Dancing with Demons

  • Title  – Dancing with Demons zBa-CIOo-1
  • Author – Nidhie Sharma
  • Publisher – Harlequin India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Genre – Drama (Fiction)
  • Pages – 288
  • ISBN – 978-93-5106-493-0
  • Price – 299 INR

Blurb on the book – Karan Pratap Singh is on the brink of winning the Amateur Boxing Championship, when in a moment, he loses it all. His fall from glory seems fuelled by ruthless arrogance and an out-of-control anger management problem. That, however is just symptomatic of a deeper issue. Buried under layers of his fractured subconscious lies a childhood secret he cannot come to terms with.

Sonia Kapoor is a beautiful, volatile young woman with a secret that torments her at night but a secret that she feels no guilt for.
When fate throws Karan and Sonia together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir up trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. But, is redemption possible without forgiveness?

Dancing with Demons is a fast-paced action drama of love, loss and resurrection.

Review - The book has a nice cover wonderfully capturing the theme of the plot. I particularly loved the title that defines the gist of the book aptly. The badge on the front cover saying ‘soon to be made into a Bollywood movie’ pumps up the expectations from the book exponentially. The blurb is interesting and creates a very good first impression.

The book starts in a boxing ring introducing the protagonist (Karan Pratap Singh) a boxer playing an important match that could make or break his career. The direct start to the story was a welcome change, with no beans spilt with an introduction. The boxing combat comes alive in the author’s words and I could feel excitement pump in me as I read through.

The demons come alive right from the start, blending well, the past of the characters with their behavior today. I liked the gentle injection of details while maintaining an element of suspense. The fast pace set with the first chapter goes on to impress as the various characters in the book are introduced. The characters have been given enough room to grow, sharing an insight on their past and the demons they are fighting in their lives.

I liked the swift shift in scenes of the book while maintaining the flow with a lucid narration and rich vocabulary and picturesque description. However, in the middle third the book slowly loses steam as the author tries hard to hold on to the facts, to heighten the suspense. As a result, the final third part of the book is seen to bear an overdose of information which at times comes across as forced, hampering the smooth flow of the book.

I’d like to congratulate the author in delivering a very intriguing read that has a myriad hues of drama, thrill, suspense, action, wit and romance in right proportions. With no one villain in the book, the demons of every character (as the title rightly suggests) come alive from time to time. At some points the very short chapters come across as distractions in this nail biting read.

“Life is like a boxing match, millions might cheer from the outside but inside that ring you are all alone and you need to fight your own battles and deal with your own mess.”

The final third of the book failed to impress me even though I quite liked the climax and the way the story ends with hope. The book makes for a perfect script for a movie. Though there is romance in the story, however, for a Mills & Boon book, there is a sheer dearth of passionate love scenes, making the plot full of intense drama than anything else.

While Sonia’s life comes across as better sorted, I found Karan’s life and his demons being put to rest in a very hasty manner. It somehow stole the charm of this otherwise impeccable read.

The book makes for a sensational debut in the world of combat sports, with characters struggling between their passions that inspire them to march ahead and demons that hold them back.

I highly recommend this book as it exudes a wonderful message to be taken and practiced in life. We can’t move on in life without putting to rest the demons of our past. We all need a closure at some point, without which a happy life is not possible.

You’d enjoy this book if you like drama. The book will keep you on your tenterhooks to know what eventually happens with Karan and Sonia and how.

About the Author – Nidhie Sharma is a Writer-Director living in Mumbai, India. She has studied filmmaking and Screenwriting from New York University and has previously graduated with honors in English Literature.

Having directed documentaries and travelogues for the American and European markets, and worked on American indies in Los Angeles, Sharma is directing a mainstream Indian film soon.

Rating - 4/5

What can you buy in 750 rupees?

Let’s begin this post with a practical question.

If I handed you 750 rupees what all can you buy with it?

A pair of shoes?

Makeup?

Grocery for a week?

Movie Tickets?

Meal at a restaurant?

The list is endless. But to be honest, in today’s times 750 rupees can hardly buy much if at all anything noteworthy.

