Knowledge is Great

So what do you want to become when you grow up?

The boy did not take a moment to reflect. Pat came the reply, “I want to become a wizard, grandpa.

The elderly gentleman looked confused. “You mean a Math wizard like Ramanujam? I did not know you were so interested in Math.

No, he is not, Pa. See his report card and you will know. The desire to become a wizard is this latest Harry Potter craze among today’s children.” Rama hardly lifted her head from the computer.

Natrajan nodded his head. “Ah! Chip of the old block, eh? Your dad wanted to be Sherlock Holmes when he was your age.

Neeraj’s ears perked up, “Really? How was dad like as a kid?

Now! Now! Now! A conspiracy against me behind my back, eh?” A spare bespectacled man in his early thirties walked in to the house.

Grandpa was telling me about how you were as a kid.

I am sure it definitely would not have been anything flattering. Pa was always a critical dad. Not that I am complaining.

Well, my son, you were so given to wild flights of fantasy. Someone had to keep you grounded. Do you remember even during your college days, you seriously believed you would become a psychohistorian?

Shankar gave a sigh. “Only a few years into my job, the sad reality of life drove home.

Better late than never. Now you have a promising career, a loving family, a good standard of living – everything a man can ask for.

I know. But at what price? I am not sure if I wish my life for Neeraj. I hope at least he can live his dreams.

What dreams? Of becoming a wizard?” Rama was clearly tuned it to the conversation though she seemed to focusing intensely on the computer screen.

Never miss a chance to land in your punches, eh? I am serious. I want Neeraj to find his true vocation. I don’t want to push him to become one more sheep in the engineering and MBA herd.

Well, we had to struggle to even give you an education. Engineering was what maximized your chances of finding employment. We could not afford to spend our hard earned money to let you pursue a vocation that can’t earn you your daily bread.” Natraj’s face had turned red.

I am not blaming you, Pa. Your situation was different. Ours is different. You had to sacrifice even your basic necessities while I had to only sacrifice my dreams. Thanks to our sacrifices, Neeraj does not have to sacrifice anything.” There was a strong emphasis on 'our'.

He says his true vocation is to become a wizard. How will you help him with that?

See, Pa – you can’t take what he says at face value. If you see his interests show him to be highly imaginative and will probably be happy in a creative profession.

So what kind of course will help him in such a vocation? I for one know no such course.

Why do we have to limit our horizon to what is available in India? I will send him abroad – maybe to UK for higher studies in the field of his choice.

That is where Hogwarts is located, dad.” Neeraj was looking excited.

True, son! Not only Hogwarts. All of Enid Blyton’s stories and Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are set here. UK is the place to study for those looking into get into literary field.

So you will spend your hard earned money to send your son to UK to a do a Masters in English literature? And what will he do after that?

Actually there are some interesting options I came across when I was researching something for my freelance writing assignment. For instance the University of Cambridge offers a Master of Studies in Creative writing. It looked like an interesting course. It deals not just with novel writing but the art of writing in all its many forms and guises. The website says students will also learn the art of the short story, flash fiction, writing for children, as well as poetry, literary non-fiction, criticism, reviews, and travel writing in the first year of study

Natarajan was now glaring at Rama, giving her an ‘Et tu, Brute’ look.

Well, I meant there are options. Not that I endorse Shankar’s crazy ideas. We still have plenty of time to think about Neeraj's future. He is still in his primary school.

I am eleven already. That is when children get their letters from Hogwarts.

Till you get your letter or your father puts you into a college in UK, you have to go to the local school only. And as long as you are going there, you need to complete your homework. Now enough of talk! Go into your room and get cracking on your homework.”

Everyone knew the dialogue was over the moment the fat lady sang. Shankar doubted if Rama would appreciate the reference though. Also though she was putting on a bit of weight lately, she was not really fat as such.

This post is an entry for a bloggers contest organized by British Council. You can check out more about the initiative this is part of here. And this would be the link to the course mentioned in the post.

