Saturday, July 25, 2015

About a girl

Senior journalist & author Avirook Sen speaks on his second book, Aarushi, based on the Aarushi Talwar murder case and its details. 

We are spoilt for choice of topics when it comes to writing books in India. The country is literally brimming with tales galore. Amongst contemporary issues to plague Indian psyche, the Aarushi Talwar murder case shook us and is still throwing up many questions. Seasoned journalist has come up with a book on this shocking murder case, titled Aarushi. The well-researched book (the author’s second) has the author speak to all those concerned and the revelations are quite shocking.
Avirook Sen speaks on the process of writing this book and his views on the Aarushi Talwar case.

What attracted you to the Aarushi Talwar case so much that you had to write a book on it – its sheer sensationalism or the fact that it is still one of the most mysterious cases in recent times?
What attracted me to the book was the larger story it told. Well, beyond a murder trial, this is about how India works—or doesn’t. 

What was the assumption of the whole case – before & after writing the book?
I made no assumptions.

How was your approach towards writing this book?
First and foremost, it was about a scrupulous reliance on facts. Everything in the book is either a matter of public record or attributable to an official document or a direct interview. 

Some might call the book a way of cashing on a much talked, chewed and ‘all over the media’ case. Did that come to your mind?
No it didn’t. All I thought about was the story the case told.  

Were you in touch with the Talwars regarding the book & how it is going to be written?
Yes. I did several detailed interviews with them, like I did with a number of other players in the case, including the trial judge. 

Public reception of book like Aarushi is quite dicey, I feel. You never know if how people react to it. What’s your viewpoint?
The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive—in every sense. I am grateful for this. 

How have the fellow journalists & other readers reacted to it?
Almost without exception in a generous and sensitive manner. Once again, I am very grateful for this specially because the book can be interpreted as being very critical of the media. 

Books under Non-Fiction, Crime genre like yours… One does feel India is a hotspot for them. As a journalist and now an author, how do you feel? 
I’m happy as long as people read it. And it appears they are reading ‘Aarushi’

Are you still passionate about journalism?
Very passionate. It’s the only thing I know how to do.

What will the author in you will be writing next?
Perhaps I’ll provide an answer in this forum soon. Till then, let’s just wait.

PUBLISHER: Penguin Books India
PUBLISHED: 6 July, 2015
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction, Crime
PRICE: Rs. 299 

Avirook Sen Photo Credit: 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Event Listings

Have a great Friday with Twisted Hertz which was formed in 2007 by Soundisc Anish. They sync electronic music with live Percussion. They also combine a diverse spectrum of musical styles, from groovy progressive house to the tech house, Bollywood remixes, dance music and minimal techno. You can catch the very talented duo live at Bottlerock - Restaurant & Lounge at Friday Night Live. 

WHERE: Bottlerock - Restro & Lounge, Sus-Pashan Road 
WHEN: July 24th 2015 
TIME: Gates Open @7 PM 
CONTACT: 7875604064

From July 11th 2015, all shoppers can be happy with upto 51% off sale at Shoppers Stop. The best Plus, the Shoppers Stop Golden Glow First Citizen Members  enjoy an additional 5%* discount  on the net price of sale merchandise.
international & Indian brands across categories will be available at Shoppers Stop, HomeStop, Mothercare outlets with Shoppers Stop,
WHERE: Shoppers Stop stores at Shivaji Nagar, Inorbit Mall at Viman Nagar, Kumar Pacific Mall and Seasons Mall; HomeStop store at Inorbit Mall and Seasons Mall;  Mothercare stores at Shoppers Stop – Inorbit Mall at Viman Nagar, Kumar Pacific Mall and Seasons Mall

It is no doubt that Tequila is one of the best exports of Mexico and is often crowned the feistiest spirit in the world. And July 24 is celebrated as Tequila Day everywhere. The United Sports Bar and Grill too commemorates this day. Buy 1 shot of tequila and get 2 absolutely free! Allow the smooth tequila to enter your system and make on a trippy ride to awesomeness.
WHERE: The United Sports Bar and Grill, Amanora Park
WHEN: July 242015

Be there to try your hand at making indulgent Nawabi dishes. Enrol for a special master-class by Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre’s ace Indian master chef Akhilesh Pathak. Learn authentic cooking methods using a selection of customary Indian spices. Expect to be treated to a lot of freshly prepared tasters during the class and also walk away with a sweet goody bag.
WHERE: Cedar Hall, Level 1, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre, Bund Garden Road
WHEN: July 25, 2015
TIME: 4 PM – 6 PM
PRICE: Rs. 600 + Taxes
CONTACT: 09923753744 / 020 67248250 (Registrations Compulsory)

