Thursday, 14 September 2017

My Way of Being Healthy


1. I get to bed early
By the time the hour hand of the clock passed ten in the night, I start yawing. I slip into my bed. My body clock tells me that it is five and open my eyes.
2. Exercise
I cannot do without thirty minutes exercise, every day morning and evening. While the time period of thirty minutes is fixed, the exercise regime is quite flexible. So I run, I walk, I pick the weights and do some yoga. The mind co-operates when you don't tie it tightly to one particular exercise.
3. No fried items
While there is nothing wrong with fried items, the residue oil which is high in cholestrol and triglycrides is used for cooking food. It is harmful. So I have a rule, no fried things at home. I do eat them when I am out. That restricts the intake of samosas to one or two and the remainder oil doesn't find its way to my stomach.
4. Meditation
I love to meditate. Again like exercise my meditation is flexible. If you impose anything upon the mind it revolts. But you give tiny morsels to it and it begins to like it. I not only meditate behind the close doors, but I am also happy being in the moment while going for a walk and while touching the soft cheeks of my baby.
5. Eat sprouts
Everyone knows the magical effect of sprouts. So I add a little sprouts to my rice. Sometimes I have delicious curries of sprouts too.
6. Count your blessings
Counting your blessings inculcates a sense of gratitude in you. Gratitude goes hand in hand with happiness. A positive state of mind is very important for a healthy body and mind.
7. Eat flex seeds
Flex seeds are the heart's tonic. Some times I eat them raw, some times I make chutney out of it.
8. Laugh a lot
Laugter is so important for a good health. My one year old baby and me have formed a laughter club, where we laugh for no rhyme and reason. When I say, laugh it is good belly laugh and not just parting of lips.
9. Accuspressure
Stepping on the accupressure mat and pressing the points with the accupressure pen is one of my favourite pasttimes. I belive in alternative therapies and indulge myself into it whenever time offers.
10. Don't bloat yourself
Yes I am a foodie and sometimes I eat like a glutton, but at the same time there are days when I spread my food over a stretch, instead of eating it all, at one go. 
I am joining Saffola #ApneTareekeSeHealthy initiative and sharing my ways of being healthy in association with BlogAdda

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Quest of the Sparrows - Book Review


The Quest of the Sparrows has an interesting premise which instantly strikes a chord with the reader. The protagonist crushed under the work pressure and whose marital life is on a toss may appear a reflection of many of us. We then encounter the fundamental question, what is life all about? This leads to a spiritual odyssey. The protagonist Nikhil starts a soul searching journey. When he visits the ashram, he realises that the swami is dead and now he is succeeded by a strapping youth Partibhan. Nikhil has his own reservations about the new Master. Yet he becomes a part of the group lead by Partibhan, which undertakes journey to Ganpatipule on foot. They do not carry a single penny with them and live on alms. In return they agree to do some chores for their benefactor. On this journey they meet people with different temperaments. They touch each other lives and elevate to another plane. Partibhan emerges as a spiritually evolved person in this journey. But there are some who are apprehensive about Partibhan. They believe Partibhan is a charlatan. Again Partibhan has his skeletons of his past buried inside the cupboard. Is Partibhan indeed a charlatan? Are Sanjeev’s apprehensions true? To find an answer to these questions you will have to read the book the Quest of the Sparrows.

When it comes to writing the book is extremely well written. The editing is clean and the pace keeps you hooked to the story. Lines like ‘Being spiritual doesn’t mean one has to be indifferent. Sometimes, controlled anger is necessary to check injustice,’ indeed do offer a new spiritual insight.

But the novel falls off-track with Sanjeev and Partibhan’s past, and our journey to Ganpatipule is abandoned midway. I believe the novel would have been class apart if the authors had chosen to stick to the Ganpatipule foot journey alone. Not doing so makes this novel just an average read.


