Why Writing Isn’t As Easy As It May Seem

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Every educated person who’s been to school can read as well as write. No big deal! We write on a daily basis, don’t we? Emails, documents, blogs, FB posts, and even comments on something we like or dislike. So what’s this hullabaloo about ‘being a writer isn’t easy’? If you can write, you’re a writer. It’s just expression of your thoughts. Right?

Well, I used to think that too. I could put words together to form a coherent sentence and my paragraphs made sense to anyone who read it. So, I set out to write my first book and finished it in 3 months flat. Well, that was easy.

But then, I decided to write a sequel; in fact, create a series with these same characters. That’s when I realized how naive I was to think that being a writer was easy. Why? Well, forWriting isn't easy one, I am a lady and I’m writing for male protagonists. Men and women are wired different and I don’t need to get into the details of why it’s difficult to write for the other sex. Second, I am in my mid-thirties now and have achieved a level of maturity, but I am writing for teenage characters who would be in an emotional turmoil and always on edge. I was like that once, though I don’t remember what I used to be so worked up about. My relation with my father became strained during my teenage years (the exact age of my characters), and though I remember the reasons, I wonder why I took those reasons so seriously? Why I was so offended that I let my emotions affect my relationship with father? That’s a generation gap I needed to overcome.

Lucky for me, when I shared this second book with betareaders from all across the world, many of them mentioned that when they read about the young characters, they felt like youngsters, and while reading about elders, they felt the feelings that elders would feel. In short, my characterization was up to the mark. Whew!

Another hick-up was when I was writing for one of the characters who’s a prostitute (just so you know, my book is YA – for 13 to 25 yrs-old – and hence, no sketchy details). However, I needed to describe the insides and working of a brothel. Problem was, I was scared to even step into the red-light area fearing that I may not make it back home, forget about getting in and seeing the insides. This is where “getting inside someone’s head” came in handy. I imagined myself to be running a brothel, as a vicious business woman. What would be my revenue model, the supply-demand model, what kind of customers I would have, what kind of security measures I will need and finally, based on my income and expenditure and profit & loss, I imagined what kind of infrastructure I would have. Voila! I could describe the scene well. However, I still wasn’t sure if I was right or wrong. Lucky for me, I found a person who had seen the insides of a brothel and we were comfortable enough to share notes on need-to-know things and it turns out, what I had imagined was accurate!

As if this wasn’t enough, my time of realization that being a writer wasn’t easy came when I had almost finished writing this book. I was tying all the lose ends after the climax, and I needed to write a small dialogue between a policeman father and his ground-into-the-dirt amateur detective son. The father had seen few others in a similar situation during his tenure as a policeman, and had delivered many pep talks that seemed easy then because he could be professional about it. But when his own son goes through such a situation, and he is feeling guilty that he couldn’t come to the rescue sooner, this pep talk becomes far too difficult and tricky. Moreover, I also needed to show how the boy takes this pep talk, because they both know this is a professional talk. But, they’re in too close a relationship to deliver or accept a professional pep talk. Also, this boy is feeling guilty (for different reasons, of course), and is broken and shattered by the experience which has called for this pep talk. So what will be his reaction to what’s being said? With both their guilts and emotions flying high, the words they choose or the reactions they show are very difficult to Crumpled Papersguess. I’ve never gone through such an experience myself or seen others go through it either. So how could I write such an exchange between father and son? I spent many days on this dialogue thinking different things every day. I would write something one day, scrap it the next day and write something new, only to scrap it the following day. Though I’ve finally stopped changing that scene any further, I still dread writing such a thing again. The betareaders who’ve read this piece say that it gave them a sense of closure, but I fear some reader some day is going to stand up and say, “This is a load of complete BS!”

Anyway, I am giving away 5 ebook copies of my latest book “Mystery of the Shining Bird”. This book is yet to be published, so the winners will be the first ones to get their hands on this book. Request you to write genuine reviews based on what you felt after reading this book. Please don’t feel obliged to write good reviews only, just because this is a giveaway.

The winners of the giveaway will be announced in a Group Email sent to all participants.

Sharing the cover-page with you here:

Mystery of the Shining Bird Cover Picture 11

Instructions on how to enter the giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

If for some reason you are unable to see the giveaway details above, then you can enter the giveaway by simply sending an email to drishtipublishers@outlook.com with the subject line: “GIVEAWAY – NAYAK BROTHERS # 2”.
You may also Like the page https://www.facebook.com/DrishtiPublishers/ for free giveaways regularly.
Share this info with your friends because there are many more giveaways on the way!

 

To sum it up, writing isn’t an easy job and hence, I would like to thank all the authors who have created all those wonderful worlds for me to peek into. I have just started my journey as a writer and realize how difficult it must have been for you to create the magic and captivate the world.

This International Authors Day blog hop is hosted by http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/ as a way to celebrate and thank the writers of the world. A lot of writers and bloggers are participating in this event, as seen in the links below. Please visit the participating blogs by clicking on their links and entering their individual GIVEAWAYS. Yes, every entrant is supposed to have a giveaway for this event. So don’t miss out on the goodies!

Posted in Fiction, Literary Fiction, Research, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing | 7 Comments

Book Review: The Witch of Wanchai

The Witch of Wanchai
by David Harris Lang

The Witch of Wanchai by David Harris Lang

Rating: 3.5

For those who are looking for a witch tale: this book is more of crime adventure police-procedural type of a book rather than the supernatural and witchy.

I had downloaded this book many days ago but couldn’t get down to reading it. However, once I started reading it, it was unputdownable! The book takes you on a fast-paced, fun ride through exotic places, dangerous jungles, and the cityscape of Honk Kong, Myanmar, Japan, and also gives you a glimpse of the strife between governments for a profitable business. The story was captivating and felt realistic. Tan, for example, is very much possible in real life. Also, usually fiction stories have smarter protagonist who gets the antagonists in the end…reality is not like that. Sometimes the antagonist in real life may meet with an accident or someone else may kill him and you won’t be able to do anything about it. In real life, a lot of forces are at work, unlike fiction where only the protagonist is at work. I felt this was the strong point of this story, apart from the fast pace and a wonderful guided tour through the far east.

However, there were a few negative points as well… First of all, the book is in real need of editing – not just for grammar, but I also thought that the first few chapters were completely cut off from the rest of the story…right till the end. Also, when I was reading those first few chapters which went on for a long while, I kept wondering “where’s the witch?” It felt like a normal crime book… Then entered the witch very late and if it was real life, he would have been real scary.

Second negative point is that the book has a lot of far eastern names…not only the number of characters are more, but the writer also mentions the names of hotels, restaurants, docks and places that each of them go to. For those who are not used to such far eastern names, it may feel like quite a cultural shock and they may put the book down. Moreover, it becomes quite difficult to remember the names that are important to keep pace with the story.

