11 Stories Squeezed Into One

*Confession Time*

I have tried it before, I tried it again, but finding time to regularly blog has been tough for me. So today, I am going to try to capture the headlines of some of the many events going on in my life. Yes, I am fully aware, that each of these topics deserve a full post dedicated to them (which in my mind, I am hopeful of writing someday). But, until that becomes a reality, let’s not miss out on taking note of all the events that happened recently.

  1. In the past few months in the new school, Pari has grown in many ways. If I were to look at her hardly 5 months back and compare her to what she is today, I’d be amazed to see how far my baby has come. She has come to be more independent, has started making a conscious effort to learn something new on a daily basis, has taken her love for dance to a whole new level, fallen in love with swimming and has come a long way as far her writing skills go.
  2. We’ve just been through the most scary part of the year. The time, when my mum’s annual scans ( though she has regular scans & tests on a monthly/ quarterly & semi-annual basis too) but the PET-CT scan, done annually, scares me to death from days before it’s done. The PET-CT scan is in layman terms, done to check for any spread of the cancer cells in any other parts of the body besides the area of cancer origin. This is crucial because my mother has had malignant breast cancer. By God’s grace & prayers of the many wonderful people who’ve been part of my journey through this blog and otherwise, mum has come out clean.
  3. My battle against Patriarchy is at its worst. I am at a stage in life, where, everything I see, say or think, appears to be in a direct conflict to the way the rest of my family sees it. Every single day, in my mind, I scribble a 1,000 word post. This happens while I am trying to push myself to calm down. Life has been very trying and at these hours of crisis, two quotes in particular (among the many that I read on a daily basis) have stuck around for me. (He who angers you, conquers you.” ~ Elizabeth Kenny) and (“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill).
  4. Car driving has been one of the major challenges in my life ( this in particular needs an elaborate post for full understanding). I have graduated from being scared to learn to drive to miraculously bagging the driver’s licence, impressing the driving test instructors across continents, to being scared to death of driving to driving like I was born to drive at 150 kmph to where I am stuck today. All details coming up super soon.
  5. Just in case, you think I waste all my online time on Twitter, let me tell you, I am also spending time here. So just in case, if you are using the Viber app (which is absolutely free) please do connect on my Public chat and see what I have been up to.
  6. Something weird has happened to my laptop. At first the right click died a slow, painful death ( which I had the service center attend to, but they failed to find a hardware or otherwise fault) and just a couple of days ago, after Pari decided to play with my laptop keys like Tom plays the piano, the left side of the mouse has died a sudden death. By God’s grace, I have a wireless mouse that has come to my rescue. But, deep in my heart, I am scared of the possibility of having to shell out a good 50,000+ rupees for a new laptop. Very honestly speaking, I don’t have that kind of extra money at the moment.
  7. I know, I have been forever making excuses of not finding enough time to scribble a proper blog-post but have been churning out many book reviews one after the other. This deserves a new series of posts, but in a nutshell, the book reviews I do on the blog are taking care of the fact, I read more than I usually do and carefully enough. I can never ignore the fact that while reviewing, I have an author’s dream, perhaps work of a lifetime in my hands to judge in an unbiased way. Thank you kind people, for bearing with the surging number of book reviews, because they are here to stay.
  8. Regular exercise, check on the carbohydrates ( to some extent) and losing a couple more kilos is the scene on the fitness front. Though I am really trying to squeeze in a brisk walk for half an hour in my schedule but the hot weather has been keeping it from becoming a reality so far.
  9. These days, I am busy watching the Masterchef Australia, Season 7. I have seen it from season 1, so it is always very special to me (being the only reality show I watch religiously). I might not have picked up any great recipes from the show but Pari is surely smitten and tries to practice what she gets to see ( if she’s awake as the show airs at 9 pm) with her kitchen set. The only twist is, she uses real ingredients, plays my boss, pushing me to cook as she instructs and making me eat it. Yes, she refuses to taste it herself and I am not allowed to refuse to taste.
  10. My love for Green tea is going strong and to add to it I have added the Mango & Strawberry Tea and the Blackberry & Vanilla Tea. The latter two from Twinings are a delight for someone who loves an aromatic experience. They’re very light, tasty and makes me feel fresh almost instantly. Though I found the acidity of strawberries in the Mango & Strawberry tea overpowering, but it took me two days to fall in love with it. I highly recommend it, if you love light, aromatic teas and have green tea without any additives like honey.
  11. At the risk of repeating myself, with the little lost weight, I have come to look at least 5 years younger than I did in my cousin’s wedding in June. Well, pictures are the proof. And I have recently fallen in love with taking selfies. Though I never share any of these on the Internet, but they are great to help me compare results in my healthy lifestyle journey.

