Its Madras Mind You

Its Madras Mind You

madras on my mindMadras on my mind… is an anthology of stories with Madras definitely on the Mind. When I saw this book at the GALF I toyed about picking it. After I met the couple who put this together I had to pick it up.

The book is a collection of short stories by different authors of varied age. Each seeing Madras through their own experiences.

Before the tide and the Tsunami, there was a bustling city with Moore Market, the Spencer circle. The Higginbottoms, the Marina beach, the Valluvarkottam, the mami’s, and music. The book brought back those memories to me. Each story awakening a memory to bring back a part of my childhood. Each author also brings a unique language and flow of their thoughts. Though the southern dry humour and the candour dominates the writing.

Some writer’s observation just stood out and made me read the book all over again. Like Juluri Vamsee talking about actress Jamuna her journey from Andhra to Madras, someone acts his mother’s role, while his own mother acted as some child-actor’s mother.

Anirudh Sengupta talking about American-Indian becoming Miss India though I am not clear if he was speaking about an ABCD or if he was referring to the indigenous people of USA. Anyway that is his trip; he brought back the IIT campus to me, the deers and the archway to the ultimate destination that I never made to.

Chitra Viraraghavan uses a term “mood out-an” again something that is so typically southern we seem to add an “a” and the entire intonation and the demeanour of the sentence changes from a formal one to peer bonding.

Kalpana Komal in her Rendungattan by the way the word had totally slipped out from my vocabulary with my grandmother who passed away in 1997, she brought back the shared pet peeves of the mami’s. She also brought back memories of a very middle class moralistic approach and of course we as teenagers having visions of the aunty in sleeveless blouse having an orgy with any masculine gender… as we listened to Paati and Pakkaveedu-mami gossiping about her. Kalpana’s observation that her mother used scolding as an expression of love brought back the incessantly reprimanding mothers.

G.Sampath’s short story from Triplicane to Taramani takes you through Madras in a very different way.

Anuja Chandramouli in her  Appalling Lack of vice and spice in Chennai city, is pulls a string as its protagonist sits on the fence, of wanting the adventure but her upbringing stopping her stepping into one. the was wistful young person wanting to rebel but is conditioned to conform, she does not judge the people who do, she just wears blinkers to the existence of the vice and spice so that she remains quiet and nice.

The Rice and Fall of Royal Ramana Rao to become a movie producer, was quite interesting. House of powders by Sanobar Sultana talks of two things that I totally connect to “ra ra venu gopabala’ and the “rasam” somewhere her observation that her wearing a hijaab brought a shift in relationships did make me sigh. Hope we shall overcome that someday.

The experience of human behaviour in the last story by P.Balasubramanian was touching too.

After reading the authors here is my wish list for further reading.

icon GALF chitra-krishna (1)
Chitra Viraraghavan,and Krishna Shastri Devunapalli @GALF
  1. Chitra Viraraghavan –Delhi Tata hoping to gift it to my nieces and nephews.
  2. Dilip Kumar – The Tamil Story : Through the Times, Through the tides.
  3. Krishna Shastri Devulapalli: The sentimental spy.
  4. Sampat : How to make enemies and offend people.
  5. Juluri Vamsee: The mythologist
    1. Saraswati’s Intelligence.
    2. Rearming Hinduism.

Madras on my mind ISBN 978-93-5177-572-0 published by Harper Collins.





How many books did you read in 2017 it depends on what kind of books you are talking about. The once written on sheets of skin or paper or tablets of wood or ivory, are talking about written or printed or blank sheets bound together between a front and back cover?  Are we talking about a literary composition ?.

Of course there is the Book!! The best seller of the millennium. You may choose to call it the Bible.

Books are amazing, there is a total available knowledge and experience that can be  brought on a task or problem and we could try every trick the book prescribes. Then there are books  that contain information and analysis within, people run their business by those books.

The more scary one when you are brought to book. I get an image of a panel in front one behind, being bound and sentenced!  And the bookmakers book. There are books and books, and so little time.

Now I need to think about how many books I read…

I have amused myself, educated myself through the years, I am a voracious reader and I also read a wide spectrum from tinkle, to Tolstoy. Mythology, folklore are quite a favourite of mine. Not to mention anecdotal collections, historical investigations from authors like Aroon Raman or Christopher Doyle. Fantasies however did not catch my fancy much. Though the Harry Potter series are not bad.

Of late I my reading tastes have turned eclectic, I seem to be reading lot of Hay House books. Eat Pray and love  being an all time favorite.

Last time I received a book for review and I was kind of apologetic about it on the train, it was a love story,surprisingly a fellow passenger asked me if he could buy it off me, another ordered the book on line. What I learnt from that each book, irrespective of the genre the publisher places it on, there is a reader. Every book appeals to something in a reader, if a book fails to do so, what I like and what you like in a book would definitely be different.

Through 2017 I have travelled extensively it simply translates to I have read extensively. As for the books of 2017 let’s go through the books I read… at Kitabi Kida.

