Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mouthpiece #1

The first issue of Mouthpiece includes:

Cover Story : Begin by Chanting God's Name
Book Section : Reviewed 'My Gita'
What's Brewing : Atte ki Panjiri
Artistry : Hand painted Kurta and dupatta

Check the complete newsletter here

Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Review : My Gita

Title : My Gita
Author : Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher : Rupa
ISBN : 978-81-3770-8

From the time when things started to register in mind and make sense, Bhagvad Gita has always intrigued me and inspired me. I enjoy reading Devdutt Pattanaik, is perhaps an understatement. So when these two got together, it was a combination that I had to pick up to read.

Devdutt has used a unique style to unravel the mystery behind Gita. He has adopted thematic rather than sequential approach so as to make it easily understandable and logical for contemporary readers. Related verses are picked up across eighteen chapters of Gita and are explained supported by related stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata, comparisons with other religious beliefs and folklores.

Author's beautiful articulation is at display right from the inside of the cover page where he succinctly talks about our indulgence for argument over dialogue (vi-vaad over sam-vaad) and how we are isolating self at the cost of ignoring the common co-existence. He gently reminds the readers, 'we forget that we live in an ecosystem of others, where we can nourish each other with food, love and meaning, even when we fight.' Hence he wishes to 'let My Gita inform your Gita'.

The eighteen themes are categorised as - Karma, Dharma, rebirth, self and other (jiv-atma and parmatma), attachment-detachment(moha-moksha), maya and so on. The Greek and Arabic mythological texts have also been brought in for comparison and for different interpretations of the same terms and themes through out the narrative. The book is abound with Devdutt's signature illustrations, maps and flow charts which work as great aids for understanding.

While My Gita tries to simplify the Gita, it is very high on philosophical content which makes it a slow read. However, I feel, it does solve the purpose for which it is written - it gently nudges the readers to introspect and bring in mindfulness to every action and every thought, while on various occasions, it liberates the readers from unnecessary and imaginary shackles. And that is exactly what the Gita does to a thinking mind.

Though every verse of the Gita is overflowing with wisdom and intelligence that can help one sail through the vicissitudes of life comfortably, yet one can pick and adopt just one to begin with. If I have to pick, then it has to be the one which brings focus on 'informed action' and 'detached action'. The combination of the two teaches us that the opposite or contrary forces are actually complimentary, which may appear to be quite divergent. 
The author brings this out beautifully in the following passage:

"Arjun asks whether Krishna values knowledge over action. Krishna replies that he values informed action. Arjun asks if Krishna values action over renunciation. Krishna replies that he values detached action. Informing the mind about the exchange and detaching action from the expectation of results demand that Arjun take an inner journey."

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

कविता : एक बूँद

भावनाएँ अनेक पर उभर कर आती एक अभिव्यक्ति
अनेकों नाम से जानते हैं सब पर स्वभाव उसका एक
कभी आसमान से गिरती पानी की चंचल बूँद बन कर
कभी आँखों से ढुलक जाती थोड़ी नमी की धार बन कर

कितना कुछ समा सकता है एक छोटे से कतरे में कि
पूरा इन्द्रधनुष सिमट आता है पारदर्शी शीशे में
नज़र को धुंधला कर देती आँखों में समा कर
मेहनत का प्रमाण बन जाती ललाट पर उभर कर

कभी किसी की पिपासा तृप्त करने में तत्पर
कभी मन के भावों को व्यक्त करने का साधन
कभी गुलाब की पंखुड़ियों पर सुंदरता का उदाहरण
कभी नए जीवन का संचार करने की ज़रुरत
रूप, नाम, काम बेशक हैं अनेक पर अस्तित्व है एक I

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Book Review : The Ant Thief

Title : The Ant Thief
Author : Gita V. Reddy

Ants and bees make great subjects for short stories for very little children. Author Gita has picked the world of ants and bees as a backdrop to convey a subtle message to the young readers or listeners of this story.

Noira is a strong black ant who exercises regularly to stay fit. But she has one problem, she detests working and looks for easy way to eat, unlike other ants who dexterously work all day accumulating their food. She is a thief and a big liar too. Once she steals a diamond ring from somewhere and tells everyone that she has been awarded the ring as a bravery award by the king. To add to the woes of other ants and bees, Noira gets hold of a magic cloth, wearing which she becomes invisible. She uses this cloak all the time to steal more and more without any fear. But all bad things do come to an end. Does Noira realise her mistake? Does she learn the art of working hard and enjoying the fruit of her labour? Read on to know about Noira's fate.


The thing that I like about Gita's books is that the plots are built up slowly and simplistically which is a sure way to engage young readers and listeners. While going through bright and clutter-free llustrations, the connection is easy to make and there is a feel good experience that one gets after reading the book. This can be one of the great stories to narrate in story-telling sessions where the importance of recognizing the hard work of others should be highlighted duly. What impressed me the most is that Noira understands her folly not through some kind of fear but more by introspecting. This is a great way to encourage children to go through their actions and thoughts and try to course correct on their own, rather than reprimanding them for any of their wrong actions, and this can be adopted very early on.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review : Apparent in Hindsight

Title : Apparent in Hindsight
Authored by Vector Consulting Group
Publisher : Bestsellers 18
ISBN : 978-938406134-0

Long time back (at least that is what it feels like now) when I was a fresh grad, doing my masters, my sister recommended the book 'The Goal' by Eliyahu Goldratt to me. She had heard about this title in one of the New Year parties thrown by a reputed company for employees and their better halves. A book enthusiast, I did not waste any time and brought the shining book home. That was the time I was deeply interested in all management related books and had already devoured - Odyssey : Pepsi to Apple, Made in Japan, My Life and My Work, Iacocca and likes of these. But the experience of reading Goldratt's book was something very different and very unique. The way he presents the problem of a plant manager and how by thinking clearly and logically, he applies Theory of Constraints - is just amazing. One needs to read this fast paced adventure book to believe it. And very logically I went on to read a few more of Goldratt's books but the first one still remains the best of the lot.

Many springs later, I happened to read the book 'Apparent in Hindsight' which brought back the memories of The Goal. The book authored by Vector Consulting Group addresses the problems that most commonly plague Indian automotive industry. Using various analogical situations, it tries to peel all the layers of manufacturing and sales processes. It challenges the age old assumptions and procedures and gradually leads one towards analytically logical and practical approach. The proceedings begin with the problems of main heads of two integral divisions - sales and production, of an organisation. These are the two divisions which more often than not find themselves at the loggerheads with each other. While trying to unravel the core problem, the narrative highlights the commonly used methodologies like - JIT, TPM and Lean Manufacturing. The case study eventually leads the readers to the wisdom that the middle path and not exactly any one particular philosophy is the way to deal with certain situations. The idea is great and presentation is decent too. The understanding and knowledge that it leads the readers to are not specific to production only, the same can be applied to any problem that one confronts.

