Book Review: Love, Peace and Happiness


 

Title: Love, Peace and Happiness

Author: Rituraj Verma

Publisher: Jufic Books

Price: Rs 145

 

Every person has some aim in life -be it a big house, a car, marriage, education, whatever – but, what is this all in aid of? What is common to all these aims?

The common factor is the end result of all these aims – a sense of satisfaction and contention – resulting in happiness for the individual. And this is exactly the emotion captured by first-time author Rituraj Verma in his book ‘Love, Peace and Happiness’.

The book comprises of a collection of stories about individuals living their lives, meeting the challenges thrown at them on their journey and discovering something new in the process. The book eerily gives you a sense of déjà vu, of either having had to face a similar situation or hearing of the same from someone else.

Also, something different about the book – there are the alternate endings (to the stories) provided at the author’s website. Especially when you are left feeling like “Nah! I didn’t like the way that ended.”, here is a chance for you to make your own ending.

The stories are thought-provoking and leaves the reader squirming in his or her mind – asking – “What would I have done if I were in the place of the protagonist?”. Because, unlike the usual run-of-the-mill fiction, these are about things that could really happen in life, and situations that many of us have faced.

The first story in the collection – ‘A High Like Heaven‘ – is about a couple taking a leisure trip to the hills – but which quickly becomes shrouded in mystery and myths. The husband becomes obsessed with finding a mythical flower, while the wife tries to pull him back from the quest. Finally, what happens when they find the flower is the climax. The story is a parallel to our modern-day – couples who run after money and promotions with no time for the little pleasures offered by life. Sometimes these people find true happiness, but ofttimes, they don’t.

And another interesting aspect of the book is that the characters’ lives are intertwined in the different stories. For instance, the couple in the first story again appear in another one ‘The Practitioner of Austerity’ – which is another reminder to us mortals – that our lives are all intertwined, and none of us can achieve anything by ourselves. We are in the same river, in different boats, all ultimately moving in the same direction as the river. When some boats hit a snag, some may offer to help, while others go forward without a glance. And sometimes there are obstructions in the river which may affect some of the boats, and which are meant to bring out the best and worst in us. A few boats find a way around the obstruction, some may be stuck.

You cannot read the book in one sitting and finish it off. It requires some effort to go through it, and certainly does not make for light reading material. I am generally a person who finishes books quickly,  and don’t like stories requiring heavy introspection. However, the nature of these stories do not become immediately apparent to the reader. And it took me more than 2 weeks to get through the book because as I finished one story after another, I started feeling a real heaviness in my mind, something I don’t fancy.

So, for those of you out there looking for books to entertain you – please stay away from this one. It will do absolutely nothing for your fun-loving nature, and probably will make you miserable.

And those of you into trying to find the meaning of life, this book will be the perfect cup of tea for you.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: I, Rama – Age of Seers


Title: I, Rama … Age of Seers

Author: Ravi Venu

Publisher: Cratus Media

Price: Rs 225

When I first read the excerpt of the book, it sounded so much like another Immortals of Meluha (of Shiva Trilogy fame) ‘wannabe’. So much so that I decided to give it a try. This is how it goes – “There will be a time when men will fight among themselves in the name of God, when peace will fail; at that time part of me will re-emerge.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? In fact, my first thought was it would be something about Rama reincarnating in the present age.

The story starts with an event in Lanka. Then there is the Author’s Prologue, stating the most unbelievable and fantastic facts about religion, seers (or sages), Gods and even the earth. According to the author, the Sages and Demons are all beings from other planets who decided to settle down in Earth during an Age when man himself was not around. And these sages helped man to evolve and become kings and queens and what-nots. The seers seemed to have total control over everything – meaning they were equal to Gods. And the demons followed the seers to Earth but couldn’t destroy them because they had integrated themselves among earthlings. Sheeeesh! So much for the demons a.k.a. asuras. And both beings travelled light years across galaxies just to reach our measly Earth!

