In which both my books get mentioned in a year end round up….


Fiction would include William Boyd’s panoramic and enthralling “Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay”, Kunal Basu’s searing “Kalkatta”, Kiran Manral’s frothy but subtly different romance “All Aboard”, Anuja Chandramouli’s refreshingly new take on primordial Hindu goddesses in “Shakti: The Feminine Divine”, Pakistani Omar Shahid Hamid’s jihadi noir “The Spinner’s Tale”, for a chilling portrayal of a terrorist mindset and Bangladeshi Saad Z. Hossein’s inventive black farce “Escape from Baghdad – A Novel”.

Two Indian writers who needed to be singled out were the subversively witty Kiran Manral, whose comedy of manners of globetrotting Indians was followed by an endearing account of motherhood in “Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You!”, and the versatile Sharath Komarraju, who produced a sexual abuse whodunnit, a Mughal murder mystery starring Birbal and the second volume of his Mahabharata retelling through the Kuru women’s eyes….”

Read the original here

The liberation of being a woman of a certain, ermm, invisibility

It first hit me a couple of years ago when I was at a store, waiting patiently for my turn to be served. And well, my turn never came. Others kept barging in, getting the attention of the sales staff, getting what they wanted. While I waited, until I quietly had had quite enough of waiting, turned around, walked out unnoticed, unstopped and realised it had finally happened. I had become that dreaded creature, the invisible woman.

I had seen the signs over the past few years. Heads no longer turned when I walked past, even when I was dressed to the teeth. People did not stop conversations to accommodate me when I approached their little groups at parties but carried on, regardless. I found myself stopping short of doing cartwheels and headstands in restaurants to get a waiter’s attention.

It is kind of deflating to the ego. You know that there was a time when you put half the time into getting ready and could guarantee heads on rotor blades as you passed. The compliments are now few and far between. You have folks walking right past you without even registering you exist. In the rush for elevators, you are jostled aside when previously you would be courteously given right of way.

What has changed, you ask yourself? In your head, you are still the same, give or take a few wrinkles and some grey hair. But something has definitely changed for the world around. Circa one’s mid forties, it is like a giant switch gets switched off and a woman morphs into some sort of translucency that makes her there but not quite there. The mirror isn’t so kind either. The midriff develops a mind of its own and that stubborn bulge which normally took a couple of weeks of sensible eating and working out to whittle back into normalcy, stays put, with squatter rights, ration card and aadhar card.  The hair that you took for granted and abused in persistent unspeakable manner by perming, colouring, tonging and other abominations, gives you a cheeky middle finger and begins dropping right from your crown into the abyss of forgotten youth, leaving you with a scalp that shines through no matter what you do.  The wrinkles refuse to fade after you stop smiling. The neck is stretched, the skin grows reptilian. You age. You become invisible.

Let me not pretend it does not affect one, it does. It does very violent things to the self esteem, bordering on first degree torture. But once you cross that dark zone and emerge blinking, into the bright light of realisation, you know that there are many pros to being invisible.

It liberates you in some ways. There is a sense of freedom to be able to go anywhere and know that no eyes are on you. Sometimes you can walk right past people and they won’t even register your presence, which is wonderful when you want to make a quick exit or avoid some dementors who are capable of tap dancing on your last standing nerve. You can go out in track pants and a faded tee and not give a damn because you know that the blot you present on the public landscape is going to be an offense to no one but yourself. You can listen in to conversations because most people don’t even realise you are around, and speak unhindered. For a writer, perennially in search of interesting back stories for potential characters, this is a gold mine.  I can walk down a street and know that no cat calls are going to come my way, no one is going to trail me on a motorcycle muttering obscenities and no one is going to stalk me till I reach home. I can travel at odd hours without worrying too much because I’ve got that older woman’s grim determined “Just you mess with me” expression that deters even the roadside eunuchs at traffic signals from being persistent. I can step out at any time and not worry that my appearance is going to be dissected by other women around me, because, well, they aren’t really looking at me, are they?

Most reports say that when a woman hits her mid-forties she starts becoming invisible. I’m bang on target. I assume it gets worse as the years creep up on me. I’m ready and waiting. Being fly on the wall is always much more fun than being in the thick of conversation to me. And yes, I realise this is the perfect age for me to actually seriously contemplate my lifelong ambition of being a spy. I have my own invisibility cloak now.