Though a management related book, yet it is easy to read, understand and follow. The characters are quite believable and relatable. It can be read by anybody and the prologue part comes very handy in understanding the area specific terminology that is heavily used all through the book.
However, a few things sound rather unreal and could have been edited out for better flow of the narrative. I would say if Goldratt's book is the bible then 'Apparent in Hindsight' is a hymn.


Just wondering wouldn't it be better if the names of the Founding Directors had actually appeared as authors of the book? I feel it helps to create that one-on-one connect between the author and the reader. Vector Consulting Group is doing very well in weeding out the problems in companies across sectors and fields by getting Theory of Constraints implemented. It would be great to have more of their success stories in written form as a series of books.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Review : Tiffin

Title : Tiffin


Author : Rukmini Srinivas
Publisher : Rupa
ISBN : 978-81-291-2390-9

Rukmini Srinivas who divides her time between Bangalore and Boston, is a television chef, a storyteller, a gardener, an entrepreneur, a teacher, an author and a connoisseur of food. The seed of this book got sown many years ago when she started writing recipes of various tiffin options to her daughters along with many anecdotes and narratives about people and places that were associated with the recipes. The request from her daughters for the stories and the recipes grew more frequent and a mother's replies grew more lengthy. Eventually what we see today is the consolidated version of all those narratives and recipes.

Through her memoir-cum-cookbook, Rukmini gives a peak into her life over last many decades during which she has cooked and eaten different dishes.  As she got to travel a lot from very young age, she recognised the importance of home-cooked food everywhere. Through her recipes and the memories of bygone times intertwined around food, she recreates the life well spent. One can see fusion of different places in her recipes as she showcases traditional dishes with some convenient twists here and there.

The book is an outcome of author's sincere love for food and cooking and that is palpable all through the narrative. She talks about various places, people and customs in great detail and from the perspective of food. In fact, she stirs some chords deep within as some things etch in our memories with tastes, flavours and company. A great way to share a slice of life with readers.

There are however a few things that could be improved for subsequent prints. Readers would feel the need of an index of all the recipes, otherwise it is very difficult to sift through more than 300 pages for a particular recipe that one would like to try. A few recipes get repeated in the book. The pictures could be improved especially now when when food photography has taken a new dimension and not all recipes have accompanying pictures with them.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

कविता : उड़ान

न बाँधो इस अनवरत उन्मुक्त उड़ान को

समय की बेड़ी से इसे सरोकार ही क्यों हो ?
आंतरिक संयम को बाहरी चर्या क्यों,
मन के भावों को शब्दों का बाना क्यों ?

शायद कभी क्षितिज को न छू पाऊँ,
शायद कभी सबसे ऊँचा न उड़ पाऊँ,
शायद क्षमता की सीमा में बंध जाऊं,
पर मन की स्वछंदता को क्यों न पाऊँ |

लौट कर आऊँगी अपने घरोंदे पर फिर भी,
विस्तृत आसमान अधिक अपना सा लगे तो भी |
मन की एक तार काया के बंधनों से है जुडी,
चाहे बाकी सब अपने आशियाँ में हैं सिमटी |

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Lustre of Food Lust


We all have grown up witnessing Maslow’s hierarchy in action even if all may not have studied it in a classroom setting. The world-renowned theory of needs and motivation places basic physiological needs of every individual at the very bottom of the pyramid — food, clothing and shelter. In fact, very rightly so, because only after the fundamental needs are fully satisfied, that one gets to think about other aspects of life — entertainment, self esteem, and eventually self actualisation. But perhaps, change affects everything, sometimes even the seemingly unquestionable facts. What if the basic physiological needs start rising up the hierarchy and offer a way to achieve ‘safety’, ‘love and belongingness’ or ‘self-esteem’?
In many ways and on various fronts, food has actually progressed from being a means of surviving to an end in itself. For some, it has become a common ground to build life-long friendships and associations, it lends immense confidence and sense of achievement to many and for some it has earned a lot of recognition and respect of others. If this is not conquering higher levels of needs, then what else is? 
Broader canvas
The change is visible in every stage of the whole process, from purchasing of vegetables/grocery items, cooking, to plating and serving the dish. Earlier, buying vegetables was usually among the most mundane chores around the house, but not so any more. Now food enthusiasts painstakingly look for fresh produce, unheard of herbs and condiments making mental calculations of combining flavours. Herbs like celery, buckwheat, parsley, lemon grass, pak choi, leek, rosemary, asparagus and basil are being used not just in continental-style cooking but also in Indian dishes. The variety is not limited to herbs and condiments only, newer vegetables — artichokes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, zucchini, lettuce, yellow/red bell peppers, and many more — have made an entry in the regular kitchens. These vegetables were not to be seen in the local markets a couple of decades back. 
Whole activity of cooking has undergone a makeover as well. Store-bought spice mixes like garam masala, sambhar powder, chaat masaala, biryani masala and black pepper are a passé now. The new in thing is freshly ground spices and condiments for that ultimate flavour. 
Anybody can cook
The process of cooking food itself has become an interesting activity thanks to the concept of open kitchens, which does not make the home cooks feel banished to one corner of the house away from the company of other members and visitor’s in the house. Rather, the work area has become a place to show off with beautiful modular kitchens and attractive gadgetry giving the erstwhile lowly, dingy kitchens a modern, trendy look. 
Moreover, it is no longer just the lady of the house who is assigned the job of cooking. Movie like Ratatouille and TV shows like Masterchef have led people to believe that anybody with a bit of passion for it can cook. Nothing is impossible for those who have the slightest intent to make a decent meal in the kitchen. A lot of help is available in the form of recipe books, blogs and websites, cooking apps, YouTube videos, just a click away. 
Once cooking is done; serving the creativity is nothing less than an art in itself. Even little children have adopted the terminology like plating in their role-play these days. Yes, this can be considered as a side boon of shows like Masterchef Australia and many other versions of the same show, including our home-grown series. 
Preparing a meal is just not to fill stomach anymore; it has become a medium of bringing laurels to many individuals. Names like Tarla Dalal, Sanjeev Kapoor, Kunal Kapoor, Vikas Khanna, Karen Anand, etc. are household names because of their superlative culinary skills. The space for good looking, delectable dishes is huge; one just needs to make one’s presence felt there. Food enthusiasts keep posting their exotic dishes regularly on their websites, blogs, YouTube or share on social media sites, inspiring many others to try some of the recipes at home. 
Food has opened a wonderful avenue for photographers as well and food photography is fast becoming an attractive proposition as a profession these days. Professional food photography encompasses many aspects and involves an art director, a photographer, a food stylist and a prop stylist along with an army of assistants. 
Who would have thought even considering mentioning words ‘food’ and ‘porn’ in the same sentence but that is no longer impossibility. ‘Food porn’ is a well-recognised term now and has even found a place in some dictionaries. Wikipedia description of the word says — Food porn is a glamourised visual presentation of cooking or eating in advertisements, infomercials, blogs, cooking shows or other visual media. Foods usually boasting of a high fat and calorie content, exotic dishes that arouse a desire to eat or the glorification of food. Food porn often takes the form of food photography and styling that present food provocatively.
Seeing such enticingly beautiful display of food and alluring photographs all around, one does feel the relevance of this statement more — eating is a necessity but cooking is an art. 

