Saturday, 10 June 2017

Why I couldn't read Anand Neelakantan's Asura beyond 50 pages

To be honest, I wanted to read Asura even before Anand Neelakantan shot to mass fame with Bahubali. Having tried to read the book before and failing to go beyond 50 pages, it took major perseverance to pick the book again and finish it.

Why I couldn't read it in the first try?
I think I had over-estimated the book, looking at the reviews and the kind of hype the book got. Another thing was, given the controversial context of the book, I was hoping for something extremely dramatic.

Why I still wanted to read the book? 
One, because I enjoy different perspectives on mythology, especially the ones that give the revered gods a human touch while myths get a scientific and logical reasoning.
Two, because I never understood why Rama is considered God when both, Ram and Ravan achieved an equal amount of success for their people.
Three, because I have OCD for completing a book I have started. I couldn't get myself to pick up another book till I had finished this one.

Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

After the first 80-90 pages, the book started picking up pace. Right from when the pawn-like Bhadra is introduced in the story, it gets interesting. The whole premise along with the story is excellent. Also, having a first-person narrative was interesting, as it allows to build trust. The thought that if Ravana himself got the chance to say his story, how would he justify his actions. To make it even more dramatic, this story is a flashback that Ravana is having while counting his last breaths on the battlefield. 

It's controversial as well as sympathetic to see how a strong competitive villain, feared by the world, lost to someone who had never been to war before. This being explained by logic and not just Rama's godly powers.

The first-person narrative was combined with a 3rd person narrative that was seemingly unbiased - Bhadra. The massive part played by a servant for Ravana entwined with numerous coincidences reiterates that after all, it is fiction.

So, the story is compelling and there is a new twist to every piece of the traditional saga that we have been listening since childhood. Basically, it is Ravanayana - an antithesis to Ramayana. Anand Neelakantan a natural story-teller, Bahubali and his other books are a proof. What worked for me is that I am still in the introduction phase of Hindu mythology and also know the difference between mythology and religion, though it's the thinnest line in the world. I was able to enjoy the book as a story.

The writing could have been better, maybe more interesting. The writing did not do justice to such a nice plot. At some points, it became monotonous. There were places where the disconnect could be sensed maybe some chunks were edited, leaving behind a blurry transition. But for a debut book, it was exceptional.

Recommended for every mythology enthusiast, who I guess have read it already. If not, what are you waiting for? Patience to read 500 pages, maybe.

Disclaimer:
I am no writer, and nor am I a literature buff. I just like to read well-written stories. No offense to anyone.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Beautiful Coincidences and Shimmering Tales

Coincidences are beautiful. I like to think of them as customised gifts of smaller joys conspired by the universe. They leave one feeling blessed, happy and thankful.

Talking about coincidences and gifts, this one fluke of luck had a gift and an inspiration in store for me. I came across a jewellery contest of Shimmering Tales with Shruti. The page was decent, the designs were very contemporary and I found the overall idea of customising jewellery online very innovative. Everyone knows I am not a jewellery person, but I could connect with the designs so much, I couldn't help participating. Totally "my types", they were elegant, not too jazzy and unique!

And, as luck would have it, I won the contest! Well, that wasn't the coincidence, that was just the probability. Later while coordinating with the owner, Shruti, we learnt that we had met before! A mutual friend had introduced us in college. Now that's a coincidence!

This is the pretty ring and the gift card for life! ;)


Soon enough, I received the gift - a ring that seemed to be a betoken of Shimmering Tales. The images that were posted did not do justice to the actual piece. One look and a layman can tell that it's top-notch. Shruti also wrote a beautiful 'Thank You' note. What's more appreciated by clients than showing you care?! From the presentation to quality, everything was just perfect. 

Since we got in touch again, Shruti has been telling me about her initiatives and struggle she's done with the start-up. Based out of Indore, she has a job as well as manages this business online. People like Shruti are true doers, laying an example for everyone. These are the people who are doing it the hard way and conquering life. While keeping her efforts consistent, she makes sure to keep her social responsibilities in check. Recently, she tied-up with UNICEF and made donations for underprivileged kids! And, now I am not just an admirer of Shimmering Tales but also of the lady behind it - Shruti Sharma!

Well Shruti, this is my way of saying thank you for the invaluable insights you've provided me with on entrepreneurship. You are amazing!

Wanna know why I am hyped about a girl selling jewellery online? Go check out her designs - Shimmering Tales With Shruti!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Helpline - Book Review

If this book wasn’t recommended to me by a friend, I would’ve definitely missed out on it as this is not the kind of book I usually pick off the shelf. The first look of the book, its title and the introduction, give a grim impression of the story. On the cover, words like depression, dreams, pressure, pain, failure, void, form the silhouette of a young guy pointing his hand above his ear in a gun-like gesture; blood splash on the wall; "THE HELPLINE" written in blood red.



The back blurb…

Samir is suicidal. Rachael works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir’s story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life.

The helpline Rachael works for is said to be mysterious. What can be so mysterious about a helpline I wondered. So, Samir is a frustrated young lad and Rachael is the girl who changed his life. Simple? No.

The story keeps alternating between present and flashbacks. The start is a bit slow but the story gradually picks up speed. I finished reading the second half of the book in one go. As the writer makes you juggle between the past and present of Samir’s life, you will realise that you know him. You have at least one person in your knowledge who is or was in a similar situation. An increasing number of teenagers are attempting suicide for unfathomable reasons and not many have been brave enough to explore this topic.

Never judge a book by its cover. In this case, don’t judge the book by its editorial mistakes. Yes, there are some easy-to-spot grammatical errors in the book which can be easily ignored if you concentrate on the story. At least I did.

