The Scorpios

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Alchemist- A Graphic Novel

Harper has brought to India Paul Coelho's Alchemist in a delightfully simply graphic format. Something which even children can easily follow.

The Alchemist is an allegorical novel by Paulo Coelho first published in 1988. The Alchemist was originally written in Portuguese and has since been translated into 67 languages, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author. It has sold more than 65 million copies in more than 150 countries, becoming one of the best-selling books in history. (SOURCE- WIKIPEDIA).
The Alchemist is the first graphical novel that I have read so far and trust me, it didn’t disappoint me. Tos tart with Alchemist is a very simply written, lucid story – once transformed into a comic it becomes even simpler to appreciate and understand. And it also helps transform imagination to reality.
The story is about a shepherd boy Santiago from Andalusia. In those days, the best option for someone who wanted to travel was to become a shepherd. At a very young age, Santiago had studied well to become a priest. When the time came to decide what to do with his life, he decided to become a shepherd so that he could travel the world and gain knowledge from his experiences.
With his flock of sheep and a new book every few nights, he set about to see the world- traveling, tending to his sheep and reading books to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. He met interesting people and learned more from them.
He has a recurring dream of finding a treasure but he usually wakes up before he gets to know where the treasure is. A gypsy woman in exchange for one tenth of his treasure when he finds it tells him to go and seek the treasure among the pyramids.
As he was contemplating the same, he meets the King of Salem who gives him 2 decision making stones- urim & thummim- the black one signified yes and the white one meant no. The King tells me to go and seek his personal legend and emphasizes his philosophy that
"When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
The boy proceeds towards Egypt. He has a mix of ill fate and good fortune – loses his money to a thief, earns it back working as a shopkeeper’s assistant and sets about to see his goal and fortune. He finds friendship, love and most importantly discovers his inner strength and resources via the alchemist whom he meets on his journey to the Pyramids via the Oasis in the desert.
Of course the boy gets his treasure but more than that, he discovers his very own personal legend and unlocks the powers of self.
The comic book style made the novel easy to read and understand. There is a lesson involved here without sounding too preachy especially because it is in a graphic format.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The kids had to dress up as Helpers of the Society in school- which means dress up as a professional.

The easiest way is to find out what they want to be and work around. There were choices tossed around like doctor, fireman, gym instructor, artist and so on, until the final decision was taken heavily based on the props each one of them would be allowed to carry.

Ojas decided to be a policeman and insisted the dress could be either in blue or brown.

Saved me the trouble of looking for khakis.

The attire was a blue shirt, dark blue pants, a spiderman walkie talkie tucked in one pocket and a gun attached to his belt. A label was stuck on his pocket with a 2 way tape announcing his name and designation. He wore a normal blue cap. The only thing missing were the stars.

Tejas decided to be a CEO. The same shirt was used and he wore a tie given by D Mami. A mobile phone inside one pocket and a wallet with credit card & visiting card in another pocket. I stuck a label CEO on his old school ID card and he wore it round his neck.

I guess that completed the look. I Would have loved to give him his toy laptop if I wasn't worried it will get broken/ misplaced in school.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Compliment or Annoyance

When the kids' friends eat up the contents of their snack box, do I feel annoyed or take it as a compliment?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Way to Go

