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Month: December 2015

“I am only saying what is written in the scriptures!!”

“I am only saying what is written in the scriptures!!”

I was in Mylapore last weekend to attend an important family function. It was a warm morning in the Tamil calendar month of Marghazhi. The cool breeze gently swayed trees that lined the narrow lanes.  Mylapore oozed out Tamil culture. Even the obscure of roads had traces of cultural heritage preserved over generations. Tambrahm Maamis (the nick name given to the Brahmin sect living in the southern state of Tamil Nadu) in elegantly draped madisars (nine yards sari), soulful sounds from nadaswarams (a long wind instrument resembling a flute), fragrant mallipoo (jasmine flowers) from the street vendors and, of course the ever charming Kapaleshwar Temple.

I met Shastrigal “S”-a lively Tambrahm priest here. Throughout the function I couldn’t help but stare in admiration at the perfection and devotion in his rendering of the Vedic Mantras (Sanskrit couplets written generations ago). I have always loved chanting of shloks and mantra. Somewhere they touch the depths of my consciousness and help me connect with the divine. So impressed was I with him that I decided to give him a few words of appreciation post the event.

As our conversation picked up and moved beyond those words of appreciation, Shastrigal “S” asked me, “How many children do you have?” I replied, “I have two daughters”. “So you are now eager to have a boy the third time around?” he asked.  As a mother of two girls I have on many an occasion heard similar things from over bearing people, stressing the importance of producing a son. I have over the years learnt to brush away such ridiculous conversations. But today I was a little taken aback to hear it from a man, whom I considered learned. Without being rude, I smiled back gently and said, “I am very happy with my two girls. Nothing more.”

Did I actually notice him twitch his face at that? Maybe he did when he retorted back, “You should not be saying such a thing. A son is an absolute must. Your husband being a Brahmin must pass on the tradition of the Gayathri Mantra to a male heir. Otherwise your family lineage would be cursed.

For those who aren’t really familiar with this Brahmin practice, every Brahmin boy has an Upanayanam also called “sacred thread ceremony”. This is the rite-of-passage ritual, where the concept of Brahman is introduced to a young boy. The youngster is taught during the ceremony the secret of life through Brahmopadesam where the Gayathri mantra is chanted in the boy’s ear by his father, his first Guru.

Being a person who holds the scriptures in very high regard and not wanting to argue with a learned person, I said, “Well there isn’t any guarantee that the next one would be a boy. So why even try.” Shastrigal “S” had an answer for that too. “I will teach you some powerful mantras which would ensure you conceive a male child.” I grinned meekly. Seeing me irresolute, he said, “I am only saying what is written in the scriptures!!”

My meek smile faded away.

It is not unusual in India to recite mantras/prayers to please the Gods for a male heir. The scriptures that have been passed on generations after generations are technically a set of rules to guide people to lead a good, healthy, prosperous and spiritual life. They were best suited for the ages they actually came about in. But with societies evolving into newer forms, I wonder how much of these rules we should still be sticking to. Doesn’t it make sense to adapt these principles in such a way that it suits our present day living and society? Before I left, I asked Shastrigal “S” how many children he had. “Four girls and one son”, he said, stressing on the latter half of the statement!!!!

As I walked back on the lanes of Mylapore that evening, the beauty no longer caught my eye. I could not help but wonder how many more such traditional beliefs lay hidden, which were archaic and probably are a menace to our modern society…

Book Review- The Bestseller She Wrote By Ravi Subramanian

Book Review- The Bestseller She Wrote By Ravi Subramanian

Not often do you find an author writing a book on the life of an author. Ravi Subramanian’s latest book “The Bestseller She Wrote” does just that. A seamless weaving of a tale of an author told with ease and conviction.

It is the tale of Paperback king Aditya Kapoor’s life. His is a modern man’s fantasy. His literary stardom is perfectly balanced by a loving wife and a spectacular career. With everything he touches turning to gold, Aditya is on a winning streak. On the other hand is Shreya Kaushik is a student with a heart full of ambition. Young, beautiful, and reckless, Shreya speaks her mind and obsessively chases after what she wants. And what she wants is to be a bestselling author. What happens when their worlds collide? Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Can real ambition come in the way of blind passion? Can trust once broken, be regained?

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That’s a gist of the blurb. Well, frankly I wasn’t really “wow-ed” reading the blurb.  It sure sounded like old wine in new bottle. The book cover too didn’t really do much to impress or catch my attention. In fact I probably would have given this book a miss if I had to come across it in stands. Nevertheless, I did go ahead with it.

