Musings and Meditation

Musings and Meditation

Opened Eyed Meditation authored by ShubhaVilas, published by FingerPrint publishers, is actually a compilation.

I had enjoyed the small insights Shubha vilas gave on various things in his two books on Ramayana, hence I assumed this one would be so too. But well this was kind of different.

The usual approach I have to a review is I read, the book and put it in the frame work of a hexagon but as if was doing this, I realized this is a self help book… so it is there, to help whoever asks for help. Who am I to judge and categorize the content?

That’s when I resolved to approach this book very differently from my usual synopsis, this time round I decided to focus on how did the book work for me, and mention what I found interesting.

The book opens with an impressive line up of blurbs, and a dedication to his teachers. The author walks us through his musing through 64 chapters, which to me appeared as notes, with key pointers to a sermon from Shubha Vilas actually ambled through as though ambling through a garden…

The introduction of the book begins with the author’s musing on meditation. When I muse over it, I realized we tend to forget that meditation, and the follow out of meditation is experiential and individualistic.

Like in the rendering of the Ramayana, as a footnote he would have philosophical inputs, here he has tried to match events from Mahabharata and Ramayana to get a point across. Again this relates can only happen if the reader viewed the narratives from the same point of view as the author. What really worked for me was the very crisp summary that he provides as a box at the end of each of chapter.

Some interesting take away for me from where I can work interactions are

A take on analysis, over analysis can cause paralysis of action.

A chapter on making right decisions gives interesting insights on what drives us to a decision.

Good attitude is the matter of choice

Without appreciation relationships head south and hit rock bottom.

The observation that ShubhaVilas makes about the human mind, operating and expressing through symbols, when it comes to beliefs, values and thoughts, and these symbols emerging from the cultural ethos, made great sense.

In the page 65

When it comes to self image he makes another apt observation that is it is the weak that seeks approval.

In the chapter where the author discusses the qualities that make a person charismatic, there are interesting things he talks about, though I do not fundamentally agree with the icons he has used to illustrate these qualities, the qualities in themselves are very sound –

  • Respect is one quality of a charismatic leader and respect breeds respect.
  • Put others before you, though self preservation is the primary goal according to the scriptures, a charismatic leader tends, to take people along that is create a win-win situation, or chooses to put the other before him or her.
  • Thinking out of the box and improvising is another quality of a charismatic leader.
  • Valuing one’s own contribution is also important, one need not boast, but one has to acknowledge the self, after all the world looks at us the way we look at ourselves.

While making a point, Shubha Vilas has quoted a story from the Upanishad, he has apparently come across it in the Mahabharata, the story of the sage Kaushika who burns up a crow, and when he goes to town to beg for alms, a housewife, makes him wait for it, while she completes her household chores. Just as the sage was going to curse her, she smiles and him and says, I am not the bird that you this morning. Interestingly Shubha Vilas stops the story here; he does not complete it, to where the lady directs the sage to her teacher, who happens to be a butcher.

Like the qualities of charisma, Shubha Vilas also ponders on innovation. He builds a link from informationà contemplation. àQuestion àRisk faction àconnection àcollaboration àcelebration.

Another interesting muse is on why people provoke this on page 178

How would I rate this book, well I don’t, and to who I recommend it to, this is dicey again, I would suggest that if you reach out and ask for help the book will help you. But the choice of asking for help is yours. To put it in Shubha Vilas’s words communication happens with connect and connect happens with

ISBN      9788175993907

Publisher             fingerprint

Author:                                ShubhaVilas

Other books by the author

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


300 Bloggers,30 teams, 3 stories– one book.

300 Bloggers,30 teams, 3 stories– one book.

Game of Blogs at Blogadda, published by Leadstart Publishing.

This was an interesting experiment by BlogAdda, I was supposed to participate as a blogger but procrastination pervaded.

Lets come to the six Degrees the game of Blogs, like a said is an experiment by Blogadda, six stock characters were given,

Shekhar Dutta a work from home writer.

Tara Dutta his wife, who has a corporate job.

Roohi Dutta the couple’s nine year old daughter.

Cyrus Daruwalla a Law student from Delhi.

Jenifer Joseph a photo-journalist from Kerala.

Arya Ahuja a neighbour.

Can you imagine300 odd people, working as 30 different teams and creating stories round these characters. The rule was a blog a day, the teams, had discuss, plan,  connect and coordinate. Yes the team that I was to be part off, did not make, poor guys I handicapped them.

