The Scorpios

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Ooty

My major motivation to go for a holiday was the cyclone Thane warning. Just head away to the hills.
However day 1 of Ooty gives us mist, fog and ice cold rain.
So there is no other option but monkeying away inside the hotel.


Sent from my Nokia phone

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yelagiri

First stop at Yelagiri, hotel Landmark. The drive was uneventful except for us getting stuck at the last hair pin bend at midnight, just 15 minutes away from the hotel. A truck breakdown right on the bend. We waited for an hour with Ojas snoring away and Tejas cribbing constantly in my ears ....mosquitoes, pillow that is dirty etc with the ultimate larger objective of climbing on my lap and sleeping.
The good part was that this being a not so high hill, the drive was not scary. The narrow road had barricades on the edge and the city twinkled
beautifully from the track.
The hotel is basic but clean and well maintained.
And the best part apart from the hot water were the 2 double beds. No need to ask for extra beds!!
Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Height of Maa ka Tyaag

Deliberately keeping fruit ninja scores low enough so that Mamma's scores do not cross Ojas' highest score so far.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Friday, December 23, 2011

PTA

A 5 minute PTA meeting today each with the recommendation that I get them to improve their handwriting.

Tejas scores 20/20 in nearly all papers.
Ojas had some silly mistakes which pulled the scores down!

Keep it up babes! I am proud of you.

By the way my handwriting is terrible and I honestly believe your is better than mine especially Ojas.

They have decided that they do not want to do theatre which is boring so they want to continue with Western Dance! 


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thieves

Ojas...why is the watchman whistling.
Me..he s chasing thieves away
ojas- bahut saara thieves hai andar?

Tejas- don't tell this secret to anyone in school
ojas- how about A
Tejas- ok I will tell only A
Ojas- how about B
Tejas-ok you can tell B... And so on the secret gets shared

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Just Thoughts

And before we knew, we are already at the end of 2011. Last year around this time, I was anticipating something to happen and not at all betting my money on it. However, before I realised, I am already 8 months into the old new job. Time flies and all that.

This year has been extremely busy for me. First was the book reviews that I got myself into. Suddenly I realised that the reviews were hijacking my personal posts and just to be a little more professional about it, I recently launched The Reading Corner and moved all the reviews and author interviews there. Do spend some time and check it out for reviews of new book releases.
While on one hand it fuelled my thirst for books, it also came with the responsibility of putting my thoughts into reviews. And oh the variety! In the last 9 months I have read a range of genres...murder, thriller, romance, fiction, detective, classics like Tagore, Saratchandra, Indian writers, Foreign writers, award winners, first time writers, self improvement, kiddy books, boring books, interesting books, short stories, terribly long stories...

Then the new job. It kept me busier than I imagined and there has been no time to breathe or even think of relaxing. For the first time when the parents were here, I did not take even a single day off and as a result I have leaves lapsing for the first time in my working life.
I have multitasked, hoped to generate a couple of self clones to help me cope better, and have done late sittings...another first in my working life, just to get rid of backlog so that the next morning is easier. It never is, is another thing altogether.

Simply speaking I have not had time to blog properly so I have switched to email micro or mini blogging so that atleast my thoughts are posted on my space. Which is why the kid's birthday post never came up because for that I need to put the photographs and the best ones are in the camera and not on my mobile.

The one battle that I lose everyday is the battle with weight. I gain, I lose and gain it back yet again. Time famine is making me less regular at the gym than I would like to and every day I look at myself in despair.

We did a lot of home redecorating. The husband fulfilled his long time dream of putting wooden flooring and I am yet to post photos of them. Yes, we are still struggling to keep a movie style clean, spic and span home but realise that is not really possible with my two monkeys and with he limited floor space we have. I am learning to live with this realisation and trying hard to make up for lack of space by decluttering more often than needed.

I do want to do more with my life. The reading for instance. I want to do more of it with the kids yet I do not seem to find the time or their attention. Even though I know it is just a matter of starting and they will get hooked on. Now that they know how to read. In the new year, I promise to be a different person.

And of course the travel. We did very little of that this year not counting the several official trips I did and the Gurgaon holiday we managed to take and without Dadda....another first...travelling alone with the 2 bandars...it turned out to be easier than I expected.

Ojas and Tejas have got more smacks this year than they ever got so far, and this despite several promises to self that I will not smack them today. They are really becoming naughty and out of control! However they have crossed two milestones that made us all very happy and relieved...they began to wash their respective bums and learnt to cycle in 3 days flat.

The next year, I need to find a keyboard teacher for the kids. And that is a personal task I have set. I need someone who can come home and teach. That cuts the commute and the variables because I do not expect to be around most of the time To ferry them to and fro classes.

Wish you all a very happy 2012. So what did you do this 2011?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cycling

On December 7th we removed the balancing wheels and started training the kids...I guess I was more scared to leave them rather than them. I was more worried because they did not know how to prevent a fall.

Ths first thing what I taught them was how to prevent a fall... just place your legs and brake.

The next step (usually this is the last step people learn) was how to start the cycle by yourself.

and of course, there was the mandatory running behind them holding the cycle while they attepted to balance.

Another thing what I did, against common practice was to remove both balancing wheels at the same time, instead of removing them one by one. I always felt it caused more problem in learning to balance by giving them a false sense of security on one side and they sort of compensate by leaning over that side and when they fall, they fall badly.

So as of yesterday, they are cycling. Tejas is more of a pro than Ojas who has serious focusing problems methinks!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Krishna Contest



Thank you for the overwhelming response to the quiz. Here are the answers that we were looking for. However we make exceptions because the Goddess is ultimately one form so Laxmi is Maya or Kali and so on and Drumila was the form Kalanemi took as per the book Slayer of Kamsa.

May favourite part of the quiz was the answers I got for the favourite name of Lord Krishna. some of the answers we liked we're


Balagopala...because it reminds me of the child Krishna, and those are the stories that warm all our hearts

Yashodanandan...because He is referred to as Son of Yashoda...what more could a mother ask for

Kanha...because it conjures up the image of a mischievous brat. The name tugs at the heart strings...

Gopala because it pertains to His childhood

Krishna...for a girls name....Krishna signifies excitement...

Anandsagar...for the love He gives the devotees

Sarang...

Kanna....a term of endearment

I rejoice in repeating Govinda..

Hari steals my heart with its beauty and brevity

And now for the answers...

1. What is the meaning of the name 'Krishna".

The dark hued one, dark blue etc.

2. Where was Radha born?

Barsana

3. The Dances Garba & Dandiya are believed to have originated from Krishna. What was the form of dance that Krishna performed that became the precursor to Garba & Dandiya

The Rasalila
 

4. Who was born in Nandagokula at the time of Krishna's birth?

Goddess Lakshmi
 

5. Who was the real father of Kamsa?

The demon Drumila who was a form of KalaNemi
 

6. Who was riding the chariot after Devaki's marriage with Vasudeva?

Kamsa. 

7. Name the two jewels of Jarasandha's heart as depicted in the "Slayer of Kamsa" – Kamsa eventually marries both of them.

Asti & Prapati 
 

8. Who stopped Kamsa from killing Devaki when the prediction for the cause of Kamsa's death was rendered.

Vasudeva 

9. It is said the Parijaat tree was stolen by Krishna. Where did Krishna steal it from?

From Indra's garden, Amaravati. 
 

