Thursday, 11 February 2016

Walking Ganesha


And He walked…
Looking ahead…
Giving hopes…
Spreading happiness J

I made this painting and gifted to a friend on his wedding… The joy of brining life to images is a very satisfying experience… It elevates the spirituality within…

Did you like it

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Crow's Stories


C
rows have always fascinated me. Their togetherness and selflessness intrigues me. So, when a crow sat on our fence, I didn’t think twice to click some photos.
I think that crows would have been an integral part of our childhood days. Most of our bedtime stories had a crow in pivotal character.

·         A crow had vada (bun/cheese) in its mouth. Cunning fox was hungry. So, it looked at crow and said, “Dear crow, your voice is so sweet. Can you sing a song for me?” The crow was flattered and opened its mouth to sing. The vada (bun/cheese) fell down and the fox ran away with it.
Moral of the story – Don’t fall for false praises or flatters.

·         There is another variant to the above story. An old woman was making vada (bun/cheese). When she went inside to drink some water, the crow stole the vada and flew away. “The woman is old and fragile. She cannot catch me”, the crow thought. It sat on a branch and was about to savor it when a cunning fox came. It looked at crow and said, “Dear crow, your voice is so sweet. Can you sing a song for me?” The crow was flattered and opened its mouth to sing. The vada (bun/cheese) fell down and the fox ran away with it.
Moral of the story – Don’t steal. If you do, others will steal the same from you.

·         Once upon a time, a crow was thirsty. It flew across in search of water. Finally, it found a mud pot with some water at the extreme bottom. The crow could not reach the bottom as the pot’s neck was very narrow. So it started putting pebbles into the pot. Soon, water raised up and the crow drank the water.
Moral of the story – Be smart. Work hard. Never give up.


As we grow up, we would have associated crows with many beliefs.
·         If a crow caws in front of our house, a guest would come
·         Feed a crow. They represent our ancestors
·         If you see a flock of crows flying, you will get a new dress soon

I am sure that we would have also have observed that crows never eat alone. If a crow finds something, it would caw-caw until a group of crows joins. Thus, they come across as a selfless creature, which believes in collectivism than individualism. I have often wished that we human beings also learn this tendency to share from crows. Imagine how the world would be if we had the mindset to share everything we have!

Interestingly, I came across an article recently that said that crows can remember human faces!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Sshhhh....

The deafening silence engulfed,
Speaking the familiar words.
The words of loneliness;
And the blissfulness of solitude.

The uproar of reality;
And the eeriness of estrangement,
Surrendered to the silence.
Bombarding into nothingness.

I remained.
Listening to the unsaid,
Responding to the vacuum,
In a world of my own.

With myself!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Irudhi Suttru/Saala Kadoos

Cast
:
R. Madhavan
Ritika Singh
Nassar, Radha Ravi
Director
:
Sudha Kongara Prasad
Cinematographer
:
Sivakumar Vijayan
Music
:
Santhosh Narayanan
Producer
:
Y NOT Studios
UTV Motion Pictures
Thirukumaran Entertainment (Tamil)
Release Date
:
January 29, 2016
Length
:
1 Hour and 52 Minutes
Language
:
Tamil/Hindi

My Thoughts
Sudha Kongara’s directorial debut is a bilingual Irudhu Suttru (Tamil) and Saala Kadoos (Hindi). The plot is clichéd – An underdog wins! But, it is dealt with and portrayed in a not-so-clichéd manner. Unlike Mary Kom (Apologies. The comparison is inevitable, both being Inam woman boxer’s story), this is a non-fiction and therefore, takes more advantages in projecting the emotions and building relationships. The story is more relationship-driven and connects with the audience emotionally.

Editing is crisp, thereby makes the narrative free-flowing, yet impactful. The background score blends with the situations and two songs – Vaa Machaney well-choreographed and Usuru Narambula stays in heart. The cinematography adds shades to the movie and defines the mood.

When Madhi (Ritika Singh) starts developing feelings for her mentor Prabhu (Tamil)/Adi (Hindi) enacted by Madhavan, it raises a danger alarm. As audience, we are worried that this story might fall into the age-old cliché. Surprisingly, it doesn’t! When Madhi’s mother is supportive of her daughter’s aspirations, her father is not. Another cliché shattered here. And the movie stands apart because of these aspects.

