Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2 states is a book that does not even need a review since anything that Chetan Bhagat writes sells. In all the book stores ,this book is already on the best-sellers shelf and while waiting in the billing queue , I probably saw every person having this book in hand.

The story is simple ,straight forward and middle-class like which would immediately appeal to any youth in India. It revolves around Krish and Ananya who come from backgrounds that are poles apart and decide to marry. The story is typically about how in India , you don't just marry the person..you also marry the family. So the author describes the turmoils and frustrations that go into getting the parents' consent.
Krish, a Punjabi guy with a brash mom who can't think of anything but calory laden food and the "worth" of her son is scandalized when she hears that her son has fallen in love with Ananya. On the other hand Ananya hails from an orthodox Tamil family whose outlook is traditional to the T. The various plots,schemes and adjustments that the two of them make in order to get the families to accept them is quite amusing.
The plot is centred around Ahmedabad,Delhi and Chennai. Being a true blue Chennaiite I felt that Chetan Bhagat had exaggerated and ridiculed many traits of the Tamilians. Initially i found myself nodding in amusement, however there was an overdose of it. For instance he ridiculed the fact that people ate out of banana leaves and kept inquiring if the leaf also should be eaten. I felt he was being to petty despite being an IIT/IIM grad. :)
Altogether this book is a total breezy read. A story so central to many of our lives and reactions so typical of our parents'.I am not a great fan of Chetan Bhagat, however this book is way better than his recent ones like 3 mistakes of my life and one night at a call centre.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is my next entry for the Orbis terrarum challenge - I have landed in Sweden this time. The book is primarily set in Sweden and the author, the late Stieg Larsson is also Swedish.
This book is the first of the millennium trilogy and it proved to be a complete page turner. Murder mysteries have always aroused my enthusiasm and this book was no different. The story had everything - suspense , climax, mystery, murder,libel all rolled into one enthralling read. This book was termed as one of the best sellers of the year but I was a bit apprehensive about picking it up because it is a mere translation of the original Swede book. I was wondering if it would bring out the content and depth of the original. However it turned out to be one of the best detective/murder mysteries I have read in the recent times.
The gist of the story is as follows : Nearly 40 years ago Harriet Vanger disappears from Hedeby island. This island is primarily occupied by a powerful business family , the Vangers. On the day of her disappearance there were many social events that took place on the otherwise isolated island. Hence the number of suspects is enormous. Also neither was her corpse found nor was there any witness which makes the mystery even more thrilling.Henrik Vanger who is her guardian does not wasnt to give up the search and so he hires Mikael. Mikael Blomkovist is a journalist convicted of libel and his magazine is on the verge of sinking. In his effort to save his skin and reputation , he agrees to solve the mystery.
Actually this story has two mysteries that are interwoven with each other - one is Harriet Vanger's disappearance and the other is about Lisabeth Salander's life. Lisabeth Salander is Mikael's accomplice in solving the mystery. However she is not a typical 'goody two shoes ' detective a la Nancy Drew and Miss Marple. She is a complete dare devil ,a professional hacker, a master of disguises and would go to any extreme to get her facts straight. Infact her past life and her actions seem to be like a mystery of its own.
There are parts of the book that are kind of gross and a bit too gory to bear. However that apart its a completely gripping read. I would recommend it to anyone who is waiting to read a fast paced book. This book has made me want to complete the trilogy series. So keep waiting for reviews on the next book- 'The Girl who played with fire'

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Little Women by Louisa May Olcott

The penultimate book for my classics challenge is 'Little Women'. A funny incident made me select this book. I was watching an episode of the popular TV series 'Friends' where Rachael asks Joey to read a classic named 'Little Women'. Joey immediately springs up with the question ' Rach, how little were they" .
Jokes apart, when I picked this book , the first thing that struck me was its size -it was nearly the size of my pillow ...infact thicker. After reading 'Animal Farm' just a few weeks earlier which hardly spanned to 100 pages, this book was my 'Everest'. However reading a classic is always wonderful no matter how long it takes and so I went ahead with it.
The book clearly stands for all that Louisa Alcott was - a feminist , an abolitionist and a bread winner for the family .The book is set in the American Civil war period and revolves around the lives of four young sisters and the triumphs and hardships faced by them. The book is so simple , refreshing and a delight to read. The first few chapters of the book characterizes the March sisters (namely Meg,Jo, Beth and Amy) to perfection that you would feel like you've known them forever.
The central theme of this book is the importance of family in a person's life. In every other page the author would have stressed the need of family and the comfort that a family brings to you. In this book , the March sisters are portrayed to be truly altruistic beings. They are so selfless that they are willing to sacrifice anythin for their parents'or sibling's happiness.
The book begins when the girls are barely in their teens and are brought up by their caring,practical and strong willed mom. The story unfurls into how each of them go their different ways, pursue the profession they want and ultimately find the man of their dreams.However the setting is not always merry and jubilant. The girls are made to face testing times with their dad hurt in the war , with a sibling in her death bed and poverty. However through all this they find comfort and support in each other.
This book is one of the best classics i have read. Louisa wrote this book for 'girls' based on the experiences of her childhood. It might not be very romantic or flowery as other classics , however it carries a strong theme that makes it worthwhile.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Classics Challenge 2009

