Tuesday, February 28, 2017

10 Lessons I Learnt From Starting My Own Business ~ Ten On Tuesday

This is what I posted three years ago, when I'd just started my store. 10 Lessons I learnt from starting my own business. Three years later, as I go through this list again, I realize that most of these points still hold true, while for some, let's just say "I've become wiser with age". So re-blogging this post with the changes highlighted in green.

Over the course of my very new and still-very-brief 3-year-long entrepreneurial journey, I've learnt some important lessons. While most of these apply to entrepreneurship in general, a few are specific to small-scale retail business only. Journaling them here, as I'm sure I will enjoy going through them some day in the future.

  1. Every single morning, especially in winters, there WILL be a few minutes when you will ask yourself - "Why did I have to start this business when I could comfortably work from my home?" But after you spend your first summer at your store, in the sticky heat, with all the mosquitoes and various other kinds of bugs, you'll realize that winters were a piece of cake!

  2. You will soon realize that doing all the domestic chores (viz. cleaning, dishes, laundry etc.) on your own is much faster than waiting indefinitely for the maid to show up! But if you DO get a maid who comes on time and doesn't take unscheduled leaves, then there is nothing like it!

  3. Fast food, take-aways and eat-outs will no longer tempt you. On the contrary, you will crave solid home-cooked food. Especially if your body is still recuperating from serious illness. Even the tea-time biscuits will gradually lose their charm.

  4. Those meal-time movie sessions with your Dad will soon become a thing of the past! (Those good ol' days! Siggghhhhh!) But, if you keep your laptop stocked-up with some movies, you might get to watch them at the shop, when business is slow. (Which is definitely bound to happen whenever holidays fall close to weekends! Do all business-people hate holidays as much as I do?)

  5. You will become "brutal" at prioritizing! Where to spend money first, what expenses to postpone. Even at home, your "to-do-list" will be numbered! (Preparing the day's meals is STILL my current "number one" priority! You really can't do much through the day if you haven't taken care of the meals first and got them out of your way.)

  6. You will realize that the retail business comes with a serious social obligation. Once you open a shop, you simply cannot take an unscheduled off any time you please. It can completely disrupt the entire day's schedule of your customer! However, you CAN change your schedule completely, if you allow for a brief transition period to inform your customers, and put up prominent notices about the change. Oh, and if you don't keep making changes repeatedly!

  7. Your work hours in the evening will stretch further and further, until you start returning home so late that all you have time left to do is to make the chapatis for dinner, eat, and sleep! In fact, very soon you will find yourself watching "excerpts" of your favorite TV show - Dance India Dance - in "news updates", during lunch break! (LOL! I'm exaggerating that bit! There are no D.I.D. updates in the news these days... it's all just politics mostly.) But, after a few months of this late-night schedule, the stress will start showing in your body and in your productivity, and you'll be forced to cut-back to a healthier work routine, even if it comes at a loss of good business.

  8. Socializing will soon be restricted to phone conversations, whatsapp interactions, and Facebook chats, and even those will be interspersed with loads of "customer-breaks"! And personal emails that were once-upon-a-time replied to within 24 hours, will now sit in your inbox for days! And even after three years, you cannot find a way to change this. Bottomline: Small-scale retail business leaves you with no social life.

  9. You will still not be able to differentiate between weekdays and weekends, as previously, each day was like a holiday, and now each day is working! Only till you realize that you are not a machine, and that you NEED at least one weekly off, even if it makes some of your customers unhappy.

  10. Every single day, there will be at least one customer whose smile and heart-felt thanks will make you feel glad that you opened this shop! Despite the less-than-ideal working conditions. Despite the shoplifters (very rare, but very real nonetheless). Despite those handful of uncivilized people who believe it is their right to be rude to shop-owners. (No really! A shop is a great place to observe human psychology at work.)

Dad always said that small-scale retail business is tough job, and I can see why now. There's just not enough mental stimulation. Nothing new to learn. But I think I STILL quite enjoy it... at least most of the time. Perhaps that's because I'm not just selling products, I'm also doing creative stuff here. I have plenty of working space, good lighting, well-organized storage space, all the craft material and other resources I might need. AND... MOST IMPORTANTLY... I get to step out of my house and interact with some humans every day! Especially kids.

Another reason could be That's probably the main reason for me sticking with my shop for so long. The fact that most of my customers are children, and it's usually a delight interacting with kids. (Read this if you haven't already: When Kids go Shopping... Alone!) Their simple innocence gives you an entirely different perspective on life, doesn't it? You realize that life is not as complex as adults make it out to be.

