Friday, December 26, 2014

Come Alive In Melbourne


Blue sparkling horizon
Where oceans kiss the sky
Creatures of wonder
Greet all the passersby

A peaceful journey
Along meandering roads
Accompanied with cracks of waves
Celebrating life where ever it goes

Puffing Billy steam rattles
Singing howdy mate to all
Where Bolt Bridge meet the sun
My heart suddenly runs just there

Koalas and kangaroos;
Tennis, cricket and food;
Just a verdant city of Victoria
Floods my dreams day in and out

No brownie points for guessing the place because it is literally impossible to not guess one of world’s most livable cities from these hints. Yes I am talking about Melbourne! It all started with Roger Federer’s first visit to India. I missed the chance to see him play live in India and all I could think about was - next Rod Laver arena aka Australian Open. (Big chance missed) And then it was the Aus- India cricket series. And finally Indiblogger’s Travel contest in collaboration with TourismVictoria website (http://www.visitmelbourne.com/India.aspx) – ‘What's your reason for falling in love with Melbourne, the most livable city in the world?’
So this post is all about my Melbourne love Mate! And yes, I have already listed the main reasons for falling in love with this Cosmopolitan lately, but guess what, there is way more to it than just a sporty soul!
Melbourne is a cultural and artistry melting pot. It is known for its quirky street art and graffiti donned alleyways and music, live raw enthralling music in lanes and corners of the city. From Federation Square and Bourke Street to Hosier and Rutledge Lane and Degraves street, this city is a canvas that allows you to splatter the colors from your palette while it entertains you with music. Don’t believe me? Well this video will convince you guys for sure.

And as much as I love art and culture I enjoy history! Nothing leaves you speechless and nothing gives you a story more than the places that helps you connect with history. From wooden pews, to intricate carvings and vibrant stained glasses – St. Paul’s Cathedral is an exemplary gothic structure of the 19th century.


St Paul's Cathedral

Close by, is Flinders Street railway station – one of the oldest and grand stations of the country. And from there starts the cultural walk of aroma, of sweet bitterness and of freshness. Did you know Melbourne is called the coffee capital of the world? Flinder's Street Station is surrounded by various shops, coffees hubs and cafes, and the coffee culture is ensconced here to such an extent that the walk through the lanes is equivalent to talking a café cultural walk (as unique as it sounds).


My Attempt at recreating the magic of the Apostles on Paper ages ago
To talk about Melbourne and not talk about the 12 Apostles and the Great Ocean Road is just not possible. The 12 Apostles have been a symbol of Victoria for years and just imagine - you on a long drive, accompanied by the symphony of breaking waves and cold southern whizzing winds and the destination – Peaceful company of Nature’s wonders! How would one not fall in love with it? And if you thought that was all the natural bliss of this city you are in for a surprise. Melbourne has more than 480 hectares of gardens and parks.

The Eureka Sky Deck

And if I say I am all about nature and history and art I would be lying. Who would not want to see a place from bird’s eye view! Luckily Melbourne has two such spots – The Eureka Tower Sky Deck 88 and Shrine of Remembrance. Both easily accessible by the City Centre Tram which is a free travel service that runs in Melbourne. Yes you read it right – Free! And if you don't have vertigo issues and can get more adventurous, you also have the option of Hot Air Balloon! Still not in love with the place? 
For now I want to be at the Shrine of Remembrance at the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month. Why?  Well, the center has a stone inscribed “Greater Love Hath No Man.” The roof of the Shrine has 2 holes and at the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month a shaft of sunlight crosses the stone and the word Love is illuminated by sunlight. Have read a lot about it so would love to witness it.
Shrine of Remembrance

Okay coming down to my normal not so elaborate plans of when in Melbourne – Watch Federer play in Rod Laver Arena, Sip fresh brewed coffee in a café overlooking the Yarra River at sunset, and spend a lazy early morning in Alexandra Gardens re-reading Lord of the Rings and then spend a stunning evening at Bathing Boxes. *Not elaborate at all, right?*
The Bathing Boxes

Contest Time!

Okay enough about me and my dreams! If you were to visit Melbourne, "Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?"

Do leave a comment below and the best answer (chosen by me) stands a chance to win voucher worth INR 500 from Indiblogger and Tourism Victoria.

Contest Last Date – 5th Jan 2015.

The contest is now closed.

For more details click Here.

