I am delighted to share that my short story ‘Note on the Cup’ got selected for #TellMeYourStory Review Sept 2022 in association with York Centre for Asian Research, #yorkuniversity.
The ebook and paperback versions are available on Amazon (order your copies for research/reference/reading at – Amazon India and Amazon US). The scholarly publication presents some excellent thoughts and creative works on how food & drinks shape cultural identity and ideology.
My story ‘Note on the Cup’ is about an immigrant Indian woman’s interactions with an American Handyman and how ‘chai’ plays a role in strengthening their bond.
I am grateful to my readers community for every small and big achievement. It is for you and because of you that I write!
Thank you and Happy Diwali from storiesbyshivangi.
“Why can’t an elephant go on a trampoline?” Tootoo, the Indian elephant wondered.
Why was Tootoo not allowed to go on a trampoline at the Forest Book Park while his friends were having fun? It was not because of his floppy ears, large body or big teeth, then what was it?
Find out all about Tootoo and his adventures in my upcoming book – Elephant on a Trampoline!
The ebook version of the book would be free for a certain number of days. So, you will have a chance to download it for FREE from Amazon (available globally – coming soon)! Follow this space and stay tuned. Thanks for checking in 🙂
I am happy to share the cover of ‘Elephant on a Trampoline’ with you. It will be published soon on Amazon and the e-copy would be available for #free for a limited time. So don’t miss out on subsequent announcements!
Elephant on a Trampoline is a fun animal adventure book for kids between 5 – 8 years. It celebrates friendship, diversity, and creative problem-solving!
Synopsis of Elephant on a Trampoline – “Since 1934, elephants are banned from jumping on trampolines at the Animal Book Park.
But despite this, Tootoo, the elephant really wants to go on a trampoline. But will his heart’s desire lead him to danger or will he find an amazing new way for elephants to jump on a trampoline?”
Hope you like my efforts as always. Many thanks for your support 😉
One day, an old turbaned man arrived at a colorful, bustling bazaar in India. He set up a signboard at a corner – I Sell Happiness for Two Paise.
Many dismissed him as a con man, but a lot came out of curiosity. A man selling happiness was rare! “Hmmm, happiness for two paise? Can you show me happiness?” One mustached man said sarcastically.
“Sure, come sit by me”, said the happiness seller. By now, a small crowd had gathered to see the “tamasha”.
The customer threw two paise at him. The seller took out a carved mirror from his “potli” and put it in front of the man. The customer’s face contorted at first, and then he burst out laughing.
“Bravo! It’s strange, but he does sell happiness!” The customer announced.
Another customer came, and he went away laughing too. Some customers smiled, some laughed and, many rolled on the ground with laughter. Everyone thought the happiness seller was a magician.
One little orphan boy watched the seller from far, and thought – “The mirror seems magical, but what does it show?”
By evening, the crowd around the seller lessened, and he noticed the boy.
“Son, do you want to buy happiness, too?” he called out. The boy nodded but explained, he had no money.
“Well, I can always barter,” the seller said.
“Seller, I have just hardship and sadness to offer!” said the boy.
“Well, no harm in offering that to the magical mirror. Let’s see how it conjures happiness for you,” the seller said, kindly.
The boy sat and offered his hardship and sadness to the mirror…
What ensued was laughter… unrestrained laughter… from the child! His infectious laughter came from his pure heart, and soon, it spread all over the village. No one knew why everyone else was laughing.
The happiness seller had no idea the mirror could give THAT kind of happiness. After the boy stopped laughing, he asked – “Son, I am amazed. I am 100 years old now but I never saw anyone experiencing such BLISS! What happened, tell me?”
The boy smiled and said, “Dear seller, thank you for this great opportunity. Let me explain the reason.
The first man’s happiness came from jealousy. The mirror showed his enemy falling into the ditch. So, he laughed. The second man’s happiness came from ambition. He saw himself traveling to a new land and earning wealth. So, he laughed.
Everyone’s happiness came from something they wanted – their desire! They got happiness in the same proportion.
My happiness was based on the act of surrender – of my hardships and sadness. I let go of my burden, stress…and what stayed in me was …nothing…just peace. This inadvertently filled me with ecstatic laughter. The mirror showed me so free and joyful, and I laughed. And it spread everywhere.”
The turbaned man folded his hand and said – “My child, a divine being told me I will meet my successor here. And I found you! All my life, I sold happiness, became rich but never understood it. Today I saw it. So, will you be my companion in spreading real happiness…?”
The boy smiled and nodded.
