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

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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

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

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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

Magic of Tidying

click here to pick your copy

Three women, at shared workstation, we were catching up, with life, one student, one journalist  each at different stages of life,  while we were in conversation a fourth woman joined us, interestingly our narratives were all similar, during the conversation, the fourth girl…shared a book with us, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying.” By Marie Kondo, I did something which I do not normally do I ordered it on Amazon.

The book was definitely an eye opener, it is also quite a challenge because during my self recovery I have been a steadfast follower of the flylady the first thing Marie tells us do it one shot. What I really liked about the book, is she takes us step by step starting with the clothes,

The book walks us through the journey of Marie Kondo to being the tidying expert, she then tells us the challenge she faced in tidying up, and challenges faced by the clients through her enterprise and it does not seem to vary very much.

Then she holds our hands through the need to discard.

The sorting of things into categories, then sorting those to be kept and those to be thrown, finally storing efficiently.

She talks about ironing which kind of vibed wonderfully with me, for I love to iron and stack my clothes. Lot of things she shares in the book makes sense. Letting  go is a major need of life, but what really got me was do it one time, at stretch after which only maintained is required.

Major take away for me

  • Each day empty your purse, and thank the purse for helping you through the day.
  • Put your footwear in the designated place and thank it for serving you through the day.
  • When we buy something that we later find redundant then discard it after thanking it, for teaching you that it was not needed in your place, and thanking it for the pleasure you got in buying it.
  • Before you buy one, make sure your discard one.
  • If you have a gift that you don’t like you might just be the keeper for it to reach the right destination

I now actually understand the oriental concept of reverence, it just means, take that breathe to thank the universe for whatever resource you have used. The resource could manifest in our space like a handbag, shoe a bottle of water or what ever. Including thanking the house for sheltering you.

Guess what I have done, I have given myself a couple of days off, at the end of the year to do just that de-clutter and tidy my house. I am also sharing a video of Marie and her folding technique.


Move Over Bymakesh Bakshi

Move Over Bymakesh Bakshi

Byomakesh  Bakshi .. Move over the 10th Unknown is here.

Book Review The tenth Unknown debut Novel of author Jvalant Nalin Sampat. Genre is Historic thriller, ISBN978-81-89738-97-6 publishers Niyogi books

A soothing book set in the terminal stage of the British Raj. The world war is on; Hitler has laid his hands on an ancient Indian text and utilized this. The book is the first of the nine books of knowledge left behind by Emperor Asoka asking the nine unknown men to protect it.

The Germans and British are both after it. While the nine guardians are too old to protect it they nominate Prithvi Rathode to do the dirty job for them, each time Prithvi reaches the spot, he loses the book to the British agent Youdale. And the repercussions of the book manifest as the Hiroshima disaster and other major disasters of the post world war World. He also has references to the lesser known freedom fighting movements like the Ghadhar party.

The book made me realize the issues of the subcontinent has remained the same, misplaced loyalty like the officer Pandey, compliancy like the nine unknowns who became an old coffee club of senior citizens instead of guardians of a secret. There is also the pattern of not letting or hanging on, somewhere we Indians seemed to have forgotten vanaprastha.

Author holds the knowledge of nine books as the key of world disasters, and the inability of the nine defenders to defend it.  Of course the

The 9 unknowns are supposed to have supported Akbar, Shivaji, Marathas then Tippu; it was quite interesting especially when the author claims Tippu was secular when evidences are that he was pseudo-secular. The Qutub Minar is cited as the evidence of the book of alchemy.

The author has woven real people into  fiction like Robert Oppenheimer, Subhas Chandra Bose, princess Noor the granddaughter of Tippu Sultan and of course JRD Tata.

Though the author could have taken a little more care about the language I

Liked the focus pace and lack of unnecessary frills including a sickening romance.

A must read for all history buffs.

About the author—Jvalant nalin Sampat, currently distributes high end auto and home leather products, through Karlsson Leather   and owns CrossPollinate a Mumbai based CSR consultancy.  He has a major IT and a liberal arts concentration in English, from Rochester Institute of technology NY and MBA from Copenhagen business school Copenhagen

Other books on the 9 unknowns…


Last #CelebrateBlogging BlogAdda sent me a book that titled “horseshoe Garage,” if I am not mistaken it was almost an year ago.

The author was Hitesha, usually there is a curiosity about the blurb, if that’s interesting enough then one wonders about the author. Well coming to the cover,

A chocolate brown with Horse shoe Garage written and a “O” is modified to a horseshoe. Okay though a triffle cliché it was acceptable.

The blurb says though he has gotten used to his salary and his job at grant motors, sarvesh still finds himself waking up in the middle of the night, his heart pounding with excitement ofa Neo-racing dream. The technologically advanced car and the smell of burnt rubber of the tyres haunt him all the time. And the rest.

#Fantstico (7)
EFT suggestion — cars are beautiful.

The book promises a the thrill of neo-car racing and the murky world behind it. the author is either genuinely confused or does not care if she is delivering a coropate sleaze or car-racing thrill. Yet what she lands up dishing a tepid MillsandBoons order of romance instead of the tall dark handsome stranger, I think like the current “more than man woman” her heroine is the hero.

#Fantstico (3)
EFT suggestion — racing can be clean fun.

The author has this too good to believed heroine who is a fourth grade schooled, drop out who works in a garge, name Naaz Latha Shiek.. who keeps the garage boys at bay. She is a self taught automobile engineer and guess what the author is lucky that the IIT’s have not sued her. because our baby Naaz builds the car with Sarvesh and Rags the IITians drolling.

Sarvesh and his friend Rags who has an impossible south Indian name that one does not really come across in the south. Rags girlfriend Kam is initially starts off as a dumb blonde but obviously dyes her hair to become the aesthetic designer of the car and eventually the PR head.

Back to the car the team of three IITians, one car-ignormous and half a dozen garage hands is lead by the wonderwoman Naaz. Their design stolen twice, second time five days before the neo-racing. Sarvesh the race driver is beaten up,yet the hero wins the race.

#Fantastico Team D1
EFT suggestion it takes good friends to build a team.

The romance between Sarvesh and Naaz is kept puritanical with the apparent focus being the car, and the race. Of course there is Sarvesh’s mother who plays the villain in the romance by insulting  Naaz, by throwing her school drop-out status, her being a muslim and whatever else she can throw. Also foisting a school friend’s daughter Aarti as Sarvesh’s fiancée.

Over all what the author does succeed in doing is delivering a Indian Thali which is okay, nothing that any one would in particular for a second helping.

What  really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you the author that wrote was a terrific friend of yours and you could call her up on the phone whenever you felt it. well this does not happen.

What does come across is the author’s  wistful presentation of her altar ego. I can actually visualize a Tanaz Currim look alike sitting up in a tower high on the Himalayas and writing a chronicle of what would add colour to her life.

A good read for a journey back from work.

Author Hitesha

Publisher Leadstartcorp.

ISBN 978-93-82473-45-9

ps the EFT suggestions helped me carry through the book.

pps: Maybe this vindicates the author —

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.