There was an error in this gadget

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Press release from my publisher, Publerati

Publerati Publishing my USA publisher sent out the following press release at the Frankfurt Book event this week. Please read it rather me trying to paraphrase it, but in essence my book Leap Of Faith is being made available to thousands of children in the sub-Sahara regions of Africa and then India as part of the Worldreader charitable initiative. Fantastic news for the children who normally wouldn't have access to books and great news for Leap Of Faith!
Leap Of Faith is available on Amazon on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Temporal-Detective-Agency-Series-ebook/dp/B007XYIFO4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348950850&sr=8-1



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact:
Anne Nadeau
twitter.com/publerati


PUBLERATI EBOOK PUBLISHER SIGNS ON WITH WORLDREADER
Both firms are working to promote global literacy via new e-reading technologies.

Portland, Maine, October 10, 2012—Publerati, the ebook publisher specializing in global fiction, announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair that its ebooks will be available through Worldreader (worldreader.org), a non-profit aiming to boost literacy by providing digital books to children and teachers throughout the developing world.
“The primary purpose of Publerati is to use ebooks as a better way for fiction writers to reach more readers around the world, and to do so in a way similar to museums where some people pay full admission and others get in free,” says Caleb Mason, Founder and Publisher at Publerati.  “Working with Worldreader will help us fulfill our mission of opening access, where those who pay will know that our free ebooks plus no less than 5% of net proceeds are being donated to support Worldreader’s efforts.”

Publerati ebooks will be available on e-readers provided to children and teachers across Sub-saharan Africa as well as on the new Worldreader Book App for mobile phones, allowing millions of people in the developing world to have free access to a selection of Publerati ebooks.

“Worldreader is about books and literacy.  We use new digital platforms to deliver books to people in the developing world who previously had little to no access to reading material of any kind. We now have the technology to make it happen, but we need like-minded publishers like Publerati to supply the content.  We are thrilled to have the support of Publerati and hope that other publishers will follow suit,” said Elizabeth Wood, Director of Digital Publishing for Worldreader.
“Our ebook fiction should have worldwide appeal, and I think in particular the stories of Lakshmi Raj Sharma will be very well-received in India as part of the Worldreader feature phone and free ereader programs,” adds Caleb Mason. “And Richard Hardie’s young adult time-travel series, which transports readers across historically fascinating time periods from Camelot to ancient Rome, will entertain and educate children in Africa and elsewhere.”
About Publerati
Read ebooks. Spread literacy. Publerati is a new concept during the early years of digital change within book publishing, whose purpose is to widen access to high-quality fiction from around the world and to do so in a way that allows more readers to engage with better writing.  Publerati authors come from India, the United States, and Great Britain with more on the way. Publerati only publishes fiction in the tradition of great writing that entertains and enlightens readers. www.publerati.com
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
About Worldreader
Worldreader is a US- and European not-for-profit organization that aims to put a library of digital books within the hands of children across the planet. Founded in 2009, Worldreader works with device manufacturers, local and international publishers, governments, education officials, and local communities to bring books to all. The non-profit has since put more than 200,000 international and local e-books into the hands of 1,000 students in Africa and is committed to continue increasing access to digital books in developing nations. The Worldreader Book Application is currently on over four million mobile phones, primarily in India and sub-Saharan Africa.  In July over 489,000 people read 25 million pages on the Worldreader Book App.  www.worldreader.org
THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 7)

Part 7 of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's short story based in India.

========================================================================

                                                            THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 7)
    
On an impulse I went in the opposite direction, towards her house. There I discovered an old beggar sitting on a raised surface at her gate. On inquiry I was told that he was waiting for her. I first gave him a rupee, got his blessings and then sat next to him. 
‘Since when have you been coming to this place?’
‘Since the last ten or twelve years.’
‘To the woman who liv
es here?’
‘Yes, to her.’
‘Do you find her like others? I mean, is she quite normal?’
‘As normal as a woman in her circumstances would be.’
‘What is wrong with her circumstances?’
‘Just about everything!’
‘What is her biggest loss?’
‘The loss of a son!’
‘A son?’
‘Yes. Don’t you know? She had a young and handsome son.’
‘What happened to him?’
‘He was killed in an accident.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I know because I have been passing this way for years and getting alms from the lady of this house. She was shattered by her son’s death and as if that was not enough, the poor thing had to kill her own husband.’
‘Why do you sit here while she is not at home?’
‘I sit here daily at this time. On returning she always gives me something, before entering her house.’
‘Where does she go every day?’
‘She goes to meet her son.’
‘Her son?’
‘Yes, so she says.’
‘But her son is dead, isn’t he?’
‘I believe he is.’
‘Then how does she meet him?’
‘You take me so literally. I mean she goes to meet her son’s soul.’
‘What did you say? You can’t be serious!’
‘I may be wrong. But that is what she once said to me. She normally does not talk to people. She speaks with me because I am a fakir, who has little to do with your world. I too love to communicate with people who have left this world.’
‘What do you mean? Are you making a fool of me?’
‘No. I am serious.’
‘How can I believe all this?’
‘Okay I don’t need to prove myself to you, but since you appear to be a rather genuine human being, I will show you something which will make you see sense in what I say.’
‘What will you show me?’ I asked beginning to feel a little uneasy.
‘This!’ he said, raising his left arm.

