Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why I Chose Poetry to Express the Status of Women Today?

“Some birds are free,
Some birds are caged.
This origami bird is
molded from a page.
Set her free,

Or let her be.”

A time where hashtags like #womensupportwomen and #girlpower flood social media, a simple #metoo took everyone by storm. We talk about uplifting and empowering women but at the same time not everyone believes it off social media. While that happens around the world, India is still stuck in a place where there is a whole other story playing. Here, women are worshipped in temples, but treated like slaves in bedrooms. A society that is equal parts male and female dominated is still suppressing women at the end of the day.

As someone who spent her youth years in both India and outside, being able to understand different cultures helped shaped Origami Birds. We may think women are treated in a certain way in our society, but we don’t realize what is happening elsewhere. Social media very well hides our real life, which in turn makes people believe we are all too perfect to feel stronger emotions like pain or anger. We are all trained to keep a prim and proper exterior, meanwhile our interior starts to rot. By the time you realize you need to let it out, there is no one who is going to listen to you.

When I personally reached that point where I felt I was going to explode, I used poetry to express myself. Being a private person, it was always hard to share my feelings with people, and I felt like there were more people out there who felt the same way. Over multiple coffee meets and stressful talks, I started listening, and when I did, a million stories started to unfold, which came to be the collection Origami Birds is.

“I feel cold in your warm caress.I feel scared in your security.” 

The above excerpt from Origami Birds shows how majority of poems are written metaphorically between a man and a woman, where the man is the society and the woman is all of us. Through Origami Birds I am not trying to start a pro-feminist movement, just simply sending a message out about how easy it is to let it out. The more we keep inside, the harder it gets. As the book begins, I want the reader to understand that we all as humans are just like an Origami Bird; shaped and molded by the society, but free in the essence.

By reading Origami Birds, I want the readers to be able to feel lighter. If they relate that’s great it means they want to get the heaviness off their chest and if they don’t, at least they’ll be able to help someone else out who feels that way.

When someone meets with an accident and starts to bleed, our instant reaction is to stop the bleeding. Then why now do the same when someone feels that way mentally? Our mental health is so strongly attached to our physical health, yet we don’t treat them the same way. If our minds are clear from any stress or pressure, it will show on our physical selves. Once we start to keep both in good shape, our lives will become a lot easier. It’s all about finding that person who will listen without judgement, and just listen, sometimes opinions and consolation are not needed. That’s why I encourage people to reach out to me if they would like to talk, because feeling better by talking doesn’t cost anyone anything.    

Written by Tanya jain: Tanya Jain recently graduated from Parsons The New School for Design, New York. She has been using design and writing as a means to express herself through her work. Gaining inspiration from her life and the people around her; anger, pain and suffering are the major themes in this collection. Physical wellness is as important as our mental wellness. Without being able to express all the emotions one feels, the body is simply a host where the mind resides without being connected to it. She believes in expressing the strong emotions that society prefers to keep secret. She wants her emotions to scream through words and make the reader feel it too.

Does this make you want to read the book? Grab a copy now!!!

Legends over Generations by Ashraf Haggag

Book Blurb: Since the beginning of human settlement, a lot of people came up with ideas, philosophies, beliefs, experiments, research, redesigning of thoughts, talents, and surveys to bring myths to reality.

People contributed to various life aspects science, politics, literature, arts, social activities and so many other fields. These genius minds put a keen interest in every phenomenon right from when they were young. The zeal, passion, dedication, hard work and efforts they put into their work helped them discover something new about the world we live in.

In these Legends, we’ve seen inexplicable abilities that helped us define our existence and human life. Their names are engraved in the sands of time for their work in the welfare of mankind with different inventions that have made our lives easy, enjoyable and successful. The following chapters commemorate the greatest personalities we’ve ever seen who changed the world.

They are among the most influential people of today’s world. With practical advantages in various aspects, they have helped us to grow a better understanding of the world and different working phenomenon’s that governs us. Their way of shaping modern day culture is completely unrivaled.

