Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Book] A contest, a win and Meeting Padmalakshmi..

If there is a contest within my eye/ear shot you bet I will participate. I dont really get into it with dreams of winning big, but it is more the thrill of being able to answer some challenging questions and rack my brains a bit..

Few days ago, Taj Coromandel announced a contest on their social media channels, and wham bam I jumped at it. It had just two questions, easy ones -

1. Name Padmalakshmi's latest book title
2. List the spices that were shown in the photograph... 

Well, well well, what  do you know, I ended up being one of the two winners.. :-)) 

So, last evening was the Book reading event. I was at the venue around 6.40pm , found myself an empty seat and got down to it. A friend of mine joined me in a few minutes. 

It was an evening spent listening to Padma share tales from her childhood, her parents divorce, how they moved to USA when she was just 2, growing up as a brown girl in a country that was quite harsh to other races , her teen years, entering the world of fashion, stumbling onto the food arena, her marriage [ with Salman Rushdie, her daughter with Dell] and her life today. She also shared snippets from her days spent at her grandparents home in Chennai- Besant Nagar to be precise. 

She then moved on to read from her book  Love, Loss and What we ate - A Memoir ... The section she chose was about the joy of the humble Curd rice. Well, looks like she is quite fond of it, cos the section had quite a vivid description of how the curd rice is made, the tempering, the sounds, sights and variations from across her family. I found it quite entertaining, probably because in our households the curd rice is the last thing on our minds when we talk about food. :-)  
And I like mine plain or with a simple tempering, no ginger or fruits for me please.

I actually thought the event would be about her latest book - The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs [An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World] .. The book, the cover and contents were quite interesting.

The one statement she made that resonated with me was “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to what happens to you".. I so agree to this and intact live by this policy.. 

Moving on, the floor was open to questions, and then came the moment when I got to meet her. The two of us who had won also got to take our photograph taken with Padma.. I did ask her something on my cousin's behalf, for which she gave answers patiently...  And well, that was the end of an eventful evening. 


After I got done, I shared updates online and I had friends asking me a barrage of questions. One question that all of them asked was "How was she?".

My answer to this was "She is exactly as we see her on TV.. not just looks, but the way she talks and carries herself... "

Another friend asked "Was she warm?'

My reply to this was "well, she was sweet enough to patiently answer my queries..."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

[Book review] The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Well, its about time I revived this  blog and what better way than to talk about a book I have just finished reading for the 2nd time. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman [it is is all of 27pages and was first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine..

The book is entirely in a first person narrative.. It is all about what One woman goes through, dealing with her husband [a physician], brother [also a Doctor], husband's sister and a housekeeper, not to mention her own thoughts which daunt her day and night. All this happens at a home away from home, a place chosen to help her recuperate and cure herself of what she deems to be “nervous depression" but one that is completely shrugged off by her husband and others, sometimes they even  mock her.  Over time she starts exhibiting different behaviour in front of those who don't accept she has a problem and on her own she is a completely different person. 

She wants to occupy the rom downstairs that opens out to a garden with flowers, but her husband decides otherwise and they move to what used to be the nursery upstairs. He says the room downstairs is small and even if he wants a room of his own, there are no others nearby. Yes, it is a big room, but quite drab. She hates the wallpaper and wants to rip it off. She is left with nothing to do and no one for company, she stays confined to the room upstairs and does nothing but is lost in her thoughts or writes in her journal. Unfortunately her husband or his sister do not approve of her writing and so she hides it from them. She slowly she starts developing an increased interest regarding the room’s wallpaper, especially the pattern. Over time, with nothing to do, the wallpaper becomes her sole focus and soon her interaction with it grow deep and dark.. 
The book speaks volumes about how women/people are just ignored when they talk about having random thoughts, fears or issues. They are told to just put those thoughts away, and focus on other aspects of life. Apparently, back in the 19th Century, women were considered psychologically quite frail and no attention was paid to their aspirations or desires.
There is this one statement the woman makes in the book- "There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.” ... this left me haunted... I couldn't even wrap my head around what she was going through. 
Free download of the book is available on the net..  

A piece in The Guardian about the book & the author..

