Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kane a book review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • ISBN: 9788129144515, 8129144514
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 280

Lanka’s Princess is a tale of Meenakshi, the Surpanakha as we know her. The name sticking to her because of her nails or claws that she had on her fingers. The story is an exhaustive one which tells you about the troubled childhood. I could easily see the Kaliyuga version being played in teleserials and I am sure these guys can’t match to the cunningness and thinking that Meenakshi had.

This is a fantastic effort by the author, I am reading her for the first time. Mindblown by the intricacies and exhaustiveness of the narration, she dwells so deep into the psyche of the character called Meenakshi aka Surpanakha.

The scenes with her mother and her doting the father are real emotive ones that sets it in a contemporary age and it might look like the story of our neighbourhood. I am sure the Saas Bhau serials cant even come anywhere near in terms of cunningness that sets the tale across ending with Ravan.

What an intricate family relationship that Ravan and his family had across the spectrum including Vishnu as much as his Adhi Sesha being a part of Ravan’s clan. Its also a story that feeds on ambition and self praise and towering on the self and ego of one person Ravan and abetted by his sister Meenakshi who feels neglected since childhood.

Revenge is a kind word here to be used since we see how the flare up from small incidents take shape of a ill feeling that can destroy the person and all those around her. Its about the poison tree that people water forgetting things and eating its fruits later.

The characterisation of all the people in this tale is such an astonishing feature, be it Ram, Ravan, Lakshman or the heroine of this saga, Meenakshi. The story is a rivetting one and the language is very addictive in a sense that its easy to read and turn pages.

I loved the research behind this book and a new Ramayana played out in front of me, much to the discomfort that Sita wasn’t the primary reason for Ravan to wage a war. Quite often we do take the face value of the stories thats been given to us. The magic of the mythology that we have inherited is beyond compare especially because the characters of Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagvatham have some common time travelling and relationships beyond their ages when they happened.

We see some of the best of Ravan, and the worst of Ravan and many many worsts of Surpanakha.

Some nice narrative on Kumbha who we hardly give the space he deserves. All we know was his six month sleeping / eating.

Absolutely a nice work in total, threw open some new perspective and changed the way you look at what happens when a woman thinks of revenge!

Thanks Rupa Publications for your copy and thanks to the Kavita Kane for this wonderful work and hope to read many more stories that needs to be told.

PS: The author Kavita Kane specialises in telling the stories of some of the important women in the epics thorough their first person account or through their eyes.

SkyFire by Aroon Raman a book review…

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
  • ISBN: 9789382616610, 9382616616
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 256

This is a sequel and I must admit that I am reading the author for the first time. As a series I am sure it helps the reader with continuity and the characters make it easy for readers to relate. But ofcourse this is also stand alone issue that this story concerns with.

The issue of weather calibration to cause damage is core of the plot and on the sidelines we do also have child trafficking embedded into the story. The one on weather and its devasting effects it can unleash is equivalent to a biological weapon.

Chandrasekar and his friend Hassan, along with Meenakshi form the characters and unravel an ugly truth of child trafficking since they work with kids from the slum.

The characters stick to the plot and sometimes you could sense a bit of bollywood or cinematic attempts of narattion esp when the villain gives a walk through of the facility.

The fact remains that child trafficking and the laws that govern are highly ridiculous to the extent that you need to be a relative to complain of a lost child!

The book is well written except that it gives away the plot too easily and it triggers the faultlines in the early pages only. And the strands of plot are not interlinked to details but the author seems to suggest well you know this is how things are.

The plot on weather caliberation or the children trafficked both have not been given the real due, and somewhere those break like Sherlock doesn’t hold much and its a bit amatuerish. I know the characters can be amatuers but the work needs to be professional. Somewhere getting introduced to the NGO I got a feeling that they were behind this.

There’s a pace with the book but it could have been more detailed in some aspects of the plots.

It’s a good read and you will finish this in a single sitting max two. The language is simple and narrative is fast paced.

Three Stars from my side. To pick up the book go here: Flipkart

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Review Program. Thanks Flipkart for the review copy.

