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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Lotus Queen

The Lotus Queen is the story of queen Padmini of Chittor written in a very lucid style. A slim book of 8 chapters, it flits between present and flashback, thereby bringing out the sharp contrast in the life of the queen in jus a space of a year.
Padmini comes to Chittor as the bride of Rawal Rattan Singh – the newly crowned ruler of Chittor. Within a span of 8 months, The Sultan of Delhi, sets his heart on Queen Padmini. His terms are simple just one look at the rare jewel of Chittor. His wish is granted and he is allowed to see her reflection in the mirror.
The Sultan gets back to his camp and wages a war, taking the rawal prisoner. His terms are clear this time- Padmini in exchange of the Rawal.
The Rajputs set up a Trojan horse situation and storm into the army camps in palanquins under the pretence of being the queen’s entourage. They rescue the Rawal but this is only the beginning of their troubles. Chittor gets into a siege and the Rawal takes the final step- Saka- facing the enemy inspite of being at a disadvantage.
Rani Padmini, along with thousands of noblewomen commit Jauhar- self immolation – death before dishonour.
The story of Padmini never fails to horrify me. And it also makes me appreciate those troubled times, where they lived like a King but also had duties that could never be ignored. It was always the people before self. And most importantly- the times were always uncertain. One could be a king one day and a pauper within a space of a few battles.

I related the Trojan horse incident to the kids and asked them in the end- so who were very brave here- without hesitation the kids replied- the soldiers!

There is a small section on the General of the army - he is almost in the process of leaving the battle ground - the author deals with the conflict in his mind and how he overcomes the fear of inevitable death to fight the enemy.

The Rawal made strategic mistakes- for the sake of maintaining the rajput honour- even though Queen Padmini was not in favour. We can see the error of his decisions as we read.

Overall, it is a tale well written- with a smattering of the author's imagination. The author also mentions the lack of concrete record of the existence of the Queen but the story is very much alive in multiple forms- in text books, in comics and in oral tales.

A special mention on the cover art – it is based on kavad art and gives a very traditional feel in keeping with the tale.

Nothing to Declare

Based in Nepal, these 16 short stories mirror the life of Nepali youth. Ever changing yet never changing.
Initiations is a simple story of a young boy’s initiation into the adult world- he is expected to mock escape after the ceremony and his uncles are supposed to bring him back. The thrill of the chase prompts him to do something that no one has done before.
In Arranged Marriage, a young modern boy debates with himself and finds himself getting attracted to the proposition of an arranged marriage even though he was against it earlier.
Tiger is the story of bravado and the ultimate comparison between the fear of an animal and the problem of Maoists.
Nothing to Declare is the story of a boy who is going to London.
Angels is the story of a boys' hostel and the horrors that lurk there for younger kids at the hands of the older ones.
In Aryaghat, we deal with suicide of a boy in foreign lands.
The stories cover a wide range of subjects yet failed to excite me. it is a slim volume and the stories are short but I found it difficult to empathise with most of the stories.

Aryaghat is a touching story but leaves many questions unanswered, thereby reflecting the despair of the parents and relatives. Arranged Marriage is realistic - an initial rebellian followed by treading the beaten path. Whereas Angels horrified me.

On Being Versatile

Sue awarded the versatile blogger award to me. and here I accept the same very graciously.

To accept the award, one must write a few facts about oneself.

So here they are....

1. I once travelled ticketless in the train- unintentionally of course

2. I know it happened but still never fails to surprise me that my mom and aunt would leave 4 cousins together at home and take off for shopping- this when my cousin & I were around 6 years old and our respective siblings were 3 and 4 years old. Now cut to present- will I be able to do that now?

3. I have smacked someone on the back mistaking him to be my husband- his fault- just a second ago he was standing there wearing a black T shirt and he moved and this man again in a black T short moved to the same spot.

4. I have held someone's sari and followed her out of the theatre thinking I am holding my Mom's sari, when I was about 5 years old.

