A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


The Ogre is Charmed :D

Quite seriously. You see, like the now famous Shrek, she does not even have the excuse of being banished, being green, big, and ‘un’easy on the eye. To make matters worse, she’s in human form. There. And yet, each day, whether or not she wanted it, the ogre in her would somehow make itself known, and the resultant fall-out would always make her wonder at days like she had today, or rather yesterday 🙂

But should she have been so surprised? Her kids, the ones who see her almost daily, are clever, indeed, verrryyyy clever. They’ve learnt to apply what they pick up in class. They collaborate. They research effectively. They are getting better and better at divergent thinking and delighting with their creativity. And they have such great timing 😀

Day: 14 August, 2013
Time, 3.45pm, thereabouts, special class for them, about to begin

The ogre is busy getting the ‘smart class’ video ready for them, having given them a small story to read while she works.
A loud cough is heard, very very loud, and very very painful. She decides to ignore it, knowing them 😆
Suddenly, clapping, and the words of the Sanskrit Birthday song (will edit and add later, as I had not recorded this as it unfolded :D) fill the room, and the shell-shocked ogre, who cannot stop grinning, and blushing at the same time turns to face them. She’s wearing red, and is sure her face is just as red. (Have to ask the kids about it 😛 )

This had to be a first. For her, at least 🙂
A young lad, A., comes up and hands her a card, hand-made, with a verse he had written, and a gift wrapped book. She is persuaded to read, and to open her ‘gift’. Richard Bach’s ‘Bridge Across Forever’. Woah. Woah. She’s super-overwhelmed and speechless. She is. (You see that was what was meant earlier, their researching skills, and collaboration :D)

The verse, the book, the gift wrapping :)

The verse, the book, the gift wrapping 🙂


And she is enchanted, charmed no end. She knows that her heart holds much more than the words she has spoken, in deep affection, for them. For she’s shared, here, more on them. They are a Class Apart, truly. And one whose affection is seen in this Rich Harvest. She’s been three times lucky to have them, and while this may be the last year they are together, with her, she knows they will be added to the ever growing list of really special people who have touched her heart.

She wants them to know this. She wants everyone to know 🙂

Heck. Enough of sounding like an imbecile, talking in the third person. I think I ought to do the actual thank-yous myself.

Thank you, endlessly and infinitely, you marvellous  XD kids. You’re awesome. Truly. I mean, I give you all something close to verbal overdoses quite regularly, and yet you do this. Sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart 🙂 (Interesting trivia: a couple of years ago, another XD class gave me the most wonderful ‘farewell’, the picture of which I’ve shared on one of the albums on FB 🙂 ) Yeah. (and my own two kids would underscore this – XD is awesome :D)

And, to top it all, my phone rings, while I am out with Kiran, and N., and the voice asks me to come out, for he has a surprise for me 😀 I have to explain I’m not home. Undettered, Karthik pops up at where we are, with a bagful of goodies: candies and chocolates! And yet another a belated wish 🙂 And a certain young girl,K.,  of the above mentioned class – she was the surprise 🙂 🙂 My day is made. Thank you, both!

15 August, 2013

I want to wish you all for the Independence Day, but coming away from the tragic news of the INS Sindhurakshak, and her missing crew of 18 (as of writing this), I find a heaviness inside that prevents me from rejoicing for the nation. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the crew as they pass through this difficult time.

And while I’m at it, all of you kids, and others who are here, please do take a look at this link that warns us about our use of smartphones. You might want to change certain settings, if this gets you worried.



Love on the Rocks ~ Ismita Tandon Dhanker

This here is yet another non review 🙂 . I’ve already stated my case for not doing reviews, simply because I do not know how to, and therefore cannot :D! However what I can do is to share my perspective, after reading a book, and that is what I am going to do. Again 🙂

“Murder on the high seas” is the tagline for this racy thriller, called “Love on the Rocks”, a debut novel of a successful MBA graduate working with Thomas Cook, turned full time writer – Ismita Tandon Dhanker.