10. Krishna's wife Rukmini was originally promised to some one else. Who was he?

Shishupala.
 

Winners will be informed by separate mail

The Nose

Mamma...why don't you try this mango lassi. It is like mango yoghurt

Ojas...nah

Tejas...wait let me smell and tell you. Yaa... It is your mango yoghurt.

Err...as if one was not enough there is another nose in the family getting ready
Sent from my Nokia phone

Friday, December 09, 2011

After 8 years

The cycle repeated. We got married on kartik deepam day and yesterday again was kartik deepam.

I am richer by a pretty gold bracelet with a design of tiny birds and the husband gets an anti glare night glasses for driving.

We spent a day in leisure, blogging, reading and lazing around.
We went for a meal at Fortune ..just the 2 of us after a long time.
Took the kids to kfc ...spent the evening teaching them to cycle and ended the
day with a grand kabab meal at Copper Chimmney where the kids were half asleep with exhaustion, as you can see in the picture.
Sent from my Nokia phone

Thursday, December 08, 2011

How Well Do You Know Krishna- STICKY POST

THIS IS A STICKY POST
SCROLL BELOW FOR NEW POSTS
JUST OUT... A pre release review

I have copies of the soon to be released Dance of Govinda by Ashok Banker to give away. Just answer some simple questions below.
Krishna – mischievous, loving, flirtatious, master strategist… multiple facets combined in a single God!
How well do you know Krishna and his exploits?
We know Krishna from the numerous stories of Him that we have read or heard or seen on TV. One of the sources in recent time is the Krishna Coriolis that is a 3 part series of books authored by Ashok Banker and published by Harper Collins. Check out the fb page here to know more about it.
The first book is already out in the market and the second and third are coming soon.
Before that, go on, take this quiz and find out how well you know Krishna, how well you remember the book *Slayer of Kansa* and maybe, just maybe what
to expect in the upcoming *Dance of Govinda.* or * Flute of Vrindavan*.

1. What is the meaning of the name 'Krishna".
2. Where was Radha born?
3. The Dances Garba & Dandiya are believed to have originated from Krishna. What was the form of dance that Krishna performed that became the precursor to Garba & Dandiya
4. Who was born in Nadagokula at the time of Krishna's birth
5. Who was the real father of Kamsa?
6. Who was riding the chariot after Devaki's marriage with Vasudeva?
7. Name the two jewels of Jarasandha's heart as depicted in the "Slayer of Kamsa" – Kamsa eventually marries both of them
8. Who stopped Kamsa from killing Devaki when the prediction for the cause of Kamsa's death was rendered
9. It is said the Parijaat tree was stolen by Krishna. Where did Krishna steal it from?
10. Krishna's wife Rukmini was originally promised to some one else. Who was he?

And just so that there is some subjectivity also, here comes a .....
Tie Breaker- Among the many names of Lord Krishna, which is your favourite name and why?

You have a week to mail me the answers at itchingtowrite@gmail.com. Final deadline is on 8th December 2011.
Contest valid in India or an Indian postal address.
Judges decision final.
Posting answers on the comments section would seriously undermine the said contestant's chances to win the prize...in other words, the said contestant would be disqualified from the contest.

Rules

The kids' homework called for writing down some house rules.

Some of the house rules were...
Do not jump on the sofa
Read a book before sleeping

So I told them since you have made the rules, why don't you read a book now.
Those rules are just for writing. Not for doing.
Sent from my Nokia phone

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Reading Corner

The Reading Corner welcomes you. Stay tuned to read the reviews on the latest book releases.
I often say reading is a disease that sets early in life. The bug bites one at a very early stage in life. It did to me. Even when I was banned from reading story books for scoring poor marks in school, I ensured I read something every time I sat down to eat. Even if it meant reading the syllabus books like David Copperfield or Village by the Sea or just the labels on the bottles. The eyes needed to read. All the time.
Therefore this reading corner manifests what I always wanted to have, a magnificient library of my own.You will find here books suitable for across age groups reviewed. Some author speak too.
But mostly fiction books for adults.
Go on, take a seat. Browse through the books. Give your opinion on the books that you have read. What touched you most in a story? Who is your favourite author?Let's get going there for all book speak now.
This blog will move back to being purely a personal blog. But then, aren't books personal too? So therefore I am not going to remove any post but all new reviews will go to the Reading Corner. Give it as much love as you gave to Mamma of Twins please

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Tiny Wife

The tiny wife is a book I did not fully comprehend. Yet it left a deep mark on me. It is a cleverly crafted adult fairy tale with a moral behind it. I am still trying to work my head around it. I finished this 88 page tiny book in a single sitting, unable to move even.


So broadly, the story is a simple one. A robber robs a set of people. He does'nt take money but takes their most precious belonging with him. He parts ways saying he has taken with him, a piece of their souls. If they do not learn how to grow them back, they would die.
The manifestations of this act happen soon after.
A woman turns into candy. A man's mother begins to divide into smaller replicas of herself. A husband turns into a snowman. A lion tattoo comes alive and begins to chase the owner. A man's heart is torn from his ches.
And our protaginist's wife begins to shrink.

She has to figure out the pattern of her degrowth and how to keep herself from vanishing.
Discover how these people fight their inner demons and much more

I am tempted to discuss whatever I could make out of the story but that would defeat the purpose as each person who reads it is supposed to interpret it in one's own way.

Title- The Tiny Wife
Author- Andrew Kaufman
Price-Rs 125
Publisher-Harper Collins

Bags as a Source of Income

While I do like the idea of the government banning plastic bags, aren't the stores defeating the purpose by selling them at the counter?

In the good old days we always carried a 'jhola' for veggie shopping or grocery shopping and there were paper bags and plastics were unheard of unless you were a clothes store or a shoe shop or other such large stores.
The other day we went to Lifestyle with no intention of making a purchase. But we did buy and we were asked to pay up 5 bucks for a plastic bag.
My grouse is, most of the clothes or shoe stores in Delhi have shifted to cloth bags. Even the Dilli Haat guys give cloth bags. Even the mammoth giants of t nagar like Pothys, Nalli give jute bags then defeat the purpose
by throwing in a bunch of plastic bags...
Lifestyle being a giant enterprise can afford to give cloth bags, but it took the easier, environmental unfriendly and greedier way out. It choose to make money selling large, flashy, plastic bags.
Shame on you.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Monday, December 05, 2011

Meet Amish

An IIM Calcutta educated banker who gave up his 14 year old career to
become a writer. His first book The Immortals of Meluha became a
commercial success and the second book in the trilogy The Secret of
the Nagas went viral. In an engaging chat with Amish, we get a feel of
what inspired his books.

- You have crafted a wonderful tale using Meluha as a starting point.
The story is fascinating and manages to maintain parallels to the original
storyline. However the story serves a greater purpose of delivering a
powerful message relevant to the current social context. How did you go
about the process of distilling nuggets for the book from the context of
the original story? What was your inspiration behind choosing this genre to
tell your story?

