Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas & Wine

This Christmas, a friend had brought a bottle of wine over in the party at my house.

"Perfect wine for the Barbeque", he said, handing the package to me.

While serving, I was awed by the ruby red colour and fruity aroma. It seemed thicker than usual. When I mentioned this to my buddy, he said, "Shiraz is a full bodied wine, so it appears like that. However, you would like the taste."

The first sip had me wincing. I thought it had too much tanins. Seeing the grin on his face, I tried another. After which, I just fell in love with it. It is a taste that you have to get used to. Its smooth, and lingers in your tastebuds even while you munch your food.

Later, I found out that Ritu Wines, the export version of Four Seasons has recently won six medals in the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Competition!

To know more about this wine, click here.  

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Uzuri - bringing Europe and Africa together

Wandering in M Block Market, Greater Kailash II, my husband and I were looking for a cosy restaurant to relax, when we chanced upon Uzuri.

The unique name caught our attention - and we walked in. There are two levels - The friendly and courteous staff showed us both - the comfortable dining area and the open air deck (which is perfect for a winter afternoon). We chose a comfortable corner in the lower level, overlooking the greens.

There's something unique about the decor - there's leopard print on the walls and furniture, the artifacts are rustic and have a tribal feel. They have been imported from Africa, we were told.
In fact, "Uzuri" means wellness in Swahili, the indigenous tribal language of Africa (Kenya to be precise). The cuisine is European, which is inspired by Africa. Thus began our gastronomical journey:
What you see above are two unique mocktails - Uzuri Fresh made from fresh mandarins, mint leaves and Apple Tango made from fresh apples and cinnamon powder! We were served cinnamon bread with beetroot jam topped with goat cheese in a cute little bottle. The mustard lamb shoulder and Cape Malay fish cakes just melt in your mouth. Making out that we were very hungry, the staff recommended few dishes:
The pork belly in fennel and grilled vegetable ratatouille are dishes whose tastes are as unique as their presentation. The sinful chocolatey desert with semi frozen trufles filled us to the brim.
The food was exquisite and very very unique - its almost experimental, but very tasty. Upon enquiry, I was informed that most of the staff have international experience - great people have together to launch this new venture.

I'll give it 4.5 stars out of 5 overall. Do check this place out, and tell me what you think!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Nainital - a Snippet

My husband and I were due to visit Rudrapur for work, when we just decided on a whim that we should check out Nainital as well. A friend of ours is presently training there, so it was an added attraction.

So, early next morning we caught the Shatabdi Express and got off at Rudrapur. Free by late evening, we took a lift till the taxi stand in Haldwani, about an hour's drive from there.  The taxi drivers gave us two options - either we could book an independent vehicle, or on sharing basis with two or three fellow travellers. Since it was about to get dark, we booked a car for just ourselves and moved on towards Nainital. We reached around 8PM, and our friend joined us in the hotel he had booked for us. A month long fair was on, so there was music and lights around the Naina Devi temple. The town was still awake, and I was happy to see  more pedestrians than cars.

The trio of us started early morning on our explorations with a walk around the massive lake. The town derives its name from Naina Devi Temple and this lake (meaning Tal). There are fishes in the water - we fed them bread crumbs. Further down, we crossed two aeration pumphouses that have been set up to keep the water clean. We came back to our hotel, had breakfast and went out again to visit the tourist attractions.

The foliage is thick and views are very soothing to the eye, especially after the chaos in our urban lives. 

There is a ropeway that takes you across the lake, which is a thrilling experience. In winter, Nainital experiences snowfall, and the lake freezes. For this reason, the location of the ropeway is also called "Snow View Point".

Next comes "Lake View Point", from where the lake appears mango shaped. Tourists love to get themselves photographed here. I took the opportunity too.

Our taxi driver brought us to a point from where a rocky trail along the hills takes off. The track had been laid by Britishers, and there is no other option except riding. The path is through a jungle, and various view points and locations for shooting films lie along it. The weather was a bit cloudy, but we were lucky to get some nice shots.
From Nainital town, we came to Kathgodam at the base of hills to board the train back. We reached late night, and next day in office, I was left wondering, "Was it a dream?"

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Keep shopping till you can!

I arrived in the airport only to be informed that my flight had been delayed. I had arrived well in time, and now I had a couple of hours more in hand.

