Friday, 30 January 2015

Let Them Be!

“If you want to be you… Let me be me!”

I believe that this demand is fair and simple.

I don’t deny that healthy long-term relationships works on the law of compromise. Where one person gives up something and other person also gives up some other things. In this way, a balance is reached. When such a balance is reached, life becomes a bliss despite the dissimilarities and sacrifices.

However, these days, financial and emotional independence has made people forget the importance of sharing and caring. Self-obsession and ego has taken front seat leading to loneliness which kills. The desire to share will be in ample, but, there would be no pairs of ears to listen. No fingers to wipe tears and no shoulders to lay on.

In most of the relationships, one person demands to be accepted as is and the other person accepts it forcefully. During initial days, such a compromise would seem natural. However, over years, it becomes suffocating and infuriating.

If you fill more and more air into balloon, it will only burst. Similarly, if you forcefully make others to change in the way you want, they will have no other option but to run away!

So beware!

And remember,
Making relationships is toughest.

And breaking them is easiest! J

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Thar Express

From the book blurb
Am I dead? Is this how it feels to be dead……? Thar Express tells the story of a man who is rescued from the aftermath of a landslide near the India-Pakistan Line of Control. He is barely alive and appears to have no memory of his identity, his past or the circumstances that led him to a remote and sensitive part of the country that he was rescued from.

After initially being cared for in an army hospital, he is sent to a doctor who specializes in treating those afflicted by memory loss. Under the unconventional but effective care of this doctor, he begins to remember tiny fragments of his past and sets off on a journey of re-discovering himself that leads him across seven different states and brings him in contact with people who wittingly or unwittingly help him along in this journey.

The army intelligence, initially suspicious of his antecedents and intent but with no hard facts to act on, stumbles across information that pushes them beyond suspicion. They launch a relentless manhunt to re-capture what they now consider to be a dangerous insurgent. Will the authorities’ worst fears come true or are they just chasing an illusion? The story takes the reader through twists and turns, introduces characters who represent the eccentric mixture of mirth and cynicism that is twenty-first century India and unfolds the unexpected ending.


Author
Born in Bengaluru, India, Nagendra is a technologist and customer advocate by profession. He is also an avid bird watcher, photographer and wildlife enthusiast.

When time permits, he teaches on weekends at a government primary school as a volunteer for the NGO, Aashayein Foundation. His favorite authors are Ruskin Bond, Ernest Hemingway and Preston Child and he enjoys books on history, adventurous expeditions and stories of survival.

After living in Boston, USA for a decade and traveling extensively across the world, he returned home to Bengaluru with his family in 2008. He and his wife enjoy spending time with their daughter in their joint pursuit of photography and wildlife.


What I think
To begin with the book’s title is so different and very intriguing. After all, Thar Express is an international train that connects Pakistan and India. The book blurb would further arouse a potential reader’s interest and will draw him towards it.

The book begins with an interesting prologue and the story unravels slowly. The author has a very distinct style of writing which has the capability to keep the readers hooked. The trauma and uncertainty of the protagonist, Mano, is established very well.

Any plot that includes India and Pakistan is a topic of interest. After all, we would like to know what is described and how such a sensitive topic is handled. I have to tell you that the author has done a neat job in that.

The narrative flows with ease and owing to limited characters, we tend to empathetic the protagonist. His agony and struggle to regain his memories become ours. And the author strike a goal there.

As the protagonist travels across India, we pray and wish that he regains his memory soon. The twist in the climax makes the book a worthy read.


But...
Sadly enough, it is an E-book. I don’t deny that with Kindle and laptops, more and more people are reading E-Books. But, I don’t think that for such a good book and for a debut author, E-Book is a great idea. Book promotion and marketing becomes very tough. Above all, readers may not be ready to pay a hefty of price of INR181 (As per Amazon.in) for an E-book!

One more thing is that the book is a little too long and requires a couple of sittings to finish it off. Indian authors have set a standard of less pages and great content that so many pages comes as a turn off and might demotivate a potential reader to start reading it.


Should you read it?
It is a very different book. It will keep you hooked.
It also lets you travel through the length and width of our country.
Try it!


Rating
3/5


Thank you
All thanks to BlogAdda for the book review program. It is always a pleasure to read new ideas and new authors!!!

