Hello Everyone

Welcome to this blog...I love reading and writing, so obviously this page is going to be full of that. You can expect...pieces of (original!) poetry, bits of whatever storyline is going on in my head right now and things like book reviews, book updates etc., as well as things from my daily life that interest and amuse me. So, I hope you enjoy whatever you read.
P.S.: Please do ignore the dates...I've done it so my posts can go in a crazy order of my own.

The top ten phrases you will hear in and around junior college

1) "Seriously" : This word is a multi-purpose one. Best when accompanied by a tone of outrage and bugging out of the eyes. Especially useful if it's break-time and you are hungry, but the girl next to you won't shut up and expects a reply to everything she says. Try stretching out the syllables for maximum histrionics.
2) "Are they letting us go early??" : The most powerful phrase you will ever hear within the four walls. Awakens hope and nameless joy in the hearts of the 40-odd inmates. Differences are forgotten and enmities banished. Accompanied by a mad rush for the phones (to call home!)
3) "I'm not well" : You say this to the Vice Principal or the receptionist when you can't bear the torture anymore and want to go home. Best accompanied by coughing or sneezing for better effect. (You could also clutch your head in "agony") Expect dirty looks and evasions in the form of "I'll send for a tablet.", "Why don't you lie down in my office?" and "I'll give you some chocolate if yu're feeling faint." Be firm. Don't take no for an answer.
4) "What's that you're reading??" : Anxiety and paranoia show their ugly faces as one student demands of another information about anything that looks new. Material of any possible value is quickly gathered and inevitable passed around the class. So make sure to hide anything flashy or important. There are no secrets in this class!
5) "I'll take a xerox" : More paranoia. Here's how it's done: Step 1: Spot any new worksheets, textbooks or material Step 2: Grab them from the unsuspecting owner Step 3: Quickly send it for xeroxing just in case it might be something that slipped under your massive and penetrating radar
6) "Wonder how she does it" : An automatic response to scores like "Botany- 40/40 Zoology- 40/40 Physics- 39/40 Chemistry 40/40" Accompanied by a huge dent to the self-esteem. Shock and awe. Soon shifts to phrases like "It's luck.", "If I bothered to stay up fr as many hours as she does, I would have scored better." Go ahead and delude yourself...lol
7) "It's a 'bandh' today." : Broadcasted across the class in a matter-of-fact tone. Repeated over and over again in the presence of junior and senior lecturers in the hope that they might actually take the hint. If you're unlucky, it is usually accompanied by a pointed closing of the class doors and screams of joy from the neighbouring classes (because they're getting off and you are NOT)
8) "Sir, what's the time?" : Mainly directed at Junior lecturers. Synonymous with "You fathead! It's eight o-clock already. Are you blind or has your stupid watch stopped working? LET US GO!" Repeated by different people in short intervals of time for maximum irritating effect.
9) "Where are you going?" : This is a universal phrase you WILL hear whether you get up from your seat or (gosh!) step out of the class or even (Gasp!!) go down to the basement for some fresh air. The higher the post of the speaker, the snottier the tone. Accompanied by looks of the deepest suspicion.
10) "I'm disappointed with your score of 158/160..I expected more." : Accompanied by a general drop of the lower jaw and loss of consciousness for a few moments. The correct reply is usually a bright "I'll do better next time, sir." but don't try it if you're not a complete saint. A background whisper of "OMG, is he mad?" and dangerous thoughts of bludgeoning the speaker are to be expected.

Those ten inevitable things...

1) The permanent suspicion that greets your statement of feeling unwell. The irony? They send absolute fakers home in a jiff while they make you wait even though you feel your life force ebbing away
2)The VP's tendency to look you up from bottom to top (and not the reverse) Why? Because capris are not allowed!
3) The way people say "I didn't study at ALL. God knows what's gonna happen to the test!" Yeah, right. Like we didn't know you stayed up the whole night feverishly trying to get everything done. Who are you trying to fool??
4) Call from the college on a holiday: "There's going to be a special class only for a select few. VERY important learning secrets...EVERYONE's going to be there...if you don't come, you'll be the only one left out." You hurry to the college and guess what...not a soul in sight. Don't fall for THAT again.
5) The way the staff assume that we will continue studying if we are not informed of our break-times. Oy,people, what are you getting paid for??!
6) The habit of laughing at really dumb jokes but remaining straight-faced at the really rib-cracking ones. What is with that? Let me tell you...it is NOT a good thing to let out an enormous snort of laughter in a completely silent room.
7) The whole "sucking-up-to-brainy-people" that you will find everyehwere you go. Doesn't make it any less sickening though. Some of the social climbers around really make you want to throw up your lunch.
8) There is a special class of people. It consists of specimens who, at first, ask you a question. You are kind enough to reply. They demand to know the reason behind your answer. Okay, you have the infinite patience required to answer that as well. They, however, continue to harass you with more inane questions until you either change your viewpoint or make a flimsy excuse and walk out of the room. Conclusion: If I really needed that, I would much rather go put my head in a shredder. There are better ways to do this.
9) This masochistic tendency that people have that makes them favour other people who go around being really sarcastic about them. What is with that?
10) The delirious screams of joy that can be heard from the neighbouring classes in the event of a "bandh". It really hurts, you know, when you know you have to stay put for the whole day AND you know you have Double Physics!!

Here goes...

How about a warm-up poem? This is a little something I composed recently...it's..er...a bit long. What can I say, I had a lot of time on my hands! Here it is (the first few stanzas):

-A poem by Anushya S.B.
(Yup, that's my actual name)

“Anyone who ventures in
Will be had for his dinner.
He doesn’t discriminate
Between the virtuous and the sinner.

Armed with fearsome claws
And dangerous teeth is he.
Clever, cunning and as
Wily as he can be.”

So my people proclaimed
With fear on their features.
“Tell me…” said I, curiously.
“Who is this creature?”