This article appeared in The Tribune on 4th Oct, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review : Bala Gala the Brave and Dangerous

Title : Bala Gala the Brave and Dangerous
Author : Gita V. Reddy
Illustrations by : VC Arts


'Bala Gala the Brave and Dangerous' is a cute little story which celebrates imagination of tender minds as the main theme. Every child is a gifted dreamer, and the flights of imagination take him to far and wider places which may not even exist in the practical world.

There once was a Gamba-Bamba forest in which a river Kanga flowed. Bala Gala was a tiger in that forest who roared ferociously. Earlier he was a deer, who was quick and fast. There were many other co-inhabitants of the forests too. Brammy-Gommy, the crocodile who always wanted to eat Bala-Gala whenever he came to the river to drink water. Once when a monster came to the jungle, Bala Gala turned into a fire dragon to scare the monster away. In every flight of his imagination, he made many friends, scared some away, saved some but enjoyed every tryst thoroughly.

Yes, these are all imaginations of a little child who wakes up every day with a fresh adventure in mind. Just by imagining himself to be a different creature every morning, he weaves a unique world around it.

Role play is a great way by which little children learn and entertain themselves. The author has done perfectly well in reaching out to the children through their dreamland where they usually love to reside. In fact, the ability to be able to imagine oneself to be anything is quite empowering. One can choose to be anybody or anything and that is what Gita has allowed Bala Gala to be. He chooses to be a deer first but when Brammay-Gommay frightens him,  he decides to be a tiger instead. And on a beautiful bright morning he looks forward to being a pretty butterfly. There is no end to the options and hence the excitement is endless too.


Illustrations beautifully accentuate the impact of the story.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

e-Wallets


Mobile Wallets are digital equivalent of a physical wallet that we all need to carry. It actually stores digitised information for authorisation at various levels. It could take the form of a credit card number, a password, a digital certificate, picture identification or any other information. In short, these are entry points to access a user’s most sensitive information and data. Hence, the security of these entry points is highly critical.
Empowerment with a single device
A mobile wallet facilitates the users to pay for the purchases at NFC payment acceptance terminal, besides helping them buy train or airplane tickets on the go. The information is stored on the smartphone, which can be at the actual travel time, get logged in to the company’s network to work remotely, enter the office premises without having to swipe any identification card, check in to a hotel, pay for movie tickets and enter the movie hall without having to produce any physical ticket and much more.
Although mobile wallets potentially hold keys to innumerable possibilities, these are primarily being used for payment. It is working as an online platform which allows a user to keep money in it, just like a bank account. The concept of mobile wallet is still in its infancy in India but is already gaining a lot of fan following and patronising among for payment purposes. According to a study by the research firm RNCOS, the current Indian market size for m-wallets stands at about Rs 350 crore and is estimated to rise to Rs 1,210 crore by 2019.
How does it work?
The user creates an account with a mobile wallet service provider and adds money to the account as in a regular bank account. Debit, credit and other online transactions are then conducted through this account. This facility offers some great advantages over online banking — users are not charged for any transaction, one does not have to enter the card details/pin numbers/passwords for every single transaction and the transactions can be conducted on the go. Nothing beats the mWallet in terms of convenience that it imparts to the users.
Though the target users of mobile wallets are predominantly young tech savvy section of the society, yet it holds great promise for all those who use smartphones in their daily routine. The reach and accessibility of this facility is only going to increase with time as it frees its users from having to maintain cash and waddle of debit/credit cards.
Among the forerunner companies in this space in India are PayTm, MobiKwik, Oxigen, mRupee and FreeCharge. Paytm mobile payment service is the RBI-approved digital wallet. It provides recharging and bill payment facilities, including electricity bills, gas bills, telephone bills. It is a preferred choice of payment across companies like Uber, BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip.
MobiKwik wallet can be used to pay for various utilities bills and in addition to that, users can make purchases on popular e-commerce sites, including eBay, Snapdeal, ShopClues, MakeMyTrip, redBus, Domino’s Pizza, HomeShop18, Infibeam, Pepperfry and many more.
Using Oxigen, people can share money with their friends and family over social networking sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, Google+ and Twitter. Users can also use Oxigen to pay bills and make online purchases.
mRupee, another company licenced by the RBI, enables users to take care of bill payments and transfer money to near and dear ones. Citrus Pay, Free Charge, Zaakpay, ItzCash are some more players in this field. With changing digital lifestyle, mobile wallet is going to play a significant role in the transactional routine of people.

