“What if this happened to me?” I thought during a commercial break. Some part of me really wanted “this” to happen to me. I had longed to find the kind of ‘true love’ every lockdown movie I have seen set out to portray. ‘THE NOTEBOOK’ was still 40 minutes from ending, but it had already become one of my favourites. My thoughts were interrupted by the buzzing of my phone. It was Shrey. “But wait, wasn’t he supposed to be having his breakfast. Umm, he probably needed some chipotle sauce with his Poha. How weird are his tastebuds!” I exclaimed. I answered the phone and hit into a sudden state of anxiety. “Rushi, my… I cannot taste anything, not the Poha, not the chipotle dip, not the coffee, not even the masala bhurji. I also feel a bit chilly; I’ll call the doctor. Just please do not come upstairs; stay with everyone downstairs. Also, don’t tell maa-paa yet… they tend to worry too much.”

I could hear my heart thudding. I quickly searched the symptoms of Covid-19 on Google and stared at the newly added pointer to the list- ‘loss of taste and smell’.  I did not know what to do, but I did know what not to do: I did not have to panic, and I did not have to go upstairs, as instructed. A part of me knew he had contracted the viral infection, but another kept saying what everyone said: “It cannot happen to us!”

Shrey was not the kind of husband I was looking for, but he still was. He was sweet, funny and had a kind heart. He cared for his family and friends and worked really hard to take care of all their needs. Our marriage wasn’t really the fairytale every little girl hopes for. It was an arranged marriage decided by our families after a year of my last break-up. In the few months of our marriage we had decided to know each other better and had become great friends. But work kept us both busy and we were just going with the flow. And then came the lockdown and I began to see a side of him I had never noticed before.

As time chased us, I prepped for dinner, but my mind was with Shrey in the testing lab. All the over- thinking in the world and the bad possibilities cluttered my thoughts. That night we wished each other goodnight, and as I lay alone in the guest room, I just couldn’t fall asleep. I played some meditative music, counted from 100 in reverse, changed sides, thought about beaches, but every thought was interrupted by Shrey’s stupidest jokes and his not-so-horrible singing. I couldn’t bear it, got up and wore a mask and gloves. We had vowed to be for each other in health and in sickness. How could I leave him alone when he had been so nice and comforting to me in this new family?

I knocked at his door and entered the room, only to see him snoring while hugging my pillow. My eyes filled with tears, but for the last time. I knew I had to be stronger for this to pass. I quietly lay on the bed but that startled him. “What the hell do you think you are doing here? It’s not safe for you. You know I might have contracted the virus,” he screamed. I pulled a cushion from the couch and kept it between us and smiled: “I know.” “Why,” he asked confused. “Because we are stronger together,” I tried to convince. The look on his face changed suddenly, his shoulders relaxed, his eyes softened, and cheeks blushed. “You are too cute, but I am not singing at 2 am. I am too tired.”

Within two days we had embraced this new life, carefully isolated from other members of the family. In my experience, the first three days were the worst – fever, body aches, headaches, fatigue, irritation, etc, but each day passed doing chores together. Shrey ensured we worked out, took our vitamins on time, ginger tea twice a day, and my personal not-so-favourite Tulsi water. And I started to see him in a new light. We got a call from our doctor; the moment of truth had arrived: The Reports! We had tested positive but we were very positive about it. We looked at each other and smiled. There, then. Half the battle was won.

It is indeed very important to keep a positive attitude, especially in troubled times. When you win over the negativity in your head, you establish a different kind of mental peace that tells you that ‘you are tougher than the challenge life throws at you’. And once you unlock that, no problem ever is big enough. Panic can subdue the ability of the cells to be happy and responsive, but positivity can revive and energise those very cells.

Twenty days passed with ‘Netflix and chill’. We felt much lighter and energetic. Our vibes matched. It was our one-year anniversary and we decided to watch ‘THE NOTEBOOK’. This time the movie felt different. Suddenly, we got a call from the lab with the best news: The tests were now negative. I immediately threw the cushion away and hugged him. That’s when I realised that in looking for love, I had found a bond much deeper. A best friend, a life partner, a comedian and my soulmate – all rolled into one. This was better than fairytales.

I truly believe that it is the support of your family and loved ones that helps you get through the worst. I cannot even imagine going through it without Shrey. But most importantly, what helped us get through the deadly virus which took countless lives was a positive attitude, a healthy mindset and my dear frenemy, Tulsi drops. While the whole world was looking for a vaccine, we found ours – love with a pinch of ginger.

Note: This is a work of fictionAny resemblance to a person living or otherwise may be purely coincidental

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Stories are the best way to come closer to children and Dr Monica Khanna is doing fabulous work in that sense. It’s always mesmerizing to read the stories she creates. Not only the kids, but even parents enjoy every bit of them.

