Monday, November 17, 2014

Jewels of Mumbai: GLOBAL PAGODA @ GORAI

Lord Buddha in front of Global Pagoda @ Gorai
According to Global Pagoda website:

The Global Vipassana Pagoda is declared as one of the "Seven Wonders of Maharashtra" by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) in partnership with ABP Majha, a Marathi news channel; after they reviewed 350 destinations. The results of this selection were declared on 6th June 2013. You must visit Global Vipassana Pagoda to witness the developments and its unique nature for getting selected as one of the seven wonders of the state.

Lakshmi & Ranga on the ferry
I read about the Golden Global Pagoda before it was completed in 2009 and had been wanting to visit it since then. Finally, I got an opportunity to go there with my sister Lakshmi and brother-in-law Ranga last Wednesday when they had come for a visit to Mumbai.

Yours truly on the ferry
We left by car at around 11 am. Luckily, Venkat has found a driver who comes when we call and we pay him on a day-to-day basis. It took us about an hour and a half to reach the Gorai canal to catch the ferry. While it’s possible to drive directly to the entrance of the Global Pagoda, we wanted to experience the ferry ride. Tickets cost Rs. 50 per person for both ways. We waited for about 15 minutes for the ferry to fill up and left along with many people who were on their way to Water Kingdom.

From the ferry
The moment the ferry turned towards the sea, we could see the Golden Pagoda that stood majestically on the other shore. The ride lasted for about 15 minutes and we got off to walk to the Pagoda. We had to walk up a slight incline to reach the entrance. This took us about 10 minutes.

The ferry leaves after dropping us
The pictures that I have posted here will show you the grandeur of the place. It was too gorgeous for words. One has to climb up a number of steps to reach the Pagoda. There is a pillarless meditation hall that has enough space for 8,000 people to meditate at one go. Only those who have done the 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course are allowed to enter this hall to maintain sanctity. I was a mite disappointed as the place appeared so peaceful and we weren’t eligible to go inside. We just stood outside and absorbed the atmosphere.

On the way to the Pagoda
We weren’t in time for the lecture and hence didn’t take part in it. We went to another A/C hall where they showed us a video of how the Pagoda came about.

Nature at its best
The Buddhists of Myanmar (Burma) wanted to show their gratitude to Lord Buddha’s country of birth, i.e., India and hence got the idea of establishing the Pagoda here. Mumbai was lucky enough to be chosen as the right place for this. The architecture of the Pagoda leans more towards the Orient with a lot of red and gold.

Almost there
We also visited the art gallery that houses more than a hundred lovely paintings depicting scenes from Lord Buddha’s life beginning with the strange dream his mother had when the Lord was in her womb. It took us more than half an hour to browse through the paintings.

The top of the Global Pagoda
We left the gallery to see Lord Buddha’s statue that is right at the front of the Pagoda but away from the main staircase. Soaking in the beauty and taking pictures, we finally went to the food court to have sandwiches and lemonade before stepping out.

At the entrance
We walked back to the jetty but had to wait for 40 minutes before we got a ferry back to Gorai. It was an enjoyable visit indeed.

Gorgeous Burmese architecture
More info:

Timing: 9 am to 7 pm
No charges for entry to Global Pagoda
Donations are welcome
Clean toilets with water facility available
Food Court is available
You can reach by road as well as ferry
BEST buses go to the Pagoda entrance
Vipassana Meditation Courses are conducted here

The long climb up to the Pagoda

Almost there. Isn't it beautiful?
Up the staircase

Entrance to Pillar-less hall

On the way down
Lord Buddha in meditation
Visitor's Guidelines

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Blog Tour: SCORCHED BY HIS FIRE by Reet Singh

Scorched by His Fire
Reet Singh 


I bought a copy of Scorched By His Fire by Reet Singh at Crossword, Sion as I love reading romances, especially in the Indian setting. 

Twenty-six year old Mita lives with her mother and grandparents in Mauritius. Her uncle is keen to get her a suitable husband while she’s dead set against the idea. Her best friend is Sammy who is married to Laxmi. Laxmi is rather insecure about her husband’s relationship with Mita. That’s why her brother decides to intercede on Laxmi’s behalf. Tanay is tall, dark and handsome and meets Mita at a house party. He is extremely rude to her believing that she’s out to break his sister’s marriage. Sparks fly between the two from the first meeting. Will they get together is for  you to find out after reading the book.