Friday, September 16, 2016

[Book review] Nisha Mehta, My Tarot- Something Paranormal

Title:My Tarot- Something Else by Nisha Mehta
Format: e-version
Pages :110 pages.
Goodreads link-

 Well, the author is a Tarot reader herself and so this book makes a lot of sense..  I, on the other hand was introduced to Tarot about a decade or so ago, and since then I have strong belief in it. I have a few friends who are Tarot readers and it always amazes me the things they share.  That apart, I did not know much about Tarot. So reading this book was quite a different experience for me.

For those wondering what Tarot is, Nisha says "Cards act as a bridge between the known and the unknown". How simple and yet complicated right? The best way for you to grasp it all would be to get a reading done~

The book opens with an Introduction that concludes with these words "Tarot tells you what you need to know and not what you want to know". Over the past, I have come to understand the true essence of these words.. Yes, when you go for a Tarot reading, you need to have a few things in mind - belief, and a few *to the point* questions that you ask the reader to help give you clarity in life.

And with reference to the title "Something else", Nisha explains that people are always looking for something more than just a reading. She says this book will be more than just about Tarot cards, it will give people something they can relate to, understand and associate with.

The one thing I understood at the end of it was that it was a well thought out book- the subject was dealt with under different sections, clearing giving an introduction to each chapter. It made it easier for a novice to understand what it was about and how one should approach the same.

For example, this statement Nisha makes in the book “Tarot is not restricted to images and their interpretation only” is so true..  She has explained each deck, the main cards, and how a beginner should approach the tarot cards as well. Not just these, but you gain insight into how to read the cards, almost like a list of top 4 things to follow towards the end of the book.

The best thing about this book was the simple language, clear explanations and even the diagrams to explain how it works. So, if you have been hearing the word "Tarot" from your friends/ if this is  something you have been curious about, do give this book a shot and let Nisha know what you thought of it.

Reach Nisha via her FB page -

Monday, April 25, 2016

[book review] Rainbow in my clouds- Radhika Lee

Book name: Rainbow in my clouds
Author: Radhika Lee
Print Length: 332 pages
Publisher: Notion Press; 1 edition (12 November 2015)

This year has been quite good, have been reading  more than ever. Am on my 40th Book now and it is only April..

The latest book I breezed through was Rainbow in My Clouds by Radhika Lee. It is not fiction, heck it is far from that. It is a book about Radhika’s journey through life, the twists and turns she has been through, her turmoils and  traumas, and how she overcame it all to become what she is today.

Radhika Muraleedharan, aka ‘Mrs. Lee’ hails from Kochi and is the founder and director of Nairobi International School (NIS), in Nairobi. This is about 30 years of her struggle…one that seems unending, daunting and certainly makes us wonder how she went through what she did and did not give up ever.. She overcame an abusive marriage, dealt with a drunk husband, a sick child, family troubles and work as well.

After moving to a foreign land at a young age, she works at different schools, helps children beyond just what a teacher would do going on establish three schools of repute in Kenya, not just any school but e-schools. She had to deal with red tapes, banks, cranky colleagues and personal issues all the while. Her tale is inspiring, in some parts I was in awe of how persisted…The moment where she meets John Couch, the Vice President of Education, Apple, who asks her to narrate her story [to conclude the conference in Vienna, with 700 present] is truly a wow moment for anyone!

Her story gives other women going through troubled lives the hope that they too can make something of themselves, achieve something and go on to create a name for themselves in this world. 

If you are looking for something to get you going, give you the motivation you need to push the envelope, then this is the book for you. She has written in simple language, and there are parts you will choke, gasp and smile, so be prepared for a roller coaster ride~ 

An article in The Hindu

Thursday, February 05, 2015

[Book] 10 Patients by Dr Wasim Mohideen

" I am OK, my wife. I need information."

"Ok, what information do you want?"

"I am suspect she having AIDS. Want to check her"

Your wife will need to come in person sir. I will need her permission to test her....

"Permission no problem. when I bring her?"

What else should we check for?

" I want to know what else blood to check." he said. "For diseases," he said and then looked down and sighed.  "Wife had sex with 5 mans"...

Stumped, right? You are wondering what is going on? Well, this is how one of the pieces in Wasim's book "10 patients" goes..  Each of the pieces are of real life instances that he has come upon, people who will have you wondering "is this for real?" ,"do such things actually happen" and every other possible gaping question will come bursting into your head. 