For once, I did not seem to mind at all, as I was in Terminal 3 (T-3) of Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. It was renovated a few years back, and being in the building itself lifts your spirits.

Perhaps it would not be wrong to say that shopping gives maximum pleasure to a woman. And T-3 is a paradise on earth for shopping and eating - there is something for everyone. I was travelling right after my marriage, and had already bought some token gifts for everyone in both families, especially the children.

"What is the harm in window shopping?", I thought to myself and walked around.  I was attracted to the Delhi Duty Free shop. Till date, I thought duty free shops were an international concept. I was pleasantly surprised to see one in Delhi and stepped in.

The image above will give you a glimpse of what I found in it - the essence of India. You can keep shopping till time binds you, for everything one may wish to buy is available -  souvenirs, chocolates, tea and more!

I was excited to find some perfumes that were not available on the shelves of even premium outlets - the pleasant sales girl told me that the perfumes as well as some other products have been made exclusively available at Delhi Duty Free to test the market response.

Don't think that shopping at the airport is expensive - in fact, prices of items were lower than usual, because the local taxes etc were not applied.

Aah, now I have a new shopping destination where I can shop till the last minute!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pasta and Pizzas at Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has been a household name in India for some time and has been dominating the market because of their constant endeavour to customize their menus as per the local tastes. At least, that's what I think - for I have seen stuff titled "Punjabi Mania" in North India, where people love spicy stuff.

The latest innovation from them is introducing pastas in their palate - they have tied up with Barila (international pasta brand). Chef Arjyo Banerjee of Pizza Hut and Chef Luca Ciano of Barila came together in a very lively and interactive evening and shared with us tips and recipes of preparing various dishes. Do you know there are more than 100 types of pasta shapes available in the world?

Both Arjyo and Luca served us personally the dishes they had made and took note of our observations. There were some unthinkable improvisations - like using fried brinjal skin as a dressing!! Of course, the traditional pizza and dessert were also included!
 I returned home with the tastes lingering in my mouth!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Genius of Water Purifiers: Aquaguard Geneus

Safe drinking water is a major concern for all of us, but often we are confused about the purifier to buy- more so, when there are many similar products available. So, when I had to select one for my new home, I fell back on the most trusted name: Aquaguard from Eureka Forbes. 

I went with memories from childhood, and was amazed at the smart look of the latest product: Aquaguard Geneus.

As I was marvelling at its sleek look, I was informed that all technologies of water purification, be it RO, UV or UF, have been amalgamated into this creation which would ensure the best quality water. The intelligent technology shall not allow the taste of water to change even with the passage of time or with variation in the input water. What is more, one can modulate the mineral content as per his preferences.

I have been using this product for about 15 days now. Its extremely convenient to use. There are LED lights that indicate the water level in the purifier. You can obtain water just by pressing the lever gently. There is a platform to place your bottle of water.. there is no need to hold it. Isn't that superb design?

Its absolutely hassle free with automatic cleaning technologies, and an Early Warning feature to inform you whenever there is need to replace the filters.

I love it as it has enhanced the look of my kitchen as well as taken off the worries of water borne diseases from my head. It's worth every penny spent, I assure you.

What makes Eureka Forbes a great company is its superlative customer service. A sample of the water from the purifier was taken to the laboratory for testing and the results have been posted to me. The quality of the water has been found to be compiant with ISO 10500-2012 standards!

Don't you think its a wonderful product?

Just a small thing to keep in mind: ensure that you have enough water pressure (the source of water must be at least 4 feet below your water tank), otherwise this unit may not work properly.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Girls Day Out at Cafe Ludus

My buddy Sushmita and I, met up last Saturday afternoon at MGF Metropolitan Mall and decided to check out the newly opened Cafe Ludus. We were pleasantly surprised at the spacious layout! There are cosy corners for small groups- be it in the book/ magazine corner, or near the bar as well as large clusters for a gang of friends - each space adequately separated. Greeted warmly, we were offered to check out the outdoor terrace.. it is indeed lovely!

 However, we chose to sit inside as it was hot and sunny outside. I really loved the contemporary design elements that have been used - funky, yet subtle.

The lighting was perfect and music to set the mood. There's provision for a loud party, gaming consoles and all sorts of modern gadgets!

We ordered two coolers (Soft Sangria & Skinny Pinacolada) to refresh ourselves - as we were exhausted after shopping.

