Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tall Man Small Shadow (Book Review)

Tall Man Small ShadowTall Man Small Shadow by Vipin Behari Goyal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tall Man Small Shadow by Vipin Behari Goyal
Pages : 152, Genre: Philosophical Fiction
Published July 10th 2013 by

I have always believed that no book should be stopped reading midway and this book has just further cemented my belief.

I lived every moment of my life as if that was my whole life. If it is death, I am dying every moment; if it is life, I am living every moment. - Vipin Behari Goyal, Author;Tall Man Small Shadow

'Everything is a coincidence'.

Is it ?
How much would you agree to it or how much would you disagree to it? Both parties have a good read in waiting.

To begin with, it is roughly a story of Indian parents searching for a son-in-law. Well it's just the beginning. The story takes turns in the most unexpected of moments, rises and falls with situations that would just not be expected in a normal person's life.

The narration by Aalya's father (Anupam) is in itself a matter of conflict for the reader. He speaks of feminism, existentialism and then he is describing about how he wants a good guy for his daughter ( with frequent references to the final suitor's religion and caste). Somewhere the reader is unable to agree with him because it does not fir into the character sketch he provides of himself.

This book deals with IVF, Lesbian-ism and such issues in an open-minded way. The 'shadow' has been effectively used to depict many of the thoughts rising in the minds of the characters. It can prove to be a factual pleasure for lovers of Poetry and Philosophy.

The different instances of uneven marital relationships have been brought to light by the author in a good way in the form of research done by Aalya for her thesis.

Somewhere the book does get a bit dry i.e. when Anu goes deeper into his philosophical thinking but everything gets balanced thanks to the climax of the story! It is well-crafted and worth a read.

P.S. One of the main characters has been omitted from any kind of description here. That one character has the power to change the dimensions of the story! Don't miss it.

- Divya Nambiar

Author(Mr. Vipin Behari Goyal) Vipin Behari Goyal
Other books by the author- Tej dhoop ka safar Tirthraj Pushkar Burn me naked

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

The One You Cannot Have (Book Review)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some things are just fated. They may not work out exactly like how you had wanted, but they are meant to happen so you learn to grow.
- Preeti Shenoy, The One You Cannot Have

'Relationships do come with hurt and disappointments. Even the best ones die out and all that remains is the embers that still burn.'

And that's what this book is all about. The embers that burn and somehow makes one feel that there is not going to be a happy ever-after if things don't go the way they once planned. And yet, with time, as impossible as it might seem to be, there does come a time when we find ourselves flowing with the waves of time.

In a brilliantly described and poignant tale of love, longing and emerging victoriously from the cobwebs that settle around us after an unexpected occurrence, the author has crafted the characters of Aman, Shruti, Anjali, Rishabh and all others very well to suit the modern mindsets of today.

There are some things in the book that I really found to be worth mentioning. Some of them are as follows-

1. The Indian family's obsession of completing the family with kids soon after marriage has been dealt with in a comical yet gentle way. The pressures on a woman from all parts of a family after she gets married but is not ready to have a kid, is really well-described.

2. The differences between India and foreign countries (UK here) makes you smile, laugh and at times, even makes you question about the world we live in!

3. The author's love for Bengaluru (I love 'Bangalore' more)and the subtle placement of various places and people are commendable. Also the way in which 'saar' is used instead of 'sir' is enough to make one understand the change in pronunciation and utterance of various words the moment one moves around a bit in India ( Cheers to the variety, cheers to India! )

4. Aman's mother represents so many of today's parents who are so open with their children and are trying their best to be good friends to their children instead of the so-called strict ones! I simply adored her in the story.

5. Mr.Sanjeev Adani's presence as a great humanitarian that one encounters once in a while as one happens to walk on the path of life, is the perfect example of how we as humans can often go wrong when judging people. We often mistake smiles on various lips as eternal happiness when in reality we won't even have a hint of the devils they might be fighting inside them.

It is a book that you just can't place down unless and until you don't reach the last page of it. You can be rest assured that you will have the opportunity to savour some whirlwinds of the heart, the turmoils of the mind,the best decisions of the brain and above all, the perfect story that is always written in advance by destiny!

