The Year of Harry Potter



Over the last couple of years, even with a difficult schedule and multiple stop-starts, I’ve read about 40-50 books, which doesn’t sound too high a number but it’s a number I’m proud of. I thank the creators of e-books and audio books for making reading (listening) so convenient, allowing me to finish an entire book on  a round trip between Pune-Mumbai. I also try my best to make the most of my free time in college; if you know me personally, you’ve probably seen me reading, holding or at least in close proximity to a novel – staring into oblivion, giving off a horrible, do-not-disturb vibe.

When readers and non-readers do take the risk and approach me, mispronouncing the name of the author I’m reading, the first question is:

Who is your favourite author?

Generally, I avoid an answer because I simply haven’t read the right amount or the right kind of artists to comment on who I like best. A few Murakamis, a couple of Coelhos and sprinkling of David Baldaccis, Dan Browns and graphic novels aren’t enough for me to provide one emphatic answer. On rare occasions of irresponsibility and naivety, I’ll let slip that Haruki Murakami is my favourite author, leading to the next question, 9 times out of 10:

Don’t you like Harry Potter?

I’m not ashamed that I haven’t read Harry Potter because it’s not as if I’ve never tried. My generation grew up with Potter, Weasley and Granger, and my sister owned every book in the series (neatly covered in clear film to avoid tear and aging), so it’s obvious I started the series. However, I wasn’t a reader back then, so I gave up a few chapters in. I’ve only gotten into reading recently, so I feel like I’ve missed out on growing with three extra best friends – at least that’s what it felt like during the release of Fantastic Beasts. Hoards of people stood in queues, wearing their House scarves and their capes for tickets to a movie that had nothing to do with Harry Potter except that it takes place in the same universe decades in the past.

It was then, as I stood alongside an equally excited, crazy Potterhead that I realized now was the time (even though 10-12 years too late) to read Harry Potter. So, to start off the year 2017, I have decided to read one book from the Harry Potter series every month – calling it the Year of Harry Potter. With 7 books in the main series and a few extra accessories, it should be a magic filled 2017!

January has come and gone and I have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Considering I had read most of it in the past, it wasn’t too difficult to breeze through an e-version). Now, with physical copies of Books 2-7 in front of me, I felt a blog post was in order to truly celebrate the #YearofHarryPotter.



I’ve driven through the mountains in search of you; I’ve crossed boundaries – on land and sea – in pursuit of you.

I’ve seen what you can do to people – build them into more than humans and then cause them to crumble. You’re as dangerous as fire, a threat graver than death but you’re salvation, a fate better than heaven.

I remember the first and the only time we brushed shoulders – in a crowded train, in my crowded brain, you entered and left a lasting impression. I remember the moment our eyes met and I’d realised how inept I was at hiding my feelings.

That day, that time, that moment, I was no longer safe – from feeling incapable at life, having lived so many years in your absence. At the same time, your sheer presence in my life, in my brain and in my heart – harmonized all my thoughts, my dreams and my future and merged them with yours.

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Hostel Diaries #1

I choose to write fiction (and will continue to do so) because I love the idea of creating stories that you and I could live but haven’t yet. This blog post and the #1 in the title shows I have another reason to write: I am experiencing new things and meeting new people that are just as spectacular as any fictional characters I have read and written about. I hope you enjoy what follows.


When the decision was made to pursue an MBA, I knew there was a minute chance of staying at home: a big negative of living in Mumbai is that all the institutions here are in high demand. Nevertheless, I found my new home at SCMHRD – roughly about 150 kilometres away in the city of Pune, The Oxford of the East – after working not-especially-hard at the preparatory MBA entrance examinations.

“The course is unforgiving”, “You won’t get room to breathe in the first semester”, “You’ll soon start treasuring 4 hours of sleep” were just some of the tales shared by fellow pursuers of the famed degree and, more importantly, those that had already gotten through it. I knew for a fact that the next 20 months would be demanding, but it wasn’t the lack of sleep or the unforgiving schedule I was worried about – it was the people.

For the first time in my life, I would be staying away from home – I’m not referring to the actual structure that I reside in but the protection of people, places and feelings that surround me. Needless to say, I have lived in a variety of places during my travels or functions but those were all temporary arrangements. This would be something else; this would be shifting home base – and I wasn’t confident in my abilities to handle it.

What exactly went through my mind when the process began, which activities I enjoyed and which ones I didn’t will be shared at a different time. I write this blog post as a celebration of the many relationships I and countless others have formed as part of our #scmhrdxp.


The term ‘Strange bedfellows’, as coined by William Shakespeare, comes to mind every time I walk through the corridors of D-Hostel (the one with First-year boys) and see a few of my classmates smashing buttons and smashing heads over a game of FIFA or when I see a good dozen of them huddled around the unfortunate birthday boy who is moments away from a sore back and hundreds of hugs and wishes. In any other world, these guys would never be friends but as observed in the past six months, they are inseparable.