Monday, 4 September 2017

The Life of Hinduism

The Life of Hinduism is a montage of classic essays on Hinduism. The book almost touches every aspect of the revered religion or way of life, whichever term you like to use. The book is divided into eight parts.
In the first part Worship idol worship, fasts and discovery of Vrindavan are dealt with. In the following part The Life Cycle, the menace of child marriage is discussed. It tells us how divorce and remarriage is easier in so called lower strata’s of the society, while the higher caste widows are expected to lead a lonely life without a partner. It is in this part that the most exciting essay in the collection features. Titled Death and beyond Death: The Ochre Robe, many esoteric secrets are shared in this marvellous write up. This essay builds a suspense, intrigues you and towards the end even offers some solace.

In the part Festival, Diwali and Holi are discussed. Being an Indian I didn’t find anything interesting about these essays for I have been celebrating these festivals throughout my life.

Another part of the collection which sparkles is Performance. Ramlila, TV serial Ramayan and possession by deities feature in this part. It is interesting to know about Ramnagar’s famous Ramlila and its distinctiveness. The author of this essay views it not only from her own eyes but also through that of ordinary peasants who have assembled for the Ramlila. In every part of India we have seen many women and a few men who claim to have been possessed by God and Goddesses. Here the author quotes the reason why deities like Vishnu and Shiva never posess anyone. She narrates how cults are formed by these godmen and women and their clashes, at times fights with each other.

In the section called Gurus we meet Anandmayi Ma and Radhasoami. With Anandmayi Ma, the Goddess first time came in the form of a woman and women felt secure in her company for even then there was no dearth of Godmen who exploited the poor, illiterate women. Though Ma kept on telling that God was present everywhere including the devotees, she was exalted to the status of God.

In the caste section, Ravidas, his poetry and politics surrounding it find mention. A Brahmin Woman : Revenge Herself by Lalitambika Antarjanam is a bold short story. Here she discusses sensitive issues like sexuality. Indeed the author was much ahead of her times.

Diaspora section is about building of a temple in United States with the help from Tirupati Devasthanam. In the section identity, the Ayodhya dispute finds mention. Ironically this chapter also tells us about many places where Hindus and Muslims pray alongside, and even together.

These essays are well researched scholarly works, and it is a pleasant surprise that they are interesting and not insipid pieces of research. This book, backed with solid study and fine equilibrium is not to be missed for sure.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Listening for Well-Being - Book Review


How would you feel if you entered the cinema hall seeing the poster of a Salman Khan film and instead of a blockbuster masala film, an insipid government documentary was dished out on your face. You may say this contingency is not likely to occur. Well something on the similar lines happened when I picked up Listening for Well-Being Conversations with People Not Like Us.

The catchy title had increased my expectations. I wanted to learn to how to listen to people who are not like me. That is exactly what the title promised right. After skimming through the initial few pages, I thought that perhaps the style of the writer was different from other self-help books. But after reading further, I realized that I was wrong.

The author simply seems to have forgotten that a book is meant for the readers. Absorbed and lost in his own days of planning commission, he simply misses to forge any sort of connect with his readers.

This book is neither a self-help book nor is it an interesting memoir. Enter it at your own risk, is all that I can say.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Greatest Urdu Stories Ever Told

The Greatest Urdu Stories Ever Told is undoubtedly a gathering of the finest stories I have ever read. There are twenty five stories in this collection. The introduction to the book by the translator is also worth being treasured. It offers hereto unknown insights about Urdu stories. I knew Munshi Premchand as one of the greatest writers in Hindi. The introduction told me that he is the first professional short story writer in Urdu. Now, this completely shattered the image of the man who portrayed poverty in most of his poignant works.

The story which I liked the most is Beyond the Fog by Qurratulain Hyder. Until now for me short stories were good only if they had a very strong emotional content. I don’t mean to say that the aforesaid story lacks it. But this story of rags to riches of a sweeper woman’s daughter is packed with entertainment quotient. I could not control the mirth which aroused after reading this story. This story for me is a course in story telling itself. Purists may prune it aside saying this story tells and doesn’t show. But as a reader I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Toba Tek Singh another story in the collection by Saddat Hasan Manto narrates the plight of lunatics in an asylum in pre-partition India. On partition the Hindu lunatics will be swapped for the Muslim lunatics in India. This story is quest of a lunatic to know on which side of the border his town Toba Tek lies. Premchand’s The Shroud is different from the rest of his work that I have read. This story if of two lazy men, a father and son. They strangulate the humanity by feasting upon the funeral expenses of the wife of the son. Obscure Domains of Fear and Desire by Naiyer Masud demonstrates how the mind both desires and undesires the desires. In Rajinder Singh Bedi’s Laajwanti the wife who has returned from her captor says. ‘He never hurt me. And yet I was afraid of him. You used to beat me, but I never felt scared of you.’

