Aastha Dugar | #TalkbackTuesday

#TalkbackTuesday number 19 – with Aastha Dugar, and we talk about psychology, love and empathy, and being yourself.

Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday. This week’s interview is with Ms. Aastha Dugar. See her interview below.

Talkback Tuesday is a feature for and about everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person, and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own. Continue reading “Aastha Dugar | #TalkbackTuesday”

Letters to Myself 4

Letters to Myself 4 is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. I use it to track what I’ve done while learning to love myself.

Hey Vaibhav,

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you. Nevertheless I want to keep this short.

You’re ill. Take care of yourself – it’s the mark of an adult who can handle his business by himself despite sickness.

You retired Fiction Friday without warning. I support the decision, chiefly because 5 posts a week was taking its toll on you. 4 is good enough, and you want to stay motivated enough to do this for the rest of the year. You should trim fluff that is hard to write and only acts as an obligation – it ends up being a drain of willpower rather than a motivation. The Life is a Game article said as much about willpower being the intangible.

Perhaps you could write fiction and publish it intermittently in its entirety. It’s been a while since we wrote a big juicy story.

Toastmasters was fun these two past events this week. It’s great improv practice as well. You should seriously consider joining for real.

Work is picking up too, so all in all, decent week.

You had that fleeting moment of panic on the stairs on Thursday. You should write about it. Also, it’s time to set some goals again. Not making lists really slows us down. Get to it.

You caught up with sleep this week, which was really necessary. Our body shut you down pretty quickly on Sunday and on Thursday, so you better start listening. A productive life starts with eating, sleeping, and exercising on time.

Your schedule is outdated. Take the time to sit down and reevaluate. I’d insisted we do it on a weekly basis, but neither of us has done that.

That’s about it. Get well soon.

In tune with you,

P.S. Links: Life is a Game.

Letters to Myself 3

Letters to Myself is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. I use it to track what I’ve done while learning to love myself.

Dear Vaibhav,

Well done. I’m surprised, but well done! You changed my mind, this week, quite literally.
Continue reading “Letters to Myself 3”

Letters to Myself 1

Letters to Myself is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. I use it to track what I’ve done while learning to love myself.

Dear Vaibhav,

Hope you’re doing well. Here you are, with the last new feature that you wanted to introduce to the blog. But I have my doubts with this one. Continue reading “Letters to Myself 1”


I talk about the need to embrace weakness and not be afraid to be fallible. This is the final blog post of a 3-part series.

This is part 3 of a 3 part series. Read parts 1 and 2 here – Effigy, Growth and Individuality.

In an effort to fuel constant profit and benefit and progress and other buzzwords, each of us has been taught and conditioned right from the very outset that failure and weakness are bad. Even when a child is told that failure is a stepping stone to success, a caveat is added – the child should never repeat the mistake, as if that mistake is now used up on a list of mistakes you are allowed to make. Continue reading “Fallible”

Growth and Individuality

I wonder if growth is really necessary, and now is the best time to explore yourself. This is the second blog post of a 3-part series.

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Read part 1 here – Effigy.

I would espouse constant growth as a worthy goal to aspire towards in one’s life, but lately I have been given into thinking that growth is a corporate scheme. When you are encouraged by others to grow, what is really meant is to grow in a particular direction, into a pre-processed mould of a “valuable contributor to society”. Continue reading “Growth and Individuality”


I talk about how we are restrained within ourselves and how we should not burn ourselves as an effigy. This is the first blog post of a 3-part series.

Sometimes, I think the words ‘person’ and ‘people’ are too small. Maybe if they were each fifteen characters long, we could better appreciate the weight of them. Maybe then, idiots would call you out for using “heavy words” to substitute for an argument. Maybe then, wars would never happen because each life is too precious to sacrifice in the name of resources. Continue reading “Effigy”

Cascader: Writing 101, Day 5

A Cascader on the given topic. Finding a letter that deeply moves you.

I haven’t done the Day 4 assignment yet. I’m at a loss on what to write about (no pun intended). I’ll approach that later, however it works out. But day 5 is easy for me, because it’s the perfect setting for a Cascader. A Cascader is a form of writing that I invented on my own, which is a series of progressively shorter forms of writing about interpretations of a single word or concept. You can read more about Cascaders below:

[display-posts category=”cascaders” posts_per_page=”100″ include_excerpt=”true”]

Continue reading “Cascader: Writing 101, Day 5”


Red began fidgeting with the collar, when Kevin moved, and Red’s eyes grew wide. His arms slowed, moving down to the lapels as he admired himself.
“It’s… nice…” began Red.

Hi Readers,

So I wrote Red originally as a short – just the first chapter, but a few friends expressed interest in the story, so I extended it to what you see here.

I would REALLY appreciate feedback on the style of writing and all the different elements, especially mood setting. Please be freely critical with me in the comments.



WordPress – GrammarMantis

Facebook – Vaibhav Gupta

Twitter – Vaibhavshaali

Chapter 1: Preparation

As he stood in front of the mirror, he fidgeted with his cuffs, pulling them over his wrist, then all the way back again.

“Leave it be. You look fabulous.” said Ronnie. Ronnie had been his best friend for years now, and he always consulted Ronnie on everything – what books to read, what food to eat, whether that new movie was worth a watch. But he really didn’t feel like being dismissed by Ronnie today. He needed to look his absolute best.

