Author is not an alien

Author is not an alien
I write because we had deleted enough

Monday, March 7, 2016

SAKSHAAT 6.0 - - A Woman we love and she gives it back to haters – ANURADHA BENIWAL

Sakshaat was dormant for some time and I was constantly asked who is next. Call it lack of inspiration or the life’s turnarounds; I was not interviewing any new faces for Sakshaat. Here I am back with a girl I am in absolute love with. A national chess player, A wanderer, travel writer and a proud Indian, she does make quite a lot of people uncomfortable just by speaking her mind& this is what makes her one among the many voices that are drafting a song for the new woman.

How did I met Anu? One fine day while I was working for a development project in Bihar, I was given a role to conceptualize and lead a state policy. As it happens, the men who were asked to work for me (much senior than me) didn’t cooperate and things were not falling in place. When one day I overheard two people talking that they are not going to let a “Ladki” supervise them, I lost cool. I banged into a very senior director’s office and just blurted out. Though I am not very proud of the words that I used, this obvious sexism was too much to handle. Well, I came back to my desk, logged into facebook and the first thing that I read was Anuradha’s post about when she resigned from her job. I sent the same to my friend and he asked “You are resigning from the project?”

So the stalking of Anuradha started on facebook and I found everything about her  beautiful. Her “No Bra campaign”, her writings, her unapologetic attitude, her travelling, her Haryanvi and her family. We absolutely recommend reading her debut book “ Azaadimera brand” which is the first part of “YayavariAwargi” by RajkamalPrakashan, a travelogue of modern times, read this book for the sheer honesty and simplicity of this girl on her endless journey.

Here is the sixth interview of Sakshaat with a buddy who lives her life exactly like the way she travels- No plans, No regrets and overcoming fears, the secret ingredient is happiness always.

Q) Thank You Anu for “FINALLY” agreeing to be here?
A) Yes I am! Your love couldn’t be ignored any longer. You know, I tried! ;)

Q)  Tell us about Anu the girl in her growing up years, was she a rebellious teenager, did she believed in fairy tales or was she like just another girl?
A) I was never a rebellious teenager. I was a docile, meek, and obedient girl. I didn’t believe in fairy tales. I was never told any. I believed in hard work. I was told, only if I worked hard I will be able to make a life outside the daily “panibharna” and ‘gobarpaathna” in the gaon. I was told if I didn’t work hard I would have to pull water here all my life! And that was enough motivation.

I started playing chess as a child and was India number 2 in my age group. In Haryana I only played in boys, as there were no women player and I won all my age groups starting from under 7 to under 18. I use to practice 8 to 12 hours a day and became sub-junior national champion in 2000. I represented India in World Youth Championship in 2001, in Spain. That was my first trip abroad. And that was my first taste of freedom.

I was never rebellious. I wanted to be, I guess. But I was not. I was harassed in the streets like any ordinary girl, and I walked with my head down, I kept quiet. I only wanted a (silencer) gun at that time! But I never forgot. College (Miranda House) gave me a lot of strength and I revisited those streets with more confidence. I wandered in those streets again with my head held high, looking back into each eye that stared at me, till they looked away.

Q ) You were homeschooled, at any point of it did you have doubts about lagging behind the children who were attending school regularly?
A) I was playing chess all the time. My competition was not with regular school going children. I competed in chess tournaments and did well. I had very little interaction outside the chess world.

Q) Chess for you is……
A) Hard work, still! But I enjoy teaching it, more than I ever enjoyed playing it. I love teaching little kids chess.

Q) When we read Azaadi Mera Brand, we find that you were travelling just for the love of it and not for writing a travelogue. How did you convince yourself to give a shape to this book?
A) I was writing a lot of facebook posts while traveling if you remember.  Rajkamal’s commissioning editor Satyananad Nirupam came across my posts and made an offer I couldn’t refuse! It was a good excuse to document my travels.

