Saturday, December 15, 2012

How I envisage life on EARTH on December 21, 2012!

Strangers hug each other

Archangel Michael: We have told you often, you are and will continue to be the cause of all the rest. Your questions remain. When? You are the key. What? You are the key. How? You are the key. And the larger the scope of change you look for, the more of you are part of the key. Do you understand? So if you are looking for huge changes, spend time giving energy and thought to what those changes will be.
Archangel Michael

Click here for reference link for the above-mentioned quote.

I was quite excited to read this message from AAM as I had been planning to write a blog on what I feel will be the scene on December 12, 2012. What comes after that date can of course only get better.

Click here to read what my Antaryaamin has to say about the onset of the Golden Age.

It’s barely a week to the dawn of the Golden Age on December 21, 2012. Can you feel the excitement in the very air we are breathing in?

I can hear my heart thudding louder than ever and my pulse fizzing in anticipation of the great times to come.

A few scenes that I could envisage in my mind’s eye:

The air feels so clear and invigorating with not a particle of dust. Pollution is a thing of the past. Can you imagine that!
The sky is a brilliant blue with fluffy clouds floating around
The trees and plants are a brilliant green with love emanating from them as they sway in the gentle breeze with joy
There is no honking as people are not rushing any more to get from one place to another. They take more time to experience the atmosphere and all things around them
Automatically, the lack of noise brings forth the sounds of birds singing and squirrels screeching
The very air is filled with excitement, joy, harmony, unity, balance, love and peace
All the terrible insects, pests, viruses, etc. have all gone back to where they came from and Pandora’s Box is finally shut tight, not to let any of these out
The Doctors are super-excited as they write out discharge sheets for every single patient in their hospitals. All medical tests turn out negative and everyone is given a clean health chit. Well, maybe some of the gynaecologists will find themselves busy as they help welcome new citizens into the world.
No report of a single death
The Police Department enjoys leisure as not a single crime – theft, rape, murder, whatever – is reported. Accidents are unheard of!
The Military, The Air Force and The Navy are deployed on peace missions as war has ended forever in the world
The Fire Department is celebrating the dawn of The Golden Age by singing and dancing with joy
• The Mainstream Media has been going about their work as usual while the newspapers go for print till the Zero hour. Suddenly, everyone AWAKENS at 00.01 AM on 21.12.2012 and they call off the printing of the papers as the news is all negative. There are no printed newspapers available on December 21, 2012 while online updates - all positive - appear as if by magic while everyone in the industry has been working hard through the night.
Strangers stop to grin at one another and share warm HUGs

Into this scenario glide in our Star Brothers and Sisters on their Spaceships to dance along with us in JOY! 

I invite each and every one of my readers to share their views as comments on what they can foresee for December 21, 2012.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Oncoming GOLDEN AGE

Picture courtesy: http://www.vibrakeys.com

Third Dimension

The third dimension is where we are existing just now, that is, the earth as well as all the living things dwelling on her. This is called the Physical Dimension or Physical Plane, where every being has a well-defined physical body.

This is also the dimension of Duality. Good-bad; beautiful-ugly; day-night; light-dark; truth-lies; etc; etc; etc. exist on this plane. The positive aspects cannot be recognised without the negative aspects on this dimension. This is also the Karmic Plane.

Fourth Dimension

This is the Astral Plane. This is where the spirits go for rejuvenation after death. There is no physical body as that has already died and only the soul or light body is present on this plane. The soul undergoes a lot of experiences and teachings – all wonderful – as it continues on its journey towards the LIGHT.

Fifth Dimension

This is the Mental Plane. This is where the Earth and all of us are headed towards. This is the plane where we can create anything and everything with our Minds. There is only the state of ONENESS and we will live in absolute joy and harmony. ‘Lack’ will disappear forever.

December 21, 2012

This is the last date of the Mayan Calendar
This is also the culmination of the Kali Yuga, a cycle of 5000 odd years
This is also the end of one large cycle of the four yugas (Sathyuga, Tretayuga, Dwaparayuga & Kaliyuga) consisting of 26,000 years

Beside all these, there is one more importance attached to this date. This is the exact mid-point in the age of the Universe. The Universe has reached its middle age since the Big Bang Effect.

Sri Bhagavan of Oneness University says, “The Neanderthal man could never have imagined life in the 21st century. In the same way, the 21st century man cannot visualise life after December 21, 2012.”

There are a number of angles to this and loads of information on the internet. I prefer to read and believe what resonates with me – gels with my instinct and feelings. I watch videos of Sri Bhagavan and listen to his teachings rather than read what his followers say as these are mostly their personal interpretation of what He says. Then there is www.the2012scenario.com that brings together original articles as well as a number of write-ups from around the internet. These are all positive and hence my favourite.

Sri Bhagavan of Oneness University is the tenth (Kalki) avatar of Lord Vishnu and He has come down to save Mankind from the clutches of Kali just as predicted in Hindu mythology. What proof do I have?

Well, when I first went for a class at the university in 1997, the first thing we were asked to do is ask God for proof that Bhagavan is what He claimed to be. Rameshji, the teacher who conducted the class, insisted that if God is as powerful as we believe He is, He can definitely give us proof that He is what He is. We did not have to believe blindly.

This definitely struck a chord within me as I have never believed in formal prayer. I have always been what one would call a rebel. I have always believed in God but refused to follow any ritual unless I could understand what it was all about. Asking for proof is what I did and I definitely received what I asked for.

Refer link: http://sundarivenkatraman.blogspot.in/search/label/Spirituality

Refer link: http://ascensionmiracles.blogspot.in/

Well, to get back to the subject at hand….

There are different schools of thought about whether the earth is going to the 4th or the 5th dimension on December 21, 2012.

