Monday, 19 February 2018

A PROMISE THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING - My short story is published

A broken promise always hurts; whether you are on the receiving end or the one who broke the promise. If you have been on either end, you know how much it hurts. And some promises tear you apart whether you keep it or break it. This is the story of one such promise.

Want a glimpse of the story? Here you go:

Torn between a promise Trisha made to her dying mother 15 years back, and a big life in America, she must make a decision that will change her life forever. A chain of strange events leads her to a place she never wanted to visit. Is it a coincidence or a conspiracy or... something else entirely?

It’s a short story, a perfect companion for your lazy afternoon. You can finish it in under 25-30 minutes.

The book is available on Kindle and is on sale for a limited time. It is available for free on Kindle Unlimited.
You can buy the book from here.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your copy now. And don’t forget to leave me a review.

PS: To read the reviews of my last novel Beyond Secrets click here.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Nostalgia Continues…

For years we wait for a special day, but then that special day doesn’t wait for us. It leaves us in a jiffy. Not fair.

I am talking about our 20th-year school reunion. Excitedly, lovingly, nervously, we waited for it for it for almost a year, and now… it’s over... But I am grateful that day didn’t pass away just like that. It left its traces in our heart and booked a forever place in our memories. Before I get emotional again and babble a few thousand words (which I already did in my earlier blog, Overdose of Nostalgia) I should pass on this space to the lovely messages I received from my dear friends about their thoughts on reunion. I am posting the messages as I received them. 

Deval Motka:

This reunion was not just a 20-year meeting of friends and teachers. It was an opportunity to touch our alma-mater, experience the traditions of our school assembly and more so, establish a baseline reunion that will now be a reason for many more such events. While only a few of us could make it in person there were a lot of us who attended in spirit. I had an opportunity to meet a few friends who so nicely executed the event. Hope we can have 100 such reunions! A few words from my end to our teachers on behalf of the entire IPCL School 1997 class.

Our Promise to Your Touch!

T is for Teacher,
T is to Teach,
T is to Touch!

Your warm and assertive touch was a chrysalis,
For that’s what a larva like kid to butterfly needs!

Different shapes, different forms and different creeds,
Your touch had an amazing adaptability for our needs!

You played a pivotal role in our life metamorphosis,
We sure owe you gratitude for this lifetime of oasis!

Though we went in two-decade long hibernation,
This reunion is a testament to your dedication!

And here is the 1997 batch with a promise,
We will never again go a miss!

Sudhanshu Pathak:

I really never had any awesome memories about my school, for it me was very depressing place and that’s the reason I struggle to keep up pace with my school friends. In this reunion lot of attendees did not clearly recognize me……… and I do remember couple of years back one of our class 5th or 6th pic was shared at some school related forum and I was most talked about “unknown” face and I guess Vasu or Niranjan highlighted that its Sudhanshu….. I was detained in class 8th hence would have faded out of memories for most. I feel most of the good memories are actually made in class 10th – 12th :)

This reunion will be special for me particularly for two reasons; first, I wanted to break the jinx or nightmare feeling of “Going to School”, even at this age I get an unpleasant dreams of me going back to school and these dreams make me feel uncomfortable but reunion helped me to overcome this feeling, positive words from our class teachers and they taking pride on our success made me feel belonged to this school, hopefully now with this positive mindset I will be able to overcome bad dreams about school..
Secondly, I choose this particular reunion, to thank few of my school friends who helped me in staying connected with my childhood memories, who helped me in keeping my childhood stories alive which I can narrate to my Kids, stories of mad dogs biting 10 ppl in one single go and me been one of the victim, stories of endless cycling and the feeling of “Columbus the great” while exploring any new place (for me) in Baroda... last but not least playing unlimited hours of outdoor games, it may be Cricket, swimming, Tennis, Badminton, basketball or Football… (I still cherish the feeling when my daughter with her astonished face asked me how come you know all these games :)).  This reunion made me to connect with lot of my classmates who were always special for my childhood memories but I lacked the guts to connect with them and say thank you. Here I also got the opportunity to meet those classmates who were known names to me but in school days had no/less interactions with them (mainly coz me been introvert), I tried to cover it this time :). This reunion indeed took me down the memory lane and made me think of these lines by Jagjit Singh.