Senthilkumar

The Calling – Unleash Your True Self By Priya Kumar a book review

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  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Books That Inspire; 1St Edition edition (2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 935258970X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9352589708

At the outset let me thank the author and her team for a very personal way that they sent the book. Yeah that beautiful mug too.

Ever since that I have been following her on twitter and other social media, its has been a great way of looking at her work.

Here let’s look at the book The Calling – Unleash Your True Self, her latest one in print, I am sure she is working on the next, the cover design was a give-away on that.

In everyone’s life there is a purpose and we live half our life not knowing if we are working towards that or if we even think about it. This book will reveal that there is a calling everyone needs to heed. The one calling that will make all the difference and gives you meaning in life. The story of Arjun a corporate honcho who comes across some surprises and ends up doing a trek to Hemakund.

Along the way he gets answers to some of the most perenially thought of pretenses that we have acquired for ourselves. Confusions that we were thinking as clear answers simply because we want to assure ourselves that everything is fine.

Even the so called meditation that we know has a different connotation at that height, if I may put it that way. The heights of the mountains are in a way an ideal to suggest that meaning might differ and you might get to know something that you always thought you know.

The best part is we want to escape from this mundane existance of family for some, career for some and literally run away from all this and expect answers to be what we are and find out the real us.

Quite often till the time we come across those moments of calling all those activities that are tagged spiritual have a totally different meaning and perspectives. Those moments come unasked and unexpected and thats the beauty of this.

The characterisation of Arjun, then Chandu and the sadhu all make for a nice reading and well to get the most of the book I think it should be read and digested and made notes of.

The author has a way with words and its quite straight to the reader and that makes this book easy and relatable to everyone at first instance. We probably don’t know what & how things will be, but if we know the true calling I am sure that will have a bearing on the way we look at this world, the way we interact and they way we live our lives.

We are all Arjuns except that we are in a different role professionally / personally but then the Calling is there for everyone of us.

A great read! You can buy the book here at Amazon or Flipkart.

Senthilkumar

PS: Thanks to the author Priya Kumar for this opportunity and for that wonderful personal message of yours in the book. Feeling happy and that mug will sure serve the message time and again.

One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat #bookreview

One Indian Girl

You got to give it to Chetan, for once there is a semblance of the characters and not much melodrama which we found in his earlier works or atleast thats what I thought so. To be fair I have read all his works even the non fiction he wrote. His work as a screenplay writer is very much in display as much as he has worked on the characters.

The story is that of Radhika who is working in a financial MNC and is rising up the ladder and ofcourse in those times of her life going from the Indianess to being the global woman that she becomes, this is a story which is narrated in the first person.

I loved the character and its doesnt seem like Radhika is a girl in the way she approaches life and also makes it liek she is living her life on her own terms. I am sure there are many Radhikas in here and probably you do know some.

The story is a well knit one, you dont have to keep tab. It opens in Goa and ends in Goa in a matter of some 48 hours and the past sprikled in measures and doesnt take much time to finish it. I finished it in one go over six hours. You don’t have to probably think about what is ahead sometimes its so predictable.

One thing which is presented well is the feminist approach and the author takes a middle path when the character in Brijesh who is supposed to marry Radhika says its more good to be human first.

I think the author has taken pains to define the feminist in the protagonist which I think was unnecessary. So too are the explicit scenes of love making which ideally could have been avoided. It looked like it has been planted.

On the other side I also wonder how a male feels when he is ditched, thats for another day.

But like I said this is a nice presentation and going by Chetan’s way of teaching English in his conversational style this is a nice book to read.

A fast paced love story gone wrong in the corporate corridors and a great deal on woman’s perspective of how she thinks and feels. I would give it a 3.5 stars on 5.

The characterisation of all the players in this book are worthwhile and you can easily relate to some characters you have come across.

Senthilkumar

Friendships are for life… Yaroon Ki Baraat!

Three idiots

Three Idiots :P L to R: GopaKumar, Me & Karthikeyan

It’s been long years of friendship, say we have known each other for over 30 years and except for a brief period in between we have always been in touch. When we look back, it has not been the one of the best goody type besties we are known for, but what we know of each other is the fact that we respect each other for what each one is, as an individual, probably that makes this relationship more special.