Ashoka the Great

It is ironical that a book that I have a book in my hands that has 1000 plus pages of pure reading pleasure but I haven’t been able to read it fully as yet.

But I do want to review it inspite of not being able to read it fully because otherwise it will take me a year to do the review. So in effect- it makes for a leisure trip of reading. And do not forget- the book weighs 2 kg and is available in hard bound.

Ashoka the Wild Prince is the obvious King in waiting – the rightful claimant of the Mauryan throne- by attitude and manner and certainly not by order of birth.
Whereas the real King in waiting has all the qualities of a king- an eye for beauty, the love of art and love but not the art of war and the will to defend his empire.
Ashoka is the General of the Army that is sent to defend the borders. To his father Bindusara, he is the next king- subject to his proving his mettle- simply because of his order of birth.
The book covers the contrasts in the life of ashoka- his advent to the throne, his transformation from a wild prince to a wise ruler and the propagator and teacher of Buddhism.
The book is a fascinating read- even though I have not yet completed it, I review it here so that those interested in historical novels could look out for it.

Ashoka’s guru plays a key role in his life and his thoughts and recommendations shape his decisions.
The wild prince strategically forms allies as he goes about in the manner a true king does.
These and a whole host of nuggets form the tapestry of Ashoka’s story.

A Grain of Sand- Chokher Bali

Set in the onset of the 20th century, Chokher Bali has all the ingredients of a modern tele serial. Emotions, lots of sadness, ill fate, conservative joint family, a quintessential side kick for the main hero, and the extra marital affair. This in a nutshell is chokher bali- meaning a grain of sand that gets into your eye and causes a reflex action.
Choker Bali is the name Binodini and Asha gave to each other as per the convention of naming their closest friends with their own private name for each other.
Unknown to Asha, Binodini has a past. Her mother had approached Rajlakshmi, for giving her daughter’s hand in marriage to her son Mahendra. Mahendra, in his arrogance of youth had refused to marry and so had Bihari- Mahendra’s bosom friend – a permanent fixture in their house.
Ill fated Binodini became a widow soon after her marriage. Her luck brings her to Rajlakshmi’s home and she wholeheartedly and single handedly begins to run the home. She befriends Asha- Mahendra’s young and naïve wife and takes a firm place in Rajlakshmi’s heart- something that Asha is unable to achieve.
As time goes on, Binodini befriends Mahendra who is slowly dazzled by her beauty, her way with words and her efficiency- so very unlike Asha whom he loved all along.
Mahendra and Binodini elope but Binodini knows there is no future with Mahendra- she also begins to see Bihari as a better prospect- more reliable and a safer bet than the much married and fickle Mahendra.
Where will the confusion end? Whom does Binodini choose in the end? Will the breach of trust cause a break in the relationship between Mahendra & Asha?
with all the makings of a modern drama or a movie, the book is relevant to the modern era. Perhaps in todays version, the solution would have been a win win one. Whereas here, Binodini takes the idealistic route- a route of penance rather than self gratification. Perhaps because this was set in a time of minimalism and self denial.

Mahindra is a character who doesn't get my sympathy. Used to getting everything on his plate, being the male of the house and having very little patience if things are not as per his expectation.

Bihari is the voice of reason whereas Asha is a helpless naive girl who transforms herself in the face of problems.

The book could have moved faster though.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Postmaster- Selected Stories

To mark the 150th anniversary of Rabindrananth Tagore (1861-1941), Penguin India has presented a special selection of works by and on the Nobel laureate, poet, writer and philosopher. From novels, poetry, essays and short stories to biographies The Penguin Tagore Bookshelf covers the entire range of works of and on Tagore.
The Postmaster is a collection of 29 shorts stories and some letters written by Tagore- translated beautifully by William Radice.

The stories capture the life of West Bengal, its beautiful landscapes, culture, and socio-economic structure, even negatives like abject poverty, sorrow or misfortune.

