The Ancient Presence – Benaras


The Blurb

Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras is a book that seeks to tell the little stories that make us who we are. The author believes that Benaras resides in all of us Indians, in some beautiful often-unknown way. The author is the Sutradhar, in that she attempts to connect an India that many do not realize exists, in that it is everybody’s story. Radha, Krishna, Ganga, Benaras and Me are all characters in this deluge of poems.

This attempt at telling the story of the ancient, of love and of faith is to instil the confidence that poetry exists in all of us, everywhere, all that is needed is to smell its fragrance.

To those outside India, the book does not seek to be a representation of what India is or was, but a whiff of what it also can be. It is an attempt to ask people to see the little stories that govern all of our lives, stories that we often don’t see, but those that are important.

The audience for this book might be strewn across the globe, for faith is not religion-centric, it is people- centric and often without dimensions.

In poetry there is no beginning, no middle, nor no end. Like faith it is everywhere, it is omnipresent. The book affords no answers, nor no questions, but if you listen and read carefully you will see new things, a new beauty perhaps, one that has been silent so long.

 

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About the Author

 

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Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a web columnist and creative writer. She is author of Reflections on My India, a book of Indian traditions and spirituality in parts. Maitreyee is also author of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen- Bengali Cinema’s First Couple and Ichhe Holo Tai, a bilingual muti media presentation of poetry. Maitreyee is featured amongst other Indian writers such as Gulzar, Shashi Tharoor and Deepti Naval in an anthology of Indian writers Celebrating India.

 

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Meghna – a weekend breather

meghna

 

Meghna is an out and out entertaining book. A Bollywood style rom com with a cute, innocent heroine, suave and wealthy hero, a scheming mother, lusty colleague and a sexy trying hard to be wife, vamp. Sundari Venkatraman has cooked up a masala story with a flavor for all pallets with her latest book Meghna.

Rahul and Meghna have always had this connect since their teens but since Meghna was much younger, Rahul did not think much about it until later, when he was being almost badgered to get married and his mother made his match with a socialite who he wanted to avoid like plague.

Interestingly, Rahul though self-assured and a confidant man is scared of commitment. It is only when his back is against the wall that he plans to move to Mumbai to connect with Meghna again. She on the other hand has never forgotten Rahul and is immediately drawn to his charms. After a few hiccups here and there they finally manage to be together in the end.

The plot is a fun, happy go lucky one that is interspersed with playful fights,  loving family and caring friends. From the word go it is a cheerful story. If anyone is looking for a serious read with a message than Meghna is surely not that book.

The plot doesn’t require characters to go through changes and evolve neither is there a need for a sermon or a moral at the end. This is no Aesop’s Fable. To underscore again, it is a lighthearted and blithe short novel that is meant to cheer one up. You read Meghna exactly why you would want to watch a bollywood flick , to relieve yourself of the days anxiety and angst.

The conundrum of the book, in my opinion, is that the lack of any strong message is at once both a positive and the negative. While the readers might feel disconnected with the story at large they would in their minds be transported back to those times when they themselves were footloose and fancyfree. The biggest negative of  Meghna is that all knots disentangle without much turmoil and uproar.

The best part about Sundari Venkatraman’s writing is unlike many self-publishing authors she has carefully edited the book and the grammar and language is well weaved in making Meghna an expressive and lucid read.

It is a perfect book for a breather after a hard day’s work.

 

 

MEGHNA

by Sundari Venkatraman

 

The Blurb

     The young and dashing Rahul Sinha lives in England with his

parents, Shyam and Rajni. He is an only son of the rich banker. Rahul is totally attached to his father but

does not care for his mother. Read the book to find out why….

   

Rahul is exulted with his efforts at work paying off and plans a

holiday with his best friend Sanjay Srivastav who lives in Mumbai with his wife Reema, kids Sanya and

Rehaan and most importantly, his sister, Meghna. Rahul recalls meeting Meghna just before they parted

six years ago.

     Meghna

works for a website and also teaches modern dance as she loves it. She’s thrown for a toss when Rahul

comes visiting. She had thought he had forgotten them.

