Friday, May 25, 2018

ROYALLY YOURS - a collaboration of stories

ROYAL WEDDING still on your mind? The full ROYALLY YOURS series is out today via Serial Box and Kobo here -->
Note: all new Kobo customers in Canada and the United Kingdom can use the promo code: ROYALS to get the eBook omnibus for $1.99 (both CAD and GBP.) Woohoo!
One day. Five couples. Five stories. The most anticipated wedding in the world. But this story’s not about the bride and groom, the dukes and duchesses, this story is about the palace maid with a heart of gold, the milliner who dreams of seeing her designs adorn the pews, the American bodyguard who learns some British charm, the paparazzo after that one great shot, and the ordinary girl who dreams of being a princess. Rumors of a missing bride threaten to ruin the day, but nothing can stop the romance running rampant on the streets of London the day before the royal wedding.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


Dear Readers,
I'm so excited that My Last Love Story releases in India today with a lovely new cover.

Chapter 2:

On the drive home, Nirvaan jabbered inside the car while the rain played a harmonica on the Jeep’s roof—fast, then slow, loud and then soft.
Since I commanded the steering wheel, I was exempt from input on the baby-making plans beyond a well-placed hum or an indistinct nod. Normally, it took about twenty minutes to get home from the clinic in Monterey, but the downpour hampered our speed today.
By home, I meant, the beach house we’d rented for the year in Carmel-by-the-Sea. We’d moved in barely two weeks ago, and we were still feeling our way around the resort-town community. We weren’t complete strangers to the area. Being so close to San Jose, where we’d lived for the first two years of our marriage, both Carmel and Monterey had been our favorite spur-of-the-moment getaways. We’d often discussed buying beachfront property as an investment or retiring to a seaside town in our winter years—all this, of course, before the cancer had forced us to move to LA and in with Nirvaan’s parents. We were living our dream now, in a fashion, as part of Nirvaan’s Titanic Wish List—the list so dubbed because of the magnitude of its scope and theme.
The beach house was ideally located for our needs—twenty minutes from the fertility clinic and a scant five-minute drive from one of the best cancer hospices in the country. The Bay Area boasted a temperate climate throughout the year, getting neither super hot or insanely cold. With Carmel Beach as a backdrop, Nirvaan truly had chosen the perfect place to die.
“Why didn’t you make the appointment, Simi?”
I’d expected the question, yet I flinched when Nirvaan asked it.
“Your treatment starts next week. Let’s concentrate on one thing at a time, honey,” I replied, collecting my wits.
“You’re trying to wiggle out of our bargain.”
“No, I’m prioritizing the important stuff.” I kept my eyes peeled on the rain-slick California highway. If I looked at him, I’d melt or say something I’d regret.
“The IVF is important. You promised we’d try, Simi.” His words were matter-of-fact, but I heard the accusation hidden in their folds well enough.
“We will. We are.” My voice wobbled, and I struggled to moderate it. “Once the radia—”
“No.” He cut me off, reaching over to rub my thigh.
I hadn’t realized my body was clenched so tight.
“Both procedures together. Whatever we do, we do together, like always or not at all,” he said in a tone that would not countenance an argument.
I wanted to scream at him for being such a bully, but I couldn’t because I had promised, and I’d never broken a promise to him in my life. I might lie to him—had lied to him many times about many things. I wouldn’t deny manipulating him, but I’d never broken a promise.
When the parish church loomed up like a stone beacon on the right, I eased my foot off the accelerator and took the exit onto the local roads, driving around the church building. A backlit signpost stood, water smudged, on the front lawn. Every single day, the pastor—an austere-faced though jolly man—would put up a new adage for the world to pontificate on.
Today, it simply read, “Trust in God. He knows what He’s doing.”
My face tightened at the patently false advertisement. Khodai didn’t know what He was doing any more than Nirvaan and I did.
Trust in God? The God who’d inflicted cancer on a fun-loving young man? The God who’d orphaned children and would leave a wife as a widow? The impotent God who’d done nothing while my eighteenth birthday turned into my worst nightmare?
Thank you, but no. I could never trust God as His executive decisions had failed to impress me so far.
And Nirvaan wanted to produce another soul for Him to torture.
The rain began to pelt down in fat musical drops as I zigzagged through the streets, filling the obstinate silence inside the Jeep. I was glad for the sound. It allowed me a reprieve from all words, emblazoned or spoken or thought.
At the tip of a quiet long road with nowhere left to go, I eased the car over a pebbled driveway and parked as close to our slate-blue craftsman-style home as I could. Ahead of us, a strange black truck with monster tires blocked the front of the detached carriage house, the rear covered in blue tarpaulin.
Before I could utter a word, Nirvaan chortled, “He’s back,” in a bizarre falsetto.
“So I gathered. But what’s he brought back?”
Instead of answering the question, Nirvaan unbuckled his seat belt in one fluid motion, grabbed my face between his hands and smooched my lips, as if our recent tense moments had never happened.
It was typical of him. Nirvaan stubbornly refused to let bad moods win. I approved of the quirk with great gulps of gratitude, as one moody bitch per household was quite enough.
“Happy birthday to us, baby.” He grinned from ear to ear as our noses Eskimo kissed.
I squinted at my husband. Our birthdays weren’t for another three weeks. Mine fell on May 31, and Nirvaan’s was on June 1. I wondered what kind of present had gotten him even more excited than the visit to the fertility doctor.
Nirvaan spilled out of the Jeep before leaping up the three steps onto the thick wraparound deck where our longtime friend, the third Musketeer of our pack, Zayaan Mohammed Ali Khan, stood under the aegis of the front porch. He, too, grinned like the Cheshire cat high on cream.
I’d steeled my nerves before looking at him, but even then a gasping ache speared my heart. Zayaan was the living reminder of all that was wrong in my life, all Khodai had taken from me as part of His grand plan to keep me in line.
Astoundingly, Zayaan and Nirvaan shared their birthdays. The fact was the deciding factor in their friendship that had been founded one summer on the streets of Surat, the year they—we—turned fifteen. Same birthday, same street address, same damn-the-world temperaments, where could they—we—go wrong, really?
But we’d gone wrong. Like a roller coaster plunging off its tracks, our world had splintered apart one awful night, and I’d been left bleeding and alone, as always.
Stop wallowing in self-pity. Control yourself, and get out of the car.
Nirvaan gestured at the truck and said something. Zayaan nodded in reply, still grinning. He held a nonalcoholic beer in one hand, a hand towel in the other. His thick mop of poker-straight hair stood up in glossy spikes, like he’d vigorously rubbed it with the towel, while the rest of him was drenched from shoulders to sandaled feet. His cotton shirt was soaked through and plastered against his torso, delineating every muscle beneath it.
My throat went dry. I was a sucker for broad shoulders and washboard abs, and Zayaan’s were quite deliciously on display right now.
Cursing the paradox of emotions he always spawned inside me, I pulled the red hood of my raincoat over my head, as much to serve as blinkers for my wayward vision as to protect my hair from the rain. With a tight grip on my nerves and my purse and the tote bulging with a dozen medical files, I got out of the car and dashed up the wet whitewashed steps.