The staff were smart, cordial and helped us choose the starters and main course. We ate so much that the chef came to meet us! He shared two of his signature dishes - Stuffy Mushrooms & Chicken Casanova.The food was awesome and sumptuous!

Add Cafe Ludus to your must-check-out list in this mall - it is right next to escalators on the second floor. There are new initiatives up their sleeves, such as an European fine dining restaurant (open air) and mid night deliveries.

Just Chill !! And yes, read Sushmita's views too!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The True Way to Travel

Most of us travel to various places. We arrive, find accommodation, stay for a definite period, check out tourist destinations, click some photographs, do some shopping, relax and return happy and content. That is, usually this is what we would do.

Adam Shepard, the author of the best selling book, Scratch Beginnings, has come up with a book which has got me thinking. Called "One Year Lived", the story has been narrated by a seventy year old man (author) who reminisces how he spent the 29th year of his life travelling to various places.

Yes, travelling for one year at a strectch! Crazy as it may sound, you would agree that it was worth it when you read the book. The author gave up his job and embarked on a journey on his own terms with some savings of his own. This journey is his alone mostly, except when he falls in love and is accompanied by the young lady during the later part.

This was not a race to tick off items on a "must see" list. Instead, it was about being part of the place he visits, stay for some time, join some voluntary services, participate in the local activities, and try to contribute to the society. Shepard highlights some social issues whose existence we know about, but never give a second thought.

I have liked this book and storyline. The language is simple, but it connects effectively with the reader.

If you wish to read the book, join me on Facebook and leave your e-mail id.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Eighty Three at Sixty Three

My Dad is 63 - retired and old.  He has scored 83 out of 100 in a course in Spanish language! I am more excited than him, it seems.

After retirement, Dad enrolled himself for the course mainly to keep himself occupied. It had been his long time wish to learn a foreign language, but with family and professional commitments, he could not.

Dad was faced with the challenge posed by his age - "My brain is not that sharp anymore", he says, "and I find it difficult to study".

His classmates were much younger - perhaps our age or even less than that. Plus, when you head the family, you have to take care of so many things - be it home supplies, social commitments, taking care of my mother and his (my Granny), paying bills, and much more. Studying inspite of so much is a very very steep climb indeed.

"It was difficult", says Dad, as he caresses his certificate, "but I relished every bit of it." He did not give up when faced by adversities and wrenched out time to study between various activities. He is not very computer or internet savvy yet, but he got the cable operator to broadcast a Spanish channel on television. Now, that was innovative!

Isn't that awesome? Congratulate him here!

We are inspired by you, Dad. Love you.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Fighting the Invincible

A continuous shoulder pain led to a MRI scan and the results revealed a depressing fact: its not some
posture related or stress related problem it was suspected to be. It was cancer.

The very mention of the disease shakes your spirit. What is the condition of the patient, who is barely in her late thirties, a mother of two, has loads of dreams, when she is told that her disease is in an advanced stage and there is no known cure for it?

Shaila sat stunned as her doctor explained the implications of the spots that showed in the scan reports. But when she emerged, she was a woman of steel. 

She shared her predicament with her near and dear ones, but refused to let them be flustered. 

"It was no use being tensed about something out of one's control", she said, "Let's fight it out".

Chemotherapy sessions, medicines, bouts of illness, draining of savings, contradictory statements from various sources - it was a situation very difficult to deal with. Shaila stuck to her resolve, terming it as a challenge that life had thrown for her. 

There is a saying that you should not let the disease get into your mind. Shaila lived life like a confident woman, playing her multiple roles as a daughter, mother, wife, professional and more. She stuck to her medical commitments diligently. Today, more than 15 years after that dreadful day, Shaila lives to tell her tale. "Albeit few restrictions, I've faced such a scary disease head on, and have relished fighting it out." 

"Its awesome to be alive", she says, and hopes that her story shall be a source of inspiration for all cancer patients.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pursuing His Heart

Rahul was with me in school. While we were listening to teachers, his mind would always wander to his guitar and music. Needless to say, he did not do well in the exams and after repeated attempts, could barely graze through school.

Bengalis may be a very open minded race, but they could have some limitations too. They think the world comes to an end if you do not do well in studies. His parents were apalled at his dismal marks, and were wondering how to get their boy back on track.

Rahul wanted to be a musician. He opposed his family and was ultimately thrown out of home and school. We had lost touch until one day, after good five years, I met him at a stage show.