Q)  An old adage says “Behind every successful man is a woman” , I want to ask you “Behind every happy woman, is…………..?”
A) Her girl friends!

Q) Your heartwarming appeal to stop the violence in name of Jat agitation resonated with many and also received backlash from many harvanvis.Your say on people saying that at one side you criticize our culture and then you preach?

A) I love Haryana! I am very attached to my people, my gaon, my mother tounge (Haryanvi), our songs, our food, our fields, our sitting together and laughing out loud, our dances and our dry humor! And that is our culture.
By my writing I try to smash the “nonsense” that is being imposed on us in the name of “culture.” Female feticide is not our culture, dowry deaths are not our culture, purdah is not our culture (if it is, it needs to be thrown out of our culture), letting girls not study or have an independent life is not our culture.

It’s time we define what our “culture” is, and root out the evils that are shaming our state. The shamefully skewed sex ratio shames our state and not girls wearing jeans. The number of domestic violence and rape cases shames the state and not women marrying out of love. We have to get this right in our heads now!

Q)  Coming back to travelling, Given a choice of solo travelling and one with your best of girl buddies, what will you choose?
A) 11 months solo, 1 month with girl friends!

Q) How do you respond when someone says that India is unsafe for women( I have often faced this question from foreign tourists on my travels)?
A) I traveled a lot of India solo. There was no bad incidence but one has to be always “careful” and that takes a lot of fun away from traveling. And still Jaislamer remains my favorite city in the world! Also because now I know how to handle “things.” I have dealt with my samaj so much that I know what to do when, it won’t be as easy for a foreigner.

Q ) This question is a little personal, I have admired your father. In a world where I find most of the men driven by fear and insecurities, I find your Papa one of the most courageous and yet unaware of it man. Tell us more about him?
Anuradha's family receiving Shantikumari Vajpayee award

A) He is quite something! He loves me too much and when there is so much love, there can only be freedom. He never attached his “naak” to me. He always said, “You’re my love, not my izzat,” you do what you like and I will always be there when you will need me. “Tumhare kaam se tumhare izzat hai, mere kaam se meri” Your doings can never affect mine and vise-a-versa!
Such unconditional love makes one very strong.

Q) Answer the following words in one liners:

A) 1) Awargi–with awareness
     2) Friends – girls
     3) Love–you
     4) Marriage – should be taken less seriously
     5) Sex – Right now
     6) Age - 29
     7) Wish list – travel till I am 90 (if I ever am!)
     8) Dreams – always come true
     9) Fantasy – Johnny Depp
     10) Hindi – Aaaah mother-tounge. Forgives like a mother. Easy like a mother. Soothes like a mother.

Q ) Thank You so much Anuradha for answering our questions. Anything you would like to say for Sakshaat?
A)Thank you for giving me this space and making me write about myself. It’s good practice for an autobiography!

Q) Congratulations for the award on your debut book and the efforts you are taking for the rehabilitation of people suffered from damage. Lest we say we all are proud of you.
 A) Thank you dost

P.S.- Anuradha is raising money to help the victims of intercaste violence in Haryana. You can contribute for the same at:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

SAKSHAAT 5.0 - Sehar's tribute to Anand Bhai

How do you write an obituary for a person you have never met? How do you say something about a person with whom you have never even talked on phone? The world of web is one amazing world, It introduces you to some of the most beautiful person, some crazy ones, some friends, somewhere soulmates and why to even forget THE STALKERS.

When I started writing a blog, blogging was something very niche, very "unknown to many kind" of a platform. I took a pen name Sehar, wrote my some of the initial posts and *PING* came a comment of “Anand Patankar”. Anand who later became our Anand Bhai was one of the foremost reader, admirer and a friend of Sehar.

Sakshaat is a tribute today, when I first announced “Sakshaat” column, he messaged me when I will take his interview on Sakshaat. I smiled and said “Very soon”.  He replied that may be after he is super successful, he won’t have time. I knew that was not possible.

