The Scorpios

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Waiting Wave

A Waiting Wave is a story that can be representative of the life of any one of us. In spirit one can identify with the key message for the readers. It teaches us to have realistic expectations in any relationship. It tells us that life is unpredictable and therefore one has to choose one’s battles rather than get bogged down and affected with small issues of our life. For, in the face of a larger tragedy, our problems seem to be too irrelevant, shallow and even silly.

Harry falls in love with the beautiful and self assured Kareena, his colleague. Once the first flush of married life begins to fade, the two begin to examine their expectations with their partner. Harry expected Kareena to cater to all his needs once the two would get back to office while Kareena expected Harry to contribute in the chores. Soon this became a point of discontent between both. The last straw for Harry was when Kareena got promoted and Harry did not.

To give himself time and also get away from Kareena, Harry left to Port Blair to spend some time with his father. One that fateful day, he took a boat in a desperate attempt to take himself away from the world.

That was the day the tsunami hit Port Blair, carrying Harry away to a far off island inhabited by the ferocious and hostile Sentinelese tribe. He manages to escape them and reaches the land of the helpful Onges who help him to reach a boat to the mainland.
The boat gets grounded and in a rush to reach land, Harry swims across only to be driven back to the boat under scary circumstances.

Meanwhile, Kareena, repenting greatly for quarreling with Harry, arrives at Port Blair to search for Harry.

During these tough times, both realize that their silly quarrels are way too ordinary and reconcile their differences.

I loved the ending. It is a fitting finale to this drama, in a true filmy style.

The author not only manages to entertain us with a story but also manages to educate us about the rich history and interesting tidbits about the tribals.

Man of a Thousand Chances

Whatever happens happens for the good. Everything is preordained. These and other maxims that convey the same help us reconcile ourselves to the mystery behind various happenings in the Universe.

This story also helps us to examine not only our thoughts and actions but also various incidents that seem coincidental and attribute the same to a larger force that is driving the big picture of every one’s lives.

Something like a big chess game being played at a higher contextual level.

The story is set in the backdrop of Chennai where Harihar works in a museum and is working hard to make ends meet. Estranged from his parents and the rest of the brothers, he has no share of property and thereby is totally on his own. His small savings have been put into a high return mutual fund scheme that will mature just a little too late for his daughter’s impending wedding.

Harihar is in a fix. Reluctant to borrow from his affluent brother and the shame of not being capable of conducting his only daughter’s wedding, in a desperate bid to save face, he “borrows” a valuable Jahangir gold coin from the museum. His plan was to pawn it for money and come back to release the coin after he received his mutual fund deposit. He would quietly return the coin and none would be wiser.

With his stash of money in exchange for the coin, Harihar loosens the purse strings. He generously buys the silks for his wife and daughter and all would have gone well if Sanjeev, his friend and financial adviser would not have given him the terrible news of the collapse of the mutual fund. Harihar managed to recover some money but the shadow of the entire episode weighed on him through out the wedding.

But this was not the end of all. After the wedding, he shares his problem with his wife.
His wife reveals her secret- she has been trading secretly and that lucky day she ends up making a huge sum which will cover the cost of recovering the coin. Someone’s loss ends up being someone’s gain and in this case overall balance of loss and gain in the family has been neutralized.

Harihar goes to the pawn shop and learns that since he is a week late, the pawnbroker has melted it to recover the huge sum he gave to Harihar and he also gets some more money from the pawnbroker in exchange of the coin.

A series of incidents take place that somehow resolves one issue after another. But does Harihar manage to come out of this situation completely? Are their still unsolved puzzles in his life? What about the biggest trouble of his life- the disappearance of his son? Can the explanation of the wheel of karma and pre ordained happenings explain this to him?

An interesting book to read, it definitely managed to keep me interested.
There was not a single dull moment. However, I honestly felt that sometimes, in order to give a visual to words, the descriptions of scenes became too elaborate. Also, it became too philosophical towards the end which somehow I felt did not fit in the entire weaving of the story

Monday, August 29, 2011

Annual Day

It was Annual Day time again. And this time the frenzy seemed to be lesser as there was no shuttling of kids from small school to big school for practice and thereby it seemed to be less intimidating.

It just came upon us all of a sudden and here we were wondering what dance our kids are into. Thankfully the kids told us and also pointed out the relevant dance in the sequence given.