Time had changed him, but somewhere deep within, he was still the school boy who studied with me. He recognized me in the crowd and jumped off the stage immediately after the performance. Long hair, confident attitude, a much sophisticated guitar hung around his neck - he seemed to have been reborn.

We exchanged numbers and next day, I met him for coffee, when he told me about his whereabouts in the interim period. He had to face the world on his own, without a place to call home and no money.

"But I had my baby", he said, holding his guitar up. Yes, he came for coffee with the instrument hung on his back.

I probed him for more details... and he spoke his heart out. Life had been harsh, but he had kept his cool and followed his heart. No matter what, he'd not part with his guitar. And gradually, he joined a music band who paid him on performance basis. Later his talent got recognized, and soon, he became a musician much in demand.

Looking at my spellbound expression, he said that he had relished the challenge the world posed for him, learnt a lot the harsh way, but has finally emerged victorious by clinging to his passion.

"No one asks for my degrees anymore", he grinned.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Granny Darling

Married at 17. Widowed at 33, while carrying her 5th child in her womb. My Granny - Mrs Anjali Mazumder.

Destiny threw this challenge at her. She was young and beautiful, widowed and mother of five. And without any source of income. To make matters worse, all relatives distanced themselves from her, for they did not want six extra mouths to feed.

Grandpa was about 45 when he had that sudden heart attack. He was a simple man, and had meagre savings. In those (pre- Indepence) times, salaries were low as well.

As if God was not pacified by Granny's plight, He added more suffering. She lost an eye, one of her knees went stiff. But what God perhaps overlooked was the fighter in the lady.

She struggled, sold her jewellery, did odd jobs and whatever she could do to bring her two daughters and three sons up. All of them are established and successful in their careers, married, have children and even grandchildren. Today, at 96, when she shares her memories from those days, she grins and says, "I've relished being challenged by Almighty, and my success story is being told by the next generations!"

Passionate about education herself, Granny can speak English fluently and has taught us during our childhood too. She has a sharp brain and has an exceptionally modern outlook. We are truly inspired by her.

Her 96th birthday is on this 25th June. May she be there to guide us all our lives. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Stuck up There

My Dad was posted in Gangtok, a beautiful hill station - my Mom used to visit him with me and my brother every weekend from Calcutta, no matter what. We would start on Friday, reach on Saturday, again start on Sunday and attend school on Monday.

It was one such trip in July 1990 when North Bengal and Sikkim had received heavy rain. We were travelling from Siliguri to Gangtok, and midway on the hills, we found ourselves behind a series of vehicles, all stuck up because the road ahead was blocked by a large boulder.

Landslides are a pretty common phenomenon in this part of the world, especially in the rainy season. My brother and I, all of 10 and 11 years of age, got out our taxi to check the situation out. Mom was apprehensive, but she let us move out so long we remained in her line of vision. There were no mobile phones at that time, so there was no way one could communicate with anyone in the outer world.

A chill ran down our spines as we looked down - we were on the edge of a steep cliff, and the landslide had broken the barriers on the edge of the road. The boulder that blocked our way sat on a bed of smaller rocks and uprooted trees, and seemed to hold back the avalanche. The balance seemed delicate, and the slightest disturbance could bring the mountains down. 

There were people leaning against their vehicles or walking around, hoping that help would arrive. Our challenge was not to overcome this critical situation, but keep our cool.

Hours passed, sunlight dimmed. Our mom, along with others, was looking tensed. The idea of spending a night in the wilderness with two children was definitely scary.

We were lucky to be children - worry was something that we were unfamiliar with. The thrill of being in such a critical situation seemed to egg us on, and we seemed to relish the challenge of being completely helpless to Mother Nature.

My brother and I tried to speak to people who were complete strangers, whose languages were unknown to us (we could not speak Hindi too at that stage), and somehow lower the tension. No one had anything better to do, so they communicated with us through smiles, facial expressions and gestures. We kept the spirit up, and would not let anyone panic.

Late evening, an army truck came downhill and took charge of the situation. They put some sandfilled gunny bags and made a stable path for people to cross. They managed to interchange passengers from one side with those on the other; so that they could use each other's vehicles to move towards their destinations.

