January 31, 2017

Book Review: The Last Bloom by Poulomi Sengupta

The Last Bloom

Author: Poulomi Sengupta
Publisher: Frog Books (Leadstart publishing)
Rating: 3.5/5

The attitude to cross any limit to survive in the ever-changing world is something everyone does not possess. It takes a lot of courage and the will power to accept the change. ‘The Last Bloom’ is a debut novella written by Poulomi Sengupta. The story throws light on the drawbacks of the educations- politics playing a major role in it. The story is set up in a college in Bengal and that adds to the flavor. The book portrays subtle elements of Bengali culture and I liked that a lot.

Priya, the protagonist, is a young, enthusiastic girl who joins the college with high hopes and a desire to graduate with flying colours. But the moment she gets acquainted with the prevailing environment in the college, she is struck dumb. The whole idea of burning the midnight oil and succeeding in life seems like a nine-day wonder to her. Her college reeks of politics and the fancy-free and footloose students bully her way too much. In the process of adjusting to the environment and constantly trying to fit in, she explores the depths of politics and learns how it affects one’s life.

This story depicts the sad truth about the struggle of a girl in this deceitful and fake world. She finds solace in her neighbor, Vivek, who is all ears to her explanations and her ideas. His character comes out alive through the descriptions and that is commendable. However, the frequent philosophical discussions might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The length of the book could have been reduced easily by cutting short some of the descriptions. Also, the cover could have been better. I liked the intriguing title, though. There are editing mistakes and some punctuation errors too.

“There are two types of pain in this world- pain that hurts you and pain that changes you.” This book perfectly describes the latter. The pain of not being able to fit in and be accepted is aptly shown through the story. The students toil day and night, not to study but to change themselves so that they are considered a part of the gang. And this is saddening.  It takes patience and the audacity to stand for what you feel is right. The character of Priya has been crafted beautifully and she comes to life after reading first few chapters only.

The narration is simple with the good vocabulary. The flow of the story is in continuum but the climax is dull.

Overall, the authoress has done a great job.
Best wishes!

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January 30, 2017

North India (ns) Vs South India (ns)

Different people, in good faith, can look at the same fact and interpret it differently. But that's where an interesting conversation begins.
~Eric Schlosser

The Indian mentality of comparing and constantly trying to put down the other is something everyone is aware of. In the whirlpool of several issues, one clichéd issue that probably becomes a part of every person at some point in their life is the difference between a North Indian and a South Indian. Now that I have lived in Bangalore for 2 years, I can safely list the prominent differences (the logical ones) between the two:

1.   The obdurate cultural beliefs
One things I have realized in these two years is that the South Indians are true to their values and culture. Come what may, they abide by it strictly. Be it the traditional Ellu bella, Puran Poli or the traditional rangoli- Kolam, they do not take it lightly. Unlike them, the North Indians are more like footloose and fancy free.

2.   Fluent-English speaking skills
South Indians speak plenty of languages like Kannada, Tamil or Telugu but their ability to speak English with utmost fluency is commendable. The strictness in all the schools regarding speaking in English is something the North Indian schools cannot compete with.

The lack of variety in food
The food offered in South India is all about three basic staple items- Dosa, Sambhar and Idli/ Vada. The variety that we get in North India or rather the kind of dishes offered by North India is nowhere comparable. The use of grated coconut in anything and everything might come as a turn-off for the NIs.

4.   Hardworking nature/ smart ways of working

South Indians have always been known for their hardworking nature but the North Indians are known for their smartness. It is not that the latter do not work hard, but they do the required very smartly.

5.   Politics
This might not be a difference in terms of the severity of the issue. Both North Indians and South Indians are hardcore politicians. Where in North India we have fewer opportunities, less money, and more corruption, the scene is similar here is South. Here, too, people fight for rights through riots, they opt for ‘Bandhs’ to pressurize the government to accept their demands.

6.   Open- mindedness
I believe that South Indians are more open-minded but that comes as a contradiction to their stubborn cultural beliefs. Where on one hand they believe in following all the rituals and traditions, on the other hand they do not have a problem with the concept of ‘moving in together’. With time, even North Indians have started to become more acceptable, yet it will take a lot of time for the idea to be accepted completely.

7.   The language
Yes, North Indians are crude in their mannerisms. They are rude, they are selfish and they don’t care how they speak to the person on the other side. South Indians are humble people. They are not only helpful but also kind.