R Madhavan as bulky and brutal coach who is a failure in both professional and personal life infuses credibility to his character. He never crosses his boundary as a man with his students, but goes out of the way as mentor. The way his selflessness blooms from selfishness is a transformation that would steal our hearts. He is subdued and subtle. Example, the scene with Nassar when he goes out drinking with him the second time. He is brilliant! Overall, he has delivered his best!

Ritika Singh, a real life boxer and debutant actor is a show stealer. Her energy sees no bounds, her smile tickles us with joy, her failures affect us and her victory makes us jump and punch the air.  

In short, the movie will inspire you. It instills hope. It fills you with optimism and hope.
Go for it!!!

Rating
3.5/5

Monday, 1 February 2016

Ramayana - The Game of Life (Stolen Hope)

Details of the Book
No. of Pages   : 296 Pages
Language        : English


From the book blurb
In the evil labyrinths of Dandakaranya forest, human values are put to test. Rama’s righteousness, Lakshmana’s loyalty and Sita’s endurance reflect our own sense of values and judgment in difficult times. The story unfolds the facets of human life – the conflict and trickery, the praise, the slander and above all, the hope and the despair in the eventful forest life of exiled royals.

Stolen Hope is about extreme deception and extreme love. It is about arrogant power and deep devotion. With every twist and turn, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana find themselves robbed of whatever and whoever they valued the most.

Exploring the dynamics of human relations – between father and son, husband and wife, teacher and disciple – and the complex game of power and greed, Stolen Hope mirrors our own dilemmas in the modern world and teaches us how we must overcome them.


Author
Shubha Vilas is a spiritual seeker, motivational speaker and holds a degree in engineering and law with specialization in Patent Law. His leadership seminars are popular with top-level management in corporate houses. He also helps individuals deal with modern-life situations by applying the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and other dharmic traditions. ‘Ramayana – The Game Of Life’ is a 6 book series and India’s first self-help book based on the story of Ramayana.


What I think
Shubha Vilas’s Stolen Hope is the third instalment in the Ramayana – Game of Life series, after Rise of Sun Prince and Shattered Dreams.

To begin with, the cover page aptly depicts the life of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in Dandakaranya – the forest where they go on self-exile for fourteen years. The tile of the book – Stolen Hope, is perfect. As the story progresses and as you guess what this instalment contains (based on your prior and mostly limited knowledge of the epic), you realize that it can’t be anything else.

The book starts by narrating the life of the threesome in the middle of dense forest. They don’t complain about what they don’t have, and try to create a world of their own based on what they have. One of the strong female characters in the epic, Soorpanaka is introduced and thus begins the biggest twist in Ramayana; Sita’s abduction by Ravana.

I have always known that Lakshmana Rekha was never a part of Valmiki Ramayana. I have also heard that it was a part of regional translations or some folklores, not sure. The author, Subha Vilas has adhered to the original and have stayed truthful to it.

I don’t want to say much about the story dealt here. I am sure that most of us know it in bits and pieces if not in full. But, I have to tell you that this book is a refreshing read. It gives more perspectives and also narrates many other sub-plots. The simple language and flow of thoughts makes the reading an effortless, at the same time, fruitful process.

But...
The numberings against certain words and the related foot notes, as I had mentioned during the review of earlier books as well, is a sure turn off. It hinders the flow and makes it look more like a reference book than actual-real story!


Should you read it?
You would have heard Ramayana. But, this certainly adds wider perspective. It also lets you understand life and importance of relationships.
Don’t miss it!


Rating
3/5


Thank you
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


Sunday, 31 January 2016

Garden of Life

In the garden of life…
If I am the flowers…
You are its color J

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Details of the Book
No. of Pages   : 327
ISBN               : 0316322407 (ISBN13: 9780316322409)
Language        : English


From the book blurb
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.


Author
Malala Yousafzai is a 16 years student from Swat, Pakistan. She is studying in 8th class. She wrote a diary for BBC in early 2009 with a different name "Gul Makai", she wrote about the critical situation in Swat at that time. She later on became famous and worked for children rights in Swat, Pakistan.

She was nominated for a children award by an international organization in 2011. She appeared on many national and international news channels, TV channels and newspapers. She is a brave girl and has the ability to speak out the truth. She struggled for children's Education in her region Swat. She struggled when the militants were fighting against Pakistan Army in Swat and was banning girls' school in Swat.

On 8th October 2012 she was attacked in Swat when coming back from school to home, and thus we created this blog to share love for her and share all the facts about Malala.

Malala is now living and studying in the United Kingdom, and she has started going to school.

