Hi Readers,

There is a curtain shades advertisement in my country whose tagline is “Setting is everything”. I guess this stands apt to our topic for this month. We human beings need setting for everything. We need setting to propose, to celebrate, to mourn, to read, to write and to eat! I sometimes wonder if we would like a setting to die, if at all we knew the date of our death. I guess we all are pretty dramatic.

When it comes to books, they are a wonderful medium that take us to a completely different world. They take us to warzone, they take us to the North Pole, they take us on a chartered flight, they take us to Buckingham Palace, they take us to the lion’s den and also to the witch’s land. Book is very powerful and the story we are about to read is ought to be set in a perfect place.. because that is where the reader is going to travel.

There are plenty of my favorite settings. Almost every book gives me a unique experience with its setting and ambiance. If you’ve read the book “Room” by Emma Donoghue, you would instantly know what I mean. It’s a novel set up in a small room. I could feel the walls of the room closing in while I was reading that book. Setting up an entire book in a small room setup takes courage. I cheer the author. And, I must say its one of the best novels I’ve read.

On contrary, “Alice in Wonderland” is another by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is an entirely different set up. A magical world, amazing fictional place with peculiar creatures, the setting is rich and makes the reader dive right into this setting, while reading. “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg is another such fictional story which is set up in a train and equally enthusiastic. That’s one of my favorite book I’ve read in my childhood.

“We the Living” by Ayn Rand is set up in Russia with details of the critical times where communism was prevailing. It’s an amazing book and it entirely turns ones perspective around.

Setting especially plays an important role in thriller, horror and  mystery genres. If you’ve read any of Stephen King’s books, you’ll know what I mean. “IT”, “Pet Sematary”, “The Stand” are few of my favorites from Stephen King with breathtaking settings. The author Dan Brown, too, picks crazy settings for his novels like the setting in his novels “The Lost Symbol”, “Inferno”, and “The Da Vinci Code”. “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins is one of my favorite classic mystery novels with a beautiful setting. Agatha Christie is also another author of mystery novels who writes her novels in great settings.

The author’s uniqueness is revealed in such setting and in the detailing he writes about it without missing the tiniest of the things. As a reader, I imagine the place where the story is taking place by closing my eyes and putting all the pieces of the details written by the author, together behind my closed eyes. And bam, I can see myself standing right in the middle of the scene literally watching the characters talking to each other clearly unaware of me looking at them. That’s why I love reading books so much.

Purely because I read so many books, I’ve been to wine yards in Italy, been on Atlantic Ocean in a huge ship, flew in a Boeing carrying missiles during the war time, walked on the pastures of Scotland and believe it or not, I’ve been there in Antarctica, too!

Short Bio:

Fiction about Extraterrestrials Makes Me Appreciate “Being Human”

I heard a lot about UFOs, aliens and extraterrestrial beings when I was a child. Those were the times when a news story came up reporting a flying saucer spotted hovering over some city or flights vanishing mysteriously into space, etc, etc. I found these stories very interesting. Of course, I never thought we, the human are the only living beings in this huge universe. I totally believed there is life on other planets, far away from planet Earth and may be far more advanced than we are.

The first book I read about extraterrestrial beings was Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh. The book has special species which are super intelligent and math genius. This was overwhelming, scary and also very interesting. I also read a lot of other books that included UFOs and aliens in their plot like The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, The Hercules Text by Jack McDevitt, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney, Communion by Whitley Stieber, and many more. But the book that left a long lasting impression in my mind, memory and imagination is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Elon Musk said in an interview that this was the book that increased his enthusiasm in outer space and exploring it. After all, the details in the book are so beautiful, that it took me on a wild ride into the space that I’ve never been in, just by reading it.

There are also plenty of movies related to extraterrestrials. The first such movie that totally impressed me was Independence Day. It felt so real and this movie gives me goosebumps even today. There are plenty of other movies too, Species I, II & III, Star Trek and it’s sequels, Star Wars and it’s sequels, The War of the Worlds, The X-Files, Men In Black, Avatar and plenty of others. I like all the movies. But what surprises me is most of the times, the extraterrestrials are pictured as dangerous beings with weird bodies. I really wish to watch a movie with a very beautiful alien who is also very friendly. I know there are few but they are not enough, I guess.

