Short Stories with a difference

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

When the Soul Heals - book review


Tension, worries, anxiety, depression – unfortunately these maladies have entered the modern lives which we live today. How wonderful it would be, if we get rid of this toxic emotions. With Pulkit Sharma's When the Soul Heals we have in our hands a book that not only offers a hope but also some pragmatic wisdom.

The author refers to numerous real life case studies. You can easily relate to these people and their problems. They appear to be mirror images of our own lives.

The author describes the symptoms, causes and treatment of psychological disorders. What I liked about the book is that he offers a holistic approach to these disorders. So we have insights from ten religions across the world. Honestly speaking I didn't even know that those many religions exist.

The author himself is a clinical psychologist and counseller. Needless to say he brings loads of wisdom on this topic with his writing. There is so much of ignorance when it comes to mental health in India. Against this backdrop When the Soul Heals deserves a huge welcome.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018 Book Review

Sabarna Roy is a magician. He so adroitly weaves his thoughts into poems, stories, plays and novels. He is a literary genius. I have read his earlier work and was deeply impressed. That is the reason why I bought his latest book Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018.

This book is a collection of his poems, stories, conversations and opinions. This is a thought provocative read for sure. The author makes you ponder over the things, which you otherwise would have ignored. He analyses a given situation from multiple perspectives and that is what makes this book an interesting read.

The author writes about the places which he has visited, the food he has experienced and the persons he has met. Of all the part, I loved the sections about his travels the most.

This certainly is not a book to be missed. I am sure you will enjoy being in the Sabarna Roy's world for sure.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

My beloved methi

What colour comes to your mind when you hear the words fresh vegetables? Of course green, the colour of those super healthy green leafy vegetables.

Green veggies come in such a great variety of shapes and sizes, that initially I had difficulty in differentiating one from another. There are some green vegetables like chandan batwa which show their face only once or twice in the entire year. Then there are ran-bhajyas which are actually weeds. To name a few they are machul, ambushi and aghada (you will find it everywhere once it rains. It forms a part of patri meaning basket of leaves offered to Ganpati on ganesh chaturthi).

'Which vegetable is this?' I would naively ask the seller and she would first laugh at my ignorance and then share the name. Her innocent, full teeth laughter hidden behind the wrinkles of vagaries of being poor vegetable grower. I am yet to discern the secret behind it.

There are umpteen methods of cooking green veggies. I personally prefer the curry types over dry ones. Also, among curry types I love those which are prepared using buttermilk or curd. Chakwat is my all time favourite.

They have their peculiar characteristics too. Palak is salty in taste. No any salt is required to be added to it while cooking. Ambat chuka, machul and ambushi are naturally sour. I feel that the art of cooking green veggies is that the masalas and the other accompaniments that you add mustn't kill the original taste of the leaves. In fact most of them don't require any masala at all.

I also liked koshimbir made of onion leaves. The cook at my hostel mess would prepare it. No matter how much I tried I couldn't replicate the taste at home.

Then there is lasun pat or lasun leaves. I can't describe its heavenly piquant sourish taste in words.

Of all the green vegetables palak and methi are the king and queen respectively. Here I am sharing with you two of my favourite methi recipes.

Dahi methi
Ingredients – Finely chopped methi leaves one cup, chopped garlic two spoons, four green chillies, mustard seeds, a pinch of hing, besan two spoons, 3/4th cup curd, salt, two spoon oil.
Method
Heat the oil and add mustard to it. Add green chillies, garlic and fry for a while. Then add methi leaves to it. Keep stirring. Mix dahi and besan and add it. Let it boil. Thereafter, add the hing and salt.