उस मोड़ से शुरू करें फिर ये ज़िन्दगी 
हर शय जहाँ हसीन थी, हम तुम थे अजनबी 

आने लगी है याद वो फ़ुर्सत की हर घड़ी 
उस मोड़ से शुरू करें फिर ये ज़िन्दगी  

Manoj Nair:

Twenty-20 …Reunite…. Relive .... Reinforce

I call it a twenty-20 because it has passed 20 years we all have moved out of our school and we have been exposed to the crude world since 20 years…
Surely it was a litmus test for all of us who made it to the reunion and who could not .. and to see whether  do we still have the innocence, and the urge to be back to our golden days…our .school days…

The dichotomy is between our school days and the real world.

And first and foremost in the world for the 5.7 inch screen we have be restricted to them, all over to our old days, best friends, alma mater etc .  But what has brought us together again is the power of networking may it be Whatsapp or Facebook or video calls or whatever. But social fabric is changing through the screen we look around for more than 6 hours a day and the joy they bring us.

If my memory recollects it was around 18 months back that a group was made Reunion Committee and I just got into the group with a sense that let me be in touch with some people. There were no expectations of getting this through since the timeline was 18 months . That means we could see a possible World War III, a small tiff between our Hindi- Chini bhai bhai and possible with our neighbor on surgical strike or an over power region and much more across the work where all live most of our lives.

And this Reunion also saw many entries and exits as the interests varied since there was no fees to enter or penalties to move out. I hanged on and few people kept the flame high by posting things about their personal things, debates, seasonal wishes, and some ideas came like building as  NASA centre at our school reunion.
The camaraderie just went on and on with new thoughts and suggestions pouring in on food, gifts, souvenirs, invitations and ofcourse the D-Day making. Few folks joined in the only garden to the heart of the Banyan city of Vadodara the Kamati baug in the hot sun and sometimes adding to the P&L of Barista and to the asset hours to many folks who made some good food and cozy place for this discussions. Without meeting, chatting and sending invitation it looked like an Abandoned cricket match on a rainy day.

Thanks to many many people who gave their valuable time, effort, heart in making this event. But no effort is a less effort which many of us like me who do not stay in Baroda could reap the benefit of such a wonderful day called reunion on 23rd December 2017.
It was like I wasnt able to make it for reunion due to my unwritten bonded labour contract with my employer since I need to finish my commitment but as I shared it is surely something celestial which made me landup in Baroda....on 22 December 2017.
I was eager to pass the night hours to see few faces which I had been for almost 12 years. I landed up with a lot of curiosity on 23rd December 2017 to the school with a strict dead line of 1.30pm which I need to move out for my flight to Bangalore and then the onward journey.

I thought let me wear a blazer then I felt whom a trying to impress ? then I thought let me go as simple as I could since they all are my folks and not professionals getting together to check my pedagogy and my A4 sizes certificates in my archive. I parked my car and just gasped to the gate of our own IPCL school No 2. And the moment I stepped in, it took a thump on my adrenaline and felt am back to school…and few true memories passed my anatomy…. I was a good student at school but I was one who made the teachers work harder in-terms of taming me on the homework end and probably  I had few more of my folks who did the same with them.

Met few folks who were the pillars of creating the reunion on the ground working hard at 9.00 to set it up and then meeting them formally and informally . I was straight back to helping them to put things together.

It felt like one by one each friend is getting added…. And I remember a small cartoon video lines …ek gilahari…..anek giahariyaan…..probably one of the first cartoons we all saw…in our school days….
Strength by strength…people by people….face by face…came in some half pant folks from my childhood PAthik, Kumaril, Joshi , Ashish etc etc

The second bunch was like Radha, Alka, Jaba , Priya and many more who just sneaked in during the day….only changes were for all above was in length * breath = formulas we can derive ….but the faces were as innocent as we could see…

One thing best was we all had the same humbleness which we could see ages back when we are in school. Everything felt like miniatures like corridors, the rooms seemed smaller and many of us trying to see our classrooms , toilets and many place where we had fun….

The icing on the cake was our principal and teachers who made subset of reunion for themselves and cherished each moment . Let me thank the people who carved the flow of the programme starting from the prayer to the speeches and to the songs and dance we all  enjoy…

I saw few of my friends who had tears in their eyes probably they were overwhelmed and choked with happiness  which probable the boys could never roll down …since mard ko dard nahi hota….but yes we all felt the same warmth, the togetherness when we all tapped on the floor with the same innocence.

And gosh it was time to move out …..and I flung the Reunion and was black in flash by 4:00 pm missing my flight and it was packup time.

But surely I was lucky enough to get back to the DEN again and then the we all went for de-tour which would surely is one of the most memorable tour in our life…which could bag a better auctioned price then any Thailand, Europe or US trips we would have made it for…..

We relived the Agarwal store, the cycle mart ,,,HANS emporium….and the close gayatri samosa and the only restaurant Kaveri….