This was then judged by Ashwin Sanghi, Kiran Manral, Meghana pant, Natasha Badhwar, Raksha Bharadia, and Ravi Subramanian.

The first team to present their version was, Team By Lines, with the title The Awakening. Their story on a science fiction fantasy plane, I could not connect to the narration, I actually put the book away for two days.

Two days later I read The Entangled Lives which was really good, I was rather disappointed that they stopped where did, I hope someday Team Potliwale Baba you will give us a full novel, tying the loose ends just as intriguingly as you did it here, the suspense maintained right to the end, each character given their fair share of importance. Additional charecters like Naina, and inspector Jawa added without distracting anyone.

The story revolved round the murder of Naina the domestic help of Shekhar a work from  home dad, and his corporate journalist wife Tara. The murder is discovered by their daughter nine year old daughter Roohi, Cyrus who rescues Roohi from a scrap, and Jennifer who was stalking Tara for a Photo-shoot assignment are also on the suspect list. Then there is wheel chair bound Arya Ahuja who gets his thrill peeking into the neighbours windows.  There is a guest appearance by Rohini IForgetWho, who happens to be Roohi’s school counsellor.

The bloggers lulled us to “caught you” only to jerk the rug. The sinister poetry added to the flavour. The team definitely gave us a peek into what they could create with more words, the use of dialogues, and narration was comfortable.

The domestic help slipping into multiple roles within the family, the career focused parent slowly loosing connect with family, the home bound parent developing resentment that could manifest as caustic comments, and yes, I did empathize with what anyone working from home has to put up with, ”But  you are not answerable to anybody, so your time schedule is juggle-able.”

Finally Missing –A journey within, by team Tete-A- Ten was okay, the story focused on Cyrus, with the Dutta family being relegated as back drop. The introduction of Sneha Phadnis and her intriguing connect with Arya Ahuja.

Cyrus a law student goes missing, his partner Fanus Mistry, and doctor Sneha Phadnis go looking for him, as he says he is going to Bombay the mayanagari. The story is rather lost, and does not keep the promise it makes in foreword, yet is does flow charmingly. The characters are saccharined of course twice in the book the murkier side of human nature peeks, but it is quickly sterilized. The story is dominated by Sneha Phadnis, and Fanus Mistry with Cyrus becoming the muse.

What was interesting for me was the way three teams presented the characters.

Shekhar Dutta came across as a lanky nerd in the first two, while in the third, i would cast Anoop Johnson from Indiblogger as Shekhar Dutta. Tara Dutta emerged as a idealist in the first, hard and focused executive in the second and insipid and whinny in the third.

Cyrus, I could not picture him in the first, in the second I would visualize a curly haired, again Anoop Johnson look alike, while in the third was imagining a stocky bespectacled, owlish young man.

Jennifer in the first well I could not visualize, in the third she was too miniscule for me to bother with a visual while in the entangled lives she reminded me of travel writer Yana, from Terrascope.

It was great to see how each team wove a different story, different genre. As for why six degrees, my take, it is double the pain of a third degree to plan, coordinate and execute a project that involves 300 bloggers, into 30 teams and keep to a timeline.

 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!

Placid Romance.

book reviewYOU RAISE ME UP  Arjun Hemmady published by, Genre, Fiction. ISBN

the book blurb sounded quite interesting, when the book did arrive it  we burst out giggling at the cover page… no …offence meant but something about it triggered the “athi nahi ” spoof on Sanjay Kapoor.

The book is about relationships, I would not call it a romance. Somewhere I get the impression that the author has stood on the banks of a river, looked into the river bed and captured the illuminations it threw up.

When I started off reading, it was a bit jarring to read, about catching a plane, I belong the generation that either boards a plane or catches a flight. Planes are not caught unless they are made of paper and floated in the classrooms.

The story opens on a flight where a Aalok Sharma.. Who I presume is a Konkani or at least Konkani speaking lands with  a Priyanka Mehra as a co-passenger. If someone like Priyanka Mehra came into my space I would run, and if I even had a whiff that my either of my daughters behaved like her I would disown them, anyway Priyanka Mehra a verbose stranger crashes into Aalok’s house and life.

The book then goes into a flash back, where Aalok was involved with Tanvi Rao who marries. Tanvi Rao is the daughter of an alcoholic, and she takes to alcohol to deal with her issues, I cannot remember if she smoked too.

