What happens when we abandon our role model ?

Tweet by Penguin Publication

Tweet by Penguin Publication

I saw the tweet announcing that Dan Brown will be in India for a event by Penguin. It made me both happy and sad. Sad, mostly because I was not happy enough. Because I was surprised that the announcement  didn’t make me jump up and down. The writer I idolized, dropped his name in the debates, defended his books almost everywhere, wasted hours in writing the counter-reply to people who criticized him and,  I am not acting like a college kid with the Sunburn pass after knowing he will be in India? Well, the thing is the Dan Brown is no longer the hero I idolize. I still admire him but for me, his beatlemania is over. Even though I pre-booked his latest book, I might skip his next one altogether (however, that might not be true). I have abandoned him as my role model because I stopped connecting with his later works and unhappy with his over-dependence on Robert Langdon.

So this brings a question, what happens when we relegate our role models to mere admired personalities? What corner of our heart is assigned for them ?

In this era, we are guilty of changing our heroes and gradually relegating their roles to lesser influences sooner than that was accepted in the previous generations. Last winter, everyone were joyous over victory of Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. He was made hero and role model for his simplicity and clean image but within few months, he was reduced to mere jokes.  Sports-personalities live the same faith. I can’t believe when “former fans” of Rodger Federer ask him to retire when he looses a grand slam final, like being 2nd or 3rd best is not accepted at all for the athlete who use to be world’s best.

I guess its easier when role-model becomes the hate figure, like for many it became in the case of Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods. But what happens when someone just stop being a role model for us. I think so its kind of relationship you can associate with your one time girlfriend with whom now you have totally moved on. You still wish her well but you don’t miss any heartbeat for her.

In case of Dan Brown, I am still in awe of his books and the characters he had created. He developed that certain interest in me for ancient religions and symbols but later I was disappointed that he didn’t moved on from Central Europe and America. He didn’t explore the ancient homes of religions like Egypt, South America, India, China, Japan or Greece (maybe he mentioned them here and there, but nothing too significant). Maybe because I expected too much. Still I am glad that he is coming to India and there is an opportunity to listen to “once-a-role-model” in person.

Have you abandoned any of your role models ?

My own Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Yes, Love at first sight

Yes, Love at first sight

I remember watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time. I was in Delhi. The mercury were escaping out the thermometers and I was having an usual college-broke end of month. A friend was in town and I promised to show her around. I was usually a good host. I knew what most of my friends expected from a days’ trip to the city. A hipster tour of Hauz Khas village, Wanne-be tour to University Campus, a good meal in a fancy restaurant, good round of drinks during happy hours of generously priced pub and occasional monumental sight-seeing. I was game for everything. Many a times, I had also offered a detailed trip of Old Delhi but everyone seemed to have refused it.

So this time, I couldn’t afford a fancy meals and drinks.Thereby I planned the day accordingly. In the morning, we went for the free screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the American Center followed by visit to Bangla Sahib and Humayun’s tomb where I finally got an opportunity to show-off my knowledge of Mughal history and my love for their architecture (however, still Old Delhi is where i can flaunt it the most, and also the food)

But the thing that stuck me most that day was The Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Like millions before me, like 4 different generations had,  I immediately fell for Audrey Hepburn and Holly, the character Audrey played in the movie. It was love at the first sight; the dialogues, the interactions, Holly’s version of everything, NYC of the era, their little social circles, her dreams, and Mister Cat. I promised to myself to watch the movie again,  this time with headphones on and no subtitles. And it was a pleasure again.

The book cover

The book cover

Last month, after the good old gap of 4 years, I got an opportunity to re-live it again, but this time, in the form of book. It was like meeting your childhood crush after a long time, and you find out, you are still not over her. Reading this novella by Truman Capote, was reliving the movie. Well, no, actually it was even better (Isn’t it a clique to say that the book was better?). In true words, it was very different from the movie. Its safe to say that the movie adopted the theme but developed its own plot, adopted the quotes but tweaked the scenes, took some characters and completely ignored others. I ended up reading it with a dairy, and noting the quotes from the book (see, i didn’t exaggerate the love at first sight part- oh my god, another clique?). And there were some angles of her character that movie didn’t bother to take up (no details here, i am not going to spoil it for you).

Capote’s writing is absolute winner. In less than 100 pages, he drew all the characters so well that you try to find them in the faces you see around, only to fail happily later. Holly. with her seductive fashion statement and witty one-liners can take you away, and that is what she does, she let you fall for her.And you become like everyone else in the story.

I gave Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Trueman Capote 4/5 stars at goodreads.

Could This Headline BE More Obvious?

Avinash Gupta:

Ok, this is the best FRIENDS tribute post

Originally posted on Ashish Shakya:

Twenty years ago, the world watched its first episode of Friends, and given the rerun cycle in India, I’m sure my grandkids will end up watching it on their deathbeds, getting nostalgic about a world without nuclear winter. Friends is said to be responsible for the rise of everything from a certain haircut to coffee sales to awkward guys using sarcasm as a defence mechanism because clearly, that’s all we do all the time for no reason.