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

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Buttery Affair

When a butterfly knocked the doors of our little garden…
Our camera acted swiftly!
It captured the affair between the butterfly and marigold…

When the butterfly shifted from one flower to another…
I wondered if the flowers feel jealous at all!
Do they feel possessive about the butterfly?





Monday, 26 January 2015

Spit Not!

On this Republic Day, I have decided to write something brief.

A mother expects her child to be well-disciplined and well-behaved. She would expect the child to be hygienic and disease-free. She would want the child to respect all and be caring as well as loving.

We all have mothers… In fact not just one, but two – the biological mother and the geographical one, i.e., India. Both of them expect the same from us.

Be a good child and fulfill your mother’s wishes. In the process, you will not lose anything. IN fact, you will only gain! Respect for you in other’s eyes will soar up and it adds more meaning to your life.

As a first step…
SPIT NOT in the public places!!!!


Whenever you feel like spitting, ask yourself if you would spit anywhere in your house? Will your mother appreciate that?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Surprise

There is nothing more magical;
And exciting than a surprise.

And…

When it is delivered after soaking in love;
It leads you to unknown ecstasy!!!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

White Rock Lake

W
Hite Rock Lake is a lake situated in Dallas Texas, USA. This is a beautiful near-circular lake with well-planned pathway for walking and cycling. A micro observation would also observe that the landmark buildings in Dallas including the Reunion Tower is visible on one end.

It is a brilliant idea to spend a few hours around the lake. The fresh air, dancing water and blue sky will refresh you.

And here I am sharing some of the moments I spent there…

The Lake's Overview


Aren't They Cute?


Walk... Run... Rejoice!


Nature at its Best


Shedding Old Leaves for New Ones...


When I Played Hide n Seek with the Dear Sun!


Friday, 23 January 2015

When She Smiled

Details of the Book
Language        : English
ISBN               : 1502850575 (ISBN13: 9781502850577)
Pages               : 232

From the book blurb
Mrityunjoy Roy is a fifteen year old Bengali who has spent the last ten years of his life growing up in Shimla. While his family is completely academically oriented, he wants something more.
Finally he meets Akanksha in school, who turns his world upside down with her gorgeous looks and mind boggling smile.

As fate would have it, she joins his tuition, and thus begins the torrid year of puppy love, romance, heartbreak, tragedy, and self-discovery.

Set among the scenic Shivalik hills of Shimla when mobile phones and internet were non-existent, this is a story of how an average young teenager comes to terms with his destiny.


Author
Ritoban Chakrabarti is an entrepreneur who ran an internet marketing company for five years, before trying his hand at writing. His first novel, When She Smiled, a coming-of-age fiction released in 2014. He is an avid traveler, and believes in a life without boundaries.


Characters
Mrityunjoy Roy
Intelligent and studious… Yet confused and love-struck!

Akanksha
Friendly and beautiful… Fancied by everyone in the school!


What I think
To begin with, the book’s title is sweet and grabs our attention. The simple sketch of a smiling girl’s face blends with title. The book blurb straightway sets the premise – First love of a fifteen year boy!

The story takes off slowly wandering through the thoughts of the protagonist. He describes his first fifteen years of growing up while simultaneously taking us through his present.

The author has nicely captured the scenic beauty of Shimla. The seasons and how the shades of nature change is also well-described. Such vivid descriptions transports us to that place.

I liked the expressions like “Ram sakes”. It looked new and so-Indian. The protagonist’s references to Bollywood, music, FTV and cartoons makes him more real and reveals the extent to which we are influenced by the glamour industry.

His academically oriented parents who believe that scoring marks is the only objective of a student’s life is so regular and relatable. The instances where the protagonist is beaten up by parents and humiliated by teacher was sad. It shows how brutally children are treated sometimes.

I loved the fact that the story unravels in an era when internet and mobile phones had not reached the masses.

In short, studies… Exam stress… Pressure to score high marks… Cultural fests and the practice sessions associated with it… The happiness that first love gives… The expectation and heartbreak related to it are wonderfully essayed.

And, it is a feel good book consuming only few hours of your time. Yet, taking you through your delightful teenage days – Days when studies, exams and scoring good marks were the only worry… A time when the smile of our first love meant everything!


But...
The book takes a slow take off. And, the story ends abruptly; hurriedly.