Hear well-known SPINMASTER DJ KAZ with his mixing of music, looping, rapping and power. he has played with all the India’s top most DJs like DJ Aqueel, DJ Akbar Sami, DJ suketu, DJ Notorious, DJ Aktar, DJ Nikhil, DJ Nikhil Chinappa, DJ Nasha, DJ Amit and many more.
WHERE: The Flying Saucer, 9th Floor, Lunkad Sky Vista, Viman Nagar
WHEN: July 25, 2015
TIME: 9 PM Onwards
CONTACT:  919049016969/919860527992

Try chasing away your mid-week blues at Starbucks with a hilarious performance from Sapan Verma. Get ready to laugh your troubles away as you unwind with your favourite Starbucks treats. Don’t miss an extremely entertaining evening only at Starbucks Awesome Thursdays!
WHERE: Starbucks Coffee, FC Road
WHEN: July 23, 2015
TIME: 6 30 PM

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Event Listings


Corporates can breathe easy for good lunch, as April Rain has some special offers & menu for them. Chef Milind Sovani of April Rain has designed a special SIT DOWN LUNCH BUFFET. It is open for corporate meetings to team outings. The special designed menu comprises of lip-smacking Starters, Main Course & Desserts. Just flash of your ID card.
VENUE: April Rain, Ground Floor, Centriole Mall, ITI Road
DATE: Till 31st July
CONTACT: 8805310001

Blow away the Monday blues with Independence Brewing Company, The Awkward Fruit and their Stand Up Mondays. Meet the completely awesome Nitin Mirani or Mr Komic Surta from Dubai. He is called the 4th funniest person in the world by The Laugh Factory USA.
VENUE: Independence Brewing Company, Zero One, Near Passport Seva Kendra, Ghorpade-Mundhwa Road
DATE: July 20th 2015-07
TIME: 9.30 PM
ENTRY FEE: Rs 250 /-
FOR RESERVATIONS, CONTACT: 8888168886 or book tickets on

All South Indian cuisine lovers can visit Four Points by Sheraton, Pune to Flavors from South – A Culinary Journey through Southern India.Go on the gastronomic journey through the coast & hills of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Chettinad. 
VENUE: The Eatery, Four Points by Sheraton, Pune
DATE: July 18-26th 2015
Time: 7 PM Onwards
PRICE: 800+ Taxes
CONTACT: 7709006688/7387070301

Be ready to party in style at Atmosphere 6 with some BDM and EDM music this weekend.
Atmosphere 6’s DJ Jacky and DJ Ashish will spin some cool Bollywood Dance Music (BDM) & Electronic Dance Music (EDM). So all you city party lovers, chill with some high octane party, lip-smacking food and unique cocktails & mock tails.
VENUE: Atmosphere 6, Skymax, Viman Nagar 
DATE: July 17th 2015
TIME: Sunset Onwards
CONTACT: 9960700734                                          

Hear African born British artist, Ma Faiza who is the Queen of Electronica and has changed the way India parties. Spanning a love affair with music for over two decades, this artist has played at the biggest parties and stages world over. Now be there to hear her enthralling music for the last time in Pune (at the moment) as she will be taking a break. Learn more about her travels, etc. Watch it to believe it. Hear it to feel it.
VENUE: The Flying Saucer, 9th Floor, Lunkad Sky Vista, Viman Nagar
DATE: July 18th 2015
TIME: 9 PM Onwards
CONTACT: 9049016969/9860527992 

Punekars can party courtesy Sunit Zadav, a singer songwriter from Pune. Previously a founding 
member of the band SOS, Sunit is on his solo journey since February, 2014 and is going to launch his first EP this year. His music is a combination of Acoustic Folk & Rockabilly category, with subtle influences from Country and Blues-Rock. Catch his band live at Bottlerock - Restaurant and Lounge on 17
VENUE: Bottlerock - Restro & Lounge, Sus-Pashan Road 
DATE: July 17th th July.2015                            

Friday, July 10, 2015

Not in the literal sense

Author CM Palov speaks about her journey towards writing novels with esoteric themes and the process of writing an esoteric novel to reckon with.

While many have made religious conspiracy theories best-seller, few do justice to books on such esoteric topics or obscure religious & spiritual topics, which too can have a commercial angle. CM Palov is an author who comes with a heavy background to write esoteric-themed novels with a biblical conspiracy theory successfully. This Washington native, whose first name is Chloe, comes with a degree in Art History in arm. Ark of Fire, The Templar’s Code, The Isis Agenda, The Templar’s Quest and The Templar’s Secret are the novels, which have made her an esoteric writer to reckon with. Her books are a combination of well-done research and good writing skills. Racy yet revealing is how one describes them. In between writing, she has gone off on odd journeys, best described as quirky yet appealing. She speaks about her novels and the works in between.