Aalok has a twin, fraternal, I am blank about her name too, she is married to doctor Sheetal.

The interesting part of this narrative the gender switch, women are aggressive, Isha a kick-box champion, and Priyanaka into wrestling. The parents are faded wallpapers, of the dysfunctional variety.

The girl Priyanka  goes full throttle without bothering to know if the male she is hunting is married, divorced or gay. The hero actually tells her that he might continue to love his estranged and later divorced wife Tanvi more, than he loves her and he wanted a divorce because he could deal with the alcoholism.

At point I thought the story would gain some depth or some flavour when Tanvi’s dad throws her affair with Aalok on her face.  But that was a sparkle that was snuffed out. It could have been a point to take the story to another level.

The toll of alcoholism takes on life is very very nascent it could have been explored a bit more.

The book also touches on work life taking a toll on personal life, that track is also killed before it could breathe. I really appreciated the economy of the characters presented. The timeline however is not very convincing. What I liked the most about the book was that the characters moved on in life without going into backlash of a broken relationship.

The book is refreshing in the sense there are no engineers or multinational companies, over all a placid read perfect for the Metro ride and a book crossing.

About the author:           Arjun Hemmady debuts with the novel. He is  charted account by training and works in a manufacturing company, he is the alumnus of St.Mary’s ICSE Mazgaon, and RA Poddar College of Commerce and Economics.

This review is a part of the biggest <a href=”; target=”_blank”> Book Review Program </a> for <a href=”; target=”_blank”>Indian Bloggers.</a>


RamaKatha and Upakatha– from Game Of Life

RamaKatha and Upakatha– from Game Of Life

In conversation with ShubhaVilasji at GALF is Ramayana Relevant?

When BlogAdda invited us review the Book Stolen Hope as part of the Ramayana the Game of Life I applied simply because I had read the last two books, had an interaction with the author and felt very involved with it.

I was reviewing another book so this had to wait, that reduced my reviewing days by two instead of week I had 5 days which simply does not do justice to a book of this genre.

The plot of the Ramayana stands unchanged. Book three opens with the rape of Araja the daughter of Shukracharya and ends with the story of Shabhari. The book talks of the events at Chitrakoot, Dandakaranya and dilemma’s that Rama Sita and Lakshmana face there.

The author curates lot of “upakatha” this makes the book very interesting. Like the story of how Dandakarnya got its name. The legend of Agastya Rishi and Lopamudra, the tale of Sachi and Nahusha, the story of Surya and Sajana, the story of Nalakubera and Rambha which actually makes its presence in Harivamsha. The story of Gokarna. The origin of Pillaiyaar Kuttu of Deccan and coramandal south.  The legend of the origin of Kaveri, the creation of Vindhya ranges all these are definitely interesting.

On page 45 the author shares on who can give a feedback. For me, more than who can give a feedback, it was apt description of whose feedback we should value.

I do have my ideological issues in the footnotes and teachings and judgements that the author delivers through it. but these are a very personal stand.When the author talks of ornaments used he says that the ornaments reflect the value system, which to me was kind of judgemental, since clothing emerges from the ecological environment and ornaments emerge from the giving utility objects an aesthetics.

When it comes to a supportive wife, from Tulasidas onwards the author included project that a voiceless wife, an blind obedient wife is a supportive wife, which breaks the very foundation that the marriage rests on, the wife is sahadharmini, and becomes a friend with the seventh step, she is an individual in her own right.

The author gives a very elaborate description of Rama’s arrow, and a quiver that has limitless arrows, but the uniqueness of Rama was that he had only 4 arrows, actually the mudra that is used to depict Rama is the symbol for 4 arrows. Another factual error on the killing of Shurpanaka’s husband, he was killed by Lakshmana accidently.

I have mentioned this in my review of the last books too, that the language is casual, sometimes Americanism pops up… sending a jarring note. For example the use “what to speak of the two of you” on page 35 says that the second and third edits, and the editor failed drastically. The use of “ki Jai” which is Hindi hence does not relate to the period.

Story telling the author says is the science of navigating life through others learning which is precisely what he is doing through the book; this is where he becomes kind of judgemental. (I know I am sounding judgemental too) unlike Tulasi’s rendering which focuses on glorifying Rama, or Valmiki’s rendering which just narrates events, ShubhaVilasji justifies the deification of the prince of Ayodhya.