What I think
“Often we take most of the things for granted. We fail to realize its importance and be thankful for what we have. In fact, we only complain about what we don’t have and never attempt to bring the change; be the change.” These were the resonating thoughts in my head when I was reading I am Malala.

As I read “I am Malala” I was shocked! She fought for education and was shot by Taliban not some centuries ago. It happened in 2012; around the same time when I had started my employment and thinking about further education. As Malala narrates her story, it is unbelievable. It is raw and its realism scares us. How can people do such things to fellow human beings?

We all know that independent thinkers and pathbreakers are always silenced. They have to struggle really hard to out their point across. Young Malala had only one dream and desire – to go to school; to study. She was like any ordinary girl whose life revolved around her parents, school and friends, until she was denied from the basic right (a dream for her) of education. When a person wants something badly, they start to fight for it. Malala did just that unknowingly that she was representing the dreams of several others too.

I hold this book very close to my heart. Malala, a little girl, fought in her way to achieve her dreams. But, it is her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who comes across as the hero of all the heroes. Children can have dreams. But, whether they are fulfilled or not completely lies in the hands of parents. If Malala is Malala, it is totally because of her father. If every girl, or any child for that matter, has a father like Malala had, the world would be a different place.

What I really loved about the book is its simplicity. The fears, dreams and aspirations of a child is well described. The narrative is so simple that it looks like a few pages taken straight from a child’s daily journal.

Read it…
It will surely teach you to be thankful!


Rating
3.5/5


Some words that stole my heart:
·         "We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced."
·         "When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful."
·         "Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world."
·         "Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow." Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human."
·         "Our men think earning money and ordering around others is where power lies. They don't think power is in the hands of the woman who takes care of everyone all day long, and gives birth to their children."
·         "If one man can destroy everything, why can't one girl change it?"


Monday, 25 January 2016

We Are Moon!



“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
― Mark Twain




Saturday, 23 January 2016

Tu Tu Mein Mein - 27

Heart : You will never understand.
Mind   : What now?
Heart : Nothing.
Mind   : You were alright till now. Suddenly you start again. (Confused and irritated)
Heart : STARTED AGAIN?!!! What do you mean? Am I always like this – you tell me. What really don’t understand? You ignore me. Take me for granted. And then you blame me if I express my feelings. Tell me what I should do. TELL ME NOW! (Screaming)
Mind   : Only you have feelings. Others don’t.
Heart : Of course. Others have feelings. Not you.
Mind   : Okay, I have no feelings. I don’t care about others. Happy?
Heart : What are you saying? I told me three things –three about me and one about you. You are behind that one thing I told you. Can you not be so self-obsessed?
Mind   : Now I am self-obsessed also. Go on…
Heart : Forget it. You will never understand! (weeps)
Mind   : (Sighs)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Pongal Kolam 2016

  
Presenting the first Kolam for the year…
I made this for Pongal…
The pots and sugarcanes here associates to Pongal festival…


Pongal is a festival celebrated by Tamilians across the world. Also called Thai Pongal, it falls on the first day of Tamil month Thai between January 15th and February 15th of the Georgian calendar. Pongal is celebrated to thank the Sun, eternal source of energy which is indispensable for agricultural activities. As a part of celebration, rice is boiled in pot and dedicated to the Sun. Further, various ingredients like milk, jiggery, ghee, cashew nuts, etc. are added to make a special dish named “Pongal”. If pepper and salt is used, it is called “Venn Pongal” (White Pongal).

Incidentally, on the same day, people in different parts of India celebrate the festival too under different names like Makara Sankranthi, Lohri, etc. 

PS: Because many people asked me what a Kolam is…
Kolam refers to intricate patterns drawn both free handedly and by joining dots. These can be widely seen in the Southern part of India. Women draw this early morning, preferably before Sunrise after cleaning the courtyard. Earlier rice powder was used – it was a means to feed ants and small insects. However, these days, stone powder and even chalk is used. If such powders are used, it is called Pudi Kolam. Sometimes, brick powder will be used as outline on auspicious days, Tuesdays and Fridays. If rice powder is mixed in water and similar patterns are drawn, it is called Maavu/Maa Kolam. In West Bengal, it is called Alpona. In North India, people used rice/stone powders for the outline and fill the patterns with colors. This is called Rangoli.

It is believed that Kolam brings prosperity. It is drawn for almost all the auspicious occasions like marriages and festivals. When someone dies in the household, the family don’t draw any kolam for a year.  