Classics have always been my personal favourite and in my 'growing up' years I remember being totally intrigued by Jane Austen's works. There was a time when I was engulfing so many classics as it transported me to a world so different than mine. However after a while the number of classics read started dwindling to a point where I forgot how it feels to read one . To re kindle my love for classics I have joined the Classics Challenge hosted by Trish .
I have opted for the 'Classics Snack' where I need to read 4 classics by the end of the year .
My list so far (subject to change) :
1. Animal Farm - George Orwell
2. Anne of Green Gables - L.M.Montgomery
3. Little Women -Alcott
4. (Thinking which one to choose ...suggestions are welcome )

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a novel which provides an unique insight into the Russian Revolution of 1917. Orwell in a very creative manner analogizes human traits and raw animal characteristics. He conveys that how greed , ignorance and all the negative factors can prevent us from creating an Utopian World.
The book starts off with how all the animals in 'Manor Farm' decide to drive out their master because they felt they were being treated cruelly. The animals got together and framed 7 commandments that they would follow once they ruled the farm themselves. After successfully de -throning the master , the pig named Napoleon takes full charge of the farm. Napolean the pig actually depicts the traits of Joseph Stalin.
Napoleon becomes a total tyrant and he becomes a self proclaimed leader. He disillusions the other animals into thinking that their lives were much more relaxed , while in reality they were actually stressed . In a very tricky manner he amends the 7 commandments and fools the gullible animals. The highlight is when he amends the commandment 'All animals are equal' to 'All animals are equal but some animals are more in equal' . He uses this commandment to his complete advantage and all the pigs start misusing their power and start behaving like humans.
The book amazes me because of the fact that in 150 pages, Orwell communicates such a heavy topic in a light herated manner using animals that talk . It is indeed ingenious. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes classics. This book would be my second entry for the Classics challenge hosted by Trish .

Friday, July 17, 2009

After 'virtually' globe trotting to various countries due to the orbis terrarum challenge, I realised that it has been a while since I read anything simple and Indian ...and what could be better than curling up with an R.K.Narayan book on a summery day ,sipping coffee andthoroughly enjpying the experience.

"The English Teacher" by R.K.Narayan is a spiritual journey of a man in his quest to reconnect with his deceased wife. Though the subject may sound heavy and unfathomable , Narayan in his true style has made the book quite interesting. This story from its various incidends seems to be set in the pre independence era (or rather just before the Britishers left India).

The story is about the life of Krishna , a professor teaching English in Albert Mission School.He leads a regular mundane life which suddenly seems to spicen up with his daughter and wife moving in with him. His marital bliss doesnt last long as his wife passes away due to typhoid. The rest of the book is about how he deals with his wife's loss , raises his daughter and finds a way to communicate with his dead wife.
Krishna in trying to come to terms with his wife's death finds that life is just a big illusion. He starts reflecting on life in a new manner. He finds inner peace and contentment due a unique communication that he establishes with his deceased wife.
The book is full of vivid pictures of south Indian traditions and practices. It kind of makes people like me imagine how my fore fathers would have lived. It is so simple , crisp and very well written. This 140 page book is a nice read for anyone who is a great fan of R.k. Narayan and his Malgudi days :)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

