Halloween Greetings

Ghosts, Spooks & Spirits of the Night Arise…

Halloween returns, bringing back memories of trick or treating with children collecting candies, celebrating — celebrating perhaps to get over the fear of darkness, the unknown or perhaps, even the experience of global disasters ? The Bengali equivalent of Halloween — Bhoot Chaturdashi — was celebrated a day before Diwali. And as people do up ‘haunted homes and dress as witches, zombies and ghosts, I wonder, why do we celebrate such dark festivals and also enjoy them?

Perhaps, the answer is given in an essay by Candice Louisa Daquin that we have a gene that helps us enjoy such occasions… And then there is always the necessary adjunct of ghost stories and spooky rhymes that makes us feel ooky as our hearts beat and nervous snots of laughter explode from chests beating in anticipation…Wafting on borderless clouds that float mysteriously on Halloween nights, we invite you to visit a few spooks, ghosts, goblins, witches and spirits…


It’s Halloween by Michael R Burch… Click here to read.

Horrific Humour by Rhys Hughes… Click here to read.


My Christmas Eve “Alone” : Erwin Coombs has a ghostly encounter at night. Is it real? Click here to read. 

Flowers on the Doorstep :Shivani Shrivastav writes of an encounter with a mysterious creature in Almora. Click here to read. 

A Curse: San Lin Tun gives us a macabre adventure with malicious spirits lurking in a jungle in Myanmar. Click here to read.

Pothos: Rakhi Pande gives us a macabre story set in Singapore that borders on the supernatural? Click here to read.

I Grew into a Flute: A Balochi Folktale involving the supernatural retold by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.


Borderless, September 2022

Art by Sohana Manzoor


When Autumn Leaves Start to Fall Click here to read.


Meet Barun Chanda, an actor who started his career as the lead protagonist of a Satyajit Ray film and now is a bi-lingual writer of fiction and more recently, a non-fiction published by Om Books International, Satyajit Ray: The Man Who Knew Too Much in conversation Click here to read.

Jim Goodman, an American traveler, author, ethnologist and photographer who has spent the last half-century in Asia, converses with Keith Lyons. Click here to read.


Professor Fakrul Alam has translated three Tagore songs around autumn from Bengali. Click here to read.

Nagmati by Prafulla Roy has been translated from Bengali as Snake Maiden by Aruna Chakravarti. Click here to read.

A Balochi Folksong that is rather flirtatious has been translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

A Letter Adrift in the Breeze by Haneef Sharif has been translated from Balochi by Mashreen Hameed. Click here to read.

Jajangmyeon Love, a poem has been written in Korean and translated by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Eshechhe Sarat (Autumn) by Tagore has been translated from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.


Click on the names to read

Michael R Burch, Sunil Sharma, George Freek, Sutputra Radheye, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Arshi Mortuza, Ron Pickett, Prasant Kumar B K, David Francis, Shivani Srivastav, Marianne Tefft, Saranyan BV, Jim Bellamy, Shareefa BeegamPP, Irma Kurti, Gayatri Majumdar, Rhys Hughes

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In The Chopsy Moggy, Rhys Hughes gives us a feline adventure. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

A Tale of Two Flags in the South Pacific

Meredith Stephens visits an island that opted to adopt the ways of foreign settlers with her camera and narrates her experiences. Click here to read.

A Taste of Bibimbap & More…

G Venkatesh revisits his Korean experience in a pre-pandemic world. Click here to read.

September Nights

Mike Smith in a short poetic monologue evokes what the season means for him. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In El Condor Pasa or I’d Rather be a Sparrow…, Devraj Singh Kalsi explores his interactions with birds with a splatter of humour. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

In Rabbit Island, Suzanne Kamata visits the island of Okunoshima, where among innocence of rabbits lurk historic horrors. Click here to read.


A Turkish Adventure with Sait Faik

Paul Mirabile takes us on a journey to Burgaz with his late Turkish friend to explore the writings of Sait Faik Abasiyanik. Click here to read.

A Salute to Ashutosh Bodhe

Ravi Shankar pays a tribute to a fellow trekker and gives a recap of their trekking adventures together near Mt Everest base camp. Click here to read.

The Observant Immigrant

In Sometimes Less is More, Candice Louisa Daquin explores whether smaller communities can be assimilated into the mainstream. Click here to read.


Where Eagles Dare…

Munaj Gul Muhammad takes on the persona of a woman to voice about their rights in Balochistan. Click here to read.

My Eyes Don’t Speak

Chaturvedi Divi explores blindness and its outcome. Click here to read.

The Royal Retreat

Sangeetha G gives a brief view of intrigue at court. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

Ruskin Bond, excerpted from Between Heaven and Earth: Writings on the Indian Hills, edited by Ruskin Bond and Bulbul Sharma. Click here to read.

