Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Melbourne Bound- Mentally...Hopefully Soon- Physically!


A gift that reminds me of a friend who owns one of the keys to my heart

“Home is where the heart is” when someone says this I give a thumbs up. So when Indiblogger came up with this contest What's your reason for falling in love with Melbourne, the most livable city in the world? the first person who came to my mind was  Chandru, one of my bestie who made it to this enormous island of Australia for his Masters, precisely to ‘MELBOURNE’ about five years ago. What gratifies me is the kind of change the city has brought to his persona which is indeed amazing. Confident, independent, strong and straight out- this for me is nothing less than inspiring. And that would be my first reason to visit Melbourne. It wouldn’t be honest on my part if I would say ‘The Great Ocean Drive’ or “The Melbourne Cricket Ground’ before visiting him. I already have a home at his home in Melbourne you see :-D



 "Whoever you are: some evening take a step out of your house, which you know so well. Enormous space is near…"

As Michael Crichton quotes Rilke in ’Travels’, over a period of time and conversations Chandru has shared his life’s precious moments and experiences in Melbourne with all of us, well almost all. So much so that there are instances when we forget about the time zones and oceans in between! The walk down the road to his house or office, the ride back in tram, the new dish he made – well those are the little moments and things which has brought all of his friends closer to Melbourne even before we have realized. We are familiar with the weather and the people as much as the Australians! As a matter of fact ‘A Trip to Melbourne Very Soon’ is in our common itinerary.


These are a few of the thousands of pictures he shares with us every day. The places he has been to, the sunset which brought him a smile, the drive that gave him a high, the ground that let him play, the people he became friends with and the love the place has shown. No travel website or Internet search engines would give us this perspective towards Melbourne. My list of places to visit and things to do is definitely a long and interesting one therefore.

  • Some cricket at Melbourne Cricket Ground!
  • Some tennis of the Australian Open kind at Rod Laver Arena!
  • The much awaited drive on the Great Ocean Road!
  • Some worthy time at the streets like the Flinder’s Lane, the gardens, the cathedrals, the museums, the libraries and theatres – all which I have heard about. If I were to name everything, the list shall not hold water for they would be the result of me ‘googling’, frankly in my opinion seeing is experiencing and therefore remembering!
  • Some Yarra Valley wine!
  • A tram ride!
  • A strip club visit!
  • A dinner made by Chandru!
  • Some falling in love with the city, like how he fell in love with his wife years ago!
  • Lots of shopping with Nish, his wife !
  • A night full of fun, laughter and conversation!
  • And everything else the city of Melbourne has in store to surprise me!




The couple got recently married in India this month...

here is wishing them a Melbourne-licious life ahead!

Love you both from miles across and see you soon :-D



PS: Planning a visit to Melbourne? Here is something to help you  and do visit Come Alive in Melbourne

"Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?". 

And mind you friends, the best answer stands a chance to win a gift voucher. The contest ends on 4th Jan 2015. Do share your thoughts about your dream visit!


-R.





Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Bullet




While I sleep tonight, I think of the angels
Who left this earth towards heaven’s gate
What would they remember of yesterday?
The prayer at school? The food in the box?
The homework to do? The games to play?
The fond kiss and hug their mother gave?
Or their father’s pat and  good bye wave?
If they knew this world was such a place
Where terror spreads in a thousand ways
More than love and peace and harmony
And all that good their teachers taught
In those hundreds of stories and lessons
Hours every day, all untrue, all unreal
What would remain in their memories?
Maybe that one bullet that ended it all.

-R-

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret -Book Review




“History was once somebody’s present” one of my teachers back at school used to say. If one remembers ‘Alexander the Great’, he is someone whom we all have always admired about. Reading ‘The Mahabharata Quest’-The Alexander Secret authored by Christopher Doyle just gave me a different perspective. Not all great men are good, and when someone gets ambitious beyond the necessity there is nothing but peril, well that's some lesson I did get through the storyline.