The stories are slice of life tales, they end partially resolved or in a matter of fact manner- like any normal incident happens in our life. Some remain unresolved like the mysteries of our life, in some people move on and go on about the business of their life- depicting clearly that life finds a way despite disappointments and discomforts.

In the Gift of Sight a woman is rendered sightless because her husband who is a medical student insists on treating her and doesn’t take her to the doctor.
In a poignant tale The Editor, a father neglects his child because he is too busy with his writing.

Elder Sister is a sad story of a sister who gives up all for her baby brother.

A daughter in law is measured on the scales of Profit & Loss- inspite of her husband being against dowry, the story depicts how the rest of the household lead to the death of the doctor- not a case of murder but simple case of negligence towards the one who did not bring the full dowry.

In the Middle of The Night- a patient comes to tell his tale of woe to his doctor.

The Postmaster teaches his caretaker the alphabets – he moves on when he leaves town but the caretaker is unable to let go.

Division of property creates The Divide between friends.

A story like The Exercise book reflect on the practice of discouragement rather than lack of encouragement of education among women in those times.

False Hope depicts the curse on a woman who is unable to bear a child. The end would have been predictable in our time but in this story even Tagore could not pin the blame of barrenness on the man.
The Punishment is a tale with a slight psychological bent. A husband kills his wife in anger. His brother persuades his wife to take the blame upon herself and assures that everything will be alright in the end. In those times, the rampant philosophy was that one can get another wife but not another father or mother or brother.
Towards the end, even though she was given the chance to defend herself, his wife refused to do that. It seemed she wanted to punish her husband for his disloyalty by accepting a death sentence.

Holiday depicts the change in personality of a boy when he leaves his home to live with his uncle for education.

Fool’s Gold is the quest for hidden treasure that solves all problems, whereas Wealth Surrendered is the tale of a miser who finds the heir but wills away his wealth to him in a chilling and brutal fashion.

Of course the compilation cannot be complete without Kabuliwallah the story of the vendor’s love towards a child- who reminds him of his daughter.

These, and a lot more stories comprise this jewel from Tagore collection.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Want to Live- The Story of Madhubala

