Life comes a full circle for Rohit as he helps his village

When Life comes a Full Circle

Rohit was a first generation expat from his family. He went to USA for pursuing his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and then settled there. Rohit had everything that a typical well-settled expat Indian is expected to have – a green card, a home, a family and a job profile that anybody would be envious about – he was the VP of the New Product division.

Rohit was also the only child of his parents, who now lived in Pune. He religiously had his family vacations, so that his children could form a bond with their grandparents from both the sides. But such visits however well-planned only meant visits to his parents and his wife’s parents and that was the ‘family in India’ that their children knew about.

During one such India visit, Rohit’s father asked him “Do you remember our village home in Ratnagiri?” Rohit was a bit lost at the question initially, but then he recollected a few faint memories of an imposing wada with a huge orchard at the back. His far-away look was noted by his mother and she simply said, “You might not remember much as after your high school you were usually busy with studies and later you went to USA”. Rohit’s son Anish was listening to the conversation. He quickly checked up Ratnagiri on Google and announced “Dad this looks like a cool place, let’s go there while we are in India!”

And just like that in a discussion over dinner, the Dongre family planned their Ratnagiri visit.

“Okay let’s look up some hotels” said, Rohit. His father simply said, “I will be staying at the Wada, you guys can book yourself a hotel close by”. “Does someone even live there dad?” now Rohit was genuinely surprised!

Yup! My brothers and a few of your cousins do live there. We go there every year!

This got Rohit and his family, even more excited. There were apprehensions about meeting someone for the first time, there was also the fear of how Rohit’s children will take in the rural life! As far as Rohit remembered the wada was a pretty old place.

But there was hardly any time to think! Things moved so quickly that they were to leave in the next two days!

The first thing that hit Rohit when he visited his native place was the lush greenery, smiling faces and the quiet recognition that everyone showed. Rohit and his family were greeted with a lot of warmth and Rohit reconnected with a lot of his cousins, that he remembered playing with as a kid! In the next half an hour, all his new found cousins and their children were connected online, thanks to Facebook! Anish exclaimed “Let’s do an FB live! I want my US friends to know, I have so many cousins that we could make a baseball team!”

Knowing your roots and meeting so many who can be called family was an uplifting feeling. The fear about how his family would take in a village life, melted away!

After they freshened up, Rohit along with a cousin Raghav, decided to go around the village. It was surprising that the people seemed to recognize him; there was respect in their eyes, which didn’t seem to make sense. “I never came to the village, after middle school, yet why is there this warmth?” questioned Rohit to Raghav.

Raghav smiled and steered him towards a tall building in the square “This is the government school of our village, it was started after the efforts of our grandfather! Our grandfather was a qualified doctor, educated in Pune, yet he came back and worked all his life for the upliftment of our village! He was the first doctor in this whole region and was instrumental in starting many initiatives for the betterment of health, sanitation and education in our village and neighboring areas.”

The words got etched somewhere deep in Rohit. He didn’t know much about his grandfather’s work. They came once a year for around 10 days to the village. By then, grandfather had retired and Rohit was too small to understand what his social service or ‘work’ mean! He became curious to know more about the great man!

Over the next two days, Rohit and Anish got to know a lot about the great figure. They were amazed and humbled with the dedication and efforts put in! “Apart from sharing a surname, I wonder what else do I have common with this great man,” wondered Anish and Rohit just replied “Exactly my thoughts son!”

Next day, they were going to their village deity and watching at the lush paddy fields and huge mango orchards that lined both sides of the road. “I want to be a farmer! This is so beautiful” quipped Anish. “With most youngsters not wanting to be farmers or going to cities, I don’t know how long these green surroundings would survive” said a worried Raghav. This caught Rohit by surprise!

“Why was nobody interested in farming?”

“Everyone thinks there isn’t much dignity in being a farmer, plus with so many climatic changes, farming just doesn’t seem feasible, they don’t get labor to work and you never know if there will be any returns on investment! It is a tough life.”

The answer put Rohit in deep thought! We were losing the primary life sustaining business known to man! There was something wrong here! By the time they were returning back from the temple, Rohit had his light-bulb moment! He quickly made a few phone calls and started typing away feverishly on the laptop.

For the next two days, Rohit looked like a man possessed! He was making presentations, watching videos, creating models.

“Would you be able to introduce me to the govt. school management by any chance?” asked Rohit to Raghav, just as he was sitting down for dinner. “Yes sure! I am an honorary member there, will talk and set something up by tomorrow.” But what is this about, asked a curious Raghav?

Well, I am a mechanical engineer and my company is into making machines for farming. I connected with them about the problems here and they are interested in sharing knowledge with the school students as part of their social responsibility activity. We have a branch in Mumbai and we are thinking of having yearly projects in schools that will ignite their interest in science. This will have good cash prizes that students can use for higher education.