Friends hit Indian shores when I was about fifteen and I could tell it was something big because it was the only thing that made us stop our cricket game and rush home to huddle in front of the TV. (NOTE TO YOUNGER READERS: A TV is sort of like a physical Youtube, except someone else is in charge of the playlist and you don’t get to leave nasty comments about people’s…

View original 637 more words

Jeep and Bourbon, Part 1 #CelebrateBlogging

Chapter 1: Whose idea was it anyway?

 Team: The Scribe Tribe 

“What is this round called?” I asked

“An inspiration” said Cyrus

I hate drinking games.  I literally do. I never played one in college and didn’t vote to play one today. But when Tara and Jennifer meet, there ought to be one. And then here is this kid Cyrus. What do kids in college eat these days? 7 shots and he is still in his senses. I lost mine with the toast of third one.

“Who goes first? How about you Sheku ?”

That’s my wife Tara. She knows how to throw me in the pit in public. She often says that I am the most arrogant man she has met, and nothing can inspire me. But now she is taking her chances to know my inspiration as 7 shots of bourbon is paddling my over-tired mind.

“ I need to buy more time for this one. Maybe Jeremy can start with some inspiration.”

Jeremy is the sole reason we are stuck in this nowhere beach. His 1982, classic Tornando Jeep is refusing to gather momentum. There is no help in 20 km radius. The next bus to Kochi is in 14 hours.

“She begged them for years for the permission to fly,

Only to find out later that she owned the sky.”

“My inspiration in my life is my Aunt Lisa. She migrated to these lands leaving everything behind, to live her dream” said Jeremy and took the shot from the glass.

Another confession- I hate poets. They think everything that exists is beautiful, because they can rhyme some phrases. They are like those annoying internet pop-ups who come on your screen uninvited, seeking your attention. Jeremy belongs to the 3rd generation, rare American-Indian who aspires to be a poet, and runs a Home-stay with Jennifer in Kochi. When Jennifer told me that she is dating a poet, she knew she was calling for some mockery from me.

“Aww, that is so sweet. Alright Baldy, you are next ?”

Jennifer can’t stop calling me “Baldy”. I wish I could explain to her that the Dutta family’s legacy of failed DNA cannot hold hair on men’s head past 25 years. My father always warned me, “Get married before you become takalu”. Maybe that provoked me to propose to Tara in college.

“ Well I don’t have stories like the Americans coming to India to live the dream, however I will give it a try.”.

Mild sarcasm wins some laughter in our group of five. Jennifer took this opportunity to click another round of pictures. I feel sorry for her camera. I never saw anything slaving more than it.

I saw Roohi, my daughter, from the corner of my eyes. She was the only one who was doing something sensible that night. She was sleeping.

“My daughter is my inspiration. Her care-free and lively attitude towards life makes me envious. Someday I would like to be like her” and then I took a gulp of warm Bourbon that burnt my throat.

I lighted another cigarette and watched the waves on the beach. Somehow, this is more interesting than listening to two drunk women lying about their inspiration and the Law-school kid Cyrus,shamelessly staring at the fighting dragon tattoo on Jennifer’s right arm. I checked my clock, another 10 hours to kill.

“What is the next round called? Asked Tara.

“A dream?” said Cyrus

Tara and I glanced uneasily at each other. A thought on dream brings both of us on the edge. Well, she goes first on this one, after all, whose idea was this stupid game anyway?

To be Continued……..

[Note: “Me and my team, The Scribe Tribe, are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ atBlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”]

Part 2: Touch Me Not by Vibhuti Bhandarkar

Part 3:The Ignominy of Defeat by Rahul Prabhakar

Part 4:  The Pleasure of Pain by Pankaj Sharma 

Part 5 – The Road not Taken by Harsh Singh

Part 6: The Silent Confession by Veturi Sama

Satyajit Ray, Khushwant Singh and other keepers of Short Stories

For my bookshelf, if year 2013 was the year of Indian Mythological books, then 2014 will definitely be the year of Short Stories. I started the year with Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri that set the tone for rest of the year. I had also read Interpreter of Maladies, also written by Lahiri, that together with Unaccustomed Earth made me believe that she is currently the finest Short Story writer in India.

Here are my favorite books on Short Stories that I have read in 2014

1. 14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Book Cover

Book Cover

If the tittle of this book will not make you read it than I wonder what will. This book is the collection of 14 stories translated and edited by Baskar Chattopadhyay that influenced the cinematic genius that Satyajit Ray is. Also at the end of the book, there are interviews by Sarmila Tagore, Satyajit’s published articles and many others that makes this book a great read. I rated it 4/5 stars in the goodreads.

[Bonus Read: Book Review by Raghav Modi ]

2. The Mark of Vishnu Stories by Khushwant Singh

 

Small but powerful book: The Mark of Vishnu stories

Small but powerful book: The Mark of Vishnu stories

Khushwant Singh is truly the king of Indian Short Story circuit. He paints his characters so well that you can visualize them as you read them. You can relate to these characters because they are like everyday people we meet. The insecurities, the habits, the thought-process, the disgusts and the shames are relatable to folks from urban Indian society. Like the story of “The Bottom Pincher” where the perfectly rich and suffice Parsi gentleman has an illicit habit of grabbing bottoms of strange women in the street. He takes these guilty pleasures so swiftly and smoothly that he is never questioned or suspected. Its not only the human characters that Khushwant expertises in. He even takes care of the point of views of stray dogs and holy king cobras.