However, the same 750 rupees can change the future of a child, if donated wisely.

How?

Watch this:

I was amazed to learn, how the amount we so casually spend in an evening can actually turn around a young child’s life. Yes, a child can be fed mid-day meals in school for one whole year in this amount, encouraging him to continue his education.

What exactly is classroom hunger? 

Every day millions of children in our country are forced to choose between hunger and education. Without access to even one square meal a day they have to work to help support their family, at the cost of their future success. At this point an NGO, the Akshaya Patra comes into picture. This not-for-profit organisation strives to fight issues like hunger and malnutrition in India. By implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the Government schools and Government aided schools, Akshaya Patra aims to fight not only hunger but also to bring children to school.

It’s a small step to help the children, the future of our nation be educated. It is a humble effort to feed the children and fight child labor indirectly cause hunger forces these kids to take up meager jobs to earn their daily bread. The mid-day meals often lure the children and also their families to let them continue going to school cause they are fed there. These meals are feeding our nation’s future and by writing this blog-post I am donating a year of mid-day meals for a child as a part of the Blogadda ‘blog to feed a child’ initiative.

One good deed earned by the power of my words. My fight against hunger and support to feed-a-child doesn’t end with this blog post. While I have been contributing to the many initiatives to support NGO’s helping fight malnutrition & hunger as a freelancer, my child’s school too has been supporting this cause.

Every month, every child in Pari’s school is requested to donate a kilogram of food grains (pulses, rice, etc.) which are then collected and sent over to a not-for-profit organisation helping provide mid-day meals to schools. I believe, every tiny contribution matters and I feel immense joy to see how these small donations are keeping so many children happily fed and studying.

I feel privileged to have participated in this initiative where my words have the power to improve a child’s future.

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

If you are a member of Blogadda, please do write blog post (s) to help feed needy children in schools.

 

Miscarriages are common

Family planning, pregnancy and babies, we hear, talk and read a lot about these. Especially when one steps in their twenties (that is the average marriageable age in India) these topics begin to catch our eye more often.

My case was no different. The euphoric, ecstatic feel of giving birth to an adorable human being sounds pretty exciting. Even when someone unrelated to us shares the ‘good news’ it evokes similar reaction.

However, I wish to share my experience on a topic that’s seldom talked about. Miscarriages.

Till the unfortunate moment, when I suffered a miscarriage, I had never in my wildest dreams imagined the possibility of it happening to me. It was not about living in denial but lack of awareness on the topic. I had never in over two decades of my life, heard anyone talk openly about this devastating, heart-breaking phenomenon. Hence, I had absolutely no clue how to react to it.

The emotional breakdown, sense of loss and hormones played a havoc on my mind.  Triggered by the storm of negative thoughts that cluttered my shattered mind. I couldn’t put a finger on what wrong had I done in my life to deserve this. Where had I been unforgivably negligent to lose my first unborn baby, long before the joy of motherhood could fill up my life. The worst bit was, though the body recovered from the loss in finite time, the psychological impact of the loss lingered long after.

Depressive thoughts like, nature didn’t think of me good enough to be a mother, streaked my thoughts on more than one occasion. It was then that during one of my regular follow ups with my (then) gynecologist I learnt something life-changing.

He said, miscarriages are pretty common all over the world, even though we don’t hear about them so often. They are particularly rampant around the start and end of the reproductive years, when the body itself chooses which fertilized egg would make for a healthy baby to go on and lead a healthy life. It is quite a process of natural selection (barring a few cases where an accident or an underlying medical condition is the cause) and feeling sad about the loss is equally natural. But, self-doubt or blaming oneself for the mishap is surely not the way to handle the situation.

I know, it comes across as regular professional advise, but at that hour of immense distress it had successfully erased the self-doubt and pain, my loss had left me with. The understanding of a miscarriage being something that happens to a large number of women, made me feel normal instantly. His words of wisdom, made the grieving woman in me, see a ray of hope that I too could be a mother someday. It changed my life in a positive way. Over the years after lot of talk, prodding and discussions, I was amazed to note that nearly 65% women in my own family had suffered a miscarriage at some point in their reproductive years. It was quite an eye-opener for me.