Here's more in "Ten-On-Tuesday"!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Creamiest Scrambled Eggs! Day 5 #100HappyDays

For over two decades, I've had this fuzzy memory of mom making an egg recipe that required milk and stuck a lot to the cooking utensil. As far as I remembered, she used to call it 'scrambled eggs'. But when I grew up and learnt how to make scrambled eggs, I found out that people here (i.e. in India) made it with chopped onions and tomatoes, and called it 'bhurji' in Hindi. That egg bhurji looked nothing like what my mom used to make. It looked like pieces of hard-set curd, tossed with onions and tomatoes, whereas the one that my mom used to make was soft and creamy, like custard. We had them on toast, seasoned with salt and pepper. And while the Indian egg bhurji is also quite tasty, I never stopped wondering about how mom made those creamy scrambled eggs (if at all they really were called that).

In December last year, I finally decided to google it.

I must have gone through at least two dozen recipes for scrambled eggs, both on youtube, as well as on recipe blogs, but they were all the bhurji style recipes. Even non-Indian recipes, on youtube, yielded that curd-like texture, instead of that creamy texture I remembered from my childhood days.

Finally, I landed on the video of Gordon Ramsay's scrambled eggs. And it was perfect! Just what I'd been looking for! The perfectly creamy scrambled eggs from my childhood memories!

Scrambled Eggs On Toast
Scrambled Eggs On Toast

I made this (for the very first time!) in December first week, when my sister was here. And, on a scale of 10, I gave it a 9 for softness. It dries even after you take it off the heat. So by the time I got it on the toast and took this picture, it wasn't as melt-in-your-mouth soft as it looked in the pan. Oh! But it was definitely that same assault on the senses that had been preserved in my cellular memory even after 20 years!

Of course, I've made it many more times since December. I just take it off the heat a little earlier, and it comes out perfect now.

I've embedded Gordon Ramsay's video at the end of this post. He uses cream in the recipe, but I don't have cream in the house normally. So I used milk instead (like my mom did). Here's how I made it.

1. Break the eggs into a heavy-bottom pan. I used a shallow non-stick pan the first time, which made the mixing very difficult. Best to use a saucepan or wok/kadhai.

2. Add a little butter. Then put to heat. Medium heat worked best for me.

3. Keep whisking. As Gordon says in the video, you have to really work at it.

4. If it starts to get too hot, just take it off the heat (as he does in the video) and keep whisking.

5. When it's almost done, add the milk/cream while it's off the heat. Mix well.

6. You'll know that it's done when it starts looking creamy like custard.

7. Spread on toast. Sprinkle salt and whatever seasoning you like.

8. Munch away!

Sorry, I haven't got any intermediate pictures. I was, well... "working at it", as Gordon says! So couldn't click any intermediate pics.

Oh by the way, one time, I also added grated cheese after the milk. It tasted even more sinful and heavenly! Sighhh! I wish I had the metabolism to take in those kind of calories on a regular basis!

Well, here's the video then... for Gordon Ramsay's scrambled eggs. DO watch it before you attempt this recipe for the first time.

Attempting #100HappyDays for the first time. Today was Day 5.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Effects of #Demonetization That Nobody Talks About

Checks on terrorism, corruption and counterfeit money, lower interest rates, lower property rates, increased tax collection and lower taxes... these are the obvious effects of demonetization that everyone has talked about. But there are some indirect/cascading effects that nobody cares to mention. Or maybe they don't even notice it? This post is about those effects.

1. The Strength Of A United India

I said it in my previous post, and I'm saying it again. The way people have patiently stood in queues, and supported the move, despite all the problems they faced, is beyond anything that I could have ever imagined from this country.

Those who have experience working with teams will know what I mean. Even 125 people can turn into an angry, destructive, uncontrollable "mob". But here, we had over 1.25 billion people... with different temperaments, different backgrounds, different literacy levels, different personal challenges... and they all worked together in allowing this operation to complete peacefully.

The whole world was keeping an eye on India during those 50 days of demonetization, and the impression that has been conveyed to them is that of a united nation, a strong nation, a nation that is willing to work together with its elected leader. That is some global statement.

2. Digitalization Of the Unorganized Small Business Sector

This operation has already started creating awareness about digital modes of payment, in the so-called 'uneducated' sector. And I'm not talking about that tea vendor interviewed on TV, or even that chana-jor-garam-waala whose picture was circulating on Whatsapp and Facebook. I'm talking about people I've personally seen.