I rated The Mark of Vishnu Stories by Khushwant Singh 4/5 stars in goodreads.

[Bonus Read: The Khushwant Singh I knew]

3. Shrikandi and Other Stories they didn’t tell you.

Book Cover Via Amazon.in

Book Cover

Devdutt Pattanaik has established himself as the most respected mythologist in India. In his latest book, he brought 31 stories from Indian mythology that shows the queer agenda.

[More on: Book Review: Shikhandi and other tales they don't tell you  ]

4. Stories From Tagore

The legend, Rabindranath Tagore. Photo via The Hindu

The legend, Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore stories, mostly written in 1890s to early years of 19th century are must read for all age-group. Reading his stories are like reading the entire history of art of story telling and compassion.

[More on: The World of Tagore's Stories ]

5. Best Indian Short Stories,various authors, edited by Khushwant Singh

 

Stories mostly of Illustrated Weekly of India

Stories mostly of Illustrated Weekly of India

Illustrated Weekly of India was the popular print magazine in the 80s. It was edited by Khushwant Singh and one of the its major contribution to the pop-culture of that time, was reading and writing of short stories. If you were featured in the magazine, it meant you have arrived as a writer. The journalists, the wanna be writers and even the established ones use to send their stories. Mind you, there were no blogs and self-publishing in those times and it was only medium to satisfy the writing itch.

This book brings the best short stories featured in the magazine. These stories were edited by Khushwant Singh and his team. The book includes stories not only from eminent writers like Ruskin Bond, Anita Desai, M.J Akbar but also regional stories translated for publishing.

What are your favorite books of short stories? Do let me know

Creepy little diary of Chottu

An extract from the dairy of friendly little face from neighborhood, Chottu (13 years old Domestic help of Verma family) .

Warning : Confidential, fictitious and brainless.

Date: 7 Sitembar, Sanischar

Dear Dairy,

I Chottu. But that not my real name. My real name Bansi Lal Khuswa from Basti village near Gorakhpur but when i come bambai, bhabhi meemsahab tell me “from today you Chottu”. Later Bahadur , our gurkha watchman tell me because previous one name also Chottu and before that also Chottu. He also tell before he also the previous gurkha name also Bahadur and before him, previous garden-man name also Hari and before him, previous chicken & egg-man name also Rahim-chacha. Maybe bhabhi Meemsahab can’t remember many names. That why she doing only one son with  Saheeb. Ramu from next door Roma bhabhi flat say that maybe my saheeb not good in sexing, that why only one son. I think Ramu from Roma bhabhi flat jealous on my saheeb because his saheeb dont watchman, only 2 alsayson dogs, blacker than Ramu, ha ha ha.

Bhabhi Meemsahab son name Rahul like Shahruk, Saheeb name Vijay like Amitabh and Meemsaheeb name Geeta like Mithun sister in all picture. You may thinking from their names they like picture too much but in truefullness Rahul baba like hiphoper Monkey Singh, Saheeb like Sakoach bishkee and bhabhi Meemsahab like mobile fone.

 

Chottu Big Dream: One day, i become like Batman's Chottu but with Rahul baba, I no hope

Chottu Big Dream: One day, i become like Batman’s Chottu but with Rahul baba, I no hope

One day when Saheeb  drinking Sakoach bishkee, he saw naked fat boy dancing on utobe in dinka chika dinka chika hey hey hey hey hey hey, he started telling Rahul, “You also fat piece of shit , why not dance like this and become famous” I dont know what shit mean, so I ask Ramu from Roma bhabhi flat, he tells shit means tatti. Saheeb mean Rahul fat tatti..ha ha ha. I tell you this man funny become when he drink sakoach bishkee. I think saheeb worry for Rahul because Rahul fat and stupid. Bhabhi Meemsahib give took much whorelicks to Rahul but no improvement.

Tomorrow very important day. 5 Hour Maha episode of CID. Saheeb friends coming to watch together. If Daya not break doors than Saheeb break Sakoach bishkee glasses. Bhabhi meemsahib give me two very important work. First, to make bhajiya for Saheeb and his friends and second to not let Saheeb see Jhalak Deklaja because that fat naked kid now become dancer there. If Saheeb sees, he again call Rahul baba fat tatti..ha ha ha.

OkBye

Chottu

 

5 Reasons That Will Make The Book Thief Your Next Read

The Book Cover

The Book Cover

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is based in Nazi Germany during Second World War, but its not a story just focused on war. A 8 year girl  is separated from her birth parents, her brother dies a cold winter death, however its not  just a story of her struggles in her life there after. Her foster parents open their home for her, in exchange of extra ration allowance and some money ofcourse, but its not the story of their cruelty or their affection towards their foster child. The kid is trying to find the identity in the changing Germany, the Furher’s Germany, but this story is not centered around Furhrer. She made some friends in school, and some enemies. She enjoyed playing football with them, reading books and also stealing, but inspite of the book being titled the book thief, its not about stealing or even about books. Her new family hides a jewish boy in their basement to protect him from SS, but again, its not about the holocaust. “Death” is the narrator of this story, but still this story is not about death or dying.