I Want to Live- The Story of Madhubala
Born on Valentine’s Day in 1933, the Venus of the Indian screen who captured the hearts of millions had a congenital heart problem ironically. The woman who had it all, or rather could have it all, was left with nothing towards the end of her short life. She died at the age of 36, failed by her heart, heartbroken, disappointed by the person she gave her heart to.
Madhubala started her career at the age of 8 as Baby Mumtaz. Her father had lost his job from the Imperial Tobacco Company, and had a huge family to support. Ultimately he pushed baby Mumtaz towards movies and until the end of her life he chaperoned her and managed her career, negotiating contracts, laying down the most ideal conditions for her work atmosphere and maintaining strict rules by which Madhubala abided- no journalists on the sets, no parties, no late night shoots, no location shoots, pack up at 6.30 pm.
Her heart condition did not permit her to stay too far from medical help or even take the strain of dancing- yet she danced- she learnt kathak from maestros like Sitara Devi, Lachhoji Maharaj & Gopi Kishan.
The book covers her entire short life in 6 chapters starting from her early years to her Golden Era, her co-stars, her Swan Song- Mughal-e-Azam and her last years.
Her co-stars recall about her fondly. Everyone loved Madhubala or rather, was in love with Madhubala but she had eyes for only one.
In the words of Ashok Kumar- to be an artist is an achievement but to be an artist and not get a swollen head is an even greater achievement.
“I was immensely struck by her singular beauty which I discovered afterwards was more radiant in real life than could ever be on the screen…Dev Anand”
There is a lot of detail on Mughal–e-azam- K Asif spared no expenses in the making of the movie. The movie took 9 years to complete, the technicians were on the rolls throughout, designing and constructing and dis-assembling and re assembling the sets, perfecting the costumes, the Akbar era props etc. It is said Prithviraj Kapoor would look at himself in a full length mirror long and hard before the shoot to get into the skin of the character and before the shoot would recite a verse from Koran.
K Asif had short the best love scenes in the beginning itself- the famous scene where Dilip Kumar caresses Madhubala and Bade Ghulam Ali’s song Prem Jogan ban… wafts in the background. The chemistry between the two is evident. Towards the end of the making of the movie, relationships had changed. Madhubala’s personal life was in a mess, Dilip Kumar & Madhubala’s relationship was in shambles post the court case during the making of Maya Daur and the tension between the two was palpable during the shoot.
Madhubala wanted very little from life.
“I want to do everything by myself. I want to have just a small home which I can keep and look after by myself”
Not a great deal to ask for but it remained unfulfilled.
The critics could never go beyond her beauty and appreciate her talent- she never got an ward, She was not voted the most beautiful face in a poll. She never could take the bold decision to leave her home and marry Dilip Kumar. She had a bad marriage to Kishore Kumar. And above all, her heat failed her.
Towards the end of her life she reflects bitterly- I am very emotional. I have always lived my life with my heart. For that I have suffered more than is necessary.
She prayed fervently- God, I want to Live….
The book left me with mixed emotions. I started with a greedy turning of pages lapping up every detail of her life, living in star studded black and white world the few days I was reading the book. I am left with a strong yearning, a need, a want to watch her movies, each and everyone of them. I have wished at many junctures while reading the book- wish she was alive. Wish she could have continued for ever doing what she loved most, wish she would have given love a chance.
Towards the end, I was in tears. Tears for the injustice to her life, her unrequited love, her unfulfilled dreams.
Never has any story moved me as much as this one.
Yet, the fact remains that Madhubala lives on in the hearts of millions, in the movies and in the book written on her, and in my review- even as I write it!

The book comes with a VCD collection of her songs

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Million

A few days ago Tejas wanted to know what comes after 1000. So we told him the counts - ten, hundred, thousand, ten thousand, 100 thousand, 1 million....
Something that had taken me years to get comfy with. Finally at the age of 25 when I was involved in active projects I could convert millions into lakhs and so on comfortably.
So we told Tejas a million has 6 zeroes.

He has suddenly developed a fascination for the calculator on my mobile-an application with which I am never comfortable and use only under duress. I prefer calculating mentally or on paper than use the calculator on the mobile phone.

Yesterday Tejas asks me- Mamma what is Million plus 100. I gave the answer without thinking and then checked what he was doing. He was doing the arithmetic on the phone calculator. I asked him what is this figure. He says- million. I asked how do you know- because it has 6 zeroes.
I never thought he will remember something that I had told him more than a week ago.

Last heard, he was telling Ojas who had caught on - I told you calculator is very easy.

They are doing various large figure additions and progressively getting fascinated with the figures that turn up after each mathematical operation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Quick Link

Do check out author Devapriya Roy's interview published here

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Resident Taster

Tejas must have eaten melon just once till date.
The other day he asked me for watermelon juice and Ojas asked for watermelon + musk melon juice.
The balance of this juice, I poured into Tejas' glass. He took a sip and said- melon jaisa taste hai!

Not easy to fool him in the taste and smell department- like his Mamma!

While on teh topic of fruits- this year is alphonso discovery one. I have eaten the same from Mumbai, and Chennai both- unlike usually I prefer not to take the low quality alphonso.
But my heart still beats for Himsagar, that I discovered a couple of years ago and Langda of course.

We also bought Lichis at teh criminal price of Rs 150/ kg. The kids love it. Not as good as the red, juicy, luscious ones you get in Patna though. :(

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Celebrating Mommyhood

Via Kiran via Monika on Celebrating Mommyhood.

A tag to list out five lessons of life that Mommyhood has taught us, these could be sweet, bitter, funny, touching, whatever. These could be survival tips or cooking tips, or something as simple as the best thing to get puke smell out of hair.So, the rules are simple. Put the badge up. Write out five lessons that Mommyhood taught you. And tag five mommy bloggers.

