Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Film Review: BAJATEY RAHO


The first prize goes to Dolly Ahluwalia who is just superb as Mrs. Baweja

Cast: Vinay Pathak, Ranveer Shorey, Dolly Ahluwalia, Tusshar Kapoor, Ravi Kishan, Vishakha Singh
Director: Shashant Shah

I was not sure that I wanted to watch the film after I read Mumbai Mirror’s review. But Venkat was keen on seeing a movie and there was not much of a choice during the weekend. I have to say that Bajatey Raho was not a bad film at all.

THE STORY

Sabharwal (Ravi Kishan) is a ruthless businessman who is also a fraud. Using the honest Baweja and Saira as front men, he gets the public to invest cash in his bank to the tune of 15 crore. The money disappears and Baweja and Saira are arrested. Baweja dies of cardiac arrest while Saira languishes in jail. The cheated public file cases against Mrs. Baweja (Dolly Ahluwalia), her son Sukhi (Tusshar Kapoor) and Saira’s husband Mintoo (Vinay Pathak). That’s when the three of them get together with Ballu (Ranvir Shorey) to get the money back from Sabharwal a la ‘Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less’ style.

MY PERCEPTION

The film is not great but makes for a fun watch. As far as acting goes, Dolly Ahluwalia is simply superb as Mrs. Baweja. I thought she was really good in Vicky Donor. She’s as good if not better in this film.

Ravi Kishan as the villain was simply superb. His irritating smirk goes a long way in making the character so real.

The rest of the cast were not too bad. The best part of the film was its length - just an hour and 47 minutes.

VERDICT: It’s worth a see if you don’t mind shelling out the cash.

RATING: ***Smart

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

eBook Review: A NEWLYWED’S ADVENTURES IN MARRIED LAND By Shweta Ganesh Kumar

This story is all about the newly married Mythili adjusting to her life in Philippines along with her husband Siddharth who works for a call centre there. Mythili used to be a crime reporter in Bangalore and being idle does not suit her at all. Then there are the other expat wives who lead lives of leisure. Mythili finds it very difficult to fit in. With too much time on her hands and only gossiping women for company, Mythili finds life totally frustrating. Will her marriage work?

The story runs along the lines of Alice in Wonderland and has been written well. But… the first half a dozen chapters are dedicated to Mythili’s rants, making the reader wonder whether there is going to be any kind of a solution at all. I began to fidget and was not very sure I wanted to continue reading.

Creativity is something unique and a story is the sole creation of the author. I absolutely agree. But the way I see it, as one reads a story, the scenes should play out in front of one’s mind’s eye.

This one is in the form of a narrative where Mythili becomes a story teller who keeps talking about her life. I could not visualise what was happening. It was more like looking into Mythili’s head all the time. More dialogues and less of narrative make for an interesting read.

This is a romance novella. I wish there had been more about the relationship between Mythili and Siddharth other than their meeting on and off.

Shweta Ganesh Kumar is already a bestselling published author and I am sure she knows what sells best. I suppose this novel should work for a lot of people.

Click Here to purchase your copy of the eBook A NEWLYWED’S ADVENTURES IN MARRIED LAND By Shweta Ganesh Kumar on Indireads

Friday, July 26, 2013

Recipe: GUJARATI MASALA

Gujarati Masala
I managed to get the Garam Masala (Punjabi-style) recipe. Later, I could buy the Maharashtrian masala readymade during an exhibition at Bandra Kurla Complex. But the Gujarati masala had been eluding me since many years.

I have a few Gujju friends from whom I tried to learn this one. But they used to get the masala from their hometown in Gujarat and none of them knew how to make it. I suppose it is something like the sambar powder form Tamil Nadu. Most of the people get it directly from their families living in that state and do not have a clue about the ingredients that go in it.

I prefer to make fresh masalas at home as the food tastes much better. Since I have the luxury of time on my hands, life is a lot easier, of course.

Roasted ingredients
Luckily for me, a Gujarati family have moved into the flat across mine and the daughter-in-law Pratiksha was only too ready to help me with this recipe. She gave me the names of the ingredients a few days ago. As I began to get the ingredients together, I realised that she had not given me the proportion. I did not want to disturb her in the morning as she has a school-going son. So, I just prayed and put stuff together. The result was a super-delicious Gujarati Masala that tasted heavenly when added to the cauliflower-peas sabzi that I made today.