Children in small towns learn the art of making kolam at a very young age. In fact, a girl who knows to draw impeccable and intricate kolam is a pride for the entire family and the village she stays. However, owing to modernization, city life and apartment culture, this art is soon dying.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Thirteenth Day

Details of the Book
ISBN13           : 9788129134752
Language        : English
No. of Pages   : 260 Pages


From the book blurb
It is the tenth night of the Great War between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Bhishma, the venerable patriarch of the families, lies fatally wounded on the plains of Kurukshetra. On his deathbed he offers Radheya, his nemesis, a chance to rule the Kuru kingdom by capturing Yudhishthira.

In the Pandava camp, Yudhishthira, a reluctant warrior, tries desperately to hold his allies together and escape capture without appearing to be a coward. Meanwhile, his young and impulsive nephew, Abhimanyu, a warrior prince, dreams of glory and yearns for a chance to save the Pandava cause. The lives of these three warriors, Yudhisthira, Radheya and Abhimanyu, collide brutally on the thirteenth day. A story of how stories are created, how fact becomes fiction, how history becomes mythology and how men become legends, The Thirteenth Day re-imagines India's greatest epic like never before.


Author
Aditya Iyengar graduated from St. Xaviers’ College with a BMM degree. Later, he perused masters in English Literature. Currently, he is a Marketing Executive in a TV Channel and lives in Mumbai. Prior to that worked with an advertising company as a writer and won a number of awards for creativity.

  
What I think
The Thirteenth Day is the tale of the Great War between the cousins – Pandavas and Kauravas. The title announces what can be expected out of the book. The blurb is crisp and describes the story, arousing the reader’s interest. The cover page gives a sneak peek into the battle field and how it would have been.

Mahabharatha is one of the longest and greatest epics. It illustrates what is good and what is bad. It emphasizes that only satya and dharma would win. Generally, Indians grow up listening to these stories. Lord Krishna’s naughtiness as well as shrewdness and Abhimanyu’s courage are always awe-inspiring. Where Suyodhana also referred as Dhuryodhana follows the wrong path along with his uncle Shakuni and a hundred brothers, his cousin Yudhishtir with his 4 brothers follow the path of righteousness.

I am sure that we all know Mahabharatha in bits and pieces. Further, in recent times, it has been retold several times, from different viewpoints. This book retells only the war days, after the fall of Grandsire Bhishma.

The narrative is lucid and simple words and used to tell the story. The dilemma of the Pandavas, the helplessness of Radheya (Karna) and the never ending greed of Suyodhana is well-captured.

However, in a time when market is flooded with books based on/inspired from Mahabharatha or retelling the same from the perspectives of different characters is a trend, this book seems like just-another in the long list of similar book. Having said that, taking the plot as the last three days of war is different, though it offers nothing new.

I appreciate the author for considering the great epic as history rather than a mythology.

In short, this book will surely give a fair idea of how the last three days of war were… It will surely add more perspectives and would let you empathize with each character - they are presented as normal human beings with emotions and not as Demi-God who are capable of everything!

So, go for it….
Dive into the known to know the unknown J


Rating
3/5

PS: This Review was originally published in Tales Pensive

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bajirao Mastani

Cast
:
Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone
Tanvi Azmi, Milind Soman
Director
:
Sanjay Leela Bansali
Cinematographer
:
Sudeep Chatterjee
Music
:
Songs: Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Assisted by Shreyas Puranik)
Background Music: Sanchit Balhara
Producer
:
SLB Films
Release Date
:
December 18, 2015
Length
:
2 Hours and 28 Minutes
Language
:
Hindi

My Thoughts
The movie begins with a lengthy disclaimer that the events may not be historically accurate. Soon, Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) makes his appearance and woo the audience. He is brave and smart at the same time. He wins battle after battle. His only desire in life is to conquer the whole of Hindustan until he meets the beautiful, brave and talented Mastani (Deepika Padukone). Being a Brahmin and a married man, the relationship between Bajirao and Mastani is not accepted by his family and friends. Finally, he dies out of fever. Soon his ladylove Mastani also dies.