Should you read it?
It will rekindle the memories of your school days and first love. And, I think that walking through the memory lane is not a bad option. So, go for it guys J


Rating
3/5


Thank you
To the author himself for contacting and giving away this book for review. It was a pleasure. Wishing you all the best in all your endeavors!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

A Caribbean Mystery


Disclaimer
There are some books which are best-sellers for decade and written by very famous authors. Such books cannot be reviewed. All we can do is to share the experience with the book. And, this post is therefore, more about my experience with the book than a review.


Background
To begin with, I decided to read the book because:
·         I had nothing else to do
·         It had been ages since reading Agatha Christie
·         I wanted a break from Indian authors and the lovey-dovey stories

So, I did a small and quick research and found out that “A Caribbean Mystery” is one of the top five mysteries in the Miss Marple series. So, I was excited.


From the book blurb
As Miss Marple sat basking in the Caribbean sunshine, she felt mildly discontented with life. True, the warmth eased her rheumatism, but here in paradise nothing ever happened.

Eventually, her interest was aroused by an old soldier’s yarn about a murderer he had known. Infuriatingly, just as he was about to show her a snapshot of this acquaintance, the Major was suddenly interrupted. A diversion that was to prove fatal.


Author
Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, as an English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright. She also wrote six romances under the name Mary Westmacott. Howver, she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name. Most of them revolve around the investigations of characters such as Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, Mr Satterthwaite, and Tommy and Tuppence.


What I think
The cover page is too simple and doesn’t give away anything. So is the book blurb. So as a reader, you are clueless as to what lies ahead and what can be expected!

But, the book is an assured page turner. There are only hidden clue and lots of confusions. The circumstances, further, misleads us and we would be thrown into a sea of uncertainty. Each event has a connection in one way or the other; it either gives hints or misleads us.

Agatha Christie’s writing is so lucid and simple. Often, it made me wonder how she would put something so horrid and morbid in such simple terms. Her writing so matured and reading the book was a learning experience.


But...
There are too many characters to remember. After a point of time, it was also confusing. Miss Marple is smart. But, when she acts dumb (most of the time) it becomes redundant and boring. It also become predictable after completing the first half.


Should you read it?
Go for it…
It is a small book and gives your brain some work.


Rating
3/5


Some words that stole my heart
“When you think that you know people, it is in the image you have made of them for yourself.”

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Tu Tu Mein Mein - 18

Heart : I am feeling alone.
Mind   : It’s too late. Time to sleep Drama Queen
Heart : I am telling you that I am feeling alone. You are not even bothered to ask why.
Mind   : Uffo! You are just feeling homesick.
Heart : Can you please stop being so conclusive?
Mind   : Can you please stop being judgmental?
Heart : OKAY. Hurt and annoyed.
Mind   : OKAY. Happy and relieved.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Starry Kolam


I have a confession…
I really struggled a lot to put this Kolam…
I practiced several times in paper…
Then, I was nervous throughout the regime of drawing it…
When the final output turned out to be awesome…
I felt awesome as ever!!!!



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.

Monday, 19 January 2015

On a Winter Afternoon


When I landed in Dallas, Texas, USA…
Cold breeze greeted me…
Feeble drizzle kissed me…
Golden leaves caressed me…

My body was shivering.
It was experiencing unaccustomed climate.
And, my eyes were gleaming.
After all, it was experiencing an unseen shade of nature!


PS: The words written in the image is coined by me… Like it?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

I don’t know how it began…

I don’t know how it began…
Or why
It is past
And, I can’t efface
So, I cherish them!

I don’t know how it began…
          But, I know
          That it will remain  
          Over years that would come
And seasons that change!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Believe Me!

Of course yes. I tried.
Many times; for many years.
I couldn't forget.

Memories remain.
I cherish them forever.
And thank you for them.

  
PS: Thanks to Haiku Horizons for the prompt – TryJ

Friday, 16 January 2015

Pongal Kolam 2015

To begin with…
Happy Mattu Pongal guys!!!


And…
Here I am presenting to you…
Pongal 2015 Kolam…
Passionately made by my ammaji

இனிய மாட்டு பொங்கல் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!!!

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.



Thursday, 15 January 2015

Lessons Learned #1

Only forteen days has passed since the dawn of New Year, yet it has taught me some lessons in the hardest ways possible.

So here I am presenting the lessons that I learnt!

