Free for download only on 4th and 5th March 2020

Monday, 28 December 2015

Star Wars Baby Shower

When HP announced that they are coming up with  the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook I couldn't wait to lay my hands upon it. Till then I decided to use my imagination and decide how the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook could bring out my fun side. To begin with the HP Star WarsTM Special Edition Notebook is preloaded with  wallpapers, screen savers and original trilogy storyboards from the Star Wars archives. Now that is a real treasure, isn't it.  Over 1100 images depicting 40 years of History of Star Wars! I hope I am not dreaming. Wait the fun doesn't end here. The first ever Marvel comics on Star wars, e-book excerpts and movie trailers that all come with this notebook

The features of this notebook are indeed noteworthy. the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook contains 6th Gen Core i5-6200U processor. It means the notebook stands true to its name Star Wars. Its speed is no less than that of a rocket or a space ship. This notebook has a star memory. Thanks to its 8 GB RAM and 1 TB Hard Disc Drive. So there will be no dearth of space in this star wars edition. If you are a gaming enthusiast, then you will fall head over heels in love with the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook  It has 2GB Nividia 940M Graphics Card. Now who's going to come to play with me. 

So I am going to bring out my fun side by arranging Star Wars themed baby shower using the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook. 

Baby shower is always special and having a Star Wars themed baby shower is indeed out of the world. But executing it is made easy by the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook.  With its great speed, memory, terrific display and skin all soaked with the Star Wars DNA arranging Star Wars baby shower is both interesting and easy. No baby shower can be complete without music and dance. Your music selection will be made very easy by amazing audio by B&O play. The touch pad too is very much in theme with its X-Wings targeting the computer's view of Death Star Stretch. The back-lit  keyboard is also something new and different. As stated earlier the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook has exclusive Star Wars content preloaded. It will make our Star Wars themed baby shower a great success. 

To begin with my HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook will help me make invitations for this unique Star Wars themed baby shower. 

Now that our card is ready, let us use our creativity and make a cake with Star Wars theme. Our HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook will give us ample inspiration to bake a cake to welcome the new one. 

To keep in sync with our Star Wars them  I will use the light sabers instead of the old fashioned bouquet.  The HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook will help me to find out the places or the websites where I can buy them.

I will design the costume of the would be mother by drawing inspiration from that of Princess Leia's.  My HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook will be of great help in designing the gown and getting it custom made. 

My HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook will also guide me for must haves for a Star Wars themed baby shower

I am sure this unique Star Wars baby shower arranged using HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook will be memorable not only for the would be mother but also the guests and most importantly even for the Jedi in the womb. Thanks HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook for making this event special. So what are you waiting for? #AwakenYourForce by using the HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook

Friday, 25 December 2015

Love on 3 wheels - book review

Love on 3 wheels had a promising premise. Sargam a young girl works with a private firm in Delhi. Her parents want her to get married at the earliest. They have chosen one Dr. Abhigyan Kukreti, a divorced doctor who is doing well for himself for her. Sharib is an auto-rickshaw driver from a village in Azamgarh. He ferries Sargam from her house to her office and drives her back to home. He is in knee deep love with Sargam. He hails from a small village, where his neighbour is Ameena. His parents want him to get married to her. Even she loves Sharib. Sharib refuses to marry her for he is blinded by love for Sargam.

Ameena migrates to Delhi to win his heart. She gets a job at Dr. Abhigyan’s clinic. Junaid is a swindler who desperately wants money for his mother’s operation. One day Sargam’s boss gives her an envelope to be given to one of their clients. The envelope contains one lakh rupees. Junaid steals it. Sharib, who drove Sargam to the hotel where she met the client, is accused of stealing it. He lands up behind the bars. Abhiygyan tries to rape Ameena. He is arrested too. Junaid has deposited the money with Abhigyan for his mother’s operation. Now that he is behind the bars, his mother is left to die in front of his clinic. Sargam is happy that she will not have to marry Abhigyan.

This story should have made an excellent novel. But unfortunately it doesn’t. Anurag uses a unique format for this novel. Each chapter tells a story devoted to one of the characters. The stories though inter-related do not gel with each other and remain separate entities. The characters are insipid and banal. Except for Junaid’s character all other characters are flat. I am a great fan of Anurag’s writing. I had liked his previous book “Birth of the Bastard Prince” a lot. But Love on 3 wheels simply doesn’t work.

There are couple of mistakes in the book too. On page 116, Junaid suddenly becomes Jamal. On page 90 Sethji asking Sharib “About?” without recollecting their earlier conversation is confusing. The writer hasn’t distinguished the present conversation between them from that which they had in the past. On page 11 he is mis-spelt as His and his as her in the following line. “His sounded as though Sargam had just informed him that his wife had eloped with her driver.