This appeared in 'The Tribune' on 12 September, 2015.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

कविता : फ़िर मिलेंगे

मैं आँखें खुली रखूँ या फ़िर मूँद लूँ
क्या करूँ कि वह चेहरा धुँधला सा न लगे
चेहरे की एक एक लकीर फ़िर स्पष्ट हो जाए
हाथ में हाथ रखने का एहसास वापिस आ जाए
बस इसी उधेड़बुन में निकल गई एक शाम,
जो मन से समर्पित थी सिर्फ तुम्हीं को ही |

आज फ़िर मन में तुमसे मिलने की तड़प उठी है
आज फ़िर उस आत्मीयता को तलाशता है यह मन
यादों के संदूक से एक एक कतरा पकड़ रही हूँ
तरतीब से लगा कर फ़िर संजो रही हूँ
वो जो 'है' था कितना कुछ 'था' है बन गया
फ़िर न आने के लिए सदा के लिए है चला गया

यक़ीन है फ़िर मिलेंगे हम - कभी तो, कहीं तो
बहुत दूर न निकल जाना कि ढूँढ न पाऊँ तुम्हें तब
बाकी हैं कुछ काम जो नियत हैं मुझे अभी
पर मन के एक कोने में वास है तुम्हारा ही
बारिश कि बूंदों सा भिगोता है जो अंतर मन को |

जो सरलता तुमने अपनाई सदा अपने जीवन में
जो सादगी तुमने सार्थक की अपने अंदाज़ में
जो राह तुमने दिखाई एक मुसाफ़िर बन कर
जो जीवन दर्शन तुमने कराया सिर्फ उस पर चल कर
जो भरोसा तुमने दिलाया विश्वास और निष्ठा में
कोशिश है उस सब को अपना सकूँ हर एक पल में |

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Love for the Virtual Word

Perhaps, one of the most blissful experiences for many would be — entering into a new world through the pages of an engaging book and losing oneself in it. Regular readers would agree with this quote, “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
As we have been progressing on our evolutionary path far away from the time when language was first invented, the body of written content has been increasing at almost a mind-boggling pace. Just the variety and range of the written books is astoundingly high. On top of that there are journals, magazines, dailies, comics, encyclopedias, dictionaries and many more diverse categories. However, the sticklers of reading usually do not consider reading newspapers and magazines same as reading complete books and novels but it is reading nonetheless.
Reminiscing the past
Just go a couple of decades back in time and the whole scene looks quite different from the times that we are living in today. Imagining a life without gadgets which have almost become an extension of our bodies, is just so hard now. But those were the times when reading, as a hobby, was one of the few ways through which people liked to unwind, relax, rejuvenate and recreate. Curling up with a book, visualising the world of the written world, becoming a part of it and riding the waves of the narrative was one of the most pleasurable pastimes.
Come back to the present, the multimedia sector has gifted innumerable ways of recreation and relaxation to humans in ongoing times. Has the hobby of reading become a casualty among many others in today's times when gadgets, video games, social media sites and YouTube are ruling the roost? With multitude of entertainment sources to choose from, where are the loyalist readers? Is reading a dying art competing against many other glamorous and attractive entertainment sources now?
i-Age invasion
There is no doubt that the number of activities, engagements and distractions that have cropped up to lay claim on the same twenty-four hours of a day has increased tremendously. However, eBooks and eReaders do show a glimmer of hope to salvage the habit of reading among people, especially youth. Electronic version of books have extended the accessibility of books to a wider segment of people. Whether it is a tablet, Kindle, reading apps on phone or e-version of books on laptops, the options are aplenty for those who want to indulge in this pastime. Reach, accessibility and availability do not pose any issue any more. One can download almost all classics for free or at a very nominal price. Many sites and apps make free sample chapters of books available so that buyers are able to make informed decision regarding purchase of books. Kindle version of books are priced at very reduced price anyway which can be read either on a Kindle device or on any other device with Kindle app installed on it. The features that come along with reading apps and e-version of the books are not be ignored either. One can customise the font size, font style, resolution, brightness and many other things to suit one's liking. The dictionary and thesaurus support that is built in almost all good reading apps helps readers in looking up the meanings of the words by just clicking on the word. Readers can annotate wherever they want to by adding small notes along with the written text. If anything is to be looked up online, even that is just a click away when one is using apps on tabs/phones. The notification bars would keep the reader updated on the critical mails or messages that one cannot afford to miss. So if one is really looking and wanting to read, then there is absolutely no dearth of options — either in terms of books or of mediums on which it is to be read.
Features or distractions
Having said that, some of the above mentioned features do come as great hurdles in the way of uninterrupted reading experience and true purists would not want to adulterate their reading time with any of these. To them reading is just their self and the book and nothing in between, no e-mails, no messages, no Whatsapp, no notifications, no reminders and no easily accessible internet. They would rather open their trusted dictionary than look for easy solution online. But purists or otherwise, readers are readers. To them mediums do not matter, nor does the level of customisation of the written material, what matters is the book which captivates them like a trusted friend and leaves them asking for more.
But the million-dollar question is, have the eReaders and ebooks been able to spell their charm on non readers to adopt reading as a hobby? An avid reader Kannan from Chennai, studying in class IX says eReaders have just given another easy option to those who were anyway in the habit of reading. For others their existence has not made any difference. Keshav Sharma, a student of class VIII is a die-hard Harry Potter fan and has read the whole series many times over. He says, “None of my friends is into reading, for them gadgets means a device to play games on. They have not read any of the Harry Potter books either, however, they have watched all the movies. They find watching movies much more appealing than reading thick books.” Malathi Jain, who teaches English to senior secondary classes in Chennai, shares, “Reading among younger generation is fast dwindling. Chats, social media and sharing pictures and updates online take away most of their time. There is not time left to sit quietly and become a part of the world that the books open in front of us.”
A standard tablet and smartphone can do as many as 30 different tasks these days, many of which most customers don’t even use and care about. eReading features, options, variety, mediums and similar such features are for those who want to make use of them in enhancing their reading experience, otherwise the same get added to the list of unused traits of devices.
Signals point more towards the trend that spells : reading is fast turning into an endangered hobby if not extinct yet. Although electronic media can facilitate the process of reading to a great extent, but can do little to turn unwilling readers into avid readers.

Handy world of words
Among many eReader apps available for the hand-held devices, Kindle, Nook, kobo, google playbooks and iBooks are the famous ones. If one wants to keep reading separate from other phone activities then eReaders offer a great option too. Though considered as forgotten siblings of smart phones and tablets, eReaders do satisfy the inner reader in many. These are designed for reading books and deliver that excellently. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura HD, Barnes & Nobles Nook Simple Touch Reader (with glowLight) are rated as the top eReaders these days. ‘While one can read on any tablet using eReader apps but simple eReaders won over the regular pads as one is spared of the temptation of notification, gaming and browsing in the exclusive eReaders.’