When I was out shopping with my sister (in the first week of December), I saw a long line of autos at an auto-stand here. One of them had a paytm sticker on it. (By now, probably, there are a lot more of them.) Similarly, there is this street in Vaishali Nagar, lined with food vendors on both sides. (Golgappe, momos, chowmein, pav bhaji, you name it!) I saw the paytm sticker on one of those thelas too.

3. Importance Of Education

There's an 18-year-old maid in my building, who didn't get her Aadhaar card made because she was camera shy! After demonetization, her employer refused to pay her salary in cash. But she needed the Aadhaar card to open her Jan-dhan bank account. So she was forced to overcome her inhibitions finally.

Youngest of 4 sisters, she's the only female in her family who can read and write (thanks to that same employer). Her mother, who is also a maid in my building, used to say very proudly that she hadn't sent any of her daughters to school! But now, when they've all had to open their bank accounts, she realizes the importance of education, even for girls.

4. Desire To Learn

My own maid is comparatively more progressive. She already has her Aadhaar card (although it is currently at her permanent residence in her village). She doesn't have her own bank account, but she's already learnt how to deposit money through Cash Deposit Machines. The day Mr. Modi announced about demonetization, she said she simply took all her cash and deposited it into the "ATM", in her brother's account. Now she is super excited about getting her own bank account.

"Main to kabhi bank ke andar nahi gaya, abhi khaata khul jayega mera?
Wahan to sab saahab log aata hai! Aur main bhi jayega!
Paisa seedha khaate mein chale jaayega? Aap kompooter se bhejega na?
Fir main card se nikalega usko? ATM mein se?"

She kept on blabbering like a little girl! Reminded me of the time when I first went to the bank... alone! That sense of pride, on learning to do something new!

Human psychology is weird. Most people resist change and are scared to adopt the new. Sometimes, we need to be pushed out of our comfort zones. This demonetization exercise has provided that necessary push, and forced people to embrace technology and growth.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

10 Observations In 50 Days of #Demonetization ~ Ten On Tuesday

50 days of PM Modi's big demonetization "experiment" are over. The whole world has been watching India in those 50 days. A lot has been said and written about it in those 50 days. I'm no economist. And I'm not going to pretend to be one for the sake of this article. I'm just going to share my experiences and observations during those 50 days of demonetization.

1. Overall Experience.

In a country with 1.25 billion people, scrapping 86% of the total currency in circulation, is bound to create problems. It cannot possibly be a seamless transition. Considering the magnitude of the operation, I have to say, this entire operation happened more smoothly than I expected.

2. Queues Outside Banks and ATMs.

I didn't go to the ATM even once in 50 days, although I was tipped off that our neighborhood ATM (State Bank group) gets filled at around 6 pm every day. As for banks, my first trip to the bank (SBI) was on 19th November, the day when cash exchange was allowed only for senior citizens. So the queue was considerably shorter. Still, it took us (Dad & me) an hour.

But the queue was extremely well-behaved, the guard had full authority to deal with trouble-makers, senior citizens were being sent in first, and there was a table outside with drinking water and deposit/withdrawal slips. By the time our turn came though, Rs.100 notes were finished. We could choose from Rs.2000 or Rs.10 notes. But they did have sufficient cash.

The second time we went to the bank was on 6th December. There was no queue, normal crowd inside. We were in and out within 3 minutes. Sufficient cash, but again no Rs.100 or new Rs.500 notes.

3. Cash Crunch.

Our local vegetable vendor had a severe cash crisis the very first morning, i.e. 9th November. He went to the mandi to buy fresh vegetables for the day, but nobody would accept the old Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. Eventually, they just gave him the fresh stock on credit, as he buys from them every morning.

I personally didn't face any major cash crunch problem, because sales at a neighborhood stationery store happen in petty cash mostly.

Salaried people would have been in a real tight spot though. Limit on ATM withdrawals, long queues, not enough small denomination currency. Can't imagine how they managed, especially for the first couple of weeks.

4. Affect on Businesses.

For the first few days (less than a week), yes, sales dipped. People were buying only the necessities. But things got more-or-less normal soon after. My sister was here in the first week of December. We did a lot of shopping then. Most stores accepted cards, and the ones that didn't, had sufficient change for Rs.2000 notes.

