How I Met Your Mother


Hey Buddy!!! Your mother has recently accused me of not being expressive enough of my love for her. Of not saying how much I love her and expressing my love on social media like Facebook with such terms of endearment as Janu, Sona, My Love, My Life, and not posting photos of her cooking with the caption Made by my Lovely Wife. I have always been a very shy and reticent person who likes to keep his thoughts to himself. But today I am going to tell you a story. This is a story of a simple village boy and a smart city girl, how their different worlds collided and became one. This is my storyOur story.of How I met your mother. The title of the story is borrowed from a popular soap opera but the rest of the story is carved from the pieces of my heart . You are too small to understand it now but one day you will grow up and read this and convey it to your mother and then she will understand..

Chapter 1 : The Girl on the Platform

The story starts years ago on a train. I, a third year student, was travelling to Kolkata to join a tution class. As I alighted on the platform and was looking for my buddies, I saw this girl get off the train. As she passed me with a smile on her lips, a cool breeze blew across the parched valley of my heart. It was just a moment, an instant, and then it was gone.. she was lost in the milling crowd. My mates approached me and soon I was on my way to my classes with the image of this girl with a lovely disarming smile. Little did I know then that we were destined to meet again on the same dayand then again. and again.. that the smile will remain with me forever.. and like the sun brighten up my dull the lode-star guide me through my darkest nights..

Chapter 2 : And Here We Meet Again

It was my first day at the coaching centre. I promptly arrived and took the only vacant seat available. As I looked around , I was surprised to see a girl seated across the room. The Girl with the Golden Smile, watching me her captivating eyes. I was intrigued. I wanted to know her name, to befriend her. But being a shy kind of guy who hardly spoke to girls outside his circle, I retreated back to the comfort of my cocoon. But, by the end of the day I somehow managed to know the name of my mystery girl.Madhumita

I never believed in love at first sight. I still dont. In subsequent days I formed a more clearer picture of her. A fair skinned Brahmin girl from a well to do family from the suburbs of Kolkata, thinking herself superior to the rest, living in her ivory tower and looking down upon and judging people like me from small town. Well I disliked her then. I normally was a chivalrous young man but I decided to adopt this cavalier tone towards her. We even had a few fights. One day as I was taking some papers of my friends to the get them xeroxed, she asked me if I could take hers as well. I was piqued. How could she just sit there smugly and order me around. Cant you get them done yourself? Are your feet made of clay?, I quipped. We had our fight, but I got them done xeroxed anyway. For gods sake I was not a monster to turn down pretty girls.. I was just showing her a bit of my attitude.

Judging people while not sufficiently knowing them is a crime. And as time passed I realized the depth of my fallacy. It was not she who was judgemental, I was. She was just diametrically opposite to the image I had formed of her. It was my insecurity, a dark skinned small town boy hailing from a so called lower caste Hindu family, that I had projected onto her. It was fuelled by the endless chatter of her friends who liked to bitch behind her back. welcome to the girls world (me being too sexist eh, well if its any comfort we boys do it as well). With time we slowly started conversing a little and started to know each other.. Our prejudices started to melt away……

Chapter 3 : The Proposal

She was this colourful vibrant young woman whom everyone desired. I was this reticent, brooding young man whom people liked to despise. My shyness was often taken to be a mark of my arrogance. There could not have been two different people imaginable. But they say opposites attract..

I used to steal glances at her while pretending to be deeply immersed in studies. One day as I looked up at her, I saw her looking back at me. Our eyes met……Those deep dark eyes looking into mine.and I knew. I tore my eyes awaybut something sharp had already pierced my heart. The cupid had cast its proverbial arrow. Focus I said, focus on your studies, you could not fall into love at this point. Concentrate on your studies, exams are ahead. Failures had taught me one thing in life - to focus on your goal. So, my mind said pay attention to your studies you fool. But the love bug had bitten deep and I could feel its poison run through my veins. I had to get it out of my system. I had to let her know of my feelings..