Little Chimpu’s adventure through the jungle wherein she discovers the truth about ferocious Sher Dadu, is a beautiful story about finding friends in the most unlikely of people.

This picture book is such a delight to read. The book is beautifully illustrated with a good story line and strong vocabulary. I liked in this book is using the relations like ‘chachu’, ‘mamu’ and others which the kids are missing due to nuclear family... I must say the author has touched the chord of the heart with the sweet language used in the book..It’s a must read book for all the young kids.

A Wormy Tale is a delightful picture story book that offers the curious mind of a child the perfect blend of fun and relatable characters, vibrant illustrations and significant learnings that seep in with simplicity and are finally sealed with the array of activities it offers. This is a book with a wholesome experience, so read on!

This lovely book teaches you to think smart and not get carried away by appearances. Best wishes to Dr Monica Khanna for her amazing creation.

Dr. Monica Khanna has come out with one more offering for you all. Such a wonderful and endearing story! It takes us to that time of our lives when we believed that everything around us is black or white. Childhood is so much fun and so full of innocence. The characters in this story are so believable, with human-like qualities. Kind, gentle, witty, intelligent, sharp, sly and so on... Each young reader will enjoy reading this story because it is so relatable. You can find people with such qualities all around you.

The well-crafted, colourful illustrations of the enthusiastic musicians among insects – grasshoppers, katydids and hawkmoths, the frogs with their crafty expressions and the thoughtful busy bee, make it a lively read. Woven into the story are the fun facts of each insect, making it educative and inspiring too, thus inculcating the love of nature to early readers.

Katie Bagli’s new book promises to bring back the concert we have missed ever since the pandemic hit us. She beautifully weaves science and fiction, urging her young readers to learn about the techniques used by the wetland musicians - the grasshoppers, the katydids and the hawkmoths. Then there are the subtle values and undertones that make for great learning for children the vacation in nature, the loving aunt, the dutiful bee, or even the love for the garden insects.

Katie Bagli’s stories are filled with wild imagination yet grounded in facts.She brings to life the mundane and often overlooked facts with wit and humour, in her stories, as also in ‘The Insect Concert’. Her characters are driven by a moral so subtle that children may hardly realize the important life values they are imbibing just by reading her books. Her stories are lessons in science and art as each panel bursts into vivacious colours and tickles the imagination of the young reader. Truly delightful and a must read for all.

This book ‘Insect Concert’ by Katie Bagli is another gem from her treasure trove of stories about nature. Through a simple yet novel story, she manages to develop an interest in the animal kingdom and also provide a new learning. There are some activities too which children will enjoy. The illustrations add to the storyline and make the book more interesting for the young reader. I wish Katie more power to her pen.

Sunny Side Up’ is a book of joy for every child. With colourful illustrations and child friendly language this book opens up a world of different kinds of food to the young minds.

An instant hit - With colorful illustrations and an engaging narrative, this playful nature book is perfect for curious toddlers. A Wormy Tale..an engaging, simple yet extraordinary new story from Katie Bagli, number one bestseller and fastest growing children’s author in the country

Through this story, A Wormy Tale, the author Katie Bagli highlights earthworms as a part of the ecosystem. Educators can use this story for crossdisciplinary and interdisciplinary thinking within the national curriculum. Katie’s love for nature is evident in all her books.

To be hired in today’s global marketplace, employers demand more than basic ‘hard’ skills. The difference between a frustrated candidate and a sought-after recruit, the long-term worker and a compelling leader, or the stagnant professional and the rising manager can be the ‘soft’ skills each exercises in the workplace. This highly researched book analyses the job environment of today and for the future where ‘soft’ skills become a more critical attribute. The reader gleans valuable guidance on how to acquire and improve these ‘soft’ skills for a more enriching career.

Alpha Zone book – ‘Sunny Side Up’ - shows the variety of food that is present round the world. All of us know the common pizza or burger but there are many delicious dishes out there that many have not experienced. This book encourages us to be curious and to learn, enjoy and experience the art of the culinary skill.

I’ve absolutely no hesitation in saying that even after working for 30+ years in Manufacturing and Education sectors, I was not able to correlate nonverbal communication skills of a person with his personality and credibility. But after getting in touch with Prof (Dr) Shalini Verma and going through her first book, ‘BODY LANGUAGE: YOUR SUCCESS MANTRA, (2005)’ I immediately fell in love with this beautiful subject and understood that body language is an important personality trait of any person. I am delighted to know that Dr Verma is bringing out a multi-title series of that inspiring book after 15 years, which is surely going to be another ‘hit’ and beneficial for the readers, especially the Gen Z youth, who gravely need the maturity to understand and cope with complex personal & professional relationships to move forward in life.

