Monday, April 29, 2013


Today is the silver jubilee of QSQT or Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak - the blockbuster movie which released on April 29, 1988. The movie took the entire Bollywood industry by storm and overnight its lead cast - Raj (Aamir Khan) & Rashmi (Juhi Chawla) catapulted into stardom. Aiding its wonderful direction (by Mansoor Khan) was the movie's wonderful music - beautiful lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri ably assisted by music directors Anand-Milind. Of course, Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik sang as only they could - making us get wistful, elated and sad as the songs required us to be.

Who, among us, has not identified with "Papa kehte hain" - where Raj, at his farewell, discusses his uncertainties on passing out of college - what will he make a career out of; whom will he fall in love with?

My favourite is "Gazab Ka Hain Din" - when both Raj & Rashmi lost in the jungles are trying to find their way to the main road. Rashmi mischievously redraws the arrows that Raj is drawing on the trees to help them find the way. She keeps reminding Raj that both of them are alone in the jungle and they should make the most of it. Alas, "Phir bhi jaane ja, main kahan aur tu kahan."

"Ae Mere Humsafar" brings out the angst of two lovers, who are patiently waiting for things ("Ik Zara Intezaar) to happen, beautifully. "Akele Hain Toh Kyan Gum Hain" celebrates the fact that even though the two lovers, who have eloped, have nobody with them, they couldn't really care as long as they have each other for company.

The dialogues by Nasir Hussain stood out wonderfully as well. Both Raj & Rashmi addressing each other and themselves as aap and hum was cute :) My favourite dialogue from the movie is "doobta hua suraj". Raj is jogging down one evening as the sun sets behind him and Rashmi, while merrily clicking a few pictures of the sunset, manages to get in quite a few of Raj as well. The next scene is played out really well - Raj says he has heard that keeping a self-photograph with a setting sun leads to a shorter lifespan. The dialogue is referred to later when Raj says, "Doobte hue suraj ne hamein pehli baar milaya tha. Dekhna, yehi doobta hua suraj hamein hamesha hamesha ke liye mila dega." Sigh!!!

I remember feeling depressed and sad at the end - why did they have to die? But, guess, all love stories need not have a happy ending. Needless to say, as both lie dying in each other's arms, the sun sets behind them. Doesn't every sunset, along with its beauty, also inspire a certain amount of sadness in us? Nobody knew that better than Nasir Hussain and Mansoor Khan.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino has been translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander. The book is 377 pages long and is in the genre of crime fiction.

The book’s blurb reads: “When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home, his beautiful wife Ayane immediately falls under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect, but how could she have committed the crime when she was hundreds of miles away?

As Tokyo police detective Kusanagi tries to unpick a seemingly unrelated sequence of events, he finds himself falling for Ayane. When his judgement becomes dangerously clouded, his assistant must call on an old friend for help; it will take a genius to unravel the most spectacular web of deceit they have ever faced…”

Ayane Mita and Yoshitaka Mashiba have been married for about a year and living in Tokyo. The book starts off with the husband, Yoshitaka, telling his wife, Ayane, that he wants them both to get separated since that was the deal. Almost immediately into the book, Yoshitaka is found dead at this apartment that weekend when Ayane is away visiting her parents. The last person to see Yoshitaka alive is Hiromi Wakayama, Ayane’s assistant at a patchwork quilting school which both of them run together.

The police are called in when suicide is ruled out. Naturally, the bone of suspicion is on Hiromi and also Ayane. However, how could she pull it off when she was away at her parents’ place in Sopporo? At the crime scene, it is established that Yoshitaka was poisoned by something in the coffee he drank. To solve this particular case are assigned detective Kusanagi and his assistant Utsumi.

How they go about interrogating each and everyone connected with Yoshitaka (his friends, his in-laws, etc.), pry into his past life, try and piece together each piece of the jigsaw puzzle forms the rest of the book. Utsumi also solicits the assistance of a physicist Yukawa to help her solve the crime.

