My 14 year old has introduced me to K pop. For those not in the know, that is Korean pop. More specifically to a group called BTS, a bunch of androgynous pop stars that jump around singing incomprehensible lyrics and looking girlishly cute despite being young men in their 20’s. She and her 17 year old sister have already picked out their crushes. How they can tell them apart is a mystery to me. All I see is a blur of neon colours, toothy smiles, hyperactive bodies and mops of hair.

I guess I should feel fortunate that my girls have no problem sharing their various crushes with me. Whether these are remote celebrities or boys they like at school, they insist on inflicting these videos or pointing them out at Parents’ evenings. I try my best to look interested in the former, and not look like a pervy Cougar at the latter. I stay non committal most times, knowing full well that the shelf life of these crushes is 6 months to a year, tops.

My own teenage crushes, which were very many, started with a black and white film that was made in the 50’s. I guess my hormones had just started their teenage dance when I saw this movie and promptly fell in love with the hero, who at the time of my watching this film must have been in his dotage. I would make up time travel scenarios in which I would travel back to his time and he would sweep me off my feet singing a melodious number, and we’d skip into a (black and white) sunset. That lasted all of a month.

Oddly, the next crush was as result of this very hero. When a senior boy at school stood behind me singing a song from this actor’s movie and looking pointedly at me, the transference of affection was a natural consequence. The song, roughly translated went, “Give me your heart, give me your heart, give me your heart honey (dil deke dekho, dil deke dekho, dil deke dekhoji)”. Subtle it was not, effective very much so.

I nursed this  school crush a lot longer. It never came to more than looking at each other in assembly, or deliberately hanging out in the same place at lunch times. He was too scared to make the first move, and I was too shy. One day he found a proper girl friend, and I a slightly bruised heart.

At any rate, I discovered the delicious joy of crushing on a boy that realistically could never be mine. From Morten Harket of A-Ha fame to the boy in the neighbourhood who wore high waisted jeans and turned up his collars, I was a sucker for a good crush.

Having a crush had a distinct advantage over being in a romantic relationship. For one thing, I never got into trouble with my parents for not focussing enough on my studies. To them, my sitting at the study table meant I was studying, not whiling away hours dreaming of these various boys/young men. Secondly, there was no chance of discovering that my idols had clay feet. Exchanging looks or sighing over posters gave me no insight into their personalities or characters. Which was just as well, because then I could use my over active imagination and make them into whatever I wanted. And finally, I could pick and choose whoever I wanted, whatever colour or nationality or geographical location, without having to worry about any kind of reciprocity.

Of course, as I grew out of my teenage years, I also outgrew these crushes. But what a wonderful time it was, while it lasted.

Therefore, as obscure as K pop seems to me, and as alien as these pop stars appear, I am heartened by the healthy response my girls have to them. If the price I have to pay is listening to an unfamiliar brand of music, it is no more than what I subjected my poor parents to.

With ‘Take on Me’ playing on a loop, and me staring moonily at Morten’s picture in a magazine, my mother did the only sensible thing she could. She shut the door on me.


The subtle art of Humble Bragging

Once upon a time, I knew a woman who had elevated boasting to an art form. You would never know it, but ever so subtly she’d slip in details of her latest designer purchase, or her lunch out at a talked about hot spot or how ‘in’ she was with the people that mattered. She was careful not to over do it, and combined with what seemed to be a self deprecating sense of humour, most people acknowledged that she was lovely, and undoubtedly had an enviable lifestyle. I thought so as well. In fact, I considered myself lucky to call her a friend. The only hiccup was that every encounter with her left me feeling slightly diminished. Sub consciously I felt that I was lacking and that I needed to keep up.

It was not till a childhood friend pointed out my recently acquired obsession with expensive bags and shoes, that I realised that I was behaving totally out of character. Sure, I liked the good things in life too, but I had never been so preoccupied with hoarding labels before.

