Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book Review : The Secret of God's Son

This is the tale of the son of Rukmini & Krishna, Pradyumna. Pradyumna is lost. He spent his childhood among the asuras & then realised, that he is Krishna's son. He is valiant & kind. He is torn by the prophecies that he has dreamt & heard. He is afraid of Gandhari's curse .Will it come true ? Will the Yadavas kill each other ? What will happen to Dwaraka & most important to Krishna ? Though , he is brave, yet Pradyumna is confused about his path.Is his path the right one or the wrong one ? And when one has dreaded enemies in the family itself, hell bent on destroying the family &  the clan , what are the chances of anything good happening ?

Pradyumna , does the impossible .Yet, is Gandhari pleased ? Does she take back her curse ? Can any curse be rolled back ? Pradyumna has just one guide ,his father Krishna.He follows his father's instructions .He meets Shiva & Ganpati. Yet, he finds, he has to put faith in himself & his near & dear ones to fight Kali,the demon. .Can Pradyumna do that ? And, will he be able to do that in time, before the demon ,Kali annihilates, all that is good .Pradyuman is assisted by Maya.Do Maya & Praduymna stay together ? Or do they part & why ?

The Secret of God's Son begins  the story where Mahabharata ends.And what a tale it is. A tale of a son who is pained to learn about the curse of Gandhari. He goes all out, to lessen the effects of the curse. And yet, does  success embrace him ? He is assisted by Maya & many others.The tale emphasises the contribution of women in raising hopes, when surrounded by  hopelessness.It states that if women are disrespected then prosperity deserts such a society. And injustice rules. An empowering read about women ! A must read, to understand what happened after the epic battle of Mahabharata .

Usha Narayanan


‘The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita. May the world perish! May the world perish!’

With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga. 

It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. To journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. In order to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back—his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts… He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery. And there is one powerful weapon still…the secret surrounding Pradyumna’s origin.  

Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? 

In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity! 

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About the author


Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller, and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a light-hearted office romance. The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to her bestselling book, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, which was published in July 2015. 

When she’s not juggling travel, writing and interviews, Usha reads everything from thrillers to romances, provided her cat isn’t fast asleep on her Kindle. She would love to hear from her readers here: 

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Praise for Pradyumna: Son of Krishna

Usha Narayanan has taken a quantum leap . . . to the outright spine-tingling narrative from the leaves of a time before. This book is Indian writing coming of age" Femina

"Like the best of our mythological tales, this too, is a multilayered one . . .There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception" The Hindu

"This engrossing tale takes readers on a mythological saga" Times of India

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An ode to the pressure cooker.

This post was published on Women's Web on 12.9.2016.

Pressure cooker is one handy device for cooking. It eases off the pressure to cook a nutritious meal . 

As per Wikipedia Pressure cookers can be said to have been brought into existence by Denis Papin ,a French physicist in 1679.He made a steam digester which cooked food faster. This was followed by Georg Gutbrod of Stuttgart of Germany who made pressure cookers of tinned cast iron .In 1918, patent was given in Spain to Jose Alix Martinez for making “express cooking pot “ .By 1924, Jose had published the first pressure cooking recipe book listing 360 recipes. And then there was no looking back.

Pressure cooker is primarily used for cooking rice & dal in Indian households. Homemakers nowadays use pressure cooking for many dishes like cakes, steam cooking of dhoklas, flavoured rices, one pot cooking , etc. The advantages of pressure cooking are that it is time saving.All the nutrients of food are preserved. And when food is steamed & then sometimes shallow fried, it is more healthy as it contains less oil.

Pressure cookers can be used to whip up a variety of dishes namely cakes, dahi vada, pulaos, biryanis, mixed lentils, chhole, rajma, even sweets like rasgullas, gajar ka halwa, aate ka halwas, even sabzis like aloo matar, vegetable kurma, etc. So  a whole range of dishes can be whipped up in a matter of minutes ! And that is so very amazing !

Please find a list of dishes which can be made in the pressure cooker ….

Flavoured rice. A simple pulao or biryani can be pressure cooked & you will be surprised that it tastes great ! 

Khichdi Simple mung dal rice khichdi  can be cooked in pressure cooker .And isn’t this comfort food made in minutes ?

Even bisi bele bhaath,the one pot dish from Karnataka can be whipped up in a pressure cooker .

Steamed dishes  Idlis can be made in pressure cooker. Even dhoklas can be made in pressure cooker.Even patras, kothimbir vadas  & muthias can be steamed in cooker & then shallow fried to get healthier versions of these delicious snacks.

Even momos can be made in pressure cooker.And that brings us to modak, the mouth watering sweet from Maharashtra & the favourite of Lord Ganesha .modaks can be  steamed in pressure cooker.

Sabzis  Aloo matar  can be just cooked in a pressure cooker from the beginning till the end .Undhiyon is an exotic Gujarati dish that can be cooked faster in the pressure cooker
Vegetable kurma can be cooked in pressure cooker as shown in an advertisement for a branded pressure cooker.