The author’s style of writing is extremely thrilling; I found the book to be an absolute page-turner. Also, his words and sentences have the power of making the reader visualize the scenes – the apartment where the crime happened, the parents’ house in Sopporo, the coffee shop where they sometimes interrogated the suspects, etc.

The author has managed to create some absolutely strong characterizations. For example, even though Ayane is the main suspect, she is never shown to falter or cry; in fact, she keeps tempting the police saying, “Should I not be the one under suspicion?” On the other hand, Hiromi has been shown to be a sensitive woman; who will cry at the slightest instance and be wary of police around her. Utsumi has been shown to be a gutsy assistant who does not fear questioning or arguing with her superiors. She basically works a lot based on her intuition.

The protagonist – Kusanagi – is committed to the job. Even when he finds himself falling for Ayane’s charms, he is torn between his head and his heart – his duty towards solving the crime and his fascination for Ayane.

The book’s real strength lies in the way it goes about getting together each and every piece of the puzzle which will finally lead to the crime getting solved. Situations/people unconnected with the main event have been beautifully woven into the story. The book reaches its climax slowly and methodically; Keigo does not hurry in trying to solve the crime. The reader is often left second-guessing at the turn of events in the book and is finally both relieved and ecstatic when the climax is revealed.

I am going with 5/5 for this book – it was an extremely enjoyable and fun read for me. I really liked this particular sentence in the book – “Determining the existence or non-existence of something extraordinary is never a straight forward task and those who set themselves to do it are often overly swayed by their preconceived notions.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Age of Hiblisk by Sumukh Naik

Age of Hiblisk (A Story with a Soul) is Sumukh Naik’s debut fiction/fantasy novel.

The blurb of the book says, “is the journey of Prince William and Princess Sara, the protagonists, through the magical and spiritual worlds of Pantolis, Hiblisk, and Ikra. As their voyage unfolds, they realize the true motive behind the terror employed by the dark forces of Dushtt to claim supremacy over the lands of Pantolis and beyond. Every new revelation brings to light the methodical madness employed by the dark forces and secrets of Mother Nature, which have been safely guarded for ages by the various civilizations of the secret worlds. Their journey also introduces them to the divine forces that monitor the functions of the world and gives them access to legendary, mystical weapons and advanced spiritual knowledge which illuminates the flow of their understanding and actions towards various aspects of life. They use the knowledge gained, to try and bring peace, to their war ravaged lands and fight the ever growing might and influence of the mysterious dark forces that haunt their kingdoms. Will the light of all that is divine, fighting under the banner of Prince William and Princess Sara, flicker away into oblivion against the might of the dark forces under Dushtt, or will they survive?...Only time in her womb holds the answer, potent enough to change the outlook of the very world we live in.”

The story begins in the peaceful vicinity of Himra forest in the sleepy village of Zyren where an entire settlement of 10-15 houses had disappeared without a trace. The villagers form a team of four young boys who will go into the forest and determine the reasons for the same. From there, the story moves into a magical world of fantasy where kings, princes, princesses and sages reside.

The story takes a long time to unfold and one needs to be really patient to go beyond the first 50 pages before it starts gathering pace. However, the author has undertaken a bold experimenting with such a genre, which is not very well-established in the Indian context at least.

Towards the end, the book starts getting philosophical and loads of nuggets on how to lead your life are sprinkled about. It could get a little abstract as well for those who do not enjoy this kind of writing – about Mother Earth knowing what’s best and planning events accordingly.

The author’s writing style takes a while getting used to specially because many pieces of information are strewn through the book; you need to be 100% clued in to make sense of it all.

On the whole, it’s a book that did not hold my interest much though I can’t say I have read come across any book of this genre so far. I am going with 2.5/5 for this book for the detailed storyline that the author has managed to write; the various kingdoms that he takes us through and the several characters to which he introduces us in the course of the journey.