*The starting point for this book was pure philosophy and my own theory of
what is evil. To make it more engaging, I converted this into a story. My
own understanding of myth comes through "Shruti" (listening) from my family
and the stories I have heard from my Baba (Grandfather) who was a priest
and a teacher. I love reading and I have been reading history books from as
long as I remember. Baba and my parents taught me to look at religious
stories from a liberal perspective. Which is to respect every person's
right to his own version of the truth. For example, some say that there are
more than a thousand versions of Ramayana. Why are there so many
versions? Because all of us are different. And we need God to come to us in
different forms to help us. That is what He does.*

* *

*My mother had told me this beautiful thought - Faith is when you believe
you know the truth and fanaticism is when you think everyone else is wrong.
Therefore acceptance of other's faiths and interpretations in a liberal
manner has been a philosophy that helped shape my thoughts.*

- Could you explain more on how Rudra is differentiated from Shiva in
the book? To us they are one and the same.

*In the myths, many times, the basic character and physical appearance of
Lord Shiva and Lord Rudra are distinct. While Lord Rudra is short tempered
and the prayers offered to Him are more in the lines of not incurring His
wrath, Lord Shiva is the even tempered, kind one- almost a Bholenath who is
sought for seeking blessings. Perhaps Their descriptions are so different
because They were different Men altogether.*


- The unveiling of the Lord of the People was the most exciting moment
in the Secret of the Nagas. How did you develop this idea of making him the
anti hero in the context of the story?

*This is the way Lord Ganesh emerged to me. He is a happy, jovial God for
everyone but to me He came as a tortured soul hankering for his mother's
love. Probably that is the way the Lord intended so I surrendered myself to
the story.*


- Tell us more on the final book in the series. Most of the perceived
evils turn out to be good along the way. Is there going to be some evil in
the final book?

*There is evil of course. Everyone has two sides but evil goes beyond mere
human beings.*


- Do we get to see the face of the intriguing cover guy in the final
book?

*I am never going to show the Lord's face. Readers should be given the
freedom to conjure their own image of Lord Shiva's face!*


- What next after the Shiva trilogy is concluded? More on mythology or
on a different genre?

**

*The Ramayana, The Mahabharata…*

- According to you, how relevant is mythology in today's world?
Especially when we want the next generation to understand mythology in
their current context.

*Ancient philosophies are relevant and there is a need to modernize them to
make them more relevant to the current times. And this process of
modernisation has been done many times before. For example the Ram Charita
Manas written by Sri Tulsidasji, which many in India feel is the official
Ramayan, is actually a 16th century modernisation of the original Ramayan,
the one written by Maharishi Valmiki.
*

- How did you go about developing a persuasive marketing game plan?

*I had very good friends and advisers who helped me all along. We did the
film trailers of the book and I am told it is a first of its kind in India.*

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Dance of Govinda


This is the second book in the series The Krishna Coriolis and is yet to be released. yes I am among the lucky few who got a pre launch copy!!!
The first book, The Slayer of Kansa is the tales of what happens before Vishnu takes the form of Krishna. While Vasudeva and King Ugrasen sign the peace treaty, The evil Kamsa is causing terror among the people and belittling the treaty by challenging Vasudev time and again. He has become more powerful after alliance with Jarasandha the evil king of Magadha. Soon he returns to Mathura after getting trained by Jarasandha and thereon begins his rise to power. He disrupts the marriage of his sister Devaki to Vasudeva. An akashvani at that moment predicts that the eight child of his sister would be his nemesis. the Slayer of Kamsa.
Kamsa, on hearing this, subjects them to a dreadful fate by keeping them imprisoned until the eight children are born.
One by one, Kamsa murders the children as they are born except the seventh child who gets transported to the womb of Vasudeva's first wife Rohini. However, when the eight child, the Lord Krishna is born, the city falls asleep and Vasudeva manages to take the baby Krishna to Nanda's and Yashoda's house.

The second book begins at this point where Kamsa, more powerful than ever is still reeling from he shock of totally failing to capture and kill the eight child of Devaki, his slayer.
He dispatches his forces everywhere to kill all male children born in the last few days, months and even years.
Meanwhile, the namkaran ceremony of both Krishna and the secret child Balrama take place and post this Kamsa's strength and powers seem to deteriorate. His kingdom, his army, his forces and he himself no longer seem to be under his control on the face of it. He seems to be having periods of memory lapses and incoherence. However, in a brief introduction to Krishna's aunt, Pritha and her family, the readers are told that Kamsa's cruelty is a direct result of he control that Jarasandha carries over him.
Kamsa struggles to regain his lost powers and cognisance until he hits upon an idea. He regains his strength after drinking an overdose of poison and becomes all powerful yet again.
With renewed vigour he sets about searching for his nephew and fortunately doesn't have to search long. The ever helpful Narada tells him the exact location of baby Krishna and Kamsa sets about trying to kill Krishna yet again.

In between the tales of the cruelty of Kamsa, the readers are treated to many joyful exchanges that go on in the minds of mother and child ... Yashoda and Krishna. His playful talk with his mother conjures and image of his being an innocent child and completely belies the fact that He is the Lord Almighty incarnate. Baby Krishna also goes to meet his real parents in a totally out of body experience and predicts that his confrontation with his Kamsa Mama is not due for a few more years.

However, Kamsa does not display so much restraint. He sends Putana to kill Krishna. She comes disguised as a lady truly against her true nature. She puts the entire family into a deep sleep and proceeds to suckle the baby Krishna to death through the potent poison that flows in her body.
However, does she manage to succeed in her mission?
Of course she does not.

And the Gokuls are treated to a sight worth watching, the dance of the Govinda t the rhythm of their clapping. The Govinda, the baby who could not walk, was dancing a merry dance.

'He clapped his hands in glee, leapt in the air, landed on both feet, tottered briefly for a moment and began to move in a way that could be interpreted as only one action...He was dancing...'

Title- The Dance of Govinda
Author- Ashoka K. Banker
Price- Rs 199
Publisher- Harper Collins

The House of Silk




With pipe in hand, he turns to me and smiles...The game is afoot.
And thus begins another Sherlock Holmes adventure written by Dr Watson, the great detective's companion whose mission is to bring to life the great adventures of Holmes.
Edmund Carstairs approaches Holmes in a state of fright. He is being pursued by the dreaded flat cap gang and his life according to him is in great danger. The curious tale that Edmund relates about his misadventure in trying to find punish the gang that caused the destruction of his valuable paintings, sets Holmes into an adventure that is darker than he thought and more complicated that he imagined. It involves gruesome murders and crooked plots that twist darkly all over making it more horrendous than Dr Watson realised before setting out to become a part of it. While everyone believes that the members of the flat cap gang have been wiped out, Carstairs believes that one member is still after him to take revenge for the killing of his twin. What he does not know that the truth is more devious and deadlier than he thought. But hang on, there is more to it than the truth from his perspective that Holmes is determined to find out.
As any Sherlock Holmes adventure, the powers of detection and logic is more exciting than the story itself. On hindsight the entire puzzle looks simple enough but the way Holmes thinks ahead and predicts what will happen lends more excitement than the mystery itself.
And the best part, the story is longer than the other Holmes stories that we have read. It is like a complete novel, a treat to Sherlock Holmes fans delivered in the original style by teh author Antony Horowitz.