About the Author: Ashraf Haggag is a senior executive with nearly three decades of experience in close proximity to the corporate market. His more recent experience has also taken him to every facet of the hospitality industry.  

Haggag has direct experience in many different aspects of business, including sales, marketing, revenue management, and administration. Having worked in Germany, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, his global experiences have helped him realize that companies must target new market zones in order to grow and prosper in the international marketplace. He is eager to bring enhanced cross-cultural awareness to today’s business leaders.  

To know more about the book or the authors writings, check the links below:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gauri Sinh’s mystery novel The Miss India Murders launched at Crossword Bookstores.

On 9th February 2018, Supermodel Ujjwala Raut & Parizad Kolah launched Gauri Sinh’s mystery novel “The Miss India Murders” at Crossword Bookstores, Mumbai. 

The back page of her whodunit book,  “The Miss India Murders”  published by Harper Collins, screams with the tagline- Twenty perfect contestants. One perfect murder.

Gauri has  been an insider to the world of glamour and entertainment  for a considerable period and that makes her book both credible and arresting. 

Former civil servant and social activist Abha Singh with The Miss India Murders

The story is set in the year 1995 where there are twenty-one beautiful contestants participating in the pageant. It opens with a shocking mysterious death on the ramp,  and the plot subsequently unravels how the case is solved. In a nail-biting twist of circumstances, with a closed circle of suspects where each suspect is found to have a credible motive behind committing the crime.

The book was launched at Crossword Bookstores, Kemps Corner  by super model Ujjwala Raut and Parizad Kolah Marshall.

This is Gauri’s third book, after Dog-Send: The Story of Simba and The Garud Prophecies- Sitara's Story.

Welcoming senior scribe Gauri Sinh to Crossword Bookstores, Maulik Desai, Head said, “ The genre of mystery novels is a young form of literature that has developed since the early-19th century. We see a demand for  fast reads among the youth and welcome such gripping plots.”

The book courses though troughs and crests, to an edge-of-the-seat finish, while  giving the reader a sense of the enticing elite world of fashion and beauty pageants.

At the launch of her book Gauri Sinh said when people ask me why a crime novel, I would like to ask them why not. All of them read crime novels. I have been reading crime novels. I find the iconic characters in crime novels are usually a male, they are older. Even when you think of women, you do not have an iconic, glam, young, contemporary detective. I wanted to try and fill that void for desi audiences. I wanted to make the characters Indian. There is a trend that runs through all my writing. I like to take ordinary characters and place them in extraordinary settings.”

                                               Ayaz Menon with author Gauri Sinh

Ujjwala Raut, the famous supermodel who is well aware about how the glamour industry works, said I have known Gauri since the last 21 years. She has been interviewing me since the time I was into modelling. I love mysteries and detective books &  I used to read a lot of Sidney Sheldon books which are about murders and mysteries. My dad was a cop himself. He retired as an ACP in Mumbai.”

Parizad Kolah Marshall added, "I have known Gauri ever since she was the editor of Bombay Times. I have been for all her book launches. This is her third one.  I can relate to the glamour world back then and can also relate to the time when we were a one big family and how things have changed in the current times"
                                     Reshma Bombaywala with The Miss India Murders

There are some gems nesting within the pages of well-known journalist Gauri Sinh’s book, such as...

Instant celebrity without necessary toil allows us to believe ourselves invincible.” 

“Mistakes were costly and inconvenient to everybody-on ramp, in life.”

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Launch: Super Foods for Awesome Memory by Master-Chef Shipra Khanna

Crossword Bookstores plays host to glorious, celebrated cordon bleu 
Shipra Khanna.

The pages of Masterchef Shipra Khanna's latest book open to reliable advice. Have a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil in the morning to keep your skin beautiful. Now that's just the kind of tip one is looking for, easy to do, with great benefits too!

With her new book, 'Super Foods for Awesome Memory'MasterChef Shipra Khanna weaves an eloquent web of advice and recipes that are intensely beneficial to our daily lives. Kunal Vijayakar,  well-known food writer, did the honours at Crossword Bookstores, Kemps Corner.