We talk about the people in our lives and also about those who missed out on that. Quite often we share the same empathy when it comes to people and their issues and how we can help.

We were a generation which sang this song Mustafa Mustafa…

We have been through tough times, some real tough times literally in terms of personal (esp mine) and professional life. And through that we could take in what is the best and come out trumps and even today those are the moments that we relish simply because we didn’t have control over what was happening but yes we stood our ground to do what we intended and only what we love to do.

An ideal situation which presented before us to say: times do change. A tea stall / bakery that we used to frequent and a part time office place in our not so good days is now replaced by a big apartment, a telling fact that times do change and we should not lose hope. Being together in testing times perhaps is the most important thing for us. Probably that event taught us that change is the only constant.

The careers changed for better and now we are entrepreneurs (so I think) and professionals in a way. The practical aspect of running a business and the way how it affects your looking at life is also another lesson we both learnt in different spheres and contexts.

I know friendship across ages has defined only one thing for sure- being trustworthy and reliable and more so to be frank if you ask me. Those traits make or break a relationship. Standing by you is a phrase you will understand when the worst happens and there are people standing beside you inspite of all things broken around you.

kuselanThis would have been a slice of life for every one in the world. There is a beautiful and a successful movie in Malayalam titled – Kadhaparayumbol starring veteran actor Mamooty and the most versatile Srinivasan in lead roles. Perhaps the untold story there is that Mamooty donning a super star role as Ashokan has his friend in his memories ever so long. That he decides to bare his past to the audience is the climax that makes people teary eyed making it must watch movie. So moved was the Superstar Rajnikanth that he wanted it remade in Tamil which unfortunately bombed at the box office.

It might not be that the friendship is a toast or talk of the town but the richness lies in it being simple or in its simplicity sometimes. And that you can be taken for granted inspite of years that go by even without being in contact.

Wedding...L to R: Me, Gopa & Suresh

Now I am waiting to watch the stories of friendship that made the silver screens much larger than life and people longed to see the duos winning every time in reel and in real. ZEE TV’s Yaaron Ki Baraat looks promising to give us some real stories probably we have never heard before on friendship. The Show will celebrate friendship through a test and fun way and I can easily imagine how its gonna be on screen. Quite possible for the fact that we have taken friendship for granted.

PS: The two pictures at the dining hall are years apart but the common factor to it is having the lunch after the show is over. :)

My #ChotteKadam for a healthy heart with Saffolalife

I started my career as a copywriter and one day my senior told me we work from the head up – think. Sometimes, it’s been so true not even having to even get up while the coffee comes to your table.

The work style has changed since then, but the age has got the better of me. The place where I work now has two wonderful human beings and they believe that doing exercise is an assault on nature.

Coimbatore Marathon

So the last year we actually enrolled to run the Coimbatore Marathon and successfully did the 5KM run. This year we missed the deadline with each one at the different places.

But last few days have been a revealing process, I have been to hospital for different reason to visit people and also sometimes on occasions like slight fever not to mention the panic about even the normal fever that grips these days.

I have noticed I have put in a lot of weight literally some 4 kgs from the last time. It might be an easy joke to say round is also a shape. But it has some very dark secret inside that shape. And that shape isn’t for the likes of the heart!

Whenever, I promise to wake up at the time that the alarm goes, the promise goes for a toss. Then one day I realised that its not going to work. So get to work the way we can in small measures, yes that can ofcourse not be compensated the way you hit a treadmill, but yes calories counts a lot and if you can stop that it is a #ChotteKadam for sure.

Some of the #ChotteKadams now in practice

1. No Chai shop visits.
2. Eat only home food, I have been doing this maximum time possible.
3. Walk short distances whenever possible.
4. Make black chai at office.
5. Oily food to be avoided.
6. Opt for low cholesterol food.

So it’s true when they wrote a journey of thousand miles starts with a small steps. But those small steps need to be sure ones and steadily we can go about having them made into real results.

Some more things which can be more positive about healthy life will be to be associated with people who care for their health both physical and mental. So check out friends who are health conscious and be around them I am sure thats gonna be infectitous in many ways.