This book is about everything in between these things, its about intangible emotions, unspoken words and vacuum of emptiness. Below, I have listed 5 reasons to choose this book as your next read, if you have not done so yet:

1. The Narrator:

As I wrote above, ‘the death’ is the narrator of this book. I know you are  imagining a dark, hooded shadow speaking from the elevated height with a shallow voice. I had that image too but that disappeared as the book progressed. And here is a little information you should know, the death here is not the cold figure who enjoys taking people’s life away. Sometimes he shows compassion, sometimes some emotions and most of the time, he is a random fact teller.

2. Beautiful Characters

That era of human history is known for war, ambition, racism and brutality. Still Zuzsak managed to create beautiful characters there. Not only the primary characters like Liesel (the kid), her best friend, her foster parents, their jewish secret guest but also other characters that filled this story. The mayor’s wife, families in the neighborhood or boys from school, every character offered the depth and understanding of those times.

3. Those random Historical References

History was not the central theme of the book, but being a period book, it had a consistency of the times. As the narrator was omnipresent in all those events, he kept throwing historical facts. Also notable events like “The march of Jews”, “Burning of the books”, “Berlin Olympics” and “Jesse Owens” had presence in the story.

[Bonus Read: Jesse Owens, an African American athlete who surprised everyone in 1936 Berlin Olympics by winning 4 individual Gold medals in track and field events, was famously snubbed by Hitler because of his African origin. This article claims that Hitler's snub is one of the many myths that were circled during that period. Click on the image below to read the full article. ]

Jesse Owens in Berlin Olympic, 1936

Jesse Owens in Berlin Olympic, 1936

4. For the love of Books and Readers

Reader’s empathy is one of best feeling. When someone reviews the book and you know how exactly he/she felt while reading the book or when Liesel takes shelter of books, you understand; when she steals them, you understand; when Mayor’s wife invites Liesel, you understand. Because here, the love for books is the common denominator.

5.  German Slang and the lovely Childhood

The childhood in the book is beautiful. Even during war and hardship, there were no brakes nn the adventures. Scarcity invented new games and I bet, after reading this book, you will be tempted to call your annoying friend ‘Saukerl’.

I rated The Book Thief, by Marcus Zuzak 5/5 stars in goodreads.

Which was the last watchable Airtel Commercial ?

Remember those irritating courtship couples from the Airtel commercial. Their discussion on the separate veg and non-veg section on a night before their wedding, the selfie marathon on IM and their other disastrous all-night talks.  It was impossible to watch television without those commercials.

Yeah this girl in particular

Yeah this girl in particular

Well, roll the calender to a month, and there is new commercial that is equally mindless.

Here is the commercial I am talking about

So why this dumb commercial is so stupid:

We are feminist but still sanskari :

What is unusual when your boss gives a tight deadline to a project and entertains no negotiation? Its like everyday at work. But no, when its delivered by saree warped boss to a hipster looking subordinate, there is more to the story. Because our sanskari boss have to go back home and cook for her beloved husband, who is still working, because she said so.

We love to Stereotype

So, the lady boss has a driver who is driving her from work to home but no cook. I think so the ad-makers decided that Priya, the saree boss, can only afford one paid help, so let him be a driver because women folks are generally not good drivers and are usually good in cooking, so let her cook. I dont know if there was a male boss in there, he had to cook.

In office:Wife= Boss= Priya. But in the mobile: Priya=Boss=Wife

In office, he calls his wife/boss by her first name, but when his mobile rings, it shows the name “wife”. I am yet to find someone who saves wife’s number as “wife”, rather than the name itself. Again,lazy writing for the commercial.

Orders to over-time and then suggest to ignore it. 

Step 1: “You have to finish this big project today. You have no bloody option…hahaha”

Step 2: while leaving- “Are you doing alright assh*le ?Call me when you are bored”- still giving the devil boss looks

Step 3: “I am reaching home in chauffeur driven car. As we don’t give fuck to wasting petrol by going in separate vehicles, what do you want to have for dinner, my Chubbylobby.”

Step 4: “Come home  my boytoy, I am bored.”

Step 5: “Oh damn you “bohot kaam”. Come home now, I am your boss at home and at work…hahahaha. Fuck the project, I wanna do some spanking.”

We love Sci-fi (the video calling at the end)

Have you ever tried video calling in India, like in any network? The v-call of the ad was like science fiction. Never-ever , video call happens of that quality. Never, in this country. And so much food lady, did you cook for the entire office ?