That, in itself should give one an idea of where the action is going, and does. The entire story is set in a merchant navy vessel, aptly named “Sea Hyena”, and worked into the story are details of life aboard a MNV (merchant navy vessel), the intricacies of relationships that grow, or stunt, on long voyages. Not to mention intrigues and murders!

It would be easy for me quote from the blurb on the back of this paperback, published by Penguin Books India, but let me try and bring a bit of me into it 🙂 The ego you know, cannot be but appeased 😀

Sancha, a newly wed, joins her husband, the Chief Officer, aboard the Sea Hyena, a few months after their marraige, in Japan, where the ship is berthed, before the next voyage. They intend to sail to Miami, with a cargo of new cars. Sancha is a lively, inquisitive, intelligent girl. Very contemporary. And very much in love with her husband Aaron.

She soon comes to know of the death of the previous cook on board the ship, before it came to harbour, at Japan, and starts wondering what could have happened. Later, during a party one evening, almost twenty thousand dollars is found missing from the Captain’s safe. This brings in the Safety and Quality Officer of the Company, who is looked upon with wariness, and respect by the Officers and Crew of the ship. Sancha’s curiosity, and her interest in the investigation also finds respect in Raghav, the investigating officer.

Almost everyone, in her eyes, could have been involved in it. For almost everyone has secrets, and oddities, that slowly reveal themselves in the least expected moments. Whether it is  Captain Kuruvilla (the Master of the ship) and his foul language, Aaron, her husband, the Chief Engineer Kurian, First Engineer Harsh, or even the Engine Cadet, Alex, or Baldy as he is called.

Matters come to a head, when another murder takes place, and the sh** hits the fan, in a manner of speaking :P! What comes of the investigation and how, as the writer puts it, “deceit was the only universal truth” comes to be, is what wraps an eventful voyage for Sancha.

I started reading late  last evening, with plenty of breaks, given that my medication has a tendency to induce sleep regularly, but I did get so absorbed in the story, that  I had it completed by this evening. Given my varied activities, and the sedation, now that is a record :D! So, why am I telling you this? I did enjoy reading it, and it was absorbing.

To the mechanics, now, (for want of a better way to say what I am going to 🙂 ). You’ve got appreciate the life and the excess baggage that a Merchant Navy Officer/ Crew and his family have, to be able to fully understand the nuances here. As a spouse, you may accompany your husband (if he is an officer), on voyages. But it does get lonely, darned lonely for a woman without company. And for men, starved of female company for long stretches of time, this can be either a welcome distraction, or a problem! Ismita brings out the dilemma of both the men and the woman concerned quite effectively.

The entire novel is in the first person, of not just one character. Interestingly, each of the main characters, speaks / writes, in parts, in sections, and helps the story develop not just in a linear manner, but in a sort of web, that , as a reader, you want to connect, and complete. It’s difficult, but, yes, in a sense you can manage to make it work. At least your guess work on the Who Actually Dunnit would work. The end, however, is skillfuly concocted. Concocted. 🙂 You’ll understand, and perhaps enjoy that concoction, as I did!

There are times though, when I found the conversations/ dialogues a bit unnatural, in the sense that I have / I am/ We are seem artificial. These always find a better resonance in its shortened forms, for sheer natural feeling. So it could have been I’ve/ I’m/ We’re. Probably that is the only thing I found to quibble gently about, in the book.

The sub-plot too, is artfully managed, and gels well with the rest of the plot.

Ismita is the wife of a Merchant Navy Officer, and has been on a voyage with her husband. So the story comes, also, from real time experiences, in terms of descriptions and notions and prejudices 🙂 There is always the doubt about the “I” in the novel, as I have mentioned already in previous  non review – whether or not one understands the “I” to be separate from the author. Finally we take what we want from it, anyway, no matter who says what! 🙂 🙂

All in all, this was a book I did enjoy very much! Thank you Ismita, also known as Lesser Known Poet, on Facebook, for the request, and for sending the book across. In fact, dear readers, I must also tell you that she is adept at poetry too, and you can read some wonderful pieces on her blog too!