The story begins by giving a reader some curiosity about why Alexander proclaimed himself as God and invaded Indus, and he died two years later. There is also a bioterrorism and scientific research angle to the plot, things that happen in a hidden laboratory suddenly seem to be connected to Alexander’s quest. And there is the critical Mahabharata connect-Samudramanthan. Amidst this are a set of people who work in different fields who are entangled in the loop, between Greece to India, the caves and the valleys and the roads and the museum.  Too much coincidence to believe, Alice in Greece finds a cube and Vijay in India reads his parents journal, Radha and Imran run an investigation after a fire accident at Titan Pharmaceuticals, Alice is Vijay’s ex girlfriend, Radha is Vijay’s fiancĂ©e, and all these characters meet each other, bang on in this adventure! Not very convincing for me.

History, science and adventure in combination is one thing that every second author writes about these days but not everyone manages to pull through it. While the retrovirus and bacterium aspect interested me because it is my area of professional expertise, the Macedonian history took me back to those times. The science and history bit is well researched, especially where he writes about how retroviruses replicate and how Alexander dealt his expeditions and treated his fellowmen.

On the flipside, what brushed my flow of reading is the language and the dialogues between Alexander and the other characters. Imagine one calling the other “filthy scum” back then in 334 B.C; it somehow does not please my idea of history. Also frequent references to the incidents of an adventure in his previous book, now and then in this story only made me think, “Is this a sequel?” and it stopped there. It did not add to the mystery nor did it change my perception about the characters, just another bunch of protagonists. ‘Page turner’ is an overused adjective for books of this genre in my opinion. No doubt I liked the book, for the efforts of the author is quite evident, the scenes and situations are quite movie like. A perfect blend of thrill, action, history and science to keep one engaged for a couple of hours on a ride or during weekend or bedtime.  I would recommend this one only for that. Most of us readers would be satisfied for these reasons, but for me I am still waiting to find a book of recent times and say”Oh that one, that’s A MUST READ Indian author!”

It seems like it is going to be a long wait.



Title: The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret 
Author: Christopher C. Doyle
ISBN-13: 9789384030599
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Westland Publications
Number of pages: 308
Genre: Fiction
Language: English
Price: Rs.295

My rating: 2/5

PS: This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reviewing It My Way! - 'Sachin Tendulkar-Playing It My Way: My Autobiography'


“…Cricket is played best when your mind is at the opposite end…”

-Sachin Tendulkar-

So writes Sachin in his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ I finished reading it a few days ago. On similar lines, I am of the opinion that a book is read best when your mind is at the author’s end. When you read about someone who has made it big in life in his own words that too, there are always more than a hundred lessons to learn. Another thing I am glad about is that this book is one of the best gifts I have given myself on my birthday this year, pre ordering a copy was a good thing that I impulsively did. It reached home on the release date itself, November 6th. Thank you Sachin for making my birthday a little more special!

People told me while I was reading this book “He is a great cricketer, but he is a good businessman too!” contemplating the millions of copies that would be sold, thankfully those comments did not affect my judgement. When I opened the book and saw the dedication: 

“To all my fellow Indians”

And where the author’s proceeds would go to, I was filled with immense pride. I am sure Sachin’s father up there too will be proud because he has lived up to his words- ‘a good human being first, a great cricket next’. No autobiography can document every detail of the authors life as Sachin himself puts. It is quite bit obvious for someone who has played cricket close to quarter of a century to write about the little tricks and tips that helped him in his game. The many cricket match details right from his first match to the last fortunately did not bore me, given my technical knowledge of the game is way too limited and cricket is not something which I am interested in. I read this book with a completely different intention, to know Sachin not as a cricketer but as a person. 


What was touching about Sachin’s writing is the straightness with which he has put across his thoughts about the many incidents and controversies, although at places I felt there are fans who would definitely want to know more, especially what Sachin must have felt about them. This has wisely and rightly been avoided, for he has always let his game do all the talking he intended to.