INGREDIENTS

Red chillies – 10
Green chillies – 10 (broken into 2-3 pieces each)
Bay Leaves (Tej Patta) – 6 (broken into pieces)
Curry Leaves – a handful
Black Pepper – 2 tbsp
Jeera – 2 tbsp
Cloves – 15
Cinnamon – 1” piece

Cauliflower-Peas Sabzi
METHOD

Take a kadai and dry roast the ingredients one by one. Please ensure that the green chillies are broken into pieces. If you drop full green chillies on to a hot saucepan, the chances are high that the chillies might burst in your face.

Cool the ingredients before grinding them dry into a coarse powder. The Gujarati Masala should be stored in an airtight container in the freezer as it might not survive if kept outside at room temperature.

You can add about 2 tsp for about a kilo of sabzi. Use more or less depending on how spicy you want the sabzi to be.

The Gujarati Masala has a superb aroma!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

eBook Review: LOVE WILL FIND A WAY by Parul Tyagi

I just loved the ebook – LOVE WILL FIND A WAY by Parul Tyagi.

Prabhat is married to Meeta. While Meeta adores her husband, Prabhat is just adjusting to this way of life. He had loved Nitya from since his school days. Then why are they not married? Suddenly, on meeting someone from his past, Prabhat feels torn between the need to meet Nitya and betraying his wife. That’s when Meeta comes forward to support her husband. She would rather have a husband who loves her completely than someone who feels duty bound to stay with her. But what will be the state of Meeta’s life be once she sets out on the journey along with her husband to trace the love of his life?

I could not move away from my computer to even stop for lunch once I began reading this story. I felt torn along with Prabhu as he oscillated between right and wrong. Nitya’s character was quite simple. But the others had so many layers. I just adored Meeta. Such wisdom! I could so understand her view point. She does not want to live her life in half measures. And what she is ready to do to set it right! Amazing character, superbly etched. And the story almost had me biting my nails till I reached the last chapter, when I broke down crying like a baby.

The title LOVE WILL FIND A WAY is perfect for the story. I am amazed! Excellent work Parul Tyagi! I seriously am keen to read your next. Wish you the very best.

I have to congratulate Amal Fatima Uppal for creating the perfect cover for this book.

Quote from the book that I thoroughly enjoyed:

“I’ll be happier than you. Right now there are three of us unable to have what we want. When you are with her, at least two of us will have found the meaning of their existence and the third will be instrumental in making that discovery,” Meeta replied.

Click Here to purchase your copy of LOVE WILL FIND A WAY by Parul Tyagi on Indireads


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review: THE TOWER OF SILENCE by Phiroshaw Jamsetjee Chevalier ‘Chaiwala’

I have Indiblogger and Harper Collins to thank for the opportunity to read and review The Tower of Silence by Phiroshaw Jamsetjee Chevalier ‘Chaiwala’.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

The book has an Introduction by Editor Gyan Prakash that is 25 pages long. Unfazed, I read it completely only to realise that the journey of the editor while tracing the book is totally fascinating. In fact, it was like a mini book in itself.

I was hooked right from the beginning as Gyan Prakash happened upon a part of the script of The Tower of Silence and later his search in the many libraries of Mumbai as well as his search for Phiroshaw Jamsetjee and his lineage among the Parsee community living in the city.

Harper Collins website says…

A long-lost Sexton Blake mystery, 1920s detective fiction at its best!

Historian Gyan Prakash of Princeton University stumbled upon part of the unpublished manuscript of Tower of Silence by Phiroshaw Jamsetjee Chevalier (or Chaiwala, as he called himself) in the British Library. After scouring several Mumbai libraries, he found the missing pages.

It is a thrilling tale that begins on a blistering April afternoon in Poona with the click of a camera shutter. An aerial photograph is taken from a small aircraft flying directly over the Tower of Silence. The Zoroastrian community is thrown into turmoil and horrified grief at this heinous act.