The pictures have been taken (oops, without permission, but I know she won’t mind :D) from Ismita’s blog. All credit to whoever took those pictures 🙂

This is a book you’d enjoy if you’re into murder mysteries, and enjoy a good sail 🙂 Happy Reading!

17 September, 2012
(Just under 1000 words! yayyyy! )


A Dream Peddler Extraordinaire – “Love, Loss & Acceptance” through my eyes :)

This one has been writing itself a long long long time 🙂 Since about March this year! I hesitate to call it a review; let’s just say it is my perspective of Shail Mohan’s debut publication, an Anthology of her verse, titled “Love, Loss & Acceptance“.

“March??” you say, almost horrified that I attempt such a task all of nearly six months later! Ahem. Errrmmm… yes. I hang my head in utter despondency. You see, I did so want to do it earlier, but well… I got busy with stuff. All kinds of stuff that terrify teachers at the end of School year, and stuff that terrify parents when their offspring is about to get married. You do get the picture don’t you? My excuse is watertight! 😛 😛

Sigh. No, it really isn’t. But we’ll let that be, won’t we Shail? I know you understand, and that is what matters finally!

Disclaimer: This is not a book review :D. I don’t do book reviews, because I really do not know how to! I give them as assignments, and am impressed by the kids who do it so easily 🙂 But me? I’m terrified of them. So please do not take me to task over the mechanics or format of the genre ok? This here is intensely personal 🙂
Alert: This is going to be a LONG post. Be warned 😀

“Love Loss & Acceptance” by Shail Mohan is a collection of her verse. It has three sections, one each for Love, Loss and Acceptance. About 58 poems in all 🙂

The front and back cover, designed by her son 🙂

It has that touch-it-as-tangible-as-it-can-get sense of achivement for anyone, who has dreams to peddle, muses to satisfy, who revels in the myriad expressions of the one emotion that encompasses all – Love; whose acceptance takes one beyond life; whose loss is perhaps the ultimate in agony that borders on an ecstasy.

Right from her little verse to her muse:

Each flower, each leaf
all the prickly thorns
I lay at your feet,
with the same emotion 
and devotion 
of a love celestial…

her offering is so unconditional, so complete, and you know right then, you are in for a treat!


Having been an “English” student through B.A., and subsequent courses, and even now as a supposed Teacher (learner more like it 😛 ) I’ve been fascinated by poetry more than prose; the way poets string emotions, intangibles, and thread them, weave them with such dexterity and honesty – to tell a truth, or embellish a lie. No, contrary to the norm that in order to appreciate poetry you need to have an in depth knowledge of the form, from Chaucer, to perhaps Bob Dylan, or even Eminem, one need not be (and I must confess that I am NOT) a “well-read” person, not in that sense! I love what experiences any verse gives. And I say all of this to underscore what Shail’s verse means to me. I love the way she thinks (the way I see how she thinks, ie! ), how she transforms her thoughts into the tangible quality of her verse – and makes it as delicious and palatable, allowing us to gorge on it, as “Melted Chocolate” ! 😀 (Page 20). That one has to rate as of my favourites in the book! You do actually melt into a puddle of sheer mush and chocolate! Loverrrly!

On a different tangent, there is the déjà vu I sense, most times in her verse: this on “From Afar”

Who are you stranger?
Have we met before?
Why does it seem
I have known you since long?

And when I read “The knot“, I am overcome by a chill. Still, that too is Love!

And the poignant note continues, this time staccato as well, in “You“. Love hurts, and heals.