Some claim that we had entered 4th dimension on October 28, 2011 and have faced an extremely turbulent period on our way to the 5th dimension that we enter on December 21, 2012.

There is The 2012 Scenario that goes with the idea that the earth will just move through 4th dimension in a flash before entering the 5th on December, 2012.

The ultimate destination is the 5th dimension, of course. Even if it is the 4th, it is a pure positive place of ONENESS, where Duality will not exist. This is a concept that is very difficult to grasp as we have never ever experienced this in our human state.

I believe this is the first time – an experiment – when beings move into the 5th dimension with their physical bodies. Of course, our bodies have been slowly converting from carbon base to crystal base over the past few years. Each individual’s conversion pace depends on their karmas, diet, spiritual nature, time spent with nature besides other things.

But everyone who is alive at that point in time will definitely transit into the GOLDEN AGE. Can’t wait for it!



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Film Review: OMG OH MY GOD!



The film brings forth TRUTH!

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal, Prabhu Deva, Sonakshi Sinha, Mithun Chakraborty, Govind Namdeo, Mahesh Manjrekar, Om Puri
Director: Umesh Shukla

Well, I am back to the world of blogging after a very long time – a month and a half, actually – and this one is a review of a film that touched my heart. I simply loved OMG that sounds like a clarion call for the advent of THE GOLDEN AGE. Read on to find out more…

THE STORY

Kanjibhai (Paresh Rawal) owns a shop selling idols of Gods of various religions along with other items used in rituals. He is a typical business man who would not think twice about cheating people to make more money. More than that, Kanjibhai does not believe in anything without proof. This includes ‘God’. He opts to remain an atheist as no one is able to produce the proof of the existence of God.

During an earthquake, Kanjibhai’s shop crashes down, breaking all his stock to smithereens. He is set back by more than 40 lakh rupees while he has a loan on his house. The insurance company refuses to pay him any compensation insisting that the earthquake was an act of God and the policy does not cover such a circumstance. Finding himself and his family just one foot away from being left out on the streets, Kanjibhai decides to sue ‘God’.

That’s when Krishna Vasudev Yadav (Akshay Kumar) comes down to earth to help the atheist. Now why would God do such a thing? That’s for you to see the film and find out.

MY PERCEPTION

I simply adored the concept of the film. And it was quite well made. Paresh Rawal has sailed through his role as Kanjibhai. The character is so realistic and truthful and probably brings forth a number of questions that most of us want to ask but dare not do so. Kanjibhai takes a hit at blind faith, rituals that have ceased to be meaningful and the power of God-men. All these have been my personal pet peeves. Is it surprising that I just loved the film?

The film runs for just about 2 hours and has been made quite well. While it’s quite heavy on the dialogue side, there is no other way the director could have got forth what he wants to tell the public. I heard that the film has created a load of controversy in many places. If you see the film, you will not be surprised why that must be so.

Nikhil Ratnaparki deserves a special mention. While he does not have too many dialogues, his expressions say it all. I have seen this actor in many films, but somehow have never been able to find his name in the list of casts in imdb.com and Wikipedia. Surprising!

The film brings to light a number of instances where people have suffered losses without being compensated by their insurance companies. They have no help from any source. These are definitely based on real life situations and move one to tears. A hard-hitting truth!

We have seen Akshay Kumar as a Khiladi and also as a comedian – sometimes stretching into mindless comedy. But in this film, in the avatar of Lord Krishna, the actor is subtle with very little to talk. He is simply amazing and somehow managed to instill God’s faith in the person watching the film.

VERDICT: If you are open to seeing a different point of view that will awaken you to TRUTH, then you should not miss this one. I will go so far as to call this a futuristic film.

RATING: ****Snazzy

*Silly
**Shaky
***Smart
****Snazzy
*****Super

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Travel: SARAS BAUG IN PUNE

Saras Baug Ganesha! Ganpati Bappa Morya!

After we got off at the last stop in Pune, Vini and I took a rickshaw to Saras Baug near Swargate. This is supposedly one km from Deccan. I am not quite sure what this means, but I am sure the information will help someone making a trip to Pune. If you check on Google for Pune sightseeing, Saras Baug is one of the places that come up a lot on the first page.

Various sections of the garden
We arrived at the gates to be greeted by a ‘mela’ atmosphere. I understand that it is a regular thing there. There were mobile merry-go-rounds; a guy making cotton candy; a number of food stalls and of course a couple of shops selling flowers and ‘thalis’ to offer Lord Ganpati who is the centre of attraction in this garden.

Lily Pond with lots of fish
The whole garden is quite big with a lot of trees and stretches of grass – simply beautiful! There is a pond in the form of a moat that surrounds the hillock where the temple is. The sad thing is that the pond is quite dirty while being full of lotuses and lilies. There were a lot of fish – all of them grey or black in colour. I could not help comparing it to the pond that I saw at the aquarium in Langkawi, Malaysia. That was so clean with a number of colourful fish in it. But they probably spent a lot of money to maintain that one while the local pond just managed to survive by itself, I am sure.

The black bird's antics in the water. Don't miss it taking off in the third picture
A small black bird – maybe a duck as it kept swimming inside the water – entertained us with its many antics. It moved stealthily underwater looking for fish. It kept bobbing its head up and looked pretty cute. Suddenly it flew out of the water with a small fish in its beak and managed to swallow it at one go. Awesome show!

The entrance to the temple
A set of staircase goes up to the temple. You are warned to hold your breath tight while climbing these. This is because of the stench caused by bird droppings. I know all about those who want to yell that one should not criticise temples. Well, I am not criticising the God, only the way the place has been maintained.

