Sunday, December 30, 2012

Write Over the Weekend (WOW) – Dec 28, 2012

Edited to add: This post has been selected as one of the really really good posts by Blogadda!

I once dreamed about...

An India where I would notice the following:
  •  Parents rejoicing as much about the birth of a daughter as they rejoice over the birth of a son.
  • Daughters getting equal opportunity both to study and to work as sons get.
  • Women getting the respect they deserve.
  • People following rules at all walks of life including stopping at traffic signals, not spitting/littering, etc.
  • Our Govt. being concerned about our welfare than just filling up their pockets.
  • Not criticizing our country in front of others - "This is how it always happens in India."
  • Caste and religion not playing such an important role in our day-to-day living.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The one thing that I wish everyone would learn is.................

This is in response to the writing prompt for Wishlist Wednesday number 3. For details, visit this link:

The one thing that I wish everyone would learn is to appreciate each and every moment of each and every day. We all know life is so uncertain and could be snatched away from us at any point in time. However, how many of us actually act in our day-to-day lives based on that thought? Sadly, very few.

We crib about our jobs, income (or the lack of it), spouses, friends, neighbours, colleagues, health, roads, politicians, vacations, etc. (you get the picture). However, we wouldn't crib so much if we knew we had only a certain amount of time to live, say 6 months. We would then appreciate all the moments we had with all the people in our life.

Why, then, can't we do the same knowing fully well that we are going to die one day? Isn't that a certain amount of time to live as well?

Let us try and appreciate the life we have been given and the people in it. If we don't like something, let us work towards changing it. If we don't like someone, let us work towards eliminating that person from our life. But, let us not forget, even for a moment, to be grateful for this wonderful gift called life.

Sure, there shall be problems along the way. But, that's no reason to stop living, is it? Sydney J. Harris said, When I hear somebody sigh, "Life is hard", I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?". So, shrug off your problems and concentrate on living your life each day at a time. Practise gratitude and you will be amazed at the abundance that flows into your life!


The news when it came hit me like a storm. Though, going by the recent reports, it was evident that she may not live, when reality sunk in, numbness hit me. A 23-year-old snuffed out by some men out to make merry. Who has failed her really? The men? The police? The politicians? The media? There will be many debates now and many questions shall be raised. But her life will never come back.

Can such incidents be prevented? I sure hope so. But how? Questions for which there are no easy answers. Sure, we can increase policing. But how do we change men's attitudes?

Let's start with ourselves. Each time someone cracks a crude joke on women, let's stop them. Each time someone doesn't respect a woman, let's stop them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013

Stumbled onto this while surfing and sounded pretty interesting to me. The difficult part is finding enough good Indian authors whom I can read. However, I am willing to take up this challenge and intend reading at least 24 books (2 for each month :)) Wish me luck!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Letter to a 10 year old

Edited to add: This post has been selected as one of the really really good posts. Yippee!!!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

The following is a letter to a 10 year old girl.

Dear Little Girl,

I would like you to remember the following as you live your life and march towards your dreams:
  • The friendships you forge now shall stay with you for life. So make them wisely.
  • Respect your parents even though they may not always be worthy of it.
  • Be as involved in extra-curriculars in school as with studies. You will not regret it later.
  • Let nobody undermine your confidence if you fail in a certain activity.
  • Be close to your siblings even if you might want to rip their arms apart. They will be among your best friends later on.
  • You will have plenty of time to be fashionable once you are an adult. Don't waste your childhood putting on make-up and branded clothes.
  • Fall in love with books. They will never let you be alone. They will never let you down.
  • Respect your teachers. They are doing the best job they possibly can with limited resources.
  • Learn to respect your body. Let no stranger touch it.
  • Develop a hobby be it painting, dancing, whatever.
  • Have plenty of friends both male and female. The interactions would help both of you later.
  • Do not ever lie to your parents.
  • Avoid foul language. Do not associate with people who use foul language.
  • Last, but not the least, enjoy your childhood. It is the only carefree time you have. Do not be in a hurry to grow up too fast, too soon. You will repent later.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Shave or Crave

This post is a part of the 'Shave or Crave' movement in association with

Shaving is a sensitive topic for most men because it includes a lot of effort (according to them). However, for me, personally, an unshaved man indicates uncleanliness, lack of professionalism and a total lack of respect for the other person.

For men to get rid of their evening stubble, I would try two routes:
1. Appeal to their rational side 2. Appeal to their emotional side

Appeal to their rational side:

As already indicated above, being unshaved indicates disrespect and disregard for others. If a man wishes to show respect and be professional, he needs to be clean shaven, no matter what the efforts involved.