Sand in my shoes” is a perfect fairytale – one that plays out each day, I know, for a lot of peope! I so so so love this poem!  You must absolutely read that one, if you haven’t, yet! (Psssst… go and get the book, asap, if you haven’t, from here:




It’s worth it! )

And there is more: “Dreams“. Sigh.
Stolen Moments” Sigh. Again. (a few new lines/into an old story,/already published...)
The last poem in this section “Ultimate Freedom” (Love), is perhaps the most touching of all, for me. Love is there, limitless, yet bound and finite – what more can suffocate? It is a bitter sweet reminder that love is passionate, it is warm, but is also possessive, and seeks to bind.


Where there is love, you can be sure loss or heartbreak enters the picture sooner than later, writes Shail. There are twenty different ways in which she portrays the utter loss of, sometimes, a feeling, a person, a negation of all that has been, of love, in what ever form it had chosen to be…

The coldness of loss sets in right from the strange sadness that envelops one with the first of the poems here, “The Search“, searching for the reason, and not finding it! Loss, isn’t that how it is?
And then the pain pours out through “Echoes“, showing its tenacity in the next poem, “Frail Spontaniety“.  “Captive Love” is yet another, where utter loss just does not let you be!

Aren’t we always promised so much by Love? And while many do get most of it, somewhere down the line, the hand that held yours, suddenly slips slips away! You walk the way, alone. “I have been there before“, that is what it speaks to me of.
The Wilted bloom“, along with the theme of Love goes on to consistent form in verse: a noun+verb combination in each line. And that too, without seeming unnatural! No mean feat that!
When pain gets very intense, it becomes deadweight and frozen. “Frozen Tears“, quite starkly brings one this experience.

When a person writes in the first person “I”, a reader tends to make assumptions 🙂 and then is intrigued by possibilities! So also with “Don’t Come Closer” – I know I connect so very much with this poem! 🙂


Acceptance most times is indeterminate in its honesty. Sometimes you do accept because you have no choice. Sometimes, because you understand. Sometimes because you want to, and move on. The many overtones of that one ability is what Shail brings to us here. There is poignancy, there is despair too, but there is an honesty in all of the verse here that touches deep. The pleasure that love has been, and though now not there, still there exists an optimism in meeting with Love again. “Broken Bits” speaks that way, to me.

My love, please tread softly
Don’t step on them harshly
The broken fragments carry
Dreams I held closely.

And “Baubles” , precious notions strung together! In “Time to go” I find again, the pain and the acceptance of the loss:

though I still love you so
and it breaks my heart
it is now time to go
my sweetheart

There is gentleness too; the quiet hush that cloaks a steely pain- how easy it is to leave another bereft. And how endless is the pain even in its acceptance! “Beneath the tree (acceptance)“:

Beneath the tree
by the gently flowing river
Where you left me to move on
I stand my love…

As with any kind of savouring, I have left the best for last. My absolute favourite in the entire collection has to be this one: THE DREAM PEDDLER. And that is why I have appropriated its title into the title of this post too. This poem literally, figuratively comes alive all shimmer and gossamer texture, sweet and sad, in its brilliant concept itself!

As always, Shail is stickler for a good proof read copy, and this book is that, right through. Her sense of rhyme is impeccable, and natural. Choice of words, perfect again! I know she can take any set of three random words, and in an instant weave a verse for you to enjoy. Metaphors and similes, not to mention vivid imagery, these are her fine tuning tools! Such is her talent. Such is she 🙂

For me, Shail is a dream peddler 🙂 I have said so, in the introduction to the book I was asked to write. I am deeply honoured by that Shail, and I do want you to know that, yet again 🙂 . Thank you too, for a personally autographed copy! That is one to treasure always! The first book I have, personally autographed by its writer 🙂 It’s already 1400 words long, but then, WT heck, I’ve got a disclaimer in place; and I had a wonderful time writing it out too… a lot of it scribbles with pencil and paper, on writing pad, and her book itself, and some that came pouring out of the keystrokes 🙂

Thank you Shail! And now I am looking forward to your book of short stories! That promises to be just as, if not more wondrous!

14 September 2012