The next morning, people from far and wide rushed to the bazaar to buy a fresh dose of happiness. Who doesn’t want happiness for two paise? What they didn’t understand was the priceless truth – real happiness does not come from what we GET but what we LET GO of…
Villagers desperately searched for the happiness seller. But he had already left with his successor.
Here is a very imaginative bedtime folk story to spark your kids’ imagination!
Once upon a time, the Sky was very close to the Earth. You see, they were married! They were so close that humans could actually touch the clouds in the Sky.
Since there was little space between the Earth and the Sky, humans were smaller in size. They were so little, that they used rats to plow the field instead of oxen. And they kept ants as pets.
Sometimes life would become inconvenient for men and women. If they jumped, their heads bumped into the clouds, causing rain. They could not even lift their hands while dancing. The trees could not grow big because there was no room to grow. And the Sun was too close, causing extreme hot weather.
Although, some kids loved having the Sky so close at night. You see, they could check out the stars closely! But on moonlit nights, it was difficult to sleep since the Moon glowed so much that all of them had to cover their eyes.
One day, a very old, grumpy granny was sweeping her courtyard with a broom. Accidentally her hand hit against the Sky. This made her lose her temper. Angrily, she gave the Sky a very hard push.
The Sky was already scared of the granny’s temper. And it went up like a rocket, and reached where it is today to be safe.
The Earth began to weep since her husband had gone far from her. But the Sky said they could always meet when the rain would fall! They would also be together, somewhere in the horizon. He was not ready to come down because of the angry granny.
So, the Sky stayed up and the Earth down. Also, this was convenient, since there was more room for everyone to grow taller. The grumpy granny lived longer than two hundred years and came to be known as – The angry granny who pushed away the sky.
-Inspired by a folk story of Muria Tribe from Madhya Pradesh, India
Offering a funny folktale for kids – THE MONKEY BRIDE! This hilarious bedtime story for kids is based on a tale from Jharkhand, India. Do read this free funny story online on my blog and share it if you like. Enjoy
In March, last year, I wrote about the unavailability of hand sanitizers in Minneapolis, U.S., on this blog site. At that time, we were beginning to know a little about a disease called Coronavirus in China that was spreading everywhere. We did not take it very seriously. I had no idea then that we would face a mammoth problem that would change the world forever. I did not suspect then, that the issue would stay as a challenge for more than a year.
I am sure your experiences are similar to mine and you have many stories to tell – stories of loss, resilience, experience or growth. But the biggest challenge I faced during Covid-19 was related to parenting. It is in 2020 that I truly appreciated the roles of schools and teachers for the well-being of our children.
Before the pandemic struck, I had received my EAD and had begun to work as a substitute teacher. But that stopped abruptly due to rising coronavirus cases. The pandemic made me dive into self-publishing and it was very fruitful. But my kids were absolutely distraught while dealing with so many obstacles.
The children were initially excited about getting iPads from school for online learning but the novelty of it faded soon. Zoom lessons and activities became dull and uninteresting by the middle of the school year. They wanted to meet their peers and interact face to face. There were no parties, no outings and no friends – all they had were parents giving directions to wash hands and finish school work.
Second challenge for them was staying silent while their father worked. He often had back to back and face to face meetings where the house had to stay quiet. Staying silent for long hours often made them morose but they did all they could to support their parents.
I tried using creative ideas to keep them feisty and occupied. I also enrolled them in online hobby classes to keep up their spirits but the disinterest followed soon. I knew it was unnatural to stay like that. The festive season in November and December kept them occupied in a positive way but matters became worst in cold January. Apart from Covid-19, the savage cold in Minnesota forces people to stay indoors. During this time, the basement turned out to be the most pleasant place. Every evening, I encouraged them to get some exercise.
Third challenge I faced was monitoring the digital time. I am sure every parent in the whole entire world faced this. They had almost three to five hours of school work on iPad everyday. And then they had their TV time. If I denied giving them TV time, how would they spend their time? They had to be quiet and silent as their father would be working. And As I said, there were no outings and social distancing in place. Yes, they read books but how many books can you ask a first grader and fourth grader to read? Interacting with Google became a way to pass time, yet that was not enough. I knew all that digital time would affect their eyes and brain. But how else could I resolve the issue? I felt I was facing a wall. And then, this famous line would come to my mind, ‘what can’t be cured must be endured’!
And with time, things have started falling in place… My kids will stay in digital learning till June this year but we are planning to send them in person in the next school year starting September.