Excerpts from Rhys Hughes’ Comfy Rascals: Short Fictions. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Rakhi Dalal reviews Rhys Hughes’ Comfy Rascals: Short Fictions. Click here to read.

Hema Ravi reviews Mrutyunjay Sarangi’s A Train to Kolkata and Other Stories. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Krishna Bose’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Life, Struggle and Politics, translated and edited by Sumantra Bose. Click here to read.


Where is Home?

By Shivani Shrivastav

Courtesy: Creative Commons
They say home is where the heart is.
I ask what if the heart is shattered
Into so many pieces that I know not where they went
Scattered in different directions.
Even if I find them 
And put them together
They will always show the cracks.
Where is Home now?

They say home is where love is.
I ask what if love has fled,
Hiding from reproach,
Hurt and embittered,
Not knowing where to turn,
Afraid of blind alleys
Where is Home now?

They say home is where you are Whole.
I ask will I ever then be One,
Being pulled in so many directions,
Unable to do anything but simply flow
Along with whatever current guides my life.
I have lost all bearings.
Where is Home now?

Home oh home!
Is it in the eyes of strangers,
In the gently falling rain on my head,
In the sun-dappled hills of a faraway town,
In the rays of the setting sun,
Or right here,
Next to You?

 Shivani Shrivastav is a a UK CGI Chartered Secretary and a Governance Professional/CS. She loves meditation, photography, writing, French and creating.



Borderless, August 2022

Art by Sohana Manzoor


The Stars were Shining There for You & Me, for Liberty… Click here to read.


The Making of Historical Fiction: A Conversation with Aruna Chakravarti unfolds the creation of her latest novel, The Mendicant Prince, based on the prince of Bhawal controversy in the first part of the last century. Click here to read.


Tagore’s humorous skit, The Treatment of an Ailment, has been translated by Somdatta Mandal. Click here to read.

Arise, Arise O Patriot! and Helmsman Attention! by Kazi Nazrul Islam have been translated from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

Pus Ki Raat or A Frigid Winter Night by Munshi Premchand has been translated from Hindi by C Christine Fair. Click here to read.

Tagore’s Song of Hope or ‘Hobe Joye‘ has been translated from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.


Click on the names to read

Rhys Hughes, Ratnottama Sengupta, Mike Smith, Rituparna Mukherjee, Tony Brewer, Ahmed Rayees, Ron Pickett, Ramesh Dohan, Sister Lou Ella Hickman, Sambhu Nath Banerjee, Candice Louisa Daquin, Oindri Sengupta, Gigi Baldovino Gosnell, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Tanvi Jeph, George Freek, Michael R Burch

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Mini-Sagas: A Dozen Examples, Rhys Hughes talks of a new genre with dollops of humour. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life


G Venkatesh has a stopover in the airport to make a discovery. Click here to read.

The Loyal Dog in Loyalty Island

Meredith Stephens makes friends with a dog in the township of Wé on the Lifou island, an ‘overseas territory’ of France. Click here to read.

The ‘New Kid on the Block’ Celebrates…

Dr Kirpal Singh ruminates over what led to the making of an island state, Singapore. Click here to read.

Remnants of Time Once Spent Together

Sayali Korgaonkar ruminates over loss and grieving. Click here to read.


Rupali Gupta Mukherjee journeys through the moonlike landscape housing a monastery with her camera and a narrative. Click here to read.

King Lear & Kathakali?

PG Thomas revisits a performance that mesmerised him in a pre-covid world. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In A Bone in My Platter, Devraj Singh Kalsi shares a taste of running a restaurant. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

Suzanne Kamata writes a light slice from life in The Boy & The Cats: A Love Story. Click here to read.


Does this Make Me a Psychic?

Erwin Coombs tells a suspenseful, funny, poignant and sad story, based on his real life experiences. Click here to read.

Hard Choices

Santosh Kalwar gives a glimpse of hope for an abandoned girl-child in Nepal. Click here to read.

No Rain on the Parade

Tan Kaiyi goes on a hunt for the National Day Killer. Click here to read.

Until We Meet Again

Shivani Shrivastav transports us to Manali for a misty union. Click here to read.

The Hatchet Man

Paul Mirabile tells a story of murder and horror. Click here to read.

I am Not the End

Aysha Baqir takes on the persona of a computer to unleash a poignant and chilling story. Click here to read.


How Many Ways To Love a Book

Sindhu Shivprasad describes passion for books. Click here to read.

Hiking in the Himalayas with Nabinji

Ravi Shankar explores more of Himalayas in Nepal. Click here to read.

Freedom is another word for… Zohra Sehgal

Ratnottama Sengupta gives a glimpse of the life of Zohra Sehgal, based on the book Zohra: A Biography in Four Acts by Ritu Menon, and her own personal interactions with the aging Zohra Sehgal. Click here to read.

