Remembering Jasoosi Duniya by Ibn-e-Safi

My grandfather was a big fan of Detective Colonel Vinod of Vinod Series by Ibn-e-Safi (pen name of Asrar Ahmed). And my father and his siblings would compete with each other to be the first to lay their hands on those thrillers, that arrived every month by post.

Colonel Vinod (Faridi in original Urdu version), the main character of Jasoosi Duniya was huge at one point of time and almost as famous as James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. My grandparents, uncles, aunts, everyone loved him.

 For me it was different. I was born after Ibn-e-Safi’s death. As I grew up, titles of the books – ‘Tijori ka Geet’, ‘Khooni Pathar’, ‘Pahadon ki Malika’, ‘Baraf ke Bhoot’ –  intrigued me. And the pictures on the covers were fascinating too. One day, when I was in my teens, I just picked it up from a big box of books and read it at one go. That was the beginning. I soon got addicted to them.

Thankfully, my parents were not very strict about my reading those ‘kind of books’ because they knew that the series did not have sub standard or cheap material in it. Every member in the family could read it. However, they warned I may end up paying more attention to the thrillers rather than course books. But I managed to strike a balance.

After Devkinandan Khatri in the 19th century, it was Ibn-e-safi who set the beat of detective novels in the second half of the 20th century in Indian subcontinent. His contributions to not only Urdu but Hindi literature was immense. The books were published in Bengali, Tamil and Telugu as well. 


Wikipedia says about Jasoosi Duniya series – “Its first novel, Dilaer Mujrim was published in March 1952. In the following 27 years, Ibn-e-Safi wrote 127 books in the series with his last Jasoosi Dunya novel, Sehra’ee Deewana appearing in July 1979, a year before his death.” He was from India but migrated to Pakistan in 1947, post independence.

It is said that some Safi’s books have been inspired by English novels but the much-loved characters, Vinod and Rajesh (Faridi and Imran in original Urdu version) are his own creations.

My favourites were Colonel Vinod and his feisty aide Captain Hamid (akin to Dr Watson). As I read him more and more, I felt Ibn-e-Safi was well informed about the political situations in the world. He wove a glamourous and dangerous world in 1960s India that enchanted readers.

 I think Colonel Vinod was very much like Howard Roark of  Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’. Both of them had super integrity, both were brilliant at their jobs but appeared to be rather heartless (Colonel Vinod was nicknamed Father Hardstone by his friend Hamid). Both had lofty ideals. Infact, it was said that Ibn-e-Safi wrote very carefully about Vinod as people sort of worshipped him and would not tolerate anything untoward related to him.


Ibn-e-safi’s other lead character Rajesh (Imran in the Urdu version) was equally popular. A fool by the day and secret service chief by night, Rajesh’s unpredictability always left me in splits.
It should also be known that Safi’s works were widely plagiarised by writers who enjoyed limited fame but could not match his popularity. His books were often sold at black market prices in and around India. 

A big reason for the charm of the novels were the minor and comic characters Qasim, Black Force, gilehri jaan ( in Vinod series) as well as servant Bholu, Jolly, Madan (in Rajesh series). The master storyteller had the knack of drawing readers into the world of ensnaring beauties, night clubs, fancy locations, Lincolns, Tommy guns, poisonous needles and lethal enemies. 

Back in India, I always wondered about Lincoln – Colonel Vinod’s car and excitedly called up my father when I saw one in the US. 


The Hindi version of – Jasoosi Duniya series are hard to find in today’s world of Ebooks and downloads. I yearn for the crispy touch, musty smell and excitement that preceded reading the thrillers. It was heaven to read it in a quiet corner of my house, munching guavas and wondering what was going to happen next.

Gone are the days but who knows…I might still find my younger self somewhere inside one of those nail-biting books…!

Cute book by a 9 year old!


The Talking Fish by the talented nine-year-old, Shrey Jha has taken me by surprise. 

The little author has come up with a cute and creative first ebook. His talent shines out in every page. He is going to make a wonderful, entertaining author. 

The Talking Fish is free and you can download through Itunes as well as read it on Blurb books. Do leave reviews for it will do wonders to the confidence of our little, budding author.

He has dedicated the ebook to his aunt, Shivangi Singh(that is me, folks and I am sooo flattered), and ends the book with a sweet message for all his friends and readers. 

As for what happens in The Talking Fish, find out for yourself…! Cheers!

The pilot who loves to write!

When Squadron Leader turned author  Manish Kumar got introduced in one of our favourite Whats App groups by the enthusiastic admin, the group members were more than happy to welcome him. His book ‘Be Your Own Pilot’ has been climbing charts and we wanted to know more about him.

