Friday, 30 September 2016

100 Great Events that Changed the World


It does not matter if you are a college going student preparing for competent examinations or a lay person interested in history, Terry O’Brien’s 100 great events that changed the world is indeed a treasure. It is interesting, exciting and of course adds to our knowledge.

The contents of the events are chronologically arranged, which makes it easier for students and academicians who have to remember the dates of these events.

The range of events selected for the book is indeed wide. It has got everything. Right from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to founding of Amazon.com. It lists death of prophet Mohamad as well as cloning. Selecting 100 events from the world history must have been a challenge. But the author has done a great job in picking up the events. As a result of which almost all major events which changed the world are part of the book.

The language used in the book is simple and to the point. The book is divided into small chapters which makes it an easy read. At the end of each chapter tit-bits are offered in boxes.

Go and buy this book. You will never repent buying this one.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Temple Tiger and more Man-eaters of Kumaon - Book Review


The temple tiger and more man-eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett as the name suggests is about the man eating tigers in the Himalayan region. It is a collection of Jim’s hunting experiences of five man-eaters. Though all these are real life experiences, I prefer to call them stories. They have thrill, suspense and all other elements of a good story

The first story the temple tiger is different from all the stories written by Jim is very different from other stories written by him. Here he utterly fails to kill the man-eater. The man-eater escapes at the end. This shows his honesty. It would have been easy for a person like Jim to say that he had killed that tiger. But he tells the truth.

Jim not only describes the tigers but the life of people of the hills is also depicted very well in his stories. Thus in the Muktesar Man-eater he says in rural India, the post office and the bania’s shop are to village folk what taverns and clubs are to people of other lands, and if information on any particular subject is sought, the post office and the bania’s shop are the best places to seek it. Ignorance regarding leprosy finds mention in the Panar Man-eater.

Not only the men but he describes the vegetation and of course the wildlife very vividly. In the Chuka Man-eater he describes how the tigress trains her young cubs in a very poignant manner. He also adds to our knowledge by telling that monkeys are blessed with exceptionally good eyesight. In the same story the following line depicts the guilt which even a hunter faces. ‘The thought of disabling an animal and a sleeping one that, simply because he occasionally liked a change of diet was hateful.’

The font size used in the book is very small. As a result reading this book causes a great strain on the eyes. Also there are typographical errors at some places. I wish these were avoided.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

My health in my hands


You have stolen my heart’ is a very romantic line. It is really nice to have a heartthrob. But when an attack robs the heart, it is definitely not welcome. India is on the verge of becoming capital of heart diseases. Awareness is the only solution. Let me share the simple steps which I undertake for staying active, happy and eating right which go a long way in keeping  my heart healthy.

1. Exercise regularly
I exercise regularly. I jog daily. Initially it was difficult. It was challenging physically and mentally. But I sticked to the routine and it soon became my habit. Walking, jogging and running is particularly good for heart. So is dancing.Most overweight people are prone to heart diseases. I have bought weighing scales at home. I monitor my weight regularly. Regular monitoring of weight does not always help lose my weight. But it always helps in maintaining it. The fear of gaining weight keeps me active. Seeing pictures of healthy well maintained people also gives a motivation to stay active. Reading other people's health routine too helps to stay active. I read books on health. That help me understand my body, my system better. All the health professionals agree on one point there is no alternative to being physically active. Sitting is injurious to health.

2. Relax
Life cannot be without stress. We must learn to manage stress. Some times by withdrawing, sometimes by confronting. Regular relaxation is a must. I meditate. I read books. I go for a walk. I talk to a friend. Some times I shout and let out my feelings. All these things take a heavy burden from my heart.  They make me happy. Most of the diseases have their origin in the mind and heart diseases are no exception to the same. Having a clear emotional system is vital for the heart’s proper functioning.

3. Diet
I try to avoid oily stuff. I eat ghee and butter but in moderation. I have a sweet tooth. At times I over eat then feel guilty. But I overcome the guilt and decide to stick up to healthy eating. Raw foods, sprouts do magic for the heart. The fibre present in these food prevents heart diseases. Also skins of vegetables contain both fibre and vitamins. I never peel them and eat fruits and vegetables with their skins.

