Getting Candid With Author Kiran Manral


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Spinning a Yarn of Life welcomes the gorgeous Kiran Manral. 

She isn’t tall but Kiran Manral author of Once Upon a Crush is sure a towering personality. A freelance writer, author, social activist, a twitterati and a doting mother Kiran Manral is elegant, witty, charming, easy-going and a very affectionate person. I have yet to meet her and yet I totally connect with her at many levels.

It gives me great pleasure and honor to share a candid conversation I recently had with her. We both wanted to talk about something other than writing and books so over tall chilled glasses of lemonades we began chatting  love, life and all things bright from two different cities.

Me-  Wondering how the word ‘crush‘ was used first as ‘having a crush on someone’, and why. The verb and the noun have two completely opposite meanings. What do you think?

K- Ha ha ha. I think a crush can crush you if not reciprocated….ergo, they do have some connection.

Me-  Am sure the gorgeous Kiran Manral is not “crush -proof” so tell us about your once upon a crush and the silliest things you did for him. What about guys having a crush on you .. any special recollection? 

K- Way way back in college times, I was borderline stalker with one crush. I think I scared him off. I really have no clue if anyone had a crush on me. My now spouse then boyfriend was probably too much of “Don’t mess with me,” scary for anyone to openly display a soft corner for me.

Me-  Now that we are speaking of ‘crushes’, do you like fruit crushes? Which flavor is your favorite? 

K- Mango. Strawberry. Kiwi fruit.

Me-  The interview will be incomplete without The Brat . You have a handsome Tween at home and soon you will be dealing with his crushes and heartbreaks. Are you ready for the challenge? Ever thought of writing a book about the ‘Adventures of Brat NowOfficiallyATween‘ or about the pressures facing by being mom to your son. We would love some sweet n sour moments from the life and times of brat and his mother. 

K- Oh yes, it has already started. Sigh. I’m now playing counselor and adviser about matters of the tween heart. Hopefully, I’ll get down to writing that out soon. Send positive vibes my way to get me cracking on it.

Meet The Brat in (Spirit of #TangeirneColorsOfLife with Kiran Manral )

Me-  Tell us how you met ‘His’ father. Was it ‘love at first sight’? Tell us about the wonderful element of romance it had. 

K- Oh, he was my crush at first sight, and he was completely unaware of my existence. He was this gorgeous, Richard Gere lookalike, national swimming champion, Student of the year, university representative, with a new girlfriend hanging off his arm every week. I was the nerdy geeky thing with my nose buried in a book. On an off-chance, the last month of college, we passed and almost dashed into each other on the stairs, I smiled, he followed me to the ladies-room, common room where I was going to, waited out till I emerged and has been with me since.

Me-  ‘Work Spouse’ .. hahaha.. I came across this term recently. I think it is all good till the two don’t start behaving like a married couple. Then it will be ‘home away from home’.  On a serious note, don’t you think that office romance or crush and ‘work spouse’ are two very different things? Latter could be a mature fulfilling relationship. As your upcoming book is on office romance I would love your views on the subject?

K- Hmm. I’m a little wary of work spouse, the term and the concept. It would be completely possible to get extremely close to one individual in the work space in a platonic way, but when it becomes a relationship that gains parity with your off work relationship, it could get a little threatening to your primary relationship–whether it is romantic or not. And yes, an office crush is an office crush is an office crush and you are allowed to be all sheep eyed around the object of your affection but if this morphs into a romantic relationship, do check the rule book about what your organisation permits and know that fallout from relationships gone bad in the workplace can be scary.

Me- Why write about l’ amore?  Are you a mushy romantic woman at heart?

K- Of course I am. Completely a mush heart. Ironically I never read Mills and Boon or Barbara Cartland romances in my early youth.

Me-  Do you love to travel ? Any interesting , witty, silly  incident you want to share with us? 

K- I’m not a very rough it out traveler, I need my room service and hot and cold running water. My husband is the kind who wants to throw clothes into a duffel bag and drive off into the unknown, as you might guess, this makes for some pretty interesting situations. The scariest I can remember is driving to Goa, with two kids, (one mine, another a friend’s offspring), and the kids and my friend all road-sick, and the spouse misses the right turn, we end up in the thick of some forest sanctuary, run out of petrol and dusk setting in with no mobile signal. I can tell you I have never prayed as much as I prayed that day, but thankfully I think we reached civilization just as the petrol tank was coughing out the last drop of petrol and made it to the hotel in one piece.

Me-  Your most memorable moments from school  or college life?

