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

Monday, 28 March 2016

Love forever @ Rajpath - Book Review

Love forever @ Rajpath is the debut novel of Kalpana Mishra. It is the story of two government love birds. (Yes, those are the words used by the author, which I liked absolutely.) Shalini and Kartik both are government employees. They work in different departments. All the new employees are required to undergo a mandatory training. Shalini and Kartik are trained in the same batch. Shalini is the only lady in that batch. They have a study tour, which brings Shalini and Kartik closer. Shalini is a Sindhi, while Kartik belongs to a conservative Bihari family. They succeed in convincing their parents about their marriage. But when everything is going fine, Kartik is kidnapped and forced to marry another girl. This practice prevails in Bihar and is known as Zabaria Shaadi.

What I liked about the book is the setting of the story. We had enough love stories set in (Engineering) college campuses and software companies. Don’t government employees have a heart? Yes they do. The setting brings a freshness to the story. I also liked Shalini’s character. She comes across as a strong woman. She simply isn’t that designer clothes, Barbie doll with mascara. Neither is she a cry baby who needs a man’s shoulder to cry upon. She is a real woman.

The author introduces us to the social evil of Zabaria Shaadi. However this part comes towards the end and is wrapped up in a single chapter. I wish the author could have devoted some more pages to it. Also all the character’s speak the same banal, insipid, bookish language. I wish if the character’s spoke the real language. In that case the novel wouldn’t have insidiously dragged.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

SOAR - Book Review

When I picked up the book SOAR Success Over Adversity Reigns I thought it was some motivational or business management book. But it wasn’t. It is a novel about three friends. ( I can hear you people laugh.) Uday, Rajasekaran and Adhyayan work in the same company. They become friends and start an online portal called Schoolyard. Soon Adhyayan and Rajasekaran leave the venture which is going through rough times.

Uday is arrested in a paper leak case. It is alleged that the papers were leaked through Schoolyard. Adhyayan and Rajasekaran come to their friend’s rescue. In between is the happy love life of Rajasekaran and his junkie girlfriend Sneha and not so happy married life of Adhyayan and Shruti.

What I liked about SOAR is the novelty of the subject. It is nice to see novels set around new and contemporary subjects. There is not a single spelling or grammatical mistake in the book. These days even books of leading publishers are ridden with mistakes of spelling and grammar. So I really appreciate the author for clean editing.

What I did not like is the love and marital lives of Adhyayan and Rajasekaran consuming pages when Uday is in jail. It is hard to digest them romancing when they are tried hard to find the culprit. Also Adhyanan’s child kicking in the first three months of pregnancy is unbelievable. Same stands true with the scenes involving the police and the lawyer. The lawyer argues before the police as if he is a judge. Also cases are compounded before the court and not the police. If these mistakes are overlooked SOAR makes a decent read.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Shiva in the City of the Nectar - Book Review

Mythology is the flavour of the season. Preetha Rajah Kannan’s Shiva in the City of the Nectar tries to fit into this popular genre with a difference. It contains mythological tales from the South India, more particularly Tamil Nadu. The writer has culled out fifty-four stories from the folk lore, Thriruvilaiyadal Puranam and fleshed them up with her imagination. 

Now the city of Nectar is the city of Madurai. Lord Shiva is its ruling deity. So he is the hero of all the tales. The stories are also about power struggles between two mighty clans the Cholas and Pandians. Both are ardent devotees of Lord Shiva. Ukkiran, Abhishegan, Raajasekaran, Vikraman, Sekkaran, Rajaraja are the rulers of the city of Nectar. The stories are weaved around them and many other rulers of the city. The book has interesting tales about the births of Durvasa, Markandeya and Airavata. This being the book regarding South Indian mythology it can not be complete without Agasti Muni known as Agasthiar in the south. There are curses and ways of redemption too.

