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 Hyderabad, that would be suicidal.

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

14. Storms - cool or scary?
Cool for 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!