Also, the witch didn’t occupy the whole of the book…he was there only for, say 75% of the book and still it has been named Witch of Wanchai. Also, as a reader I was told that he has risen ranks in the bureaucracy and has become very powerful, but I didn’t see his power much – as a witch or even as a bureaucrat.

The story sometimes felt like going on and on. When the witch was identified, i thought the story would end. However, as mentioned before, since the story is realistic, the witch flees to another country and the chase continues. Same is the case with the main antagonist. The ending, however, felt abrupt…maybe the writer wants to write a sequel?

Overall, I liked the story but can’t remember many names now. However, I liked the episode between Tony and Tang where nothing goes right… haha. I liked the garuda of that lady detective and her thought about that tattoo. I also liked the various business ideas that in the first few chapters the two boys launch. That was real streetsmartness.

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Creativity is Like a Child

Creativity is like a child.  If it’s in mood, it will go on and on and wouldn’t let you sleep. If its not in mood, no matter what you do to get it going, it won’t. Nope. Never!

They say creativity can be tamed. True. A child can be taught to behave, but the spontaneity and the twinkle in his eyes when he is in mood can’t be attained when you’ve asked him to ‘behave’. To achieve that, you need to let the child loose and see his joy.

Naughty child

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Review: Millennium Trilogy – Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Played with Fire, Kicked Hornet’s Nest

International Authors' Day

I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo long ago and had really liked it. I hadn’t read anything about the Swedish culture before, and since the story was set in a place with a lot of snow, it appealed to me enough to pull me in. The hero of this story is a middle aged guy (not my type :-p) who starts off by getting into a big trouble – his life almost ruined. Yeah, yeah, same old, same old…but what was new was the detailed description of his troubles, his feelings, and his relationships with other characters. The description was so detailed, it felt like reality, almost as if the author had actually written an account of real life incidents from someone’s life. The sheer expanse of Mikael Blomkvist’s troubles, the repercussions of what had transpired, and his feelings about the whole affair seemed quite real. I felt gloomy and depressed all day long and wouldn’t have kept on reading if the book hadn’t given me a tour of the investigative reporting world of Herr Blomkvist.

Then, the heroine was introduced. Lisbeth Salander. This girl is (highly) socially challenged, but is bloody brilliant – an odd combination. She’s a very good investigator and her methods are described in a way that we don’t understand what she’s doing; at least I didn’t, until it was “told” what she was doing – hacking. (I didn’t know that in order to hack a computer, you sometimes have to visit the location of the PC. I used to think that one could hack a computer from anywhere in the world. It turns out that this isn’t true at all times). And then she gets attacked…which was so brutal, I wondered if it was necessary to give all those details.

Now, all these threads are running side-by-side, along with the actual story line as it unfolds: Blomkvist’s ruined life, the new assignment he got, the suspense surrounding the new case, Salander’s twisted personal life, her suspenseful professional life, and both their individual relationships with different people (present and past), not to mention the life-stories of the other characters involved. In real life, we usually sit with one person at a time to hear his/her life story… This helps us remember their individual backgrounds better and not confuse one person’s story with another. But in this book, you’re exposed to various different stories running parallel to each other and you’ve to grasp the stories of all the characters at the same time – life with all its complexities for all characters, unfolding one day at a time. Though it was necessary to tell the story in a chronological order, with so many characters the author was juggling, the parallel stories became a little bit confusing. Sometimes, it felt difficult to remember what had happened to who and when, or who thought what and when. To add to this little confusion, the main story unfolds around a verse in Bible and I, being not a Christian, it was difficult for me to understand the logic behind the incidents (crimes). However, the suspense was so intense, I couldn’t keep the book down and drank it all in one gulp. When I finished at last, the taste of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lingered in my mind for quite some time. I didn’t know what was it about this book that remained for so long, because I hadn’t particularly liked the hero or even the heroine. But I think the storyline was like a shock to me, and the detailed description taught me a lot of things about two new industries – investigative journalism and hacking – and that’s why I liked this book.

Many days later, I came across the next two books at a lucrative price and I literally pounced on them without knowing what was so exciting about them. I was looking forward to reading about a new case that Blomkvist and Salander would solve together and as soon as I got home, I opened my package of magic. However, I was in for a surprise. Nobody gave them a case to solve together. The hero and the heroine had a kind of falling out and the heroine is drifting from one part of the world to the other. Almost the first 1/3rd of the 2nd book is filled with incidents and details that are not even related to the story in that book. However, the description of a storm is so realistic, it made me open other books in my possession to cross-check whether any other writer had ever written such good description about anything at all! The actual story starts after the 1/3rd pages are over. (This again made me feel like the author was just documenting the incidents of real life of the characters, because life isn’t focused like a book would portray it. A book would normally document only those incidents that are related to the story that it is telling, and would weed out all other details that are irrelevant. But not this book.) By halftime, the story is reaching its peak and Blomkvist’s publication agency is ready to raise a hell of a storm in Sweden. Suddenly, two main characters are killed and Salander becomes the suspect!Gunman, Victim and a Car on a book

This was quite an unexpected twist and very inconvenient for the story to continue forward…Now how will Blomkvist raise hell as he wanted to? Will the crooks go scott free just like it happens in real life? If not this scoop, what will Blomkvist’s publishing house publish in its place? Would they have enough time to work on another theme altogether for their upcoming magazine’s publication? It was like you’re salivating over a chocolate cake, you pick it up, open your mouth wide to eat it whole, but as soon as it touches your lips, it goes poof! It not only leaves you hungry and salivating, you’re also confused, angry and with a big black pit in the stomach as an indication of your unfulfilled strong desire. What I liked about this book and the previous one was the investigation that ensues. The first book covers the investigation done by just the main characters. The second book covers investigation from various different parties – the Police, the media (read Blomkvist), and a security agency where Salander used to work before. Its interesting to read how each group investigates and speculates about what must have happened based on the limited information they possess, while the reader is told beforehand what exactly happened and how. This is where a new character is introduced, but is kept well hidden under the veil. The people who know him, have been shown as really afraid of him and nobody wants to talk. At last, before the police or the security agency or the media (Blomkvist) could reach the end of the investigation trail, Salander finds this main villain and reaches his place to kill him. A gory fight ensues and the heroine is almost killed, but I felt as if the story was left incomplete. It wasn’t because she was ‘almost’ killed, but it felt incomplete because of some other details. Luckily, I had the third book at hand, so I could directly jump onto the next book, but I couldn’t imagine the plight of the readers of the second book before the third book was published.

One downside in this book was the excessive description of regular life, like multitudes of pages are spent in describing how the heroine shops for furniture, clothes and eatables and the detailed description of each item she buys. The author may have thought that these details would describe the personality of the heroine, but at times, it just goes on and on. The second half of this book again, like the first book, was full of suspense and I couldn’t stop reading it till I’d read it all. And even after finishing this second book, I had an urge to start with the third book and I jumped right in.