We were chatting away with other parents as we waited in anticipation for the show to begin and we realized that the series of sms-es we were being sent by the school regarding annual day telecast had an advantage that I had overlooked.

It was being telecast live on the internet and which meant that our families could watch the kids perform live from the comfort of their home!

As the show began, I sent frantic sms to Nana, nanai, mausi, mamu, periyappa and oh the joy! They managed to watch the performance live!

Ojas had a rocking, foot tapping spanish number- Feliz navada. He and his partner seriously performed some butt swinging complicated steps.

Tejas and his (girl) partner danced to jingle bells and at first we couldn't spot him. We spent a few confused minutes botching up our photos & videos and then all of a sudden we spotted him laughing and dancing- enjoying himself to the boot. As he came to the front, we could see the amused grin on his face as the Santa Clause came in- it wasn't real is what he said- it was a bog boy from school!

This time the dances were a little longer than the pre school dances, and it wasn't such a blink and you miss scene.

The costumes were good quality- some thing which can be used for sometime atleast.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Class Rules

So Tejas made his class rules on his own.

1. Do not play in class

2. Do not run in class

3. Do not stamp on the books

4 Do not fight in the class

5. Do not fart in class

6. Do not lie in the classroom

7. Always share (this one not in picture..was an after thought after the pic was taken)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When Mira Went Forth and Multiplied

Mira is single, living alone in Bangalore and still unattached. Enter Sam, who seems to be just the right one for her. A few outings and shared moments later came that significant one-night which changed Mira’s life forever. Sam leaves to his home base and she is in love and waiting for Sam to come back to her or call her. The call never comes. Many sms-es later she decides to take him headlong at his home base. She arrives in Sam’s place pregnant with a cushion. (Sounds familiar! It did to me)

To her shock she discovers it is not Sam’s home but his Inlaws address. Sam is married to Delta who also is pregnant. But since she is still early, she doesn’t have a cushion stuffed in.
You get the drift right. Both are cheating on him. Once she hears about Sam’s indiscretion, Delta leaves home and allegedly aborts her child leading to a heart attack for Sam.

Now Sam has the best of all worlds. The wife and lover are caring for him. His Father in law is footing the bill because faithful or not, a dead son in law means no progeny.

How does Mira resolve this inner conflict- her love for Sam and disgust for his attitude towards their “child”. And most importantly, how does it change Mira in a permanent manner.

The book has a slow start, picks up pace towards the beginning of the end. Written in a satiric black humor genre, it makes one laugh at various points. At some points the characters ramble on creating a lull in the story. It could have been snappier in my opinion.

My Bollywood Wedding

A total Bollywood + Mills & Boon plus Shopoholic series book in one. I could easily draw parallels between Shopoholic ties the knot and this book as they are eerily similar.
Maya is all set to get married to Dr Jahangir. Things are going fine until Jahangir’s father decides to cut his allowances off because he is unhappy about his choice of bride.Jahangir is left on his own in USA trying to make both ends meet, battling the loan on his head and trying to manage the wedding expenses.Meanwhile, Maya is busy organizing the wedding alone. She begins with a Mughal theme and then downsizes it to a Bollywood theme wedding.
Jahangir, despite being in the US, keeps popping in at the right time, unexpectedly. His mother strongly supports him and that is the saving grace. There is the evil bhabhi, the handsome cousin who is fast becoming a dangerous distraction/ attraction to Maya in the absence of Jahangir but little does she know that everything is a big trap for her.
Does Maya manage to get married against all odds? Including her own confusion towards her feelings for Jahangir?
The book is written in typical Rekha Waheed style where each chapter is a lesson in love or rather Man Management.
It manages to keep the reader hooked because of its familiarity to Asian concept of wedding, large families coming together; and the shopping, planning and the works.

Chaddi Tales

Yesterday Tejas came home without his undies.
Apparently a friend had tossed his undies somewhere when they were changing after the swimming class.
When I asked Tejas why he did not tell his teacher, he says - Ma'm may say shame shami-e so I quietly wore my pants.

Such a peaceful child! If only he was as tolerant at home with his Mamma or Bhai!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


How much ever I tell myself that next year I am going to be more matured about my birthday, the day the birthday arrives, I refuse to grow up and act cool.

I wait for the husband to arrive at midnight, keep checking fb and mails and phone for messages or missed calls and anticipate what the husband may gift me.