Modern Day Healthcare: A Boon

Our modern day lives are besieged with a host of lifestyle diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, thyroid, etc. It is not that these diseases did not plague our previous generations. It is just that the occurrence of these has substantially risen in current times. And the factors for these are not hard to find. A fast-paced life, consumption of junk food, lack of exercise and stress are contributing to the same.

Previously, people did not have stressful jobs; their lives were much simpler. Also, due to the lack of many of the modern day gadgets, they were forced to exercise. Most people travelled by public transport – they walked to the bus stop or the railway station, climbed the foot-over bridge, ran to catch trains or buses. In this process, they managed to get a lot of exercise. Cut to today’s scenario: we step out of the house and have a car waiting right at our doorstep. We feel obliged to join gymnasiums paying huge sums of membership fees but which we hardly ever frequent.

Previously, people did not eat out often. Several factors including stay-at-home women and lower levels of income contributed to the same. Now, people hardly ever eat at home. During the week, due to time constraints, people eat out during the week and, during weekends; people eat out due to socialising. Per se, outside food is not bad; however, it definitely makes a difference compared to home cooked food in terms of the quantities of salt and oil.

Bombarded as we are with such diseases, modern day healthcare has played a huge role in helping us deal with them. In today’s day and age, people have become a lot more aware in terms of identifying these diseases and controlling them to whatever extent possible. Pathological laboratories which primarily do all types of blood tests have sprung up all around. These days people check their blood pressure and sugar levels at home itself without having to step out to the doctor.

Full body check-ups including ECG, EEG, mammography, thyroid levels, etc. are quite common these days. Organizations, too, offer these facilities to their employees as part of their human resources initiatives. This is as far as preventive measures are concerned.

When it comes to curative measures, modern day healthcare has a range of services and facilities to offer. Open heart surgeries, kidney & liver transplants, angioplasties, and the like are conducted as if these are routine operations. Due to state-of-the-art hospitals and medical services, patients, too, are not scared of such operations anymore. Post-operative medical care is also available easily.

The other important aspect of this is the affordability factor. Some years ago, the cost of such surgeries and operations was huge. However, due to the massive R&D undertaken in the country as also the appearance of several hospital chains, the cost factor has undergone a downward revision. Also, with the emergence of various insurance and mediclaim policies, the burden of the surgery is shared between the insurance company and the patient.

This post has been written for IndiBlogger in association with

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Maine Pyaar Kiya - Memorable Dialogues


Maine Pyaar Kiya, which released in December 1989, was a huge hit in the 1980s. It was a nice romantic love story and had Salman Khan & Bhagyashree playing the lead roles. The movie, which had some phenomenal songs, was also known for its dialogues; my favourites are listed below: 
  • Dost toh woh hota hain jisse milne ko jee chahein, baat karne ko jee chahein.
  • Dosti ka ek usool hain - no sorry, no thank you.
  • Arre wah aapne ek baar kaha aur isne maan liya. Aur nahi toh kya, dosti ki hain; nibhaani toh padegi.
  • Aur is baar mat poochna kyon. Kyon?
  • Aisi ladki ghar ka kaam thodi karegi? Nahi karegi toh karwayenge.
And the dialogue which shook the very foundations of male-female friendship :)
  • Ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Soldier For Women

He has been there in my life for as long as I remember. When I was a kid, he indulged me - by mispronouncing my name, rhyming it with something else, gifting me toys & books on my birthday & other occasions. As I grew up, we started going out for movies and having conversations on books. When I was appearing for my 10th standard exam, he was there on the first day - to support and encourage me. As I went off to college, he discussed my career aspirations with me. Once I took up a job, we spoke about finances and my career growth.

He has been there all throughout my life till date - as a friend, philosopher and guide. He has been a mentor - always guiding me and letting me know that whatever happens, happens for the best. He has led by example - he had a Govt. job which he gave up to start his own business. Even today, at the age of 70, he still goes to work everyday. I have never seen him sit at home citing ill-health or plain laziness. His dedication and determination always inspire me - I aspire to be as meticulous and friendly as him. I have never seen him raise his voice, whatever maybe the situation. He respects his family members and never shouts at them in front of outsiders for any mistake of theirs.