1. To not only answer questions but to also question the answers- I always thought MBA taught me that. But no. Come motherhood and I am always debating, questioning, reading, googling, asking, seeking, more than what I was doing earlier. Sometimes I am questioning age old traditions like stuffing cod liver oil into a fish eating child's daily diet in hot summery Chennai or complicated stuff like whether mutton is cooling (yin) or heat generating (yang). And other times I am trying to compose the best possible answer to the kids' questions.

2. To Exercise Self Control- Leading by example takes a whole new meaning altogether. So it could be something like giving up junk food altogether (or err banishing junk food from home), or switching off the TV while eating and strictly eating at the dining table rather than languishing on the sofa, or putting the shoes back into the shoe rack instead of allowing them to lie scattered right outside the rack. Or more difficult stuff like restraining the tendency to quarrel like wild cats. (touch wood)

3. Being Straight on the Narrow- coming back home on time from office, no loitering around in shops unless really necessary or grabbing a bite in a restaurant. Keeping me time/ girlie time to hours when I will not be missed.

4. Stretching the 24 hours to beyond- Making the most of the time the kids are napping by cramming in as much work as possible, multitasking, and often urging others to multitask- handing over job works to the husband while he watches TV- give the kids breakfast, get them to do homework, maybe even fold the laundry. Grabbing any available time for reading. Gymming while the kids nap or play. Making the beds, oiling my hair, getting kids to change and many more tasks during the commercial break on TV. I have become the queen of multitask and the queen of home management even without being present at home all the time.

5. Appreciate my Parents/ Parenthood- Above all, this is what motherhood has taught me- to appreciate any parent. To appreciate the fact that parents always wish the best for their children. Regardless of what we children feel, or regardless of the fact that perhaps even if we feel that is not the best for us, and we may be right, our parents do not intend to do anything that is less than the best for us.

Inspite of being parents, they are humans first and like every human being- they might have their clay feet. They might have their failings but their heart almost always wish the best for their children.

I tag anyone who would like to take this up.

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Day First Show

Anupama Chopra compiles her writings from the Bollywood Trenches over more than 3 decades in this landmark book on Indian cinema.

Cricket & Bollywood are two grand unifying forces in India. Between the 2 of them, they manage to build TRP's, sell products and rake in millions of moolah.

They are the subject of all conversations and a big section of the news industry.

Anupama Chopra is a film journalist, married to Vigho Vinod Chopra. She has keenly observed and critiqued the industry through its many phases- the "Iss Story mein emotion hai, tragedy hai" to "come fall in love" to "the King of Bollywood".

Over these writings, she takes us through the making of the movies Sholay and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaenge and also a timeline of landmark movies.

The good part is she covers the movies that were not so successful too- especially if they prove to be a certain milestone in the industry.

She talks candidly of the involvement of mafia and the ways in which one certain actor has been threatened when one did not keep one's commitments. Or the fine art of copying music or script. Or dubbed IFFI as cut to yawns.

I love Mithun da's business sense- bulk dates in exchange for shooting in Ooty - where he has his real estate business.

Clearly the author has a soft corner for SRK- not surprising- most of us have that! I love the sections on Sharukh Khan- Shah rukh is someone you can relate to. He could be any of us yet he is a star and he loves being a star- that is what I love about him. He is unapologetically a star.

Coming to Khans- there is yet another Khan who has a chapter devoted to him- Aamir- or rather the principles of Aamir. A must read set of commandments for any one who wants to shine in one's workspace or life.

"Every scene is a do or die

Be Correct"

Of course the book cannot be complete without Amitabh Bachhan- the rise and come back and the even better come back with a bang of Amitabh and endearing references like how the prayers of the nation join to appease the Gods everytime he falls sick.

