Not YET another COVID-19 rant!

So, COVID-19 took the world by a storm. Now there’s news (or is it a conspiracy theory?) by a Nobel prize winning scientist who first helped discover AIDS that COVID-19 is man made and was developed by a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan to fight AIDs but escaped by ‘accident’.

If the whistleblower was a Chinese man, he would have been imprisoned, sliced and diced and made to disappear without a trace. And then when things get out of hand maybe China would concede to the mishap, like they did while declaring an epidemic after the whole world already figured it out.

But he isn’t a Chinese man, therefore Montagnier is requesting China to be graceful about it and accept the fact. The story will unfold in the days to come.

In the meanwhile, we in India are in a COVID-19 instigated lock down. That is, those of us who believe that they are not invincible, unkillable, irreplacable, irresponsible, callous, foolish, idiotic, brain dead pieces of **** are under lock down. A few have shown first signs of blooming dementia and others have started talking to their cats. In fact when I mentioned this to my dog on the phone the other day, we had a good laugh.

On the home front, I was about to head back home to Delhi from Mumbai when the lock down took effect, I am still in Mumbai. My wife is in Delhi with our two dogs. She says they are having long and enriching conversations about the facts of life. While in Germany, I was told by a friend who lives there that there is no lock down and all the Norse Gods are roaming around as if it was Asgard.

Good for them!

Kindle versions of my latest book, ‘Fear of God’, are selling well. I am happy for it. I signed a movie deal for the book barely two months after its release. Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled about it. Its a dream come true. I guess I have no clear idea when the movie will be made given the situation, but I am hoping it will be sooner rather than later. In other news, I took part in India’s first online Literature Festival which lasted the whole of last week. 600 authors took part in it. It was on ZOOM and was cast on Facebook live. It was, to say the least, a very enriching and heartwarming experience.

Finally, I am working from home. It can be fun since I am as it is a homie. Don’t much like venturing out unless it is absolutely important. Hey, that’s a writer’s hallmark. But then, I also work for a living and that used to make me venture out, suited and booted. Not anymore. But I do missing going to our office, meeting my colleagues at work and having a light lunch in our lavish cafeteria.

The world has changed. The shift was not gradual. It was immediate and drastic. All the things we took for granted, like eating from a street vendor’s stall, Ubering it, jamming into an elevator with colleagues to travel 29 floors, all of it has changed. Forever? Maybe not, but for a long time. So what is the change going to be like? How will the existing order of things be replaced? How long is it going to take to adapt to the new conditions?

There’s only one thing I know. Those who adapt are those who succeed. Those who resist will be left behind. The only constant in life, is change. And while we are at it, also remember…This Too Shall Pass!

Be safe. Stay healthy. Stay at home!

Love you all,

Vadhan

The Art of Writing a Review

The art of writing a review of a book is really a difficult one. It is. It involves the fine art of balancing between your views and opinions and that of the author. But, the more important aspect is having a command over the language. After all, you cannot really write your views and opinions using a thin armory of vocabulary. Importantly, it is also critical that you know the meaning of the words you employ.

In India today, reviewers are mushrooming faster than rabbits can make babies. Faster than the Novel Coronavirus can spread across the globe. Faster even than the speed of rumor. Reviewers are throwing themselves at authors who’s books have been just released. Some ask for money for reviews while others promise to do it for free if the author can only give them a free copy of the book. If it is really love for reading, then buy a book, review it without bias and feel proud about it.

What’s wrong with sponsored reviews?

People who have no love for reading, or appreciating the finer aspects of writing, review books because it’s turned into a lucrative trade for them. Others offer bulk reviewing services at fixed costs. The genuine readers and their all-important views are lost in the melee. Reviewing has lost its sanctity.

The short cut to reviewing a book these days by ‘professional reviewers’ is to compare it with some other book or worst still, a movie. How can one compare a book to a movie? The entire process is different. That is why when a book is made into a movie, it’s called ‘movie adaptation’. The book is redone, there is a script and a screenplay. They do not know the pains an author goes through to choose every word, frame every thought and write every sentence in a book. They don’t know how it is to write, how to read and how to enjoy a book. They are in fast mode, writing as many reviews as they can for their respective aggregators.