The gifts this time was the renewal of gym membership with personal training sessions and a set of lovely mugs with our pictures on them- 4 - 1 for each of us!

We went for lunch at Barbecue Nation and went for Zindagi Mile na Doobara- a nice movie and to think I spent my birthday with (as Boo says) 3 hot men on the screen and 3 hot men on my side!

Some Shopping followed by cake cutting with friends
Next day was the hubby's birthday spend in Copper Chimmney As a concession on his birthday I allowed him to spend many (boring, long) hours in the men's clothing shops. The things I do to pamper him on his birthday.

Evening we had a kabab and pizza dinner with friends and a cake cutting. Yumm

Monday, August 22, 2011

Independence Day Celebrations

As usual, we organised a host of events in the building complex to celebrate Independence Day. The challenge for us was to again get a totally new set of events for across age groups.

Painting/ Sudoko for kids Cycling race for tiny tots- Since Ojas. Tejas' cycles were out of order they had to use borrowed stuff. Tejas managed with someone's cycle without 1 balancing wheel and got a prize also.

Filling bottle with water. Ofcourse Ojas & Tejas got prizes as they are thorough with this activity in their daily life

potato gathering race.

Biscuit eating race- this is one race which Tejas walked out. Ojas had a tough time because he is such a slow eater. Yet he managed to get a prize

For older kids we had a series of events like- arranging newspapers in order, making a paper boat, solving a jumble and blowing balloons. Balancing paper cups filled with water on the palms and on the head for the final round

Leading a blindfolded partner to a certain object without touching

rangoli competition

For adults we had challenging events like memory contest- display objects and then after 20 minutes they have to recall and write what they saw. Series of questions to be answered like- telling teh colors of the rainbow in 2 languages, name 7 brands/ flavours etc, name 7 residents with their flat numbers- basically 7 was the number because the building completes 7 years.

team events like- making a paper cup tower

Sari folding for men

Gift wrapping a book with 1 hand of self and 1 hand of partner

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jack Patel’s Dubai Dreams

This is a contextual contemporary story of a boy who after getting his degree in finance gets a high profile, coveted job as financial adviser in Dubai. Jack’s dreams land him in the alien city of Dubai and from there he never looks back, until circumstances make him to come back to home base and start afresh.

One gets to appreciate the cities and its sights through Jack’s eyes. Jack learns to build ever lasting relationships in his workplace.
The book is full of financial terminology without being boring or complicated. The complexities of a financial adviser’s life are depicted in simple terms.

Jack meets interesting people during his client calls including Mina the gorgeous daughter of a large client who soon becomes his love interest. He faces disappointment at the hands of his uncle who doesn’t give him business.
Meanwhile he becomes confident enough to sort out his sister’s love life- albeit through his resourceful friend.
There is a hilarious incident where jack’s luggage is lost and he is forced to buy undergarments. He suspects these are second hand and he uses a newspaper to “cover important parts before wearing the new undergarments”

Jack becomes successful as a banker and accumulates an impressive clientele. He moves from the common area to an exclusive cabin for himself in a very short time.

The book covers pre Obama time through the Lehmann Brothers crash and eventually how Jack emerges a winner.

The book has splashes of humour and at some places it gets tedious but what keeps one going is that it is very contemporary and relevant to our times.

Celebrate Your Fun Festival Handbook- Rakhi & Bhai Dooj

The handbook arrived right on time for Rakhi.
This si not justa things and ideas to do during the festival season but also has great sibling stories for us to read and relate to the kids.
Stories that inspire and gladden the heart and are altogether relevant for relating to kids.
Writing on the Wall is a lovely heartwarming story in which a brother fights for her sister on Facebook when he sees all her friends ganging up on her.

All About Big Brothers is a cute tale that dispels all myths about big brothers.
The Tiger Man is a Manipuri folk tale where seven brothers rescue their sister from the Tiger Man in a daring adventure.

There are craft projects to make different types of Rakhis and the story of Bhai Dooj and Rakhi festival.