Title- The House of Silk
Author- Antony Horowitz
Price - Rs 499
Publisher- Hachette

Family Fables and Hidden Heresies


A Memoir of Mothers and More

I have heard of a family tree...but your family...that's no tree...it's a jungle...
This one sentence describes perfectly the Indian family and it's significance especially during the most important events of one's life.
In the words of the author...the numbers that tumble out of every nook and corner during an important function clearly epitomises the Great or Grand Indian family.
But how much do we really know our family? What motivates them, what goes towards the making of the people they are in their present life? These are typically mysteries that those lower down in the family tree often wonder. A bunch of Sepia toned images help them form an impression of the past of the older ones.
In is book, the author demystifies the women of her family and is truly exemplary. She does it not with just a bunch of old pictures but has numerous journal entries and letter written to each other to support the making of this book.
This story is written straight from the heart but has facts to support. As she goes over the memoirs and collected letters of her mother, she realises the history that shaped her mother and grandmother.
She writes about her holidays in the small village of Kamshet and describes it as an experience that was totally afar from the quaint Enid Blyton villages. Or a holiday that was unique when compared to the holidays spent in hill stations and so called destinations.

This book is not just a story but a discovery of sorts. It could be the author's story. It could be my story. It could be your story. It also traces the effects of key historical events and social structures and rules on the lives of these women. What did widowhood mean in different points of time. A haldi kumkum routine was so important to the author's mother but why was it not so important to the author. Was it just a social context or did it have deep rooted emotional reasons. Writing it all out from her mother's perspective makes the author see it all in a different light.
'Denuded of her woman's identity through sudden widowhood, she would have fallen back on her daughter, wanting her above everyone else to acknowledge her personhood, not just her motherhood...while for the daughter, from being the mother, the dependable rock, she becomes just a person, fallible, weak and vulnerable.'
So beautifully written sentence that makes us give a thought on how we take our own mother's for granted forgetting hat she is a person before she is a mother. Or perhaps, as our mothers, we are also built to be like that when our time comes.
A very though provoking book.

Title - Family Fables and Hidden Heresies
Author- Vrinda Nabar
Price- Rs 299
Publisher- Harper Collins

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys

Imagine yourself in Tanglewood, the magical place where a tangled web of tales are woven. The children to whom the tales a told are named evocatively after flowers like Periwinkle, Dandelion, Milkweed etc. Imagine yourself as one of these lucky children who have tales narrated to them by an indulgent adult who sources these stories from a never ending supply.

The author compiles ancient myths and retells them in an imaginative fashion. This collection of six tales have the story of the Gorgon's Head which is the story of he brave adventurer who goes on the mission to bring back the Gorgon's head and free the people of the land from the cruel king. A story of wit and intellect more than just bravery.

The Golden Touch is the story of the King Midas who loved his gold more than anything else. But is gold really the most important thing? This story teaches us about the simple pleasures of life that cannot be measured against gold, like a rose and it's sweet smell.

The Paradise of Children is the story of Pandora's Box which essentially tells us that hope in the midst of despair is like a light at the end of the tunnel.
Apart from the wonderfully told magical tales, I love the additional pages that give interesting tidbits like the story of the story which is the reality behind the myth, an exercise on collective nouns and a reference list of Greek Gods.

A lovely book for young readers this book is not written in the usual English but has an ancient and lyrical flavour to it.
Title- A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys
Author- Nathaniel Hawthorne
Price - Rs 195
Publisher- Hachette

The Tulleho Book of Cocktails



This the first cocktail book with an India focus giving recipes with accessible desi ingredients.
Along with recipes there are trivia, facts and bar tending techniques. I personally loved the barman says section on the recipe pages. These are truly the pearls of wisdom that garnish the cocktails making it a totally fun book to read.
The colourful menu style content pages are as exciting as what is inside for the home bartender.
The book starts with a starter kit section which tells you what to stock in a home bar including various bar ware and types of glassware.
The mixology section teaches one the basics of the types of cocktails.
Vodka, tequila, gin, rum, Diwali special, holi special... You name it and they have a detailed section of cocktail recipes. To a teetotaller like me, it is a perfect collection to refer to if you want to understand the various categories of beverages and their drinking etiquette.
So can vodka be taken from the skull of a siberian wolf?
Which was the most expensive tequila ever sold?
Mind it, the Boyle of that tequila was made of gold and platinum,
Want the recipe for the beautiful, seductive silk panties?
What about monsoon specials served with hot pakoras?
Do you want to know your rums?
How do you say cheers in different languages?
Want to know how to fix the high?
And of course the recipe book cannot be complete without the section on liqueurs.
So go high on this collector's edition of recipes.


Title- The Tulleho Book of Cocktails
Price - Rs 395
Publisher-Westland

The Third Elephant 



The little wooden elephant who is the hero of this book is found by a little girl Sara who calls him her lucky elephant. Does this elephant bring luck to the three children meet him? Of course he does but apart from that he has his own dream to fulfil. He wishes to see the great big palace in India. His luck and dreams take him to India along with Sara's sister who is participating in a cycle race. There he meets Jack who takes him to see the princess and also the white palace. But will the lucky elephant be home in time to help Sara perform in the concert? And most importantly what exactly is the white palace the elephant wants to see? Find out as you read this exciting tale woven for children.

Title- The Third elephant
Author - Penny Dolan
Price - Rs 199
Publisher-Walker (Panmacmillan)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Antenna

Tejas- Nobody lets me speak in class. I raise my hands and someone else answers.

I want an antenna like that in the cars. I can answer fast then!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Have Arrived as a Previous Generation Person...

When you say, I really can't stand grammatical errors. I may be old fashioned/ of the previous generation....
and the other person agrees- No, no it is not just about generation gap, what is wrong is wrong!!!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sold

"Simply to endure is to triumph" is the motto that 13 year old
Lakshmi's mother ingrained into her.
And this helps her survive the most difficult phases of her life.
This book is based on the story of a survivor of child trafficking.
The book aims to bring her devastating experience to the attention of
people so that this gruesome practice comes to an end.

Lakshmi lives with her family in a village in Nepal. She has simple
pleasures in life- her goat that follows her everywhere, watching the
boy who she has been promised in marriage, her patch of cucumbers and
her school.
The vagaries of nature like the long drought and the incessant rains
together with her step father's gambling lead them to extreme poverty.
Her step father decides that it is time that she takes up a job to
feed her family and on that pretext sells her to a stylish lady.
Lakshmi is taken to the big city and thereafter she is sent with an
"uncle" to a far away place and finally taken to the "Happiness House"
which is a brothel.

A cruel old woman called Mumtaz rules the brothel. The police are in
cahoots with her therefore there is no escape for those who once enter
this place.
Lakshmi is made to believe that once she pays off her family's debt to
Mumtaz, she would be free to leave.

The promise of freedom and the believe that her earnings are being
sent to her family keeps her going. Slowly she becomes friendly with
the other girls and even a boy who teaches her to speak in the local
language.

A day comes when she gets a chance to make a bid to freedom. Will she
dare to take it?

The book is written in tiny chapters like the pages of a diary.
I finished t his book in one engrossing sitting, the pages flying fast
because of the small size of the chapters.
Some chapters are just small rhymes whereas others are more detailed.
While what Lakshmi goes through his gruesome, the book spares us the
sordid details and what we are left in the end is a great sense of
positivity.
However, I do wish we get to know of what happens after the end of the book.

Title- Sold
Author- Peter McCormick
Publisher- Panmacmillan
Price- Rs 245

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I am Feeling Lucky- The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59


After Google, I find myself impatient with the way the world works.

Says Doug about problems that are solvable yet are not getting solved.

Douglas was the first Dough in Google- employee number 59 who joined this small start up as a big-company guy. When he left Google, he left a big company as a small-startup guy.

