In Conversation with Bookish Bubble

Akanksha, from Bookish Bubble, recently had a detailed conversation with me. She sent me a long list of questions and we were happy to chat over those. The questions were, to begin with, about my books. And then we also talked about a lot of other related things, such as my perspective on publishing and writing.

She has recently published my answers on her website. You can find those here.

Let me know how you find the interview.

Happy writing.


Product review: Pilot Custom 823

Of the many grail pens I have yearned for a long time, the least I have swooned over is Pilot Custom 823. Not just me, but probably the pen community in general, didn’t realize the steady ascent of Pilot’s vacuum filler. Pilot Custom 823 is easily the most underrated workhorse of a pen that performs like a champion when it costs about a half or third of the pens it competes against. This pen is everything that you might have hoped for. In this post, I discuss why.

Built and construction

The built quality is a notch above Pilot’s second-best Custom line-up, right above the 912s. Right from the overall aesthetic of the pen, which is well-balanced, to the threads, everything is as precise as it should be. The pen unscrews in less than one-and-half turns, and the threads never get in the way of writing.

The pen has an air of sophistication about it. I got the amber finish, which intensifies the beauty of gold accents. The body is made of premium acrylic, which is semi-transparent. Of all the three color combinations, amber happens to be the most eye-catching. But, in terms of quality construction, you cannot go wrong with either of the other two color options.

The pen contains a safety valve that regulates the flow of ink from the barrel to the nib. Once the valve is shut, you can safely carry it upside down, of course, on a flight with you. It is precisely this function that, when shut, negates the ink flow. Of the few reviews I read before I bought the pen, some raised a bothersome complaint about the way the pen works. But, more than an impediment, I find it to be rather a feature. That’s the least you can expect from a well-made, (rather) expensive fountain pen in the 2020s.

Nib and nibbling

The highlight of the pen is the 14K gold nib. It is a standard international number 6 size nib (number 15 is Pilot’s company-specific nib size equivalent for international number 6 size). The nib is juicy and wet and the nib performs outstanding right out of the box. I didn’t need to get it tuned to my preferences.

The ink just oozes out as you put the nib on the paper. The experience is exhilarating for the nib truly writes like a Medium yet glides like a Broad. You can use shading inks to enjoy moderate-to-extreme shading without any hiccups. The nib never skipped once, and the sweet spot is also quite widespread for a Medium nib.

The nib has a bit of bounce to it, which comes to it more as a nature than a design. You can naturally get some line variation if you are into a habit of pressing down slightly as you write. However, the pen is designed beautifully to write perfectly under its own weight.

Observations and opinions

Since it is a vacuum filler, the refill cap must be unscrewed by about 2mm before you begin to write. However, this is applicable only when you are investing yourself in a long writing session. For a signature or quick note-taking, you can just unscrew the cap and start writing.

The high-capacity vacuum filler has sufficient capacity for the pen to last a good couple of weeks before I refill it. I have paired it with Krishna Bronze Leaf and Daytone Chocolate inks. Both inks have paired and performed superbly with the pen.

The feed is channeled sufficiently for the pen to not starve even during high-speed note-taking. I found that the section is comfortable to hold during longer writing sessions and the length of the pen is such that it will suit all palm sizes, whether posted or not.

Of the numerous reasons I’d consider when I’d title any pen as the ‘grail pen’ are:

  • Construction: specifically, the look and feel, color choices, dimensions, and feel of the material
  • Ink’s behavior
  • Nib’s performance
  • Pen’s behavior during a long writing session

The pen hits the sweet spot between classy and sassy, office-style and personal-styled, and lively yet not-over-the-top color combinations. If you are new to the hobby of using fountain pens and are keen on not hoarding pens, I’d boldly say that the Pilot Custom 823 is a worthy representative of your one-pen collection. It is my everyday carry (EDC) fountain pen, which I’d love to carry and brag about whether I am at my office or at a party.

The only gripe(?), so far

The only negative aspect of this pen is the time it takes to clean. I have used four different colors of inks in about two months of owning it: blue, blue-black, and two shades of brown inks.

Each time, I’ve had to clean the pen several times and let it sit to dry before refilling it with new ink. That is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. But, as it is with any vacuum filler—why, I’d say fountain pens, in general—it requires a certain level of commitment. So, before you make up your mind about buying this pen, keep in mind the extra time you might have to invest in taking care of it.