An interesting book for people who liked  Unreal Elections and P.G.Wodehouse is Madras On My Mind.


Off to Coffeeway Galaxy

Off to Coffeeway Galaxy

When I received  the book the Mahabharata code, the sci-fi look of the cover did seem interesting.

The book based on Mahabharata narrated in first person, by the protagonist NR  or rather Narayan Rao, an astronomer with NASA based originally from Bangalore. He and few other members are part of a NASA mission to  visit a mysterious planet from where they receive signals.  On reaching there instead of Jadoo like creäture they meet a man with long flowing beard called vyasa his vision is to recreate the Mahabharata over again, to gain the faith of the primitive civilization of the planet.

The recreation is verbatim, and NR  realizes his son Krishna was to be Lord Krishna.

The narrative stays true to the original, though intercepted with cricket and technology, with foot notes in italic to give an impression of hallucinations of a comatose man. there are some  intrusion allusions used like, NR’s wife is a computer engineer who channelized her skill to create technology to transform their son to Lord Krishna.

At a point there is a suggestion that Krishna is 2 people and not one. the episode of Yashoda seeing the universe in Krishna’s mouth was because Krishna had cholate in his mouth , Yashoda the mother from the primitive planet mistook it for mud. The winning of Draupadi happens  through biometric and of course the wonder of Karna clearing the biometrics arises. In the Kunti- Pandu story Pandu is given “Nirbaya Shots” to make him impotence, which is the way of the primitive planet to prevent rape,. The author does need to do research her.

The polyandry of Draupadi was planned by Vyasa. Somewhere there is a passage of being Hindu, which I have forgotten.   The Ganga-Shantanu episode is presented as a prenuptial agreement, I wonder why the Shantanu-Sathyavati prenuptial were not brought up.

Out of the blue the book shifts to modern India, Leh area, the protagonist falls sick, then the army steps in with medical care… at the end of the reading I am still confused and the loose ends are many.

By the way the mysterious planet is in the coffeeway galaxy…

Maybe I am old school and I prefer Krishna Udayashankara’s, Shashi Tharoor, Sharat Komarraju, and DevduttPattnaik’s rendering of the Mahabharat, in the exact order of the authors listed.

The book would be potent as an audio book with right vocal variety for many of the writings lends itself to subtext or the meta-story than the visible story line. Again this is a very personal take.

People who are into reading as they travel should pick this book up, it will give them enough to visualize, and ponder. This is not skim in an hour book.

pick your book here The Mahabharata code

Author: Karthik K.B.Rao


ISBN 98-93-5206-8883


Bhrigu Mahesh In searc of Damayanti

Bhrigu Mahesh In searc of Damayanti

The past few months since April have been rather hectic travelling over the weekend, I wondered if Indian railways would give me a season pass, or make me an honorary citizen. The only saving grace is it gave me ample time to read, (though writing a review has not been very comfortable)  one journey I attempted Shashi Tharoor’s latest book, but could not carry it through, that day’s mail BlogAdda offered The Return of Damayanti  now that sounded interesting.

When received the book, I was prepared for a horror story despite thriller, being its acknowledged genre..  The book however turned out to be a whodunit, where a Man Nataraj Bhakti is haunted by the ghost of his dead wife, he contacts a detective called Bhrigu Mahesh though I did not really understand what the PHD was doing with the title, if it were Doctor in Philosophy then it would PhD, so the only thing I can conclude is Pre-Historic Donkey. Jokes apart, Bhrigu comes to town for ghost bursting. He meets various people, like Mr.Bhakti’s  sibling, their spouses, their children and a childhood friend of Mr.Bhakti all of who are baits for who is the ghost… and then whodunit that killed the victim, it is definitely not Mr.Bhakti’s sister for she is the victim.

The book begins with a epilogue of a nebulous person discovering a vague manuscript of vaguer implication. The story then shifts to town which is impossible to place on the map, with first names like Nataraj and Manjunath  and a manservant who speaks English and fluent Malayalam the location being Kerala is a default conclusion, but suddenly the story moves and a reference to Patiala is made, eventually it appears that the story is set in Bihar. The author is not really proficient in creating the visual imagery of a definite kind, though the writing style is quite narrative.

The theme though on the face of it appears to be a traditional whodunit with the most unlikely person being the culprit, is actually talking of social oppression by the patriarchal society. The author present wonderful psychological insights, unlike most authors who tend to share coffee table variety of psychology. The author very casual tosses questions, on the institution of marriage. I do not know if she meant to do it, but she has actually brought a salient point of the beta-male who a pseudo-alfa is resulting in abusive of the female. She has her female characters meekly surrendering and if at all they rebel their rebellion in thwarted with undesired end result. I hope by the next book she learns to make her women succeed in what they take to achieve.