Conclusion 

  • If it was really a smart phone network commercial, why not show “work from Home” rather than video calling that no body uses.
  • If the wife really wanted to be romantic, why not stay back and help hubby in project, leave the office together, make/order dinner together and then watch Crime Patrol (or any other similar romantic show they like )together.
  • This commercial is not about  Women Empowerment or breaking stereotype, but rather hypocrite and dumb.

What are your thoughts about this commercial ?

Also on my blog

Thoughts on World Population

Day

The World of Tagore’s Stories

The legend, Rabindranath Tagore. Photo via The Hindu

The legend, Rabindranath Tagore. Photo via The Hindu

Tagore is the true literary legend of India. From Nobel prize to penning national anthem of 2 countries, he had done it all. But until last month, I had not read much of him apart from some stories in the school text books. I had browsed through some pages of Gitanjali, only to realize that I was too young to appreciate the devotional poems. Last month however, I downloaded  “Stories from Tagore” , a collection of short stories by Rabindranath Tagore and discovered the beautiful world of his stories.

These stories were written between 1890 to 1917. Originally written in Bengali, the trademark of his style is narratives reflecting the emotions, underlying the social and economic structure of that era. Each story shows that how we restrict our true emotion due to our mindsets, religion, social beliefs and moral obligations.

(Bonus: Read The Introduction of Gitanjali by W. B Yeats )

Like the story of Cabuliwala, where a small girl develops friendship with the hawker. The girl reminded the hawker of his daughter from his home in Kabul and he likes to stop by and talk to the girl. And then there is a story where a devotee servant, who have served his master’s family for generations is accused of kidnapping the child, whom he loved more than anything. He goes back to village and raises one of his son, exactly like the missing kid and does not realize that what fate had in store for him.

There are also stories of family disputes, floods, epidemic, personal conflicts and social taboos. Credit also goes to the translators of these stories, who did a brilliant job of exposing these stories to the greater number of audience. It will be interesting how western readers would interpret the books since these stories demand some sort of cultural understanding of India.

I rated “Stories by Tagore” by Rabindranath Tagore 4 out of 5 stars on the goodreads. We all deserve to be in the World of Tagore’s stories which is the beautiful journey into the former century of time.

 

Travel Diary: Fort, Kochi

It was Sunday and the Maritime Museum was closed. Well, that was my plan for the Sunday in Kochi: Museum, Churches, Art Gallerias and beach. I know, it sounds bit clique but the Lonely Planet magazine suggested me that Kochi is one place where I can do old timers traveling and I could not resist the temptation.

As the museum was closed, I made my way to the St. Francis Church and the Dutch Cementary. The mass was going on and the cemetery was also locked. The keys were available at the Church but I refuted the idea of visiting the rain soaked cemetery alone, and instead made my way towards the Chinese Fishing nets.

Fishing nets and some mess

Fishing nets and some mess

If you are wondering why I was in such a rush, I must tell you that I was in Kochi on a work trip and I had only few hours to spare. Until I discovered “bicycles on hire” board, I was walking aimless in the fort area, admiring the leisureliness of the place. Yes, bike was a blessing for me as I paddled through the streets and visited the places from the list (yes, I had a list )

View from the Gate of the Dutch Cemetery

View from the Gate of the Dutch Cemetery

Due to limitation of time, I had to let go two things that were high on my list: A ferry ride and an Ayurvedic Shirodhara massage. But I didn’t mind missing them as I made my way towards the lanes that were at so peace that the birds and my tired lungs were only things creating some sort of noise. And there was also hide and seek by the rains, a trend common in the months of monsoon.

The ocean and the monsoon brings a sense of decay on the walls

The ocean and the monsoon brings a sense of decay on the walls

But not all the places I visited were from my list. On the beach, I found “Bob Marley Cafe” which not only gave me shade from the rain but also nice coffee and warm sandwiches. After that, I abandoned the beach road and paddled around Kalvathi road and discovered Pepper House Cafe.

Not only they serve excellent Cheese Cake but also hosted the Library on Visual Arts. The ambiance is so smooth, with Portuguese architecture, wooden desk and wares, and Arabian Sea in its veranda. You can sit in the library for hours, and get soaked in books, DVDs and silence. Occasionally you will be distracted by the waves hitting the beach.

Bob Marley Cafe

On the places I discovered

In the Pepper House Cafe resides the Library of Visual Art

In the Pepper House Cafe resides the Library of Visual Art

After scaling the Chruch road, Beach road, Burgher road and Fort Market, I decided to give my bicycle back. I paid Rs 50 for 5 hours ride ( that is 16 cents per hour) and made a notice of Teapot cafe, where I returned next day for my dinner. My auto ride back to the hotel took me through the Jewish Colony, where I stopped-by to buy some Munaar tea.

With that experience, I promised to return to Kochi, but not only as a business traveler. Where else, but in Kochi you will find Portuguese Churches, Catalan Art Gallery, Dutch Cemetery, Chinese Fishing nets, British-style Maritime Museums, Arabian corners, Jewish Colonies, Hindu temples and awesome Kerala experience

Fantasy Premier League 2014-15- My pick

So it returns. The premier league leaves a big hole when its away and let me tell you, even the World Cup does not help much.