Where to buy

I bought my pen from Makoba India. I got it on Fountain Pen Day, at a discount. The pen arrived, as it should, in multiple layers of a sealed, well-secured package. The package contained a warranty card, the pen (neatly tucked in a sleeve), and a 70 ml Pilot Black ink bottle. I have paired Pilot Black with my Beena Lincoln and Guider Medium Ebonite—both are black colored pens.

Makoba owners were kind enough to send me writing samples and patient enough for me to choose between Fine, Medium, and Broad nib choices. Over multiple interactions that then followed, I chose for myself the Medium nib. Although looking at the nib’s performance, I wouldn’t have faltered had I gone with Fine, either.

If you are in India, I’d highly recommend Makoba.

That’s my experience with Pilot Custom 823, so far. I’d be curious to know what you think.

What conducting interviews taught me about life

By definition, an interview is an interaction. By nature, it is an interrogation, where people question one another to explore mutual interests or growth goals. By application, I found it to be rather exhausting. Fortunately, by design, this all is purely subjective. Be it may, that is how we began searching for potential teammates. In this post, I mostly talk about what I learnt. I also rant about a few noticeable things.

The assessments and the shortlisting

It isn’t the first time I have helped my team in hiring. And, I assume, it wouldn’t be the last, either. But, unlike previously, I have encountered a few things that I had never encountered before.

In the post-COVID world, we send the questions online. And candidates are instructed to submit their answers in a couple of days. The submissions we received were based on two separate sets of written assessments (or question papers). We know that our written assessment isn’t easy. So, we selected those who showed even a little bit of promise. After all, the assessment is only an initial test, and we use it for sieving through to the candidates that might show some potential. I say ‘might’ because, in this case, we still had a lot of unanswered questions.

The interviews

We conducted several interviews over a couple of weeks. Yet, surprisingly, we did not find the candidates we were looking for.

For reference, we have a list of questions that can help create a conversation. On a ‘happy path’, candidates can expect us to crack a conversation with them, where we ask open-ended questions. When we do expect them to be exact, candidates can be specific. And we usher them to those questions appropriately.

The feedback

This one is interesting. A couple of weeks back, when we couldn’t select anyone, we chose to share the information on a (technical writer’s) regional WhatsApp group. After we shared this work opportunity, someone from within the technical writer’s community commented on the post. Here is an excerpt of it, “One feedback – Few of my friends and acquittances applied. Once single exam papers comes. I have see that too. and then one round and then poof… nothing happens. This is the 3rd time I am hearing this in the last one and half year. Has anyone from this group successfully got into from AHM (sic)? Am really curious. If no, then is playing pranks. or AHM TW are not up their standards, which i doubt. If anyone has got selected from AHM, please put here. I might be wrong in my notion.” (Please note that AHM, here, is an acronym for Ahmedabad, the location for which we were recruiting.)

Later, toward the end of the week, we received an email from one of the candidates whom we had interviewed. He had written, “I understood from today’s interview that I can’t be a potential candidate for further processes, as I haven’t don’t have relevant experience in developing technical write-ups (documentation). No problems with the decision, I respect that. However, wouldn’t it have been a better decision if this was considered before I was asked to develop content and attend a technical round? My whole purpose behind writing this email is to bring to your notice that there are some candidates like me, who do preparations before attending an interview — and the preparations take time. So my earnest request is that before you start screening a candidate, the top management should have a look at the resume before proceeding with any assessment process.”

The ranting

We took the feedback with due respect and diligence, and we will refine our hiring processes.

None of the writers had the skills we were looking for. Simple. The reverse of it, however, is equally true. Our attitude is subject to the side of the interview table we occupy. As recruiters, we take a few things for granted. But, sadly, as candidates, we assume a lot of things. The question is not if one side is more important than the other or who is right and more ‘just’ than the other. The question is whether we are ready to accommodate the other side in our own story.

If, for example, we email all those candidates whom we might have rejected in written assessments, will that not create an unwanted additional liability? Will the candidate, who raised this request, be able to justify the cost (in terms of time, effort, and money)? I agree that it makes sense to inform at least those whom we might have interviewed irrespective of their selection. I have been on the other side and it hurts when you do not receive any communication (good or bad, favourable or not). This questioning has no end. Would you not ask them why they rejected you if and when they tell?