The craft of writing a fiction that involves UFOs or extraterrestrials is pretty challenging. Nobody ever saw them, they simply seem to be a myth. Writing about something that exists is one thing, and writing about something that is a pure myth is a completely different story. But, the advantage is, since no one knows how it is and what it is, a writer can go wild with his imagination and bring about a creature that is purely created by the author. He can also make the readers believe what he wrote by giving plenty of details that no one ever can prove existing, but still find interesting.

Last but not the least these imaginary extraterrestrial beings always scare me. I like the thought that they are very smart than us but I really wish they share their knowledge to make this world a better place. I love my planet earth, I love the beautiful oceans, mountains, plateaus, trees, animals and birds on this planet, I love being human and being able to appreciate this lovely earth and the beings existing on it. It wouldn’t matter to me if any aliens existed as long as my earth is safe. I will choose to be born on earth a hundred times over any other planet. I love and cherish “Being Human”!



Book Flashbacks That Bring Back Beautiful Memories

I remember falling asleep to my mother’s wonderful voice while she read ‘Hattie and the Fox’ by Mem Fox. Books are the best things that happened to me. I’m glad my mom introduced me to a plenty of reading. There were not many things to do those days… no mobiles to play games, no Youtube and no Internet! Most of the times it was just television and even that was restricted. We could watch TV only for a couple of hours and not more than that. We’d get to watch a movie on Sunday and that’s about it. Amidst all this, my favorite thing to do was reading. I’d pick a book, stick my head into it and fly away into an imaginary world without a ticket. I’d get to know plenty of things by reading books.

I can’t tell you how much I fell in love with ‘The Polar Express’ by Chris Van Allsburg. I’m sure most of the 80s and 90s kids know about this amazing book. I never knew what snow is like. But after reading this book, I added visiting North Pole to my bucket list. The way the author beautifully takes me through the wonderful journey after I board the Polar Express is magical. The train took me through dense forests and huge mountains. I still read this book now and then whenever I miss my childhood.

Matilda is particularly my favorite and I must say I blame it on this book for turning into a book worm. I liked how smart Matilda is at such a young age and how she always stood up for herself and for Miss Honey. I must say, at some point, I believed reading books would land me magical powers. So silly of me! This is a wonderful book for kids even today. I totally recommend this one to my daughter.

Michael Morpurgo’s ‘War Horse’ is another favorite book of mine. I liked the way the author described how it was like during the World War not in a human point of view but in a horse’s point of view. I literally cried when Topthorn dies of heart failure. This is the book that inspired me to read more and more historic fiction in the later part of my life.

It would be a huge mistake if I forget to mention my favorite book, the Bible which had so many wonderful stories, about David and Goliath, Jacob, King Solomon, Jesus and his miracles and much more. And the picture Bible gifted to me by my aunt is still my favorite.

The best thing about the books I read during my childhood was the beautiful cover pages. They are so alluring and I could not take my eyes off of the books when I see them in a book store or a library. The illustrations are mesmerizing. Especially the illustrations from the books Matilda, Hansel and Gretel, The Tale of Peter Rabbit are wonderful. The illustrations from the book took me into a dream world from where I never wanted to come back.

I was so obsessed with books and stories, I still, am! I read books daily before going to bed. I used to bring home books from my school library. Let me tell you a secret, I used to hide the story books in my school textbooks and secretly read during my class hours. I read books sitting on the terrace, in the portico, under the bed, hiding in the attic, and almost everywhere.

These books ignited the imagination in my mind, made me believe in fairies, these beautiful stories told me that there could be dragons but at the same time, we could slay them if we are brave enough. I understood various cultures at a very young age through these books. I grew my passion for art only through reading books. I started believing in magic and learnt many values through the morals of these wonderful stories. I bet you all have your own favorite childhood storybooks. Tonight I’m going to dust off some of my favorite books, sit and read at least two of them and rekindle those magical days.

FATHER: A girl’s first love and a boy’s first hero!

My father used to be very strict. He talks less, smiles rarely, loves unconditionally and forgives thoroughly. I’m fortunate to have a father like him. He is my role model, my hero. I felt fathers were kind of underrated until recently. The Father’s Day helped, I guess. Still most of the kids don’t talk to their fathers as openly as they talk to their mothers. I wondered why.