I was utterly horrified to see that instead of a human hand he had a snake. Only one of his hands was human, in place of the other there was a snake. I looked at the snake that was a part of the man with feelings that combined revulsion and fear. At first I stood up to go. But then he smiled and said that he was harmless and that his snake had never bitten anyone.

‘But why are you not known all over the world for being so unusual, so extraordinary?’

‘Because I have never been known to show off my hand. I have kept the snake hidden in the sleeve. Those that have seen it accidentally have fallen unconscious or even passed away. I have been extra careful, therefore.’
I began to feel sick with fear and disgust at the hideous looking limb. I made excuse and left. When I looked back, the man was smiling at me. His smile said that he knew I was scared.

Friday, 28 September 2012

THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 6)

Part 6 of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's new short story set in India.

========================================================================

                                                          THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 6)


On an impulse I went in the opposite direction, towards her house. There I discovered an old beggar sitting on a raised surface at her gate. On inquiry I was told that he was waiting for her. I first gave him a rupee, got his blessings and then sat next to him. 
‘Since when have you been coming to this place?’
‘Since the last ten or t
welve years.’
‘To the woman who lives here?’
‘Yes, to her.’
‘Do you find her like others? I mean, is she quite normal?’
‘As normal as a woman in her circumstances would be.’
‘What is wrong with her circumstances?’
‘Just about everything!’
‘What is her biggest loss?’
‘The loss of a son!’
‘A son?’
‘Yes. Don’t you know? She had a young and handsome son.’
‘What happened to him?’
‘He was killed in an accident.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I know because I have been passing this way for years and getting alms from the lady of this house. She was shattered by the event and then the poor thing had to kill her own husband.’
‘Why do you sit here while she is not at home?’
‘I sit here daily at this time. On returning she always gives me something, before entering her house.’
‘Where does she go every day?’
‘She goes to meet her son.’
‘Her son?’
‘Yes, so she says.’

Thursday, 27 September 2012

"I MAY BE SOME TIME"

By my reckoning it's been 2 weeks since I posted a meaningful blog, during which time my daily hits have gone down from over 100 to around an average to 10. I'm hoping that means that visitors to my blog site are actually keen on reading my scribblings!

Well, it's been a busy two weeks with my second book to edit (I'm currently on page 152), the new cover to select (pretty well done, thanks to the wonderful Tracey) and the third book of the Temporal Detective Agency to take beyond the point of a full storyboard to a finished project. It's actually at page 70 and going well, but time is in short supply and it's now 9.00pm and I haven't sat down yet. Well, actually I have, but only in the past 5 minutes to write this.

To make matters worse, Dead Ringers is just starting. It may be  Dave repeat, but it's one of the greatest programmes on TV. I wonder what other shows would take over from writing and blogging?
 - Minder repeats
 - Jonathan Creek repeats
 - Have I got News From You repeats
 - QI repeats
 - Dr Who repeats (mostly)
 - Hustle repeats
 - Midsomer Murders
 - Poirot repeats
 - Miss Marple repeats
 - Lewis
 - Morse repeats
 - Inspector George Gently

Really says it all I suppose. The only thing worth watching is repeats and my tastes vary between high-brow quiz shows and quality detective series. Luckily we have Dave and one or two other satellite channels that specialise in popular repeats. It's a shame the main channels don't follow suit instead of pumping out reality shows and soap operas.

Back to editing now that Dead Ringers has finished! I promise I start blogging properly again soon.

Blog on, Dudes!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 5)

Part 5 of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's new short story set in India.
Blog on, Dudes!

=======================================================================

                                                                 THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 5) 

I had to find out where she went in the evenings and what she did there. But it was no easy task to get her to speak. She could have been a piece of stone; she was entirely dead to everything around her. But I needed to know things about her and the desire to do that kept me from doing anything else.

Then, one evening I decided I would follow her. I kept at a safe dis
tance so that she would not know. But, surprisingly, she turned back and looked at me. She stood, probably wondering why someone should want to follow her. I was astonished to discover that a woman who never cared to bother about what went on around her could discover that I was trying to follow her, even though I was at such a distance. When she found that I had turned back to return, she resumed her journey. After a few minutes I was there again, trying to follow her in the direction that she had taken. But in spite of my best efforts to find where she was heading, I lost track of her and just could not find her. The next day was much the same story.
I began to feel that though she had severed links with the living world, her ability to detect people pursuing her was unusually high. She could gauge from a very great distance that someone was following her. There was something truly strange about Neela Ghosh. She was not like other living people. She was therefore all the more interesting for my purposes; she would make a great story for my column in the news papers. I always wrote about things that were not easy to come by.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 4)

Part four of the new short story by Lakshmi Raj Sharma set in India.