In reply to the comments and questions, I have a few questions of my own:

  • Is the question paper (the written assessment, that is) the only round in the selection process? Even if it was, would we (as either candidates or assessors) be able to highlight all the mistakes, oversights, and shortcomings based on the written assessment itself? If only the resume or written assessment could guarantee success, we all would have hired robots for writing.
  • If we don’t select anyone based on the written assessments, people come back to us saying something similar to, “this is the 3rd time I am hearing this in the last one and half year”. If we consider them for the interview and then don’t find them fit for the role, the candidates might say, “wouldn’t it have been a better decision if this was considered before I was asked to develop content and attend a technical round?” These are two contradictory opinions. Is it wrong to give everyone a fair chance that is based entirely on their performance?
  • Did the preparation for the technical round not teach you anything? Candidates prepare for interviews, I agree. They must. They invest a lot of time and effort, I understand. How is the learning subject to the selection, then? Irrespective of the result of the selection process, did you not learn? If you have, the rejection email (or its absence) mustn’t bother you. If you haven’t, it is good that you didn’t make it.
  • If you get a better offer from another company, would you bother to give us a call or send us an email stating that you are rejecting our offer (and why)? I have seen cases when people didn’t turn up on the day of their joining. Only after they were given a call did they confirm that they joined elsewhere. Besides, what is the guarantee that you will not use an offer to bargain for another one? In such a case, do you inform the companies?
  • If all companies share their feedback on why they rejected you, what would that do to your confidence? Would you take all the feedback positively? What is the assurance that you wouldn’t bad-mouth the company or its selection process?
  • In most cases, people can learn from introspection. But did that happen here?

That’s enough ranting.

The takeaway

To begin with, the episode has taught me an invaluable lesson: hiring is tiring. The interview process seems similar to searching for alliances for an arranged marriage. Everything from behaviour to qualification to skills is taken into consideration.

Life is a race, and I don’t deny that you must run. And run fast. You must project yourself as a sprinter and a marathoner. What surprises me is that some of us don’t see the obvious. We are just too busy running after the outcome to even pay attention to the joy of running itself. Why can’t we enjoy the view as we run past our milestones of growth? This episode has taught me to not overrate success by equating it with heavier brand names, higher salaries, or longer titles. It has also taught me to not underrate or ignore my countless little successes. Each release, every new tool, and all the work items I closed in a sprint were extremely joyful moments. Every time I pumped my fist, a moment got added to my bucket of memories. I’ll say, stop running. Or, at least, learn to slow down every once in a while.

You didn’t plan to be ‘here’: you didn’t plan to be born as a technical communicator—a good majority of you, that is. You did not plan to be an employee of a certain company. You simply hope to do so. And that’s all the difference there can be. People, places, companies, designations, and salaries don’t define your success. They cannot. Life is not an outcome of only accomplishments. Life is a grand total of experiences. You don’t define your life by when you die, but by how wholesome you’re finding it to be. The episode has taught me to not bother about the destination when I can enjoy the journey.

Each company has its template for candidates. Selection or not, it still is an experience. Let us learn to acknowledge that difference. The episode has also taught me to be a bit more considerate. I purposely wish to create some room for someone else’s micro-story within my own success story. I have also realised that my success cannot define my path. But my path will define my success. And, while that’s how I choose to forge ahead, I am still looking for teammates.

Product Review: Magna Carta Denima Fountain Pen

I’ve been using fountain pens for over 15 years now. And even though I considered it more as a habit, it—in a way—continued to pen the story (pun intended) of the long-cherished hobby of writing.

This new pen from Magna Carta caught my attention when—this was just before the Baltimore pen show last month. “A pen that’s made out of old, worn-out denim… so many stories might reside within the layers of it,” I thought to myself. Of course, the intention was never to buy the pen to unfold those stories but to buy an experience of using a pen that’s made out of a material less thought of.

The Construction

The pen is made entirely of denim—almost entirely, that is. It seems layered denim bound using resin and ground and semi-polished into a smooth-surfaced pen. The pen has quite a girth. And, because it is made of stacked, bound, and lathed pieces of denim, it is a bit on the heavier side, as well.