This article appeared in 'The Tribune' on 5th Sept, 2015.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

To Heal a Grieving Heart

“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” ? — Rumi
Nothing and nobody can prepare one for loss of a dear one. But talking about the experience and experiencing it personally are two very different things. Nothing and nobody can be prepared for it.
Though no words can justify the emotions but if one is really forced to put them in words then vaguely it would feel like — extreme pain somewhere inside beyond any comparison, a sinking feeling haunts every single moment of the day, the vacuum-like emptiness does not leave one's side, the yearning to have 'at least one more day with the loved one' doesn't end, but this is not all. The overwhelming emotions of loss and void just seem to trample one, leaving one exhausted and gasping for some anchor, some foundation to hold on to. There is no set pattern of grieving and every individual goes through this phase in a very unique way. Doreen Virtue and James Van Praagh in their book How to Heal a Grieving Heart write, “Grief, like love, is immeasurable. No one loves the same, not grieves the same. Some people demonstrate their sorrow openly, while others keep it deep within their being. It is a very personal, human and spiritual experience.”
(Un)knowingly we tend to define our identity with the relationships that we form with other individuals here in our mortal bodies. Going away of one of these — a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child or a dear friend — makes one question life itself. One feels as if one is to re-learn to live minus that very significant one. Logic and reason don't work at times like these for a grieving heart and soul. In spite of the wisdom that everyone seems to carry right from the very early age that everyone has to go and it is the cycle of life; yet when it comes to actually facing that time, one feels quite ill-equipped and unprepared.
What the bereaved heart needs at that time is an empathetic support, a compassionate shoulder to cry on and a non-judgmental listener. The best that the support system can do at that time is to observe patience and wait for the person to slowly stand again mending a broken heart. Questioning the dejected person, “Why are you taking so long to come out of mourning”, or trying to give advice, does not help, rather it alienates the person further.As Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook) in her letter, post the loss of her husband says,“Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.”
With family sizes getting reduced and people being connected virtually more than physically, the support system that was so naturally available earlier is dwindling now. Most of the times, one grapples with the changed reality on one's own. The lifestyles and times have changed, and not many have the patience, energy and compassion to offer that warm, unconditional support. Most often, the grief=stricken person needs to make an effort to crawl out from darkness of dejection to the light of hope. Experts suggest some proven strategies that may help one through a healthy and effective grief experience — Be gentle with yourself and be patient, take care of your body, demand the right to grieve in your own way, cling to hope — things do get better, trust the grief as a best friend, don't try to numb the experience by any external aids'.
For many it is nothing less than catharsis as one faces the reality of life from so close. As one slowly learns to carry on with the life once again, there are a few things which help along the way to set pace on the path to recovery. Resuming the earlier set routine and the activities that one earlier engaged in are the easiest things to start from, although even the simplest tasks seem to demand much more effort now. It helps to bring back the faith on whatever that brings peace for the person. Long walks, yoga, meditation, chanting, listening to discourses, reading and similar such activities, help bring some succour to the battered soul.
One thing one must remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no time limit to it either. It is a human emotion that must be duly acknowledged and gradually time does put healing balms on the wounds. Though the mark of a wound will always remain but then who wants to erase the memories anyway.
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?”
— Khalil Gibran

This appeared in 'The Tribune' on 23rd Aug, 2015. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

कविता : बस वही

बूँदें तो कम नहीं बिखरी हर तरफ मेरे
पर आस है उस एक बूँद की जो भिगो दे अंतर मन को
चातक भी तो बैठा है स्वाति नक्षत्र की राह में
क्यों नहीं संतुष्ट होता वह किसी भी बूँद से

हरियाली की चादर तो ओढ़ी है कई बार इस धरा ने
पर उस ठूँठ को तो इंतज़ार है बस उसी कोम्पल का
जो करे जीवन को अंकित उस टहनियों के पिंजर में
ताकि हो जाए एहसास उस ठूँठ को भी तरु होने का

रिश्ते नाते तो बहुत बनाते निभाते हैं हम यहां
पर हो जाते हैं कुछ सम्बन्ध सदा के लिए अजर अमर
कि बस एक अपने से सम्बोधन को ढूँढता है फिर यह मन
वही भाव, वही भावना, वही स्नेह कहीं और कहाँ

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Book Review : Scion of Ikshvaku

Title : Scion of Ikshvaku (Ram Chandra Series I)
Author : Amish
Publisher : Westland Ltd.

I remember the time when I had finished reading 'The Immortals of Meluha', the first of the Shiva Trilogy by Amish. It was a marathon reading as the book was truly unputdownable. I marveled at the creativity of the author and his brilliance of connecting dots beyond one's imagination. I had a lot to write while compiling its review.

Another first of another series, this time it is Ram Chandra Series. Again a fast paced, engaging and readable book. While putting down the review I have again a lot to write about the story and the writing style.

In India, growing up with stories form mythology is a very natural thing and stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata form a major part of that experience. There is no point writing about the story but then even the author has not told the same story. He has just picked the characters from the saga and the major events from it but the situations leading to those events and the portrayal of the same characters are completely different. In fact it is so different that one doesn’t see any connection with the great epic that we identify with. Actually he has taken creative liberties with the story to such an extent that barely the skeleton resembles the age old saga now, nothing else. 

Author's great level of imagination and creativity are undoubtedly applaud worthy. The way he pieces things together talks highly about his intelligence and with the mention of a prospective land - Meluha, he just nailed it completely.

Rama considered a bad-omen by Dashrath, Manthra's character as a power wielding entity, her daughter as a benevolent healer, Sita and Urmila as ministers of their state, Swayamvar setting, fun-filled relationship between Ram and Sita, weakening  empire Mithila - are just a few things which completely deviate from our impressions and understanding of the story. 

There are some high points and sections which rise meritoriously making the readers fall in love with the proceedings. However, there are parts where the narrative falters in terms of expected excitement and interest. Amish has tried to give some contemporary touches to the mythological story, like - gender equality, Roshni's case (on the lines of Nirbhaya's tragedy), juvenile justice -to name a few. However, some of these attempts seem superimposed and do not gel well with the natural flow.

So my verdict, if anybody cares, one can read it as just a fictional story having no connection with Ramayana that we know.  Would I look forward to the next in the series? - I doubt.