The story of Doug’s journey begins at his lively interview with the founders. Sergey was known to give a task to all those he interviewed- tell me something that I do not know yet. It was his way of getting a spark of an idea, or eliciting thoughts from people talking of subjects that he did not know of.

Doug’s first task was to get a thorough grounding in search technology including complicated terms like page rank, crawling and indexing.

In his first week, Doug asked for Google’s strategic plan. But much to his surprise- it all existed in the heads of Larry and Sergey who were never in a mood to discuss it.
The first important lesson that Doug learnt was on the day of his proposal presentation. He started off saying- our competitors are approaching Google’s level of quality, so we need to rely on branding to differentiate us from others.

Larry said quietly- if we can’t win on quality, we shouldn’t win at all.

That was the moment when unlearning for Dough perhaps began.

Sergey insisted against Doug’s arguments that Google logo could be dynamic and not a constant. So whether there was turkey logo for Thanksgiving or a bouncing heart applet for Valentine’s Day Google Doodles became a big hit. If Doug had his way, there would be no Google Doodles!

In this story written by an insider, Douglas takes us through the journey of Google from a start up in a garage to a formidable organization that floated IPO’s in a span of 6 short years.

He talks of everything including the seemingly minor clean up of the search page and not allowing pop ups to the very important hosting of news content in the wake of 9/11.

Reading an insider’s perspective does give a different feel to the story that I know already. To that extent, there was nothing new or different in the story. But like an epic that gets retold several times, this story also takes a different form each time it is narrated.

Title- I am Feeling Lucky

Author- Douglas Edwards

Price- Rs 550

Publisher- Penguin

Scarlett



Alexandra Ripley’s story Scarlett begins at the “Tomorrow” that Margaret Mitchell left the book “Gone with the Wind“ at.

Scarlett now newly in love with her husband, is determined to win him back by all means. She travels to her husband’s home and attempts to win him back by gaining his mother’s affection.

One day, Scarlett convinces Rhett to take her for sailing. The boat capsizes in a storm and they take refuge in a hollow of sand dunes.

While Rhett utters- Oh My darling, I thought I’d lost you, he retracts his words then eventually confesses that he does not want to “lose himself” over her again.

Scarlett leaves Rhett and his home yet again and goes to live with her paternal family. She is pregnant with Rhett’s child but hides the fact from him.

Scarlett receives a divorce notice from Rhett who eventually remarries.

Scarlett gives birth to Katie O’ Hara or “cat” because of her green eyes like Scarlett’s and she settles in Ballyhara and becomes the undisputed O’ Hara- the leader of the clan.

Scarlett announces her engagement to Lord Fenton. However, The English who came to arrest a group of Irish terrorists burn her house down. Rhett comes to her rescue and during the entire episode, Rhett learns of Cat- his daughter.

The family reunites in the most romantic fashion towards the very end of the book.

While Alexandra retains the original voice and spirit of Gone with the Wind, Scarlette is definitely a mellowed down version than the first book. The characters have grown and matured with age and have become less fiery and more matter of fact- sometimes managing to see humour in adverse settings.

The characters are less regal and more realistic more so because slavery has ended and the earlier masters have softened their stance in the entire equations.

There are more of melodrama and romantic notions and family politics that keep the star crossed lovers apart and one feels frustrated at some points when the lovers refuse to reconcile.

Title- Scarlett

Author- Alexandra Ripley

Publisher- Pan (celebrating 75 years)

Gone with the Wind



Tomorrow I will think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.

When Margaret Mitchell ended her book with these words, she intended them to become famous last words in the true sense. She intended to keep the readers guessing and tearing their hair out in trying to reconcile within themselves as to what became of the lovers after the hero left the scene.

This epic novel tells the tale of the coming of age of Scarlett O’ Hara the girl who was not beautiful but had an effect on men when she took notice of them.

The story is written in the backdrop of war in South America. On one hand there are soldiers enlisting to save their country, on the other hand we have speculators like Rhett making a fortune out other’s misfortune. Scarlett is the girl who despite all odds continues to fight her way to survive. From a little girl of sixteen when everything can become all right with a nice dress and some make up, she becomes a woman of purpose. She saves her family from death; she survives by fair means and foul and emerges the strongest of all. The story is long, vivid and poignant and a definite page-turner. This anniversary edition brought back memories of the first time when I read it many years ago, in a very vivid and nostalgic fashion.

Scarlett is fiery, she is annoying, she is foolish, she is an oddity and she is a girl after my own heart. Why me? Remove me from here and put yourself in this place and you will feel the same way.

She misses the obvious. She is in love with an idea or a habit and she doesn’t see what we readers can see. And the most foolish act of hers- she refuses to fall in love with the handsome, suave, dependable rouge- Rhett Butler- the stuff dreams are made of.

Scarlett believes she loves Ashley Wilkes and she continues to love him inspite of the fact that he loves Melanie, marries her and becomes a father and is very very boring as far as Scarlett is concerned.

Scarlett marries twice, becomes a widow twice and ultimately; Rhett who intended to have her one way or another marries her. They have a baby named Bonnie. Rhett dotes on Bonnie and spoils her silly.

Under unfortunate circumstances, baby Bonnie dies. A great rift form between Scarlett and Rhett that widens further following Melanie’s death. Rhett believes that Scarlett would no longer want him now that Ashley is available, leaves his home.

The book ends with Scarlett dreaming of love that eluded her for so long and promises to herself that she will find a way to get Rhett back tomorrow.

The ending left readers wondering what would happen to Scarlett and Rhett.

Title- Gone with the Wind

Author- Margaret Mitchell

Publisher- Pan (celebrating 75 years)

Myth Quest Series




The main characters in our myths are bigger and better than most of the modern superheroes! Hachette India aims to make a Mythmaster of the young readers through their wonderful myth quest series.

Garuda- Devourer of Serpents

Garuda the magnificent bird king with the head of an eagle and body of a man was the vahana of Lord Vishnu.

In a span of nine small chapters the young readers get to understand the entire story of Garuda starting from the story of his birth to Vinata who was cursed to a lifetime of slavery.

How did Garuda become the mount of Lord Vishnu? There are two tales that tell of the possibilities behind this.

The legendary battles between Garuda and the Nagas form exciting sections in the book.

Airavata- Elephant of the Clouds

This divine king of elephants was the mount of Lord Indra . Interestingly this elephant was hatched from the same broken set of eggshells from which Garuda was hatched.

The milky white Airavat had the unique ability of creating rain. Being the mount of Lord Indra, he had been part of many battles and through this book we learn of his splendid feats from carrying Indra back to safety from battlefield or leading the gods back to heaven after churning of the ocean which gave them back their immortality. While most of the stories do not touch upon the tale of Airavat, this book is unique as it tells of rare tales of this divine elephant.

Sheshanaga- The Endless Serpent

This is the story of the serpent king also known as Ananta-Shesha (endless snake) or Adi Shesha (first snake)

Sheshanaga is the powerful snake on whose heads the heavenly bodies rest including Vaikuntha- the abode of Lord Vishnu.

Being a devout follower of Vishnu, Shesha is a constant companion to Him even during his many avatars- the hotheaded Lakshman and Balrama.

Sheshanaga was the firstborn to Kadru the wife of Sage Kashyapa. In time left his abode, Nagalok to escape from his quarrelsome brothers and went to Vishnu’s abode.

The book describes in detail the story of Lakshmana and Balrama- the two important avatars of Sheshnaga.