BYOP has sold a number of copies till now. In Amazon.in, it had been in top 50 Bestsellers list. It has sold out thrice in the US and is selling in almost 15 countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Japan and Netherlands.

In a chit chat on his personal wall, he talked about his journey from being a pilot to a writer. His noble profession enabled him to undergo various enriching spiritual experiences that led him onto the path of writing. Here is an excerpt:

Q: What is ‘Be Your Own Pilot’ all about?
Manish
: In this inspirational fiction, I talk about the unlimited power and potential lying dormant in every soul, waiting to be awakened. The moment we become aware of the power within, we stop being a victim of circumstances, get off the autopilot called fate and take control of our life.

‘Be Your Own Pilot’ is about the journey of a boy from a small town who realizes his dream of becoming a pilot, learns the lessons of life on the way and goes on to inspire others to follow their dreams. His Flying Instructor implants wisdom into the flying lessons and teaches him to take the flight of faith. The book shows the way – how, by aligning personal desires to the benefit for mankind, it is possible to lead a deeply rich and satisfying life.

Q: What was the inspiration behind BYOP?
Manish
: During my tenure in the Indian Air Force I survived many near-fatal accidents. I and my crew were lucky to come alive out of these situations. These incidents made me delve deep into the meaning and purpose of life. I realized that my Life’s purpose was to show people way to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Hence, I wrote the book.

Q
: Please tell us about your career as a pilot? The challenges and the highlights.
Manish
: Initially, I was posted to a VIP Squadron and was a part of the formation carrying VVIPs like The President, Vice President, Prime Minister and the Service Chiefs. Flying with them requires precision and there is no room for error. 

Later, I was posted to an operational Squadron. I flew extensively during Gujarat Cyclone and Earthquake in 1999/2000 doing rescue and relief work. In one of the sorties I rescued 05 fishermen, who were afloat on wooden planks after their fishing trawler was destroyed in the Cyclone. I was awarded the Chief of Air Staff Commendation Medal for saving their lives.

Q
: Have you had any formal training as a writer? Your message to upcoming writers?
Manish
:I had no formal training as a writer but I consider John Harricaharan, the Creative Writing Guru and the best-selling author, my mentor. I have read all his books on creative writing. He has also been kind enough to write the foreword for Be Your Own Pilot.

My first suggestion to all budding writers is to read or watch John’s story of Professor Peterson (click here).

Next is to fall in love with words. Once you are in love with them, you can feel intuitively whether you have used them correctly or not. 

Lastly, write with your heart. Express your true feelings. Do not bother about what the Publishers or Readers will think. And don’t worry about grammar or other mistakes. There are people to correct them. The world just wants your original story. Write it.

Q
: Who is better Manish, the pilot or Manish, the author?
Manish
:I had become a Pilot with the sole aim of saving a life someday. After that was achieved, I moved over to shaping lives. Today, I have better and immense opportunities to touch lives through my book and lectures. You know, I had a reader who was about to commit suicide after being rejected from a job-interview. Luckily, he had the book. He read it and it gave him hope. So, I find being an Author is better than being a Pilot but I do miss flying at times.

Q
: What would be your next venture?
Manish
: We are trying to make a movie based on “Be Your Own Pilot.” I am also in between two books. “Souls : United at Last” is a true love story of Soulmates who meet after a few births. “The Fall Guy” is a science fiction in which I have borrowed the characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata and fit them in the modern context.

If you are looking for a nice self help book, this summer, do try this one! I tried and loved it.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Own-Pilot-Manish-Kumar/dp/8184301359

The blessed soul of Lucy Gray

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“The cemetery spread along the area known as Devils Abode.” People believed that the entire stretch was haunted.

But actually, the Devil lived there!

Contrary to popular belief, the devil was a perfect gentleman. His task was to aid God in finding pure souls by luring away the sinners. It was his duty to be mean and conniving, so that only the best could reach God.

In the last few centuries, Hell had been a crowded place. And the good-bad balance was going haywire. And then along came Lucy Gray!

The child had died in a snowstorm while looking for her mother. The seven deadly sins had failed to lure her soul into hell for her faith was deep.

Now, it was His duty to tempt her.

But He felt He was fighting a lost battle for a change. To His relief, He was no match to the simple little girl’s pure soul. Lucy belonged to nature and God.

(This week’s response to Mondays Finish the Story is a tribute to one of my favourite poems Lucy Gray or Solitude by William Wordsworth. It is a great work in ballad form emanating purity and devotion. The poem is about Lucy Gray who got lost in snow storm while looking for her mother. My story is a fictionalised account of her life after death. You can read the poem here – Lucy Gray )

This story is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click here – MFtS