So with the real league, comes fantasy league. Last season, I didn’t do too bad but I had  terrible start. I captained Mata who never got a start, I predicted Soldado to be one of the best strikers, and  Morrison & Downing didn’t do what was expected.

Anyways, here is my team for 2014 start of season

 

Fantasy Premier League for the start of the season

Fantasy Premier League for the start of the season

I have not picked any from Liverpool and Spurs because I have no idea how they will line. Also, I am expecting loads of goals from Rooney and Giroud and assists from Nasri, Hazard and Herrera. And you can see my defense, as solid as it gets.

The stars who will bomb:

Diego Costa, Lallana, Gerrard (I predict this every season, and he fails me each time)

Players to look out for:

Bony, Mata, Lambela,  Evans

Join the League

Some of us have leagued up and we would like to invite you to our league “Jee Baat”

URL: http://fantasy.premierleague.com/

League Code: 949370-263627

 

 

Book Review: Shikhandi And Other Tales They Don’t Tell You

Book Cover Via Amazon.in

Book Cover
Via Amazon.in

Many in India uses our culture and religious roots in the arguments. Many times, it looks like bringing gun to a knife fight. Last time, when it was widely used in argument was the event of Supreme Courts’ controversial decision on Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, dealing with LGBT’s rights in India. Also, the moralist used this arguments against the women role in the society, specially when it comes to mindless arguments of provoking the sex-offenders.

With 30 stories from ancient Hindu Mythology, this is Devdutt Pattanaik attempt to shut them for once and all. Shikhandi and Other Tales They don’t Tell You is the collection of stories from Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and other religious texts that refers to “queerness” and its non-subjective treatment in the “cultural context” of India.

The three Men who Know What its Like to be A Woman

The three Men who Know What its Like to be A Woman

In the first half of the book, Devdutt establish the context of “Queerness” from the global mythological sphere bringing stories from Vikings, Egyptian Gods, Bibliographic readings and Chinese legends. As we move forward to the next part, he brings these stories that challenges our social and cultural perception on sexuality. To be honest, if you have read other books from Devdutt, like Jaya, SitaPregnant King, or Myth= Mithya (click on the highlights to read my review of these books) ; you will find many stories repeated here. Like the story of Shikhandi, that is beautifully used in Pregnant King in explaining the sexual complexity of the king who gives birth to a child from his thigh. Or the story of Arjun losing his manhood due to curse of Urvashi in Jaya. Yes, these stories are repeated but still the author adds value and fresh perspective to them.

I gave Shikhandi and Other Tales They don’t Tell You by Devdutt Pattanaik a 4 out of 5 stars in the goodreads. This book will help in taking the queer agenda in the mainstream. It will be an eye-opener for many, who shield behind cultural and religious excuses in these matters.

Blogging the Booker 2014/4

Avinash Gupta:

Needless to say that its my next book.

Originally posted on deborahjs:

To say that I love family sagas would be an understatement. Plantagenets, Pallisers, Cazalets, Yorkists, Stuarts (naturally!), Mehra, Princes of Gwynedd – name any surname you like, if there is a book about them then I have read it or have it on my pile or I am waiting to hear about it. I love the internecine squabbles, the paterfamilias, the matriarchs, the lot. So imagine my joy when I started to read scan0007The Lives of Others [not to be confused by the book of the film] by Neel Mukherjee.

Indian family sagas are a class apart, think of A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, or any novel by Rohinton Mistry. This is largely because it is common for them all to live in the same house…wonderful (for the reader anyway), perhaps not so wonderful for the Bengali daughters-in-law; for the woman leaves her home and lives…

View original 808 more words

Book Review: Slow… by Digonta Bordoloi

Slow, The Book

Slow, The Book

In his debut book Slow, Digonta sets the story in the most picturesque and beautiful places of North-East India. Slow is the story of Baba and his family who moves to various towns of the region, thanks to the Government job of Baba’ s father. As the tittle suggests, the author is in no hurry to rush to the plot. He takes his time with the atmosphere and the characters. He takes his time in establishing the multiple point of views and he takes his time in giving us beautiful tour of Kohima, Tezpur, Guwahati, Dimapur and many such towns.

In the opening pages, the narration is interesting. Each character in the book gets an opportunity to narrate from their point of view which bring variety of opinions. However,after some pages, it starts to get little annoying (or maybe its just me) as you cannot settle to single tone of narration. However, I just loved the first part of the book, which had beautiful childhood, friendships, notorious expeditions, parental affection and love-at-first sights.

You fall for Baba, his character, his habits and his slowness, until Digonta does a GRR Martin and kills Baba in the middle of the book. That was a little heart break for me as I was rooting for him and was really looking forward to his adulthood. However, Baba is not completely taking from the story and even in his after-life, he was still running the show for the book.

Digonta Bordoloi

Digonta Bordoloi

Overall, Digonta offers fresh style with his first book. During my years of High school and college, I made loads of friends from North-East of India:fFrom Kohima, Dimapur, Guwahati, Tezpur, Shilong, Nalwadi etc and I always enjoyed their free spirited and artistic approach to life. This book reminded me of those times and I could connect with the characters. However, I was not much impressed by the second part of the book, maybe because the first one raised the bar so high. During my interview with the author few months back, I found an honesty in his voice and that was very evident in the book.