The book begins with anecdotes from his childhood, Sachin being a naughty child was one surprising revelation. His bicycle, his love for Chinese food, his pranks in the neighborhood, his love for music, his naive adamancy, him watching John McEnroe play, him stealing mangoes, his relationship with his siblings, father and mother are wonderfully recalled. He had a complete Indian childhood, something we all can relate to. But what transformed his life and our lives as fellow Indians and fans was Achrekar Sir’s coaching camp. His one set of uniforms and wet pockets, crowded bus and train rides four times a day, rude comments from conductors that he took on his stride, his personal commitments as a son, husband or a father are things which we never saw on the field when we expected a century every time he came out to bat. If one had to make a list of inspirational Indians for unwavering focus and constant practice Sachin has to be somewhere top in the list, a true Bharat Ratna at that.


He also writes about his fears like the first match jinx, him not able to give his complete best in certain situations in different tours throughout his career. The captaincy stint and how unceremoniously he was brought down, the different World Cup games- the losses and the abuses; his umpteen injuries and hardship- back pain, toe fracture, finger fracture, hamstring trouble, groin surgeries, allergies, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, stomach upset and what not. It is the same man with a hundred centuries in cricket, Bradman’s Bonzer! 


If there is anything that can’t be taken away from him it is his cricket is what Sachin says, die if you disagree! Another interesting aspect is the Greg and Ian Chappell saga, brave of him to write about it now in his autobiography, if it was brought up back then it would have only lifted his stature more. Also he mentions about his little friction with Dravid over a declaration when he was at the score of 194, this is not very surprising, when there are stalwarts with their own strengths and ideas at the top of a sport in which players are idolized, there are bound to be differences and it is quite righteous of him to write about that. His respect for Kumble is also worth mentioning, Anil according to him is one of the greatest players to have represented India, true that!

To say Sachin was not behind records it would be untrue, the frenzy the media and fans created for him was enough to boost his morale and raise his expectations for himself. As he rightly puts ‘hundreds do not come easily’, one can feel the pressure he has been through while reading what he has written about them. The hundredth hundred in particular! For Sachin, his personal milestones were never before playing for India. For the records he was also the first batsman to be given out by a third umpire, call it luck on his side, good or bad!

The lighter moments on and off field are an interesting read, some being very hilarious like Sachin wearing a Burkha to get scans done, Ajit not letting him eat duck, Harry’s Challenge of eating fish, his first bottle of champagne opened on his daughter’s birthday, his co players throwing him to a Jacuzzi, his strategy with Dravid to deal Chris Cairns on predicting which way his ball would swing. He also remembers the many Indian families who have made him and the Indian team feel at home in their part of world. He also writes about his fans like Sudhir Gautam and the many commoners who have helped him. Read his autobiography to know more, Sachin the person off the field! 

Another important necessity to be successful is the support system that one has, a matter in which Sachin is blessed; right from his father, mother, brother, sister, coach, friends, wife and children. Also when your heroes call and talk to you for forty five long minutes when you are down like how Vivian Richards did, or when they send 34 champagne bottles as a small gift on reaching their record like how Sunil Gavaskar did it says more about the person who is loved so much. What touched me immensely was his son’s reaction on his decision to retire and his mother watching him live for the first time in his last match, very emotional. And to write an entire chapter on his wife ’Anjali’ calling it ‘the best partnership of life’ only a gentleman will do that.


He writes that celebrations do not come naturally to him but when winning a World Cup- that moment when life seems complete, one deserves to! That was the most joyous Sachin I had ever seen on television! If his first match was ‘Baptism by fire’, his last was ’Retirement with fireworks’. Nobody can deny that we miss watching him play today. 

Now for the things I have learnt from Sachin, I am extremely grateful for all the positivity I have gained from his words. ‘Playing It My Way’ for me has served its purpose.