I believe the temple is very old and is open all seven days of the week – from 5 am to 12.30 pm & later from 4 to 9 pm. The place was quite crowded on the Sunday I visited. The temple looks prosperous, so why doesn’t someone maintain the surroundings? I am sure Lord Ganpati with his long nose must be quite disgusted with the smell.

Inside the temple
In the meanwhile, one of the devotees who was praying hard – I saw his lips moving continuously – and circumambulating the Lord made it a point to stop me – not once, but thrice – from taking pictures. He was very clear about this rule and kept pointing out a notice board to me. I could only see one which showed a picture of a red slash over a mobile phone, nothing about cameras. I waited for him to leave before taking my pictures. The Panditji and two workers near the sanctorum did not have any objections to my using the camera. Our country will make for a better democracy without these moral police, I am sure.

The outer Prakaar
Lord Ganesha in the main sanctorum was made of marble with a golden crown. His trunk is curled to the right same as at the Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai. This is not the most common form, I believe. We had a wonderful darshan despite the crowd and I could go around the sanctorum for three rounds.

I could not get any literature on the temple as the office was closed being a Sunday. The Panditji was helpful enough to give me info on the timings as he told me that it was a very old temple. The outer praakar was quite big and neat and was in an oasis with so many tall trees surrounding the area. It was very peaceful just walking in that area.

Rangoli at the temple
Some people were making a beautiful Rangoli on one side with the forthcoming Independence Day as the central theme.

There is a small room that has been converted into a museum that held a few shelves full of Lord Ganesha’s statuettes. I just had a look from the outside as there did not appear much to see. One is allowed inside for a charge of Rs. 5.

After spending some time in the temple, Vinitha and I went down the staircase to reach the ground where we went in search of a toilet. There was one at the left corner of the garden. While the doors had no handles and there were no lights, the toilets were very clean and there was water. It was worth paying Rs. 3 per person for using it.

It had taken us a little more than an hour to see Saras Baug and visit the temple. We came out and decided to try out the food stalls right at the entrance. These were but shop space with tables and chairs placed on the platform in the front. A plastic awning covered the whole area as it was the rainy season, I presume. It kept drizzling intermittently and the weather was just perfect for a holiday.

As you can see, all the stalls are named Kalpana - serving chaat, pav-bhaji, juices, etc
We had a bhel puri and a cheese pav-bhaji between the two of us washed down by Musambi juice. I finished it off with an ice-cream while Vini had a mango milkshake. Not too bad for a road-side stall and the bill was quite reasonable at Rs. 275 with a few extra pavs thrown in.

We saw another customer with a Labrador pup and could not help petting the little one. I believe Bozo was just one month old and he was so sleepy. Not that it stopped us from cuddling him. He was so cute!

With Bozo
As it started to rain heavily, a rickshaw cruised along to where we were sitting and the driver agreed to take us to Koregaon Park, that too with the meter on. Not a bad deal, I thought!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Travel: A DAY TRIP TO PUNE

The Volvo that brought us home from Pune
Vinitha and I had been planning a day trip to Pune since three months and were just looking for the right time to go. I had done a bit of research on the net as to the places to see in Pune and both of us also consulted a couple of friends who are familiar with the city.

Last Sunday worked out for both of us and we left in the morning by Neeta Volvo. Luckily for us, we just had to cross the highway to the other side to catch the bus. I believe Neeta Travels has a bus leaving for Pune every hour. We missed the 7.15 am bus by five minutes and they let us take the next bus which arrived at 8 am. A one-way ticket to Pune by this limousine costed Rs. 300.

Entrance to Saras Baug, Pune
The journey lasted for about three and a half hours with one stop at Lonavla for breakfast. The route is pretty scenic and as the weather was simply gorgeous with mild rains, we had a beautiful onward journey. Of course, the two of us spent a large part of it sleeping was another matter altogether.

I was wide awake about an hour before we reached Pune and was quite thrilled to see the greenery and some waterfalls – there weren’t many as the rains have not been grea so far this year.

Temple of Lord Ganesha at Saras Baug, Pune
We reached Pune a little after 11 am and got off at the last stop. The bus driver told us it was the closest point to Swargate. We took a rickshaw from there to Saras Baug. The rickshawala refused to switch the meter on as it was Sunday – that’s what he claimed – and charged us Rs. 100 for the ride. All the rickshawalas in the area then – must have been half a dozen – appeared to be in cahoots. We did not want to hang around bargaining and left by one of them. Considering the distance travelled, I guess it must cost 40-50 rupees under normal circumstances.

Lane 1, Koregaon Park, Pune
We had a super day beginning with a darshan of Lord Ganpati at Saras Baug, a walk around the garden itself, lunch at the café outside, a ride through Pune Cantonment – an amazingly beautiful and peaceful area – by rickshaw and a visit to Koregaon Park.

At Koregaon Park, we spent some time shopping for shawls and costume jewellery. Then we went to the CCD there to escape the rains and spent some time there. Vinitha was quite upset that the German Bakery that had closed down after the bombings has never opened its doors again. We enquired about the meditation retreats at Osho Ashram, walked through the peaceful lane adjacent to it (Lane 1 of Koregaon Park) and checked out Hotel Sunderban for a future stay.

Hotel Sunderban, Koregaon Park, Pune
Vini remembered having stayed at a low key hotel around the corner and we went in search of it. We found South Court, a lovely old mansion tucked away in the left corner of the same lane. It was under renovation and had a lovely olde worlde feel about it. We could not check out the rooms as they were all occupied.

We returned to Hotel Sunderban and visited the spa there for a foot massage. Finally, we had a yummy dinner at Dario’s Restaurant and Bar – the Italian restaurant at the same hotel before leaving to catch the return bus from near Pune station.