For the orbisterrarum challenge I leaped all the way from the woods of Canada to contemporary Britain. After reading a classic like Anne of Green gables I moved to a completely different genre book - Bridget Jones's diary
The book as the name suggests comprises of the diary notes that a 30 something spinster (oft quoted as 'Singleton' in the book )makes every single day . The book is an ensemble of all the incidents and happenings in the life of Bridget Jones .
Since most of us would have seen the movie , the book is no different . It revolves around the life of Bridget who is single and who just loathes the one question - "When are you getting married ?" . In an attempted humorous way , the book talks about her relationship first with her cold , infidel boss Daniel and later with a more sensible Mark Darcy. Apart from that there are rambles about how she makes resolutions to lose weight and cut down on alcohol etc.
The one annoying character in the book was Bridget's mom. She proved to be extremely nagging and over flirtatious. Also she was extremely critical of everything that Bridget wore and said. In fact the preface of the book says " Thanks to my mom for not being like Bridget's " :)
Apart from that the book was a mediocre read. A very mundane account of the happenings in Bridget's life. I would definitely not call it a "must read". However anyone who has not seen the movie and would like to read the book might find it interesting.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

My next stop for the orbis terrarum challenge would be in the land of the maple leaf - Canada! I read the book "Anne of Green Gables" based on the rave reviews that I have been reading about it. I was quite surprised that in my school years I had not come across this series.
Anne of Green Gables is the first book of this series and Maud's style of writing is indeed laudable
The book revolves around the life of Anne Shirley who is an orphaned child and comes to live with the brother sister duo ,Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Within the first few pages of the book, I fell in love with the extremely affable and gregarious Anne. Anne is so full of life, our typical day dreamer and a person you could not resist liking. Anne was adopted by the Cuthberts by accident since they were looking for a helper boy and not a chatty , dreamy girl. However Anne being her usual amicable self , found a place in the Cuthbert's home. The rest of the book is about how well Anne fits in the Green gables household.
There are parts of the book that made me want to go back to the secure comfort of being a 11 year old child. A phase where you could dream about anything and everything without wondering if they would ever come true. Maud brings to life the desires, whims and fancies of a child. She amuses you with Anne's antics and quirks.Apparently , Mark Twain wrote to Montgometry that in Anne Shirley she had created " the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice"
This book is definitely very 'Enid Blytonish' and for all those who grew up reading her books, am sure you'll like this book too. I regret to have not read this book at a younger age where would have related to it more. However better late than never ...this book definitely wins my 2 cents :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Marley and Me by John Grogan

For the orbisterrarum challenge my next stop would be the USA . I happened to read the book Marley and Me a few days back and boy did I love it!!It is a truly heart warming narration of the joys and emotions that a dog brings to you .
Marley and Me by John Grogan will have you smiling at some points , amused at other times and will make you weep like a baby towards the end. This was one book that I just could not put down once I started reading it. Though I haven't owned a dog , I could relate to the book so well that I felt that the labrador in the book was mine.
This book is about a labrador retriever, Marley that is always getting into trouble. The owners John and Jane find it difficult to control his antics and decide to send him to obedience school. But Marley being the true brat , was promptly thrown out. Apart from this the master finds out that Marley is terrified of rains,storms and creates a wreck when he has to encounter them. Inspite of all this shortcomings Marley served as a pillar of support to the family. He was the comforting factor in Jane's life when she had a miscarriage. He connected well with the Grogon kids and kept an eye on them . He was very much a part of the Grogon family that they could not imagine life without him.
The book in many places describes the emotions and unconditional love that a dog gives you. The author feels that all a dog expects from you is a liitle bit of love and in return he gives you his complete love, gratitude and loyalty. ..something that is difficult to find amongst the humans.
A dog makes you realise the true meaning of love and compassion . Until the dog is gone you fail to realise the void it creates in your life.
I have had many friends who refused to own a second dog because parting with the first was immensely painful. You feel as if your family is incomplete once they die. The sad part is a dog's life never exceeds 14 years and there is a sure possibility that you would have to live through their death. This concept is described very well in this book .
This is one book that I thororoughly enjoyed reading ...it totally overwhelmed me . A book that is sure to touch any dog lover's heart . A book that would make you yearn to own a dog :)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The much acclaimed book 'The white tiger' was one of the books I was itching to read.The reasons being the fact that not only was the author a booker prize winner but also a Chennai born.
The narration of the story was refreshing as it was based on letters written to a Chinese premier, in a style very different from other contemporary books.
The content is our every day rags to riches story of a commoner named Balram Halwai. However it is the narration and the wit of the book that keeps you going.
The story is centred around the life and plights of the servant class in India. The picture he paints of the trauma that the servile class undergo is partly true (though not completely). The author uses subtle wit and humour to mock at the various characters and their doings.
I have conflicting views on the book. At one hand I could relate to the fact that 'In India you do not have drivers, gardeners,etc. You only have servants'. He says that irrespective of what you have been appointed for you should be able to fit into another servant's shoes with ease. Thus a driver would also need to sweep the floor, make dinner and cater to the master's whims. However the portrayal of the master's cruelty and insensitivity is slightly overboard.
There are parts of the book which make me think 'Why does he have to portray India as a poor ,destitute country living in "Darkness"?'However certain parts of it make me smile as I find some of the incidents so real
In short it is definitely worth a read. Once you start reading it you wont realise that you have reached the end of the book - it is that interesting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I read the Purple Hibiscus as a part of the Orbis Terrarum challenge . The author is from Nigeria and this book truly was quite a different read
Its about the life of a 15 year old girl, Kambili whose life is bound by rigid schedules set by her father. Her life just revolves around church , studies, reciting the rosary and 'set-aside' family time. Suddenly her life changes when she visits her liberated, hip, broad minded aunt whose house seems to be filled with incessant laughter , joy and contentment. Kambili sees that though she lived with great comfort in her parental home, she lacked the sense of joy and independence which she enjoyed in her aunt's house.
This story is set in the background of the Nigerian unrest. The author describes so many conflicting thoughts in the young girl's mind. Her father's tyranny had prevented her from enjoying even the small things in life . Towards the end of the book ,she says " I have nightmares of the silence when Papa was alive.In my nightmares it mixes with shame and grief and so many other things that I cannot name ....." which shows that the mere fact of living with her father was filled with dread and discomfort. However the end of the story was a little vague but I wont comment on it since it will become a 'spoiler' for the readers who havent read the book yet.
To sum it all up , the book was a good read. This is the first book on a Nigerian theme so I learnt a lot of things like their life style , food habits , dressing style, etc. A nice weekend read for anyone who wants to read something different