• Set smaller targets, try to set a mark
• Sense of reason is the biggest virtue
Practice makes you perfect and hone your God given abilities
• Do not repeat mistakes
• Never take credit for what you have never done
The ability to withstand pain does not mean you should expose yourself to unnecessary conditions
• Presence is a very important thing. It is one thing being there in the middle, another thing making people aware of your presence
Take a stand
Love your family
Be there for your country
Be a good human being
Be yourself


BOOK DETAILS:


Title: - Playing It My Way: My Autobiography 

Author: - Sachin TendulkarBoria Majumdar (Contributor) 
Publisher: -Hachette India And Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Year: - NOVEMBER 6th 2014
ISBN 13:-9781473605206 
Binding: - Hardcover
Number of pages: -  486 
Price:- Priceless!

My rating: - 4/5


-R

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cherry On Top



 "What is the best part of a cake?"

If someone was to give me a share and ask me this question, I would gladly pick and gobble the cherry on top and give away the rest of it! I believe we all have our 'Cherry-On-Top' moments now and then, it feel like ages I blogged about some of mine. Things have been quite frenzied in the last couple of days, its been a month at my first job post my Masters. Being busy has become quite the routine but what keeps me going is the "Thank you Doctor" that I get to hear, you know that feeling when a decade and more of learning feels worth it, one of my favorite 'Cherry-On-Top' moments.

Do share some of yours!

Cheers! :-)

-R.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

God Is A Gamer - Book Review

Picture Courtesy

“Burger and Vada Pav in my plate!”

Very amusingly my feeling was similar to this while reading the book ‘God Is A Gamer’ the first ever bitcoin thriller authored by Ravi Subramaniam,a story set against the backdrop of financial service industry. This was my first read of this author’s work after having received a copy from Blogadda under the Book Review Program. His other works- If God was a Banker (2007), Devil in Pinstripes (2009), The Incredible Banker (2011), The Bankster (2012) and Bankerupt (2013) are on my reading list now.

Looking at the titles of his previous works it is but obvious to expect some money and trade in the story. The author has ventured into deeper aspects of running gaming companies, corporate sectors, finance ministry, politics and personal issues. Multiple characters and situations run in parallel in the United States and India in this story. Assassination, deaths, ATM robbery, game launch, drugs, parties, affairs and many other intriguing things keep a reader glued to the suspense, so many incidents in different parts of the world happen simultaneously.

The ‘UNPUTDOWNABILITY’ of this book is due to the twists and turns, and probably the selection of readable words. Few aspects mentioned are well researched and interesting, like Socrates Death and the Misznay Schardin effect. That was some general knowledge gained. The first few pages are more like connect the dots, till you find your way through the maze with the short chapters. The tension is highly escalated through each page and the people in the story are portrayed with their own vulnerabilities, like any of the usual thrillers of today.

What puzzled me was the subtitle, while the book asks “Is Revenge A Crime?” I could only figure out the revenge element of the story in the epilogue which seems to be hurriedly written. As in what, why and how it  happened is being summarized in a couple of pages, although for a moment in the end you know Varun is up to something at Tanya’s house, for me the plot was a give away at that point when he throws something in her cupboard. I wouldn’t be giving any spoilers in this review. As an Indian reader who is reading an Indian author the book left me hungry for more, maybe for an inspirational character or a memorable dialogue. I was a little disappointed about that, you know the kind of impression one gets when you read the last line of the book and close the cover” Tch! Just an another brave attempt at an Indian thriller!”  plainly it was just that. Also there are a few grammatical and spelling errors in two or three places, I wish they were avoided. I did enjoy the book while travelling to work last week, and I do plan to read more of this author. If God is a gamer, we are his players indeed. If there are more books, they are worth reading indeed.

A few of my favorite lines from the book:

“Career longevity is more important than career enhancement…If you live, you get to fight your battle another day”


“Success is not always measured in terms of dollars earned or turnover. It is measured in terms of the difference you have made to the people around you.” 