He is my uncle - my maternal aunt's husband. And a role model for me. When I was growing up, I wished I would get married to someone like him - patient, willing to listen, supportive of his wife's dreams, encouraging his kids, wanting to make something of his life.

I dedicate this post to him today - letting him know that, for me, he has always been a soldier.

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with

Deewaar - Dialogues to use in daily life

A friend commented on how he liked my post on Jab We Met and how I should do more of such posts :) Thus, this post. It's from one of my all-time favourite movies of Amitabh Bachchan - Deewaar (1975).

The beauty of this movie is that almost every dialogue written by Salim-Javed is cult-like. And, most of them can be used in our daily interactions. Allow me to illustrate below:
  • Jo 25 saalon main nahi hua, woh aaj hoga - Can be used when you propose a new idea at work and your boss says but this has never happened in the history of this organization!
  • Main aaj bhi pheke hue paise nahi uthata - Can be used if someone throws money at you but also for other items such as books, pens, etc. - you get the drift :)
  • Kya tumhe lagata hain tum yeh kaam akele kar sakte ho? Ji nahi, main jaanta hoon main yeh kaam akele kar sakta hoon - Can be used if someone questions your capability to do a particular work - be it at office or at home.
  • Maa prasad samajh kar de rahi hain, tum mithai samajh kar kha lena - Can be used if you ever have to distribute prasad to an atheist who might be hesitant to eat it.
  • Kya tum chahati ho main bhi wahan se bhaag aata? - Can be used when someone questions your stickiness to a project/task.
  • Mere saath toh meri kismat hogi Dawaar saab - Can be used anytime, anywhere :)
  • Doston ke naam bhi hua karte hain - Can be used when you meet someone who almost immediately tries to get friendly & chatty.
  • Jao pehle us aadmi ka sign leke aao jisne mere haath par yeh likh diya; phir tum jahaan chaho, main wahan sign karunga - Can be used when someone asks you to sign a document at work :)
  • Aaj khush toh bahut hoge tum - Can be used anytime, anywhere :)
  • Aaj mere paas bangla hain, gaadi hain, paisa hain...tumhare paas kya hain? Mere paas maa hain - Can be used to defend your intangibles (family, good health, peace of mind) against somebody's tangibles (house, car, net worth, etc.)
These were just some of the dialogues which were easy to recall and apply :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness – Everybody’s Responsibility

This is the first time I am writing on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). I do not have any kids; however, this topic is as close to my heart as any parent. I have nieces and children of close friends and the mere thought of any of them going through CSA makes my blood boil.

It is often wrongly assumed that CSA only affects young girls and that too by men. That may not always be the case. Both young girls and boys are equally at risk by both men and women. It is all a question of who gets familiar with the child in what manner and how they exploit them.

In India, the discussion focussing on sexual awareness is taboo, per se. We do not feel comfortable discussing it with our parents or elders in the family. Whatever information we obtain is as teenagers via the media or our friends. This may not always be accurate or if obtained via wrong means could scar us for life.

In this background, the mere presence of CSA is often brushed under the carpet. We usually adopt the ostrich syndrome and believe that if we ignore what is actually happening, it will disappear. Unfortunately, that is the worst way to deal with it. CSA becomes critically important because children are extremely vulnerable and fragile.

The thing to keep in mind is that CSA could happen anywhere – at home, in school, in the playground, at a relative’s place, etc. if a child musters courage to speak about it, parents are not comfortable discussing the same or may dismiss it thinking it is the child’s imagination. This could make the child withdraw and, in future, if there is a repeat of any such occurrence, s/he would think twice before raising the issue.