Monday, April 20, 2009

Being a true blue South Indian and of course a foodie , i had to post this bit of news
The rava idli which is a mouth watering dish usually served with chutney and potato sagu has a unique origin.
It was first invented by the popular Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) in Bangalore. The normal idli is generally made with rice flour however the rava idli is made with semolina (rava). During world war 2 , there was a shortage of rice supply . Hence MTR tried to make idlis using semolina(rava) and hence the birth of rava idli!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This is my second book for the orbisterrarum 2009 challenge.
When i picked up Shantaram and started reading , I suddenly started paying more attention to places that were mentioned in the book. For starters , shantaRam's oft visited hangout was the Cafe Leopold ( where the first terror attack started on 26/11). Also there is a constant mention about the Taj Mahal hotel , the Colaba streets ,etc which have all become a house hold name after the dreaded terror attacks.Anyways that apart,this book is an intersting read and all of its 900 + pages is filled with so many characters , incidents ,learnings and what not.
The story of the bokkin short is about an Australian criminal who sets foot on the Indian soil (Mumbai to be precise) to start life afresh as an anonymous person. But he just has no idea whats in store for him . He starts off as a local doctor in the slum , serves a sentnece in Mumbai's Famous Arthur Road prison, acts in a few movies that need firangis , fights the mujahideen in Afghanistan and what not. In short this book is a spiritual journey of a man and triumph of a human searching for love
Gregory David paints really vivid pictures of all the people and places that the main character Lin (a.k.a Shantaram) encounters. His writing takes into account every minute detail - the way he describes Cafe Leopold and its surroundings,his characterisation of people like Didier, Prabhakar and Karla is impecabble.His narration of the life style of people in the Mumbai slums would give Danny Boyle a run for his money .
Well , what do I have to say abt the book ? Its definitely a must -read. Reading about India (Mumbai) and Indians from a foreign author is definitely an experience that you must have. The story and characterizations are so awe inspiring. However I felt that at some point hte number of characters kept increasing and sort of threw me off track . Also the enormity of the book made reading it a little tedious. Overall a good read and a good learning experience

Trivia for this week #3

Have you ever wondered why the popular game console by Nintendo is called Nintendo Wii ?
Nintendo spelled Wii with 2 'i' s beacuse it represents two people standing side by side (i.e. its a game console where people gather together to play it)
Interesting huh?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Trivia for this week

