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INTERVIEW- VIJAY MEDTIA Author of IN GOD’S COUNTRY, KARWAR

 

Extracts from IN GOD’S COUNTRY, KARWAR.

 

HE told his wife a lie. There was nothing unusual about this for Satish Verma lied often. He usually said he was working late and that he might spend the night at the office. Her reaction was the same, an indifference, a lack of care. The marriage had failed in so many ways, and after nearly twenty years, it was time to make a clean break. He drove out of Karwar and headed north towards Goa. The journey would take over an hour, but he was looking forward to meeting the other woman. 

 

THE Ocean sound is what you hear first, loud all-encompassing waves rolling in from the Arabian Sea. The wind blows and sways the palm trees on the beach, broad leaves rustling to a peaceful rhythm. Birds flock and fight, each one more exotic than the next. Fishermen throw nets from colourful wooden boats. The perfect idle however was brutally disturbed. Life has the cruel capacity to cause pain when least expected.

 

Tell us about your new crime novel, In God’s Country, Karwar, and what inspired you to write it?

The novel is a story of long-lost love, friendship and murder set in the scenic coastal town of Karwar, India. The place is close to Goa, with which readers are more familiar. This is my fourth novel, and my last few were set in Mumbai. When I started to write this novel, I wanted a new setting and location for my story, and I found Karwar to be the perfect setting; a scenic, coastal town facing the Arabian Sea. It would contrast against the murders that take place there. 

Inspector Rock of the Karwar Police investigates the unexpected murders without apparent motive. Running parallel to the investigation will be a love story and how that impacts the story. The main inspiration however for the story were the central characters that formed in my mind, and the location worked as a compliment to the novel.

What is your novel writing process? How long did it take to write the novel? What keeps you motivated throughout?

Every writer has their own writing process. It’s not a formula, and that’s part of the fascination for readers, i.e., how do writers produce novels? I write the first draft by pen and paper. I have always done it this way and it has become my ritual you can say. I prefer the natural flow onto the paper without the laptop constantly interfering with spelling and grammar checks at this early stage. Hemingway and other great writers wrote with pen and paper, and if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me. After a second draft, I type onto the laptop and start to edit. This can take several rounds. It's good for a writer to learn how to edit. There are many tips on the net. A good tip is, ‘less is more.Avoid adjectives and adverbs if possible.’

This novel took the best part of a year to write, trying to find time between work/life commitments. Don’t let anyone tell you writing is easy!

Regards motivation to keep writing, that’s a tough question. You try to do your best and don’t worry too much if the novel will be published or not. I have several unpublished novels.Try to stay in the present and do the best you can. Keep writing regularly, and read other good novelists. If the story is working then that will keep you motivated. If the story is dragging, you need to look at it and change it perhaps.

You explore many themes in your novel, friendship, love and of course the investigation of murders. What did you want your readers to understand through your observations?

Yes, it’s a crime story first and foremost, but I wanted to explore love and friendship. It was a new challenge and I wanted to see how the characters responded to sudden loss, how they coped with the inevitable grieving process, how did they overcome the great challenges. The characters often surprised meYou plan to write one chapter and the character steps in and writes another. The magic of writing always surprises me, and I often wonder who is actually writing the story.

The readers are intelligent enough, my first aim however is for them to enjoy the story, to be entertained, my novels contain humour and intrigue hopefully. I am also showing a mirror to society and I try not to make judgements. That I leave for the readers.

What is your experience of getting published in Mumbai, India?

Very good and positive. My first two novels, The House of Subadar, and The Missing Husband, were published by UK Publishers. 

My third novel, The Lost Woman of Santacruz and my new novel, In God’s Country, Karwar are published in India by my publisher Leadstart. They have worked well with me and have good bookstore distribution in India. The novel received good reviews and media coverage. And we are hoping the same again and more. India is a huge market and my books are gaining attention there. This is something others writers should consider, you don’t have to just submit to UK agents and publishers.