Beram, a suave wealthy man who drives around in a Rolls Royce but is a devout Parsee, decides to exact revenge. Thus begins a sensational cat-and-mouse game between Beram and Sexton Blake, England’s most famous detective.

MY PERCEPTION

After the attention-grabbing introduction, I found it a mite difficult getting into the story. So, it took me a few days to actually begin reading the book. But once I got my teeth into it, it turned out to be very absorbing and I managed to read it fast.

The language is quaint fitting in with that used in the 1920s. I enjoyed reading about ‘Bombay’ and ‘Poona’. To be truthful, I miss ‘Bombay’.

Then there were these details about the Parsee community that I had never known. The book is a mine of information about them and one can be confident about its authenticity considering that the book was written by a Parsee. It makes for a very interesting read.

The main characters – Beram and Sexton Blake – are well etched. While Sexton Blake is a detective who appears in many mystery thrillers by different authors during the 20th century, Beram is unique to The Tower of Silence.

The story takes the reader through many prominent cities in England, Burma and India – London, Liverpool, Manchester, Burma, Bombay and Poona. Fast paced, the book keeps the reader wonder how Beram and Blake will outwit each other in the next scene.

While Sexton Blake is doing his best to save the lives of the people who have offended the Parsee religious community, we wonder whether Beram and his people would be cruel enough to kill in the name of their religion. The end of the story truly restored my faith in humanity.

An interesting book that brings alive the lives of Parsees during the British Raj!

Click Here to read an interesting article about The Tower of Silence by Phiroshaw Jamsetjee Chevalier ‘Chaiwala’. The article has been penned by Eunice de Souza.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Film Review: BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG


No other actor could have done the role better than Farhan Akhtar!

Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor, Divya Dutta, Pavan Malhotra, Yograj Singh, Prakash Raj, Master Japtej Singh
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

I was kind of wary of going to this film as I had a niggling doubt that it might be in the likes of a documentary. Finally, Farhan Akhtar tipped the scales and I decided to go with the rest of my family who were going to see it anyway.

THE STORY

The film is based on The Flying Sikh Milkha Singh’s life story. It begins with the Rome Olympics in 1960. Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) fails to win the 400 m and all the Indian newspapers write him off. Actually, on the verge of victory, Milkha recalls a horrifying incident from childhood and turns back to look, losing the race.

When a race is organised between Pakistan and India to be hosted by the former country, Milkha refuses to take part. A cabinet member decides to go to Chandigarh to persuade Milkha to run again for his country. He meets Milkha’s coach Gurudev Singh (Pavan Malhotra) on the train.

The rest of the movie is about Gurudev Singh narrating the story of Milkha Singh’s life and how he becomes The Flying Sikh.

MY PERCEPTION

Farhan Akhtar – there could not have been a better choice for the role of Milkha Singh, I am sure. He was just amazing and it’s so obvious that the actor has worked fantastically hard to fit into the role.

The races, the excitement, the adrenalin rush, the disappointments – every scene touches the viewer’s heart.

Then there is the flashback into Milkha Singh’s horrendous childhood and the suffering he and his family undergo during the partition. Very well sequenced and portrayed. Even the child actor (Master Japtej Singh) playing the young Milkha Singh has played his part very well.

Pavan Malhotra as Coach Gurudev Singh has done exceedingly well. But I liked Yograj Singh (Indian Coach Ranveer Singh) even better. He was just perfect for his role.

Divya Dutta deserves a special mention. We keep seeing this actress in small roles from time to time. In this, she has a fairly chunky role and performance is simply superb.

Sonam was cute in her minuscule role. Prakash Raj also has a small role and he has done it well.

I almost got up to dance to the song ‘Maston Ka Jhund’. It had such a catchy beat and the dancers were good too.

I was a mite worried that the running time of the movie was 3 hrs plus 7 minutes, but the film moved fast and did not stagnate at any point.

While Farhan Akhtar has given an outstanding presentation throughout the film, the scene in which Milkha breaks down when he visits his home in Pakistan is the best. It was heartbreaking to watch him as he faces his childhood traumas.

VERDICT: Overall, an excellent movie that’s a must watch. I believe it has also been made ‘tax free’ now.

