Friday, 11 September 2015

The Curse of Surya - Dev Prasad

Title: The Curse of Surya
Author: Dev Prasad
Publisher: Random House Publishers India Private Limited
Binding: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 320
Language: English

The Curse of Surya, author Dev Prasad's new book, is a Dan Brown styled crime thriller. It follows Sangeeta Rao, a singapore based Indian journo, along with the suave Alan Davies as they decipher the clues to find a 5000 year old jewel.

Although the story starts off slowly with the first couple of chapter being rather vague, the plot only evolves and intensifies as the story progresses. It then advances at breakneck speed, making it imperative to read it in one reading - perfect for train journeys and short flights. Finishing The Curse of Surya feels like taking a huge breath at the start and only breathing out on the last page. It is interesting, engaging and plausible.

Moreover it caters to a variety of genres and it is attractive option for history buffs, mythology devotees, action enthusiasts, Dan Brown fans and even readers of travelogue. 

Other Books by this author: Pitch It!: Inspirational Stories from the Cricket Dressing Room to the Corporate BoardroomKrishna: A Journey through the Lands & Legends of Krishna

Friday, 31 July 2015

Snow - Orhan Pamuk

Title: Snow
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Price: Rs. 405/-
Language: English

Perhaps, me saying that Snow is one of the most wonderful books I have had the good fortune of reading doesn't hold as much value as I would like it to. It's because I'm not the only one saying it.

The story traces the protagonist, Turkish poet and journalist, Ka's journey from the lonliness of the city of Frankfurt, Germany to his divine intervention on the streets of Kars in Istanbul. An atheist, he arrives in Kars to cover the reality behind the suicides of girls across Kars, only to be moved by spirituality of this Turkish city. The truth behind the Republicans, their desire to eradicate the Muslim headscarf and the 'revolution' that arrives hence changes the lives of everyone, especially Ka, forever.
'A novel of profound relevance to the present moment.'  -The Times
Pamuk's Snow can move even the most solid of heart and take them to a city where they have never been surrounded by flakes of snow, and whiteness and bloodbath. He paints a picture of Istanbul that creates within the reader, atleast it did for me, the feeling of fernweh - wanderlust.

The love of Ka for Ipek, a Turkish woman he had known since childhood, is almost most too sensuous to bear. The author's talent for the written word makes Ka's lonliness, longing and his brush with the spiritual more intense and surreal. Snow is like a poem; fluid, captivating and exquisite. It is like snow; pure, magical and dark. For me, Snow is a must-read piece of literature that will stay relevant till the end of time.
'Profound and frequently brilliant...Illuminate[s] the confrontation between secular and extremist Islamic worlds better than any work of non-fiction I can think of.'                       -New Statesman
Other Books by this author: The Silent House, The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life, My Name is Red and The Museum of Innocence etc.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, 17 July 2015

10 Reasons It's OK To Stay In A Relationship (Even If You Know It's Going To End)

So remember that Thought Catalog article I read?

There was another topic that seriously caught my eye and this time I intend to be completely serious about it (unlike last time) because people don't say it enough:-

1. You like him/her - Just because a relationship is going to end doesn't mean you like him/her any less than you would like someone in a lasting relationship. At this point in life, s/he's the one and so let them be.

2. You're better with him/her than without - I am currently in a relationship which is 99.9999..% going to end but, I'd still rather be with him than without. Trust me, I've tried. This means that I am happy in the relationship and why should I deny either of us the right to be happy.

3. You'll learn more about the kind of people you like (or don't like) - How do you know you don't like sushi till you try it?

4. You'll learn more about yourself - I've learnt that I'm mature and passionate and I've grown so much as a person. Would it have been possible without him? Not entirely.

5. Most relationships are going to end - Every relationship you get into before your final one (and sometimes even then) is going to end. Just because you know this one will end does not make it any less real.

6. You could be wrong - You are human. Maybe you think you are not going to work together but turn out to be perfect for each other. You won't know till you take the risk.

7. You both need support - Sometimes, in life,  you need support and your boyfriend can be that one person to listen to you rant, to take care of you when you are sick and travel with you to foreign lands.

8. To be able to show off - Hey, you are in a relationship! That's a big deal!

9. Meet new people - I've made so many new friends through my boyfriend and my exes. Especially when they have an entirely separate group of friends. Who knows, maybe someone you meet through him/her turns out to be a constant in your life.