The novel is written in excellent English and moves easily – beginning in Mauritius and moving on to West Bengal. 

While Mita is beautiful, she also tends to put on weight with her mom’s delicious cooking. Realistically portrayed! I liked the heroine. She’s desperate to see the world and opportunity knocks on her door when she finds a letter that takes her to India. Tanay is a private detective and also has a project in India creating the perfect setting for the two to spend more time together. 

I found Tanay quite overbearing. While that kind of suits the circumstances, I can’t imagine a modern girl putting up with a guy’s tantrums nowadays. Why would Mita tolerate his obnoxious behaviour? Is it because he is good-looking? Later, of course, he becomes his well-behaved self and we are able to accept Tanay for what he is. 

The sizzling romance between the couple along with peppy dialogues keeps the story moving and makes for an interesting read. 

I will go with 4 stars out of 5 for SCORCHED BY HIS FIRE by Reet Singh. 

The Blurb
 Mita Ramphul can't face another family set-up with a 'nice young man'. What she needs is to divert her family's attention so introducing the devastatingly handsome Tanay Devkumar as her new boyfriend is a stroke of brilliance. Until Tanay's scorching hot kisses threaten to shatter her plans for the perfect pretend date. 

He might drive her crazy, yet spending time with Tanay sparks a passion Mita never knew she had. It's only meant to be temporary, but when Tanay looks at her with that smoldering fire in his ebony eyes Mita can't help but surrender to the temptation of her fake boyfriend.

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Meet the Author

Reet has a romantic soul, partly genetic but certainly attributable to the romantic fiction she devours by the kilo. When she's not watching romcoms, or doing creative things with wool and a crochet hook, or playing Scrabble, she can be found in the kitchen putting together her 'world-famous' one-pot meals.

Married for three decades, her prototypical tall, handsome, and sensitive hero-husband still makes her heart skip a beat. Writing about love and happy endings feeds her romantic soul; hearing from her readers thrills her.

Having a mother that read to her, she paid it forward, telling bedtime stories to her sons and nieces until they grew too old too fast. As a reaction to them growing up before she knew what was happening, she began writing for older children, and has published children's books on Amazon, for Kindle.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Meet the Creator: REET SINGH, author of Scorched By His Fire

Reet Singh
Welcome to my blog Reet Singh. Your second book The Cure Was Love was released on 1st November 2014 by Mills and Boon, India. Congratulations!

Thank you so much, Sundari!

Sundari: Your first novel Scorched By His Fire happened because you won the Passions Contest held by Harlequin Mills & Boon. What was your reaction when you first learned of the result? Were you expecting it or was it a surprise?

Reet: Gosh! You've taken me back, Sundari, to one of the most exciting times of my life. This was my third Passions contest. The one that Ruchi Vasudeva and Adite Banerjie walked away with – I also participated, and read the shortlisted entries to look for clues to what worked for them. The next year was my year because all the research paid off!
After submissions closed, all I could do was twiddle my thumbs and dream. Then, without warning, I got a phone call from Mills and Boon where a very nice lady asked me if I was indeed Reet Singh. She said she had called to verify my contact details. The penny dropped then, and I just knew I had made the shortlist.
Voting began, to choose the best three stories out of five, when – again – I got a phone call asking if I was alright with public appearances. By then, I had become clairvoyant, so I knew I had made it to the top slot.
So to answer your question, it was a surprise, kind of, but I was prepared also, sort of!
Haha, I know! My brain got all jumbled up then with excitement at the possibility of becoming a Mills and Boon author, and it is scrambled now, probably forever, because the excitement is nowhere near dying away!

Sundari: That is quite a story and a super success at that. Kudos! They say that the first novel usually has traces of the author’s biography. How far does that apply to your book?

Reet: A tiny bit, I won't lie! For instance, I've been to Mauritius, so it was a natural, picturesque location for the setting of “Scorched by His Fire”; I am impulsive and passionate – as was Mita; I have a partiality – ahem – for tall, dark and handsome men, which is why Mita couldn't resist Tanay.
But that's about it. The rest is all a figment of my vivid imagination. Some of the things Mita did, I wouldn't dream of doing - like asking a veritable stranger to pretend to be my fiancé! The idea!