When that woman finally exited my life, and all ties were severed, I realised what a psychological number she had done on me. In trying to fit in and be accepted, I tried to be like her and buy like her. Ultimately, it was patently obvious to the both of us that the very foundation of our friendship was weak, built on the quicksands of want and need and social proximity. It also took time and distance for me to realise that she must have had multiple issues and insecurities of her own, to have the incessant need to flaunt her lavish modus vivendi, however skilfully and insidiously she went about it.

I am sure that most of us have been guilty of the occasional ‘humble brag’. Where we really want to call attention to something we are proud of, but rather than openly and loudly (and off- puttingly) boast about it, we call attention to it in a roundabout manner. Where people think, “Oh, how modest he/she is about his possessions/accomplishments”. I know I certainly have indulged in a ‘humble brag’ or two. Yet, each time, I’m left feeling a tad bit dirty, like I’ve done something not very nice or befitting.

Living in the UK, most people do not indulge in self aggrandisement. It’s just uncool. If you’ve got something to be proud of as an accomplishment, the general rule of thumb is, you shut up and let others talk about it on your behalf. If they so choose to do. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with La dolce vita, then showing off is unnecessary and in very poor taste.

In the US however, self publicity is seen as no bad thing. Entire industries are built upon it. Look at QVC. Look at the Kardashians. They are shameless in their self promotion. Loud and proud is the motto that brings the greenbacks in. The argument is: if I’ve got it, I will flaunt it and the world be damned.

So what is right? The former attitude or the latter?

I think there really is no clear cut answer to this. Feeling happy and proud and announcing something to the world and his wife in an enthusiastic manner is rarely misconstrued and normally well received. On the other hand, being a braggadocio and showing off loudly and constantly is obnoxious and distasteful.

Worse however, is cloaking it all in a garb of humility. People eventually cotton on to the humble bragger and the insincerity of their self deprecation.

Subtle or not, drop the act or be prepared to lose all respect in the long run.

What next?

Two deaths have shaken me enormously in the last fortnight. It has led me to once again question why humanity is plumbing new depths. Why life is not sacred and death can spawn such vitriol.



I was away on holiday when the Florida school shooting happened. It was just another news item, and I read through it quickly, consigning it to the pile of mass shootings that have become too passé to even comment on. Tragic, preventable and a waste of life are thoughts that flitted through my mind as I moved on to the next news item.

It’s only when I returned home to discover that one of the girls murdered that day was a colleague’s daughter that it really hit home.

Let me explain: It’s all too easy to become inured to tragedy. After all, tragedy surrounds us everyday in so many guises. If we let everything get to us, we would be emotional wrecks unable to function. Therefore, as a coping mechanism, we start to build walls around our hearts, allowing few things to truly penetrate and hurt. This way, we function and also help where we can, in whatever way possible, without any emotional entanglement with the cause.

However, now and again, when something like this happens, one is shaken to the core. Gina Montalto was not just a colleague’s daughter, she was also the same age as my daughter. Suddenly I was one with her parents. Feeling their earth shattering grief as my own, asking the same question as them, “Why?!!”

How is it that a nineteen year old teenager cannot buy alcohol in America, and yet is able to go out and buy a semi-automatic weapon with the sole purpose of killing and maiming? Is life really so cheap that to this day the NRA (National Rifle Association) refuses to allow the law to be changed in any way, to make procurement of these weapons more difficult? Is it easier to arm the teachers than to disarm the potential killers? Are thoughts and prayers the only feeble platitudes we can offer?

It is laughable that providing teachers with weapons is seen as an effective strategy. As an interesting meme pointed out, if your child hits another with a stick, would you take the stick away or provide the other child with a stick too?