The brief about you in books on internet does intrigue me. A degree in Art History, Museum Guide, English teacher in Korea, bookshop manager, a writer, someone obsessed with biblical conspiracy theories … how would you describe yourself?
I’m disinclined to divulge too much as I rather like being a woman of mystery. Although, joking aside, I do think of myself as being equal parts Right Brain/Left Brain due to the fact that my mother was a computer systems engineer and my father is an artist. And while it’s rather prosaic, given that I’m a writer, I am an avid bibliophile, continually adding to my book collection. Hoping to break my habit, two years ago I bought an e-reader. However, I’ve yet to take it out of the box.

What made you decide – hey, how about becoming a writer of esoteric thrillers? 
When I was at university studying art history, I became intrigued with the preponderance of symbols found in European art & architecture, beginning in the Middle Ages. Clearly, these were secrets hidden in plain sight. However, what was the nature of the secret? Moreover, who was it intended for? Curious to know the answers, and dissatisfied with the official explanation for all of this encoded artwork, I delved into the world of medieval occultism and esoteric studies. I’ve been studying it ever since, a decades’ long love affair. As for making the decision to write esoteric thrillers, since I grew up reading Robert Ludlum and John Le CarrĂ©, I was naturally drawn to the thriller genre.

With quite a few writers also into writing such books, is it a bother? How do you rate
C.M. Palov
Actually, I can’t rate the competition for the simple reason that while I write esoteric thrillers, I don’t read them (other than my own, of course). Moreover, I suspect that were I to follow the progress of other writers in my genre, it might stymie my creativity. For that reason, I find it best to work in a vacuum.

Your protagonist, Caedmon Aisquith, is not a regular hero. How did he come about?
I knew from the onset that I wanted my protagonist to be a medieval scholar with an Oxford background – the droll, professorial type. However, given the nature of the thriller genre – action scenes are de rigueur – Caedmon would need to have the skills necessary to extricate himself from a dangerous situation. Because he spent ten years as an intelligence officer at MI5, he has the requisite ‘kill skills’. In that regard, I suppose you could say he’s the thinking man’s action hero. Though Caedmon has both brains and brawn, he’s rather self-effacing. I do like a modest man.

Do tell us of how each book was created, thought about & written. Trying to offer something new & exciting must be tough, considering the genre you are writing.
It’s said that there are two types of fiction writers: plotters and those that write ‘by the seat of their pants, aka ‘pantsers.’ I fall into the former camp, being a methodical plotter. Each book begins in the same manner – with only the germ of an idea (i.e., ‘I think I want to write a book about the Ark of the Covenant.’). After this initial spark of an idea, the next step is to do as much research as I can about the subject, which, in turn, leads to other topics and avenues of exploration. Usually, I spend 5 months, 10 hours a day, researching each book. It’s from this vast compendium of research that the plot begins to emerge. 
Then, before I begin to write the novel, I create a detailed storyboard, outlining every chapter, scene, plot point, and character arc. Using this storyboard, I organize all of my plot notes and research, a process that can take upwards of two months as I typically have hundreds of pages to sort through. When everything is organized, I then commence to writing the book, which usually takes me about 5 months. From initial concept to being able to type ‘the end’, it’s a full year.
As for coming up with something ‘new and exciting’, I trust my instincts and my creative muse. Luckily, they’ve yet to let me down.

Esoteric thrillers – the fun & difficult parts of writing them.
I’ll start with the difficult bits – devising the hidden codes. In my books, arcane secrets are revealed and fabled treasures uncovered. However, before that can happen, my protagonist must follow a veritable labyrinth of clues hidden in artwork, architecture, stained glass, ancient manuscripts, and even embedded in the very landscape itself. All of these cryptic puzzles must not only present a challenge for Caedmon, but must give my readers a brain tease as well.
As for the fun part, in each book I set myself up with an intellectual challenge. For instance, in my first book, Stones of Fire, I had to write four quatrains in fourteenth-century Middle English, the language of Chaucer. In my most recent book, The Templar’s Secret, the challenge was to write a complete ‘lost gospel’ from beginning to end.

How are books like the one you have written accepted by the audience? Based on biblical conspiracy theories, some opposition must have come about.
I have some avid fans, which is quite nice. And to keep things in balance, I also have some avid critics who have accused me of being a religious heretic. I’m always mildly amused by those readers who mistake a fictional story for non-fiction.

How much belief do you have in the themes of your books?
By ‘belief,’ I assume you mean religious or philosophical conviction. Because I consider myself a spiritual seeker, my books explore ideas that intrigue me in that regard. For example, in the New Testament, there are eighteen missing years in the life of Jesus between the ages of twelve and thirty. What was he doing during that time? Did he travel? And if so, where did he go? Egypt? India? Britain? But even as my characters attempt to answer these sorts of questions, they are by no means my mouthpiece. As a thriller writer, I need to create conflict between my characters that is set against the dynamic, forward momentum of the plot. To accomplish that, my characters oftentimes express viewpoints or beliefs that are contrary to my own.