Results will be declared on My Blog so do follow or subscribe to keep track :D 

Drum Rolls!!! And the winner is Rajvi Doshi for her simple precise and straight from heart comment:
Lovely post..I would love to visit Melbourne for coffee. I love coffee! And to have it with a Masterchef in his kitchen would be an amazing experience. And maybe I could make authentic Mumbai Pani Puri for him also! :D :DRajvi Doshi.
P.S. - Except for the painting, all pictures are taken from Google or Indiblogger

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Small Dreams, Big Talent

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.”  Arthur Schopenhauer

Everyone has a talent, but success comes to those who make it their passion, follow it and not just appreciate it but nurture it and grow. And what can be better than knowing your passion at a tender age? Reality shows that let people come ahead with their singing and talents have had a strong foothold in India since Sa Re Ga Ma first started in early 90’s. But slowly there has been a rise in programs that encourage young budding singers. And recently I was invited to be a part of the grand finale of one such program by Blogadda.

Kids all set to live their dream

Max Life Insurance ‘iGenius Young Singing Stars’ programme was launched by Max Life Insurance, one of the leading life insurers in India and a leading music label - Universal Music India, as a nationwide search for young singing talent. It provided a platform for aspiring young singing stars, giving children, aged between 8- 15 years, the opportunity to have their songs heard by industry professionals and a chance to have their own music album.

Ms. Anisha Motwani

Ms Anisha Motwani, Director & Chief Marketing Officer and the main brain behind this initiative said, “iGenius Young Singing Stars is a unique programme that celebrates, recognizes and rewards young talent. Out of 1.26 lakh entries, selecting 10 top talents was the toughest job we have ever done. It gives us a feeling of satisfaction when we see these children coming one step closer to their dreams.” These 10 kids were geniuses who came close to realizing their dream when Mr. Rajesh Sud CEO and Managing Director, Max Life Insurance and Devraj Sanyal, Managing Director - Universal Music Group and EMI South Asia saw a fire in them.

Manasi Scott
The grand finale of iGenius Young Singing Stars was hosted at Taj Land's End, Mumbai on 17th December, and was grand in a lot of terms but mostly emotions - Young talent, proud parents. The evening started on a high note with Manasi Scott’s performance: Farmaana – a song written and sung by her. 

Shraddha Sharma

It was followed by a dreamy performance by Shraddha Sharma (remember the girl with a guitar from Deheradun on Youtube who shot to fame with “Chupke se - Saathiya”).


Salim Merchant

Salim Merchant’s Ali Maula was a fitting tribute to the victims of the Peshawar Attack and Aye Khuda set the perfect mood for the highlight of the evening – the kids and their last test.

Shivam Ahuja - Winner of the Junior Group

There were 5 finalists in each of the two groups: The senior group and the junior group. Shraddha Shree (senior group) and Shivam Ahuja(junior group) emerged as winners in the end of the wonderful musical three hours and won solo album contract.  Other finalists won a single song contract with Universal Music Group.

Shraddha Shree - Winner of the Senior Group

Apart from these kids the event also saw some other impressive performances.

Ragga Trippin

Raaga Trippin, one of India’s most famous acappela, enthralled the crowd with their unique renditions of songs ranging from old Bollywood classics to Happy!

Kavita Seth

Kavita Seth of Iktara fame also graced the event and captivated the audience with her soulful songs.




All and whole the show concluded with on a high ‘note’ and was truly an amazing musical event.