Night after the storm: the end of my first self publishing odyssey

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 45; the forty-fifth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
In Tamil there is a saying, you need to construct a house and organize a marriage to know how difficult it is. I would add self-publishing a book to the list. My first self-published book with fellow authors Radha and Suresh has indeed been one stormy year long journey. Now finally the storm has passed and this night after the storm I reflect on the journey.

It all began with this initiative called Indi Fiction Workshop I and Suresh organized for developing fiction writing skills. After a few exercises, we realized that while we were working hard on the monthly exercises and some good feedback was coming our way, tangible progress could not be observed. The reason being no one took the feedback seriously and went and reworked their stories. Without that we realized the true import of the feedback given could not be understood.

But then a practice story on a blog did not serve as a motivating factor to put in so much hard work. So we decided to up the stakes and go in for publication. We could not depend on traditional publishers to play along. So we decided to go in for self-publishing and also use the opportunity to explore the Kindle medium about which there was lot of hype. Probably if our experiment worked out well, in future also we could leverage this medium rather than put ourselves at the tender mercies of traditional publishers.

We did not want to start with something too ambitious at the outset. So we decided to form a team picking some of the best authors with whom we felt we could maintain a good working relationship. Thus the core team of five was formed. Initially we thought of a collection of short stories with each contributing 2-3 stories. But after some discussions we decided to go for longer stories of size 10-12 K. At this stage we felt we were probably one author short and decided to induct Radha as well into our group.

Next step was to decide on the genre. The group decided unanimously against romance. Next choice was crime thrillers. I had hoped we would write fantasy. But then fantasy apparently was not such a hot genre in India and at least 1 member of our team was not into fantasy at all. After the initial disappointment, I threw my hat into the ring and decided to give a it a shot. After all I had made an attempt at romance for the publisher contests. As well try out this genre before moving on to my favorite genre which required an amalgamation of skills of all these genres and more.

Next step was to come up with initial plot outlines. We discussed 2-3 ideas and froze on our ideas. With that done, it was time to get started on the stories. I started out with the first two chapters and it came out outrageously. I had been inflicted with writer’s block at the wrong moment. I just could not proceed. Then Suresh suggested I take on a plot with some fantasy elements to find motivation and he himself suggested a basic idea. I tried to mull over that idea but still the words refused to come. Then I decided to just apply brute will and sit every morning and write one chapter whether inspired or otherwise.

So finally over 15 mornings, the first draft got written. I was still the second one to come up with a draft after Suresh. The others were still to come up with drafts. Four of my fellow authors shared feedback on my draft and Suresh consolidated the entire feedback. Clearly the plot had more holes than an Indian road. I decided to junk the whole thing and write it all over again from scratch. The second time around with at least high level structure in place, the flow seemed to come easier.

While, I was struggling with my second draft, one of our team members who was supposed to tutor us on the marketing had suddenly gone incognito. Others first drafts were slowly trickling in and were being dispatched away by Suresh for plot edits. We decided to share the marketing workload among us and move ahead without our missing friend. Anyways most of our stories were exceeding 12 K and we could do with one author less.

Again I was the next one after Suresh for the second draft as well though after a long 1.5 months of writing. Others were yet to be in. Again lots of feedback poured in: this time narrative edits. I had to rewrite close to half the chapters all over again. By now it was clear we were not going to meet the deadline of Diwali release. So we decided on a pre-Christmas release. Suresh had meantime done his research and come up with a huge marketing strategy document whose very appearance sent shivers down our spine.

So with me on my third draft, we began to initiate discussions on book title and cover illustration. Here Radha pitched in with her friend Vetri and after lot of deliberations we zeroed in on the title ‘Sirens Spell Danger.’ By the time title was decided, all the stories had entered the third draft. But clearly the pre-Christmas deadline no longer looked likely with two of the third drafts still far from completion. So we took the hard decision of moving ahead without two of our friends and stick to the deadline.