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

सीख लिया है मैंने भी अब खाना बनाना

सीख लिया है मैंने भी अब खाना बनाना
पहचानने लगी हूँ हर मसाले की खुशबू को मैं भी
सब्ज़ी का ताजापन भी अपना एहसास कराने लगा है I
कुछ ऐसी चीज़ें जो पहले महत्त्वहीन सी लगतीं,
अब पता चल गया है उनका स्वभाव मुझे भी I
लुप्त रह कर किसी की जान कैसे बना जाता है
बोध कराया हैं इन्हीं छोटी छोटी चीज़ों ने मुझे I

धनिया पुदीना जो पहले एक से जान पड़ते थे
आज पता है कितने स्वाद के भण्डार समेटे हैं ये I
खाना बनाना और फिर उसे अपनों के लिए परोसना
सच में एक अनुपम सुख देता है यह एहसास
इस भावना को जीना भी तो तुमसे ही सीखा है
जाने अनजाने आ जाती हो मेरी आँखों के सम्मुख
सम्बोधित करके मुझे दिखा जाती हो राह सही सी

सीख लिया है मैंने भी अब खाना बनाना
पर मन में कसक सी होती है उस महक की
जो आती थी तुम्हारी बनाई रसोई से सदा
वही सब चीज़ें तो हैं अब भी, यहां भी
मसाले भी दो ज़्यादा ही होंगे,  कम नहीं
पर क्यों एक कमी सी रह जाती है सब में फिर भी
क्यों नहीं मिलता वह स्वाद वही रस

शायद हाथों का ही जादू होगा उस स्वाद में कहीं
प्यार का ही रूप होगा उस महक में रचा-बसा
स्नेह से बना कर बिठा कर खिलाती थीं तुम
तब समझ नहीं पायी कैसा संतोष पाती थीं तुम
आज भी वह चेहरा आँखों में समाया रहता है
काश एक बूँद और मिल जाए उस ममता के सागर से
काश उस महक में बिता सकूँ दो पल फिर से कभी I

Sunday, July 12, 2015

One Flew Over the Empty Nest

It is that time of the year again when a big change is in offing in many households in which kids outgrow the schooling phase of their lives and are ready to enter college and hostel world.Admission in dream engineering/medical/law colleges is taken, seat secured by paying the fees, hostel room is finalised, important dates are marked in the calendar and the stage is set for the next phase. Preparation begins in full swing for the soon-to-be hosteller — keeping in mind what all he/she would require over there — from toiletries to laptops and phones — all are lovingly selected and purchased.
Finally, the day arrives when the new collegiates leave. While these young adults are eager to experience the charming world that awaits them, there is a set of individuals — the parents, who find themselves in an unfamiliar territory.
It begins from the moment parents reach home and an eerie silence greets them. After having spent every moment of their lives thinking and planning about their kids, continuously for almost 18 to 20 years, it is not easy to accept that suddenly there is no one at home who needs their care. This phase is often termed as empty-nest syndrome because it is actually the letting-go part which is difficult. One misses being part of the daily lives of one's children's and their constant companionship. Often, this time coincides with the mid-life phase of the parents when they start experiencing slowly declining faculties, decreasing energy levels along with some physical and emotional issues which ring mild signals that the peak of life is about to bid them goodbye. Reena, a happy mother as her daughter is going to Amritsar for her M.B.B.S., shares, “I feel as if there is no meaning in life anymore. I will have to learn to live without being a part of my daughter's busy schedule. I had completely forgotten about anything else for the last 17 years."
A few decades back this phase used to scare people as it was almost synonymous with depression and loneliness, but not so anymore. Like many other health issues, empty-nest syndrome is a well studied issue now and people are aware what to expect and how to handle the symptoms wisely when that period of life comes. Experts’ advise that one must not shirk from taking this phase head on and seek support and stay positive. To begin with, accept the change graciously. Give a pat on your back for having raised and a responsible child who is all set to make his/her own mark in the world in his/her own small or big way. Experience and enjoy the feeling of freedom from some responsibilities. Approach this phase of life as a chance to explore yet another world of opportunities and interesting avenues.
The parents get time as a couple and the opportunity to reconnect with each other again, to improve the quality of their relationship and rekindle their common interests. Pick any new hobby or some activity that you have always desired to learn, start a routine, engage in some philanthropic activity, join some hobby club like a reading or a cookery club, start writing a diary, exercise the green thumb that you may have, join a yoga class, start meditating, go on long drives alone or with the spouse, enjoy the togetherness of the two of you and sometimes just the silence.
One just needs to change the perspective and the point of view, take it as a beginning of another innings when there is no end to what one can do, learn and engage in. So, why not play on the front foot this time! Madhavi’s second child went to hostel last year. She shares , “Initially it was very hard adjusting to the empty house, more so, as I am a homemaker but eventually I started finding things that interested me but I had lost somewhere while taking care of kids. I have picked up my lost passion - fabric painting again. I have started a healthy routine. It feels like I am living for myself for the first time.'

  • According to a research by Karen L. Fingerman, a psychologist, most parents now enjoy greater freedom, a reconnection with their spouses and more time to pursue their own goals and interests once their children leave home. In her study, most parents report that seeing a child walk the path toward successful adulthood gives them a feeling of joy and pride. Most importantly, the parent/child relationship actually improves for many parents and kids when children leave home. While the kids are all set to write something of their own on the canvas of life, the parents get fresh opportunities to paint their canvas anew with something unique reflecting the volume and substance of the years spent.

This article appeared in 'The Tribune' on 12th July, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review : The Seeker

Title : The Seeker
Author : Karan Bajaj
Publisher : Penguin India

It so turned out that the books that I picked up for reading this summer kept leading me to the logical next and further on in my pursuit to know and understand things better, as if it was all pre-planned and ordained to happen. Although  I am far removed from understanding the meaning of life and getting even a glimpse of the elusive peaceful state of mind but the dots that are joining through these books are bringing in some form of solace and respite. Just wondering if it is Alchemist's message getting validated in real life - nature conspiring in some way to satisfy the urge from within.

Happened to pick 'The Seeker', seeing it on the stands of a book store, along with J.P. Vaswani's book - Thoughts Life has Taught Me. Written by Karan Bajaj, this book is again a person's journey to know the purpose of life. In more cases than one this kind of desperation gets kindled when one goes through extreme emotions like - near death experience, loss of a loved one or similar such situation. During such life changing experiences, many questions cloud a mind and one keeps wondering and questioning about what is beyond what is visible to the eye. The urge to know more and know better keeps one unsettled till one begins on some path to everlasting peace.

In 'The Seeker', Maximus Pzoras, a Harvard economist and Wall Street Banker calls it quits soon after his mother's demise. In order to find reason for human suffering, despair and pain, he sets out on a journey from New York to the snow capped Himalayas first, then to an ashram in South India and finally to the Himalayas again. He realises that it is the mind that needs to be conditioned to stay silent. 'Mind is always on fire. It violates every yogic percept, claiming it wants enlightenment when it craves pleasure, coveting the comfort of chatter, committing violence when it thinks negatively. Mind knows no contentment, no peace, no maturity.'