Appeal to their emotional side:

Just as women take so much pain and efforts in being presentable and attractive (read: waxing, threading, facials, etc.) to their male partners, why can't men reciprocate on same lines? Can they not shave and be clean shaven for their partners? It would give them so much joy and the men would look handsome - a win-win situation for all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun - Memorable Dialogues

Continuing with my series of being heavily inspired by Bollywood movies and specially the dialogues, here's presenting some from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun or as we popularly call it - HAHK :) When the movie was released, it touched a chord across the nation, specially its innumerable songs at various functions spread across engagement, wedding, childbirth, etc. Of course, Salman and Madhuri's chemistry only added to its charm.

  • Tumhe bajaana vajaana bhi aata hain ya...(Can be used when someone is posing with a musical instrument which they may not know how to play or if you want to simply irritate them:))
  • Inko discussion kar lene do. Hum toh annt main aayenge (Thought of this when, at work, I decided to let my juniors do the initial bit of the assignment and I would step in later!)
  • Tumhari aur meri manzil ek hi hain (multiple uses :))
  • Bhabhi sabse jyaada sneh apne devar se rakhti hain. Dyaan rahe uski aankhon main kabhi aansoon na aaye

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jab We Met - Dialogues to use in daily life!

Jab We Met is one of my favourite movies. It had one of Mohit Chauhan's earliest hits - Tum Se Hi - ably supported by Kareena and Shahid. Imtiaz Ali gave the film an overall feel-good feel. Since I have watched the movie innumerable times, some dialogues have stuck with me. And, some of them can be used in our day-to-day life. Sample the following:

  • Tum convince ho gaye ya main aur bolu?
  • Kaisi lagi? Ekdum kadak!
  • Ratlam ki galiyaan (can be replaced by any other location :))
  • Is raat ko ab thodasa boring bana do babajee!
  • Main tumhe bataana chahata tha par tum toh tum ho
  • Main apni favourite hoon
  • Kitni gadhi thi main. Tabhi toh yeh sab ho raha hain mere saath
  • Jab bhi koi situation main hota hoon toh sochta hoon ke Geet kya karti? Bas wohi karta hoon
  • Kyunki mujhe pata hain mere saath jo bhi hoga woh meri wajah se hoga.
  • Shaadi ke baad tumhara pehla affair tum mere saath karna. Toh main bhi khush ho jaunga

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kuch Kuch Hota Hain - Dialogues to use in daily life!

This blog post is the result of a conversation with my friends about going to a literary carnival. An innocuous question, followed by, "Tumhe toh pata hain mujhe reading aur writing ka kitna shauk hain" :) set in motion some dialogues from Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hain (inspired by Archie Comics, no less!)

Here are some of the dialogues from the movie which can be used in our day-to-day life :) After all, Bollywood rules our life like nothing else!!!

  • Pyaar dosti hain. Agar woh meri sabse acchi dost nahi ban sakti, toh main usse pyaar kar hi nahi sakta.
  • Bechaari abhi abhi London se aayi hain, theek se unpack karne ka samay nahi mila (to be used when you see a girl in really short clothes :))
  • Tumhara naam Anjali kyun hain? Shayad mere mummy-pappa ko aap pasand aa gayi ho isiliye
  • I don't like your jokes. I don't like you.
  • Tumhe phool jyaada pasand hain ya chocolate?
  • Insaan ka sar teen auraton ke saamne jhukta hain - ek devi maa ke saamne, ek apni maa ke saamne, aur...
  • The Neelam Show (when you want to know a person's innermost thoughts :))
  • Meri Anjali tumhari Anjali se sundar hain.
  • Rahul ladkiyon ke peeche nahi bhagata, ladkiyan Rahul ke peeche bhagati hain.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Talaash - The Answer Lies Within

I finally saw Talaash today morning and considering the delay had already read a lot of stuff about the movie - some truths and some untruths.


For me, the movie was a journey with a couple who have lost their only child in an accident and how they grow apart because of this tragedy. As often happens, they completely stop talking about the child as if he never existed. Also, and this is the part I identified with a lot, is the fact that the hero kept on retracing the event as it happened and wondered if he could have done anything to change it. Don't we all do that with certain tragic events of our life? Considering the hero is Aamir, his portrayal of the scenes was absolutely bang-on. He dealt with the situation by trying to erase it from his life.

The murder of an actor obviously forms the main storyline around which each of the characters are inter-linked including the inspector (Aamir), Rosie (Kareena), the actor's close friends and family and a host of people connected with the red-light district. The build-up to the suspense was great and a couple of times I was on the edge of my seat. The climax, though, a let-down was, I felt, an effort to do something different and unusual.

Several themes ran through the movie - Mumbai's red-light district, the uncertain lives of the brokers there, communicating with the supernatural, existence of ghosts (the fact that there are some things we can never explain), the effect a tragedy has on a husband-wife relationship, etc.

The music by Ram Sampath and the lyrics by Javed Akhtar add a certain je ne sais quoi to the entire movie and are interspersed quite well within the scenes. I loved the song that plays at the end when the credits start rolling; it's a surprise they aren't publicizing it at all.

