down car window. A CEO driving a Mercedes will dance to the same numbers at a wedding as a middle class salaried employee who owns a rugged scooter.  
We derive so much happiness from simple things- planning a family picnic, gathering for a birth, going window shopping with friends, having a hearty dinner at a relative’s wedding, chancing upon old friends in public transport, clearing our exams- that these little moments become our real treasures. For us, money is not equal to happiness. True, we do strive for betterment of our means, but that never stops us from being happy in the moment. We are ambitious and optimistic. Nowhere else exemplifies glass half full as Indian.
Despite having one of the largest military forces in the world, we advocate peace. We forgive nations who seek to destroy the sanctuary we provide to fellow living beings. We foster friendships. We are human, and proud of it.

2.      We put others before ourselves

Our strongly rooted values help us gain a foothold, wherever we go. I was in Germany on a language scholarship in the summer of 2011. While travelling to the Goethe Institute in Munich, one morning, I offered my seat to an old lady in the tram. A simple, routine gesture for me, this was something I always did in India (where public transport tends to be densely crowded), both out of the virtue of respect taught to me as a child and out of sheer habit. I didn’t even think twice before getting up, but the lady was so touched that she lovingly caressed my cheeks and offered me a currency note of 50 Euros “to go and have a pizza with my friends.” At that time, it was equivalent to about INR 3000. I was surprised and politely declined. It was her turn to be surprised, as I refused the money. My wheatish complexion and mannerisms must have betrayed my nationality, for she confessed she had always liked India…ever since her son came back a positively changed person from visiting our country.  
We are always taught selflessness and altruism, right from the very beginning. When our mothers eat only after having fed the whole family, when our fathers sacrifice meals for buying us expensive clothes and toys, when we grow up and provide for our families before we fulfil our own wishes…putting others first is a legacy in the Indian culture.
We care for people, not just our own by geography, but also those who we connect with, because of who we are- human.  

3.      We are adept at making things work

Broken plumbing? Fix it using basic tools. Jammed vehicle? Gather five people and have them push it, so it starts. Kaput electricity? Open a few plugs, rewire and you’re set to go. Catch-22? Don’t worry, we have a way out. No matter what the problem, Indians have a solution handy. We can make everything work. I have personally experienced how locks can be opened without keys (using safety pins), how dupattas can double up as sunshade and baby carriers, how things can be innovatively used for purposes they are never intended for.  Don’t believe me? See for yourself, how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_jvqnmDVME
No wonder then, that India is the land of innovators and thinkers, right? As some would say, it is in our soil. J

4.      We are intelligent

We gave the world the beginning of the number system. We introduced decimals. We launched 104 missiles from a single rocket. We taught the world what today has taken the form of chess. We initiated microwave communication. We discovered herbs and their medicinal properties. We gave the world Yoga. Indians and people of Indian origin today lead the world in many sectors, including ICT, Finance, Physics, Cinema, Law, Medicine, Literature …you name it, we have made a mark in it.

5.      We are colourful, indomitable in strength and spirit

We have a rich tradition of arts and crafts, spanning state boundaries and generations. From forms of painting like Madhubani, Tanjore and many more to the forms of fabric weaving and production, especially silk in the South, jute in the East and cotton in the West, from folk songs that still grace our weddings to the mind boggling variety of sumptuous regional cuisine in each nook and corner, our creativity has found diverse expressions and made us virtually unstoppable. India is a leading exporter of gems and jewelry, textiles and other items of handicraft which are unparalleled anywhere in the world. This reminds me of how I Wore an orange and black kurti with detailed Kantha kadhai on it, in Berlin, Germany and the tour guide took a moment to admire it. He later complimented me on how bunt (colourful) it was and how it had brightened his day! To this day, six years later, I feel so proud of it.

My identity as an Indian has helped me realize, firsthand, a lot of lessons that are mostly confined to moral education classes at school- standing up for what is right, defending the underdogs, helping the needy, striving for success in a clean and not cut-throat way, building solid friendships and nurturing relationships, treating the whole world as my family- Vasudhev Kutumbkam. If all this could be practiced everywhere in the world, I am certain that boundaries, both geo-political and psychological, would diminish, indeed making the whole world one single family of human beings, united in everything we do and all that we are. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Sambhale huye khat jalaye ja sakte hain,
Likhe huye lafz mitaye ja sakte hain.

Behte ashq chhupaye ja sakte hain.
Kareeban sabhi dard dafnaye ja sakte hain. 

Beete lamhe bhulaye ja sakte hain.
Toote huye dil behlaye ja sakte hain.

Rishte naye banaye ja sakte hain.
Ummeedon ke par lagaye ja sakte hain.

Muskan ke tohfe laye ja sakte hain.
Wajahon ke sawal dabaye ja sakte hain.

Jismani hoti toh dawa ho jati,
rooh ki choton ke nishaan bhi kabhi mitaye ja sakte hain?

Aakhiri saans tak chalta hai lekha jokha apna,
Zinda rehte bhi kya zindagi ke hisaab chukaye ja sakte hain?

Monday, 27 February 2017


And the way you treat broken things,
will tell me all I need to know-
Whether you deem them worthy of effort,
or not even of regret, before they're thrown. 

For it is how you treat
stuff past utility,
the way, one day,
you will think of me.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Shrine to my Anxiety

My anxiety is not a
missed plane.
It is a connecting flight
that got delayed,
ruining the best of
how my future was laid-
My anxiety is a snowball,
devouring everything
that lies in its wake.

My anxiety is not lyrics
half sung
and half cried out in pain.
It is when my typing slurs
and I use smilies a bit too much,
when I am not really happy
but just making it up-
My anxiety is a mask
that pretends to be my face.

My anxiety is not getting
drenched in the rains.
It is carrying oceans
inside my eyes,
where the world can't swim
and comes crashing down as a tide-
My anxiety is an abyss,
not so much a resting place.

My anxiety is not reasons
or causes or things
that didn't go right.
It is fear
based on baselessness,
a dark, intangible fright.
So, when you ask me 'what's wrong'
and I say 'nothing,'
I'm not really lying.

My anxiety doesn't
need pills or poultices or poems.
My anxiety craves a shrine,
so it deserts the whole wide world
and settles, instead,
for my mind.