Under very mysterious circumstances, Jamun’s 80 year old, half paralyzed father Shyamlal disappears. Jamun does what needs to be done under the given circumstances and files a police report.
Here we readers get a feel of what to expect in the book- a depiction of what the common man has to face in trying to work his way out of a problem- even if it is an act of filing a simple police report- going through pages of seemingly unnecessary questions which seem to be more trouble than the entire problem in itself.
The mystery remains a mystery till the very end but Jamun goes about the business of life remembering the past, his dead mother and his solitary life with his now disappeared father, flavoured by the presence of the cook who was instructed to cook – anything that does not make them puke.
We come across a host of other characters as Jamun continues to look for any trace of his father- the dhobi Dhan Singh’s brood, his cook’s son Vaman, his ex lover Kasturi who is a famous tele serial maker and bases the climaxes of her serials on her own life with Jamun. Jamun shares an easy and heartwarming relationship with his daughter.
We also have Monga, the builder who in his quest to acquire Shayamand’s house will do anything like-
- become Shyamanand’s 3rd son in his ways and behaviour with Shyamanand
- Take away bits of adjacent land and building and even possibly murder Naina Kapoor his lover and resident in that premises
- Do away with his man Bahadur
Jamun’s brother Burfi also comes over to support Jamun in these difficult times.
And as the story moves from anecdote to anecdote, sometimes adding value and sometimes not, we find that more and more people disappear including the voice of the story- Jamun himself.
The book is quite long and the story winding studded with plenty of dark humour. Lots of potty humour or rather just mention of assorted words denoting that- comparing everything to a piece of shit seems to be the general scheme in the book.
Food is given a little more respect- it is compared to vomit.
And there are other things like mention of body odour, size and type of various vitals of the human body- male or female, lots of dead body and decay.
Overall, it is difficult for even an above average reader to finish the book- especially when the payback itself is not there- most matters, like life itself, seems to be unresolved.

This book is a sequel but one can quite well follow through the story even if one has not read the previous one. The author explains the characters and back story extremely well.

Abhi Se

Some boy in Tejas' class has been telling him
you should kiss girls, you should love girls and you should fly and give them a ring.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pirates of the Bay of Bengal

First dress up day in school albeit on a very short notice of an evening was to dress up as characters from a book. Tejas said he wanted to be an octopus he changed his mind the moment he heard Ojas say he wants to be a Pirate and that a pirate will be carrying a sword.

I asked the kids what a pirate is supposed to wear and they come up with

- colourful clothes

-eye patch


-a belt that goes cross from shoulder to waist- I guess they meant sash


Ultimately this is how they went.

Another day, they had to pictorial represent things they do with water.

Here's what they did....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pertinent Questions

1. I leave home anytime between 7.45 - 8.00 am. And the husband's car leaves home after 2.00 pm. What compels the car cleaning guy to clean the husband's car first and then mine. Just the fact that his car is parked 1st in the peking order?

2. Who, I ask who the F is crapping in the building lift every morning? Rather why is he doing it there- I am pretty sure it is a he.

3. What makes people do exactly the opposite of what instructions have been given?

4. What makes people blame the kids even if the mistake is theirs?

5. Why is the neighbour's kid always punching the other kids in the stomach? And most importantly why is the mother not bothered to correct the child?

6. What causes people to hoard obviously useless stuff? One person's trash is other person's treasure and all that being true but some stuff has so obviously lost their usefulness that the best place for them is the trash box. Especially nowadays, when space is a constraint.

7. Why am I always short of 5 minutes in the morning?

8. Can't people use common sense? Or if that is too much of an effort, can't they read the notices in the toilets- Do not throw tissues in the toilet- throw them in the dustbin?

Monday, July 18, 2011


Mamma- trying to find out ideas for lunch box- What do your friends bring for Lunch?

Tejas- Chicken Magnets! (nuggets!!!)


Ojas- on seeing a tree after a cutting- tree had a hair cut

Friday, July 15, 2011


This is a fast paced story based on the dark side of the cricketing world.
On one side there is mass hysteria for cricket, so much identifiable by any reader, irrespective of whether one is an arden t fan or not, and on the other side is the extreme behaviour of fans when the idol falls from grace.
Tarun Krishna is the Mr Clean of the Indian cricket team- a happy family comprising a media shy wife and two beatific children, a cricketing career growing by leaps and bounds and a clean image- not even a whisper of controversy or a shadow of aspersion cast on him.
In a span of a few hours, all is lost. A journalist walks into his cabin alone. And the next day breaking news on Infront news channel sends Tarun’s image plummeting down. An ex model claims to be the mother of his illegitimate son. Photo shopped images of him with his ex girl friend Aditi – also a journalist with Infront are splashed all over and a new counter has been started called- Tarun-o-meter- counting the number of girls claiming to be ex/ present girlfriends of Tarun.
Effigies are burnt, his home is surrounded by the hungry media, and above all, his wife has lost faith in him and his trusted PR agent is missing.
A case has been filed against him and Taurn lands up in jail.
His ardent fan Sunny vows to save his name.
Using his geeky skills he hacks phones and laptops and discovers Godse- the one who has contacts all over the place and together with Aditi they set about to save Tarun’s name and raise him from fall from grace.
But there is a twist in the tale. There is a larger game that is being played and someone very powerful is controlling the buttons.
A slim book with small, easy to read chapters, this one can be read in a couple of sittings.
The characters are realistic and I find Sunny’s Dad a very ideal cop figure- one who may be hard to find in this corrupt world. Tarun’s wife seems to be extremely mysterious- I feel that loose end has not been tied by the author.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Home Police