Here are the dimensions of the pen:

  • Capped: 149 mm
  • Uncapped: 137 mm
  • Cap length: 69 mm
  • Section length: 25 mm, excluding the threads

The top finial widens as we continue to travel down from the top of the cap to the bottom of the cap. The cap’s end is marked with a shining stainless steel ring that dons the name and logo of Magna Carta Pens on either side. But aside from that one adornment, the pen lacks any branding—a good sign.

The nib screws into a lipped section that widens and meets the well-rounded steel threads that fit the cap. I like the posh, soft touch of the threads. The combination of steel and denim gives it just the right kind of look that I’d to carry to my office every day.

The barrel begins to taper down till the end. Such a design choice is both time-tested and well-thought. However, you cannot post the pen. I wouldn’t recommend it anyway, given the girth and weight of the pen. Besides, the threads inside the cap don’t allow you to post the pen. Overall, the design is such that it might just remind you of a pen you’ve seen before… in denim this time.

The Nib

I asked for a Titanium nib with a Medium point. Within the limited testing I’ve done, I’ve found the nib to be performing quite well out of the box. So far, the pen is a joy to write with. There isn’t any hint of a hard start or skipping.

A fountain pen, by definition, must write under its own pressure. This means, that when the nib meets the paper, it must create a gap for the ink to travel down from its feed, through the tines, and onto the paper. It does just that, with understated ease. It is my first titanium nib. So far, I’d say it writes a lot smoother than the stainless steel ones (the out-of-the-box experience). I would have liked to see the Magna Carta branding on the nib, too.

The nib unit is manufactured locally (Magna Carta is manufacturing titanium nibs!), and the nib is sufficiently wet. The ink flow is smooth and consistent, and the strokes are uniform. Also, the nib has a nice sweet spot to suit your writing style. Although I’d not recommend reverse writing. It successfully fails at that; and for good. You can create thinner strokes, but there is barely enough on the paper for us to call it writing.

By design, the pen supports #6 international nibs and nib units. But the pen is thick enough for the manufacturers to experiment with a #8 nib unit as well. Anyway, given that they have begun manufacturing #8 nibs now, it could be a matter of time before we see that.

Here are a few images of the nib. I compared the nib with a Parker Frontier #4 size nib and a Kanwrite Heritage pen with a #6 international size nib. Both Kanwrite and Magna Carta nib units are equipped with an ebonite feed. Even though I like the ebonite feed from Magna Carta, I am attracted to the Kanwrite nib shape for some reason.

The Initial Impressions

The pen opens in exactly 1.25 turns, which is way less than what I am used to. So, all is good there. The threads do not get in the way of the writing experience.

When I filled the ink for the first time, the section absorbed a bit of it. And I see that some of the ink has also spilled onto the inner walls of the cap. Because it is made from denim, I am sure that the section will eventually change its color. Magna Carta could have resorted to applying an additional layer of epoxy resin or a binding agent to avoid such things.

Also, there were tiny holes throughout the barrel in the unit I received. It may be a standard across Denima, as there might be air bubbles. Applying a layer of resin could have resolved this issue, as well. But I could be happily wrong.

The pen arrived in a poorly packaged, broken box. The box was practically unusable and had shattered into pieces even before I unwrapped the foam, self-sticking plastic, and sticky tape. Somehow it held itself long enough to protect the pen. There wasn’t any branding on the box, and the cartridges were missing too. Basically, it seemed a hurried, lackluster job from the person who sent the parcel. Although when I opened the box, I could see that the pen did come with a standard international Schmidt converter, it was insufficient to console my broken heart (and the broken box).

I am told that this is a limited edition pen, and there will only be about 250 pens of such a kind. I assume the manufacturer will use the feedback to improve the quality of the product. But, given its asking price, I’d wish the manufacturer to supply me with a well-thought, matured product and leave the testing part for their internal reference.

Also, because the section absorbed some ink after I filled it for the first time, I ran out of ink by the end of the day. It might be because of air gaps and other reasons that remain undetected. Still, I’d be curious to see how the section fairs over time—after absorbing some ink, that is.

The Next Impression

After I reported it to the manufacturer, Mr. Hardik Kankhara, they sent me a spare barrel and cap. As is, I choose to retain the new ones, for they are a bit better. The manufacturer spoke to me and listened to all my complaints with all their intent. He listened to what I had to say and addressed every single issue I had raised. Overall, I am satisfied with the response.