And as for the so-called Gods – they have been depicted as Kings of Constellations. For instance, Shiva is the ‘ruling celestial of the Shiva constellation.’ And human kings need the help of these celestial kings to solve their problems. Shiva uses energy spikes to get the Ganges to flow. I guess you already have an idea of what is to follow in the rest of the book.

In the tale, Rama reminisces his yesteryears to his kids who are about to be crowned as Kings of Ayodhya. The flowery language used in the book makes me gag and want to throw up on the book. Listen to this – ‘I see the river Sarayu. She seems to be wearing a Golden fleece woven from the rays of the evening sun, like a beautiful celestial dancer descended from the heavens….. ‘. Need I go on??? I felt like I was reading a literal translation of the book from an Indian language, and not an English novel. The language used is so unnatural for English, that it grates on your nerves trying to make sense out of it.

There are also various inconsistencies in the story. As far as I know, the Hindu caste system was based on the Manusmriti, and Manu was supposed to be the first King and author of the text. However, in this tale, Sage Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya King even before the time of Manu. What on earth is that supposed to mean if Manu was the one who founded the various castes??

A refreshing aspect of the book is its depiction of Kaikeyi, Rama’s step-mother. In almost all stories I have heard, she is portrayed as the evil one who sent Rama on his 14 year exile. However, here Kaikeyi is pictured as a strong warrior queen who had the foresight to identify Rama as an important person with a special mission in life, and each of her actions are depicted as a way to make that happen.

Another plus point for the book is the number of unheard stories related to the origin and fall of the Sages, and their relation to Rama’s story. Finally the tale ends with Rama, Lakshmana and Sita setting forth on their exile, FINALLY!!

As if the picturesque language and the utterly fantastic stories of sages travelling through space and time weren’t enough, the author seems to love using loooooong words to get a simple point across. Here is an example – “The concentration of my atonement was so intense that the vibrations started to disturb the astral planes…..As my mind woke up to earthly need, I remembered the last humiliation, which was the very purpose of my sacrament.”.  Can you imagine reading something like that and not bursting out laughing? The author seems to be in love with the word ‘celestial’ and throws it about the book carelessly. Every page has the word occurring atleast once, if not more. And the similes used are just out of the world! Here is one – “Her face was full of artful shyness like a stream gently caressing a rock in a flood.” Since when has a flood been gentle, and how can a girl’s shyness be like caressing a  rock? If anyone can make sense out of that sentence, I’d definitely love to hear it.

To me, the book read like a cross between Doctor Who and Repairman Jack, with the stories being neither here nor there. I love both, but this book was just… – well, words fail me.

So far, Rama has just been listening to stories and learning stuff. I dread to think of what is coming up in the proposed two sequels – when Rama actually begins practising all that he has learnt. I bet we will be subjected to a blow-by-blow account of how the arrow traverses across the seas and forests, the number of sparks it emits and so on – just like it is shown on the TV series Ramayana – where they show the path traced by an arrow till it finds its mark. And all in free-flowing, flowery language. I imagine it will go something like this – “Rama retrieved an arrow out of his hay quiver, uttered a few hymns to empower it with special celestial powers guaranteed to humiliate and destroy the perpetrator, and launched it from his bow. The arrow glowed with a  blue light and took on power from the celestial hymns uttered by Rama’s lips and enlightened the entire sea with its glow…..” You get the picture right 🙂 ?

I certainly hope the author won’t subject the readers to any more atrocious writing of this sort in the sequels.

Immortality has a price – the tagline of the book – but reading this was one price I didn’t want to pay.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

My Search for a New Phone

Girl Dreaming of Phone

The other day when a friend called me, it was so difficult for me to hear her and vice-versa, that instead of cursing my phone (as I usually do), I decided to take pro-active action. Sell my phone and get a new one.

I had taken a firm resolve that I would buy a phone only after I sold my current one. So, I put up an EBay ad for my used phone. Phone Sold

And to make the offer more enticing, I decided to throw in a mobile charm too – an unused one I had lying around the place.