This is a story of a village told in a folk tale fashion.
A series of slice of life happenings that take place in a sleepy autonomous village of Gopallapuram are merged into a larger tapestry of story to form an interesting quick read.
This slim book of 100 plus pages cover the story of Kottaiars who migrated from Andhra to Tamil Nadu to escape the Muslim rule and moreover save their girl from getting married into their family.
The entire community escapes to a far off land and creates their new village in the middle of a forest after burning a large patch of forest for themselves- Pandava style!
They created meals out of forest waste- from both animal, insect and plant kingdom.
They create their own rules and make a life for themselves.
The story is peppered with smaller folk tales told by one character to the rest and is filled with practical jokes and incidents both sad and humorous.

One can sense the flavour of the Tamil – Telegu culture through out the story.

Someone Else's Garden

Someone Else’s Garden is a thought provoking story with a powerful and precise writing with both shocks and awes at the same time.
Shocks because what a low caste female faces stoically in a small backward village is unbelievable and seems unreal to someone who has never seen such things happen at close quarters. Awes because this character chooses to buck the trend, and carve a new life for her in spite of adversities.

The book reminds me very strongly of Village by The Sea- Anita Desai as far as the story line is concerned- how a small village family goes with the flow and builds a new life for themselves when progress in the name of a large factory that takes away their lands comes to their sleepy village.
Except that this book touches the most shameful aspect of human existence.

To deal with a story that covers a backward village life, one has to touch upon the little matter of excretion arrangements. To me it was necessary to touch upon but at times it became overkill to the point of becoming disgusting especially towards the end of the book. Progress could have been depicted in other ways instead of mentioning the new place where the protagonist relieves herself.

I spent an entire day of travel on this book- this speaks for itself- it was a book that kept me hooked but I felt the story took ages to roll in the first section. The book picks up pace after the first section and it is heartening to see the protagonist and the allied characters moving towards making a better life for themselves.

The story throws light upon how one survives despite all odds- be it natural calamities like drought, famine or man made ones like torture, poverty and loans. Survival of the fittest could be one of the messages in the story.

Mamta, is the oldest daughter of 7 children of Lata Bai and Seeta Ram. Despised by her father for being a girl and thereby a burden to him as he is watering someone else’s garden and making her ready to be married off. To him she serves no purpose.

The village has a big house consisting of Singh sahaba nd his 2 sons- Lokend the politician and philanthropist and Ram Singh who takes care of the money lending business.
Within the melee of characters there is also the story of Daku Manhmohan who surrenders on the insistence of Lokend and thereby both receive lot of mileage.

Mamta’s brother works in the big house to pay off the loan taken for her marriage.

Mamta gets married to a widower and all her dreams of a happy marriage shatters when she faces torture after torture at the hands of her husband. Matters become unbearable when Mamta realizes her husband intends to sell her second kidney as well. She escapes to the city with the help of her brother & Lokend and eventually finds a job as a sweeper in the D’Souza home.

Fear of being sold to the brothel, Mamta’s sister Sneha follows suit and Prem her brother comes to city to become a mechanic.

The 3 siblings make a life for their own and circumstances bring Lokend and Mamta together.

But Mamta yearns for her village and there is a strong urge for her to go back and rebuild her life there. Will she be able to take that step? What life awaits for her back in the village? Will the village see the light of progress?
Of course it will all happen but it is very important to observe that it is not one force that drives the change. It is a domino effect of the individuals whoa re yearning to break free.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Pregnant King - The Last 40 pages

A long time ago I had read the book "The Pregnant King" and reviewd it on my blog. At that time, I could not read Book 8 that was missing from my copy. I looked for new copies and never managed to find one at that time and then lost the steam in my search.

Recently the author Devdutt Pattanaik very sweetly sent me a fresh copy with the final pages intact and here I review the same.

To recap, this is the story of King Yuvavansha who is waiting for a heir so that his ancestors can be pleased and he can become king after his mother- the regent- Shilavati gives up the throne.

As a last resort, Yuvanvansha conducts a grand Yagna and the priests prepare the magic potion that was to be given to his wives. Circumstances prevail and the KIng accidentaly drinks the magic potion resulting in his getting pregnant.

Despite the odds, Yuvavansha delivers Mandhata who is immediately taken to the eldest Queen who is designated as his mother for the world.

The story is treated as contemporary to Mahabharata and we also come across the story of other men who were also women- Shikhandi - who turned into a man on borrowed manhood from a yaksha. The yaksha then turns Somvat a brahman to a woman borrowing his manhood to save Somvat from punishment and ultimately the Yaksha comes back to explain both facets of the human gender to Yuvavansha in the final stage of his life.