If an opinion is important, where is the sanctity if that opinion is biased? What is the sanctity of a review if it is stage-managed?

My new book

Hi Guys,

My new book Fear of God is out in Amazon.in and bookstores across the country. Here is the link:

https://www.amazon.in/Fear-God-Vadhan/dp/9389237084/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=fear+of+god+vadhan&qid=1579577365&sr=8-1

A Brief Synopsis

The brutal murder of a member of parliament has rocked the nation. The reason for the murder appears bizarre.

As videos of the slaughter of several corrupt politicians go viral on social media, those who considered themselves untouchable are scurrying for cover.

The vigilante’s next target is a war-hero and top constitutional lawyer who took three bullets for the country.

Why then is he a target ?

Jagan Jigyasi and his Special Crimes Division of the CBI have to race against time to stop the killings.

The Legendary lawman has never failed to solve a crime.

The war-hero is as brilliant in court as he is fearless facing a bullet.

The vigilante is as devious as he is effective in instilling the Fear of God into those who think they are above the law!

Who will be the last man standing?

And the New Year…

Writing this on the 30th of December. I would go as far as to call this particular note more in the nature of unbridled thought flow. Or ranting. Is it the same thing? (Shrugs!)

One day left before January rears its bright new head at the world. One more day.

Will it bring about a difference? To some, positively. To others, not so much. Does it matter in the long run? I don’t think so. The universe moves on. Expanding. Creating life as it creates new paths. Going beyond what is to what needs to be. Inexorably moving. Unmindful of the tiny speck of dust that we live on. Worrying only about the larger scheme of things. How large they are, what they represent and what goal they serve is beyond our reach. We are a species riddled only with questions.

January will be here though. And we will pass into ‘another year’ labelled with four digits. What’s more the last two digits will be changed. People will say that the millennium is out of its teens and for the next ten years January will herald single digit changes ‘tracking’ the progress of a young adult. Then the millennium will become a mature adult. But when I pause to think, it appears to me that all of it is simply illusion.

What is the sanctity of the labelled year? What does it signify? Only that we started counting very late in the day. Our ancestors and their calculations, be it Hindu, Egyptian, Christian or many others  were also late in commencing to count. We don’t really know what transpired before we did start counting. Or what will transpire after we as a species stop counting.

Will it matter which year it really is? To whom will it matter in the universe? Or in the galaxy, or even in our solar system? We count doggedly, nevertheless. The futility of it all! (Shrugs)

Random thoughts! These. Do my thoughts even make sense to anyone but me? Do they make sense to me? (I guess they do to me, at some abstract, altruistic level). The universe moves on. Trudging sometimes, careening sometimes. Knocking over entire galaxies into each other, blowing out some stars, lighting up new ones. Experimenting. Like we do with our lives. Makes me agree with someone or the other that we are miniature models of the vastness in which we live.

And thus we experiment. January’s experiments are resolutions. February’s experiments are a little more serious. March’s experiments will be about investments and tax savings. April will be spent drawing up new budgets, targets to achieve and so forth. In between all of that we forget the universe and its ever expanding size and its grand plans and live our lives like we will never die. And when we do die, we are snuffed out, most of us. Erased, as if we never lived. We leave no mark behind. No legacy.

Except counting days from our start line to our finish line in years.

However, January will never stop rearing its bright head. Again and again. Over and over.

The universe will go on expanding. Again and again. Over and over.

Vadhan

 

Hello Again…Hello

Hello my friends,

Here I am again. Been a very busy time. An industrious time. Well spent time with people worth spending it with. I have learnt a lot in the last few months. How hard working people are. How good it is to be with people who appreciate hard work. How it is to walk with professionals who know their craft.

This has also been a time of reflection. A time of retrospection of what I am and what I value. This has been a time of identification of what people are worth to me and how ungrateful and worthless some people have turned out to be.

I have written three books in these intervening months. I am writing my fourth one. Of these one is getting published and will be launched in early 2020! I am very excited about the book. This has been by far the best experience I have had with a publisher thus far. That is a fact.