We used to find excuses to talk to each other. But we were always with a room full of people. Iwe. wanted some time alone. One day at the end of the classes I found her lingering behind. Her friends had left. I took my cue and took an unusually long time to tie my shoelaces. So, my friends also moved ahead. Finally we were the only two left behind. Our friends seem to have deserted us today. Lets walk together to the station, I said. Okay, she replied in her sweet voice. So, instead of taking a rickshaw we walked to the station together. It was awkward though. We did not know what to say to each other. It was long silence.. a bit of forced conversation. then silence. anyhow we somehow made it to the station together. We parted ways. Stupid fellow, I said to myself, what were you thinking, you would be lucky if she ever talks to you again. But I could not be more wrong. We went for classes twice a week and the next day the same routine followed except that this time the conversation flowed more naturally. This continued for weeks. Had the others noticed? They surely must have, but at that time I couldnt have cared less.

Our classes were coming to an end. Then came the Bengali festival of Neel Sasthi. I would surely propose to her on this auspicious day. But the words never came out. I cursed myself…… surely the next day. I was determined this time around. I started with light conversation. She seemed in an unusually cheerful mood. As we approached the platform time seemed to run out. I gave her a Subho Nobo Borso (Happy Bengali New Year) card. She seemed to like it. Say itWe were now on platform No.1 taking the overbridge towards platform No.2.. Say it . I opened my mouth to utter those three magical words. You know, today is my Birthday, she said suddenly. Oh Hell. should I say it now? What if she says no? It would spoil her birthday and I would never be able to forgive myself for making her sad on her birthday……Next day perhaps.. But someone inside me cried out. Be a Man, its today or never. I mustered enough courage and asked her cautiously Have you loved anyone before?”……. awkward silence.. Man I had blown this .. After a long silence she said encouragingly Actually I never have.”…… This was my moment.. I said, You know how I feel about you??? Do you feel the same.”……..more silence. Then slowly she replied, You know how I feel, dont you???”…..

That day when the train came to a halt at my hometown I was not on it. I was miles away with someone special. We had found love, and we were not willing to let it go. Though I couldnt afford any expensive gifts, she afterwards told me she got her best birthday gift on that day .…… Love.

Chapter 4 : Things That People in Love Do

Love is a wonderful emotion. It uplifts you, transforms your dreary everyday existence into the ecstasy of Eden…….. But Love can also be a hard taskmaster, especially if you don’t have a penny in your pockets……


Scene 1: A couple is sitting on a bench on the Platform. Trains come… trains go….people are rushing by….they are oblivious….they just look into each others eyes….

Scene 2 : A railway overbridge….. a couple are having their first fight…. They are planning to go to a restaurant. They are arguing about who will pay the bill…. the boy wants to pay…. the girl offers to pay as she knows he doesn’t have a penny on him….

Scene 3: A boy and a girl are walking…..sometimes holding hands, sometimes apart…. they don’t know for how long they have been walking……they don’t know where the path will take them…. the girl is not used to walking, you can see her feet bleeding….but she doesn’t care…..they have each other…..

Scene 4 : A hot summer afternoon…. It’s 45 degrees outside and humid…. there’s not even a dog on the road….. a boy appears, holding an old rickety bicycle in one hand, a mobile phone on the other….he is soaked in sweat…sweat is running in streams from his forehead, his eyes are blinded by it….. but he is afraid to wipe the sweat from his brows, least the call get disconnected….. wonder who he is talking to…..

Chapter 5 : Enter the Villain

Every love story needs a villain…. I too had mine…only in my case the villain was not a person…. It was much more than that….. It was one of the Seven Deadly Sins….. My Sloth….

For four long years I had been living in a dream world. We had become so lost in one another that the outside world did not exist. But this dream bubble burst with the first prick of reality….. One day a call came…..“They are fixing my marriage. Today I am supposed to pose for my profile photo”.….

All Hell broke loose….my world had turned upside down…. “Hang on”, I said, “I will always be with you…… just don’t let go”…..

Thus began the most difficult phase …….the struggle to stay together, the struggle to stay alive…. of burning the midnight oil, of frantic searches in newspapers and magazines for jobs, of giving job interviews….. “Just hang on….don’t let go”……

Finally my Bela Bose*** moment arrived…… only in my case, my Bela was there on the other end of the line…..