Reading the final pages gave me a closure of sorts. I also found myself empathising with the Queen Mother, Shilavati and her reluctance to let go of the throne. I also found myself admiring her for her restraint when she sat with commoners who came to pour out their woes to her. She became, in the true sense a sympathic ear, the Queen mother, one who listens and helps them sort their greivances within their self.

Mandhata came to me as a surprise of sorts. I expected more courage from him but I also admire the way Shilavati sorted things out for him - even changing the rules of the game as she went about it.

The final chapter tells us more about Ila whose gender would change with the waxing and waning of the moon. This created a confusion of sorts for his / her spouses- they were not sure whether he was a husband or a wife and whether his/her children should call him/her father or mother.

The children from both sides fought among themselves and were killed. Ila went to the Land of dead and rescued his children in exchange of his/her life.

Yuvavansha in the final chapters moves to the forest giving up his family life and kingdom.

In the final pages, Mandhata is seen performing the last rites for his father so that he can become ing. But there is a confusion in his heart and mind. Who is his father?

Left Hand right Hand

So reported Tejas- Mamma, today I washed my butt on my own in the school. (I went uggh- doing the big job in the school)
I sprayed with right hand and touched the butt with left hand. Because we eat with right hand so we must not wash with right hand.
Humko pataa hai, koi nahin bataya. Aaya maa ko many times bulaya, woh nahin aaya toh hum apne se wash kar liya.

I have decided to vanish everytime he goes to the toilet now.

Ask Ojas which hand should be used- pataa nahin, hum nahin wash karte hai.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gardening Spree

Since the time I moved into this house, I have been gardening on an on and off basis. I start with all eagerness, continue for sometime then something happens and I am unable to continue.
Some hardy plants survive, some die and when I feel too ashamed of the garden, I pick up my tools and arrange the pots and start again.

I start visiting nurseries and buying plants like a collector of sorts. With these past years of experience, now I know exactly what to buy. I have a list of plants that will flower in my shade garden and experience has taught me what flowers to steer clear of.

The bug has bit again.
Last year my entire treasure of plants were wiped out due to the painting in the building.
My yellow croton shrub gave up the ghost recenly after a year of struggle- so strong and prolonged was the effect of the paint.

I am so fed up of looking at the shambles everyday that I decided to rebuild from scratch.
Last week the gardener was duly invited to come and make the garden ready to plant. This includes trimming the survivers, cleaning the garden and replacing the soil and manure in the pots.
This major work being outsourced, I have been free to start colecting plants. I have bought periwinkles, marvel of peru, cacti, rangoon creeper, plumbago, ferns, crotons, betel leaf and more.
So watch this space and you will see the results with pictures!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Tables are Turning

I often hear these words now from the kids
-kyon tum hamesha humko bother karta hai?
- tum humko kyon disturb kiya

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Book of Answers

One an absolutely ordinary day, Patros Patranobis bumps into a fat man who is coincidentally looking for who to pass on a legacy to him. This legacy is so called book of answers which have been compiled by his ancestor, based on the predictions of an oracle of sorts whom he closely knew.
The problem is that the book is locked and the key is somewhere in Kerala.

Though Patros tries hard not to accept the book from the lawyer, the book ends up with him much to the joy and anticipation of his social worker partner Rose. Rose strongly believes that Patros must use this book to save the masses fro destruction and downfall.

Patros disagrees with her sentiments and for a paltry sum; he sells the book to Tarachand (Starmoon), the local kabadi.

Tarachand realizes the potential of the book and changes careers. He grows locks and turns into a Godman and uses the book of answers as the guiding force for counseling the local politician Ishwari Prasad, who in turns uses the Godman’s advice to formulate new policies.

Patros realizes his mistake and feels that it is his moral duty to set things right. He goes about obtaining the book back from the clutches of the politicians and sets about to look for the key.

The book has in store for the readers, a hilarious yet frustrating journey for the search of the book and the key running parallely with Rose’s attempts to do good for the women she encounters in her women shelter and otherwise and Tippy their son’s obvious deftness and boldness in handling corrupt policeman and baseless exam systems.

We go through the motions of corruption, the unethical politics, and the never ending fight of the common man against the system.

Does the Book of answers have answers at all?
Can the complex problem of mankind be solved by an all purpose book of answers?
I leave it to the readers to find out.