To read mythology set in South India where a siddhar appears instead of a Sadhu or Sage and where Shiva is referred to as Sundaran is a refreshing read. I really liked the story about the Devdasi and her Shiva of gold. I am sure lovers of mythology will love this book. The writer sounds very contemporary while describing these stories. So a child in one of the stories goes to a school and not Gurukul. yaazh

But speaking of the lessons that the book imparts I have some reservations. May be perhaps the reservations are not only with regard to the book but the mythological stories. There is lot of violence involved. Manickavasagar spends the gold given to him to by the King to buy horses in building the magnificent temple. When confronted by the King, he prays to the Lord. The Lord comes to his rescue and transforms jackals into horses who become jackals again in the night and fly to the jungles. When the King confronts him again, there is a deluge which tries to submerge Madurai. What kind of message are we passing through such stories? Also in the story the singing woodcutter, the Lord makes the unworthy singer win through deceit. Similarly in Dharumi’s story the Lord makes an ignorant person win a contest by resorting to plagiarism. Also when another poet Nakkeerar tries to point out a flaw in the answer, he is killed. This story tells us that this land was always intolerant.

Yet, I congratulate the author for bringing something new in the market which is inundated with books of mythological genre.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Colours for life

Memories are like collage. Every moment big and small, happy and not so happy is stored in the CPU of the mind. Together they make a beautiful picture. Yet, some pieces of these picture are far etched into our minds. As regards my life is concerned one of such pieces is relating to Holi which I celebrated as a child.

 My mother had woke up early. She had started making the puranpolis. In Maharashtrian households the sweet chapatis known as puranpolis form the essential part of holi festivities. I had hot puranpoli and went out to play in colours. My father had brought me seven colours. I was very happy at the sight of those colours. What made me even happier was that I was able to discern all the colours properly. My father was very proud that his child who went to nursery was able to recognize the colours.

As I was a child, the elder boys did not wish to play with me. They thought I would cry if the colour went into my eyes. They just applied a tika of red on my forehead and asked me to go home. I then went to my cousins home. My cousin Radha was elder to me my two years. She was more than happy to learn that I had come to play holi with her.

Mahi apply the red colour on my cheeks.” She said. I applied the red colour on her cheeks with my tiny palms.
Now green on my nose.” She said. I did as she had said. She went on describing the colour and the body part on which it had to be applied. I followed her obediently. She kept on feeling those colours.

I was very surprised as to how she felt those colours. She said green was cooler than red and she was able to discern all the colours which I had applied on her. She said she thoroughly enjoyed playing Holi with her. As she was blind children of her age were reluctant to play with her.

Radha was blind. But there was no darkness in her life. She could feel colours. Thereafter I became her regular companion. I would play with her. When we grew up, I would take her out for movies. I would also read books for her. She would share a joke with me and we would laugh for hours.
Till date that Holi with Radha is special for me. It taught me so many things. It taught me to extend the periphery of your celebrations to those who for some reason or the other cannot be a part of the festivities. It taught me that even if a person may be blind, she still yearns for colours in her life. Colours of happiness, colours of friendship and of course colours of Holi.That Holi drenched me in colours which lasted for my life.
“I’m pledging to #KhulKeKheloHoli this year by sharing my Holi memories at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed.”

Pallavi I am going to drench you in colours

My earliest recollections of Holi are of the time when I was just five years old. I would visit the market with my mother. When I would spot pichkaris and colours put for sale I would realise that Holi was around the corner. I would pester my mother to buy me a pichkari. She would oblige and buy me one.

The pichkaris were of varied shapes and sizes. The gun and the traditional pichakaris were the most popular. Once my father had brought me a pichkari which looked like a birnjal. Though as a child I detested brinjal, I had absolutely liked the brinjal pichkari. That day when I went to play Holi with my friends, my pichakari became the show stopper.

I would go to my friend’s garden to play Holi. All my playmates Vedika, Shachi, Sampada and Madhavi would have assembled there. My mother would also buy me one or two colours, in their powder forms. I would mix them in water and carry my little bucket with pichkari dipped into it. We would splash the coloured water through our pichkaris.

Sometimes the elder siblings of my friends would join our play, take the centre stage and leave us with only the fringe benefits. On one such occasions Pallavi, Madhavi’s elder sister had joined our Holi celebrations. She decided that the green colour should be mixed into the big barrel which lay in the garden.