========================================================================

                                                            THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 4) 

Then I was told that she was the widow of the late Parimal Babu, the factory manager of Darshan Tiles. This information provided me with interest in Darshan Tiles. That very day, I found myself in the New Alipore factory compound trying to discover something about Parimal Babu and his widow. People are generally hesitant to talk about their colleagues to journalists be
cause they can always be blamed for spilling the beans. For days I got no reply from the workers and the executives at the factory. But I was determined that I would continue my effort as I was certain that someday someone would come up and speak to me. Then one day I saw a woman bring in some food for a man who seemed to be her husband. The man was one of the gardeners of the factory compound. He took the food from her and said something to her pointing towards me. The wife looked at me with interest and then came to me. She wanted to tell me something but was not opening up easily. At length she began to speak.
‘We are poor people,’ she said. ‘For a little money we can pass on important information. My son’s school fees have not been paid.’
I knew this was the woman who would help me get my first clues for the big story I was planning. We were soon out of the factory compound and she was telling me everything for a sum of five hundred rupees.
‘Parimal Ghosh was not a good man. He needed women all the time. None of us were safe in his presence. But he had a few that he spent his time with. There is a lady who works here, she sits in that room. Parimal Babu and she had come very close to each other. He would bring costly gifts for her and the two often sat and had their meals meals together. He needed more money than he earned and therefore became more and more corrupt. I once went to his wife some years ago and discovered how unhappy she was. She was much too virtuous for an awful man like him.’
‘What do you know about her?’
‘She had a young son that she lost. Till he was alive she could suffer her husband but after the son was gone she became reckless and killed him’
‘Killed him? Why?’
‘They say she did that in self-defense. It is believed that he had brought this factory woman to his house and wanted his wife out. When she refused to leave her house he picked up a kitchen knife to kill her. But she picked up a metallic vase and hit him on the head and he died.’
‘Then?’
‘She was arrested initially but was released after it was proven that she did everything in self-defense.’
‘Why does she walk every evening in that direction?’
‘I don’t know about that.’

I had to find out where she went in the evenings and what she did there. But it was no easy task to get her to speak. She could have been a piece of stone; she was entirely dead to everything around her. But I needed to know things about her and the desire to do that kept me from doing anything else.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 3)

Part three of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's new short story set in India.
Blog on, Dudes!

========================================================================

                                                        THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 3) 

Her ancient looking Fiat had the same story to tell. Its paint had given way to rust. She drove children to school in the noisy car with holes in its rare end. The mudguard hung loosely from one point and the faded number plate suggested that the car was normally not used after the wee hours of the morning when she could be stopped and fined by prying inspectors. Only 
three or four children went to school with her whose parents could bring them back on their own in the afternoons. These children were small enough not to get scared by her manner. The older ones knew that she wasn’t the right person to be with; her scary silence disturbed them. In the evenings, around sunset, she walked alone always going in one direction and then returning after an hour or so. Some had seen her enter a little wooded patch which housed a mazaar in which someone lay buried for centuries. It was said she sat there trying to comb through ions of time. Neela Ghosh was indeed unsocial. She kept company with the departed, having lost interest in those alive.
If you once develop interest in the world of the dead, then you can get so engrossed in it that then the living world fades into insignificance. Neela was a good example of this. When she married Parimal Ghosh she was still a woman of the world, with interest in everyone who lived and died but something happened at some point in her life which made her indifferent to the living. When I came here as a journalist, in the southern part of Kolkata, I couldn’t help noticing the unique existence of Neela Ghosh. I had begun to wait daily in my Alipore flat balcony to see her pass from there and at times even tried to follow her for some distance. I once tried to stop her to interview her but she walked on looking quite through me as though she had not heard or seen me. She just wouldn’t allow you to interrogate her. She had hardened both from inside and externally. Her face seemed to be made of an off-white wax. Her hair was much like a grey nylon wig that was not properly combed.
Then I was told that she was the widow of the late Parimal Babu, the factory manager of Darshan Tiles. This information provided me with interest in Darshan Tiles. That very day, I found myself in the New Alipore factory campus trying to discover something about Parimal Babu and his widow. People are generally hesitant to talk about their colleagues to journalists because they can always be blamed for spilling the beans. For days I got no reply from the workers and the executives at the factory. But I was determined that I would continue my effort as I was certain that someday someone would come up and speak to me. Then one day I saw a woman bring in some food for a man who seemed to be her husband. The man was one of the gardeners of the factory compound. He took the food from her and said something to her pointing towards me. The wife looked at me with interest and then came to me. She wanted to tell me something but was not opening up easily. At length she began to speak.
‘We are poor people,’ she said at length. ‘For a little money we can pass on important information. My son’s school fees have not been paid.’
I knew this was the woman who would help me get my first clues for the big story I was planning.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

COMMITMENT (AN UPDATE)

I posted this blog 5 days ago and meant every word of it.
But there's an update!
After 80 years in the Scout Association John Goble was honoured at a small Group event last Sunday, but the intention is now that he be given a special presentation at the District AGM by the World Chief Scout, Bear Grylls. This time as many of the leaders and Scouts who worked with John in his Scouting career will be invited to attend, though this may mean hiring the Olympic Stadium....but at least it'll be put to good use!

Blog on, Dudes!

======================================================================


Commitment!

After the Olympics and Paralympics it's been difficult to find something I really wanted to blog about. The men and women who took part in both events were committed to winning and to representing their country. They didn't do it for money (though winners like Mo Farah will become millionaires as a result), their pride in  winning gold for their country. Other than Andrew Murray winning the US Open on Monday there really hasn't been much to altruistically cheer about. I could have blogged about our army boys in Afghanistan and how they daily risk their lives to bring democracy to a foreign country. I could have done, but I didn't because there are people far better than me writing up their daily bravery.

