Monday, 11 June 2018

Trust Me Not - Book Review

Trust Me Not by Ankita Verma Datta is the story of Reeva Rai. Reeva is the rising star in the corporate industry. She has a boy friend who is the most eligible bachelor in the country. But then she is faced with a dilemma. Beneath the corporate belly lies tale of exploitation. Governments are managed, poor are uprooted and rendered homeless. Will Reeva survive this cut throat industry? To know this you will have to read Trust Me Not by Ankita Verma Dutta.

The problem with Trust Me Not is that its cover and blurb promise it to be a thriller, but the first half of the book reads like a mills & boons novel. The language is good and error free. The novel shines in the second half, but fails miserably to hook the reader in the first, the way any good thriller should. If you don’t Trust Me Not, enter at your own risk.

Monday, 21 May 2018

A Selfie a day keeps forgetfulness away

The slanting morning rays were entering in the drawing room through the eastern facing window. It was a Monday and I was in a rush to get ready. That was when Niva, my daughter crawled up to my feet. She held to my calves. She wanted me to pick her up. A smile opened on my face and I lifted my darling daughter. She caressed my face with her hand. Her touch was so soft, so true, devoid of any selfish motives. I was thoroughly drenched in the love which she showered on me. Unconsciously my eyes fell on the wrist watch. It was quarter past eight. I had to go to office. I tried to persuade the apple of my eye. 'Father has to go the office. He will return in the evening with toys, fruits and lot of goodies for his babies.' I told her. She jerked her head and disapproved the idea of her father putting her down. The moment I lifted her by her shoulders, she began to cry and she was back to her joyful self when her head rested against my chest and her bum comfortably ensconced on my elbow. 'You wont allow your father to go to office, will you?' I asked her. 'No.' She said. That was the first time she had used the word no. I was elated but torn between the desire to enjoy some more company of cynosure of my eyes and the possible repercussions of my reaching office late.

'Okay shall we take a selfie?' I asked her.
'Safee, safee.' She babbled.
I took out the phone and took our selfie. She was too happy to see her in the photograph. I put her down with my mobile phone in her hands. She sat there with the mobile phone in her hand, admiring her round face like a moon.

This picture remains special. Whenever Niva sees it, she comes running to me and hugs me tightly. Clinging to my legs she says Baba and I pick her up and hold her tightly to my chest. Wriggling and loosening my grip she says 'Safee. Safee.' I try to capture this moment in my heart, for these moments of innocence will not last permanent. Today I am her world, but tomorrow she will go out to create her own world. Though she will love me, the time we will spend together will shrink. Over a period of time I may even forget her babbles and little moments of joy which we shared. Her first smile, her first baby step and so many other first things. But thanks to selfies, now I have repository of memories, which I will dig out when I grow old and have nothing else to do and when Niva is busy finding her own little sky, carving an identity of her own.

The debate whether we should allow our children to use mobile phone is endless. When we were children it was about television, now it is about mobile phones. But the fact remains that you cannot keep children away from mobile phones. They can be informative too. Everything in moderation is ok. 

Moreover no one can deny that taking pictures is fun. Now the Mobiistar phone’s front, dual Selfie camera that captures a 120° wide-angle shot. This Selfie experience is going to surely change the way we perceive selfies. Now we can have multiple people and locations in a single frame. Every one gets his/her own space and yet we are together. 120 degree shot is for sure no less than 180 degrees and will cover huge expanse of area, be it foliage of trees or an intricately carved temple, nothing can be missed from the frame, including your good self of course. So what are you waiting for? Grab your Mobiistar phone now.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

To Hell and Back - Book Review

Anurag Anand's To Hell and Back comes with a tag-line Not all Tragedies are Orchestrated by Fate. The book opens with Namrata and Akash taking the road. A white SUV blocks their road. Its occupants kill Akash, leaving Namrata untouched. Akash was a cofounder of a start up and his death caused by a road rage makes newspaper headlines. Was it really a tragedy or something sinister. After all not all tragedies are orchestrated by fate.

Anurag crafts two women characters whose lives are poles apart. Namrata is a young, independent woman who can even walk out of a marriage when she finds it is not working. Renu on the other hand is a demure housewife living in a village with outdated code of conduct for women. Girl child needless to say is unwelcome there. Yet she tries to catch the scratches of happiness that come her way. Describing her thought process the author says, 'But then each moment of victory deserved to be savoured, untouched by the fears and uncertainties of tomorrow, and this Renu had learnt to do very well.'

Describing the unhappy marital status of Namrata, the author says 'It is relationships are like rubber bands. Each time they are stretched beyond their acceptable boundaries, the boundaries redefine themselves to accommodate the breach. And just like a rubber band doesn't need much to be stretched to lengths it has previously withstood, the degree of incivility a relationship can take is also defined by what it has been through previously. Once you disrespect your partner in a particular way, the next time you will probably end up doing the same, in a greater magnitude, and possibly on a much feebler pretext, once you begin flinging cuss words at each other, the abusing becomes a veritable constituent of your relationship. Until the relationship, just like the rubber band, can bear no more and snaps.' What an astute observation of marital relationships.

And then their lives intersect for the good. The story takes a very different turn from here. Though the author has woven believable characters, I felt that Namrata overcame the agony of gang rape too soon. Also Akash's past deserved a little more mention. Yet To Hell and Back is lucid and holds promise for sure. Do read this book.