Yet periodic summing of the lessons and insights are interesting. Like

On page 123 he sums Vibrations cause and effect.

On page 145 he talks about Humour and it’s connecting with the type of personality.

On page 149 he talks about smiles which are pretty interesting.

From my point this is not a book to be read once. This is a kind of book that we keep at home, and read on and off; it does not require reading in a sequence. It might be a good idea to just flip through the pages on and off, learning’s and insights happen spontaneously.

The author ends the book with a teaser of the 4th book.

Author Sri Shubha Vilasa Das

Publisher Jaico

ISBN 978-81-8495-824

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!

GALF  a conversation with ShubhaVilasji is Ramayana relevant —

Creator and Narrator.

ravi subramanian
Enter a caption

Book Review –The Best seller she wrote.

The subaltern question through the book is who the author of the events unfolding is.

Aditya Kapoor, from the IIM-B glitterati, his wife belongs to the same cesspool, like his best friend. When Aditya returns to the Pavilion of IIM-B as a celebrity, in comes the queen of Brat brigade Shreya  she is  The Girl From Chhattisgarh.(wonder if I can buy it on flipkart) The endemic trait of all IIM’s that is success at any cost, if you are not first you are last, traits are seen in all the characters except Aditya Kapoor’s wife Maya.

Shreya enters the sedate organized life of Aditya,she then manipulate him to make a bestselling author out of her.The book about events that form the price and redemption of this act.

The book is quite evenly paced and enjoyable. Reading the book, allowed me to relax and recuperate without insulting my intelligence.

Sanskrit authors had a tradition of honouring their rivals and colleagues. Looks like Ravi Subramanian is on the same trip.  When he refers to Sanjay’s reading habits, he talks of the stack of Ashwin Sanghi’s books, including the latest one which he penned in collaboration with James Patterson.

I do not know how many of you are familiar with Anil Goel who wrote Exit Point…somewhere Aditya Kapoor reminded me of him, very grounded and sure that he wanted to keep his career so that he could write in all authenticity.

Another interesting observation is on Shreya’s reading to escape. Which happens so often that we have a huge population of intellectual giants who are emotional dwarfs.

The characterization and presentation of the environment was so familiar that I want to Google Mr.Subramanian’s personal page. Somewhere I wondered if it was autobiographical,

There are of course patches were the author was rather inept … like the gut wrenching pain, the vulnerability that Maya goes through when she realizes that her husband is cheating. To a certain extent he has managed to give a frozen feeling effect but without the punch. Since the story is not about Maya’s grief i guess we let it go.

There are few real life people doing a cameo,

  • Author acknowledges himself as a successful author-banker in a situation where he has his protagonist, Aditya on stage with Amish and him the common denominator being all were successful bankers who were also successful authors.
  • The introduction of Anurag Kashyap, the celebrity status. The book is up for being made into a movie.
  • Nirav Sanghvi of BlogAdda is another real life individual who visits the book.

If I were to date the books, then I would use the trending topics incorporated in the book to fix it, like the book by Wendy Dongnier, break out of Eboli epidemic and the fear caused by it.

As the story unfolds and the protagonist begins to lose his shining armour he does a U-turn bringing forth his IIM-trained strategic brain to convert a lemon handed to him into lemonade.

The only part of the book that I would edit out is the scene where Maya and Aditya reunite, the graphic description is as pukey as a Karan Johar movie.

Before concluding the book where every good character is rewarded and the troublemakers are marginalized, Ravi does an Agatha Christie, he has all his key characters assembled and he weaves the loose ends and the lost threads to redeem him from a mess pool that he created.

Over all an excellent read. This goes on my comfort reading shelf.

ISBN 978-93-851552-382

Genre fiction

Publisher Westland publisher —

Author Ravi Subramanian. About the author–

Please note this book was sent as a complimentary copy by BlogAdda for reviewing.


The Calling Card that fails to scare

The Calling Card that fails to scare

image courtesy google images.This review is a part of the biggest <a 



The writing on the card

Khel the writing author Vishal Goswami, Published by Leadstartcorp, ISBN 978-93-52013-22-7.  Genre is attempted Horror.

When BlogAdda invited me to review the book they had sent a small synopsis. That was intriguing. So was the review by few others I thought why not.

When the book did arrive it was a slim book of 150 pages with a cover that looked like the screenshot of Aahat. The sub title was “Jo Likha hai wohi hoga” it was kind of put off.