The day Mamma gets delayed.

The Boys- Mamma, where are you
Mamma- lies through her teeth- I am in office (not restaurant/ shop)

Boys- kyon still work kar raha hai (why are you still working)

Mamma tries to tell in a sympathy gathering voice- work is there that's why

Boys- where are the aunties from office (meaning are rest of the colleagues also working)

What time will you come. Will you come by 8 o'clock?
Or will you come only by school time
(meaning if I come home after they have slept, they will see me only next morning and will howl- Bole they.. ki school time mein tum aegaa)

Not even the husband has ever asked me such questions ever.
In fact he is happy if I am late- he can happily watch TV and do all the things I hate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pizza Hut

The least few occassions we have gone to various birthday parties at different locations. Hansel and Gretel being one of them where the kids had a great time being all over the place.

While this is all very good and convenient- I have always liked to do it at home, organise all the games myself and look at various return gifts, various food options.

Until the other day when, we were off to a Pizza Hut Birthday party.

So said Tejas- everyone has a birthday party where we go somewhere, play and eat.

Me- Do you like that? do you want to have your birthday in those places or at home?

Tejas- just shrugged his shoulders and said I don't know.

Another day and we were invited to Ojas' classmate's birthday party at Pizza Hut again.

A milestone indeed. My first rider given to the Mom was that I have twins and perhaps they are not yet ready to go separate ways and that both of them would not like to be going/ left alone.

The excitement was on the entire week with the two brothers- Ojas had got the invite which had Ben 10 theme all over the place. And since they had already attended another Pizza Hut party, they knew what to expect or hope- a Ben 10 bottle/ pencil box etc

What I found the most reassuring with this party was that the crowd was familiar for the kids. I saw them participating in musical chairs- a first - because the two of them never ever participate.

They sat with their classmates and pretty much took care of themselves without me standing over their heads shoving food into their mouths.

Now that sets me thinking. Should the next birthday party be with their school crowd?

And I simultaneously die thinking of the crowd for 2 classes at one go apart from the building crowd.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Men are Born, not Made

Talk about boys starting to become men early...

The types who cannot hear even if me the Mamma is shouting at the top of her voice.

And the types who cannot locate stuff even if it happens to be right in front of them.

And why do I say this....
Picture this...

4 kids are playing hide and seek.

There are three police- three little boys.
The thief is a little girl.

(Forget the fact that the concept of hide and seek has one seeker- here they play it differently)

The little girl chooses to hide in the living room right on her father's lap - in full view of everyone.

The little boys run all over the house- looking inside dark rooms and corners, inside the kitchen, run all over the place, together- mind you- theyd on't think they should search in different directions... and yet they fail to find the girl sitting right in front.

Ufff... men!! They learn to be men early!


Soulmates is a book of 13 short stories set in Nigeria-with liberal references to yam, wrapper, head ties and a novel term like co wife.

The stories straddle the Indian and Nigerian culture and traverse across insider and outsider point of views.

These are slice of life stories- some have a definitive ending, some don’t, and may be interpreted in different ways.
They carry the flavour of Nigeria with an Indian connect.

An easy to read, slim volume, depicting the simple yet multi faceted business of living.