A few points continue to grab my attention as I use this pen every day:

  • The overall build quality and nib feedback leave little to yearn for. That’s fantastic. The pen is a SMMOOOTH writer.
  • The clip aligns with the brand name on the ring. Those little things matter. Also, the clip is functional, tight, and yet easy to slide over shirt pockets.
  • The lathing is done such that the grains on the cap align with the grains on the barrel. A nice little touch.
  • The overall fit-and-finish is top-notch. The nib unit sits absolutely flush with the section—neither a thread more nor less.

The Opinion

For me, the pen comes at a relatively higher asking price of 9500 INR (including standard shipping across India). Recently, some really enthusiastic pen manufacturers are coming up with futuristic, cool, or different designs. And, undoubtedly, Magna Carta Pens is very much a promising member of that list.

It is a nice addition to my collection. I feel that I will need to carefully choose a suiting ink for this pen. As of now, I am using Parker Quink with it. But I feel it is a little too dark for the pen.

This has been quite a journey to pen so far: The absence of cartridges, the broken box, the visible holes, and the overall delay in shipping just made the experience shift from first apprehensive to worst, and then from worst to worth-another-look. A

As I mentioned previously, the manufacturer noted all those points with the utmost care, for he sent another pen to me after personally ensuring that all quality checkpoints were met.

These little somethings always interest me, or anybody, for subsequent purchases. But that is a long way ahead. Speaking of purchases, you can visit them here in case you are interested:

  • Magna Carta Pens (Website): I don’t see the pen on their website, yet. But you can contact the owner and buy it from them directly.
  • Instagram channel
  • Hardik Kankhara (Instagram channel)

In summary, it is a king-sized pen for my medium-sized handwriting. For now, I can only hope that the pen is as rugged and tough as my good-old pair of denim. But then, isn’t that the main selling point?


Thank you, organizers, participants, and judges. I am honored. The best part is that the contest, not the results, helped me test and redefine my limits. 🙂

My heart it speaks a thousand words

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One More Book: Once Again Uncomfortable

Fidgety Mind, Jittery hands, Shaky Legs.
All against a self not ready to be pegged.
Nothing beats a valid point.
I’ve not a false word to bootleg.

It is that time, once again,
I’m readying to the occasion,
Rising above and beyond myself.
To this, there is no evasion.

I summon my creativity,
Yet again I call upon myself.
The day isn’t far when once more,
Shall ‘I’ be afresh over another bookshelf.

Preparation has no alternative.
That’s enough a parable.
I intend beyond just a fable; yet
The truth remains uncomfortable.

A word of appreciation and
Approval of the stance.
Nothing, still, will ever equal
The joy—unspeakable—of acceptance.

©Suyog Ketkar
November, 2021

The Dogfight and the Lone Peacekeeper has hit the stands!

To secure your copy, use any of the following links:

About the Book

Wing Commander Vasant Kale is training Junior Officers for flight maneuvers, which are crucial for the Burma campaign of the British in the Second World War. In the run-up to the preparations, he notices some very unusual events in his squadron. One day, during his usual flight maneuvers, his Hurricane is downed. But he must survive, as the life of the Squadron is at stake; and his presence is a must for the Burma campaign to be successful. Does he survive the Dogfights? What will he do to save his fellow warriors? Can he be the lone peacekeeper amid dogfights?

You Know When it Clicks

The Mighty Fountain Pens from Click Pens

Fountain pens may be a fetish in 2021. In stark contrast, the era of the 1990s wasn’t kind to either fountain pens or their makers. And unlike most of the manufacturers who faded into the books of our long-forgotten history, a few not just survived but flourished and sailed through the turbulent tides of time. One such story of the might of the fountain pens and the determination of their makers is of the Gagwani family, the owners of Click Pens. They couldn’t be happier sharing their experience with me. Harsh welcomed me to meet him at his workshop — an offer I was not going to reject. Amidst the prevailing circumstances of COVID-19, I couldn’t have expected any warmer welcome.