P.S. - Photo Courtesy - Divyakshi Gupta and Me :D

Sunday, December 7, 2014

College Diary: When weirdness made something special

‘College is a refuge from hasty judgment.’ Robert Frost had said. But if you ask me Colleges, at times, need refuge from hasty judgments themselves. The not so young and naïve me always imagined my engineering college to be like some old castle in Dehradun; a shadow of Hogwarts would have done, but it needed to be a huge, old, artistic, bricked palace on endless verdant ground. Later I decided to settle for a remote huge campus by a peaceful lake or river, away from the busy world. To be reasonable, God was generous, very generous but in a quirky way.
My engineering college was in a huge campus that is 50+ years old. For people who have studied outside Mumbai, this might seem weird, but in Mumbai colleges hardly have grounds, campus is asking for way too much. But this one was different. There were no castles in my campus but huge green fields and canopied roads connecting the various ends of the mini forest in the heart of a concrete jungle. I called it a mini forest because the day I went there for my admission, it was early monsoon and the grass grew like wild bunch everywhere, trees stood like their shape and size had never been restricted and the dull roads were strewn with fallen leaves, stuck to the ground, refusing to move. Every car that came in seemed to stir the calm of the quaint place. And guess what, it was situated in Juhu – a place where half the Bollywood stars reside (should not have been quiet!). I got another wish fulfilled too – water body close to campus, though not peaceful. My college was right next to Juhu Beach.
After college started, for months I didn’t like the place at all but one winter morning changed something. Reaching early morning was a ritual for me, but that day my friends and I decided to walk to our college from Santacruz station as we had broken our own record of being early birds. It was 7:30 in the morning. The mist (mostly of dust) was slowly rising but the sleepy lanes of Juhu were anything but dull. While we walked through a shortcut we had heard about, it echoed with hypnotic chants and chiming bells from a nearby temple. Hidden in a corner, it was beautiful and peaceful and big. We went in without a second thought but little did we know this temple would become our must stop place for the next four years. I still remember there was a peculiar tree right in front of the temple, almost dead but every morning it was a sanctuary for hundreds of crows – weird 1 (a puzzle I couldn’t solve).
After reaching college that day, I still had an hour before the first lecture and decided to explore my campus. There was an old, half burnt building in our campus that people hardly visited, but I decided to go there that day only to find out that it was an old auditorium which was burnt down by an ill fate short circuit some years back. From there I headed to the University library, which is apparently one of the oldest college libraries of the city. I loved that place. The smell of books, the quiet hall flanked by lines and lines of books and a small pond next to it with lotuses – Library was my happy corner in the campus. But that day I met a chatty home science final year student there.

Old Auditorium

Final year meant infinite hours of campus expeditions and hostel stories, and she was more than willing to share them with me. She started with how our campus was a Bollywood favorite earlier (Dil and Kya Kehena were shot here) and how only the auditorium was the most prominent building of the campus. I took the opportunity and asked her more about the auditorium. She confirmed the story about the auditorium but also added that a lot of people consider the place haunted. Being a glutton for paranormal I asked her if she knew more crazy stuff about the campus. She told me there was a door in the hostel that was never opened. And there had been an “incident” in the hostel in the past which resulted in muffled noises in the corridors of the hostel, though it has stopped now. Couple of years later I also found an article that got me really intrigued. I tried confirming the stories from my classmates but other that the door part they never confirmed a thing.

Library

Irrespective of the authenticity of the stories, from that day I kept going to college early every day for almost a year. Early morning walk, a visit to the “Khandar”(auditorium), and then library in hope of meeting that girl again. (Yes, I never asked her name and finding a student in a crowd 5000 was nearly impossible. I never met her again. Over the four years, the place grew on me. Friends, festivals, crazy stuff like picking mangoes and running away, hours of exams prep in library, IVs and many more memories. I started liking it. But no other day could match the significance of that winter morning. The memories made the campus an important part of my life, but that winter morning had made it interesting for the first time.

The pond near Library


'This post is my entry for 'My College Diary' contest held by travel blog My Yatra Diary in collaboration with Collegedunia.com' I would like to tag - Manjulika, Roshan and Ragini for this contest! :D


Monday, December 1, 2014

On the way to Mawlynnong

Wildflowers on the side of the road 

Meghalaya is one of the many places in India where clouds hang insecurely low for most parts of the year. But the rains never linger a day more and the chill slowly sets in on the languid land. Early morning sees hazy green hills, who man the horizon, hiding a sun that tries to spread some warmth. Dripping moisture from leaves and settled dew drops on wildflowers are equally lazy to let go of the night and embrace the warmth. Clouds conceal the quaint lush green paths some days and other times it is the fog. But regardless of which season the clouds kiss the ground everyday at least once, like they did when I was on my way to Mawlynnong from Shilong.