4. Cultivating hobby
I like reading and writing. This hobby of mine keeps me happy. It helps me to keep aside all my burdens for some time. I feel good about myself. I feel happy. Reading and writing gives me a high. I am sure this happy temperament of mine will go a long way in making my heart healthy.



“I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association with BlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.”

Healthy heart



So and so had a heart attack.’ ‘I am a bypass patient.’ We hear such lines every second day. It makes me worry about the state of my heart. Unfortunately worrying only adds to the heart problems. But it definitely makes you aware and take a few steps to ensure the health of your heart. These are few of the steps which I have taken to stay active, eating better and being happy and ultimately  protecting my heart and keep it healthy.

Being physically active.
I exercise daily. I do yoga. I go for a run. I lift weights. Yes, like all of you even I feel like skipping my exercise on a day and I skip it. But I work out at least four-five days in a week. Research shows that even that is suffice for the healthy functioning of your heart. Otherwise also I am a physically active person. I don’t take the lift. I climb the stairs. I cover short distances on foot. Mind you I have a car and a two wheeler. But I enjoy walking. I am not much into sports but I like running. I am very careful about my weight. I monitor it regularly. Obese people are more prone to heart diseases. Being physically active, it is easy to maintain weight.

I eat healthy
I eat mostly home cooked food. Home cooked food is healthy and fresh. It is cooked in virgin oil, which means the oil is not reheated again and again. I eat raw vegetables and salads. It does not mean that I do not eat out at all. I eat out not more than once a week. Also at home my salt intake is minimal.

 For being happy 
Yoga and meditation
It would not be wrong to say that yoga and meditation are tonics for the heart. Yoga is known to calm the mind and body. Every pore of your body relaxes as you do the yoga. It has been my experience that no matter what is going on in the mind, once I start doing the yoga poses, the mind automatically calms down. The same is true with meditation. A tip for you. Meditation when done after yoga, is more effective. You easily slip into the relax mode.

No over thinking
I over think. This is the habit which have inherited from my mother. But when I realised the adverse effects which it was having on my mind and body, I started making conscious efforts not to over think. It definitely made me calmer and kept my heart healthy.

“I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association with BlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.”

Sunday, 25 September 2016

It takes two to Yoga


Zubin Atre’s It takes two to Yoga is about partner yoga. The book starts with the author telling us about the significance of touch. Touch has many health benefits. Touch stimulates the brain to release endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. The author tells us that partner yoga increases awareness, interdependence, trust building, intimacy and happiness.

According to the author partner yoga is not just for lovers. Nor is it linked to sexuality. It works within the framework of all associations intimate or platonic, formal or informal. Thus there is a chapter devoted to partner yoga involving parent and child. I immensely liked this section in the book. I liked the approach of the author which is evident from the following lines. ‘While practising yoga with a child, it’s important for moms to remember that the asanas may not be as beautiful or graceful as pictures make them out to be. But that hardly matters. The emphasis is tapping into the essence of yogic practice- which is bonding rather than achieving choreographed performances.’ I simply loved the shadow asana which is to be performed along with the baby.

The author enumerates the benefits of partnering yoga with colleagues and of course couples. While doing so he describes the underlying yogic philosophies and practices. Thus he talks about various koshas and various cleansing processes.

According to the author the key element related to touch, vital to a yoga session is proprioception- the ability of the central nervous system to communicate with and coordinate various parts of the body. The author offers simple exercises to experience proprioception.

The book contains a series of asanas which are to be done individually in the preparatory series. Thereafter the author describes the asanas to be done in partnership. I have been pracitising yoga since childhood. But honestly baring one or two poses, I found the partner yoga poses quite challenging. Perhaps they can be achieved by practice.