“Oh, he lurks in the bog
Under the moon at night.
Nothing is spared, no one
Ever escapes his sight.”

Said one. Said another:
“I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
People being hunted in daylight
Is no longer a surprise.”

Curiosity whetted, I listened
To their tales of trepidation
For wasn’t I a hunter
Of great fame and reputation?

“I doubt, though, that your
Tales are perfectly true.
That such a man-eating monster
Existed, I never knew!”

I said disbelievingly.
Their voices dropped suddenly.
“The news has not travelled
Far, O Hunter Ali!

Who knows what powers the
Monster has to its name
And on being disturbed,
How many lives it may claim?”

To be continued...

Poem continued...

I like rhythmic poems, so the poetry I write always rhymes. I also like a “twist in the tale”, so keep reading...

The next few stanzas:

"“Now you must answer the
Question you evade…”
“His name? He answers only to
“The Draconis”, I’m afraid.”

“I’m starting out to see
If I can find this fearsome beast.”
“Be careful, for if he finds you,
He’ll have you for a feast.”

I battled the merciless currents.
I faced the hanging vines.
I fought the wild animals
And at last, found some signs

That the monster existed.
In a vast clearing in the bog,
Shadowy, with the river running beside it,
Was a house made of logs!

Whatever was a house here for?
I wondered. It was clear
That no monster of any kind
Lived and hunted here.

Expecting to meet a friendly hunter,
I stepped up to the knocker
But what happened next
Surely was a shocker!

A scaly green creature
With the most purple eyes ever
With acclaimed claws and teeth present,
It whistled, saying: “Well, I never!”

It stood there, struck dumb,
While its eyes strayed to my gun.
Assuming a strange expression,
It cried “Now, this is some fun!”

“Not many visitors here, you know.
But you are a hunter surely
Here to clear up those tales
And perhaps even to lure me

Into a trap and kill me!”
Said the Draconis, in lamentation.
“Maybe I will, maybe not.” I said.
“First, I want a proper explanation.”

To be continued...

Didn't I tell you it was long...

Please have patience and keep reading:

"“I don’t hunt people, oh no!
I only try to help, if I may.
I find poor souls lost in the forest
And guide them on the proper way.”

I spotted boots and scarves lying around
And turned with a questioning glance.
“What are those, then?”
“Me, hunt people? Not a chance.”

“Why, those are just gifts from those
Poor lost travelers, in gratitude.
Not remains, dear sir, I assure you. Just
Tokens for showing them the right latitude.”

“Oh, I see.” I said, disconcerted.
“Then the villagers must be mistaken!”
“Yes, they surely are. I shouldn’t blame
The poor things, but I’m shaken!”

“Such a peaceful creature am I.
Well, for this at least, I’m glad
Due to their stories, after long,
A visitor is to be had!”

I felt sorry for the poor creature
As the Draconis clapped in glee.
“Now, Mr. Hunter, won’t you
Sit down and have some tea?”

It showed me into its house
And bade me sit on a stool.
“I’m sorry to say it but I
Think the villagers are fools!”

“They thought I hunted people
As some were disappearing.
That’s because the road to the
Town is through this clearing.”

And off the Draconis went
To do the evening cooking.
And off I went. Through the
Monster’s chambers I went looking.

Not long, before I heard,
Distantly, an unhappy whine.
On hearing it, a cold chill
Ran down my spine.

I ran out, far into the clearing
When I saw a cage of fair size.
I turned, to find the Draconis
Staring intently into my eyes."

To be continued in the next post...

Don't miss the end...

Here's the ending of the poem...watch out for the twist..!

"“Poor thing, it’s stuck! So sad!
Maybe the breeze blew and the door shut.
Dogs should never come here.
It didn’t know, poor mutt!”

The Draconis said, pityingly.
Opening the door, it beckoned to me.
“You must coax it out, Mr. Hunter.
Dogs don’t like monsters, you see.”

I agreed, for the sake of the dog,
To go inside and make a dash.
But once I was in, the Draconis
Shut the door in a flash.

It laughed wickedly, and for long.
“You fell for a tale so tall.
Mr. Hunter, you should have listened
To your people after all!”

It stood there, grinning slyly
And its teeth gleaming in the light.
“I have humans for a tasty treat
Once in a while, that’s right!”

“It’ll be your turn next.
Your time will come soon.
But not yet, I’m saving you
Up until the full moon.”

It said and left, rubbing
Its scaly green hands in glee.
People reading this, somehow,
Please come and rescue me!"


Did you like it? Sorry it's a bit childish...but you see, fun and rhythmic poetry is always better than somber, dreary poems, don't you think? I feel writing light-hearted poetry is better than composing poems about broken hearts and betrayal and things like that...


My mode of daily transport to school is by auto. It's a unique experience in itself, you know. Not to mention funny. Seriously, if you travelled in an auto with three eight-year-olds (and two other big kids) life's got be funny sometimes.
I'm the first person the "auto-uncle" picks up every morning and I'm the last one to get off, so I see pretty much everything there is to see. My entry into the auto is very dramatic. A junior once commented that I looked like "White Riding Hood"! I have a white scarf tied around my head in the morning, the reason being that I am prone to ENT problems.
Next, the three kids. The kid who is picked up after me is a BIG Know-it-all...and the way he totally squashes the other two with his "worldly" observations makes me snigger to myself. The next kid is nice, but totally dense. Things have to be repeated at least thrice for him to understand. In addition to this, he is also irrepressibly curious. Imagine that combo!
The third kid is a girl who keeps us waiting for atleast fifteen minutes (on an average, she's kept us for twenty minutes at times) and always succeeds in blowing the collective fuses of not only the "auto-uncle" but the rest of the auto as well.
The way they argue and ask questions about silly little things is really funny, to me as a "much wiser and experienced girl", at least that's what they think I am. But their typical childish conversation always reminds me of my childhood, when apparently trivial things were very important and childish alliances were something to be very proud of. Their slapstick jokes, their anxious questions and eternal awe at my stage in life is extremely amusing...