The Observant Immigrant

In Can We Create a Better World by Just Wishing for it, Candice Louisa Daquin dwells on the question to locate answers. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An excerpt from The Dreams of a Mappila Girl: A Memoir by B. M. Zuhara translated by Fehmida Zakeer. Click here to read.

An excerpt from Michael R Burch’s poetry book, O, Terrible Angel. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Meenakshi Malhotra reviews Tagore’s Four Chapters translated and introduced by Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Gracy Samjatsabam visits Mamang Dai’s Escaping the Land. Click here to read.

Aditi Yadav reviews Pallavi Aiyar’s Orienting : An Indian in Japan. Click here to read.

Rakhi Dalal visits Neelum Saran Gour’s Requiem in Raga Janki. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Rakesh Batabyal’s Building a Free India. Click here to read.


Until we meet again

By Shivani Shrivastav

River Beas in Manali. Courtesy: Creative Commons

“Whatsoever is needed on the Path is always supplied.”


I read the lines again. And yet again. They spoke to me. I felt like I knew the person who had written them, even though I had not met her. Reaching out, I gently touched the lilac handmade paper on which the poetry was written in purple ink. The lines touched my heart: it was an original poem, but unfinished.

I had never felt such spontaneous poetry coming from myself, but reading these lines, I felt some lines forming spontaneously in my head. I pulled out a pen and started writing some words in the space left on the paper. The stranger’s lines and mine now matched beautifully.


I had come to Manali on a whim. I was between jobs — just having had my fill of my first one and not yet wanting to start the next one. Idly looking at my Instagram feed, I had seen so much of the beautiful mountains, attractive waterfalls and serene cloudscapes that I just had to get on a bus and come to Manali. I could not believe that I, Kabir Kulshrestha, in all of my twenty-eight years on earth, had not thought of visiting this slice of heaven before. Up until now, I had been passively aggressive in my daily life, cribbing about the boring routine, the never-ending work pressures and imagining that everyone besides me had near perfect lives, as evidenced by their Instagram feeds and the stories and reels they shared. For the first time ever, I felt that belief dilute a little, as I finally felt more alive with a new awareness and appreciation of my surroundings growing automatically, as I watched the greens, blues and whites of nature all around me. 

I had taken the overnight bus from Delhi to Manali. When the bus passed Kullu, I did not know, but when we reached Manali and I opened my eyes as we were entering it, I was in heaven. Or as close to heaven on earth as I could get.

All around were green mountains, tall 50-60 feet high trees, ancient paths leading to god-knows-where and the endless, cloudy blue sky. I inhaled deeply and felt some of the lethargy and humdrum sameness of the past months slide away.

Deliberately, I had not booked any hotel online, preferring to choose one upon reaching the place. The bus had dropped me in the middle of new Manali. I felt a little disappointed, surveying the hotels there. It all appeared like any other tourist town at the first glance – the same greasy restaurants, the shops selling cheap touristy memorabilia and tawdry conveniences. Fortunately, I had packed light — just a backpack of essentials and my camera bag. I decided to go off in search of a better place to stay – somewhere more authentic and closer to the real Manali experience.

After walking through a road going up and passing beside an untouched meadow with tall pines, I decided to cross over the river Beas to the other side and look for interesting homestays that I had seen pictures of on Instagram. Walking up the mountain, down the steps leading to the bridge across the raging Beas was a pleasure as I felt a bit stiff after the overnight bus ride. The tall, silent trees, some more than two arm-spans wide (yes, I had tried to hug one!) the birdcalls, the early morning pristine silence pervading the mountains and the tumultous Beas below, all framed a beautiful picture in my mind. Along the shores of the Beas were orange blossoms; I was surprised by their tenacity. Also, along the old Manali side were what looked like very interesting cafes, with names such as Nirvana, Café 1947, Bella Pasta, Dylan’s etc. Their menu boards were brightly handwritten notices or sometimes, simply blackboards on which the day’s menus were handwritten in white chalk. Their signboards were vivid splashes of hand-painted pictures, and Bob Marley and his ‘Ganja Gun’ anthem could be heard from many a café. Add to these, the colourful flowers growing beside the Beas and in the planters of the cafés by the window seats. It is not just an unforgettable scene but a nuanced one.

I promised to myself that I would visit them all one by one. Crossing over the bridge, I stopped to admire the scene — a slice of heaven on earth — the blue sky, the raging river foaming white at the edges and the tall, green, graceful sentients as far as I could see. Yes, I would definitely be back later, with my camera, but for the moment, I just wanted to enjoy being there, present with beauty inundating my senses.