I guess the audience went with a whole lot of expectations from an Aamir Khan movie and expected to be bedazzled. I went to enjoy a good thriller and got my money's worth!!!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Starbucks - Welcome to Mumbai!

I had the opportunity of visiting the Starbucks outlet at Fort, Mumbai today evening. It is set in a historic building a little before The Asiatic Society. It is spread across the ground and first floors and has a great ambience with nice wooden chairs/stools, huge ceilings, big pictures depicting Indian colours, old trunks perched on top of each other.

I tried their Caramel Frappe and Blueberry Muffin both of which I loved. Also, their pricing is not as exorbitant as was expected. They may, of course, increase the prices once the customer base is built. On an early Saturday evening, I was probably 10th in queue to place my order. The entire outlet seemed packed with people quietly chatting away with each other and having a wonderful time. The staff was polite and the service prompt.

It's been a month since the launch and I guess the novelty factor might die down soon. It would then be the real test of how the brand survives here! As of now, it seems to be going pretty strong and they should have nothing to worry.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Book Review: The Bankster – Ravi Subramanian

Edited to add: This review post has been selected by blogadda as one of the top reviews that have come in for the book 'The Bankster'.!!!

This is my second book review for BlogAdda after the hugely successful The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi. I finished the book in two days flat during a working week.

The Bankster starts off on an interesting premise. A man – Joseph Braganza – is about to obtain diamonds in exchange for arms at a remote location in Angola, South Africa. From there, the story moves to Devikulam, a place near Thekkady, Kerala, where Krishna Menon and his wife Sulochana run a home-stay. Finally, we enter the Head Office of Greater Boston Global Bank at Mumbai; where we are introduced to its myriad characters – Vikram, Tanuja , Nikhil, Anand, Harshita, Zinaida, Pranesh, Raymond, etc.

The story keeps moving from Kerala to Mumbai to Israel to Vienna. The best part about the book is the fact that the author is an ex-banker and, thus, is able to lend certain credibility to the entire banking and branch banking working set-up. Right from the very basic operations of opening an account to the very complicated compliance audits and how management handles the same, Ravi explains each of them in great detail.

With his words, he paints a realistic picture of the branch working and we are transported to an actual branch and can imagine the events happening right in front of our eyes.

What starts off as an innocuous task of opening a current account which is one of the basic operations in any bank soon takes on a dangerous overtone. Without revealing too much, I shall only say that the book links together such seemingly unrelated topics as blood diamonds, nuclear power plant and a current account opened at one of the bank’s branches which attract the attention of the Compliance team of the bank due to large value transactions. However, the alerts raised by Compliance are muted by Management, leading Raymond (the Compliance Head) to retort, “Why does business always take priority over compliance?”

One of the big surprises, for me personally, was the fact that our very own Cafe Coffee Day played a big part in the book, eventually helping to reveal the culprits. The surprise, however, is that the CCD was not located anywhere in India but at Vienna. Harshita, along with her husband Siddhartha, while on a personal vacation to Vienna, come across certain clues while sipping coffee at CCD, which play an instrumental part in cracking the entire case.

To crack the case, Karan Panjabi and his protégé Kavya are entrusted the seemingly impossible task of cracking open the entire case in three days flat. And, that too, without attracting the attention of anybody in the Head Office. How they go about doing that piecing the various clues strewn all over the place forms the climax of the book.

The book is an absolute financial thriller and a page-turner for sure. Ravi’s lucid writing style and his prose peppered with various banking phrases make the read even more enjoyable. The various twists and turns in the book take you on a roller-coaster ride and, at the end, you are literally left stunned and shocked at the revelation.

Pick up The Bankster immediately and read it when you can. You won’t regret it! It will open your eyes to the ways and means of the banking brigade; a community in which we place our immense trust. Personally, for me, the book was an even gripping read because I work in a private sector bank and can relate to the various trials and tribulations faced by the various characters in the book!

All in all, an excellent book by the author whom The Wall Street Journal calls the John Grisham of banking!!!!!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Best thing in life is

Edited to add: This post was featured as one of the really really good entries on BlogAdda;

I am so thrilled; this is the perfect start to the weekend :-)

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda


The Best thing in life is the power of gratitude. They say that life works on the principle of the Law of Attraction. You attract into your life what you are constantly thinking of or what you send out into the universe. Given that, would it not be wonderful if we were to practise gratitude each and every single day of our life? Just imagine how enriched and happy our life would be.

As Marcel Proust, the French novelist said, “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” While on the face of it, to be grateful appears quite simple and easy it is not so. Burdened as we are with the travails of day-to-day living, we seldom make it a point to express gratitude, that too, explicitly and precisely.

