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Snakes In The Meadows: A Beautifully Crafted Book

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Jammu and Kashmir is a paradise on earth. At the brink of nectar, the only thing that cascaded was blood. The novel is about a village community situated in Pir Panjal of Jammu and Kashmir.

The village had once been home to many families and happiness but that
changed with the militants’ rule. All the lives lost would not be in vain, once the people decide to take their home back.

It’s a beautifully crafted book, with each word well chosen. The language is so lucid that one feels visually transported to a hilly village in Pir Panjal, observing the characters and the happenings, in person.

Ayaz Kohli, born January 5th, 1977 in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, is a 2007 batch IRS (Indian Revenue Services) officer. Snakes in the Meadows is his first novel, and is making a lot of buzz in the literary circles.

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The Temple Stop: A Story Of Struggle, Love And Loss

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In harsh times, the only intervention we want is that of divine. When things go wrong, we hope to summon God and get rid of all evils that linger in our way.

The temple stop intercedes the divine subtly, uplifting the characters in the story from all their ills. The book captures an array of moments like the soldiers who go in to war to sacrifice themselves for their country or the families that struggle with hunger and helplessness.

The Temple Stop is a story of all those people who have lost something they loved but found ways to live with the loss. It is a story of love, romance, loss and beyond.

The author is an English laureate and has done a beautiful job with the novel. The novel is written in strong verses with even stronger emotions. The book is rich in words, sentiments and impact.

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Books & Authors

The Cover Story: Author of ‘A Year of Wednesdays’, Sonia Bahl, on what went into the beautiful, minimalist cover

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Author Sonia Bahl has always spoken about her cherished collaboration with the editor of both her novels: Pooja Dadwal, Deputy Managing Editor—Fingerprint! Publishing. We asked both of them to take us behind the scenes and unravel some of the workings of how A Year of Wednesdays came into being.

This is what Pooja Dadwal had to say.

Someone impossibly wise once said that knowing that now is all there is, and living every now for the rest of all your nows, is all there is to it. And if you do this now right, the rest will follow suit.

The story of A Year of Wednesdays began on one such now. But not between the characters. Not yet. The first now happened hundreds of Wednesdays ago, between the writer and her editor.

The editor who had collaborated with the writer on her first book. The writer who had never thought of writing a second one. And yet she did. The first book introduced the two, the second solidified their collaboration. But there was that in-between—there always is, isn’t it?— in which the editor, one fine February afternoon, finally coaxed the writer to send her anything, even a paragraph, of what she was writing next. No, not one of her screenplays, she said. (The author writes for the screen too. Or mostly for that.)

Pooja Dadwal (Editor)

The writer wasn’t, not on paper anyway—but aren’t we all writing stories in our minds and hearts always. And so the writer humored her—with an opening line sent in the space of a few minutes. Which the editor gulped down in a moment and asked for second helpings. Legend has it that the writer humored her editor again. And again. And again.

Lines, paragraphs, chapters, shared initially over WhatsApp, soon gave way to mail. The length increased, the story continued, but both never mentioned publishing. Not that it was a foregone conclusion—it wasn’t. Even though both now belonged to the same universe of books, publishing the story as a novel had never formed part of their conversation.

The story which had started as a message in February came to its conclusion in November. Only, it couldn’t. For that’s the other glorious thing about being in the now. After living in every now you manage to gather so many of them that they shine brighter than a thousand suns. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Specially so in the case of A Year of Wednesdays. It is the most superlative testament of the writer’s genius. And her heart. 

Sonia Bahl (Author)

And so the editor, who understood the literary weight of what lay in her hands, asked the writer if she’d consider bringing this out as a book. The writer, Sonia Bahl, agreed, eventually. And so started the formal literary journey of Seat 7A and Seat 7B, two strangers who meet on a flight from New Delhi to New York and end up talking through most of it. Actually all of fifteen hours and thirty minutes of it. Touchdown, and they go their separate ways . . . only, something stays. Something that refuses to leave. There are some knots which cannot be untied. Some bonds which cannot be explained away. All you can do is honour these. A Year of Wednesdays explores this very rarefied bond between people.