There is a character of Pundit Mishra who is quite intriguing with his knowledge of scriptures and psychology and his sadistic social experimenting, it is the result of these experiments that is narrated in the book. The character reminded me, of Iago from Othello Desdemona and Shakuni of Mahabharata. The Return of Damayanti has shades of Vyomkesh Bakshi, Agatha Christie and Sherlock homes. The concept of a master criminal who takes care of his own like Agatha Christie’s Mr. Brown or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Moriarty is represented by a character Kala Nag, who has an underground establishment not mention a dark hood that he wears and files with the coiled snake logo.

A very intriguing and interesting book. I am actually looking forward to the author’s next book for the author Ms.Nisha Singh will learn to overcome glitches, and would probably also find a good editor.  The book is published by Partridge India and the ISBN 078-1-4828-8899-7.

About Nisha Singh

PS: I have deliberately kept the storyline out since I do not want to spoil it for people who plan to read it.

The book was complimentary copy sent by BlogAdda for reviewing.  To buy on //“>amazon

This review is a part of the biggest <a href=”; target=”_blank”> Book Review Program </a> for <a href=”; target=”_blank”>Indian Bloggers.</a> Participate now to get free books!


Open Sesame

Open Sesame

Thanks fellow bloggers for the amazing response to 163 Edition of Indispire.

It is definitely a non-creative mundane oft proposed query, but I wanted to look at the sense of achievement we all felt when we completed reading a book all by ourselves. Like the Command officer of the Bambolim Army Camp General Cariappa said, as he read the book he was transported, he travelled and he realized there was a world beyond the one we knew.

Early, my mother read books to me, then we shifted to comics, that was graphic so the mind really did not create its own visual. The first story book I read I think was Noddy Goes to the Fair by Enid Blyton .Enid Blyton’s books were classified as red dragon, blue dragon and one other colour for age appropriateness.

The book that gave me a sense of achievement was again by Enid Blyton it was a Famous Five book, I think it was Five on a Mystery or something I remember a green cover of the book with sketches of four kids, in red and blue shirts and a dog.  Suddenly the world was different, there was excitement and adventure out there and I realized I could escape the mundane world of homework… it was no more pencils no more books, no more teachers dirty looks.

We created our own famous group, of course we had to cross hurdles like Enid Blyton’s characters had two boys as the older kids and the girls were younger, we were the other way round, moreover dogs were not allowed, and we definitely did not want to clean up dog poop. We were vegetarians, and bread was brought only when mom was sick, so sandwiches were all imaginary. I remember picking up two Monaco biscuits placing a piece of tomato on it and pretending that we were having sandwich.

We would climb up the Mango or Jackfruit tree and pretend that it was our look out like the ones the famous five had.

Enid Blyton’s books then became a staple, the Mallory Tower series, the Naughtiest girl series, The Five Find-Outers, and  The Secret Seven oh! Yes there was one other series that I cannot remember. Then came the Nancy Drew and Hardy boys series.Eventually we outgrew them and graduated to Mills and Boon, of course, I read the Sudden series and Zane Grey too.

Today when I look back I see that Enid Blyton was racist and gender biased, yet those days she took us to a world of escape and adrenaline. There was a bonding created by the vocabulary of Enid Blyton readers, looking back it was a privileged elite group. Every Wednesday was the sacred trip to the library, we would read the comics there, and borrow a book for the week.

By the way April 2nd is the International Children’s Book Day.

The Book Rescue

The Book Rescue

Reading is a habit we picked up very early in life, my mother used to read the book for me, then slowly I began reading them myself. Eventually I have a library. Like most book-owners I have a pathological disorder, of hoarding I hate giving my books off. The maximum that I do is give them away to my nieces and nephews.

At the Annual Publishing Next conference at Goa, the publisher from Vani Prakashana, shared the screen shot of a FB post where a boy had posted, “aak pehali tankha mili, ghaar maalik to kirayi diya, maa-baap ko paise bheje, or zindagi mein pehli bhaar apneliye kitab kharida.” Books still have that status in life.

The books, they are lined up on shelves,  or stacked on a table, some still wrapped in their jackets, lines of neat print on nicely bound pages, they look so orderly and static, then along comes the reader, opens the jacket, and it is opening the gate to an unknown city or a discovering a treasure chest, with the first word that the reader reads, he is off on a journey of exploration and discover.

Once the book is read, the fragrance fades, and dog-ears appear, the books join the vast flock of variegated feathered flock of books, wild, homeless, yet they have a charm that the domesticated volumes lack.

Some even giving them the epithet “used books” like someone else has had the best of them, and what is left is just the husk or maybe even less, as a book isn’t the one thing, the one product that is forever new, there is no such a thing as used book. Or there’s nothing as book that is being used.

Food 4 Thought Foundation provides dignity to these books, whose readers have out grown them.  They even pick the book up for you, the books are in safe haven looking ahead to a new lease, for they are sorted and sent to libraries and other places for people to read.  I met these volunteers at the Hyderabad, LitFest it was amazing to see their zest.

book santa