Banished is another jewel in this collection by Jamila Hashmi. In this story set amidst the turbulent times of partition, Sitaji accepts the life with Ravan. Anandi by Ghulam Abbas shows how remote areas turn into magnificent suburbs. The Saga of Jaanki Raman Pandey is another masterpiece in this collection. This is a tale of Muslim junior wife of a Hindu and the walls that stand between them, the walls which are not pulled down even after his death.

A startling fact about this collection is that the stories sound very contemporary, even after years of their publication. In the Fable of a Severed Head by Sajid Rashid, a family is left with a tough choice, whether to admit that the head is of a family member, who the police say was a terrorist. The Vultures of Parsi Cemetery by Ali Imam Naqvi reflects how humanity is dying on the streets. The Tree by Tassaduq Sohail is about a tree which thinks there is nothing after death. I really liked this story for its treatment.

Ismat Chughtai’s Of Fists and Rubs is a hard hitting tale about botched up abortions carried out at home. Poignancy, disgust, anger, disbelief all this welled up inside my chest while reading this story.

Yes some of the stories are too prosaic and difficult to comprehend, yet they are outnumbered by stories which are literary marvels. I knew Urdu literature was rich. But this book told me that it is prosperous beyond my imagination. This book is surely not to be missed.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

On India - Book Review

On India is a collection of writings by Khuswant Singh. It is edited by his daughter Mala Dayal. According to the editor though Khuswant Singh had said that he was not proud to be an Indian, his heart was clearly in India, specially in Delhi, which he gave seven reasons for loving. These seven reasons are featured in this collection. He has also written about the other three metros. His description of Mumbai made me throw up. He describes it as a filthy city and with almost no greenery. Yes, Delhi is greener but when it comes to squalor it is at par with Mumbai. Speaking of the change of name to Mumbai, he says no educated Indian calls it anything other than Bombay. Now this is a partisan view not supported by any research. I hail from a highly educated Maharashtrian family and all my relatives have always called it Mumbai. Not because of regional pride, but because it was simply Mumbai for them.

His write up about Madras is delightful, but his writing about Calcutta is cryptic. It shows his utter lack of interest in the city of joy. He is silent on change of name of these two cities for reasons best known to him.

His renditions of Guru Nanak’s Barah Mah are simply a delight. He takes digs at the VIP culture and the celebrity preachers who have cropped up in every religion.

Wounds of partition are evident in Khuswant Singh’s writings. He narrates in a poignant manner how Christians and Parsis painted their outer walls declaring their religion and Hindus and Sikhs were uprooted from their own homes. He speaks of Royalties who had a European as a junior wife. But she did not hail from any royal family. She was either a nurse, stenographer or a bar dancer. He writes how difficult it was for them to adjust to their newly exalted status.

His Sikh pride and allegiance towards the congress party is evident from his writings. He says ‘We have lost in Gujarat, we may lose in some other states and the fundoos may rule us while paying lip service to secularism – or not even that. But I still hope that revulsion against them will build up and they will eventually be thrown into the garbage can of history, where they belong. It is the duty of every sane Indian to put them there.

He writes about Hindu God men and yoga masters and writes about their internal rivalry.

He steps into the territory which caused lot of trouble to the celebrated author Perumal Murugan. He says : ‘Some Hindu communities preserve strange customs. The men among the Bishnois, a small group inhabiting a desert track west of Delhi, choose the fittest young man in the community and make him Gama Shah ka Sand – the stud bull of Gama Shah – their legendary hero. The stud bull’s main function is to impregnate wives of impotent or sterile Bishnois. When the men are at work in the fields, the stud visits the homes of the needy. His ornate pair of slippers left conspicuously on the threshold indicates that the housewife is busy.’

In spite of all the eccentricities and flaws this book is highly readable. The old Sardar never disappoints.