As she courses through the history of Bollywood, she charts out the evolving of the women of Bollywood- from the evergreen Rekha to the perfectionist Madhuri to Kajol, Aishwarya, Rani and Kareena.

Some of her reviews are hilarious. Like about the ones that are so bad they are good- the gloriously, deliriously, monstrously bad ones. Like Mother- the one for which Randhir Kapoor has reportedly told -give me adequate warning before it released, so that i can leave town.

Or Clerk.

Or Johnny Gaddar- I recommend that you see it. When you get bored, you can always play spot the reference.

Or Teesri Aankh- The audience is forced to ask questions- who finances these movies, who watches them ....and the biggest mystery- why doesn't sunny deol get a better hairpiece

The book comprises writings that have been published earlier- they have not been edited to current context so yes to that extent they are dated. But for those who are interested in exploring the world of Bollywood- yes it is full of masala.

Inspector Ghote Trusts His Heart

What would one do if the tailor's son gets kidnapped instead of one's son and the ransom demand is still there?
Manibhai Desai the owner of the company that manufactures Trust X tonic tablet trusts his heart, and so does Inspector Ghote, assigned to this case. They decide to pay up. They decide to risk a percentage of the ransom in trying to get the tailor's son back and at the same time try to nab the crooks.
The police arranges a thorough bandobast- so thorough that the kidnapper's get a whiff of the entire plan and come back with a vengeance. They prove that they can even harm the poor boy if the ransom demand is not met.
A sudden brainwave puts inspector Ghote on the correct path to the mastermind in the entire action and as expected, our man solves the case.
I love the way Desai blows hot and cold on the decision to pay the ransom. I love the way he takes his decision- "I have seen this father. I have to pay up. It is different from the charity we do".

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bleed for Me

A psychological thriller that not onlyd eals with the plain facts of the case but also delves into the deeper psychological motives of the criminals or the murder suspects.

Sienna Hegarty appears on the door steps of Joe the psychologist, covered in blood and in a state of deep shock.

The blood is of her father Ray Hegarty, Police officer- now lying dead in her room.

She is trying to be sad but cannot. Not just she, but also her crippled sister and brother.

Joe is determined to clear Sienna's name while the police is determined to maintain Ray's clean name/ image.

After a lot of effort, Sienna slowly opens up to Joe and begins to live through her traumas. She goes over them in detail and thereby uncovers the facts of the case.

What follows is a series of dirty secrets being uncovered not just from Sienna's home but also from other people in Sienna's life, including her teachers.

The story is chilling and an eye opener.

In the context of the CSA awareness month this book could become a case in point highlighting the many ways in which the kids are endangered by people most known to them.

Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg

In this story, Inspector Ghote has to sell a case of extra large size eggs in a small town on an unwieldy bicycle.

Err well, this is his master disguise. In a small town, where the powerful Municipal Chariman with his army of well wishers and goondas reigns, a mere police inspector would be foolish to attempt to carry out a daring direct investigation into a murder. A murder that pins the blame onto the Municipal chairman himself.

So Inspector Ghote sets out armed with the case of eggs to the town's policestation from where he carries out his investigations, thereby being just a name without a face being attached to it.

Amidst the protests of the swami and his followers and the threats from the goondas sent by the Municipal chairman, Ghote manages to secure key informants about the depths of the case and the conspiracies that took place 15 years ago, when the Chairman's wife died.

Ghote also uncovers surprising facts hitherto unknown to the world.