The book is a work of genuine devotion. It does not offer any quick fixes. Nor does it promise miraculous results. Zubin’s tummy is visible in many poses, including that on the cover page. Otherwise there is no dearth of six-pack yoga practitioners. Yoga cannot give you six packs, but it can definitely give you a healthy body and peaceful mind. The book indeed offers something new. I have started practising poses with my partner and I tell you even if you try one or two poses, it is fun. Isn’t that a good reason to buy the book?

Friday, 23 September 2016

The man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I experienced this while reading Jim Corbett’s the man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag. All that I knew about Jim Corbett was that he was a hunter who gunned down a tiger which had claimed many lives in Uttrakhand. Still he remained an enigma to me.

With the Man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag, I got an opportunity to be with him in his exploits. He builds the premise very well by exhibiting the terror of the leopard in the minds of the people. He tells us how the leopard got used to the taste of human blood. It is a practice in the hills to throw the dead bodies in the valley during epidemic. This is how the leopard got the taste of human blood. Soon the epidemic subsided so did the dead bodies which the leopard got to feast upon. The leopard started to invade human settlements to claim its share of human blood.

This leopard has killed more than one hundred and twenty five people. According to the author this was the most publicized animal. It found mention in the press of United Kingdom, America, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Malaya, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and of course India.

The leopard hardly made any noise while killing people. It would cross a hundred sheep and even humans, get its prey which was sleeping at the fag end of the crowd considering that he was covered, protected and safe. The leopard would even break open the doors and enter the houses. It would dig a hole into the mud walls and enter the house. The hillmen considered it to be an evil spirit, a Shaitan. They even burnt a Sadhu alive who according to them became the man-eating leopard in the night.

The author was not the only person who tried to gun down the man-eater. Some other hunters tried to kill it, but the leopard had a narrow escape. The author weaves the topography of hills very well. This book is not just about the hills and the man-eater, but also about men and women in the hills who lead a tough life. It is about their fears and hopes. The latter is exhibiting through the help which they offer to the author in his hunting parties.

This true story is a nail biting, hair raising thriller. You can feel the pit into your stomach and the raising pulse as the author approaches the man-eater. You feel disappointed when the man-eater has a narrow escape. This book was first published seventy years ago. The language of the book is old fashioned. The font size is very small and causes strain to the eyes. Yet this book manages to give you goosebumps. This is a book not to be missed.

 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

rightfully wrong wrongfully right - Book Review

According to the blurb the characters of the earlier two books Right Fit Wrong Shoe and Wrong Means Right End make a comeback in Varsha Dixit’s Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right. But this book is not meant to be sequel to any of the earlier books.

This is the story of a mad scientist Viraj who is a nerd and Gayatri who is a spoilt brat. Gayatri steals Viraj’s copyrighted designs and his heart too. They sleep around in mills & boons way and the story ends happily.

Honestly I totally disliked the book. The characters, the setting everything is difficult to comprehend. None of the characters is well sketched. All of them sound the same. Even the real action (both erotic and the design stealing) begins only after 200 pages. The plot is flat. To add to our agony the book is poorly edited. On page 106 Viraj becomes Virak.
To conclude I found this book Rightfully wrong. Enter at your own risk.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The diary of a Lutyens' Princess


Lutyens is one of the most sought after addresses of Delhi. In the diary of a Lutyens’ Princess, Bindu Dalmia traces the journey of Akshra. She marries at a very young age to Arnaab against the wishes of her parents. He is a middle class government employee. Soon the romance withers away and they get separated. Akshra now has a son, who goes to the boarding school. She too finds a job. After a few years she is in love with Surya who is the scion of a rich, influential business family. Surya has a half marriage with her. His family is unwilling to accept her. Their relationship has its own ups and downs. The story proceeds and Surya lands up in jail for business malpractices. Once he is out their romance brews again.

Bindu Dalmia does an excellent job as a writer. She has her own original, distinct voice. The premise becomes extremely interesting due to her style of writing. She uses the narrative style. This is both novel and challenging. Yet she succeeds in riveting you to your seat with yours eyes glued to the book. She manages to drop real names be that of politicians or film stars and historical events. The way she incorporates them in the narrative is simply brilliant.