An unsung hero therefore....

I was a Leader in the Scout Association for 15 years (and NO it's not me!). I left some three years ago and this afternoon I went to a gathering at my local district to honour a man called John Goble who is 87 and still the honourary president of my old Scout Group. He started in the Association as a cub 80 years ago..
While I was a leader John (then a young man in his 70s came up every troop night when we asked him to, and kept the kids mesmerised with his skill in pioneering. His knowledge of building bridges, ropeways, zipwires and anything else that involved ropes, spars and how to use them in a survival situation. His knowledge and experience was, and is, encyclopedic and he had the ability to put things over in a way that made the leaders and kids look forward to the next night he was going to join us.

This afternoon John was presented with two cakes with the Scout insignia on them, a letter and plaque from the Chief Scout (Bear Grylls) and a rousing round of thanks from leaders, past and present and scouts of all ages. The kids then showed some of the skills they'd learned and I realised, not for the first time, what a difference the Scout Association has made to so many kids and the time and commitment the leaders give.

At 80 years, John Goble is the longest serving person in the Association and it's unlikely anyone will pass that mark which why I would recognise him as a hero and a friend.

Blog on, Dudes!
The Starched Woman (Part 2)

The 2nd part of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's new short story set in India.
Blog on, Dudes!

=======================================================================

                                                        The Starched Woman (Part 2)

She was living on in a limbo as though time had stopped in her life. Nothing interested her. Her eyes said it all. She walked looking through everything, everyone, on her route. People had got used to her and hardly took notice of her starched arrivals and her pallid departures. Everyone in Alipore knew that she was not a ghost. Those that mistook her for one were soon
 informed that she was very much alive and had remained that way for years now. People had forgotten though what she sounded like; her presence was filled with a silent stiffness. She lived in a house that had needed paint for the last decade at least, but paint would clash with the general dullness of her mind; it would go against her sensibility. It would jar and disturb her peace. Peace? Did she live in peace? Who could have known? She never communicated with the living.
Her ancient looking Fiat had the same story to tell. Its paint had given way to rust. She drove children to school in the noisy car with holes in its rare end. The mudguard hung loosely from one point and the faded number plate suggested that the car was normally not used after the wee hours of the morning when she could be stopped and fined by prying inspectors. Only three or four children went to school with her whose parents could bring them back on their own in the afternoons. These children were small enough not to get scared by her manner. The older ones knew that she wasn’t the right person to be with. Her scary silence disturbed children who had grown too big not to notice her ghastly presence. In the evenings, around sunset, she walked alone always going in one direction and then returning after an hour or so. Some had seen her enter a little wooded patch which housed a mazaar in which someone lay buried for centuries. It was said she sat there trying to comb through ions of time. Neela Ghosh was indeed unsocial.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Starched Woman (Part 1)

This is the first part of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's new short short set in India. No spoilers! Just read it and the follow up parts and enjoy the experience.

======================================================================

                                                             The Starched Woam (part 1)

She was living on in a limbo as though time had stopped in her life. Nothing interested her. Her eyes said it all. She walked looking through everything, everyone, on her route. People had got used to her and hardly took notice of her starched arrivals and her pallid departures. Everyone in Alipore knew that she was not a ghost. Those that mistook her for one were soon
 informed that she was very much alive and had remained that way for years now. People had forgotten though what she sounded like; her presence was filled with a silent stiffness. She lived in a house that had needed paint for the last decade at least, but paint would clash with the general dullness of her mind; it would go against her sensibility. It would jar and disturb her peace. Peace? Did she live in peace? Who could have known? She never communicated with the living.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

WHO WAS THIS BLOKE CALLED SHAKESPEARE?

It's a fact that Shakespeare is the only writer of any kind, or nation, that virtually every school kid is forced to read at some point in their young lives. J K Rawling...eat your heart out, though who knows what the future may hold! Though I have to say that Potter really isn't in the same game as Macbeth!

For Shakespeare to command such respect over the centuries means he must have been quite a guy with a reasonably good business head on his shoulders and probably a fairly impressive agent and business team. On the other hand he may have just been incredibly lucky. Let's face it, he wasn't the most popular playwrite in Elizabethan England. Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe drew bigger crowds and it wasn't until the 19th century that Will S was acclaimed a genius...200 years after he died, the poor man!

He wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and lots of other poems, which considering he died when he was 52 and retired 3 years earlier than that mean he must have spent most of his days writing, and probably most of his nights as well! Only Barbara Cartland and George Simenon came anywhere near to the same productivity and both lived to ripe old ages. That's not to say he didn't write all the works attributed to him, but like in American Sitcoms, there may well have been a team of Will Shakespeares penning away. Actually if you actually look through one of his plays, they're quite short in the number of words and pages. It's the interpretation on stage that takes the time, though even there Mr S helped out giving detailed instructions on entrances and exits. The most famous being "Exits, as though chased by a bear"!