With a deep breath of contentment — even the air smelled different here — I crossed over and started walking up the steep path. On both sides, cafés, restaurants and interesting shops continued up the road. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew that I would know when I found it.

More than halfway up the path, I paused and stood under a tree, to rest a moment. As I looked around, I saw a vibrantly painted, two-storied wooden house. It had red doors and blue windows! It was a little distance away from the main lane, with a tiny winding path of its own. I could see feathered dreamcatchers waving in the wind, on its second-floor wraparound balcony. Automatically, my feet turned to that path. Reaching the house, I had raised my hand to knock on the door when a voice called out to me, “Hi! What are you looking for?”

Looking up, I saw a young woman, a little older than me, walking towards me. ‘Colourful’ seemed to be the theme of the place, as even she was dressed like a rainbow, albeit an aesthetic one! Her multiple bracelets and necklaces of brass and colourful threads swayed as she came nearer. She was followed by three Pahadi Bhotia dogs, in varying shades of brown.  I smiled and said, “Hi, I’m Kabir. I’m looking for a place to stay for a few days and don’t want to stay at a hotel. Could you recommend a homestay or something similar? For some reason, I was drawn to your place the moment I saw it from the path. Cute dogs there, by the way!”

The lady smiled and replied, “Thanks! I’m Ragini. This is my home and my homestay. You can stay here if you want. Are you coming from Delhi?”

“How did you guess?”

She gave a hearty laugh and said, “That is where we get most tourists from.”

“I’m from Delhi, yeah, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call me a tourist. I prefer traveller!”

“Woohoo! Then we are kindred spirits! I think you will like it here. Come, I’ll show you the two rooms that are available. The rest are filled by a group of travellers from Spain.”

“Great! Lead the way!”

I found a home away from home there. Ragini turned out to be a wonderful host, having created a warm, welcoming space that immediately made everyone feel right at home. Having chosen the room at the back, which faced towards the mountains, I settled in. The homestay also had a small but varied library and a music corner, which hosted many impromptu musical duets in the evenings, where many a language and accent were heard.

The meals at her homestay were from all over the world.  Ragini and her helper Jigme had a real talent in that department. Every breakfast was a medley of tastes from Lebanese to Italian to South Indian, and of course, the staple offered in all mountain towns — aloo paratha[1]with tomato chutney!

I had expected the typical Maggie or paratha option for breakfast, but these were veritable feasts! Lunches I preferred to have outside, wherever I happened to be at the moment, like the other day when I followed the main path in old Manali leading up all the way to the top, past the wooden Manu temple. At the top I found a Japanese man with a modest restaurant, making sushi, which turned out to be out of this world! The second day, I went the opposite way, towards the riverbank, and had the best tiramisu of my life, after a meal of falafel and gyros.

My trip was turning out to be a discovery of tastes. Between mealtimes, I explored outside and within myself, for it was also turning out to be a time of self-discovery; I had never felt closer to myself. I met people from different walks of life, exchanging life stories and travel experiences. I walked to various places. I hiked up various slopes, sometimes to just sit at the top, admiring the landscape and letting it soothe my soul, writing, taking pictures, meditating or simply sitting.

I found that the more I sat with myself, the more I was able to appreciate the without, and the better became the quality of my creations. I went where my feet led me, sometimes by myself, sometimes with other people I met at the cafés, restaurants and stores. I was developing quite an eclectic mix of friends — there was Pedro from Mexico, hitchhiking his way through Peru, Bangladesh and now India. He had met and befriended Francine, a French professor on a sabbatical of self-study, come to India to explore yoga in Rishikesh, Tiruvannamalai and later Goa, somehow ending up in Manali! She too, had interesting stories of her own travels to share. Then there was Loki, whose Japanese name was difficult to pronounce and hence shortened to Loki, who had made Manali his home for the past two months. He was slightly temperamental – some days jolly enough to sing with us in the evenings, the others sitting with his old ukulele and playing some nameless tune over and over again.

I admired the way these people lived, following the flow and just taking in all life had to offer. The evenings were spent either with these people or with the Spanish group back at Ragini’s, with music or a night of storytelling after a delicious dinner. And such stories they were!  Enough to cause itchy feet in the most stalwart of homebodies!

I was enthralled to hear about the diverse backgrounds all the guests came from. At first glance, they appeared like hippies, with their ragged jeans, loose kurtas, thread anklets and jute bags, but one was a particle physicist, another a music teacher, and still another a biologist! I promised myself to never, ever again to judge a book by its deceptive cover. It could be hiding the most riveting personality behind its carefree façade.

The experience dispelled my long-standing bias to an extent too, that people are as good as they appear. This belief was further shattered by a teacher from England, who had been travelling to India every year for the past 15 years, to teach English to Ladakhi children, that too without any financial interest. This year, before heading back to his home country, he had decided to go to Delhi via Manali.

