Saturday, May 29

Gloriously curious..




Book: The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-time Author: Mark Haddon Genre: YA/Adult Fiction Publisher : Random House Price : Rs.275
Mark Haddon's The curious incident of the dog in the night-time is curiously heart-warming and starkly realistic at the same time. With an unusual title like that,i really expected it to be more of a funny read ,but it most definitely is not funny in a slapstick kind of a way.There are oodles of dry wit, though.Curious Incident is the story of Christopher,a 15 year old who is afflicted with Asperger's syndrome.Christopher's an exceptionally gifted child when it comes to logic and maths,but lacks social skills.When the neighbor's is found dead,he decides to investigate the death.

As Christopher investigates the dog's death,he stumbles upon startling revelations and this takes in on a special journey of his life.As you read his take on Physics and stars and tens of other things that he thinks about,you can't but help saying "Awww..".He chronicles his investigations along with this thoughts in a book and is delightfully funny in places. Like the way he makes fun of authors who use too many similies and metaphors in their writing.The book also showcases the thoughts and anguishes that a boy with special needs has in a beautiful way.The writing is adorable with wonderful illustrations done by Mark Haddon himself.

This is a book that will come haunt you even after you are done with it.It is a book you would want your children to read. Sensitive and queerly amusing.It will make you do a rethink on the way you have perceived children with special needs.It will make you sit up and notice that they have thoughts and aspirations too like every one of us.It's amazing how a book without a crazy ,intricate plot can still make good fiction.

Apparently,Mark Haddon drew upon his own experiences of working with such special children from his younger days in writing this book.The narrative flows well despite the choppiness of the content.Well,you will have to read the book to understand what that means.Though touted as a Young Adult book,i thought Curious incident is a very philosophical book that will appeal more to adults. Mark Haddon says that this is among his first books that was written specifically to cater to both adult and YA audiences.The book won the 2003 Whitbread book of the year and Commonwealth Prize for the best First book.Justifiably so.

A wonderful book that needs to be savored. 4/5 for the book from me.

I am thinking of doing reviews with more information on the authors and the thought process behind their writings rather than just talk about the plot.. Any takers for this ? or should i stick to just raving or ranting about the plot and the book.Do let me know what you want to read.. And don't miss this book.It's special.

Friday, May 28

Foooooddd!




Everyone's doing wordless Wednesdays.. So ,I am going to be doing Foodie Fridays from now on..My first attempt at photographing food with my new toy..Also,all that olive oil and blandness doesn't agree with me.. Give me a bowl of hot chilly anyday..Food courtesy Zorbas.

Thursday, May 27

Chicken soup .. anyone?


From a mailer that i received.. Thought some of you might be interested..


Inviting stories for Chicken Soup for the Indian Friend’s Soul

Please send your stories to: baisali.cd@gmail.com


Last dates for accepting submissions: August 30th 2010. But do try and send your stories ASAP for I will close as soon as I have selected my 101 stories for the same.
The write-ups will carry the contributor’s name. Westland pays Rs 1000 per story and two copies of the book. We carry a 3-4 line profile on all contributing authors. We accept blogged and published work too provided the authors get the reprint permissions. The copyright of the stories stay with the author.

Recipe for a winning “Chicken Soup for the Indian Friend’s Soul” story:

A Chicken Soup for the Soul® story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They are personal and often filled with emotion and drama.

Chicken Soup stories have a beginning, middle and an ending that often closes with a punch, creating emotion rather than simply talking about it. A story that causes tears, laughter, goosebumps or any combination of these. A good story covers the range of human emotions. The most powerful stories are about people extending themselves, or performing an act of love, service or courage for another person.

Guidelines
1. Tell an exciting, sad or funny story about something that has happened to you or someone you know. Make sure that you introduce the character(s).
2. Tell your story in a way that will make the reader cry, laugh or get goose bumps (the good kind!) Don’t leave anything out — how did you feel?
3. The story should start with action; it should include a problem, issue or situation. It should include dialogue and the character should express their feelings though the conflict or situation. It should end in a result, such as a lesson learned, a positive change or pay-off.
4. Above all, let it come from your HEART! Your story is important!