We all come across weird people, wacko people and then there are crazy people, but those who are featured in this book are none of the above, they are regular people except they have been through a lot or are going through some very troubling times. And then there are those who have you amazed, with their confidence, zest for life and positive attitude. 

All of 149 pages, this book was a pleasure to read.. It is not fiction, it is real, these are real people who came to Dr Wasim for consult/help.... 

When he shared the news of having a book ready to be published we wondered what it would be about. Would it be a piece of fiction, or about food [ he is a foodie] but this was quite a surprise. And I do hope he goes on to write more such books, not only are they interesting to read it gives us a reality check on life as well..

You can buy the ebook here on Amazon
Happy to share that the book was sold out on Flipkart within 3 days :D 

Saturday, August 02, 2014

[Movie] Vikramadityan...

Watched Vikramadityan few days ago with friends. We had been quite eager to watch the movie [us gals wanted to watch it for a whole different reason, it featured Dulquer Salman and well, for the boy I guess it was a new mallu movie that promised to be good]. Tickets were booked [at Inox, Chandra Metro Mall, Virugambakkam] and we were quite excited as we headed to the theater [ yes , the prospect of seeing Dulquer on screen once again was enough to have our adrenaline rushing]... 

Directed by Lal Jose
Produced by Lal Jose & Mohan Nambiar
Written by Iqbal Kuttipuram
Starring         Dulquer Salmaan, Namitha Pramod, Unni Mukundan
Music by         Bijibal

The movie is all about three people, two guys and a girl- all of who grew up together, were the best of friends and yet life took them in different directions... The two guys - one cop one crook, the girl head over heels in love with the crook but the cop has offered to give her a life/a future. The movie opens with Vikraman asking the Deepika to marry him. But she is pining for Adithyan and shoots out one last email. The day after there is a bit of commotion in town and she see Adhityan beating up a bunch of guys. Dressed in Sabarimalai attire [ black veshti and shirt] he carries nothing but a backpack and bunks with his friends [does not go home]. The entire movie plays out like a flashback... The plot unfolds with police constable Vasudev Shenoy (Anoop menon) talking to Lakshmi (Lena) who he loves about how his mother is against their marriage and will hopefully change her mind soon. But, before that can happen she meets conman Kunjunni (Santhosh Keezhattoor), who pretends to be a cop. Shenoy then marries a girl of his family's choice (Charmila) and gets on with life. Soon after both the couples are blessed with baby boys[ on the same day, minutes apart]. Shenoy names his son Vikraman (Unni Mukundan) and Kunjunni's son is called Adithyan (Dulquer Salmaan).

As the boys grow up, one day Kunjunni gets caught for robbing a jewellery store and is dragged out on the street by Shenoy. Adithyan is disappointed that his father who he looked up to turned out to be a crook and subsequently, the father committs suicide. The boys become teenagers and even though they are close friends, there is enemity between them,a  constant comparison and battle of who is better. Both the boys train to be cops, but Shenoy plays a mean game and convinces Lakshmi to keep Adithyan out of the game and that he had indeed tried to smuggle some narcotics [ which was actually done by a friend of his].. He gets angry at his mom and leaves home to return after years. His mother longs for the day when he will return and forgive her. 

Time flies, there are little battles between the boys, but it is Deepika's father who is a doctor who helps Adityan gain focus in life and change for the better. As the movie unfolds slowly, we watch the boys tussle, emotions run amock and typical family drama all over.... As the movie reaches the climax, it is time forVikraman to take charge as SI on the very day his father retires. There are top officials coming to congratulate them and one among them is the sub collector [ hold on to your seats... nivin pauly is the cutie pie].. Adithyan and his mother also come in a car to congratulate them. While Adithyan tries to have a word with Shenoy, he is kicked out and that is when we all learn the truth behind "what was Adithyan upto during the years he went missing" and that is the beauty of the movie... No,I shall not spoil it for you...

Review: I quite liked the movie, just wish it had been tad crisper... 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Extra Terrestrials are here..

Just as us Chennaites know that come December it is time for the Carnatic concerts, come June I know it is time for ET WOW.. What is ET WOW you ask? Tsk Tsk, what a question!! It is the coolest event to hit Chennai every year and a must watch!