For the Open Road Review: 10 Tips to Survive A Holiday Romance

10 Tips on How to Survive a Holiday Romance


Holiday romances are common. But be warned; according to statistics, only one out of ten holiday romances develop into a successful long-term relationship.

Here are 10 tips on how to deal with a holiday romance:

  1. Understand the difference between love and lust: It might be love, but more often than not, it might be just lust. Don’t confuse the two. Accept it for what it is. If a person is moving too fast for you, and it makes you uncomfortable in any way, don’t hesitate to back off. And if this person is talking about marriage, or living together, or future getting-together-again-ideas, be wary.

Read the rest of the article here.

A review of Karmic Kids in Business Standard

“Stories of motherhood are in essence the stories of humanity itself, but most of them are not recorded – the ups and downs, the bonding and the battles, the frustrations and the fears, the hopes and happiness, and the tenderness and temper tantrums (latter not restricted to kids.. sorry, mothers!)

Unfortunately only a few happen to be shared outside family, and among these, most deal with celebrity moms or kids. Among the exceptions, and an outstanding one, was Erma Bombeck, and Kiran Manral, the author of this rib-tickling but endearing account of the roller-coaster ride in delivering and nurturing a new life, is a worthy successor.

A prolific and popular blogger and author of three witty, readable books, Manral proves her credentials with her first non-fiction work, growing out of her blog posts, spanning moments after childbirth to her most spirited boy’s tenth year.

She strikes up a fondly irreverent tenor right from the beginning, referring to her son as “The Brat”, but her real – and composite – sentiments are evident in the dedication – to “the sprog of my womb, sparkle in my eye, the tenor in my yell, the grey in my hair, and the beat of my heart”.

The first glimpse of her newborn actually becomes an attempt to see the “little mewling ball of flesh” – with the “first moments of the mother-child bonding were marred by the fact that I couldn’t see too clearly” (her spectacles were with a solicitous mother who had promptly kept them away). Consequently, “my first view of the offspring was that of a red blur that looked somewhat like a newborn kitten or puppy..”, confessing “maternal love did not well immediately in the maternal breast”.

And that was even before he began bawling!

Manral takes us down the years, in her same inimitably witty style, chronicling various milestones of not only her son, but also in her own life and role as mother.”

Read the original here

“Bombay’s own Bombeck” Review of Karmic Kids on Goodreads

“Bombay’s own Bombeck… brings this tense but vital period to vivid life with her own unique brand of humour, which has some key insights too (and some good advice from a range of experts, though a few can’t resist their own subversive humour). Should be essential reading for not only mothers and would-be mothers, but husbands and children too to realise what one woman faces – and usually masters…  ”

By Vikas Datta here

Namrata Sadhvani reviews Karmic Kids on

All through reading Karmic Kids, I had the hugest of grins on my face and broke into spontaneous laughter at so many intervals that my husband was quite worried. “The last time I saw you laugh so much was when you were watching that F.R.I.E.N.D.S rerun for the 1000th time. What’s gotten into you? Is it really the book that’s making you laugh or are you daydreaming about being Brad Pitt’s wife again?”

Because to me, that’s what the whole experience of reading Karmic Kids was- One Incredible Joyride.

It was just such a relief to understand that all moms go through that whole phase of feeling like “Mother Dairy” when have this HUGE responsibility of being responsible for another humans nutrition ( and in my case, two of them!).

All kids throw temper tantrums that could put “The Hulk” to shame and so did Kiran Manrals’ “BRAT” and yes, so did my kids and I’m sure yours did too! (C’mon, you can admit it. We’re all in the same boat here!)

When I read about her son’s obsession of “jakkid with jeans” in the third year of his life, I can’t help but compare it to my kids now when every SINGLE day they want to wear the T-shirts with the “bhows bhows’ on them. (To the uninitiated, bhow bhow could be any animal, or anything which even looks like an animal!) So much so that when I now go shopping for the boys I quite innocently ask the salesperson for “bhow bhow” T-shirts and am unable to understand why he can’t comprehend what I say!

I love the fact that this is not a preachy preachy parenting book, neither does it advise you on how to raise your child(ren). It’s just humorous anecdotes from a “chilled out moms” life in which she’s trying her level best to get her son to develop a mind of his own, and listen to her while he’s at it! I also love the fact that it’s so relevant to “today”- with references from Fifty Shades of Grey and Taare Zameen Par to The Exorcist and all Superheroes.