To my dismay, again feedback came in on the third draft and I had to work on a fourth draft before getting into copy edits stage. With two rounds of copy edits, I was all ready to drop dead. But then dead men do no marketing. Let me not even get into the onerous details of our marketing efforts.

But the happy news is the storm is finally over and on this night after the storm I introduce our book, “Sirens Spell Danger”. Hope all you kind readers will ensure this book does not become love’s lost labor by buying the book at one of the below links.

Download Link for India  :
Download Link for US    :
Download Link for UK   :

Available on Amazon pages of most other countries as well. You don't need a Kindle device to read the book. You can either read it on cloud or through a downloadable Kindle app for any device. (Available here) .If you do read,we would appreciate a review on Amazon and Goodreads as well. 
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 19

Winds of Hastinapur

Mahabharata is a very rich work that can serve as base material for thousands of other works. There have been numerous interpretations in various media – books, movies, plays etc. ‘Winds of Hastinapur’ is yet another spin related to this great tale by upcoming author Sharath Komarraju who already has two crime thrillers under his belt.

This story does not span the entire Mahabharata story but just touches upon the beginning – up to the birth of Pandu and Dhritarashtra. The author has taken two interesting points of view – those of Ganga the mother of Bhishma and his step mother Sathyavati. I do not know if anyone else has attempted this point of view. He has attempted a lot of other interesting things in this work. One of them is to elaborate more upon the time Bhishma spent with his mother Ganga. In most stories, Ganga disappears with her eighth child and then suddenly appears before Shantanu after 14 years with his grown son. It was indeed interesting to read an account of what happened in the interim.

Another interesting aspect is the author’s interpretation related to the world of the Gods and celestial beings. Instead of taking a reverential attitude, he tries to paint them as an elder race with their foibles. In some ways in his presentation of the relationship between Gods and men, I can see influences of the Aryan Invasion theory. In his presentation of interaction between the fisher folk and the king Shantanu he brings an element of class struggle. He has also tried to etch the characters of Ganga and Sathyavati in grey giving them both positive and negative traits. Another aspect where he has differentiated himself is in the depiction of the sexual mores of the times. Most versions try to gloss over this aspect or try to euphemize things like the western concept of babies being delivered by storks or being found under cabbages. But Sharath takes it head on and goes on to describe in erotic detail.

The author’s language is definitely one of his strengths. He has rich language which he leverages to describe in detail and bring events to life. One can also see evidence of research on political, social and economic conditions during the times of Mahabharata. Last but not the least; the author seems to have views on topics of social relevance which he tried to bring out in some parts of the story.

One of the shortcomings I found in the book was that I found it to be a bit of mishmash at times. Even if you use the best ingredients, unless they blend well with each other, you will not have a good final dish. That I felt was a glitch in this work. The various brilliant elements the author has strived to add somehow failed to blend seamlessly. For instance all the details of the political and economic situation did not have any serious bearing on the overall story. If one looks at characterization, while we could see good and dark side of Ganga and Sathyavati, it kind of seemed inconsistent and they did not feel like real people. Also there did not seem to be a strong connection between the first part and second part of the story. Also, at some places the book read like high fantasy, in some places like pure mythology and in some places like a historic novel. For instance while the author explains phenomena like the longevity of Gods, he does not bother to explain the mechanics of curses and how they work.

The other thing I feel about this author from his earlier book as well as here is that he takes a too intellectual approach to his works. One sees great ideas, technique and research but I feel the need for more heart. As a reader I was unable to relate to any of the characters. They did not feel like real living people. I feel an author should get into the skin of his characters, mentally live their lives, experience their conflicts, their joys and sorrows to be able to depict the same accurately and recreate the experience for the reader.

In conclusion, I would say this book is definitely worth a read for all the effort the author has put in and the various things he has attempted. The book may not entertain but it will definitely impress and possibly give some food for thought on certain things as well.