K- So many, but I think the most fun were the inter-college festivals, Mood Indigo, Malhar, etc.

Me-  Any obsessions? Jewelry, clothes, shoes, books …anything?

K- Ha ha, all the above. And make up.

(Guess Who is star celeb in this Dove Ad) 

Me- Tell us about a non working day at Manral House.

K- My house is chaos. My son trains in competitive swimming so we wake up early every single day school day or holiday. We have pretty much a fixed schedule, 4.30 am wake up for the boy, he trains from 5.30 am to 7am. I snore in till 6 am and then its to domesticity. The only difference on a holiday is that I am home, I don’t touch the computer and I nap in the afternoons. And yes, I try to catch up on my reading.

Me-  Any wild bucket list?

K- Travelling the world. Alone.

Me-  You have a serious side dedicated to gender rights, prevention of child abuse and other social issues and you constantly juggle between the roles a mother, wife ,daughter etc. but we also know of your witty, curious child -like side. Share some moments from that side of Kiran Manral.

K- Ha ha ha. You see that side, you tell me. I think having a child makes one a bit child like, you tend to see things from their perspective. I think the most recent was at a restaurant where the Justin Beiber song Baby Baby began to play when I was at the buffet counter with my son, and I couldn’t help but start singing aloud with it. My son was most shocked, horrified and embarrassed and threatened to disown me.

Me- Hahaha.. I can imagine the scene. Unforgettable and the most delicious moments of a mother’s life. No? 

K- Yes, absolutely.

Me- It has been such a joy chatting with you Kiran. Hope you too had fun. Many congratulations and good wishes for your new romcom chick-lit. Let’s give our readers a sneak peek into the book, shall we ? 

K-  Absolutely, the feeling is mutual and thank you for your wishes.  Here is the Synopsis of Once Upon a Crush for your readers.

OnceUponAcrushcover

“Rayna De, stuck in a dead end job with a boss from hell, zero love life and the big 3-O looming large on the immediate horizon, has started to panic a bit. No, make that panic a lot. Enter new object of lust in the office, Deven Ahuja, and Rayna is overpowered by inappropriate visions of Cupid aiming his arrows straight into her heart, with turtle doves doing their billing and cooing act in the backdrop.

Alas, Deven is completely out of Rayna’s league despite the contradictory messages he seems to be sending out, and is, as decreed by page three supplements of the city newspapers, the man in the life of the gorgeous, light eyed model turned actress Sharbari Raina.

As Rayna battles with her unseemly, going nowhere crush, shaky employment status and dithers about signing up for domesticity with the vetted by her parents, Sid Bose, of the multi zero pay package, the two and a half bedroom house in a suburban gated complex and the very cultured, respectable family, she discovers that life has its own plans….”

OnceUponACrushPromoimage

The book can be pre ordered here:

Flipkart

Crossword

Infibeam

Amazon

The twitter hashtag is #OnceUponACrush

 

Here’s a bit about the author: 

Kiran Manral has worked as a journalist before she quit to be full-time mommy.

Her blogs, www.thirtysixandcounting.wordpress.com and www.karmickids.blogspot.com, are both in Labnol’s list of India’s top blogs. She blogged at Tehelka Blogs on gender issues. She is also considered a ‘social media star’ on twitter by the TOI and IBN Live named her as among the 30 interesting Indian women to follow on twitter and among the top 10 Indian moms to follow on twitter for 2013.
Post 26/11, she founded India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims post 26/11 and has worked on long-term rehabilitation of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack victims and 13/7 Mumbai bomb blast victims, among others.
She is part of core founding team behind CSAAM (www.csaawarenessmonth.com) and Violence Against Women Awareness Month (www.vawawareness.wordpress.com), two very well received social media awareness initiatives across twitter and the blogosphere.
Her début novel, The Reluctant Detective, was published by Westland in 2012.

 

A Brilliant Review of ‘Collection Of Chaos’ By Sakshi Nanda


Sakshi Nanda is an exceptional writer and a fellow Indiblogger.  Bookmark her blog ‘Between Write and Wrong’ if you are fond of honest, balanced, eloquent writing.

I felt honored when she agreed to review my début book of poetry. She is a brilliant reviewer and every time I read her post it makes me fall in love with my own book. In fact I read it again to feel what she felt, to see it from her perspective. Each meticulously done critical review is a step in the direction of learning and improvement and if the book is received well it fills you with a tremendous sense of achievement.