I believe creating awareness on CSA is of paramount importance not just for a month but on a continuous basis. I suggest the following ways in which the same could be attempted:

1. Relationship: Parents should never hesitate to discuss anything with their children. In fact, their relationship with their kids should be such that kids should never fear or worry about bringing up cases of CSA, if any.

2. Education: Parents should educate their children about CSA. Things such as a friendly versus an unfriendly touch, who all can touch a child and who cannot, what should the child do if s/he is ever touched by a stranger, list of persons who can be approached by the child if the parents are not around (grandparents, an aunt/uncle, elder brother/sister, etc.) They should also emphasise on the kids that it is not their fault that such a thing has happened to them. There should never be a situation where the parents blame the kid for what has happened.

3. Action: Once parents find out that CSA has happened, they should discuss ways to deal with it. They should speak to the person concerned, if that is possible. If it has happened in a school, they should raise it to the teachers/principal of the school. The perpetrator should be named and shamed so that s/he knows that this action will not be taken lightly.

4. Awareness: Since this is an issue which affects and concerns all of us, it is as much our responsibility to create awareness on a much wider level. Parents can have such awareness sessions in their buildings; the clubs they frequent. Playschools should be encouraged to have such sessions where the teachers can patiently explain to the kids about it. It could also be made a part of the school curriculum where it could be explained with the help of diagrams so that the kids understand better and can identify when CSA is happening.

I hope and believe that with increased awareness we, as a society, are able to better deal with and gradually eliminate the instances of CSA. Statistics make no sense because to a child and his/her family, that one instance of CSA is matters immensely.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How I Met The Sun – Neutrogena IndiBlogger Meet

Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun, and I say,
It's all right.
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes,
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes,
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes,
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes,
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.

So sang George Harrisons of The Beatles in 1969. And, now, I tend to agree with him. I, too, am saying, “Here comes the sun and it’s all right”. Surprised? Well, I am now equipped with the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock; the only sunblock which has advanced Helioplex technology that does not break down upon exposure to the sun and provides me with 3 times better protection than ordinary sunscreens. It also protects my skin from UVA and UVB rays which can cause skin damage such as darkening, spots, fine lines, dryness and early ageing. All of us got the below shown products as a take-home gift :)
I was educated about the various benefits of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer at the Neutrogena IndiBlogger Meet held in Mumbai on 7th April, 2013 at J. W. Marriott Hotel, Juhu. Like with every other IndiBlogger meeting, the participants were asked to introduce themselves first. However, the introductions were quite unique – when we registered at the venue, we were handed little yellow umbrellas on which we were asked to note down our names. Then, these umbrellas were circulated around and we were asked to pick up an umbrella and track down the person whose name was written on the umbrella. Next, we were to find out a bit more about the person and introduce that person to everybody else. Here, you can see people trying to desperately find their partners.
Just after we registered, each of us was given a Neutrogena mask and advised to put it on for 15 minutes. Here, I am with one of my blogger friends Neha trying out the mask :)
After all the introductions were done, we were asked to get together into groups. We were to name the group and also develop an anthem around the word “sun”. Since we had a Sardaar in our group, our group was called “Sun of Sardaar” :) Here, we are singing the anthem brilliantly. Ours was one of the two groups which won the prize!
Next, there was a game to be played. However, not just any game; a game which brought home a point. If you do not walk out with an umbrella full of holes, why do you walk out with a sunscreen that has holes, i.e. one which breaks down under the sun? In the game, one team was supposed to throw the yellow smiley balls through the holes of the umbrellas held by the other team. And obviously, the other team had to defend against the balls.
After a delicious high tea was had comprising some lovely sandwiches and some sinful desserts (read: chocolate mousse and jalebi-rabdi), Tara Sharma Saluja walked in looking like a vision in yellow. She spoke about the importance of using a sunscreen and taking good care of our skin. She also gave us an insight into her show where she interacts with viewers over raising her kids.
A dermatologist from Neutrogena then gave us a demonstration of using a normal sunscreen versus using the Neutrogena sunscreen. He drove home the point very successfully. He also stressed on the fact that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2-3 hours for it to be effective. He then answered a lot of questions which some bloggers had regarding the usage of sunscreen for children, skin-related problems, etc.
Just when we thought the meet was over, we were told that we had an opportunity to be part of a viral video. All we had to do was start dancing to Harlem Shake. Some of us did.
And finally it was time for a group photograph. Considering it was a pretty house full session, it was a difficult task trying to fit all of us in one frame.
All the photos have been taken from the IndiBlogger page on Facebook.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Review: Follow Every Rainbow by Rashmi Bansal