I was learning that people made choices, often difficult ones, leaving comfort and the complacency of lucrative jobs to do what their hearts guide them to do. I was learning, melting down prejudices and emerging with a more open mind and heart.

It was in this frame of mind that I went out each day to shoot pictures, capturing the natural beauty of the place and the simplicity of the people living there. I also found that there was in actuality, very little that one needs to live a full life — a good set of friends, good food, an open space to sit and contemplate and live with nature to embark on a journey of introspection and reflection.

One day, I sat in a riverside café after a successful morning of breathtaking photography session. I had just finished a gruelling session of yoga with Francine and then hiked to a special place that someone had told me about, to take pictures of a waterfall. Later, I had photographed the trees – pines and oaks. I believed some of the images taken that day managed to capture the silence emanating from the trees. Totally satisfied with a morning well spent, I ordered a sumptuous lunch of tofu sandwiches with an avocado salad, to be followed by a slice of apple pie. I had never eaten so much in one meal back home! I noticed also that so much of walking around was helping my body become much healthier, even though I was eating amazing meals at least three times a day, without worrying about calories.

While waiting for my food, my eyes fell on a notice board on one of the bright yellow walls of the café. It had a big notice board on it. As I walked over to it, I heard strains of ‘Bella Ciao‘ being played on a mandolin, from a corner of the café. A local group was singing there for the evening. There were various papers stuck to the board — advertisements, people wanting a homestay, people wanting to sell stuff, like watches, a guitar and even a Canon Mach III! I found the fantastic mix of things here a sharp relief from the overly organised things back home.

As the strains of the song got more energetic, I returned to the present. I noticed that on the lilac-coloured sheet, a few lines of poetry were written in Hindi. It appeared out of place amongst the notes in English, Spanish, French and Russian. The lines were –

“It is just a bubble of water,

Which loses itself in but a moment”

As I read, I felt some words forming in my mind. I took out my green felt tip and in my bold scrawl, which I liked to believe was very artistic, jotted down some lines on the sheet –

“So live fully in the moment, don’t be sad,

These are the moments of life, don’t lose them”

 Satisfied and feeling some kind of connection to the original writer, I came back to my table to find that my order had arrived. For a while, the tofu sandwich and the food I had ordered managed to hold my full attention. But after a while, I found myself thinking about the lines on the paper as I ate.

I tried to create a mental picture of the person who had written the lines and found that I could only conjure a shadowy image. That image accompanied me as I paid at the counter, picked up my backpack and my camera and went down the path towards the river. I could not get enough shots of the foaming, dancing, raging river. In my mind, it seemed to be a young girl, full of life and poetry, dancing as she flowed through life.

The next day, for some reason, I felt pulled towards the same café. I tried to convince myself that it was because I wanted to try their Lebanese platter, but the lilac-coloured paper floats in front of my eyes. I was curious, “Would she have replied? Will I find more lines added to the poem?”

As I entered, I tried hard not to let the board be the first thing I saw, but even as I tried this, my eyes lifted that way of their own volition. And a jolt of electricity went through me — there were some more lines there! Even before ordering my food, I headed over to read them.

I smiled as I read, for even as I read, I was formulating the next few lines. And this went on, till we had completed three poems, and I had tasted all the dishes in the café. I felt as if I really knew her, but I did not write my number or pen a request to meet. I did not want to scare her away with my ardour.

The next day, I had this weird feeling, a type of intuition, as if something was changing, something was about to end and a new phase about to begin. Although I could not understand the feeling, I went about my day as I usually would. There was a crowd in the corner of the café that held the board.

I waited for the people to move away so I could see the board. As the people shifted, I caught a glimpse of the board. There was a single fresh lilac sheet there. Only one line appeared to be written on it. I rushed near and read it. It said – “Whatsoever is needed on the Path is always supplied.” It was a quote by Osho.

Suddenly, I felt a prickling sensation at the back of my neck, like someone was looking at me. I immediately turned back. As I did so, I saw a girl turn towards the door and step out. She held a lilac paper in her hand — the last completed poem. It took a little while for me to get through the throng of people crowding the place. That day was a live show, so there was a big crowd there.

As I opened the door and stepped out into the dusky evening, a sudden brisk shower started. I saw her get into an auto and move across the bridge. I tried going after her, but the sudden downpour had increased the traffic on the bridge and she blended into the crowd. I rushed back inside the café, to the single sheet on the board, took it off and scanned it hurriedly, as if to find some hint of who she was, her name, number, something, anything! As I turned it over, I found two words written in the same purple ink. ‘Leh Market’. I smiled. I had my next destination. I knew I would be meeting her again. When, how, I did not know. But somehow, I also liked the not knowing. And the search began again. With a new poem, in a new city!