My last novel, The Lost Woman of Santacruz, which introduced Inspector Ajay Shaktawat, has interest from an Indian Film and tv production house, to turn the novel into a film or a ten-part crime drama for OTT platforms. So, this is an exciting development for any writer as you can imagine.

What advice would you give to anyone who is working on their first novel?

Finish the first draft, good or bad.

Try not to re-write before finishing the first draft.

Read good writers in your chosen genre and beyond.

Learn how to edit.

Don’t quit your day job, you will need the money to write.

Write some short stories.

Good luck.

Vijay Medtia is a novelist and short story writer, based in the UK. He visits India regularly for his inspiration. In God’s Country, Karwar, is his fourth novel. His debut novel, The House of Subadar, was published by Arcadia Books, UK in 2007. It was short-listed for the Glenn Dimplex, Literary Prize, Dublin 2008. He has had several short stories published in the UK and India. His recent short story, ‘Master Chef,’ was published by the Singapore based literary magazine Kitaab.org in July 2023. His second novel, The Missing Husband, was published by Crocus Books, UK, 2019 and received good reviews.

His third novel was The Lost Woman of Santacruz, published by Leadstart, India, 2021. Again, it received good reviews from readers and the media. There is interestfrom a TV and film production house in India, to turn The Lost Woman of Santacruz into a film or a ten-part crime drama. 

He likes the quote, ‘There is nothing impossible for him who will try,’ by Alexander the Great. 

IN GOD’S COUNTRY, KARWAR was published  October, 2023. Book available as a paperback and ebookvia amazon.

Website- vijaymedtia .com

Book Review - The Doer

 


Title - The Doer
Author - Rekha Nair
Genre - Spirituality
Publisher - Olympia Publishers
ISBN - 978-1804394953

The book begins with a powerful note - "Everything we do is Spiritual". I couldn't agree more since most of us believe in GOD who is called by different names under different religions. We also believe that there is "Unseen Power" above us which decides our fate and Karma.

The book is divided into 12 chapters namely:

1. Have we forgotten? 

2. What have we forgotten? 

3. What is Love? 

4. What is the nature of the soul? 

5. God is? 

6. Why is freedom important? 

7. What is the relevance of cyclic events and things that exist in pairs? 

8. What is the toughest thing to overcome? 9. What is a choice, and does it exist? 

10. What does connecting mean? 

11. What do you value the most? 

12. You rather experience and know or do you want to know and then experience. Also, why?


Each of these has a powerful message to convey. Author focuses majorly on EGO which she explains beautifully "Act of cosmic energy that determines input and output and NOT the EGO".

Letting go of ego can bring lot of good results. How true are these lines.


Author amphasises on Path laid down by the cosmic force and we all travel in that.

What do you give and what do you get in return?


When there was a mention about handwritten letters, it was a Rewind of the past. “So, anytime a person walks into your life, understand the purpose they are here for”.

A purpose is a purpose. When I read statements like these, I felt I was reading a book which is not only spiritual but also a guide that reiterates aspects that were laid/preached by our ancestors.

Suffering is an indicator that someone’s life is going to change”. - This is a motivating factor and should be used in the right sense as it is intended to be.

Love and freedom are complimentary. If you love, you are free. If you are free, you love” - a statement one needs to be retrospect 

There is an interconnection between each chapter which you will realise when you read this book. These are universal concepts that will apply to one and all irrespective of race, religion, culture and place. 

What is ego?

Often ego is looked upon as the bad guy. If used and tamed properly, ego can be the biggest instrument to show you the depth of who you truly are. Realization is a relative process”. How true this statement is :)

Don’t seek validation which is also a form of divide. Use this at your workplace to see how it transforms your otherwise unpleasure work in a pleasure.

Right and Wrong - both are needed to progress in this strange process called Life. Agree?

Purpose was a thoughtful chapter. 