A must read for children especially they love animal stories.

Book- Mythquest series- Garuda, Airavata, Sheshanaga

Author- Anu Lumar

Price- Rs 99 (special offer- Rs 75)

Publisher- Hachette

I is for Influence- The New Science of Persuasion


I is for Influence- The New Science of Persuasion

Benjamin Franklin rightly said- if you must persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.

In this book, Rob Yeung presents a toolkit to help readers understand the psychology of influence and persuasion. To be able to make requests that the others wouldn’t want to refuse. To use all facilities to our advantage including words, body language and even statistics.

Of course all of us practice these skills unconsciously but is there a proven theory behind these practices that corroborates our self-developed persuasion skills? The book definitely talks about experiments that have been carried on subjects and statistics that definitely points in the direction of cleverly used words and body language to help influence the other party.

The best chapter that I liked is the section on invoking the imagination and telling tales. Why are stories or ads powerful methods of selling or influencing children into doing what is right? Because one is able to vividly imagine or place oneself in that situation and imbibe those values or buy that particular product.

Of all, the chapter on Body Language came as a sort of surprise to me. The theory is that if one wants to influence one must try and imitate the other person subtly. At a higher level, the author talks of finding commonalities that instantly make the other party more receptive towards you- like a shared birthday or being alumni of the same school.

One of the things that parents constantly worry about is the negative influence of peers. Is it possible to stop that? Perhaps there is. The trick is to use cleverly worded sentences. Most of your classmates do not smoke. You are the only one in the class running around and disturbing the others. Everyone is reading this book. Have you?

The book explains how even a subtle change in the way the message is delivered could cause a different reaction from the listener. Either showing a picture that fires the imagination or giving reasoning that attaches validity to the statement.

I recommend this as a must read.

This book moves quickly, given enough stories for one to be interested in it and most importantly is not long, winding or repetitive like most self help books are.

Title- I is for Influence- The New Science of Persuasion

Author- Rob Yeung

Price- Rs 499

Publisher- Panmacmillan

Friday, November 25, 2011

Vivid Dreams

Overheard...
Tejas - I saw in my dream that the HCL game was not working
Ojas- May be in your dream battery was low

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hinglish

Me- why did that boy beat you
Tejas- beat naa uska kaam hai

Ojas - height of look who is talking- dont give my homework book to donut. Woh kharaab kar dega.

Height of limited generosity
Tejas takes a swig from Donut' s water bottle.
So does Ojas but it's over.
Donut gets more water filled in and offers to Ojas.
Tejas follows suit and Donut scolds him for taking a second swig and snatches it back.
Sent from my Nokia phone

Teen nonteen bandars

Taken for a ride
Sent from my Nokia phone

Storytime

Bhayia reads and baby listens
Sent from my Nokia phone

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ahmed and the Feather Girl



This is about a little boy Ahmed who lives with a traveling circus run by a cruel woman. Madam Saleem


One day Ahmed discovers a golden egg and secretly brings it to his caravan. When Madam Saleem discovers the egg, she captures it and places it in a golden cage. A little girl is born out of it and she is named Aurelia. She is put on display for money. Eventually she sprouts feathers and is ready to fly. Ahmed frees her secretly but pines for his friend.


Does he ever get to meet her again? Find out in this enchanting picture book for young readers.


Title- Ahmed and the Feather Girl


Author- Jane Ray
Price- Rs 150
Publisher- Frances Lincoln children's books (courtesy Panmacmillan)

Rama and Sita -path of flames



Internationally acclaimed storyteller retells one of the two great epics of India in a very interesting manner, keeping the original flavour intact.


The story begins with Lord Vishnu and Laxmi flying over the Earth on Garuda. Seeing the earth beings in distress Vishnu and Laxmi decide to take human form to destroy evil.


Thus began the tales of King Dasrath & King Janak moving in parallel. The prayers and subsequent miracles helped both Kings to have children- King Dasrath was the chosen one to become the father of Lord Rama and King Janak the father of Devi Sita.


The two eventually get married and in a twist of fate are sent to the forest where Demon King Ravana kidnaps Sita.


In the ensuing battle Rama destroys Ravana and wins back Sita.


Beautifully illustrated in Madhubani style drawings, this book brings alive the entire Ramayana in a 62 page picture book. The imagery conjured via the tale is vivid and one is compelled to pause and imagine the entire scenario while reading. The writing is simple and children can read and follow quite easily.


This book is meant to be read in multiple sittings with children rather than all in one go.


A must buy for young and old readers.
Title- Rama and Sita- path of flames


Author- Sally Pomme Clayton


Illustrator- Sophie Herxheimer
Price- Rs 225
Publisher- Frances Lincoln (courtesy Panmacmillan)

I Am Not Twentyfour



This review is a part of Blogadda's review program.


Straight out of campus, Saumya Kapoor from Delhi lands up in a remote town of Karnataka. The only solace is that the township of Lala Steel is a totally modern setup and it provides heavily subsidized luxuries.


Saumya and two more new recruits get inducted into their new roles and take up their responsibilities.


However, in this man's world of steel, furnace and dust, Saumya seems to be a total misfit. She is being inducted into the role of the Safety officer whose prime job is to react to incidents. From the word go Saumya begins to witness gruesome accidents and somehow feels responsible for them all.


Unable to stomach the accidents and take it in her stride, she decides to quit and puts in her papers and starts counting down the 3 months notice period.


In the midst of these accidents, Shubhrodeep the Wanderer comes like a breath of fresh err dirty air. He leads a hippie life and goes by the principle of moving on. Which means, he stays in one place only for 90 days after that come what may, he moves on to another place to lead another life, in another world, leaving everything he loved yet again.


Saumya gets drawn to him and in one drunken party with him, leaves her address in his pocket. Thus in his next block of 3 months, he finds his way to Saumya's township and begins to live in the company guest house.


Since Shubhro is bored and needs to do something, Saumya finds him a place in Lala Steels' charity department. Much to Saumya's surprise, Shubhro becomes very successful in his brainchild scheme. He begins to arrange loans for the villagers and help them start their own business. Of course there is a little detail- this hippie is an MBA in Finance, therefore he is expected to be good in this department.


As the 3 months end for both Shubhro and Saumya, they need to take a decision. Saumya feels she has find her true calling and is only waiting for a nod from Shubhro. But Shubhro the mystery man has other plans.


The story is a simple one and manages to throw some surprises.


The idea of a self sufficient township is not new yet left me pleasantly surprised. For once I am glad that even as a reader I did not have to go through a horrid first year of job with meager facilities. The heavy subsidy and luxurious life seem like a dream come true, even though it is very common in townships. One point scored for the author for giving me a vicarious pleasure in reading through the comfortable first year of job.


Saumya seems to be the only female in the entire story and that seems odd in a modern day tale but not unlikely in a steel plant setting. The accidents are horror movie material and are best left alone. Perhaps, it is those gruesome accidents, which will prevent me from going for a second reading.


The story ends in a twist. Not something that is too fantastic. It is introduced in a very smooth ordinary manner and that gives it a very nice touch.


Title- I'm Not Twenty Four


Author- Sachin Garg


Price- Rs 100


Publisher Grapewine


(courtesy Blogadda)

The Fifth Witness



Mortgages, loans, EMI's … this book does strike a chord with all of us who are paying back loans!