[1] Wheat flatbread stuffed with spicy potatoes

 Shivani Shrivastav is a a UK CGI Chartered Secretary and a Governance Professional/CS. She loves meditation, photography, writing, French and creating.



Borderless, June 2022

Art by Sohana Manzoor


We are All Going on a Summer HolidayClick here to read.


In Conversation with Rinki Roy (daughter of legendary director Bimal Roy) about The Oldest Love Story, an anthology on motherhood, edited and curated by journalist and authors, Rinki Roy and Maithili Rao. Click here to read.

Achingliu Kamei in conversation with Veio Pou, author of Waiting for the Dust to Settle, a novel based on the ongoing conflicts in North-east India. Click here to read.


The Funeral, a satirical skit by Tagore, translated by Somdatta Mandal. Click here to read.

Three Shorter Poems of Jibananda Das have been translated from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

The Magic Staff , a poignant short story about a Rohingya child by Shaheen Akhtar, translated from Bengali by Arifa Ghani Rahman. Click here to read.

Fakir Khizmil & the Missing Princess, a Balochi Folktale has been translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Pie in the Sky is a poem written and translated from Korean by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Taal Gaachh or The Palmyra Tree, a lilting light poem by Tagore, has been translated from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Pandies’ Corner

This narrative is written by a youngster from the Nithari village who transcended childhood trauma and deprivation. Dhaani has been written in Hindi and translated to English by Kiran Mishra. Click here to read.


Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Sutputra Radheye, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Antara Mukherjee, David Francis, Alpana, George Freek, Prashanti Chunduri, John Grey, Ashok Suri, Heather Sager, G Venkatesh, Candice Louisa Daquin, Elizabeth Ip, Rhys Hughes, Michael R Burch

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In From a Kafkaesque Dream to the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Rhys Hughes brings out a new strain of tunes that grew out of Jeff Simon’s unusual journey and it continues to persist beyond his life. Click here to read.


Oliver’s Soul

Paul Mirabile weaves a story of murder and madness in Madrid of 1970s. Click here to read.

The Wallet

Atreyo Chowdhury spins a tale set in Kolkata. Click here to read.

Flowers on the Doorstep

Shivani Shrivastav writes of an encounter with a mysterious child in Almora. Click here to read.

A Riverine Healing 

PG Thomas’s narrative set in Kerala, explores a leader’s old age. Click here to read.

Pagol Daries

Indrashish Banerjee creates a humanoid scenario where robots take on human roles. Click here to read.

Musings/ Slices from Life

In Memoriam: Star of the Stage Shines on Screen

Ratnottama Sengupta pays a tribute to famed actress, Swatilekha Sengupta (May 1950- June 2021). Click here to read.

Pizzas En Route to Paradise

Keith Lyons discovers the import and export of desires in Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world, beside one of the most revered rivers. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

In Marathon Blues, Suzanne Kamata talks of pandemic outcomes in Japan in a lighter tone. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Journey of an Ant, Devraj Singh Kalsi explores life from an insect’s perspective. Click here to read.

Mission Earth

In Tuning in to Nature, Kenny Peavy tells us how to interact with nature. Click here to read.


Kabir & His Impact on Tagore

Mozid Mahmud explores Kabir and his impact on Tagore, which ultimately led to a translation of the great medieval poet. Click here to read.

A view of Mt Everest

Ravi Shankar travels in the freezing cold of Himalayan splendour and shares magnificent photographs of Mt Everest. Click here to read.

The Good, the Bad, and the Benign: Back across Bass Strait

Meredith Stephens shares a photographic and narrative treat from Tasmania. Click here to read.

The Observant Immigrant

In Season’s in the Sun, Candice Louisa Daquin explores what intense positivity can do to people. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

Excerpt from Tagore’s Gleanings of the Road, translated by Somdatta Mandal. Click here to read.

Excerpt from Waiting by Suzanne Kamata. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Meenakshi Malhotra revisits Harsh Mander’s Locking down the Poor: The Pandemic and India’s Moral Centre. Click here to read.

Indrashish Banerjee reviews Keki N Daruwalla’s Going:Stories of Kinship. Click here to read.

Gracy Samjetsabam reviews Pronoti Datta’s Half-Blood. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Deepti Priya Mehrotra’s Her Stories –Indian Women Down the Ages — Thinkers, Workers, Rebels, Queens. Click here to read.


Flowers on the Doorstep

By Shivani Shrivastav

It was the third time in as many days that she found a small bunch of flowers on her door sill. They were wildflowers — small and pretty. Suhani had no idea who left them there daily. That day as she picked up the bunch, she decided that she would get up early the next day to see who was left the flowers there, that too, so early in the day.