How life played across various stages of the author and how it shaped her up of what she is today. Though this book is a quick read, the message it conveys and the crux it has will travel with you for life.



This book is available on Amazon

Revamped menu at MKC at The Westin




Madras Kitchen Company at Westin, Chennai has revamped its menu. Right from the interiors to menu card to dishes, everything wears a new look.


I had been there today with my family and had a good time with regards to food. Staffs were courteous, as always. Ambiance was perfect with LIVE Music.


Newspaper themed Blinds and Menu Card


Variety of options for Veg & Non-Veg


In-House Bar


Must try dishes:


Starters:

Millet Salad

Paanagam


Veg

Jackfruit Cornetto

Skewers of Thai Red Curry flavoured Baby Corn 🌽 

Dakshin Combo - Podi Idli, Sambar Vada served in tiff in box with coconut chutney and ghee


Non-Veg

Crab Cornetto

Malaysian Sambal Chicken Wings

Manathakkali mutton Varuval, Coin Parotta & Appalapoo

Sindha Mani Kari Kattu Soru, Chinna Vengaya Pachadi, More Milagai & Vadam

Kari Satti Soru, Mutta Thokku, Mutton Varuval & Era Perattal 


Drinks:

Cold Pressed Juicery - Orange 

Inji Malli Martini (alcohol)

Annaci, Pineapple (alcohol)


Desserts:

Gulkhand Kunafe with Vanilla Ice Cream

Coorg Coffee Tiramisu, Baileys Macerated Savoriodi & Berries


What more do we need? #TheWestinChennai #Velachery #MKC #RevampedMenu

 

National Creators Award - an event to remember

 

Where should I begin?


It still looks like a dream for me that I was there. Yes. I'm speaking about the #NationalCreatorsAward which is the first of its kind in the world. This is an initiative by @mygovin which is doing lot of innovative things in various fields.


I had applied and completely forgotten about it. Few days ago, I received a call from the landline wherein the caller says he is calling from the office of Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Railways, MEITY & Communications checking for my availability of the program which was due on Friday & I needed to be present on Thursday in New Delhi. I immediately agreed. That same day, I received an official communication from IRCTC asking for my details. I had filled it up. Applied for off in my office and on Wednesday, I received ex my flight ticket details. Flight was on Thu noon from Chennai Domestic Airport.


I reached airport well before the designated time and met my friend who is an IB officer there. After having a hot cup of coffee, I proceeded for check-in and boarding. I landed in Delhi around 5:30PM and at the exit entrance, I was welcomed by the IRCTC team who was co-ordination with others and arranging accommodation. I was given an accommodation at The Alpino Hotel which was bang on the main road - Mahipalpur which is just 2.5kms from the airport. Room was super good. In the mean time, I met few creators CA Shubham Maloo, Sandeep of Telugu Travel Vlogger, Mitesh Patel of MeetPoser, Cooknjoy among others.


Tasty dinner was arranged in the hotel. After venturing out for an hour with CA Shubham, I returned to my room and retired to bed since we were told breakfast will be served next day early morning. I was given a call at 4AM mentioning breakfast will be served at 5AM and bus will arrive by 6AM. After having tasty breakfast at 5, we boarded the bus which took us to Bharat Mandapam inside Pragati Maidan. In the bus, I also met Neha and Ishita Sharma.


We followed the protocol as advised since the event will see the presence of PM himself. After collecting the pass at the entrance which took some time, I proceeded to the Plenary Hall. Since I was one of the first to enter, I sat just behind VVIP/HODs row. 


PM entered the hall at around 10:15PM and one could feel his aura and the electrifying presence. He was given a roaring welcome. After settling, PM distributed award to the winners including beerbiceps, aiyyoshraddha, technicalguruji , curlytales and others. His presence of mind was amazing as he kept us captivated until he was there for little over an hour.