RATING: ****Snazzy

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


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Recipe: VEG-CHEESE PIZZA

Pizza Wedge
I prefer the Indianised version of pizzas to what Domino’s has to offer. While these are available in the restaurants nearby, it’s way more fun to make them at home. I don’t have an oven and so managed to make them on a Tawa. They turned out delicious.

INGREDIENTS

Readymade Pizza Base – 4
Capsicum – 2 (cut in rings)
Onion – 1 (cut in lengths)
Cheese – grated (4 tbsp per pizza)

For sauce

Tomatoes – 8 (large) (chopped)
Onions – 2 (chopped)
Carom Seeds – ¼ tsp
Green Chillies – 4
Garlic – 8-10
Salt to taste
Olive Oil – 2 tsp
American Corn – 1 packet
Fun Foods Pizza Topping – 2 tbsp

METHOD

1. Boil the corn in a bowl of water along with salt. Drain the water completely once cooked.
2. Grind green chillies and garlic into a coarse paste.
3. Heat oil – you can use regular cooking oil if you don’t have olive oil – on a medium flame. Add the carom seeds and then the chilli-garlic paste.
4. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding chopped onions.
5. Once onions turn golden brown add tomatoes and salt. Cook well.
6. Mash the sauce well before adding the boiled corn and Fun Foods Pizza Topping.
7. Cook for two more minutes before switching off.



8. Spread the sauce liberally over the readymade pizza base.
9. The next layer with be the capsicum rings.
10. Spread the onions over the capsicum.
11. Top it with grated cheese.
12. Heat a tawa – an iron skillet is preferred as the pizza can be slow-cooked to perfection on this – and cook the pizza on it. Keep it covered and check it from time to time. It should be cooked till the cheese begins to melt. The gas should be kept on a very low flame or the pizza will get burnt.

Cut into wedges and serve hot. The yummy pizza can be had with ketchup or just by itself, the way I prefer it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Recipe: BATATA VADA

Batata Vada
Vada Pav is a hot favourite in Mumbai, especially during the rains. While it can be purchased at every naka in the city, one can’t beat homemade Batata Vada. I learned to make this from my sister-in-law’s husband. It’s quite easy to make and very delicious too.

INGREDIENTS
Potato Mixture

Potato – 1kg
Rai – 1 tsp
Channa Dal – 1 tbsp
Urad Dal – 1 tbsp
Garlic – 10-12 (chopped fine)
Green Chillies – 6-8 (chopped fine)
Curry Leaves – 10 (chopped fine)
Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (finely chopped)
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Potato Balls ready to go into the batter
Oil for deep frying

For Batter

Besan – 250 gm (2 cups)
Turmeric Powder – 1 large pinch
Chilli Powder – ¼ tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Salt to taste

METHOD

1. Cook the potatoes in pressure cooker for 4 whistles.
2. Mix the batter with the ingredients mentioned along with water to form a smooth paste to the consistency of Dosa batter. I add oil instead of soda as the latter is not healthy at all. It will give the same crispness to the vada.
3. Peel the potatoes and smash well using a pav-bhaji masher.
4. Take a saucepan and heat 2 tsp oil in it. Add the rai and allow it to crackle before adding the channa dal and urad dal.
5. Fry till golden brown before adding the chopped garlic, green chillies and curry leaves. Fry till the garlic turns brown before switching off the gas.
6. Add turmeric powder and salt and mix well.
7. Now add the mashed potatoes and coriander leaves. Mix well with hand. Check for salt.
8. Mould the potato mixture into balls.
9. Heat oil in a kadai for frying.
10. Dip the potato balls into the besan batter and deep fry till golden brown.

The yummiest homemade Batata Vadas are ready. You can serve them with pavs and lasoon chutney.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Film Review: SINGAM II (சிங்கம்II)


You should not miss it if you are a Surya fan!

