Think With Me by Saharasri Subroto Roy Sahara #BookReview

think withme

 

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India; Latest edition (10 November 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129142252
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129142252

This is a nice attempt at creating a discussion on making an ideal country. To that extent, Think with me makes a valiant effort to look back or sometimes look within the system and try to get some answers.

Here the author takes five important topics, if Indian decides on these it might lead to a new transition of sorts and would make the country an ideal nation. The topics are

1. Electoral system & Leadership
2. Population
3. Education System
4. Media
5. Religion

Here there is a concerted effort to take the discussion seriously but then we need to see if they can be effective, and it needs so much of real work on the ground and needs some constitutional amendment and that is not easy.

The best part if you ask me is the topics which has been chosen and they very largely contribute to what you see in the country whether good or bad.

The Electoral system still can be autonomous and I remember when TN Seshan then Chief Election Commissioner brought about the changes with implementation. Till then no one knew that EC had such powers and it can be the master when it comes to conducting elections. Since then there has been an ideal way of looking at elections and the accounts are scrutinised to a great extent but Indians being Indians we have a jugaad for everything you see.

I am happy that the author took the issue of population, which is very very sensitive subject since it also involves religion for some people. Its a fact that whatever development happens in the country gets offset with the population making it ineffective. Somewhere we need to make this heard and let people know that having more kids leads to productivity is an idea whose time has gone.

Think With Me

Education System is long due for overhaul. I still don’t know if we can get back to rehaul the system in the way we want. The suggestions seems unreal in part though. Anyways a good try if we can inculcate moral values and ethical issues in education with the past being taught the way it was.

Media the so called fourth pillar has become the den of corruption and the role which it was supposed to envisage has now become defunct and its time for a change that will see a lot of uprising and breakdowns in structure.

Religion was good as long as it was one mans personal space. But its a sensitive topic today unfortunately so much so that Supreme court has decided that you cant use religion for election, whatever that means…

As for the solutions offered we can take it with a pinch of salt, given the authors proximity to politicians and we would not judge them unless if it was tried and tested.

A good effort ideally, but lacks the punch when it comes to implementation at the ground zero. Probably if it was possible for common man to achieve things then it would have been different.

Senthilkumar

Small Towns, Big Stories by Ruskin Bond a Book Review

small-towns-big-stories-original

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Aleph Book Company
  • ISBN: 9789382277545, 9382277544
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 200

How do you write a review of one of the most enigmatic literary figure this country has ever produced.

Words fail in its sincerity to appreciate the thought process and the innate innocence that the type writer of those days churned out. All I can see is the relationship between childhood and innocence is laid thread bare for you to enjoy. It’s sheer magic of the storytelling that keeps you turning pages wishing that the story shouldn’t end. The pages goes on, sometimes to an end which is a mesmerising, an aspect of story telling by this Bond, Ruskin Bond!

The first story Big Race was a charming one and would take you to your childhood, ofcourse we may not relate it in the city here, but the story evinced such innocence in Koki the character and the way she wins is pretty about the character and the beetle too.

I don’t know if I should miss some stories in appreciation, but for want of space I am sure we can be suggestive enough.

Up the spiral stair case is the story which is quite reminiscent of how innocence and old are twinned wonderfully in a narrative.  The Story of Bina,  in A long Walk for Bina takes u through the hardships but ever loving character whose trek to school is well documented. The best part being that the scare of leopard and wild animals hanging over their head and they live the life to the fullest.

The Night train at Deoli, is another train story that will make you go back to the old charm of the author.

Another old one – Time stops at Shamli is also imagination par excellence. This story will continue to be remembered all through our lives. The characters are enigmatic and they are etched with the background of quite a rural Indian saga. I did love the notes on this by the author in his foreword.

I loved the Ghosts stories and the Murder stories apart from the other classics. I could sense a new way of looking at things when the author says Small towns are sure playground for big stories. It’s so true in all his creative works. The magic and charm that he weaves with the prose so sublime, you will start loving the place and the character. The repartees are good and you should actually be a witness to those.