We were dropped back at hotel post the event and I had to rush up since my return flight was booked at 5:15. In the flight, I had also met couple of educators - An HOD from Dept of Geography and The Principal of an arts & science college. I landed in the airport at 8PM. 


Felt truly blessed and my heartfelt thanks to the GOI, IRCTC and all the officials who made this event a memorable one for few hundreds of creators. 

Book Review - The Ideal Entrepreneur : An Idiot's Guide to Building a 300 Crore Company!

 


Title - The Ideal Entrepreneur : An Idiot's Guide to Building a 300 Crore Company!
Author - Rahul Agarwal
Genre - Autobiogaphy
Publisher - Future
ISBN - 978-9351201311


A truly inspiring autobiography whch would ignite the aprk in the minds of the entrepreneurs in the making. Rahul Agarwal had seen the ups and downs before he went on to establish himself as a force to reckon with in the insurance industry.

To start with, what I liked the most is this mention "Story more relatable, more believable and more doable". You could find out where this was used and in what context once you read the book.

The book emphasize on 

1. Team Building
2. Fund Raising
3. Focus
4. Networking 
5. Standrad Operating Procedures aka SOP and
6. Brand Building

There is no surprise that Rahul himself was the Founder of Kokata Chapter of BNI since he believes in Networking and is the pioneer in hosting the launch party in the Insurance sector which saw the presence of many industry stalwarts.

There is a saying/belief that business runs in the blood of Marwaris. Rahul is no exception to this.

Autor has mentioned his family members which includes his parents, wife, kid, siblings, uncle and cousin who stood thick and thin right from the start. 

As an Insurance agent myself(back in 90's), I should appreciate the fact that Rahul has made it to the prestigious MDRT just at the age of 20 in the Country for Max New York Life Insurance. It is not a mean fact to achieve this. His age wasn't a deterent to achieve this which got him the opportunity to be introduced by the then CEO himself among the 3,000+ MDRT's from across the globe. The fact is, there were only 25 of them from India and from Kolkata, he was one among three members who got qualified for this event.

How he achieved this is another interesting story which you can find out by reading the book.

Despite an intelligent student he is with a score of 99.23% in CAT, he could not get the placement in the IIM's he desired but still got offers from 2 IIMs and SPJIMR and he decided to join the later.

How the life in the Corporate works was portrayed vividly by the author where in the presentation he did for a top brass in Wipro did not give any mention nor credits to his name. This was a turning point in his life that made him to decide to venture into the business.

He has also done MFAB - Management of Family Business in Indian School of Business(ISB).

His golden tip to those who wanted to start a business is to float the company as a Private Limited Company.

Author emphasise on a good name and logo for the brand and details the process of how the name Ideal was arrived at and the date of registration - 13.1.2005.

He also goes ahead in saying not to trust anyone blindly and needs to have a back up. An agreement in writing and not oral is desired to avoid any consequences in the future.

There are few prominent names which has found the mention in this brilliant book which includes but not limited to:

a. Amit Agarwal
b. Saroj Sripathi
c. Goutam Dey
d. Ravi Kothari
e. Rahul Mohata
f. Arvind Kajaria( Founder of 123greetings.com)

He also mentions why PR is important for any firm.

There is a full dedicated chapter for BNI (BNI members would love it for sure).

What makes a company successful? This is where ESOPs comes into picture.

There are references of Allan Mullaly of Ford, Narayanamurthy of Infosys. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book since the content was compelling and motivating and would surely recommend this for those who want to venture into business.

I wish Rahul and his team a very best on their vision of achieveing Rs.1,000 crore business by 2025.


This book is available on Amazon


Book Review - JUUHHHUUUU

 



Title - Juuhhhuuuu

Author -Manoj Kumar Sharma

Genre - Fiction

Publisher - Notion Press

ISBN - 979-8888156131

This is a collection of 3 short stories. I loved the creativity and the approach of the author. If you have read his previous book MIRRRO, you would have realized that his writing is unique and captivating. The same has happened here. The previous book was a novel but this one isn't.