Go on- the tale is gripping - a simple murder story written in Indian context.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Guess or An Observation

We were playing the guessing game in the car during a long drive

what is Mamma's Favourite drink-
O& T unanimously- Water
Dadda's?- Coke, Pepsi

Who is Dadda's favourite Girl- unequivocally- Mamma
and vice versa too

what's Dadda's favourite colour
Dadda clarifies- black & white after many round of guess work
Tejas- Hello Zebra

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Plain Common Sense

Wewere looking for our car in the parking lot.
Tejas- Press the unlock in the key (remote key), and light will come on in the car

Thursday, May 12, 2011

On Self Discovery

I have realized that getting older has made me bolder.
I am not worried about being wrong. Or admitting that I cannot pick the right answer.
Because, after all, right and wrong is just a perception and there are no right and wrong answers.
So even if I perceive a jasmine as a rose, I am not ashamed!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Donut

And someone is a year old today. Happy B'day Baby from your Mausa, Mausi and Bhaiyas Ojas & Tejas

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grey Matter

Studies say that those who are easily distracted have more grey matter.
I quote
new study by the scientists at the University College London has found larger than average volumes of grey matter in certain brain regions of people whose attention is readily diverted. That means people who are easily distracted may have 'too much brain'.

Is that why Ojas is always distracted?
Is that why men can't multitask whereas women can?

Monday, May 09, 2011

New Cold Drink

Ojas- Periyappa has got Saprite juice for us
Mamma/ Dadda- surprise juice? what juice
Ojas- Saprite
Us- what surprise?
Tejas- (he means) Sprite

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness

The fall in the Economy and hedge fund scandal form the backdrop of the plot.

Grace is married to hedge fund owner of Quorum- Lenny Brookstein who is a self starter.

Grace is rich, beautiful and completely ignorant of the workings of the economy and her husband's empire.

Life would go on had Lenny not decided to commit suicide/ get murdered/ lost in sea right after naming Grace as his sole business partner.

News of his disappearance is followed by the appearance of the Feds and their subsequent scanning of the paperwork and arrest of Grace.

Grace is tried in the court of law for suspected embezzling of funds and being the cause of severe losses for investors, including a large section of middle class investors.

Grace is convicted and goes to jail from where she strategises to help find her husband's killer, the missing money and thereby clear both his and her name.

She risks her life, dodges the police and the investigators, unearthes shocking facts and ultimately reaches her objective. Or does she?

After the Darkness is written by Tilly Bagshawe in Sidney Sheldon style. While the spirit of the plot is very much there, it is not as complex and intricately woven as how Sidney would have done it. Yet it has all the elements of a thriller and enough disgusting sections to keep the horror quotient high.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Delhi Rail Museum

One of the good things that R Mamu did was to take the kids to the Rail Museum when we went there in Feb.

Educational trip and all that blah was ok, but more than that, we moms were beyond thrilled.

It was like an unexpected, unplanned break for us moms.

And especially when we were rudely told- you ladies are not going. Only dads and kids.

Classic case of "neki or pooch pocch"- loosely translated to - If you want to do something good then why are you asking for permission? Just do it!

So a quick look at the pictures from the visit. But do not ask me what they are about because I did not go there!
Don't worry, the guy seeming to be staring at the kids from behind is the kid's father (my cousin)

My favourite complaint letter - I never knew this was in the museum

which is why these came about in the trains

They also sell souveniers- a nice booklet starring the mascot bholu who takes you through the museum, train stickers and cute engine shape metal paperweights

Friday, May 06, 2011

Lost in Translation

I desperatley tried to convey the words- "Ask him to mind his own business", in Tamil via the electrician + Plumber + office boy of the building

What really got translated- Madam has asked him to go to office and work.

The joke is that this guy has his own business and works largely from home!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Broken Melodies

Gajra Kottary, the same writer who wrote the story of one of my favourite serials Astitva has come up with this bitter sweet novel about growing up.
While the sweetness was very much controlled there was a lot of sadness and bitterness.
I ended up feeling extremely sad and down to dumps after reading the entire book. But not for one moment did I wish to stop reading half way or not continue.
The author has managed to sustain the curiosity of the reader and maintain the interest in reading the story as it develops.