Methi Dholana
Ingredients – Methi two cups, two spoons finely crushed groundnuts, one lemon, one onion, red chillies powder, haldi, oil, hing, jira.
Method
Finely chop the methi leaves. Add crushed groundnuts, finely chopped onion, chilly powder and salt to it. Add lime juice as well. Thereafter, heat a spoonful of oil in the tadka pan. Add jira, haldi and hing. Add this seasoning to the aforesaid mixture and stir well. Remember this is a form of salad and the leaves are not to be cooked. Just the seasoning will have to heated and added. Try this recipe. I am sure you will fall head over heels in love with it.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Frosted Glass - Book Review

Sabarna Roy's Frosted Glass is a collection a story cycle comprising of fourteen stories and a poem cycle comprising of twenty-one poems.
The stories are set in Calcutta and are deeply engaging. They revolve around a variety of subjects – man-woman relationships, conflict with long-held morals and ethics, migration from villages to cities, class inequality and even environmental degradation. The stories are fast moving. With the well engraved characters, sharp dialogues, the author lays bare the deep rooted human psyche. Rahul is the common character in all the stories. He has so many shades to his character that I totally agree with the author when he says that Rahul is many persons rolled into one.


All the stories are wonderfully written. Yet, I liked the Act of Revenge the Most. I have read the previous work of the author. He is one of the few authors whose works I eagerly look forward to. Believe me when I say that Sabarna Roy never disappoints. Buy this book, you will repent not reading it. 

Thursday, 23 January 2020

The Last Decade


Ten years challenge was trending a few days back. I was wary of taking up the same, for unlike some lucky fellows like you who still look the same, I had changed so much and the change wasn't limited to physical looks alone (read receding hairline, which has receded much far than I had anticipated). It has always been easy with words for me. So when I heard the theme decade, I decided to write about all those things which have changed in the last ten years.


A decade back I was insecure, struggling with my career, relationships and other things in life. Today I am much better placed. Yet, the zest for life which existed earlier has slipped away for the reasons beyond my comprehension. Is this part of aging, something which each of us goes through? Earlier, I took so much care of myself (read my looks). But today I am least bothered about how I look. At the same time, I am more organized than I was earlier. I exercise regularly.

Earlier, the processor of my brain worked on a binary language. Either this or nothing - was the only coding it had received. Now, I am more tolerant. I know if it is not this, it is not always nothing. There are many things which I have achieved, which I am proud of. Today my self-worth is not dependent on my winning alone.

My outlook has changed over a decade. I have learnt that diversity is the inherent trait of nature. No two persons are the same. Some lack intelligence, some good looks and some good fortune. Yet, that doesn't make them incompetent. Every person has his own philosophy of life, which is shaped by his upbringing and experiences, and no one can be labelled as right and wrong. Still, why it hurts when someone disapproves of me, calls me names?

To conclude, I have grown and turned into a better person, but the joy of life is missing. Can you help me get it back?

“This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organised by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The Event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored by Beyond The BoxWedding ClapThe Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee”
Decade, BlogHop, Contest

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Winter Poems - Book Review


Having read earlier works of Sabarna Roy I must confess that I have become his fan. Here is an author who aptly knows how to carve out unforgettable characters by apt use of words. So when I came across Winter Poems by him, I immediately lapped it up.

Poetry is like a painting you convey so many things with just a few strokes. Sabarna creates the atmosphere of winter through his poems. There are festivities and there is mourning. In a single season, the poet summarizes the philosophy of life – its celebration and its futility.

I really liked the book for the varied themes it tries to touch upon in a few words. This book is a piece of great literature. Certainly, not to be missed.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Pentacles - Book Review

The opening story in Sabarna Roy's Pentacles – A New Life is an enriching read. The complex characters, the vivid descriptions, the lyrical writing and the deep rooted emotions – everything deserves an applause.

I really liked the way the author brings the protagonist face to face with the daughter of the man for whom his mother left his father. This I feel was the USP of the story. It is shocking, interesting and makes the story even more gripping.

The author with his adept use of words keeps you hooked from the first line. The metaphors he uses are original and apt. Here are the opening lines of the story.
Loneliness is like smoke. It starts from a definite point
and ends up everywhere indefinitely. It eats up the soul,
actually chews it to miniscule shreds, from inside and out.

The author's writing style reminded me of the great Malayalam writer K R Meera. This dark, deep story shatters all your long-held beliefs. The author makes you believe that given the circumstances no person is wrong in his or her place. I believe Sabarna Roy deserves a place in the galaxy of writers like K R Meera. I hope he gets his due soon.