Each of the three stories was intriguing. The first story is all about an accident and how it connects all the characters in the story, the second one is tenser as it involves characters from Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan but happening in India. The third one was a unique love story that is not only terrifying but had a pleasant ending.

I do not recommend books usually but this one certainly needs to find its place in your shelves, if you love reading stories and stories with a difference.


This book is available on Amazon

6  Best  Winter  Destinations to Visit  With Your Friends

6 Best Winter Destinations to Visit With Your Friends

Thick alpine forests are blanketed, with fresh powdered snow, the high-altitude lakes and waterfalls freeze down, the lush green landscapes turn white, and the surroundings feel like a wonderland. Himachal Pradesh is undoubtedly one of the top snow destinations for a splendid winter vacation.

Explore the outdoorsy Rohtang Pass with the Himachal Tour Packages as its favourite among those who want to marvel at its magnificent natural splendour. Rohtang Pass is only accessible by vehicle and is nearly 51 km from Manali. Mountain riding is an exhilarating sport that one can indulge in here. Ride your mountain bikes off the beaten path onto the less travelled trails.

The picturesque Sangla, also known as the Baspa Valley, is situated in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Lush forests of pine trees encircle it, majestic Himalayan mountains, vibrant orchards of apples and apricots, and exquisitely constructed low-lying houses are its prime attractions.

Kufri is a hill town where one gets to immerse in the splendour of nature and can be explored with your journey to Shimla. It is a trekker’s paradise and a centre for sports like skiing and bogging. This popular winter destination is one of the best places to experience snowfall.

Conclusion: Himachal Pradesh, when touched by the winters takes on a whole new identity. Snow adds an extra shine and beauty to the forests and mountains in the region, making the visit worthwhile.

Spiti

Spiti Valley ( also known as Middle Land), in Himachal Pradesh, is one of the least densely populated areas of the region and is best explored with the Spiti Tour Packages. It is abode to some of the highest altitude attractions and landmarks, featuring on every traveller’s bucket list. Spiti Valley is a barren land with rugged terrain, during summertime it is an absolute favourite to visit the Valley of Adventures. But the same valley turns into a white beauty, as the land gets covered under thick sheets of snow, making Spiti in winter an absolute delight. Besides the snow-capped mountains, Spiti Valley in winter allows you to witness the beauty of the frozen rivers and frozen waterfalls. In winter Spiti Valley offers different charm and beauty, with a wide range of winter sports activities for adventure enthusiasts. Some of the most popular activities that one can participate in include Skiing. As the valley has myriad ski resorts, and ski schools, where you can rent equipment and take skiing lessons. The slopes are ideal for beginners and experienced skiers alike. Snowboarding and Ice skating are exciting activities that excite adrenaline. The valley abodes some of the most ancient monasteries in India, which are an integral part of the region’s cultural heritage. They become more enchanting, with snow-covered landscapes adding to their beauty. As interesting as it sounds, spotting a snow leopard in the Spiti Valley is a matchless experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Manali

For anyone who yearns to witness snowfall, Manali in winter is a perfect time to plan a trip. The winter months make Manali magnanimously beautiful and let you enjoy snow sports and dance in the snow showers. The entire Manali looks no less than a wonderland after getting decked with a thick snow blanket. Whether you are up for a family vacation, a honeymoon, or a solo sojourn, your trip is going to be a magical one. Right from exploring the temples to indulging in hiking to shopping, there are so many places that will leave you wonderstruck by their beauty on your visit to Manali. If you are in Manali in winter, then you can not miss out on Solang Pass. The whole place receives snow showers which makes it look even more beautiful. Being a hub of adventure activities, it offers opportunities for the daredevils to endeavour skiing, snowboarding, sledging, and tobogganing. Gulaba is a quaint hamlet and an off-beat location on the snow-covered route from Manali to Rohtang Pass. It is for its snowy landscape and the snow points during winter, and also for various adventure sports like snow scooters,  trekking and hiking. Beas Kund trek takes one to the source of the majestic Beas River. The trekking path is covered in snow, and the sight of the frozen lake at the end is rewarding and worth the effort.