With the arrival of Spring and loosening of Covid-19 restrictions, I am glad to see smiles back on their faces. Hope has returned in the form of Covid-19 vaccine! Last week, we went to Marshall’s and it was a delightful experience for them after a year in lockdown. As the weather has become good, we are going out often for walks and for bringing their favorite meals from food outlets. Some normalcy is returning as I see kids in schools and in the park with masks in place.
So, one year of parenting during Covid-19 has been tough but I want to applaud every parent for trying their best during the crisis. And kudos to our kids for bearing with every obstacle and moving on… Great things are just around the corner for the little ones. Hang on!
‘My Comeback Trail‘, the second book of the author and Air Force veteran pilot Manish Kumar, promises to be a stirring and inspiring read just like his first bestseller, ‘Be Your Own Pilot‘. I found the book candid and motivational.
About The Book – Inspired by true events in the life of Manish Kumar, the book deals with the theme of the triumph of the indefatigable human spirit against all odds. Life throws one challenge after another as he juggles to keep his sanity when his entire support system threatens to crumble around him.
The story begins with the author being in a respectable profession and having a happy married life, but everything changes soon. There is a crisis in his professional as well as personal life and he ends up in a psychiatry ward, dangerously close to losing everything.
In his own words, “You can fight for your country, your loved ones but what do you do when you start doubting your thoughts, your sanity and your entity? Nothing can be more vicious than doubting yourself.”
He gets betrayed, abandoned and duped by people he loves and trusts most, while his most precious gift gets taken away from him….. he feels there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It is then that the comeback trail begins…!
My Take – This real-life story of a soldier, shows unexpected twists and turns in the author’s life and his dramatic comeback. The book is highly recommended for those who are dealing with extremely challenging, anxious situations. It will inspire them to hang in there, while life turns for the better.
Manish Kumar has a strong narrative voice and the female characters are very well portrayed.
The book is dotted with motivational quotes from great books and authors. The quotes not only support the author as he tries to find sense in the sudden chaos that surrounds him but also engages the reader. The book is set to release soon and available for preorder.
Do grab your copy here , encourage a good author and rejoice in the victory of the human spirit.
Note – This story is reaching you with a message today. Hope the message rubs on you. When the story alighted in my mind, I laughed. And may you laugh too and spread it far and wide.
More than one thousand years ago in India, there lived a laughing Saint. Some called him a genius, others thought he was wise and some believed he was a fool.
So, a famous traveler from a faraway kingdom visited him one day. He wanted to evaluate and judge the man. The Saint was making an ordinary garland from grey flowers that had a very strong smell. On seeing the traveler, he pointed towards a bamboo mat.
The traveler kept sitting for a long time, watching the Saint, who would chuckle while putting fresh flowers in the thread. Soon, he got bored and thought the Saint was quite mad.
So, he started a conversation to get further proof of the Saint’s madness. “Ahem, hello Swamiji, for whom are you making the garland?”
“No one in particular, ” the saint laughed.
“Then why are you wasting your time on the garland?” the traveler asked.
The Saint looked at him and laughed again. The traveler got annoyed and thought this man was not only mad he was a fool too. There was nothing wise or intelligent about the man. Why was this idiot so famous?.
He got up to leave.
“Sit down, dear friend. I am sorry I offended you, ” said the Saint. “I will ask you a few questions that will make you understand why I laughed. Tell me about yourself?”
“I am a famous astronomer, scientist, and mathematician from a King’s court in the South. I own many palatial homes, immense wealth and I am highly respected in society. I have a lovely family and I live a grand life...”
“That’s very good. So, what brings you here my friend?”
“I wanted to know the secret of your laughter. But I think I have got my answer now, ” the traveler said, looking at him from top to bottom.
“You have everything in life. It must make you happy, so why did you come here looking for silly secrets?” the Saint asked, wrapping the garland in a wet cloth.
The traveler cleared his throat. “The problem is I should be happy but I am not always happy like you.”
“Ok, so what will make you happy like me?”
“Hmmm, I feel happy when I think about my wealth and power. And soon I am planning to go on a sea voyage, I guess, that will make me happy like you, ” said the traveler.
The Saint laughed again. “Well, thinking about your wealth is a memory of happiness! And planning a sea voyage is about future happiness. Tell me what will make you happy, right now? Because real and pure happiness can only exist right now!”
The traveler looked closely at the laughing Saint. Something clicked in him but he was still confused so he continued the conversation.
“I can be truly happy right now if I get something which I am hoping for.”
“Umm… like a better position at the King’s court.”
“So, you can be truly happy only – when you get what you love. But what if you – Accepted and loved what you got every moment the same way, ” the Saint laughed again.