The present rainy season has brought back memories of a this scary experience. I've been hearing of tourists and pilgrims stuck up in the hills - I can identify with their plight, and hope that this blogpost brings some ray of hope to them.
Photo: An old one scanned for you - the monkey watches human beings in distress.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


We were a happy to be DINK couple - Double Income No Kids. Until one day, when my husband, the member with the larger income, chose to give up his job and go in for full time studies.

While his challenge lay in being a student after a long break, mine was running the family on single income.
We estimated we could barely manage and let him pursue his heart. 

A beep on my mobile phone changed all our calculations. It was a sms informing me that a cheque has bounced. Unable to recognize the transaction, I enquired with by bank and was informed that I would have to pay EMIs for my housing loan from that month.

"Wait a minute!", my brain screamed, "But they were not supposed to start now! I've just come down on single income and you want me to pay half my salary for instalments? That too, above rent?" 

It was a sticky situation - how to manage? Life had thrown a bouncer at me, waiting for me to live up to the challenge.

How I survived those two years is a long story - cutting down on recreation, optimizing on resources. It was tough, very tough. But after the initial phase, I realized that I was relishing the challenge - it was a learning experience. The fighter in oneself is rejuvinated and you can take on any challenge.

Thankfully, we are back to our professional versions. And now we look back on those days of hardship for inspiration, sharing our experience, and feeling awesome about it.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Excellent Wine for You

That's what I thought of the wine, when I tasted the Merlot - a red wine from Four Seasons

Are you surprised? Some of you who know me personally are aware of the fact that I stay away from alcohol in most cases. But when offered a taste of this ruby red wine (its a bit darker - close to the garnet stone), I decided to try it.

We were at a friends' housewarming party, and the menu for dinner was a platter of attractive Mughlai dishes. While I was appreciating the aroma that filled the dining space, my friend grinned and said, "The secret ingredient is the wine you are holding."  

Believe me, the food tasted awesome. Conventional, but hinting at something that enhanced your experience.  The wine tasted perfect alongside - there is a strong fruity flavour in it which lingers in the aroma as well. 

Do try this flavour and relish the experience! 

To know more about this wine and others, visit the Fourseasons website

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Honeymoon continues

Producing a book titled “Weekend Getaways from Delhi”, my husband announced that our honeymoon shall continue in phases on his new Thunderbird (a massive creation by Royal Enfield). 

The first destination was Garmukteshwar – the location where distance from River Ganges and our city, Delhi, was minimum. But that is no less than 125 km! I was skeptical for do what I may, I cannot drive the monster machine, even if he’d let me. The passionate biker in him scoffed me away assuring that he did not mind doing all the riding – adding to please me, “with me behind him” and actually meaning “with an excuse to ride such a bike”.

It was August, just after the monsoons, so the condition of most part of the road was not worth mentioning. Once the urban sprawl had been left behind, we came across a Y junction – one road led to our destination, and the other was a village road with no signage. The driver turned towards me, and one look at his eyes through the windshield of his helmet told me which path we were about to take.

It was a completely new world – lush green fields rejuvenated by the rains spread out on both sides, occasional trees here and there, no sign of any development anywhere. Moisture still lingered in the air. We rode along, enjoying the landscape. There were undulations, but it was a fairly motorable road.

The road finally took us to a small village – children were surprised to see such a monstrous bike and started running behind us. We stopped at a well, where they gathered and wanted to be taken on a ride. Smiling, my husband obliged them, as I joined few women who were sitting nearby. They gave me water to drink and offered me some tea.

After enjoying such hospitality, we asked for directions to our destination – luckily we did not have to trace back the entire path. We ate at roadside restaurants, and rode through various small towns. You can be assured that we took small detours to visit anything that caught our eye – a tall pyre of a church, a signboard announcing a tourist attraction, the sound of a school bell, and more!

We did reach Garmukteshwar finally… but more than the town, I’ve cherished memories of this road trip!
Sorry, this was about 7 years back, and I could not find the photographs. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What is MBA all about?

"MBA is not about Money, Blazer, Arrogance", says the cover of the book written by debutant writer, Krishna Kranthi. 

This is what the protagonist, Revant realizes during his stint at a famous B-school after few years of corporate life. Although everything seems right, Revant is confused whether it was a correct decision and what his real purpose of doing the MBA was.

His is the 1 year course designed specially for young professionals. And Revant must make the best of his time! So he   embarks on his journey and discovers what the true purpose of MBA, and education overall, is.