Parashar Lake

Parashar Lake is, located in the beautiful Himalayas range of Himachal Pradesh about 50 km North of Mandi. During the snow season, the lake freezes and looks like a living painting. The deep blue and enchanting lake lies in a saucer-shaped valley at an astounding height of 8,960 ft and is surrounded by thick forests and snow-capped peaks. The temple located near the lake is in reverence of Parashar Rishi, which makes it more religiously important. Winter is a good time to visit if you enjoy the snow. Tourists come here to enjoy sports like ice skating on the frozen lake, building a snowman, and snowball fights. A very interesting fact about this lake is that there is a floating island in it, and its actual depth is unclear.

Barot

Barot is a hill town nestled on the bank of the Uhl River and is encompassed by the Dhauladhar ranges. It is among the top coldest places in Himachal Pradesh. Every inch of the town gets covered with snow in winter and intensifies its charm. The high-altitude town enjoys heavy showers making this place a paradise for nature lovers as well as adventure enthusiasts. It also draws groups of families and couples with plenty of great options such as fishing, camping, and trekking through the valley. Uhl River is the only naturally occurring body of water, which rises from the Thamsar Glacier in the Dhauladhar ranges of the Himalayas. It is one of the best places to engage in outdoor activities like camping and fishing. Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the other side of the Uhl River and is a habitat of various animal species like the Himalayan Monal, Black Bear, and Ghoral.

Narkanda

Narkanda is a tiny town 63 km from Shimla and is surrounded by tropical forests, majestic hills, and woodlands. This hill station connects Shimla to the valleys of Kinnaur and Spiti and receives snowfall in abundance during winter making it popular for skiing. Located at a height of nine thousand feet, the town lures tourists for its natural beauty and its beautiful apple orchards. It is a popular trekking spot known for its Hatu Peak Trek. Hatu Peak is the highest peak in the entire Shimla district located 8 km from Narkanda. It is surrounded by majestic mountains and covered in a dense blanket of green,sky-touching cedar and fir. The forest comprises a varied population of deodar, fir, and spruce, but mostly its colourful apple orchards. Narkanda situated at an altitude of 2708 m on the Hindustan Tibet Road gives a beautiful view of snow ranges. It is famed for Skiing and Winter sports and is among the oldest ski destinations with scenic views of nature. The slopes perched at an altitude of 8100ft, of the hill town are perfect for the skills of beginners as well as experienced skiers.

Shimla

Shimla is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts and looks mesmerizing during the winter season and offers a myriad variety of thrilling activities for tourists to indulge in. The natural beauty of this capital hill station is elevated more in the cold season, making it a favourite among honeymooners. Moreover, one gets a pollution-free environment where you can breathe fresh air. Shimla welcomes you to indulge in recreational activities by becoming part of the Winter Carnival. It organizes snow-playing games like ice-skating, skiing snowball throwing, and making snowman figures. Mashobra located amidst the Reserve Forest Sanctuary of Shimla is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in winter. It turns into a haven for everyone looking for solace and captivating views. Mashorba is famous for skiing, rappelling, and trekking. In winter months the Ridge Road gets covered with snow, making it awe-inspiring. The shops here sell mufflers, caps, mittens, and wooden items that are worth it. Ice  Skating at Circular Road is one of the best activities to enjoy as it has a sizeable open-air skating rink and is maintained by the Ice-Skating Club.

Conclusion: Winters are alluring and the very best season to travel to Himachal Pradesh and experience captivating scenes of valleys, snow-topped mountains, frozen lakes, and delightful winter sports activities. So, if you want to walk amidst snow, and experience snow showers, it is the right time to book your tickets.