Some funny conversations

Here are a few conversational snippets that made me laugh.
We had a "guest" for a couple of months. She was quite a sharp girl and was great pals-and-enemies-alternately with the "waiting" girl. One day, she asked each one of the other two a question in addition. (the third kid came along later). The know-it-all, of course, could answer all them correctly. She then went on to the waiting girl and asked her a few. The last question was asked.The waiting girl, not very good at Maths, didn't know what to say. In retaliation, she fired a hard (!) question at the other girl: "What is 16 plus 16?"The other girl did not know the answer but did not want to admit defeat in front of this one. So she replied "16 plus 16 is nothing. It's zero!"At this point in time, I looked at the other girl to see what she would say to this audacious reply. Would she laugh and scoff loudly or would she poke fun at the other for not answering it correctly?To my astonishment, she nodded her head sagely and said "That's correct"The waiting girl did not know the answer either!!!
Here's another. A fifth-class boy, travelling in our auto, was sitting up front with the auto-uncle and was discussing with him about the then-prevalent Chikungunya disease. These kids, having hit a momentary silent phase, listened to it without quite understanding what the older boy was saying. A few moments later, the sharp girl and the waiting girl both began to argue and the argument had reached a stage of extreme anger.I must explain something at this point in time. The waiting girl's family are Jains, who are pure vegetarians. They do not touch meat, so the girl must have been taught that meat is dirty and polluting. It was the height of insult to her to call someone "chicken" or "mutton". According to very twisted logic, she meant to convey her hate and disgust for something by comparing it to meat.So, she called the other sharp girl "chicken" and "mutton". The other girl was quick to retaliate and, as a result of the unconsciously absorbed conversation up front, said "You're Chikungunya!" I think we must have scared passers-by by suddenly bursting into maniacal laughter!
There are countless such instances and I suspect I shall spend the next few posts relating them...I can never stop laughing when I think about my young friends and their "auto conversations"!


Wow...so somebody's reading after all...cool.
I've got a poem on the way, an early one of mine. It was composed when I was in Class 8 (read 13 years old). It's called "Potion Notions". Here it comes...

Potion Notions

A poem by Anushya S.B.

"Old Grandma is up to mischief
Not doing what she normally should.
Slipping into the forest
In a cloak and an old grey hood,
You can just tell that
She’s up to no good…
Her grey mop tucked
Underneath her hideous hat,
Clutching her broomstick,
Followed by her faithful black cat;
She goes hunting in the forest,
Hunting for this and that…
First she goes hunting for mushrooms:
Fly Agarics and Death Caps…
All guaranteed to cause
Greatest misfortune and mishap
Next comes the Flegora tree
And its poisonous green sap…"


Potion Notions (continued..)

P.S.: You must have got used to long poems by now...you just have to, because I don't and can't write short ones!

"And then comes old Mrs. Twitch
Asking to be reverted to childhood
“I don’t know! I think I’ll try”
Says Mrs. Twitch: “You definitely should!”
And then they both hurry
And scurry out of the woods…
Setting off for Grandma’s hut
To start making the magical brew,
She’d certainly use the frog’s legs
For she’d cut them as soon as they grew.
She wouldn’t use the Rowsdrop,
For its sources were very few…
Meanwhile Mrs. Twitch says:
“I want to be young and beautiful again.”
Grandma mutters: “I’ll put this in;
Picked when the moon was on its wane.”
“I’ll add some spiced Regolda.”
She murmurs: “Maybe some sugarcane.”

Yup, there's more...

Attack of the long poems...(muahhahah!!)


"The cauldron simmers and shimmers
With sinister green smoke.
Seeing which Mrs. Twitch
Coughs, sneezes and chokes.
Saying: “I certainly couldn’t gulp that
Just as I couldn’t eat my cloak!”
But she bravely swallows it
And ages all backwards and as she
Reaches the stage, Grandma shouts
“That’s perfect! Not a year backward or forward!”
But in fact, Mrs. Twitch doesn’t stop
And goes on to grow to an infant!

The growing and changing all
Stop with the sound of a gong
Muses Grandma: “I didn’t mean to
Make her so young, something’s wrong!”
She stands thinking about her failed potion
While the child sings a little song!"

THE END...hey, at least it wasn't as long as the first one!!

Back with a bang...

Well, it's right in the middle of the CBSE Board Examinations and I'm blogging...
Weird but true. Anyway, my thanks to the people who actually take the trouble to read this. This time, I thought I'd introduce something other than poems..people must be sick of my poetry by now. Stay tuned...

On a roll

That's what I am going to be from now on...now that I have the time to do so. I wanted this post to be something different. So, this post is going to be a review.
Gerald Durrell. Name strike a chord of recognition?
Well, for one thing, he was a world-famous conservationist. He worked to save several species from extinction. Another thing, he set up a famous zoo to showcase his collection of rare and exotic animals, brought up by him and his family. Third thing, he grew up in a tropical paradise of the name of Corfu, Greece.
Well, if it still doesn't strike anything. Then here goes...he wrote a series of wonderfully fresh and funny books highlighting the quirks of the animal as well as human world.
This review is about three books "My Family and Other Animals", "Birds, Beasts and Relatives" and "The Garden of the Gods"- all of them autobiographical.
In these books, Durrell sketches out the details of his early years spent in Corfu and provides amusing anecdotes of his long-suffering family members and pets. Featured, are Gerald's mother, Mrs. Durrell, his diet-obsessed sister Margo, his sarcastic brother Larry, his "ballistic" borther Leslie, his dog Roger and their driver-cum-friend-cum-odd jobs man Spiro. And I promise you, each of these books has the capability of sending you into peals of laughter. (continued...)