10. To discourage the creep - This is a fun one. Remember that one creepy guy who you can't seem to shake off? Your boyfriend can deal with him.

Have a good time and enjoy the feeling of being with them!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Love among the Bookshelves - Ruskin Bond

Title: Love among the Bookshelves
Author: Ruskin Bond      
Publisher: Penguin
Imprint: Viking
Price: Rs, 210  Rs. 195/-
ISBN-13 9780670087341
ISBN-10 0670087343
Language: English
No. Of pages: 200 pgs
Also available as: eBook - (Rs.179)

Anybody who's ever read a book has read Ruskin Bond. Perhaps I am wrong to assume and I should rephrase that: anyone who has ever willingly read a book, should've have read Ruskin Bond. The engrossing Rusty Run Away and the captivating Room on the Roof are essential for children and even for adults who wish to revive the child within them.

For ages Ruskin Bond, not only through his characters like the famous protagonist Rusty, a reflection of the author's younger self, but also through his words, has taken his readers across to the hills of Dehradun and Mussorie; across schools; and lives. Love among the Bookshelves is glimpse into who in turn inspired Ruskin Bond into writing, creating and inspiring millions across the world.

He pulls us back into his younger days when he discovered the greats such as P.G Woodehouse, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad and Agathe Christie to name a few. This part memoir, part anthology is a wonderful read if one is ever siting free on a rainy day. The compelling story of the author from the beginning when he was introduced to books intertwined with excerpts from his favourite books make for a relaxing read.

The cover and the name of the book are especially cute. For a reader such as myself, it sent my heart racing.

Where to buy it: Order on Flipkart!
Other Books by this author: The Blue Umbrella, Rusty Runs Away, Room On The Roof etc.

Love among the Bookshelves
Reviewed by Sanya Mathur on Jul 26 2014
Rating: 4.8

7 Ways To Stop Your Boyfriend From Losing Weight Faster Than You

So I was on Thought Catalog (who isn't?) and I saw this:-

And then I saw this:-


7 Ways To Stop Your Boyfriend From Losing Weight Faster Than You

I picked this listicle because I am legitimately facing this problem right now. Also, because it seems more fun that the other thing that I am supposed to be doing. The problem with boys  men is that they tend to be obsessed with sports and gymming no matter what age and only women know how hard it is to be a woman and do physical exercise. Between hormones, boobs and periods, exercise is hell. The point is not to be skinny, just to be skinnier than your boyfriend. Because I intend to be as unhelpful as possible, I am going to give you 7 instead of 10 easy steps to achieve this goal.

1. If you're a live-in, you're in a advantage because you can negate his exercise by feeding him excessive calories -  Add extra mayo to his sandwich and hide all the veggies. Stock the fridge with sweet goodies - cakes, cupcakes, and croissants. You know the drill.

2. If you're not in a live-in then take calorie-laden food with you whenever you see him. He'll think, you're pampering him and you'll get away with a few less hours of exercise.

3. Eat out ALOT and make sure he doesn't pick the healthy meals. Pick his meals for him!

4. Encourage binge drinking with buddies because you know the alcohol packs on the calories. Or provide endless rounds of beer in case on date or staying-in.

5. Try to get him pregnant - encourage to forego protection this one time (or more till desired outcome is achieved.)

6. Encourage boyfriend to let go and love his body as it is - with belly and all.

7. All of the Above

BONUS - Actually follow a healthy diet and a proper workout regime...NAH!

[Sorryyy guys!]

Sunday, 5 July 2015

There's Something About You - Yashodhara Lal

Title: There's Something About You
Author: Yashodhara Lal
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Tentative Release date: July 15th 2015 (Preorder @ Flipkart - Get 25% off)
Language: English
No. Of Pages: 268 pages

Lal's 'There's Something About You'  is the story of 28 year old - overweight, underachieving and unattached - Trish who's life comes crashing down when she is fired one day. As they say, there's no way but up, the chicklit follows Trish as she is forced to "get off [her] butt and do something about [her] problem[s]."
"After all, it was a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of world. Especially if you were a single twenty-eight-year-old woman with two dependent parents and no job in the unforgiving city of Mumbai."
Trish's problems in varying levels of priority:
  • Unemployment (hence, impending money problems)
  • an unwell father (+medical bills), 
  • a sharp tongued mother,
  • a psycho psychic love interest,
  • an over-dramatic neighbour/best friend (+kid who needs to be babysat),
  • temperamental maid,
  • and a bitchy new boss,
  • minor problems incl. weight (Etc.)
While the story is intended to be a love story, evident from the cover and blurb, the main plotline revolves more around Trish's day-to-day issues rather than her love interest. Sahil, a potential match, makes fleeting appearances now and then and his relationship with the protagonist progresses dramatically between each arrival. Their relationship is endearing but, largely unexplored. Instead, you can expect to read more about the transformation of Trish's life from ordinary to extraordinary.

