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Palace of Assassins by Aditya Iyengar

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Palace of Assassins by Aditya Iyengar begins with what happened post the Mahabharata war with the forgotten anti hero/villain Ashwatthama. He has been one of the most misunderstood characters of the Mahabharata and very little is known of his story after being cursed by Lord Krishna. What we know from the epic is that Ashwatthama who committed the heinous crime of killing the Pandava children in their sleep was cursed to roam the earth forever and his body would be covered by sores. As per Hindu mythology there are eight immortals (chiranjeevis) who still live on earth for various reasons. Most of these are blessed. But only Ashwatthama is cursed with immorality. The tragic story is captured quite well in this book which portrays him neither as a hero or a villain but as a troubled soul trying to find ways and means to end his miserable existence. The story goes forward and he tries to exact revenge on the pandavas with the help of a band of warriors called the Samsaptakas. They have a…

Mills n Boons vs Real Life Romance

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“He slid his hand behind her head and brought his mouth down on hers in a hard, demanding kiss that stirred up a raw hunger. A kaleidoscope of emotions ripped through him but the prime one was need. It spread through him, not slowly, but like wildfire burning everything in sight. Gripped by it, Sean powered her back against the railing and trapped her there.” Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan, a Mills n Boon romance novel.
It’s been over 100 years since Gerald Mills and Charles Boon teamed up to publish books. Since then, they have been responsible for more than 30,000 fictional kisses. Mills & Boon sells 130 million books each year in 109 countries and 26 languages. Someone buys a book every three seconds!
In India Harlequin, the publisher has published 26 titles in their Indian collection with authors Milan Vohra and Aastha Atray being the first authors to write a home grown Mills n Boons romance in English. Since then there have been titles that have come out in regional langu…

Udta Bharat

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Now that the Udta Punjab hullabaloo has died down and everyone knows about the Punjab drug issue, let’s talk about the rest of India where the drugs and alcohol problem is also prevalent.
Recently I spoke to my niece Aiyana in my old home town Lucknow. When I was living there it was quiet, conservative and rather dull. None of us had access to drugs or alcohol and we spent our days studying and gossiping. But all this has changed in 2016. As my niece tells me that in a reputed college hostel in Lucknow, everyone has access to marijuana and almost everyone consumes alcohol.
In her words, “Even if we don’t want to drink there’s so much pressure to fit in that we succumb to it. Otherwise we’ll be called losers.”
She also says that there are some who “smoke up” the entire day but are brilliant at studies. Their parents don’t care as long as they get the marks at the end of the year.
I just came back from an Under 25 Lit Fest in Bangalore. When I met the youngsters they were all brimmi…

What is a good enough percentage to get into college?

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Pallavi. 50%. Wants to be a doctor. Refuses to do a B.A. 10 lakh donation needed to get into a medical college. Parents want her to get married off!
Seher. 92%. Wants to do Business Studies. Not got in to the first cut off list. Didn’t do well in the interview round. 7 lakh donation needed to get into college of choice. Middle class parents don’t know how to get that kind of money!
Akash. 85%. Wants to study History. Arts cut off is 87% first list. The college of choice is full. Parents need to find another college out of the city they’re living in.
Syed. 73%. Wants to do medicine. Can get through quota in certain colleges. Still needs to pay a donation.
How much does a pupil need to study in India to get into the college of his choice without paying any money?
College Admissions is every parent and student’s nightmare! The second list for most colleges is out on Wednesday 29th June. For most students their fates are sealed. Some are still hopeful for a third list and some are already ge…

The Craze over Adult Colouring Books

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A few days ago my two best friends came over and instead of chatting like we generally do, they started colouring in an adult colouring book. The next day I gave two sheets to my 7 year old daughter and her friend and they became obsessed as well. What is it about colouring that is so fascinating and addictive? Humans have understood the power of art since time immemorial. Ancient history has been depicted through paintings on the walls. Culture and traditions have been shown through art and sculptures through the years. But art has always remained elusive to the common man.
Over the years painting, colouring and art was seen as something only really talented people could do as a profession or children would do to while away time. In this hectic world where achieving something is necessary, art for adults took a back seat to learning and earning.
In recent times art has suddenly become invaluable again with artists coming into prominence and art being sold for millions all over the wor…

10 Things Every Woman Should Know By 30

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1.Why You Don’t Need To Please Everyone - We’ve grown up hearing “Be nice to people.” We’ve been taught to keep our tongues in check and be polite to elders. This has led many women to be apologetic for their thoughts and a nature to please everyone, be it friends, family or co-workers. We can’t say NO. And we never disagree, thinking people won’t like us anymore. So what if they don’t like us? We don’t need to be rude but we can say what we feel like and sometimes it’s important to do things for ourselves. Realise what you want to do with your time and life and stop pleasing everyone at the cost of it.  
2.When to Walk Away From Men Who Are Not into You - Some men want you, then they don’t, then they want you again. OMG. The constant back and forth of mind games that you’ll play with men and analyse every little thing they say and how you feel will leave you exhausted. We women over think relationships. Just because we see “potential” in a man doesn’t mean we give away our months, yea…

Words to Live By

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“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the callers. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.
Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
Don’t major in minor things.
Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. 
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. 
Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. 
Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes Learn from them and move on. 
Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at his hour, they we…