It is a very simply written book - ideal for reading while travelling, etc. But you would find yourself nodding in agreement in most parts; may be stop to take a look at yourself and wonder whether you have done your bit.

Its not as if there aren't any female characters. There are; but have what you call 'side roles'. 

This book needs a final round of editting and you never know, may become a must read for young aspiring professionals! 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Toke: Book Review

Lord Vishnu has mesmerized mythologists, historians, religious people, script writers, et al since ages - he is a prolific character who lived life on his terms. A master manipulator, he would take multiple rebirths and influence people to act as per his wishes.

In this book, Vishnu is the 'cool dude'. He wears his traditional outfit of yellow satin, jewellery, etc and travels on his throne among clouds. He consumes drugs with the protagonist, Nikhil and his friends - now that is completely insane, isnt it?

Jugal Mody, the author, has framed his plot in an interesting manner. Utterly bugged with his immediate senior at work, Nikhil joins his friends for marijuana and has hallucinations. Vishnu entrusts them with the responsibility to save the world so that he himself can hold up his tenth and final reincarnation.

The reader is taken on a wild ride of imagination - apart from human beings and Lord Vishnu, there are a talking crow and eagle!

You would need to concentrate on the book while you take in the proceedings, or you may get lost in some parts. But one must commend the author for such creative thinking. A 3/5 from me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ordering food in minutes

On my marriage anniversary, our guests were surprised to see the file containing menus of various restaurants maintained meticulously by my husband. He let everyone choose what they wanted to eat for dinner.
After a while, almost everyone had selected mutually exclusive items from various sources and it seemed practically impossible to place and track so many independent orders.

Suddenly, I recalled a website called Foodpanda, which is the heaven for foodies. You can select your city and locality, and all major restaurants which have tie up with the website, are listed! One can browse through the menu card of one, select items from different outlets, place the entire order at one go, with a few clicks of the mouse, without investing much time, money, fuel or effort! The page also indicates the minimum order value, delivery charges if any and approximate lead time. The best part is that you pay for everything at the end with your credit/ debit card and your order would arrive together, piping hot!

Check this website out and subscribe to their e-mail alerts. Often there are movie tickets, vouchers and other goodies on offer upon placing an order. What more could you ask for?

Monday, May 06, 2013

Homeless !

I am temporarily without a place to call my home. How bad can it be?

My accomodation for the last seven years had been a rented one, and it has been sold. I had received a notice for vacating well in advance. We decided to move into a small apartment which we had owned since sometime. Till now, there is nothing surprising in the story, isn't it?

The problem is that the place we were supposed to move in is still under renovation and the work just doesn't seem to end! Now, our home is not ready and the new owners of the roof that covered me so long wanted the house vacated. But where do we go?

We pleaded for extension, offered rent, but to no avail. 

I thank God that He created a human bond called Friendship. They stood beside us in this hour of crisis - helped us in packing the numerous stuff we owned; let us dump them in their homes irrespective of how little spare space there was, and offered us accomodation and food. As long as we are ready to move in to our den, or even beyond.

I am overwhelmed by the support we've received from everyone around me, and wish everyone the very best in life!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Tantra : Book Review

As children, we have read about black magic and have been afraid of tantrics, or the practitioners of this art. The term itself puts one on the backfoot, pointing at some evil purpose. This book takes off from this backdrop; and weaves a story around the good and evil; vampires and guardians.

The story revolves around Anu Aggarwal, a person who is entrusted with the responsibility of fighting vampires in New York and preventing them from bringing any harm to the innocent citizens. She is trained for this - physical fitness, fighting techniques and in handling deadly weapons that are tucked up in her armour. And they have an organized affair – there are control centres, online repository of cases and also profile of all volunteers (or employees) across the globe. She had been distanced from her family and friends, mostly due to this “weird” nature of her occupation – except her boyfriend, Brian. She had made the mistake of involving Brian too much in her life, although he was no guardian or vampire – and this led him to lose his life in a brutal murder during a fight between the two sides. Some clues such as CCTV footages pointed to New Delhi – Anu gets herself a transfer to the Indian capital to seek revenge.