The story is quite simple, a widow, alcoholic crime reporter Sanya Sharma is trying to recover from the loss of her daughter Samira in a burn accident. Her boss decides to give her one last chance to return to normalcy.

She goes to cover the horrible death of four college going kids at a Haveli in a remote village near Mumbai (if such a thing is possible). When she is looking over the crime scene she finds a deck of cards that follow her back to Mumbai these cards have messages that forces the receiver to obey.

The book has a very Mahesh Bhatt like characters a police officer Kabir who also forms the lust angle for Sanya, an undead zombie Mrs.Gomes, a Tarot reader Rose, a jean clad, cigarette puffing innkeeper Rita who interestingly is in the forties.

The plot revolves round a haunted house where the last owner a Nawab’s daughter was ill-treated by her family; she avenges herself by orchestering the death of her siblings, parents, and randomly through the cards. She wants to be released from the place of her entrapment so that she can continue to play havoc. Since Sanya has lost a daughter the spirit decides to use her.

When the Nawab’s daughter was alive, by the way her same is Samira too, she would be let out only when the kids finished their card game, so she eggs Sanya to finish the card game.

The book traverses through a very Mahesh Bhatt journey there is an attempt at erotica between Kabir and Sanya of course it is not Sanya but the shape lifting spirit that does it.  There is a westernized Tarot reader in a remote village again quite unlikely if at all there is a predictive healer in rural India they would people who read the rice grains or kowari’s they are more akinned to astrologers. Again it is very unlikely in remote rural India you will find a jean clad cigarette smoking woman who walks her dogs. Dogs in rural India as just let out.

The book however has its moments like a moment when Sanya makes eye contact with another patient as she is leaving the psychiatrists office. It reminded me of the woman with grey eyes in Agatha Christie’s books.

Over all the book fails to deliver what it promises, yet it is not a bad read. Good book to carry on a metro ride it short and not verbose. If Chetan Bhagat has been intimidating you then this is a good author to begin your foray into fiction.

About the author:  Mr.Vishal Goswami is an MBA from Boston, and is passionate about reading and writing. He is a twitterati with the twitter handle  WriteNow@WritetoFite. Where he tweets about more contemporary topics and new movie analysis and rating.

This review is a part of the biggest <a href=”” target=”_blank”> Book Review Program </a> for <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Indian Bloggers.</a>

Kaurava– trailing the Kuru

Author Krishna Udayasankar


Publisher Hachette India

Genre Mythology

The second book of the Aryavarta chronicles, by Krishna Udayasankar.

I don’t like to call Krishna a story teller she is a bard, and she is retelling the story of Mahabharat.  Her craft has definitely improved over the first book.

The Book has a total indentity of its own and is not linked with either the past or future book to make sense, all the same reading all the books do make the story more gripping.

In this book she deals with a destroyed a destroyed Govind, a tired and tormented Empress forced into exile.  The unified Aryavarta is lost in a gamble to Syoddhana who is a better emperor without the title, yet the historians hang him.

The kings are busy building alliances and forges the war is in the air.

When Jayadratha and his sons torment Draupadi in the forest, Govinda sends word to Vidura, asking him to send the Dharma Yuddhistra and his brothers “Home” the further chain of events reveals a dark secret the Vyasa of the firstborn’s nurtured all these years. That is Matsya the home of the firewrights, where Iron the metal of Kali is tamed. Technology is advanced. The society believes in individual merit and not birth hierarchy.

The Yavanha community is given its due not as demons or destroyers but as keepers of knowledge. Uttara the princess of Matsya is not the brainless naive Bimbo presented in the serial but a knowledgeable adult who knows her mind.

The conversation between Panchali Draupadi and Uttara on the power equation is quiet interesting

The dilemma of Vyasa as a historian would, have to choose the legacy he wants to leave behind — if Dharma is held as noble, righteous kind that makes Syoddhana evil, greedy demon. If Syoddhana is presented as the reasonable honest man that he is that would make Dharma a cheap gambler.

Some secrets are revealed like Sanjaya Gavalgani is the unacknowledged son of Vidura, while Govinda Shauri is a firewright and Vyasa of the first born of course has the darkest secret of them all. Yet the identity of the firewright secret keeper is maintained so.

Looking forward for the next book great reading for people who love thrillers, and those who are into an intellectual inquiry of the sacred lore’s.

All the same Krishna…Where is Shikhandin?

Link to book 1 Govinda and about the author —