I connected through Anand Bhai on facebook, had chats, long chats about passion, careers, travelling and so on. He loved photography and clicked some of the most amazing portraits. Anand bhai was a full of life person and yes he was my blog buddy, a very close one.

We never felt the need to even exchange numbers, blogs connected us, words bonded us. When Anand Bhai was associated with a magazine for “Food photography” he told me cheerily and I was happy for him. For he well deserved it. He had some exhibitions too for which he invited me. I was busy, we all are always busy until the things we should have said to a person turn into obituary.

I always reminded him that he has to click a beautiful photograph of me and he said he would love to. Anand bhai, you will be missed. Every time I will write a blog post, a familiar memory will cross my mind, of a smiling Anand bhai with his flattering comments on my writing.

His last post was “Dying is easy, Living is difficult”.

Was it so easy to leave us Anandbhai.

RIP Anand Patankar.

Up above the world so high, You must be searching for some new portraits to be clicked.

We will miss you.....................Sehar

Thursday, December 17, 2015

पेशावर ........एक साल बाद

 I was asked to pen down a memoir for a blogging challenge, i was wondering what to write and suddenly Facebook popped up a memory, memory of 16 december 2014, the day when in Peshawar school children were brutally murdered, a day when we were ashamed to call ourselves human.
So for #Blogchatter weekly challenge on memoirs, i am writing a poem on the #PeshawarAttack.
Never ever forget the small coffins. 

                   सुबह उठते ही कहा था तुझसे अम्मी
                    आज स्कूल नहीं जाऊंगा
                 बहुत ठण्ड है , थोड़ी देर और सोऊंगा
                    अलसाई आँखों को मलते
                    हाँथ में तुमने टूथब्रश क्यूँ पकडाया था
                    मुझे स्कूल भेजने के बदले
                    तूने मेरा फेवरेट टिफ़िन बनाया था
                    अम्मी ने बालों को फेरते हुए कहा था
                     इस जन्मदिन तुझे नया बस्ता दिलवायेंगे
                     और पापा ने डांट कर कहा था
                      बस छूटी तो हम स्कूल छोड़ने नहीं जायेंगे
                      अभी कल ही तो माँ ने नया ब्लेज़र बनवाया था
                      और पापा ने न्यू ईयर पर कराची का प्रोग्राम बनाया था
                      और आज़ छोटे ताबूतों से निकला मेरा एक  मासूम सवाल
                      कि टीचर ने कभी T for Terrorist तो नहीं पढ़ाया था
                      माँ  मैं अब कभी वापस नहीं आऊंगा
                      उस सुबह की आखिरी हंसी में रह जाऊंगा
                      पापा से कहना मेरे स्कूल ना आयें
                      तू देख नहीं पाएगी उन्हें मेरा ताबूत उठाये

“Wordsmiths are beyond words because they paint words and they write colors. Happy to be a part of #Blogbuddy program by @BlogChatter.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: BOLTU .........By Debaprasad Mukherjee

Boltu is a debut novel by Debaprasad Mukherjee. A story of friendship, relationships, struggle to survive and remain victorious where the protagonist Boltu transforms himself from a rougue element to a responsible citizen through the driver of Love, care and hard work.

Boltu, the protagonist, lives though different stages and emotions while growing up to be a young man. The neglected teenage in a huge family of so many brothers and sisters, quickly gets addicted to the darker side of life. In the turmoil he faces the malevolent truth of his life…

But, the boy is a dreamer. He still wants to make a name for him but is confused about his goal. In one episode after another, the reader is led into the increasingly desperate plight of Boltu and his enduring effort to overcome it. Finally his integrity and stick-to-it-iveness pay-offs through the respect he earns, the self-esteem he builds, and the knowledge that he could accomplish anything by calling on his inner strength. In this inspiring book, the author provides readers with the insight to put them on the path to discover the inner strength to empower themselves, no matter how great the challenge, no matter how impossible the obstacles.