One day, someone will open Shakespeare's tomb in Stratford. Legend has it that hidden in the tomb is the truth as to whether he really wrote all his plays and sonnets or whether they were written by either Bacon, or a team of ghost writers. Rumour also has it that he was gay, was actually a woman and didn't actually exist at all, tough that would probably mean that his tomb is empty and that Anne Hathaway was a delusionist who invented him to account for the three children that appeared out of the blue!
The curse stopping anyone opening the tomb  is as follows:
Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
And cvrst be he yt moves my bones.
It obviously worked as a deterrent, because even when the church was renovated in 2008 everyone was very careful not to disturb the tomb. Unfortunately Shakespeare doesn't say what the curse consists of, but it probably has something to do with having to site through all 38 plays in one go and learn all the sonnets by heart. A school kid's nightmare!

When I was at school I took A level English Literature, much of which meant studying  Shakespeare and his contemporaries and I have to admit that of the lot Shakespeare came fairly well down the list. John Dryden, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson were all more saucy and in many way funnier than the Bard, with the exception of Dryden who was a romantic. Volpone and Bartholomew Fair I always reckoned to be better than Hamlet, or any of Shakespeare History plays, but the 19th century critics forced Shakespeare to the fore and he hasn't looked back.. It's just a shame his descendants don't get royalties from sales of his plays in print form and from the thousands of performances round the world.

As a quotable author he's given the English languages some of the best known quotes:
 - To be, or not to be, that is the question (often used in comedy shows!)
 - Is this a dagger I see before me? (Many comic answers have been given!)
 - Now is the winter of my discontent.
 - This too, too solid flesh (often said of aging ballet dancers)
 - Make me immortal with a kiss (WRONG! That was from Dr Faustus by Marlowe!)
 - Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
 - Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? (Under the bleedin' curtain, according to Tony Hancock)
 - Out damn Spot! (and don't come back in until you've had a pee!)
Plus so many more, and that alone makes him unique.

It looks as though he existed, was born and died in Stratford and spent some twenty plus years in London writing numerous plays and putting them on the stage at The Globe and elsewhere. He probably wrote all the plays himself because the style is very consistent as is the spelling....
....and there's the inconsistency. Shakespeare actually spelled his name in 16 different ways, which in itself is a stunning achievement, but rather unusual in a man who was credited with being the world's greatest playwrite. OR WAS HE????

Blog on, Dudes!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

THAT NIGHT (Part 29, the last part)

This the final part of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's acclaimed ghost story set in rural India. Lakshmi is professor of English and European languages at Allahahbad University and earlier this month represented India at a writing conference in the UK.
All 29 parts of THAT NIGHT are still on this blog site, however if there is sufficient interest and with Lakshmi's permission I am happy to post one single blog withe the whole story as one piece. Please comment and share.

Blog on, Dudes!

========================================================================

                                                            THAT NIGHT (part 29)

I decided that I would have to gather the courage to settle matters with Pran, who had been a son to me once. I had to agree after realizing the significant role I was playing in the whole affair. I would suffer silently and reform Pran. He was after all connected to me so closely. If he was full of pride and obstinacy he had inherited some part of his negativi
ty from me. I made up my mind that I would spend the remainder of my life according to a spiritual plan. I would even die to save the world of the spirits.

I had two goals left in life now. The first was to help the spirits and also help my own spirit in the process. The second was to write my novel and describe the world of the spirits as I had begun to understand it now. I had definitely changed from the one who was so scared of spirits. I learned to look upon them rather differently, with understanding. The plot of my novel was contained in the story of these spirits. There was a hero, heroine, villain – all were here and all I had to do was to put together their various subplots into a neatly rounded story. I also realized that the villain could easily be looked upon as the hero as his villainy was probably a result of frustration. It was merely a small failure, loss or disappointment which could get converted into a big depravity and degeneration. Pran was not to be treated like a villain but a son gone wrong.

The most surprising thing happened when I next met Pran. He fell at my feet and wept. I wondered why that happened. It was after I thought and thought that I understood the reason for his transformation. He was after all a spirit who could know my mind and my plans without my telling him about them. When he discovered that his father was trying to change him for his advancement and his general welfare along with the general welfare of all the spirits, he decided he would co-operate with me. He now had someone to call his own rather than suffer eternal loneliness and alienation. I loved him for taking such a positive step. Manoj told me later that my wisdom had begun to pass on into him now, just as at one time my pride had been his total inheritance.

Monday, 17 September 2012

THAT NIGHT (Part 28)

After a gap of nearly 2 weeks this is the 28th episode of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's acclaimed ghost story set in rural India. If you missed any part, or wish to catch up, all episodes are still available on this blog.
Blog on, Dudes!

========================================================================

                                                                THAT NIGHT (Part 28)

The smile made me feel encouraged me to speak to her. I was not at all comfortable inside and did not know what would happen in the next moment but I decided to speak to her. So I looked at the portrai
t and began talking to her.