East Khasi Range on the way to Mawlynnong

The drive to Mawlynnong is just mountains. Verdant East Khasi Range bordering the roads, not rising very high, flaunting Nature’s sense of geometry, keeps you in constant company with cool breeze whizzing till you reach a small avenue fenced by colorful flowers but mostly by hibiscus. Another half an hour and you would get a glance of streams and plains of Bangladesh and then you go down to the village. The whole journey is ordinary but listening to the silence of nature has its own charm.
On reaching Mawlynnong, you are welcomed by a clean, well kept courtyard, which is actually the parking lot if you plan to visit the living root bridge. A twenty minutes walk down from that point and you would find yourself facing a huge bridge of twisted roots that was made ages ago and has grown stronger over centuries. Oh yes, did you think they were completely natural? A local lady told me Khasi villagers over decades, have woven the roots of ficus trees across streams. Roots that grow laterally initially are given way like any other creeper and they end up growing into a mesh over time and then are used as a bridge over waterways. She said there are several bridges of this sort across Meghalaya but this one is the most accessible one. Many of these bridges can only be reached by hiking through the wood for hours. The next most accessible root bridge, which is double decked one is at Nongriat and requires a 2 hour to and fro hiking. I found it really hard to believe her explanation for the gigantic root bridge in front of me but what she said did make a lot of sense.


The Root Bridge

The root bridge is a must see and makes the two hours ride from Shilong worthwhile. The place is not beaming with tourist usually but you would not be the lone adventurer in this quiet forest spot either. What is peculiar about the forest area though is that there is no twittering of birds, none at all, but a loud ringing sound that merges with the woods seamlessly, loud and constant. When I asked some local shopkeepers (ladies again), one said it was some insect but it is never to be seen and another said it was the air reverberating from hollow bamboos of the forest and the village. Unsure of which fascinating answer was the fact. I made my way back up to enter the actual village which is another 2 kilometers from the bridge.


The Chapel at the entrance of Mawlynnong

More Hibiscus fence, bamboo baskets aka dustbins, a little church and smiling faces of kids welcome you to the cleanest village of Asia. Thatched huts and bamboo Machaans with locals – it is a small village like any other in India, but spotless. For me, talking to locals was fascinating and easy too, as almost everybody spoke in English (the village has a small school and has a 100% literacy rate). But due to the popularization of the village it surely didn’t seem authentic. NGO’s are constantly trying to make the village more tourist-friendly and to even visit the village there is an entry fees. Yes, it is beautiful clean and gives you a perspective of the Khasi People’s lives but frankly the bridge and the way to this scenic end was way more mesmerizing than the final destination.




Sunday, November 23, 2014

Goa, Melaka and the Catholic Connection

The 17th exposition of the relics of St. Francis Xavier started yesterday. Wondering what that is?

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa

If you love visiting Goa and are a person who sees Goa beyond the beaches and the shacks then this is the best time of the year to visit Goa, cause Old Goa has gone all spiritual and festive and would have the same festal mood on till 4th January 2015. Amidst the meandering roads, still backwaters, old inherited villas and lush green farms is a small clearing in Old Goa where a beautiful church stands that dates back to the 17th century. Basilica of Bom Jesus is not only the symbol of Old Goa but is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. But apart from the being baroque architectural splendor this place hold a significant importance to Catholics. This basilica houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier.


St. Francis Xavier was a Roman Catholic missionary from Portugal who came to India in 1542 and went on to spread Christianity to Melaka, Malaysia and Japan. By the time he came to India, Christianity had already found a place in the public but he is considered to be the person who got Christianity its foothold in Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. He died in 1552 and was initially buried on a beach in Shangchuan Island, China. In 1553 his body was brought back to Malacca and was buried on St. Paul’s Hill. In the same year it was brought to Goa and placed in the Missionary Church and later a statue was erected in Melaka at the burial site. When Basilica of Bom Jesus was completed the body was placed there, in 1605, still incorrupt. But in 1614 the right forearm was detached from the body and is now kept as a relic in Rome. 

St. Paul's Cathedral, Melaka

On my recent visit to Melaka, a shopkeeper at the St. Paul Cathedral had said that a couple of days after the Statue of St Francis Xavier was erected a heavy branch of a tree had fallen on the statue breaking the right forearm. And as a sign of the forearm being detached from the body, the statue was never repaired.

The Statue of St Francis Xavier on St Paul's Hill , Melaka (Photo Credits - Ragini Puri)

The rest of the body still remains in the Basilica. The relics are usually kept in a silver casket in the church and even after centuries the body hasn’t turned to dust. But once in every ten years it is displayed in a glass casket for people.