I had lot of expectations from Love on 3 wheels. But it disappointed me.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

When the Heavens Smiled

When the Heavens Smiled, by Ritesh Arora is story of Sarthak and Sarangi. Sarthak hails from Delhi. He gets a job in a software company at Kolkota through campus placement. His two friends Raja and Ankur have failed to get a job through campus interviews. But both of them live in Kolkota. So the three of them party hard at Sarthak's expense. Once they visit a luxury hotel by name the Grand Vilas. There Sarthak meets Sarangi. She works in the said hotel. She lives in Raja's colony. Sarthak and Sarangi fall in love. Even her parents are fine with it.

Everything seems hunky-dory when Sarangi is diagnosed with leukemia. She is in advanced stage of the malignant disease and even doctors abroad say that she has only three months to stay. That's when Sarthak's grandfather tells him to visit his guru at Rishikesh. The guru assures that if he helps someone in similar situation he will come to help him. Also Sarthak's father suggest him a doctor, an ayurvedic practitioner from Haridwar. Will the guru and doctor heal Sarangi? For that you will have to read When the Heavens Smiled.

What I liked about the book is its simplicity. It is a simple tale told very simply. The writer doesn't spend much time in developing the love track between Sarthak and Sarangi. They simply fall in love. The friends, the landlord are all easy to relate characters. KC jeweller and Sarthak's boss Rajan are cliched characters. But they work in this story which no where claims to be path breaking.

What has drifted Sarthak away from his father is no where explained. Sarthak's grandfather appears all of a sudden in the story. Sarangi who is in a vegetative state, suddenly springs up from the bed and makes breakfast for Sarthak. This development in the story is hard to digest. Who healed her the guru or the doctor is no where answered. Even the question - whether Guru and the doctor is one and the same person, is left open. Forwarded jokes, stories and motivational quotes are cleverly implanted in the dialogues between the characters. Sarthak drops messages in search of Amit. Sarangi's illness is no where mentioned in these messages, which simply say that he wants to urgently talk to the right Amit. Then too he receives reply from one of the Amits saying that he sympathizes with Sarthak's friend's case. Now is this Amit clarivoyant or he is the guru? This mistake in editing comes as an unintended twist in the story which like other twists is no where clearly answered.

Then too I liked When the Heavens Smiled. This no-brainer is certainly entertaining in some of its parts.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Speak up

It is indeed unfortunate that most of the cases of sexual violence go unreported in India. There are many reasons for the same. But today I am going to enumerate three reasons for which the victims of sexual violence must come forward and report their cases.

1. You have done no wrong.
The victims must understand that they have done no wrong. Most of the times the victims feels that they are the reason for what happened to them. They feel that had they not stepped out that day, had they been wearing some other dress, had they been more docile, the evil act could have been avoided. They feel terribly guilty. They feel they have been defiled. Actually it is the other way round. It is the perpetrator of the crime who is the wrong doer and not the victim. Not only is the perpetrator a wrong doer but also a pervert and a criminal in the eyes of law. So it is the duty of every citizen to book a criminal. So the victims must shed away their inhibitions, understand that if they do not report the case, the evildoer will never be exposed. You are survivors my dears and not wrongdoers. Every survivor must live with pride so that others who are suffering will get an encouragement to live.

2. He has done it to you, he may do it to someone else
You have gone through it. You know the pain of being sexually assaulted. You know how the not only the body but also self-esteem is crushed by the evil act. Now if you do not repor the case, what will happen? The culprit will go and find another vulnerable person and assault him/her to satisfy his lust. Merely because you are not reporting your case, the beast is free out there. Not only is he free but he preying to hunt another victim. By your non-reporting you are indirectly encouraging him to assault another person. You having yourself been a victim, the last thing you want is someone else suffer such a ghastly act. You have to protect the potential victims. That is the reason I feel you should report the cases of sexual violence.

3. Police can’t do anything unless you come forward.
The acts of sexual violence are such that usually they do not take place in public places. So others will not know that a crime has been committed against you, until you step forward and complain about the same. Others includes police as well. The courts, the police cannot do anything unless and until someone comes with a formal complaint. You want the criminal to be punished. So you must come forward and formally report about the crime. It is a very simple thing. You can even write a letter or e-mail to the police narrating your plight, if you aren’t comfortable to say it with your mouth.

So please ensure that all forms of sexual violence gets reported. Save yourself from any future attacks and even the humanity at large. 