She asked who all had brought green colour. Shachi and Sampada gave the green colour which they had bought. I too had got green. But I was reluctant to part with it. But Pallavi bullied me and made me pour my colour into the barrel. “After mixing Gundu’s colour, the water has become greener.” She had commented. I had disliked she taking away my colour. Thereafter she made me to stand in the barrel and everyone threw water on me with their hands. The water went into my nose. I began to cry. I could never forgive Pallavi for what she had done. But last year Pallavi succumbed to a fatal cancer. People come into your life and they go away like colour of Holi. So value them when they are with you.

After playing Holi, I would return home with my empty bucket and pichkari. My mother would bathe me. She would rub my body and ensure that no colour was left on my body. After bathing me she would apply vaporub on my chest and back so that I would not catch cold. Till date I remember my mother caring for me so that I wouldn’t catch cold after getting drenched in colours for long hours.

Today there are no playmates and there are no colours. But this Holi, I am going send colours to all my playmates. Pallavi I am going to drench you into the barrel of colours. So what if the colours and you are now only in my memories? 
“I’m pledging to #KhulKeKheloHoli this year by sharing my Holi memories at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed.” 

Tell Me Your Real Story - Book Review

Tell Me Your Real Story is a collection of poems by Savita Nair. I really liked the book because it offered something refreshingly new. The poems are contemporary. They deal with the issues faced by the urban youth. So we have poems about selfies, diplomacy, being a conformist. Also there are poems about dealing with a bad boss, beer, facebook, being in control of your life. The poetess succeeds in bringing the struggles of urban young and women to the fore. Her topics, her disappointment and her frustration is palpable.

These poems are about a young person with many idealistic dreams in her eyes, but who is caught in the rut. They are about breaking the stereotypes and becoming free. They are rebellious and path breaking.

The writing is simple and easy to relate. Every poem is a story in itself. The book leaves you enriched. It makes you to introspect about your life. Yes, the poems may lack the rhyming words and meter. But the content is indeed disruptive. That is the reason why I liked Tell Me Your Real Story.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Raakshas India's No.1 Serial Killer - Book Review

I am not a very big fan of contemporary Indian crime fiction. Most of them are cheap clones of Dan Brown’s writing. Having said that I must admit that Piyush Jha’s Raakshas India’s No. 1 Serial Killer, totally floored me. This book is indeed a nail biting thriller.

The book runs in two tracks one that of the serial killer - his childhood, his upbringing and how he takes up killing. The second track is that of the female investigating officer who is investigating the serial killings. She too has a past. When she was in college she was responsible for two killings – one directly and the other indirectly.

The serial killer is on a killing spree because he wants to be acknowledged as the no. 1 serial killer in the country. A stupid journalist asks the investigating officer to rank the serial killer with regard to other serial killers in India. She tries her best to avoid the question. But the journalist would not let her go until she has ranked the killer. To get rid of the journalist she ranks the killer at six. This hurts his ego. He goes on killing people. Finally he reaches the investigating officer. He wants to kill her. Will he able to kill her? To know this you will have to read Raakshas India’s no. 1 Serial Killer.

The book is a page turner. The pace of the story is gripping. Once you start reading it, you will not keep the book down until you have finished it. At the end of the book, the writer tries to scientifically analyze why do people turn serial killers. According to him, they can not feel empathy. This is because certain parts of their brains are not functioning properly. The supplement at the end provides information about the serial killers in India.

As stated earlier, though crime fiction is not my favourite, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Monday, 7 March 2016

They will share the load

We teach our children since childhood that cleanliness is next to Godliness. However unfortunately when it comes to washing clothes we convey a message that cleanliness is not next to manliness. Why does this happen? Let us try to analyze it.

In houses where the woman is a housewife, she is the one who is entrusted with the washing of clothes. In homes where both the partners are working, there is a servant to wash the clothes. She is inevitably a maid servant, a woman. This stereotype reflects in our movies where we have the kamvali bai to wash the clothes. So we convey to our children that when it comes to washing of clothes, it is always the bai, the woman, the lady who has to wash the clothes. Subtly we are conveying that washing is not a man’s job.

All of us will agree that this thinking is dangerous to the society. We have to change it but how. First of all let us start with small changes. Let there be a man who washes the clothes in a story. Let us have a male servant who washes the clothes in the movies. Let us have male cartoon characters wash their own uniforms. This will plant a seed in the minds of the children that washing clothes is a job which is done by both men and women.