And there are some people who have broken my heart. Their avaricious nature and capricious conduct was devastating. If an enemy where to attack me, I can reach out to a friend for help. But when a friend stabbed me in the back,  it left me lurching, hurting, stumbling, reaching out for the knife still jutting out of the middle of my back. Unable to pry it loose. Unable to call out for help!

It left me shamefaced in the presence of people who believed I could deliver on a promise.

Such is life!

But…there are things to look forward to. I moved on. Left the hurt behind. No use carrying it. Life doesn’t have to wait for those who are not worth waiting for. They are of no consequence. Let them be. There is no place in your life for them. Thus, I am wiser and happier for their wounds have healed leaving behind only the lessons learnt.

So, my friends, here I am, all ready for a happy moment when yet another of my children is introduced into the literary world.

Catch you around!

Vadhan

 

 

 

Fear is the Key

The FCPA is a law with extra-terrestrial reach. Which means that though it is an American law (brought into being in 1977 as a reaction to the Watergate scam), it applies to bribing a ‘foreign official’.

The UK bribery Act  is a draconian law. It applies to UK but relates to bribing government officials through out the world.

The Prevention of Corruption law in India has been amended in 2018. The most significant change is to construe that not only a bribe taker but also a bribe giver is  considered as having a committed a crime.

Every country is increasing the vigil against corruption and bribery. Yet the magnitude of frauds, corruption, bribery and lawlessness is always on the rise. Is law failing? Do the corruptors and the corrupted have no fear of law?

If there is no fear of law, what will they fear?

Watch this page for my next book…

 

 

 

 

 

An interview

My friend, blogger and fellow author Sukanya Basu Malik interviewed me. Here is the extract…

One fictional character that resembles you the most?

They’re all my children, the good and the bad. I take pride in each of them. I guess if I really introspect there is a lot more of Raghuram Surya in me than Govind Kiromal if you take my second book, ‘Agniputr’. There is a lot more of Ajathashatru in me than his apprentice, Kris, in my first book ‘Shatru’. But the villain of ‘Shatru’, the demon known as ‘The Disparate’, is also three dimensional. There is a bit of ‘the Disparate’ in me too.

2. What is your writing motivation?
I write to entertain. If there are life-lessons to be learnt on the way, good luck in learning them. I don’t believe it is my place in the world to preach to others. I like to entertain by engaging with my reader. To get my audience to take me seriously, I do deep-dive research to get my facts right.

The motivation? Let’s see now…it’s an impulse. The impulse builds into a tempest. The tempest must be unleashed. It must be. And that’s my motivation to write. My writing is not structured. I don’t know what’s going to happen next in my story. I am as surprised by it as my readers would be. I have a vague idea of how I want it to end so the events unfolding will unequivocally lead to some form of that ending. Funny part is, each time, I draw a structure in the very beginning about characters (names, behavioural patterns), the story, etc. Once done, I completely ignore the structure and simply write. Most times the book has nothing in common with the structure.

3. How and why did you get started with Agniputr? Any special reason behind your genre choice?
The book is actually multi-genre. After Shatru, a friend asked me to consider a book where mythology dovetails into futuristic science. The concept really excited me. My challenge was to make it simple. No one wants to read complicated scientific theories and mythological facts. I think I succeeded to a fair degree in culling out a tight action thriller.
Agniputr has human caprice as its foundation. The characters make choices on which side of the line they want to be. It has paranormal/ supernatural undertones that is always present at all times throughout the book. Like a dull ache in the pit of the stomach. Constant. I have layered politics, law, philosophy, mythology, fantasy and action onto the basic premise as the situation demanded to keep the pace up and to engage with my readers.

4. Few quickies :
Money or fame?
Is, ‘both’, a valid answer? It better be because that’s what I want.

Commercial fiction or literary fiction?
Entertainment fiction. The rest is just labelling.

Blogging or vlogging?
I am a man of words.

Interviews or book reviews?
One gets the author out into the open, the other gets his work out into the open. Equally important.

Audiobooks or ebooks?
My gran used to tell me stories.

Paperbacks or hardbacks?
Prefer either of them to ebooks!