Trish's father is the most engaging character, providing relief from Trish's unending whining and her mother's constant complaining. As much as the author has tried to make Trish relatable, the protagonist remains disconnected from the reader as she often comes across as rude, impetuous and selfish.

"Dear DD,
There comes a time in every woman's life when she has to decide to grow up."

'There's Something About You' is not an unfamiliar plotline but, it is weaved in a way that is refreshing. It is a transformative tale that touches upon a variety of feelings that women go through in their life; it is a story of a modern woman making her own way. An absolute one-time read, I will recommend this book for hardcore chicklit lovers.

Post Script: Also recommended because Flipkart is offering an absolute deal on the book and you might just win a Micromax phone on preorder. (Click here to view Deal)

Other books by this author: 'Just Married, Please Excuse' and Sorting Out Sid

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Treasure Of Kafur - Aroon Raman

Title: The Treasure Of Kafur
Author: Aroon Raman          
Publisher: Pan Macmillan     
ISBN-13: 9789382616122  
ISBN-10: 9382616128
Language: English
No. Of pages: 400 pages

In 1312 A.D when Alauddin Khilji ruled the Delhi sultanate, his general Malik Kafur led the invasion of several Southern principalities. During these campaigns, it is said, he collected and hid 241 tonnes of gold, 20,000 horses and 612 elephants laden with looted treasure. He hid this treasure so that no one except him and his king knew its location.

The novel, written by Aroon Raman is set in 1580 A.D, fast-forwarding to when Akbar was the ruler of Hindustan. The story is about a boy, Dattatreya and his grandmother, Ambu, who have psychic powers. They live about 400 kos away from Agra in the village of Sillod and they know the secret location of Kafur's treasure.

Asaf Baig, the tyrannical King of Khandesh, discovers that they are privy to this secret and tries to force Ambu to reveal the location of the treasure. To save his grandmother, to change their kingdom's fate and to protect Hindustan from potential rule of cruel Baig, Datta is forced to make the journey from Sillod to Agra to deliver the truth to Akbar, while avoiding being captured by Baig's men.

My copy of 'The Treasure of Kafur' arrived on Thursday morning and by 8pm that day I was done, even though I had to go to work. I truly enjoyed the book. The story begins with a flashback and this combined with premonitions and artistically interesting ambiguity sprinkled throughout the book compelled me to go on. I needed to know! Having said that at certain points, I didn't understand things because too much information had been withheld from me by the author. Nonetheless, these points in the story were few and far apart. 

The book is mostly fiction with a bit of fantasy and it honest truth, a couple of the 'fantasy' elements didn't appeal to me as much I hoped they would. Datta, did not impress me I had, had expected him to: him being the protagonist. His successes were more lucky than anything and I didn't care much about him as the 'hero'. 

Despite, all this the book was surprisingly engaging and perhaps the best things about the book are that: one, the author does not treat this like a history lesson and two, that you don't even need to be interested in history to enjoy the book. On the other hand, it is sure to delight certain history lovers. The vocabulary used by Raman makes it easy to read for anyone who wishes to pick up this book. 

Although jerky in the beginning, the story line flows fluently as it progresses. There are a lot of characters but they are never left in the background, helping us connect with them. The Treasure of Kafur is like a breath of fresh air in the increasing array of campus love stories. It is matures with the protagonist and the story telling is fast paced - written for the reader of today. There is love, angst, action, romance, friendship, loyalty, intrigue, adventure and fantasy. It includes everything one could want in a good book. I definitely recommend Aroon Raman's 'The Treasure of Kafur'.  

Where to buy it: Order on Flipkart!
Other Books by this author: The Shadow Throne

The Treasure of KafurReviewed by Sanya Mathur on Mar 11 2014 Rating: 4.3

Thursday, 18 June 2015

From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet - Vikram Seth

In one extraordinary travelogue, written back in 1981, famous Indian author Vikram Seth backpacks across China. And boy, is this tale marvelous. Seth knows the secret formula of what is needed and what is not. He does not bore us with excessive details yet, through a mixture of beauty, hardships, and humour he allows you to feel what he felt without being in China.