The third book starts with the heroine being carried into a hospital and her medical condition on one hand, while the hero struggles with the police (like regular people do in real life) on the other hand. The heroine survives, but the main villain also survives. The whole of the third book is a wrap up for the first two books. We get to know why the gruesome attack on the heroine in first book was explained in so much details. We get to know the history of the heroine and why she is so socially challenged. We also get to know the reason behind her special skills and where she got them from – her picture perfect memory. By the time this 3rd book comes to an end, it feels as if this book also is going to be left incomplete. However, there seems to be last minute tying of loose ends and the almost-real story of Blomkvist and Salander comes to an end.

I read “About Author” after I finished reading all three books and realized that Stieg Larsson died even before his book was translated into English and published throughout the world. So, he didn’t live to see how well his Girl with the tattoos was received across the world. Maybe, what I felt was last minute tying of loose ends, was done in the English version just to give the trilogy a closure. Maybe Stieg wanted to write another book in the series when life happened (I mean ‘death’)…just like life happened in the 2nd book of his, where I felt like the chocolate cake in my hand went poof!

While reading the second and third books, I had a feeling as if the author possessed great knowledge about the bureaucracy and how things functioned in Sweden. I wondered, being an author myself, how ‘I’ would do research to know such great details. Then, I read that the author was a renowned and international level journalist. Hmm…so that’s how he knew. Yet, I’ve read books by other journalists and nobody seemed so good with details while being equally good with spinning a tale. The writers either have vast knowledge OR they know how to spin a tale. But Stieg Larsson is different and is skilled at both. Sorry, was… Its a shame the world lost him so soon. I would have loved reading some more of his work.

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Valentine's Day Clue by Rupali Rajopadhye Rotti

The Valentine’s Day Clue

by Rupali Rajopadhye Rotti

Giveaway ends July 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, Dealing with Failure, Fiction | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

We decided to have a baby and it all came crashing down

I had been quite ambitious all my life. I rose up the corporate ladder fast; became ITIL certified, Six Sigma certified, Kaizen champion and underwent 3 leadership development programs before I got married at the age of 28. Then I started my own company and became a CEO at the age of 30. There seemed nothing that could stop me. I was sincere at my effort and wasn’t afraid of taking risks and trying new things whenever I felt like it (I’ve worked in 3 industries – BPO, IT and Manufacturing – over a period of 9 years). I firmly believed that since I could live my life at my own terms, everybody could do so, only if they made a sincere attempt.

Then, we decided to have a baby.

Journey to Conceive

All my life I’ve hated hospitals, stayed away from doctors and never took any medicines; luckily, I had quite a healthy body and never fell sick. I had not experienced pain till the age of 27 or 28 and had had fever only 3 times till then. However, when we decided to grow our family, we went to see a doctor.

The first doctor had 2 or 3 apartments in a building and ran her clinic in the ground floor apartment while she lived on the 1st floor. Since her clinic and house were practically in the same building, she would take long breaks for family matters, guests’ visits, meal preparation, and other things. Even while in the clinic, some or the other of her family member would always be there with her, talking. Being polite, I wouldn’t want to interrupt their conversation, so there was no chance for me to ask any questions.

For some reason, she didn’t conduct any tests on either me or my husband and would simply give us some medicines without telling us what they were for. Most of the time only I would get the medicines (like punishment) and my husband would go scot free. Once she gave me Iron and some other supplements. Iron made me constipated, so I googled all the medicines she gave me and looked for their side-effects online. Next time when I went to her, I told her what I was experiencing (the symptoms) but she never uttered a word about what was causing it. Finally, I confronted her but she didn’t even acknowledge my confrontation, being busy talking with a relative, planning a function party. She didn’t respond to my complaints, so I took a decision myself and stopped taking the iron supplement. I googled natural sources of iron and started eating everything that had Iron in it. I also started going out in the sun more for better absorption of iron from my food.

The only good thing I found at this first doctor’s clinic was the food regimen to follow during pregnancy. It seemed like a good diet (even when you aren’t pregnant) that provided all the vitamins and minerals and other nutrients in a balanced way. I started following it, with lesser quantities/helpings, of course. However, 1 to 1.5 years passed and there was no result. I didn’t conceive. So, it was time to move on.

To be continued…

Posted in Childbirth, Dealing with Failure, Help, Hope, India & Indians, Infertility, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daughters of ‘Mother India’

Over the last few years, India has turned into a battlefield for war between the sexes, not Daughters of Mother Indiato mention, typecasting of India as the ‘rape nation’ after the BBC documentary, India’s Daughter. Now I’m not writing this article to defend my country, but I’m writing this article to draw your attention to another matter. After the Delhi rape case, when people from all corners of India raised their voices in support of women, it somehow ended up being a ‘Men vs. Women’ struggle. Now clash between genders is an age old phenomenon, but it hadn’t turned so ugly before. In our overzealousness to support women, we seem to have made villains out of our men, so much so that they’ve started to become defensive. This trend can be seen on all social media platforms today. We, as a society, still don’t know what went wrong and where because people of both genders had come onto the streets with candle marches and whatnot to show solidarity with women. Then how did the sentiment turn from ‘one perpetrator vs. the victim’ to ‘men as perpetrators vs. women as victims’? We all know that men aren’t always the perpetrators of this discrimination against women.

I think that the Delhi incident acted as a tipping point of our society’s patience, and our habit of keeping mum was broken at last. But when we started talking and raising our voice against injustice, we got so carried away, we started dumping all our baggage at once. Two Men vs Womenthings can now be seen happening because of that: [1] we’re losing our steam, which actually should be utilized for resolving a few problems rather than just venting out, and [2] while the other gender is supportive of us women, with the avalanche of problems we have expressed against them, they’re growing disgruntled and are retreating into a sullen denial.

For that reason, we should all take a deep breath and stop what we’re doing (that is, hurling generalized accusations) and think. Let us first make a list of the exact problems we, as women, face and gather the facts and figures related to those problems. This will help us understand the severity of each problem and the pockets where the problem is in dire need of resolution. The next step would be to come up with workable solutions and ‘communicating’ those solutions to the right people. This means that we should stop generalizing everything and blaming the masses, including innocents, and start isolating the problems, perpetrators and victims, and then seeking a resolution. Point to be noted here, and remembered, is that if we want our rights, we alone will have to struggle for it. While the government and other systems would try and help us, we can’t achieve freedom till we make an effort ourselves. Remember: Freedom is always balanced out by Responsibility; without responsibility, one cannot achieve (and maintain) freedom in its truest sense.