The Adventures of the travelling book 

The book had an interesting adventure before finally reaching its destination.  😀 The travelling book’s journey began from my home and then during its one month adventure it ‘went places’, stayed inside my animator son’s bag (a test of endurance) as he had promised to hand deliver it.  For days/ weeks the book watched the game development in his animation studio, came back to me looking rather ‘stoned‘ ( its breath smelling of .. ahem..various things ). It certainly did not look  happy to sit on my book shelf again and  needed another adventure so when Kid 2 offered to take it, the book happily took off with him to his home where it stayed in a sort of déjà vu ( scars of certain memories began to throb inside it). Finally one day after almost a month of chaos  I got a message from Sakshi, ” And the book is finally with me. This will be read and reviewed before any other now. So happy!!

 

 

Much to my relief and pleasure it finally found home with her rightful owner and thus ended the adventures of the travelling book.:D

 

Photo credit Sakshi.

Here are some excerpts from the book review :

“What are the poems about? About the dark underbelly of city life and the dreariness of the country’s. Poem after poem, Tikuli explores bitter truths of social existence. She shuttles between controlled rage and uncontrollable empathy to draw vivid but disturbing pictures of conflict and chaos – both within beings and around them too. The poetry is not pleasant, and neither is it kind. It was not born to delight but to shock you out of your comfort zone. Her recurrent imagery is of black crows, crushed flowers, shadows, solitude and silence. Tikuli writes about refugees and loneliness, martyrdom, mad women, farmer suicides and honour killing. She removes the veil off wifedom and even shows us the mind behind prostitution. There are labourer women and those being abused in plush settings. Old age and widowhood. Emotional infidelity, divorce and even rape. Yes, like I said, these poems are not kind. They are too real to care to be polite. Much like some of Jayanta Mahapatra’s poetry. Like his ‘Hunger’, for instance, which I read so many years back but which refuses to leave me for the stark reality it threw at me, and which this poetry reminded me of.”

The poetry in ‘Collection of Chaos’ must be read. For those who enjoy structural unconventionality in poetry coupled with bold issues usually made invisible, this book offers a most mature poetry. For those who like it lyrical and light, the verses on nature will leave a permanent impression on your minds. And for some others who like to take it slow, to read a poem a day, know that each poem of this book is like a world in itself – offering you thoughts to think and maybe ideas to pen even. I got mine! “

(excerpts shared with permission of the author)

To read the full review please visit  –

Book Review – Collection Of Chaos By Tikuli 

Thank you Sakshi  for reading, understanding and bringing it out for others to take notice. It is a gift of joy for me. 

Readers can buy my book from all online booksellers including:

Flipkart 

Amazon 

Book Depository 

You can rate / post your reviews on your blogs , on the above mentioned sites or Goodreads.

Two Poems


Poetry is..

Winter sun
tangy sweet
in my garden

Mandarin Orange

1

poetry is
clutter on desk
laundry in basket
dishes in the sink
Victoria’s secret on the chair
upturned book on the bed
fresh brew of coffee
birds roosting at dusk
the pin wheel over my bed
a cricket match below my window
a sugar crystal
walking back to its home in the corner of the wall
corn kennels popping inside the microwave
butter pop corns
the spider meditating in her web
the wasp caught between life and death
the drone of the refrigerator
the sizzle in the pan
poetry is
the meal cooked together
never eaten
it is silence of things
poetry is
the unexpected
and sometimes the expected
Poetry is
a simple joy
a surprise call
from a faraway friend
poetry is
what and where you want it to be

*************

 2

 

while a poem sparks through a seed of wonder 
and reaches up to the sky
another swiftly travels
deep and beyond 
in complex tangles 
under the surface of the soil
proliferating out below and in all directions
under debris and filth of cities, 
along the grassy river beds
further down 
into the ocean bed
slithering beneath countries, continents 
into the deep forests
under the desolate deserts
through the heart of frozen mountains
birthing new poems 
conjoined by the same consciousness
same essence 
of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void.

 

Sometimes The Scars bleed


Sometimes 
falling all the way in
is the only way out.
Sometimes 
time is all 
that’s left between two people.
Frozen.
Everything else melts.
Sometimes 
only the reflection are clear
rest is all distorted.
Sometimes 
what is straight 
is twisted 
the temple of love
just a deception.
Sometimes 
the message lies
in the shadows and the dust .
Sometimes 
the light doesn’t 
guide you home.
Sometimes 
the best stories 
are written in the margins.
Sometimes 
the drama isn’t 
in the script.

Some wounds
run too deep for healing
sometimes
the scars bleed.