The Glass Casket at Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa

Okay, so now I am not going to sound like Wikipedia anymore but that is the exposition of the relics. So want to explore more in Goa, now would be the time!
Also people visiting Malaysia between 29th and 7th December, you would not want to miss the festivities of Feast of St Francis Xavier in Malacca.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blog To Feed A Child

India is a country where a thousand dreams die even without seeing the light of the day and only some are fulfilled because a big chunk of our society still forbids their kids from growing beyond the societal boundaries they were born in. And guess what, the fences of this section of society are some simple questions, “Padhega toh kamaega kya?” “Kamaega nahi toh khaega kya?” and “Padhega Kaise, Paise kya ped pe lage hain? (“If you study now where will money come from?” “If you don’t earn what will you eat?” “How will you study, money doesn’t grow on trees.”) Yes, we have come too far from where we had dropped down to. We are a superlatively rich and don’t lack in funds or resources, but poverty in India is still prominent and a lot of kids are hungry and refused the basic right of primary education because food trumps education in the fight for survival.

Yesterday, there was a session in my office about education of the less privileged kids. My Office, Deloitte USI Mumbai runs a small educational thread in its basement for the nearby slum kids. In the session our Office Head went on to tell us about how it had started. He said, initially to lure kids they came up with a plan – free food, and it worked. People started sending their kids to study because they would also get free food along with education. It got me thinking, why wasn’t free education enough? No matter how much we convince ourselves we are not a poor country the other side of the coin even if not seen, exists. And hunger is a great deal not just in our country but the whole world now. People who have seen Interstellar and mocked at the thought that led to the whole plot of the movie, think about it!

But a hungry child is a bigger issue than you can imagine. Think about this - endurance level for hunger is low and for children it is the lowest. Kids not only need enough food but food with enough nutrition to help their growth and development - mentally, physically and psychologically. If food is a luxury, nutritive food becomes a myth. Now if kids don’t get the right kind of food, their growth is affected drastically putting a huge question mark on the future generation.

But like I said, we don’t really lack in money or food. What is missing though is a system, an initiative, a will to make a difference. Fortunately a lot of organizations like Akshaya Patra are actively working on eliminating classroom hunger and giving a chance to a lot of dreams to survive and see the light. Food for kids not only works for the benefit of today but for shaping a better tomorrow. 'How' is what we will have to work at. For now I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda. What are you going to do?


P.S. - I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

History

 Wayang Kulit display in  Kuala lumpur, Malaysia 

Let the Shadows play

Play the game of love and war

History is not of just a day

It is all but stories galore.

-Vaisakhi Mishra

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Different Shade of Kuala Lumpur

Traditional Dancers at Saloma Bristo

Do you know what Kuala Lumpur stands for? How did Kuala Lumpur become one of Asia’s richest capital cities? Well frankly nor did I, at least not before my first ever visit to this magnificent cosmopolitan city.
Kuala Lumpur means ‘muddy confluence’ in Malay. The two rivers Klang and Gombak which flow through today’s Kuala Lumpur had led to a tin mining settlement back in 1857. Before that, KL was a village that hardly held any significance.  It was supposedly discovered and developed by a group of 87 Chinese miners and the leader of the Chinese community, Yap ah Loy came to be known as the founder of KL. The village then went through some very patchy fate including power handovers, racial out bursts and wrath of nature; but overcoming from all that, KL became the capital of the independent Federation of Malaya in 1957 and of Malaysia in 1963.
And guess what, all this information wasn’t from a history book or from a tourist guide at some landmark; it was an awesome musical show! Kuala Lumpur has high risers like KL Tower and PETRONAS Twin Towers and has a cultural blend that makes it the most pleasant and liberal Islamic Capital of the world, but at the same time people there haven’t forgotten the ‘MUD’ they came from (Mud - Tin). MUD was the name of the musical which ran for roughly 50 minutes but took us through the KL- the tiny miner’s hamlet to KL- the Capital of the Malay Kingdom.

It was one of the best musicals I have ever seen and the best in ages for sure; which reminds me of the main reason behind my article today. Malaysians love culture just like Indians love their regional diversity, Japanese their traditions, Europeans their history and Americans their companies. I was pleasantly surprised by the different culture themed shows at a lot of places – MUD being one of them. Thanks to Tourism Malaysia the gang of Bloggers from India (Manjulika, Ragini and I) could witness quite a few of the shows hosted in the city.

