Red Apples and Smiles!

Red apples blossomed in the cheeks of kids as they jumped their ways into the scenic Minnetonka Orchard. It was our first visit to a U Pick Farm where consumers get to pick, choose and harvest the produce. Apples were everywhere – on Earth, trees and in the hearts of the visitors! Clear open sky, vast green Earth and natural splendor of the place did wonders to our spirit. The decision to pick apples on Labor Day at the start of Fall was not a bad idea at all. Here are some pictures of the place for you.

Kids having a field day!

We took a ride in the famous John Deere tractor.

A lovely red barn – firsthand experience of farm life.

Friendly livestock and a maze created in a cornfield at the background.

Apple field beyond.

Some delicious blackberries.

A place right in the nature’s lap!

There were other amazing things including a hay fun stack, food zone and play area for kids. As we made our way back to our car with a bag full of the delicious fruit, I admired the concept behind the place. How easily it connected us, the disconnected town folks, back to Mother Earth.

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The Chattering Housemaid


The Astons always look picture perfect. In gatherings like this, Lady Aston sings while Lord Aston displays his skill at the piano. And the usually haughty Miss Matilda, tries to be genteel.

But today, crack in the picture is showing. Look, doesn’t Lord Aston appear stern? Yesterday, the footman had confided that a perfumed letter arrived for My Lady. But Lord Aston grabbed it and tore it to pieces!

Lord Aston has no right to do that. Since his character is not without blemishes. He even tried to be sweet on me but I am a housemaid of integrity.

How I wish my peep hole in the kitchen was bigger! Soon, a drama is about to unfold in the parlour. I hope the author of the letter arrives and I get a chance to see My Lady blush.

I feel, Old Lady Olivia, whose portrait hangs in the parlour, disapproves of my sneaking ways but then, what harm can she do…she is dead! 

((This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the amazing Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Thank you Louise with The Storyteller’s Abode for the image. Please CLICK HERE for more.)

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…!

Trump, Hillary face off – Bollywood Ishtyle!

As race for the American President, reaches its final hours, I couldn’t help having a little fun at the expense of the two famous candidates -Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Fultoo Bollywood Ishtyle!!! Watch it here:

Koi Humse Jeet Na Paave (https://youtu.be/eBRCYSuG6H4)
For those not familiar with these Hindi Film songs – The song featured on Trump (Koi Humse Jeet Na Paye) is from the film Lagaan. Here, Trump is implying he and his supporters will not let anyone win, they will keep moving on!

The song featured on Hillary (Khud ko Kya Samajhta hai) is from Khiladi. Here, she is wondering about the audacity of Trump. She says what does this guy think of himself, he is so arrogant. She declares that they will teach him a lesson!

Hope you enjoy my fun take and relax ahead of the great nail-biting election!

Image courtesy Google