...The reader can instantly visualise the young boy, surrounded by his whimsical family. His pets, including a donkey, a turtle, several dogs, toads, owls, hedgehogs to name a few.
Durrell's writing style is what makes the books special. His knack of penning down just the right words to describe a heavenly location or narrating a comical incident is truly admirable.
I can say that I've had many happy hours reading these books and I can promise you the same if you decide to read them for yourself.
My favourite parts of the books: Margo's spiritualism, Larry's literary friends, the maid Lugaretzia, Mrs. Durrell's dog Dodo and Spiro's conversations.

Final verdict: Read it, read it..!!!

Modern Day Mirage by Anushya S.B.

Well, here's a story of mine.

I crossed Whitefield’s Chocolate Chip Cookies and went over to the Top Quality Mops and Brooms. I turned right into the next aisle, which contained the legends – Pure Detergent (One wash and totally Pure!), Citrus Toothpastes (Flavors that are out of this world! Peppermint Planet, Chocolate Comets and many more!!) and Knobb’s Instant Noodles (Spice up your life! Available in Chili, Lemon, Grass). I stopped in surprise and read the boards above the noodles again. It read- “(Available in Chilli, Lemongrass)” Oh! Now it made sense!
I carried forth my quest in the supermarket.

My best friend was turning fifteen the next day, a very special occasion that required a special gift. I knew J-Mart was the place to look. But, so far, I hadn’t found anything. I must have plagued at least a dozen salespeople, visited over a half a dozen counters and darted at least twice over all the aisles. The conversation nearby woke me up from the reverie I had fallen into, while worrying about this.
“Hello, Pooja! How are you, dear? Look…” an elderly lady said to a salesgirl standing a little way down the aisle. It struck me as odd. How many people are on such familiar terms with salesgirls in a giant supermarket?
The lady continued as the salesgirl smiled at her “…I’ve got another bracelet to add to that collection of your grandfather’s. A friend of mine was glad to donate it.”

They said their goodbyes and I realized it was time to wander aimlessly through another aisle. But the word “bracelet” seemed to hang in the air above me – Jewelry! Why hadn’t I thought of that? I went up to the salesgirl and spoke to her
“Excuse me, Pooja, right?” I said, noticing she was only a few years older than me.
“Yeah, how may I help you?” she asked me, smiling still.
“I…um…want to buy some jewelry as a gift for my friend and I heard you mention something…” I trailed off, aware that I was revealing that I had overheard.
She hesitated and immediately, I decided that there was something disturbing about the proposition and it was getting late, so I told her “Never mind…” and turned around.
“It’s alright! I don’t mind showing you…” she lowered her voice “…but as this is a semi-private collection, I must ask you to keep it a secret.”
“Ok! Your secret is safe with me. I’ll be as silent as…” I gabbled in happiness and followed her. She unlocked a door that said “Private. For Staff Only.” and a long staircase came into view. I walked up into the darkness as Pooja switched on the lights.

I stopped at the top of the staircase and gazed in wonder at the sight in front of me. Vast showcases and gleaming rosewood cabinets with shining glass doors were arranged in a circle. Some of them started to slowly swivel around on their bases. But what was really extraordinary was the glint and shimmer of gold and silver, along with the sparkling hues of precious and semi-precious gems. It seemed completely out-of-place in a supermarket. Then I began to have doubts about whether or not I could afford something from here.
“Pooja!” I called “Are you sure that these items are in my range of purchase?”

Story continued...

“Don’t worry about that!” She replied and pushed a button on the wall. She spoke her name into the tiny speaker-button “Pooja Shah” and some of the cabinets opened as if by magic.
My eyes nearly dropped out of my head upon hearing her name.

Mr. Narang Shah, of the famous Shah family of industrialists, had been the innovator of the J-Mart chain of stores. Also, recently, the Shah family had been in the news for the reason that the prosperous Mr. Shah had gone missing both from private as well as public eye. In fact, the media stated, not a soul knew where he had gone or where his enormous fortune was. I stuttered “Are-are you Mr. Shah’s…?”
“…grand-daughter, yes!” she replied as she went around and examined the contents of the cabinets.
“Then, why are you working as a salesgirl?” I said, cringing as soon as it was said.
“Well, my grandfather came from very humble beginnings and started working as a salesperson. He believes that I, too, should work my way up the hierarchy here to truly understand the spirit of hard work.” She replied, looking surprised at herself for having blurted it out. She recovered and continued. “Come on, I’ll show you around. Gosh! Only twenty minutes till closing! Hurry up and choose.” She exclaimed, jolting me from my contemplation of the Shah mystery. “Price range?” she asked, crisply.
“Rs. 150-200, please.” I shrank while saying this because I was sure I would not be able to afford even a tiny ring from this magnificent array.
She picked out a beautiful old-gold bracelet with a rose petals theme and said “How about this? It has a flappable lid that makes it a watch when open and a bracelet when closed. Price- Rs. 175. Perfect!”
“Exactly! I’ll take it,” I agreed with alacrity.

She led me out and down the staircase, locking the door carefully when we came out into the aisle. Pooja and I kept conversing as we walked down to the billing counters on the first floor. As soon as the shelves came into view, I remembered that I had to buy a few things other than the gift- Spring Cola (my favorite soft drink) and a packet of cloves (for my mother). I picked them up and moved towards the counter.
As it was nearly closing time, there weren’t a lot of people waiting to get billed and I was billed immediately. Now comes the strange part.
The billing clerk looked at my list of items and looked at me. A strange look spread over his face- as if he knew something secretive. He looked at Pooja, who was standing beside me, while she directed a meaningful look back at him and smiled. What was going on?? He handed over the packet and my bill and said “Good luck! I’ll…I mean…well, you’ll see soon enough. I think you’re the first!” I was astonished at what he was saying. I decided that it was best to classify his words as babble and walked out. As I did so, the customary notice blared out from the sleek-looking speaker set in the corner of the store “The store closes in ten minutes. Please finish shopping and get your items billed at the nearest counter. Thank you.”
I went home, my mind’s cog-wheels turning round and round with my mental efforts. First, Pooja, the salesgirl, coming from such a famous family. The watch-cum-bracelet turned out to actually belong to Pooja’s famous grandmother (before I bought it, of course!) but was now being sold as a part of the supermarket’s items (which explained its low price) I remembered the billing clerk’s strange behavior and the gibberish he had spouted. What was that in aid of?