South Court, Koregaon Park, Pune
A rickshaw dropped us at the Neeta Travels outlet and we had once again missed the 7.30 pm bus that we were booked on. Both of us were not too worried as the travel agent in Mumbai had told us very clearly that we could always catch the next one as there were many buses going to and from Pune. I believe the number of services on a Sunday were more than the other six days of the week.

Dinner at Dario's Restaurant & Bar, Hotel Sunderban, Pune
We had to wait for almost an hour while we were carted to another point at BC Coco RTO petrol pump to catch the bus. Our Volvo finally left at 8.55 pm and after a stop at Lonavla, we reached Sion at 12 midnight. We were lucky to be dropped right outside our lane and got home in barely three minutes.

What a super day!



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Recipe: TOMATO ONION CHUTNEY


I have tried a couple of versions of this chutney before on hearing of it from many different sources. Finally, I have come up with my own quick and sure fire method and the result is simply delicious.

Ingredients:

Tomato – 4 (large; cut into big pieces)
Onions – 6 (large; cut into big pieces)
Tamarind – 2 small strips
Red Chillies – 8-10 (depending on how spicy you like your chutney)
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Roasted Methi Powder – ½ tsp
Til Oil – 4 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Run the tomato and onion pieces in a mixer along with the tamarind strips, red chillies and salt.
2. Take a non-stick pan and heat the oil in it.
3. Add the mustard seeds to the hot oil and when they crackle, add the methi powder to it.
4. Then pour the ground mixture into it immediately after.
5. Add some salt, mix well and allow it to cook on a medium flame, covering the saucepan with a lid.
6. Keep the lid on while stirring from time to time as the simmering chutney tends to splatter.
7. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until the chutney reaches a thick consistency.

The yummy chutney can be had with idli, dosa, roti, puri or paratha as you please. It lasts for about 24 hours when stored outside. It can be refrigerated for upto 4 days.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Food Review: ONLY PARATHAS @ KING’S CIRCLE


Only Parathas @ King's Circle
Despite not having had a great experience at the Khar outlet of Only Parathas, I went to their branch at Matunga along with Venkat and Vinitha as her friend had recommended it highly. Read on to find out what I thought about Only Parathas @ King’s Circle.

I have to mention here that the same premises used to house New Yorker @ Matunga a little more than a year ago.

Venkat looking kind of baffled at the paratha that had come highly recommended

The ambience was good and the restaurant was fairly crowded at 9.45 pm when we reached there. It was later that we realised that this was probably more because Matunga has very few restaurants open after 10 pm than because the food was great.

The menu has a humongous range of parathas besides other dishes such as snack items; rice items and more. We can choose the combinations of ingredients that go into the parathas in a style similar to that of choosing pizza toppings. So far, so good!
Paratha with gobi, cheese, etc filling

The waiter recommended a paratha with gobi filling along with cheese and one more item, I fail to recall. It was served hot along with a helping of raita, rajma and chole. It was the most horrible paratha that I have ever tasted in my life. To begin with, it was badly cooked. A paratha should be crisp, flaky and melt-in-the-mouth. This was like chewing on a piece of rubber. The filling was just ‘okay’.

The one with peas, onions & cheese filling

Before this paratha came to our table, I had already placed an order for another paratha with peas, onions and cheese filling. This paratha filling was slightly better than the first one while it was as badly cooked as the first one.
Vegetable Biryani

The raita that came along was very good while the chole and rajma were extremely mediocre.

Finally, we decided to have a vegetable biryani. This was not as bad as the parathas but I have tasted way better.
Part of the decor

All in all, a THUMBS DOWN for the eating experience at Only Parathas @ King’s Circle – a total disappointment.

Address: Shop No 471, Radha Bhavan, Adenwala Road, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai
Phone: 65758118 / 65758228

I recovered from the trauma by making my own paneer-gobi parathas at home the very next evening.

Click here to read the food review of Only Parathas @ Khar (West).


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Recipe: ARISI UPMA (அரிசி உப்பூமா)



I never used to like Arisi Upma much when my mother used to make it at home. I realise that as I get older, I enjoy the traditional recipes of my home town more and have learned to appreciate them over the years. I recently made Arisi Upma for my family and it was an instant hit.

Ingredients:

Rice (ஆரிசி) – 1 cup
Tur Dal (துவாரம் பருப்பு) – ½ cup
Water – 3 cups
Green Chillies (பச்சை மிளகாய்) – 2 (cut in twos)
Red Chillies (வெத்த மிளகாய்) – 2 (cut in twos)
Curry leaves (கருவேப்பிலை) – A few
Mustard Seeds (கடுகு) – 1 tsp
Channa Dal (கடலை பருப்பு) – 1 tbsp
Urad Dal (உளுத்தம் பருப்பு) – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida (பெருங்காயம்) – ¼ tsp
Grated Coconut (துருவிய தேங்காய்) – 3 tbsp
Oil – 3 tbsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Coarse grind the tur dal and rice to the texture of rava. (Run the dal separately first before adding the rice to it as the former takes longer to grind).
2. Heat a saucepan and add the oil to it. When hot, crackle the mustard seeds in it. As they are crackling, add the channa dal and urad dal to the oil. Keep the gas on medium flame.
3. As the dals turn red, add both the chillies and curry leaves and stir well.
4. Add the asafoetida at this point and stir.
5. Now add the grated coconut and turn once before adding the water. Keep the flame high.
6. Add salt to the mixture.
7. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the flame and add the dry rice-dal powder.
8. Mix well and switch the gas off.
9. Pour the whole mixture in a vessel and add ghee to it and mix well.
10. Place it in a pressure cooker and cook it for three whistles. Alternately, if you have an electric cooker, you can cook it in that for about 15 minutes.