But why am I recounting these things today?

Lately, I have come across a number of blogs where I read about the miserable time women who had had a miscarriage had. I read about young women giving up coffee, their favorite foods, dancing, aerobics and more, simply cause they attributed these to the probable cause of the mishap. I have read women getting desperate about becoming a mother or their families blaming them for being the ‘evil one’ to have been fated with this tragedy.

In today’s times with advanced medical science and access to the treasure of knowledge on Internet, we are still stuck in such thoughts and beliefs because of less of awareness on miscarriages. While the cause of a miscarriage can be anything from an accident to natural selection to an underlying medical condition, its impact on the woman is always the same. Devastating.

I believe, just as sex-education doesn’t end at talking alone about the birds and bees, the need to talk openly about sex-lives, extends way beyond pregnancy & child-birth. It is important to talk, share and seek professional counselling (if necessary) to help the grieving woman come out of her pain.

If you or anyone you know blames herself for this unfortunate event of their life, please tell them what my gynecologist had once told me. Procreation is an important part of the lives of all living organisms, but we all must remember, it is still just a part and not life itself. We must muster strength to move on. Normally. And help others do so.

The song on my mind: Ye jeevan hai ~ Piya ka Ghar

 

School Diary – VI

I am aware that I am yet to update about Pari’s school life in the past 9 months. But there is something major happening right now, that’s why I am leaving the part V to be added later in the School Diary series.

It’s that time of the year when schools issue the admission forms and parents like me, who are planning on making the final shift from a play school to a formal school get on their toes. School admissions have always made me jittery. Firstly cause it’s about careful decision making for my child’s future. Secondly, cause it’s when I need to put my status of being divorcee on the table and wait with restlessly to see how the school management reacts to it.

But today, I am here to record my apprehensions, seeking your valuable opinion as I make the big move.

Pari is currently in a very good public school, but unfortunately, the school is only for junior classes so as she finishes her session in Nursery, it’s time to get her admitted in a new school. The limited choices given in a small town can sometimes make life easier. Hoever, people like yours truly, find reasons to worry about even in the most innocuous looking situations.

Out of the handful schools we had initially considered for seeking admission, I have finally shortlisted two. Both are public schools of good reputation with their scholars doing well in academics, sports and other fronts. After seeking opinions from a number of people we have arrived at a conclusion that school A is bit better than B.

Let’s focus on School A for today.

School A is a posh school with activities at par with the top schools in the country. I have visited the school personally, have taken a look around the school premises, spoken to the staff and management too. Like every parent I too wish to send Pari to the best school to ensure her all round development. Yes, I am one of those parents who hold academics at an important place in life, but for whom being active in sports and extra-curricular activities is equally important for the overall growth of the child.

School A offers everything, I, with my limited experience as a parent can imagine. From regular lessons in swimming, horse-riding, trekking, skating, dancing, music, art and more to centralized air conditioned school premises and school bus, meals and snacks being served in school.

The fees is a bomb, as expected, but one that can be shelled out, so this isn’t my point of worry (at this point). My worries started the minute when after a through look around the school, I was sitting in the waiting area for some formalities. I spotted a few kids (must be around standard 9 or 10) walk with iPads in their hands.

iPads in school is something, old fashioned me found a little too hard to swallow. While I have Pari’s best interest in my mind, I have serious concerns about her seeking admission in a school where kids would own fancy (read expensive) gadgets, toys, dresses and more right from kindergarten.

I might sound too old or old school, but having the most expensive dresses, stationery items and more don’t hold any place in my priority list (they never did even when I was a child). But, how would my child’s impressionable mind react to this situation? Even now, I often hear Pari asking me to get the fancy pencil box like her classmate’s father got for him from Dubai, party shoes to be worn daily to school (she doesn’t have a school uniform currently) and many similar requests.

Turning down all her requests doesn’t make any sense but giving in to her wishes under peer pressure would be a bigger failure. Though my parents strongly advocate her going to school A, I seem to have lost my mind worrying about the impact going to a posh school could have on my child.