My sense of mystery and adventure was stirred at once. My recollection of what Pooja had told me, were interspersed with memories of the newspaper articles about the bizarre incident of Mr. Shah’s disappearance. Perhaps the billing clerk had reacted so due to his knowledge of the fact that this watch had once belonged to the Shah family. Pooja seemed to know him quite well. Were all these linked?
I forgot about the mystery until the next day.
I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the birthday party and gave my friend the greatest pleasure by giving her the beautiful bracelet-cum-watch. But what happened as I was wrapping up the gift before the party is interesting.
The strange facts about the bracelet flew around in my head as I wrapped it carefully. While I was doing that, I knocked over the packet from the store and the can of soft drink fell down with a clattering sound, along with the bill which floated peacefully to the floor. As I picked them up with exasperation, my eyes were drawn to the bill. For, on the bill was a hastily scribbled message: “Park Bench, Ferns Park, 7:00 pm tomorrow”, it read.
The clerk! He must have written this baffling message. Was I supposed to go to the place myself? As I knew where the park was located and was feeling extremely bored at that moment, I decided to give it a try.

Being a paranoid individual by nature, I turned up extremely early and had to wait for about twenty minutes until the exact time. So, I decided to walk very slowly from the park entrance to the spot.
6:40 pm- Dreamt of solving the whole mystery behind Mr. Shah’s disappearance
6:45 pm- Remembered that the media had reported that Mr. Shah loved puzzles and brain games. What if the fortune had not disappeared but had been hidden by Mr. Shah himself to see who was worthy of it?? Anything was possible, the media stated, with such an eccentric man!
6:50 pm- Maybe he had been kidnapped and his fortune stolen?!
6:55 pm- Imprinted pattern of shoes so thoroughly by looking at them that I was sure I would definitely be able to recognize them if lost in a crowd of shoes. I spun a dreamy web of “maybes” and the more I thought of it, the quicker I assumed that this whole business was a link to finding Mr. Shah.
7:00 pm- At last!

Finding the actual spot didn’t take any time, for I knew there was only one (colossal) park bench in this particular park. The fiery sun was sinking behind the skyline as I walked, my shoes making a rhythmic “crunch” on the gravel of the park road. There was nothing and no one here yet. My disappointment was acute. I blamed my imaginative and impulsive nature for making a fool of me. After sticking around for another fifteen minutes, I decided to leave. I began to walk briskly towards the exit, angry with myself.
So absorbed was I, that I didn’t even notice a man walk past me. Inevitably, I crashed into him and was dismayed to see several items fall from the pockets of his dark jacket. Stammering an apology, I helped him pick them up as much as I could and handed them over to him. As I put my hand towards a package lying further away than the rest, I froze.
It was wrapped in newspaper and had a bill attached to it. I recognized the scrawl of the billing clerk’s immediately. My eyes grew as wide as saucers as I started to ask him “How did you…”


when the man grabbed the package from me and quickly moved off. It was growing dark, and all my thoughts of this mystery came rushing back as I walked after the man, calling out. He ignored me and gave no sign of hearing.
A thought struck me- The man might be deliberately taking the package to prevent me from discovering what the billing clerk had wanted to convey. The man with the dark jacket might be involved!
I finally caught up with him and asked disarmingly “Hello! I think you took my keys by mistake, when I handed you your things.”
He looked at me with suspicion, dug into his pockets and said to me “I don’t think so.” and quickly made for the exit of the park.
“Hey!” I shouted in despair. “I think you have something that belongs to me!”
“Like what?” he asked, suddenly turning around in exasperation.
Why not, I decided, if I didn’t ask straight away, I would never get it.
“The package! I want it!” I yelled, but in vain because he had already disappeared.
He’s definitely involved, I thought, and raced after him. Immediately, I was caught up in the crowd of the main road. I wound around traffic and various children playing on the road to try and catch a glimpse of him. Ah! There he was, chatting with someone at a stall. I continued to move, keeping my eyes on the bobbing dark jacket. At a point, he looked back and caught sight of me. Just as I was getting close enough too. He increased his pace and took the nearest turn, failing to notice a group of children playing football. He ran into one of them and out dropped the package and a can of Spring Cola, which rolled away to a corner. Before he could recover, I ran forward and picked up the package. I disappeared from sight just as he rounded the corner.
The following day held dazzling prospects for me, as I was to open the mysterious package. I undid the strings and impatiently drew out its contents. There was a folded square sheet of paper, a blurred photo and a small wrought iron flower, which looked like it had been broken off something. I unfolded the sheet of paper and it read:
“Dear Rescuer,
I am trapped here and cannot escape without your help. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you where I am being held as I myself do not know. I have been kept blindfolded ever since they kidnapped me and hence, do not have a clue as to where I am right now. Now it is up to you to rescue me! These things- the photo and the flower- are all I could manage to find to send to you. Observe them carefully, for they may hold a clue as to where I am being held. I am kept in a dark, locked room which I estimate to be somewhere at least two or three floors up. Luckily, I found the photo lying around on a table when they had removed the blindfold for a while. As for the flower, I clutched at the doors until it fell into my hand. I urge you to hurry and find me before they move me again.
Gratefully yours,
N. S.”

This was turning out to be more exciting than I thought! N.S. meant…Narang Shah! Now it was confirmed that it was indeed him who needed my help. The note was from him, desperate for help, ready to accept any help that might help him to escape from such a dreadful place. I focused my attention on the photo…it was extremely blurred and I could only make out a tall minaret towards the corner, barely visible among the greenery. The pillar had a rectangular base and had four tapering spikes.


