Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bird In A Banyan Tree - My Story by Bina Ramani

Title: Bird In A Banyan Tree
Author: Bina Ramani
Category: Autobiography
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Date: 2014
Price: Rs. 500
Pages: 336

Snapshot: This is the true account of Bina Ramani's life since childhood, to becoming a world class fashion designer to loosing it all only to stand by the truth as an eye witness in Jessica Lal's murder case. 

The Review:  There is a famous saying that truth is stranger than fiction. Well it confused me for a long time till I read the life story of Gregory David Robetrs in "Shantaram" and Bina Ramani's life story was another confirmation of the same. 

The first few pages are an account of the day she was being sent to Tihar jail. That certainly captures you and then the story goes into flashback. An innocent little Bina stares at the Sea in Mumbai having migrated safely a couple of years from Pakistan, she falls in love with the city. The story goes on about growing up in a conservative Sikh house hold where many of her passions like modelling, singing etc are all not allowed to be persued because they are contrary to the norm, which in those days was to be "an ideal wife". Two most amazing things about her I felt was she never hated her family for the same (I surely would have) and she always found her next passion in some form of art sooner or later.

She grows up to be a beautiful lady finding attention of various men of different statures, the most interesting account which she describes in detail is Shammi Kappor's love for her. It is also rich with tits and bits about the showman Raj Kapoor through his good and bad times. Life however for her turns grey as she marries Andy Ramani and moves to the US. It was a typical case of the guy having a relationship earlier and then marries an Indian girl. He shows no interest in her and is dominating and insulting. Meanwhile her beauty attracts another film star who falls in love with her (she hasn't named him for privacy reasons). She leaves her husband and is almost ready to marry him, when Andy apologizes and promises to be a better husband. She looses love second time as she decides to give him another chance but the bliss is only temporary.

Her husband kidnaps her daughters, she fights for their custody meanwhile balancing finances by managing her business in India and US. She also doesn't loose her artistic talents but it only shines brighter through her hard times as she gets into Jewellery and fashion designs. Her personal account with the then prime minister Indira Gandhi noticing her work was another rare encounter. 

Not just that the best comes when she describes Hauz Khas village as the true village when she first entered. It was unbelievable it to imagine the way she described, the most lively place in Delhi now was once true to its name a village. She truly gets the 'hatts off " credits for what it is today. . I being a student of infection biology couldn't get a better real life account of people's reaction to the disease then.

Then comes love again and she grabs it but destiny has other plans and all cant be well and there happens the Jessica Lal murder case. If you watched the movie then please read the book to be shocked how awfully the story was presented. It is only sad for the Indian film industry to not be thorough when making a movie on real life incident and really not serving the purpose resulting only in mockery and tarnishing someone's image. One also get an account of how media operates only to drive 24*7 news channels. The only saving grace was that justice was done to the victim. However, any weaker person could be broken in Tihar jail, its a miracle Bina Ramani survived.

The book serves you amongst her hardships the times of people around her, an encounter with Amitabh Bachchan when he still wasn't a super star, Richard Gere associating with her for AIDS awareness and the taboo there was in that era for example keeps you perked. It show you the real face of society,media, people and the Indian film industry. Needles to mention an exciting and an eye opening read. Bina Ramani truly is one person to whom art and the asthetic sense comes naturally, for despite of everything she concluded with a gratitude towards all her situations in life.

The Verdict:
Positives:  A great story, crisp writing and good flow.

Negatives: None

Overall: 4 stars on 5.

About the Author:
Bina Ramani is a famous Indian designer, socialite, social worker and visionary. She penned down the book Bird in a Banyan Tree : My Story.

Grab a copy here: http://www.flipkart.com/bird-banyan-tree-my-story/p/itmdqhrqatywx9c8?pid=9788129129123&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=bina+ramani&ref=31330621-f763-4205-9a3f-eb239710fab3

I thank Rupa Publishers for a review copy.