Although, the story is over thirty years old, at the time when Mao Tse Tsung died leaving his country in the hands of Deng Xiaoping (after a violent defeat of the Gang of Four), it does not feel irrelevant at all. He conveys the history, the people and the culture so subtly that you know everything before you realise that you do and that to through the eyes of an insider and not an outsider. At a time when there was so much restriction on foreigners, his journey across China is truly special in more ways than one.

Seth's 'From Heaven Lake' is a must-read for everyone whether or not you like the genre. He does what a successfully travelogue should do - he convinces you that you need to travel. He convinces you that what you are doing is insufficient and pointless. I promise you he makes you want to get up and go.

There it is for you, Vikram Seth's From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet!

Other Books:  A Suitable Boy, Beastly Tales (Poetry & Children's), Two Lives
Must-read (article): India Today with Vikram Seth

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Penguin Guide to Punctuation

For most of you reading this post, I know you're think I'm absolutely bonkers: reviewing a grammar book. However, there's a reason why they say 'don't judge a book by its cover'. This book is absolutely raving mad. I mean it the good sense. Of course, Mr R.L. Trask explains punctuation rules and quite succinctly and effortlessly, at that. When I say 'this book is raving mad' is because Mr Trask has an insane sense of humour, which I suppose is a lot like mine.

For instance, on the very first page, the author's bio states that '[Mr Trask] is tired of reading poorly punctuated work, and hopes this book will help.' His way of writing is fresh, humourous in a caustic way and absolutely honest and that's what makes this book brilliant. This is also, what makes the book seem less stuffy even though he is talking about grammar rules!

At one point, I rushed to read a bit, of the book, out to my mother who laughed just the way I had moments ago. The part which was on abbreviations read like this- 'If you do find yourself using etc., for heaven's sake spell it out correctly. This is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase et cetera `and other things', and it is pronounced ET SETRA, and not *EK SETRA. Do not write ghastly things like *ect. or *e.t.c. Such monstrosities make your writing look hopelessly illiterate.'

Isn't he fabulously honest?

Besides that, it is very easy to understand and a damn sight better than those god awful school textbooks. After all, who doesn't want to have fun when learning.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Capital : A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi - Rana Dasgupta

Rana Dasgupta: ‘It’s Blatantly Obvious That This Is A Traumatised City’

Capital is Rana Dasgupta's first non-fiction. It is an interview-based analysis of the effect of globalization on Delhi through the eyes of several individuals coming from the inner recesses of Delhi itself.

The journey begins slowly through the partition and unlike many of the other books it does not talk about 'what happened' as in the sequence of events. It talks, instead, of the mindset, the mental transformation and the physical transformations in the body of people that remained behind and in the refugees that flooded the city. Not only that, we see how 'New Delhi' came about.

Dasgupta, himself, was born abroad, in Canterbury, and only came to live in India for his then girlfriend, now wife, who lived in Delhi. He expected to convince her to move to New York with him but Delhi convinced him to stay.

Capital is not about politics, it's not even about the economics, no; it is about anything and everything that makes Delhi. The people, the history, the language, the culture, the infrastructure, the I said, it's about everything.

The chapter that touched me the most was chapter eight in which he interviewed Sadia Delhvi and she lamented the loss of Delhi's saleeqa.

'How do you expect Delhi to care about its own history when no one can read the language it is written in?...Urdu had nothing to do with religion: it was the language of Delhi, of everyone in Delhi.' - Sadia Dehlvi, page 160, Chapter Eight 

Capital's tone varies from sad to hopeful to nostalgic as the story changes view point to view point. The writing could have been better but it successfully conveys the author's meaning coherently. William Dalrymple has talked highly of this book, sure that it is the book he 'should hate' as he feels it is bound to replace his book 'The City of Djinns',which is also about Delhi, on the desks of people.

If you love Delhi as much as I do, it is a must-read. It is a must-read because it a good book. It is a must-read because it almost as all-accepting as Delhi.

Other books: Tokyo Cancelled, Solo
Must-read (article): Mumbai Boss with Rana Dasgupta

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Daddy's Girl - Margie Orford

Daddy's Girl by Margie Oxford was published in 2011 but only just got my hands on a copy and I am mildly impressed. It is gritty and depressing yet quite compelling which is was forced me to finish the book as fast I could manage.