It might be easy to say, I am grateful for my life. But to put it into exact words and explain what exactly I am grateful for could be a difficult task. Also, as we cultivate the habit of gratitude consciously, we will find that life becomes a lot simpler and its burdens a lot easier to bear.

Some might feel that expressing gratitude is a formality; a mere societal convention. However, think of the times when someone has expressed gratitude to you. Did you not feel happy about it? Did you not go through that day absolutely elated and jumping with joy? Then, why not give someone else a chance to experience those same feelings. Expressing gratitude for a thing or to a person does not take away anything from you; au contraire, it enables you to make someone happy about something they did for you. Is that not a win-win situation?

Recently, organizations have also started realizing the power of gratitude. This is the genesis of the Appreciation Day or Applaud Cards at work where you appreciate someone for the good work they are doing or applaud your colleague for the traits they are displaying at work. Not only does it encourage them to continue doing what they are doing, it also leaves you with a positive feeling at the end of the day. And, any action that does that is highly recommended for one and all.

Beginning today, I would urge each one of you to keep a gratitude journal. You need to note down the five things that have happened in your day today that you are grateful for. While initially you might need to think and re-think about the five things, later, it would come almost naturally to you. You would also be surprised at how peaceful and calm you would have become in your dealings with people and how you would suddenly start attracting all the goodness in your life that you have always wanted.

Finally, it would do all of us a lot of good to heed the Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer’s words, "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

‘If I had the power to change something, I would change….’

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda


If I had the power to change something, I would change men’s attitudes towards women’s education and careers. In India, when Jyotirao Phule, along with his wife Savitribai Phule, began educating girls sometime around the 1840s, they had no idea that 150 years down the line, women would come to believe that the same was a bane instead of a boon. Sure, they were successful in educating women, but they didn't realize that they would have to change men's attitudes and thinking as well.

The reasons are not hard to find. Earlier, when women were not educated, they had no means of livelihood, as is the case today. They were forced to stay at home and take care of the household chores. For them, their life began and ended with their family.

Once the women were educated, they began going out into the world and seeking gainful employment in one form or the other. The ability to earn their own money gave them immense confidence. Slowly and steadily, they began rising the career graph almost on par with or, in some cases, even better than men.

While initially, the men accepted this change openly, it was later realized that this was only going to boomerang on them. They realized that not only were women smarter and more hard-working than them, but they were in it for the long haul. This led to a lot of insecurities among men. Till today, it is believed (maybe rightly so) that men have a problem in reporting to a woman boss.

From the female viewpoint, while she was happily climbing the career graph, at home, she was not spared the household chores. If at all, they became more difficult considering she was supposed to do them either before or after work notwithstanding how tired she would be at the end of the day. Also, while a man’s identity came to be associated with his grade or designation, a woman was still known as somebody’s wife, daughter or mother.

A single thing that irks me most is men’s attitudes towards successful women. It’s easy to assume that a woman would have reached a position of success only because she would have portrayed herself as easy. Her hardworking attitude, her skills and her knowledge would have played absolutely no part in it. Also, while a man who speaks his mind is appreciated and applauded, a woman who speaks her mind is actually looked down upon and branded arrogant and brash.

After having proven themselves for so many years, some organizations or bosses are still hesitant to award the top jobs or the juiciest projects to women. Since they are not capable of handling a women workforce, they take the easy route and pass on the work to men.

In some organizations, women taking leave for marriage or even for delivering a child is looked down upon completely ignoring the fact that if it weren’t for this, none of us would be alive, including the men. Instead of supporting and giving them a few concessions, the same is treated as a liability.

Another bone of contention is the fact that men think they can get away with flirting with a woman, though she may be a professional and want to discuss only work with you. How many of us have had our male colleagues or clients say to us, “Your face seems very familiar. Have I seen you somewhere?” Though on par with them and working with them side-by-side, men still treat women as objects.

The media doesn’t help either. Products selling insurance or asking us to save for the future always sell them as “for your son’s education” and “for your daughter’s marriage”. The following advertisement is so retrograde that the makers should be publicly thrashed for the same; parents discussing marriage and how expensive gold is for their 5-year old daughter:

If I had the power to change, I would change all this. I would request men to treat women as their equal and ensure that they support and encourage them in all spheres of life; be it at work or in the house. I would exhort them to recruit as many women as possible in their team or their company and see the benefits for themselves. I would request human resources to have special workshops on handling gender biases and gender-related issues. I would change people’s thinking towards a boy and a girl’s education, career & marriage preferences and the choice of having children. I would change men’s attitudes towards women from merely an object to an inspiration; someone who can positively influence and bring about a radical change in their lives.

Joseph Conrad, the Polish novelist, said it best when he commented, “Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review: The Pregnant King by Devdutt Pattanaik

The Pregnant KingThe Pregnant King by Devdutt Pattanaik


I picked up The Pregnant King primarily because the title sparked a curiosity in me. And also because I have been reading Devdutt Pattanaik on and off in Corporate Dossier. I became a fan of his work after reading Jaya: A Retelling of the Mahabharata.