Just in case if you’re wondering, why didn’t I stop at ten points or didn’t include this last bit in a number twelve, I’d started this post with an intention of doing an odd number of points as a mark of jotting down the odds of my life. That’s exactly what I have done.

The song on my mind: Manzilein apni jagah hain ~ Sharabi 

Yes, My Accent Is Real

  • Title –  Yes, My accent Is Real Yes, My Accent is Real - front cover
  • Author – Kunal Nayyar
  • Publisher – Simon & Schuster UK
  • Genre – Memoir
  • Pages – 242
  • Price – INR 375
  • ISBN – 978-1-4711-5561-1

Blurb on the back of the book – Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.

Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet. Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)

Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role of a lifetime.

Review – One look at the book and I knew it was one of those books that’s going to be as intriguing and exciting as is its cover. Kunal’s portrait on the cover has magnificently captured the essence of this beautiful collection of essays. The bling in the title (visually) and the intricately embroidered ‘Mojris’ (the shoes) talk about his love for the festivities, his roots and love for India while the crisp blue suit portrays his life in America. But, the magic lies in that priceless expression on Kunal’s face that depicts sincerity in an innocent child-like fashion. If you’ve not had enough of Kunal’s charms on the front cover, he’s made an appearance on the back cover too.

Are you a fan of The Big Bang Theory?

Well, who isn’t? (if you’ve seen it, though)

This book is a splendid way to make one fall for the man who portrays Raj Koothrappali ( he was originally to be named Dave). The book is warm, self-deprecating, insightful, inspiring, funny, educational.

“But you can’t find love if you’re not willing to lose it. You can’t find happiness if you’re not willing to risk being sad. And you can’t find the love of your life without risking breaking your heart.”

While the blurb on the back of the book has told you all the book is about, I’ll stick to sharing what I felt about this entertaining read. Not just the pleasant color scheme of the cover but the reader friendly font of the book (yes, I give brownie points for that) and the Preface too hinted that I am going to love this book.

And, I was proven right in more ways that can be recounted in this review. I believe, the connect I felt with Kunal as someone who’d moved overseas, have been educated there and seen life the way it has been narrated in the book, made me bobble my head on every line, okay, every page I read. By the way, there’s a chapter on head bobbling habit of Indians too.

“If what you want happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, very good.”

The language is rich, narration lucid and picturesque laden with a generous dose of humor especially in the initial chapters that tapers steeply as Kunal’s life takes a few serious turns and returns in the final third again.

The book makes for an endearing, funny, light-hearted read that’s quick-paced and absolutely unputdownable. The book left me with a grin plastered to my face all the time I was reading it. Even though, I knew he’ll eventually land up with the BIG role but his journey to making it is as exciting (if not more) as was his big break in the American Television industry.

“There is a lot in this world to be worried about… but there is also a lot to celebrate. Don’t be a worrier. Be a smiler. Be a Boss.”

The candid essays made me giggle, chuckle, scribble down notes for future reference (the thoughts recorded on an aeroplane cocktail napkins are pure genius), look frantically for the saucy, crisp footnotes and get all nostalgic when Kunal talks about the words of wisdom from his father. I am sure we all have experienced or will experience the ssssssss moment that Kunal has mentioned. The way it has been talked about, I have a feeling, it’ll stay with me for a long-long time.

The essays have been smartly titled, cleverly positioned and brilliantly narrated. I couldn’t help but note the sincerity and honesty in every anecdote where humor and exaggerations subtly make way for life-lessons to shine like a hero. Though my favorite is “Dinners with Dad”.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone who loves reading a good book.