Coming back inside, she placed the flowers into an empty vase. Suhani tightened her shawl around her shoulders. Life had made her unused to such additional niceties. After moving to the mountains, she distanced herself from things associated with her past – flowers, music, reading her favourite poetry and painting. Her past, where she and Sahil had been professors together at the Delhi University. Gradually, as they realised they had feelings for each other, they started living together. They had spent five years with each other in the apartment they shared. It was a beautiful period in her life. It was as if life itself had taken on colours that had been hidden to her till then.  They would cook together, watch Iranian films, read and discuss books by Krishnamurti, Gurdjieff, listen to instrumental and world music, go out for long walks and spend hours just enjoying each other’s company.

Back then, she had believed that the most important event of her life had already occurred at thirty-two years of age — her meeting with Sahil. Little did she know that life had a few surprises for her yet…

When his parents came to know about their live-in relationship, they were shocked and angry. After many shouted calls and two fiery visits, they forced him to move back home. A few weeks later, she got the news from the professors’ grapevine that he was getting married to someone whom his parents had chosen, from their caste and their social background. It was as if someone had punched her with all their power — she felt numb all over. She couldn’t take her classes after she had heard the news in the professors’ room. Not a few sly glances directed her way told her that people were aware of their relationship.

Feeling suffocated, and as if a million glances were piercing her heart, she took leave and came home. After staying in a limbo for three days, during which she had received a number of calls from the college, she finally tendered her resignation, handed back the keys to the rented flat, and taking only what she could carry with her, she came to Almora.

Left behind were the precious paintings she and Sahil had started collecting together, their vinyl collection and her lovely rugs and throws, some bought, some crocheted by her in those beautiful winter evenings when they would sit together with a glass of wine each, listening to some beautiful rendition or the other from their record collection. Also left behind were some dreams that had been born within the four walls of their shared existence, and which had died an abrupt death on Sahil’s departure. What she could not leave behind were the million memories she lived through each day.

She was moving like a robot through her hall when a piercing birdcall brought her to the present. She set an alarm for the next day before she forgot. Then she got busy making her simple breakfast and preparing for college. She had been very lucky to find a job at the university at Almora, that too at such a short notice.

Why she had chosen Almora she couldn’t really explain, just that she felt a kinship with the place, having read all of Shivani Ji’s novels. Also, her Nani had belonged to Almora. Although her ancestral house had long since been sold, but still she remembered a carefree childhood spent here every summer. Her childhood memories were full of green hills, kafal[1] and tasty pahadi[2] foods and long walks with Nanaji[3] over the hills. She somehow felt at home here, especially since her parents were no longer living, and she was an only child, like her mother before her. Adrift in the wide world, this familiar city had seemed like a haven, even though she had spent all her school, college and then later, working life, in Delhi. But in the moments when her world had been rocked to the core, Delhi had seemed so cold, like a familiar stranger who you met every day but could not share your joys or sorrows with. Also, she had so many shared memories there with Sahil, the plays they had gone to, the numerous music concerts and recitals, outings to Tibet House, the walks at Qutub and so on. The endless memories chased her wherever she went in Delhi; she felt choked by them. To escape from them, she chose a place that held only happy memories for her – where she had been safe and peaceful, with her entire family around her. But today, she was all alone.

Even being in the midst of the nature she loved so much did not take away her loneliness. The cottage was on top of the hill, looking down on all sides upon tall pine trees, where the chatter of monkeys and bird calls surrounded her day and night. The cottage boasted of a beautiful garden, but she felt that she was not contributing anything to its beauty.

She talked to her colleagues, to some neighbours lower down the hill, but mostly kept to herself. She didn’t feel like a whole person yet, for it still felt that her heart had been ripped away, leaving behind a gaping hole. How then could she interact normally with others, others who had loved ones, who had lives that were filled with family, relatives, love, social events and so much? She, who had nothing to share with anyone. And so, she kept inside her shell — teaching, coming home, cooking, sleeping and then the same routine the next day and the day after. Only when she was teaching did she feel totally in the present, for those few precious moments. The rest of the day was besieged by memories.

Choosing a pale lilac saree, she dressed up quickly, tying up her hair without looking into the mirror. Finishing up by wrapping a dark purple yak wool shawl around her shoulders, she took her books and bag. Locking the door, she quickly descended the slope and went up the road to the university. She wanted this day over quickly, so she could get to tomorrow. After a long time, she had something to look forward to.

She taught all her classes, spoke a little to her colleagues and came back in the afternoon. Changing her clothes, she made herself some tea and went to sit out on the porch, where she had kept a rocking chair that came with the house. From there, she had a view down the hill. She thought,“This is where I could sit tomorrow. But no, whoever it is, might not come if I am visible. I’ll keep a lookout from the kitchen window.” She prepared an early dinner. Another hour and a half was taken up preparing for next days’ lectures. then she eats and sleeps. She decided to get up early the next day with the help of the alarm clock.