“That is so simple and yet so difficult. But yes, that would make me happy right now! But I would still need to make plans for my future happiness…”
“If you stay alive in the Now, the future and your plans will be taken care of automatically. A fresh path gets carved out of every moment of conscious presence. Trust the universe to make everything work in your favor. Now, do you want to know why I laughed while making the garland?“
The traveler nodded.
“Well, this morning, I got some flowers as a present from the little girl next door. You would hardly ever see me making a garland at this time. But today, I decided to make it for no reason at all. The process of making the garland was exhilarating. The freshness, color, shapes of each flower was delightful. But a thought arose in me – Why was I making the garland? I didn’t pay attention to it and continued being in the moment. And then you came along.“
The traveler nodded again, listening with bated breath.
“You asked the same question – For whom are you making the garland? And I laughed appreciating the glory and grace of the Universe. Of course, for you, my friend! The little girl unknowingly picked up the flowers for you and I blissfully made the herbal garland for you. And the universe sent you here to get what you were really looking for. I know you have a rare disease in your left leg, I can smell it. So, here take the garland, the smell of the flowers will cure it.“
The traveler was bewildered and accepted the garland gratefully. He really had a rare disease that he had kept hidden from the world. “Yes, this was what I was looking for around the country. I am so joyful I got it. I am so indebted to you. But this cure was not what I was hoping to get from you. I really wanted to know why you laughed so much.“
“And you know now. Don’t you? I am blissful because I choose to accept and ‘just be’ in every moment. Whenever you want to be blissful, just come back to the moment from your past or present and flow with what is… May you always be as accepting and grateful as you are right now after getting the cure. And the universe will give you more opportunities for bliss and gratitude,” the Saint blessed him.
When he returned home, the King of Southern Kingdom asked about the laughing Saint. The traveler said – “At first, he may look like a mad man, then an idiot and a fool, and finally one of the wisest men on Earth. But one thing is sure – his child-like laughter and positivity will stay with you like the fragrance of a rare garland.”
My book, Happy’s Hairy Tale – The corona Cut, has been accepted as a part of Indie Minnesota Anthology – a digital collection of books by Minnesota authors. This means my book will be available in the patron libraries across Minnesota. And it is all due to God’s blessings and entirely your good wishes, dear reader.
I am really grateful to everyone – those who helped in creating, editing, and promoting this book, those who bought the hardcover simply to encourage me, those who read the eBook and sent positive messages, and each one of you who has ever liked, commented and enjoyed my works.
It is because of you that I stay motivated to tell a story despite numerous roadblocks Indie author perennially encounters.
This blessed morning, I received this email –
Congratulations, you have successfully moved into the library space! Your book, Happy’s Hairy Tale – The Corona cut, is now available in Indie Minnesota, a collection of books from local indie authors available exclusively on the BiblioBoard Library mobile and web platform. This collection is available to patrons of participating libraries all across your state/region. That’s right, your book is now available with just one click of a button to thousands of new readers in your state/region!
Writing is a solitary and laborious process and recognitions like this uplifts a writer. And you, dear reader, have been an important part of my writing process. What Would I Do Without You!
Hope this New Year brings much happy news and recognition for you and your family as well. Do keep visiting this blog site, as you may come across many free bedtime tales, new book releases, breathtaking pictures of Minnesota, motivational messages and other valuable stuff. Sending best wishes your way…big thanks! And once again, have a blissful New Year.
Under a leafless apple tree, sat a little girl named Shrivi. She wore loose, worn-out clothes and torn footwear that barely had soles on them. Her small bare hands looked frost-bitten and she tucked them often under her armpits. Her face looked red and her eyes had a vacant stare as she took in her snow-filled surrounding.
Her stomach growled and she realized she had not eaten since the past two days except a half leftover chapati. For the thousandth time, she wished her father returned from the town where he had gone to sell carpets. He had promised to return within a month with money, food, and clothes. But he didn’t, and they were starving. Her mother was sick, they had no food and perhaps, her father was in trouble.
A tear trickled down her cheek as she remembered her resolve to pick twigs and buy food early that morning. They needed food and oil in their lamp as it was frightening to stay in the dark every night. But unfortunately, it was afternoon and she hadn’t found twigs because of a sudden snowstorm.
The world looked dark and hopeless.
A gentle tap on the shoulders aroused her from reverie. A tall middle-aged man in a flowing brown beard stood there holding the reins of a handsome brown stallion. What did he want?