On being asked, the shop-owners said that their trade hadn't suffered by more than 10-15%. I actually ended up spending more with my card than I would have with cash! (Mind you, these are the non-necessities I'm talking about right now.)

Overall, I didn't see much difference in retail markets. But yes, wholesale markets seemed slower than normal. There were fewer customers there (even in December) AND less stock too.

5. Brought People Together.

Neighborhood shops may not have POS machines, but they have other support mechanisms, because the residents and shop owners are all usually known to each other. In my colony, some regular customers were given goods on credit. Others could open their "pre-paid accounts" with our local kirana store and vegetable vendor, with the otherwise-useless Rs.2000 note.

I installed paytm on my phone, to accept payments from customers who didn't have cash. But one lady didn't want to use paytm either, 'coz she badly needed change for her Rs.2000 note. So the kirana store and I pooled in our Rs.100 notes, to help her out.

Residents have also been helping their domestic maids with small cash advances, as well as in getting their Aadhaar cards and new bank accounts. Together, we have pulled through.

6. Value Reversal.

These last 50 days have witnessed a strange phenomenon. There were very few takers for the Rs.2000 note. The Rs.100 note suddenly became more valuable than the Rs.2000 note. Even Rs.10 notes, from kids' gullaks, became more valuable than the new pink note. And the new Rs.500 notes are still like those rare Colombian emeralds! Everybody wants them, and the few who do have them, show them off like Sharukh Khan's Nerolac-painted-house in that "ghar bula ke to dekho" TV ad.

7. Loopholes.

Yes, this operation required a high level of secrecy in order to be successful. Despite that, Team-Modi could have been slightly better prepared. I mean, some of the loopholes were pretty obvious. Daily cash exchange, misuse of Jan-dhan accounts, opening of new fake accounts, jewellery purchase. They could have anticipated at least these few loopholes, and taken proactive steps against their exploitation.

8. Greed.

Many people got carried away in their greed and misconception, and exploited the various loopholes. The railway ticket route was effectively blocked right away. Jewellery stores are already under the scanner. Deposits in fake accounts and other people's accounts can easily be flagged with the use of software. Contrary to what most people believe, they don't need to scan all bank accounts manually. A simple query can reveal all suspicious transactions in any bank account. Multiple bank accounts can be linked by PAN numbers. Non-KYC accounts can anyway be flagged for further inspection. It's not as difficult as some people would have you believe. But it will take time and continued vigilance by Team-Modi. All culprits can be caught if Team-Modi wants them to get caught.

9. Government Responsiveness.

In India, all government bodies are known for their bureaucratic procedures and lack of decision-making will. They usually take ages to act on any matter. As such, I found it a pleasant surprise that Team-Modi was constantly on its toes and ready to take immediate action. Some people may ridicule them for making "54 changes in 42 days" (or whatever the final numbers were), but I thought it was a welcome change from their usual inertia.

10. The People of India.

I am truly amazed! The way everyone stood patiently in queues, without creating any law & order problem, despite the magnitude of the operation, AND the constant provocation by news reporters and opposition members... it is just incredible! I would have never, in my wildest imagination, thought it possible. They must have a lot of faith in Mr. Modi.

The demonetization drive was a necessary step, but, by no means was this the final step. Whether it was successful in achieving its intended objectives or not, only time will tell. Time, and continued action on the part of Team Modi. But it has set in motion certain things that would not have happened so soon otherwise. This article has already become too long, so I will write about them in my next post.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: The Year That Was #FridayReflections #BlogChatter

The year 2016 has been more or less uneventful for me. Long drawn. Lazy even.

I had high expectations from it in the beginning, but then injured my shoulder early on, and got distracted with other stuff.

I've hardly blogged this past year. Only 22 posts in the last 365 days. (And that's when I hadn't even taken an official sabbatical from blogging!)

I just don't feel like writing anymore. I don't feel like recording bits from my life here. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

I say 'anymore', but maybe it's just a temporary phase. I sure hope so.

Otherwise, life has been good this last year.

Except for those few months when I was struggling with the physiotherapy, pain and sleep deprivation. But, as they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I, for one, definitely DO feel stronger than I did at the start of 2016. More optimistic about life. More in control. More appreciative of what I have and where I am.

2016 has been a good year, even if it didn't seem so at times.

And 2017 is still waiting to be written.

I don't have any New Year Resolutions. Never make them. So I'll just go with the flow and think about each day when it comes.

What about you guys? How was 2016 for you? Do you have any plans/goals for 2017? Do share them below.