After profound thought, as the answer still eluded me, I ran to my mother and playfully asked her “Guess where this is?”
“Hmm…looks like some building in the old parts of the city because that…” she pointed to the spikes “…work on the spires is a metalwork technique that is characteristic of the city. Did you know that?” she glanced at me.
“No,” I gasped and retreated, excited.
“So, he’s being held right here in the city. But where? But I’ve still not pinpointed the correct place or building.” I thought “I guess I’ll have to scout around the Old City, where such minarets can be found.

I stepped down from the auto and took in the atmosphere of this interesting and quirky part of the city. There were always large crowds of people everywhere, not caring about the grime or damp clinging to the shops and the old, dilapidated buildings. Traffic was chaos as usual. I took another look at the photo and the flower and looked around to see if there was such a minaret nearby. Unconsciously, instead of putting these back into my purse, I transferred them to my pocket. Before I knew it, I was caught up in the rush and was carried along regardless of whether I wanted to or not. Hands were pushing each other in different directions; I was in a whirl, not knowing where I was going and not being able to extract myself from it.
Suddenly, from somewhere appeared a hand and yanked my purse away. I cried out and spotted a reason rushing through the crowd, pushing everyone aside urgently. He was wearing a dark jacket!
And he was about to board a running bus!

As nobody took notice of my yelling, I pursued him myself. Why did these things always happen to me?
With a supreme effort, I jumped into the bus, scaring the living daylights out of everyone on it. Girls don’t jump into running buses, or so they thought!
I looked around quickly and it was difficult to do so as people were moving and jumping off every second. Suddenly, a man moved at the front of the bus and my eyes caught a familiar garment- a dark jacket.
Aha! There he was- the purse-snatching criminal!
A chill ran through me as I thought- What if it had been something more serious than that? This was starting to look way more sinister. I had to find Mr. Shah and inform the police soon. And it had to be in that order, otherwise why would they believe a fourteen-year-old girl telling them such an extraordinary story?!
I spotted Dark Jacket getting off and followed suit. Furious thoughts were striking me- perhaps he had seen me with the photo and the flower and had decided to steal the purse to get rid of them! And why was he even travelling in this part of the city, where Mr. Shah was being held- this proved he was involved!
I stopped suddenly and remembered that I had put them into my pocket and not into the purse!

I scrabbled in my pockets and drew them out with a flourish. But I had lost Dark Jacket in the process.Never mind, I thought, there’ll be enough time to take care of him later on. I decided to find the building I had come to find in the first place. I looked at the photo and at the buildings, alternately, pacing the narrow streets and lanes.


If only I could find Mr. Shah, then the indignity I had suffered would melt away into victory and the gratitude I would get from everyone, once I achieved it. Lost in these blissful dreams, I banged into an open gate. Muttering, I drew back and was awed by the sight of Bhagya Mansion- a famous, once-happening place but now, quite dilapidated and abandoned. My collision with the already very-wrecked gate wrecked it further and a tiny object came off the intricate design. I scooped it up and nearly exclaimed in delight- it was the same wrought iron flower as the one in the package! Looking at the building, I noticed that it had several minaret-like structures and they all sported the same design with the same wrought iron flowers.
Excited, I took out the photo and studied it carefully. A perfect match! The minarets were the same with the spires and all.

As I moved towards the front door, I noticed a shed in the corner of the garden- it had Spring Cola crates all around it and even had a mini-billboard on top, advertising the drink. Dismissing it, I tried the door nervously and it opened. Why was it unlocked though? You’d think that a place where a kidnapping victim was held would be more, you know, secured. That was the reason for my tiptoeing all the way till the front hall, from where a staircase-he was being held somewhere high up- so I was about to go up as I heard a rustle in the bushes. I whirled around, my heart pounding faster. The sound was heard no more.
Suddenly, I felt as if I was being watched, and ran up the staircase as fast as I could. I began to have second thoughts about bursting in like that. It seemed like it could get dangerous for someone who interfered. I should have told someone I was here!

I could hear a car come up the overgrown drive and stop right outside the main door. Men were shouting to one another, and their shouts echoed in the empty halls making it louder than it actually was. It was too late for me to get out and run away, for they were already in the main hall and were sure to catch me if I tried to get past them. I had no other choice- I sped up the staircase and kept going until I reached the first floor. Soon, I could hear heavy footsteps- they were already mounting the first flight of stairs. I moved faster, thanking my senses which had told me to wear rubber-soled shoes, which made no sound. By now, I could hear snatches of conversation. I leaned a little over the low banisters.
“I never liked this idea. Having this place as the hide-out could be dangerous…for us…in terms of security.”
These people must be the kidnappers…they were giving themselves away beautifully to me!

With this realization, I started and my spare bunch of keys slipped and went clanging all the way down to where the men where. I winced and quickly scooted into the nearest room. Meanwhile, the men had been alerted by my clumsiness, discussed quickly and came bounding up the stairs.
I tried to move as quietly as possible through the dark room. But, as clumsy as ever, I bumped into one of the tables, which resulted in a box falling onto the floor with a huge bang. Thanks to that, the men now knew where to look and came immediately. Desperately, I ducked behind two large terracotta pots and kept still.
The men were opening all the rooms and briefly glancing through each one. My heart pounded uncontrollably as they opened the door of the room which I was in. Lucky, I thought, that I had put the box back into place so they wouldn’t know from which room the noise had actually come from. They came, glanced and left, shutting the door. They hadn’t found me, but I was trapped!