So here’s a list of problems that we, as women, face in India:

  1. Female Foeticide & Infanticide
  2. Dowry & Related Mental & Physical Harassment
  3. Violence against Women, Sexual Exploitation & Sexual Abuse
  4. Early / Child Marriage
  5. Female Genital Mutilation
  6. (Hidden) Poverty
  1. Female Foeticide & Infanticide:

If you’re reading this article, you didn’t become a victim of this atrocity. However, the figures in India are shocking. An ideal, and natural, gender ratio should be 980 girls to female foeticide1000 boys however, census data between 1991 and 2011 shows that the country’s female-male gender ratio rose from 927:1,000 to 940:1,000, but its child gender ratio fell from 945:1,000 to 914: 1,000. Now this figure may seem insignificant – why is 60 girls less such a big issue? However, consider the massive population of India of over 1.22 billion and you’ll see that a deficit of 60 females per 1000 males translates into a deficit of about 37 million (3.7 crore) females in India! Now that’s a huge figure. In Jind, a prosperous agricultural district in Haryana, people have already formed a Kunwara Union (Unmarried Youth Organisation) that has coined a slogan: bahu-dilao-vote lo (brides-for-votes), urging all politicians to help them deal with the dire situation. In 2001, the sex ratio in this district was 852:1000, which rose slightly to 871:1000 in 2011. Overall, Haryana has the worst sex ratio at 861:1000, while our capital, Delhi stands at 866:1000.

For those who have not witnessed or heard of incidences of female foeticide or infanticide in their family or neighbourhood, it would be difficult to digest the fact that there exists a systematic process of killing/eliminating women in India. How are girls between 0-6 years killed?

  1. Negligent Homicide: Subjecting them to hunger and medical neglect.
  2. Homicidal Violence: Inhuman violence at home inflicted by families.
  3. Premeditated Murder: There exist established, traditional ways of killing infant girls: drowning the baby in a bucket of milk; feeding her salt; burying her alive in an earthen pot; even wrapping the infant in a wet towel or dipping her in cold water soon after birth so as to ‘induce pneumonia’, and then throwing away the prescribed medicines. These are all barbaric ways of squeezing the life out of an innocent being. Yet, these practices are still being followed in our ‘Holy Land’ and that too, at an alarming rate.

The responsibility, now, falls on your shoulder to ensure that you don’t do this to your would-be daughter and don’t let others do it to theirs as well. Each individual has to take responsibility, an oath. There may be a lot of pressure from your family, or you may think of a hundred reasons for not bringing a girl child into this world, but you must fight all of that and decide against Female Foeticide and Infanticide. Otherwise, you also become the perpetrator and the future would be very bleak.

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  1. Dowry Deaths & Related Mental & Physical Harassment:

Dowry is considered to be the main reason behind female foeticide and infanticide. However, the 2012 National Crime Records Bureau report of India states a reported crime dowryrate of 46 per 100,000, rape rate of 2 per 100,000, dowry homicide rate of 0.7 per 100,000 and the rate of domestic cruelty by husband or his relatives as 5.9 per 100,000. These reported rates are significantly smaller than the reported intimate partner domestic violence rates in many countries, such as the United States (590 per 100,000) and reported homicide (6.2 per 100,000 globally), crime and rape incidence rates per 100,000 women for most nations tracked by the United Nations. This means that the fear is bigger than the actual monster called dowry.

Still, the dowry problem in India is very big and quite severe. In 2009 the notable medical journal The Lancet published a study that made a shocking revelation.  It revealed that in one year at least 106,000 women were killed by fires in their homes in India.  That is — one woman burnt to death every 5 minutes! These results were acquired by collating hospital records of women’s suspicious deaths by burns. The relatives of each deceased woman and their in-laws were interviewed to determine that these deaths maybe related to dowry. Most of these cases weren’t acknowledged or filed by the police, and it’s a fact that most burnt women don’t even make it to the hospitals. This means that while this figure of 106,000 suspicious burning deaths of women is a conservative figure, the official government figures are even lower, much lower. Official dowry death figures since 2000 has remained as 6,000 to 7,000 each year while it has increased just a little to 8,000-9,000 per year during 2008 to 2012. Point to be noted here is that burning is not the only way a woman is killed for dowry. So the actual dowry related death figures could be much higher than this figure of 106,000.

For dowry, women are harassed mentally and physically, pushed to committing suicides, hanged, stabbed, force-fed acids, shot, drowned, poisoned, or doused with gasoline and set on fire; and these are cold, premeditated, gang-murders. The last method is so prevalent it has come to be known as ‘bride-burning’.

In 1961, a law was passed (The Dowry Prohibition Act) that made the giving and taking of dowry illegal in India. Since then, a lot of amendments have been made as well. Yet, the custom continues.

While dowry murders and related harassment is an unforgivable sin, a lot of women these days are taking undue advantage of the legal protection they get through the 498(A) law. As per National Crime Records Bureau, from 1998-2012 around 10 Lakh cases have been filed under 498 (A), 21 Lakh people have been arrested, of which 448,704 cases completed trial and a mere 89,452 resulted into conviction and rest whopping 359,252 resulted into acquittal. While an acquittal doesn’t necessarily mean a false case, 498 (A) wasn’t made as an alternative for quick divorce, dispute redressal, or as a tool for getting back at the husband for revenge. It was made to punish the wrongdoers. Hence, misusing this legal protection (or, 498A) is another unforgivable sin, a Human Rights issue, where such women are sucking the seriousness out of a gruesome act, thus depriving the real victims of timely intervention and justice. If a lot of women cry wolf when there is none, the society and our legal system won’t pay attention when there comes a real wolf and a desperate cry for help.

Both, husband and wife need to keep in mind that they married to start a ‘family’ together, which means taking care of each other and bringing a new life into this world. Their ‘marriage’ is important, not the money (dowry) and not the trivial problems that families are bound to face at some time or the other in their lives.

The Supreme Court has observed that most of the complaints under Section 498 A of the IPC are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues without proper deliberations, filed with oblique motive of the women. At the same time, the court said that a rapid increase in the number of genuine cases of dowry harassment is also a matter of serious concern.

Earlier, the provision in 498A law was that all the accused be immediately arrested and jailed, which actually was a sort of protection to the real dowry harassment victim. However, with this law being so abused, the Supreme Court has now given directives to not arrest the accused without substantial proof. This has put the real victims in grave danger. Women who are filing false cases need to understand how they’re becoming the deaths of innocent women all over the country.