So here was yet another predictable beginning. The first few chapters fail to keep you engrossed. I did have a deja vu feeling on having read something similar earlier (though it was the first Ravi Subramanian book I was reading). The progression was slow, until the point where you have read more than 50% of the book. The tale picks on from here and keeps you engrossed. No spoilers here, the twists and suspense thrown in get you going and lead you till the end of the book. So you do end up finishing the book…. hmmmm …..Ok with a smile on your face.

The narration style was on the informal side with no unnecessary cryptic sub plots. A believable portrayal of the main protagonists –Aditya Kapoor and Shreya Kaushik, unlike many other books I have read where the protagonists are made to look larger than life. The uncanny references to real characters in the real world did make me smile (Chetan Bhagat, Rakesh Maria, Ashwin Sanghi).

My thumbs up for:

The element of suspense that kept me guessing (though I got a hitch well before the end)

The writing style- Thank goodness it didn’t seem like a high school essay.

The blend of everyday characters- Perfectly fitted in with no clutter of characters.

My thumbs down for:

The unveiling of the suspense was too immature. Way too Bollywood-ish. He could have worked more on this for a better impact.

Inadequate description of the protagonists shades of grey. Well he probably left it to us to look at their negative side.

The blurb as well as the marketing of the book was suggestive of it being a romantic tale. I however was left to wonder if there was much of romance in it at all. It seemed more of a corporate saga of revenge and redemption, topped with a wee bit of romance.

The Bestseller She Wrote – definitely gets my vote. Decently paced and an easy read.

My Rating:

Book cover appeal: 2/5

Story & narration: 4/5

Suspense Element: 3.5/5

Romance Factor: 2/5

Overall reading experience 3.5/5

Get the book on Amazon.in

Paperback: 392 pages

Publisher: Westland (19 October 2015)

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

About the Author:1164847Described as the ‘John Grisham of banking’, by the Wall Street Journal, Ravi Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, is the author of five bestselling commercial novels—If God was a Banker (2007), Devil in Pinstripes (2009), The Incredible Banker (2011), The Bankster (2012) and Bankerupt (2013)—based on financial crime. Having been a banker himself, he has a unique insight into the industry he writes about and a flair for spinning intricate plots that keep readers on the edge of their seats. His debut novel, If God was a Banker, won the 2008 Golden Quill Readers’ Choice Award and, more recently, The Incredible Banker won the 2011 Economist-Crossword Book Award in the ‘Popular’ category. He won the Crossword book award for The BANKSTER in 2012. Ravi lives in Mumbai with his Biotechnologist tuned banker wife, Dharini and his fourteen year old daughter Anusha.

Just Married Please Excuse – Yashodhara Lal

Just Married Please Excuse – Yashodhara Lal

“Where is the sticky stuff we make rotis with?” There was a moment of silence. Vijay put his arm around me gently. “I know you haven’t cooked before. But please tell me you know that atta doesn’t come readymade in the form you use for rotis?”

I had a hearty laugh as I read these lines.

I was on a 15 hour train journey from Delhi to Jaisalmer. The temperatures have dropped to single digits in most parts of North India. And here I was cuddled in a grey pungent smelling blanket provided in the 3AC coach of the train. I was nevertheless glad. I didn’t have over-bearing talktive co-passengers, which meant, it was just me, myself and a book. I was with the book “Just Married Please Excuse” by Yashodhara Lal.

Yashodhara, a quick-tempered gal from the big city, is hitched to Vijay, a laidback desi boy from a small town in one word, trouble! The young couple must learn to adjust to married life and to each other whether it is Yashodhara s temper tantrums or Vijay s foot-in-mouth syndrome with a little help from their idiosyncratic staff Zarreena and Vinod, their nutty friend Vivi and, of course, their respective families. With the unexpected arrival of baby Anoushka a.k.a Peanut, the battles escalate, fueled by their vastly divergent views on raising a child. Will their many differences so endearing at the start of their romance actually turn out to mean that they are just incompatible?

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I completed the book in practically one sitting, with a couple of loo breaks of course in the smelly train toilets. What I liked best about the book was Yashodhara’s ability to narrate issues on marriage and parenthood in a quirky and humorous fashion. The narration was simple- well way too simple, that for a moment I thought I was reading a high school essay. But the book has managed to bring out certain facts of marriage and the initial years of adjustment most couples go through. I liked the portrayal of everyday people such as Vivi her friend, Zarreena the domestic help and Vinod their car driver.