While the book is enjoyable and the chapters are served in easy to read bytes, one may not be able to finish it in a hurry. Take it slow an steady.

The Rome Prophecy

Religion meets murder meets logic meets superior detection in this fast paced thriller. Valentina Morassi and Tom Sharman join forces to solve the chilling murder mystery.
The book starts with the trial of Cassandra-she is to be punished – her hand is to be cut off. Cut to present, in a series of incidents, we have a severed hand, a in white covered in blood and carrying an antique sword and a dead body in exactly the same place as the woman in white prophesied.
While Valentina focuses on the objectivity, Tom brings out the religious connect to the case.
The girl seems to have multiple personality disorder and psychiatrist Louisa Verdetti helps sort out the facts and incidents related to the case with Valentina.
As the case progresses, secrets of the past get uncovered and the the reader gets caught up in the web of seemingly unrelated incidents and mishaps.
Gripping and thrilling, this is not for the faint hearted.

A New Level of Movie Watching

Watching a movie together with my TV-khor kids always leave me with mixed emotions.
I cannot decide whether I should be annoyed finding them glued to the TV or feel a nice camaradiere of watching something like a family without once demanding a different channel.

We were watching 3 idiots yesterday on TV. What surprised me was that not even once they said I want to watch cartoon. They sat glued to the TV watching the movie and asking uncomfortable questions about child birth and what nots. Something they had not done when they watched this movie in the theatre last year as they were totally occupied with the popcorn tub.

But they did remember that they have watched the movie in Pondicherry when they were 4 years old (which in their language means- long time ago).

The upshot of it all was that Tejas asks this morning- how come morning came so fast. Obviously he slept so late so it follows that....


Women without is the context of these short stories that are compiled to depict about women who have committed crime in a desperate situation and are without their men either in the jail or leading a nomadic life.

Shivani’s stories are told as such - as she has heard from the horse’s mouth. There are no embellishments, no author’s license and no intention to titillate / thrill the reader.

I could compare it to Jeffery archer’s attempt to tell the stories of the prison inmates. But while Archer is a story teller, Shivani reports the facts.

These 16 stories are true stories and not based on a true story is what the author says.

The author Shivani spent a considerable amount of time in the women’s prison for understanding the past of the inmates and their provocation for committing the crime.

I found the earth eating Muggi quite interesting- her story is like a Bollywood movie which doesn’t end in sorrow. She was in cohorts with her sister & brother in law and would con men into marrying her. Once she would gather enough money out of her husband she would scoot and start afresh. In her 15 marriage, she fell in love and refused to go the usual route. The police catch up with her and she is sentenced to prison but in this case her husband and MIL eagerly await her homecoming.

Chanuli is another woman in the cell due to circumstances. Her husband goes for war and doesn’t return. She refuses to believe that he is dead and continues to wear the signs of marriage. One day, fed up of the taunts of villagers, she just throws the sickle in her hand intending to wound but ends up killing the woman. She ends up in jail. In true movie style, her husband returns. He keeps in touch with her and fights to reduce her sentence. Eventually he marries someone else and Chamuli now has no joy inspite of the upcoming end of her sentence.

Vaishnavi’s is an astonishing story. She has taken the courage to push her husband and cruel Motehr in law over the edge of the cliff but she has decided to pay for her sins by giving up all worldly pleasures.

Madhu Ben has driven her ailing husband to death by instilling the fear of Yama into his mind. To atone her sins she comes to a far of village and insists that her husband has taken birth here. As per a foretelling, she is supposed to put the baby’s feet on her head and ask for forgiveness.

Cheated into getting married to the much older brother rather than the younger one, Janaki has her revenge

The stories are very well written and touched my heart in a strange fashion. One elarns that criminals become so owing to circumstances and perhaps the law that is meant to be objective does not get into intent and thereby may unfairly judge on someone who may be driven by circumstances to commit murder.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Kipling Cafe for a Date

Last weekend, the kids had to go to a birthday party. And we decided that we could use this as an opportunity and go on a date, leaving the kids behind to rock the party. A first for the kids- readily agreeing to be left behind, perhaps because this was their classmate's birthday party and they didn't need me to sit around.

We went to Kipling Cafe situated on ECR. A nice place tucked in between the bunglows right at the end of a road. Blink and you miss it. No boards, no signs. Thsi place serves continental and Thai and is ideal for a quiet lunch or a small dinner party.
Varied Seating arrangements all over the place

Huts for private seating ...

