Monday, August 17, 2015

Coming Soon!!!

Kiran Manral's third novel is soon to be launched!
And since most of the action takes place on a ship, "launch" seems particularly appropriate.

 'All Aboard' is published by Penguin Random House.

When Rhea Khanna is dumped just days before her marriage, by her boyfriend of four years, the only thing she wants to do is to get out of the city to clear her head.  The opportunity presents itself immediately when her aunt, a retired school headmistress, invites her to accompany her on a Mediterranean cruise.

As Rhea struggles to cope with her grief of being dumped at the altar, she finds herself getting attracted to the seemingly unavailable Kamal Shahani—the infuriatingly attractive ex-student of her aunt and a hot shot entrepreneur.  To add to the confusion, Sonia, Kamal’s very attractive ex-girlfriend boards the ship in a bid to win him back.

Will Rhea heal her broken heart, or will she end up even more shattered than she was when she got on this cruise? Read, to find out.

The Pre-order links for the book here:
About the author:
Kiran Manral was a journalist before she quit to be a full time mommy. An erstwhile blogger, both her blogs were considered amongst India's top blogs and she was a Tehelka blogger columnist on gender issues.
Her debut novel, The Reluctant Detective, was published by Westland in 2012 and her second novel Once Upon A Crush, was published by Leadstart in May 2014. She has three books due for release in 2015, the first of these being All Aboard! from Penguin Random House.
She is on the planning board of the Kumaon Literary Festival, an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi, an Author Mentor at and a columnist at She was awarded the Women Achievers award by Young Environmentalists Group in 2013.
She currently blogs at and is on twitter @kiranmanral.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A mystery solved!

I'd wondered for years how coconuts were cut into beautifully uniform pieces and sold by roadside vendors. A couple of months ago the RE and I decided to buy some fruit (and bhuttas) from a local market. There was a coconut seller there too, selling whole coconuts, as well as large pieces. I asked him how he shelled the nut, and he was kind enough to give me a live demonstration! He used a screwdriver as a chisel, and a hammer, and banged and hammered away gently until the coconut was shelled, after which he cut it into large pieces.
I haven't tried this technique yet, but it didn't look too difficult.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mixing metaphors

The Hindi language has some interesting proverbs and idioms, many of which I had to learn in school, and which have been part of my mental landscape for decades now.
For the past few years I have been rather distressed by the inaccurate use of some of these metaphors, not only by individuals in private conversation, which can be excused, I suppose, but by public figures on television and in film lyrics.
A case in point is the mixing up of the phrases 'thhaali ka baingan' and 'ek hi thhaili ke chatte batte'.
The first refers to someone with no fixed beliefs or values: one who will roll along like a round eggplant on a tray: shifting as the tray is tilted, therefore untrustworthy.  The second refers to a set of small pebbles or jacks which were used to play various indoor games with, all were more or less alike, and all were stored in the same pouch/small bag. Metaphorically, it means arising from the same source, being similar, sharing the same values.
When we refer to corrupt officials, we may deride them by saying 'sab ek hi thhaili ke chatte batte'- all belonging to the same category.

The children's film Chillar Party perpetuated this mistake in the song 'Chatte Batte'. You cannot even Google 'Ek Hi Thhaili ke Chatte Batte'- you will automatically get to this song and 'Thhaali'.
The lyricists ( Nitesh Tiwari, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Vikas Bahl, Amit Trivedi)  obviously meant 'Thhaili", which is what makes sense in the context of the film. Thhaalis do not have chatte batte.
I wish they had checked with a Hindi grammar textbook.

And now we also have Hindi newsreaders also using this misbegotten, inaccurate phrase.
Lyricists, newsreaders: sab ek hi thhaili ke chatte batte.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