Then let us ask our children to wash their own clothes. If they are too small ask them to wash their own handkerchief. Believe me they will love this task, for it involves playing in water. This task has long term objective as well. It will inculcate a feeling in the children that washing is not just a woman’s task. This seed will germinate and when they grow into young men and women, they will not think that washing is the job of a lady. These grown up men will for sure share the load with the female members of their family.
This will bring gender realization in the real sense. Like every good thing, even this sensitization should begin right from the childhood. How about introducing a washer man instead of a washer woman in the lessons in their language text books?

No need to worry if the male members of your family are no longer children. Now that they are grown ups you can have a free and frank chat with them. You can convey the message that washing is not just a woman’s task clearly. Make an attempt. They will understand. They will not just understand but help you out with the washing. They will share the load. 
I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.” 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Rohit shares the load

Rohit wash your handkerchief and socks.” My aunt told her seven years old son who had returned home after a game of cricket. His handkerchief was soaked in sweat. My aunt was very keen that he should be independent. So she had issued a dictat that Rohit should wash his socks and handkerchief on his own.

I am not a girl to do the washing.” Rohit replied. My aunt knew that Rohit would resist until washing his own clothes became his habit. But this sort of reply was unexpected. Never ever in her house my aunt had divided the work on the basis of gender. Never had she said that this work was his and that task was her. Then where from had Rohit learnt that washing was a woman’s job.

That whole night my aunt was unable to sleep. She was worried about her son and the prejudices which he was carrying. She wasn’t sure how she was going to handle the situation. But she had to do something. She did not wish that Rohit should grow up thinking that some jobs are best left to women.

The next she woke up Rohit early. Usually Rohit slept till eight in the morning as his school was in the afternoon. She took him to the bathroom. There Ravi uncle, Rohit’s father was washing his clothes. Rohit could not believe that his father was doing the laundry.

Then my aunt brought Rohit to the drawing room. She gave him his mug of milk and spoke. “ Rohit I want to speak to you about something.”
Yes, Mom. Please tell.” He said.
Yesterday you said that you were not a girl to wash your own handkerchief and socks. Beta, I am deeply hurt by this reply of yours.”

“Why Mom? Did I say anything wrong.”
Honestly speaking yes Beta. Washing is not a job which should be done only by women.” My aunt said.
Mom they show in all the television commercials and even in movies, it is always the bai – the woman who does the laundry.” Rohit replied innocently.

Beta we have to change this thinking. Both men and women are equal. Women can fly the airplanes and men can wash clothes too.”
Yes, I saw Daddy wash the clothes today.” Rohit said. My aunt was happy that Rohit had learnt something through an example.

I am not saying that it is only the men who should do all the washing. All that I am saying is that the job of laundry should not be considered as the job of the woman. When I have time, I do the laundry. When I am busy or bored your father washes the clothes. It is about living together, loving each other and sharing the load.”

“Yes Mom.” Rohit said as he left the room.
Where are you going?” My aunt asked.
To wash my handkerchief and socks. Even I am going to share the load.” Rohit said. My aunt felt relaxed. 
I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.” 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

In praise of Kali - book review

In praise of Kali by Aditi Devi is about approaching the primordial Adya Kali through the song of her hundred names. The book is divided into two sections. The first one is about the introduction to the hundred names. The second section consists of the Sanskrit text containing the hundred names of Adya Kali along with meaning of each verse. This section also contains commentary about each name of the great dark Goddess.

The book also contains instructions for building a shrine to the Kali, various types of offerings to make to her and a schedule for how to use this liturgy with a long term commitment over the course of 108 nights.

I found the book too difficult to comprehend. At places it is cryptic. May be to keep the esoteric knowledge a secret. As far as I know no tantric imparts the technique of his sadhana by mentioning it in any book or text. Perhaps that is the reason why In praise of Kali miserably fails to forge a contact with its readers. I was in no way enriched after reading the book. Also it did not give me the pleasure of reading a good book about Kali or the tantra. That’s sums up it all, doesn’t it?