But despite it being a light read, the plot had something amiss- I call it the soul of the book. For me it was a very plain book with a collection of mildly amusing anecdotes. The writing is shallow; you could easily skip through a couple of pages, which seemed irrelevant to the context. Not a recommendation for avid readers who are looking for some serious literature.

If you want a no- brainer or light read to make you chuckle to yourself, you could well pick this up.

My Rating:

  • Book cover appeal: 3/5
  • Story & narration: 2/5
  • Fun Element: 3.5/5
  • Overall reading experience 3/5

Get the book on Amazon.in

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Harper India (1 July 2012)

About the Author

20dmc_2444819eYashodhara Lal graduated from IIM-Bangalore in 2002 and has over a decade of experience in the corporate world, across the FMCG and media industries. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband Vijay and the three children who they refer to as Peanut, Pickle and Papad. Yashodhara began her journey in writing with her blog, described as a serious attempt to take life less seriously, Just Married, Please Excuse is her first book.

Support my School Initiative

Support my School Initiative

Mr. Snout “R”, my snobbish colleague, had been staring at his laptop for hours. Quite an unusual sight as Mr. Snout often cunningly palmed off most jobs to us. What really was keeping him busy today? I had to ask him casually. “It is admission time in Delhi, and I am shortlisting schools for my kindergarten child, he said. Ah ha!! I thought to myself. There was Snout, doing his own things in office. “So what exactly are you looking for in a school?” I asked. Snout replied leaning back on his swirling chair, “Well it’s difficult to get everything in a school. It should have a balance of reputation, infrastructure, opportunity to excel and all basic facilities.” Oh well, this is probably the requirement of most urban parents in India. And every year parents put up quite a fight for those few precious seats in good schools, in an attempt to pave a bright future for their children.

AS I moved away from Snout, and back to my seat, I thought to myself. In contrast to this, the reality for our rural children remains pretty grim. A very large percentage of them cannot afford basic education. And those who do attend government run schools witness the lack of basic infrastructure, low quality in teaching and aids, lack of amenities like toilets, access to water and other basic facilities. This often leads to a high dropout rate or absenteeism in schools, especially among girls.

To tackle this problem, in January 2011 Coca-Cola India and NDTV launched the ‘Support My School’ (SMS) public service campaign in association with UN-Habitat, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and other partners. ‘Support My School’ is a public private partnership to empower underprivileged sections of society by providing the necessary water and sanitation facilities along with the basic infrastructure required in any school. ‘Support My School’ has been instrumental in focusing public attention on the state of affairs in rural schools in India.

Since its launch, several partners such as Plan India, World vision India, SRF Foundation and others has joined and strengthen the campaign. The campaign has raised funds and support resulting in revitalization over 600 schools across India into schools with clean and separate toilets for boys and girls. Other basic amenities such as playgrounds, sports facilities, and, above all, clean and sustainable sources of drinking water, have also been provided depending on requirement.

The campaign will now reach 1000 schools, in 23 states, benefitting 300,000 students. The initiative, which adds to the ongoing efforts of the Government, in realizing the ‘Swachh Bharat, Swacch Vidyalaya’ campaign, will also build barrier-free toilets for differently-abled children, going forward, thereby further deepening its impact.
On November 30th, 2015 celebrities such as Sourav Ganguly, Venkatesh Kini and Ranveer Singh came together for a 6-hour telethon with Vikram Chandra to raise funds for the Coca-Cola-NDTV Support My School campaign. They ended up raising Rs. 20 crores over the 6 hour show, which will now help the campaign revitalize 1,000 schools in 23 states, benefiting over 300,000 students in rural and semi-urban India. It would focus on providing (1) access to clean, drinking water (2) sanitation facilities for boys and girls (3) playgrounds and sports equipment (4) teaching aids including library and computer facilities. In Madhya Pradesh alone 5427 students are benefitting from this initiative in 21 govt. schools.

Glad there is an attempt to revitalize neglected schools across the nation and curtail the number

Nightlife And Pub Finder

Nightlife And Pub Finder

This weekend the members of my mad office decided to party hard. We had hit our quarterly target well before time and it definitely meant we could let our hair loose for a while, hang up our shoes and relax a bit. Chief L was way to glad and was in his rarest of generous moods. He had said, “Choose a place, and I will join you guys there. The expenses shall be borne by me.” The entire team was way too glad to hear this from an otherwise grumpy Chief.

