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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Book Review : One Indian Girl ( By Chetan Bhagat )


















For the first time, I have to admit that Chetan Bhagat's work is 'something special'. Having read each one of his creations, I can safely conclude that the guy is popular because of the connection he is able to establish with the readers. Yes, all this book have that one character whom the average Indian can identify with. And since the average Indian comes in all shapes, sizes and skin color, the characters keep changing. This time it is an Indian girl ( not an average one but someone very special ) whom quite a large number of female readers would connect with.

Whether it is the pseudo-feminist Debu, the debonair Neel or a sweet and nerdy Brijesh, it is a book that explores the male psych from a female perspective. Riya, the protagonist is clearly an overachiever with a cushy job at Goldman Sachs and a whole load of baggage regarding her physical appearance. Now, it may sound regressive but in the real world, Indian girls are still brought up to obsess over their looks. To keep things more alive, Riya has a mother who is constantly trying to marry her off. Magical touch isn't it ?

Almost every second girl earning a decent package and who has crossed the age of 25 can relate to this 'secret desire' to settle down. It is a different story that they will never admit to it and instead blame it on the pushy relatives. Also known as the Cinderella complex, it is nothing but an all consuming desire of having someone take care of you. Never mind that you end up mothering the guy even as you draw an equal paycheck. Huh ??

However, it is Bhagat's take on the guys which is clearly more interesting. He has stereotyped them in pretty much the same way as we females do. While it is very much possible for a writer to slip under the skin of a character, this is one epic effort. The male characterization is clearly one of the key strengths of this book.

As Debu shows us, it is an entirely different ball game to pay lip service to the concept of female equality and being man enough to accept a wife who earns more than him. Neel on the other hand belongs to the somewhat sparse tribe of super successful men who are still insecure in parts. Don't we call it the 'middle age crisis' or something like that ? Wanting to hold on to a younger woman apparently offers them some extent of redemption. These are the guys who keep the gossip mills going during the water cooler/tea/coffee breaks . And every organisation has one or two such specimens. Though not all of them happen to be star-crossed like that Phaneesh Murthy guy !

Brijesh is the sweetest of them all. A nerd who works with Facebook, he is not only the obedient son who also supportive of his wife. But not in a patronizing way . The weed episode in Goa establishes him as quite the cool guy. Towards the end when all everything comes together (or rather falls apart), we realize that he is only human but one with a kind soul.

Overall, a nice read. Not that it will leave you with much to introspect but a smile on the face is guaranteed  !

Statutory Warning - The male of the species may find this less than amazing . Especially the types who are inclined to pass judgement on anything (living / non-living) within the radius of mile or sometimes even more.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review : This Love That Feels Right ( by Ravinder Singh )
























There is nothing like bad publicity when it comes to selling a book. As it happened in this case, I desperately wanted to read this one after going through the reviews of a few individuals who had their knickers in a knot ( sorry for that colloquial expression...kids these days rarely use it ) because it treads on the treacherous premises of an extramarital affair. No. I am not pointing any accusing fingers at the author just because another individual decided to voice an 'unsavory' opinion in cyberspace.

If anything, Ravinder Singh deserves a high-five for writing this amazing book. In a consumerist world, where every single want/need calls for instant gratification, this is a love story that sweats, simmers and stews for the entire duration of the book instead of being subjected to a quick blast of the microwave. If you are wondering where that came from, that parallel is just the side effect of being into food blogging for seven long years. Now, coming back to the author, this is the first time I have picked one of his books and I am happy that I did so.

The plot is centered around a young woman caught up in a unhappy marriage. Naina falls in love with her personal trainer Aarav and it so happens that the attraction is mutual. Just as you think of dismissing it as yet another extramarital affair, Ravinder Singh plays it out with such emotional flair that one is left asking for more. Surprisingly, there is no action between the sheets as one would expect when dealing with this sub-genre. The story moves ahead in such a fashion that everything from their initial attraction to their subsequent inner turmoils are showcased brilliantly. And maybe that is the best thing about the narrative. It is all very real and convincing.

The introduction of a third character who serves as a common friend and helps Naina to break free from shackles of a conservative upbringing is great addition to the main plot. Manvika is not only smart and sassy but the polar opposite of the reticent Naina.

Though it touches upon the much debated topic of adultery, is the most poignant portrayal of a bond between two members of the opposite sex. Is it an attempt to sanctify extramarital relationships ? I very much doubt so for the story takes a positive though not exactly happy turn at the end. You have to read it yourself to get the point.