Take for instance, her avocado sushi, which transforms the Vit C& B rich, powerhouse fruit into a bite-size starter that's great for memory.  Or well-researched tips  such as 'chicken is rich in choline and protects your brain from the effects of ageing', or that 'extra virgin oil contains polyphenols that improve learning and memory.'

The best thing about this book is that Shipra Khanna doesn't ask you to take anything for granted- she backs up every suggestion with solid scientific basis.

Check out this excerpt “Coconut oil contains short and medium chain fatty acids that help in shedding excessive weight.”

In her own candid words,

I’ve lived a life that’s been good, bad and ugly in parts, but cooking was the constant. My kitchen gave me so much peace and tranquillity that it served as my sanctum sanctorum. For me: Good Food equals No Compromise. I never served food that wasn’t perfect by my standards, and I never will. Thankfully these standards are always on the rise! From childhood, my life journeyed through food. I truly don’t know where I would be without it. It’s all I really know how to do!”

Masterchef Shipra Khanna is recognized as one of the top Indian celebrities. She has been working extensively in India and across the globe. Her love affair with cooking began at the age of nine. Her specialty is Global cuisine, Indian, baking, desserts and fusion food. 

Commenting on the launch, Maulik Desai, Head Crossword Bookstores gives perspective, “ Cook books are a part of our non-fiction category and we have seen that the book sales of India’s top chefs are in huge demand. Indians like to try out different varieties. Crossword welcomes Shipra Khanna and honours her work in making Indian food a household name across the world.”

With shows around the world, Shipra  has travelled globally, propagating Indian food. After “Sinfully yours” and "The Spice Route"‘SuperFoods for Awesome Memory' is Shipra Khanna's third book. The book has a very global approach to nutrition, from nuanced Indian recipes to hardcore international spices. 

It's a gastronomic joy ride you must go on.

The release of the book was followed by a masterclass conducted by the author along with a conversation with Kunal Vijayakar.

"I have gone through the book and I must confess one thing that we have a lot of books about how to maintain physical health, how to loose weight but nobody till now has dealt with mental health & memory. The book is beautifully published. The pictures are really nice. The recipes in the book are easily do-able. Congratulations  to Shipra for such an awesome book" said much loved foodie Kunal Vijayakar.

The book is published by Rupa Publications India.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Julia Donaldson at Crossword Bookstores this week

Crossword Bookstores  & Pan Macmillan India host bestselling kids author Julia Donaldson
Crossword Bookstores, at its store in Kemps Corner, held a special event on monday. It was a book- signing and a meet & greet session with the bestselling childrens' author, Julia Donaldson, in association with publisher Pan Macmillan.

The children kept lining up, to see the creator of the magical stories, that they so love.

For the uninitiated, Julia Donaldson is a prize-winning author. Even though she started her career as a singer-songwriter, writing mainly for children’s television, a song of hers ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ was made into her first book in 1993 after a publisher approached her. Since then, she has written some of the world's best loved children's books.

Welcoming her to Crossword Bookstores for the book-signing, Maulik Desai, Head Crossword bookstores said, “Crossword bookstores is the place where authors and book lovers meet. We are honoured to host a signing session for Julia Donaldson, whose character ‘The Gruffalo' is one of the world’s best-loved monsters. "

Julia has been honoured in the past as the seventh Children’s Laureate. Because of her background in music and drama, she focussed on ‘stories in performance’ during her two years in office(2011-2013) as Laureate.

The author was seen signing book copies which were available for sale, and interacting with the children. When asked about India & why children love her books so much, the much-loved author said, “ Our journey to India has been overwhelming. The people here have been kind." Also speaking about the journey as an author to India,she added,"  people have displayed a joy of reading books. The teachers also encourage the reading habit in children. The visit to Mumbai has been the busiest among all the cities. I have two shows lined up tomorrow. The shows which was held today in the morning was housefull. It's a pleasure interacting with these little book lovers".