I rated Slow… by Digonta Bordoloi,3 out of 5 stars on the goodreads. Maybe, if I had to just rate the first half of the book, I would had rated it 4/5. Digonta told me that his next project is a historical fiction based on the region, and I can’t wait to have my hands on it.

 

Featured Image -- 1068

Bissamcuttack Beauty

Avinash Gupta:

Beautiful photography and wonderful Post.

Originally posted on maverickbird:

svetlana baghawan maverickbirdChatikona market was in full swing when we arrived there. Apart from me there was another foreign group, who ambled around the gorgeous market wide eyed and slack jawed in amazement. The strict enforced security measures seemed a bit out of place in that colourful place and police checked each and every tourist vehicle for cameras. This strict regulation apparently came into place, after the Italian tourists kidnapping case. It is rumoured that they were kidnapped after photos of semi nude Odisha tribal ladies headed with lascivious captions were found splashed in naughty publications.

They were found guilty of sneaking upon and taking photos of the women when they were bathing, and this created a huge outcry among the tribal communities. While many denounce this theory as an eyewash, photography and visiting the remote tribal villages became banned after this case. In fact, nowadays tourists are not even allowed to…

View original 1,114 more words

10 things Indian non-footballing janta learned from #FIFAWorldCup2014

As I rightly predicted How Non-football media in India will cover World cup, I am back with some learnings that our non-footballing janta have learned from the World Cup.

1. Brazil Football team is like Spiltsvilla 

Neymar.. Eliminate hogaye kya ??

Neymar.. Eliminate hogaye kya ??

Many youngsters in India decided to ditch Spiltsvilla for Brazil football team. And why not, there are babes, young,passionate and over-rated boys running around and media going crazy over them. And there were tears, disappointment, elimination and drama, who needs MTV.

2. England Football Team= England Cricket Team 

Papers will write about them, media will rate them but they actually suck. That is England cricket team for most of Indian but come Football World Cup, and we realize the football world is no different. One friend suggested that Wayne Rooney should be dropped so that he can be Kevin Peterson of Football team. Make sense.

3. Holland v/s Australia in Football is inversely proportional to Holland v/s Australia in Cricket.

 

4. Irina Shayk= 100 Anushka Sharmas

No caption needed, right

No caption needed, right

 

5. Maria Sharapova knows who is David Beckham, and so do we

They know who David Beckham is , Maria Sharapova know who David Beckham is, even Alia Bhatt knows who David Beckham. Popularity proved.

6. Indian Football reporters are worse than the Prime Time Panelist 

7. John Abrahim and Gaurav Kapoor are no Football expert

8. Its not always cool to support Brazil.

Hum EK Saath Hai :P

Hum EK Saath Hai :P

Brazil team is so united that their official motto in Hindi should be Ek Saath (1-7)

9. Everyone in Coratia Football team have same similar names.

brothers

 

 

10. Only Americans call it Soccer and Indians call it FIFA 

Yea, we think calling the game FIFA is swag.

 

Also on my Blog:

How Non-football media in India

will cover #WC2014 ?

 

 Bollywood songs which

can Improve Team India’s

Performance

Thoughts on World Population Day #Puns

Its the World Population day. I don’t know why this day exist: to celebrate the population, to create awareness, or to make more population. Its too obvious that they won’t be celebrating the population, which kinda suck because it is  one of few things where we can brag. Imagine a 19 year old Indian population fan posting India’s census results on Maria Sharapova’s Facebook wall or Union Government announcing 200 Crore statue on India’s reaching the 200 Crore population landmark. Lalu Prasad Yadav could had got Padma Bhushan for creating a Cricket squad at home and Dhritarashtra would had been national symbol for having 101 kids.

Well, if population was to really be celebrated, the following individuals/institutes should be thanked first:

1. Indian Railways:

indian railways

Indian Railways has the widest network in the world (ok…2nd widest). It connects the big cities to village, jungles and dacoits and on the way leaves many sleepless couples. This is true, you can not sleep in the room near the railway tracks, unless you are death-doped or stayed in that place from the time of AK Hangal’s childhood days. In one of the essays in school, my friend actually mentioned railways as prime reason for India’s soaring population (no kidding here). He was later asked to explain in class by the teacher ( i still don’t know why) and he explained with absolute sincerarity that even Siddhu would be staring him with the silence of the lamp. Anyways, well done Indian Railways in connecting India.

2. Arrange Marriage/ Sanskaar

Our middle class Sanskaar and Arrange marriage system make sure that every Indian, no matter how ancient he/she is, have a long and protected lineage. Pre-matrial sex is absolute taboo and “are you virgin” is a legit conversation during arranged couple’s courtship. In fact, many believe that only reason sex exist is to bring more offspring in the world and has no other contribution to the relationship. This results that many in India celebrate their 1st wedding anniversary with their kid in their arm.