But wait a moment, there is more. We have a lady who is protesting against banks taking over homes due to non-payment of loans, we have her astute lawyer Haller, a pro in such cases and we have a murder. A very simplistic looking murder it may seem but its Haller's job to keep the suspect Lisa Trammel out of jail. To turn the tables against the State's case and to prove her innocence, come what may.


Haller sets about collecting evidence systematically and proving that Lisa could not have committed the murder.


As the case progresses, we find Haller developing a shade of conscience towards the end. Something, which he strictly believes a lawyer should avoid. He believes that whatever be the truth of the matter, being a lawyer it is better he should not actively seek it, lest it damages his client's case.


However, when he realizes that he has been double crossed, he uses his powers of detection to solve the little matter of his conscience in a genuine manner.


The book is a thorough page-turner and moves like a flick expect for the legal jargon. But if one speed reads through it and pretends it does not exist, it is easy to move on.


It seems to drag towards the end but frankly, the final twist makes it really worthwhile and leave one wanting for more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knock Knock

Do you know the meaning of 'naukar' ?
Tejas...yes... Knock knock

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bats

Here we have our very own monkeys or bats in the current context.
We read this book Fledolin upside down by katha world series and were most impressed with the illustrations in particular.
Fledolin the bat is upside down apparently. But what's wrong with that? Aren't bats supposed to be upside down anyway? Yes but this little bat was upside down from the bats' point of view.
While all bats found him odd, some like the birds strongly felt that this was the right way to be.
His mother strongly believed in him and knew that one day he would do something great.
Of course he finds his calling finally but not before a lot of soul searching on what was the right way to be.
The entire book is illustrated from a bat's piint if view that is upside down and therefore we have upside down trees, electric poles and houses and that's the most fun part if reading this book. After reading each page we would turn the book around to admire the illustrations.
A very well written and conceptualized book.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Two Second Advantage



When the Universe puts together a series of fortunate circumstances, it's probably a good idea to pay attention.

This book is a powerful tool to help us understand how to succeed by anticipating the future. The book is divided into three parts
What is natural- Talented Brains
What is built- Talented Systems
What happens when both are combined- The Two Second Advantage.


In a nutshell, talented brains operate with a powerful in built tool of predicting and anticipating what may occur in the future and thereby gain that split second advantage which could be crucial to succeed in a scenario. Be it sports, business or life. The good news is talented brains are born but with sufficient practice, ideally around 10 thousand hours which would be 3 years of 8 hour day practice will help build a talented brain – one that essentially gets rewired to perform that particular activity by chunking various sets of activities thereby going on auto pilot without consciously doing it. This holds true for a job function or a hobby or any other activity and is a powerful mathematics for parents who want to identify and develop talent in their children.

Talented systems are tools that help one gain an overall perspective of a situation- it could be just a collection of traffic data which when analysed could help one predict a traffic jam situation and thereby reroute traffic or an analysis of a series of games that help one understand a pattern or perhaps an analysis of specific search words like "flu" and predict where there could be a possibility of an occurrence of an epidemic and move medical supplies in that region. The problem with talented systems is that they cannot think. They can collect data, throw up search results but are not able to think and throw up the data that is needed by a particular user.


The two-second advantage could be a combination of talent and practice and a focused approach to a situation. Or it could simply be a combination of talented brain using a talented system to analyse and act. It would be thinking on your feet, which cannot come without practice and an ability to predict.

I found this book extremely interesting and it flows like a story using sufficient examples to highlight the approaches that talented brains do. It also talks of technical jargons to explain talented systems and their scope and possibility. It would universally appeal to business / working people, hobbyists, parents and even an individual who is simply looking at bettering their approach to handling situations- social/ emotional or others. It is like a tool that one could use for brainstorming or as training capsule to refresh our approach towards a situation.


Highly recommended.



Title- The Two Second Advantage
Authors- Vivek Ranadive & Kevin Maney
Publisher- Hachette
Price- Rs 499

Fruitful Month

We have made these cut outs of watermelon and guava for taking to school for fruit month.
They also speak a few lines about the fruit and would dress up in the fruit colours.
Ojas refused to add shades of pink to the fruit as pink is girlish and Tejas refuses to say I love watermelon but will say I like the same.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Manhattan in Reverse















This is a collection of science fiction short and not so short stories and I honestly wish there were more than just 7 of them.




Set in not one timeline but traveling across timeline and dimensions of space and parallel universe these imaginative yet not going too much beyond the realms of imagination stories have a potential to keep readers engrossed and guessing.




Each story ends in a nice twist and leaves one wanting for more.




The basic assumptions are the immortality of the of the human race and that the problem of space can be solved by starting one's life in a different planet reaching there via a fast traveling craft through a wormhole.




Watching Trees Grow is a murder mystery story that begins in 1832 and is solved in 2038. The success of the case is based totally on the innate wisdom of the detective in storing the samples from the murder site in the lab and reopening the case every time a new science technology or medical miracle comes into being.







Footvote is a family drama where the parents are divorced. One parent is contemplating to quietly go with the kids and new fiancée to leave the planet and go through the wormhole to a new promised land whereas; the other parent is totally against the entire philosophy of jumping ships. Do the emotions of parents that often come into play in a normal family drama stand strong in the science fiction world?




If at First.. give whole knew meaning to the phrase if at first you don't succeed. Detective David Lanson comes across the classic case of time travel and in his tryst to uncover the mystery of the same, how far does he manage to travel?




In Forever Kitten, we see parents go to great lengths to maintain the current age- not theirs, someone else's. The reason behind that is not exactly preserving youth but totally something else.




Blessed by an Angel is the story of alien invasion in a new way.




2 stories are written specially for the Investigation Paula Myo for this series




The Demon Trap- an exciting tale of a crime that is perpetrated by a man who has multiple clones. Is it right to catch him or his clone?




Manhattan in Reverse- is the story of a new land that has been established recently. All is well until the indigenous animal population begins to protest against the humans. Paula is the right person wired to solve this crime objectively. The fight surprisingly ends when the matter is solved- the tryst to secure the yellow metal of power so relevant in our Universe too.




Title- Manhattan in Reverse




Author- Peter F Hamilton




Publisher- Panmacmillan

Along the Way












Close to the heels of Five Point Someone come this book that go a step further in the 3 youths and 1 girl scenario- what do software engineers whose grades are always rock bottom do when they get a job in the company that hires everyone who attends the interview- TCS.




I really thought this book will be a poor copy of Five Point Someone but it is not. It is actually interesting and one can identify with the story, as all of us have been newcomers in the industry at one point. Being a newcomer, we are often ignored and given odd tasks, low grade projects and more often than not, end up being labeled as upstarts or abrasive or what not, until we reach a stage where we can be called experienced and therefore have a value attached on our heads.




Venkat, Raj and Adi are close friends whose grades are in the lower quartile. Venkat popularly known as VSAT, the join of the abbreviations of his 4 word long name, is in love with the Coorgi Anjali . Srila is the friend in the equation and all of them manage to find a job in TCS and are doing various projects in the first year. Their first years seems to be entirely composed of trying very hard to get a good credit in their project so that they could be rated exceeds expectations in their appraisal, managing the boss and failing pathetically and trying to strike the right chord with HR but goofing it up badly.




However VSAT and team also manage to do a lot in the first year- get a referral posting for his barber's son Swamy in TCS, carry along with his romance with Anjali, going to USA on client project and running a parallel secret innovation project which finally earns them a positive feedback from the big bosses.