Heart aching and achingly familiar, the story gently manages to fuse itself not only into your thoughts but also into the very spaces between your thoughts. And in the bargain leaves you with an incredible wealth of emotions. Of being human. Of being alive. Indelible marks on ephemeral us. 🙂

A Year of Wednesdays: Behind the Cover

We asked author Sonia Bahl how the stunningly simple and Zen-like cover came into being.

“If the process of writing is a dream, the book cover represents the awakening.”

  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Clothing of Books

The cover for A Year of Wednesdays was a protracted, meandering, getting-lost-more-than-found journey. Here I must acknowledge the design team at Fingerprint! Publishing for working with me to find my way home. We started at point A, skipped point B, forked into dramatic detours, screeched into dark alleys, changed direction, and finally reached a destination we had definitely not anticipated when the journey began.

The book held so many themes. A moment in time when two unlikely people, from polar opposite worlds and world-views, are hermetically sealed in a common world for fifteen hours. A long haul flight. A forced  interaction due to a bizarre, near-absurd reason. It’s an amalgam of crackling moments of stiletto-sharp bantering and a brazenly honest sharing of what matters and why. Mostly, an uncanny, inexplicable connect that is entirely borderless. Age, time, place, religion, childhood, financial status, marital status, likes and dislikes don’t matter when you are sealed together for fifteen hours, never to meet again. The big one, which you don’t realize until it is much too late: the person will stay with you forever . . . maybe even change you incontrovertibly. Unconsciously paying homage to the Japanese notion of ichi-go ichi-e. Every encounter comes just once in a lifetime. No one encounter can ever come back. But it could last forever.

The cover art’s journey was almost as multi-diverse in thought as the journey of the two protagonists. It began with images of the sky. We worked relentlessly to communicate why it means much more than just the literal meaning of a plane in the sky. No matter which way we visualized it, it lacked in the richness, the fullness of the story. There were obvious, sometimes unimaginative, attempts to play with seats on a plane. Or a plane window juxtaposed with an unexpected view. Everything ended up being uni-dimensional, showing exactly what we were saying. Unable to create the perfect equation where one plus one will add up to the ah-ha of three. Seat 7B’s favourite number. Still, it felt imperative to acknowledge the sky. How could we not? There was such an undeniable role played by stars in their lives (without revealing too much). So we kept clocking up miles, kept moving down the star-studded flight path. The arresting beauty of a night sky, a stylised star map, a view of the changing skies across a long haul flight . . . all visually staggering. Some covers looked clichéd, others looked like they were textbook pictures for celestial lovers. We acknowledged it was time to opt for a dramatically different change in direction to get out of the loop we’d gotten stuck in.

Where was our true north? It’s A Year of Wednesdays. What can organically and emblematically embody the moving of time: one whole year? A year can contain multitudes. The passage of time, transformation, the cyclical nature of life, the ups and downs, the routine, the unexpected curve balls in the routines, birthdays, celebrations, important dates, daily minutiae, love, loss, redemption. And the inevitability of things. 

Nature. It says it every day, every month, every year. Naturally, eloquently, immutably. An artist’s impression of a leaf changing through the year became the understated, poignant symbol of all that we wanted to say. A subtle grey background, gave us the minimalist, Japanese aesthetic. A quiet nod to ichi-go ichi-e. The gold signature by the author, a suggestion from the editor, was used instead of typical font, to make the intimate story even more intimate.

We had landed. Home. To use Jhumpa Lahiri’s words, again: “The right cover is like a beautiful coat, elegant and warm, wrapping my words as they travel through the world, on their way to keep an appointment with my readers.”

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Books & Authors

‘Of Myriad Minds’ – A Poetry Book by A Young Author

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Poetry has a way of touching a person’s soul. With the prose, verses and rhymes, the words become even more powerful. Of Myriad Minds is an anthology of poems and prose penned by Swapna Soren, a young and budding poetess who captures emotions and presents them with words.

The collection of poems is a treat for all age groups. The poems and pros captivate the minds of people from all walks of life. ‘Of Myriad Minds’ expresses the feelings and circumstances in a human mind – complex, abstract and beautiful.

Swapna is around 20 years old and ‘Of Myriad Minds’ has four times the amount of poem in it. She hails from Odisha, India and is currently pursuing Data Science at the Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK. Her poetry compels a person to delve in to the book and read with leisure. The collection satiates the hunger of the human mind.

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