In order to find the truth behind the statement, “So if there is birth, age, suffering, sorrow and death, then there must be something that is un-born, un-aging, un-ailing, sorrow-less and deathless, immortals as it were" Max progresses from one stage to another and experiences an inner transformation.The bondages, attachments, worldly pleasures that earlier enticed and seduced him, slowly settle down and so do the bodily discomforts. The book actually walks the readers through an adventurous journey where the protagonist is equally unsure and unsettled to begin with but gradually the clouds of confusion start diffusing giving way to clarity and assuredness.

After reading this book, the learning gets reconfirmed that there is a right time for everything when the mind, soul and body actually get ready to receive it. The receptiveness of these three faculties conjoin to convey the message to the nature which then conspires to make it happen in its own discreet way.

Karan Bajaj has done a great job in bringing out the inner feelings and emotions of a person on the journey to self realization. The detail and depth in his writing validates how keenly he must have experienced the emotions and how deeply he must have observed the progressive changes. He talks highly about the significance of selfless service and silence while mentioning various means and mediums in order to stabilize the mind. He touches upon the concepts of - power of yoga and meditation, good and bad karma and the outcomes of the same, rebirth theory and much more and the way they are pieced together, make it all very logical. While reading through the book, one may not even realise but one eventually gets a glimpse of how 'Tattvam asi'  - the enlightened state - would be.
Tattvam asi means - You are That (That is God), which means aligning oneself with that supreme power as one is actually a part of that complete whole.


This book has already gone in the list of 'Literary Sojourn Recommends' for this year.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review : Man's Search for Meaning

Title : Man's Search for Meaning
Author : Viktor E. Frankl
Publisher : Rider Books
ISBN : 978-1-84-604124-2

If one can  remember only one thing from this book it should be this - 'He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.'
There are plenty of self-help books that one can choose from if one so wants but there are just a few which can really be called 'life changing'. Viktor Frankl's - Man's Search for Meaning is one of those few books which have the potential of influencing a reader's perspective towards life for good. It is in fact a memoir of the author while he spent the years from 1942 to 1945 in four different camps, including Auschwitz.

In the first section of the book he recounts his time spent in the camp and how he managed to stay alive in the midst of hopelessness, desperation and death. What makes his account of the concentration camp stand apart is his evaluation of the situation through psychological perspective. He studies the impact of extremely adverse conditions on different individuals which gives him enough fodder to think about how personalities and characters are formed. Living under dehumanized circumstances, losing one's identity including one's name, working as living corpse, no contact with any loved one, no visibility of the end to that ordeal - were not ordinary conditions;  yet finding meaning in life became the only important thing in order to survive the camp. He realised that there must be some bigger purpose for living than succumbing to the situation and giving up. He believes, 'you cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you feel and do about what happens to you.' 

In the second section Frankl shares how he used the lessons that he learnt during his years 'from death-camps to existentialism' to formulate the doctrine of Logotherapy. 'It focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man's search for such a meaning. According to logotherapy, the striving to find a meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man.' Frankl actually beckons the readers to invoke the abundant power that each individual possesses to mould the way any situation is approached and is responded to. Moreover the turbulent and testing times are the ones which build strength of character and make a person triumphant personally and spiritually.

One can go over this book time and again in case accepting adverse circumstances becomes an issue. This is the reason many people who confront situations like - personal sickness, suffering, loss of a loved one, often turn to this book and find the much needed succour and perspective. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

मेरी वसीयत तुम्हारे नाम -


उन गेंदे के फ़ूलों में मिल जायेगी झलक मेरी
सूखे फ़ूलों को मंदिर से उठा कर डाला था जहां
तब तो मुरझा कर धरती में समां गए थे वे फ़ूल
यकीं है नयी ज़िन्दगी का संचार करते होंगे अब वहाँ

हाथों से रोम्पी थी कुछ आँगन की मिट्टी
अभी भी मेरी उँगलियों के निशाँ पाओगे वहाँ कहीं
नयी तुलसी फ़ूट पड़ी होगी उसी कोने में फ़िर
मौसम के साथ बूढी हो दे जायेगी बीज अपना

चमेली के झाड़ पर लगी होंगी कलियाँ फ़िर से
अपनी हलकी खुशबू से महकाती होंगी घर भर को
तुलसी के पत्तों के साथ जोड़ कर माला बुन देना कभी
हो जाएगा श्रृंगार छोटे बाल गोपाल का मेरे उस से

सहेज कर कुछ यादें रखी थीं उस अलमारी में
कुछ पैगाम जो मेरे नाम मिल जाएँगे वहीँ कहीं
गीली न करना आँखें अपनी, उन यादों में खो कर
सुकून दिया था उन लिखी पंक्तियों ने मुझे बहुत कभी

रखा था एक संदूक भी उसी अलमारी में ऊपर
छोटी बड़ी चीज़ें रखती थी तुम्हारे लिए जिसमें
जैसा भी है दे देना उसे जगह अपने पास में ही
कभी खाली न पाओगे उस संदूक को तुम अब भी कभी

लिखा था कुछ थोड़ा बहुत मनन करने के लिए अपने
वास्तव में जीवन दर्शन छुपा है उनमें ही कहीं
ले जा सकते हो तो ले जाओ, साथ मेरे आशीर्वाद के
जब भी पढोगे, पाओगे मेरा प्रतिबिम्ब उन सब में भी

वह कोना जहाँ बीत गए ज़िन्दगी के कई सावन
हो सके तो सूना न होने देना उस कोने को तुम कभी
मेरी भक्ति की शक्ति है उस जगह पर समायी
जो तुम्हारे लिए बरसेगी सदा आशीष बन कर

मेरे जीवन का मकसद था तुम से, पूरा हुआ है जो अब
आशा है लगे हो तुम अपने जीवन के मकसद की राह पर
जी जान लगा देना जो निर्धारित है तुम्हें कर्म
और समर्पित कर देना उस ईश्वर के चरणों में सब

माँ थी तुम्हारी, माँ रहूँगी सदा
वह जगह कभी रिक्त न होगी रहा यह वादा
मेरा अंश है तुम में कैसे बदल सकता है यह
जब भी मन से पुकारोगे पाओगे अपने पास तुम

Godrej Expert

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Review : Being Mortal

Title : Being Mortal
Author : Atul Rawande
Publisher : Penguin Books Ltd.


'Doctors are trained to keep their patients alive as long as possible. But they are never taught how to prepare people to die. And yet for many patients, particularly the old and terminally ill, death is a question of when, not it.'