Whom do you read with gusto? 
I think Hilary Mantel is absolutely brilliant. She has such a way with language, with passages that are so pithy, so witty, that I find myself savoring each & every line. Another favorite of mine, also a writer of historical fiction, is Geraldine Brooks. While Mantel’s prose is lean, Brooks is full-figured, her sentences crafted in a lush, lyrical style.

What’s next from you?
I’ve recently returned from an extended sabbatical. Having written four books, back-to-back, I was physically and mentally exhausted. But I’m now back in the fray and have begun the fifth book in the Templar series, tentatively titled The Templar’s Cross. Without giving too much away, there’s a tantalizingly brief mention in the Old Testament (Book of Genesis) about the sons of God leaving the divine realm and coming to Earth to take human wives. This narrative about divine beings inhabiting our world, and helping and/or hindering mankind, can be found in myths & legends the world over. Just my kind of story. If all goes well, my next book will be released summer 2016.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Event Listings

Be ready for some classic & alternative rock music with the band Switch who combines melodic song writing with energy. The talented members are Pranav Chitanand (Songwriter/Lead Vocalist), Omkar Chavan (Drums/Percussions), Mitram Karar (Bass Guitar), Omkar Lolge (Lead Guitar) and Shubham Shende (Rhythm Guitar). Don’t miss some good music at Bottlerock. 
Venue: Bottlerock - Restro & Lounge, Sus-Pashan Road 
Date: July 10, 2015 
Timing: Gates Open at 7PM 
Contact:  7875604064

Ramadan means being truly faithful and relish the delights of Iftar. Be there for a lavish feast with
friends & family at the newly launched Food Story. Master Chef Arif Ahmed brings a special fare of specialties including Haleem, Gosht Kachi Akhni Biryani, Shaami Kebabs and Shikampur Kebabs. Desserts include the subtly flavoured Sheer Korma. Make the best of the religious fervor.
Venue: Food Story, Dhole Patil Road 
Date: Till July 22, 2015
Time: 7PM Onwards
For Reservations, Contact: 020 41216576 / 9021831119

Hyatt Pune Kalyani Nagar has come up with the Monsoon Ritual Spa Package, Monsoon Suite Surprise Package & Monsoon Delights Menu.
The Monsoon Ritual Spa Package at Hyatt Spa includes a scrub, a wrap and an express facial for a whopping 90 minutes at just Rs. 3999 all-inclusive. The Monsoon Suite Surprise at Rs. 8999 all-inclusive, offers special rooms with full buffet breakfasts for all registered guests, 15 % discount on food & beverages and other spa services plus special cocktail hours. Try the special monsoon menu – Monsoon Delights – at Eighty Eight, the all-day multi cuisine diner. The talented Chefs has come up with Teas & coffees with snacks perfect for rainy afternoons.
Venue: Hyatt Pune Kalyani Nagar
Date: Till July 31, 2015
For Reservations, Contact: 20 41411234 / 917798889653

Be there on July 15th at Terttulia as five upcoming singer-songwriters from different musical genres
come together in aid of the Sunrise Community Centre: an after school enrichment center in Kharadi. This will be an evening of unplugged, acoustic music, and good work.
Also, look out for a sale of some beautiful craft items made by the children of Sunrise. Be a part of an unusual concept – Pay What You Want Sale – where you choose from a range of beautiful bookmarks, hand-painted greeting cards, key chains & earrings, etc. Be there for singer-songwriter evening – cum – craft sale in aid of Sunrise Community Centre.
Venue: Terttulia, Lane 6, Koregaon Park
Date: July 15, 2015 
Timing: 7PM – 10:30PM           

Go on a happy mode this Thursday at Starbucks with hilarious
performances from Atul Khatri and Mikhail Almeida of Vir Das’ comedy group. It will be an evening of fun & frolic as you enjoy your favourite Starbucks treats. Don’t miss it!
Venue: Starbucks Coffee, Ground Floor, Amanora Mall
Date: July 9 2015

Time: 6.30PM Onwards

 This is the sale with an ‘Adventure’ Twist. A leading name in outdoor & adventure gear brand, Woodland attracts you its end of season sale. Check out an offer of 40% flat discount on apparels & footwear. Lay your hands on a wide range of stylish, sturdy & rugged merchandise at a reasonable price. Run fast as it’s a limited time period sale. Do some smart shopping now!
 Venue: All Exclusive Woodland Stores & Multi-brand Stores
Date: July Onwards
Price: 40% Discount on apparels & footwear