But how could Rahul do that?

Sanjay’s his best friend and Rahul had always treated their home as his own. Sanjay’s mother had been

more of a mother to Rahul than his own. Rahul had stayed away after moving to England or so Meghna

believes.

 

     Thus

begins the story between Rahul and Meghna, the teasing, the flirting, the anger, the tears…will they find love?

 

A FRIENDLY

WARNING: This book has been written only for the purpose of Entertainment, Entertainment,

Entertainment! If you are looking to learn something or improve your lives after reading this work, then

this book is not for you. I am not trying to get into competition with the Author Biggies of this world. I

wrote this simply for the fun and joy of it. One thing I can promise the reader though: Well

proof-read, perfect

language that I feel is very important for every book that’s written in any tongue.

 

Yours truly, 

Sundari Venkatraman

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Meet the

Author

 

The Author’s

Thoughts

 

Even as a kid, she

absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as Sundari grew up reading all the fairy tales she

could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good

triumphing over evil and a happy end. Soon, into her teens, she switched her attention from fairy tales

to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were

similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine.

 

Her imagination took

flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years. Then came the writing – a true

bolt out of the blue! She could never string two sentences together. While her spoken English had

always been excellent – thanks to her Grandpa – she could not write to save her life. She was bad at

writing essays in both school and college. Later, when it was time to teach her kids, she could manage

everything from Science to Mathematics and History & Geography.

 

When it came to

writing compositions, her kids found her of no help at all. All this changed suddenly one fine day in the

year 2000. She had just quit her job at a school’s office and did not know what to do with her life. She

was saturated with simply reading books. That’s when she got home one evening after her walk and

took some sheets of paper and began writing. It was like watching a movie that was running in her head –

 

While she felt discouraged

when publishing did not happen, it was her husband who kept encouraging her not to give up. There

was no looking back after that. While publishing took a long time happening, Sundari continued to write

novels and then short stories. Her luck turned when Indireads approached her to write for them and

Double Jeopardy was born.

 

Now it’s all

about self-publishing her books on Amazon. She has published The Malhotra Bride (2nd Edition) and Meghna

so far while planning to publish her fourth book – The Runaway Bridegroom –  in September

2014.

 

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Asura -Tale of the Vanquished, Review

asura

History is always written by the heroes, the winners; no one thinks about what happened to the vanquished. What could be his tale, what motivated him? For centuries we have silenced the voice of the one quelled in the mighty war. This is precisely why the premise of the story is so interesting and intriguing. It’s the story of the anti-hero Ravana. We have heard innumerable stories about how Ravana is everything that the hero Rama is not. Rama is an antithesis of Ravana – a pure, pious man always on the path of righteousness.

The story unfolds slowly from Ravan’s point of view and also Bhadra’s, a fictitious character, who shadows Ravana until the end. Ravana is a half blood, that is, his father is a Deva while his mother is from the Rakshasa clan. Though he and his other siblings are scorned, by their own father, and is rendered defenseless and destitute yet the fire of ambition burns supremely in him.  With different twists and turns in fate and a little help from Bhadra he becomes the king of then island of Lanka. Later on in the tale, in one of his moments of weakness, he fathers a girl child who was soon abandoned. She finds home with her adopted parents, the king of Mithila making it abundantly clear that Sita was not abducted to be devoured but to be protected from her protector, Rama. This eventually leads to the great battle in which Ravana faces defeat, death and destruction.

The story is woven in such a manner that it rouses the readers’ interest only to be doused with the language used in the book. Instead of the book becoming unputdownable, because the storyline is nothing like the ones we have read, it becomes a labored reading.  The writing is ghastly and the allusions used are immature and out of context. Yet one cannot discredit the book completelty because it does a wonderful job of bringing to the fore the inherent evils of our belief system, which we cannot ignore. On one hand it is a class struggle despite being a righteous war and on the other hand the book renders all the characters as brutal and without an iota of mercy and humanism in them.

In the end this book leaves me with a relief that I could finish it and not have to turn another page again ever. This is an ideal example of a book with a captivating idea murdered by pathetic writing.