“Hello,” he said gently. “Will you please help me?” he asked. Shrivi looked at him with strange eyes. How could she help someone when she herself needed help?
“My horse needs water and rest. Where is your home? Can I stay there for a while? I have a long journey to go and I will leave as soon as the biggest and brightest star in the sky will be visible,” he said politely.
Shrivi reluctantly got up and asked him to follow her. While walking, Shrivi felt bad. She didn’t want the guest to see her poverty and her poor, sick mother but it would be rude to deny help. She was also ashamed that she had no food to offer to the stranger according to the village tradition. In there village, any traveler looking for help, was welcomed as God himself.
“Tell me, little girl, what are you grateful for?” asked the stranger, all of a sudden, while walking towards her hut.
“How can I be grateful; when I have nothing?” said the girl.
“Well, it’s a game I play with children – The Gratitude Game. Come on, make an effort, just find any reason… even a bad reason to be grateful would be wonderful,” he said.
Shrivi thought for a moment and said, “Well, I am grateful for my legs as I can walk…”
“That’s great, isn’t it?” he said.
The stranger coaxed her on and little by little, she found many other reasons to be grateful for on her way back home – her eyes, arms, her mother, the tree by her hut, her pet hare, mother Earth, the sky…
Lo and behold… she didn’t know how, but by the time she reached her hut, it felt like Summertime. Everything looked magical. The tree and the ground by her house were filled with berries while the sun shone brightly.
Filling her mouth with berries and offering some to the stranger, she laughed and asked – “What miracle did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything. You did it!” said the strange stranger.
She picked up berries for her mother too and invited the guest inside the hut.
When they entered the dilapidated hut, Shrivi’s frail sick mother was startled. “Mother, I have brought a special guest. You know he is a miracle man. He and his horse need rest till the evening. He is on his way to meet the holy ‘King of Kings’, being led by the biggest star in the sky.”
Shrivi’s mother hid her anxious emotions and mustered energies to get up and welcome the guest. He looked so grand, dignified, and resplendent while she felt ashamed of her poverty and the humble hut. What would she offer him? She was relieved to see that Shrivi had picked up plenty of berries.
But the guest looked perfectly at home as he rested on the mat which she spread on the floor. Crushing the berries, she made juice for herself and their guest while Shrivi went outside to give water to his horse.
“Thank you for helping me out. In return for your hospitality, I would like to give you something,” said the stranger after a while.
“You are welcome, Sir. But we do not take gifts from our guests. Thank you for the offering.” the lady said politely.
“Well, it’s not riches or money. But just a lesson. Will you accept it?” The lady nodded reluctantly.
“Well, first tell me one thing – What are you grateful for?” he asked.
“There is nothing to be grateful for,” the lady said, shocked almost angry. She felt it was impolite to ask a poor woman to be grateful when she was suffering so much.
“Believe me, any small thing to be grateful about would work to begin your lesson.” the guest insisted.
The lady thought and thought. But only her trouble, sorrow, and poverty came into her mind. What could she be grateful for when everything looked so dark. Everyone in the whole world was better off than them. What had happened to her husband? Why was God so cruel to them? And then the image of a little girl came into her mind and her perception shifted. “I am grateful for Shrivi,” she whispered.
The wise man coaxed on and the lady found several other little things to be grateful about – the hut, her neighbors, the berries… While talking about those little things, she smiled. This caused a ripple effect in the universe – her universe. She realized, she was feeling quite good and her fever was gone. She felt energetic enough to begin work on an old carpet.
“What miracle did you do?” she asked. “I didn’t do anything. You did it,” he smiled.
When the biggest star was visible in the sky that evening, the magical guest took leave to continue his journey towards the ‘holy infant’. “Thank you for helping me. I bless you both with the gift of the highest and noblest of all emotions – the feeling of gratitude. That emotion is the very fountain of fulfillment and joy,” the wise man said before leaving.
There was something about that wise man’s lesson that changed the lives of Shrivi and her mother. Every day, they began to follow that simple method of gratitude and things began to look good. Her mother found work with a decent income, and some sheep, within a few days their living conditions became better.
And on one glorious night, when a luminous baby was born on a different side of the Earth, someone came knocking at their hut.
At last, Shrivi’s father had returned with riches, food, and clothes. It was a joyous reunion for the family. That night, as they shared their respective experiences and adventures, one particular story stood out – Shrivi’s story of the magical guest, who was following the biggest star in the sky.
(I hope you liked this gift. If you will ask me – what makes me grateful? I will say I’m grateful to you, my reader for your presence here. Here is wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you get many reasons to be grateful every day of 2021.)