“I’m writing this blog post to support Amnesty International’s #KnowYourRights campaign at BlogAdda. You can also contribute to the cause by donating or spreading the word.” 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The bestseller she wrote

Ravi Subramanian’s new book the bestseller she wrote is about a bestselling writer Aditya. He is in his forties and works in a bank. He has a beautiful wife Maya and a son. One day on one of his lectures he meets Shreya. She is a young, beautiful management student. The initial tiff between the two transforms into a mutual attraction. Aditya inducts Shreya into his bank through campus interview.

Shreya wants to be a writer. Not just a writer, but a bestselling writer like Aditya. Aditya agrees to help her with her book. Shreya asks him to give the first draft of his next novel to her to read, before anyone else reads it. She gives her feedback saying that sex in his novel is insipid. She offers Aditya practical lessons to make the sex in the book more interesting. One thing leads to the other and they are attracted to each other. Sanjay, Aditya’s best friend works in the same bank with him. He warns him about his growing proximities with Shreya. But Aditya is blindfolded by lust. Maya discovers her husband’s extramarital relationship and throws him out of her house. Shreya is too happy to know that. She feels now that Maya has thrown Aditya out of her house, she can marry him. She feels that she will make a better wife than Maya as both she and Aditya love writing. Shreya wants Aditya. But she equally wants her novel to be published as well.

Ravi Subramanian’s the bestseller she wrote, is commercial novel at its best. Aditya’s character is largely based on Chetan Bhagat. Ravi leaves no chance of pulling Chetan’s leg. But the irony is that he ends up borrowing Chetan’s writing style, particularly in those scenes where Aditya admires Shreya’s beauty and they get cozy. The novel is a page turner. It hooks you. You are too eager to know what happens next.

Shreya wants Aditya. But she wants her book too. She can go to any extent to ensure that her book will get published. The same stands true when it comes to Aditya. She doesn’t want to lose him at any cost. When Aditya tells her that he doesn’t want to leave Maya, she simply says that she never asked him to leave her. She just wants to continue their illicit relationship. Shreya comes across as a complex character who is both using and loving Aditya. I personally felt that the Naxalite angle given to Shreya’s life was left raw.

The end also was unrealistic. It is hard to believe that Shreya leaves Aditya only because she doesn’t want to create a scene before her book release. Aditya’s apology during the live screening and in the hospital is too filmy. Yet I enjoyed the bestseller she wrote for its novel concept, its digs at Chetan Bhagat, Shreya’s complex character and her obsession for getting published. The book also depicts the workings of the publication industry. It underlines the worst part about books these days. They are required to be marketed and authors and publishers, just like film stars can go to any extent to sell their books. 

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Drive Design Connect My Mumbai excels in all

Mumbai meri jaan is the best city in the world to reside. Why? It is so vibrant. It is so energetic. Its liveliness is palpable. Whenever I go out of Mumbai and return again, I feel like returning on the lap on my mother. Mumbai makes me very comfortable. Amongst the crowds, I get a space of my own.

Mumbai may has its own traffic jams. But they seldom last for more than a few minutes. That makes driving in Mumbai a pleasure. Just imagine you driving with your beloved alongside on the queens necklace. How romantic. Mumbai is the place which has all that you can wish for. There are coasts, there are hillocks, there are gardens and driving along the coast or through the roads cut through hillocks and abutting the Kamala Nehru park is indeed is a great pleasure. So when it comes to driving, I give Mumbai full marks. The flyovers save the time and give the thrill of driving too. Once you come down the Mahim flyover it offers you the other side of Mumbai too. There are slums where the eunuchs reside. That is what I love about Mumbai. It is a great leveler. It teaches you that both the worlds coexist.

Mumbai has its own set of Victorian buildings. With these tall lanes telling the tales of yesterday’s glorious past the design of Mumbai is quite admiring. The designers included many right from the old kings who carved Eliphanta and Kanheri, to the Portuguese and the British who ruled this island city. The first train ran here. With changing times the design of the city changed too. Now we have Monorails and Metro trains in Mumbai. Mumbai continues to expand, sometimes even in an haphazard manner. But that doesn’t take its charm away. It is the place which has a unique internal design which fuels the dreams of many. Its design has an internal magnet which pulls all the dreamers. Its sap gives them the energy to work hard. They make it big, for it is design of Mumbai to not only think it big but also make it big. 
Mumbai is well connected internally with its roads, flyovers. Local trains are rightly called the lifeline of Mumbai. Now metros and monorail are added attractions. Plus there are ferries in the arabian sea too. Mumbai offers you many who think like you you to connect. It is easy to find a friend with similar interests in Mumbai than any other place. Mumbai is the only place in India where you can connect without intruding on each other’s privacy. You can connect with people while you are travelling, while you are exercising or even when you are walking during the rush hours in Mumbai’s fort area. People will greet you with smiles. That is what spirit of Mumbai.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Pradyumna - Book Review