Wish you all a Very Happy New Year, friends!

Linking up with #BlogChatter and #FridayReflections

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mushroom Capsicum Curry! Day 4 #100HappyDays

Happiness is...

When you try a new ingredient in your kitchen for the very first time, and it turns out like this...

So I've never used fresh mushrooms in my kitchen before. The only time I made mushrooms at home was in 1998, and I used canned button mushrooms then. (Fresh ones weren't as readily available with vegetable vendors back then.) I was feeling a bit adventurous lately, so I decided to give them a try.

I went through a lot of mushroom recipes on the internet while having my morning tea today, and got a vague idea of how I will make a simple curry with onions, tomatoes, capsicum and mushroom. What I forgot to check was "how to clean the mushrooms"! And I emptied the whole pack into a bowl of water. [facepalm]

Apparently, you never do that. 'Coz they absorb all the water and become soggy. Tch. My bad.

Some of those mushrooms looked so disgusting in the water, with all the big black hairy thingies on the underside, that I almost threw the whole lot away. Then I decided to check google on how to clean and cut them. That's when I discovered that you aren't supposed to put them in water. I also realized that only about half of my mushrooms were fresh. Sighhh.

Anyway, I quickly took them out of the water, and dried them on paper towels. The ones with the bigger black hairy thingies (they are apparently called "gills") were the not-so-fresh ones. I removed the gills from those. (They looked very unappetizing!) Then I cut them all in pieces as advised in the recipes. Some of the recipes said to remove the stems, as they tasted different. Some said to keep them. Since it was my first time, I decided to play safe and removed the stems.

I then boiled them in the pressure cooker, with a little bit of salt. (Only two of the recipes said to use pre-boiled mushrooms, but I wasn't going to take a chance with under-cooked mushrooms. This step was completely unnecessary though. Next time, I'll make them without boiling.)

I made a light curry with chopped onions, ginger-garlic paste, chopped tomatoes, and the regular spices. Then added the boiled mushrooms and a cup of chopped and micro-cooked capsicum. I added a little bit of the water in which I'd boiled the mushrooms. Allowed it to simmer for a couple of minutes, and then served hot with chapatis.

Sorry, no coriander leaves for garnishing today! Hehehe! And no intermediate pics either. I was so tense about how it would turn out that I forgot to take pics in between. In fact, I even put some potatoes to boil, in case the mushroom recipe turned out to be a disaster and I needed a 'Plan-B'! :P

Thankfully, the dish was completely edible. It was quite tasty, in fact. So the 'Plan-B' wasn't called upon! Next time, I'll get fresher mushrooms, clean them the proper way, and won't waste time boiling them separately.

Attempting #100HappyDays for the first time. Today was Day 4.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Honoured Chef! Day 3 #100HappyDays

Happiness is...

When a dish you cooked for your brother-in-law ends up as the "Profile Picture" of a foodie group on Facebook!

My brother-in-law was in Jaipur last week for some business work. He loves egg curry, so I made that for lunch.

Normally, I serve it into the plates directly from the kadhai (wok). But this time, I wanted a picture for my blog, so I took out my borosil glassware.

Also, I usually don't have fresh coriander in my kitchen. So I do without it. But I had to garnish the egg curry for my picture, right? So I especially made Dad go and get me some of it from the nearby vegetable vendor!

LOL! Just kidding! He was going out anyway for some other work. :D (My Dad puts up with a lot, in the name of my blog, but even he wouldn't step out of the house just to get me some hara-dhaniya for a blog picture!)

Here's the picture then. Go ahead and drool over it!

Attempting #100HappyDays for the first time. Today was Day 3.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Green Monster Strikes! Day 2 #100HappyDays

Happiness is...

Finally being able to figure out why you (and so many other Indians) hate the Airtel girl so much!

Every time she comes on TV, with that smug look on her face, my blood boils. My BP shoots up. I'm taken over by this violent rage... to destroy.

And I've never been able to understand why I react like this.

Until today.

Today, I finally figured out what this emotion is.

It's the green monster of jealousy!

No... not because of her cute looks!

Not even because she is the face (most likely a very expensive one!) of such a huge brand!

It's a simple case of "uski saari meri saari se safed kaise"!

Why is her net faster than mine?

P.S. - Why does she always have to look so irritatingly smug about it? Jale Pe Namak Chhidakna!