The yummy Arisi Upma is ready to eat now. Arisi Upma tastes great whether hot or cold. Katharikkaai Gothsu compliments this dish perfectly.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Film Review: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


A Super Entertainer!



Cast: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy
Director: Christopher Nolan

Surprisingly, Vinny decided to catch the first-day-first-show at 8 am on Friday at Cinemax Sion with a friend. Viggy had booked for an evening show on Saturday and felt quite disturbed about this new scene. That’s when the two of us decided to catch the 11.15 am show on Friday. A smart decision, indeed! The subtitles were really a bonus. I don’t think I would have understood half of what I did if they had not been there.

THE STORY

It’s been eight years since Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) had donned the guise of Batman. He’d been badly injured in his war with Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight. In the meanwhile, Dent is hailed as a hero in Gotham City while Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) keeps mum about the truth.

Selina Kyle aka The Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) thieves a pearl necklace from Wayne’s home. Her real purpose is to steal the millionaire’s fingerprints. She hands them over to John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) who is Wayne’s rival in business. Daggett uses the fingerprints to make some wild purchases on the stock market in Wayne’s name, putting an end to his wealth. Margaret Tate (Marion Cotillard) takes charge of Wayne Enterprises, encouraged by Bruce Wayne himself.

Bane (Tom Hardy) had also trained under Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) along with Bruce Wayne. He heads the League of Shadows now. Bane is in Gotham City building a network of thugs.

Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) has built a machine to produce energy that can be turned into a nuclear bomb. This machine is kept in a secret vault under the river. As the new managing director of Wayne Enterprises and extremely interested in protecting the environment, Margaret Tate is shown this machine.

When Bane and his men take over the machine and do their worst to subdue the people of Gotham City, it is time for the Dark Knight to rise. Will he be able to?

MY PERCEPTION

I have to give full marks for the casting. It’s just amazing how each actor fits his/her role so perfectly. The film is so well put together like pieces of a jigsaw.

That's Tom Hardy on the left transformed to Bane on the right

Each one of them – Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne as well as the Batman; Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and the Catwoman; Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as Alfred the butler give simply brilliant performances.

Marion Cotillard as Margaret Tate played an excellent vamp. You will never recognise Tom Hardy as Bane and that is not just because most of his face is covered. The actor looks so handsome and serene without Bane’s makeup. An amazing performance!

The first prize goes to Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays the role of police officer John Blake. The actor has a meaty role that he has performed to the hilt. Keep up the great work.

VERDICT: If you are a fan of super-heroes, then you most definitely should not miss this one.

RATING: *****Super

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sharing: HAVE YOU EVER DREAMT OF BECOMING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR OF ROMANTIC FICTION?


It was a great day indeed that someone sent me an unsolicited mail via Linkedin. He wanted to know whether I would like to become a writer for Indirom. For this, I probably need to thank my friend Nilima Kadam who has recommended me on Linkedin as ‘the Indian Mills & Boon queen’.

On enquiry, I was put in touch with Naheed Hassan, one of the founders of Indirom – a website to be launched in December 2012. Since then, I have conversed with Naheed a few times on skype.

Indirom will be launching a website that will bring together e-books of South Asian romances. They already have a number of writers and editors on board. I see this as a fantastic opportunity for me. I love writing romantic novels and in fact, publish them as a series on my blog – Cupid Strike Series. Now, it looks like I get professional editors to help me with my work, a website to publish my novels, someone who will market my work professionally and the icing on the cake will be the royalty that I hope to earn.

This is what I would call a win-win situation. If any of you want to write romance and is looking for a publisher, Indirom is probably what you are looking for.

About Indirom 

Indirom is a South-African based company that is in the process of setting up an exciting new e-publishing (and web store) platform that is looking to revolutionize the romance literature genre in South Asia. The company has been set up by two globally-experienced executives - both with a deep interest in writing. Indirom is in the process of looking for writers, confident women and men, with whom they can create long term relationships, who can write romance fiction. They are looking for writers who are willing to explore the romantic in them, have a strong command over the English language and are able to tell a compelling story. In turn we offer the writer complete creative licence in terms of content, style and narrative, an experienced team of editors to work with them through the writing process and remuneration through royalties. If you are interested in writing, or know of someone who may be interested you can contact them on

editor@indirom.com
nhassan@indirom.com


Click here to check a blog written by another of the Indian writers for Indirom. Based in Hyderabad, Harimohan writes fiction and commercial copy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Film Review: COCKTAIL

A timepass romantic tri-tangle!


Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Boman Irani, Dimple Kapadia, Diana Penty
Director: Homi Adajania

Venkat, Vinitha and I caught the film at Cinemax Sion on the second day of its release as we were quite impressed with the promos.

THE STORY

The film is set in London where Veronica (Deepika Padukone) works hard and plays harder. She is a professional photographer. After one of her rave parties, Veronica sees Meera (Diana Penty) crying her eyes out in the washroom. She takes Meera home to find out that the latter is married to Kunal (Randeep Hooda) who is a fraud. Meera does not have anyone else to turn to and accepts Veronica’s invitation to live in her apartment. Meera takes up a job as a graphic designer. 

Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) is a software engineer who had recently moved base to London. The Casanova hits it off immediately with Veronica and moves into her apartment and directly into her bedroom. The three of them remain friendly while Meera is a mite wary of Gautam’s flirtatious nature.

Randhir (Boman Irani) is Gautam’s maternal uncle who proudly takes responsibility for making his nephew a ladies’ man. Gautam’s mother Kavita (Dimple Kapadia) thinks badly of her brother but believes that her son is Mr. Perfect. She’s keen to see Gautam married and lands up in London suddenly.