Why you should read Boltu?

In his debut novel, the author has retained his own identity through his narrative crisp. His hold over the local terrain, local lifestyle comes through his living and working in those areas and he perfectly draws characters around the same. The distinctive literary style of arranging plots, creating suspense and developing the characters mesmerize the reader. It is a literary journey with the author where Boltu markes a milestone.
Read Boltu because it is a book out of the normalcy of life around us, Of love, betrayal, money power and selfless service. There are hundreds of Boltu around us everyday striving hard to make a meaning out of life and the author holds the tight grasp all through the narrative which intrigues the reader about what will happen next.

Excellent presentation by the publishing house “Petals Publishers” including the cover design makes this book a must read.

 Reviewer Rating - 4.5/5 stars.

Buy this book at  :*/9789385440038.html

Debaprasad Mukherjee surely has long way to go.!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


We are a family with sweet tooth, a huge sweet tooth but ironically diabetes runs in our family which implies NO SUGAR.

So i recreated pumpkin tarts, a favorite in my family with the sugar free natura and we called it “Sun with the cloud” named by my 4 year old niece “Pal”.

Ingredients :

Crushed sugar-free cookies (8-10 cookies)
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon flour
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/2 cup sugar free Natura
1/2 cup egg
Orange juice
Frozen whipped cream for topping


 Combine cookie crumbs and butter and stir them stirring well.
 Take Tart moulds and Sprinkle flour evenly over base of moulds.
 Press crumb mixture into bottoms and three-fourths way up sides of pans.
 Bake at 375° for 5 minutes.
 Combine pumpkin and rest of the ingredients, whisk them evenly.
 Pour evenly into prepared crusts.
 Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until set.
 Cool completely on a wire rack.
 Top each tart with 1 tablespoon whipped topping.

 So relish these sugar free pumpkin tarts without any guilt feeling and say  hello to your sweet tooth while keeping the sugar in control. 

 To know more about health benefits of Sugar free Natura and the ways to 
 substitute sugar in your deserts with sugar free natura, visit::


Dilli...........Truly made of great

So the war between the zones is on. When it comes to zones and their respective cities, the city that came to my mind instantly was dilli.

What Drives Dilli...........Obviously its food

Delhites love their food, their street food in particular and the way Delhi has unlimited "the famous ones" to savour, this city is a foodie's delight
Chandni Chowk, often called the food capital of India, is famous for its street food. The variety consists of snacks, especially chaat.
If you wish to enjoy it, shed your high-brow attitude to soak in the flavours and delicacies. 

Refresh yourself with a delicious plate of hot jalebis - a sweet made by deepfrying batter in a kind of pretzel shape and then soaked in syrup. Also, don't miss the Jama Masjid area that buzzes with activity. 

Design of Delhi : Its timeless architecture

As you walk along the narrow bylanes of this city , tread softly. Every wall has a history behind, every chowk has a story to tell. Every yesterday is replete with events. The city has lived through wars and rise and fall of the great empires.

Delhi remains one of the oldest surviving cities in the world today. It is in fact, an amalgam of eight cities, each built in a different era on a different site – each era leaving its mark, and adding character to it – and each ruler leaving a personal layer of architectural identity. I
The old city of Shahjahanabad with the  Red Fort(above) and Jama Masjid (below), and in the bursting business street of Chandni Chowk(left) are witness to the glory of Mughals.

  British architects Sir Edwin  Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker were responsible for the construction of New Delhi as Britain's new imperial capital of India. The challenge they faced was to produce an architecture that successfully combined local traditions with a statement of colonial power. New Delhi's urban plan, with its emphasis on wide, straight roadways radiating like the spokes of a wheel from major imperial landmarks, was a direct expression of British control.