There are some more easy and chotta kadams that can make you hale and hearty. Get a fitness band, you know what you are doing with your fitness, it gives you an estimate of how much physical activity you undertake in basic ways as in steps and distance covered. Increase them by a few steps or few metres distance to make it count.

There are lots of bands that don’t cost so much even an MI Band would do to start off. Probably if you decide to be on a serious note go for GOQii with a subscription that gives you an access to a personal coach. That makes it really committed simply because someone is watching over you.

Ok heres the last but one effective morale bossting stuff I have come across, so how many days of an activity becomes a habit, scientifically they say if you can do it over 38 days you can continue to do it forever.

I usually say make it count as day 1 everyday and it will last a year!

As for being happy, let me tell you something its your birth right and no one can take it away from you.

So here’s to the #ChottaKadam that you want to take.

I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association withBlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.

Best Sports biopic in Bollywood

I know this week saw MS Dhoni the Untold story release. It might be nice to sit and watch the movie with Sushant Singh donning the lead role and doing the batting with a flourish like only MS Dhoni can do.

Travel back some days if you remember the flying Sikh, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and the way Farhan Akthar transformed himself to get to the speed Milkha Singh did. It’s not that easy as donning a regular role for any other kind of movie. These characters are about grit and determination and getting to the role in the finesse that can be seen physically tough and emote the way as a sports man would be a great stuff.

The likes of Mary Kom and Milka Singh is a great inspiration for biopics, and this trend should continue so that many generation to come can have a look at how these greats contributed to the sports.

Also some bio pics like Azhar could have been handled better in my view. The Dhoni becoming a raging success is an attribute to the man himself.

But what of those sweat and training of the likes of Priyanka who did the Mary Kom part or Sushant Singh Rajput who did Dhoni or Farhan Akthar who did Bhaag Milka Bhaag.

It needs the same strength and tensile ability to bring life to those characters which would be lifeless without the intensity that comes to ghe fore in a real sport. That perhaps is the challenge that these actors come upto. Farhan Akthar’s role as Milka Singh will remain one of the best performances in his career as an ode to the man who missed the medal.

Coming back to Sushant Singh here, he really would have loved being a cricketer after the movie it can easily be judged not  as to how he has evolved as an actor but as a cricketer. I would bet if he can be bought over in a an IPL he would be an easy target from some of the best teams.

Imagine getting into Captain cools shoes, you will know what I am talking about. Probably getting to terms in executing a helicopter shot would perhaps been one of the biggest challenge that’s so Dhonisque.

The success of biopics is the ability to get the audience inspired and it need not be all the time at the movie but even if there is a 1% inspiration that counts because we don’t know how it will playout in an individuals life.

As regards the physical regimen it makes it all the more alluring and that’s one component that’s a lifetime for a sportsman but a year or so for the actor. Here read this story of Sushant Singh and  have a look at this video!

The Tantric Curse by Anupama Garg – a Book review

Book Review The Tantric Curse Anupama Garg

The Indian spiritual tradition is always a mystery and that is kept so because people have heard of them only by hear say and never ever tried to find the real body of knowledge.

Quite often it gets twisted simply because the people who want to know it don’t have the patience or would not like to go through the rigour of knowledge seeking.

In this book the author who is a spiritual seeker herself makes a nice attempt to impart those basic understanding of spiritual and the tantric sciences with this novel.

The characters of Krishnam, Rhea make the story and the life and times of Rhea is central to the narration that we have here. The author takes extra care in getting us understand the real meaning of some of the things that are just not true and gives an insight into the lives of sadhaks, gurus and tantra tradition.

The portrayal of Rhea as a common girl and then later getting transformed is one that will leave you  thinking. It’s a rare attempt and a brave one, simply because the author has shown the female as the lead in the story and that helps remove much of the stigma that comes attached to say a Shakthi Dham or a religious place.

The descriptions and definitions at the right places gives us an insight into the real spiritual pursuits rather than those which are highlighted in the normal world and media gets it.

A nice read and a fast paced one could have been a little crisper at places but makes you turn the pages as you go.

Pick this book to know about the real vidya of tantra and how it is practiced and you could remove a lot of misconceptions about the religious and spiritual aspect of tantra.