Within 10 days of posting, the ad found a buyer. In the meantime, I had researched the phones I wanted as a replacement. I started off in the Rs-1000-1500 bracket in Flipkart. And had finally settled on the Salora SM401. Then began to reconsider my decision – I wanted something unique in my phone – dual sim, QWERTY would be nice to have (as I have never used one), large screen. But since I wasn’t very comfortable with QWERTY phones and didn’t want to shell out more than Rs 3500 for such a phone. I definitely didn’t want Micromax, Lava, Karbonn and such brands (you know the kind) – because I’d already had a very bad experience with a Micromax QWERTY phone which put me off the brand completely.

Though uncomfortable with QWERTY, it still kept calling to me. I started researching the QWERTY phones available – Nokia Asha 200, Nokia X2-01, Samsung Chat C322, Motorola EX109 were the few on my radar. A site 91mobiles.com was excellent at helping me arrive at these choices. It has a Phone Finder option, and lists the lowest prices available for a phone online. Then I came across the Alcatel OT-802Y, and was enchanted with the purple and black colurs of the phone. And it was only Rs 2600. However, since it had just a single sim option, and did not have a 3.5mm jack for earphones, I left.Alcatel OT802

Then came my affair with the Alcatel OT-806, which was another QWERTY dual-sim phone, with an added feature – this one had a touch screen! And the screen was large – 2.8″ – looked like I had found the phone of my dreams. Added to that, this was a phone which had the lowest SAR and had won awards in Europe. Looking better and better.

Alcatel OT806

But once again, I was disappointed. As you can see in the picture on the right, it lacked a very crucial feature – the central navigation key we take for granted on most phones. Without that central key, I knew life would be a misery every time I wanted to navigate on the phone’s menu. Sadly, I vetoed this one too.

The search was on again. Especially since my phone had found a buyer and I was expected to courier it to him in the next 7 days, and time was running out.

This time, Flipkart came to my rescue and got me the Alcatel OT-813D. Now, here was a phone which was QWERTY with touch screen, dual-sim, had a central navigation button and the 3.5 mm jack for headphones. In other words, the phone of my dreams. And it costed Rs 3875,  a bit over my budget, but well worth it.

Without wasting any time, I put in my order. And here is my beautiful phone, which arrived within the next 4 days.

Coming Soon – A review of the Alcatel OT-813D.

Product Review: Pantene Total Damage Care Range


I was very pleasantly surprised when Rebecca emailed me one fine day and asked if I would like to be a part of reviewing the new Shampoo and Conditioner from Pantene – The Total Damage Care range.

Pantene Total Damage Care ShampooI am generally not a fan of the Pantene range of shampoos as they tend to dry out my hair and make it quite rough. But since I love trying out new shampoos and conditioners, I happily agreed to check out this new offering from Pantene.

Now, the Total Damage Care Range supposedly offers protection against the daily damage inflicted on your hair – protecting your hair against split ends, dryness, roughness, dullness, weakness, brittleness and tangles, leaving your hair moisturized, stronger and visibly less damaged within 14 days.

The products came to me within a couple of weeks, well sealed in a rough wooden box. I was able to pry off the lid only after taking help from my brother. What on earth did they think they were sending to be packed up so secure – the Crown Jewels?

Anyway, once I got the lid loose, I found that Pantene had sent across 2 bottles of shampoo and 1 of conditioner. Hmmm, I wonder why cosmetic companies always make conditioner bottles smaller than shampoo bottles?Pantene Total Damage Care Conditioner

I was quite keen to try them out. Immediately oiled up my hair. Remember – Never, Ever use shampoo without oiling your hair first – Indian hair has a tendency to be completely stripped of its moisture by shampoos and oiling your hair first, prevents that from occurring.

Shampoo - on my handAfter oiling my hair, I washed it and then applied the shampoo. It was just the right consistency, had a nice scent, and was white in colour. It went on quite well on my hair – lathered it up and left on for a few minutes. Then I washed it off.

