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.



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!



Divorceologue –

Book review of — Ex- FILES.

Author                  Vandana Shah

ISBN                      9700143418580

It was a vibrant interaction with the author that made me pick the book; it is candid, autobiographical and extremely humorous. The very quality of not moaning over woes… which made many in her circle envy her is the strength of the book.

Vandana has written about her journey from being thrown out of her married home to becoming India’s most successful divorce lawyer. What impressed me is an utter lack of bitterness. This very candid approach comes through in the book.

To me the book was more about Indian women, and people who advice her not to go in for a divorce reflect the various reasons why Indian women do not go there, very simply suddenly family and extended family become stakeholders in the marriage, the people who refuse to see physical wounds, start telling you how you being irresponsible and getting a divorce will affect your sister’s chance of getting married, etc. etc.

There are also candid observations of the Indian woman’s psyche and status despite all our hue and cry about equality the Indian woman becomes a non-person after marriage. Wives kind of become unpaid domestic help.

once divorce becomes inevitable, the social implications begin suddenly friends are wary because the woman is seen as a husband snatchee, Vandana here actually reassures the insecure wives that they need not worry about the potential divorcee as the court dismisses the divorce petition if the woman is caught having sex. Well wonder if what goes for goose goes for the gander?

Somehow people seem to accept a whining victim, but the minute a woman stands up to herself she becomes a bitch.

Then is the actual process of divorce which is highly complicated and lawyers are known to sell out. At the end of the day any petition is about two lawyers painting different pictures of the same story.

Recovery is a long haul, domestic violence be it physical or verbal makes the woman feel like a looser. She maps her recovery from the point where she consciously takes a decision to rebuild her life by elevating herself instead of pulling the other down. She talks of diets, particularly an idli diet which I found empathetic as I had used the GM diet during my recovery.

What really enjoyed in the writing, was the sense of humour, where refers to her ex-husband as “Paneer Boy,” her check to reality she uses,”Thapak” which creates an instant hand on face image, she calls her father-in-law “Prem Cheapda” Her emotional and financial state during the period of divorce as, “from catwalk to ratwalk”.

At a point she wonders if the judge will declare now I pronounce you unman and unwife and you may kick the…. as he delivers the divorce decree.

She deals with why she created the 360 degrees back to life support group, as she realized she could not have pulled through without the support of her friends.

From page 209 Vandana shares simple legalese on divorce.

To me whether one is going through divorce or not, it was like somebody was holding my hand and empathizing with other women who decided to make the journey from being a non-person doormat to the vibrant women we were meant to be.

Left to myself I would gift this book along with Shobha De’s spouses to every girl who contemplates either marriage or divorce.

About the author: 

buy on Amazon

In search of the Ikshvaku

In search of the Ikshvaku

The Seal Of Surya

Author Amritanshu Pandey

Publisher Pirates.

ISBN 978818192681054

I have flipkart vouchers to exhaust and buying anything else from flipkart does not make sense as they either do not deliver to my address or they send the wrong product, so it has to be books. I picked up the book hoping it would deal with Ikshvaku kings of Andhra who rules the Krishna-Godavari Basin. What made is more attractive was the blurb written by my favourite author Krishna Udayasankara

But the book turns out to be the  “Raghuvamsha” like the one written by Kalidasa, the book is narrated  by Bhagiratha, the son of Sagara to a chandravamshi scion who comes to train with him. It is believed to be the saga of Ikshuvaku the son of Vaivasvata Manu. Who is believed to be giver of Manusmriti

The story telling traditions of India are of two types either they are Puranas that is the legends of the Heroes or they are the Prakarana the documentation of events, the book follows the prakarana pathway not much emphasis is given to the emotional drama. This where to me the author falls short, despite of walking the path that Krishna Udayasankara did he is not able to deliver because she had the prakarana’s woven about Puranas.

The stock characters used were not really convincing, like the Maharishi Vashishta the depth of the character did not emerge, nor did the charisma of Bhagiratha, the focus seemed to be displaying elaborate nomenclature they could be authentic, but I could not find the connect to the story that I know.

The interesting thing about any mythology is that it is neither an adult story nor a children’s story it just is …

Coming to the social structure of patriarchy, well patriarchy was definitely there, but women had the choice of choosing their partners, it was considered a sin if a man refused sex when a woman asked the concepts of women having single sexual partners came from Svetaketu who was jealous of his mothers affair  with I think Indra and the hurt his father felt1. Children born out of marriage, before marriage or to widows were all acceptable and there were specific names for them2.