The Temple Bar Woman - Book Review

On the cover page of the Temple Bar Woman there is a micro review by Tosh Greenslade, an Australian actor. He says read this book now before it becomes the next blockbuster movie. Now something like this is bound to raise expectations. The book when read against this background was disappointing for sure. But that doesn't mean that the book isn't a decent read. It is story of Radha a school teacher. She is raped by a politician's son and sold into a brothel. A few twists and turns later Radha realizes that she and the brothel-keeper have a common enemy. Radha hatches a plan and succeeds in seeking revenge.

The writing is good. The language is simple and free-flowing. But the story is quite incredulous. It is hard to believe that a teacher like Radha will meekly submit to her fate and agree to entertain her clients. Rakshit is the good Samaritan here. But only to make him meet Radha, the author makes him visit brothels. He selects Radha and goes to her chamber to bed her. Thereafter when Radha arrives in his house and stays there for years together they make love only once and don't even mention it thereafter. Radha's political acceleration is too hard to digest. Also Vikram not identifying Radha is unbelievable.

It is for these flaws that the chances of the book being a blockbuster are very slim. Such tall claims rob away all the good things that the book holds. Read the Temple Bar Woman at your own risk.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Mango People in Banana Republic - Book Review

There are some people and books with whom you fall in love in first sight and there are even fewer which live up to the expectations. Mango People in Banana Republic by Vishak Shakti is one of such books.

As I read the acknowledgments on the opening page I knew I had many things in common with the author liking for Arundhati Roy, Deepak Chopra, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, S N Goenka, Swami Dayananda.

Mango People in Banana Republic is the story of Ravi who is depressed with the corporate life and politics skirting around it. The story takes him to village where farmers are starving and committing suicides, Maoist jungles and Ashrams in Rishikesh.

The writing is simple, lucid and superb. The pace is great. The scenes are riveting, though not linear. I really liked reading about the lives of Ravi, Devang and Anand. This novel is both dark and spiritual. Though I found the reference to chakras and Rama slightly out of context, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is about both India and Bharat, the haves and have nots and the struggles, of course on different footings of both these classes. Mango People in Banana Republic is a highly recommended book.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

#DefinitelyPTE Going abroad was never so easy

Going abroad for education is a lofty dream which every young mind cherishes. But unfortunately there are many hurdles in achieving this dream

Studying abroad is mostly expensive and students from the middle class and underprevileged backgrounds most often are unable to study abroad because of the exorbitant expenses. Even banks are unwilling to extend loan if the student wants to study out of India.

Fake Universities
Many universities abroad are not recognized in India. Many universities have a bad name in the job market. Many courses, like Medicine require a person to pass an eligibility test conducted by the Indian authorities and the passing rate in such examination is minimal. So another hurdle which the student community faces is how to separate the grain from the shaff, how to select a proper university to study.

Entrance Examination
Every university has a different entrance examination and applying for each of them is quite a task. The syllabus, the pronounciation everything is different and there is dearth of coaching in this space.

Though now you can easily apply for passport online, once you visit the centre often the experience is that you will have to run for some document, some xerox copy, some print out, which the authorities want and you don't have. Plus the ordeal doesn't end there. You will have to undergo police verification. The less said about it is, the better it is.

I have heard numerous horror stories about getting visas. Again each country has a different rule. In the light of terrorist activities even governments are becoming extra cautious while granting visas. This is affecting students too.

Home sickness
Many students are too eager to go abroad but when the time to leave actually comes they don't want to go. Also many suffer from bouts of home sickness once they land in foreign countries.

However when it comes to English Test I would say that the students have nothing to worry. Thanks to PTE Academic which is the world’s leading computer-based test of English for study abroad and immigration. Typically, PTE Academic results are available within five business days. PTE is a three hour test divided into different sections to test your Speaking Reading, Writing,and Listening skills. The entire test is computer based. So no need to tensed about speaking to a stranger in person.
It is approved by the Australian and New Zealand governments for visa applications and accepted by thousands of institutions in the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland, including Harvard, Yale and INSEAD. So PTE Academic has made access to higher education abroad easy.

The best part is you can take the test any time any where. For PTE Academic works for 360 days a year and has 200 centres world wide. You also get access to preparation course and free sample questions to help you with preparation of the test. Check out PTE Preparation Course for further details. So thanks to PTE Academic now our VISA wooes are over.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Why I love the world

Humans have always been inquisitive about knowing foreign lands. This itch to travel, to know the world is much more than sheer curiosity. We all humans are made of the same flesh and blood and it would be no surprise that we are drawn towards each other. The world is a family and that is the reason why I love the world.
I have travelled many places and my kitty of travel stories is filled with umpteen anecdotes where persons who weren't of my race, religion or nationality, who spoke a language different from mine, held a set of beliefs which I didn't share, went out of their ways to help me. Locating my hotel, a tourist spot which was hidden some where behind numerous alleys, these friends really helped me. The smiles on their faces were genuine, the warmth which they radiated stood in my heart forever, telling me that the world is a nice place to live. Strangers from the far foreign lands have now become close pals, with whom I share the ups and downs of my life. 

Can you imagine what the world would have been if the two Fs were absent – F for food and F for friends. Well I have already spoken about friends. Food is a very important, rather most important reason of my survival. I am a sport to try new gourmets. I love the world because it offers such delicious, mouthwatering recipes which I first devour with my eyes and than tongue.
I like the world because whenever the din of my everyday life leaves me bogged and heavy, I can leave it all behind and travel to another corner of the world. Travel lifts our spirits for we leave everything behind.