Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sky - Thursday Challenge

The Sky From Above

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed, it feels an impulsion, this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”

-Jonathan Livingston Seagull-
'An inspiring book'

PS: For other beautiful pictures on this theme, visit Thursday Challenge-28th August 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Entirely Up To You Dick Darling - My Old Gentleman

A cousin of mine was telling me a very interesting thing last Saturday; some movies that we watch during childhood have a lasting impact on our thought process he said. I did agree. They make us who we are. Inspiration does not take longer than striking a match during that phase of life. We ended up discussing about all those beautiful movies that we used to watch way back then, a very nostalgic conversation that one was, there was no end to our flashbacks. And all that while I had one particular John Williams sound track from a movie running in my mind. 

A while ago when I heard that this man has left us, I could not get this one scene out of my head for hours, it is from an another adorable movie. The love with which he waves his hand from inside the carriage every time the train passes by, it just makes me wish for a Grandpa like him.  If you have watched the movie ‘The Railway Children’ and remember the character of The Old Gentleman who does everything possible for the three kids in the movie, you know whom I am missing and talking about. Or I am sure you remember the quirky scientist John Hammond, wearing a white shirt and a hat, walking around with a stick like he owns a normal zoo and says Dr Grant, my dear Dr Sattler, welcome to Jurassic Park!”

I belong to the category of people who have graduated their childhood through this movie and derived a hell lot of inspiration to learn about evolution only to realize how minuscule we humans are, and hence this feeling, I have lost a teacher. How can we stand in the light of discovery, and not act?he had said. Even Spielberg considered him as an inspiration. It is indeed amazing how we connect to people whom we have never met. No wonder I had that soundtrack running in my reverie.

Although internationally acclaimed and awarded for his direction with the film ‘Gandhi’ in which Lord Richard Attenborough had literally put his life into his work and many of his other films which he has directed or acted in; like Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, Doctor Dolittle and Chaplin to cite a few, I have always remembered him as a white bearded Santa Claus like old man with a odd gap between his central incisors which kind of inspires even the dullest man on this earth to smile.  

I happened to read one of his interviews in the Guardian in 2008 now, and I could not stop myself from sharing. Here is the link : Richard Attenborough on laughter, levity and the loss of his daughter. Most of us know about our actors and directors as artists and nothing beyond that. We appreciate and laud them for their work but rarely do end up getting a personal connect. Today I cried, because with Dick like he preferred to be called, I had one. A part of my childhood and science, I owe entirely up to him. Thank you for making it beautiful.

Picture Courtesy

Rest in peace Lord Dick Attenborough. 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Private India-Book Review

A thriller novel for me is when I finish reading it I have to pinch myself to realize that I have. PRIVATE INDIA by Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson was more or less one.  When two writers of the same genre from different corners of the world team up to write a collaborative fiction we have a lot for a good debate. It is easy to figure out who has contributed what to which section of this story if you have read their previous works. I could guess where the mythology came from and where the pace came from. Comparison with their previous independent works would not be reasonable though, for this seemed to be a different experiment.

A private investigating agency headed by an ex CIA agent with branches across the world in cities like London and Berlin has a branch in India. The head makes sure that he has the best in business employed in his team, or so we readers are told. The members of this Indian team, starting right from the chief with the cane and a Johnnie Walker bottle calling him day and night (a substitute to his troubled past) well each one of them are unsettled two dimensional characters. Read the book to know about the rest, and you will agree that they are not for your memory, not one passes as an Investigation Agent. What initially seemed like a series of high profile murders in a metropolitan city turns out to be a handiwork of a ritualistic serial killer. One complicated reality about a city like Mumbai is this- even death does not shake its spirit much. The police of this city being overworked are more than happy to hand over these cases to this agency. I wonder what the Central Bureau of Investigation in the real India has to say about such situations. The story is an absolute page turner, no second thoughts, the short chapters and font size help along with the speed at which the murders happen. The gadgets and the facilities at their office, detailed description of the tests, for example the vitreous humor and eye swabs, DNA tests with hair reminded me of Dr Salunkhe’s forensic laboratory in CID for some amusing reason.

Certain aspects of Indian mythology have also been drummed into the murder scenes, especially the concept of sacred feminine in Indian mythology and how the killer leaves tell tale signs. If the authors had gone beyond these surface details, particularly with regards to the nine forms of Goddess Durga and cared to tell the readers what this had to do with the mindset of this particular killer against women, bringing this part of mythology to these crime scenes in my opinion was more justified. The motive beyond the murders also remains an illusion. I now know the killer wanted to kill nine women, but to kill all of them in the same manner, nine times? So much spite? In Private India’s chief’s own words: “If you enjoy painting do you paint the same picture every time?” As a reader I am without knowledge about the killer’s intentions even after the end.