The Timeline

The first-generation of Gagwanis, Shri Gokuldas Gagwani, came to Indore, Madhya Pradesh and set up a manufacturing unit that acted as OEM for local, national brands. His brush with the renowned Wilson Pens made it relatively easier for him to look into the whole process with a keen and observant eye. For a considerable part of the then-growing business, Click Pens continued to bring industry-first innovations, like India’s first Matt-finish writing instrument and were amongst first in India to introduce aeromatic ink-filling mechanisms. All that while the demand for fountain pens continued to plunge into the seemingly never-ending gorges.

With an undying spirit, the Gagwanis chose to continue to invest in the no-longer flourishing business units. They bought, for example, Blue Nile in 2009 and Serwex in 2015 to expand their portfolio up to over 80 models. And if this wasn’t enough, they introduced their very own — conceived, designed, and manufactured — product from Click Pens, the Aristocrat series. This, as the youngest Gagwani likes to call, the “no-nonsense pen.” He demonstrated how despite him shaking the pen, the ink didn’t spill through onto the section. But — unlike the ink — that’s not the only instance where the quality seeps through; more on it in a bit.

Click Pens also works as an OEM for some well-known fountain pen brands in the United States of America. Even though I am bound by the condition to not reveal the names, I deduce two things: one, that workmanship and consistency are top-priority for Click Pens, and two, even if I happen to buy a pen from ‘that’ brand, the Swadeshi in me will still be getting a high-quality India-made pen.

The Quality that Speaks for Itself

Through my professional experience, I realize that I can sell a product only once. That is, if the product is outstanding, it will continue to sell by itself. Aristocrat isn’t any exception; the product sells itself. Given its asking price, the construction quality is top-notch. The pen neither squeaks nor spills. It doesn’t burp. In fact, you can choose from an assortment of colors and nib choices. And, because there isn’t any harm in asking for more, the pen — entering 2021, that is — comes with a replaceable nib unit. So, you can swap any nib unit of your choice from the Falcon or Renaissance series.

All pens come with a multi-threaded design. This means, even if the threads are noticeable, they are neither obtrusive nor any pain in the opening-and-closing operations. You can pick any pen from Click. I repeat. Any pen. And it opens and closes in less than two-and-a-half turns. I have, for the comparison, a Guider Medium Ebonite. It has an equal number of threads, and it takes me about four turns, at the very least, to open or close it.

The Work and the Workshop

The workshop spans a structured, well-laid-out area where production and assembly are carried out. The storage area is well-secured and contains all parts for all current and previous models, including some old, discontinued pens made using cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) plastic.

There is a dedicated aisle for injection molding. Aside from some industry-specific machines that I could not take a picture of, the remaining workshop area is divided equally amongst the molding, tapering-and-turning, and polishing-and-buffing sections. A part of the workshop is also reserved for the final assembly and quality-check processes. 

The Target

Success isn’t a day’s affair. You have to continue to invest yourself in it. Harsh invested himself into this business when he turned 16. And, he hasn’t had to look back since then. First Aristocrat, then Falcon, and now Renaissance. With each iteration and every model that Click Pens has introduced since they have continued to build better products. Harsh is also working on a few innovations, a couple of which, if he is satisfied with the quality (I like how he continues to focus on it), will see the light of the day “very, very soon.”

I remain one fountain pen enthusiast who will wait for more products from Click Pens more frequently. I am, at least, relieved that my purchase proposition will be a “no-nonsense” product of good quality. And — because I am speaking of quality — I will say that with sufficient references to the stories and learning from the history of Click Pens, I will know when it clicks. 🙂

One more thing! I also had a chance to buy (and try) a few pens from them. I the upcoming reviews, I will share my thoughts on and experiences with those pens.

Until then, happy writing.

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 40 Prompt

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Wall.


It took him years to build the ladder to climb and look beyond what lay behind her mental wall. Nevertheless.

If you, too, would like to participate, just:

  • Write a story in exactly 20 words, excluding the title. The story must highlight the prompt of the week.
  • Tag her post
  • Leave a link to your attempt in the Comments section in her post.

I hope that you like my humble attempt.

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 38 Prompt

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Wish.


There she was. All alone. And then she looked up in the sky and regretted, “what if we’d left together!”

If you, too, would like to participate, just:

  • Write a story in exactly 20 words, excluding the title. The story must highlight the prompt of the week.
  • Tag her post
  • Leave a link to your attempt in the Comments section in her post.