Without thinking, Gautam introduces the traditional Meera as the woman he loves while Veronica watches on in amusement. Kavita is quite impressed with Meera and insists on going with the three flatmates on a holiday to Cape Town. While Meera and Gautam pretend to be in love, Veronica spends a lot of time with Kavita and is touched by her motherly love. Having had no affectionate family, she begins to dream of marrying Gautam.

Gautam is shocked at this turn of events. He had never thought beyond an affair with Veronica. Things get worse when the Casanova falls in love with the innocent Meera and she returns his feelings. The two of them see a totally different side to the fun-loving Veronica when she finds out that her best friends are in love with each other.

Things turn quite dark after that, especially when Veronica has a near-fatal accident. Watch the film to see who gets Gautam.

MY PERCEPTION

Saif Ali Khan is superhot and sails through his role. I suppose it is child play for him by now, having done a few similar ones. Considering that he is 42, it’s a wonder that he is able to get away with the role of a man in his early thirties. And believe me, he’s good!

Boman Irani and Dimple Kapadia have executed their roles perfectly.

Newcomer Diana Penty as Meera is very good, especially considering that it is her debut role. Her acting skills are truly appreciated.

Deepika Padukone – somehow despite hearing a lot of criticisms about the actor, I feel she is very good. Having said that, I need to point out that she keeps repeating her party girl role too often – Love Aaj Kal; Karthik Calling Karthik; Break Ke Baad and how many else that I have not seen, I don’t know. It looks that she has been doing the same role again and again, getting a little better after each performance. Well, considering that this is her latest, she has done the best party girl role so far. It has extended to give forth to an easygoing Veronica who evolves into one with a bad temper as her hurt comes to the fore. Deepika has given a great performance!

VERDICT: The film is very light and a fun-watch.

RATING: *** Smart

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Film Review: BOL BACHCHAN

Finally, Abhishek Bachchan has chosen a great role and executed it superbly!


Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Asrani, Krushna Abhishek, Prachi Desai, Asin, Archana Puran Singh
Director: Rohit Shetty

I had been wanting to see the film since before its release but none of my family members showed interest. Finally, Venkat and I managed to catch the film more than a week later. I was quite surprised to see Planet 3 of Cinemax Cinema Sion full. The 2-star rating given by most publications had obviously not deterred the public. But then, I have stopped depending on Mumbai Mirror’s ratings as this is the third film where I find myself disagreeing with their views.

THE STORY:

The story is loosely based on Amol Palekar’s Gol Maal. Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan) loses a court case involving his family property in Delhi. His father’s friend Shastri (Asrani) insists that Abbas moves to Ranakpur along with his sister Sania (Asin). Shastri lives with his son Ravi (Krushna Abhishek) and works for Prithviraj Raghuvanshi (Ajay Devgn), a man both rich and powerful. Prithviraj cannot tolerate dishonesty. Shastri promises to get Abbas a job with Prithviraj.

Abbas breaks open the lock on a local temple when a child falls into the pond behind the walls. To avoid a riot in the village, Ravi introduces him as Abhishek Bachchan to Prithviraj. Abhishek lands a job with the man. Prithviraj is quite impressed with his new employee until he catches him doing Namaz at the local mosque. That’s when Abbas Ali without the moustache is created. Things turn hilarious as the gay Abbas Ali is hired to teach dance to Prithviraj’s sister Radhika (Prachi Desai).

Then there is a villain in the form of Prithviraj’s cousin. Abhishek Bachchan and Prithviraj manage to beat him up (at least three fight sequences) to rescue Radhika from his clutches. While Radhika falls in love with Abbas, Prithviraj has a difficult time making her understand that her dance teacher is gay. In the meanwhile, Prithviraj is attracted to Sania who looks exactly like Apeksha (Asin), the woman he used to love. Apeksha had died four years ago. The climax is all about Prithviraj finding the truth about Abbas Ali and his sister Sania.

MY PERCEPTION:

The film was simply hilarious from beginning till end. There is, of course, Rohit Shetty’s fetish to break up a number of expensive vehicles, but then that is a bonus that comes along in all his movies.

Except for Guru, I haven’t been too enamoured with Abhishek Bachchan’s acting skills. But then, Director Mani Ratnam can make the most unsuccessful actors act; case in point being Arvind Swamy and Madhu. So, AB Jr performing well in Guru did not necessarily make him a great actor.

But Bol Bachchan directed by Rohit Shetty is a good platform for Abhishek Bachchan and he has done a great job of both the roles. While the gay Abbas Ali is a superb performance that keeps the audience rocking, the serious one as Abhishek Bachchan is also a good one. The best scene was the dance he performs as Abbas Ali to many different songs. It was simply too good.

Ajay Devgn has produced the film and played the role of Prithviraj Raghuvanshi. His ridiculous English speaking skills are too comical. I did wonder whether Mahatma Gandhi would have found it easier to drive away the British if he had had Prithviraj to help him. I found a bit of overacting in his role, but then probably that was required to make his character funny.

Prachi Desai looked simply gorgeous and did well in her role too.

I always thought that Asin tended to overact in her roles. I have seen her in both Tamil and Hindi versions of Ghajini and in Ready with Salman Khan – can’t recall any other films. In this one, she plays Sania. Her makeup and dressing style were perfect for the role and the director has kept a tight rein on her role portrayal and that deserves a special Kudos. I will leave the viewer to decide whether the appreciation is for the actress or the director.

Krushna Abhishek was simply superb as Ravi Shastri and his comic timing was just perfect. His scenes with Asrani and Archana Puran Singh were excellent.