Its a woman who somewhere ruins another....many a times

I am sure that the comments section I have have comments that would be sarcastic and opposing this view, but anyhow from my thoughts on multiple issues I am surprised that I have reached this conclusion. Sadly it is true and I will be very happy if alternate perspectives can change my opinion. I still wish to believe being a woman myself that we are the kinder sex full of love, passion and compassion as we are portrayed. However there have been terrible events in and around all of us and if you look closely somewhere it is a woman responsible in many cases, in turn history though for the wrong reasons believe that a woman is the root cause of evil. Well not true, I don't feel that Draupadi caused the Mahabharata or Sita the end of Ravana, it was lust for beauty or power that killed them, I speak here about the demons that have engulfed Indian homes in the name of Indian culture, customs and tradition. The very demons that have led to major issues in society and a huge block towards progress of the female sex. If you see rural India and tell me that women are empowered and equal to men, it would be the most cruel joke ever. 
Living in such an imbalanced society where you despite of being a woman have the liberty to live life by your choices but the women around you are not , makes you think and ponder why. On many such occasions I have found many views. Most of the old school patriarchal society which teaches a woman right from the day she is born to respect men in their family and when she is past puberty she is taught that her "future husband" is like God and its living upto his and his family member's likings that she should mould herself to. But why not the opposite? Why is she not considered as an equal, why are men in the family not expected to pay attention to her wishes, why is a man not taught to respect his sister, his mother, his wife? 


My observation says that in a lot of cases the culprit behind this inequality is the mother. In most Indian families a son is more preferred sex and not a daughter. A daughter is never considered the heir and the struggle to have a male child continues. Reason is though the daughter carries the DNA she surely doesn't carry the last name and that wins over DNA in the mindset of the society. The daughter is treated as an inferior sex in her own home. She is never given preference in anything be it education, freedom or even the choice of food that is being cooked. If she is not treated as an equal in her own family will she ever be able to have the esteem to redeem her status later in her husbands family. Certainly we know what the answer is.

The more tragic state of affairs which triggers me to write this is the increasing number of killings because of dowry or the mother-in -law torturing the daugther-in -law. According to the 2013 statistics published in The Telegraph,  a woman is killed every hour in India becuase of "Dowry". Is it really worth it? Why cant people especially the "mother-in-law" treat the respective daughter in law as their daughters. How could a woman be so selfish that she could kill another practically her child's age just for materialistic gains. Ofcourse we have seen from various reports that even very educated women go through and suffer this, so enabling women with education certainly isn;t the solution. The solution is treating your daughter equal to your son and if you can't kill her in that vessel full of milk the day she is born, that would be kinder rather than killing her 25 years later because she cannot stand upto the injustice done to her is certainly the most heinous crime a mother knowingly or unknowingly commits.

So if you cannot treat your daugther equal to your son, If you cannot teach your son to treat his sister as an equal and to respect her, then you donot deserve to be a mother of the "girl child". On the contrary if you be the change today, the world can certainly be a better place to live. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to encounter a smelly pooper around you, work or otherwise!

Summers have come! Though it means that now you get to eat more ice-creams and at all times then you would dare to in the harsh Delhi winters. But on the con side it brings with it what? sweat, stickiness and most of all stinking smell. Well most of all would now take a bath twice or thrice day (for those of us who commute) but how about those that do just with perfumes in this season. What about the smelly poopers around you in office, travelling in a metro or anywhere? You know which kind right? The kind in this video...




First don't be one, If you are one and are lazy at having a bath, then install all new Racold water cools, its eco-friendly technology keeps you germ free fresh at no cost to mother nature and a lot of lives around you that would have died of pollution you created would be saved! Trust me and do it for humanity please! 


Second carry a handkerchief really soaked in your favourite perfume. Especially when you travel and commute everyday, really saves you from the variety of smells that comes from a variety of sources. 

If it is a collegue, invest in gifting them a perfume or body soap. But this might lead to a loss as people may not get this cue and your investment might just go waste. If the person really doesnt get this then let me manager handle it.                                                                                                                         However co-workers are still tolerable but what if thats your boss like in the video above? What to do then? Tough spot...hmm...                                                                                                                                 Well one way is surely to "stay away", But thats not permanent is it? The best thing is check when is the next ocassion in his family, his birthday, his mom's or dad's aniversary, even if its his maid's birthday, go ahead and give him a generation next incentive of water heaters which would encourage him to bath! Yes the answer to that is just one Racold. Check out their range of water heaters and heating systems here http://www.racold.com/. Give your boss the invitation to the bathroom ;) and I dont mean dirty I mean Racold :P


      Do these not invite you to the bathroom? Rejuvnate, relax and feel reborn with Racold.