Welcome to the Devil's Literary Workshop

"An idle mind is a devil's workshop." But then isn't enjoying leisure the essence of being human? Have you ever heard of a dog or a cow enjoying a story or laughing at a joke?
I believe in the current age, life has become too hectic and mechanical. Any idle time we get is like an oasis in the journey through the dreary desert of day to day life. Lucifer's (another name used for devil) workshop employs a work force of one - 'The Fool', who speaks his mind without fear or favor. He churns out fiction, poetry, satire and other literary art works for your reading pleasure during your idle time.

Find below the catalog of our wares with product descriptions and current stock availability. We at Lucifer House Inc. believe any true work of art is priceless. So we don't charge anything for our wares. However, if you particularly enjoyed any work here, 'The Fool' would appreciate a kind word of appreciation.

At the end of the hard day's toil, when the sun has set and the lights are down, wouldn't you like to sit around a fire with your fellows and share a few yarns? Or at least recline on your comfortable bed with a bed time story! I have enjoyed all kinds of tales from my childhood, starting with my grandfather's stories and moving on to comics, novels, television serials, movies and cartoons. Having listened to stories, now I attempt to tell my own. Click here to check out my stories. You will find humor, fantasy, sadness, humanism and maybe even some fool's wisdom.

Words, words, words! Powerful though they are words are inadequate to measure the width and depth of human emotions and feelings. But if at all there were a means of representing emotions and feelings through words, poetry comes closest to doing it. I have dabbled in verse a bit in my school days making funny rhymes to entertain my friends. Recently I discovered the power of this medium and whenever I have had thoughts loaded with powerful feelings, I have attempted to capture them through poetry. My poetry can vary from frivolous to happy to philosophical to outright tragic. Click here to sample some of my poetry.

Art lies in appreciation of art as much as its creation. This is my humble attempt to pay tribute to other great works of literary art – conventional ones like books and movies, more unconventional ones like other blogs, television serials, comics, cartoons and computer games. As they say ‘Judge not others lest you be judged’. So I am no one to judge anyone else’s art. But I attempt to express the effect the art had me on and give my thoughts on how I might have done it differently as a fellow artist. In the process I also add to my art. Click here to check out my reviews.

As the cliché goes reality is stranger than fiction. This is the real thing, the real experiences in life. It is to share these that very concept of blogs originated and it is something that really fascinates one and all. So this is the journal part of my blogs capturing some of the moments from life, sometime s funny, sometimes fascinating, sometimes though provoking. I haven’t written much about myself specifically anywhere on the blog. But then aren’t we in some way the sum total of our experiences. So this is me one could say. Click here to know more about me.

There are some theories that say beauty is all about symmetry and proportion. Symmetry and proportions exist not only in the physical world but also in the world of ideas and logic. In my analysis I take some general concepts or burning issues of national/global interest and try to present a structured analysis with symmetry of logic and balance of viewpoints. That is my purpose in doing analysis. Though sometimes I get carried away when I have strong feelings on issues, I believe there is no absolute right or wrong and I would be the last person to lay it out for someone else. Every human deserves to think and decide on their own and I don’t seek to influence anyone with my ideas. My analysis can be found here.

Life has multiple vicissitudes and at times things can be real taxing. The only way one can maintain one’s sanity amidst immense stress is by looking at the funny side of things and having a hearty laugh to relieve oneself. Once you are able to laugh at something, it no longer looks so menacing anymore. My satires are an attempt to highlight the ridiculous aspects of otherwise serious issues and generate a few laughs. This is one place where I can just let my imagination run wild without any boundaries. You can find my works of satire here. In a way this is where I live up to my name. Courts of kings in Victorian times had jesters or fools who would spell out hard unpleasant facts others feared to speak out in a humorous way.


Picture Credits (In the order of appearance on this post)

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces