Monday, June 25, 2012

Contest time....and your time starts now!

Snap out of the Monday morning blues and get ready to participate in this contest! The winners get to win a copy of Rashmi Bansal’s latest book Poor Little Rich Slum on Dharavi, its enterprising spirit and its entrepreneurs. Remember we have only 10 copies to give hurry!

How well do you know Dharavi? Do you know…..
  • Dharavi has an annual economy of over USD 650 million
  • Many businesses in Dharavi generate million dollar incomes
  • Products made in Dharavi are sourced and sold globally (NY, Europe, SE Asia etc)
Now back to the contest… All you have to do is answer these three simple questions and if you send us the right answers you stand a chance to win the book.
Rules first questions later  J
This contest is open for Indian Residents only.
The contest ends on Friday, 29th June, 2012
The Judges decision is final as far as the contest winners go. No queries will be entertained after the winners announced.

1) Dharavi is usually touted as the largest slum settlement in the world which is not true. Tell us which is the largest slum in the world?

2) Name the director and writer of the critically acclaimed movie Dharavi?

3) Which tourist agency carries out a tour of Dharavi giving insights into the functioning of this entrepreneurial area?

Yes it is as simple as 123! So put your thinking caps on and send in your answers to us at

Books courtesy: Westland Publishers.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: This is All I Have To Say

I have a lot to say about this fabulous debut book by Swapan Seth. Starting with asking everyone reading this review to go buy the book NOW. There are very few books that I have considered re-reading. But this book has been read three times already. No book has ever found a place in my handbag to carry always, well this has. Small book with 95 odd pages but packs a full power punch. A book that will make you happy, a book you'll shut with a smile on your face.

This review sounds very gushing I know, but there's something just so calming about the book. I would say its the simple language that the author has used to convey his thoughts. There is no preaching involved. The author's thoughts are very clear and most importantly very honest. Some extracts of the book were read out loud for my children to hear too. His reflections on failure just brought to the fore some memories that I had tried hard to forget, made me confront it and his words actually helped me move on.

Every topic he touches in his book is full of sincerity so whether it is about brotherhood, on parenting, on giving, on love or on marriage, his thoughts shine through.

No there is nothing that I could point out and say that it shouldn't have been a part of the book, it is just perfect the way it is. I am eagerly awaiting his second book. Here's wishing him many many more books and all the very best. Last I checked this book has also made it to The Economist Crossword 2011 longlist. All the very best for that too Swapan!

Guest Review: The Monk, The Moor and Moses Ben Jalloun

My Take:
There are two kinds of books that i read till now. One is fiction or non-fiction which depicts real life situations and characters or fantasy characters which entertain you throughout either by story line or gripping narration. Example being 'Wise and otherwise' by Sudha Murthy, Chetan Bhagat's books etc., another kind is one which makes you learn something new while reading it. Author might have done thorough research before writing these kinds of books and these books enlighten us with many unknown facts and make us form a complete new perspective on the topic discussed. Example being Davinci code by Dan Brown, some Sidney sheldon novels, Irving Wallace novels etc., this current book The Monk, the Moor and Moses Ben Jalloun is of the second kind mentioned above. 

I studied to some extent about Hindu religion and Christianity, but didn't get the opportunity to learn about Islam religion. In 'The story of my experiments with truth' by Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi mentions that we need to read books and epics on different religions to understand different religions to be able to comment on any religion.   I too feel the same. We should form an opinion on any religion only when we have done a thorough research on it. This book is about the glory of islamic civilization, how it flourished and how ideas on different fields like astronomy, biology, geography etc., passed on to western countries from Arabs. 

The plot/ story line:
There are 2 stories running in parallel in this book. One is from present period where a group of students studying in an American university find an old manuscript about the translations made from Arabic to latin. They research on the topics mentioned in manuscripts, try to understand and discuss on great moors or scholars who contributed to different fields like philosophy, astronomy, politics, poetry etc., when Latin America is still in nascent stages of development. They call their meetings as ‘House of wisdom’. Another story from past (AD 1010) is about an Iranian woman ‘Rehana’ , her life, her teacher and scholar ‘Abu Rehan’ and her quest to learn.

Storyline of Rehana, research of Abu Rehan, characterization of Rehana and her husband Dilwar khan is nice to read. But, I cannot believe that an Iranian woman was given that much independence at home to learn from her teacher and decide on her own marriage in those old days like AD1010.

Novel seems to be in bits and pieces. It is very difficult to correlate the facts and understand. It seems like we are dumped with hell lot of information or facts which doesn’t seem to be true sometimes.
Book is not interesting going forward, as all chapters are alike and story narration is not very impressive.

My rating:
A serious read and I rate it 3/5. 

(Mahathi Ramya is a software tester by profession, but an artist by nature. She loves travelling, reading books, blogging, dancing, singing and painting.You can check her book reviews, travel experiences and other ramblings on her blog )

Guest Review: Tin Fish

Reviewed by Madhulika Mitra ( her first of many more reviews for the blog hopefully!)

All these days of my life I tried my level best to know what guys talk amongst themselves and Tin Fish is like giving you a young boy’s diary well edited and composed of hilarious episodes. Tin fish is a nicely composed story of fun filled and challenging incidents of four young lads studying at a posh boarding school. It’s about Brandy, Porridge, Fish and PT Shoe. Thinking how guys can have such weird names, well these are the pet names of Barun Ray(The hero J ), Sanjay, Pratap and another guy whose name I do not remember. I bet you too cant because after reading the book for some time, you too will feel more associated to Brandy and not Barun. 

Yes giving pet names to people is a part and parcel of our lives and so is there’s especially because they are school going kids but every pet name has a story. Brandy a Bengali chap, is sent to Mayo, a boarding school at Ajmer, and Tin fish is one of his favorite foods (though I do not really know why the book was named so, may be because they relished Tin fish and it stayed with them forever). He gets ragged, but then ends up making the best of friends in his life: Fish, porridge, and PT Shoe.  They discuss of all things in this world, be it their hatred for kipling, Moraji desai’s Urine funda, zeeni baby(Zeenat Aman J). They are great company for each other in happiness and  in sorrow.

A lot of people gripe about Indian authors blaming their books to be very narrative, having very simple English, but surprisingly these are a few things which matter to me. I ask you how nice can a book get if it’s as though someone is narrating it you so expressively, and I really do not like sitting with a dictionary because of the excessive verbiage in some books. I like it simple.

Tin Fish did justice to both my needs. A few more things which stood out were the way the author captured the honesty and innocence in these adolescents is and how well the stark reality of death is handled by them. Ya someone dies. I do not wish to reveal anything more.
When they leave the school after their boards I was in tears because I can so well relate to the pangs of separation from my closest friends after my tenth boards. 

Owing to my busy days I read the book in parts, which sort of spoiled the fun, so I suggest read major chunks of the book together if you really want to enjoy it. Also one thing which I strongly felt not so appealing about the book, is that the author has been too descriptive about many things, where the book drags a little. All in all it is a book which would be thoroughly enjoyed especially by guys, a little less by girls since we can’t relate much. Another revelation about guys is they too are very emotional at times. So if you wish dive deep into your old fun times with your hostel mates Tin fish is for you.

Keep reading, keeps you healthy

Time for my stars: 3.5/5.

A special note for the author: Tin Fish was a breeze man :) :) :) 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest Review: The Hypnotist

Review of ‘The Hypnotist’ 
Author- Lars Kepler
Reviewed by: Dr. Shivani Kapoor

I do not usually pick up a fiction by choice. This too was opted for, thinking it was a non-fiction on hypnosis. Once I began reading, it was the much clich├ęd statement, ‘I couldn’t put the book away’. I read The Hypnotist with a thrill that I thought only teenagers could feel. To say there is excitement, suspense and chill would be an understatement. It truly made me feel like a child wanting more. The drama began very early in the novel and carried on till the very end. There are several stories within the story and each unfolds quickly and deliciously. Each story is gripping in its own way.
I do not wish to spoil the fun for the reader by revealing absolutely anything about the story, except say – Go for it. However, since I need to do some justice with this review job I will try to reveal just enough to get you interested.
The Hypnotist is a novel about a triple murder, all in the same family. The survivor, a young boy is hospitalized, barely conscious and his sister seems to have vanished. The detective Joona Linna is at his professional best, yet needing the help of a disgraced hypnotist to gather some clue from the injured boy. Erik, the hypnotist gets personally involved in solving the case. Time is running short as the killer may be looking for the missing sister. Meanwhile, many other events are taking place that may be related to the triple murder. They are taking place simultaneously, though the detective is not sure whether it is purely coincidental.
Hypnosis, is a subject interestingly revealed in this novel. It adds to the thrill of the entire plot. Though towards the end, I found the drama within drama a wee bit too much, but the book is truly sensational. In fact, a perfect script for a film.
Yes, I did stay up half the night to finish it. In short, racy, tense, nail biting and goose pimple-giving book.
(Dr.. Shivani Kapoor is a Ph.D in English Literature, B.Ed and MBA. She is a trainer for teachers and gives counseling on parenting)

Guest Review: Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole New World

As the title, ‘Beyond Religion, ethics for a whole new world’ suggests this isn’t a book either on religion or for that matter ‘spirituality’ as the word is misunderstood by most. 

His Holiness, The Dalai Lama has spoken in the simplest of words about the simplest of issues that that are faced by the world and us in particular.

He proposes a world that is loving and happy. His mantra being personal ethics and codes by which one lives. He does not preach, yet shows us how to improve the quality of life. He uses simple analogies to draw his point. Without being didactic, he leads us softly, very softly to understand our everyday life. A whole new world of looking at things differently and thereby changing the world, is offered to the reader.

Infact, what His Holiness Dalai Lama speaks of is a non- religious way of life. Slowly yet firmly, he transforms us bringing about a spiritual fulfillment.  The religious leader yearns for a life that is beyond religion and unites the world. This is a book of a whole new approach.

For a reader this book is neither for one looking for entertainment nor sudden enlightenment, but for one who cares to look within. Read if you attempt to achieve higher living and a better self.

(Dr. Shivani Kapoor is a Ph.D in English Literature, B.Ed and MBA. She is a trainer for teachers and gives counseling on parenting)