3. Load Shedding Program by UP Government 

via Livemint.com

via Livemint.com

UP Government has always been blamed for small things like Rioting and absence of Women safety but rarely praised for its load shedding program at the night. They leave the couples with no option but to make out in the night by forgoing electricity. Actually, the joint family culture in Uttar Pradesh gives no room for privacy to couples. They have to share their rooms with nieces, nephews, the stranger with the gun and water buffaloes. Therefore, powercut makes sure that they have some privacy. One beurrocrate from the state explained that, it is a “load shedding” in various levels.

4. Marketing Campaign of Modi Sarkaar:

BJP’s campaign that “Acche Din Ab Anne Wale Hai” ( Good days are about to come) took people’s esctasy to abnormal level and in excitement people ordered extra portions of Jalebi Fafra and made out each time FM announced “Janta maaf nahi karegi”. The bombardment of population will come soon, and Modi Sarkar will have another milestone to its name.

5. Ranjit 

In every second movie of Ranjit, a random women in saree (who in the previous scene was in VIctoria Secret Karol Bagh Chaddi Association’s lingerie) announces to him that “mein tumhare bacche ki maa banne wali hu”. At that rate of announcements, Ranjit could had broken the record of Rodger Fedrer’s number of Grand-Slam titles. With the ease that Ranjit handled his paternal pressure inspired many Indian men to start giving less shit to these worries.

Who/whom according to you shares this population Hall of Fame with the above delegates ? Do write to me.

 

Book Review: Things a Little Bird Told Me by @Biz Stone

Confession of a creative mind

Confession of a creative mind

 

Last Month, when the fellow Blogger Aman reviewed this book, he rated it 5/5 stars to which I felt that he was too generous with his ratings (you can checkout his review here). Anyway there was only one way to find out. Ever since the book was launched in April, it was high on the reading list and finally last week I managed my hands on it.

Things a Little Bird told Me, A confession of a Creative Mind is authored by Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter. This is not a business book, its a memoir of the exciting life that Biz leads from the basement office of Little, Brown to his experiments at the Genius Labs to working with Google for Humanizing Blogger to his experiment with the pod-casting and finally when his purple patch finally arrives with the adventures of Co-founding twitter and taking it to the heights where we see it today.

Bonus Read: Do you really think his real name is Biz Stone ? I never thought so. Here is a Story of how he got his name. ( Click on the Image below for more information)

Image via techcrunch.com. Click on the image for the full Story

Image via techcrunch.com.
Click on the image for the full Story

Biz started Twitter along with Evan Williams and Dorsey after striking the idea during Hackathron session, organized in Odeo, a pod-casting company started by Noah Glass and Williams. He gives a good track behind the thoughts on the product on the initial days.

Biz keeps no secret on his surprise on the success of twitter and no shame in admitting the server failures which were as frequent as rains in London. Apart from the twitter, he does share his fair deal of his days at Google, his other failed start-ups, his debt ridden days until Twitter was a hot cake and finally the thoughts behind starting Jelly.

His tone in the book is that of a pseudo-modest where we maintains that he is just a geek but with the genius attributes. He goes back to his school days where he used his intelligence in procrastinating and handling his difficult financial status with grace and smart-work.

In the lengths of self-praise and man-crushing on himself, Biz also gives away some important tips for a successful start-up. His thought-process is admiring, if not always practical. But one does not need a bigger certification of genius quotient than a multi-billion start-up, do they ?

I rated The thing a Little Bird Told me, A confession of a creative mind by Biz Stone 4/5 stars at the goodreads. Don’t expect Biz to be Jack Welch with this book, he is somewhere between Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. A enjoyable read, it can inspire you to try your guts, courage and of-course creativity.

2014 Goodreads Challenge: Half-way Through

Not quite a bookworm but decent first 6 months

Not quite a bookworm but decent first 6 months

I had a decent run in 2013, if not amazing. I managed 26 books and completed my modest target of 25 book a year. I also managed to complete my target of reading atleast 10 books originated from India (I read 12).

I think in the busy lives we have, if we can manage 25 quality books a year, then we are doing well with your reading. For 2014, I maintained my target of 25 books, which looks small when compared to 50, 70 or even 100 books targets that I have seen people pledging. To be honest, I have not seen anyone going below the target that I have set.

So far, I have done better than my expectation and notched 18 books in first 6 months. I tried to maintain the diversity by picking from Graphic novels, fiction, classics (Actually I am reading Anna Karenina right now, if you don’t find any classics below), mythology and Biographies. You can check the complete list below.

 

See who made the Hall of Frame

See who made the Hall of Frame

 

Stand out Books:

Fiction: Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto (Click here for book Review )

The beautiful paperback

The beautiful paperback

Non-Fiction: The things a little bird told Me, by Biz Stone 

Confession of a creative mind

Confession of a creative mind

Graphic Novel: Transmetropolitan, Vol-1 (Click here for the book review )

Book Cover : Transmetropolitan

Book Cover : Transmetropolitan

I think, its time to revise this year’s target now. How is your reading going on, friends ? Do share.

And also, this is my 100th post on this blog, so don’t forget to congratulate me :P