8.   The language barrier
Even though South Indians are polite, they do not like if they come across a person who does not speak the same language. When talking to a South Indian, it is a difficult task to make them understand what one is asking/ explaining.

All said and done, all people are good. The differences should help us eliminate our negativities and incorporate the positive changes (too philosophical, eh?).

That is all for now.

 Picture coutesy: Google

January 29, 2017

An Open letter from D-I-L to her would be In-laws (Modern Nari)

Dear Strange people,

As euphoric as I may feel right now, I am excited too, for I have so many plans. Getting married has been one of my dreams and now that it is materializing I am experiencing the joys of the spring. There are things that are troubling me like how will your son and I manage our finances, where will we live after marriage, what will happen if one of us gets a transfer and plenty other. But let us not get to that; let us cross the bridge when we come to it. How are the preparations going on at your end?

I have just known your son for a few days and I am apprehensive about his taste, distaste, likes and dislikes. But that is not a reason to worry, for I will have you by my side. And with time, I will get to know him better. There have been people at my workplace, who were once a stranger and are now good friends.  My married friends told me that I would no longer be that young free girl who once had the freedom to meet her friends, catch a movie or so and then head for eating ‘Golgappe’. But trust me, I am not going to walk the blind alleyway. I have my own life and I believe that life for both of us would be better if we ‘be’ ourselves. I understand that my new life would bring many responsibilities along with it and that it will take a lot of patience and understanding to get used to it. On the same lines, I am also hoping that your son does not turn out to be a male chauvinist and that he knows where not to cross the line. I would really appreciate if he acknowledges my presence and respects me the same way as he would like me to respect him.

Won’t it be better if I brief you all about certain things which I do not plan on changing? Number one is my sleep- I love to sleep and I will definitely sleep till late on the weekends. After working five days a week, I deserve two days’ rest. Your son, when we first met, outlined the schedule the DILs follow in the house. It was something I had never done and my mom says that I will start liking it once I get married. But I have a different idea in mind and am obdurate on implementing it. I would rather prefer not getting married than to impress the whole family by waking up early and completing the household chores. Since your son is also earning well, I expect you to get a maid and leave the chores on her.

Clothes should not be a problem as I already spoke about this to your son; I have my own set of dresses for the different occasion and I will not entertain anybody interfering with my dress sense. Also, it would be better if you all employ a cook beforehand, for neither I know how to cook nor am I planning to learn the skill. I will not like it if the relatives will badger me into doing something I don’t like.  

I love to travel; I like binge drinking and I like to party on Fridays. I was not born to pay the bills and impress people around me, right? So why not live the short life to the fullest! I have dated boys before and I expect you all to let the bygones be bygones. Do not force me to quit working ever, because the more you all will get on my nerves, the more audacious I will become.

I do not expect that I and your son share the same interests. In fact, I am more than willing to listen to his corporate narrations and simultaneously expect him to be all ears when I talk about my editing job.

Honestly, there is nothing vexing me more than the long leave for which I have applied. I am confident enough that I will manage things and hopeful too that you all will be my pillars of strength. I am ready to build bridges but if anyone tries to breathe down my neck, I can be a real pain in the *** too. Looking forward to seeing you all on the D-day. 

Till then,

Your would-be DIL

**Do share in the comments sections how you think the letter would have changed for the traditional bahu and get a chance to win a paperback of 'An Eye for an Eye' by HBB.

Also read An Open Letter from D-I-L to her would be In-laws (adarsh bahu).

January 28, 2017

Book Review: Blemishing the Odds by Harish Penumarthi

Blemishing the Odds

Author: Harish Penumarthi
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Rating: 3/5

How we wish to narrate the indelible moments of our life to our children! How we wish our parents and grandparents narrate their life instances to us! Isn’t this the reason why ‘How I met your mother’ became a hit amongst the youngsters? ‘Blemishing the Odds’ is based on the same concept in which the father narrates his story to his children. The book is a delightful read as it is not only relatable but substantial. 

Read more here.

January 23, 2017

Book Review: Wildcard by Asfiya Rahman


Author: Asfiya Rahman
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Rating: 4/5

Sports has always been my passion; anything about it excites me a lot. The good thing about HBB is that they encourage different genres (other than romantic fiction). It does not matter which sport is involved but the adrenaline rush is what matters the most.