It was time to say good bye for the day but we all regrouped for a dinner and then we all met again as the  upmarket place at racecourse.

The time was racing and we all wanted to catchup as much as possible….
Only thing which I still feel strongly is we all are tied to a single umbilical cord called IPCL with a DNA of School No 2….which made us all bring together in person who made it and few who could see the joy through our eyes….moments and posts on all the gigs….

We all are back to our mundane chores but these beautiful moments would make this T-20 year relived in few hours…and we all made a promise to reinforce our alma-mater by giving them what all we call could give back…

Thus it was truly a reunite…relived and reinforced…

It goes like this for all of you…

खुदा लम्हों की बिसात पर हो जाए एक और आज़माईश मेरी
सोचता हूँ तू जीत ले मेरे कुछ जवानी के दिन
पर शर्त ये है की तू लौटा दे मेरे बचपन के वो दिन
मेरे बचपन के वो दिन
खुदा लम्हों की बिसात पर हो जाए एक और आज़माईश मेरी

With Love: Manoj Nair


Once again, a big thanks to my dear friends for their sharing their thoughts here. It really makes this place very special. All these lovely write-ups and the memories of that special day reminds me of a shayari I wrote long back -

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Overdose of Nostalgia

Sometimes our memories can engulf us if we allow them to. 23rd December 2017 was one such day for me. A day that was so close to magic that just in 4 days’ time I am wondering, did it really happen? Or was it just a dream? You understand what I mean. Don’t you?

It was our 20th year school reunion. 20 long years. 2 decades. It’s a long time. Isn’t it? the world had been a different place since we left our alma matter in 1997.

But from an era of 

Outdoor games to mobile games

Walking to a friend’s home for chit-chat to sending forwarded messages on WhatsApp

Seeking love in people to seeking solace in technology

There are things that never change. In a distant hazy corner of our heart, we are still the same. Craving for a human warmth, a real connection and lots of love.

And I got all this on 23rd December. Lucky me. The thing with school friends is that you can pick up from where you left. We were planning for some icebreaker session but as soon as our friends started pouring in we realized we didn’t need any icebreaker. We were silly to even think of it. we started chatting as we were never separated, totally ignoring the changes in appearance caused by time, and surprisingly time had stopped for some, they were still the same.

We started the event the way we used to start our day in school, with a prayer, followed by the national anthem, thought for the day and news.

Memories are like bogies of a train, one pulls another. I loved when teachers and students shared their memories without the fear of being judged. Someone shared how they used to steal mangoes from a teacher’s garden, someone shared how they were bribed with imli and mango for some answers. And we couldn’t stop laughing. And as they shared a part of their life I was wondering, long back, maybe 20-25 years back when those incidents happened would they have imagined they will be sharing these things with a laugh in a crowd or about 100. And as they unshackled their memories I saw many faces smiling with glint of tears in their eyes.

It really needs courage to speak out that you realize your mistakes and I salute Kusum madam, our maths teacher when she admitted how she thinks it wasn’t right to judge students on the basis of their marksheets, no matter whether a child was average or a ranker they all are at happy places and it made her realise marksheet doesn’t matter in long run. She gave us the valuable advice to be not the kind of parent who forces their children to focus only on marks. Joshi madam, our Hindi teacher gave such a wonderful speech, she said she was proud to see that the saplings they nurtured have transformed to lush green crops dancing to the tune of winds in the meadows and that makes her feel happy. All the teachers gave their blessing in their own beautiful words. When you listen to such heart-warming words from your teachers you feel overwhelmed, in a moment you are smiling and the very next you are crying, and in some you are doing both.

The best part for me was touring around the school. It was an overdose of nostalgia. How much we have changed from nasty little kids to responsible parents but somewhere deep down aren’t we still the same? Seeking acceptance and love from all around us. Some emotions are so raw that they scare us. We are afraid to embrace them and we are afraid to push them aside. Somewhere we are still seeking what we used to, it’s just that we are scared to speak it aloud.

And as the event came to an end and we walked out I was wondering how long does it take for a magical day to surrender to memories. One moment, just a moment when we wrap a million of experiences in a secured corner of our heart where no time can snatch it away. A memory that will make us smile in our dark days. A memory that will remind us we had lived our life. A memory that we can count when we count the blessings of our life.

I can write pages after pages about what I felt that day and what I am feeling now reliving those memories but I have to stop somewhere. Now it’s time to share thoughts of some of my friends about this reunion. 


Aarti Sharma:

Reunion brought all the childhood memories back which were buried behind day to day deadlines/commitments. In 4-5 hours we relived our childhood.