From My Window – 3


Post 3 in the series ‘ From My Window’

The window on the first floor was not visible from outside unless you had keen eyes and knew the  various facets of the house. The construction was  old style,  steep narrow staircase, high ceilings, a tin shed in the backyard,  similar one in the front courtyard, a sweet basil plant in a corner(planted a little higher than the rest of the kitchen plants), wooden door with an iron chain latch that opened to two small steps leading to a clearing where the milkman, washer man  and vegetable vendor etc. would come and spend some time  chatting with the lady of the house who would sit on a woven chair to do daily accounts and keep an eye on the happenings of the neighborhood. Sometimes other women would join her , especially in the evenings, and the group would discuss knitting patterns, family news, recipes and other things. Modhas or peedhees would be pulled out for them and the kids would run around like little slaves serving them water, tea or sweets whatever their mothers would send from kitchen.

All this one couldn’t see from the window but I thought it was necessary to tell something about the house. The courtyard at the center  had a hand pump where the domestic help would wash soiled utensils, clothes etc. Sometimes during hot summer afternoons when the humans would retreat into the coolness of the rooms the pigeons would come trotting to the tiny square around the hand pump to quench their thirst ,wash off the dust and grime and frolic in cold water. Rarely one would spot sparrows as they  preferred early mornings when there was also chance of getting pieces of leftover rotis.

In the evenings the two young mothers would  wash the dirt off their boys before setting them off to study. I always wondered how  they managed to see properly from behind the long veil of their sari that covered almost three-forth of their faces. I guess it was an art they had mastered over the time.

I had found the window accidentally. The room with this particular window was the last on first floor and was mainly used by the younger son of the family with whom I was spending a month before heading to my granny’s home in Pune for summer break.  The young man was a loud mouth, short-tempered rebel of sorts. Everyone kept their distance from him.  One day while playing with the kids I discovered the bolted door and insisted on looking in. Though smaller than the rest of the rooms it had the best view of the world and as the owner was away on a college trip I decided to park myself there when I found time. The other kids refused to even step inside.

My uncle got the huge Semul  tree pruned after a huge branch fell during a storm.  It was a chaos outside the window on the day the storm raged and uprooted a small Neem tree, broke a few window panes along with a hefty branch of  the tree which shielded the window from public view. Next day after a meeting the residents decided to prune the tree. I watched the three men cut the threatening branches while the birds protested in chorus from ledges and parapets.  Suddenly a whole new world opened in front of the window.  It now provided a wide view of the terraces of other houses, the white marbled temple top with a loud-speaker and a bright saffron flag that fluttered like hummingbird’s wings, the dusty playground where cricket matches went on all through the day and way beyond that the railway track which wasn’t visible but came alive when the local trains flashed passed twice a day camouflaged by the line of Eucalyptus trees.  However hard I tried I  never succeeded to count the number of carriages which flashed by like bolt of lightening.

In the mornings and evenings when the day was cool the old woman in a building on the right usually sat near her first floor window watching the flurry of activity, confusion and disorder of the world outside.  At times someone would spot her and exchange greetings. The fruit vendors usually called her to ask if she needed something and a few times I saw her dropping down a cloth bag tied to a string in which she would put the money after serious  bargaining with the vendor. He would then take the money out and put the desired fruits into the bag which she would slowly pull up.  The old couple stayed alone in that house and though the old man came down during evenings she remained cooped up due to her arthritis pains. At times I saw her muttering  mantras with a string of prayer beads in her hand. Her eyes looking into nothingness.

The neighborhood terraces were mostly empty during day time except for someone coming up to dry clothes or inspect the freshly made badis (vadis), or whole spices spread on a cloth for drying  or to turn around bottles of pickles put in the sun for maturing.  A network of hundreds of tangled electric wires dominated the landscape as they crisscrossed over them .

The most interesting activity took place on the terrace of red building on the left of the window.  Almost every day around noon the owner’s  daughter  came on the terrace  and lingered  around pretending to rearrange clothes on the clothesline or water the plants (section of their terrace was full of potted plants), after a few minutes a boy would come on the adjoining terrace, look around and jump over the low wall and land on her side. They would stand in the shaded area holding hands and talking. Usually the boy would stay for not more than fifteen minutes but on some days the couple would be more relaxed and sit on the parapet chatting merrily.  Maybe on those days there was no one to intrude on their secret meetings because on other days they would bid a quick adieu and disappear  from where they came at the slightest noise.

On holidays boys would fly kites or play on the terraces oblivious to the heat and sun.  Their excited voices would reverberate in the stillness of summer days.