Hey all
There are a couple of interesting things that i keep coming across every day. So what better way to record it than blog about it. So starting this week (err...actually last week) I plan to post some interesting trivia every Monday. Some would be funny, some unimaginable and some just pure facts

Going on to my trivia for this week :
1. What is the cpital of Sweden - Ans : Stockholm
2. What is the capital of Peru - Ans: Lima
Hey dont worry ...the above 2 questions are not the actual interesting facts.
So u now know Stockholm and Lima ,but have u heard of Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome?
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed. The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

The Lima Syndrome is a psychological condition, which is almost the reverse of the Stockholm syndrome. While in the Stockholm Syndrome, affected hostages develop sympathy for their abductor, in the Lima Syndrome, affected abductors begin to sympathize with their hostages.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trivia of the day

Have you ever wondered why the company yahoo has always been denoted as 'yahoo!' or y! (i.e. yahoo with the exclamation mark appended)
The reason is the word“Yahoo” had already been trademarked for barbecue sauce by EBSCO Industries and that’s why Jerry & Filo(founders of yahoo) had to put an exclamation to get a unique trademark for themselves..

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Orbis Terrarum for 2009

I will be joining the Orbis Terrarum Challenge for 2009
Check out http://orbisterrarumchallenge.blogspot.com/2009/01/rules-and-regulations.html
for the rules and regulations

The book list I would make for this would be :
1. The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga (India)
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseni (Afghanistan)
3. Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)
4. The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi (Iran)
5. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts (Australia)
6. Siddhartha - Herman Hesse (Germany)
7. Marley and Me - John grogan (United states)
Will update the list with the remaining books once I decide them


Siddhartha by Herman Hesse could deceive you into thinking that it is a light book ...but the light bit ends merely in its size. You would wonder how a book of just 130 pages could carry so much thoughts, so many learnings and make you reflect on your own life.
After reading Shantaram which spreads over 1000 pages, this book was both inviting as well as thought provoking.
The story is about the spiritual journey of a young lad Siddhartha and how he attains nirvana at the end. Written in very simple language , the contents are powerful . It deals with the soul searching process of two friends Govinda and Siddhartha. Govinda opts to serve Gautama Buddha in order to attain inner peace while Siddhartha moves on. The rest of the story is about how everything in human life is just an illusion and is constantly changing. Towards the end Siddhartha meets Govinda and tells him that 'Wisdom cant be communicated though knowledge can'. Siddhartha's spiritual quest ends when he realised that innder peace is attained not by just following teachings/preachings of great souls but by the the experiences and challenges that life throws at you.
Being a not so philosphical person and being a not so great fan of Paulo Coelho I wondered how I liked this particular book . However it really was an interesting read. I would definitely recommend this soul searching book to anyone who likes these philosphical reads

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Palace of Illusions

Author : Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

India's greatest epic 'The Mahabharath' is brought to life by Chitra Banerjee.
The Mahabharat is a house hold name in every Indian home . Raised in India, my memories would be of listening to tales from the Mahabharat as a little kid or a curious school goer reading Amar Chitra Katha illustrated versions of the Mahabharat or as a teen ager totally in awe with Arjuna's shooting skills.
However when reading this book , it was the first time I got the grasp of the epic from Panchaali's perspective.Her character is unique right from the fact that she was born out of the fire to her distinction of being the person to marry all 5 heroic Pandava brothers. All this apart , deep inside she is like any other woman ..having her own dreams , fantasies and desires. Her bitterness and duels with mother in law Kunti , her day dreaming of Arjuna's valour before meeting him , her secret admiration of Karna ,her friendship with her confidante Krishna are all parts of the book that are very intriguing. It would take you by surprise , make you look at incidents from a woman's point of view
This half-mythical , half historical and ceratinly magical tale is truly worth a read especially for the women folk
i would definitely recommend this book for those who would like to see The Mahabharat from a totally new perspective


Hi all ,
Am back ... once again!! After a long hiatus of I am back to the blogging world.
Between my last post and now there have been a whole bunch of interesting /intriguing incidents that have taken place in my life : I have switched jobs ,tied the knot (maybe thats y i was tongue tied) all this while , started cooking :) and of course started reading A LOT .
So this blog is mainly to keep you all (myself included) of the books recently read, movies seen , blah blah.
Anyways will stop with that. Keep visiting my blog and ur comments are most valued


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