My hair now had a delicious scent and felt squeaky clean. But it was the conditioner that totally knocked me over. I applied the conditioner on my hair, left it on a few minutes again (while reading in the bath – I know, my husband also marvels at the places that I read in!) and washed it off using loads of H2O.Conditioner - on my Hand

Rubbed my hair dry and waited for the magic promised by Pantene. Once my hair was completely dry, I was amazed to find how soft my hair felt. Not sure if it looked soft but I was definitely happy with it.

Pros of the Total Damage Care Range from Pantene:

1. Cleans hair and softens it.

2. Great scent, not too overpowering

3. Neither too runny nor too thick – consistency of shampoo and conditioner easy enough to be handled.

4. My hair remains quite tangle-free (or maybe that is because I don’t have too much hair to get tangled up in the first place)

5. Split ends also seem to have reduced and hair feels more glossy.

Cons:

1. I wouldn’t say that this is sure shot against the roughness and dryness. From the day you use the shampoo and conditioner, the hair looks and feels wonderful for two days. After that, it looks as usual.

2. It doesn’t do much for brittleness either – if your hair was brittle before, it will still continue to remain so whether you use this shampoo or not.

As shampoos go, this one is not bad – at least it works great as a normal shampoo and conditioner – something I can’t say about all shampoos I have used. Even though it doesn’t live up to all its claims, it doesn’t do any harm to the hair. And for all that, I’d rate the Total Damage Care Range Shampoo and Conditioner a 3 out of 5.

Book Review : Resident Dormitus


Title: Resident Dormitus

Author: Vikas Rathi

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Price: Rs 195

A new author, a new book. Unfortunately, this one does not meet my taste in books.

The book opens in the present, with 4 friends blaming each other over another friend’s untimely demise.

The scene then shifts to the past, and is narrated through the eyes of Achet, the protagonist of this story. He keeps speaking in riddles

The story revolves around Achet and his friends – Arjuna, Dev, Alex and Bala. They have all managed to be employed by an MNC and the story keeps shifting between India, Singapore and Malaysia. Achet is an Indian small-towner who has made it big (apparently the first to do so in his family). Arjuna is the son of Sri Lankan immigrants – turned- Australian and keeps jarring out “Hey Mate” in every few sentences. He seems to be the most sensible of the lot. Bala is an Indian, who is considered a slut by almost everyone (including herself), and is trying to climb the corporate ladder to prove her self-worth. Alex, a Greece-born Australian is another character in this unmelodious melody. It dwells on the young professionals who have stepped forth into the corporate jungle and are trying to make it big out there, the various traps (or enticements) each of them fall for. It depicts how easy it is to stray from the trodden path once you get complete financial freedom.

The jokes are off-colour and I felt as though the narrator kept trying to moralise his own and others’ behaviours. The book just bored the hell out of me, and irritated me to a great extent. A book ought to entertain, or atleast be a stimulation to the senses, forcing one to think and imagine. Vikas Rathi’s Resident Dormitus fails in both aspects – the moment you start reading it, you are left trying to find a reason why you should just not burn the book. Maybe that’s coming down a little too heavily, but it was precisely what I felt like doing.

The tale reads like some intellectuals trying to figure out themselves and the world with highfalutin language which is a definite no-no to a reader who reads for leisure. This book gives absolutely no pleasure to the leisure reader.

While reading the book, I felt like I was watching an art movie and trying to make some sense of what the characters were talking about. Most questions are answered with another question, which sends the reader into a deeper muddle trying to figure what they hell they were trying to convey. The narration is abysmal and sends the reader scampering to the far corners of the room just to get away from it.

It was with a great deal of difficulty that I managed to finish this book. And even now, I am not certain what the story is actually about – or why it was even written in the first place.

A book I will never recommend to anyone. As for the author, I would never recommend him now based on this story (if I can even call it that).

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!