The book’s blurb reads: Follow Every Rainbow is the story of 25 enterprising women who took up a challenge. They raised a family as well as a company, with love, laughter and patience. Managing multiple equations – never giving in or giving up. These stories say one thing loud and clear. Women think and act differently, but they can be just as successful. What `success’ means, is something only you can decide.

Rashmi Bansal is the author of four non-fiction books – I Have A Dream, Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, Connect The Dots and Poor Little Rich Slum. The first three deal with entrepreneurs while the fourth is a description of Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum.

However, in Follow Every Rainbow, Rashmi has specifically compiled a list of 25 women entrepreneurs. This interested me because (a) I am a woman myself and (b) There are not many books available on women entrepreneurs, especially in India.

What amazed me was that Rashmi has dedicated the book to her mother-in-law Santosh Bansal. In a country where Ekta Kapoor’s regressive serials rule the roost, this came across as a refreshing change. However, as I read through the book, my amazement diminished. Many of the women entrepreneurs openly credited both their mothers and mothers-in-law for providing them the kind of support which enabled them to set-up and run their businesses.

The title of the book has been taken from The Sound of Music (Climb every mountain, Ford every stream, Follow every rainbow, Till you find your dream). As she mentions in her note, although women are as capable as men, the circumstances must allow. However, women shall show new ways of thinking and doing things.

The book has been divided into three sections – Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati. The eight women featured under Lakshmi are the `ghar ki lakshmis` who brought wealth and prosperity to the home – by co-opting family members into their business. Circumstances forced the eight women featured under Durga to be enterprising, to fight for survival; they rose to the challenge, slaying demons within and without. The nine women featured under Saraswati are armed with a professional education and they are carving out an identity through entrepreneurship.

A common theme running across all the women’s experiences is the immense support they have received from their family members – parents, in-laws, husband, children, etc. Rashmi makes no bones about the fact that starting and running a business is tough for a woman and she will need all the help she can get from her family. Another point beautifully brought out reading through the book is that children are proud of the fact that they have a working mother – someone who is doing something on her own. Most times, women feel guilty that they are not doing enough as a mother. However, Rashmi’s narrative says that need not be the case. As long as you have a support system in the form of maids and cooks, in addition to your family members, you can manage a business. Her advice to women entrepreneurs is that we underestimate ourselves a lot. We have to be proud of what we are and whatever we do, we should do it fully; we owe it to ourselves.

What shines across in the book is the fact that all the women wanted to give back something to society. They were passionate about what they were doing and did not bother about making profits in the beginning itself. They were more focused on doing a good job and satisfying their customers.

The women featured in the book are from diverse fields such as cooking food (Rajni Bector, Patricia Narayan), tribal arts (Leela Bordia, Neeti Tah), information technology (Sangeeta Patni), sculptor (Jasu Shilpi), etc. The eldest woman featured in the book is Ela Bhatt (79 years) – the founder of SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association) and the youngest is Manju Bhatia (26 years) – Joint Managing Director of Vasuli, a loan recovery company which employs only female agents.

I personally enjoyed reading about Meena Bindra (Biba) because my mother and I are huge fans of Biba and buy quite a lot of their stuff; Nirmala Kandalgaonkar (Vivam Agrotech) because she is in the unusual business of vermicomposting; Jasu Shilpi because she was India’s only woman sculptor and Dr. Shikha Sharma (Nutrihealth Systems) because I have seen her a lot on television.