Preeti Shenoy, yet again, presents the reader with a story that is more than just that. It's a journey that will stay with the reader to remind that there definitely will be someone whom we cannot have, no matter how much we try... But you know what? It's just alright! Yes, that's what we will end up saying after we read the story. After all, can the ever-positive author guide her readers towards a sad end? :)

- Divya Nambiar

P.S. The fact that I got an autographed copy of the novel just made it all the more special to read it as well as to gain more positivity that is a good trait of all her books! ;) 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Harnam Sethi's Journey to Self Discovery (Book Review)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

'Life is meant to be lived and not to be understood.'

If only Harnam Sethi had known this earlier, it would have made him realize it sooner that -
'Being vulnerable is what makes life so beautiful.'

A book that traces the journey of Harnam Sethi- the only child of his parents, a deep thinker ( sometimes too much of that, basically a man in search of a reason for his existence, his life.

What begins as a fast-paced story drags and gets too monotonous in between only to get back on track towards the end but it somehow fails to deliver the essence that it promised to, in the beginning.

There are definitely moments in the journey that provide an insight into one's soul and the very idea of 'living', it's so-called purpose as well as finding that one goal that would make one feel content with his presence in this world.

For those into spiritualism,soul-searching or whatever other term one can think of to categorize those kind of people ( including me)- it can definitely be worth a read but then one should have immense patience to follow Harnam's journey because as one progresses with the story, one can actually imagine the rut he seems to be in ( if not physically, mentally atleast!).

I would really like to appreciate the author for delving into a subject like this but maybe somewhere down the lane, the connection with the audience gets lost only for it to bounce back but unable to hit the bull's eye when it came to leaving the audience spellbound.

What I could not connect with is the sudden enlightenment that he achieves when he experiences 'love'. But then again there were times when I actually smiled at the very situation he was in.He did try to charm the reader in some way or the other.

- Divya Nambiar

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Trust: Betrayed(Trust, #2) - Book Review

Trust: Betrayed (Trust, #2)Trust: Betrayed by Cristiane Serruya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trust Betrayed (Part-2 of the Trust Series)

'Widowed were not those alive, but those who were dead.'- Cristiane Serruya

Some secrets are revealed, some hearts broken and many dreams will come true... or atleast they should!

This is a journey worth embarking upon by all adults atleast once, because it has so much more than what is considered to be the staple content in all romantic fictions. It is a tragedy yet a tale of hope, of happiness, regrets and a never-ending suspense and above all, a melancholy that stays with the reader long after the story is over.

Guess it's the author's stint with law as a lawyer who specializes in cases of sexual abuse and violence against children and women has brought immense depth and has provided a strong foundation to this story. It brings to light many of the silent tortures that women often have to deal with and sometimes do get used to it to such an extent that they become addicted to it and it ultimately destroys their lives.

Some might ask- What can possibly be achieved by reading an erotic fiction except for some noxious pleasure to the reader? And to them I say – for once, try not to read the book in a shallow manner and instead venture just a bit deeper. Surely the incidents revealed to the world might not have been conjured up from thin air.

For a 20 year old Indian reader, it did prove to be an eyeball rolling experience once in a while but then on the whole, I was mesmerized by the characters. Sophia, a widow with Gabriela, her daughter, Alistair and Ethan, both fighting their inner devils and changed by the circumstances that life sometimes offers (mind you, it can be so much worse than we think it is possible!) Delve a little deeper and the personality of Tavish can leave you spell-bound. Lachlanne, Alice, Leonard- I could go on and on about all of them. I would gladly give 6-stars for the characterization part alone.

For a so-called philosophical being like me, I did get more and more pulled into the way the world functions, one’s destiny and inner-turmoil, the desperate attempts to flee from one’s own past only to be caught red-handed by some memories thrown onto your face when you least expect them to.

As a reader, one gets the exclusive opportunity to relish picturesque places (only a well-travelled author can present something like this) and regale one’s senses in the exquisite emotions that are Godsend in all human beings which is packed in this book. Don’t forget to read the Part-1 of the book before turning pages of this one (‘Trust’ me- it would be more beautiful that way).