Delhi luckily is blessed with some of the best night spots to hang out with friends. Whether it is the by lanes of upscale Connaught Place, or Cyber Hub in Gurgaon, the nightlife is sure happening. Unfortunately our 8 member team just could not agree in unison about which place to be at. And that’s when Snout R, the show-off in the office whom I just have to tolerate, though I can’t, pulls out his yet another swanky mobile. For the first time I kind of appreciated his gesture. If not for him we would have probably taken hours to arrive at a destination to party.

And all that we actually did was log in to liveinstyle.com- a site with information about the latest happenings, premium parties and general nightlife in India. With a party calendar and pub finder, it lets you browse through all the options to party and pub without wasting further time arguing with friends. I was amazed at the information we got in a matter of minutes.

You could search for party or pub locality-wise, city wise, or by simply typing in a key word. And you know where you want to be that night. From the comfort of your home (or office), you get to choose your venue, get info on its timings and the event details. So get dressed and be there to enjoy it.

IMAGE CREDIT: LIVEINSTYLE.COM

IMAGE CREDIT: LIVEINSTYLE.COM

Here’s something I liked on the site For people like Trivial S,  my 20 something giggly colleague, who just can’t understand what responsible partying means, the website gives tips to handle party hangovers, rules to avoid embarrassing night and  how to be a responsible host. Just hoping she would use some of the tips to live responsibly. So this holiday season, if you are the undecided kinds, and wish to party hard log on to liveinstyle.com. The site currently provides information for the following cities.

 

  1. Mumbai
  2. Bangalore
  3. Delhi-NCR
  4. Hyderabad
  5. Kolkata
  6. Pune

DISCLAIMER: This blog caters to audience aged 25 years and above

Does one really need a name for all relationships ?- Guest Post by Aditi Bose

Does one really need a name for all relationships ?- Guest Post by Aditi Bose


Indian Bloggers

“I’m a woman. A married woman. An Indian married woman. But nothing remains in this marriage anymore. It’s just a sham. A farce. A pretence. And yet I’m still pretending. I have my reasons. Like the many others in the country. Society. Parents. Child. Finances. Reasons abound. Or maybe it’s just my lack of guts. My fear of all the complications that will come with moving on………”

This is the story that many Indian women will tell you. Unlike in other countries where acceptance is more, here, if a married woman wants a divorce she is scorned upon. By those who know her and more by those who don’t.

Yes, there is a group of who have the courage to take a stand and move away. Start off on their own. Once again. Right from the beginning. Rebuild. Retry.

The majority don’t though. They stay silent. And suffer. Bloody suffer each day. With each breath. They look at themselves in the mirror and see a person who they don’t recognize. A person who is just a figment of what they once used to be. They want to scream but no sound comes out. They just go about performing their duties towards their family. The mask they wear has now gotten so used to staying on their faces that it can’t be removed anymore. It has become a part of them. The pretence seems real.

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It doesn’t make them any less lonely though. They all want to be loved. They all want to feel affection. They are humans too. And so, in times of solitude hope comes knocking on their hearts. They still have that organ. It still beats. At least literally it does. After all they are still breathing. They wish that metaphorically it beat too. They wish that they felt alive once again.

And then, one day, for a lucky few, the impossible happens. They find what they have been wishing for. A new man. One who loves them. One who understands them. One who shows them respect. One who has time for them. One who wants to see them smile. One who wants to listen to them. One who gives them wings to fly again.

It scares them a little initially. So they try and run from the very thing that they have been waiting for. They feel scared to admit it. And then they give in. Give in to the moment of truth. They fall in love as well. Man has never escaped love. Women haven’t either!

Love. A feeling that gives them smiles and joy initially. A feeling that makes them feel like a woman once again. A feeling that makes them proud of their bodies once again. A feeling that makes them feel the happiness of youth once again.

Why then, with the passage of time, do they become so full of greater depression? Just because they are now in a relationship that can’t be given a name? Does one really need a name for all relationships ? A named relationship didn’t give them much in any case. Naming this one might lead to the same ending eventually. Why then can’t they just believe in the love that they have found? Isn’t that enough? Why can’t they just keep it unnamed?

These may seem as mere questions… But who has the answers to it??

-Guest post by Aditi Bose

IMG-20151202-WA0003Aditi Bose is the author of “Hama Guri Goes to School”- an e-book for kids, published by Cresco early this year. Her second book, ‘My Dream Man’, published by Authors’ Ink Publications, is due to enter the market by the end of 2015. She lives in Delhi where she spends her time writing- well into the wee hours of the morning, and chilling with her little daughter.

Do you have an opinion, a view or just a rambling you would like to share? Be a guest at my madhouse and I would be glad to host you. You could reach me on meotherwise(dot)blog(at)gmail(dot)com

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