Chapter 6 : A New Beginning

With the sounds of Shehnai, ullur dwoni and saankh I arrive###, clad in the traditional Bengali Punjabi and Dhuti….. She awaits in an upper room in her red Benasari Sari…… rituals are performed…. garlands are exchanged… are stolen. Tears are shed at the Bidai….. As we depart for our home, she sitting beside me, it all slowly begins to sink in… it was end of one journey and the start of another…..

(And They Fought Happily Ever After)


Here my son, I rest my case. You be my messenger, and convey my message to her that ours was a Love that that overcame the hurdles of penury, caste, colour, status and inverted the accepted social norms……. and may be….. just may be….. one day she will understand…..

P.S. - The above piece was written as a series of Facebook posts to woo back the affection of my estranged wife.

(Notes -

***Bela Bose is a song by the famous Bengali auteur Anjan Dutta in which a boy telephones his girlfriend after getting a job. But the call came just a bit too late….

### This Para describes the Bengali Marriage Rituals)


The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

The time is Nazi Germany. The start of the second world war. Death is at its busiest collecting souls by the thousands. He notices the Book Thief for the first time while he is collecting the soul of her little brother.  Subsequently he has many encounters with her. Over the course of the book Death narrates the story of the Book Thief Liesel Meminger, her Papa Hans Hubermann, Mama Rosa Hubermann, friend Rudy Steiner and a Jewish Fist Fighter Max Vandenburg; and when Death tells a story, you really have to listen.

The story starts on a train to Munich in which Liesel Meminger, a ten year old girl, is travelling along with her little brother and mother. The children are to be given over to foster parents in Molching. But Liesel’s brother does not survive the journey and dies on the train. Her mother hands her over to the authorities at Munich and leaves never to return again. Liesel is then taken to Molching, a town on the outskirts of Munich, to her new foster home at 33 Himmel Street where she is greeted by her new foster parents the Hubermanns. Here she befriends a boy named Rudy Steiner. Over the course of the book we witness the life and adventures of Liesel and Rudy - the football on Himmel Street, the school life, the stealing of fruits and books, and finally the war.

Hans Hubermann (Papa) is a kind, loving and merry figure; a painter by profession who likes to roll his own cigarettes and play the piano accordian. He has already cheated death once in the First World War. Eric Vandenburg, a Jew and Hans’ dear friend saved his life during the war but was himself killed. When he went to meet Eric’s family Hans promised Eric’s widow and son that he would help them if ever the need arises. On a later date he would surely be required to keep his promise.

Rosa Hubermann (Mama), was once beautiful and quiet spoken as described by Hans to Liesel. But time has changed her. Now we see the picture of a squat woman “who looked like a small wardrobe with a coat thrown over it.” Her vocabulary consists of chiefly two words, Saumensch and Saukerl, which refers to pigs of the female and male varieties respectively. “Her cooking was atrocious. She possessed the unique ability to aggravate almost anyone she ever met. But she did love Liesel Meminger. Her way of showing it just happened to be strange. It involved bashing her with wooden spoon and words, at various intervals." But behind the tough exterior Rosa had a heart of pure gold as subsequent events in the book would prove.

Max , is the son of Eric Vandenberg. He was nearly two years old when he lost his father to the war. At nine his mother was completely broke and they moved to his uncle’s house where while fighting with his cousins his love for fist fighting began. Soon he began to engage in fist  fighting on the streets. He held a job at an Engineering Factory but was sacked in 1935 following the Nuremberg Laws of the Nazi Party. Soon after the persecution of the Jews began and by the end of 1938 Max had to leave home and stay in hiding. He remained in hiding for the next two years and was slowly rotting away when he remembered a promise made by someone years ago. He arrives at 33 Himmel Street.

The lives of all these characters meet at 33 Himmel Street (Himmel means Heaven). Here we witness their joys, their sorrows, their fears and finally the devastating effect of that war has on their lives.