Soulmates- story of Uncle Wahab, who is a wanderer and finds a place to grow his temporary routes in a household

Testimonies- a story of confessions and tolerance with a twist in the ends

Blessing in Disguise – is the story that introduced me to the concept of co-wife. An old man takes a younger wife and claims- she is going to be a wife for both the husband and his aged wife- but in a surprising bid for freedom, the aged wife takes a decision for herself.

Golden Opportunities- an enterprising woman Kemi visits her friend and tempts her to join her in enterprise.

Jaded Appetites- a story of being in love with a married man

Greener Pastures- story of a single woman separated from her husband and her survival game

Borrowed Feathers- Sophie flies into a rage when she sees her husband’s lover sneak into her house

The White Rooster- A wife struggles with her husband’s adultery.

Exile- a Daughter in law embraces her Mother in law out of turn

Friday, July 08, 2011


Tejas- what is the spelling of A/C

Ojas- A cut C

One Stop Shop

Quick...Just 3 days left for a chance to win a Dell Inspiron Laptop. And since I am desperate to get a laptop in colour...away from the boring blacks, greys and silvers, here I go with a post that tells you the all important fact about myself- how my gadgets represent me!
So just reiterating- here's the details of the contest

Blog and win a cool Dell Inspiron laptop!
Do your gadgets reflect your personality in any way? Tell us how and win an awesome, top-of-the-line
Dell Inspiron Laptop with a customizable cover that represents who you are!

Now notice how I steer clear from writing about a laptop- because I no longer have a laptop at my disposal- basically, I make it clear how desperate I am in need of the laptop.

So I write about one gadget that completely controls my life. I run my life with the help of what is called a mobile phone.

Let me tell you, at the outset, I hate people who are forever glued to their mobile. Forever peering into it looking for mails and updates and sms. It disturbs, it annoys and it insults. Anyone doing that looks like a silly wannabe to the boot.

Those who switch on their mobiles the moment the airplane touches down, or answer their mobiles during meetings or appraisals... I find them to be the most annoying breed of all.

It is you who control the gadget not the other way round.

So with that off my chest, I confess. I always went for the most basic and as cheap as possible mobile phone because to me mobiles were just to take and make calls and sms.
Until as recently as last year, I never gave much importance to the make, the colour and the features of a phone because they were really not important to me.

Until the time I got my E 63. In bright maroon-red colour as against the standard functional black or grey.

Unexpectedly it added a spot of brightness to my day...err hands or table or wherever I kept my phone.
It started feeling good- holding the heavy and wideset phone in my hands. It felt just right, after the harrowing experience I had with my previous phone...a Motorola that first lost its sheen, the black paint was gone in a couple of months. Then the screen cover came off and then the key pad came off. I had a tough time using the phone after changing the entire front and back of the phone I stopped sms-ing, I stopped wanting to make calls as I couldn't hear clearly. Until I got the Nokia.

I realised that the phone is not justa device but since so much of my everyday activities depend on teh phone, I need to have one which is easy to operate, multifunctional and technically without snags.

Buttons that move like a dream and a software that is quick.

Ina short while, as all you blog readers may know, I got the N8. A step beyond the red- in bright metallic orange. A colour that truly represented me. More than the red.
A touch phone- something I wouldn't have dreamed to use. I always found touch phones annoying. But in a few weeks- I got so used to the touchphone that i find myself tapping the screen of laptops and other non-touch mobile phones.

And this has a 12MP camera with oh-so-good clarity that I cannot believe that I have finally crossed over completely. I use this to record the little moments of my life. The camera hasn't come out of its huiding place since last 2 months.