Attempting #100HappyDays for the first time. Today was Day 2.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Rich Enough! Day1 #100HappyDays

Mr. Modi bombed the entire nation 4 nights ago, with the demonetization of 500 and 1000 currency notes. The entire country has ended up in a big financial chaos since then. People don't have enough valid currency to buy necessities, pay salaries/wages to their staff, and even medical expenses. They are standing in long queues outside banks and ATMs, only to find out that it has run out of money before their turn came. People with hoards of unaccounted cash are looking for ways to turn it into white money, worried they might just lose it all.

In all this chaos, I'm thanking my lucky stars. Why?

  1. Because I don't need to worry about any unaccounted money.
  2. Because there's no medical emergency (touch wood) or wedding in my family in this period.
  3. Because I have already paid my rent, staff wages and other monthly dues, within the first week of the month.
  4. Because I have sufficient petrol in my car, talktime in my phone, and data balance in my internet plan.
  5. Because I did my monthly grocery shopping last week.
  6. Because I have a few 100 bucks in small currency, which is enough to cover my daily expenses for a week or so.
  7. Because I have earned enough goodwill in the neighborhood that I can get some stuff on credit if required.

So I don't need to go out and stand in long queues right now. I can wait, till the banks have sorted out all the initial kinks in the process and the queues have become shorter. I can wait till the ones with more pressing needs get a bit of cash first.

We live in times when markets are flooded with choices, and everybody wants everything. And gradually, the lines between wants and needs tend to blur. That's when such moments of crisis help us understand what's really important in our life.

Attempting #100HappyDays for the first time. Today was Day 1.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Review: Diablo by Douglas Misquita

Review: Diablo by Douglas Misquita

Author: Douglas Misquita
ISBN: 978-9352655021, 9352655028

Buy from:




Diablo, by Douglas Misquita, takes you on the next adventure of Haunted famed FBI agent, Kirk Ingram, whose family was murdered before his eyes. Driven by grief, guilt and nightmares, Ingram continues his relentless war against organised crime.

Blurb from Diablo:

The Migrant Crisis threatens the European Union with rising intolerance, disintegration and violence.

Driven by disillusionment, revenge, and a lack of faith in existing migration policies, The Council wields a horrific solution to the problem: an ethnic bio-weapon, Diablo.

FBI agent, Kirk Ingram stumbles upon their heinous scheme and is in a race against the clock to stop the genocide.

But when Diablo is seized by the United States, Ingram must join forces with The Council to prevent an even greater atrocity from being unleashed upon the world.

Diablo, by Douglas Misquita, deals with the very real and very current global immigrant crisis and genocide problem. While on the one hand, there are armored vehicles, modern weaponry, and futuristic technology (bio-genetics, space programs, artificial intelligence), on the other, the author portrays, with equal authenticity, the inhumane horror and suffering experienced by natives of a war-torn nation, fleeing in search of a better life, leaving behind everything familiar, everything they've ever possessed. You also get to see the other side of this immigrant crisis - the socio-economic problems created by illegal migrants in the host countries, and the resultant fear they generate among the natives of those countries.

The way Misquita has covered this from so many angles, shows that he's not just an "action writer" any more. Yes, he can describe his weapons and choreograph jaw-dropping action sequences, but he can also get into his characters' minds now. The book speaks of research into places, current socio-political events, artillery, technology, and also human psychology now. So another step in the right direction.

Diablo is much slower paced than Misquita's earlier novels, especially in the first half, but it is so much more violent and hard-hitting. The plight of the immigrants makes you squirm in anger at the helplessness and injustice of it all. The fights have become nastier and bloodier, and, at the same time, a lot more creative with the use of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence. The character sketches are gaining depth and are becoming more relatable.

Misquita attempted adding a bit of humour this time, but that didn't come out as confidently as the rest of his writing. His narrations read like a pro's work, but the dialogues seemed amateurish. Also, some of the details in the narration were too technical and went over my head. So I couldn't visualize those scenes as vividly as the rest of the book.

Diablo maintains its suspense right till the end though. The climax was totally unexpected and exceptionally strong. Being a fan of English action movies, I have seen so many explosions on screen. But the one Misquita creates at the end of Diablo beats them all. An extra half star just for that!

My rating: 4 out of 5. Diablo, by Douglas Misquita, is yet another episode of myriad of characters, from varying social and geographic backgrounds, astutely interwoven together, into a gripping action thriller.

Buy more books by Douglas Misquita from: Flipkart | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for reviewing, but that has, in no way, affected my rating and opinions.

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