Yes, this book though being semi-autobiographical breaks free to share the life, love, heartache, inspiration, laughter, traditions and much more in the words of a talented actor and a genius author. I am looking forward to reading more books from his pen.

About the Author – Kunal Nayyar was born in London and raised in New Delhi. He first came to the United States in 1999 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration and went on to receive an MFA in acting from Temple University.

Playing the character of Raj in the Big Bang Theory, he has been part of the ensemble since the show debuted in 2007. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Neha, who was named Miss India in 2006.

Rating – 4.5/5

Karna’s Alter Ego

  • Title –  Karna’s Alter EgoKarna's Alter Ego
  • Author – Surendra Nath
  • Publisher – Dream House Publication
  • Genre – Fiction
  • Pages – 232
  • Price – INR 175
  • ISBN – 978-93-84180-11-9

Synopsis – Karna, the ill-fated hero of Mahabharata. Many feel he deserved to win. If only luck had favored him…

5000 years later, we have a man named Vasu, who is much like Karna – illegitimate birth, very talented but denied all credits in life, rejected in love, misses a medal in the Asian games, gets caught for telling an innocent lie, overlooked for promotion. He begins to identify himself with Karna, and interestingly Karna appears to him after every debacle to assuage and encourage him.

It seems Vasu is Karna’s alter ego.

Review – The book piqued my interest with its catchy title. I have been in awe with Karna’s character in Mahabharta owing to the way he had been at the receiving end of many failures and deceptions. Having read Surendra Nath’s earlier work, Fire in the Rain, I was curious to see his take on a mythological/ philosophical theme after churning out a thriller.

The book has an interesting cover with a fading face that comes across as burning in a fireball. It hinted to me connection of the protagonist with Karna the son of Sun god (as per Hindu mythology). One cannot miss the conch shell on the cover and the many times it has been mentioned in the book. However, its significance comes to fore only in the climax of the story.

The book attempts at correlating Vasu Sena’s ( the protagonist) life with that of Karna’s. The story starts when Vasu is a twelve-year-old and learns about his illegitimate birth. While he is lost in the cloud of confusion and pain, Karna makes his first appearance before him.

Karna’s appearances before Vasu in the hours of distress come across as a figment of Vasu’s imagination and don’t disturb the momentum of the book until the point when Vasu’s wife is shown to see and hear Karna at an hour of crisis. That compounds the bewilderment, as to how should the reader swallow this fact of Karna’s appearances in Vasu’s life?

The book is divided into chapters with titles that spill more information of the content than I would have liked as a reader. Having read about Karna at length in the Mahabharata, connecting the dots in this very predictable plot comes at a disturbingly early point in every chapter. On more than one occasion, the analogy come across as forced, peppered with too many coincidences to support a successful outcome.*

“When you raise yourself high enough, every situation appears significant and every setback trivial.”

I wish to applaud the author at the sensitivity with which the chapter on Karma and Moksha has been dealt. It answers many queries we all have had at some point or the other on Karma, how the almighty appears to leave us on our own at times of distress or what happens to those who evade the law and manage to lead a happy life despite having committed many sins and many more.

” Grow, not merely physically, but also in your mindset, and prepare for greater challenges that lie ahead.”

I wish to congratulate the author in attempting a work of fiction that quite successfully connects two individuals across the millennia. I quite enjoyed reading the many revelations about the events part of Karna’s life, along with the short narrative of the events mentioned in the book (presented at the end).

The book fails for me in putting Vasu in an advantageous position in every episode. The advocacy of the patriarchal set up at many points in the book are very disturbing. For instance, Vasu’s wife is shown to stay away from her husband for almost a decade to look after her in-laws living in a different city. While Vasu is never seeing missing her and labeling the sacrifices made by her as a sign that she is a ‘good’ girl. The cost of Vasu’s wife’s sacrifices is the fact they remain a child-less couple. I felt the chapter on adoption has been written in a pretty insensitive fashion.

I failed to accept the way the protagonist has been shown to be a jack of all trades, sensitive to the difficulties of the world but keeping a blind eye to his responsibilities towards his wife and family. Glorification of the fact that since Vasu could financially support his family, he had the liberty to do as he pleased is a major turn off.