So now my phone was used as a variety of gadgets
1. a phone of course- one that helps you keep track of the important people in your life.
2. a calendar- My phone is usually full of to-dos. I do not know what i will do without them.
3. a camera- with 12 mp you do not get such a bad deal
4. alarm clock of course- with multiple settings- a weekday alarm, a weekend alarm, different timings in a single day. It couldn't get better- or could it?
5. as a laptop- I access FB, the blog, mails... google on the phone. It is so quick,s o easy and you needn't boot the comp everytime. Err- doesn't mean I do not want that laptop. This just serves as a basic laptop. Just a few functions at a time. And you cannot of course do everything on the phone
6. An address book- what would I do without them
7. A map
8. A timepass- with the games loaded on the phone
9. A music system
10. Calculator of course

I could go on and on but I guess basically one gets the drift,

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Beware the Blogger Observes- Passport Office

1. Just give the tokens- don't keep randomly screaming- move move, be in queue- the security will do that.

2. Just because the rest of us are not in the queue reserved for the elderly, it does not mean we do not want to sit while we wait. That too if the waiting time is 1 hour plus for just the counters to open.

3.You watchmen- your only duty is to come every 20 minutes and pull the plastic chairs from under our butts and ask us- what is your age? You can sit only if you are in Queue E.

4. So you are used to coming in at 9.40 am to open the counters. Doesn't at all look like a logical opening time. Why can't you guys see that there are people waiting from as early as 6.00 am.

5. Ah there you are. Sauntering in at 10.45 am. Thank God you are responsible for the elderly people queue- Atleast they are not standing like us.

6. Yup I am standing in the queue reading my book. I would like to have some peace. Why the hell are you buzzing in my ears speaking loudly in an annoying monotone. Just a decibel louder than sound designated as background noise.

7. Would you care to be a little quicker than what you are? We do not have all the time in the world. The next queue is on number 10 and you are still on number 6. even though you came just 5 minutes after the next counter clerk.

8. And yes, you who are the number 10 in my queue- even if you stand right in front, you cannot go ahead of us. The token numbers are called and you need to go as per that.

9. Just because she is burkha clad as you are, I will not assume that both of you are together. So doesn't make sense pressing against her in the queue and squeezing me out of my rightful place in the queue- which is between both of you.

10. And no. I will not be squeezed out. I will elbow my way in and sweetly and innocently ask you- are both of you together?

11. And of course I feel cheated being in the cattle class queue for payments. After going quickly through tatkal queue.

12. Where were you when God was installing the brains? Do you really think you can park in the path intended for vehicles to drive out of the parking lot?

13. Arre jugaad ki bhi hadd ho gayee? You are collecting additional Rs 5 per car parking token for tea?

As usual- crediting this genere of posting to kiran.

Disney Junior Debuts on Disney Channel on july 4

--- New Brand for Kids Aged 2-7 Showcases the Disney Experience with Magical, MUSICAL AND Heartfelt Stories

---- NEW SERIES "jake and the never land pirates" anchors launch line up

MUMBAI: Disney Junior, a new multi-language and multiplatform entertainment destination for kids aged 2-7, reflecting the emotional connection generations of consumers have with Disney storytelling and characters, will debut at 11:00 a.m. on MONDAY, July 4, 2011 on Disney Channel --- the #1 entertainment destination for kids. The brand new programming band will be telecast in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

"We are very excited to launch Disney Junior following the overwhelming response from kids and families to Disney Channel. Disney Junior differentiates itself by placing a focus on the story and character, the hallmarks of Disney since its inception, and offering age appropriate programs that kids love and parents trust and enjoy” says Natasha Malhotra, vice president and general manager, Walt Disney Television International India.

Disney Junior will invite parents and grandparents to join their children in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new, while incorporating specific learning and developmental themes. Disney Junior will take memories of the Disney experience, held by generations of parents and kids, and bring them to life on TV and beyond, with elements that encourage early childhood learning, wrapped in strong emotionally connected storytelling.

“As we continue to build a family entertainment brand in the country, Disney Junior will be a noteworthy introduction for many Indian kids and families, to the unique, unmatched and magical brand that is Disney” adds Natasha.

Among the new series being launched on Disney Junior is "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," an animated adventure combining new and classic Disney characters Captain Hook and Smee ("Peter Pan"). Well known impressionist, comic and host Cyrus Broacha will play the voice of “Sharky” along with musician Sid Coutto as the voice of “Bones”. The talented duo will also be seen on the show with an entertaining live –action routine which has been locally produced in India.