The Pregnant King tells the tale of a king - Yuvanashva - who becomes pregnant when he accidentally drinks a magic potion which was supposed to make his queens pregnant. The novel effortlessly seams through a lot of references to the Mahabharata which interested me immensely.

The best part about the novel is Pattanaik's free-flowing writing style which completely engrosses the reader. The novel starts off by giving an introduction to the king's parents, his father's untimely demise and how his mother - the queen - takes charge of the kingdom, though she cannot be crowned as the ruler because she is a woman. Yuvunashva's birth and his gradual training to eventually become king follow. In the interim, there's a detailed description about his wedding to his first queen. When they realize after sometime that the queen is unable to bear him children, he marries a second time and then a third. By then, rumours abound that maybe the king is unable to make his queens pregnant but these are quashed by the queen.

In a discipline related matter when the king reacts quite angrily and is pacing up and down, he manages to drink the potion and becomes pregnant. Though shocked at the turn of events, he eventually manages to make peace with it and is actually quite thrilled at being able to deliver a child. However, since the truth makes all of us uncomfortable, the fact is hidden from everybody, including his son.

There are several themes running through the book. The importance of women as only being able to bear and rear children and ensure the comforts of the king is one. Pattanaik also brings out the importance of truth when it affects others and when it affects us. This is reflected in the following line: "Don't forsake a truth because it is convenient." The interplay between gender roles and the conflict of dharma are also rampant through the book.

The fact that a king, i.e. a man can become pregnant is implausible and not easily digestible. However, Pattanaik refutes it by saying that, "You are assuming you know the boundaries of nature. You don't. There is more to life than your eyes can see."

The irresistible lure of power and the inability to deal with the loss of it is also another idea found in the book. The king's mother, who enjoys running the kingdom, is unable to shed power to her own son and keeps postponing the same day after day. The book has a lot of such examples where one person's selfishness reigns supreme over all other interests.

The only negative for me was the host of characters. I had to go back and forth to tie-up the links to understand the finer nuances. But this can be easily forgiven; I enjoyed reading the overall book and couldn't wait to turn the pages to read about another incident in the king's life.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

‘Keeping my fingers crossed’

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

As cliches go, "keeping my fingers crossed" has to be right at the top of the list. Almost all of us use it daily in our life. When we want something to happen, we are bound to say, I am keeping my fingers crossed. An addition to this, these days, is to add, cross your toes as well!

It is also believed that lying while keeping your fingers crossed is not a bad thing, i.e. such a lie is a white lie (one which will not harm anyone; on the contrary, it might benefit somebody). An instance of this was shown in the movie Kal Ho Naa Ho when Shah Rukh Khan crosses his fingers when he is lying in front of Preity Zinta or his doctor Sonali Bendre.

The origin of the phrase can be traced back to Christianity which believes that crossing your fingers will bring you good luck. The fingers in a cross like shape are believed to ward off evil.

However, some people believe that this is nothing but superstition. How can one explain that you would get what you want simply by crossing your fingers? Wouldn’t everybody then just sit and do nothing except cross their fingers?

The on-going struggle between the believers and the non-believers will continue for time immemorial. Believers argue that when one has done all the work and is awaiting the outcome, why would a little crossing of the fingers be bad?

In these days of Internet and online chatting, the phrase has been reduced to a four-letter acronym – KMFC :-)

I, personally, often indulge in the same. It doesn’t hurt to do the same, does it?

Review: JFK by Jhangir Kerawala

“JFK … A dying man’s last word … A plea, an accusation or a clue? That’s what the police couldn’t figure out. What they did know was that they had serial murders in broad daylight, and just one suspect with little motive … Jatin F. Karunamoi, the dead man’s best friend. Jatin is no hero, he’s an unemployed 50-year-old, desperate to find a job. But his only hope for a life of dignity lies in him finding the real killer.  As he jumps headlong into the investigation he has little idea what he’s getting into … a hunt for the faceless murderer. Each step Jatin takes to unravel the mystery brings him closer to insanity as he encounters unimaginable situations, devious characters, intrigue and … death. In this fast-paced thriller set in Kolkata, debutant novelist Jhangir Kerawala brings the reader face-to-face with the ugly underbelly that looms large beneath the bright lights of urban India.”

I won this book as part of a contest organized by Westland Books on Twitter. Since I hadn’t heard of it, I had no preconceived notions when I sat down to read it.

JFK is a thriller and keeps the reader engrossed from the first page. Though it is not as fast and pacy as I would have liked it to be, it is a page-turner nevertheless.