The conversation lit up Raghav’s and Anish’s eyes! After dinner, the three of them huddled together over the presentations and there were excited exchange of ideas late into the light.

A short story about life coming a full circle and finding purpose

In the next two days, some more phone calls later, the presentation was arranged. Rohit showcased how his team would be interested in introducing basics of mechanical learning and creating farming related tools as a vocational subject in the school. This would prepare the students for the year end competition. The competition would revolve around creating simple and cost-effective machines that would help farmers.

The vocational classes would happen via video calls and once a month, one of his team members from Mumbai, would come to access the situation and understand the on ground realities.

By the end of the presentations, Rohit could sense that the teachers and the management alike were interested in trying this new way of learning. Rohit did a small introduction with students, to understand their perspective and the result was amazing! As he showed them how a cost effective rice-cutting instrument could be made by the students, he saw the excitement in their curious eyes.

“This is just the beginning”, Rohit mused to himself. He had just ignited a hundred little flames!

The Cradle

Curious of all the commotion in the neighboring room, a heavily pregnant Pooja went in to have a look

She saw numerous beautiful wooden toys, silverware and an exquisite handcrafted cradle!

That’s the cradle of Amey’s grandfather! Amey himself and now Amey’s child will play in this cradle, her MIL beamed.

Pooja was stunned looking at all the treasures and listening to the memories her MIL was rattling away looking at various things in the room.

Pooja had been skeptical about delivering the baby in the ancestral home. It was in a small town with good hospitals around, but she was vying for the luxury hospital in the city.

Pooja could see a baby Amey in the cradle, as her MIL shared beautiful memories.

In that moment she realized, the warmth of memories and love of people would be the best luxury she could offer her baby.

Linking up with Mayuri and Tina for #FridayFotoFiction

#FreelancerFriday Being an author the self-published way- Interview with Preethi Venugopala

Today on Freelancer Friday we have with us, Preethi Venugopala who is an established author and talk with her about her journey from being a civil engineer to a self-published author. So, without further ado, lets dive in-

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background?

First of all, thank you, Neha, for having me over on your wonderful blog.

I am a civil engineer turned blogger turned author. I have published two novels, one novella, a few short stories in various anthologies and a few kids’ books. I also edit manuscripts. I have also an avid interest in portraiture and graphic designing.

How did the idea of writing a book come up?

The thought to convert an idea into a book came quite by chance. To be truthful, I saw the story of my first book in a dream. I noted down the major scenes and characters once I woke up. Then I tried expanding it into a novel and succeeded in it.

All I had written before writing my first book were a few short stories in inter-collegiate story writing competitions. The fact that I won the top prize both times might have been an indicator as to where I was headed eventually.

What do you mean by being a self-published author and difference between traditional publishing?

Self-publishing is a misnomer in a way. It is indeed the form of publishing where the writer is in charge of everything, the editing, the cover, the proofreading and marketing. Everything is under our control. We even decide the release date. But we don’t do it all ourselves. In self-publishing, the author need to find the professionals to do the above works and pay them from his/her own pocket.

In traditional publishing, though, you just submit your completed manuscript to the editorial team at the publisher. They do the editing, proof reading, cover design and releasing the book in print and eBook forms. The writer is paid an advance upon signing the contract. The publishing rights remain with the publisher for the contract period.

The con about the traditional publishing route lies in its unpredictability. Even if you submit a manuscript and sign a contract, you do not have much control over the cover design, release date or the final shape of the manuscript. A book may get published years after you submit it to the publisher.

The con of self-publishing is that the future of the book will depend upon the professionals the writer chooses to invest on.

How was the journey to being a self-published author like?

I have had a rollercoaster ride as a self-published author. My first book ‘Without You’ as of today has 268 ratings on Goodreads and 62 reviews on Amazon. All of them organic. I have published my second novel A Royal Affair which is also being received well.

But my path was not without roadblocks. I saw all the ups and down that comes in the way of a self-published author. There were haters who did what they could do to pull me down.

But there were also readers who wrote me long letters and suggested my book to others.

I am thankful that most part of the journey has been pleasant.

Your memories associated with the first book?

First book is always close to heart. I still remember biting off all my nails waiting to hear from my first beta-reader. If I hadn’t got the encouragement I got from her at that stage, I wouldn’t have become an author today.

I remember the happiness I felt the day the book was launched, signing the book for friends and readers and posing for photos.

I remember the first mail from a reader and also the first review I received.

Such things will always be cherished.

How did becoming a self-published author help?

I began as a traditionally published short story writer. All my short stories (5 stories published in different anthologies) got me readers. From these, I didn’t earn even a rupee.