Disney Junior will also feature a short form series, "Mickey Mousekersize" to encourage healthy lifestyles for preschoolers and families; new show “Cat in the Hat knows a Lot About That”; and the leading TV show for preschoolers "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," along with "Handy Manny," "Special Agent Oso" and “Little Einsteins”. In addition, the block will also showcase innovative short-form content featuring characters from popular Disney movies “Cars” and “Toy story” --- “Car Toons” and “Toy Treats”.

In addition to the fun-filled shows on TV, Disney Junior will soon be available “on-the-go” as a special magazine with tons activities and stories. This is in addition to a series of DVD content featuring select Disney Junior shows already available at retail. Parents and caregivers can also access loads of games and on-line activities on Disney Junior content online through a dedicated section on

About Disney Junior: The newly branded, learning-focused block on Disney Channel, Disney Junior reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary. Disney Junior's programming invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. Disney Junior's animated and live action series blend Disney's unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills.

About Disney Channel India: Disney Channel offers an unparalleled blend of quality Disney entertainment and distinctive, originally produced programs that kids love and families trust and enjoy. This includes Disney’s movies and series, sitcoms, family dramas and live action adventure stories. The channel’s multi-genre programming is designed to meet the under-served needs of India’s preschool, kids and family audiences. For more information on Disney Channel India, please visit

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

On Fights

Tejas- To whom are you sending message?
Me- To Dadda
Tejas- why?
Me- Because he is my friend
Tejas- Then why do you fight
Me- For fun. Just like how you and Ojas fight.
Tejas- very seriously- We fight for real
(meaning...not for fun)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


The dreaded home work has begin. Good in a way because now I feel they are learning something in school apart from the extra curicullar activities.

This time it is not very simple. There is a lot of comprehension and writing involved.
And also a dictation test.
We got a set of words that they need to prepare for the next test.

The steps that I followed to get them practising-

1. Ojas dictates to Tejas and vice versa so that each gets a hang of the words as he dictates
2. I dictate to both (and stop mid way, yawning away to glory)
3. The husband dictates to bot the next morning and identifies the problem words.
4. The husband gives them only the problem words to repeat 10 times verbally and subsequently to write 10 times .
5. Afternoon, I take out the scrabble (yes, the same scrabble you gifted AD) and dictate the words and they make them on the scrabble board.
Let me add, I am extremely proud of my ingenuity.
I found this by far the most interesting method apart from the method involving dictation to each other!

Edited to add- also ask them to repeat the spellings in the car during school drop time.

Empire of the Moghul- Ruler of the World

The third book in the Mughal series covers the story from where it left in the last book- the secret coronation of Akbar when Humayun died. Apart from the exploits of Akbar, this book also covers the story of his sons and their immense desire to inherit the throne.

In my opinion, Akbar is the most familiar of all Mughal kings because of the famous Akbar & Birbal tales that most of us have grown up reading.

To me, this book is in sharp contrast to the fun and leisure loving Akbar. Or the pliant & romantic yet tough king portrayed in the movie Jodhaa Akbar. In fact even Jodhaa’s character is in sharp contrast to her character in the movie.

So go for the book with absolutely no pre conceived notions.

Akbar, the 13 year old King is in the forest hunting camp when Bairam Khan’s message catches him by surprise. Delhi has fallen to Hemu- the nondescript king of unknown origins.
Akbar leaves Delhi to a safe zone and heads the war council. He inspires the army to fight the war of Panipat and defeat Hemu

The story moves with Akbar losing his right hand man Bairam Khan in a court plot and killing his milk brother to punish him for his treachery.

Akbar then turns his attention to Chittor and marries the Rajput princess Hirabai for the sake of political alliance. Hirabai could never reconcile to this marriage and tried to stab Akbar on the first night. However ultimately she gives Akbar his heir- Salim and thereafter Akbar leaves her alone.