***Spoilers might feature in the review***
Jatin Karunamoi, based out of Kolkata, learns that his best friend Manish has suddenly been murdered. Shocked and angry at the same time, Jatin sets out to find out who the killer is. He is ably assisted by a common friend Montu. Just before he dies, Manish had called up Jatin and uttered the three letters – JFK. This is the only clue Jatin has to proceed. When the usual rounds of investigations with Manish’s colleagues yield no results, Jatin and Montu are at a loss.

One day, Jatin gets a call from an unknown woman Preeti who claims she and Manish were having an affair. Since Jatin considers Manish his best friend, he is flabbergasted that he never knew about this. Preeti tells Jatin that they were being blackmailed and Manish had to keep paying loads of money to silence the blackmailer. She also suspects her husband to be behind the murder.

Around the same time, Kolkata is hit by a series of murders and the police have no leads, except that the weapon used is the same in all the murders.

In the course of their search and investigation, Jatin and Montu learn that Manish was part of a secret club. While going through Manish’s belongings one day, Jatin cracks the clue of “JFK” and pursues the same accordingly. From there he travels to Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh and realizes that a bigger scandal is behind his friend’s murder; something unimaginable and which could affect some powerful people. How he unravels the mystery while enlisting the help of some people along the way forms the highlight of the novel.

The novel is pretty engaging and Jehangir’s writing style is lucid. His descriptions of Kolkata at night and the train journeys Jatin undertakes are picturesque. There are also some twists and turns befitting a thriller. All in all, an enjoyable read.

Review: Oh My God!!!

I really didn't want to see Oh My God; the trailers didn't look particularly appealing and I am not a big fan of Akshay Kumar. However, it got some great reviews and some good word-of-mouth publicity which made me go and see the movie. And I am glad I did.

***Spoilers might feature in the review ***

At the start of the movie, we are introduced to Kanji Patel (Paresh Raval) who is an atheist and tries and makes money by capitalizing on the religious fervour in the country. His shop at Chor Bazaar (brilliant location!) sells various types of idols of different varieties of Gods. Kanji cannot understand why people believe so blindly in God but, at the same time, is happy that he is able to make money out of it.

An incident leads to a earthquake in Mumbai and, surprisingly, only Kanji's shop is destroyed. When he goes to the insurance company, they dismiss the claim saying it's an act of God. Angry and frustrated, Kanji decides to sue God and demand money from him. Thus, begins a hilarious and thought-provoking journey featuring god-men (Mithun in a superb cameo).

The movie makes us think about a lot of things through various instances. For example, why do we waste so much milk over an idol instead of donating it? Similar is the case with oil which is poured over the Hanuman idol each Saturday. Why are so many mantras a part of our religious ceremonies when none of us, including the priests, know the meaning of any of them? Why do we not believe in service to mankind and only spend our time worshiping the idols?

Akshay Kumar, as Lord Krishna, has a relatively smaller but powerful role. I hate to admit but he was looking very handsome as well :)

All in all, the movie exhorts us to question our religious beliefs and the mindless rituals we follow. It is a must watch for everyone, specially for people in India where religion plays such an important part in our life and virtually defines our identity.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I wish someone told me

• That, friends will come and friends will go and you should cherish the ones that remain with you at the end of the day.

• That love, like happiness, can never be pursued; you need to wait for it patiently to come and enter your life.

• That, all the studying and fretting over marks in school and college will not help you later at the workplace; that requires a completely different set of skills.

• That, no matter how much you fight with your younger brother during your teens and early adulthood, he is going to be one of your closest pals later in life.

• That, getting married early is not a kind of bondage, but a beautiful opportunity to grow along and explore life with another person.

• That, though you will get irritated with kids at the time of their growing up, the joy they bring you is boundless.

• That, speaking the truth is over-rated because not everyone can handle honesty.

• That, you are going to regret, later in life, the time you never spent with your parents which you could have.

• That, worrying about what other people are thinking about you is going to get you nowhere because other people are really not thinking about you; they are thinking about what other people are thinking about them.

• That, you should consider yourself lucky if you have a single, considerate boss in your entire career – someone you can go up to and talk whatever it is that is bothering you, someone who can act like a mentor.

• That, you can run away from the things you really want but they don’t run away from you; they will keep pestering you till you give in to them.

• That, being frank and outspoken is a quality which many do not always appreciate.

• That, as you age, you mellow down and change into a completely different person; a person who forgets and forgives things which they wouldn’t when they were younger.

• That, the interests you develop when you are in school, such as reading, travelling and music, stay with you for life.

• That, being a socially active person who speaks to almost anyone and everyone is any day better than being a quiet, introvert who might be mistaken for being snobbish.

• That, counting your blessings daily is a great way to develop gratitude and attract more of the good things into your life.

• That, we should be grateful God does not give us all that we ask for.

• That, facing your fears is a good way of banishing them; the release it provides is unimaginable.

• That, there are no limits for what you can do, except the ones you set yourself.