Sketch from Max's Book
The book presents a picture of the Germany under Nazi rule. Though Hitler does not appear in person in the book, but we feel his influence everywhere. The ideology of the Master Race, the training of Hitler Youth, the hatred and persecution of the Jews, the horrors of holocaust and of concentration camps are presented in the book. Though the subject matter of The Book Thief is grim, but the author never allows the narrative to brood or slack but enlivens it with his dark humour. The narrator itself is no ordinary narrator but Death himself, who is shown to have a heart. He introduces himself, “I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable….Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.”  He threatens the readers “personally, I don’t think you want to argue.” But in the next sentence he reassures, “Please, be calm, despite that previous threat. I am all bluster - I am not violent. I am not malicious. I am a result.” The horrors of the war are presented through the eyes of small children and ordinary commonplace people.

Sketch from Max's Book
Despite its grim subject matter the book is about hope, about the power of words. Liesel tries to overcome her human condition through the strength of words. It is words which binds her so deeply to Max. Each stage of her progress is symbolised by the stealing of a book. At her brother’s funeral Liesel picks up her first book The Gravedigger’s Handbook which was dropped by one of the gravedigger’s apprentices. Each night when she woke up after having nightmares Papa used to read her from the book in the middle of the night. Then as her reading progressed she received two more books at Christmas which was bought by Papa by trading his hand rolled cigarettes. Then on Hitler’s Birthday in 1940 a bonfire of books was lit up. Even as the embers were cooling she managed to pick up a book The Shoulder Shrug from the ashes and hid it into her dress; the book burned her but she clung on. Subsequently she would steal The Whistler and many more from the mayor’s library. At the time of war during the air raids she would comfort everyone present in the basement through her reading. Max acknowledges the power of words and in his allegorical book The Word Shaker, Liesel is shown to defeat the Fuhrer himself with the power of words.

 I have just finished reading the book and my eyes are still brimming. It’s full implication is yet to sink in. It has touched me in a way that only a few books have. The only other books I can think of are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. The Book Thief undoubtedly lays its claim to be one of the classics of English Literature. It is not just a piece of fiction but a Human Document of immense value.

P.S -
Suggested further reading : The Diary of a Young Girl  To Kill a Mockingbird


“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” 
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

World Book Fair being held at Pragati Maidan New Delhi is one of the oldest Book Fairs in India. The first Delhi Book Fair was inaugurated in 1972 by the then President of India V.V Giri. Back then it was a biennial event. Since 2013 the fair is being organised annually by National Book Trust in association with Indian Trade Promotion Organisation generally in the first to second week of January. It is being promoted as Asia’s biggest Book Fair and it is here that I propose to find my true soulmate- Books.

The 2019 World Book Fair is being held from 05-13 January at Pragati Maidan from 11 am to 8 pm. The theme of this year is ‘Books for Readers with Special Needs’ and ‘Sharjah’ (UAE) is the Guest of Honor’s country.  On 05 of Jan I had an early brunch and by 11 am I was on a metro towards Pragati Maidan.  I reached Pragati Maidan Metro Station around 11.30. It is barely 05-10 minutes walk from the metro station and by 11.40 I was inside the fair grounds ready to explore a limitless world.

My first destination was the Indian Language Publishers Hall. This was a microcosm of the Indian culture and exhibited the diversity of its literature. Books from many Indian languages were on display here. From Hindi to Urdu, from Bengali to Punjabi the stalls displayed the rich and diverse literary culture of India. Being a Bong guy I decided to visit the Bengali stalls first. I was disappointed that only a few stalls were displaying Bengali Books. Still the rich literary heritage of Bengal from Rabindranath Tagore & Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay to Mahasweta Devi & Sunil Gangopadhyay was in full display here, my personal favourites being Satyajit Ray’s Feluda and Sharadindu Bandyopadyay’s Byomkesh Bakshi. But I decided to settle on the Pujabarshiki edition  of the popular  Bengali Cookery
 magazine ‘Hangla Hesel’, as I had to return home at the end of the day and explain my absence for a whole day to my loving wife. Bengalis love their food and a good cook book should amicably settle chances of any domestic discord.