‘Are you Sonali?’
‘Sonali? Yes I was Sonali in one of my births, the birth when you and I were together in the University,’ a voice seemed to say from somewhere behind me.
‘Why did you come in my dreams so often?’
‘I need your help.’
‘I will do anything for you, Sonali.’
‘I am not Sonali anymore. Spirits must forget what they were. The spirit that cannot forget has to undergo a lot of pain. My circumstances have been unfortunate because of which I still have to remember my past.’
‘How terrible! I am indeed sorry for you Sonali. What kind of feelings did you have for me?’
‘I do not remember too well. But I think I did not dislike you. But that is beside the point because you were not like the person you knew as Manoj. My soul has been wedded to the spirit that was once named Manoj. All other spirits are no more than names for me.’
‘Why did you always come in my dreams, Sonali? You were never like Pran who could venture out of dreams and move about freely?’
‘I have been law abiding. He has done something for which he must suffer and burn in flames that seem to emanate from sulphur. He did everything wrong and continues to do so even till now. Do not remind me of him. He has tortured me so much.’
'Okay, please continue with your tale.'
'Please don't call it a tale, it is the reality.'
‘Okay. Let me know the reality.’
‘In my birth before this last one I was the daughter of the raja of Sipra in the then township of Jigna. Jigna and Gaipura were neighbouring areas. Then I was Suneeti, a young princess, and I was betrothed to be married to the Rajput prince of Gaipura, the kindly and handsome Kunwar Pratap Singh Chauhan. He was reborn as Manoj as you knew him. However, the son of the pujari of our estate, Gokul, who often accompanied his father to our prayer meetings was very disturbed by my engagement with Pratap. His father was the renowned pandit of this area and in matters of spiritual learning, considered the most accomplished among the priests of seven districts of the United Provinces, the then name of Uttar Pradesh. Gokul’s father was proud of his achievement and Gokul inherited his pride. He thought himself no less than a prince. He had been seeing me from the time of our childhood and began to nurture thoughts for me that were not proper for one of another caste as inter-caste marriages were not socially permissible. He would tell me about his love for me and that he would kill himself rather than see someone else marry me. Kunwar Pratap also visited us frequently with his family. We fell in love and our families decided that we would marry each other. I never responded to Gokul’s gestures of friendship as he was of a lower status though he himself thought that he was much higher. I only advised him to keep away from me. But that advice only made him furious and he created a great deal of tension for me and my family. When Pratap learned about Gokul he met him and told him to be careful lest he got into trouble. But Gokul dared to continue his antics. Their differences grew into hostility and that then changed into enmity.’

‘It became rather embarrassing for me to be the centre of attention for two males. I loved Pratap but I knew Gokul equally well because I had grown up with him. The problem with Gokul was that he was very jealous. He could not see anyone else prospering if he had not prospered himself. He was becoming destructive. In those days caste and social status were important considerations. If ignored, one was ousted from one’s community and boycotted. Only tragic heroes and heroines jumped into inter-caste marriages. I may sound very self-centered but then I was mortally scared of tragedy and tragedy for me lay in the arms of Gokul because I could never imagine how I would ever survive without Pratap. It was the same situation in my next birth when Gokul was born as Pran and began to vie for my attention. Every birth seems to be sealed off from the rest and complete in itself. But now as a spirit I can clearly see how the same soul enters different bodies and yet retains its basic nature,’ said the spirit that was once Suneeti and then Sonali.
‘O, I see now. But so much still remains for me to understand.’
‘Please don’t ask me too much. And, look at me; I am talking to you as if you were a fellow spirit. We are not supposed to interact with you and when we do we are faced with such harrowing experience, which would be something like soul-shredding, like a hacking up of the soul. Let me leave before that Gokul, or Pran as you knew him, turns and begins my mental torture.’
‘I am here, my sweetheart. And I have been listening to you since some time. I am indeed pained,’ said Pran.
‘O! I must leave immediately,’ said Sonali and disappeared. Her earrings were back in place in the portrait and so were her payals. I was now left in the more unpleasant company of the disgruntled Pran.
‘You are playing the same role for us that you played when we were in Allahabad. How stubborn you are. I think you need some rough treatment from me! Should I show you what it is to interfere with spirits? I can teach you a real lesson in two minutes.’
‘First teach yourself to be sensible. And stop making those terrible eyes at me. They will burn my eyesight,’ I said as I began to faint.

When I awoke I found Manoj/Pratap sitting near me. He looked genuinely concerned about my plight. He said that he was extremely sorry for the way Pran/Gokul had spoken to me. He had used all his ghastly strength to set the fellow right. They had fought for hours and given each other ghastly pain while I was lying unconscious. Finally Pran had to leave as he was getting seriously wounded.

‘But do spirits also get wounded?’ I asked in surprise.
‘They very much do if the one inflicting the wound is also a spirit. It is people like you, not belonging to our domain that cannot wound us physically. You can, of course, wound us emotionally.’
‘O, really? Okay, now please tell me why you wanted me here, in Gaipura.’
‘Yes. That is the most important thing for you to understand. You may find it difficult to accept what Sonali and I want from you, but you will have to help us because if you do not, we might keep suffering birth after birth as we have been doing.’
‘Me? How can I help you?’
‘You were the learned one in Gaipura in your last birth. You were Gokul’s father. He is an ungrateful wretch and so does not give you sufficient respect. He does not treat you as a father ought to. He has changed now as you have taken another birth. You have to first realize that there is no one with as much wisdom as you and then you have to tame him with your wisdom. Only you can make him see sense.’
‘I doubt if I can ever do that. I am so scared of him. I fainted when he showed me his angry eyes.’
‘But you will have to do this for us and for yourself when you have turned into a spirit because you are intrinsically connected with us. If you do not help now we will all probably keep taking birth after birth in which we will come together in similar relationships, to suffer, till such time as the basic conflict is resolved.’