At some places, information provided about Indian history and some particular happenings could potentially misguide readers, say the Westerners. Research well done is appreciated only when well portrayed. Gangsters, godmen, celebrities, politicians, beggars, orphans, prostitutes, police, journalists, nomadic tribes, local trains, dilapidated buildings, terror attacks and millions of people- every bone of the skeleton of an Indian city has been touched upon by the authors like it is intended to be the right blend for a Bollywood project, nothing more.With suspense in each scene I bet there will be many takers. Sorry too many things in this soup for me.

The narration by the killer in between gave me goose bumps but I wasn’t impressed by the language. There are avoidable grammatical errors and irksome puns. C’mon not one but two authors for the book, one could have afforded to correct the other! I was on the edge of my seat with the turn of events but with many facepalm moments to be precise. Criminal psychology is one interesting subject. I wish it had some place in the story too, given that there was one strong character, also the issue of transsexuality is overly simplified. 

Private India  for me was only about major twists which kept me curious and left me so. I finished this book in two nights of bedtime reading. I am only sure of one thing now, no more yellow scarves and dupattas for the next few days for me, thanks to this thriller, one run of the mill read.

Book Details:

Title:-  Private India
Series:- Other Private Offices, Private #8
Author:- Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Publisher:- Arrow Books
Publication Year:- 2014
ISBN 13:- 9780099586395
Binding:- Paperback
Number of pages:- 470

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!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yellow-Thursday Challenge

"The shortest distance between two people is smile"
-Victor Borge-

PS: For other beautiful pictures on this theme, visit Thursday Challenge-21st August 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ramayana - The Game of Life : Rise of the Sun Prince- Book Review

“Everyone needs a hero to look up to and adore”

How do you tell a story which people think they already know? Difficult thing to do ain’t it? But there is this magical realism in epics like The Ramayana which gives us something to ponder and discuss no matter how many times you read or hear it. In my case, every second story of Ajji was something to do with Lord Rama. All things right and wrong during childhood was taught in context with him. Obviously so, there was this natural tendency in me to read this rendition although I am not a voracious reader of this genre right now. It feels good to do something which makes you remember your roots once in a while, what say ? :-)

This book authored by Shubha Vilas is the first in the series of six and deals with the Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana. The author’s attempt at rewriting this part of Ramayana in a way that a reader of today can read is totally commendable. The hero of the book is the story itself and the protagonist is the reader himself, I found that very impressive.

The footnotes in every other page are like pearls of wisdom telling us what to learn from the many people and circumstances that they have faced. The attention to so many nuances and their interpretation is what kept me hooked to the book. A refreshingly new perspective of how Valmiki began to write the Ramayana, the kingdom of Ayodhya, Dasaratha’s quest for a heir, his three hundred and fifty three wives, the origin of names of all his sons, Viswamithra’s role and guidance in bringing them up, the love story of Rama and Sita, the holy bow, the kingdom of Lanka, the story of Ahilya-well there is no stopping!  It clearly tells us that the epic is not just about Rama, Sita & Ravana.

At some places the footnotes seemed lengthier than the prose though, which in my opinion interrupts the flow of thought of readers, there is a thin line between narrating a beautiful story in a way it reaches people and holding a  sermon session,  I felt  the author has had a hard time to keep it simple, but tried with his best. The most appealing part to me was the book cover, the green and the blue and the gold, so very celestial. And when you get such a touching handwritten note, one cannot help but connect. This was some good wisdom gained!

Book Details:

Title:-  Rise of The Sun Prince, Book 1
Series:- Ramayana: The Game of Life
Author:- Shubha Vilas
Publisher:- Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year:- 2013
ISBN 13:- 9788184955309
Binding:- Paperback
Number of pages:- 256
Price:- Rs 250

My rating:- 3/5

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Water-Thursday Challenge

"We're all water from different rivers,
That's why it's so easy to meet,
We're all water in this vast, vast ocean,
Someday we'll evaporate together"

-Yoko Ono-

This photograph was clicked in 2009 during my visit to the North East of India with a bunch of good friends. The difference in the shades of water completely amazed me, this is one spectacular view I shall  never forget. Here is where river Rangeet befriends the river Teesta, also called 'The Lover's Point' locally in Sikkim :-)

PS: For other beautiful pictures on this theme, visit Thursday Challenge-14th August 2014