Next came the Hindi stalls. Hindi books on a wide range of subjects, from the heartbreaking novels of Munshi Premchand and the intoxicating poetry of Harivansh Rai Bachchan to the glitz & glamour of Bollywood, were on display here. My mastery over the Hindi language chiefly consisted of my interest in hindi comic books as a child, so I decided to stick to the same. A visit to Diamond Book Stall and I was reuinted with the world’s most clever man, Pran’s ‘√áhacha Chaudhary’, whose brain works faster than the computer, and his sidekick ‘Sabu’, an alien from  Jupiter & the most powerful person on this earth. Then came my tryst with the Indian superheroes
Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv & Doga  from the publishers Raja Pocket Books (the Indian equivalent of Marvel & DC). These comics brought back vivid memories of my childhood days.

I have a four year old at home so I headed towards the kids section next. Einstein once said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent read them more fairy tales.” Hence, I decided to select a few fairy tales and bedtime stories for my little one, so that on growing up he does not take after me.

By the time I was finished selecting books for my family, my stomach was already crying “how can you ignore me like this bro???’’. So I decided to pacify him too.Though I had a wide range to choose from, from chinese noodles to desi pav bhaji and dum biryani, but the food did not look too appetizing. I decided on the Chicken Biryani. Though the food was rubbish, it provided me with the energy to conquer the final frontier - English literature.

Books from all the major English publishers were on display . My favourite stalls being Penguin Random House India and Harper Collins. From Tintin & DC comics to the classics like The Book Thief & To Kill a Mockingbird, from Indian Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik & the spiritual Life’s Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das to Sapiens & Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, Penguin India had a wide selection of books for everyone and from every field. Harper Collins is home to the undisputed Queen of murder mysteries, Agatha Christie and many of her titles were available here. Other notable authors include George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) & J.R.R.Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit). It
had classics such as The Alchemist and modern thrillers such as The Woman in the Window. Other notable stalls included Hachette, Bloomsbury & Pan Macmillan India. Hachette India had some of the finest books on Horror & Mystery, from books of the master of horror Stephen King to those of authors like Anthony Horowitz & Keigo Higashino (The Devotion of Suspect X). Bloomsbury was a treat for the Harry Potter fans, while Pan Macmillan had the books of such legendary authors as Jeffrey Archer. I was spoilt for choice. Next came the stalls selling old & used books. They had a wide collection and you could buy a popular novel for as less a Rs100/-. By the time I had finished going through these it was already well past 7 pm and the stalls were closing for the day.

I left the fair grounds at 7.30 with loads of books. I can hardly wait to go through these. I will be posting my views on the books in my blog in the coming months. Overall I had a great time at the Book Fair. My New Year is off to a great start. Wishing you a prosperous year ahead. Happy New Year.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges


Never judge a book by its cover, they say. Well, at first what attracted me to the British author C.J. Tudor’s debut novel The Chalk Man is the title and the cover of the book . The picture of a stick figure , drawn with chalk, with a noose around its neck is really creepy and intriguing. The book explores the darker side of childhood, the secrets that people keep & the huge consequences that even small acts can have.
The Prologue of the book in which a dismembered girl is lying in the woods and someone comes and takes away her head in a bag sets the tone for the book. The book is set in two time periods 1986 & 2016.
In 1986 we find a twelve year old boy Eddie and his friends. Everyone in this gang of five is known by their nicknames. So we have, Eddie Munster, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky. One day they go to the local fair. Here Eddie meets his new school teacher Mr Halloran. Together Mr Halloran and Eddie rescue a teenaged girl who has met with a terrible accident at the fair and this sets into motion a chain of events which ultimately leads to tragedy. It is Mr Halloran who introduces Eddie to the Chalk drawings.The idea takes root and soon the gang is sending each other secret messages through the chalk drawn figures of stick men. Trouble brews when the chalk figures start appearing on their own and they ultimately lead them into the woods where they find a murdered and dismembered girl.
Then after thirty years we see a grown up Eddie or Edward Adams in the year 2016. He is now a school teacher in the same town. Eddie thinks that the events of 1986 are are past him. But one day he receives a mail containing a drawing of a stick man and a piece of chalk. It turns out that all his friends have received the same mail. Metal Mickey pays a visit to Eddie and discloses that he is thinking of writing a book about the events of 1986. He says that he knows who the murderer was. On the way to his hotel from Eddie’s house Mickey is drowned in the river. In order to survive Eddie must now discover the truth of the events of 1986. As Eddie investigates he is in for a shock. 
We see the events from the perspective of Eddie. In 1986 we see the events as it appears to a twelve year old Kid. While in 2016 the world is seen through the eyes of a mature forty two years old Edward. To connect the two periods the author employs the technique of flashbacks as Edward reminiscences about his childhood .
Though it is Tudor’s debut novel but it never feels so. She is a skilful storyteller and writes in a simple, uncomplicated and lucid manner. To describe the horror of Eddie who mistakes Mickey for his dead bother Tudor writes, “Ghosts didn’t exist in daylight, or zombies. They only existed in that sleepy hollow between midnight and dawn, crumbling to dust at the sun’s first rays. Or so, at the age of twelve, I still believed.“ The characters are well drawn out. We have the jovial Fat Gav who is the leader of the pack. His humour is evident in the manner in which he describes people’s secrets, “Secrets are like arseholes. We all have them. It ‘s just that some are dirtier than others.”
Tudor’s love of the horror, of the dark and macabre is clearly influenced by Stephen King. There are enough scenes in the book which makes one’s hair stand up on end. The prologue, the discovery of the body in the woods, the bullying of Eddie by Mickey’s elder brother Sean Cooper and his cronies, the appearance of Sean’s ghost and the final struggle with the killer is creepy and horrific.
The only problem with the book is its pacing. The mystery unfolds at a very slow pace. A lot of time is given in building up the atmosphere. The narrative shifts between the present and the past and a lot of time and space is given to the activities of the children, their games etc. Also you feel just a little bit cheated at the final revelation, though it is quite unexpected .
The Chalk Man is one of the best mystery novels to come out in 2018. It is being hailed as The Girl on the Train of 2018 and undoubtedley it will be made into a movie soon. This book is highly recommended for the mystery lovers.


World’s most beloved detective is back. After the success of her first two Poirot novels The Monogram Murders (2014) & Closed Casket (2016) Sophie Hannah is back with her third novel in the series, The Mystery of Three Quarters.

Returning home after lunch Hercule Poirot is accosted outside his home by an angry middle aged woman Sylvia Rule. She accuses Poirot of writing a letter to her accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, of whom she has never even heard of. Soon he is confronted by three other persons John McCrodden, Miss Annabel Treadway & Hugo Dockerill each claiming to have received a letter from Poirot accusing them of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.
Barnabas Pandy turns out to be the 96 year old grandfather of Miss Annabel Treadway who had accidentally drowned in his bath three months ago. Poirot compares the case to the Church Window Cake prepared by Euphemia Spring, the young waitress at Pleasant’s Coffee House. Each slice of the cake is comprised of four sqaures. Likewise the case seem to have four suspects. When, Poirot starts investigating he is able to establish the connection of only three of the accused to the late Mr Pandy. John McCrodden seems to the only one who has apparently no connection with the case. Hence the name of the novel The Mystery of Three Quarters.
 Was the death of Barnabas Pandy a accident or was it deliberate murder? Who has sent those letters impersonating Poirot and what is his/her motive? Is a murderer on the loose? Will Poirot be able to answer the questions before someone else is hurt? The mystery deepens and family secrets start tumbling out of the closet as Poirot starts digging deeper.

       Here we find the Poirot we have come to know and love from Agatha Christie’s books. His mannerisms, his obsession for neatness, order & method, his love for his mustaches, his use of foreign words and expressions are all there. His eyes turn green when he has hit upon the solution. But instead of Arthur Hastings here we have Inspector Edward Catchpool of the Scotland Yard as Poirot’s sidekick. The story is presented through the eyes of Inspector Catchpool. Sophie weaves a web which is worthy of Agatha Christie in its scope, conception and execution. The Mystery of Three Quarters, is a delight for Poirot fans.  Thanks to Sophie Hannah we are able to enjoy the exploits of the Belgian detective after four decades of his final exit in Curtain which came out in 1975. Eagerly waiting for the next instalment of the series to come up.

How I Met Your Mother

Prologue Hey Buddy!!! Your mother has recently accused me of not being expressive enough of my love for her. Of not saying how much I ...