Besides the ideologies, the many grammatical mistakes that point towards a need for better editing, make this book with a simple narrative and predictable plot an arduous read.

Sharing the outcome of the episode, right at the beginning, ruins the suspense for the reader. This had been a major shortcoming in ‘Fire in the Rain’ and unfortunately is seen even in the climax of this book.

I am trying my best to limit the quoted examples to avoid spoilers.

About the Author – Surendra Nath tries his hand at writing fiction off and on, but most of his short stories have remained unpublished, though a few have found their way into books and magazines. ‘Karna’s Alter Ego’ is his first attempt at writing a full length novel. Earlier he wrote a novella that sank without a trace.

For a living, at 58, he runs after children in KiiT International School, and the strength needed for all this chasing, he draws from his previous experience in the defence forces. He also publishes a children’s magazine – ‘Kloud 9’. He is the architect of a Children’s Lit Fest, that is into its third year now in 2015.

Rating – 2/5

Breaking free

In my recent posts, I have been talking about how my relationship with my parents has changed in the past few years. Things have been rough, sad and have hit the rock bottom on more occasions than one. I won’t shy away from admitting that there have been times when I was very angry with my parents.

But on all these occasions, there has been one thing that hasn’t changed. My desire to make them see my point of view and the urge to understand theirs.

As I am growing older, I have come to realize in a weird way, that siblings are more similar to each other in ways beyond their appearances and temperaments than are the offspring to their parents. I don’t know if I made any sense in my last statement but, you’ll understand where I’m coming from as you read on.

In the past five years when my life took an acute turn, I have seen everyone in my life change. Mostly unfavorably but some, in ways that made me see the true face of life.  Like I had never seen before. In these tough times, when my brother chose to dump us (literally, by turning his back on us calling us a ‘liability’) my parents were devastated but I have been left with many unanswered questions.

I have been seeking answers from life, trying hard to know what could force a son (who had been for 3 decades of his existence) who was always a mother’s pet turn his back to her mother when she was diagnosed with cancer.

The point to note here is, my parents or I have never been dependent on my brother for our existence. Never. In fact, his infrequent visits were our only connection. My parents never asked for any favors from my brother ( neither financial nor emotional or in any other form) and have been self-reliant in every which way. Still, he chose to call us a ‘potential’ liability and left us to never look back.

It was a traumatic experience. Words can’t do justice to what my parents have gone through (especially my mom has gone through in the critical phase when she has been battling a malignancy). But, that is that and my battle with my family is different.

When our tormented life began to settle down a bit and I tried to take the reigns of my life in my hands, my parents decided to show me my place. I spent a lot of time reflecting, analyzing and trying to grasp the situation at hand while planning my moves ahead in life.

After much contemplation I have realized, that my parents have had a fair share of sufferings in their life. I am not looking for the causes of their suffering because we are all aware, no one, yes, neither you nor me have a perfect life. We all have our share of pain, unhappiness and hardships. But, what is the point of my focus here is, how to make our life, as a family, better and not bitter (than what it has become lately).

It has been an uphill task. I have no resources or concrete plan to make it happen. But, I am determined on a few things.

I want my parents to have a happy, healthy, content life in the days to come. I wish for us to connect like never before. I wish for them to open up to me and Pari enough to be able to purge out their pain. I want them to see, that like my brother, I have no intention what-so-ever to abandon them. I know it is a worry at the back of their mind which they never say but I can hear it in their silent suffering.

I have seen my father, dislike the stark similarities I share with my brother. Being strong-willed is definitely one of them, though in my case it is re-named to be my stubborn disobedience. I have been making conscious efforts to show my parents how I want them to enjoy the rest of their lives watching Pari grow around them while I am there to shoulder every responsibility. I am learning the hard ways of life, albeit slowly but surely.

No, it is not my effort to be a ‘Budhape Ka Sahara’ to my parents. It is my attempt to let my parents experience their due share of happiness after spending 80% of their lives struggling. At first to please and care for their parents, then to shoulder the responsibilities of being an elder sibling and parents to me and my brother. They’ve never had time for themselves. It’s time they did what they’d always wished for. Eat, shop, travel and do everything they’d love to do in this life.