For review of Part-1 of the Trust Series- http://critiquedontcriticize.blogspot...

Time for Pandora’s Box (Part-3 of the Trust Series).

Cristiane, Trust - Encore!

-Divya Nambiar
Trust: A New BeginningTrust: BetrayedTrust: Pandora's BoxThe Modern Man: A philosophical divagation about the evil banality of daily actsCristiane Serruya

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Journey to the Hills and other Stories -Book Review

Journey to the Hills and other StoriesJourney to the Hills and other Stories by Divyaroop Bhatnagar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Enjoy the gentle charms of a forgotten time as you turn the pages of this little book.'- Divyaroop Bhatnagar, Author- Journey to the Hills and Other Stories

True to what was promised, this book delivers the little nuances that the present generation can only imagine and love!

This is the story of a family who visit Mussoorie,India to beat the extreme harshness of the summer.Set in the 1960s and 1970s, it has an old-world charm to it. With a beautiful house named Ida Villa in a place called Camel's Back Road, it is a tale of their adventures, the people involved in the process and of course nature's bounty.

The Picture Palace, the Methodist Church, the Bata Shoe Shop, Kwality restaurant and the Rialto Cinema are places that surely create an impact on the reader and make one think about the good old days in a pleasant way.

One can observe well that even though the elders of the family had the traditional Indian meals,omelets and toast, cheese and marmalade was not strange to them.

The elder lady often used to say-
Khichri ke chaar yaar
Ghee,Papad,Chutney,Achar ( I would love to agree on this!)

So their vacation was incomplete without packing freshly prepared delicacies for their journey. But the birthday celebrations showed how Indian traditions had changed thanks to the Britishers in India which could be observed through the custom of giving 'return gifts', cake-cutting, games like 'Passing the Parcel' and so on but then the fact that the day began with a 'Havan' organized for the well-being of the person( a traditional aspect)is proof of how even when some things are wiped out, their proof of existence remain- somewhere, in some way or the other.

Don't be mistaken when you hear 'Lavender Lane' for what you imagine when you hear it would be proven completely wrong!

The characterization is amazing with each character having a glint of modernity (in the British way) even though their roots remain Indian. Dadiji was a good example of a lady who was not a traditional housewife, bound by the narrow conventions of home and family.She was a rebel, but in the mound of her time. Educated and friendly but strict at the same time, she makes a place for herself in the reader's heart.

This book is a beautiful trip with a family to a place that might not happen again because the anchor for the Mussoorie holidays began to fade with the unbridled commercialization and the rise of the Indian middle class which have taken a toll on the beauty of the place.

Like the author says, I would also echo the same sentiment- Like all old and delicate things, this era also has passed.

Perhaps another dawn would bring back a magical land like this yet again but then again, perhaps not.

One little glitch here is the font size of the book.The book in itself is small and the text size seems a bit more than normal. It somewhere felt like reading a book meant for very small children when in reality it has a plethora of memories and observations from a time that would remain in a book like this and in it alone...

- Divya Nambiar

Journey to the Hills and other Stories Journey to the Hills and other StoriesDivyaroop Bhatnagar

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Time of My Life ( Book Review )

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one book that maybe everyone of us should read at some point of time in life. Ofcourse women may associate more with the central character Miss. Lucy Silchester but then this poignant tale has got a little bit of wisdom, fun, encouragement and also loads of humour.

The novel begins with a description of Lucy's messed up small apartment that she somehow calls her 'home'. The author has given such a vivid description that one can actually feel the repulsion from that little place called Lucy and Mr. Pan's(her cat) home.

The best part about the book is that Lucy has an appointment with her own life! Now imagine yourself having such a meeting where you find your life standing infront of you, demanding your attention when all you have been doing is neglecting it! Sounds scary? Weird? Interesting? No matter what your answer would be, this surely remains an essential read.

There are some parts which seem to drag. Lucy's inability to move on in life after unfortunate events that mar her is touching but then does get monotonous but then it gets compensated by all the things she says to the reader and then lo and behold, it turns out to be little lies ( or things that aren't actually lies- according to her!)