It was a fun filled evening for the children with activities and delicacies, which included tattoo art, book character acts and impromptu quiz about the author & book titles. Questions relating to Julia Donaldson's book were asked to the children. The winners were gifted copies of Julia's book.

Julia was also seen dancing and performing with the little kiddos out there on the tunes of  ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’, the famous song by Julia Donaldson and perform  'The Graffalo" with her husband and the the team members.

The highlight of the show was the Gruffalo mascot which came to India for the first time. Children and parents loved getting themselves clicked with the Gruffalo.

Café Moshes also made cupcakes around Julia Donaldson book titles.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Winners of 15th Raymond Crossword Book Awards are here!!!


  • Winners of 15th Raymond Crossword Book Award announced
Dr. Amit Karkhanais and Shobhaa De
  • Lifetime Achievement Award given to Sudha Murthy
     Sudha Murty accepts awards from Dr. Panda
  • Sadhguru wins two popular awards
In its 15th edition, the prestigious Raymond Crossword Book Award Raymond Crossword Book Award in Partnership with WizcraftKotak and RCity as Associate Sponsors witnessed a spectacular literary event. The exceptional and bestselling literary works of the year 2017 were celebrated at the majestic Royal Opera House - Mumbai. 

Raymond Crossword Book Award is the only Literary Award in India for Indian Authors spread across Lifetime Achievement, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s, Translation and Popular Categories . Speaking on the occasion, Maulik Desai, Head Crossword Bookstores said, “For the last 15 years, the Raymond Crossword Book Award has discovered  new and exceptional authors and shared a wealth of literary talents to a wider audience.”

Sudha Murty, Padma Shri (2006) and prolific author in both Kannada and English, was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award for her exemplary contribution to Indian writing in English.

Authors Zuni Chopra, Sanya Runwal, Sudha Murty and Anusha Subramanian

Accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, veteran author Sudha Murthy said, “ I was surprised when I came to know that I'm getting this award. I thought this is their way of telling me to retire, " she said in jest. 

"I have been writing for 40 years now, but started writing in English only when i was 56 years old. Independent of Narayana Murthy and the company, the one thing that is my own is my writing." 

Handing over the award to Sudha Murty was world’s leading cardiac surgeon Dr. Ramakanta Panda, Mrs. S Raheja, and Dr. Amit Karkhanis.

Presiding over the function, Dr Ramakanta Panda said, " The pen holds the power of discovery and creation within itself. This evening is an ode to this power and I am glad to be here today."

    Sudha Murty with Dr. Amit Karkhanis

Authors Josy Joseph, Radhakrishnan Pillai, Anita Nair,  Harshad Marathe, Ravi Subramanian, Ambi Parmeshwaran, Roopa Pai, Shobhaa De,  Bhawana Somaayaadded gravitas to the evening. 

Bollywood was represented by Karan Johar and actor Pooja Chopra.

    Karan Johar accepts his award for best biography

Following were the awardees in each category


Fiction: Our Impossible love by Durjoy Datta
Non-fiction: Inner Engineering- a Yogi’s guide to joy by Sadhguru.
Biography: An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar and Poonam Saxena
Business and management: The Target by Shantanu Guha Ray
Health and fitness: A Taste of Well-Being: Sadhguru's Insights for Your Gastronomics
Children: The Stormbringer by Archita Mishra

Actor Pooja Chopra and Maulik Desai, Head of Crossword Bookstores announced the popular award in the non-fiction category to Sadguru, for Inner Engineering- a Yogi’s guide to joy. Sadhguru, who couldn't be present, shared in a video message, This award is for the millions of people, who are brave enough;  instead of looking up in hope, they are willing to look inwards and find their own solutions. For their courage, they need an award. This award is for those who are willing to turn inwards. Looking up has caused one kind of distress; and looking out has caused a different level of destruction. Looking inward is the only solution."

Shantanu Guha Rayr receives the award from Bhawana Somaaya and ShainaNC.
The book was also a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller, soon after the launch in September 2016.