Young Niyati is a latchkey kid. Her mother works in an office, her father is a classical singer and her sister, 10 years older than her goes to college.
The worst time of the day for Niyati is the time when she comes back from school- when she has to go to next door aunty's home to have her lunch that her mother packed and face the teasings of cheeky Chandan, aunty's son.
The best time were when she was doing her puzzles, or when she was with her Nidha didi or her mother Sumiran or when her father would feed her little morsels from her plate.
Sounds like a happy family. But it wasn't so in reality.
Their's was a totally disfunctional family her parents' marriage was dead when Niyati was still in her mother's womb but like typical Indian family, they were living under the same roof for the sake of their daugters and society.
Her father, creative to the boot, lived for his music whereas her mother had given up all her creative aspirations to feed and educate the kids.
Being a witness to her father's philandering, her mothers despair and the constant raised voies and threats of suicide, Niyati is emotionally scarred.
With time as Sumiran becomes more and more desperate Nisha takes over a job and the responsibility of running the home and keeps Niyati under her wing. There is also a sudden change in Nisha- she who was her mother's support all the while, begins to undertsand what drives her father and becomes a caregiver to her father.
Niyati is emotionally torn between her love and loyalty to her mother, yearning for her father's love and attachment to her sister.
Where does this take her?
what happens to the family
How does the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit?
Questions that keep the readers motivated and interested. Yet there is a deep sadness that engulfs one too.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Height of Not Branding

Setting- A Meeting scene in a Tamil Serial.
The tables have water bottles arranged for the participants.
They went to great lengths to ensure there is no advertising.
7 Aquafina bottles with labels carefully removed were arranged for the particpants!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Saris And the City

Female Instincts were created for a reason- Listen to them
When a Man Loves a Woman, She Feels It.
Enjoy Being you. Not a wannabe, innocent younger you. Enjoy being you now.

Yasmin, a Bengali Muslim girl living in UK goes by the above maxims and more. She has her own mantras for a girl of her age living in today's time. She is a girl waiting for marriage to happen. Waiting for Mr Right who will sweep her off her feet. But life is not so simple for a Bengali Muslim girl who is the next in line for marriage. She has just dumped her cheating boyfriend and therefore there is no option in the horizon save for what concerned relatives bring to her father.

And above all, she just lost her job and her lady killer God's gift to woman boss Zachary finds her a job in the sister concern.

Sounds like a typical M&B romance setting but wait. There is more. This is not just a short sweet normal income girl who falls for tall dark handsome rich guy.
She is a career woman to the boot, and is also homely at the same time-with her love to bake and gasp-s crub her home clean!
Yasmin is on the team that is looking at revival strategy for a failing lingerie brand. Raina Jaisingh has come to inherit it and is passionate about reviving the brand.
Yasmin is initially taken in as the run around girl on the team. She genuinely cares for the brand and desires to help Raina who is determined to revive the brand.

So Yasmin is not our ordinary M&B girl but there is more substance to her character.

The chapters progress in the form of lessons for the heart- Yasmin's maxims on matters of the heart form the core of each chapter and thereby the core of the book.

A chicklit no doubt
Yasmin is the stereotypical Indian girl in Britain.
The theme is familiar.
Yet the book managed to capture my attention, enough to keep me turning the pages, was an escape into a world where everything ties beautifully in the end. Like a simple, light Hollywood movie.
But I feel the author went overboard with the coincidences. In true Bollywood style, all the characters come on stage at the same time during the final curtains.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Room with a View

A of the reason why I am very happy at the workplace is the room. Well, I did have a room in the last office also plus this one is far better.

a) The desk space is huge and largely empty. Whereas my previous place was loaded with stuff-samples, documents, inserts in the glass top, snacks and sundry other things, this is a refreshing change from a cluttered desk.

b) Morning Sunshine comes in to greet me. Inspite of the glare, I love it with the blinds totally out of the way.

This plant I carried back from the previous office and placed it in the path of the sunlight

The madmomma's gift was just waiting at home until I moved here and adorned it on the desk. It still needs to be filled up though!

c) And the best-est of it all- this view everytime I glance outside while working on the computer!