Rashmi’s writing style is casual and easy-to-read. She has retained the conversational aspect in a lot of places providing translations in English where the phrases are in Hindi. She has conducted detailed interviews with each of the women considering the fact that each woman’s narrative runs into 10-12 pages. Reading through these, one gets a fair idea of the business and what it entails. In almost all the narratives, Rashmi has also mentioned the latest financials – sales turnover and/or profit figures whichever are available. This helps to get an idea of the size of the venture.

I urge everybody, especially every woman, to go and read this book. It is an eye-opener in terms of the challenges that women are willing to accept and forge ahead; taking their families together with them in this journey. It also gives insights into the areas which women are willing to explore and make their mark in.

The surprise at the end of the book is the fact that Rashmi has provided the e-mail addresses of all the 25 women in case one wishes to get in touch with them for help/advice. She has also provided a list of useful entrepreneurial courses available at various institutes and organizations willing to offer flexi-time careers to women.

Pick up this book and you will not regret it. It will open up your mind like never before to the immense power of a woman. And in this nation of ours where we worship female goddesses such as Lakshmi, Durga, Saraswati, Kali, Devaki, etc. it makes immense sense. Respect a woman, support her in her endeavours and see the magic she creates – that is the central theme of this book. And every man and woman should remember this. Reading Rashmi Bansal’s book will ensure we do just that.

I am going with 5/5 for this book.

Book Review: 55 a novel by Chetan Chhatwal


The book’s blurb reads: Arjun Singh is a typical South Delhi brat whose biggest worry is securing a much coveted seat in one of the city’s top colleges. But his ambitious plans come to a screeching halt when he scores a paltry `55’ in English in the board exams. Unable to meet the cut-off, Arjun is forced to take admission in a neighbouring second-grade college. Between grappling with his identity as a Sikh and facing repeated misfortunes in love, Arjun’s only solace is his three best friends from school who have also ended up in the same dump. What will happen to his future now?

The author, Chetan Chhatwal, has degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science, and an MBA from London Business School. He currently works as a management consultant in London.

The title of the book `55’ intrigued me. As explained in the blurb itself, it is the percentage of marks the protagonist – Arjun – scores in English in his final board exams. This score forms the pivot of the entire book; as it leads to Arjun securing admission in a shady second-rate college; the ragging that ensues; the lectures which he bunks; the relationships that he forges, etc.

The book is a coming-of-age bromance between four boys who move from school to college and finally make serious decisions as far as their careers are concerned. The book narrates the adventures of Arjun and his three best friends – Rishi, Partho and Gaurav – when they secure admission to St Augustus College of Delhi University (DU). The book takes us through the lives of any college-going kids though it does focus specifically on the lives of DU students. The lingo used is something that any DU student can identify with – travelling by the DTC buses, ‘First Div’, ‘subsis’, etc. The author paints a rather vivid and somewhat grim picture of the ragging of first-year students by the second and third-year students in the college.

The boys spend most of the three years bunking their way through college; preparing for studies by mostly attending a professor’s tuition classes and mugging up for exams only at the last instance. Like any other teenage, college-going boys, girls form the focus point of their existence. Though Arjun’s friends do not have any serious relationships, Arjun falls for an older Radha. A large part of the book is devoted to developing their interactions and how they deal with their feelings for each other.

The character of Arjun as a spoilt brat has been built up nicely. He is elitist and irreverent; he adopts an almost condescending attitude towards all the other students at his second-rate college. At home, he is being used to wait upon by a full-time maid and a driver. The aspect of his being Sikh and thus having to keep his hair long and wear a turban has also been nicely elucidated.

The book does suffer from a few grammatical errors which some more proof-reading could have avoided. However, these are few and far between and can be overlooked in the larger scheme of things.

I am going with 3/5 for this novel.

Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy by Random House India, the publishers of this book.