On a serious note some diseases can lead to body odour and so do some ethic cusines. Before you deal with a smelly collegue do ensure it isn't because of the above mentioned reasons. 

Have a bath everyday, rejuvenate yourself, feel fresh, reborn with Racold today! Like this page to get regular updates about their latest products : https://www.facebook.com/racoldthermoltd

This post is for the contest "Close Encounters of the Smelly Kind" by Indiblogger. #WhatsThatSmellBoss

Monday, April 7, 2014

Losing My Religion by Vishwas Mudagal

Title: Losing my Religion
Author: Vishwas Mudagal
Category: Romance/Drama Fiction
Publisher: FINGERPRINT
Date: 2014
Price: Rs. 199
Pages: 350

Snapshot: When gamer and entrepreneur Rishi Rai sets out to revolutionize the gaming industry, something somewhere goes terribly wrong and, like dominoes, the blocks of his life fall down one after the other. An unexpected meeting with Alex, an unpredictable, crazy American hippie, changed his life forever, as he decided to quit everything and join him on an unplanned, unchartered journey across India. From getting irrepressibly high in the mysterious Malana Valley in the Himalayas to starting a shack on the bewitching Om Beach on the West Coast, they do it all. But their adrenaline-charged adventure takes a turn when Rishi meets Kyra, a beautiful and enigmatic gamer. As passions surge and sparks fly, Rishi gets drawn to Kyra unaware of who she is and where she comes from.

What follows next is something nobody could have ever dreamed of...

Who is Kyra and why are the paparazzi after her? Can Rishi connect the dots in his life to protect the love of his life? While the world becomes a spectator, can he mastermind the fall of a ruthless giant to become a global icon or will he become the biggest loser?

Review: These days I feel we all have somehow transformed into a fast paced machine-y lifestyle often dreaming about a respite or taking an adventure leaving behind everything in a wink. Well, nobody gets so practical or rather impulsive and rational but Vishwas Mudagal, the author of  ‘Losing My Religion,’ in his debut novel has successfully tossed and streamlined an excellent work of fiction that accelerates the reader’s adrenaline as the pages turn developing a racy, capricious and exhilarating story of the protagonist Rishi Rai who does quit everything.

The story begins with Rishi Rai, a bankrupt, failed gamer and entrepreneur who accidently meets Alex, an American hippie who is no less than a total shrink. Together, they venture into the unplanned heroic carefree journey (minus the cellular and materialistic elements) across India. From the Himalayan Malana cream fun to the Om Beach in Karnataka where they start a shack, they just flow with the breeze of life like crazy wanderers. And then enters Kyra Blake, a beautiful, charming and brilliant gamer who swirls Rishi’s mind and heart. Unaware of Kyra’s life and her past, Rishi falls in love with her. The romance between the two buds strongly but then ends in a thud leaving him heartbroken. Alex spills some fun beans to fix his dear friend but in vain, ultimately pulling Rishi to their next adventure to Mahakumbh in Haridwar. The entrepreneur germs in Rishi surface yet again with the launch of The Coconutwallas. His mind plough profit and strategies but heart still pains for Kyra.  And bang-bang, she returns in his life with all the paparazzi buzzing like bees along with a popular talent show- The Apprentice staging in the city of Mahakumbh, suddenly exposing Rishi and Alex along with Kyra in the world media. The twists and turns unfold several vignettes of Kyra’s background along with the entry of Gerard Wolf, a shrewd billionaire swelled with pride. Redemption and absolution ride begins for Rishi when he teams up with Kyra and Alex bracing to face ‘The Apprentice’ game challenge in Newyork. The last few pages are truly captivating and thrilling describing the challenge from start to end. It is the epitome of classic entertaining and slow suspense drilling power packed drama joining the three lead characters- Rishi, Kyra and Alex towering their confidence, wit, intelligence and hard work to ache and break ‘The Wolf’ in pieces.