Rustic chairs in the lawn..

Outdoor hut has its own pankha on the thatched ceiling

Wheel Barrow for the rustic look

Wooden salt -pepper shakers

Boneless chiken cooked in Thai style with rice. Was enough for 2 having eaten a nice serving of calorific kalamari and fried onion rings

The Boss is NOT Your Friend

If you are looking at a totally balanced tips and approach to working and succeeding in an organization, then this is not the book for you. It is filled with satiric situations and there are no grey areas. The boss is bad. The HR guys are oily and oilier and even more oily. The external consultants exist to make money and above all, there is no such thing as wealth creation for the employees.

No employee is indispensable and bosses can be largely classified into one of the 6 awful types.
It is an extreme take on the way organizations work, and sadly most of it is true. We have all come across such situations at some time in our working life. This book is an aggregate of all such situations.
I would call it an Indian Dilbert off shoot written in the current context of Satyam, Radia, Bhopal Gas compensations and the like.

The book begins with the hypothesis that Corporations are evil. After proving this hypothesis to be true the author proceeds to citing and discussing the many ways he thinks that the Boss is an enigma. And thereby classifies the bosses into different types like the Oily Oyster, Vicious viper, Flattering Fraud, The crafty conman, Burly bastion & Horny Harry. He illustrates them using entertaining real life stories/ case studies.

He illustrates various ways to intimidate the HR people and also what to do when an employee submits his resignation.

Altogether a funny book, a humorous read if you enjoy the Dilbert-ish humour.

Diary of Amos Lee

With this cute book one can almost take a virtual tour round Singapore, from Sentosa to the Night Safari to the various eating places.
It was the outcome of a combination of reasons- Amos Lee’s mom wanted him to make good use of his time on the toilet, his father believed it would help him learn to multi task at a later stage in life and above all, Amos decided to choose the lesser of the 2 evils- between writing for 7 minutes inside the toilet or writing an essay for an hour outside the toilet.
The upshot of it all was that Amos Lee began to write his diary while he spent his 7 minutes on the toilet.

It began with small things about his parents, himself, his sister and grandparents.
Soon he was taken to various experiences by his mom- to restaurants to observe and experience breakfast behaviour. Or to think about the various advantages of living in a flat. Or to experience wild life/ farms. Therefore he came up with a variety of incidents to write about in his diary and cutely illustrated them too.
He also wrote about his school life and how the perfect bully was dealt with.
The best part is that Amos thought the diary was meant to be secret but to his annoyance his parents would read them and heaven help him, even correct the spelling mistakes and add their own comments on whether he did the right thing or a naughty thing.
The diary ends at the end of the year and by this time Amos Lee is hooked on to it- judging by the fact that he has decided to move the diary to a secret location and that 2 more diaries are in the offing,
As an idea, I found it a great one- something probably the kids could do to inculcate writing.
The book is for age group- 8-12 years

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Resident Dormitus

Our protagonist Achet is a non-descript small town guy- he could be any one of us or anyone among us. He has taken life as it comes and so far is happy with what life has dealt to him and given a chance he will not want to change the way he lived his life because it could turn out to be something worse than what he has lived so far.
Achet is ready to start his career and more or less stumbles into the corporate world looking for ways to escape work- either by having multiple cups of coffee or playing around his emails and postponing dealing with them as much as possible or going for smoking breaks. He finds a set of friends some experienced, some not and this motley group become a gang sharing views, thoughts and their dreams.

With time, we see a change on Achet. From a trainee who outsources his coding task to an unknown internet contact to a sales trainee who finds an ingenious way to secure orders, he slowly makes it into the corporate world, traveling to and fro various time zones.

A chapter in which he comes home for a break gives us an insight into his family and his father shares his nuggets of wisdom with the restless Achet and leaves it to him to figure out the import of his wisdom,

Achet’s friends also discover their calling towards the close of the book. Arjun plans to support the military cause of his country and Bala wants to settle down in life. While Dev, he carves a different path altogether, and that too in a matter of fact manner.

To me, the book is more for reflection into the small insights in life than for purely entertainment or story value. It does have a story but there is something deeper- delving into the very psyche of what makes people behave the way they behaved. It deals with youth and their ideology and one might be able to identify the thought process of the characters at some point of time.