Usha Narayan's new novel Pradyumna is about the son of Lord Krishna. Praduymna and Samba are the two sons of Krishna born from different mothers. The novel begins with the prophecy that one of them will lead to the destruction of their entire clan. Tracks of Kama, Vama and Kartaviryajuna run parallel with Pradyumna. The author keeps you glued to your seats as she narrates these tales. At one point she tells us that Vama, Kartaviryajuna and Pradyumna are all reincarnations of the God of love Kama. Therefrom the story runs into the sole track of Pradyumna.

Pradyumna has many demons to slay - Kaalsura, Nikumbha, Banasura and Vajranabha. Thus there is lot of action in the book. The way the author describes these battles is simply brilliant. She articulates the various weapons, war fields, men and animals present there so well that she succeeds in creating literary special effects before our eyes.

Plus Pradyumna has three wives. So there is lot of scope for romance as well. Afterall he is Kama reincarnated. It is nice to see Lord Krishna in the role of father and grandfather. This facet of his personality has never come up in the popular literature. So it makes the novel fresh. The track of Pradyumna's son's romance with Usha somehow doesn't gel with the entire story.

Writing a novel with such a wide canvas was indeed a Herculean task. The author must be congratulated for succeeding in writing such a complex novel with multiple characters. Though after a certain point, the slaying of demons and romances become repetitive. The novel does not clearly spell out as to who amongst the two sons of the Krishna is going to destroy his own race, thereby paving way for sequel of the novel. Though we know that it is not Pradyumna for sure as he is the hero and Samba is portrayed as the wicked brother.

I really liked the way the author has weaved the stories of Pradyumna, Kama, Vama and Kartaviryajuna and ultimately linked them together. . I also liked Gandhari's outburst on knowing that all her sons have been killed, which comes at the end of the novel. But I wonder why was Gandhari given so much of importance in a novel dedicated to Praduymna.

I feel the following line on page 108 incorrect. “It was Pradyumna, the fair son of the Dark One, come to lead his men into the battle of dharma.” I feel the words who had should have preceded the word come. 

Having said that let me tell you that if you are lover of the mythological genre this book is going to be a literary treat for you. This is the book you simply cannot miss.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Tantric Curse - Book Review

The tantric curse by Anupama Garg is a love story set in a tantric ashram. Rhea is an orphaned girl. She has lost both her parents in a car accident. She lands up at the Shaktidham Ashram, which is a tantric ashram and is dreaded by common citizens. Satya, the tantric at the ashram treats her like his own daughter. He has a biological son Krish, who is few years older than Rhea. Rhea grows up with Krish. Both of them are in deep love. This is the story how Rhea marries Krish in spite of all odds.

What I liked about the book is it using tantra as a backdrop for a love story, without stepping into the Dan Brown territory. I really liked the following lines from the book. “Weak are the people who remain silent when it is time to speak and speak when it is time to be silent.” “You could spend a lifetime with people and still be total strangers. Rhea had grown up with strangers, thinking them to be friends.”

Rhea is able to see the future events in her dreams. But Satya tell us her that they are just probabilities which can be changed through right thinking. The first half of the novel is revetting. It certainly offers something different. But with the introduction of Vishnukant it becomes preachy. The descriptions of the workshop which Vishnukant attends are insipid. Also Rhea moving in with Vishnukant is hard to comprehend. Why does Krish leave the Ashram is a question which is left unanswered. The author should have described it in detail. The curse unfolds only in the last ten pages of the novel.

Big publication houses and mistakes have become common sight these days. The following line on page 155 is incorrect. “Her eyelids half shut as he moved inside he.” I believe the last he should have been her. Yet the tantric curse gives you the pleasure of reading something fresh. That is a suffice reason to buy the book, isn’t it?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sugar free Sprouted Raagi Laddus

Ingredients : Raagi 4 cups, two ripe bananas, ghee two spoons, one spoon Sugar Free Natura
1. Soak the raagi for 24 hours. Then sprout it.
2. Dry the sprouted raagi in sunlight. Once completely dry grind it. Sift the raagi floor.
3. Heat the ghee in a pan. Add the floor and saute it until it smells pleasant. Let the mixture cool
4. Once cool add a few drops of Sugar Free Natura and smashed bananas. Mix it well.
5. Roll laddus. Let it set in the refrigerator for some time.
Your Sugar free Sprouted Raagi Laddus are ready. These Laddus are highly nutritious. They taste like chocolate and are loved by the young and  old alike.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

First love matters so does the second - book review

Vishal Sah, the author of First love matters so does the second, is described as hugely inspired by the work of Durjoy Dutta and Chetan Bhagat. This description gives you an idea as to what to expect (and what not to expect) in the novel First love matters so does the second.