The rule of vidya was very clear no child could either write or wield weapons or heavy implements before the age of 8yrs because the intellect and the bones were not mature enough3.

If one is not challenged by these information, then it is a fairly good travel companion.

Krishna udayasankara can you redeem with the promised book on Shikandi?

Shatrujeet Nath how about the next instalment of the Guardians of the Halahala?


  1. evil in hinduism  Motilal Banarasidas publication.
  2. Battles and Bards, collection of academic articles of  sanskrit studies.
  3. Battles and Bards collection of academic articles in sanskrit studies.

About the author

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Chota Chetan

A suicide story

E-book review

author Sriram Aiyer

When Indiblogger sent out this link I was curious, since it was about suicides. I decide to read it. As a story I would not really recommend it to anyone, nor would I say crap. I you stumble upon it, it is okay.

I am a little confused here if the suicide in the title is used as a noun or a verb.

The book traverses from an attempted suicide to a successful suicide. Has a total of 31 chapters. Charu oversexed, exhibitionist and a misplaced feminist, Sam an immature testosterone king, I had feeling that the author empathized with him who cannot zip it or handle the fact that he does not send hormones racing,  Hari comes across as more realistic character who was sexually abused as a child and still bore the scars, Mani who moves up from an challenged environment to the elite environment of KIT which is built up like the clone of IIT.  The book deals exhibitionism, voyeurism and violence in the contemporary world.

Theme appears to be bringing about glamorizing the unpleasant elements of a college environment, like I said, the exhibitionist girl, the voyeur-hacker and his drug addict delinquent friend on one hand, and the abused battered Hari and his socio-economically transplanted partner on the other. The character of Mani is actually well defined and somewhere a character who is at peace with himself, despite not fitting the conventional package.

There were some moments when the book actually came alive, like the statement, ”activists are good storytellers.”  The culture of taking down notes and studying from notes seems so prevalent. Then there is this character who declares on a public forum, “I am gay” the spontaneous response to which is so what…?

The constant engaging in twitter, twitter no doubt provides us with a wonderful platform to discuss, confront social issues, but just look at what is trending, and the language that is used. Raw but not really alive it just hollow phonetics with the emotion left out.

The protagonist Hari being a victim of misdirected cyber bullying gives up on life to commit suicide. That is the only part of the book that actually sounds real. That does not want to wake up. Sleeping seeming a better option but sleep eludes, even sleep is live a reverse nightmare.  It is not a depressed person who kills himself/herself. A person does not kill himself to escape, or I shall show you kind of vindictiveness, the terror of having to face the aftermath of such humiliation is like the terror of being trapped in a fire of a high raised building, between the terror of heights and the terror of burning becomes the choice, the sense of being trapped comes up. This poem by Dorothy Parker kind of sums it all up.

Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.”
― Dorothy ParkerEnough Rope

Before you jump the ledge this is something you need to hear…

Here are some helplines

  • Aasara 24×7 Helpline: 91-22-27546669
  • Lifeline Foundation
    17/1A Alipore Road
    Sarat Bose Road
    700 027
    Hotline: +91 33 2474 4704
    Hotline: +91 33 2474 5886
    Hotline: 2474 5255
    255 Thyagumudali Street
    Contact by: Face to Face  – Phone  – Letter:
    Hotline: +91-413-339999
     Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 14:00 – 20:00
    1-8-303/48/21 Kalavathy Nivas,
    Sindhi Colony
    P. Road
    500003 A.P.
    Contact by: Face to Face  – Phone  – Letter:
    Hotline: +91 40 7904646
    E-mail Helpline:
     Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat: 11:00 – 21:00
  • Saath
    B12 Nilamber Complex
    L. Commerce College Road
    380 006
    Hotline: +91 79 2630 5544
    Hotline: +91 79 2630 0222
    11 Park View Road
    (Near Chennai Kaliappa Hospital)
    A. Puram
    600 028
    Contact by: Face to Face  – Phone  – Letter:
    Hotline: +91 (0) 44 2464 0050
    E-mail Helpline:
    24 Hour service:
  • The Samaritans Sahara
    Sir J-J. Road
    Byculla Bridge
    400 008
    Contact by: Face to Face  – Phone  – Letter:  – E-mail:
    Hotline: +91-22-2307 3451
    Website: com/health/samarita.htm
     Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 15:00 – 21:00
     Sat, Sun: 10:00 – 21:00
  • Sumaitri
    1 Bhagwandas Lane
    Aradhana Hostel Complex
    110 001
    Contact by: Face to Face  – Phone  – Letter:
    Hotline: 2338 9090
    Website: org
     Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 14:00 – 22:00
     Sat, Sun: 10:00 – 22:00
  • MAITHRI – Cochin
    Ashirbhavan Road
    Ernakulam Kochi
    682 018
    Contact by: Face to Face  – Phone  – Letter:
    Hotline: +91 239 6272
    Website: org
    E-mail Helpline:
     Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 10:00 – 20:00