This book inspires one to break free from the shackles that often hold us back from achieving that something in life whose presence we often seem to forget or overlook!It is a gentle reminder of how being honest to oneself can save so much of space in one's heart, mind and soul for better things.

Cecelia Ahern, I am indebted to you for writing books that not only tell beautiful journeys of your characters but also change the course of one's thinking process as well as their definitions of life.

- Divya Nambiar

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trust: A New Beginning ( Book Review )

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trust: A New Beginning by Cristiane Serruya

'If' is a word that life doesn't consider.
And that's exactly why we should be asking 'why not' instead of 'what if'.

The first of the Trust Trilogy, this is more than just a story. It's a journey worth embarking upon with Sophia, the central character of the story. It's the story of a woman with an indomitable spirit, a woman of substance. What else can one call a lady who inspite of losing her husband at a young age, tends to her little daughter Gabriela ( the 'cuteness' element of the story)without breaking down to the pressures of the world.She is young, beautiful,intelligent and has the world at her feet. And yet there is a dark side. She is an awesome driver but she has taken lessons in driving away to safety incase of an emergency. The reasons are untold and makes the reader wonder what could possibly be wrong with a luxurious life like that.

Then there is Ethan Ashford, whose love is displayed in the form of wealth to his beloved.

Enter Alistair Connor- the reason why Sophia slept peacefully without that nightmare that shuddered her a tad too often. Ofcourse there is more to him than just that.( Grab the book!)

The descriptions of the characters are penned down so well by the author that the reader can experience the turmoils of their minds with almost the same intensity as that of the characters.

Here are people who are so sophisticated and rich and yet are busy fighting the demons of their mind. The intense and picturesque tale leaves the reader eagerly waiting for part2 which is what I exactly have in my lap at the moment!

P.S. I came to know about many new brands.. ;)

P.P.S : Trust#1 is free to borrow in Amazon Lending Library, including India. This is the link:

- Divya Nambiar

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Look Stunning At Any Size ( Book Review )

Look Stunning At Any SizeLook Stunning At Any Size by Parimita Chakravorty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Look Stunning at any size ( By Parimita Chakravorty)

Publishers: V&S PUBLISHERS(
Cost: ₹495/-
Pages: 172

For all those who think that this is just another self-help book that would not help more than gathering dust in a corner of your bookshelf, then think again!

This is one style guide which every woman should have in her wardrobe along with the many other make-up kits she wishes to buy and stock up on. True to what the author says, it has something for every woman. Instead of preaching, it helps you to find out for yourself, the best things that would suit you according to your bone structure, face type and skin tone.

The illustrations help to make things simpler and clearer.

Instead of wasting big money on a dress that you would never wear but are purchasing just because it looked good on the mannequin - this will stop from now!

After reading it, one can be assured that whatever she picks up, she will definitely get an opportunity to wear it and flaunt it. She will surely grab eyeballs! ;)

-Divya Nambiar

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Poetic Expressions Vol. V ( Book Review )

Poetic Expressions Vol. VPoetic Expressions Vol. V by Carl McKever
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Poetic Expressions Vol. V
By: Carl McKever
It’s a new season, it’s a new day!

With the opening lines of the book (in the preface itself) you get a happy feeling. Sit with a cup of coffee, if not, you surely would desire one somewhere in-between the reading session that you would embark upon.

Fourteen short stories and three poems await the reader. But before that, it’s the hard-bound cover that attracts you towards it. The feel of holding an amazing book.. Not too heavy, nor too light… Just perfect to carry and even read it on your way to somewhere, it’s worth a read!

‘Vague’, ‘The Masses’, ‘Living in the Moment’, ‘Ambition’ remain my personal favourites.
I really feel that ‘Magnolias’ should have been stretched a little more. It felt a little bit incomplete- the beautiful city, a talented woman, an appreciating young teen, an irked mom of a teenager- a perfect combination for an interesting story with a memory left behind, ever so profound! I look forward to it dear Carl …

It’s really been an inspiration as well as encouragement. I feel lucky to have been amongst the lucky ones to lay my hands on this book.