Lentils Sangeeta Khanna, an avid food blogger has this one pot quick lentil recipe made from whole masoorI have made this many times & believe me it is quick &  easy .Needless to add, it tastes great !
Mixed sprouts  can be pressure cooked to enjoy a nutritious meal !

The tasty Sindhi kadhi can be cooked to perfection in a pressure cooker. Sindhi rasoi shows the way !

Chhole@ can be ready in a jiffy thanks to it being made in the pressure cooker.

Sweets : Rasgullas @ made so fast in a pressure cooker that you will be amazed !Rasgullas are one of the healthiest Indian sweets. It has very little sugar & is protein rich ! Excellent for vegetarians !

Gajar halwa can be prepared in pressure cooker very easily. Not to mention that this pressure cooker recipe saves time !

Cake can be made in a pressure cooker as well.A branded cake mix is advertised as a cooker cake !

I can go on & on about dishes that can be made faster in a pressure cooker. I am sure, you must have tried many dishes apart from what I have stated above in the pressure cooker.And I am sure, you must have been surprised that the dish turned out superb in the pressure cooker. Do take time to share your recipe with others in the comments below .

A few precautions while using the pressure cooker. Please do not overload the pressure cooker with too much of ingredients. Always clean the pressure cooker thoroughly.Keep gasket in good condition. Always make sure that there is sufficient water in the cooker before pressure cooking. Be careful with foods that froth as steam valves of the cooker may get blocked by froth. Following safety tipwill make pressure cooking a pleasurable  experience !    

Nowadays, the microwave oven , slow cooker, electric cooker, air fryer are getting a lot of attention.Yet, none of them can match the pressure cooker in terms of convenience & cost !
My pressure cooker occupies pride of place in my kitchen for reasons stated above.In fact ,I have two pressure cookers of different sizes.One a large one for rice –dal cooking & another a small one for one pot cooking of khichdi, chhole etc.And both the pressure cookers have a pressure pan thrown in  for free when I brought them ! 

This makes it all the more economical…saving fuel, time & money.And the nutrition remains intact !  What more can anyone possibly ask for ? !  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review : Rightfully Wrong & Wrongfully Right.

This is a light read for the romantics in all of us !

Gayatri Dutta is a spoilt rich girl or is she ? Viraj is the crazy scientist working on a project which is behind schedule .A project which has very high stakes for Gayatri's dad, brother Nikhil among others.

Gayatri's dad wants her to marry a guy he chooses for her, no questions asked .Gayatri wants to resist & yet, has no clue about how to go about it. Her brother & his wife come to her aid .Is it helpful or does it become difficult for Gayatri ?

Gayatri is appointed the operations manager for the lab where the rule of law is whatever suits Viraj.Viraj has an eye for Sana , his assistant scientist. Gayatri makes a deal with Viraj. Is she able to deliver her part of the deal. Or does Viraj back out of the deal ?

Nikhil's wife Sneha & Nandini , Gayatri's ex flame Aditya's wife are rooting for Gayatri to settle down & even set up a date for her. Do they succeed ? Gayatri seems to be lost .Is it love or something else ? She disappears & all are upset. Somebody has spilled the beans .Is it Gayatri or someone else ? Viraj has an eccentric front to keep people at an arm's distance. He is a gem of a son to his  battered mom & his brother .Ditto for many people who helped him & even otherwise. Does his masks fall  off as he starts confronting the operations manager ? All this makes for very interesting reading. There is  humour too .Gayatri keeps addressing herself as the pimp as she tries bringing Sana & Viraj closer.There is lots of action as well !

A breezy light read for fun !

Varsha Dixit


Love is in the air again…this time it’s steamy, bold and manipulative!

Gayatri and Viraj both are products of childhood trauma. Yet they were able to survive, one because of her shrewdness and the other because of his genius. Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right, the final part in the best selling ‘Right and Wrong’ love trilogy is the story of these two damaged souls.

Gayatri Dutta, the poster child for rich spoiled diva is fighting to escape a life of servitude her tyrant father is hell bent on pushing her into. Her past string of failures have her backed against a wall. Lonely and desperate!

Viraj is a con who uses his genius to perpetuate his isolation. His life once of violence and abuse has left him cynical and cold. He shuns the society and its hypocrisies. 

And then Gayatri and Viraj cross paths. She needs him and he despises her.

To Viraj, Gayatri, is the epitome of all that he despises, shallow, manipulative and the kind who uses her beauty as a weapon. Or is she?

Gayatri sees Viraj only as a means to an end. She is sure that Viraj with his nerdy demeanor, owlish glasses and crude behavior will be easy to manipulate and walk over. Only he isn’t!