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  1. Violence against Women, Sexual Exploitation & Sexual Abuse:

Although women may be victims of general crimes like murder, robbery, cheating, etc, the violence against womencrimes that are directed specifically against women are called as ‘crimes against women’. Such crimes under Indian Penal Code (IPC) are:

  1. Rape (Sec. 376 IPC)
  2. Kidnapping & abduction for specified purposes (Sec. 363-373 IPC)
  3. Homicide for dowry, dowry deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC)
  4. Torture – both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC)
  5. Assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (Sec. 354 IPC)
  6. Insult to modesty of women (Sec. 509 IPC)
  7. Importation of girl from foreign country (up to 21 years of age) (Sec. 366-B IPC)

In 2012, there were a total of 244,270 reported incidents of crime against women, while there were 228,650 incidents in 2011. Of the women living in India, 7.5% live in West Bengal, where 12.7% of the total reported crimes against women occur. Andhra Pradesh comes next with 7.3% of India’s total women population against 11.5% of total crimes against women reported. 65% of Indian men believe women should tolerate violence in order to keep the family together, and sometimes women deserve to be beaten (point to be noted here: believing is different than actually doing it). In January 2011, the International Men and Gender Equality Survey Questionnaire reported that 24% of Indian men had committed sexual violence at some point during their lives. In layman’s terms, crimes against women are:

  • Rape (including marital rape)
  • Female infanticide
  • Domestic violence
  • Acid Attacks
  • Dowry deaths
  • Honour killings
  • Abduction
  • Insult to modesty and
  • Human trafficking and forced prostitution

Also check this site for information on legal details and various Preventive or Supportive Acts in India:

http://wcd.nic.in/ww/wday2012/Panelist%20Ms%20Indira%20Jaising.pdf

Even with so much of hoopla these days about crimes against women, only 6% of the total crimes are being reported. Yet, out of 90,000 to one lakh cases investigated every year, nearly 10,000 complaints of dowry harassment turn out to be false, which means 10% are false dowry cases. Also, a whopping 53.2% rape cases filed between April 2013 and July 2014 have been reported false. If women start misusing the laws meant to protect them in need, nobody would take them seriously when they really need the protection. Such women making false claims are actually belittling the efforts of all feminists and the struggle of real victims.

While Gender Gap Report is a reality, and celebrities like Emma Watson are launching initiatives like HeForShe Impact 10X10X10, we as women should ensure that their efforts don’t go in vain by raising voice only when a real crime is committed.

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  1. Early/Child Marriage:

At 240 million, India has a third of child marriages in the world as per a UNICEF report of child marriage2014. This could be attributed to the higher population of the country, but still, 240 million is not a small figure after all. In the UNICEF report, the world statistics brings out the correlation between child marriage and lower development of women, lower educational attainment, poor maternal health and higher infant mortality rate. According to UNICEF, 47% of Indian girls are married by 18 years of age and 18% are married by 15 years of age. The worst affected states in India are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. With the enactment of laws like The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, and increasing literacy and awareness among people, the numbers of child marriages have gone down in recent years, but we still have a long way to go. Girls living in poor households are twice more likely to get married under 18. They also are more likely to experience domestic violence and five times more likely to die in childbirth. You, as a responsible, educated woman, need to keep an eye out for such girls in your locality. Remember, child marriage is illegal in India, so you could seek police intervention to curb this malpractice.

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  1. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM):

FGM is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia and yes, it is practiced in India as well, but is largely kept hush-hush. The Dawoodi Bohra community is the only FGMsect practicing FGM in the country and elsewhere in the world. It is usually performed by the older women in the family or community, without even mentally preparing the victim for the procedure. This leaves the victim scarred for life, mentally as well as physically. FGM is hidden; nobody talks about it. Hence, very few countries have any statistics on it. India doesn’t. Since the procedure is illegal, it is often performed clandestinely by inexperienced people, leading to serious medical complications. For this reason, FGM makes a non-painful thing like urination a painful affair; forget about menstruation, intercourse or childbirth. While Muslim scholars have said that the necessity of FGM is not mentioned in Quran, the ritual is highly prevalent among the 10-lakh-strong Bohra Muslim community across Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This is one area that feminists, human rights activists and the health sector should explore further. FGM is a taboo issue and the only reason this ‘child abuse’ still continues is that people are silent. Raising awareness and campaigning for girls to have a safe space to talk about these issues is the way to break that silence, and address this problem.

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  1. (Hidden) Poverty:

Poverty is a complex, multi-dimensional problem that is caused due to various reasons. While poverty affects households as a whole, because of gender division of labour and responsibilities for household welfare, women bear a disproportionate burden, attempting to manage household consumption and production under conditions of increasing scarcity. In simple words, when affected by poverty, men can roam around the streets with the same shirt-pant for days; women can’t – they need a place to call their home, they care about their kids, husbands, parents, and feel the need to provide for them all. If they can’t, it affects them in more ways than one can imagine. Poverty may be caused by recession, disaster, or conflict (like in the Middle East) which results in loss of life, material, and/or livelihood. There is also the poverty of low-wage workers and the utter destitution of people who fall outside family support (example: my current bai was once thrown out of home by her in-laws along with her 3 kids in the middle of the night), and outside social institutions and safety nets (example: I once met a 12-year-old kid who was looking for a job because his father had long abandoned the family and now his mother was hospitalized, but no one in his community would help him with money). Any of us could fall in a similar situation at any point in our lives and wouldn’t know what to do. One of my colleagues died in a road accident and I got to know that his mother was widowed long ago and she’d raised her kids all by herself, stitching clothes all her life. She’d got her daughter married a few years ago and this boy had just started earning, when she could no longer put a thread through the needle anymore. With his accidental death, and her dwindling eyesight, she fell into dire straits, never to rise again. Another friend of mine took a sabbatical from job in her early 30s for family reasons, while her husband pursued a good paying career. They bought a new home with high EMI and soon after, the husband lost his job. The woman had to start an emergency business of selling veggies, tiffins and snacks, forcing her to step out of her middle-class comfort zone into the big bad world of physical labour. Another lady, one of our tenants, was disavowed by her parents as well as her husband’s family because the couple had run away to get married out-of-caste. Unfortunately, her husband died when her firstborn was only one year old. She wasn’t educated much and only knew painting. She struggled all her life to get her son well-educated and self-sufficient by selling her paintings. In the beginning, money was scarce and she had to depend on the community to help her out. Slowly, her paintings started selling at a good price. Hers turned out to be a success story, but it was filled with a lot of difficulties. These were just a few examples to show you how poverty lurks in the dark corners around your life and how it could ambush you anytime. The only way to keep safe is to be prepared at all times by making yourself self-sufficient.

Poverty often has various manifestations, including lack of resources sufficient to ensure a sustainable livelihood; hunger & malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increasing morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments; and social discrimination and exclusion. The risk of falling into poverty is greater for women than for men, particularly in old age.

While government bodies and international institutions try to help women by empowering them and providing means of income, proper awareness needs to be created about such initiatives and help should reach the women affected.

Annex 1 takes a peek into the Millennium Development Goals, which is a commitment of world leaders to form a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets with a deadline of 2015. Annex 2 lists the various programmes run by Government of India to help citizens, especially women, with the problems they face.