But after I self-published my first novel, I began to earn from my writing. Also, I began to be recognised as an author.

My submissions to traditional publishers were given more importance than before. Recently, I signed two contracts with Juggernaut books. One for a single short story and the other for 9 short stories. I was paid for my work.

In a way, self-publishing made the journey to become a traditionally published author easier.

Is it a satisfying alternative?

It is a very satisfying and easy way to earn from your writing.

When you are a self-published author, you get to know the exact details of the number of books that are being sold, the number of pages that are being read and also the region where the book is being read or bought by logging onto your Amazon KDP account. It doesn’t matter whether your book is selling thousands of copies per day or just a few copies. Every detail is available to you.

All these details are never available to any traditionally published author without the data being tampered with by the publisher if I believe the tales I heard from many of my traditionally published author friends.

With Amazon KDP, it’s very easy to become addicted to self-publishing because of this transparency.

I know many other self-published authors as well who are making a living just from their eBooks.

Another point is you don’t need to wait for long to see your book published when you are self-publishing. If you’re going through the traditional route, there is a waiting period of minimum 6 months or a few years to get your book published.

Using Amazon KDP, your book gets published within a day and it becomes available to the reader immediately.

 You have recently released your latest book, tell a bit about that?

A Royal Affair is a story about second chances in love and a unique quest to find a lost relative in India undertaken by a British girl. It is my second published book though technically it is my third completed manuscript.

It tells the story of Jane and Vijay, lovers who were separated by circumstances, and thrown together again years later.

It was a very interesting book to write as I have never written a foreigner as main character or about a royal family in any of my stories or novels.

 

How much have you evolved from your first book to now?

When I published my first book, I didn’t know anything about self-publishing. But over the years, I have learned a lot through trial and error.

I guess I have become a better writer after I graduated from Anita’s attic last year under the able guidance of Anita Nair.

Your tips and suggestions for those looking to be a self-published author?

Over the years I have learned quite a few things about self-publishing yet every day comes with new insights.

The most important things to take care about when you are self-publishing are:

  • Write a good book:

This might sound silly but only a good book sells. Just putting anything out there doesn’t work. Readers are the gatekeepers in self-publishing, and unless your book satisfies them, they won’t consider buying you next time.

So, learn to plot, structure and write according to your genre.

  • Invest in a good editor, beta readers and cover designer

Don’t publish without getting your book edited by a professional editor. Even if you are a good editor yourself, don’t publish what you edited yourself. Our brain camouflages errors we make. But another person will be able to spot these errors better.

Beta readers will tell you whether your book is working. Find someone who loves reading the genre you write. Don’t send your romance book to a reader who reads only thrillers.

Your book cover can make or break your book in a way. If your book cover doesn’t appeal to a reader among the many book covers on Amazon, they might not buy it.

  • Market your book well

In self -publishing it is very important to market your book well. If you don’t post about your book on Social Media, nobody is going to know about your book or buy it. So, do not be ashamed about bragging about the reviews or best-selling ranks to your followers. You have to build an interest in the readers about your book.

Some invest a lot of money in this, but I believe you should not invest too much in this area. If you have built an author platform on social media, that works best than paid marketing.

You can connect with Preethi on the following links

My Website: A Writer’s Oasis

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Facebook Page

Twitter/ Instagram : @preethivenu

 

Book Review – The 23rd Girl


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Today’s post is special! I feel extremely proud when a fellow blogger takes the next step in this writing journey and decides to publish a book. Writing a book is no small feat. I can only imagine the effort, toil and struggle that the writer must have gone through while finishing his book. So, today’s post is special, as I review a book by a fellow blogger Rohan Kachalia. This is his first book and is co-authored with Divya Ratan, published by Half Baken Beans Publishing.

About the Author

Rohan is an avid reader and a writer and blogs at www.rohankachalia.com His short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies. His book, the 23rd Girl is his first co-authored book.

About the Book

It’s a nice easy read. The protagonist, Rashv character is well developed and is easily identifiable. You will know aleast one Rashv in your life, who is sweet, sauve, confident and has a never say die attitude. He is happy in his flaws but seems lost on the bigger picture. This book is about his obsession with the number 23, how he discovers the connection, how it becomes larger than his wishes and how he finally realizes his folly.

While the main character is Rashv, the other important character of the story is Roohi. Sadly Roohi comes in the frame a tad too late. A few characters that were there at the start of the novel like Rashv’s Mom aren’t found later on. The story gains pace after Roohi enters the story. Rashv’s character is well established and you know how he thinks, why he thinks and how will his reaction to things be, however the same is not true with Roohi. While we know about Rashv’s obsession with the number 23 and why he acts in a certain way, we do not know why Roohi is careful and guarded when it comes to love? I would have loved a more evolved character of Roohi. A bit more time spent on the ‘whirlwind’ romance that the two experience, would have been great.