The plot is based around the disappearance of a nine year old girl who is ace cop of the Cape Town's Gang Unit Riedwaan Faizal's daughter. As a result of his attitude he comes under the radar and so left without any choice, he enlists the help of investigative journalist Dr Clare Hart. The book is set against the backdrop of poverty and violence and there is a kind of authenticity to it that it chilling. It is quite impressive to read.

However, the book begins quite vaguely and this vagueness continues to plague the author's style of writing making the scenes, at times, quite difficult to understand. The book, however, is still very gripping. It alternates in perspective between Capt. Faizal,, and Dr Hart, but is not restricted to these two characters. We also see flashes the young girl's thought process once she's been abducted, and the harrowing experience of two young girls who've seen more dark times life than most ever do. There are quite some inconsistencies caused by poor editing of the book but all in all, it's an enjoyable book to read if crime novels interest you.

If you enjoy this book, Margie Orford has several other books and a series based around Dr Clare Hart which have also been on the bestseller list. Check them out!

Monday, 13 April 2015

I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb

THE GIRL WHO STOOD UP FOR EDUCATION and was shot by the Taliban

There are hundreds of reviews of this books spread across the internet, after all she is the girl 'who stood up for education'. At least that's how she wants to be known and she will because it is how she became known as the 'girl who was shot by Taliban'. I believe, however that there is no better reviewer for 'I Am Malala' than a girl of her own age. The irony of the situation is,  I'm sure, not lost on anyone of you. 

I Am Malala sends a shiver down your spine a reader as you turn page after page and read about tragedy after tragedy. Malala was born in Pakistan in 1997, where the birth of a girl child is no cause for celebration but she was celebrated. She was born to  Ziauddin Yousafzai, the son of an imam, and of an illiterate mother in the Valley of Swat. Perhaps her father had known that his little girl would do great things not only when she was an 'adult' but much before. At the tender age of 15, she was mercilessly shot in the face by a Jihadi and not once but she was shot at thrice only the other two bullets missed her.

The story does not dwell on the shooting for long nor does it philosophize her thoughts yet it binds the reader with almost a hypnotic sort of power. The story is simple and follows her life from the moment she was born to the moment she opened her eyes in the hospital in Birmingham after extensive surgery yet the incidents slowly accumulate and make it difficult to imagine what people in Pakistan survive on a daily basis, especially girls. 

Malala, herself, soon recieved death threats on a daily basis. Even on sites like Facebook and within the confines of her own home, she was not safe. She was a perceived threat to Taliban, an militant group, due to activism in support of education of girls. The book is a must read because it introduces the world to the reality through the eyes those who suffer.

If you want to know more, Malala spoke at the UN in celebration of her 16th birthday. Take a look!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Should You do Whatever the Fuck You Want? I did

I recently awoke from a 'I can do whatever the fuck I want' phase (hashtag rebel). I didn't think anything I did would have consequences. More than that, I didn't realise I wasn't prepared for the consequences of my actions. I thought society was wrong and societal pressure to conform was restricting. Why shouldn't I do what I want? If I want to throw a cup out of my balcony, I will. If I want to drink too much, I will. If I want to make out with a random guy because I need some action, I will. But, societal pressure is not always bad because it stops you from doing what you are, yourself, going to regret. Because trust me: you will regret breaking your favourite cup; you will regret drinking when you're sick the next day; you will regret the moment of selfishness when you ended up hurting the one person who means the world to you. You will regret it. 

Hashtag (#) no regrets is not always a good way to live. It screws up your judgement of right and wrong. Once you do something against your principles, you will feel terrible about it. Being a rebel is not about doing things that put you in the moral wrong, it's about doing things you think are right like supporting gay rights or committing to the one you love even everyone thinks s/he is severely flawed. If you want to do what you want, do something good, for yourself if not for the someone else. Don't do something wrong that will make you cringe every time you think about it.

Society isn't always right. In fact, it's mean, absurd and downright judgmental. But society is also your conscience when you're own conscience is compromised by desire, rebellion and foolishness. No matter what you do, it's ramifications are going to come back and bite you in the ass and it's not always a good thing, but if you are going to be okay with the consequences 10 years down the line, it's cool - Do your thing. Because like, Adam A. Montapert rightly said, 'Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of [their] choices.'