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Groom

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The Perfect Groom by Sumeetha Manikandan

The Blurb
 
Very little has gone right in Nithya’s young life. So, when a proposal from a young, handsome NRI comes along, her mother jumps at the opportunity and packs her daughter off to the US with her perfect groom.
 
Nithya seems to have settled in with Ashok, ostensibly happy, if as yet childless, in her new life. When an old flame comes back into her life, however, the cracks in her perfect marriage begin to show…
 
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Meet the author
 
 
The Author’s Thoughts
 
An author and a freelance writer, Sumeetha Manikandan has been writing for many years now. After working in dotcom companies, like Sulekha for over a decade, she started freelancing from home. 
 
Her debut novella, ‘The Perfect Groom’ was initially written in a script format, which was later converted into a novella for Indireads. The Perfect Groom touches a taboo subject that is most often shrouded in secret whispers and exclamations in the tambrahm community. Inspired by a real anecdote, ‘The Perfect Groom’ is in parts the true story of a girl who rose above myriad challenges to make her own way in life.
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My take on the book

The Perfect Groom is not just any romantic story but a story that is being played out in many Indian households. On one hand it talks about the agony of a widow, the pains of being raised by an uncle, the circumstances that doesn’t allow a woman to voice her opinions, the fear of ostracism even if you are stuck in a bad marriage, the inherent dilemma of falling in love despite having a husband and on the other it is a story about coming out of the closet.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Perfect Groom is all these realities, no matter how absurd they sound, and much more.

Nithya, her younger sister Manju and her mother start living with their uncle after the sad demise of her father. Well I don’t know if the demise could be called sad or not, because he brought in enough discomfort to the family with his drunken impropriety. But then again a loss of a father, no matter how irresponsible, is a loss of huge magnitude. And soon after the bereaved family, who probably, internally heaved a sigh of relief, moved on to stay with the uncle’s hand me down dilapidated abode.

Whereas the society would praise the uncle for taking in the family, yet we see the hypocrisy of the same. The uncle and aunt are no saints and they in the course of the story, do everything to make the three women’s lives miserable. So in short their move was from the frying pan to the fire.

This is exactly the reason why the reader’s suspicion’s are raised when the uncle or chittappa, as addressed by Nithya and Manju, find her a groom, Ashok, who is handsome and well settled in the US. Nithya’s mother thinks it’s a blessing to get daughter married to the perfect groom and neither can Nithya believe her lucky stars. So finally, their nightmare should end.

But fate has other plans for her. She soon realizes that her marriage is a sham yet she cannot break away from it for fear of her mother and sister being ostracized.

Nevertheless ‘life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow’ (Maya Angelou), so did life go on with Nithya and changed for the better. Her chance meeting with Vasu, who too was at the mercy of her chittappa, their instant chemistry, which she was blind to at chittappa’s place; changed her whole being, propelling her to take steps that she would not have otherwise.

The Perfect Groom brings out perfectly, the many flaws, pretentiousness and myths prevailing in our society under the veil of morals and culture. And it also underscores the fact that we are in the end, puppets on a chain to the circumstances around us yet it is we who have the power to change the circumstances and change our destiny.

The characters are well etched out and wholesome. They don’t remain stagnant until the end but show a kind of motility and change within them. Though I would have liked Ashok to be more kindly towards Nithya and not too brusque as is made out in the beginning. He too after all, was as big a victim of circumstances as was Nithya. The book ignores his trauma at submitting to meaningless rituals whereas his heart lay elsewhere.

The language of the book is easy flowing and lucid. Sumitha Manikandan has skillfully crafted this book with simple choice of words making it smooth read. Her book is not so much about romance as it is about the myths of our system and where we stand as a society. It is about coming out into the open and accepting each other as they are. It is a book about the quest for happiness.

 

The Perfect Groom by Sumeetha Manikandan

The Blurb
 
Very little has gone right in Nithya’s young life. So, when a proposal from a young, handsome NRI comes along, her mother jumps at the opportunity and packs her daughter off to the US with her perfect groom.
 