During the evenings a servant in the building opposite ours would throw buckets of water to cool the terrace and then place charpoys for the night. As the power cuts were a routine during summers people preferred to sleep under the cool night sky. Sometimes the families would come up during the evenings and sip tea over local gossip and household discussions before heading back for dinner.

Not much changed outside the window except the sky.

Years later when I visited the house again, I found that the room with my favorite window was now converted into a store-room and the  view was once again permanently blocked by the branches of the semul tree. The girl who secretly met her boyfriend had married and moved to Delhi. The old couple had died a couple of years ago. My uncle lost his mother too so the gatherings at the main door were just a memory now. Much to the relief of people the priests had  brought down the temple loudspeaker after the authorities slapped a notice for using it during restricted hours and  causing noise pollution. So much had changed over the years but one could still hear the lonesome sounds of the trains passing behind the Eucalyptus trees.

 

 

Do read Post -2 

Raw Jackfruit (Kathal) Kebabs


Jackfruit

 

I love raw as well as ripe Jackfruit and apart from being full of vitamin, minerals, electrolytes, phytonutrients,carbohydrate, fiber, fat and protein, it  is not only a good source of calorie but contains no cholesterol or saturated fats. Jackfruit flesh, when ripe , has a distinct sweet aroma and is delicious in taste. It is called Kathal in Hindi and Phanas in Marathi.

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Today we will use raw jackfruit for this recipe. We make Jackfruit vegetable in variety of ways and one of them id Jackfruit Koftas Curry which can be as delicious as the Keema Kofta curry. Many people refer to it as vegetarian mutton because of the resemblance of their texture. Will post the recipe one of these days.

Jackfruit kebabs if done nicely can put any shammi kebab to shame or let me say it is difficult to distinguish between the two. This is my personal recipe and I would love your comments once you have tried it. I am sure you will love this preparation.

To make Kathal (Jackfruit) kebabs you will need

 

Ingredients:

Raw tender jackfruit (diced with seeds) – 2 cups

Bengal gram Split (chana dal)  Soaked – 1 cup

Onion -2

Ginger – 1 inch

Garlic – 4-5 pods

Green chilies – 2 (according to taste)

Clove – 3-4

Green cardamom -3

Black cardamom -2

Fennel seeds – 1 teaspoon

Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Mace  a small piece

Black peppercorns 5-6

cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch

Salts- to taste

Garam masala- 1/2 teaspoon

Amchur (dry mango power) – 1 teaspoon

Boiled potato – 1 (mashed)

Oil – to  shallow fry the kebabs (they can be grilled in the oven too)

Fresh green Coriander – 1/4 cup

Method:

Jackfruit Kebab Ingredients

 

 

First peel and dice the raw jackfruit into equal size pieces. Soak Chana Dal for at least 3040 min after washing.  Once the dal is soaked  drain the water.

In a pressure cooker  put the jackfruit pieces, dry spices, green chilis and soaked chana dal, one onion peeled and roughly chopped, garlic and ginger pieces, a little water and salt. Let it cooker under pressure on medium flame. ( two whistles is enough) .

Let he pressure cooker cool. Once done, remove the content to cool completely.

In a food processor add half of the content and give a few  turns. Then add the rest to give a rough texture. (Too smooth won’t taste or look good)

Take the mixture out in a mixing bowl once everything is blended nicely.  Add chopped coriander, dry mango power, red chilli power, finely chopped green chili and test the salt. Add more if necessary. At this stage add the previously boiled and mashed potato for binding. You can use a raw egg also instead of boiled potato. Add home-made garam masala.

At this point keep a small pan on flame and in a tablespoon of oil brown finely chopped onions. Add those to the mixture.

Mix everything nicely and make small balls. Flatten the balls a little with fingers to give them a cutlet shape.

Heat a non stick pan and put a little oil for browning the kebabs. place the raw kebabs in the pan and let them brown nicely on slow flame from both sides.

Once the kebabs  brown nicely take them out on a kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.

In a plate arrange the well done kebabs and serve them with Green mint and amla chutney .

Jackfruit kebab

 

 

You can mix tomato ketchup in the mint chutney to make Pakistan sauce (someone gave the chutney this name, can’t remember who)

Serve the kebabs hot. You can half cook the kebabs and freeze them for a day or two. When you want to use them you can thaw the kebabs and shallow fry or grill them till they brown from both sides equally.

 

Do let me know your experience if you try this recipe.

You can make kebabs with raw banana  or Yam in the same way. They too taste fantastic.

Enjoy !