”The problem with theorizing on the basis of incomplete facts is that we end up twisting the facts to suit the theory. We should be doing it the other way round”


Last but not the least, one from Ravi himself:
KEEP WRITING AND SMILING YOU TOO ! :-)






Book Details:

Title: - God Is A Gamer
Author: - Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: -Penguin Books India
Publication Year: - September 2014
ISBN 13:- 978-0-143-42139-9
Binding: - Paperback
Number of pages: -  324 
Price: - Rs 299

My rating: - 2.5/5

PS: This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


-R.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

www.MARRYAGHOST.com -Book Review

Image Courtesy

Stories based on paranormal concepts are difficult to believe, and more difficult to write. I haven’t changed my opinion about this genre after being done with this book www.MARRYAGHOST.com’ by Abhimanyu Jha today, I am as perturbed as ever about them. Apart from the honest appreciation for the author’s attempt for going out of the way and making ghosts seem as normal as possible there is not much of a positive impression that I have had. I wouldn’t regret giving spoilers in this review firstly, and then the “to be continued…” in the last page only left me dumbfounded. What could have been a beautiful thriller turned out to be a dud with its average choice of words and events.

Two friends Veeru and Jerry open a website for ghosts, and the one who relatively believes less in them, Veeru ends up encountering one, the way the transition in his belief is presented by the author seemed quite obtuse. The discussions between them in the first few pages of the book especially about females when they are opening the website only made me shudder, such rotten talk! When people stand for and talk about Indian authors in the literary scene I would definitely want to hide or burn these pages! And then enters a ghost who does not know who she is, for the time being named ’Maahi’, she wants to finds her unknown estranged lover and  then an Indian Institute of Science Professor, Dr. Burman who is equally strange arrives to help her!

Veeru and Maahi travel to Goa then to Pondicherry in search of her ‘Hrithik’ a golden haired man, so named after the most handsome Bollywood heartthrob around town because she does not remember him either. Veeru does these things out of no obligation and when he starts seeing his invisible companion he falls in love with her in the process. He even goes to the extent of calling her ‘Miss Dark Chocolaty’ because she remembers she loved dark chocolates! That was something hilarious to read, a girl ghost who neither remembers her name nor the person whom she wants to search does remember that she loved dark chocolates and that there is a Bollywood hero by name Hrithik! Someone pinch me please! Veeru has eight days to save her, and to help her get into her oblivion. Also there is one Marquis, a five-hundred-year-old Portuguese ghost making mysterious appearances.
Ghosts going through emotions- crying, laughing, giggling, talking naughty and feeling an intense pain is something too impetuously presented in the whole story. Not every reader is Veeru or Jerry fortunately.

For example, a small excerpt of what Veeru thought of the ghost Maahi, more so her nose:

“The tip of her nose was my favourite place. Of course thinking about various ways in which I could knock on it added spice when I focussed on it”

I seriously could not appreciate the vocabulary and  would not have continued if not for the suspense. The story for me started with mystery and ended with one, going by the last page it seems like there is a sequel to the book. When Blogadda came up with giving away this book for review it said:

Join the age-old battle between good and evil-a race between time, freedom and love that will eventually put the entire world in danger”

What was the battle and danger about??? I would be glad if anyone enlightened me about what I just read! 

-R.

Book Details:

Title: - www.MARRYAGHOST.com
Author: - Abhimanyu Jha
Publisher: - Srishti Publishers
Publication Year: - 2014
ISBN 13:- 978-93-82665-19-9
Binding: - Paperback
Number of pages: - 246
Price: - Rs 195

My rating: - 1.5/5

PS: This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


Friday, September 26, 2014

A Puzzle Solved, Almost!


Team Tandem Tensome

Read the previous part here: A Place of Mirage by Aditi Pathak


Round 2: Chapter 20: A Puzzle Solved, Almost!


The pieces were starting to fit, Jennifer saw him take Roohi into his mansion. It was weird. He had brought her out saying he would go to the stores. There was no ice cream anywhere. She carefully walked behind him avoiding his sight while he kept looking over his shoulder. Jennifer saw those eyes, full of pernicious intent. This was not the man at Shekhar’s house.

A chill ran down her spine, if there was something she could do, it was ‘RIGHT NOW’ she reassured herself.
She took out her cell phone and made a call.