Though this is his debut book, the writer, Uday Mane, seems to be a natural storyteller. He has very intelligently, with his story-telling, given insights on behavioural patterns and emotional wants of a suicidal person. I had taken up this book expecting it to be another teenage love failure story by an upcoming Indian author. And boy, I was proved wrong! This book has made me want to start reading books by Indian authors that are good but not lime-lighted to their worth. 

So before you go and find out Samir’s story, do recommend if you know of any such books.

You can buy the book here: 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Authentic Sindhi Curry Recipe

Sindhi kadhi or curry is the highlight of Sindhi cuisine. Whenever I am to treat friends to Sindhi food, Sindhi curry is the most awaited dish, after Dal Pakwaan ofcourse. It is a fairly simple preparation usually paired with rice. You can keep the rice for cooking simultaneously and your complete meal will be ready in 30 minutes only!



Ingredients:
1 Gram Flour
2 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
5-6 pieces Kokam
2 tsp Tamarind
2-3 wholes of Green Chilli
7-8 wholes of Sweet Neem Leaf
Fresh Coriander - For Garnishing
1 ltr Water
½ cup Cooking Oil
2 tsp Red chilli powder
1/4 tsp Powdered Turmeric
Salt


Vakharr (Vegetables):
200 gms in wholes Cluster Beans
200 gms Potatoes - cut in 4 pieces each
100 gms Ladies Finger - slashed in between vertically and cut in horizontal halves
100 gms Ivy gourd - cut in horizontal halves
100 gms Indian round gourd) - cut in 4 pieces each
2 Drumsticks - cut in finger-length
100 gms Cauliflower
1 finely chopped Tomato
The choice and quantity of vegetables can be changed according to personal preferences.

 
Utensils:
Any thick base utensil like Pressure Cooker or Stockpot.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Preparation:
Soak the tamarind in ½ a cup water

Pour oil in the cooker followed by mustard, fenugreek, curry leave and cumin seeds on a medium flame.

Add gram flour when mustard seeds start crackling.

Keep roasting the mix till flour turns reddish
Enjoy the smell of roasted gram flour.
Warning: You might experience mouth-watering here on

Add turmeric and red chilli powder and start stirring.

Add water followed by salt while still stirring.


Add vegetables (Optional)
  • Start with beans and ivy gourd as these take a little time to cook.
  • In 5 minutes, add Indian round gourd and potato.
  • Let it cook for 2 minutes then add cauliflower.
  • In 10 minutes, add ladies finger and drumsticks.
  • Toss in tomato and green chilli.
  • Cover with lid for 10 minutes or until all the vegies get cooked (fork-tender).
Smash the tamarind to extract the pulp thoroughly. Filter the tamarind water.

Add kokam and tamarind water to the boiling curry, stir for a minute.

Serve with coriander garnishing and enjoy the simply nutritious and healthy Sindhi food.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

River God by Wilbur Smith

River God is the first Wilbur Smith book that I've read and I am glad that it definitely won't be the last!



It took me around 3 weeks to complete the book, given I read it only for around an hour everyday and I am a sloooow reader.

River God is based around the mythological history of ancient Egypt. It's depicted as a monologue by a highly talented eunuch slave, Taita, who serves Lord Intef, the grand vizier of Egypt and mainly takes care of his routine business and daughter Lady Lostris. Tanus, Taita's student, is the lover of Lostris. The complete story is nothing but a romance-sex-action-packed Bollywood movie script with the girl's father playing the adamant thick-skinned villain and marrying her away to the Pharaoh for his treasures. The story is about how Taita and his students manage to escape the Hyksos invasion of Egypt with a promise to the people of returning to conquer it back again. The promise is well-kept and the part of their years as Bedouins is another story in itself.

Taita, would make the perfect smart-assed, melodramatic-but-kind-hearted vamp in a Balaji Telefilms' soap (also read: well-meaning bitch). Taita also indulges in a lot of self-praise and pomposity, while claiming to be modest. So, people with little tolerance for melodrama... this is not the book for y'all. As for the people who love the saucy scripts, you will love Taita! I am already addicted to him and can't wait to read the next three books.

The book, as mentioned by Wilbur Smith at the end, is a transcription of some scrolls found in Egypt in the tomb of a queen and is re-written to suit modern readers. It is still a Fiction because supposedly this was all in the writer's head. Though, after reading the book I would say, whatever it was in Smith's head, was pretty good.

All in all I would rate it 4/5!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Moments with Friends!

Moments come and moments go,
Some we regret, others we adore!

I remember when we all,
Uncertain of any fall,
Stood by one another,
Like we would for a sister or brother.

When we thought 
No one could tear us apart,
When we thought our friendship
Was just the life's start.

Careless and caring,
We had a great time together,
When for crying, we knew
We always had a shoulder.

When engrossed in those moments
Ever did i feel,
That time would take us in such directions,
Where nostalgia would be hard to deal.

Now I recollect the times
When I took it all for granted
When I didnt realise its importance
While our friendship was all I wanted.

Here I am now, thinking...
Whom do I tease, whom do I don?
I know I realised it late,
So late that the moment was gone!!!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

To the ButterCup of the PowerPuff...


We bothered you a lot,
Irritated you, frustrated you,
Teased you whenever we could,
We did things you never thought we would.

You were caring in your own way,
That you never showed,
But around when we had no one dear,
You would always be our savior.

We might not have been the best of friends,
Nor would this friendship be lifelong,
One thing would never be forgotten,
She did not let our wounds rotten.

Sorry, for being a pain in the ass,
Thank you, for bearing with us
Till the end of your tether,
We sure did share some of the best moments together.

ButterCup, We Love You!
- Blossom & Bubbles :)


Bubbles 3:) - Blossom ;) - ButterCup O:)