In Salim we find a deep ambition and intense desire to become King. And he has a fierce competition in the form of his other brothers. Apart from that, Salim’s relation with Akbar was on a downward slide with his mother driving him against Akbar and Akbar’s exasperation at Salim’s fascination towards Anarkali- the court dancer.

The book courses through various war campaigns during Akbar’s rule and Salim’s focus towards obtaining the throne.
In true sense Akbar was the King of Hindustan and is it not the law of nature that what goes up comes down?

The book is as delightful as the preceding ones and I look forward to the next in line.

Granta The F Word

This is a collection of stories by the UK based literary quarterly.
Issue 115 of Granta explores Feminism and the contributors are all women.

These are 21 stories, poems, slice of life pieces and a lovely story in pictures by different women writers, each exploring a different aspect of feminism.

Some stories disturb, some make you just appreciate women in other parts of the world.

Aftermath – a story of a woman’s life after divorce

The Dreadful Mucamas- the story of Bolivian household help who literally hold the employers to ransom- While I agree the sentiments are universal, but I object to the racial ending- they give us such dark, Indian looks

A Kept Woman- the dilemmas of a woman who leaves her job to follow her husband’s lucrative career. And at this stage, the attention to details matters to her because she can no longer measure her worth in dollars.

Night Thoughts- A man wakes up in the middle of the night and thus begins a series of thoughts, mini decisions, and fights in his head. But is it worth taking it up further when he wakes up at 7 am?

The sex life of African Girls- deals with the gamut of crimes against women.

Mona’s Story- The story of Mona who was not born Mona- deals with the life of a hijra

We’re not in this together- talks of teenage relationship and the responsibility of contraception

A collection of fine stories but a little too heavy and too long for my tastes. Probably I need a second reading to really appreciate the meaning behind them

Monday, July 04, 2011

In The Shadow of Legends

Set in the rural coastal town of Kattuvalli in Kerala primarily, the story revolves around Swati and her sisters Manda and Mini.
In the voice of Swati we learn the stories of the various protagonists including Bharati teacher, Janardan the low caste regular at the Shastri home, Anandan, Bharti teacher’s nephew who helps people go to Russia for higher education, Misha, Swati’s Russian friend – son of scientist parents who wants to take up figure skating.
The story is in a short story collection format but leads us from the start to finish in a seamless fashion.

Manda, Mini, Shankar and Swati the 4 children of the Shastri family are enjoying a peaceful life in Kattuvalli with their parents until the arrival of Vishnu Mama. Vishnu Mama, a shrewd businessman is here to take over the managing of the estate which the Gandhian follower Shastri is unable to do with rigour.
With time, Vishnu Mama is ready to marry Mini the oldest daughter with scholarly bents.
Mini refuses to marry Vishnu and in protest cuts her hair off and brands her face so that the marriage gets cancelled.
Mini leaves Kattuvalli and Vishnu marries Manda who is in love with Vishnu.

Meanwhile, Janardan is instigated to help in murdering Vishnu by activists and in the process Shankar also dies and Pavani, Manda’s daughter, the sole witness to this massacre is scarred for life.
Manda takes over the running the family and taking care of Pavani- who remains a child hereafter.

Bharati teacher remains a constant support and she and Anandan are instrumental in organizing her escape to Russia where she would be doing her higher education.

Swati meets Misha and they grow closer.

One fine day she receives he call to come back to the village.
She discovers that Pavani is bearing a child and Manda has decided to go ahead with the pregnancy hoping that the arrival of a child would cure her.

Circumstances cause Swati to take a few tough decisions regarding her life in Russia, her responsibilities towards her family- essentially the women left behind to perpetrate the name of the Shastri family.

The King's Speech

The King’s Speech is a story based on the recently discovered diaries of Lionel Logue, a self taught Australian speech therapist who coached King George VI who had a stammering problem to speak in front of his people.