Story Specifications
. Stories should be non-fiction, ranging in length between 300-1200 words.
. Chapters/Themes
· Chaddi Buddy – That first friend
· Through Thick and Thin – The one who has cheered your up's and shared your down's
· An Angel in Need – The one who enters your life for a very specific purpose
· Soulmates – The one who starts out by being a friend and ends up being a spouse
· Unusually Yours – Unique and unusual friendships
· Lost and Found – Friends who enter your lives again after ages

Monday, May 24

Oink,Oink ..Says the Piggy





Book name : Piggies On the railway
Author: Smita Jain
Publisher : Westland
Rating: 3/5



Piggies on a railway by Smita Jain is a a fine specimen of a wacky Chicklit.First in the franchise of Kasthuri Kumari mysteries, Piggies is a time pass book.Full paisa vasool.Kasthuri Kumari a.k.a Katie is a Private investigator who is asked to investigate a case of a missing starlet,Urvashi .Katie is gloriously politically incorrect about everything.She smokes like a chimney,drinks like a fish,sleeps with a minimum of 3 men in the book, rides a bike,has a fetish for Jimmy choos & designer wear ,swears like a pig and isn't averse to the idea of a little self-appeasement with the shower head. With a protagonist like that, it isn't surprising that the book is wacky and even weird at times.

As Katie unravels the mystery about Urvashi,she bumps into equally insane characters.More dead cadavers turn up and the finally after a colossal 400 pages,the mystery is resolved.I don't think it makes any sense for me to get into the plot,so i'll stick to my opinion about the book. I found it immensely enjoyable.I read from Westland's site that the first print got sold in 3 weeks.I am not surprised.This book is a thorough entertainer.

The book is Sex in the City meets Charlie's angels type stuff. This is a genre that has not been experimented by Indian authors and Smita has cleverly created Katie Kumar to fill this niche. The book is liberally sprinkled with references of sex and is humorous in places.In fact,Katie's thinking is irreverent and wickedly funny at times.Though the book is a tad long,the plot never sags and there is enough happening at all times to keep you amused.My only qualm is that at times,Smita has tried to dumb down Katie,whereas at other places she has tried to paint the picture of a smart PI who doesn't live by the rules of society.Only in the last few pages are we told why the book is named Piggies on a railway...Very esoteric reference,if you ask me.

Overall, it's a fun read.Don't expect Sherlock Holmes type investigation here.Katie Kumar is sure to become a huge hit among people who like chicklits and mysterys.Double bonanza for people like me who enjoy both genres.

Rating: 3 /5

Thursday, May 13

Of dreams...



Book Name: Queen of Dreams
Author : Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Publisher: Penguin(the copy i read was published by Abacus)
Price: Rs.482
Genre : Fiction



Chitra Banerjee's book ,Queen of the dreams is deeply unsettling..There are no other words to describe the eerie feeling that shrouds me after i finish the book..
I got hooked on to her writing after Palace of Illusions and picked this one up by chance. The themes might be different,but the writing style is just the same.The same flowery language and the poetic narration with rich visual imagery that i found in Palace of Illusions is there in Queen of Dreams.

Rakhi is a single mother,a struggling artist and a cafe-owner living in Northern California, trying to make sense of her life.She has ambivalent feelings about most people in her life ,especially her ex-husband and her mother. Her mother is a dream interpreter who interprets dreams for other people and helps them face their fears .To Rakhi, her mother is an enigma.She craves to know more about her and be an interpreter like her mother,but fate has other plans. Rakhi isn't given the gift of seeing people's dreams.Chitra brilliantly chronicles the angst -ridden thoughts that plague Rakhi and surprises us with observations on human emotions.The narrative switches between Rakhi's point of view,a third person's point of view and the dream journals written by Rakhi's mother.