The new stories also exemplify the way the author recreates magic with his words and those are going to be celebrated as much as the old ones are. I feel a sense of deja vu actually writing this review simply because, you don’t stand a chance to review but submit this as an endeavour in my trying to write rather than review the book.

Thankful for the copy from the publishers Aleph, made me go through the string of pearls. I am sure this will keep inspiring the readers and many new authors for days to come.  Be sure to check out the copies on Amazon here!

The Story of Hanuman – Mala Dayal #kids #bookreview

the-story-of-hanuman-original

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • ISBN: 9788129137173, 8129137178
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 76

Hanuman is an endearing character for all of us. Much to the delight of the kids his avatar has been retold with the kid like Hanuman or the Hanuman who is kiddish overflowing with innocence.

The story which we all know is vastly enhanced in presentation by the illustrations that are beautifully rendered by Taposhi Ghoshal.

The illustrations add the charm to the character that is already a lovable one, I must confess this pictures actually make Hanuman an adorable cute little God.

This book is a art manifestation of the story and the texts compliments the illustrations at times so well that you keep to the page. The kids also love the way the baby Hanuman starts flying into the sun to everything that’s been pictured so beautifully.

You can read this to the kids and also attest the same with the pictures.

For little grown up kids there is a test of what they have got to know of the story in the pages in between. I know its tough to put the whole story into such a small session but the author has been successful in bringing out the Hanuman that we all cherish from the kid to the one who helps Lord Ram rescue Sita from Ravana’s Lanka.

You will be happy having this copy and for sure this will be an entertaining retelling of one of the most loving stories ever heard for us. Being a parent now has made this book a must have / wonderful collection.

You can pick a copy of the book here at Flipkart / Amazon. Am sure you will thank me for this reco.

4 ½ stars out of 5 :)

Senthilkumar Rajappan

EXILE a memoir by Taslima Nasrin

EXILE a memoir by Taslima Nasrin

EXILE a memoir by Taslima Nasrin

  • Language: English / Translated
  • Binding: Hardback
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House India
  • Genre: Biographies & Autobiographies
  • ISBN: 9780670088744, 0670088749
  • Edition: 1, 2016
  • Pages: 336

I know Taslima Nasreen from what I have read in the newspapers and especially the incident at Hyderabad where she was attacked and had to be rescued. And ofcourse from the twitter world where she keeps talking as an independent voice unfettered by trolls whichever religion they may belong to.

I now know the reason why she is fiercely independent or rather she has her reasons and she perhaps lives to exemplify those statements that she makes unlike the so called liberals who she has called out in this book who take refuge of the situations and then give enough excuses on why they cant take a stand or show having a spine.

Reading the preface in the book gives us enough of how this book has come to life. It perhaps is the way with all her other books too. Thanks to the translator, I am sure this must have been a challenge in a way as much for the author.

The title should have been hard one for Taslima since you cant be in exile in your country and worse in the place that you wanted to be back ‘home’ and how that can be shattered by politics and fundamentalism.

The book spares no one in this narration of events that lead to her exile and how she was lost in time if I can put it that way. If there is a place called nowhere probably thats where the people wanted her to go.

I am for the first time taking a political stand on a book and a review probably I am at odds with what the left liberals have done to the fabric of the country and no one needs to read anything else than this book to show their hypocrisy. A stark reality of how even the media is hand in glove with liberals when they cant take criticism or feel like offended is glaringly revealed with the way they held themselves outsing Taslima from Calcutta the now Kolkatta.

Fundamentalism doesnt have a religion its got only a reason to be what it is.

The book is got different styles and it takes time to get into the groove, simply because the events described there are so much of disturbance and those we didn’t know first hand. Some places the narrative changes to poetry and then to instances given as it is in a dialogue format a part of diary which the author had.

I would recommend this book for its retelling of our times from a perspective of a free woman and will help understand the psyche of the world when it comes to fighting truth and the uglyness it creates in the society on its own.

My admiration for translated version have gone up considerably after reading this book and kudos to the translator for having done a fabulous job here.

Buy your copy here : Flipkart

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Review Program and thanks Flipkart for the copy.

Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kane a book review

lanka-s-princess-original

 

  • 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…

skyfire-original-imaem8v2rnvajfbf

  • 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

calling_

  • 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.