© Falguni Kothari

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Thoughts on Padmavat

The Story:

Set in 1303 AD medieval India, Padmaavat is the story of honor, valor and obsession. Queen Padmavati is known for her exceptional beauty along with a strong sense of justice and is the wife of Maharawal Ratan Singh and pride of the Kingdom of Chittor, a prosperous kingdom in the north west of India. The legend of her beauty reaches the reigning sultan of Hindustan – Allaudin Khilji. The sultan who is a tyrant, is fixated with wanting anything that is of exceptional beauty for himself. He lays siege on the impregnable fortress of Chittorgarh. After a grueling 6 months, he returns empty handed. He becomes obsessed and now wants to capture Chittor and its Queen at any cost. He returns with a bigger army and ranging fury. He attacks Chittor with brutal force and a bloody and fearsome battle takes places between the righteous Maharawal Ratan Singh defending his kingdom and the honor of his queen and Sultan Allaudin Khilji. Khilji manages to breach the fortress but in vain as the Queen chooses to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect her dignity.

What I liked:

- the sets were awesome. From the forts, to the travelling army, to the cave temples, everything was epic, immense and detailed. A visual treat
- the star cast was flawless, and all of them did a wonderful job together and separately and brought the story to life
- the premise of the story made sense. It was about narcissism and obsession, and I can believe that a ruler would be thus
- the ghoomer dance made me want to I used to :)
- the one-on-one sword fight between Rana and Khilji à la Troy (Achilles and Hector)
- the shades of Alexander (movie and historical figure)

What I'm perplexed about:

- Deepika Padukone's caterpillar unibrow. Made no sense and I kept missing her dialogue because I was so diverted by it
- why the women couldn't first discuss escape instead of straight jumping into the Jauhar conversation. At least try and escape first, which considering the bold and strategic thinker they've shown Padmavati as, should've occurred to her through Mr. Bhansali
- Khilji could've been a little less mad and we'd still have believed his obsession and narcissism
- where were the little baby boys and toddlers when their mothers were committing Jauhar and their fathers were dying on the battlefield? Did they leave those poor boys to be captured and tortured? 


An afternoon well spent, foibles and all.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


It's Release Day for MY LAST LOVE STORY! 

World, meet Simi, Nirvaan and Zai. 

And I hope you love them

Barnes and Noble:

Three friends. Two Promises. One unforgettable love story ❤️

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

The Highwayman


The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.   
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,   
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.   
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
         His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.   
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
         Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.   
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,   
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
         The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,   
Then look for me by moonlight,
         Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;   
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
         (O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.


He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;   
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,   
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,   
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.   
But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!   
There was death at every window;
         And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
         Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!   
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
         Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.   
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.   
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;   
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
         Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;   
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding—
The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!   
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,   
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
         Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood   
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!   
Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear   
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
         The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
         Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

.       .       .

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,   
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.   
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
         Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.