Friday, May 16, 2014


She was twelve years old when she left home for the very first time. It was to go on a nature walk at a local reserve park as part of the "Kids for Tigers" program. She was to leave home at 7 am and was expected back later that night. Technically, it would not qualify as leaving home. But, for someone who had never been anywhere without the constant, caring and concerned presence of her family, this was a start. Granted there were no tigers in the park nor do 12 year olds qualify as kids, but the vibrant paradise fly catchers and the gregarious jungle babblers more than made up for it. There was also the Plaster of Paris impressions of black buck hooves. It was fun, joyful and liberating in myriad ways that only a twelve year old can possibly fathom.

She was still a teen when she spent a few summer months in McLeod House, Fredericton. Getting there on her first ever flight was exhilarating. The persistent hum of the engine was hardly annoying. Her inane excitement had replaced the usual claustrophobia that accompanies with being trapped in a 757 with a multitude of strangers. Landing gear failures were a myth. So was the insipid nature of airline food. She celebrated her birthday against the backdrop of a sky lit up with fireworks at Niagara. Life could not be better. All that mattered was the sweet smell of independence, of doing your own thing, and of making your mark in the world. Of course, we can offer some latitude to a naive, delusional, unscarred teenager, can't we?

A year later she backpacked across the sub-continent and trekked up the Himalayas. Woman on a mission but when the mission was accomplished, home bound she was. Another year passed. She was in the abode of a well respected Buddhist monk. That escapade too had an expiry date.

Three years hence, after a battle or two lost but with the relentless spirit not all intact, she left home another time. Only, she was not going to return later that night or even in a few months.

What is home? Where is home? Who is home?

What is home? Is it the the pale blue walls and the grainy, granite floors of an urban dwelling? Is it the salt of the sea that you feel before you smell? Is it the parks that are in ruin or the potholes in the streets? Is it the intolerable rush hour traffic or the insufferably ruthless heat that is waiting to scorch you alive?

Who is home? Is it unconditional love in the form of your mother or the firm discipline in the guise of your father? Is it the sister who is almost always second mother? Is it the unruly kid next door who shares his birthday with you? Is it the neighbour who instantly recognises you from only hearing the whining engine of your two wheeler? Is it the shopkeeper at the photocopy shop who gives you a hearty discount? Or could it be the infuriatingly noisy crow that incessantly crows at your window sill every morning to eat the food your mother not-so-secretly feeds?  

Where is home? Home is where the heart is. But, hearts are by default treacherous and deceitful. They often cloud judgement and conjure confusion. Most of all, they set off a chain reaction with chemical precursors that signal the onset of an emotion that is specifically designed to overwhelm logic and reason. (Author note: Quite likely the reason for this ramble).

For the longest period of time, she lived in denial assiduously avoiding any and all talks of the sub-continent. Clarity remained elusive. She didn't fit in. She felt different and definitely looked different.

Another year passed. Home and the sub-continent slowly ceased to be synonymous. She scoured the best vegan places in town and devoured blizzards at DQ. She whipped up some red velvet cupcakes and learnt to skip pronouncing four of seven letters in Jacques. She took up sports and blossomed into a semi-professional dancer. She made a friend and then some more and then even more. She unwittingly witnessed ice-hockey in rapt attention with an astonishment characteristic of a child who learns about gravity for the first time. Soon enough, she will feel she has made her home, whatever that means. Who knows, there probably never was an expiry date to begin with.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Back covers in a blink # 1

She was a freshly minted nerdy PhD-glaciologist. He was a wise beyond his age diplomat working for the government of the United Provinces. Fate and their combined intellectual curiousity put them on a flight bound for Tybet, a recently separated free nation from  the Red Territories. Little did they know, this was to be the flight of their lives.
Interspersed with historical developments inside Tybet, 'In the land of Snow', **** debut novel travels seamlessly between the past and the present. Starting with the mystery of Tybet's exiled leader gone missing,  **** goes on to intertwine a compelling romantic encounter with the most pressing issue of our not so distant past.

                                          --- UP Times best seller ---