Sundari: Now we know. Could you please present the blurb of your novel as a tweet to my readers, in 140 characters.

Reet: Meet Mita's hot fake fiancĂ©–can enmity in Mauritius become passion in India? #ScorchedByHisFire

Sundari: Good one. I was going to ask you if you plan to come up with a book that has a medical background before I saw the gist of The Cure Was Love. Rudy is a surgeon from New York while Simi is a medical student. So what plans have you for your next one? Would you like to share a glimpse of it?

Reet: I could write medical romance, and maybe I will some day, but for now I'm enjoying the freedom to invent. My next one is going to be based wholly in India – my characters are getting no foreign junkets this time – specifically, I have chosen vibrant and colorful Punjab for the setting. If Mohini and Sameer behave, I might weave a short visit to Mumbai into the plot. Sundari, I might ask you for help with locations etc, you being a Mumbai Gal!

Sundari: You are most welcome! Will be glad to be of help. You have written a book for teens called The Zaken Takeover. Do you have another book planned along those lines in the near future?

Reet: I sure do! The Mystical Amitree is an adventure story. I am currently in the process of completing it; during NaNoWriMo 2014, so expect it to be available in December or January, on Amazon KDP. The story starts in Delhi and moves rapidly to Africa as Arjun, a ten year old boy, goes looking for his missing uncle.  There are all sorts of mysteries to solve on the way, and I am having great fun writing it!

That’s simply awesome Reet Singh. It was lovely having you here on Flaming Sun. I absolutely enjoyed reading your answers. I wish you all the best with all your writing (ad)ventures. Keep up the great work!

Monday, November 10, 2014


I would like to share my latest news with all my readers. Having self-published three books on Amazon under the banner of Flaming Sun, I decided to make a box set of the collection under one umbrella and sell it as a combo unit. That's how Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India Box Set was born. I have to thank both my kids - Vinitha & Vignesh - for making the 3-D cover for the same. 

This Box Set contains my novels The Malhotra Bride, Meghna and The Runaway Bridegroom and is priced way lesser than the three books if bought separately.

Buying links:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Blog Tour; THE EKKOS CLAN by Sudipto Das

The Ekkos Clan 
Sudipto Das

The Blurb

"The Ekkos Clan" is the story of Kratu’s search for the killers of his family, his own roots and the mystery behind his grandmother’s stories.

It’s the fascinating account of Kubha and the basketful of folklore she inherited from her ancestors. The eventful lives of Kubha and her family span a hundred years and encompass turbulent phases of Indian history. The family saga unfurls gradually, along with Kubha’s stories, through the three main characters – Kratu Sen, a grad student at Stanford, Kratu’s best friend Tista Dasgupta, and Afsar Fareedi, a linguistic palaeontologist.

Afsar hears about Kubha’s stories from Kratu in a casual conversation, but she figures that these stories are not meant to be mere bed time tales – they contain rich linguistic fossils and layers of histories.

In a bizarre incident Kratu miraculously survives an attempt on his life. His sister and uncle had not been so lucky. Were these murders acts of revenge, or a larger ideological conflict connected to Kubha’s stories which conceal perilous secrets that should be suppressed?

Afsar, Kratu and Tista travel across continents to unravel the mystery of Kubha’s roots and the origin of her stories.

At a different level, the novel subtly delves into the origin of one of the oldest civilizations of the world and the first book written by mankind.

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Meet the Author

Sudipto was born in Calcutta to a family which fled Bangladesh during the partition riots of 1947. He grew up listening horrid stories of the partition, something which he has used extensively in his debut novel The Ekkos Clan. He completed his engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 1996. He lives in Bangalore.

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Media Mentions 

"A promising debut in the growing realm of modern Indian fiction" - Jug Suraiya 

"An Indian thriller inspired by Dan Brown & Harrison Ford!... fast-paced thriller, replete with murder and miraculous escapes" - Telegraph 

"If you are a history buff and a thriller aficionado, then [it] might just be the book for you" - The Hindu 

"A tale of the Indian civilization and culture... takes you on a roller coaster ride" - The New Indian Express 

"An interesting read for an afternoon... One feisty woman's partition story" - Bangalore Mirror 

"Should be read for its sheer aspiration and the intelligent handling of historical material" - The Sunday Guardian 

"Is essentially a mystery novel, but is grounded in a substantial base of research and exploration into our past" -

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