According to United Nations Human Development Report, only 32.8% of Indian women formally participate in the labour force, while men stand at 81.1%. According to the 1999-2000 Indian National Sample Survey, 35% of Indian women were working, which was lower than the 1989 survey. This trend shows that there’s a steady decline in Indian women’s participation in labour force, especially in the urban areas, because poverty forces women from rural areas to work and earn. An estimated 52-75% of Indian women engaged in agriculture are illiterate, an education barrier that prevents women from participating in more skilled labour sectors. In all activities, there is also a gender wage disparity, with women earning only 70% of men’s wage. Lack of employment mobility and education render majority of women in India vulnerable. But, if all of us women work toward freeing our gender from this curse, we could do wonders. Example:

On one hand, there are women who are housewives and are willing to do some or the other work to increase household income, but they don’t want, or can’t spend the whole day in labour because of various reasons. On the other hand, there are women who are good at entrepreneurship and can spare some time to start an enterprise. The second type could tap the potential and collective man-hours of housewives, while spending their own energy and time to create markets to sell the products or services collectively provided by the housewives. The more the creativity of these entrepreneur women, the more businesses they can come up with, and every woman can benefit from such enterprise, thus empowering women and elevating them from poverty.

To sum it all up, it’s a fact that India is plagued by some very serious problems and the plight of women in the country we call ‘Mother India’ is pretty bad. But it is not a fact that every woman is a victim and every man is a perpetrator. A majority of men are supportive of women and want to help but don’t know how. Even we, as women, don’t know how to help ourselves, but if we engage in ‘constructive, respectful discussions’ rather than skewed, one-sided, opinion barrages of criticism, we should be able to create a future we all want. Just stop getting too emotional about the trivial incidences and start focusing on the real problems, thinking of workable solutions, and helping each other out in times of need. A lot of social experiments and real incidents in recent times have proved that we don’t come forward to help a girl when she’s molested or eve-teased. While she is responsible for defending her own self, we, as society are responsible to stop such atrocities as well. Step forward, help. Rich or poor, educated or not, woman or a man, each and every one of us is struggling in his/her own life. It’s time to stop cribbing and start respecting each others’ struggle and start helping each other. Be a ‘society’, not just a bunch of people forcibly crammed together in a confined space.

Annex 1

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):

Millennium Development Goals are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets (with a deadline of Sept, 2015) for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions – income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion – while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights – the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security. MDGs emphasize on increasing gender equality in education and labour market. The 193 United Nations member states (including India) and at least 23 international organizations are committed to help achieve the following MDGs:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empower women
  4. To reduce child mortality
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability
  8. To develop a global partnership for development

The world has made significant progress in achieving many of these Goals. Between 1990 and 2002 overall average incomes increased by approximately 21%; the number of people in extreme poverty declined by an estimated 130 million; child mortality rates fell from 103 deaths per 1,000 live births a year to 88; life expectancy rose from 63 years to nearly 65 years; an additional 8% of the developing world’s people received access to water and an additional 15% acquired access to improved sanitation service.

But progress has been far from uniform across the world-or across the Goals. There are huge disparities across and within countries. Within countries, poverty is greatest for rural areas, though urban poverty is also extensive, growing, and underreported by traditional indicators.

The UN is now working with Governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The UN System Task Team, created in January 2012 to provide analytical inputs and expertise so as to create a post-2015 development agenda, presented its first report, Realizing the Future We Want for All, in June 2012.

They have now come up with eleven thematic consultations:

Annex 2

The following programmes are run by the Government of India to empower and help the citizens, especially women:

Indian Government also provides Micro-Credit opportunities to set up Micro Enterprises.

References:

Posted in Childbirth, Crime, Discrimination, Help, Hope, India & Indians, Inspiration, Poverty, Pregnancy, Research, Sex Discrimination, Society, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Me, Rupali Rotti

Hi, I’m Rupali Rotti and I’m a writer. Wait, what? Yeah, you read it right – roti, the Indian bread, with an extra ‘t’. Have you ever heard of a person with a surname as ‘bread’? I think not. So that makes me pretty unique, huh? And this isn’t even my birth name. You see, I’m married to a guy with that name. My surname before marriage was Rajopadhye. Uh… Ra-joe-paa-dh-ye, Rajopadhye. Ugh, alright, say whatever you wanna say. Not a single friend of mine could ever pronounce my surname right, so why should you?

Anyway, when I was to get married and this guy came along, my friends and family said, “You gonna marry a guy with that name? Dekho huh, you’ll be stuck with it the rest of your life. People would make fun of you, call you names, laugh at you. You’ll be okay with that?”

And I would go, “Umm…” Then I thought, ‘What’s in the name? Forget about the name, look at the guy.’ I mean, he was perfect. He was the guy I’d been waiting for, for so many years.

My cousins teased me day and night before marriage. You see, my name’s Rupali and with this new surname, I would be Rupali Rotti, which sounded pretty much like Roomali Roti… see what I mean? (For those who don’t know, it’s a variety of Indian bread you get all across India!)

Also, in India, there’s a saying: A person requires three things to survive – roti (bread), kapda (clothing), aur makaan (and shelter). So my friends and cousins teased me saying that since I’m considering becoming ‘Roti’, if and when I’ve kids, I should name them Kapda and Makaan. That way, I’ll have all the basic necessities to survive all through my life (rolling my eyes). Apparently I don’t need a job to survive. Duh!

So I either could get bogged down and reject the guy for his surname, or I could tell the world to FO and marry the man of my dreams. You know what I did next.😀 But, come to think of it, every person strives to have bread on the table – job/business/begging – all of it for a loaf of bread. This means, the whole world is working for me. Now that’s not so bad, is it?

Tell me about your names and surnames that draw unnecessary attention to you. You like that attention, you don’t like it? People make fun of you? You make fun of people for their names or surnames? Share your story in a comment below. If you liked the post, don’t forget to subscribe to my Facebook page, Nayak Brothers, and don’t forget to read my books, they’re niiiccceee.

When I say ‘Roti in jam’ or ‘Roti in a pickle’… Ah, I caught that! Now look here, it’s not yummy, you cannot enjoy it. It’s me in trouble, for God’s sake! Come, help me! Aw great, now your mouth can’t stop watering.

This Post was originally written for b00kr3vi3ws here.

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Heroes vs. Villains

International Author's Day Poster

It’s a fact that heroes are overrated, but nobody realizes this, because the audience sees the heroes through the pink goggles of awe and adoration. Point to be noted here is that heroes become heroes when they overcome difficult situations in their lives and fight nasty villains to find their ‘happily ever after’. Otherwise, they’ll just be the average Tom, Dick and Harry, like you and me. With their struggles, and triumphs, heroes give us hope to fight our own little battles in our lives and to hold on just a little bit more to find our own ‘happily ever after’. That’s why we see ourselves as the heroes of our lives, and that’s why we love our heroes.