We do have ACs in every room at home, but I cannot deny the fact that we do use them judiciously. If you are a regular reader of this blog, I am sure you are well aware of my & my family’s financial status. We aren’t financially unstable but there is definitely no money to splurge. Even in current times, I have no issues with preparing a fresh meal for Pari’s lunch-box every morning so a school that’s offering all meals and snacks is mere luxury to me.

I really don’t know if my babble thus far, made my point clear, but, I am worried as hell whether sending Pari to this school would be a wise move (at all). I wish to pass on the right messages to Pari from this age itself. I want her to understand our circumstances, financial status and that she will be denied things on many occasions (though with a open discussion about my decision) and that her mum will leave no stone un-turned to give her the best in life, but within practical limits.

People around me are of the opinion, being active in the extra-curricular activities that are a regular part of school A is the way of life in modern times. Getting good grades overlooking this important aspect of life isn’t my goal either, but I have my concerns.

School B is a public school that has a very good reputation for academics but they offer regular sports and limited extra-curricular activities just like most schools in the world do. Though I am yet to visit this school to offer a deep insight, but it is a standard school where students bring in their own food, the classrooms aren’t air-conditioned and usual strength of class is 40 as compared to 20 in school A. The fees is approximately half of what school A charges.

I’m looking for suggestions from the readers in making this decision wisely.

Do you think going to a posh school is the way of modern life?

What do you think I should primarily consider in making a choice of school for Pari?

Am I worrying uselessly or do you see some sense in all I have written?

What do you think?

The question hour of my life

I have missed recording Pari’s milestones for almost 15 months. But no more. I am going to pen down as much I can recall, while trying my best to make short notes/posts of our day to day life. I want to draw these precious moments in words on my blog like I had always intended to.

At three years and a handful months, Pari is in the phase when her curiosity has bonded with the desire to ask questions. I am the most frequent target of the the AK-57 of questions that she fires at me.

Given her age, these questions are pretty much general, based strictly on the events happening at the very moment. Like, “Mom where is the dog going?” “Why isn’t Doremon on air when I want to watch it?” “Why do I need to wear the same clothes to school daily?” you get the drift.

But the fun starts when she sticks to one question, asking repeatedly for longer than 15 minutes, expecting a new reply every single time. The most trying bit is her insistence to add to the information every single time I reply.

Imagine us driving back home from school,
Pari: “Mom where are we going?”
Me : “We are going back home”
Pari: “Mom where are we going?”
Me:”The school time is over dear, that’s why we are going back home”
Pari: “Mom where are you taking me?”
Me: No reply
Pari: “Mom tell me no, where are you taking me? Are we going for shopping”
Me: “No sweetie we aren’t going to the market”
Pari: “Then why are you not telling me where are we going?”
Me: “We are going home darling.”
Pari: “Are we going to the mall?”
Me: No Reply
Pari: “Mom why are you not replying to me? Are you angry with me?”
Me: “No dear”
Pari: “Then tell me no mummy, where are we going?”

This continues for the entire time till she steps inside home.

It is usually fun, cause she hasn’t yet started asking me the ‘difficult’ questions about our life. But still, even such naive questions can get difficult to answer when my mind is pre-occupied.

There are days when I am pressed for time, have work commitments, deadlines to meet, pile of chores waiting for me or simply the havoc my hormones are creating in my life. These are the times when I get bugged, though I try my best to control my urge to ask her to sit quietly or try my best to distract her to something more interesting, like a story book, play dough, color book or something similar.

While I might come across as a rude mother, I have to admit, my patience levels are finite and yes I am pretty bad at handling stress. I don’t like to upset my chirpy little darling, but being able to spare time to be with her all the time isn’t practically possible either. I think this is where the juggling of life to balance parenting with life in general steps in.

While Pari is learning about life and its ways by asking questions, I am learning by finding answers while looking at life from a fresh perspective. The realization of how, we live midst a million simple things that make up life rather than what we adults blame life to be has been quite a life changing awareness for me.

The reality is, by answering Pari’s innocent queries, I am learning about life from the scratch. This new view of life is fresh, clean, simple and full of hope that everything is possible. Just like magic.