The author has done a brilliant job in developing and portraying all the characters, be it the three lead ones who clearly justify their desires and outlook for life to the side characters like Ram Singh, Laxman and Pappu bloating easily in reader’s mind while reading. Words like Maraaz, Shaab ji, pardner and many more gives a specific vernacular feel. The friendship between Rishi and Alex is absolutely crackling though sensitive at times but mostly hilarious. The character of Alex is boisterous and fun loving who will simply make you nod on his carefree attitude and statements like ‘I was born lost and I love it’ bringing a smile on reader’s face. The writing style and narration is simple, easy yet appealing but at times a bit rough and cheesy. However, the author has successfully managed to sketch every scene clearly in reader’s mind.


The author has voiced about the title through the protagonist’s Rishi stating “Leap out of the existence you have wrapped around yourself … you’ll fall no doubt. But sometime during that, you’ll witness a miracle taking shape around you. That’s called losing my religion’.

LMR, for sure, gives a splendid strangest trippy ride.


Positives: Smooth and well narrated storyline.

Negatives: At times, I felt the first half was a bit too far stretched and slightly meandering. Besides the book has travel stories to places like Himachal, Karnataka and so, I feel a little more talk about the place would have done wonders.

Verdict: I give 4 out of 5 stars to Losing My Religion. Go pick the book as this one is truly a thrilling and exciting read.

About the Author: Vishwas Mudagal is a serial entrepreneur and a CEO with a history of building innovative technology brands and companies. An alumunus of RV college of Engineering, Banaglore, he started his first company at the age of eighteen to educate students in rural Karnataka. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of GoodWorkLabs, one of the hottest technology firms.
Writing is his passion, and he has embraced storytelling as his parallel career. Losing My Religion is his debut novel. He blogs at: www.vishwasmudagal.com



This book has been reviewed by Shaily Bhargava who is an avid reader, freelance writer, amateur photographer and a trait curious soul addicted to tea and coffee. Some of her short stories are published in online literary magazines of repute.

The Wordkeepers by Jash Sen

Title: The Wordkeepers
Author: Jash Sen 
Category: Fiction (Children)
Publisher: Duckbill
Date: 2013
Price: Rs. 225
Pages: 262

Snapshot: This book is the first part of the Trilogy which is about Kalki avataar of Krishna fighting over the lord of the Kaliyuga that corrupts the minds of people for wealth and greed and restoring the earth back to the goodness of Satyuga

The Review: This beautiful cover page will lure you to read the book, in fact it has been one of the most attractive cover pages of 2013, but sadly that is the only exciting part spare the last 30 pages.

The story begins with abduction of Anya's mother who is originally a wordkeeper - a set of ten people who would protect and guide Krishna's Kaliki avataar to fight the evil forces. The year is 2028 and Anya a typical 21st century brat finds a note in her garden which tell her not to trust anybody. Following the set of instructions in that letter she discovers her mother was a wordkeeper and now on she would be. Her main task is to find the Avatar and assist him. 

On the other hand Bilal is a carefree boy in a small village in Andhra Pradesh. He is the avataar "Kalki" and is being watched over by both the positive and negative forces. The dark lord here is "Kali" who wishes to replace Vishnu and Shiva and be the supreme God corrupting people's hearts with greed. Before Kali's team can Parashuram appears before Bilal and tells him about his identity, takes him and begins his formal training. On the other hand Kali knows that the power lies with Wordkeepers and he is busy finding them and witholding their amulets - their source of power. His forces are behind Anya, tracing her. Will the twenty first century child find a way out and fulfill her duty or get caught?

Negatives:  Well this is an attempt to connect the dots from the Ramayana and Mahabvharat to Kaliyuga. Those characters that were immortal come to life in this story, Parshuram, Ashwatthama and Vibhishana. The story begins with Vibhishan's and one is all hopeful but the whole trail of Anya's journey was very boring. The Villains abode was also similar to Mars. Inshort there was no novelty factor either in the characters or in the surroundings. The combat is still old school. Technological advances haven't found a place in the writers imagination or she still believes that ancients were more advanced. In short the modern connect with the ancient feel doesnt strike, its all ancient overall.