The Extra Terrestrials as they are called are a set of acts put together by Show Space, they hand pick 8-9 acts out of 50-60 they sift through. These selected acts are brought down to the country and they perform across cities wowing audiences.. 

I have attended this show every year and it has been one amazing experience always!! More than me, my mom loves it. So this year, she saw the ad in the paper 10days ago and had begun asking me when I was taking her for it.. So, last week Friday was when the show launched in chennai after touring coimbatore. I took her along with my uncle and 9yr old cousin for the show. 

All of 75 mins, the event features 9 all new acts from 6 different international countries .. The evening opens with a man and a woman defying gravity using nothing but a pole, and then come the others, each of who dazzle you with their amazing talents .... 

For all the FIFA fans, there is a slice of FIFA in Chennai courtesy Zhora, the crazy goalkeeper who not only stands on a giant football but also juggles multiple smaller ones.. He is just WOW.. But then I could go on and on about each of the other acts, for each one is unique and amazing in its own unique way!! 
The other acts are, Duo Valeri- 2 men who use 2 straps and go high up in the air, Duo Brise- a couple who perform hand stands like none you have seen before. And audiences get quite a few rib tickling comedy with the Roll on Comedy act, the fat man who becomes a hunk by the end of his act.. lol.. 

If you thought you have seen it all, wait till Wang fei gets on stage and twirls em umbrellas and then a few mats... Sleek, graceful and chic.. she is all of 26yrs of age..

Wait, there is more.. The extravagant beam also called the Russian Bar  - an act performed by 3 guys, where one of them flies high in air while the other two hold the bar between their shoulders. Phew!! Hold your breath, hold on to your seats while Vik and Fabrini leave you speechless with their Illusion act- the man and the dummy and some magic.. buhahaha...

The grand finale is reserved for this high energy duo who juggle pins, who come in wearing suits and end up exhcanging their suits while juggling- they are Strahelman & Sohne, the Trial Room Jugglers... Yes, you read it right... Cant believe what you are reading? Well, go watch them live to see what am talking about!! :D

I also got the chance to spend time with them outside the show and they are all so chilled out and sweet.. most of them are in Chennai for the 1st time and say they love it here, "the food is good [ not the usual oh it is so spicy] and people are warm", they say! :D

If you havent caught them live, time to go book your tickets on and go attend the show.. They perform in Chennai from 27-29th June and then head over to bangalore to perform at Phoenix Market city [ special air conditioned marquee] on 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th July!! 

Promo video..

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Movie] Bangalore Days- Malayalam

Movie: Bangalore Days
Language: Malayalam
Director: Anjali menon
Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Nazriya Nazim, Nivin Pauly, Fahadh Faasil, Parvathy menon....
Rating: 6/5

The colors as morning breaks come shining through a glass painting.... you have three best buddies.... An RJ who is always chirpy and positive on air every single day...A girl tries a ciggie, takes a puff for the first time just before her marriage because she is tensed about the whole shindig.... And then there are these good looking actors strutting about on the big screen.. Am sure this has got you feeling high enough.. So how can a movie with all these flavours be anything but amazing?! Well, that is Bangalore Days for you.

Das (Fahaad) prefers his little private space, Ajju (Dulquer) is a rebel, Kuttan (Nivin who doubles as a narrator) is  quite shy, Divya (Nazriya) is a simple fickle minded girl while Sarah(Parvathy) is quite independent with an attitude to boot. So, what is it they all have in common? Well, there are strings that connect them all beautifully. 
We have  Divya who learns about Das’s past which has her reaching out to help him... On the other hand we have Sarah who slowly but surely is attracted to Ajju, but her mom just kicks him to the curb with a few sharp questions.  And then you have Kuttan who realises his girlfriend is not too serious about their relationship, all he does is walks away. Each of these form such beautiful moments in the movie!

Sprinkle in some phenomenal music, choreography and editing, and you have a movie that has you engaged every single minute. None of the actors do over the top drama or have you tearing your hair out..  The nuances of relationships, human beings, personalities and life has been showcased so perfectly by Director Anjali menon.. Just pray this movie doesnt catch the eye of a director from another state and they get the urge to remake it... 

The wedding song...