My short story “Shattered Pieces” published in Potato Soup Journal

My short story titled “Shattered Pieces” has been published in Potato Soup Journal. Read it here: http://potatosoupjournal.com/shattered-pieces-by-deepti-nalavade-mahule/

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My flash fiction story "The New Girl in Our Office" published in The Writing Disorder

My flash fiction story titled “The New Girl in Our Office” has been published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Writing Disorder. Read it here: http://writingdisorder.com/deepti-nalavade-mahule-fiction/

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My micro-fiction story ‘Full Circle’ published at 101Words.org

Here are lovely metaphors given by famous writers to describe flash fiction or micro-fiction: 
“an iceberg”
“ice melting on a hot stove”
“a single raindrop that engulfs its own blue pearl of light”
“the world in a grain of sand”

A fantastic article on flash fiction – On the mirror and the Echo further throws light on this fascinating genre.

Trying to live up to the above, here’s my humble attempt at micro-fiction published in the online magazine 101words.org (in, as the name suggests, exactly 101 words): https://101words.org/full-circle-2/

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My article in Women’s Web magazine about a character from the film Gully Boy

Watched the movie Gully Boy and was so impressed by the character depth and development of “the other hero” in it, that I couldn’t help setting down my observations in an article that was published in Women’s Web magazine. This particular character embodies everybody’s desire of “apna time ayegaa” 🤟 and also has what it takes to ensure that it happens! Here is the article: https://www.womensweb.in/2019/02/safeena-the-other-hero-in-gully-boy/?fbclid=IwAR1yXOQwxbCGq4qjlOblxg1LT77NinqdWr11AqX6rS3X95rhpkXVYK9NJa4

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My Science Fiction story ‘Heart of a Robot’ in Aphelion webzine

I tried my hand at writing science fiction and here’s my first science fiction story published in Aphelion – a webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy: http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2019/02/HeartOfARobot.html

Feel free to comment on the story via the ‘Aphelion Forum’ link at the bottom of the page on the webzine or let me know your thoughts about it here.

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‘Fall’ing in love with autumn colors

My husband and I are not religious, but we do worship a certain goddess – Mother Nature. For years we yearned to go on a special pilgrimage – a trip to the East Coast – to view the changing colors of the trees during the Fall season. This year in October, we finally did it and came back with unforgettable memories of all the colorful blessings that nature bestowed upon us.

On this trip, my husband, toddler daughter and I were joined by our friends, a husband-wife duo and her parents who were visiting from India. We traveled to the White Mountains forest region in New Hampshire and stayed at a chalet provided by Huttopia (https://europe.huttopia.com/en/), which promises a unique experience of “glamping” (glamorous camping) with tents and chalets or cabins, equipped with modern amenities.

We had planned the timing of this trip by consulting online fall color trackers that provided estimates of the best time to view them in that area.  If we arrived too early, the leaves would still be green. If we were too late, we would find most of the leaves on the ground. The margin of achieving the perfect window of timing was narrow.

We arrived at the Huttopia chalet late at night, in pitch darkness, not knowing how bright the fall colors were around us. Naturally, we eagerly awaited the sight that would meet us once daylight dawned. Morning came and as we began to explore the surroundings in our car, we were a bit disappointed. The trees in the area where we were staying were mostly green with only a few colored leaves peeking out here and there.

However, as the car moved along the road that went north towards the White Mountains forest region, hope began to rise. Colors began to pop up. “Oohs”, “aahs” and squeals from inside the car began to get louder and more frequent. The multitude of colors outside kept on exceeding our expectations. Our eyes hungrily gobbled up different shades of yellows, pinks, oranges, reds and greens as the car turned around each bend in the road. And from that colorful landscape emerged individual delights – a pinkish red branch emerging from green foliage, a blazing orange tree and small pockets of pure yellow forests. The trees weren’t passively standing around, they were bursting with color and rushing by in bright streaks as we sped along.

We traveled further north, still among the vibrancy of the autumn leaves, to reach an area called Glen village at the foot of Mt. Washington. It is an area of limitless beauty, with a babbling stream flowing between lush green meadows and beyond them, hills turning into mountains, all dressed up in autumn finery. A flaming red-leafed tree stood beside the flowing water and we enjoyed a wonderful picnic beside it.