On a sidenote I really liked the cover page and its got so many things covered.

Buy this book here at Flipkart: http://www.flipkart.com/tantric-curse-english/p/itmecb8fnhc49myu?pid=9788129137524

Amazon link here: http://www.amazon.in/Tantric-Curse-Anupama-Garg/dp/8129137526

The Girl Who Chose – Devdutt Pattanaik

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • ISBN: 9780143334637, 0143334638
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 112

I always say this, India is a land of charming story tellers and we will never get tired of telling them. The beauty of this land is the assimilation of the different cultures in the respective retelling of the biggest and impactful epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Devdutt Pattanaik comes again as a winner this time with the tale of Sita and how she chose five things for herself in her lifetime with Ram the prince of Ayodhya. It might have gone unnoticed why the story came about unless we think about it and see the reason around why Sita decided to go the forest with Ram and Lakshman, especially when she was just married and she has been the princess after all. She could have been sending off Ram to deliver the promise that his Dad made.

Again it was Sita during her days at the forest, who chose to cross the Lakshman Rekha, to give food to the ascetic who had come begging. It was a choice that had repercussions again simply because Lakshman had thought about it and drawn a line.

There are three more instances when she chose, get the book to read them and it is a delightful read the way it is presented. The story extends to the time of Luv and Khusha the twins of Sita when she is asked to leave the kingdom due to the way the gossip mongers have a field day.

The time she choses to make an entry into the fireplace is also a reminder of how the character has had an impact in terms of image being built around the royals vis a vis the rules and the fredom to choose.

Ofcourse the rishis and scriptures wanted us to see the characters in us as much as the story was told, here again the author has rekndled the efforts in us to reach out to the Ram, Sita and the Ravana inside us

Beautifully illustrated and narrated with short notes on the sidelines this is a wonderful book to introduce Sita as a woman who should be celebrated equal to Ram and Lakshman.

You will love this book to the core, enjoy it reading it loud to the kids too. Go ahead and take a plunge, there is subtlety in this and there is spiritual offering if in case you want to see it that way. Enjoyed reading this, and Devdutt Pattanaik has recreated the charm of introducing the characters with such conviction in story telling.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Review Program. To buy your copies go here : The Girl Who Chose

Senthilkumar

Faster, Smarter, Higher – Managing your career by Utkarsh Rai Book Review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • ISBN: 9788129137500, 812913750X
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 199

A career crisis is a phase everyone goes through at some point in time of their life. The earlier one gets it, it makes you better to anticipate somethings for yourself. In this book the author Utkarsh Rai takes us through some of the most mind boggling times when we should have had the real experience of being faster, smarter and think higher.

The author has made the book into 8 parts and each one is a testament on how you can manage different sets of values and sometimes people.

  1. Managing Self
  2. Managing your Manager
  3. Managing your Team
  4. Managing your Peers
  5. Managing your Managers Boss
  6. Managing Managers Peers
  7. Managing Others
  8. Managing the Acrobatics of the future.

The book provides ample insights in giving us the solutions in the form of What can you do? Quite often it’s this question that needs to be answered and that’s how it is done.

The book quotes extensively from the experience and situations which we may come across and this holds very true in case of people to people interaction we may come across in the daily routine.

I think this is an encapsulation in a very fine format which young budding managers need to learn a bit especially about managing their managers and their peers, this I think is a very new way to look at the career prospects and the people influencing the same.

The quotes which accompany the chapters are very thought provoking and mostly application driven and has the ability to propel you to achieve what you want in your career. In hindsight when I look back I feel things could have been different if I had read something like this before early in my career and it could have really made a difference.

I think this book is a go to guide for you whenever you need to go back and check and how you need to work on the situations that you come across. It’s more about people and how we manage them to get the best out of them.

It’s a fast read in a sense but will hold your thoughts for a while and sometimes you might take time to digest and flip through to the next page.

Another aspect is the simple straight talking language that is akin to speaking straight to you, making you comfortable and talking to you in a way that makes it easy to understand and help ourselves.

Pick this book and this will be an immense help for yourself and will turn to be a go to guide for times to come.

This review is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book review program. To pick up your copy of this book just click here

Senthilkumar