Dr.Amit Karkhanis of Dr.Tvacha Clinic and veteran author Shobhaa De announced the best fiction award to Durjoy Dutta.

Karan Johar too was delighted to receive an award for his first book at the hands of head honcho Neel Raheja, "I was initially quite sceptical, whether i want to share such a large part of my life, through this book. I call it a memoir, and not a biography. Im too young at 45 to have a biography written. The idea was not just to have a puff piece,but an honest account of my growing years and the experiences that I've had. Writing this with Poonam Saxena has been therapeutic for me, and Im grateful to her. It was a cathartic experience. It is ok to be unsuitable, and thats what the book is all about."

       Neel raheja with Karan Johar


Fiction: Harilal and sons by Sujit Saraf.
Non-fiction: A feast of vultures by Josy Joseph
Children: Muezza and Baby Jaan by Anita Nair and Harshad Marathe
Translation: A preface to Man, authored by Subash Chandran and translated by Fathima. EV, Malayalam

Maulik Desai added,“Like all other aspects of our lives, the world of books is also changing. There is a community of young writers and readers today, who prefer fast reads, crime capers and thrillers; while pure literature continues to have a loyal steadfast audience. Our awardees, every year, represent a mix of both.”

Also present at the awards were prominent guests such as Shaina NC, Kinjal Shah, Rashmi Uday Singh, Anupama Chopra and Swati Popat Vats.

Commenting on the evening, Sabbas Joseph, Director, Wizcraft Entertainment International Pvt. Ltd said, “We are humbled to be a part of such a prestigious endowment that not only endeavors to bring together the entire literary community but also simultaneously provides a great platform to promote Indian authors and their books. Wizcraft’s partnership with Crossword for the grand 15th edition of Raymond Crossword Book Award this year was indeed a great association that brought forth a unique literary experience like no other.” 

  Bhawana Somaiya, Shobhaa De and Rashmi Uday Singh

Another facet to the event was an interesting panel discussion on “I want to be an Author” with budding teen authors, and publisher Anup Jerajani, moderated by renowned Ms.Anupama Chopra - National award winning film critic and editor of the digital platform Film Companion.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Review: Kaavi-Khayalon Se Shabdon Tak by Rahul Yadav

Title: Kaavi-Khayalon Se Shabdon Tak                      
Author: Rahul Yadav
Category: Poetry (Hindi)
Publisher: Notion Press
Price: 120 (Kindle edition)
Pages: 70

Please note: This is a poetry book written in Hindi.

The collection Kavi comprises of a range of poems that is not based on a single theme but is a collective on the topics that touch the poets heart. There are issues like Kashmir, facts and mostly emotions that he has chosen to write on, and I believe for a more emphatic expression of his simplistic thoughts chosen the medium of poetry. As I firmly believe that a poetry book should be on a single theme or divided into sub-sections with different themes, taking the reader in sync with the zone the poet wishes to describe; this changing of topics from one poetry to another comes not as a comfortable one.

Coming to the poetry, all his thoughts are simplistic in nature and expressed in a very simple language. The complexity of the subject matter is brought about however in bluntly stating the illogical or questioning like an innocent child a tradition, which hits the bulls eye of ones emotional being. My most favorite from all the poems in this collection was the first one titled "lafza". Lafza meaning words, words that comprise this poetry, ironically question their existence, invention, utility. The writer gives his signature simplistic examples and puts his questions so easily as if they should be everyone's. These questions when put make you ponder and mull before you go to the next. 

The other set of issues that the poet deals greatly with is "life of a woman". He aces in the understanding of their life, plight and their subdued treatment, that of an inferior sex. His heart wrenching remark ending in "Arushi and Nirbhaya, names a mother would never want for a daughter" is ironically so correct that it numbs the reader. 

A majority of poems are centered around relationships, emotions of love, togetherness and separation. All in all it is a roller coaster ride through the myriad pf poets thoughts, simply and effectively expressed in poetry, a fate prose cannot dare.

RC Rating. 3.5/5 Recommended Read.