• That, you need not always be nice and friendly with everybody; some people just do not deserve the same.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Review: The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

I have read Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi and loved the way the inter-play between the past and the present was narrated. In The Krishna Key, the author again uses the same style beautifully and puts in front of us a brilliant masterpiece.

The author’s style of writing is free-flowing and the narrative effortlessly moves back and forth. The book is a definite page-turner and keeps you engrossed until the very last page because of its numerous twists and turns. Without revealing too much about the plot, the way the author moves across different geographic regions and weaves them into the story is wonderful.

One gets a sense of reading Dan Brown because of the fact that Ashwin has also written about mythology and connected it to events in the present scenario. However, the interesting fact with this book, unlike Chanakya’s Chant, is that this book also has science, history, geography, linguistics and geometry to accompany mythology. The author has done immense research in each of the different subjects listed above and it shows in the way these are built into the story without appearing out of place. Also, the author uses Sanskrit shlokas to emphasize certain points and the book has some wonderful pictures/diagrams/maps which assist in taking the story forward as also providing us a visual explanation.

Ashwin has developed a good understanding of the topic at hand and has explained it lucidly in the book. While reading the book, I kept making a list of topics that I would want to read about further; that is the kind of interest the book is able to generate.

The characters of the protagonist and all the others are beautifully etched and it is easy to picture them while reading the book. The author uses very vivid words to describe each of his characters, including their education, family background, current occupations, etc. so that it is easy to get into their mind and understand why they are doing what they are doing. Some of the locations in the story are described so wonderfully that one feels like dropping everything and just visiting those places.

The only negative for me in the book was that there are so many characters and sub-plots that one gets confused and often needs to go back again to connect the dots. However, that is a minor flaw, in an otherwise gem of a book. I am sure that as a result of the book, a lot of us would get to know a lot about Lord Krishna. We only know that he was quite playful and mischievous and, of course, the fact that he was a mentor to Arjuna during the war. However, we barely know anything about his family or what kind of a ruler he was. This book would change all that. For me, personally, since my family deity is Devaki-Krishna, the book made for a compelling read.

The book would also make us appreciate the fact that we only need to believe in something to turn it into reality. Ashwin puts it beautifully when he says, “By simply believing that their lives could be transformed, they succeeded in converting their thoughts to reality.”

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy a fast-paced thriller with the added attraction of getting under the skin of a mythological figure while, at the same time, questioning some of our beliefs pertaining to history.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

The Krishna KeyThe Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Delhi through my eyes

I recently had a chance to visit the National Capital. Some of the sights I captured on this journey are:

Delhi's most famous tourist spot - the Qutb Minar

The colourful jholas at Delhi Haat

The ever serene Lotus Temple

National Rail Museum

National Science Museum

The imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan

Thursday, August 09, 2012

From Aankhen to Zanjeer - and everything in between!

I have been an avid and a long-time reader of Diptakirti Chaudhuri's blog. Though I do not share his love for food or sports, I do love reading about his obsession with Bollywood. One has only to go through some random entries on his blog to realize it. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the man actually chose to write a book on it!

The first thing that strikes you about Kitnay Aadmi Thay (KAT) is that it has no contents section in the front and no index in the back. It is a completely random book that the reader is supposed to read as s/he wishes - jumping from one list to the other. The book is a collection of several random lists which make for interesting reading. To whet your appetite, some of the lists include: Song Names which Became Movies, Top Brother-Sister Pairs, Roles which went beyond the Movies, Movies which Inspired Other Movies, etc. I am only half-way through the book but believe me when I say that the book is unputdownable. I was reading it at breakfast this morning and almost got late for work on a Monday morning!!!

Dipta's obsession with certain Bollywood celebrities for e.g. Big B, RDB, Madhuri, etc. is quite apparent throughout the book. Sholay, which the author mentions as The Greatest Movie Ever Made, also appears in quite a few lists. As does a personal favourite of mine - Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron!!!

The book is peppered with a healthy dose of humour in Dipta's inimitable writing style. Sample this: Speaking about Kal Ho Naa Ho, the author says that when your doctor Sonali Bendre leaves you to marry Sanjay Kapoor, you should commit suicide if you do not die of an illness :)

I am sure the book will be a great gift for those who have impromptu quizzes on Bollywood or for those who want to know every minute detail about the movies (like me - what book was Sharmila reading in Mere Sapnon Ki Rani? what was Amol Palekar's qualification in Golmaal? why did the kid Anjali's parents name her Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hain? :)) I have bought 5 copies of the book to gift my family and friends. I have loved the book so far and I hope they do too!

The only thing left for Dipta to do now is come out with a second book listing all the things which he mentions in KAT would require a separate book :)

This review has been published on

Kitnay Aadmi Thay : Completely Useless Bollywood TriviaKitnay Aadmi Thay : Completely Useless Bollywood Trivia by Diptakirti Chaudhuri

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Love Marriage Or Arranged Marriage

The debate between Love Marriage and Arranged Marriage is an old one and is in existence since time immemorial. In the olden days, even royalty and politicians used to go in for an arranged marriage to ensure their status and wealth in society. Arranged marriage is a common phenomenon in countries like India. However, the Western world frowns upon such a practice and openly advocates love marriage.