‘Wildcard’ comes as a delightful read because of the chronological approach used by the authoress to reach the climax. It is a pot-boiler that has a blend of drama, regret, helplessness, love, determination, a hankering for the lost title and the bond between a daughter and the father. The story does remind you of ‘Reel Steel’ (Excuse my growing habit of relating the books with movies) but at the same time, it has a flavor of its own. With a catchy cover and just the apt amount of green, the book doesn't fail to leave a lasting impression.

The story begins with Karan Mehrotra (the protagonist) blowing away the cobwebs and enjoying life to the fullest. He has name, fame, and money; he is the star Tennis player. Wimbledon and wedding are on cards but destiny turns the tables for Karan and forces him to give up his dream. It is eight years later that Karan gets a second bite at the cherry when his little daughter urges him to pursue his long-lost dream and be contended.

‘Wildcard’ is about a player’s endeavor to become the champion, a lover’s quest to fulfill the vows of marriage, a father’s struggle to live for his child and a man’s ‘fight tooth and nail’ attitude. Karan has the blend of all these personalities and his character shines. Balancing his character is the character of Roshni. With an impressive tone and easy to understand language, the story flows smoothly at a convenient pace. However, the only drawback is the numerous typos.

Overall, a straight-from-the-heart story. Good effort by the author.

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January 22, 2017

Book Review: Finding Juliet by Toffee

Finding Juliet

Author: Toffee
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Rating: 3/5

The love during the 90s was simpler than it is today. We did not have to worry about the authenticity of the feelings and had our parents by our side to guide. Love of the Millennium has more hassles. People have lust and are avaricious rather than being smitten by the warmth of love. And when such is the case ‘Finding Juliet’ comes as a delight for the teenagers.

‘Finding Juliet’ is a mushy love tale, which revolves around the two main characters- Arjun and Anjali. The title of the book is fine but the plot is jaded. The cover page is interesting but the punch line is a hoodwink. The initial part of the blurb is apt but the questions posed to ignite the spark of interest in the mind of the reader, are wayward. With proper typesetting and presentation, Srishti has yet again proved that it won’t compromise with the quality of the product (referring only to the physical quality).

The book comes with several errors, typos, and missing punctuation marks. The language, no doubt, is simple and blends with the spoken language of today’s youth who prefer calling people as ‘peeps’ and because as ‘coz’. The plot is fine (although it is nothing new but college/ teen romance with some clichéd elements like liquor, girls, coquette friend, sex (lots of it) and regret). This would rather be a glimpse of ‘Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya’ and Life of our very favourite ‘Barney Stinson’.

The plot reeks of desperation and the weak personality portrayed by the male lead is something I did not quite like. There are parts which could have been made better by changing and playing with the plot a little, but the original comes as a disappointment. The book will be a good treat for the romance lovers as it is a breezy read with sections of eroticism. For me, the major turn off was the lack of vocabulary and informal tone.

Another point that I would like to highlight is the abrupt ending of the book. The plot moves at a comfortable pace but suddenly the air sends across happy vibes and the story ends.

Overall, a good effort by the author and the book can definitely be picked for a quick read.
Best wishes!

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Book Courtesy: Author Paradise                                                                                                                                                        

January 19, 2017

Book Review: Double or Quits by Shilpa Gupta

Double or Quits

Author: Shilpa Gupta
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Rating: 3.5/5

With the current trend of ‘women-centric novellas’, ‘Double or Quits’ does not impress by its look. Jyotsna, the female lead, has been portrayed as a strong and confident character. Her hard-bitten past forces the reader to empathize with her even more. Aryan, on the other hand, is the male lead who complements Jyotsna’s personality.

Amidst coy love and competitive world, these two stock investment bankers strive to adjust and give their love a chance to blossom. Jyotsna lets her guard down and gives in to the pleas of Aryan, who might not seem real to the readers.

With too much stock market detailing, the book failed to appeal my inquisitive mind. Although, the terms and concepts have been explained really well, yet the lack of editing and proofreading nullifies the positives of the plot. There are several typos and other printing errors too.

The story is not new but the writing is impressive. With simple yet impactful language, the author has successfully reached out to the hearts of the readers. The storyline is strong and the characterization of Jyotsna further adds on to the advantage.

Best wishes to the author!