Connect of Delhi : Its Big heart People

Because of its geographical location, its dilliwallas are an impressive blend of tradition and intellect. They are known to welcome modern ideas, they protest any injustice,are modern not just in their style but in their outlook too.People belonging to various religious sects, castes and lingual groups live together, eat together and party together. 

Photo Courtesy-Hindustan Times

Dilliwallahs  rush to their workplace in the morning and return to enjoy their hearts out in bustling malls and colourful bazaars with their loved ones. Late night parties, media goof-ups, fashion fiestas, luxury..and all these blended perfectly with a sincere effort to preserve their rich culture.The best example of connect is that  Delhi portrays a positive kaleidoscope of myriad religions, who dwell in perfect harmony.

So this is what makes my city- Dilli, a truly great city. And does it not remind of the tata motors and their excellence in "Design", "Connect" and "Drive ". 

To know more about #madeofgreat by Tata Motors, Visit

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Death…….And some wandering thoughts

Day before yesterday, my phone rang at 4 am in the morning, I am not a morning person so I didn’t wake up.But the ringing never stopped.

I picked up, it was in fact my father’s cell phone which I had kept with me while sleeping.

My cousin brother’s name flashed.

I was scared, my pessimistic mind took over and the hour of the day signaled bad news.

My chacha ji (Uncle) had passed away.

He was in his fifties.

He was healthy.

He was hearty.

He passed away due to cardiac arrest.

On the other end was a crying son and what was I supposed to say to him: Don’t cry (He should let the pain vent out), Everything will be okay (I knew I would be lying), We are in this together ( In sorrows like this, everyone is a loner, battling alone).

I didn’t say a word.

I could not say a word.

He has gone, never to come back.

Knowing fully well that death is the only thing that will surely happen with us all, we are never ever prepared for it. My chacha belonged to the millions of Indians who spent a major part of life in foreign countries doing a blue collared job sending back money to their family, remittances to their country and surviving out of meager in the place of their work.

They make plans, plans to have their own house, to wed off their sons and daughters, buy a land back in India and retire. And who does not makes plans, We all do, knowing fully well one single thing at that moment- We don’t know what’s gonna happen the very next moment.

Remembering of plans, I too made some

Two Months Before-

In a small diary that I write I had a well thought of story for my novel, novel based on the people like my Chacha, their lives in the foreign lands, their loneliness, their struggle, their songs, their longings and Chacha ji was my only source. I made plans and plans but alas the plans always came with a later tag. Sometimes career stared in my blank face, sometimes nothing came up but I never planned to execute my plan of going to my paternal village, making my chachaji speak and taking notes.

The evening when I finally decided that this is the best time to relocate to my village turned out to be worst time.

He passed away the next morning.

A Day Later

I was looking for solace, for words of support. I had thought that in a tragedy as big as this everything will come to a stand still. People won’t smile, they won’t breathe.

Did it actually happen? No?

Death- the single largest truth that never ceases to snatch away any of our plans.
Do you ever realize what is the most unsettling truth- the mad rush to settle down. The whole propaganda of settling down breeds survival of the fittest or to better sum up elimination of the weaker.

But can you ever call yourself fittest, think twice.

Can you ? You will always be weak in one or the other departments.

Start enjoying it. Death never leaves you any time to mend a mistake, to undo a wrong, to say the unsaid, to cry over a failed exam, to curse over a relationship gone wrong, to even say a goodbye.

Mend your mistakes, if you can’t just apologize.

Say the unspoken, Silence is what death is like: Brutal and mysterious.

Smile over your failures too.

Move out of a relationship gone wrong.

Say “I love You” to the people who care.

Go on a holiday because holidays make memories and memories support the ones left back.

Don’t equate money with life, money with care and money with family (Believe me, if it was possible my dad would have traded all of his life’s earnings for his younger brother).

Date life because like it or not you have to marry death one day.

P.S.-  My words have come out of tears, if it touched you anywhere, go say a “Thank you” to any one person who ever cared for you selflessly. That way share our grief, our pain and this difficult time.