Tooth trouble shooting.

karadi talesTooth trouble shooting.

The Dragon’s Toothache ISBN 978-81-8190-306 .  A simple illustrated book by Karadi. Author Annie Besant and illustrator Rayika Sen have created an interesting read.

I am not going into the story theme since it is a very brisk book

This is a great book that I would keep in my clinic, I would also recommend it to the paediatric and pedodontists patient reading list.

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”
― Brandon SandersonThe Way of Kings

Is precisely how stories and storytelling manifest in my space. As a young mother I would cuddle my daughter and read her a book, that would also be a space for me to share many ideas and listen to what she had to say. A single book of 19 pages like this one would take about  a week to finish in the first round. Since there would be so many other things that we talk about

If this was a book that I read to my daughter I would talk to her about…

Dragon — what are dragons, i would draw a few drawings talk to her about dinosaurs, promise to share the my dragons book after this book. Dragons do form  an important arch type in stories it is not about establishing that dragons exist, it about establishing that dragons can be beaten.

Toothache – here we would probably ponder about why did the dragon get the toothache? How can he stop the toothache, a little about dentist, dental hygiene, and brushing technique… I would ask my child how will she teach her dolly to brush?

Innovation – it is a great space to draw  attention to how the protagonist was innovative, maybe compliment some situation where my daughter was innovative, or at least draw her attention to it.

Digestion –  this is a great space to discuss chewing habits, digestive system

Trouble shooting — here is where I would lead my daughter into a mock session of troubleshooting… that is okay

  • Calm down
  • Where are we
  • Where should we be
  • How can we go.

This technique that we used to used during the story telling session has made daughters quite competent in troubleshooting and crisis management.

Finally I would sing the song along and make her sing after me, this bit I would record to use for a later time.

At the end of the day

“Don’t just teach your children to read…
Teach them to question what they read.
Teach them to question everything.”
― George Carlin

If you would like to have a peek about the book check —

To buy the book

Darkness and Light Within-

Darkness and Light Within-

minette waltersBook review.

The dark room

When my mother wanted to say that we did something foolish, or she felt foolish, she used a term, “upper storey to let” somehow the book took me through the journey

Finally the throne of my idol Dame Agatha Christie is threatened.

The Debut Novel of author Minnette Walters, The Dark Room had me absolutely hooked. Published by Pan Boooks, the ISBN number is 0330343742

The story of three unsolved murders spanned over 10 yrs opens with a prologue which feels totally irrelevant when the actual story moves on.  The relevance pops only towards the end.

It is so difficult to talk about this whodunit without placing the spoilers.

Set in contemporary England, the Story line is quite simple three unsolved murders, one attempted suicide the suicide victim is the suspect at the murder, so is her father,   the plot is very simple what makes the book unique is the treatment, Walters focuses on relationship, and the subaltern thought process. She does not bother to vindicate her characters behaviour moral or amoral.

Though the book is about relationship and one of the dead being sexually overtly liberal there are no sex scenes to distract, she actually rejects an obvious buzz issue child abuse to keep the focus.

Stories in Indian context even western contest are either plot driven or Prakarna as Sanskrit literature calls it, that is events dominate the narrative, while the other is Purana or the character dominated ones. each character is crafted quite convincingly that one does excuse couple of misses here and there.

The young man who comes up from the ranks the hard way, him marrying a woman from the elite society of England, him idolizing her and the daughter that is born to them. when she dies he marries someone from his own environment, the jealousy  the apparently dysfunctional family juxtaposition with apparently well knit traditional families the story pans out very interestingly. Though being a seasoned whodunit reader, I did het a whiff of who the murder might be  I realized the temptation to jump the plat was not there.

Hope I have not put a spoiler for anyone,

about the author