I decided that I would have to gather the courage to settle matters with Pran, who had been a son to me once. I had to agree after realizing the significant role I was playing in the whole affair. I would suffer silently and reform Pran. He was after all connected to me so closely. If he was full of pride and obstinacy he had inherited some part of his negativity from me. I made up my mind that I would spend the remainder of my life according to a spiritual plan. I would even die to save the world of the spirits.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

COMMITMENT (AN UPDATE)

I posted this blog 5 days ago and meant every word of it.
After 80 years in the Scout Association John Goble was honoured at a small Group event last Sunday, but the intention is now that he be given a special presentation at the District AGM by the World Chief Scout, Bear Grylls. This time as many of the leaders and Scouts who worked with John in his Scouting career will be invited to attend, though this may mean hiring the Olympic Stadium....but at least it'll be put to good use!

Blog on, Dudes!

======================================================================


Commitment!

After the Olympics and Paralympics it's been difficult to find something I really wanted to blog about. The men and women who took part in both events were committed to winning and to representing their country. They didn't do it for money (though winners like Mo Farah will become millionaires as a result), their pride in  winning gold for their country. Other than Andrew Murray winning the US Open on Monday there really hasn't been much to altruistically cheer about. I could have blogged about our army boys in Afghanistan and how they daily risk their lives to bring democracy to a foreign country. I could have done, but I didn't because there are people far better than me writing up their daily bravery.

An unsung hero therefore....

I was a Leader in the Scout Association for 15 years (and NO it's not me!). I left some three years ago and this afternoon I went to a gathering at my local district to honour a man called John Goble who is 87 and still the honourary president of my old Scout Group. He started in the Association as a cub 80 years ago..
While I was a leader John (then a young man in his 70s came up every troop night when we asked him to, and kept the kids mesmerised with his skill in pioneering. His knowledge of building bridges, ropeways, zipwires and anything else that involved ropes, spars and how to use them in a survival situation. His knowledge and experience was, and is, encyclopedic and he had the ability to put things over in a way that made the leaders and kids look forward to the next night he was going to join us.

This afternoon John was presented with two cakes with the Scout insignia on them, a letter and plaque from the Chief Scout (Bear Grylls) and a rousing round of thanks from leaders, past and present and scouts of all ages. The kids then showed some of the skills they'd learned and I realised, not for the first time, what a difference the Scout Association has made to so many kids and the time and commitment the leaders give.

At 80 years, John Goble is the longest serving person in the Association and it's unlikely anyone will pass that mark which why I would recognise him as a hero and a friend.

Blog on, Dudes!

Saturday, 8 September 2012


"ROUND THE WORLD IN
80 BLOG POSTS"



United States



112
United Kingdom
61
Russia
32
India
9
Germany
12
Netherlands
19
Ireland
43
France
24
Canada
6
Taiwan

Ukraine

New Zealand
5

3

4



Not for the first time I had a look today at the statistics that Blogger provides. Mostly I look at how many people are reading my posts at that particular moment and probably in total. I also look at which posts people are looking at, which tells me which ones are popular and what type of humour readers prefer. As it happens, I write and post what I want to anyway, but it seems to match the majority of my audience which is lucky for everyone.

Today, though, I looked at my audience and which countries they're based in. I have to admit I had presumed most of readers and blog followers were in the UK and USA and I was right, but what surprised me was that I have 32 followers in Russia, 9 in India and even 3 in Ukraine. Only China is really missing. They say that internet technology has made the world a global village and it would seem to be true. What's more they all (sorry....you all!) seem to be regular readers as my blog averages around 3,000 readers a month and that's increasing.

Strangely, my most popular posts were:
   1. The first few pages of my first book Leap of Faith (I'll post the Amazon link below!)
   2. Rather critical, though humorous posts about bankers and banking
   3. Rather similar posts about advertising and advertisers
   4. A serialised short ghost story set in India by my friend Lakshmi Raj Sharma
   5. My take on the London Olympics and Paralympics.

The over-riding preference seems to be for humorous commentary on aspects of life, and I have to admit that's what I love writing about, so that's what I'll continue to post for as long as people from countries as far afield as the Ukraine and New Zealand tune in.

Meanwhile here's the Amazon link to my book Leap of Faith:
http://www.amazon.com/Temporal-Detective-Agency-Series-ebook/dp/B007XYIFO4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347120705&sr=8-1
For those in the UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Temporal-Detective-Agency-Series-ebook/dp/B007XYIFO4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347120705&sr=8-1
Have a look. You can download the first three chapters at no charge. Better still, buy it! I guarantee you'll enjoy it.

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Thoughts on the Paralympics.

I just saw Jason Smith run 21.4 seconds for the 200m whereas Usain Bolt runs it in a fraction over 19 seconds. The basic difference is that Jason from N Ireland is almost blind with less than 10% vision. As he said afterwards "You male the most of what you've got!" He certainly did.