We all are struggling in our lives on a daily basis, and it helps to Heroes Vs. Villainstake our frustration out on someone, some time. That’s where villains come in handy. We can blame them for everything bad that’s happening, we can derive pleasure in their defeats, and we can simply hate them without a lick of remorse. With the villains, it’s a given that they will be deplorable and fiends. You love to hate them. You want nothing more than to get revenge, make the villains pay, and have the heroes prevail one way or another. But have you ever noticed that the stronger the villain, the better you like the story? Think about it – Batman, Spiderman, Superman; on the Bollywood side, we have Shaan (with Shaakal), Mr. India (with Mogambo), Sholay (with Gabbar Singh), Don (both Amitabh Bachchan’s as well as SRK’s) and Gajhani (with Gajhani). All these are epics. Wonder why?

Simply because we love how much stronger the hero has to become to defeat them, and how much these villains raise the stakes. We love the twists, the suspense, and success becomes even sweeter if the struggle to achieve it was not easy. Meeting a strong challenge and succeeding always gives more satisfaction than getting something easy. Imagining ourselves in the hero’s stead, we gain the satisfaction of a battle well-fought. And that’s the magic of the villains.

There are various different types of Villains we come across in our lives:

There are your usual, run of the mill villains, who simply hold a strong grudge and do everything possible to give the heroes a hard time. Here, the story holds importance. An event X happens, which leads to the villain going mad with rage, and then he does Y to get back at the hero, but the hero fights back and prevails. End of story.

Next, there are those crazy, irrational, cruel and violent villains Jokerlike the Joker from Dark Knight. Simple. Plain. Bad-ass. Their background or why they are that way doesn’t matter; what matters is that they have to be stopped and stopped now. Every lost minute costs the hero something new – something unexpected and brutal. Completely unpredictable! Such villains are the agents of chaos and just want to see the world burn. No sense of morality whatsoever. Even if they’re dead, the audience (or the readers) hold their breaths, expecting them to come back to life and create havoc all over again.

Then there are those villains who are pained, full of anger and hate, because of the experiences in their past. They were the victims once, and now they’ve lost compassion for the others. Here, their background story is important and plays an important role in the making of the villain. Every decision he/she makes is guided by his/her past experiences and the learnings from them. The readers/viewers can predict the villain’s reaction to any particular event and thus, sometimes, they lose the thrill element.

Also, there are villains who stand for something, a cause, and who don’t want to see the world burn, but want to build a new one in their own image. These are the villains who firmly believe they’re the good guys. Even the readers/viewers can’t decide whether to tag them good or evil. These villains are determined, they’re driven, and they want to make the world a better place. These villains are difficult to hate, but raise the stakes nevertheless. Hence, the interest of the audience is piqued. How a guy with good intentions does something that turns so destructive?

 

However, it’s just a matter of perspective that defines good or evil, hero or villain, or protagonist and antagonist. Take Harry Potter for example. We all know that Harry Potter was the hero Harry Potter vs. Lord Voldemortand Lord Voldemort was the villain. Now let me tell you the story from Lord Voldemort’s perspective, with him portrayed as the hero. A young, bright boy with an ambitious dream in his life – to be the greatest wizard of all times. Will he be able to achieve it? Let’s see. With his talent and hard work, he learns quickly and becomes better than everyone around; even the teachers are afraid he is better than them. The world starts looking at him different; he becomes lonely because everyone is afraid to be his friend, or is simply jealous. Thus, socially isolated and shunned for his hard-earned achievements, he decides to stop brooding about it and start focusing on achieving his goal. Soon, he is recognized as the greatest wizard the world has ever seen. Yet, the situation doesn’t improve for him; it deteriorates even further and less talented people either want to be his friend to bask in his glory, or simply hate him because he’s achieved more than what they have. He takes what he is offered – friendship in exchange of benefits. He knows he’s being used, but he doesn’t have a choice, because no one is being a friend out of the goodness of one’s heart. He learns an important lesson – the world is selfish and you can either succumb to their hate & selfishness, or rise above the rest and achieve greatness. He moves on to the next part of the goal – be the greatest wizard ‘of all times’. How could he achieve that? He knows that breaking records is easy; once a target is set, people can make a beeline to achieve it. Thus, there will always be someone new to break the records of the geniuses of the past, including him. What if, after his death, a new wizard emerges and breaks his records? He would be reduced to just a memory and would be lost in the dust of time. Someone else would take the title of the greatest wizard. How can he overcome this challenge? How can he ensure that he retains his title for all times to come? Simple: by ensuring that he lives forever. That way, he would at least get a chance to better his performance and have a healthy competition with these future contenders. Maybe one of them would become his friend for what he is and as he is. He does a little digging and finds that the only way to live forever is by breaking his soul into pieces. Until any one of those pieces remains active, he remains alive. Unfortunately, in order to break his soul into pieces, he has to kill. It would kill him to take someone’s life – his conscience will never let him be at peace. But hasn’t “nature” taught us the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’? The stronger living being hunts down the weaker ones in order to survive? He just wants to survive! So, he goes ahead and gets this over with. But he hadn’t known that when the soul is broken into pieces, it creates coldness inside – fueled by ruthlessness and cruelty. He doesn’t like what he’s become, but wants only one person who could keep him onto the right track, and for whom he would want to be a good person. He waits and waits and waits, but doesn’t find the one who is willing to see the good in him. Then one day, some crackpot prophesises that a boy will be born to kill him. Why? I say, why? All he ever wanted was for someone to love him, and all he ever got was hate and fear from others. Worst thing was that people were happy to hear about the boy. Angry, Voldemort sets out to kill the boy – why wait till he attains adulthood; the boy may become powerful enough to kill him then. Unfortunately, the villain of his story, Harry Potter, turns out to be stronger even at the age of one and Voldemort is reduced to a spirit form. That’s a major setback, and the villain has won this time. But everyone needs his ‘happily ever after’ and Voldemort is no different. He has a strong will to prevail and tries to outsmart and overpower the villain at every chance he gets. But every single time he gets defeated. The villain is strong and very difficult to defeat, but our hero, Voldemort, never loses hope and keeps fighting his righteous battles. After all, if somebody wants to compete for the ‘best sorcerer of all times’ title, he/she should do that based on his/her capabilities and training, and not some super-powers he/she has since childhood as a ‘free gift’. It’s an unfair competition. Voldemort has worked really hard and sacrificed & suffered a lot to reach this pedestal. It’s unfair of the world to love the boy for his achievements, while shun Voldemort for his. And then, the final battle is fought and Voldemort emerges victorious; the villain is killed. But lo behold, Harry Potter comes back from the dead, some unfair miracle, and kills Voldemort! To top it all, people rejoice! Why only Potter gets the miracle and Voldemort doesn’t? Harry Potter also killed, didn’t he? Then why shouldn’t he be the bad guy?