Nithya seems to have settled in with Ashok, ostensibly happy, if as yet childless, in her new life. When an old flame comes back into her life, however, the cracks in her perfect marriage begin to show…
 
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Meet the author
 
 
The Author’s Thoughts
 
An author and a freelance writer, Sumeetha Manikandan has been writing for many years now. After working in dotcom companies, like Sulekha for over a decade, she started freelancing from home. 
 
Her debut novella, ‘The Perfect Groom’ was initially written in a script format, which was later converted into a novella for Indireads. The Perfect Groom touches a taboo subject that is most often shrouded in secret whispers and exclamations in the tambrahm community. Inspired by a real anecdote, ‘The Perfect Groom’ is in parts the true story of a girl who rose above myriad challenges to make her own way in life.
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If you like words let there be Turquoise Silence


Turquoise Silence by Sanober Khan



A disclaimer: This book is a part of a blog tour conducted by The Book Club and all the reviews are done in exchange of a copy of the book from the publisher or author. No monetary trasaction takes place.


 

 

The Blurb
The book is a collection of free verse poems that encapsulate the poet’s most heartfelt emotions about life. They speak of moments that sweep our breath away, of beauty that bewitches the heart, of people, memories, sights, sounds and smells that awaken a sense of wonder and wistfulness. With rich metaphors and eloquently flowing imagery, the poet’s love for the simple things in life unfolds in different moods and tones, ultimately ending up in words felt, cherished, concieved and written… in turquoise silence
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sanober

 

Meet the Poet
 
Writing poetry is a very different, mystical experience. There is no plot, no storyline, no characters…just a stage set for you and your own deepest self. When I wrote my first poem six years ago, I never imagined it would someday become such an important aspect of my life.
 I have always loved poetry for the creative freedom it offers, the minimal rules, its ability to elevate even the most ordinary moments. At the end of each poem I write, it feels as though I have not just evolved in my style, but also as a person.  My work first appeared in Cyberwit’s international journal, the Taj Mahal Review, which paved the way for me to getting two books published.
I have long been inspired by poets like Khalil Gibran, Rumi, Rabindranath Tagore ,Rolf Jacobsen, E.E Cummings, and John Keats. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy reading poetry and novels from around the globe.
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Spotlight on The Revenge of Kaivalya


The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan


 

The Blurb
 
Deep within the womb-like forests of the Western Ghats, an entity manifests itself at the malevolent moment when the ocean rises to devour hundreds of thousands. Kencha, an unwitting witness to Its birth, is soon found dead – his body branded with a strange message written in HaLegannada, an ancient version of modern Kannada. Even as Dhruv Kaveriappa, Chief Conservator of Forests – Hassan division investigates Kencha’s death, he senses an unseen danger in the forests of Kukke, Bisle and Sakleshpura. Animals drop dead; plants wither away and just as he feared, the forest claims its first victim. Shivaranjini, on vacation in Sakleshpura, suffers a devastating tonic-clonic seizure moments after she returns from a visit to the forest. Soon, she begins to exhibit a bizarre personality disorder. Perhaps there is an outbreak of an unknown rabies-like disease? Or, as ridiculous as it seems, could it be a case of tantric witchcraft? 
 
The truth unfolds in a dizzying maelstrom of events – a truth far too terrifying to comprehend
 
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Meet the author
 
 
The Author’s Thoughts
 
In the early stages of my manuscript, I knew the title of my novel had to be the name of the principal character. And it could not be just any name. It had to fit into the storyline – from a time perspective, as well as setting the atmosphere. It had to sound ancient and also define the character. Tall order!
As I read up on the history of Vijayanagara, I hoped to come across a good, strong name…but history, largely, is about men and their wars and conquests. I hoped to select a name from our puranas. But nothing clicked. What about our stotras? Maybe the lalitha sahasranama? Or ashtalakshmi stotra? One evening I sat mulling on ‘Kausalya’…thanks to the most famous line ‘Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravarthathe’ from the Suprabhata 🙂 I went to bed with that line in my head.
The next morning, somehow, ‘Kausalya’ had transformed to ‘Kaivalya’. I did not remember coming across the name in any of my previous research. Curious, I looked up what ‘Kaivalya’ stood for. And was fascinated.   Read More ……..
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Kingdome Come – A Review

This book fell onto my lap when the author asked for a review. I enjoyed reading it as much as writing the review for it. Wish more books were written with such lucidity and clarity of thought. Anyway here is  about the book – Kingdom Come

 

 

kingdome come

The Blurb

It is a romantic thriller which has been endorsed by OPEN MAGAZINE and Ravi Subramanian.