Boycotts and protests notwithstanding, real change can only come if the inherent ideology is challenged. For most Americans, ‘the right to bear arms’ is enshrined in the Constitution. As per the Second Amendment, this right allows any citizen to challenge the State if their freedom is threatened. Yet, look at the times this Constitution was written in. Could the Founding Fathers have foreseen how this right has mutated and violated the very freedoms they were trying to protect? How about the right to be able to receive an education without the threat of death looming over children? How about the right to a carefree childhood that does not involve lockdown drills and active shooter awareness in five year olds?

Constitutions are formulated by people. Human, fallible and mortal people. It is for the people of these times to decide what needs retaining, what needs amending and what needs eliminating.

As children all over America start to join the movement, holding up placards that read #MENEXT? , we have to examine our consciences and decide which freedom matters more.

If you would like to donate to the Gina Rose Montalto scholarship fund, please follow the link below:



On Saturday last week came the devastating news of a young, beautiful and fabulously talented actress Sridevi’s death. First reports indicated that she had died of a cardiac arrest in her hotel bathroom. She was in Dubai to attend her nephew’s wedding, and had seemingly collapsed whilst getting ready for a dinner date with her husband.

At 54, Sridevi was still in her prime. After a hiatus of fifteen years, she had returned to Indian cinema in a triumphant comeback vehicle, ‘English Vinglish’. She was very selective about the films she was choosing in her second innings, and was coming up trumps each time.

Having started her film career at the tender age of 4, she had acted in over 300 films. Straddling South Indian cinema as well as Hindi films successfully, she was widely acknowledged as the first female Superstar of Indian cinema.

Her untimely death came as a huge shock to everyone.

Almost instantaneously the rumour mill went into overdrive. ‘She was too thin’, ‘it was all that plastic surgery’, ‘her heart must have been affected by the number of times she was administered general anaesthetic’, ‘she took far too many diet pills’, ‘she was anorexic’, ‘she exercised too much’, ‘her lip surgery had gone wrong’, ‘she was trying too hard to turn back the clock’ etc etc etc.

Now understandably, people were trying to find a cause that could explain away why a seemingly healthy woman would suddenly die in this manner. Admittedly, a celebrity’s life is public fodder. Yet, this rush to attack, accuse and cast her as the poster girl of vanity was already verging on poor taste. Worse was to come.

The following day it emerged that the cause of death was ‘accidental drowning’.  Traces of alcohol were discovered in her bloodstream. No crime there. Yet, once again, conflicting news stories jostled with each other for top slot. ‘She didn’t drink’, ‘she was an alcoholic’, ‘it was murder’, ‘it was suicide’, ‘she had money troubles’, ‘her husband was in financial ruin’ – gossip, rumours, innuendos, falsehoods and fabrications that not once took into account the feelings of her family, least of all her young, teenage daughters.

Morphed pictures of her in a bathtub were circulated on social media. Overflowing tubs were shown on the news. This was the respect accorded to a woman who had contributed almost her entire life to the film industry?

Even as I write this, I have received three pictures of her dead body, with cotton wool stuck up her nostrils. Enough already!

It’s patently obvious, that we have no respect for human life. Can we not, at the very least, show some respect after death?

An acquaintance of mine who loves Instagram, once posted a blow by blow account of his father’s funeral on there. From the dead body being carried to the pyre, to him setting his father alight, there was no privacy allowed to the departed one. Everything was grist to the mill of his public persona. Was stooping that low really necessary? Were a few hundred likes more important than giving his father the respect he deserved?

Indian media is facing a backlash from the public that has finally woken up to the fact that there is news, and then there is yellow journalism. Screeching tabloids, eyeball grabbing headlines have no place in decent society.

However Sridevi died, the sadness lies in her untimely demise. She had so much more to offer to celluloid, as also to her family.  Instead of ghoulish conspiracy theories, character assassinations and mud slinging, let us celebrate her rich and varied legacy in films. Let her, for goodness’ sake, rest in peace.

For the rest of us, who remain mystified by her death;  remember death is not a mystery. It is a destination. Who knows when our stop arrives?