My state when Pari fires questions at me non-stop :

Let’s Talk

My darling Pari,

I know its been forever since I wrote a letter to you, but between a mum and child it’s never too late to bond all over again over  a new medium. So here I am pouring my heart in words. Putting down another wish, I would love to see come true.

Talking, communicating, sharing, understanding each other’s point of view and the like, holds a very special place in my life. I like it most when someone decides to ‘talk to me’. Is ready to ‘hear me out,’ before we plunge to judging, letting assumptions grow over our mind.

We so often wish to realize our un-fulfilled dreams in our children. This perhaps is one of them in my case. I have always longed for my mother to sit and talk to me. Randomly, vaguely, generally, casually, making me feel so comfortable that I let loose the secrets I hold within. So that I never feel hesitant in sharing all the good, bad and sometimes pointless events of my life with her. Somehow, such a moment has never arrived in my life.

No, I won’t blame life or its fast pace for this. Because, deep down in my heart, I have full realization that this is more an issue of social conditioning and temperamental differences between mum (or say mum and dad both) and me. We don’t share the same view of life. My parents are of the opinion that kids are born to listen and parents were created to discipline them, keeping the reigns of life tight in their grip so that children are given no opportunity to go stray (in casual terms we may label this as being ‘control freaks’).

Anyway, let’s end the digression here and let’s talk about you and me. I want to gift you a comfort zone, where we exist as friends and cease to be a parent and a child.

I want to talk my heart to you. Talk about the big issues, small issues, my history, my dreams, our future together, your views, your opinions, your beliefs, your points of view and so much more on a daily basis. We might not have the luxury of free time, but I know, if we want to talk we can do it even while running the chores, working on the Internet, sorting out the laundry or anything for that matter.

Pari, I wish to connect with you, from the heart. Be a part of your life, the way you see it. Not in the capacity of a mother or a parent but as someone who loves you more than herself. I know, you’ll read this letter many years from today, but, I have already started working on this dream of mine from the day you were born.

Ever since, we’ve started talking about all in our hearts, I feel we have bonded at a whole new level. Our hearts feel united by the bond of understanding. The joy of having found a friend whom we know will hear us out even when we haven’t been at our best behavior.

I believe, if silence is golden, speech is platinum because it dispels the cobwebs of our hearts.

I promise to listen to all you have to say, whether I agree to it or disagree. I will always respect your right of being an independent individual even while you are a minor, because for me, you are my best friend.

With lots of love and blessings,

Mum

The song on my mind: Raat akeli hai bujh gaye diye ~ Jewel Thief

 

Morals learnt for life

Childhood is the most precious stage of life, when the foundation of we shall be in life are laid down. The rhymes we learn and have fun reciting time and again gradually etch in our minds leaving a lasting impression. Same magical spell is cast by the bed-time stories we so fondly listen to. Their morals become our guiding light as we grow up reflecting on them, time and again.

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. The stories with moral learnt in childhood, successfully do that.

As part of the wonderful Super Fun contest on Blogadda, I will be sharing my memories and lessons learnt from two of the wonderful animation videos by KidsHut on YouTube.

Ever since my daughter turned 2, she has been drawn to YouTube for various rhymes, stories and fun kids videos which come in handy at times of crises, when most of my tricks have failed to pacify her. Now she is a school going kid and this time, discovering the treasure of wonderfully animated and beautifully narrated rhymes & stories with morals came my way, through this contest.

The best part of the KidsHut YouTube channel is they aren’t limited to stories and rhymes but also have educational, animation videos. The good news being, new videos are added to the channel every Wednesday and Friday to keep our kids entertained with new things to learn.

While I am writing this post, Pari is watching & singing along the rhymes at KidsHut.

Becoming a mother is beautiful learning experience. I am in love with this phase of life, when my little princess makes me recite the nursery rhymes playing my teacher and eagerly waits for the bedtime to listen to my favorite stories. Two of my personal favorites from the series at KidsHut are:

1. Story of The Thirsty Crow

2. The Dove and the Ant’s story from Aesop’s Fables

The story of the thirsty crow has amused me from kindergarten days. At the tender age of 4 when I had first head it, my very first thoughts were, how did the crow know that putting pebbles in the pot of water would make the water rise? Perhaps, I underestimated a bird’s intellect or was yet to learn the power of Archimedes principle in life. Whatever the case, but my doubts on the crow’s smartness lingered long after.