After we were done, we joined a line of cars making their way up the historic route to the peak of Mt. Washington. The winding road was bordered with similar yellows, pinks, oranges and reds and beyond them, deep valleys were filled with the same wondrous colors. At the peak stood a visitor center, an old hotel preserved as a museum, observation decks and … a train station located at a height of 6200 feet! Looking at the tracks on the steeply inclined sides leading up to the top made me dizzy. And yet there were two small train carriages perched precariously on those tracks, inching down cautiously, as if afraid of skidding down the slope like rollercoasters. Surrounding this mountaintop, ranges upon ranges of other mountains stretched into the distance. On the ones that were close, the fiery fall colors of the trees were spread out all over their slopes. What a heavenly view it was!

The sun began to set as we came back to where we had started at Glen village. In the cool light of the evening, the colors of the trees took on a sharper hue. I stood in the meadow near the flowing water, green grass underneath, blue skies above and all around me, a riot of colors painting every hill in sight. I was seized by an urge to run. As I sprang towards our waiting car, I had a vision like that from the movies, where at the very end, before the credits start rolling, the audience is viewing the scene through the eyes of the protagonist who is leaping forward towards the expansive sea or onto some striking landscape. And then there is a flood of bright light before the screen goes blank. I bounded forward as if in such a movie and my heart exploded with emotion. It felt like my spirit was sweeping up to become one with all of the natural beauty around me.

The next day, we drove along the picturesque Kancamagus highway. It was overcast and in the subdued light, the fall colors were brighter than the previous day. Looking at them once more, it felt like falling in love all over again! The hills in that area were covered in patchwork quilts of different colored trees and when the mist moved gently to kiss their tops, it sent a quiver of delight through me. We couldn’t help stopping every few miles at vista points to drink in the copious yet fleeting beauty offered by the vegetation during this transitional autumn season.

On the second night of our stay, outside our chalet, the velvet canopy of the sky patterned with countless stars stretched over our heads. On one side of it ran a clear strip of the Milky Way. Our friends started up a cozy campfire and we savored the meals cooked over it. A feeling of contentment enveloped me and my eyelids grew heavy with sweet drowsiness. Long after the fire had ebbed, the pleasant smell of wood smoke lingered in my nostrils, much like how images of the magnificent colors of fall floated up, to remain etched in my memory forever.


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My flash fiction story “Robert’s Dive” in Flash Fiction Magazine

My flash fiction story ‘Robert’s Dive’ has been published by Flash Fiction Magazine. I enjoy reading the stories there and I was thrilled when the magazine decided to house one of my own. Here is the link for my story: https://flashfictionmagazine.com/blog/2018/09/13/roberts-dive/

Feel free to comment on the story via the ‘Comments’ link alongside the story in the magazine or let me know your thoughts about it here.

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My short story Idlis on a Saturday Morning in Kitaab

My short story ‘Idlis on a Saturday Morning‘  was recently published by the Singapore-based Kitaab writing and publishing platform. Here is the link for the story: https://kitaab.org/2017/12/23/short-story-idlis-on-a-saturday-morning-by-deepti-nalavade-mahule/

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My article in Women’s Web about a brief encounter with a “neighbor”

Some people we meet in life make an abrupt entry and a hasty exit, leaving faint but lasting impressions in their wake. Nothing too remarkable about my experience, I don’t even remember her name and yet I find myself thinking about her at times, wondering how things are going with her. Here’s an article I wrote on Women’s Web about meeting a Pakistani co-passenger on a flight not too long ago: http://www.womensweb.in/2017/07/pakistani-woman-chance-encounter-same-different/

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A short musing on writing, photography and other art

Pink flowers

Photo courtesy husband, of course! (Click on it to go to Myriad Moods Photography Facebook page)

Springtime in the Bay Area, USA alters the landscape in a lovely way. Around February, March and April nature erupts into a mad profusion of flowers on the ground as well as above. There are these almost other-worldly looking large pink and white flowers – a type of Magnolia – on some trees. On others, dainty, smaller pink and white flowers can be seen. As the weeks pass, below in the grass, the wild mustard creates a yellow riot and the slopes of the freeway embankments are covered by flowery carpets of different hues.