Imposter syndrome

Lately there’s been a lot of  “Who, me?” going on in my mind. It has not even been an entire month since I published my book, and the response has been very positive. Much more so than I expected. Particularly as this book was only a proverbial dipping of my toe into publishing waters.

Consequently I have had people asking for the book to be autographed, been called an ‘author’ on a public platform, been asked to hold a book signing event, to donate copies of my books for a charitable cause, to attend a book club meeting to speak about my book, and also an invitation to enter it into an International Book awards competition.

Who, me?????

Now, don’t get me wrong; I have semi-enjoyed all the attention. Secretly, however, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I am not deserving of it. After all, this slim volume of six short stories is no ‘War and Peace’. Nor is it Shakespeare. A lot of these stories are from very early on in my writing journey, and I know that I have come a fair way since then.

Therefore, I have to wonder if this is some kind of a Tsunami of goodwill that I am witnessing. Colleagues, friends and acquaintances that like me and therefore like my book?

Indie publishing is not an easy task to undertake. It is terribly labour intensive, and for a perfectionist like myself, it means many many sleepless nights. The worst part however, is the marketing side of things. Writers are by nature fairly reclusive people. Even though my friends can vouch for my gregarious and sociable side, they very rarely see the side that just wants to hole up and read or write. So, to actively go out there and promote and advertise my work, has been a very distasteful task.

When the fruits of that labour have started to come in, why am I so meh about it?

I can only put my apathetic response down to the Imposter Syndrome. Defined as a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments, and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.

Yes, me.

The stories are good. I know that. I also know that they are not brilliant. I am not there yet. Hence, all this attention seems overblown and undeserving. That’s the predominant thought in my mind.

On the flip side, I know that this momentum can’t and won’t last. So, why not enjoy it while it does? What’s holding me back?

I dedicated this book to my mother who was my biggest critic and my staunchest advocate while she lived. I often wonder what she would have said, and invariably, this is what I come up with:

Bouquets and Brickbats are par for the course. If you love something, keep on doing it. Give it your best, have no regrets and keep on moving forward, not looking back.

Thank you mummy. That’s exactly what I will do.



Parvathy’s Well & other stories

Well- this is it! The BIG announcement.

My very first book of short stories. A taster/tester of sorts.  A book that’s been in the planning for ummmm, let’s see, nearly 10 years! Actually, a lot longer. As a school friend just reminded me, I had dreams of being an author at age 16. So, those dreams have finally come to fruition.

Now, launching this baby has been a whole other ball game. Social media is always a good place to begin. I have an author page set up, and beside a tonne of my friends joining, I’ve also noticed some very suspect people adding themselves to the list. I went and checked one out. When I noticed he couldn’t even spell ‘frend’ right, I did a mental eye roll. It’s very unlikely that these people are actually going to download/buy and read my book. Sigh!

My Instagram author page is no better. When you have a page dedicated to pugs following you, you have to wonder what kind of publicity you are generating!

Never mind.

My hope is that those who DO buy and read my book are not disappointed. It is a serious read, and it may well be for a very niche group. A group that likes literary fiction, and doesn’t mind that the stories are exploratory of the dark side of life.

I hope, that you my dear followers and readers of this blog, are amongst those.

I will post links to finding my book on Amazon. If none of these apply to you, just look for the title of my book or my name on Amazon worldwide. Once you have read the book, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I am hungry for feedback and honest criticism. I promise to take it on the chin.

Here are the links:

Ebooks at:

Now, don’t all rush out at once…….









For those of you wondering where I’ve disappeared to, I am still very much around! I have been working on a project that I hope to announce soon, so watch this space….

Needless to say, I am quite nervous about how this will be received. Aside of the time and work I’ve put into it, there is also the apprehension of being in uncharted territory. Without giving too much away, I would like to enlist all you loyal followers to help me out a bit. The hows and the whys I will detail in a later blog post.

Till then, let me reassure you that I am still going to keep blogging about all kinds of things. Just bear with me, till I find my bearings.