Hume humse dobara mila diya

Pranjal Desai:

Thanks almighty for giving me the strength to co-ordinate the function nicely.

Firstly, I would like to say that my father lifted the sand from the school stairs and applied to his forehead. It symbolized that school is temple from which I am learning so much and am proud of it. It was very nice meeting after 20 years and understand friends in a better way. Shared lot of stories, danced a lot and felt warmth of teachers. I would also thank my wife and children for supporting me in a big way. Kudos.

Tarun Parmar:

The scent of friendship has embraced the heart once again...

Those long lost memories have sprung up again..

I could still see that innocence in all my mates..

Lingering in the Nostalgia, opening up my

Brain's flood gates...

Walking down that porch, meeting the same old friends

Who made me so strong, because of them my life is still transcends...

We left each other a while ago, in a hope to find better life and friends,

How little did I know, life is a circle, it starts at the same place it ends...!!!

Pathik Almoula:

Once upon a time .... yes no less than a story! In 1997 when I moved out of my school with a disgraced pride, with lump of poor marks I had no clue what will I do in this life and would I ever like to come back to school to show my face. But it is the same school which taught us how to be resilient and bounce back. Yes it did teach and I did bounce! On 23rd morning of December 2017 Kumaril and I with many of you entered bowing down at staircase. Oh yes today also Kumar and I were together.

What I first recalled was the feeling of coming to school to see my 12th results. My heart pumped faster and with our age nearing 40s I realised that my BP also would have raised slightly. Then I walked through the corridor thinking OMG I am actually back in my school - IPCL School No.2, yeah that’s the name. While walking through classes and sitting back on benches I realised that my biggest gift was to make friends and not be judgemental (it’s only a pursuit)

Yes making friends, beyond class mates or batch mates. When I approached the hall it felt like playing Jumanji. All the characters whom we were whatsapping with, came alive and were grown up in size and still behaved the same like we did in school. Breathless selfie proves it all.

Like most of us I too felt the school looks small yet cozy. The Lyceum which use to make us feel like an achiever in battle field, felt like, home for a soldier coming back after the hiatus called (no less than a war) Life. I felt that what we are living today is just a result of what we lived then was truly Life. Growing up, and maturity felt kicked when I met all of you. Though it took me three attempts when Niru invited to speak in front of our teachers but finally I could speak or talk rather. 

Like characters of Chotta Bheem (I am trying to not refer to some fatsos including yours truly) we did some rewinding pranks and visited all those places in township where we all lived and loved!

When we parted in the evening I felt like Doremon and Nobita going back home after great day!

This blog will be incomplete without mentioning Pranjal who made this experience real! Yo bro! 

Totally enjoyed that day and again I walked out with pride but with grace, happiness and above all many more friends than I had in 1997. 

Looking forward, it’s payback time and would love to do something that makes us again united for a cause to help build an institution for the future of our nation (oh it sounds like an elocution). As a leadership coach I feel our school is “the place” which taught us situational leadership “jiski definition MBA mein sikhi 😜” . True example of situational leadership emerged when we were brought to principal sir’s room or when school no.1 guys messed with us!! 

I hereby volunteer to teach one full day in a year to 12th standard batch about leadership lessons which life teaches and a state board or ICSE or CBSE may not cover. Dear School - look forward to see you soon dude but next time for a purpose to return a bit what you gave us! Ciao!!

Dipal Naik :

I want to express a deep gratitude to all of my gurus ..a very very big THANK You 

This gratitude comes from those who are present here and from everyone else who could not make it. They remember you. 

Our first introduction with our respected Teachers... was that YOU were our parents when we left our own parents for that time of the day and beyond. 
YOU gave us a secure home( our second home) away from home. 12years prior, we entered the school scared and worried and 12 years later we walked out as grown up boys and girls with these epic memories that we have cherished for 20 long years. 
We were lost where to go at first day of school, we left leaving memories at each corner of school.

We still can't forget the competition, sports day , colourful annual functions , picnics our secret hideout and most memorable our scary results day !! 
Every year going to new class n getting new teacher , may it be first to second or 11th to 12th the anxiety remained same!!! 
The fun of recess time, exchanging our breakfast n at times eating under beach during the classes makes us happy but also brings tears in eyes.

Two years ago we planned for THIS BIG DAY .... n today we r all together....the bees saal baad gathering.....( speech written when I was in ICU)


Thanks so much dear friends for sharing your thoughts here and making it a special place. A place where I can return to from no matter where I go.

I also want to share the messages of our teachers that were sent on Whatsapp, I don’t want those precious blessings to be lost in the plethora of messages we receive daily so I am preserving them here forever.