ü  Cough lasts for 15 days L
I was coughing when crackers were burst inviting a New Year. Slowly, I am recovering and feeling relieved.

I went to doctor because I was scared that I had some serious disease. I have finished at least two bottles of cough syrup – but no use. A dozen of paracetamol swallowed. Finally, I have become wiser if not healthier. Cough takes its own sweet time to fade. It is also like cold. Vapor-rubs and lozenges is temporal.

The coughing ordeal can make you hopelessly fragile and week. It doesn’t let you talk to anyone. Coughing fit can make you wish that you were spared such torture. Even stomach starts aching! At night time, you cough like you are possessed.

I am in USA for a week now. Funnily, (read as thankfully) I cough all through the day – Remember USA’s daytime is India’s night! 


ü  When you cook, you multi-task as well J
If you think that USA is a luxury unlike India, you are wrong. USA follows self-service. Imagine, the hotel we stay has a kitchen attached to it. I wake up hungry and wish that somebody is ready with hot coffee (Okay, tea is also manageable) when I finish brushing.

In India, I enjoy the luxury of mother, nice vegetarian restaurants and my dear PG (although it serves bad food). But in the USA, I cook myself.

And, note that I am cooking for the second time in life – so extensively and elaborately. And, most of my non-working hours is spent in the following:

·         What to cook? Planning the menu.
·         Learning the recipe
·         Analyze what is available
·         Cleaning vessels
·         Cutting vegetables

Please note that, I am cooking ONLY for myself and still it eats up so much of my time. I can’t imagine what a tough life my mother must be having – cooking for most of her life… for the entire family!

Amazingly, we have always heard that women multi-task. Now, I have experienced myself why they do! Cooking is not the only thing women do and cooking needs lots of time, not necessarily attention. So when rice is boiled, you can press clothes. When water is boiling, you can brush tooth. As one item is cooked, you can cut the veggies. You can clean room, fold clothes and WhatsApp and what not?

You can’t read books though. Malala is still staring at me. Long time since I started with “I am Malala”.

Well, all I can say is that lessons learnt and imbibed in heart!

PS: This post is dedicated to my dear mother who is celebrating her birthday today.

Happy Birthday ammaji!!! J

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Milk or Fabric Paint?!

T
here are some facts that you wish you never knew. Sometimes, it is easier to pretend that we are wearing blinders and thereby, move on in life. Many times, it is recommended not know how inhumanly human beings can behave!

Is it poverty? Or greed for money? I really don’t know.

Couple of days before, I was telling my team that I feel disgusted to have Pani Puri in Bangalore anymore. The reason being a viral WhatsApp video which showed that the Pani in Puri contains human urine. They said that such urine would make it tastier? I don’t know if they add instead of water.

That was when my manager startled me with another information. Being a person who spends lots of time in Railway stations and trains, I wish I didn’t came to know about it at all.

He showed me YouTube video which is a news coverage by CNN IBN. I showed that the tea vendors in Railway Stations mix white Fevicryl – Fabric paint in water. It gives water a milk-like texture. A tea vendor under veil was telling that instead of spending hundreds of rupees on milk, he needs to spend a mere INR15!!!

I mean really?

Where is human values? Why so much importance is attached to money than moral values? Where are we heading? Adulteration becomes a way of life and corruption becomes a religion that is followed by everyone irrespective of caste, creed or color.

Why do we fail to understand that what we give comes back to us?

Or am I being too philosophical when people fight their own battle to make ends meet… fill theirs and family’s stomach that they don’t care about anything but the present!?

Whatever be the reason, this piece of information shudders me…





Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Creative Pulli Kolam


This is a pulli kolam, i.e. kolam with dots.
I have tried to be creative here too.

And I hope that you like it J




Monday, 12 January 2015

Author's Interview - Shweta Taneja

Dear readers,
Presenting an author’s interview today.

Shweta Taneja is an author and graphic novelist based in Bangalore. She loves to prod and pry into peculiar and odd creatures with her books. Her latest Cult of Chaos (HarperCollins) is a tantrik detective thriller based in Delhi. Other books include The Ghost Hunters of Kurseong (Hachette) and graphic novels Krishna: Defender of Dharma which is part of CBSE Schools Reading List and The Skull Rosary which won a nomination in the Best Writer and Cover category at the Comic Con Awards. She has also written many short stories, comics and articles on technology, travel, health, and lifestyle. Find her online @shwetawrites or over at www.shwetawrites.com where she talks about random things.