Bajirao Mastani has all the elements to produce a great and successful film – love, heroism, emotions, drama and villain. However, it fails to be one. The focus shifts from battlefield to his relationship with Mastani, Kashibhai (Priyanka Chopra), his mother (Tanvi Azmi) and with the kingdom per se. It shifts so much that at the end you don’t empathise with Bajirao or Mastani. They look very distant. Their emotions look superficial. But when Kashibhai feels bitter, cries or gets angry we understand. At the end, we feel bad for Kashibhai. She suffered for no reason and endured more than she should.
While Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus looks rich… dialogs dense… songs beautiful and the lead actors stunning, the movie lacks the depth. It fails to connect with audience the way Devdas, Black or Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam did.  

I would say that Ranveer Singh has lived as Bajirao. His body language and Marathi diction coupled with the wonderful acting steals our heart. Deepika Padukone as Mastani looks stunning. She dances like an angel and fights like a warrior. She is a Braveheart holding conventional romantic values at heart. But, it is Priyanka Chopra as the suffering Kashibhai who remains in our hearts. Her silence and pain nicely portrayed. Her transformation from a devoted wife who hopefully waits for the return of her husband from battle to a wife who was betrayed and finally as an understanding as well as a friendly wife is phenomenal.

To sum up, Bajirao Mastani takes you to a different world. Savor it. Forgive the sloppy screenplay.

Rating
2.5/5


When Arya Fell Through the Fault

From the book blurb
When Arya Fell Through the Fault is the magical, coming-of-age tale of Arya, a 12-year-old boy from San Francisco, who is ridiculed by bullies. Anything to do with his ethnicity—food, traditions or the fascinating mythological stories he has been raised with, has become the building block of unpleasant school experiences. In the wake of an accident that confines his once vibrant mother to a hospital ward—kept alive by tubes and machines—Arya clings to the only remnant of their bond: an old, battered copy of the Ramayana, India’s ancient epic story of Rama’s battle against demons. One night, Arya falls through a fault in the earth into the Wild Woods, where Ravana—the demon king—strategises to destroy his Ramayana—the last copy left—and threatens to rewrite history from his evil perspective. Will Arya be able to save the story of Rama, heal his mother and return home to tackle the demons in his ordinary world?


Author
Reenita Malhotra Hora is an award-winning broadcast journalist, Ayurveda clinician and author of books on Ayurveda and finance. Her debut fiction novel, Operation Mom: How I Got My Mother a Life and Man has been recognized as a must-read young adult book written by an Indian author.

When Arya Fell Through the Fault is her second release. Reenita anchors Hong Kong’s popular morning finance programme, Money for Nothing on RTHK Radio 3. Her weekend storytelling show, Asian Threads has won her a gold trophy at the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards.

Native to Mumbai, she currently lives with her family in Hong Kong.


Characters
Arya, the protagonist, is in his early teens. He lives is in an Indian, brought up in San Fracisco. He studies in a school where he is the only Indian. He faces racial remarks and is always teased for the kind of food he eats. He goes through identity crisis as he struggles to lives up to the cultural values imbibed by his mother through the glorious stories of Ramayana and with the way-of-life he is exposed to at school.

Arya’s mother, an Ayurveda doctor, carries Indian values at heart and tries her best to retain as an Indian in the truest spirit. The stories of Ramayana and the evils of Ravana acts as a bridge that connects her with her son.

Arya’s father, a taxi driver, has only one goal in his life – to provide the best for his son. He works day and night and tries to make his son’s dreams come true.


What I think
To begin with, the cover page is funky and vibrant at the same time. It has a boy who is caught between Lord Rama and the scary Ravana surrounded with things that is dear to him. The title is a little long, yet apt considering the plot. The book blurb is brief and would surely grab your attention.

It is a really small book that would demand not more than a couple of hours of your time. The narrative is simple and lucid that you may as well finish reading it in one go.

As the blurb suggests, the story is all about what happens when Arya falls through the fault. Although the book can slip into fantasy genre, it is can also be called as a book with a message - A message that comes as the solution to tackle mundane problems that one face in life. This story also relates to how Arya grows up, how he evolves from being a child cocooned within the shelters of his family to how he shapes into a careless teenager and finally, how he transforms into a responsible as well as understanding young boy.

In short, this is a book that reemphasizes that Ramayana is still valid…. That we can let ourselves become Rama or Ravana in life – a choice available to all... That we all fight Ravana – hurdles – in life... And life is all about conquering the Ravana (hurdles) that we come across in day-to-day life triumphantly.

Should you read it?
These days we find less books that can also be enjoyed by children. This is one such rare book that can be read by children, young adults and adults equally.
Try it!

Rating
3/5


PS: This Review was originally published in Tales Pensive