Her keen observations of Delhi’s high class crowd adds a tinge of humour to the story. Read the following para in the book. ‘ “Aunty mat kaho,” was the prototype of an ageing woman refusing to come to a graceful acceptance of life’s progression, sporting a Hello Kitty bag, some dyed blonde in their fifties, looking like Barbies-gone-wrong. It’s admirable in a way, as she wanted to retain a contemporary and zesty mindset, believing the sixties were new forties. Most at middle age were so botoxed that it was hard to detect the facial expressions of delight or anger, as one felt that frown lines reflected etchings of character and a life well lived. But with silicon implants between the furrows, it was difficult to guess the mood.’

This book brings a unique style of writing. It is entertaining throughout and hilarious and poignant in parts. It satisfied my reading lust to a great extent. Hence this book is highly recommended.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Bengal Write Ahead - Book Review


Recently the West Bengal Assembly approved a resolution for changing the name of the state from West Bengal to Bengal in English and Bangla in Bengali. There could not have been any other opportune moment for the release of the book Bengal Write Ahead. This anthology contains the fifty stories on Bengal from the contest conducted on facebook. Though the title says they are stories, they are actually small write-ups about Bengal.

Durga Puja to Bengal is what Diwali is to the rest of the country. It excites the young as well as old Bengalis. No wonders most of the writers chose to write about it. Bengalis love their food. So there is maer haater raana or food cooked by mother’s hand. There is mangsho-bhaat, mishti doi and Phuchhka i.e paani puri.

Bengali’s love for football and films is well known. Many writers write about the Bengali cinema, its stars and directors. So do they about the largest football stadium in Kolkota.

They write about the communal harmony and the peaceful co-existence of various religions in the same lane. They write about Feluda and they write about Byomkesh Bakshi. They write about the books street in Kolkota. They write about glittering Victoria and the underground metro. They admire their laid back attitudes.

In every post the love for Bengal is evident. Few posts are in Bengali and being a non-Bengali I was not able to read it. Alzheimer by Mehuli Saha Ray deserves a special mention. It is the only post which can indeed be called a story in this collection. She weaves it in a very novel way.

Most of the posts are more about Kolkota then Bengal. The rural, rustic Bengal has no place in this book. The poor working class, the rickshaw puller do not exist in this Bengal. I wish even these people and classes were part of the book.

I have visited Kolkota and I have loved it. So I loved reading this book.

Monday, 5 September 2016

The real deal - book review


The Real Deal by Paritosh Uttam is about the M TV show Roadies and its craze amongst the youth. Obviously Roadies is not called Roadies here and it becomes the Real Deal.

Paras and Sulochana hail from a small town called Bisalpur. They share the craze for Roadies aka the Real Deal and its bikes. This common thread is enough to fly sparks between the two. Their middle class parents are against their taking part in the Real Deal. The dynamics between Paras, Sulochana and their respective parents are portrayed very well. The writer succeeds in creating the small town Bisalpur where everyone knows everyone.

Both Paras and Sulochana make it to the show. It is from here that the novel begins to drag and falter. Now the novel is nothing but Roadies episodes transcribed. There is also one foul mouthed Pepe who interviews the contestants. The author describes him as the rudest man on television. Now you require no brains to tell that he is Raghu. The co-interviewer is Sahil, an ex-Real Dealer himself. (Read Ranvijay). I liked the final twist in the novel where Paras and Sulochana, the only two finalists left, fight to win the show.

The following scene in the book could easily qualify for the worst sex scene in books award. ‘ He kissed her as he knew never before, until he felt that her mouth was an extension of his, lips merging with lips, tongue with tongue. He tasted the food they had just eater from her tastebuds, and inhaled a tangy peppermint vapour from her throat.’ Also both the protagonists decide to hide the fact that they are from the same town. Yet both of them mention that they are from Bisalpur.

This novel is endearing in parts. Worth a one time read for sure.