How do you kill a man with no Achilles heel? You cut off his foot – Tom Jones.

Set against the serene beauty of Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet, Kingdom Come is a gripping story of death and loss, vengeance and retribution, love and life. Krivi Iyer is an embittered former spy and bomb defusal expert with only one regret. That he couldn’t catch The Woodpecker, a dangerous, mentally unstable bomber who ended his partner’s family. He has a second chance to go after his arch enemy with the arrival of Ziya Maarten, the manager of ‘Goonj Business Enterprises’ in Srinagar, Kashmir, who is alleged to be The Woodpecker’s sister. Except, Ziya is a beautiful distraction and not a terrorist’s sister. When a tragedy in London tears Ziya’s life apart, she can only rely on Krivi to give her the absolution and vengeance she needs to move on. Between training to be an anti-terrorist squad member and finding The Woodpecker, Ziya uncovers the secrets of Krivi’s tormented past. But will two tortured souls find the courage to love?

The Author

Aarti V. Raman, a 27 year old Mumbai dweller, has publishing credits that include “White Knight” by Leadstart Publishing, which was out in 2012. A part of the romance anthology called “An Atlas of Love” by Rupa Publications that was in the bookstores in February 2014. Also “Lucas”, one from the  the historical romance series will be out shortly in the month of June by Knox Robinson, a UK based publisher. Her future words are in consideration with Harlequin Mills and Boon, Harlequin India and Rupa Publications.

Me Thinks

From the word go Kingdom Come is filled with action and excitement very much like a Desmond Bagley or, may I say, even a Robert Ludlum. With the background of terrorism the story opens with the hero, Krivi, on a mission to save a young, teenage girl and how adeptly he manages it, despite last minute revelations.

The story is set amidst the beautifully lush surroundings of Kashmir – God’s own Country, yet it is far from paradise. It is a land rife with friction and with violence but life moves on. Under such circumstances, the plot brings two diametrically different characters, Krivi and Ziya, together, who despite struggling to keep each other at bay, give in to the sexual tension and the intense attraction between them.

Krivi, as far as the reader gets to know, has had a normal childhood in a normal family. Yet losing his partner and friend in a tragic accident converts him into a dark, brooding, and relentless warrior, hovering precariously in the borders of cold-hearted ruthlessness. In contrast Ziya has had a tumultuous childhood, bouncing from one foster home to the other. She has never had a real, close-knit, family. Her childhood struggles taught her to put all her faculties at work to become not just an accomplished woman but a strong woman too. As an adult she finally finds her family in Noor and Kashmir and is at peace with herself until tragedy strikes bringing her world crashing down.

Aarti V Raman has created characters and plots in such a way, that one can vividly visualize the story unfolding and unraveling. Each character is cleverly thought through and is passionately and lovingly crafted. She has kept alive the readers interest, by creating wholesome characters who go through and endure, transformation traversing the journey of life. Even the antagonist has been portrayed with care and the twist given to the character at the end is shockingly remarkably indeed.

Also commendable is the research that has gone behind the work. The episodes on the military espionage, the bombs used, and how they have been diffused, gives an idea of the length Aarti has gone to, make a riveting plot and visually stimulating story.

Her mature and seasoned writing, also brings to the fore the mindlessness and senselessness of terrorism. When the most adorable, loving and endearing characters perish in a gruesome attack, it leaves the reader in utter shock and dismay.  It immediately transports the reader to the jarring reality of today’s cruel world and its uncertainties, and one finds oneself at par with Ziya’s emotion of justice and retribution.