There are poems in this collection as well. However the story outshines and overshadows them. Sabarna is a writer of great calibre. Read his writings for sure or you will miss on something valuable.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Abyss - Book Review

I am really impressed with Sabarna Roy's play Abyss. Well etched characters, quirky dialogues and conflict that is introduced early, make this play highly entertaining.

A business martinet, who doesn't approve of her only child's lover, warring cousins and a faithful employee who seems to have changed sides, Abyss has every essential of a good play. The story is believable with characters that are easy to relate to. This being a play, it was important that every character should exhibit its traits through dialogues, and the author highly succeeds on this front.

This is a murder mystery and the author does a wonderful job of camouflaging the true murderer. He weaves compelling circumstances which make you look at every character with suspicion. This is his success as a playright.

I am dying to see this play being enacted on the stage. I am sure it will run full houses. I also look forward to read and watch other plays by Sabarna Roy.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

The long story of Paratha


I was a child growing in eighties. In those times doodarshan would run movies from the sixties and seventies on the weekends. The mother of the hero in those movies would be an aging woman clad in white sarees, who would stitch for a living and inevitably cook her son's favourite aloo paratha and gajar halwa with her own hands.

Being raised in a Maharashtrian household aloo paratha was never a part of our platter. But now that I had heard of it, I was dying to taste it. My mother borrowed its recipe from one of her friends and paratha made a grand filmy entry in my home.

Over a period of time, I have fell head over heels in love with parathas. It is filling, tastes delicious and is super healthy.

Of all the parathas that I have tasted, the best one was the one I had at Amritsar. The stuffed aloo paratha was baked in the tandoor and no matter how much I tried I couldn't find that taste in any other part of the world. I knew there existed a parathe wali galli in Chandni Chowk area of Delhi. But I couldn't locate it till date. When you travel by those tourists bus in and around Delhi, the roadside dhabas and joints will fleece you of your money. You order a paratha and they serve it dal, saag and then charge you triple the amount of paratha citing the price of dal and saag which you had never ordered in the first place. I have travelled almost the entire country and fortunately have not come across of such corrupt, unethical practice anywhere else.

Another version of paratha comes from the south of India and is named as banana paratha. The first time I read its name was at the Mango Tree restaurant at Hampi. I was intrigued. I hadn't heard of banana paratha and decided to be adventurous and taste it. It was served with a bottle of honey. Believe me, this Banana Parota, as it is called in the south melted in my mouth. The smooth hot texture of the mashed banana dipped in honey was heavenly.
 


We keep experimenting with parathas at our home. Here is one version which I simply devour – Dhepare.
Ingredients
2 cups bajra flour, ¾ cup wheat flour, 2 spoon dahi, 1 cup chopped methi, I spoon chilli paste, 1 spoon sesame seeds, salt, a pinch of sugar, 1 spoon oil, hing
Method
Mix all the ingredients together. Knead the dogh. Make small balls. Roll the parathas and roast it on the tawa.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

I and Idli

Like those romantic novels, where the boy and girl hate each other in the first meeting, I too was introduced with idli on a wrong note. Idli was my mother's signature dish. So every time we had guests, which was at least once in a week, there was idli at home. Familiarity breeds contempt and I began to detest idli.

Then I fell in love with her again. This time idli came in a new form – guntur idli. The same idli, when dipped in tangy sambhar with two spoonfuls ghee, sprinkled with a generous amount of red chutney pudi, tasted heavenly.

India is a diverse country and resultantly idli too comes in diverse form. At my grandmother's house, there was no idli stand. Idli batter was poured into steel bowls and steamed into the steamer. Just two idlis served on the banana leaf and you would be full.

Idli chilly is one of my favourite dishes too. I love the taste of partly cooked capsicum with the chopped shallow fried idli. My father loved plainly fried idli without any accompaniments.


Recently, I cooked vegetable idli and continued my love affair with idli. This variation of idli is my favourite. It looks like a beautiful painting drawn on the canvas. Here is the quick recipe.

Mix the idli batter with diced capsicum, grated carrots and green peas. Add a big spoonful sambhar masala to it. Pour the batter into the idli stand and cook as usual. Eat steaming hot to enjoy the aroma and taste of vegetable idli to the maximum.