Meena madam: 

It gives immense pleasure to see that our children have become so matured and understanding that they can take up any and every challenge in life. May God give them all the success and happiness they dream of. I am sure their children will also make them feel proud just as they have made us feel proud. May God bless them for everything.

Verma madam :

Thanx a lot to all students for very very lovely and memorable reunion. It was fun. Lots and lots of blessings to everyone who took pain to organize it in such a great way.

Joshi madam :

Yesterday Pranjal & co' s performance was " super she bhi upar ". Thanks a lot. God bless you all.

J R Desai Sir:

I didn't realize that you care so much. Athithi devo bhavo. Great job done by students for reunion, I was very happy to sit continuously for 4 to 5 hours and wanted to see more. But eventually when Niranjan completed his speech and I saw my watch I was surprised. I said to myself wow it was too fast to complete.

Jeevani Sir:

My dear little friends, " program me bahot Maja aaya that, Lekin ham sab ne ese mil liya etnese na chale, aap sab Ko mera request he ki jab bhi jisko time mile milne aya karoge to muje bahot achha lagega" may God bless u all.

Kusum Madam:

Dear students,
Thank you for everything ... showing love & respect, delicious food, gift...

Rekha Madam: 

Pranjal very well organised function. Thanks for everything. You all put lot of effort and are so good in this. It was perfect. not bored. I felt personally that you all become students .it was great fun. Bless you.


In the end I just want to say, it was an experience for lifetime. An experience that connected us not only to our long-lost friends and teachers but also to ourselves.

And as that day is receding day by day, slipping into some unknown realm I am trying hard to hold on to whatever I can and you know what it is; memories

Thursday, 21 September 2017

"Beyond Secrets" Available for Free Download - 21st to 22nd September'17

Dear Friends,

I have received an overwhelming response to my blog and book in the last few days. I am grateful for all the love and am sending a small token of thanks your way. You can get my book for free for two days starting today. Here is the link to download the book -

No worries if you don’t have Kindle device. You can read it on your phone by following 3 simple steps. (You need to have an Amazon account to get the book. It's easy to create one if you don't have it already.


1) Click on this link:
2) Select "Buy Now" or "Buy for Free"  (There will be also an option "Read for free"- It is for people who have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited so you may not be able to buy from there)
3) Follow the instructions thereon

1) Install Kindle App on your phone
2) Search for "Beyond Secrets" by Alka Dimri Saklani in your Kindle App.
3) Select "Buy Now" or "Buy for Free"

If you want to learn more about the book you can visit:

And I am willing to accept return gift😉. Show me some love and leave an honest review on Amazon after reading the book; the best gift I can ever receive. Every review fuels my passion for writing and connects me with the person reading my words. And yes, you are most welcome to share the article and help me spread the word.

Keep reading, keep connecting.

Sunday, 17 September 2017


Life is a box of memories, each in the form a butterfly. And I have named almost every butterfly.

The butterflies named childhood are the most colourful. They are in plenty; whenever they spread their wings they adorn my present. They gift me a smile. Every single time. But day by day they are flying out of my reach, returning to their origin. I wonder where those moments are right now; must be stored somewhere, maybe in some unknown dimension of universe yet to be discovered. As those butterflies fly away the myriad of colours in the box of my life is decreasing, but still I have a lot to boast of.

The butterfly named youth has a plethora of shades ranging from bright to dull, dark to light, intense to mild. Some are heavier than others. Some are closely attached to others, they fly in groups, I can’t see them one at a time. They all come together and then when they leave, they leave behind a trail of raw emotions. Emotions that tell a story, some complete, some incomplete.

There are countless butterflies from different phases of life. It is impossible to name them all. Some I didn’t name deliberately and some just wished to be free from any category. And sometimes I like nameless things. Kind of strange but it’s true. I like nameless relations, nameless emotions, nameless aspirations. It keeps us away from scary reality and liberates in a strange way.  

Some butterflies just flew out of my reach though I tried to chase them and then there are those stubborn ones who are not ready to move an inch. They stay hidden in a deep corner as if afraid to face the present, as if scared time will steal them if they resurface. Though they are so strong that they can conquer the present if they soar up. I wonder if they have signed a life time contract for that little space in the box.

And this forces me to wonder what kind of butterflies I am creating in my present. Are they colourful? Are they stubborn or weak? In future will they gift me a smile? Or tears? Are they enough to decorate my box when the older ones fly away?

By the way, how many butterflies are there in your box? Are there any stubborn ones? I am sure there are.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 

PS - To read a free sample of my novel "Beyond Secrets" click here