However, the most critical challenge is yet to be won- convincing Anjali's trivia crazy retired Colonel father.




Will VSAT pass this final test?




The book is peppered with humour, which are extremely relevant and recognizable in an office context. Each situation that VSAT encounters with respect to the boss has a parallel drawn in his mind using popular dialogues from the Godfather which I thought was funny and quite innovative.




The author also keeps working out the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Boss or the book that his boss is supposed to write- Managing the Mani Way Axiom no#, in his mind making it a hilarious read.




The Mind's Eye












Can you even imagine waking up and looking into the mirror and getting startled at seeing a stranger in the mirror.




Or imagine forgetting where one lived or not recognizing one's family members until the member spoke.




Imagine processing each activity in one's mind without doing it subconsciously.




Sounds impossible yet it has happened to people in various degrees of severity.




There was a man who mistook his wife for a hat.




There was a man who thought he was looking into the mirror and grooming but actually he was looking at someone else and grooming himself thinking the other person to be his reflection.




There are musicians with PCA- Posteriar Cortical Atrophy who had no vision problem, preserve some elements of vision and could play perfectly well from memory but could no longer read the music sheets.




There are people with psychic blindness who had difficulty finding their way around their home, as they could no longer recognize how the various objects looked like.




There are people with visual agnosia who cannot connect the letters to make a word.




Oliver Sacks explores such specific cases and more than just talking about the problem he explains how these cases managed to live with their problem by consciously learning and practicing how to overcome their situation.




An interesting read for those who would like to understand more on the workings of the mind and the brain and to enrich their knowledge about possible age related/ congenital problems.




Title- The Mind's Eye




Author- Oliver Sacks




Publisher- Picador (Panmacmillan)




Price- Rs 399







The Google Guys












Inside the Brilliant Minds of Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin




'Good Luck. I've been trying to do that for some years"- said Google CEO Eric Schmidt after being told the title of this book. Truly, if only one could go even a little bit inside their minds, one would have so much to learn and absorb.




Between the two of them, Larry the main strategist with a practical and Sergey the technologist and idealist, they have taken Google to great heights, using their infinite wisdom, akin to the number of o's in a Google search page.




This book aims to trace the milestones of Google and thereby understand what makes them do what they are doing.




The most important thought behind the Google brains is – how can I make the experience of the user better. How to best focus on the need of the user? And above all, is how best to do it without being evil.




This last sentence is all that a reader needs to fall in love with Google- as an organization, as a tool or as a search engine.




The book begins with a parallel drawn to the Great Library of Alexandria- created by Ptolemy I a childhood friend of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy created this library in 300BC and it was the greatest library in the world for 300 years. Ptolemy and his descendants ruthlessly collected all written work from world over, sometimes by fair means and sometimes by not and made them available at one place.




Practically this is what Google is doing. Making information available on the fingertips. Starting with a simple search Google has surpassed itself beyond anyone's imagination. One can now search photographs, videos and books- the recreating of Ptolemy's impossible dream in virtual format.




Each and every aspect that is Google today is explained threadbare in this book, from a seemingly minor thing like the frugal number of words used on Google page to make the page clean and clutter free to the very important privacy officer of Google who decides what information is allowed to appear on the search pages and what videos can come on Youtube.




What I most like about this book is that it reads like a storybook, a fantastic thriller that one is living in. One knows Google for as long as one is exposed to the Internet. Thereby this book is interesting even for a normal user of Internet like me who is technologically challenged. The anecdotes make the book really interesting and that is why I was hooked on to it for a long time even though I was most disappointed in getting this book unsolicited from Penguin.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Forcing the Milestone to come Clean

Close to the heels of Tejas beginning to post on fb is the much awaited milestone.
Tejas has washed his bum in tne school once but Ojas never displayed any hurry to do so. He wanted to start after 10 years of age. Today I gave him a warning. Either you wash or you stay here. I showed him the technique to hold the hand faucet and aim and spray for a hell lot of long time. He did a clean job but just in case I wanted him to do the 2nd step which is useful in a bucket mug scenario. But he refused to dirty his hands.
How do I know that it is indeed a milestone? He did an encore without my knowledge and proudly presented the bum for inspection.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Facing a Milestone

So Tejas has posted a photo on my fb status using my nokia fb application.
Thank God it was only this.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Ma Tongue

Seeing this picture, Ojas wonders, how will she talk...(if her tongue is always out). Very clearly, Hindu Mythology is too complicated and fascinating to explain to kids easily. It needs to be imbibed.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Musical Family

Told the kids, when the song was playing, c'mon sing with me...rimjhim gire saavan...

Ojas, Tejas come near me and as I could see, without any consultation with each other began... Doremon, doremon, doremon, doremon.
Aaaaargh!

Sent from my Nokia phone

Ancestors

Mamma reading from Amar Chitra Katha comic-Ancestors of Rama. Do you know the meaning of ancestors.
Ojas & Tejas unanimously- Yes, many sisters of Rama.

On this note, I got a coupleof comics, Stories of Shiva and Stories of Rama to herald 6 years of age, the age at which I was reading these comics on my own, starting with a thick ACK book on Ramayana.
The interest and connect has been sparked by a lovely dance drama on Ramayana we saw when we were in Delhi during Dussehra, thanks to D mami. In a lovely open air venue, immensely talented dancers performed the Ramayana in a 3 hour capsule. A must watch for children.
A funny thing that happened...as soon as the performance started, and the musical chants began, the stage was yet to be populated, Ojas shouted in a worried tone, why is the movie not coming?
When Hanuman flew with a rope trick, the brothers looked at each other and giggled.
The narration was also being done on a Tv screen, and I encouraged the kids to read the same to follow the story better.
Funny part was a 3 year old nephew insisting that I tell him...wahan kya written hai, exactly how Ojas was asking.
Of course the best part was the samosas and chaat available there.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Height of Dilemma

Tejas- I don't think I have become 6 years, I am only 5 years.
Me- no baby of course you are 6 years old. Why do you think you are not?
Tejas- because I have not grown (taller). I am the same as what I was at 5 years.

And later he proceeds to indicate the height which he think a 6 year to a 10 year old should grow to.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy Birthday

Wish you a very Happy Birthday babies.
You will of course still be my babies and not my boys until you.
1. Start eating on your own.
2. Start washing your bum on your own.
3. Lose a tooth or two.

Ah well, the list could be endless but as a milestone for turning 6 you have finally learnt to wish each other happy b'day after much coaxing.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cancellation

Ojas- tomorrow is my birthday?
Me- no, tomorrow is not your birthday
Ojas- mera birthday cancel ho gaya?
has my b'day been cancelled?

"his b'day is on tuesday!''



What has really been worrying them, especially Ojas is that the other set ( of twins ) had their b'day alderry...(already in their language), and their's has not yet come. And everyone seems to be buying stuff for them but not for Ojas and Tejas.
They are also expecting that we will have lots of games but Mamma has other plans this time. In fact she is not even properly planned. No frantic list making. No advance planning. In fact the excuse of a list is made on a post it booklet. And the guest list is pared to a minimum. Therefore the invitations also were done in a jiffy.
And therefore we are ready for the party but there is actually no slogging this time. Basically less of effort because as kids grow, they learn to enjoy themselves as soon as they gather.
The focus will be on learning something and experiencing a different thing and enjoying it too!
So watch this space for more.



Sent from my Nokia phone