Another color that catches one’s eye is vanilla white, on the ornamental flowering pear tree. This entire tree undergoes a spectacular transformation, flaunting an outfit of pure white. Barely a green leaf peeping through, the white flowers are bunched together tightly, standing out starkly against the dark stem and branches. If viewed from out of context, it looks as if there is snow on the tree tops!

When the sky is cloudy and the light is diffused, these beauties look even more striking among the other shades of green. As the season progresses and the petals start to shed, they swirl around in gusts of air, especially when one is driving, with the small white bits spinning towards the car like delicate snowflakes. Fairy-dust!

It was while watching one such magical gust from the car that I looked up in spell-bound wonder at this entire street that had its sides flanked in white by the trees. I remembered that at another time, my husband had expressed his desire to capture that very same view in his camera. I was in a hurry to reach somewhere but I wished, too, at that time, that I could stop the car and freeze the beauty in front of me.

This brought to my mind a related conversation I had with my husband some time ago. As many readers may know, he is an avid photographer (although at this time of my writing, his photography is intermittent, a state that hopefully will change for the better). That day he had just finished post-processing a photograph he had clicked. Gazing at the stunning result, I enviously said, “This is beautiful. Look how fast you created this work of art! If I were to write a short story, it feels like it takes me ages. And the consumption of a photograph is fast too. People take it in between a mere blink of an eye. For my blog post or short story they might first scroll down to see how long my prose is before they begin reading (or decide not to if it seems too long!)”

He laughed and said, “it’s because of the instant gratification aspect of photography that there are so many people pursuing photography compared to fewer who write or paint.”

What he was saying was true. There is a difference in numbers when it comes to the seconds ticking behind certain creative pursuits. Of course, neither he nor I wish to devalue photography at all. Every form of art is unique and precious in its own way. And after all, isn’t there a saying, “a picture speaks a thousand words”? This conveys the immense power of pictures, no doubt. But it also aptly indicates that the amount of effort needed to produce written content versus visuals is far more. And those “thousand words” can’t just be any words; they have to work hard to qualify as ‘art’ and deliver the same effect as the picture does.

The main reason behind the comparison between writing and photography being discussed in our household was only borne out of the experience of struggling to find time to write to create something meaningful versus capturing the same by a camera. Even revising the first draft takes a long time versus post-processing a photograph.

Here, another thought popped up in my mind. What about painting and crafts like say, crocheting or sculpting? At least with writing (on a computer, not by pen or on a typewriters!) and digital photography (by a sophisticated camera and using software to process it, not by a traditional camera and developing prints in a dark room!), if not satisfactory, one can wipe out what one has done so far or maintain revisions that one can go back to and modify any time. With the other kinds of art, it requires a totally different mindset because of the nature of the work, the materials involved and the finite state that they attain. And how about other art such as music, singing and dancing? One can’t go back and erase mistakes in a live performance. The composure maintained by the artist in the face of pressure to be flawless while performing before thousands of people is truly applause-worthy. Also, such art doesn’t even have tangible physical forms and yet it can produce an enthralling effect that manifests physically in the spectator’s body!

The_War_Of_Art_bookRecently I finished the book ‘The War of Art‘ by Steven Pressfield. Have you ever read a book that knocks you off your feet like a powerful gust of wind? The War of Art felt just like that. A kick in the gut! For anyone who has ever felt a desire again and again to do a particular thing and yet there has been a disconnect between that aspiration and actually fulfilling it, The War of Art is a wake-up call. Although applicable to any endeavor, be it entrepreneurship, gardening, even motherhood, it mainly talks about art and writing. So it felt very relatable to me. That book is like a strict school teacher, concerned parent, psychiatrist and spiritual guru all rolled into one, with one singular message about any activity that is close to one’s heart: “just do it!”

The discussion with my husband and ruminating over The War of Art made me acknowledge and radically accept what a time-consuming process writing is. It emphatically reiterated what I have been learning for some time now: there are no short-cuts involved and time, which is in short supply, what with a day job and a toddler at home, has to be used wisely.

Coming back to that moment while I was admiring those pretty white blossoms mentioned at the start of this post, I was lamenting the absence of a camera to point at them and the skills to capture them in the most effective way. So I tried to store them in my mind’s eye. It would perhaps take me more time but I knew that sooner or later I would be using words to describe and re-experience those lovely flowers and “click” a mental picture of them onto a blank page.

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