The women do not fit this narrative. They are still carefully colouring within the lines, not trying to step on anyone’s shoes or trying anything different. There are few weird friendships, yes, but largely, you can place these girls into various compartments and every compartment probably has a secret handshake and BFF group on Whatsapp. However, who hangs out with who in their hostel rooms is anybody’s guess; all I get to see are the many factions taking rounds of the campus, with the rest being conjecture.

I’m comfortable speaking about the Boys’ Hostel because I live and breathe in it (sometimes wishing I didn’t have to breathe in it). Coming back to Day 1: As someone who finds it difficult initiating meaningful conversation with strangers, I thought I would have to spend most of the first month looking up at the sky and discussing weather trends. I haven’t looked at the weather forecast once since joining as the boys’ hostel was brimming with conversations and handshakes during individual first meetings. As things go, I’m close friends with some, enjoy the company of some more and don’t mind being in the same room as the rest, but there’s a sense of camaraderie and understanding with my hostel-mates that I wouldn’t have bet on, before walking into the college.

I speak about this now, after about six months of silent observation for two reasons:

  1. I’ve only just gotten the time and motivation to write and update my blog
  2. My Facebook newsfeed is full of odd couples travelling to various parts of the country

The second point is the beauty of the D-Hostel – you see two guys renting bikes and riding their way to Goa, you see five of them boarding a bus to Bangalore on a moment’s notice with no bookings and, most surprising of them all, you see two classmates who seem to have nothing in common enjoying Arthur Lake, Bhandardara.

There is something about hostel life that makes you dependent on the people around you: It could be the limited resources or the realization that you are stuck with this bunch for 20 months. Or it could simply be that you learn that people who differ from the normal bunch of folks you hang around aren’t alien or weird; in fact, they’re unique and special.

Here’s to another 1 and 1/2 years of 2AM celebrations!

FFfAW – The First Walk



Today is like any other; I feel isolated and scared – life goes on.

I often travel to the city’s most populated spots, hoping to find comfort being part of the crowd. The crowd rejects me. They realize the fraud that I am and I am shunned, pushed aside, left feeling alone and hollow – life goes on.

I am on the beach today; the family with their three kids, the teenagers and their game of football have moved across the sea just to keep me away. I want to be a part of their day, I want them to be part of mine but a body of water separates us. I feel betrayed – life goes on.

I step towards the water; the sand moves away, they don’t want me close. I continue moving forward and the water parts. Am I untouchable?

I walk forward on the path now uncovered; the teenagers wave at me, the family has saved me a spot. I feel accepted and happy – life goes on.


Word Count: 170

Thank you, Priceless Joy and Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers for the prompt. For other stories, hit the blue frog below!

Three Line Tales – Bridge of Love


I was very lucky that I stumbled upon Sonya’s Three Line Tales the moment I got onto WordPress. I had this odd feeling I wasn’t going to get any writing done today until I saw this photo prompt attached to a tiny little update post. Suddenly, in a matter of seconds, the entire scene played itself in my head. I could see the characters on that bridge in a made-up town in a made-up country living their entire lives, giving me the responsibility to write their story. This is why I love writing!

The Bridge of Love



It was here that we first met; it was here that our eyes, our minds, our souls – everything –  merged into one.

It wasn’t here.

The moment your breath filled my lungs and my heart pumped your blood, it wasn’t here; we weren’t here; we weren’t anywhere and we were everywhere.

Hello from the other side!

We’re in the middle of February already? Why didn’t someone wake me up?

Over November and December of the previous year and the first 40 days of this one, I’ve been trying to get into a B-School; I’ve been brushing up on my quantitative analysis by watching re-runs of Numb3rs, improving my logical reasoning by binge-watching Elementary and maintaining my verbal ability by avoiding any sort of reality shows. The attention that this attempt at furthering my academic career has demanded, has unfortunately taken a toll on this blog. I started ‘Ruminations’ – as it is lovingly known to its non-existent fans – with the hope that nothing would force it to go inactive for an extended period of time.

Even as I shifted focus from my B-School preparation to my college semester, a little part of my brain crossed off one more day off the calendar; one more day that this blog has remained entry-less. Every “How to Blog 101” post will tell you – updating regularly is an absolute must! Because of that very reason, there was some consideration given to filling the blog with a quick resolutions post for New Years, or perhaps a quick six-word story with an attractive picture to get the readers excited, but it didn’t feel right. In fact, taking a break from Ruminations might have been the best thing that could’ve happened to me, as the creator of this blog.

The inactivity and the time away has given me the opportunity to look at the blog as an outsider and not a contributor, and I’ve seen the problems that it has. What this means is that I can work on solving these problems and, more importantly, it allows me to regularly update again with far more structured blog posts, knowing exactly what I want this blog to be – not only for the sake of the readers but also me as the writer. More examinations, more interviews and my final college semester hover over me, waiting to strike and drag me away, but as I write this post, I know I’m done shaking off the rust.


There’s a lot of fiction – short and long – coming up in the near future, but that’s only a part of what’s truly going to be this blog’s very successful 2016. Stay tuned!

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Spoiler-Free)

I’ve tried hard not to give anything away in this review as I believe Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is the kind of book every reader must experience for themselves. I wasn’t even sure of writing this review but I want everyone who reads the following to at least consider buying and reading this very special book.