Over the times, we’ve been seeing many fathers.. some around us, some on the TV, some in the movies we watch and some in the books we read. Father is the one person whom we look upto, the one person who takes our responsibilities. He is the one who not only gives life to us, but also, plays a huge role in making us into the person who we are today. Father is the one who protects us from this world when we are young and also, slowly teaches us how to fight this world while growing up. Even as a child, we are taught to kneel down in prayer and call out for “Father who art in Heaven”. We secretly hope for our Heavenly Father to take care of us, to protect us, to provide us our daily bread and to deliver us from evil.

Personally being a book worm, I found a father or more in each and every story. There are some impressive fathers in some movies and TV shows. I guess many of us look up to those fictional father characters at some point or the other. The most impressive fictional father figures from my point of view are, Christopher Gardner from The Pursuit of Hapyness, Mufasa from The Lion King, Bryan Mills from Taken, Vito Corleone from The Godfather, Solomon Vandy from Blood Diamond, and Ethan Webb and W. F. Gerald from The Only Living Boy in New York.

There are some amazing fathers in bible, too. Joseph for example, didn’t abandon his pregnant wife. He stood as a rock and protected Mary and Jesus. David, too, was an incredible father.

Being a father is about responsibility and immense love. Not everyone becomes a great father but I believe the effort to be a fine father in itself is a great achievement. We must appreciate all such fathers. On the occasion of the Father’s Day, I salute all those wonderful fathers who did their best at being a good father, all those fathers who didn’t run away from responsibilities, those fathers who worked day and night to provide for their families and those fathers who sacrificed a lot in order to make sure that their kids succeeded.

Mythology in Modern Guise

I grew up reading and watching about all the religions in my country and the folklore especially I used to watch on TV was mesmerizing. I hail from India and that being said, I’m sure you all understand what mythology means to me. India is a country of so many religions, so many stories, so many gods and goddesses and so many evils (rakshasas). There are plenty of books like Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavadgita, etc. Just like kids from western countries read fairytales to go to bed, Indian kids listen to the stories of Rama, Krishna, Sita, Shiva, Vishnu, Saraswati, Hanuman and more millions of gods while going to bed. Living in a secular country like India, I am aware of almost all the festivals that are celebrated in India by every religion including, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists ( There are hundreds of rituals for every occasion and there are hundreds of methods to perform each of those rituals.

We all know how the generations are changing and how well we’re attracted towards latest trends, fashion, gadgets, aliens, and a lot more. I always used to feel that we are growing distant from our roots, stopped believing in our faiths and beliefs and giving less importance to our folklore and rituals. The mythological stories I used read or those I used to hear from my grandmother were not plain religious stories but stories with a moral, a hidden message, a hero, a heroine and a villain and last but not the least supporting characters. They were complete. I craved for my offspring to learn similar stories and experience the magic I felt during my childhood.

In the recent times, I observed a huge difference in the current generation. I noticed that they are drawn towards fairytales, magic, Hogwarts, folklore, and a lot more. While the western countries were going crazy over this genre, I was worried for my own country India. I was worried that the great mythological stories of my culture and its rituals might be buried deep down the various other genres. That’s when I came across ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ by Amish Tripathi.

I read the book and I was overwhelmed. I’m glad Indian authors are exploring the mythology under the modern lens and putting it forward for the latest generations to read with perfect combination of mythology and current scenarios. If you want to read more such Indian mythological stories in modern guise, take a look at the list. If you are a complete stranger to Indian mythology, don’t worry at all, here is a list where you can explore your options and get to know various stories . Here is another list for your reference.

Most of the Indian authors are willing to bring forward our old myths in an exciting new cover. Few of my favorite such authors are, Ashwin Sanghi, Amish Tripathi, Anand Neelakantan, Devdutt Pattanaik, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

I believe mythology helps us believe in wonders, second chances, magic, forgiveness, and a lot more. Also, we ought to know our roots first and then branch out to other parts of the world.

Please share your views with me. I’m available at, I also write a blog named The Clipped Nightingale,  Please feel free to get in touch with me.