Cult of Chaos, an Anantya Tantrist mystery
Anantya Tantrist is a spunky 23-year-old, gaali-spewing, beedi-smoking fearless tantrik who solves crimes in Delhi. When she's not solving crime, she's having a drink at Bedardi Bar. Cult of Chaos is the first of her dark adventures where she solves a case in which little girls are being sacrificed in a tantrik ritual. www.shwetawrites.com/anantya

The book is ready to be released on 15th January 2015. However, you can pre-order the following links:

Tell me something about yourself
I am a writer and a storyteller. I have a weakness for the occult, the esoteric and the oral traditions of mythology. When I am not writing, I either go on long walks, runs, or sit and have a cup of tea with friends.

Tell us about “Cult of Chaos”. What is the story behind selecting that name?
Cult of Chaos is the first Anantya Tantrist mystery. Anantya Tantrist is a spunky 23-year-old, gaali-spewing, beedi-smoking fearless tantrik who solves crimes in Delhi. When she's not solving crime, she's having a drink at Bedardi Bar. Cult of Chaos is a dark adventure where she solves a case in which little girls are being sacrificed in a tantrik ritual. The book features a God of Chaos who someone is trying to bring into Delhi. I won’t tell you much about it right now, because it’s a fabulous suspense, but the name was inspired by the same god and the followers he has, the tantriks who’re trying to bring him here.

Tell us something about your kickass tantric heroine - Anantya Tantrist.
Anantya’s a spunky independent girl who lives in Chandni Chowk. She has had a violent, abusive past, but she doesn’t feel like a victim. In fact, she’s quite the opposite. She has shifted to the city recently, but made it her own. Her profession, that of a tantrik detective, is her own choice completely. She has shrugged her father’s patriarchal legacies and the luxurious life she was offered to make it on her own in Delhi. She is not a goody-goody girl in any way. She smokes beedi, spews gaalis, glugs drinks at a seedy bar, and has one-night stands with various species. She lives by her own morality and ethics and doesn’t care two hoots on what the society thinks of her.

Professionally, I think she’s attracted to danger and unsolvable mysteries. She’s quite good at this detective thing she has fallen into. She enjoys being in the centre of action and likes to solve cases and help the underdogs of the supernatural underworld. She hates most of the tantriks around her though.

If you want to talk to her, head to @anantyatantist, though let me warn you, she can be quite a prickly bitch.

What is your inspiration behind writing a detective story?
Curiosity. I am superbly probing and curious when it comes to anything. I want to prod and pry till I get to the bottom of things. I think detective stories come naturally to me, as my friends who’ve had had to thwart questions from me will tell you!

Can you name three of your favorite books? And why?
I would like to mention my three favourite authors rather than specific books: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin. I’ve learnt darkness from Gaiman, humour from Pratchett, and a way mere words can touch your soul from Le Guin.

What is your favorite genre as a reader?
I love the speculative genre, to read as well as to write in. I remain fascinated by how authors explore our own quirks, attitudes, ethics and moralities through the concept of ‘others’—be it alien, supernatural or paranormal. Through these alternative worlds, we try and look critically into our world. And that’s what fascinates me about fantasy the most. That and of course we’re living lives of other creatures, which is just so much fun! Currently I am exploring a sub-genre of science fiction called feminist science fiction.

Being a journalist, can you please tell us the scope for freelancing and let us know how to be one.
Freelance scope has increased in India because of a lot of online sites and magazines which’ve come into place. But most of them don’t pay so well or disregard feature writers calling them content writers. To be a successful freelancer, you’ve to write regularly, at least six-eight stories a month, track all the payments, chuck the bad paymasters (and there are many) and keep with the good ones. And once you’ve managed to earn an editor’s trust, try and get a consultant position with them, where you commit a certain number of stories a month and they pay you regularly. That way you have some regular incoming coming your way.

I know that there will be several bloggers with a dream of publishing. Can share some tips on publishing. Can you also share your own experience on how your story found a publisher?
I’ve written about the journey in a separate blog. http://shwetawrites.com/book-contract/

When I was trying to get published, there were some really good tips I got from authors, publishers and friends. I’ve collated all of it in this post: http://shwetawrites.com/publishing/