The story unfolds with the day the King George VI was to be crowned King, after his brothers abdication. Traditionally, the ceremony is held 18 months after the monarch comes to the thrown leaving him enough time to prepare. But this case was different. The coronation date had been fixed for his elder brother.
In the present circumstances, the coronation would be done as per the schedule.
At the same time, in Sydenham Hall, Lionel Logue is facing butterflies in his stomach. He was the King’s speech doctor, who had spent considerable amount of effort is coaching the King to speak in public. The preparations were elaborate, each word on which he faltered were worked upon. Days of practice had gone into the process.
Words which began with hard k or g sound or with repeated consonants were replaced.

The moment of truth, the test of all efforts would be the evening of the coronation day when the King would make his maiden speech on live radio address- even more challenging than speaking to a live audience.

This book is an exposition of sorts of the notes regarding the therapy sessions. Mark Logue has pieced them together to form the complete back story of his grandfather and his therapy sessions with the King.
It deals with his early life and his passage to England with his family, during what was originally an adventure trip to see the world.
The family settled in Britain and thereon his association with the then Duke began.

The book is interspersed with old photographs of the British Monarchy, the coronation march, newspaper clippings among other pictures.

It is a nice book to read, and has a complete story of Lionel more than the King.

The Elemental Warriors

World plastic free day was yesterday.
In keeping with the spirit of the objective, here's a review on Dr Rajaram's book published by Rupa is an attempt to give us a green thought a day to help Planet Earth .
The book begins with poems in the voice of the Elemental Warriors-Air, water, Fire and Earth, who take us through this journey of hope.
The most important part is the One Eco Action a Day Calendar that gives us one action for each day that contributes towards the environment.

From simple thoughts like utilizing left overs and closing the tap while brushing, there are some fresh ideas like
- Throw a green party- use only eco friendly leaf plates
- Recycling batteries
- Toning down the printer ink while printing
- Energy audits to assess wastage quotient in a home
- Buying better quality products rather than cheap use and throw ones
- Planting trees on the sunnier side to help keep the room cooler
- Scraping dishes clean before putting them in the wash to help save water better
- Work the fat off- it seems fat people produce a tonne of extra greenhouse gas per year.
- Refrain from using curtains during day time so that one need not use the lights
- Using fans rather than a/c
- Starting a new earth friendly habit and spreading the word

So what’s your green thought for the day?

Carte Blanche

A fast paced thriller that leads James Bond us from Serbia to Britain to Dubai to Capetown in a series of interlinked discoveries on crimes about to happen.
A 400 plus pager that is covered over a week’s time, keeps the reader hooked on.

It has a whole range of complex characters with complex business dealings, the key ones being-

The prime suspect- Severen Hydt- the enigmatic rags and bones businessman who has made his money in the recycling business- and has a serious case of necrophilia.

Niall Dunne- the right hand man of Severen- the man who thinks about everything.

Felicity Willing- The willful lady who runs International Organisation Against Hunger

Bheka Jordaan- the local police officer in Capetown

The story unfolds with James Bond getting a whisper of message that indicates an operation that will cause several deaths and conflict of British interests. The nickname of the perpetrator is Noah
The operation starts at Serbia- where Bond foils Niall Dunne’s plan to blow a goods train carrying the deadly methyl isocyanate. Niall manages to escape but James Bond traces him to Hydt and follows him March in England where he suspects the next operation to take place.
Drawing a zilch, he gets wind of Hydt’s plans to go to Dubai where he discovers that Hydt is there just to see an exhibition of a mass grave.

Hydt leaves for Capetown and Bond follows him there.
He also gets in touch with Bheka Jordaan here- the local police helping him out.

Using a unique business model to lure Hydt, he gets closer to him and infiltrates into his operations. He befriends Felicity who helps him understand the workings of Hydt’s operation.

Bond discovers that the code word for the attack is Gehenna and while inside Hydt’s premises he discovers Hydt’s blueprints to get access to highly confidential documents and also to organise an attack and indicate links to Serbia to misguide everyone.

Bond also realizes that Gehennais not at all linked to Hydt and he is just a distraction.
In the final moments of this thriller, we discover Bond’s ingenuity by which he uncovers the key person behind the entire operation.

The book is very exciting and from the word go I was hooked on to it.