I rose and surveyed the hall in despair. I noticed a small door beside the terracotta pots and undid the latch. It opened out into a small mini-courtyard! Wondering what was going to happen next in this wacky adventure, I went out and leaned over the railings. I looked straight into the eyes of…someone unexpected-but-not-totally-unexpected…Mr. Dark-Jacket! As he was guzzling a can of Spring Cola, he caught sight of me and choked. I quickly retreated and wondered how I would get to the minaret in which Mr. Shah was imprisoned, before all of them caught me. I noticed that there was another courtyard adjoining the one I was standing in, so closely that there was no space left between their walls. Without hesitation, I jumped over. I ran through to the other room and opened the door. Thank God! They hadn’t locked this one.
I hung back until the men had finished checking the floor and had gone. I then rushed up the stairs to the next floor- the terrace- where the minarets rose into the sky. As I did so, I heard a person shouting, his yells growing closer as he came up the stairs. Must be Dark-Jacket, I thought, and sped up. I reached the five huge minarets, all of them absolutely alike. How would I know which one was the right one?! And I could hear the men making their way up and starting their search once more.

I quickly studied the photo and compared it with each of the beautifully carved and detailed minarets. All of them had large carvings of animals in procession. But, I thought, looking closely, the centre carving was of an eagle which was in different postures on each minaret. I checked with the photo and could just barely make out that it was the one towards the top-right corner of the terrace that I needed. I ran to it, scrabbled at the doorknob just as two men burst onto the terrace and saw me. I managed to yank the door open as they sped across, shouting at me. I had just shut the door and drawn the latch as they came up to the minaret.
Once inside, I marveled at the minaret which was just as detailed on the inside as it was on the outside and plus, it was much bigger inside than it appeared.

Without missing a beat, I sped up the small flight of stairs leading to the room in the minaret. It had to be the room in which Mr. Shah was imprisoned! And it was unlocked! What was it with the unlocked doors? The kidnappers were really careless. One wondered how they had managed to capture Mr. Shah without losing him on the way or something. It nagged at me, even as I opened the door and spotted someone sitting in an armchair, facing away from the entrance. Well, at least he was here!
At the sound of my spectacular entrance, he leapt up and turned.

“What?!” I shouted “You’re free! You’re not tied up or blindfolded or anything.”
And somehow, the “he” changed into a “she”.
“She” was drawling in an overdone imitation of an American accent “Congrats! You’ve done it! You’ve solved the mystery-treasure hunt.” She tottered towards me in high heels and noticed my dumbfounded look. She tossed her hair and said “Yes! It is truly me – Nisha Sharwani! Model, VJ, Miss India…” She said it rapidly, mistaking my look to be that of wonder or admiration – as if!
“Former Miss India.” I corrected her, mechanically, still trying to come to terms with these astonishing proceedings. She rapidly shed her dreamy look and snapped at me “The coupon, please?”


“What coupon?” I asked, astonished. “The coupon on your can…containing the special number.” She said to me, as if explaining to a particularly dim-witted child.
At that moment, another person burst into the room. It was Dark-Jacket!
He immediately started shouting.

“Ms. Sharwani! I’ve done it! I’ve solved the…” He caught sight of me and all his exhilaration melted away.
“Oh no! Have you won it?” he shot at me.
“No! She hasn’t shown me the coupon yet, so you still have a chance.” Said the ever-so-sweet Ms. Sharwani.
He dug out a crumpled coupon which looked like it was torn off something and handed it over. She checked it before speaking into her cell-phone and doing the whole routine- “Congrats!” etc.
“What is all this?! Where’s Mr. Shah?” I yelled at her, in frustration.
“How did you know that he was going to give away the prizes?” she asked me. I was about to tell her- you’re not making any sense- when another man burst in.
It was a few minutes before I realized that the men weren’t the kidnappers but were part of her security troupe. Ms. S. soothed him and said it was part of the game.
“I thought you were trying to breach security because you didn’t check in at the special counter…” he explained apologetically “…at that shed over there, like this young man did a few minutes ago.”
After this, my glance fell on a poster on the desk nearby.

Get your can of Spring Cola and get to a part of the most intriguing and entertaining puzzles ever- with Ms. Nisha Sharwani. Track her down and win exciting prizes. COURTESY- Shah Enterprises.
Don’t forget to carry the tear-off coupon on the sticker of your can- that’s the ticket to your fame!!

Starts on 4th June, 7:00 pm, visit the store near you to find out more!!”

I groaned as I realized what had happened and in fact, why Spring Cola kept cropping up wherever I went. It was this treasure hunt that I had been solving and not Mr. the mystery of Mr. Shah’s disappearance! 4th June was the day I shopped at J-Mart! And I had bought the can of Spring Cola at 7:30 pm! That’s why the clerk had behaved strangely and had said that I was one of the first!
And…N.S. didn’t stand for Narang Shah, it stood for Nisha Sharwani!
“How did you get in? I locked the door on the way up here!” I asked Dark-Jacket, thinking that there were a lot of things yet unanswered.
“The security guys helped me get a ladder and we propped it up and climbed the minaret. We let ourselves through one of the huge windows.”
“But why did you run away that day at the park and why did you snatch my purse? Answer that!” I exclaimed.
He looked as if he didn’t know what I was talking about. “First of all, I wanted to keep the package as it was mentioned that there would be a limited number of clues given out. Plus, I had to go somewhere else!”


“And what purse are you talking about?” he asked, in turn.
“My purse got snatched in the Old City a few hours ago and I followed a dark jacket to a bus where I saw you…bound to make obvious conclusions, wasn’t I?” I replied.
“Dark jackets aren’t rare, you know” he retorted “I was in that bus, except I was heading here as I had figured out the clues. In case you were wondering, I got another package with another can of Spring Cola.”
Oh! Now it was making sense and there was one thing which was blaring at me- I had messed up!!
Yet again, the door swung open and Ms. S. uttered a shriek “Oh! There he is!”