My home is full of clutter of various kinds: ancient files, paperwork of various vintages, endless books, several of which we may never look at again, objet d'art and assorted bric a brac . We also have vast quantities of the original packing of various appliances, against the day when we move out of rented accomodation and into a place of our own. I would love to ruthlessly dispose of many many things, but I don't really see myself doing so. I don't know about the rest of my ancestors, but my father was definitely a hoarder. I have another, rather specious sounding reason too, to not get too organised.
My sister had been on a mission to declutter for quite some time. She gave away vast quantities of stuff to various people, things both new and old, which she distributed among friends and family with the utmost generosity. My father and I had bought some small ceramic snack bowls (for his house) from Cottage Industries many many years ago. One fine day my sister packed them up and handed them to me, insisting that I keep them and use them. She very rarely wore sarees, and gave away most of her saree wardrobe, as well as many other things that no longer found much use. She seems to have very successfully cleared out whatever she thought of as clutter. And then, quite suddenly, she left this mortal coil.
          A good friend of hers has been inspired to take a leaf out of my sister's book, and get rid of all unnecessary items in her house. I, on the other hand, am hanging onto my clutter for dear life. As long as my decluttering remains merely aspirational, I'm sure that my Maker will let me hang around in my messy domain. Once I've successfully organised my life, who knows. I'd rather not risk it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Another loss

In an extremely strange symmetry, the RE also lost a sister. She had been suffering for a long time from a progressive condition, and we sadly observed this bright and beautiful lady's irreversible decline, the tireless efforts of her family to reverse her condition, and her husband's single minded devotion to her care.
We all miss her. With her passing, I try to erase the memories of the silent figure who seemed impervious to our greetings and caresses, and to remember the sister who loved and cherished us all.
Each one of us has our own particular set of memories of our interactions with her, and sharing those brings us some comfort.

This is life.
This is life.
It ends, for each and every one of us,
It will end.
Knowing this,
why does it still hurt so much????

Thursday, June 11, 2015


How do I lighten this load of an absence?
Is it grief, or fear, or both?
Grief, missing her in so many ways;
so many things remind me of her presence: her many many presents!
The tulsi plant, the flour scoop, the click-shut kitchen boxes,
the snack bowls Dad and I had bought
at Cottage Emporium long years ago
which she insisted that I keep
the embroidered hand towels,
and the small hanky sized ones for my morning walk.
The book she decided that my husband would like.
The Tanchoi the colours of our mother's wedding saree
The yellow silk saree that she wanted me to wear on Basant Panchmi
The Kota she couriered to me in Kolkata.....
The block print that was exactly my type of saree
the bed covers, the cushion covers, the generous presents to all my kids,
the presents that came in handy for giving away, too.....

And the landline, that hardly ever rings now,
it was like our exclusive, personal, sisterly phone.
It hardly ever rings now.
Its silence underlines her absence.
I miss her calls, all the family news she gave me.

Soon before she left us, I noticed her wonderful dark eyes and lashes
that looked kohl-rimmed, but never were.
How had I never noticed them before????

We were so different but so similar too that it scares me:
Our voices apparently similar, or maybe it was the way we spoke.
We did resemble each other, apparently, although we didn't always want to!
Both my siblings gone before sixty two. A very scary fact.
And yet pointless, this fear.
Each day has to be lived
the best it can be, whether there are just a few days, or many.
Who knows? Not me.

But how, pray, will this burden of an absence be lightened?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

An Unimaginable Shock

My sister passed away very suddenly on the 25th April. 
She had called me just a few hours before that.
I am still trying to come to terms with this strange new world in which she longer exists, 
her absence a huge gaping void.

From a childhood of having her as an additional mother figure,
who plaited my hair tight, and ironed our school uniforms,
( the two years between us seemed insurmountable:
she'll always be two years older than me, I'd wail,
at her bossiness, at the special privileges she had)
an illustrious role model in our school,
where she was an avid sportswoman, athlete, all-rounder,
the head girl of our school
(almost to the point where I resented her
for practically defining my identity)
to our lives diverging through college
(different streams, different campuses)
and marriage, different cities and countries,
our lives' trajectories taking us far away from each other

And yet, always there for me
Sewing clothes for my babies, giver of many gifts,
taking us around her beloved city,
visiting mine......

Being a rock solid support during our parents' last few months
and years, there whenever I needed her.......

I suppose God knew what he was doing 
when we were inspired to move back to the capital.
Even though we lived at different ends of the city,
At least we were in the same place, 
(meeting occasionally, speaking often)
for this final chapter of her life......

It feels much too soon, 
this sudden departure, not even sixty-two,
just like our brother, who went as suddenly
at almost the same age, so many years ago.

Memories: from long ago, and from the recent past.
From being the youngest of three siblings, to having none.
Two families with only a single parent left in each.
A three year old looking for his grandmother all over her house.
A four month old who never ever knew his grandfather
But both of them live on in our thoughts, in our lives, and in our memories......