Positives: I had no willingness to continue reading the book as halfway through it I was thoroughly bored however I am glad I did, the writer finally finds her elelment and the twist occurs in the end totally swoops the reader of its feet. I hope the next book in the trilogy which bring out the author's potential as she spent most of this one on just one trail, when things could have been more spiced up.

The Verdict: Read it if you wish to read the trilogy. 2.5 stars on 5. 

Grab a copy here: http://www.flipkart.com/the-wordkeepers/p/itmdgqv6cg6ghzzx?pid=9789382618164&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=the+wordkeepers&ref=093f5752-3763-4524-956a-a7e7ccb9fbb7

About the Author
Jash Sen 
is a DU, IIM graduate who worked in IT and taught mathematics while dreaming of writing a book. The Wordkeepers is Jashs first novel, and is the rst of a trilogy.


I thank Duckbill (Westaland Publishers) for a review copy. 

The Vigil and Other Stories by Gita V reddy

Title: The Vigil and Other Stories
Author: Gita V. Reddy
Category: Fiction (Short Stories)
Publisher: Frog Books
Date: 2013
Price: Rs. 125
Pages: 167

Snapshot: This is a collection of short stories with characters comprising of people living amongst us. It in the most simple manner highlights, questions and puts for the the ways of the world, the structure of society, its laws and the resultant fate of all of it. 

The Review:  Authors writing fiction often paint the sky brighter than it is to deliver the story, the thought more emphatically. But, can something be said in a simple yet a strong manner? Indeed, and Gita V. Reddy has mastered the art with her simple story telling. As I always say that short story collection is the biggest challenge as one has to 'not' repeat even the curve or the bend one has once taken. The anthology is loved only with zero repetitions, along with the challenge of serving good stories and that is an extremely difficult job. In this book it seems the story, the different topics though connected came off naturally to the author, she felt strongly about them and she therefore traced each line,, pondering on thought so carefully that they never got mixed. 

The book is mostly centred around the ways of the society, the stature of women in them, love , loss and spicing it up is an ingredient "simplicity" which delivers it so immensely that point is made with a strike. 

There are no repetitions at all in any of the stories though some of them dance around common grounds at some point. It would also be unfair to have personal favourites since each one found its place in my heart and on each point made by them, I shall ponder post writing this review, it is certain that the book will give you a story for a life time. For me the stories that made the greatest impact are:

The Gift:  The story of unrequited love has never been so simple yet so brutal and painful. It made me cry for hours and it has made a mark for a life time on my heart.

Open Court and Sita's Lives:  In both this stories the author questions the society "Why is the woman always wrong?"

A Life Time:  What do we get by making laws that kills love? 

Reflection:  This has a lesson for everyone, turn your life around when you can, and you must as its your life and you have to take a stand for what you wish to achieve. 

At the end of it all I just wanted the book to be thicker to read more stories from the authors pen.

Positives:The Vigil is a story that will leave you with a smile and is aptly the title of the book. As mentioned above the stories are different and presents the results of the laws of the society in front of us, questioning simply "why" and pondering one to think how to be the change. A well edited, crisp and beautiful short story collection. 

Negatives: The climax of a few stories trouble me. Time and Space for example could have had a few more lines before the abrupt end.  Two stories I wished ended differently : Life and Death of Shiva and A Dangerous Bend, but then that's purely perspective which can differ between two people.

The Verdict: A must read 4 stars on 5.

About the Author
Gita V.Reddy, 49, is a postgraduate in Mathematics from Hyderabad Central University. She joined State Bank of Hyderabad as a Probationary Officer in 1985. After twenty-six years of serving the bank in various managerial positions, she left the bank in 2011 to pursue full time writing.Married to a Physics Professor since 1986, Ms.Gita V.Reddy has a son and lives in Hyderabad.


I thank the author for a review copy of the book.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Winners Of Winds Of Hastinapur by Sharath Komaraju

The winners of this contest who each win a copy of this book are:

Geeta Nair
Rahul Singh Rathore 
Anshul Kumar

Congratulations!
Please email your complete postal address with pincode to to thereaderscosmos@gmail.com with subject "Winners of The Winds of Hastinapur"

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