Does it succeed in changing my view of such relationships ? No, it does not. For in the real world, most of these individuals are selfish assholes. I have come across quite a few and I am sure most of you would have encountered them. Human relationships continue to be governed by very complex laws of probabilities and one literary piece cannot change that.

However, this is one book that I really loved and would happily recommend to everyone !!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Closure

















She opened a blank notebook. The only unmarked one that she owned. The pages had turned yellow over the twenty odd years that it had been in her possession. Even the once blazing golden threads on the leather cover had blackened considerably. She had bought it on a whim even though it had cost a bomb.

She traveled back in time. Going through the rows of shops at the Tibetan market on a trip to Pondicherry, the youngster had stopped abruptly at a small shop selling various curios. Her Dad had been holding her hand and the sudden ceasing of movement caught his attention. He looked at his little girl casting a wistful look at the various notebooks, diaries and pens displayed on the counter.

"Want one of these ?", he smiled at her while picking up one of the hand-crafted wooden pens.

"No Daddy. I want this. This one is calling out to me", she replied even as she held up a leather bound volume that had the most intricate pattern woven in golden threads.

He took one good look at the notebook his angel held in her hands and knew that it would turn out to be an expensive bargain. Though a part of him wanted to dissuade her, another one watched proudly as her slim fingers alternately caressed and gripped the fascinating article. "She loves it. She must have it", an voice whispered into his ears.

"What will you do with it ?", he inquired playfully.

A beautiful smile lit up the youngster's face making her seem even more angelic in the eyes of her devoted father. His question was the sign that she would get what she wanted. Her hero would never fail her.

"It is very special Daddy. I will use it to pen down the most beautiful story ever ", she replied back in a manner not unlike a spirited sixteen year old.

"Yes you will my dear", he said as he ruffled her unruly hair.

"Knock. Knock". A sharp rap on the door brought her back to the present.

"Another ten minutes please", she almost screamed. Tears stung her eyes. Flipping through the blank pages had brought back memories of heartbreak. All her relationships had been unmitigated disasters till she met him. The smile was back on her face.

Glancing at the mirror, she saw the radiant bride smiling back at her. The makeup was minimal, the jewelry sparse and the hair which just fell short of reaching her shoulders. A hair stylist had cleverly manipulated the short tresses with a few red roses to give it a festive look. But it was the simple red silk saree with an elegant golden border that owned her curves lovingly and made her appear like the bride.

She touched up her face for the final time and pulled back a few stray strands. On another day she would have left them loose but today they had the potential of spoiling the wedding photos. A pink blush suffused her visage as she realized her yearning for the feel of his strong fingers stroking her cheeks as he picked up the stray strands of her hair and lovingly tucked them behind her ears.

"Knock. Knock." Yet another impatient rap on the door. "Final call. Everyone is waiting", yelled her friend.

"Another two minutes please", she yelled back.

Picking up the notebook and her favorite Parker pen, she opened the first page and wrote 'Thank you Daddy'.

Turning it to the very last page, she continued

'The right guy is not the one who can make out the difference between Russian Red and Ruby Woo. But the one who understands why you choose to wear either.'

'Thank you Joy.'

Once she had put it away in a safe place, she hurried to open the door. And there he stood. Just where she had expected to find him. There was no trace of irritation on his face as he came forward to hold her hand.

"I can wait all my life dear. But these people gathered over here just cannot wait any longer to open the champagne", he cooed into her ears as they walked towards the car.


‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Seeking Love









































Copyright Alert - This is an original creation by the blog owner ! Please DO NOT copy or reproduce in any form.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Follo.in - The One-Stop Shop for Bollywood Dope

In a country divided by religious beliefs, Bollywood is perhaps the only unifying factor that succeeds in evoking familiar feelings among all countrymen. Given it's all encompassing wake, even Cricket, another strong cohesive force, comes a close second. Planning to disagree ? Grab some caffeine and jog up your grey cells to recall those India-Pakistan matches which just about manage to make people switch allegiances . I rest my case without any room for further arguments.
















For most of us, our daily dose of Bollywood news is sacrosanct. Whether it is a newspaper column, a movie glossy, TV channel or even your favorite RJ, we suck up these tidbits about our favorite movie stars, their professional lives or personal shenanigans with much eagerness. But if you have ever wished for that one-stop source that could update one on all the latest filmy 'gupshup' and even more, here comes your answer in the form of follo.in. It has all the news that you ever wanted to know plus exciting movie quizzes and a chance to win some autographed paraphernalia. So what are you waiting for ? Head out to follo.in and get your daily dose of latest Bollywood news. And don't forget to download the Follo App that lets you connect with your favorite celebs.