Until we meet again, shake a hand and stay blessed. 

Thanks Carl. God bless you!

Divya Nambiar, India

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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Business Parables ( Book Review )

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Business Parables by Venugopal Gupta

It is a perfect handbook for any individual or team venturing into the field of business of any kind.
It not just provides you with the 'Why' of something being better than the other but also the 'How' of it and that too with interesting stories which make the concepts more easier to grasp and makes it stay in the mind of the reader for a long time.
With five sections namely-
The Failed Class
A Dream Come True
The Third Capital
The Opportunity Lost
The Forgotten Crime

each section is a deep analysis of how certain things work in a business, certain things don't. Capitalism works, free markets are good for the growth of a country like India, creating value is sometimes more important than gaining profits and 'proper' ethics should become the backbone when one is venturing out there into the world of Business.

A very well explanatory book, it's like attending a beautiful, knowledgeable seminar. Well-written, thoroughly engaging and definitely worth a read!

-Divya Nambiar

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shades of Shadow ( Book Review )

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shades of Shadow by Pushpam Singh

When the author states on the cover itself that it is a 'Poetic Journey' it might not really reveal what awaits you. Turn a few pages and you are already on that journey..

The language transports you altogether to a different world which is usually known as non-existing but then the author does make you feel safe there, amidst a world where the squirrels and all other animals are in peace, the tree blooms, the lake is so clear that one's reflection can be surreal!

The poems inside that take the story forward need an applause!

The flowery descriptions might sometimes deviate one from the main plot. It might not interest the ones who aren't deeply into poetry.

All in all.. it has content worth treasuring.

-Divya Nambiar

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Bow Wow Club ( Book Review )

The Bow Wow ClubThe Bow Wow Club by Nicola May
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

THE BOW WOW CLUB by Nicola May

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
― Kahlil Gibran

True to every word, this book emphasizes on the fact that when cupid strikes, it does blindly. But then it's upon us who we consider to be 'the one'. Of course destiny plays a great role in bringing two people together, making them walk on a single path.. and sometimes it's the same destiny that takes you apart from the one we thought to be our chosen one!

The Bow Wow Club- it makes you smile, it makes you cry, it makes you laugh hard and it makes you think! It's the perfect book to sit with and soak into on that day when all you want to do is to have the time of your life.. by going on a journey with Ruby :)

Be it Michael, Ruby, Fi, James, Simon, Jimmy, Barnes.. each character deserves a place in your heart.. in fact you do allot a little corner of your heart to them.

Ruby... Could actually empathize with her situation thanks to the way Nicola May describes every aspect of her emotions, the turbulence of her mind, the oh-so-sad-yet-so-wonderful journey that she embarks upon!

Hats off to you dear author for such amazing descriptions, for such a beautiful characterization and for giving hope to every not so happy soul out there.

It never drags, it's subtle, joyous and so subtly makes the reader sit back and adore the beauty of life in all it's bittersweet glory! :)

Divya Nambiar

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Friday, September 13, 2013

1..2..3..4 Get on the Bollywood Floor!

It's that time of the year again when Ganeshotsav is being celebrated all over India, especially in the state of Maharashtra with Mumbai being one of the hotspots to witness Ganesha Pandals in every nook and corner. What surprised me was that there was hardly a two foot wide space and there sat two Ganesha idols, one in-front of the other - as majestically as it could! But then one would ask how can one come to know that there is an idol kept there. There you go! It was not the not-so-humble decoration that made me notice it but the speaker kept outside that was blaring out Bollywood music. The song? Lungi Dance (

For all those who would now ask-'Why Bollywood songs instead of devotional songs?'- there are no real answers, just more things to know!

Amused and then back to my own web of thoughts, I walked ahead further, only to witness many more such pandals with blaring music. The cherry on the cake was when I heard a devotional song set to the tunes of 'Aa ante'( No I am not kidding! 

That's when it actually struck me that Bollywood songs are indeed very popular. How and why else would it be blaring through loudspeakers outside Ganesha Pandals is beyond my cognizance.