So, who really is a villain? Villains and heroes are just like us normal people – sometimes they’re good and sometimes bad. But whoever is telling the story and knows the reasons behind the good or bad behaviour, becomes the hero whereas, the person whose reasons aren’t known to the story-teller becomes the villain. Human history is a testament to that. In India, Ram is considered the hero and Ravana the villain, because Ravana abducted Ram’s wife, Sita. But in Sri Lanka, Ravana is considered hero and Ram villain, because Ravana was taking a revenge on the brothers, Ram and Laxman, because they cut off the nose and ears of Ravana’s sister, Shurpanakha. And even while taking revenge, Ravana never touched Sita, though she was held captive with him for months. Now you decide who the hero was and who the villain.

I believe that hero is the one whose story is being told. A hero only has one advantage over the villain – he has the right reasons and justification for his acts, while the villain doesn’t.

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Do writers consider themselves superior than the readers? What’s your honest opinion?

Q –> Generally writers and poets consider themselves a notch superior than the reader. What’s your honest opinion? Most poetry and many articles in top-tier publications zoom right over my head, making me wonder whether the author is patting himself on the back for operating in a rarefied realm that lies beyond most mortals’ understanding.

A –> I have been a working professional before turning to writing, so I can safely say that writers are just like any other human being. When I started my working career, I wanted to prove my worth. I wanted to see if I could gain respect for my work. I slogged day and night to hone my skills and get better at what I did. Once I got better at what I did, I learned new things and got better at them too. There came a time when I was looked upon with respect by my peers and superiors. I climbed the corporate ladder and gained confidence in myself and my work. I reached a point where I’d tried and tested many things and finally could tell, with confidence, what would work and what wouldn’t give the desired results. But I wouldn’t always be right; sometimes we won’t get the desired results with the method I thought would work.

Writing is a little different, though not much, in the sense that writer quote1writing is an art that requires the artist to break his/her boundaries and become wild and crazy. Nobody likes to read a bland narration of anything – fiction, non-fiction, memoir, travelogue… It is said that more the craziness, better the skill because wild imagination (which is necessary for creative work) draws power from crazy. When Einstein or any other scientists came up with those wild ideas they thought were possible, they were considered crazy. But unless you go there, try and fail then try again, you can’t create wonders to offer to the world.

Now, I believe that almost all writers know that they’re writing for their ‘readers’. They know that without readers, a writer can’t be. Yet, unless they write what really affects THEM (the writers), or whatever is in their crazy lil’ hearts, they can’t hope to make an impression on the readers. So, in effect, you’re writing for writer quoteyourself. I know what I’m saying is confusing and many writers face this confusion every day, but it is said that if you write what you think your ‘readers want to read’, then your work isn’t as impressive. I think this is because it is human nature to do the best for ‘one’s own self’, while if something needs to be done for the others, one cannot conjure that ‘passion’ in one’s heart. So in effect, you’re writing for your readers, but you’ve to write for yourself… you’re writing for sane people, but you have to put on your insanely crazy hat to do a good job of it. All this confusion leads a writer to write something that is sometimes absurd and unbelievable for the readers, but sometimes it’s crazily brilliant.

I think that the writers (or artists) who have mastered their skill and gained respect for their work may, sometimes, consider themselves superior, but I highly doubt it. I think they’re only being ‘confident’ about their work, and sometimes, as we all know, confidence can tilt toward over-confidence without the person realizing it. Yet, at other times, it may just not strike a chord, it may just not work out like they expected. Something like what I faced as a working professional; only there, it cost us money, while for a writer, it would cost him his reputation.

Also sometimes, I think they’re only trying to learn a new thing (or skill) and may not be as impressive (like J K Rowling was super hit with Harry Potter, but when she tried a hand at another genre, people didn’t receive her work well). I think such attempts writer quote2should be encouraged, because at least they ‘tried’. Nobody learns to walk on their very first attempt – they fall, pick themselves up, then try to walk again. But when you’re in public eye (like writers or other artists are), people tend to judge them mercilessly, not even considering them as a human being with a heart and feelings. So the artists and writers have to grow thick hides and do their thing, nevertheless. No person in the world can make every other person to like him. Writers know this well. They know they can’t satisfy each and every reader. So they know there will be criticism of their work and they’re expecting it. However, if the number of admirers of their work are more than the number of critiquers, they feel satisfied. It’s just a regular day at work, no superiority or inferiority and no comparison actually.

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Book Review: Gone by Julie Elizabeth Powell

Gone by Julie Elizabeth PowellGone cover

Rating: 3

The premise of this story is truly unique and intriguing… and sad.I understand how difficult and heart-wrenching, yet necessary, it would have been for the author to pen it all down. Writing this book may have been therapeutic for her, a mother, who struggled with the loss of a child and the caricature that remained behind for fifteen years, a caricature not just of her daughter, but even herself. For that, the author deserves an ovation. I hope she’s finally learned to forgive herself and be happy.

The writing is poetic and very artistic, but sometimes it created confusion in my mind, which is more accustomed to reading thrillers and crime & suspense. A simple example is given below:

‘There were always more questions, she thought, like a stream flowing to the river and the river pouring into the sea. Leaving her with an ocean to solve.’

This is one of the smaller sentences; a few sentences are a paragraph long (difficult for my short-attention-span accustomed mind to comprehend). Also, there are a lot of things untold to the reader (and even the main character). For example:

“Got it! And tell Ezrin I still don’t get the one about the ghost and the jar of vanishing cream! Oh, and don’t forget that this place will always be here. I tell all that will listen.” She looked at Penelope blankly. The flower merely sighed and said, “You’ll work it out.”

What would she work out – the joke or some hidden meaning in the few sentences she spoke? Such explanations wouldn’t be touched again, or would be explained in a very long sentence, so the meaning would be lost.

Also, there are so many deep concepts discussed here, though I loved them, it felt like bombardment in the war-zone. As the reader, I didn’t get a breathful before I was bombarded again. It took me so many days to finish reading this book because the few hours I spent reading it each day, my face and head would heat up with the effort of overworking my brain. The prose could’ve done better with more explanation of these deeper concepts, give the readers a breather after every heavy dose.

There are also a lot of characters who don’t give straight answers and whatever they say is very confusing. This doesn’t help the cause either.

One thing I found annoying was that in the bang middle of high packed action, the author attempted to word the thoughts that run through the main character’s mind. I wonder if anybody would think so much in the face of danger. I believe that the only thought would be ‘I’m screwed’ or the impulse of fight-or-flight.

The idea behind this book is brilliant, absolutely marvelous, and I commend the author for her deep insights about life and human behaviour and emotions. She seems to have a very good understanding of the driving forces behind every person’s actions, whatever they might be, under whatever circumstances.

And, a bit of editing would have worked wonders for this book. It would also have removed the few grammatical mistakes. I think readers of fantasy and like-genres would enjoy this book a lot. Fantastic imagination and brilliant concept!

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