You could also dance with the performers at Saloma Bristo

Cultural Blend Show at Saloma Bristo – Everyday in the evening there is a one hour long show on the Malaysian native people, musics and dance. The start is pretty funky and you would think what is it all about but as the evening grows the beauty of the show does too and by the end you are a part of it whether you want it or not.

Performers at Songket

Malay Performers at Songket – Want to travel to some old Malay Village? Have your dinner here. The restaurant looks like some huge Malay House and in the courtyard is where the performances happen. Malay dance music is a perfect way to enjoy Malay food right? Be sure not to go there during public holidays though else you would only be having food and nothing else. (That happened with us and I actually asked a friend to send me a video of the place to understand what I had missed.)

The brilliant team of MUD

MUD – Our story of Kuala Lumpur was the best of the lot and should not be missed by anyone who loves plays and art. We had the opportunity to see the musical at City Centre in Merdeka square, next to the confluence of the rivers in the beautiful hall which was actually the community hall during early 20th century – you get the significance don’t you?
So when in Kuala Lumpur, look at the sky and the glimmer of the PETRONAS and take selfies there, but also be a part of the people and dance to the tunes of the local music!


The Picture Perfect end to Saloma Bristo's Evening with Manjulika and Ragini

P.S. - All pictures are personal.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fiery Nature

Sunset - Bramhaputra River from Umananda Island

The fiery spirit of Nature
Fading with the last glow;
Now Moon would sooth the sky
‘Cause it will be lit again tomorrow.
-Vaisakhi Mishra

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tata Lit Live: Book Bond with Ashwin Sanghi



Tata Literature Live is an International literary festival that is being held from 30th Oct to 2nd November this year. This four year old literary extravaganza has grown to be one of the best Literature festivals of India and this year it is larger than ever with over 120 writers, journalists and poets and more than 4 prime locations across Mumbai for four days of literary excellence. Imagine an event where you could interact with Ben Okri- Booker Prize winner, Neel Mukherjee – Booker Prize Nominee, ViJay Sheshadri – Pulitzer Poet, Devdutt Pattanaik – Historical Fiction Genius, Barkha Dutt – Do I even need to say, and many more – you wouldn’t want to miss it right? Tata Lit. Live is that very event!


As a promo to the festival, the organizers arranged a Book Bond event for bloggers of Mumbai, at Taj Vivanta and I was fortunate enough to escape from office early for the event, which by the way was AWESOME! The book bond event was an interactive session with Ashwin Sanghi – Chankya Chant fame, and Anil Dharkar – Renowned Indian Columnist and editor, and had topics varying from change in Indian fiction grounds, importance and significance of poetry, digital world of books and knowledge, breaking genre norms and traditional vs self-publishing. Ashwin Shanghi, being an author who himself came into the limelight after his first book Rozabal Line was self-published, talked about how self-publishing was a boon to aspiring authors who were refused the book platform by traditional publishers just because they did not belong to the conventional writers’ cluster (journalists, already famous writers and famous people or people with famous backgrounds.) His rise from a book-keeper to a book-write was an inspiring story. Despite his success his willingness to learn and break away from standard genres and try things was what made me a fan of his. He called himself ‘Ashwin a story teller from a India – A country of stories’, and not ‘Ashwin an author.’



The discussion was thrown open to all the bloggers and when asked about the sudden rise in the number of Indian writers, Ashwin correctly mentioned, “Along with the writers the readers have changed too.” Guess the change in reader base is what has influenced this unprecedented rise of writers and bloggers. When asked why poetry is not as popular as story telling in India, Anil Dharkar said, “Poetry is the final distillation of Literature, of thoughts. But very few get it and poets are even less.” He also announced the shortlist for three coveted Book Awards:
  1. First Book Award – Fiction & Non-Fiction (List has Naseeruddin Shah for his autobiography “And Then One Day)
  2. Book of the year Fiction Non- Fiction (List has Neel Mukherjee for his novel ‘The Lives of Others’ which was also shortlisted for Man Booker Prize 2014, and Ramachandra Guha for ‘Gandhi before India’)
  3. Business Book Award  (List has Dev Prasad, Rajiv Narang and Devika Devaiah, and Rama Bijapurkar)

But the highlight of the evening came after the whole discussion, when Ashwin Sanghi autographed copies of Private India (co-written with Jame Patterson) for all the bloggers in the house. It is said a book’s preface most of the time talks of the fate of the book. Imagine if the pre event was such, how would the four days be?