Ultimately, this book is a good laugh because EVERY mom will identify with it, and that I think is its biggest plus point. The language is very simple and truly what moms like me need to read to refresh themselves in those five minutes off we get from raising our kids.

I would recommend this book to every mom out there; it’s a great read and will definitely make you laugh at the absurdities which are all common to the sisterhood of motherhood.

Happy Reading everyone!

Read the original here.

Thanks Namrata for the lovely review, and so glad you enjoyed the book.

Karmic Kids review on The Reading Corner

If there is one parenting book that you need to read, let it be this because you do not need another one telling you how you are doing it all wrong. You need the view from the inside, that soul sister who believes in you and tells you that no matter what, in the end, everything will be OK. You need not be that mom who needs to excel in everything that she or her child does, need to take up every little activity and have an action packed day.

If you are that kind of parent you believes in time to do nothing, in having fun while parenting, in letting rules relax a time or two, then be happy, here is a book that tells you it is OK to do that.

The Parenting Journey
From the first day of the birth of her son to so far what she has learnt, Kiran Manral packs the book with anecdotes about her parenting, with pearls of wisdom and lots of insight on her parenting journey.
It begins with sleepless nights and just as one begins to lose hope then there comes the moment of crossover where the child is old enough to become independent leaving us with sad tears that the solid weight of a tiny body on one of the arms will be a thing of the past.

The book is not the run of the mill parenting book but an emotional journey which deals with the everyday concerns of parents which no one else can solve. It could be something as simple but as worrisome to us reader parents that the child is not willing to read or as mundane as what should a parent pack in tiffin boxes to ensure a healthy and wholesome meal.  Kiran shares her own experiences regarding these common concerns and renders the readers hopeful that one day, the child will learn to read.

There are personal opinions and life stories from various mothers who add dimension to the writing and truly proves that it takes a village to raise a child.

In her easy and light manner, Kiran introduces topics of parenting that we grapple with like talking about the birds and the bees and teaching children about good and bad touch and how easily the children interpret the same in a different manner, sometimes resulting us in heaving a sigh of relief that we have not permanently scarred the children in any manner by being too soon or too late in dealing with these scary  topics.

Read the original here.

The Dabur Chyawanprash Immune India Challenge: Helping the underprivileged keep warm in winter.

Winter is one of those seasons when immunity is at risk, children fall ill, miss school, and stay home riddled with racking coughs and colds. For every parent, building a child’s immunity is a major concern especially in this season, and for me, I’ve been a devout espouser of Dabur Chyawanprash especially after I saw how it helped my son stay healthy through winter, even when he was training in competitive swimming and spent winter mornings (albeit the Mumbai winter) and evenings in the pool every single day.

So, it is interesting to a convert like me when Dabur Chyawanprash takes on an initiative like #ImmuneIndia which looks at building up the immunity of children across the country. Dabur Chyawanprash began the Immune India School Challenge four years ago in a bid to measure the health of today’s school children and to evaluate schools on basic facilities to ensure a clean & healthy environment for students.

What is very encouraging though, is the new initiative they’ve added this year. This year apart from the search for the most immune schools of India, a new leg was added to the program to spread warmth amongst all and protect them from winter. Dabur Chyawanprash in partnership with Hindustan Times  has started a warm clothing collection drive as a part of Dabur Chyawanprash Immune India School Challenge 2015.  This drive would reach 1800 schools across 19 cities. The collected clothes would be handed over to GOONJ, another key partner for this initiative, for further implementation.

Goonj, which is well known in the sphere of disaster relief, is also championing the noble cause of providing warm clothes to the poor and homeless through North India through the severest winter. Their annual winter campaign seeks to raise woollens and blankets for those who need them the most, the poor who at times have neither shelter nor the means to get warm clothes in this unforgiving session. Many of these unfortunates lose their lives during the merciless winter.  It is heartrending to see families living in the open, in the biting cold that often sees temperatures touch or dip below freezing point.

This year, Goonj had a disaster itself, during Diwali when an errant firecracker gutted their entire godown and with it the warm clothes, woollens and blankets they had painstakingly collected through the year for distribution during winter to the poor and homeless.

A lovely way of involving young school children in a drive to not only boost their own immunity but also develop a social conscience, and a sense of responsibility to the welfare of those less privileged than they are, the Dabur Chyawanprash #ImmuneIndia initiative does a two fold job—that of providing warmth and protection from the cold to the homeless and poor, and getting children involved in the act of giving.