This blog entry (being submitted as an entry for the Indiblogger contest shall try and examine the pros and cons of both the approaches.

Arranged marriage, as a concept, is based on the premise that your elders know what is best for you and can take a better decision than you. Also, in olden times, when marriages used to happen at a young age, the groom and the bride were not mature enough to take such an important decision of choosing their life partner. Additionally, since in the earlier ages, a lot of women were not going in for higher education or forming a large part of the workforce, it was difficult to fall in love and ensure its culmination into marriage (which is largely the scenario these days). Also, especially in India, since religions/castes/sects/sub-sects/languages, etc. plays such a pivotal role in our day-to-day living, fixing a marriage with a person from the same religion/caste, etc. was being practised.

The main advantage (if you can call it that) in an arranged marriage is that you can explore a completely new relationship with your spouse as you go along on the journey of life. Everything is an adventure, everything seems special and new. Also, since your parents have fixed the relation, you have their unstinted support when it comes to your family life. Adjustment issues might be minimized based on the religion/caste/language criteria. Also, you are more willing to adjust and ensure not to hurt your partner since both of you are learning each other’s habits and way of living on almost a daily basis.

The argument in favour of arranged marriage can also be made based on the fact that so many of them are working successfully since time immemorial. And the husband and wife have truly learned to love each other after marriage.

In recent times, due to globalization, increased presence of women at the workforce/in higher education and the youth being more aware, love marriages are gaining prominence, even in a traditional society like India. Firstly, the young are marrying at a relatively later age, after having established themselves financially. Thus, they believe they are mature enough to select a life partner themselves and not depend on their family.

Secondly, there are enough opportunities available to today’s youth to mingle with each other, fall in love and eventually get married. Love marriages usually happen during Engineering/MBA/CA days or when two people work together on a prolonged basis. Being with each other almost day in and day out exposes you to the person’s true nature – their likes/dislikes, their strengths/weaknesses, their temper, their thinking, etc. Based on the same, a judgement can be made about whether one is compatible with the other.

A break-down of religious/casteist sentiments has led to a surge in inter-caste/inter-religious marriages in recent times. Today parents are also more open-minded in accepting such alliances compared to previous times.

One of the primary negatives associated with an arranged marriage is the inability to adjust. As there is not much time for the couple to interact before marriage, in case one of them has very shocking qualities/habits, it may become difficult for the other to adjust. Also, it is generally believed that both the groom and the bride are on their best behaviour before marriage and the real nature comes out into the open only after marriage.

It is also usually observed (though not necessarily) that the practise of arranged marriage is associated with dowry. The boy’s parents demand a lot of things pre-marriage and the girl’s family, in a bid to placate them, provide the same. This, however, continues throughout the lifetime which may put the girl’s family under a heavy burden.

The negatives around love marriage usually center around the fact that either the boy or the girl “change” their habits after marriage. Since both have spent a reasonable amount of time with each other before getting married, they believe they know each other in and out. But, as they say, a husband is different from a boyfriend. This may lead to disputes between the couple. The willingness to adjust is minimal for the same reasons stated above.

Sometimes, in case either of the families does not support the marriage for whatever reason, the couple may find it difficult in a trouble situation. Also, though society is slowly becoming open-minded, some marriages may still be frowned upon or openly discouraged (the recent incidents of the khap panchayats indulging in honour killing or certain families ensuring the boy/girl are murdered are extreme consequences of a love marriage).

To sum up, each of the approaches has its own merits and demerits. To say that one approach works and the other does not would be incorrect. At the end of the day, it is for an individual to decide whether s/he wants to go in for an arranged marriage or a love marriage. Jane Austen's quote gives a fitting gist: "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Review: Tea for Two and A Piece of Cake

This is one of my first book reviews. The author is a well-known blogger - - someone whom I have been following for such a long time. Tea for Two and A Piece of Cake is her third book, her first two have been national best-sellers.

The book starts off in the present and keeps alternating between the present and the past. It is a love story between three people but there are several more whose lives are inter-twined with these three. Preeti's writing style is free-flowing and lucid and she manages to keep us engrossed through the entire length of the book (I finished it in one sitting :))

The book explores various relationships as the story moves forward and you tend to want to know what is happening with the protagonist's life; it definitely is a page-turner. You also identify with the ups and downs that she is going through as she questions the decisions she has made at each stage of her life.

The part I liked the most is that Preeti has named all the chapters after a lot of famous songs; that is most certainly unique :) I wish her all the luck and hope this book goes on to become a best-seller as well!