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Review Copy: Provided by Kalamos

January 18, 2017

Book Review: Riots of Love by Shikha Kaul

Riots of Love

Author: Shikha Kaul
Publisher: The Book Paradise
Rating: 4/5

Life is a cake walk for many but for some, it is not feasible to opt for the line of least resistance. ‘Riots of love’ is a remarkable feat that portrays the emotional turmoil faced by the main as well as the side characters when odds are not in their favor. But the story does not end there. When love gets involved, it makes a botch of the life. Isn’t it? This love is not the 'romantic' love but the love the people have for their religion, caste, and creed. On one hand, we have Avi, the protagonist who is a follower of ‘Riots of Love’, who thinks straight and believes in unity, peace, and love; on the other hand, we have the fathers of the children killed by Avi. Will the father avenge the death of their children or is there more to be exposed as one may turn the pages?

With plenty twists and turns, this novella proves to be a complete page turner. A different plot, an apprehensible approach, well-balanced characters and a proper climax is what this novella has in store for the readers.

‘Riots of Love’ is a poignant yet offbeat story that revolves around the invisible barriers created by our religion, caste, and beliefs. The plot is a pot boiler with all the necessary elements of suspense, spice, mystery and patriotism. It is more like a rolling Bollywood movie than a book.

The cover of the book is catchy. The blurb is apt. The utter disappointment was the layout of the text; using the standard font and enough spacing could have been better. With an apt title, the story doesn’t fail to impress the readers.

The author has been successful in using an uncomplicated approach to expose the dirty facade of politics. The writing is understandable and the plot moves at a comfortable pace.
Overall, this book offers something fresh on the platter and should be read at least once. Go for this one.

Best Wishes!

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January 15, 2017

Book Review: Confused Bastards by Manav Vigg

Confused Bastards

Author: Manav Vigg
Publisher: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Rating: 3/5

TVF Play’s ‘The Pitchers’ was one of the most liked shows aired online. The first season ended last year and it ended on a confusing note as the end did not reveal the main idea of the start up the protagonists were opting for. ‘Confused Bastards’ sounds more like a sequel to this show. Three friends are fed up of their existing lifestyle and want a change. Jai, who appears to be the protagonist, has a bee in his bonnet; he wants to start a business of his own, a start-up.

Read more here.

Book Courtesy: Author Paradise

January 13, 2017

An Open letter from D-I-L to her would be In-laws (Adarsh Nari)

Dear In-laws,

As euphoric as I may feel right now, I am apprehensive too, for I have no clue about how my life would change once I change my surname. Though getting married has been one of my craziest dreams and I have always wanted to experience it, I am now terrified.

I have just known your son for a few days and I am relying on you to help me adjust and adapt to the new life. My married-friends have already told me that I would no longer be that young free girl who once had the freedom to meet her friends, catch a movie or so and then head for eating ‘Golgappe’. I understand that my new life would bring so many responsibilities along with it and that it will take a lot of compromise and sacrifice to get used to the new routine. I was also told that I would no longer have that 'right' to take care of my ageing parents and that they would have no right to intervene in my life. How can I break all contact with the people with whom I have spent the most delicate years of my life?This is perturbing.

It makes me jump out of my skin to even think that I would not be able to sleep till late on weekends. Your son, when we first met, outlined the schedule the DILs follow in the house. It was something I had never done but my mom says that I will start liking it once I get married. Your son told me to wear only sarees or salwar kameez in the house. He asked me to learn making Chicken Curry and Mutton. When I told him that I am a vegan, he seemed a little annoyed. He just flatly stated that it was mandatory for the DILs to learn to cook these dishes. Is that so? If yes, I will try my best to keep you all happy.

Mother, I also got to know that your son likes to travel. But when I asked him, he said he only goes on business tours. Will I get a chance to travel with him? I also love to travel. Now that I can’t meet my friends every now and then, can I accompany my husband when he is out? He also spoke to me about planning for a baby. I told him that I do not want one for two years, but he insisted on having one as soon as we get married. I am not prepared for this. My mother says that this is how it is supposed to be. My heart and mind refuse to believe this. But if this is what you all want, I would try to convince myself to be ready for the added responsibility.

Your son also mentioned about his ex- girlfriends. Does he still talk to them? I tried asking him, but he ignored my question. Afraid and clueless, I preferred not repeating it. Even after talking to him for that one hour, I felt as if I knew nothing about him. Is your son always so secretive? I told him about my job in Syndicate Bank; he didn’t seem interested. He told me about his job at TCS; I had to pretend to be interested though I didn’t understand any technical terminology. Does his disinterest in my job mean that he will forbid me to work after marriage? He mentioned about the maid being kicked out in few months; he did not tell me why.