Plotter or panster?
Panster or maybe, Planster. Explained why in the question about motivation.
5. How long does it take to write the first draft? You’ve written multiple books now. Did you slow down or speed up your writing process?
I’ll break this question into two.
A. Out of the six or seven manuscripts I have (two published), the fastest so far is a book that’s going to hit the stands soon. It took me one and a half months to complete the first draft. But it was a feverish rush. I loved what’s come out. Can’t reveal more about the book right now, though.
B. I did slow down a little in the writing process because professional commitments keeps me away from writing. What I realised though was that the longer I am away, the better I get qualitatively. Just like in any other artistic inclination, monotony brings in a certain lethargy into the manuscript. Frequent breaks ensure a free flow of ideas and imagination.

6. How was your experience? Did it differ from your expectations?
My experience as an author is the single most exhilarating thing in my life. I am in nirvana when I write. Time flies. The world of my senses disappears to accommodate a world building in my mind.
7. What do you think is the most exciting thing about a book release?
It’s the moment of truth. When you’re a nobody in the book scene, a release introduces you to your audience. As you gain prominence, it is a measure to understand how much you’ve engaged your audience.
8. What are the pros and cons of traditional publishing?
The pros: A. Someone believes enough in you to take a chance publishing your work. B. The publisher is an equal partner in your work, putting their reputation and money on the line to make a success out of your book. C. It is a validation of your own conviction in yourself. D. A big publishing house tagged to you will help in selling your book.
The Cons: A. Except for trade selling (distribution to booksellers) traditional publishers hardly do book marketing in India. (This is applicable to self-publishing as well.) B. It is left to the author to publicise himself and his book. C. In a world where there are at least 100 new authors coming in every month, marketing is a tough ask even if your book is exceptionally good unless you have deep pockets to fund your book marketing.
9. Who’s your favourite author so far and why?
I’ll talk about the authors I read rather than the authors I personally know. Amongst Indian authors, I have read Ashwin Sanghi, Amish, Devdutt Patnaik, Shashi Tharoor and others. I have enjoyed them.
Amongst the international writers, the list is never ending. Robert Ludlum, Lee Child, Stephen King, J.R.R.Tolkien, R.R. Martin, Dean Koontz, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and that greatest of all writers who writes the most difficult form of writing, a comedy, P.G. Wodehouse. There are a myriad others including Earl Stanley Gardner, Leslie Charteris, Jim Butcher, and many more.
10. Could you kindly introduce us to your latest book in brief?
My latest published book is Agniputr: When Agni First Spoke.
A tantric unleashes a cataclysmic evil into the world through practice of a forbidden ritual. The only way to stop the destruction of the world is through interpreting an incantation from the Black Yajurveda which will help bring in a counter-force.
By a twist of circumstances, Raghuram, a lawyer and Sheila, a scientist, come together to interpret the incantation. The only way to interpret it is through using quantum theories. Every step of their path is fraught with danger from Kiromal, an all-powerful politician who intends to control the evil in order to gain control over unimaginable power.
As the time for reckoning draws near, will the duo be able to face an evil too powerful for them to handle? Will they be able to ward-off the politician and his deadly cohorts long enough to save the world? Or are they pawns in a game that they haven’t even begun to understand?
11. A lesson that you’ve learnt throughout the process of publishing your book babies?
Go for a good publisher with a strong background. It helps in selling your book.
12. Your advice to aspiring authors?
Your book is your dream, your life’s work and an author’s life is all about struggle until you get your big break. Once you self-publish and it bombs, it take a lot of time to salvage your work and your confidence. Every rejection is an opportunity to fine tune your work until it is cutting edge. If you are sincere and willing to better yourself as a wordsmith, you will succeed. You will.
I can be reached at authorvadhan@gmail.com or on the @authorvadhan handles on Instagram, facebook and twitter.

Hello after a while

So many things have happened in the last few months. A time of great uncertainty has come to an end. It’s true what they say about a door closing just to let another open for you. There’s only one condition to it.

I must keep my bowl of knowledge empty, or at least as empty as possible. I must not let the knowledge already acquired bog me down so I cannot absorb the change. Because, change is the only constant. Not all changes bring about good tidings but by its very nature, change will bring about new perspectives whereas stagnation will only destroy. That’s its nature.