Rakhi's life gets complicated with the arrival of a new cafe opposite their shop.The manager of the cafe is out to obliterate them..Her mother passes away in a freak accident and everything changes around her.How Rakhi,her father and her friends save the cafe and Rakhi comes to terms with her life and her dysfunctional relationships with her ex-husband and her father forms the rest of the plot.The backdrop of September 11 attacks and the persecution of Sikhs and Indians that followed after the attacks have been used to weave the story.Of course,the book has a happy ending .But somehow as i finished the book, a sense of incompleteness lingered on. There were so many questions that i didn't find answers to.Like the significance of dream time and why Rakhi's mother decided to die.

Queen of Dreams is immigrant fiction at it's best and i loved the way Chitra has woven stories within the main story line. Fables about dreams and Indian kings lend to the effectiveness of the book. In fact,i thought that was the best part of the book.It gave an almost other-worldly feel to the story.Nothing about the book is luke-warm.It elicits a strong reaction.Also,the narrative serenades and takes it's sweet little time to build up to a crescendo.The pace is languorous at the best times and let's you savor the lovely words Chitra conjures up for you.Every single paragraph is lush with beautiful poetic words and similes and metaphors.You wouldn't want to finish the book fast.You would want to read and re-read every line to derive more sensory pleasure from the exercise.

Plot-wise i didn't think it was path breaking ,but the execution is so masterful that only someone as talented as Chitra Banerjee could have pulled it off with such a panache and flourish.

A beautiful book that get a 3.5/5 from me.I am not giving it a 4 only because i found Palace of Illusions better and i had given a 4 for that book. A must-read for all Chitra ji's fans.

Thursday, May 6

Wanted...



No,this is not that kind of a post.. though the man of the house keeps reminding me that many many moons ago i was on a website (matrimonial types) with these very same words etched on the screen.. Arial font 12 ,caps,justified,no indent.

WANTED GROOM .. The page said extolling the fine virtues of yours truly ( fair,tall and god fearing) .Of course i am all these things and more.:-).A much airbrushed photo accompanied the profile..If you ask me,advertising oneself on pages that say "Wanted Groom" is not exactly ego-boosting.So,i have been desperately trying to figure out if there are any remaining traces of that phase of my life which i think is best forgotten..And i am happy to report that all records have been obliterated!! Thank God !!.

Incidentally,the other day the Man was throwing his weight around and was telling me that if he had chosen to put his airbrushed pic on a site like that,he would have snagged golden tambram girls.. He also mentioned that the entire tambram community would have been galvanised into action to accquire him as the son-in-law.. Umm ,the Man is a lot of things,but airbrush or not,i doubt if the frenzy that he described so vividly would have happened... He has promised to post his anonymous profile on the said sites to see if he is still as eligible as he thinks.. Aiyooo !!! what dysfunctional behaviour,no?

Also,i have successfully digressed from what i wanted to write in the first place.. Pray tell me how does one make the Man go to the gym.. We are very faithful customers of Talwakars and pay the annual membership every year in a bid to get off those extra inches.. All that is fine,except that the Man has not seen the insides of the gym in he last 6 months .. Some poor admin girl( who is obviously overworked ) keeps calling from time to time,demanding why he isn't paying them a visit..As if this were some social visit.. If i were the owner of that Talwakars,i would be happy if some guy didnt turn up after paying the annual membership.. Less electricity used ..Did i mention that i am a sadistic capitalist?.

What can i say ? .. I have tried everything from pouring water on the Man's head to rouse him to droning in his ears to dressing prettily.How does my dressing prettily make a difference,you ask?.If you are married,you'll know.If you are not married, I'll spare you of the horror that takes place after marriage.. You'll figure out soon..

So, will some kind soul please tell me how i can get the man to haul his copious surface area to the said gym.I assure you,you'll be of great service to mankind..

And,the title should actually have been " Wanted Ideas"..