It reminds me of a message that I received a few days back on my phone - 

" I met a Foreigner and he asked me the literal meaning of the song- 
Balam pichkari jo tune mujhe maari
Toh seedhi saadhi chori sharaabi ho gayi
Jeans pehen ke jo tune maara thumka
Toh lattu padosan ki bhabhi ho gayi.
I sheepishly had to say the following-
Dear beloved person, when you assaulted me with a stream of water from a liquid projectile launcher, an ostensibly normal and balanced female became alcoholic.
When you wore denim and oscillated your pelvic girdle in one direction, the adjoining resident's sister-in-law began showing symptoms of an obsession-driven psychological disorder.
The foreigner fainted! "

If we get into the details of the lyrics of some latest Bollywood songs, the inferences can often leave us gasping for breath. My mother is the best example whose dialogue I would like to quote here- "Humare zamaane ke gaane suno, kya rangeen matlabe hua karte the, aur ab dekho- coconut mein lassi milate hai bas!" ( Listen to the songs of our olden times, they had colourful, beautiful meaning. Nowadays they are busy mixing Lassi in Coconut- again a part of the lyrics of one of the Bollywood songs!)

But then these very songs become a rage too. Can we disagree on this fact when we unknowingly start tapping our foot to songs like Munni Badnaam Hui, Lungi Dance, Fevicol Se, Badtameez Dil, Ghagra and so on? 

These songs have become the pulse of the times we belong to. Knowingly or unknowingly we start flowing with the tunes, the beats, the rhythm and tend to oversee the lyrics because WE LOVE THE SONG!

Another reason for this might be something like what my grandmother says- "Itna shor hai ki kya gaa rahe hai yahi nahi samaj aata" ( There is so much of noise that the lyrics just can't be understood)

I somehow belong simultaneously to two generations I guess, because just as much as I love listening to 'Badtameez Dil'(, I love listening to 'Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai, aaj phir marne ka iraada hai'( too.

Big Little Book of Whispers ( Book Review )

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Big Little Book of Whispers by Robert S.Cosmar

'The strange thing about beliefs is, they limit in some way who you think you are.
Beliefs put you in a box and label you. They cause you to doubt that you are anything more than what you believe.
The heart limits nothing and,in time, it helps you realize, through awareness, that you deserve everything, because you ARE everything.
Your beliefs and doubts only stood in the way of that realization.'

These are just a few lines from a treasure-trove of beautiful lines that makes one stop and introspect.

When one is ready to look into his/ her self, that's when the universe conspires to let us know, by all means, about what we need to know.
And during such a mission, I was lucky enough to have got an opportunity to read this book.

The author states that there is no particular way to read this book. You can turn through the pages from the beginning or open any page and you are assured that it will be something worth ruminating upon in the mind.

Just one minor glitch that I found was this- The short insights could have been grouped under sections so that when a person is feeling a certain way, he/she could straightaway open that page which instantly can make one feel so much better! :)

Thank you Robert !

- Divya Nambiar

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Modern Man: A philosophical divagation about the evil banality of daily acts ( Book Review )

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was good that time when 'he' had time.
The man was the 'Wise' without knowing who he was.

The above two lines just won't leave me. ' The Modern Man' by Cristiane Serruya speaks so much in just 19 pages!

What seems like a breeze at first, slowly becomes the silence before the storm and then- lo and behold! It shatters the very stable foundation of the belief that a man possesses- of the power, strength and capability he thinks he has.

In a mind-numbing revelation, Cristiane brings forth the ultimate miseries of 'The Modern Man' or The Modern 'Lost' Man. It's an eye-opener of sorts. It finally makes one believe about the eventual uselessness of trying to conquer the entire world without giving a moment of thought to one's instincts.

"Instincts"- It is something that one often pushes down to one's train of thoughts and feelings. But not anymore please. Make your instincts your guide. Go out, change the world. Just make sure that you remain true to yourself in the process!

Powerful writing, Cristiane! Hats off to you!

P.S. There is a strong reason why it was awarded the highest grade and Honors at the Law School, in November 1988! :) . The reason? Read it to know it !

- Divya Nambiar