I wish to be so strong to be able to make this little wish in my heart come true. But, I am not ready to let this happen at the cost of my or my child’s freedom. That makes for a tricky situation. However, the good news is, a solution to this problem exists. It lies in breaking free of the well-practiced rules of Patriarchy that governs my home.

It’s going to be a difficult thing to do. But definitely worth an effort.

I want to set my mother free, I want her to be happy like she’s never been before. I want my father to be free from the shadows of fear that I will hurt them like my brother has. I want Pari to become an independent, confident child, who never ever feels that she has been brought up by a single parent. But to make these wishes come true, I will have to keep my stand, have to rise above my fears. I wish to do this for the happiness and peace of my family.

As my vision is getting clearer, I am slowly beginning to see what I want from life and how I am going to achieve it.

The song on my mind: Ek Raasta hai zindagi jo tham gaye wo kuch nahin ~ Kala Patthar


I have been wanting to start this from a long time, but my preoccupied mind chose to postpone it like many other things I often do. When the hurt, pain and tears began overflowing, my heart knew, I had to try this highly recommended route. The path of writing down what all I am grateful for in my life.

I knew it was a time-tested recipe to calm frayed nerves, see life more objectively, but somehow I just couldn’t get myself to doing it. At the start of this week, I resolved to start taking out fifteen minutes daily to scribble a short blog-post to get into writing regularly, but that didn’t materialize either.

Today, something happened that changed the scene and here I am typing away like I got a deadline to chase. I have been (on and off) writing about a few of the issues I have been failingly trying to address, despite some success here and there, my mind is more of a mess than anything.

In the past month or so, the pain from the feeling of heading nowhere in life had risen so much that though life was racing past, I felt as if it was not me who was living it. What pinched me hard was the way things weren’t as fun and happy as I’d love with my child. Things have been pretty demanding and rough with me failing to find a relief, let alone a solution to end this chaos.

There have been occasions when I saw myself behaving like a paranoid mum, but couldn’t see a way to handle my child in a different way. All this has been pressing hard on the vasopressor centres of my brain. The unrest has been unbearable. I’d stay worried, stressed, agitated all day. Playing around with positivity, meditation and motivation but nothing working.

Finally, yesterday, I decided upon reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I had been putting it off ( like many other tragedy stories) since forever. I have no clue what made me add the book to my cart and stranger still, what made me stop short of making a payment and ordering it. Yet again.

Today evening, the movie based on the book premiered on TV and I in an odd ( not something I usually do) way browsed through the movie channels hardly a minute before the movie started.

I am not going to talk about the book or the movie, but how it changed my life in two hours. The Fault In Our Stars made me see why I need to be grateful in my day-to-day life. The movie made me see how trivial are the issues I’ve been battling as if they were monsters. There is so much more pain and suffering in the lives around us. Though, it doesn’t change the fact that each and every story is unique as are we and our ways of coping with the pain in our lives. But, when inspiration can be drawn from the battles being fought by others, let’s use it.

I feel, I’ve now got the needed motivation to see the sunny side of my life. I am now clear about where all I was wrong, stressing over things that are not in my control.

Life has a way to ensure, we keep going by dropping hints, inspiration and even signboards to see we take the paths we’re destined to. But, the good news is, life loves us to keep going. Keep living, fighting with all our might, winning in our micro and macro battles on a daily basis.

Please be prepared to read many more of these mis-constructed posts because I am working hard to beat all odds that have been keeping me off blogging.

Writing is my prescription and my blog is the medicine. I’m not going to avoid this space any longer.

P.S.- The title of the post is a famous line from The Fault In Our Stars.
This post was written last night but I dozed off without publishing it.

The song on my mind: Simple As This ~ Jake Bugg

Target Fitness

A few months ago I decided to adopt a healthy lifestyle that I was hoping to sustain for a lifetime. While at the back of my mind, weight loss was an important goal, it was never the prime one. Not because, it is not an issue because it surely is, but I was planning to change for a better life ahead.

Today, after almost 4 months, I decided to look back at the time gone by to see where am I heading.