As soon as the alarm started ringing the next day, she was up in anticipation. Quickly putting her feet into her warm slippers and wrapping her shawl over her sweater, she went into the kitchen.  Setting tea on the boil, she eagerly looked out of the window, the curtain of which was slightly open. In a short while, she saw a little girl with curly hair come up with a small bunch of white flowers. Placing them near the door, she was about to turn and go back when Suhani opened the door and asked her, “Stop! What’s your name?”

Courtesy: Creative Commons

The little girl, who at first appeared scared, gained confidence on seeing her and said with a smile, “Sona”. “Why do you bring flowers every day, Sona? That too, all by yourself, so early in the morning?”

“I live just down the hill,” she indicated towards an orphanage that was a little below Suhani’s house, “and I have asked the nuns if I can come here. The nuns take a morning walk and I come part of the way with them.”

Feeling sad on hearing that the pretty little girl lived in an orphanage, she asked, “And why do you bring me flowers?”

“I see you going and coming every day. I like you. I don’t know why I feel like giving you the flowers, I just do,” Sona replied with a beautiful, dimpled smile.

“Would you like to come in for milk and cookies?”

“No”, she said, “Sister Patience would be waiting for me. I need to go!”  

“Okay, at least take some cookies!” saying this Suhani rushed in to find a box of chocolate cookies that she had randomly bought, perhaps for this little girl. Grabbing the small box delightedly, she came out, but there was no one outside. “How could she have disappeared so quickly?” thought Suhani, taken aback, but there truly was no one there. Not around the house and not even down the path.

 However, gradually this became a morning ritual. Everyday Suhani somehow woke up right before Sona came with her flowers. Sona liked to sit in a particular part of the porch and every day she sat in the same place. She sat there looking out at the flowers that were around the cottage. She answered all the questions Suhani put to her but still seemed to be keeping something back. Usually, she appeared full of cheerful and chattered. Suhani felt some of the ice around her heart melt. The presence of this small being so full of love and sunshine brought her immense peace and comfort. Why, she could not say.

One day she was free a little before time from the college as it was15th August, the Independence Day of the country. After a morning programme, flag hoisting and distribution of sweets, everyone was free to go. Suhani thought of visiting the orphanage. She saw it on her way back home and decided to finally find out more about Sona and went in.

As she approached the office room, she saw a nun sitting inside. She looked in and asked for Sister Patience. “I am she. Please come and have a seat,” she said with a smile. Suhani is anxious about Sona. She asked, “I want to ask about Sona and her parents, if you could tell me please.”

Sister Patience seems a bit taken aback. “How do you know about her?”

Suhani is surprised. “She comes to give me flowers at my house every day. She likes to sit out on the porch looking at the flowers that are all around the cottage. We talk quite a lot.”

Sister Patience takes a deep breath, looks at Suhani and says, “Did you notice anything special about the little girl?” Finding the question strange Suhani says, “Only that she never eats or drinks anything if I offer it. A child of that age is usually quite taken with chocolates, biscuits and sweets.”

Sister Patience seems sad. She takes a deep breath and says, “Sona and her parents were in an accident. It is their house that you have rented. They were in an accident and…”

“And…?”Suhani asks impatiently.

“And everyone died. Sona was very attached to the only home she had known. Maybe she feels safe there. We see her playing in the playground, in the park sometimes. She’s harmless. May God give peace to her soul.”

Suhani did not realise when she had come out of the building and was on the way back. She felt as if her insides are frozen. After that day, she never met Sona again, however early she got up. The flowers are still on her doorstep every day though, without fail.

One thought stayed with her as a result of this experience – that a person can hold onto a person, a place or even things, even when they are no longer there. This just ties us to the past. We could enjoy our memories, even love them, but that doesn’t mean that we keep carrying the weight of the memories that do not allow us to move forward. And life is all about movement.

Suhani held onto the life that was in her memories; Sona was held behind by her attachment to her house. The most poignant thought was – Sona had been a child, but she was a grown up. Sahil had moved on long back, the moment he left her, it was only she that still held on to her memories, living a ghost of a life.

For many days, she thought about this. She came to the conclusion that now she would delve within, and not look outside for peace, love and solace. With this thought, after many days, she finally fell into a deep sleep towards dawn. When she got up the next day, she felt refreshed and relaxed. She could not recall when she had felt this much at ease. Tightening her shawl around her shoulders, she went straight outside to look for the flowers. For the first time in so many days, there were no flowers. And after that, she never did find any flowers on her doorstep.

[1] Fruit

[2] Belonging to the hills

[3] Maternal grandfather

 Shivani Shrivastav is a a UK CGI Chartered Secretary and a Governance Professional/CS. She loves meditation, photography, writing, French and creating.