There are more questions that are vexing me and have rendered my nights sleepless. Whom should I ask? Will you answer my questions? My mom doesn’t seem to like what goes on and on in my mind. Marriage, which once seemed like the only solution that would blow away the cobwebs, now is like the bane of my life. How can I decide to spend the rest of my life with your son and you too, without having a fair idea of what I am getting into?

I am looking forward to your answer as I am hoping that would ease the lines that have developed on my forehead.

Yours would-be DIL

(Yesterday, FIL called my Father and asked him to add some more things to the gift list. Though we are happy that you are non-believers of the clichéd ritual of dowry, I beseech you to please exclude Innova car and 3.5 Lakh cash from the list. My father, being a private sector employee, cannot afford this much)

Image Source: Google

Be safe, be alert!

“Violence against women in all its forms is a human right violation. It is not something that any culture, religion or tradition propagates.”
                                                                ~Michelle Bachelet

Brutality in any form is violence. The status of women in India is not up to the mark yet. Although women are walking  at an equal pace with men, in every field, they are still mistreated at the domestic as well as professional front. The male chauvinists still continue to crack the whip to ensure that their male ego is kept intact. With the increasing success rate of women, the number of cases relating to domestic violence or violence at the workplace is increasing too. It is the need of the hour to work in this direction and fight all odds and prevent this violence.

There are different forms of violence that go unnoticed and unpunished because they have been already sanctioned by the society, the religion and the culture. Some of the most common forms of crime include rape, child marriage and female genital cutting or mutilation. In case of rapes, the crime is generally not reported, neither by the victim nor by the bystanders/ observers. In majority of the cases, the victim is killed by the family in the name of honor as if the case was that of adultery.  In case of female genital mutilation (FGM), the girls who fall under the minor category, are inflicted with pain and trauma of cutting genital parts for no proper medical reasons. Yet again, this crime is not reported. In case of child marriage, the teenage girls are wedded off and they become pregnant at such an early age that the risk to encounter health and other problems, increases.
It is important to fight back and stand for the women and also protect their rights. Following are the ways in which Indian youth can possibly counter attack the violence against the women and protect their integrity.

·       Calling the police whenever and wherever any crime is witnessed. The youth of today should not fear the consequences and instead overcome the state of being in a quandary.
·       If any of your friend or a relative is in any form of abusive relationship, help her out. This help can be in the form of support or by reporting the incidence to her family or to the police (depending upon the severity of the situation).
·       Keep yourself updated about the anti-violence policies and the campaigns/ programs that can come in handy at the time of requirement.
·       A child learns from what he sees and so it is important to teach your children to respect women. They should be taught to respect and treat others in a way that they would want others to treat them.
·       Volunteer at an NGO or other domestic violence shelters that works to aid the women in need and helps the survivors to lead a calm and peaceful life.
·       Be an active bystander and take the bull by the horns and report the crime as soon as possible.
·       The most harmful source of spreading wrong ideas is the television. The youth should start protesting against the TV shows and the movies that depict women in subordinate or submissive roles. Also the movies that glorify rape and other scenes showing sexual abuse, should be banned.
·       Stop debasing feminism.
·       Be bold and raise your voice against sexist jokes, sexism and sexist comments/ remarks.
·       Cherry pick the opportunity of learning self-defense tricks. Martial arts is also a good option.

Violence can be in any form. Even if you are able to avoid it outside the house, you might become a victim inside the house. It is therefore, better to keep yourself prepared and be cautious. Fearing and bowing before the wrong people is definitely not the solution.

Image Source: Google

January 12, 2017

Book Review: Adhira by Aditti Gaur

Author: Aditti Gaur
Publisher: Author Paradise
Rating: 3/5

Love is an uncanny emotion as it is ever evolving. But it has been rightly said that a society becomes great when the old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. Adhira is a strong-willed woman who likes helping and sharing to her heart’s content. This gives her the much-needed peace and happiness.

A heart- warming story is what Adhira is all about. It portrays the selflessness of Adhira and the people around her, especially Riddhi, her best friend. The characters have been woven so intricately that they complement each other so well. With a cushy and happy cover design, the book promises some real emotional turmoil and melodrama.

It is hard to believe that people like Adhira still exist and when people have this mindset, these stories serve as a ray of hope. The storyline reminds you of ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ as Adhira’s character resembles that of Shahrukh’s.

The story is a slow read in the beginning and it gets more interesting towards the end. A sharp/ substantial climax could have been better. The dialogues and organization of content are fine. Except for a few errors in the editing, the book is a good package.

Best wishes to the author!

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