Cast: Surya, Anushka Shetty, Hansika Motwani, Radha Ravi, Manorama, Vivek, Santhanam, Rahman, Vijaya Kumar, Nassar, Mukesh Rishi
Director: Hari

THE STORY

The story begins from exactly where it was left off in the first one. Duraisingam aka Singam resigns from the police force and goes undercover to teach in a Higher Secondary School in Tuticorin as a NCC Master. In the meanwhile, he keeps a watch on the coastline for illegal activities as instructed by the Home Minister (Vijaya Kumar).

Sathya (Hansika Motwani) is studying in Std. XII. She falls in love with DS and chases him till she finds out that he is already engaged to Kavya (Anushka Shetty). Bhai (Mukesh Rishi) seems to be in charge of the criminal activities in town. Sathya’s uncle Thangaraj (Rahman) has sworn enmity with Bhai. Gathering his facts together, DS hopes to take Thangaraj’s help in fighting Bhai. But is everything as it appears to be?

Soon, DS comes out into the open taking up the post of DSP as there is a bigger enemy out there on the horizon. Danny (Danny Sapani) is a drug cartel kingpin who keeps to international waters to escape being caught. It appears that Bhai has dealings with Danny. DS is keen to catch them red-handed. Will he succeed?

MY PERCEPTION

It is an out and out masala flick – the same as Singam. Surya is a joy to watch on screen. He looks so handsome and fit and acts extremely well. I thoroughly enjoyed the character of Duraisingam handling a troublesome teenager in the guise of Hansika Motwani. He fights, sings, dances, emotes and what not! Excellent work, Surya!

Hansika Motwani has a good role in the film and she has performed very well.

Anushka Shetty is very so-so, same as the first film. Luckily, she has a smaller role in this one. The song-dance sequences were there for the crowd’s entertainment, I suppose. They add absolutely no value to the story.

It was nice to see Rahman after a long time. He has got a fairly chunky role and has performed well.

While the joke sequences with Santhanam don’t have much to do with the story line, the actor has done a pretty good job and keeps the audience laughing with his nonsense.

While there are a number of fight sequences in the sequel, they are not very prolonged. Thank God for that!

VERDICT: The film is worth a see if you like masala flicks. A must-not-miss if you are a Surya fan.

RATING: *** Smart

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Recipe: GREEN THAI CURRY WITH VEGGIES

Green Thai Curry with Veggies (no artificial colour added)
I have fallen in love with the taste of Green Thai Curry over the past few years. A couple of weeks ago, Viggy got the recipe from a friend and that’s when I made the dish at home for the first time. It had turned out well but it was not the best. Later, when I spoke to my sister Lakshmi, she explained to me that I should use thick coconut milk and should not boil it for very long. So, the second time I made Thai Curry on the eve of Vini’s birthday, it turned out just perfect.

INGREDIENTS


French Beans – 100 gm (Stringed and cut into 1” pieces)
Carrots – 150 gm (Peeled and cut into 1” pieces)
Broccoli – 150 gm (Cut into 1” pieces)
Red Pepper – 1 (Cut into medium-sized pieces)
Yellow Pepper – 1 (Cut into medium-sized pieces)
Zucchini – 1 (small) (Cut into medium-sized pieces)
Paneer – 100 gm (Cut into 1” pieces)
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Coconut Milk – 3 cups (of thick consistency)

Masala

Readymade Green Thai Curry Paste – 50 gm
Garlic – 10-12 cloves
Ginger – 2” piece

METHOD

1. Extract thick coconut milk as mentioned in the note below and keep aside.
2. Grind the three items under ‘Masala’ with a couple of spoons of water. This should be a smooth paste.
3. Take half the masala and marinate the paneer pieces in it and keep aside for 10 minutes.
4. Boil water in a vessel. Add salt and beans to it. Cook for 3-4 minutes before adding the carrots. Cook for 1 minute and switch off gas. Add the zucchini, mix with a ladle and immediately drain the water completely.
5. Heat the oil in a saucepan and shallow fry the marinated paneer. Turn it for a couple of minutes before adding the red and yellow peppers. Add the other half of the masala.
6. Toss for 2-3 minutes before adding the boiled veggies – beans, carrots, broccoli & zucchini.
7. Mix well and add a bit of salt. The readymade Thai Curry paste already has salt in it. So do not add too much.
8. Switch off gas after 2 minutes.
9. You can add the coconut milk and cook on a medium flame for just 2-3 minutes or till the mixture begins to simmer just before serving.