Children’s literature largely trivialises and glosses over such issues such as gender or colour biases. But this book deals with the sensitive issue of our proclivity or preference for fair skin colour. In the context of the Indian subcontinent, such debates and discussions should be encouraged so that children grow up with a healthy self-image and grow up with the right attitudes that skin colour is secondary to inner beauty. Dr Monica’s sensitive handling of this subject deserves to be applauded. Kudos!

This book talks about the fact that beauty has no standards - it’s the way one looks at one own self. I am sure this book will surely attract young readers. I wish all the best for the book.

Kudos to Books33 for coming up with a separate segment of Children Books under its imprint Alpha Zone. Your initiative will definitely make parents and teachers understand the importance of inculcating reading habits in your kids right from their young age. I appreciate Dr Monica Khanna for her bookSunny Side Up’ and love its ‘kahani mein twist’ which made it all the more exciting.

A lovely rhyming style and delightful words make this book effortlessly readable. Dr Khanna addresses a vital issue of our times in this allegorical tale of female crow.

One may speak good English, bad English, good Hindi, bad Hindi, a mix of Hindi-English or 'Hinglish', Spanglish, Pig-Latin, Gibberish, Mumbling or Double-speak, the sub-text that one's body speaks is just ONE -- CREDIBLE or NOT CREDIBLE! Be aware of your body language. You can lie in your words, but the body never lies. We communicate through our Body all the time, even when we don't realize it. However, there are very few expertswho can deeply understand, analyse and decode Body Language. Dr Shalini Verma is one of them.

Kyra’s Return Flight conveys through a delightful story the very important message that there is great joy and power in accepting ourselves as we are,and not falling prey to harmful social prejudices about what is attractive or good. I greatly recommend this wonderful book about loving oneself!

‘Sunny Side Up’ authored by Dr Monica Khanna is a slice of delight with just the right bite.

‘Sunny Side Up’ is a delightfully wicked book! A complete treat for kids of all shapes, sizes and taste; those who fuss around their meals and those who devour their food. A visual treat for the eyes that moistened my curiosity palate, as I turned each page to follow Sunny’s exciting culinary adventures. An astonishing finale, that enhanced some beautiful childhood memories.

Katie Bagli has two interests, nature and children. She has two talents, writing and drawing. As a story teller, she engages children with her colourful puppets and other visual aids, bringing to life the characters in her books.

Dr Monica Khanna’s new book ‘Kyra’s Return Flight’ dwells deeper into the age-old societal challenges of colour differentiation amongst humans. Through a simple life story of a crow, she brings to the front the problem that we have of self-pity and self-doubt that dark coloured people face through the generations. As a school principal, I definitely recommend Monica’s books in all school libraries and encourage parents to share a copy with their kids.

My compliments to the author for developing rich and novel content in an area that still lies underexplored. With so little information available on body language in the Indian context, I can imagine how much hard work
would have gone into creating a book like this. This book is beautifully crafted in terms of quality content and relevance in the current context.

Former General Manager from State Bank of India

An Electrical Engineer and a first-generation entrepreneur with PhD in Management

Has been working in the corporate world for the last 10 years

A 17-year-old bright student of 11th standard at Dibrugarh, Assam

A student of IBDP program (at DYPIS) in Mumbai, India

Analyst at Deloitte USI

A 15-year-old student of class 10 at Apeejay School - Panchsheel Park, New Delhi

A 15-year-old student of class 10 at St. Mary’s ICSE School, Navi Mumbai.

An M.A. in English Literature from Tezpur University, Assam

A NIFT graduate and a professional Jewellery Designer

An educator by the day and a poet by night

A professional Microbiologist and an avid nature lover

Currently pursuing BDS & aspires to become a successful writer

A Communication Professor & Authorpreneur

English Language and Personality Development skills Trainer

Aspires to make career and writing and become a successful writer

Winner of ‘Mrs Karnataka’ and ‘Inner Beauty’ titles

A 13-year old 8th grader studying in Mangaluru, Karnataka

Student of English Honours at Calcutta University, West Bengal

A student of airport handling at YMCA, Delhi.

An engineer by profession and a writer by passion

Author & co-author of multiple books and anthologies

A nine-year-old student of Silver Oaks International School, Hyderabad

A Grade-III student of Silver Oaks International School, Hyderabad

She adorns the hat of a multitasker - an educationist, an artist, a poet, a photographer, an author, a homemaker, a wife and above all a MOTHER

3rd grader studying in Silver Oaks International School, Hyderabad

A writer by passion and a Physicist by profession

Sr. ERO (Sr. Employee Relations Officer) at Indian Oil Corporation Limited

Associate Professor at Indira Institute of Business Management

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