Visual Thrills

A huge pile of books to read Keepsakes

Blue Lily which looks mauve in through my mobile phone camera

Taken for a ride is this crow on the car wiper.

What Did I Ever See in Him

Being part of Metro Reads, I assumed this would be a witty story about a girl exasperated with her husband and is trying to re-examine how she ends up marrying him.
If you, like me are hoping for something like that, then this is not the book for you.
This book is more written for the ladies as a modern woman's guide to a perfect love life but I would say men will benefit far more than women because this will perhaps give a perspective on what women are thinking.
Amrita Sharma covers various scenarios -
-the man is not ready for marriage but you are
-is this Mr Right? Are you with him because it feels good or is it just a badge value?
- Letting go of a relationship
-the slow down or disappearance of romance with time
- Partners keeping close tabs on emails/ sms and thereby no space or privacy for the individuals
- Growing up in a relationship- can one expect the same behaviour when the boyfriend becomes a spouse of many years? How does one mature in a relationship with time?
- Extra marital affairs
- Problems of differing work hours
-Those little issues that blow our of proportion
-Do you connect with the spouse beyond the bed- a discussion on emotional connect and beyond

The book ends with a set of quiz questions to answer and assess

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Love across the Salt Desert

According to me, this is how a short story compilation should be like. Quick to read, snappy tale told in a few pages. These 20 stories span a page count of 10-13 and cover, in those short number of pages, a slice of life or a lifetime altogether.

The stories are varied in time, subject and backdrop- be it the Rann in between India & Pakistan or the time when Alexander invaded the Jhelum to capture Porus or encompassing recent times with the story- wall- the story of a wife who is assailed by bad dreams and finds closure from the least expected places.

The title story- Love across the Salt Desert is a beautiful cross border story that does not end in bloodshed.

Shaman is the story of a soothsayer who contrary to popular belief sees his own future and that gives him clarity on what path to follow regarding the marriage to his childhood sweetheart’s daughter.

An ordinary fisherman has a small role to play in warning the King of impending invasion.

A journalist foresees the future evils or is it the other way round? In a chilling fashion, whatever he reports is happening around him, on one hand that helps him to escape from the vice grip of law and on the other hand, it imprisons him in a way he never thought would happen to him.

A grandmother regrets that she went out for 10 minutes and during that 10 minutes, her grand daughter came screaming into the world. Does the wheel of Karma act in like fashion many years later?

These and more to be read and savoured word by word. I would recommend the lovers of short stories to definitely read them.

Fun in Devlok Series

Devdutt Pattanaik’s lucid style of writing makes any complicated subject easy and interesting. With his famous Devlok series, he elucidates concepts of learning, work and play (life) balance and the concept of continuity of time.
Kama vs Yama- Jayshree is a little girl who loves to do her homework and studies. Even if her parents ask her to relax and enjoy, she gives priority to her studies. One day Kama, the God of temptation decides to play a trick on her. He entices her with thoughts of watching TV with a pack of chips. Jayshree is confused yet does what her heart tells her to do. Meanwhile, Yama appears and brandishing his diary says you ought to be doing your home work. In a delightful play of words, Kama and Yama tell her tales of the past expounding the concept of Raja Bhoj, Gangu Teli and mitti ke Madho. Ultimately, Jayshree takes a decision to be like raja Bhoj- and why? You need to read the book and find out what’s so special in Raja Bhoj’s way of leading his life. Saraswati’s Secret River- In this delightful story, we learn that Saraswati – the river of learning that once upon a time used to flow on Earth has vanished because of different reasons than what we know of. She vanished because the school she flowed through became inhabited with people with parrot heads- those who parroted concepts and lessons without understanding them. Saraswati explains the concept of learning with a purpose and reminds the teacher of the little boy who was always curious about stuff and had his nose into an encyclopedia.

Shiva Plays Dumb Charades- The kids A,B,C,D,E are having fun as their parents party in the next room. They are playing Dumb Charades and lo and behold. Who decides to join them? None other than Lord Shiva himself in his Nataraj form- the Dancing God. He plays his own version of dumb charades explaining the significance of each Bhav and Mudra of his hands and thereby bringing out complicated concepts for the children- like the concept of continuity of time.

I loved the books because they are so easy to explain and read. Also I feel the simple line drawings could become a nice colouring book for the kids- but not now- when they start colouring neatly!