More than all that, the film had a lot of pleasing colours of a Rajasthani village and was very easy on the eye.

VERDICT: It’s definitely worth a watch if you like comedies. It’s way better than the brainless ones doled out by Priyadarshan and Sajid Khan.

RATING: ***1/2 (Better than Smart but just short of Snazzy)

*Silly
**Shaky
***Smart
****Snazzy
*****Super

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Food Review: ALL STIR FRY @ COLABA


All Stir Fried

Yesterday was Vinny’s birthday and she took us to All Stir Fry to celebrate it. She had already been there with a friend a few weeks ago and had been quite impressed with her experience. The restaurant has been newly renovated and is part of The Gordon House Hotel.

Vinny at the entrance to The Gordon House Hotel

Click here to know more about All Stir Fry – menu, rates, location, etc.

While they have an a la carte menu, a dimsum bar and a satay bar, people are more attracted towards the noodle bar that is the Unique Selling Point of the restaurant.

Entrance to the restaurant


You are presented with a bowl and tray on placing an order at the noodle bar. The rate is Rs. 500 plus taxes for either vegetarian or non-vegetarian. You can pick up the ingredients of your choice and present them to the chef. Give him the list of sauces and other flavours that you want and he hands over a hot bowl of stir-fried noodles in a jiffy.

Birthday Baby and Viggy

The ingredients are placed at a counter with a variety of cooked noodles on the left. In front of you are the vegetarian ingredients and behind a partition are the non-vegetarian ones. The vegetarian ingredients include green & red peppers, carrots, spinach, bamboo shoots, corn, baby corn, spring onions, onions, French beans, lettuce, shallots, paneer and tofu – all of them peeled, chopped, sliced and diced to perfection.

Proud parents - Venkat & Yours truly

I believe the non-vegetarian section includes a variety of seafood as well as chicken. A painted board guides you on how you fill your bowl – white with red border for vegetarians and the ones with a black border for non-vegetarians. We are to fill the bowl with the noodles first and the veggies later so that the chef can cook them in the reverse. When I entered the kitchen area, I was glad to see that the vegetarian food was being cooked in separate woks.

The veggies counter

On the left were small bowls with sample sauces in them so that one can taste them and decide what they want in their food bowl. There was Canton Sauce, Szechuan Sauce, Takkoe Sauce, Kung Pao Sauce, Spring Onion Sauce, Pepper Barbeque Sauce and four more that I fail to recollect.


Venkat was not too happy with the experience as he is neither keen on self service nor was he happy with the taste. He enjoys Indian Chinese more than the authentic one, I think.

The rest of us had a great time. While I am not too keen on Chinese – more like Pan Asian – I was game trying a couple of bowls of different flavours. By the way, the number of bowls of food that you pick up is unlimited. So, even if you don’t much like one, you can just keep it aside and take a fresh one.


I chose noodles with some of the veggies and the Pepper Barbeque Sauce for my first bowl. It was absolutely yummy. I got a bit adventurous with my second bowl and choose flat noodles with bamboo shoots (have only read about these and never tasted them – they weren’t too bad) besides other veggies. I requested the chef to add garlic flakes, crushed peanuts and fresh coriander along with Spring Onion Sauce, Takkoe Sauce and Kung Pao Sauce. Paisa vasool!


Vinny had different flavours and combinations in tiny portions three times over so that she got a chance to taste a variety. Viggy went mad and had the time of his life as he is the most adventurous of all. He just loved every bowl that he brought to the table – three or four, I failed to count.


I will award a straight THUMBS UP for the overall experience of the food served, the service, the ambience and the costing – PERFECTO!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Book Review: THE TWENTIETH WIFE by Indu Sundaresan


I happened upon this book quite by chance at Crossword Bookstore, Imax Cinema. I got hooked just reading the synopsis and a few pages and decided to buy it immediately. The book kept me reading into the wee hours of the night while I had to force myself to go to bed as late as 3 am one night.

In the author’s own words 

The Twentieth Wife is a work of fiction, although it is based on reality. Mehrunnisa was thirty-four when she married Emperor Jahangir, and over the next fifteen years she ruled the empire in his name. Seventeenth-century travellers to Emperor Jahangir’s court lavished attention on her in their accounts at home, for she was at the height of her power then. None of the men actually saw her; their reports to their employers at the British and Dutch East India Companies are part fact, part legend, part gossip from the local bazaars.

They all invariably hinted at the drama surrounding her birth, a love affair with Salim before he came to the throne and the suspicion on him regarding her husband’s death. Contemporary historians usually do not agree. Yet, all the authors agree on some points: Jahangir never married again; Mehrunnisa was his twentieth – and last – wife. Although he alluded to her only briefly in his memoirs, she was the most important person in his life until 1627, when he died. Theirs was a love that formed the basis of poems, songs and ballads in India.

My take on The Twentieth Wife

The book begins with the birth of Mehrunnisa, who goes on to become Nur Jahan. The fourth child of Ghias Beg, a refugee from Persia, the baby brings the whole family luck as they travel towards India, their destination being Emperor Akbar’s kingdom. Ghias Beg manages to get a good post at the Mughal court.

Mehrunnisa – Sun among women – grows up to fall in love with Prince Salim even at the age of eight. It takes her about 26 years, a first husband – Ali Quli – and a baby girl – Ladli – before she gets married to her prince who is now Emperor Jahangir.

The story is about Nur Jahan as well as Jahangir and gives the reader a fascinating outlook on the Mughal Empire.

Fact and fiction are woven together so beautifully and perfectly that one can never differentiate between the two and that’s the wonder of this piece of literature.