I hope that you like my humble attempt.

The Art of Living: Online Happiness Program

It has been more a couple of months that I enrolled for and completed a four-day online happiness program. Through the program, I got introduced to the Sudarshan Kriya and a host of other Yogasana techniques and postures. In this short review, I share my experience.

The Course and the Contents

Given the COVID-19 situation, and the lockdown, our group was initiated into the Kriya via the Internet. And, while the process was straightforward, there were guidelines that we had to comply with throughout those four days.

We all have heard at least once that we are what we eat. If that is true, we need to be extra careful with what we consider as ‘food.’ Anything that we intake then must be of a value precious enough for our consumption. Whether it is food (for the stomach) or food (for thoughts). The first step, the initiation that is, is a carefully crafted exercise of introducing yourself to a new source of power and learning. And, for the reasons I just enlisted, it is always advisable that you do it over a clean bowel, with a fresh mind, and a clear air passage from your nose through your lungs.

The course began with a customary introduction of the participants and the trainers where the trainers, specifically, ran us briefly through their experience, learning, and benefits of the Kriya. Then, we warmed up to the Kriya by practicing Yoga postures, the Sun salutation (or Surya Namaskar), and other breathing techniques (Bhastrika Pranayama and Naadi-shodhan Pranayama, in particular). That is when we were initiated into the Sudarshan Kriya.

The Experience of Sudarshan Kriya

The Sudarshan Kriya is a set of three powerful rhythm and time-based breathing cycles technique with variable intensities (Slow-Faster-Fastest). It helps push the capacity of our lungs to absorb more oxygen. And because most of us don’t use our lungs to their maximum capacity, we were told to rest ourselves against the support of walls. The technique is so powerful that a few of us even felt dizzying or nauseated toward the end of it. But, that is why it is always advisable to only get initiated formally with the help of a guru.

It helped that I had been regularly practicing Naadi-shodhan for the past ten years. Just that because I had trained my lungs into practicing fuller breathing, my experience was a bit mellowed down than others. I didn’t feel the instant magic. But the overall experience of doing it with a host of others like me, even though it was online, was still encouraging enough. That feeling of becoming a student: I had felt that for a long time.

There are a few dos and don’ts associated with the technique. And because I am writing my review on the online happing program, I feel it a duty more than an option to state them:

  • Do it every day; be consistent with your timing if possible.
  • Do not perform the Kriya more than once (Slow-Faster-Fastest is one cycle; you must perform 3 cycles in one sitting) every 24 hours. If you wish to get initiated, do not search for YouTube videos. Seek a guru and ask to be formally initiated.
  • Once you are initiated, do not try to initiate others into the practice. There are levels of this practice that you must pass before you can become a trainer yourself.
  • Perform the Kriya on an empty stomach.
  • Sukhasana, or the usual posture of folded legs, is more than sufficient for you to experience the technique.

The trainers were well-versed with the course contents, and the format and they constantly helped and guided us with how to accomplish our purpose. The question-answer sessions addressed our questions and cleared our doubts.

The Impact & My Observations

I’ve never missed my practice since the initiation. And over time, even though it is just two months, the improvement is worth noting. I am:

  • Assertive and confident
  • I feel less drained out by the end of the day
  • I feel more sure about what I do; the self-doubt is still there but with an unexplainable sense of assurance
  • More relaxed
  • My course-mates, at least those whom I have spoken to since, have had similar experiences. Some of them told me that they even reported an increase in their productivity. Even I’d agree to it to an extent.


The teachings are restricted to the premise of an online workshop, and so the Kriya length (time and scale) takes about 40 minutes to complete, including the Pranayamas. The timing and scale will vary for those who got initiated in person and are practicing since. My friend who introduced me to the technique, Deepak Patil, has experienced Advanced level breathing techniques. He is a daily-practicing follower of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the past eight years. His is an elaborate practicing regime that takes about an hour for him every day.

These are testing times for all of us, and if only breathing in a certain way can help us better ourselves, then it definitely the technique is worth a try. For me, it is an experience that has increased the pace of my spiritual growth. I am a better person. And I’ve begun valuing myself even more since the initiation. All that, without losing the degree of compassion I hold for others. That is my biggest takeaway.

If you, too, wish to enroll, I can happily usher you to the right person.