Ronnie’s boyfriend, Kevin sidled over and put his arm around Ronnie’s waist. “Trust me Red, you look great. Have a little more confidence in yourself.”

He really didn’t like being called Red, but everyone seemed to have adopted the little moniker. He would get used to it eventually, he thought.

“Oh, just one last touch.” said Ronnie, as he deliberately and slowly took out a coat bag from his wardrobe.

“Aww, come on Ronnie. No blazers – It’ll be way too formal.” Red said with exasperation.

“Just shut up, and try it on.” Ronnie said, smirking and pulling out a beautiful black blazer from the coat bag. He handed it to Red with utmost care. Red hesitated, but let Ronnie help him put it on, as Kevin blocked Red’s view of the mirror.

Red began fidgeting with the collar, when Kevin moved, and Red’s eyes grew wide. His arms slowed, moving down to the lapels as he admired himself.

“It’s… nice…” began Red.

“Feel the power of the Blazer.” breathed Ronnie, slowly sliding his arms up to Red’s shoulders and giving him a squeeze. They smiled and Kevin said, “You’re ready. Go get her!”

Chapter 2: Meeting

Red was a nervous wreck. All through the taxi ride, he was distracted by the thought of things to come.

Cars and trucks floated past the corner of his vision; a handcart-puller was blocking traffic. Gasoline vapours permeated the air as the clarion call of automobiles assaulted the ears, yet he was oblivious.

He barely noticed when the cab pulled in to the curb. The cab driver cleared his throat twice before blowing the horn, which jerked him back to the real world. Taking a moment to gather his wits, he gingerly deboarded and paid the cab fare, finally turning to face what was looming in front of him – Duvairé, the new big thing in restaurants.

Stepping in, he checked in at the front desk for his reservation. He was a half-hour early, but the kindly looking well dressed man seemed to grasp the situation, and smiling, escorted Red to a table towards a cosy corner away from the front and kitchen doors.

So far so good; one of the things that could have gone wrong hadn’t.

And thus began what felt like the longest hour of Red’s life. He was so antsy that he had to peruse the menu a dozen times to calm him down. The soft music in the air didn’t help.

He kept going over scenarios in his head, what he would say, what he would avoid saying. What if there was a lull? He imagined the horror of her being polite not to mention it, but being bored.

He juggled a hundred thoughts of her, but she never showed up.

The kindly gentleman came up and asked, “Will your guest be coming, sir?”

“Apparently not.” Red sighed. Whether it was a sigh of relief or disappointed, he would never be able to tell.

Chapter 3: Rescue

Dejected, Red got up to leave, but tripped and scraped his knee through his jeans. “Great” he thought, embarrassed. The patron helped him up and dusted him off, and sent him on his way. Red appreciated his help, but he couldn’t understand for the life of him why she chose to ignore his feelings in this manner, and it erased everything else he was thinking of at that time. It ate away at the very fibre of his being. Why would she? How could she?

And then his phone buzzed. He pulled it out and checked the text message – “Hey im rly sry. I gt called away & cudnt cal bak. Can we do dinner instd? Same plc.”

His chest heaved… and relaxed. He hadn’t been stood up. He would still see her today. He loosened his collar, and being a little more comfortable, went back to Duvairé to rebook a table.

He was met again by the patron, who smiled genially and said, “So what brings sir back?”

Red smiled back, and asked for a table later in the evening.

“Ah if you’d like to wait, I’ll arrange for coffee and a light snack?”

“No thank you. Is there a place nearby where I could spend my time?” Red asked.

“There is a reading café just down the road, sir. I believe that would be an excellent use of the evening.”

“Thank you.” smiled Red, and left. As he walked down to the café, he thought of the old patron. He felt comfortable with him. The patron felt genuine and warm. Red breathed in the feeling of solace he felt. The patron felt like the father he never had, and he found what he sensed was a feeling of family, so many years, after the death of his father.

Chapter 4: Take Two

It was time. Red drank the last of his ice tea as he proceeded to back to the restaurant. He hadn’t read much in the café; he felt fear too nervous.

As he walked back up the road, he felt a chill from the evening wind and he was glad for Ronnie’s blazer. He made a note to thank Ronnie.

Trepidation filled him. She had wanted to meet him, but it had taken him everything he had to ask her to dinner. Given their history, he was shattered when she left, so long ago. Communication between them had been scarce since, but she was always there at the back of his mind, a constant presence, like a fly buzzing around at night. You couldn’t get rid of it.

He entered the restaurant once again, and he didn’t want to leave without what he wanted. The first time had cleared his head – he wanted to meet her. He craved it.

The patron met him at the entrance, and Red smiled. He knew what was coming. “I believe your guest has arrived, sir.” He said, with the broadest smile he had given Red all day.

Red readied himself. He slowly walked in and looked towards the table indicated by the host.

Sitting there was a middle-aged woman in a tight grey tee and camo pants, wearing combat boots. Her muscled arms were bare. Her hair had been tied back to a tight bun and she sat straight-backed, an indication of her years of military training. She turned to him, and looked down.

“What did you do to your knee?!” she exclaimed.

“Hi mom.” said Red, a slow smile spreading across his face.