This is story of Vishal, his first love Vedika and second love Shreya. His cousin Ananya and his best friend Shaurya are his classmates in his school. So is Myra, who is Shaurya’s love interest. Vishal’s love for Vedika is unreciprocated because she is seeing Arnav. When in junior college, he meets Shreya. Both of them fall in love with each other. Vishal graduates from high school to junior college and then degree college. There he meets Vedika again. His proximity with Vedika creates a rift with Shreya and finally Shreya breaks up with him. Vishal falls terribly ill. He has cancer. He dies, leaving behind a book containing the story of his life which is published by Shaurya.

The characterization, the writing style is hugely inspired from Chetan Bhagat. Yet, surprisingly, except for the mistakes in the second half, the novel has come up very well. It certainly entertains.

The second half is marred with many mistakes. Shaurya appears three times for NDA-SSB within a span of few days. NDA doesn’t conduct exams that frequently. How could Vishal’s classmates take up the medical entrance a year before and become his seniors at medical college? It is not the case that Vishal takes a year off to prepare for the entrance. The following line on page 77 is grammatically incorrect “ I had been about to consult a doctor, but then had gotten so busy in the paperwork for my admission in college that I had forgotten all about it.”

Dr Mehra asking so many questions relating to medical science for the first year students that too in his second lecture and Vishal’s first lecture (He had skipped first lecture) is not believable. When Vishal is in his twelfth class, Shreya is in her tenth standard. Then how does she pass twelfth class, when Vishal is still in first year of medicine? On page number 87, 110 and many other places whether is misspelt as weather.

The novel though written in first person towards the end unintentionally and mistakenly alternates between first person and third person. That creates confusion. Read the following lines. “It felt so impossible to express what it felt I when you knew you are about to die and you couldn’t do anything about it” Page 95. “This time I too couldn’t control his emotions and cried.” Page 110. He held Shreya’s hand for some more time and then asked Shaurya and Myra to come near. The word refuge is wrongly written as refuse in the following line on page 105 “Shaurya, on the other side, sought refuse in anger.”

The second half is borrowed from Five point someone, but is not developed, wrapped up in the last few pages. This left over of Chetan’s Five Point someone required good editing. It is ironical that the author thanks his editor Shriya Garg for her editing job.

If this novel was devoid of the mistakes mentioned above, it would have definitely made a good read.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

My Gita - Book Review

Devdutt Pattanaik’s My Gita is indeed a different take on the Bhagwat Gita. It underlines the changes that Hinduism underwent when it progressed from the Vedic times to the Puranic times. It also tells us the influence which Buddhism and Jainism had on Hindu religion. There was no idol worship during the Vedic times. It emerged only during the Puranic times. Hinduism was essentially a religion of householders. Hindus laughed at Jain and Buddhists ascetics who renounced the world. But with growing influence of the latter two religions Hinduism too started its own school of renunciation called Sanyasa.

According to the author the Gita is the book of householders. It is not about denouncing the world. It is about facing the everyday struggle which living involves. According him the very act of farming involves violence. There cannot be any life without violence. Only the non-living are non-violent for they are not hungry. The living eat and eating involves violence. The difference lies in our state of mind. In the animal world when a predator hunts its prey, there are no any feelings involved. The former is looking for food, the latter tries to save his life. But there is animosity towards each other. The predator is not a villain and the prey is not a victim. But we humans are different. We feel. The essence of the Gita is to perform your duties as offerings to the God.

The author very successfully distinguishes the judgment from darshan by saying in judgment, the world is divided: good and bad, innocent and guilty, polluted and pure, oppressor and oppressed, privileged and the unprivileged, powerful and the powerless. In darshan, one sees a fluid world of cause and consequence, where there are no divisions, boundaries, hierarchies and rules.

The author reveals many interesting meanings behind the Hindu customs. According to him fire offers liberation and water entrapment. Hence the corpse is first burned and then the ashes and bones are cast in the river.

The book very aptly distinguishes between Moksha and Dharma. Mokhsa is abandoning the relationships. Dharma binds people to society. Today Moksha is looked at as a goal of life. But according to the author in rebirth cultures there are no expiry dates, hence no goals, only pursuits that can make our endless life meaningful – purusha-artha.