‘Jennifer Calling’ read Shekhar’s phone. Troubles they say come together; the phone was not with Shekhar. He sat flipping channels on the television with Cyrus in the living room.
Tara heard the phone ringing and her eyes fell on the name, this new photographer had reached their bedroom. This was it. As she continued to fret over the situation a message beeped:

“ROOHI IN TROUBLE”


Tara dropped the phone and ran to the living room.


***


Jennifer jumped up the fence of the garden at the backyard of Mr. Ahuja’s mansion with her camera on. Fluff was at the front gate. She had to avoid the barking, the slightest noise and she would be bringing more harm than help. She wanted to catch this man red handed. All she could think now was to save Roohi and get proof.

She called Cyrus. He picked up.

“Hello listen, get Shekhar and Tara to Mr. Ahuja’s, CALL THE POLICE, we need HELP!” said Jennifer before Cyrus could ask or say anything. Cyrus did as instructed.

She climbed up the pipe and reached the balcony, the door was open. She could see a huge room, toys and toys and toys everywhere.

Strange!” Is this some Wonder Land?”

“What is this bloody freak up to? Or am I thinking too much?” she thought.

Seeing Mr.Ahuja enter the room she hid behind the balcony window, Roohi ran inside like any kid would. The toys delighted her. The train, the towers, the lights, the dolls, the teddy bears….

“Pick anything you want Roohi, everything is for you my darling!” said Mr. Ahuja.

“That’s nice of him!” thought Jennifer hearing him from behind the curtains. She did not want to get caught now, it would be a definite embarrassment, following him for a stupid doubt that too, trust was something which never came easy to her.

Roohi was about to run to a huge teddy when…

Mr.Ahuja stopped the little girl and held her arms with his entire grip saying “But you gotta do one thing for me princess, only then!”.

"Uncle...you are hurting me...let me go...please" Roohi started crying and pleading.

He did not. Jennifer who was silently clicking pictures until then was aghast.

“O’ My…O’ My GOD!!!” she screamed and ran into the room seeing Mr.Ahuja put his hand on Roohi’s frock.

His face tightened ”What the hell are you doing here?” he yelled.

Jennifer got his hand off Roohi and hugged her, “Get off you B******” she said and kicked him hard. He was knocked down by her blow, she was a tough girl indeed.

“So this is why you got her here, you S** OF A B**** shall go to hell!”

As Jennifer said and started throwing anything she could get her hand on at him, Mr.Ahuja got up and dashed around. Roohi started crying looking at the brawl and hid behind Jennifer holding her tight. Jennifer’s hand was bleeding again but she did not give up, her only priority was to keep Roohi away from the brute.

The police barged in, they could hear the commotion upstairs in the forsaken mansion. Shekhar rushed in, so did Tara, and Cyrus too. The atmosphere was lunatic. Mr.Ahuja was tied down.

Jennifer shrieked telling everyone about the heinous act the man was about to commit, hearing which Shekhar punched him on his face and said “You bloody…dare you get near my daughter!”

“How could he let it happen!?!” he thought and cried.

“Roohi…Roohi” he called, his eyes frantically searching for her.

The police handcuffed Mr.Ahuja and took him away. Roohi ran and jumped into Shekhar’s arms. 

“Papa!” she said hugging him tight and did not let go of him until they reached home.

It was apparent for Cyrus that Jennifer was a brave girl, and what she did today was not beyond any surprise for him, for a moment he was proud he knew her. “Do you feel better now?” he asked looking at her wound, trying to wrap it up again with his handkerchief to control all those bleeders.

“Yes! I do…” Jennifer replied hearing which Shekhar knew he could not thank her enough for saving his only daughter, and his life. He held and pecked Jennifer on her forehead.

Tara felt she was deep down sinking in her vacuum, Roohi did not look at her even once… nobody did…was there anything she could do now or was it too late?

 ”Sweetheart the things you get into I tell you!” Cyrus took Jennifer’s arms and remarked as they slowly walked back, mentally making a note:

”Time to do something before it’s late, this gutsy girl 'WILL' know who’s who, Cyrus a.k.a.‘Nikhil Rathod’ the BLOGGER”


"For the good...to survive...there is too much evil around..."

PS: “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”