Green Thai Curry with Veggies tastes absolutely delicious with Steamed Rice. Believe me, it was finger-licking good!

Note: Coconut milk is readily available in cans. You can use this. I preferred to make fresh coconut milk at home. For 3 cups of coconut milk, I ground 2 grated coconuts with 3 cups of water and strained the milk. DO NOT add water a second time round to extract thin milk. This is not suitable for making Thai Curry. The leftover coconut can be stored in the freezer and used for garnish in South Indian Curries or for making gravies for Kootu


Before adding the coconut milk! Doesn't it look yummy?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Recipe: VEG MANCHURIAN GRAVY

Hakka Noodles with Veg Manchurian Gravy
Venkat saw an ad in the paper. Knorr has come up with Manchurian Gravy. The picture was very attractive and he was keen that I try it at home. Only after I got the packets did I realise that Knorr provides the gravy while the Manchurians need to be prepared from scratch. I have never made this before and the recipe on the packet was a great help.

The dough for making Manchurian Balls
INGREDIENTS

For Manchurian Balls

Grated Carrots – 1 cup
Grated Cabbage – 1 cup
Maida – ¼ cup
Corn-flour – ¼ cup
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

The Manchurian is ready to go into the gravy
(I have deviated a bit from the recipe on the packet as I don't advocate maida much. Corn-flour is a great substitute but I was not confident enough to use that fully.)

For Gravy

Knorr Chinese Manchurian – 1 packet
Spring Onions – 1 bunch (chopped along with the greens)
Capsicum – 2 (chopped)
Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 flat tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tsp
Water – 500 ml

The Gravy
METHOD

1. Mix the grated carrots, grated cabbage, corn-flour and maida in a bowl along with salt. This can be kneaded into thick dough (to the consistency of roti dough). There is no need to add water.
2. Make small balls the size of lemons. Deep fry these and keep aside.
3. Take a saucepan and heat 2 tsp oil in it. Keep the flame on medium to high.
4. Once hot, add the ginger-garlic paste and fry.
5. Add the spring onions and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
6. Then add the capsicum and do the same.
7. Take a bowl and mix the contents of the packet of Knorr Chinese Manchurian to half a litre water.
8. Add this mixture to the saucepan and stir well. The flame can be reduced to low at this point.
9. Cook for 2-3 minutes. You may need to add a bit of salt while the Knorr mixture already has some in it.
10. Now add the fried Manchurian balls to this gravy and cook for a minute before switching off the gas.

Thank you Knorr!
Serve the Veg Manchurian Gravy hot with Hakka Noodles or Fried Rice. It’s absolutely delicious. Thank you Knorr for making this so easy! Otherwise, preparing the gravy could be a tedious job.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sharing: A NOVEL EXPERIENCE WITH COCKATIELS


My neighbour Ganesh has a miniature aquarium at his house. Recently, he has also become the proud owner of a pair of rare cockatiels. The adorable pair of birds is extremely people-friendly. My husband brought them home for a few minutes along with their cage.

I don’t think Simba liked the birds much. Of course, that could have been because they were out of his reach. He prowled around the cage for a while and finally settled down below, keeping a vary eye on them.

I was saving my earring from the naughty little cockatiel
Venkat told me that the birds were quite harmless and one could hold them on the arm or shoulder. I was not keen to try this in Simba’s presence. We locked him up in the other room and Venkat let one of the cockatiels on my wrist.

Heavens! It was such a joyous experience as the little one walked slowly up my arm and sat on my shoulder. Soon, she was nipping at my earring. Believe me, it did not hurt at all. She was only interested in my gold earring and not my ear. Such a sweetheart!

When I whistled to him, he tweeted back
Again, at night, we went down to Ganesh’s house and met the birds once again. It was sheer fun as they walked from my right wrist all the way to my shoulder and then my nape. When Venkat tried to grab the bird, she hid behind my head and refused to come out. Then when he took his hand away, she walked down the other shoulder down to my left arm.