Thus it was that I understood people I aligned with were not what I needed but what I deserved at that point. I was looking for a shortcut, I guess. Shortcuts don’t work. Ever. Those very people and their ill treatment of my trust and intellect instigated me towards the change that I so desperately needed.

Necessity is the mother of invention. They necessitated the change that I needed. These people. They pushed me towards it. I thank them because in their conceit and haughtiness, they actually did me a good turn. If they had shown me even the smallest kindness, I would still be stagnating today.

Six months later, looking back at those days of agony when everything I worked for had slipped from my hands into the hands of incompetents who ultimately destroyed it, I am glad I met them. These people. They proved incapable of handling my legacy. Hence, the knowledge and inflow they grabbed from me in what they thought was a clever deal became illusory as it had to. It disappeared like dew in a desert.

I am in a new city now among peers who respect me for what I am and place their trust in me. I know. This too will pass. I am hoping that this time it will be for the better.

I am hoping.

Change is constant.

I am away from loved ones. I get to see them only for weekends and sometimes not for months on end. The price of lethargy? Or were my stars pissing on me? Or both, perhaps? Can’t say.

But now, I am able to provide for those I love. I see the smiles on their faces and that’s enough. When we meet, to me its a festival. My heart sours. When I miss them, well, the love springs forth. Shining. Knowing that distance doesn’t mean a thing.

And in all this, three of my writing projects are underway. I am glad for it. Here I am, leaning on the rails of the french windows of my apartment, watching the vehicles whizzing past me, the cool sea breeze caressing my brow, a cup of hot tea in one hand, a cigarette, unlit, in the other day. The smile on my lips is small, just a hint. It reflects the peace inside.

Love,

Vadhan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sense of Honour- A One Minute Story

He wouldn’t fight for me. He wouldn’t fight me either. He said so. His own words. Of what use can he be to me? That’s what I thought at that time. I was looking for an army. I was looking for men to fight by my side. I was fighting for what was rightfully mine, no matter the justifications my enemies piled up for this war.

I went to him because of his stature. Because they said he could do the impossible. Everyone I knew had oodles of respect for this man. Me, I didn’t think much of him, but I am no fool. There’s no smoke without fire, right? Yes, he did try to broker peace. Well, peace is peace only if I am at peace with the terms. Otherwise, it’s just me burning on a slow flame. It didn’t work out. I didn’t want it to work out.

Peace should be lasting. Not a keg of explosives with a long fuse. That’s not peace. That’s simply biding time. Only one way. Decimate the enemy. Leave no trace behind. As long as the usurpers existed, peace was not an option. That was my line of thinking.

It hasn’t changed. Not even now when I am on my last breath and he is standing over me, his eyes twinkling, his smile gentle, soothing.

Defeated, dying, my legs shattered, my ego destroyed, I know now I never had a chance. From the moment the dice rolled, it was loaded against me. Literally. I just did not see it that way.

My breathing grows harsher. My eyes are dimming. I haven’t much time left in this world.

He addressed me. Krishna. In his gentle coaxing voice. His flute nestling in the palm of his hand.

He said, “Repent and you can go in peace.”

“You cheated, Krishna,” I cried. “You cheated. How can you cheat? How can you take sides? How can you ask that brute, Bheema, to attack me below the waist? Where is the honour in that?”

Krishna shrugged. “Where was your sense of honour, Duryodhan, when you gambled for your brother’s wife? Where was your honour when you wanted to disrobe her before a full court?”

My eyes fall to the ground. He turns away. A wave of sorrow engulfs me. But only for a moment…

Breaking Free

The die is cast,

The route is set,

I will go on though nothing is left,

I move on, marching onward

my eyes never dulling for I am looking forward.

Let no one be fooled, or else fool me,

The worst thing for you is that I am free,

I will flourish, rise I will, you’ll see,

Though your selfishness had grounded me.

My dharma rises like a tidal wave,

Until it towers high above your measly grave,

Now that I have broken your callous embrace

My freedom ensures you are no longer in the race.

 

 

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