I was floored by each and every description – be it the weather; the terrain; the palaces and other structures; the elephant fight; the Diwan-i-am – the Emperor’s court; the harem; the zenana ladies; the eunuchs; Ghias Beg’s travel from Persia to India – I can go on and on. I enjoyed reading each and every sentence. I am amazed at the kind of research that must have been put in to write this kind of work. It appears as if Indu Sundaresan had personally visited all those places during those times in history. Do I need to say more?

Over the past three days, I soaked in a volley of Mughal literature. All those stories I had read and heard in my school history had not prepared me for this. The characters that I had seen only in sketches appeared to jump out of the pages of the book and play their roles instigated by the author.

I simply loved the book! Thank you Indu Sundaresan for bringing history alive! You inspire me!

Click here to know more about Indu Sundaresan and her books.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: NIGHT WHISPERS by Judith McNaught


Judith McNaught writes a lot of historical romances and I am greatly fond of them. I was amazed to find out that she had also written Night Whispers – a contemporary novel – and decided to get a copy. I am glad I did.

What is the book about? (This synopsis is from Judith McNaught’s website www.mcnaughtized.com)

A policewoman in a small Florida community, Sloan Reynolds knows that her modest upbringing was a long way from the social whirl of Palm Beach, the world inhabited by her father and her sister, Paris. Total strangers to Sloan, they have never tried to contact her – until a sudden invitation arrives, to meet them and indulge in the Palm Beach social season.

A woman who values her investigative work more than a Dior dress, Sloan is unmoved by the long-overdue parental gesture. But when FBI agent Paul Richardson informs her that her father and his associates are suspected of fraud, conspiracy, and murder, Sloan agrees to enter into her father's life – while hiding her true profession.

Sloan's on top of her game until she meets Noah Maitland, a multinational corporate player and one of the FBI's prime suspects – and finds herself powerfully attracted to him, against her deepest instincts. When a shocking murder shatters the seductive facade of the wealth and glamour surrounding her, Sloan must manoeuvre through a maze of deceit and passion, to find someone to trust – and to decipher the truth behind those terrifying whispers in the dark.

My take on it

I am an avid reader of romances and have enjoyed reading a number of historical novels written by Judith McNaught. Some of them are Whitney, My Love; Until You; Almost Heaven; Something Wonderful and Once and Always. I would go so far as to say that each and every one of the books that I have mentioned here is a gem.

Having read only the historical novels written by Judith McNaught, I was surprised that she wrote contemporary ones too. Not just that, Night Whispers is extremly well written and obviously a lot of research has gone into this one, especially about the way the police force functions in the USA.

Sloan’s character is beautifully structured. I was so happy to read the way her relationship develops with her long lost sister Paris. Then there is the cantankerous grandmother, the bossy FBI agent, the hero Noah’s father who is nothing short of a darling, the irritating and adorable teenage sister of the hero, Noah himself, Sloan’s father, her mother, friend and many others. The characters come alive while the mystery surrounding the murder that takes place keeps the reader on the edge. Noah has a dark side to him, it seems. Whether Sloan find happiness with the man she loves is what you will have to find out after reading the story.

If you like romance especially with a lot of mystery woven within, then this is one book that you cannot miss.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Leisure: A DAY TRIP TO SAGUNA BAUG

On the way! We could not get enough of the greys and greens that were so soothing to the eyes :)
The monsoon had not quite caught up with Mumbai when we decided to go for a day trip to Saguna Baug on Sunday.

This is the second time that I am visiting Saguna Baug, a farm very close to Neral in Raigad District. Click here to check out their website. The farm is set in 16 acres of land that runs close to a perennial river. The last time I went with a group of people, I had not started blogging and so had not written about it.

Well, it was truly a 'baug'. Don't miss the bumble bee in the mauve coloured lily
One can visit Saguna Baug for just a day or go for an overnight trip. It took us two and a half hours to reach the farm, travelling approximately 90 km from Sion. They charge Rs. 475 per person for providing breakfast, lunch and tea. The cost also includes a boat ride; fishing, if you are interested; a nature walk and a trip to the river.

A number of hammocks were tied to bamboo trees. Vinitha is sitting on the one closest to the dining area

We left Mumbai at only 11.30 am and hence reached there in time for lunch. They charged us only Rs. 250 per person for vegetarian lunch. Non-vegetarian dishes are available on request at an extra cost. The lunch was simple Maharashtrian fare.  The food is extremely mediocre. I personally found it tasteless.

Lunch being served in a buffet

The main attraction is the river. We went there in the afternoon when the crowd was relaxing after lunch and hence had it to ourselves. Venkat and Vignesh insisted on bringing the car to the shore while Vinny and I walked through farmland. It was simply beautiful and picturesque. It was a lovely experience wading in the water while Vinitha and Vignesh went swimming. We hung around there for about an hour before getting out. There are comfortable bathrooms with showers where one could wash and change.

The benches and chairs at Saguna Baug are all made from bamboo grown at the farm itself

There is a tank full of colourful lilies and a round cage that held rabbits and a hamster. They were all too cute for words. We did not take the nature tour as we were too lazy. I remember doing that the first time. It’s a tour that runs for an hour. They take you around the farm and show you the many trees there, their uses and how they are grown. Quite interesting!

You find bamboos everywhere you turn. Don't they look majestic?

Another thing I missed this time is a ride on a bullock cart. I went on one the last time at a separate cost. It is fun!

We found these rabbits and one hamster in a cage on the way to the river. The hamster looked exceptionally cute

They do have cosy huts where one could stay overnight. I am sure you can find the cost and other details on their website.

More greenery and plantation on the way to the river

The place is not too bad for a day’s visit. The big advantage they have is the large staff who are all extremely polite and helpful.

The highlight of our trip - The River! I don't know the name if it has one