The characters created are very relatable and it does give some semblance to the belief that few hold in this world for numbers or letters or the likes. There are some really cute lines interspersed in between which are sweet with a tinge of philosophy. My personal favorite is “There is a reason why you should always listen to your heart. They are like a non-complicated GPS. Hearts see a single road when mind sees two.” Beautiful isn’t it? Overall it’s a good read.

Wishing Rohan all the very best and hoping to see a book authored by him in the near future.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge

Karva Chauth, a story of faith – #writebravely


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Karva-chauth a story of faith

She got up before sunrise and went  to meet her mom-in-law,

Hesitantly, her mom-in-law gave her the Sargi.

She had been fasting the whole day, like she did every year, but this year was different

While she went about her daily routine, her ears were glued to the radio set in the kitchen.

Every ring on the mobile, saw her rush towards the phone and a second later witness her crestfallen face.

She smiled as her toddler hugged her, but the worry lines never left her face,

She was decked up like a new bride, but the happiness was missing.

A look at her and her mother-in-law had no words,

She simply hugged her daughter-in-law who was now more than a daughter to her.

She prayed and begged in front of the Gods, but

This Air-force wife refused to lose hope

It had been more than 24 hours since the chopper crashed in the mountains, with no updates about the crew on board.

This Karva Chauth was more about faith than a ritual

My salute to the brave wives and families of  our armed forces.

Write Tribe

The pianist #FridayFotoFiction


Indian Bloggers

“Khwaab ho tum ya…” wafted through the air and reached his ears, as he sat down to read his morning newspaper. He stopped peering over the newspaper with a magnifying glass and started humming the music as his fingers involuntarily played an imaginary piano in the air. Eyes closed, a smile lingering on his lips, he was a serene picture to behold except for a small tear that rolled down the corner of his eye. Rustom missed his piano and a life as a musician in Hindi film industry.

In the new era, musicians were replaced by electronic music and computers. Regaled into the past, Rustom continued playing at events but once arthritis made his fingers painful and stiff, he had to let go. Today all that was left was albums of pictures from his heydeys and such mornings when an old classic transported Rustom to the bygone era.

Linking up this post to Tina and Mayuri for #FridayFotoFiction

 I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with My Friend Alexa

Tina Basu

Earth’s Deficit – #Tiniature

We recently crossed the Earth Overshoot Day, meaning that humans are pushing the planet to its ecological limit at an accelerated pace. We are consuming more of Earth’s resources than it can produce. My #Tiniature about this and what will happen if we continue to act rogue.

Have you given this a thought? Maybe other species will be required to take up the responsibility and find some solutions for it.

Man always prided himself in being the most intelligent of them all, but what if the God’s have realized their mistake and decided to evolve other species as well. If ‘MAN’ continues to act in the way he is now, maybe other species will be required to take up the responsibility and find some solutions for it and these solutions might not be to our liking!

Bride #FridayFotoFiction


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Forever Bride

It was a new day but with some old beginnings

As she peered out the window she noted that the garden needed tending. She examined her looks in the mirror and pushed a stray hair away. The lace dress was Jack’s favorite. He had picked it up himself and she still remembered the way he looked at her when she first wore it, she found herself blushing.

It’s considered a bad omen to see the brides in their wedding dress. She wondered if it had come true as she tried not to think about the day of their wedding five years back when Jack survived a terrible accident but with short term memory loss.

As she walked towards Jack with a posie in her hand, the love in his eyes made her realize that she might not have a happily ever after, but she will definitely live a lifelong romance.

I am writing this story as part of #FridayFotoPrompt by Mayuri and Tina. This week’s prompt was Bride

Tina Basu
Update – This piece won the #FridayFotoFiction! Yay!!

 

Tiniature – Life of a hacker


Indian Bloggers

 

Gayatri Gadre has started a series called #Tiniature that will run the whole of July! You write one tiny story everyday on Twitter. Though I joined in late, this is my entry for it. You can read what other’s wrote by following the #Tiniature on Twitter.

Ethical hacker tiny story

A tiny story about how the world just perceives what it sees and understands. There are many careers or interests that the larger public might not be aware of, however, that certainly doesn’t mean that those avenues are any less.

Do you know anyone who has chosen a path less trodden?

 

#Tiniature – Twitter Tale

Twitter _tale

Twitter usually evokes mixed reactions. There are few who love it and then there are few who hate it. I think it’s more about finding your tribe. Once you find it, you will love Twitter. The above post kind of sums up my relationship with twitter.