Since it is my blog where I have no obligation to impress someone, I can be brutally honest. I said so, because I have never (yes, never) before been able to talk so freely about my weight issues before an audience.

There have been no miraculous results as far the weight goes, primarily because I haven’t invested efforts of that level. Mind you, when I say so, I am well aware of my pace and I am pretty confident that this snail pace is going to continue even in the days to come. Though the good thing is, I have stuck to one thing, keeping carbohydrate intake to minimum and regular exercise. The exercise levels fluctuated but I have never stopped the work out.

The salads have been on but more than them, I have come to like the fruits. There has been a slow but sure shift in my liking for fruits. I have come to enjoy snacking on them. Breakfasts have been oats and free from all sugar though in the Mango season I did add it on a number of occasions but successfully avoided adding any sugar (or even honey) on 100% occasions.

I am not too sure what should be the parameter to assess the results. If the overall feeling is to be counted, I am surely feeling fitter than I was four months ago. All the aches and pains I had begun to develop (slight pain in my shoulders, sometimes in the knee too) have been a thing of the past. I have lost one dress size, moved back two holes in my belt and lost 5 kg thus far.

While looking for inspiration over the Internet, I came across countless weight-loss diary blogs where people had undergone dramatic change in terms of weight in the time I have been actively working. With those examples in mind, if you’d look at me, I am sure we all would agree 5 kg is nothing exciting.

What actually is exciting, is the fact, that I have learnt to adapt to the lifestyle changes and am at no point missing out on any of my favorite foods. I still eat pizzas, pastas, sweets, chocolates and everything part of the many festivals in India. It is just that I either have learnt to draw the line as to where to stop or else I workout enough to burn the extra calories. So the scales haven’t shifted right so far.

I am letting my body come to terms with living with less sugar and salt for the life ahead. Yes, cutting fats is on the agenda, but I have never been consuming them in excess anyway, so I am not being too harsh on myself on that front. The one good thing that has happened in this process is, I have come to learn a number of ways of cooking up Oats and even successfully managed to rope in my mother to love eating oats in breakfast daily. That is something major because my mom is the world’s easiest person to lure to consuming carbohydrates at any hour of the day, despite being a diabetic.

My skin has shown definite improvement though nothing dramatic. I definitely look 5 years younger than I did in the recent past. I feel happier mainly because I have this realization of having taken the reigns of my life in my own hands. These small achievements are doing wonders to help me feel alive, like any person should.

The song on my mind: Ziddi Dil ~ Mary Kom 

Baat Niklegi Toh Phir

My relationship with Jagjit Singh dates back to my infancy. My parents, my elder brother and my maternal grandfather have been lovers of his music, that’s why falling for his compositions came naturally to me at an early age.  The delicate charm in the way the words leaned on the tune and the profound poetry was gifted a resonance in his ghazals is one of the many qualities that has made me seek refuge in his music all my life.

I have grown up in the air where my family loved discussing his albums at length, not limiting themselves to the connotations of the poetry or the magical symphony of the musical instruments but going beyond to find bits and pieces of the life of the singing duo ~ Jagjit and Chitra Singh.


Being a huge fan of Jagjit Singh, picking this book came naturally to me. The book’s title are the opening lines of the Ghazal that is among my all-time favorites since adolescence. Ironically, the melancholy and haunting lyrics of the same bear an uncanny resemblance to my life. It makes me feel a strong connection to it beyond my love for Jagjit Singh and his timeless music.

“Jagjit Singh chose lyrics that went beyond the usual theme of love and longing, wine and roses, to speak of metaphysics or the tribulations of daily life.

He gave the Ghazal a younger, more contemporary appeal.”

Though I have been aware of an earlier work ‘Beyond Time’ mentions of which have been made in plenty in this book, but somehow I haven’t had the opportunity to read it.

The book is a beautiful take on the life of inimitable Jagjit Singh whose integrality spans over few known and many unknown aspects of his life. It was a pleasure to read about Jagjit Singh’s childhood, his yearning for music and dedication to learn it from every source he came across.