The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.


Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Year of Publishing: 2012

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, LGBT

Goodreads Rating: 4.3/5

My Rating: 5/5

I got to Aristotle and Dante’s party a little late; this book has been receiving praise from all corners of the literary world for a couple of years now, including the blogosphere, ever since it came out three years ago – most notably receiving the Lambda Literary Award and Stonewall Book Award for LGBT fiction, Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award honour, Pura Belpré Narrative Medal for Latino fiction, and Michael L. Printz Award honour for Young Adult fiction (copied off Wikipedia). With all the hype and praise surrounding the book, I was worried that I was setting the bar too high and that it would turn out to be just another recycled teenage love-triangle drama, written purely to cash in on a movie deal in a year or two. As more and more booktubers and critics started to rave about the author’s beautiful writing, the flow of the novel and an amazing ending, I decided to put aside my assumptions and actually read the book.  By the time I flipped over to the last page, all I could think to myself was, “this book is genius!”

Writing a synopsis for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is nearly impossible as there is very little in terms of ‘action’ in its 350+ pages. Simply put, it is the story of two friends, Aristotle and Dante, who first meet at the age of fifteen, at the swimming pool in the summer. Ari just floats around as he doesn’t know how to swim, and Dante offers to teach him. Soon enough, they become best friends in their own, strange little way. Apart from the fact that they both are Mexican-Americans in El Paso, Texas, there is very little in common between the teenage boys. Angel Aristotle Mendoza or Ari is the narrator and the readers join him and Dante on a roller-coaster ride as the two boys come-of-age through everyday struggles and experiences.

What sets this book apart from most in the YA genre is the strong presence of family. Both Ari and Dante have well-defined parents, each with their own characteristics and mannerisms. We don’t get to learn a lot about Ari’s sisters, but that has to do with the lack of importance Ari gives them in his life. Also, there are no perfect characters, there’s no one who can magically save the day or make everything alright. There’s a struggle in everyone’s life, the young boys and their parents, and you can see it, behind their smiles, kisses and conversations. They are human, just like us – the readers.

There is no need for any special control over the English language to read this book; it might even bother you in the early chapters, as it bothered me. However, as I read on, I realized that I was reading young Ari’s thoughts and interactions; Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s novel was far away in the distance. The prose grows with the boys, maturing and improving just as you would expect teenagers to. There aren’t many compound sentences or large words in this book, and every word is important to every sentence. The shortest sentence has the ability to bring out the strongest of emotion. It is poetry.

Part of me wishes that I could’ve read this book when I was the same age as the main characters. They are both so different: You will fall in love with Ari’s acceptance of solitude, in a way, loneliness; Dante’s quirky nature and love of life is a breath of fresh air, yet they fit together like peas in a pod. Every time the boys would call each other weird and every moment they spent together talking about the most mundane things – it felt like I was there, experiencing their friendship and their bond.

The best part about this book is that you can read it twice, thrice or a dozen times and it will still get you; it will still rock your emotions and make you feel things for these people and families who now firmly exist in your life forever.

Someday, I’m going to discover all the secrets of the universe.


This was my first attempt at reviewing anything at all. I chose a book that is very fresh in my mind even though I read it 3-4 months ago, simply because of how much I love it and how good it is. Hope I did it justice!


The Exam Collection

I haven’t updated my blog in a while – roughly 40 days – however, this is far from a dead blog. While I haven’t had the time to sit in front of my laptop and churn out a large piece of fiction or write a post about my study experiences, I’m constantly jotting down notes at the edge of my textbook or typing out rough ideas in an appropriately named Android app called ‘Scribble’.


The following two flash fiction pieces were two of my earliest, edge of the textbook notes. Hope you don’t find them as traumatizing as my college professor, who read them after catching me not paying attention in her class, did.



She wrote down her darkest secrets on paper.

They found her with paper cuts on her wrists.



An illness took her child and left her depressed.


She heard the sound and felt like a mother again.

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NaNoWriMo – It begins!

November 1st is almost here, and NaNoWriMo is just hours away!

All the very best to all those taking part in the annual writing extravaganza that is National Novel Writing Month. Unfortunately, I will not be taking part this year (which was supposed to be my first attempt), thanks to a dozen examinations over the next 40 days, forcing me to shelve my ever-so-exciting novel yet again.

However, this is not the end! The excitement in the blogging world and the online world in general has given me enough motivation to start writing a full-length novel as soon as my tests are done. I know I can rely on some brilliant writers and readers who regularly read my blog, to act as my writing buddies all year round.

Speaking of writing buddies, just because I am not officially participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, does not mean I am not available for advice, critique and beta-testing. At any point in the month or over the next year, if any aspiring novelists need any help with their project, you can reach me on my Facebook or Twitter accounts. Also, you can add me as a writing buddy on NaNoWriMo even though there won’t be too much writing from my end – click here.

Once again, I would like to wish all participants the best of luck, and congratulate you for taking this important step in your journey towards your goal of writing your own novel.

To me, writing comes naturally; writing sense is a challenge.

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