It was a mind-blowing experience!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review: THE OATH OF THE VAYUPUTRAS by Amish

The Oath of the Vayuputras is the third and last book of The Shiva Trilogy series by Amish Tripathi.

Flipkart says:

The Oath of the Vayuputras is the final book of The Shiva Trilogy. In the earlier books of the trilogy, Shiva finds out that the Nagas are not his enemies and joins hands with them to reach the root of all evil. This book will have answers to ‘the Neelkanth’s’ questions about his fate, the choices he made previously and karma.

Further, in the concluding book of the trilogy, Shiva reaches Panchavati, the capital of the Nagas, where he will come face-to-face with his greatest enemy. Will he win the battle over his wicked enemies, who are out to destroy him and his legacy?

The Oath of the Vayuputras will also reveal the reason of Shiva’s close friend Brahaspati’s disappearance and reappearance at the end of the second book, The Secret of the Nagas. The relationship between Daksha - the king of Meluha and the mysterious temple priests will also be exposed in this last part of the trilogy. Shiva seeks help from the Vayuputras in the quest to conquer all evil.

The great warrior will encounter the real intentions of some characters he deemed to be close to him. Some new characters will add that extra vitality to the entire plot, especially Shiva’s greatest enemy whose name sends shivers down the spines of many great warriors.

An interesting journey of a warrior who is turned into a God by his followers because of his deeds and war against the evil, this book is sure to have its readers’ full attention. A good read which will make one reflect on their actions, this book like the two earlier books of the trilogy focuses on philosophy, religion and the never ending battle between the good and the evil.

MY PERCEPTION

I had bought the book about 45 days ago. I started reading it almost immediately. To begin with, it took me a while to recall the characters – apart from Shiva and his family, of course – and get my teeth into the book.

It was mighty slow going as the story turned out to be quite lethargic. I had not quite expected this considering that I almost rushed through reading The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas.

The first two books were too interesting and absorbing for words. I had to read the first few chapters of The Oath of the Vayuputras over a few weeks. Then the magic unfolded suddenly. The story got back on track and became appealing once again.

From that point on, the book moved fast and despite the blood and gore of war, I was hooked to the book till the end. Congratulations Amish! You have made history. Truly amazing work - The Shiva Trilogy!

The Lament of the Blue Lord is the chapter that truly touched my heart. I love you Shiva!

Sharing: 450,000 VISITS ON FLAMING SUN

I am super-thrilled to mention here that my blog Flaming Sun saw 450,000 visits today. It is a historical moment for me.

I must thank my readers and my family members for all the encouragement that I have received from all of you.

Thank you! Love you all! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Travel: RETURN TRIP FROM BENGALURU

The bus I travelled in on my return journey
My bus was leaving Bangalore at 7.30 pm. I left the guesthouse by rickshaw at 5.30 pm as it was a long distance to the bus stop and the evening traffic is quite immense in Bangalore or so I was told. It was not too bad compared to Mumbai traffic, of course.

The Neeta Volvo came bang on time at 7.30 and we left a few minutes later. It was an uneventful journey while we stopped for dinner on the way.

It was raining crazily even before we reached Pune. It was a joy seeing all the waterfalls from within the cosy confines of the bus.

I watched a number of films during the trip – Aashiqui 2; Shootout at Wadala, Special 26, Himmatwala and a video CD of Aamir Khan songs – both ways. It was good fun and a novel experience.

There were at least three stops in Pune and it was pouring cats and dogs. Some people got in and others got out. I was busy on a phone call and later my book as the bus had been standing for about 15 minutes. I did wonder why it took so long for the bus to leave as we were not anywhere near a restaurant and we were already running late. I heard the driver, caretaker and a couple of other guys talking in the background.

A couple of minutes later, the caretaker walked towards the back of the bus and was shocked to see me sitting there. He asked me what I was doing there. In turn, I was startled and asked him why. That’s when he explained that the bus had broken down and all the passengers had been shifted to another bus and the second bus had left a few minutes ago.

This was at a stop just before Pune
I was quite cool about it as it was obvious that there was no use getting worked up. I asked the man whether they planned to leave me right there in Pune. He insisted that they would find accommodation for me in another bus that was due in 15 minutes and said that Neeta Volvo had a reputation to keep and they would never strand their passengers.