I enjoyed reading about his college life where Jagjit Singh spent all his time and energy practicing music and performing in various competitions and how he managed to pass the exams. It was fascinating to learn about his journey in the early years where I was amazed to learn he was a skilled hockey player but pulled himself out of the college team to save himself for his ruling passion of life.

I loved the nuggets about how he came across the then strugglers, but now accomplished names of the film industry like Subhash Ghai. The book mentions about his many friends in the early years, who later became an important part of his musical journey.

The book also highlights the phase of life when Jagjit singh met Chitra Singh, how their paths crossed on a number of occasions before their relationship blossomed into a lifetime affair. I couldn’t help but note that the author has kept the narration as close to real highlighting the flaws of the maestro along with showcasing the treasure trove of his talents and qualities of being a true gem at heart.

“He made the ghazal sound cool with Western instruments and stereophonic recording. Singing easier-to-understand poems set to semi-classical or simple tunes made the ghazal a means of touching the heart of the lay listener.

He made the singing style so attractive that people wanted to understand even the most difficult words of the poem.”

I had always wondered why the Ghazal albums with poetry in Urdu had titles in English, the mystery has been answered in the book and how. It was amazing to learn that besides many languages, Jagjit Singh has recorded in Nepalese too. On the other hand, Chitra Singh who was well-versed in almost 17-18 languages, learnt Urdu from Jagjit Singh.

I was left in awe with Chitra Singh’s learning skills at the way she had learnt and made her diction and voice mould well to the soft, bass notes of Jagjit Singh’s voice.  The book talks at length about the personal struggles of the Singh-ing duo as well as how the various popular albums came to be. The anecdotes are the ones that would tug the heart-strings of every music lover.

I wish to congratulate the author on the successful portrayal of the real face of the tinsel town. It was heartening to read about how the established superstars of the time didn’t feel the need to allow fresh talent an opportunity in the industry, when young Jagjit Singh was still struggling to find a break in the industry. The author has put forth the facts without being preachy or judgmental, adding to the grace of the narrative.

For me the highlight of the book are the many photographs shared from various stages of Jagjit Singh’s life that keeps this book from getting dreary at any point. The chapters in the book have been artistically parted using photographs and lyrics from the most celebrated Ghazals. The beauty of this arrangement lies in the fact, that I could almost hear these Ghazals play in my mind as I read through the 225 pages of the book.

The language is rich, narration impeccable keeping the reader feel as if you aren’t reading a biography but watching the events happen live before your eyes. In the final pages a list of all his works has been mentioned. I couldn’t help but feel proud to own most albums on the list, while taking note of the ones I need to get to not miss out on any of his compositions that are accessible.

I particularly felt that the book would have benefited from more interactions with the people whose lives and careers were touched by Jagjit Singh, the ones shared in the book are few and far between. I have been a fan of Jagjit Singh’s spiritual creations (particularly Hey Ram) and also the albums in which he had paid a tribute to the yesteryear legends. Calling his final few albums lacking in appeal doesn’t do justice with his music.

The final pages that showcase a poignant description of Chitra Singh’s life in current times, left me shaken. The book also mentions about Chitra Singh’s campaign to win for Jagjit Singh the title of Bharat Ratna.

The book presented to me many known and unknown facts about Jagjit Singh’s life, leaving me feeling inspired & enthralled beyond words. Having read this ‘book to be treasured’ I feel closer to the man and his music in a way one feels having known someone personally, all his life.

About the Author – Sathya Saran is one of India’s best-known journalists and editors. As editor, she made Femina the most successful fashion and lifestyle magazine in India.

She is also the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling biography Ten Years with Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi’s Journey and has recently published Sun Mere Bandhu Re: The Musical World of S D Burman with HarperCollins Publishers India. She is at present working on a number of books in her capacity as consulting editor with HarperCollins Publishers India.

  • Title – Baat Niklegi Toh Phir  ~The life and Music of Jagjit Singh
  • Author – Sathya Saran
  • Publisher –  Harper Collins India
  • Genre – Biography Music
  • Pages – 225
  • Price – INR 699
  • ISBN – 978-93-5136-382-8
  • Rating – 4/5

The song on my mind: Baat Niklegi Toh Phir