What happens then? Anu puts up with her aunt, Nina Chopra, who has been portrayed like a normal human being who cares for her niece.  She is concerned for her marriage and tries to convince Anu to agree for an arrianged marriage set up and meet prospective grooms. But Anu has no time to focus on such activities! She gets involved in a racket of murdering children and innocent people – and she must stop the person behind all of it : Baba Senaka. He is a practitioner of religious activities, but he has chosen the cruel path to gain power. While he prepares to perform a ceremony to gain ultimate power, he seeks innocent souls of children and does not seem to mind obliterating the entire world at the cost of it, if necessary. Along with Amit Sethi, the guardian posted in New Delhi, Anu embarks on a journey to learn some of the tricks herself with the help of Dr. Sarthak Sharma and Pandit Grover. The story climaxes in an epic battle between Anu and Baba Senaka.

The book is structured well and the language is also quite simple, although you may get tangled slightly in parts where too much tantra has been discussed. It is gripping in parts. It also left me with many unanswered questions – what happened to the relationship of between Gaurav and Anu? Who killed Brian? I think the author has left a scope for the sequel to this book, where these queries would be answered.

Did this book work for me? Unfortunately it didn’t. It could be because I have very limited interest in religious texts, including tantra (although being a Bramhin by caste – big deal). It is a 50:50 book – you may or may not bond with it.

This review is a part of the Book Review Programme at Blogadda.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks : Book Review

Here is a book you shall absolutely love. Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks is about a young doctor, freshly out of medical school, who joins the prestigious institution, St. Ivanhoe Hospital as an intern. And this book revolves around him, it narrates the adventures (and misadventures) of him and his six colleagues.
When I first read the back of the book, I was a bit confused whether the central character was male or female. See, his name is Manjula, fondly called as Manju by his relatives and friends. Now, I know people with both those names, and all of them are female. But that apart, once I started reading the book, I just fell in love.

It is written in the form of a diary – which means that there are dates instead of chapter numbers. It’s a narration that takes you round the year of internship of Dr. Manjula Mendis and his friends, with occasional insights into his personal life. What is more, there are notes from the Editors (written by the author himself, of course) wherever there is a need to explain something.  

The author, Sanjaya Senanayake, is a doctor himself. And he is a Sri Lankan, as his name suggests. It is hardly surprising because unless you are a doctor yourself and have gone through the grind first hand, you would not know the various ups and downs one has to face during internship. Plus, there is a lot of medical knowledge that has been shared with the readers –so effortlessly have they been used that they seem normal – it comes so easily because Sanjaya is in the profession himself. But Sanjaya is a great story teller. This book is his first novel – and nowhere does it appear to be written by a novice. The English is simple and lucid – you can read it anytime.  Actually, you’ll get so hooked to it that you would devour it as soon as possible! And its simply hilarious - I read most of the book giggling!!!

The characterization is very good, and subtle details have been portrayed as if it’s a real life story.

Young Manjula comes across as a simple individual, full of South Asian values, who lives with his parents. He matures as various challenges come his way during his life as an intern in the hospital. Well, not all is fine with the noble profession we all look up to – and Manju comes face to face with number of incidents that take him, and the readers by surprise. The story is set in Australia, and the poor Mendis has to go through racism as well. Top specialists seem to be complete frauds, a colleague wishes to shun off her roots – can it get any worse?

It can. When his parents want to set up an arranged marriage for Manjula with a “nice Sri Lankan girl from a nice family”.  Or when he almost married his own sister in a messy situation!

The book highlights number of social issues that we must ponder about and rise above: Racism, Unethical practices, Prostitution, difficult admission procedures in schools, etc.

So, Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks gets a 4/5 from me straightaway!
This review is a part of the Book Review Programme at Blogadda.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Black Shirt from IKnow Studio

I wanted to buy a shirt for myself. Unable to wrench out time for shopping due to end of financial year work pressure, I chose to look for options online, when I stumbled on Iknow Studio, an online store run by a Fashion Designer and Management graduate. The designs appealed to me because they added an unconventional element to formal wear. And the fabrics are all cottons, perfect for Indian conditions. I ordered a double breasted black shirt right away!

There's a style statement in the delivery too. The shirt was shipped in a bright blue cotton packaging - protected on the inside by cellophane. I wore it to office the very next day! 
The size guide is so perfect.. see it fits me so well? I loved the triplet of buttons that hold down the top flap. I thought the design was innovative in adding unique elements to a simple black shirt. I paired it with beige trousers and square danglers - with a splash of red.

Received immense compliments that day!!