As time moved on, my curiosity about this inspiring story made me recount it on a number of occasions, reminding myself how perseverance can make me succeed even in the toughest tests of life.

The story of the Dove and the Ant was something that appealed to me from the start. The idea of a random act of kindness gifting a smile to someone in need has always enticed me enough to practice it in life in my little way. Besides, the realization of the fact that no one is too small (like the ant) to be useful or helpful, made me love this story all the more.

Many years later, one fine day I moved to an all new country to pursue post graduation. With no friends or family around, the vast cultural differences and fear of the unknown made me feel insecure. Getting rid of the consternation seemed impossible as I had no clue how to strike friendship in this new land. That was when, my mom reminded me of the story of the thirsty crow in one of our phone calls.

Mom asked me stay put, being my own cheerful, amiable, warm self, making friends one at a time. Starting with those whom I met daily in the library and classes, to the ones I shared my commute with. It started with passing a smile. Gradually starting with one friend at a time, I made a bunch of good friends. The persistence and patience bore fruit and soon I was no longer home-sick, bored or jittery of being all alone in a new country. A new sense of security and belonging filled me with confidence.

One Friday evening, I was returning back to my apartment, little late than usual, having lost track of the time in library. It was a chilly winter night and I had missed my tram with the next one over 40 minutes away. I decided to walk. Just then a car with loud music tearing past the chilled winter breeze and teenagers yelling in the alcohol drenched fervor zipped past me. Full speed. Before, I could grasp what they were up to, a sharp scream pierced through the air.

Hardly 100 meters away from where I stood, one of the teenagers had fallen off the car (or was pushed out) and was screaming in pain in her drunken stupor. The car didn’t stop and neither did the few other cars who pretended to not have seen the accident. I have to confess, I was hell scared and felt so numb that I felt my feet go hundred times heavier, making, taking any step further or anywhere else next to impossible.

“The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” ― John Holt

Just then, the painful screams of the girl, jolted me out of the dilemma. I dialed 000 and by the time I reached the spot, the ambulance and the paramedics had arrived with the cops. By that time, a handful of other students and passerby people had gathered and the girl was rushed to the hospital. I obliged by narrating to the cops all I had seen happen and how I had called up the emergency number as part of routine police questioning. The accident was the front page news the following day where I was glad to learn that the girl was safe with few minor injuries though kept under observation for head injury.

The girl was a student at my university, enrolled for a different course than me. I couldn’t resist the urge to go see her at the hospital along with a few of my friends. There, one of the cops (whom I had narrated the events to) introduced me to her parents. It was a brief interaction, but beyond the words, their moist eyes had conveyed to me how grateful they were.

Days flew past, I graduated, got busy in my married life and on one uneventful day was rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pain and bleeding during pregnancy. After what felt like eternity, when finally I could get a specialist doctor to see me, I was amazed to note that he was the same man whose daughter had met with the accident years ago, right in front of my eyes.

It sure is a small world, our paths had again crossed. In an altogether different city, different circumstances. It took him hardly a minute to recognize me. What happened next, changed me as a person completely. Today, I can proudly say, he gifted me a new life in that emergency room when life and my survival looked bleak.

That night, if I had not called the police, someone else would have. When I needed emergency treatment had the doctor been someone else, the outcome could still have been the same. But, it didn’t happen that way. Life taught me the lesson of compassion with a practical example. Life wanted me to see and experience how our small acts of kindness can have life-changing impact on us and the world we live in.

In the circle of life, every pebble of effort moves us closer to success, quenching our thirst just like it did for the thirsty crow. No act of kindness, no-matter how big or small ever goes vain. The more considerate, humane and kind we are towards others, the higher are the chances someone will be compassionate towards us when we need it most.

This post is a part of Kids Hut activity at BlogAdda.com