The book offers interesting insights on the Gita. The book is full of illustrations and diagrams, which I feel are nothing but repetitions of the text, hence uninteresting. The book will open many hidden treasures for you. It will be of help if you have been reading about Indian philosophy or else you may even find the book to be heavy and dry. But that doesn’t undermine the value of the book.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Tiger Heart - Book Review

The cover of Tiger Heart describes it as “My unexpected adventures to make a difference in Darjeeling and what I learned about fate, fortitude and finding family half a world away.” This is the real life story of Katrell Christie. It is co-authored by Shannon McCaffrey.

Many westerners have written about India. Their writings have been confined to the ghats of Varanasi, sages from the Himalayas, Taj Mahal, Yoga, poverty and congested roads of India. Yes, Tiger Heart has Varanasi and its ghats, it has an orphanage too. But it is not anything like those memoirs of expatriates which inundate the book shops.

Katrell lives in Atlanta in the United States. She owns a tea shop there. She never hankered to visit India. But destiny brings her to India on a short trip. She visits Darjeeling, the place from where her tea comes. There is a girls orphanage in Darjeeling which doesn’t house girls once they become seventeen. Katrell visits this orphanage. She meets three girls who would turn seventeen soon and will be thrown on the streets. She realizes that many such girls, who are from the poor communities, go missing. Many are thrown into prostitution.

Katrell’s heart tells her that she simply cannot go like that.She should do something for these girls. But she has to go. She goes but with a promise to return. Back in Atlanta, she places a note about these girls in her tea shop and asks her customers to drop change in the bowl, which would be used for the betterment of these girls.

In another six months she is back in India. Thanks to the civil unrest in Darjeeling, those three girls who have turned seventeen are still in the orphanage. She rents a house for them. She makes their lodging and boarding arrangements. She pays their school fees and takes care of all their needs. This is how the project Learning Tea is born. She again goes back to Atlanta, with a resolve to return again for her girls.

Her mother is diagnosed with a brain cancer. The doctor tells her that she will die soon. Still she returns to India to be with her girls. No wonders the girls nickname her Tiger Heart.

The book articulates the life of Katrell very well. She was born into a poor family. At one of the parties she was wearing a second hand jeans. It turns out that the jeans was given away by one of her rich classmates. You can imagine her embarrassment. But this poor girl is empathetic towards poor girls in another country. It is so heartening to see that an American lady is doing so much for these girls in India. Her life, her journey shows that where there is a will there is a way.

Now her project is funded through monthly Indian dinners at her shop, the sale of packages of Darjeeling tea, small donations from individual, a community musical and yoga festival. The book begins with the following epigraph by Rabindranath Tagore.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

The aforesaid lines aptly describe the life of Katrell. The book is written in a simple language. Katrell’s life and her work make the book an interesting read. This book will inspire you to do something for the humanity. This is a book not to be missed. I salute the Tiger Heart. Hope the book gives birth to many more Tiger Hearts.

Keep your baby's skin safe

Soft skin like a baby has become a metaphor to refer any soft skin. But what makes a baby’s skin so soft is a question to ponder over. Let us enumerate a few things which make a baby’s skin so soft
1. Mother’s diet.
Yes mother’s diet, when the child is in womb, affects everything including the skin of the baby. A mother should have a healthy, nutritious diet to make the baby’s skin soft. You should drink milk, eat fruits when you are pregnant. My mother-in-law swears by panchamrut to make the baby’s skin soft. Panchamrut is made of five elements – sugar, ghee, honey, milk and curd mixed together. So mix it up and your baby will have a soft skin.
2. Oil massage
Oil massage is a must for every child. You don’t require any special oil for the same. Ordinary coconut oil will do. Just warm it up and give your baby massage daily, without fail. Your baby’s skin will become soft like feather. Oil massage will not only make the skin of the baby soft but also increase the immunity power of the baby.
3. Mother’s milk
Mother’s milk is the divine nectar sent by the god. It is important to feed the baby frequently and for at least a year for baby’s all round development. Needless to say that mother’s milk is a magic tonic for the baby’s skin too.
4. Soft cotton clothes
Baby’s skin is delicate. So use only cotton clothes for the baby. Your grannies will tell you that you should never wear new clothes to a baby, even if they are made of cotton. Use used clothes. Borrow it from your friends and relatives, who had a baby few months before you. I know this advice would be hard to follow for few people. There is a way out. Wash the new clothes with good detergent and dry it. Repeat the procedure thrice and you can use it for your baby. I am sure such seasoned clothes will help your baby to have a beautiful cream.
5. Sun light.
Sun light is a boon for all the humans, baby included. So daily early in the morning expose your baby to the tender sunlight. Let the baby sunlight kiss your baby’s entire body every morning. The sunlight is a gift from the God for the humanity. It will enrich the baby with vitamin E and it will reflect in the baby’s skin.

“Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy. ”

For soft skin of your baby

There are many tips which are handed over in India from one generation to another to ensure that the baby’s skin remains soft. Though no any scientific research was ever conducted with regard to these tips, even allopathic doctors tell from their own experience that these tips indeed work. Let us enumerate a few tips to keep the skin of the baby soft. .
1. Nuts
The mother should have nuts while she is pregnant. She should continue to eat it even after the child birth. Even the child should be given the protein rich nuts. But wait, before thusting that cashew nut into your baby’s mouth listen how to administer it. Take a nut on a clean platform or chopping board. Put a spoon water on it. Rub the nut on this water for five times and feed the water to the baby. Your baby will get all the goodness of the nuts and have a glowing skin.
2. Use mosquito nets
The skin of the baby is tender. Even a small mosquito bite can cause rashes on the baby’s skin. So protect your baby from mosquito and other insects. Install mosquito nets, use mosquito repellents .Though mosquito repellent creams claim to be safe for the skin of the baby, I would suggest you not to use the same and rely on mosquito nets.
3. Besan
Besan is excellent cleanser. It is gentle too. Bathing your baby with besan will make its skin soft. But be careful. Don’t rub it on your baby’s skin too much. Also ensure that the besan residues do not remember on the baby’s skin. They usually remain under arms and on the rear side of the knees and also at the thigh joints. That may cause allergies and infections. Ensure that the besan is washed off completely. Tip of the day mix besan in milk and your baby’s skin will be soft like a petal.
4. Aloe vera
Aloevera is a magic remedy for the skin of the baby. Cut any aloevera leaf. Cut it again so that the yellow liquid will be discarded. The yellow liquid which comes out when aloevera is cut is dangerous for the skin. But the white gel inside the leaves is a magic remedy for the beautiful skin. Apply the gel to the skin of your baby and it will have a glowing skin.
5. Haldi
Haldi has antiseptic properties. So after bath apply haldi to the skin of your baby just like talcum powder. Your baby will have a healthy, blemish free skin.

“Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy. ”

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Adultery - Book Review

Paulo Coelho’s Adultery is a novel about a married woman. She has been happily married for many years now. She has a rich husband, a great career as a journalist and two cute children. Yet, there is something missing in her life. The spark in her relationship with her husband is long lost. Amidst all the luxuries, she feeling gloomy and depressed. Visits to psychiatrist, shamans and drug peddlers yield no results. That’s when she goes to interview a young politician. He too, like her, is married. He was the boy who she had kissed as a teenage girl. The sparks fly again and they end up in a relationship which now is only sexual. She feels alive again. She wants to do it again and again. She begins to fantasize about him. She finally confesses her state of mind to her husband, who understands her. Their relationship heals and she feels liberated.

The premise of the novel is easy to relate. We find people who are depressed even when outwardly everything is going fine in their lives everywhere. Paulo Cohelo brilliantly articulates the mental set up of a married woman who is unhappy in her life. Her suppressed sexuality comes to the fore when she meets her old boyfriend. Here neither she made guilty about the adulterous act nor is she portrayed as a slut. She comes across as a natural person.

The book neither claims to be a sequel of the classic The Alchemist nor it says that it will advise you to pick the pieces in your broken matrimonial life. So I feel that comparisons with The Alchemist are unfair. If you keep aside the image of Paulo Coelho which you have in your head (I agree keeping it aside is difficult), you will enjoy this book. I liked the book. It is a riveting read for sure.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

I inspire - Book Review

I inspire is the story of Neerja Malik, double cancer survivor. The story is unique for though it is a true story about a living person, it is written in third person. This makes the voice of the narrative fresh and innovative. Secondly each chapter oscillates between Neerja’s adulthood, particularly the phase when she is diagnosed with cancer and her growing up years. Her grandmother has a unique role to play in her growing up years. She mentions her that there are ten treasures for a meaningful live, without telling what are those. Neerja discovers these treasures during her happy and difficult times.

Neerja’s story is moving. But it is not a sob story. It is a celebration of life. It underlines the spiritual bent of mind of Neerja. The book is full of pilgrimages made by Neerja which are more of spiritual adventures. The incidents from her life make you believe that miracles happen even today. After many miscarriages Neerja finally gives birth to a set of twins. While everything seems to be happy, she is diagnosed with cancer. Her attempts to conceal her disease from her young children and their anger, especially that of her son, when they realize that their mother had kept them in the dark, will make you cry.