While one cannot underestimate the boons of medical science in a human's life, the other side of it cannot be ignored altogether. Thanks to research and advancements, we are able to witness a polio free world, reduced rates of child mortality, lesser complications in child birth, cures of diseases which were earlier fatal - to just name a few. However, we cannot completely overlook the fact that medicine has made dying really complicated and difficult.

And this is what Dr. Atul Rawande talks about in his book - Being Mortal.

Modern healthcare has increased the life span of average human beings from 60s and 70s to 80s and 90s. While medical science has done wonders in prolonging the life of the physical body but ageing of the body is beyond any science and as a result more and more elderly people end up in a phase where their frail bodies and other faculties need assistance.

Atul Gawande has rightly pointed out, 'In the past few decades, medical science has rendered obsolete centuries of experience, tradition and language about our mortality and created a new difficulty for mankind : how to die.'

It makes the readers introspect and many questions start clouding the mind - what is the right time to let go, when should medicinal intervention back off and let the person exit gracefully, respectfully and peacefully; what percentage of quality of life can be compromised for the quality or vice versa; where should one go when a patient is beyond any medicine or doctor; how does one wait for the final time knowing that it is approaching fast; where is the support for the affected and the family and many more. There is a high probability that each one of us will have to confront these questions in one's lifetime either for oneself or for some loved one.

Atul Gawande talks about nursing homes and other facilities in US which help an individual continue to have normal life as far as possible. Later he also talks about how one can die peacefully and gracefully and the organisations that are working to make it happen. People are recongnising the need of setups like Hospice care and other residential facilities which can spare a person from piercing needles and confined-to-bed state.


Towards the end he shares his own father's last stage of life from a tumour of the spine. He shares his emotions as a shocked and concerned son and as an informed surgeon but eventually her knows, he needs to pose the right question to his father in order to choose the right course moving forward. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review : A Book of Simple Living

Title : A Book of Simple Living
Author : Ruskin Bond
Publisher : Speaking Tiger

'The cosmos has all the genius of simplicity.'

Start reading first paragraph and one embarks on a journey into a world where time is no longer a constraining factor and where nature guides everything. Ruskin Bond offers a small peak into his routine and one gets to see the beauty in the simplicity of life. The way he describes his room and the window which opens into three different worlds - the mountains, the sky and the road - is fascinating. At least for the time when one is reading his words, one  gets transported to the same room amidst the same surroundings  - the never changing hills, the full of movement road and the author's preferred view, the sky. He feels the sky is never the same, it is always filled with beautiful hues from the divine palette.

As the much acclaimed author pays befitting tribute to nature, he subtly conjures the readers to acknowledge the presence of co-inhabitants of our mother earth, admiring their uniqueness and paying obeisance to the natural scheme of things. He shows us the side of the world and life which in the fast time-bound schedules, we are fast losing touch with. He talks about various flora and fauna that fill his life with colour, fragrance, music and liveliness. He has ample time - to listen to every natural sound, to drink in the scent of wild flowers and leaves and to observe tiny creatures minding their business.

'Live close to nature and your spirit will not be easily broken, for you learn something of patience and resilience. You will not grow restless and you will never feel lonely.'

He then talks about various other things, vicissitudes of life, his love and longing, his writings, how a new topic comes knocking at his door or through his window, the reassurance that one looks for at certain times and many memorable moments spent in the lap of nature. The narrative is abound with characters like cicadas, magpies, field mice, spiders, swallows, maidenhair fern, geraniums, marigolds, chrysanthemums, pines, oaks, walnut trees, tall deodars, maple, chestnut and many more names. There is a background score in the narrative which is sometimes bubbling mountain river, orchestra of crickets or rustling of leaves. The landscape keeps changing colours from pristine snow white, verdant green to riot of fall colours.

The simplicity of his life, his writing is just fascinating and one needs to read it to feel it, because he writes to connect. In his words, 'I want my readers to feel what I feel, to see what I see, and big words and big sentences come in the way of this sharing. It is clarity and honesty that I am striving to attain; there can be no lasting connection with my readers without these. And to be clear and open is to be simple.'

The reason why I cannot stop admiring the book is because it somehow aligns with my own feelings when I am close to nature. In the written words, I could actually read some of my own feelings that nature sparks
in me. While I get immersed in my daily routine, I often dream and long for - being in a wide open expanse of land adorned with verdure  or walking on a narrow pathway guarded by thick trees with huge canopies or driving on a thin serpentine road merging into the folds of mighty mountains or gazing at the endlessly stretched firmament to my heart's content or watching raindrops fall on the ground willingly accepting their new identity in unison with other companions. Just the thought of these bring in a deep sense of peace, perspective and a connection with someone supreme in every single entity.


Don’t let the beauty of the nature pass by unnoticed, unacknowledged and unregistered because it is the simplest and purest form of beauty. Let it tickle every sensory nerve of one's being. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review : She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Title : She Loves Me,
He Loves Me Not
Author : Zeenat Mahal
Publisher : Indireads

Zoella has grown nurturing a silent crush for Fardeen Malik for many years. She happens to be the best friend of Fardeen's sister but she knows her feelings would never get reciprocated as Fardeen is already engaged to a  stunning socialite. Moreover, the two engaged families belong to the same section of the society. But destiny has something else in store for all of the characters when Fardeen gets badly disfigured in an accident. The accident takes away a lot from Fardeen besides his handsome looks and his fiancée is one of those. From a prince charming he transitions into an annoying, hurtful and hateful person. Twist of circumstances brings Zoella closer to Fardeen but was she wishing for such a fate for herself and for his beloved?

'She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not' is a love story set in modern day Pakistan while keeping the soul of a classic fairy tale intact. Hopeless circumstances, sudden twists, fate playing a big role, some baseless notions, tempers and much more are beautifully dealt with in the narrative.

The author has painstakingly carved the characters Zoella and Fardeen. Zoella, a silent admirer of her friend's brother, sincere in her duties and a family person does all for her family without expecting anything in return. Fardeen has always been away from any troubles or imperfections of life till he confronts a situation where he comes face to face with his own not so pleasing new reflection. Riding different waves of emotions and feelings, they end up tying their lives together and what follows is a bumpy ride.


The way different perspectives are dealt with and are allowed to develop gradually is a commendable job done by the author. Readers would surely appreciate how Zoella matures into a confident and strong individual from a shy and timid girl. Moreover, the window that Zeenat has opened into Pakistan through her writing is quite alluring. Her description of that world's traditions and  customs is fascinating and keeps the readers glued to the story till the last page. However, a tighter editing could have cut down a few pages from the book that keep highlighting their mutual conflicts. 
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