But coming back to the chauvinistic ways of Bollywood, things could take quite an interesting turn if the director's baton be passed on the likes of Farah Khan, Zoya Akhtar for remaking some popular movies. And to add more punch to girl-power, the lead (read 'male') protagonists would be replaced by kick-ass actresses like Kangana Ranaut, Richha Chaddha or even our 'desi' girl ( now almost settled in 'videsh' ) Priyanka Chopra.

Here is a list of movies that I hope would come up with an 'Estrogen' laden makeover -

1. Dil Chahta Hai - Replacing the trio of boys Aamir Khan, Akshaya Khanna and Saif Ali, it would be fun to watch an all-girl gang handle the rather tangled ropes of love and relationships. Not to forget the fun-tastic road trip that adds to the movie's charm. Any guesses about the casting ? I would bet on Priyanka Chopra, Richa Chaddha and Kareena Kapoor.

2. Three Idiots - There are enough female students in engineering colleges who would vote to an encore of this cult movie, albeit with an all female cast. Unlike popular perception, the girls in Engineering do have their share of fun. It's time someone explored the territory. I would put my money on the trio of Kangana Ranaut, Deepika Padukone and Shraddha Kapoor to go justice to this one.

3. Agent Vinod - Everytime I see one of these swashbuckling capers, I instinctively yearn for a 'desi version of Lara Croft. While there have been a few movies recently where the actress got to do some amazing stunts, none of them have been comparable to this phenomenal Hollywood character. Sunny Leone packs in the right attitude to play this deadly beauty though Priyanka Chopra comes close after her 'Quantico' success.

4. Andaz Apna Apna - Though it was not labelled as a hit, this endearing movie has made it to the list of favorites for many. The sheer comic timing of Aamir Khan and Salman Khan is unforgettable at the best. Considering that not many female actresses get to explore this genre, I would bet my money on Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra to add a few more interesting gags to the laugh riot.

For more such crazy takes on Bollywood and the celebrities, do check out follo.in .

Or connect via their social media handles -

FB – Follocelebs 
Twitter - @Follocelebs 
YouTube – Follocelebs 











Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Review : The Tantric Curse ( Anupama Garg ) / Rupa Publications
























"We do not fear the unknown.
  We fear what we think we know about the unknown." - Teal Swan

Tantric traditions undeniably fall into the second category. Much reviled for centuries and feared by masses, Tantrics are assumed to be loners who cast blood-curdling spells on hapless people. This book is an attempt to dispel such myths as it charts the course taken by the life of a female Tantrik.

The story of Rhea and Krishnam is one set in today's world and yet it regresses just enough to accommodate the internal workings in a realm inhabited by the Tantrics or seekers of the spiritual. Their initial days of friendship, the seamless transformation as they go through teenage and finally the maturity with which they seal their relationship is beautifully narrated in a language that is easy and flowing. 

Rhea's interaction with people from outside the 'sadhanasthal' is also beautifully documented. Her school friends reluctance to visit Rhea's residence, the fear that her background evokes among the college crowd and finally the balanced approach taken by her to 'cure' her patients speak volumes about the skewered perceptions of the masses regarding what can be defined as 'psychic powers'.

The twist in the plot due to which Rhea is separated from Krishnam and which makes way for Dr Vishnukant to enter their lives is handled with tenderness. The relationship between Rhea and the latter has a dignified angle to it and somehow works with the given story-line.

There are detailed explanations on each and every aspect of Tantra and Hinduism in almost every chapter. But they are integrated into the narrative in such a manner that they might as well be a part of the plot instead of being speed-breakers. 

Inspite of my earlier misgivings regarding a book based on a 'Tantric' plot, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It manages to portray relationships in all their simplicity and complexity at the same time even as it does a fair job of introducing the principles of Tantra. Though it fails to breach that barrier required for me to deem it as 'thought provoking', it is immensely enjoyable. I read it in the small gap ( I would rather call it a breather ) between two heavy weights ( Murakami and Orhan Pamuk ). And for a change, I have to admit that at times simple things can really feel refreshing ! Not revealing much of the storyline as that will make it a spoiler.

Read this one without any prejudices and you will love it !


Disclaimer - The book was sent over by the PR team for a review. However the opinions expressed are solely my own.