Another Volvo (not Neeta) came within 2 minutes and one of the guys carried my bag and ensured that I was seated comfortably and told the driver to drop me off at Sion. I was quite impressed by their service.

I reached Mumbai within three hours and was dropped right outside my lane and I was quite thrilled to reach home within two minutes in the pouring rain.

What a trip!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Travel: A TRIP TO POTTERY TOWN, BENGALURU

Vini's work of art
I got back to our guesthouse after visiting the Iskcon Temple and Vini and I had breakfast. Then after getting the directions from my sister Lakshmi’s friend Uma, we took a rickshaw to Pottery Town.

Display of license on autorickshaws in Bengaluru
One thing I have to admire about the rickshaws in Bengaluru - all of them have an identity card of the owner/driver with his photo, information and license details for people to take a note of, in case of trouble. While the autos themselves are the most uncomfortable, this is a great thing for the public and will also make the autowallah think twice before swindling someone.

Pots on display in Pottery Town
We reached Pottery Town after a half-hour ride. I believe there used to be 25 pottery families in the area a couple of decades back. Now, there were four of them, struggling to maintain their business, by the looks of it. The area appeared like a small township by itself with a municipal school in the centre. It was obviously in a very poor section of Bangalore. There was a building stacked with pots on the balcony. There were a number of pots spread out to dry in the sun on the roadside.

Every nook and corner of the building was stacked with pots in different shapes and sizes

We walked for a distance hoping to see more pottery outlets. There weren’t any. There was a small church that was built over a gutter. The spire was tall and looked very nice. I could not help but take a few pictures.

The church in Pottery Town
The pottery families were predominantly Tamils who have been in the business for three generations. We went inside one such house making pots and Vini and I got a chance to take the pottery wheel. Govardhan was the young man in charge of this wheel. He told us that we could pay anything we wanted to and let us have a hand at the electric wheel. He was even ready to guide us when we asked.

Pots drying in the sunlight on the roadside
Believe me, it was fun working with clay. It was our first experience and the two of us had a royal time shaping the wet and silky soft clay to our hearts’ content. Govardhan was quite happy when we paid him 200 rupees for the use of his electric wheel.

A view of Pottery Town from inside Govardhan's home
After trying out various shapes, I ended up making a small bowl that was quite symmetrical. Vini spent a longer time and with Govardhan’s help managed to make a very cute pot with a miniature one stuck to the side.

Govardhan learned to make pots at Age 5 from his Grandfather
Sadly, we could not bring the pot along with us as it was too wet. We carried it all the way to the guesthouse but were too scared to bring it back with us to Mumbai. But I have to say that it was too cute.

That's what I made. It was fun! 
It was way past lunchtime when we managed to get a rickshaw and we got to eat the most horrible lunch at some restaurant on our way back to the guesthouse. We did not linger for long as we had our return tickets booked for the same evening.


Monday, July 1, 2013

eBook Review: AGAINST ALL ODDS By Jazz Singh

Sanjana is a small-town girl who has moved to Delhi as an Interior Designer. While she’s slowly gaining a reputation, she slips and falls in front of millionaire industrialist Abhimanyu’s car. He’s convinced that she’s out to get what she could out of him, while she’s certain that he is an arrogant snob. She lands up with a hairline fracture.

Not long after, they meet again and yet again. While Sanjana finds herself falling in love with Abhimanyu, she is sure that she would never fit into his world. His mother is also positive about this. And what about Abhimanyu himself? Is he in love with Sanjana or is he just playing with her?

This juicy romance by Jazz Singh is an absolutely fun read. Sanjana is creative, hardworking as well as a cheerful young lady. Abhimanyu is a suave businessman who has been brought up to be protective about his wealth and status. The author weaves a lovely story around the small-town Sanjana and city-boy Abhimanyu that’s very endearing. Good language, interesting dialogues and realistic situations make for a good read. Congratulations, Jazz Singh! Way to go!

My only peeve is the last scene was a tad abrupt. But I suppose good things don’t last forever.

Click Here to purchase your copy of AGAINST ALL ODDS by Jazz Singh on Indireads