An old man, dressed immaculately and not looking in the least like he had been held prisoner for a few days- there he was- Mr. Shah!
I blurted out- “Mr. Shah! What about your disappearance and the press and…?”
He looked at me kindly but quizzically and everyone else was looking at me like as if I had suddenly sprouted a few more legs or hands.
I drew him aside and told him everything- right from my “false impressions” to my chase and my imaginings. He laughed long and loud and cleared the air by saying that the cause for his “disappearance” was his secret trip abroad. “I felt tired and overworked…but couldn’t take a break because I had a lot on my hands then…so I just took a vacation without telling anyone, not even people closest to me.”
And the suddenly-withdrawn money was to invest in a venture.
“And now I need to make some more! That’s why I agreed to this tie-up with Spring Cola in the first place.” He said, his eyes twinkling.

All the running around, heart- pounding- in- terror for nothing, after all! And only one thing had been responsible for all this- my overactive imagination!!
He looked on as a look of extreme disappointment spread over my face- there wasn’t even a hint of adventure in the whole thing. I had gone through so much for nothing!
“You do like Spring Cola, don’t you?” he asked, surprisingly.
“Yes, its one of my most favorite drinks, in fact.” I replied, wondering where this was going.
“Then I’ll make sure you get a prize, at least, for all the efforts you put into...Er… “finding” me! Very amusing, indeed. Well done!” he chuckled and handed me a largish object wrapped in shiny wrapping paper.
I looked down at the thing, without the least curiosity or excitement, totally contrary to Dark-Jacket, who was positively skipping with excitement at his prize and was busy asking for Ms. S.’s autograph.
“Go, on! It’s especially for that imagination of yours! You can use it to spin tales,” Mr. Shah urged me.
It was a laptop!
“Thanks!” I said, as the last bubbles of my luridly multicolored dream burst and faded away in the distance.


That's what the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud is, in my opinion. It's based on a brand new idea in the world of children's fiction, an idea with many possibilities. "Magicians use their trappings to disguise their true source of power- djinn and other magical beings." Bartimaeus, a djinni says, in the book. And what an idea it is...the moment I opened the book, I was caught up in its extremely absorbing tale of adventure and magic, interpersed with Bartimaeus's "impish" (pun intended) humour. Buried treasure in the bookstore.
The first book, the "Amulet of Samarkand" is followed by "The Golem's Eye" and "Ptolemy's Gate", each of which are worth every rupee spent in acquiring them. But the sad thing is that not many people know about these books.
Now take Harry Potter, who doesn't know the series intimately? Only a person who's been shut away for the past decade or so. Now, I don't have anything against that series, I myself passed many happy hours of childhood poring over them. They are a stroke of genius too, and are a household name now, thanks to excellent marketing strategy.
Now I think the Bartimaeus trilogy deserves the readership that Harry Potter had. (it's all over now...after Deathly Hallows) Readers, I'm sure, will be glad to have something after their beloved Harry Potter series has now closed its final chapter.

Long overdue...

Lakshmi tagged me, and so here it is...

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?
Krazzy 4...utter waste of money! And, according to my friends, a long time ago!

2. What book are you reading?
"The Amulet of Samarkand" by Jonathan Stroud (part of the Bartimaeus trilogy) I'm actually re-reading it for the fifth time.

3. Favorite board game?
Pictionary, Monopoly

4. Favorite magazine?
Lots, I just love glossy magazines! Sanctuary, Chatterbox, National Geographic, Netfundu are a few that are closer to my heart.

5. Favorite smells?
The smell of wet mud (when rain hits the soil), petrol (yeah, that's weird!), fresh paint, pages of a new book(smell kind of like biscuits, have you noticed?) and forest air(it just smells different, so fresh and green!)

6. Favorite sounds?
Birdcalls, any musical instrument that is played well, rustling of leaves during high winds etc.

7. Worst feeling in the world?
Having messed up something good and proper, the anxiety that comes before and after exams, being betrayed by someone close, leaving a place, people or a school behind and just a general "nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I'm going to eat some worms" kind of a feeling.

8. What is the first thing you think of/say when you wake up?
During school/college time- "Oh God, is it 6:00 am already? I just fell asleep minutes ago!"
During the holidays- "Tra la la!! I'm going to have fun"

9. Favorite fast food place?
I like fast food but I'm not particular where I eat it. However, I am particular about where I have proper lunches and dinners...I love restaurants like Noodle Bar (big chinese fan!!)

10. Future child’s name?
Come on, I'm only 16.

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d….?”
Travel the world and collect books.

12. Do you drive fast?
No, I don't drive at all...in Hyderabad, that would be suicidal.

13. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
No, I never did.

14. Storms - cool or scary?
Cool for sure...as long as no one is harmed by lightning strikes.

15. What was your first car?
I'll answer this question after a few years...:-)

16. Favorite drink?
Pina coladas, iced mango or pineapple juice, chocolate milkshakes

17. Finish this statement, “If I had the time I would….”
Pay more attention to my writing. Learn all the forms of western dance. See more of the world.

18. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
It's normally all cut up for curry, so yeah, I guess.

19. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?
Interesting colours like maroon, purple or maybe even green. Just streaks, though, I want to remain a "brunette"

20. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?
Mehsana (Gujarat), Vizag (AP) and Hyderabad (AP)

21. Favorite sports to watch?
Tennis, hockey

22. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?
Lakshmi's one of the nicest people I know. She's always out to support young writers and that is the best thing that I like about her. She's an amazing writer too, and is totally natural.

23. What’s under your bed?
Two pairs of shoes...I just remembered, I have to pull them out.

24. Would you like to be born as yourself again?
Yeah, definitely.

25. Morning person, or night owl?
Night Owl, in capitals...I am totally nocturnal.

26. Over easy, or sunny side up?
Sunny side up

27. Favorite place to relax?
My room, looking out of the window while listening to some nice music. I feel relaxed in bookstores as well, that's another weird thing about me.

28. Favorite pie?
Oh, lots. Berry, Honey and Date, Apple

29. Favorite ice cream flavor?
Now this is the toughest question of all...:-)
Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Pineapple, Butterscotch...I would settle for any of them!