To put it in short, Kingdome Come by Aarti V. Raman proves to be quite a cliffhanger with a nail biting clincher.  It is a thorough entertainer with a strong storyline and memorable characters. It is not just a romance but also a tale of destiny and fate and life. And as the author herself writes in the end, ‘life mattered’.

If I had to rate the book it would be :-

Story: 5/5

Writing: 4.5/5

Characters: 4.5/5

Ending: 5/5

 

 

 

 

 

Done With Men – A Review

Yesterday I got a book to read from an upcoming author,Suchi Singh Kalra. It was called ‘Done With Men’. We all have a point in life when we scream to ourselves that we can do without men ,but like it or not, our lives become inexorably intertwined with MEN.

This book is a cute tale of a girl, Kairavi, who has a string of relationships that have gone awry and is quite tired of men. She can’t fathom how her best friend, Vaani, can have a relationship for years with a man, who according to her is markedly tiresome and vapid than her friend.

To cheer up Kairavi, Vaani hatches a plan,that takes the two girls to Goa on a business cum pleasure trip. Here a weird tryst of fate leads Kairavi to the hospital where she encounters the handsome young Dr. Vivian D’ Mello. Initially she is peeved by his attitude, nevertheless she cant shake the unmistakable attraction she has for him.

The Book

I am not too much of a fan of romantic novels but Suchi Singh Kalra had me glued to the book. The narrative is easy, eloquent and lucid and the story is knit up delightfully. The allusions and imagery are such that you can almost see the story unfold before your eyes. The numerous faux pas of the protagonist makes ‘Done With Men’, an entertaining book and a laugh riot to the end.

The ‘thought bubble’ that constantly interrupts the protagonist’s romantic reverie  quite cleverly brings out her persona and her dilemma about keeping to her new life mantra of ‘Done With Men’.

Suchi Singh Kalra also paints a vivid picture of today’s youth in India. The immaturity in which they see life in general, their constricted worldview on what is fun and what is boring, their tiresome , puerile party world and their flippant and frivolous actions. Nonetheless the gusto with which they face life is quite endearing. They are no more the ‘one boyfriend or girlfriend’ kinds or afraid to explore their own sensuality.

Though the book veers dangerously towards becoming slapstick because of the main character’s penchant for imprudence, leading to some very sticky situations.  Yet it more than makes it up with its lively characters and how they maneuver themselves right until the end.

 

Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra

 

The Blurb
 
Travel journo, Kairavi Krishna (Kay) has had it with men. After a series of disasters (losers, philanderers, leeches, mama’s boys and possessive psychos), she is all too tempted to walk out on the prospect of ever finding love. Accompanied by her best friend and flat-mate Baani, she sets off for Goa, hoping to get away from her miserable love life and vowing to stay clear of the male species. 
 
Goa however, has a host of surprises in store for her. Ricky, her pesky ex-boyfriend, is busy painting the town red with his hot new girlfriend. Now what is poor Kay to do other than overdose on vodka, smoke pot, get an outrageous tattoo and fall off the hotel balcony? She wakes up in the hospital to the tender ministrations of Dr.Vivian D’Mello–young, suave and handsome as hell. Will Kay stick to her guns or will she fall for his ridiculously sexy charms? And what’s up with the mixed signals he’s giving out?
 
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Meet the author
 
 
The Author’s Thoughts
 
Shuchi Singh Kalra is a writer, editor and blogger based in India. She has been writing since 2005, and has freelanced with popular magazines such as Femina.in, Good Housekeeping, Home Review, Parent & Child, Vista, Investors India, Dogs & Pups, Women’s Era and Time ‘N’ Style among many others. her short stories have found a place in anthologies such as Love Across Borders and New Asian Writing’s upcoming collection (to be published in 2014).
 
Shuchi is also the owner of Pixie Dust Writing Studio, a writing and editing firm that services a global clientele, and the Indian Freelance Writers Blog. She currently lives a nomadic life with a fauji husband and a livewire toddler. 
 
Done With Men is her first book.
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