Neerja’s love for life is palpable from every word in the book. Neerja has enjoyed every phase of her life, whether it was as a child with great love for food or that of a woman diagnosed with cancer for the second time. Her experience as a mother of raising two kids has been articulated very well. The way she continues to enjoy watching movies and partying even on the day when she is diagnosed with cancer for the second time, shows her great courage.

Her work as a counsellor in the hospitals deserves a special mention. Indeed she has spread fragrance in many wilted lives by telling them that if she could conquer the disease, not once but twice, even they could. Her immense faith in God helps her in overcoming all that comes her way.

The treasures given by her grandmother play very subtle role in the story. Its subtlety works very well, for it doesn’t mar the narrative. It doesn’t make the book preachy with hollow lessons in spirituality. The way she narrates her encounter with the God of death Yama on page 87 is simply hilarious.

On page 79 in the following line I felt that the word he was wrongly written as she. “Her son was trying to comfort her so that the shivering would subside , but wasn’t able to. Her operation was fixed for seven the next morning, so she requested Neerja to somehow meet her before that, so that she could instill some courage into her.”

I inspire is a true tale told honestly, without any glorification. It is full of happiness and love for life which is contagious. Isn’t that a good reason to buy the book?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Beating Depression

How many of you feel gloomy and depressed. Let me make a confession that I have felt depressed many times. Yes, the environment and physiology do play a role in depression, but one of the main causes of depression is things not going the way you expected. It takes some time for acceptance. This period causes stress and depression. Your own will can take you out of depression. You are required to work hard to overcome negative moods. Let me enlist few of things which can lift your spirits. 
Meet friends
I am sure all of you have people in your life who unconditionally accept you and love you no matter what you do. Meet such friends often. Laugh with them. Thank God for making them part of your life. If you can’t meet them, call them up. Even writing emails articulating your emotions towards them will make you feel better. I prefer writing emails. For it doesn’t disturb the other person, who may be busy in his office or family life. When I tell meet your friends, let me tell you a word of caution. Do not be overdependent on them. Yes, they are always there for you. They will hear you, advise you. But at the same time remember that they have a life of their own. You can’t expect them to be at your beck and call. Their presence is like a medicine, which should be taken in prescribed doses. Overdose is injurious to you as well as your relationship.

There are many studies which show that exercise increases good hormones in the body. Now every time you don’t have to hit the gym. You can go for a walk. Doing household chores like washing the clothes, doing the dishes, sweeping, cleaning also involves lot of physical activity. Even doing these apparently mundane jobs can help you feel better.

Books are the friends which are available all twenty-four hours for you. Biographies, books of saints and seekers help me fight depression. First of all they give you a feeling that you are not alone. Secondly they inculcate a hope that if they overcame it, you can do it too. 
Be strong
Be strong. Don’t be too touchy. Don’t take every comment, every situation, every person to your heart. There are people and situations which come in life. Remember the basic rule of life, whatever has to come has to go as well. The same applies to unpleasant people, situations and places. This phase too will be over. Have hope. Don’t take life too seriously. List all the good things in your life and be grateful for the same. Gratitude works like magic to change the moods.

Write your emotions
Writing your thoughts relives a huge burden from your head. Suddenly you feel light. You need not show what you have written to any other person. You can keep it to yourself, confidential like a top secret file. But pouring your heart out in your diary certainly helps.

By music I don’t mean just listening to songs over your phone. I want you to sing aloud. A bhajan, a film song anything would do. It doesn’t matter if you can’t sing well. Sing aloud for at least ten minutes. Its therapeutic. Try it out and you will agree with me.

Sun light
Lot of research papers say that exposure to sun light, especially in the morning, helps to beat the gloomy mood. Now this is easy. No need to specially take out time for the same. Just take your cup of tea and head to the balcony or terrace. Enjoy the sip with the sun. Sun light is blessing of God to humanity. Soak it inside and you will feel better.

Meditation is the ultimate remedy for a peaceful mind. But the irony is that it is difficult to meditate when you are disturbed. So what should be done. First indulge in some physical activity. After you have worked for more than half an hour, sit for meditation. That will help you to concentrate better. Unwanted thoughts will creep lesser. Again remember negative thoughts will not be eliminated altogether. Thinking is the job of the mind. Not being attached to the same is the duty of the reason. Even if a negative thought comes up, don’t feel it. By feeling I mean do not attach any emotion, positive or negative towards the same. Your mind will be calmed.

I am sure you must be feeling better after reading this write up. If you are feeling better share it with your friends and family who matter the most to you as a mark of your gratitude.