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Excerpt from #RWWR
‘I can do this, I can do this, I can...’ Gayatri wound her fingers tightly around her cellphone as she made her way to the cubbyhole Viraj called his office. I did not expect a freaking hug, but a polite ‘how are you’ wouldn’t kill that man. She rapped her knuckles on the door.
Viraj swung the door open. ‘What?’ His brows were furrowed and his lips, pursed.
Gayatri remembered what Nikhil had said to her once. Dr Viraj owns and runs this lab. He was the only one you needed to impress! ‘It’s my first day here!’ Gayatri could hear her voice shake. ‘Could you tell me...
Gayatri scuttled out of Viraj’s way as he leaned out. ‘Find an empty room, do your work there. You are free to leave any time you want. You are free to come or to not come.’ The door shut on her face.
Flabbergasted, Gayatri kept staring at the door. What just happened? She cleared her throat. I should not piss him off anymore. ‘Thank you for this…this job.’ Her voice was as uncertain as the look on her face.
Viraj tugged the door open again. Gayatri flashed a smile at him and opened her mouth to speak but he stopped her short. ‘I don’t like talking. Find a room and stay there.’ He shut the door on her again.
 Asshole! Gayatri fisted her hands and retreated. I can do this! I am doing this! Bigger picture, please! Gayatri paused and peeped inside the first lab that she stumbled upon. The place was quiet except for a low hum of machines. Gayatri pushed the doors open and walked inside the lab. It was empty. ‘Does anyone else work here besides the mad scientist?’ She leaned against one of the steel racks. The door flew open behind her. With a big grin she turned to greet the person coming in. ‘Hi! I’ she froze. It was the mad scientist with a bunch of papers in his hand.
Viraj noticed Gayatri at the same time. A familiar irritation flashed in his eyes. ‘Not this room. Not my lab! Find another room!’ He spoke with cool authority.
‘I was just looking!’ Gayatri smoothed her ponytail trying to mask her nervousness. He had her in knots.
Giving an indifferent shrug, Viraj walked past her. Gayatri got a whiff of his aftershave; it smelled clean and crisp, like water with a twist of lemon. At least he doesn’t stink like his manners! Gayatri stood there quiet and confused.
A loose paper slipped from Viraj’s hand and landed on the floor.
‘You dropped some paper!’ Gayatri said, her voice friendly.
‘Ignore it. Like you, it is not going anywhere.’ Viraj pulled a portable stool and took a seat in front of an electronic panel fixed to a bigger panel.
Gayatri gritted her teeth and grinned with the ferocity of a wild animal that could pounce any moment.
Unknown to her, Viraj gave a similar smile except his was more like the wild animal that had pounced and won.
‘I’ll go and find a room. Thank you!’ Swiveling on her heel, Gayatri headed for the door.
Something stopped herher father’s face and the realization that two weeks ago she had physically fought for herself, and now she had to fight again but with her mind instead of hands. I have to win over Mr Madness. Maybe I could wear a beaker over my head and tattoo the periodic table on my arms!
‘If you are trying to open the door telepathically, let me be the first to tell you it is not working!’ 
Gayatri exhaled noisily. Scathing and sarcastic, what more could a woman ask for? Taking a few calming breaths, she slowly pivoted to face Viraj, specifically his back as he sat hunched fiddling with the panel in front of him.
 ‘I’m sorry if I have offended you somehow. I really need this job. And also, I’m qualified for it. I can show you my degrees. I can really make a difference here.’
Hearing Gayatri’s words and her apologetic tone, something melted inside Viraj...again. But to keep up appearances, he turned rude. ‘I’m busy!’ he barked.
 ‘Please Mr Viraj, give me’ Just then, without warning, someone swung the door open. Gayatri wasn’t prepared for the push. ‘Ouch!’ She toppled. Her desperate hands grabbed the first thing in the vicinitya steel rack. The rack shuddered violently and some of its contents landed on the floor.
‘What the hell!’ Viraj bellowed jumping to his feet.
Gayatri winced. A large electrical component had crashed into her hand ‘The door just opened, pushing me in,’ she said shaking her arm in pain.
 Viraj glared at the door. He instantly lost the frown and his mouth eased at the ends. ‘Oh it’s you! Come inside!’
Huh, Hyde turns Jekyll! Gayatri spun around.
A timid, bespectacled, five-foot-nothing girl, her long hair in a tight braid, clad in a pastel-coloured salwaar kameez, stood at the door. Her skin was smooth and her hands kept tugging at the dupatta around her neck ‘Sorry to interrupt! Dr Kalra wanted to show you some tests he is about to run in lab 2.’ She then glanced at Gayatri. ‘I’m sorry if I hurt you. It was an accident.’
Gayatri was about to speak but Viraj cut her off. ‘She’s fine. Let’s go!’
Viraj went out with the girl, not even sparing a glance at Gayatri.
Astounded, Gayatri watched them leave.

Urghh…the shit-faced scientist actually smiled and that too at that girl! Gayatri kicked the steel rack. It shuddered again! Shoot! Before anything else would fall on her, Gayatri went after the scientist and the simpleton.

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About the author

Varsha Dixit

Varsha Dixit, the bestselling author of four successful contemporary romance books. Her debut book, Right Fit Wrong Shoe was a national bestseller for the year 2010. Varsha was a part of the Indian Television Industry and worked as an assistant director and online editor. She considers herself a dreamer who thinks deep but writes light. Even though creativity is gender free,Varsha feels blessed and enriched to be a woman. Currently, with her family, Varsha resides in CA, USA.

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