One person I spoke to said that the Paralympics is all about people pushing themselves round in wheelchairs and to some extent he's right, because that's what some Paralympians do. My counter argument was that it was like comparing an Austin A30 driver to a Formula One champions, because that's what the Paralympian chair racers are....they're the equivalent of Schumacher and the Hamilton. The big difference is that the paralympians have to use human motive power to make their wheels go round as opposed to highly tuned engines. They also have to have the tactical skills of a Mo Farrah.
Alex Zennardi who lost both legs in a terrible Formula One accident won two golds in the wheelchair road racing. The man never gives up!

We've also had paralympian swimmers with one arm, and in one case with no arms. We've had discus throwers, standing, sitting, able to rotate and in a fixed position. We've had amputees competing in nearly every event (actually I can't think of one they haven't), a special football competition for totally blind people. We've had a champion with cerebral palsy beating others far more theoretically able to control their movements in horse dressage. We had young Ellie with dwarfism winning 2 golds and a bronze against people much taller than her. She may have been smaller than the other competitors but she had the biggest cheer of the games so far!

We had the argument from Oscar Pretorius about the length of the blades used and he had a point, but when he lost the 100m to our guy Oscar was the first to congratulate the Brit in now uncertain terms.

If you asked anyone who they could name from previous Paralympics most would mention Tanni and probably Oscar. Both have become celebrities in their own right. Now there's Ellie, David Weir, Sarah Storey, Liz Johnson, Richard Whitehead. Too many to remember right now, but we will!

One other hero of the Paralympics is Channel 4 who cancelled their normal early evening programmes and gave over most of their day's programming to the Games. Their coverage has been superb and in many ways  as good as the BBC in the ordinary Olympics

One last hero...Claire Balding and her team. Knowledgable and intelligent.
A great Games. Roll on Rio!

Blog on, Dudes!


Saturday, 1 September 2012

That Night (Part 27)

Part 27 of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's acclaimed ghost story set in India.

======================================================================

                                                                      THAT NIGHT (Part 27)

‘In my birth before this last one I was the daughter of the raja of Sipra in the then township of Jigna. Jigna and Gaipura were neighbouring areas. Then I was Suneeti, a young princess, and I was betrothed to be married to the Rajput prince of Gaipura, the kindly and handsome Kunwar Pratap Singh Chauhan. He was reborn as Manoj as you knew him. However, the son of the pujari of our estate, Gokul, who often accompanied his father to our prayer meetings was very disturbed by my engagement with Pratap. His father was the renowned pandit of this area and in matters of spiritual learning, considered the most accomplished among the priests of seven districts of the United Provinces, the then name of Uttar Pradesh. Gokul’s father was proud of his achievement and Gokul inherited his pride. He thought himself no less than a prince. He had been seeing me from the time of our childhood and began to nurture thoughts for me that were not proper for one of another caste as inter-caste marriages were not socially permissible. He would tell me about his love for me and that he would kill himself rather than see someone else marry me. Kunwar Pratap also visited us frequently with his family. We fell in love and our families decided that we would marry each other. I never responded to Gokul’s gestures of friendship as he was of a lower status though he himself thought that he was much higher. I only advised him to keep away from me. But that advice only made him furious and he created a great deal of tension for me and my family. When Pratap learned about Gokul he met him and told him to be careful lest he got into trouble. But Gokul dared to continue his antics. Their differences grew into hostility and that then changed into enmity.’ 

‘It became rather embarrassing for me to be the centre of attention for two males. I loved Pratap but I knew Gokul equally well because I had grown up with him. The problem with Gokul was that he was very jealous. He could not see anyone else prospering if he had not prospered himself. He was becoming destructive. In those days caste and social status were important considerations. If ignored, one was ousted from one’s community and boycotted. Only tragic heroes and heroines jumped into inter-caste marriages. I may sound very self-centered but then I was mortally scared of tragedy and tragedy for me lay in the arms of Gokul because I could never imagine how I would ever survive without Pratap. It was the same situation in my next birth when Gokul was born as Pran and began to vie for my attention. Every birth seems to be sealed off from the rest and complete in itself. But now as a spirit I can clearly see how the same soul enters different bodies and yet retains its basic nature,’ said the spirit that was once Suneeti and then Sonali.
‘O, I see now. But so much still remains for me to understand.’
‘Please don’t ask me too much. And, look at me; I am talking to you as if you were a fellow spirit. We are not supposed to interact with you and when we do we are faced with such harrowing experience, which would be something like soul-shredding, like a hacking up of the soul. Let me leave before that Gokul, or Pran as you knew him, turns and begins my mental torture.’
‘I am here, my sweetheart. And I have been listening to you since some time. I am indeed pained,’ said Pran.
‘O! I must leave immediately,’ said Sonali and disappeared. Her earrings were back in place and so were her payals. I was now left in the more unpleasant company of the disgruntled Pran.
‘You are playing the same role for us that you played when we were in Allahabad. How stubborn you are. I think you need some rough treatment from me! Should I show you what it is to interfere with spirits? I can teach you a real lesson in two minutes.’
‘First teach yourself to be sensible. And stop making those terrible eyes at me. They will burn my eyesight,’ I said as I began to faint.