Monday, July 17, 2017

Perils of overpopulation.

The Guardian,UK. had a  suggestion for the battle against climate change"Want to fight climate change.Have fewer children ." 

This was  known already & yet, since this has been extensively researched in a scientific fashion, this makes for a few headlines. And yet, will it make us, the humans ( ? ! )  any wiser ? Highly doubtful..We are  depleting natural resources at a faster pace than the speed with which they are  being  produced.And as population rises, because of copulating endlessly, extinction seems very near !

We  have got better at medical management. This means, that our average life spans have been rising, even in poor countries. Neo natal mortality rates have been falling worldwide. And yet, there are miles to travel, before population growth can stabilise. Many of us  humans think, that we are God's gift to the world. So , we insist, on giving birth to mini versions of ourselves who transform into  monsters like us, too soon & how ! And then, burden the earth further. The cumulative effect of so many  of our follies  is making it nearly impossible for other living things to simply  exist. In fact, the term rakshas or demons was coined for humans only. It appears to be so, as humans have no control whatsoever, on their greed to use up or rather waste each & every bounty of nature. This leaves the plants & animals helpless. That's why , we have floods, famines , etal. Wild animals come roaming around in urban & rural areas  Our actions of usurping all habitats for our selfish wants rather than needs, has led to this sorry state of affairs.

And yet, we seem remotely  interested in population control.Men particularly, Indian men , are notorious for avoiding    any device or method to rein in their raging libidos ! Because, they feel that adopting family planning methods ( temporary or permanent ) will reduce their virility.Though come to think of it, women in  India would be much safer, if that indeed would have been the case.   Women are forced to bear the burden of adopting temporary & permanent methods of planning families. This  reinforces, that the power to impregnate, without responsibility is an inherent, innate & inborn tendency of men. And this is on display, as rapes of females of all ages, have  been in the news,  almost on a daily basis !

Many   Indian women seem to opt for sterilization as the only family planning method. Nearly 68 % of 45 million women do not use any method of contraception. The rest, use traditional methods which are highly unpredictable.Though , many contaceptive methods are being added to increase choice, the switch has been slow.

In India , population growth seems to be slowing down. Despite this India will get more populous than China by 2024. Progress has been extremely sluggish as family planning is like the holy cow  especially with the present regime ( pun  intended) because of forced sterlisations during the Emergency.


It has been  stated, that seven million girls die every decade in India. This is  because, many times, the girl is killed in the womb itself .By some luck, if the girl child survives, she is neglected so much ,that she dies  in the first five years.Sex ratios in India have been falling in every State, in India,  except Kerela & Meghalaya. The discrimination is so rampant, that the second female child in a family is rare.

Educating girls & women has helped in slowing down population. This is true, even for states like Bihar & Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, a rise of 16 % in female literacy has reduced fertility rate by 1.1 over a ten year period from 2005-2006 to 2015-16.  Bihar has fared less better & yet, it shows that education is the key. Female literacy rose by 12% & consequently, fertility rate went down by 0.6.So girls need to be made literate so that they have control over their bodies & health. And this will transform into even lower fertility rates. All this, would lead to stablising of population.And even sex education needs to be imparted to prevent unwanted pregnancies ,etc.


Al Gore puts it so  succintly,"Population growth is straining the earth's resources to the breaking point , & educating girls is the single most important factor  in stabilising that.That, plus helpiong women gain political & economic power & safeguarding their reproductive rights."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spotlight : The Indus Challenge


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THE INDUS CHALLENGE
by
R. Durgadoss




Blurb

Bharat is in chaos. While the kingdoms fight each other, Alexander’s forces gather for the assault, their leader lured by tales of supernatural weapons and the elixir of immortality. Only one man can save the subcontinent from domination by the Greeks: the young Chandragupta Maurya, trained under the aegis of the ‘dark brahmin’, Chanakya.

When an ancient seal is found, sharing the secrets of the brahmastra, the redoubtable weapon of the Mahabharat, it is up to Rudra, young commander of the Mauryan Nava Yuva Sena and lifelong friend and confidante of Chandragupta, to decode it. Along with his fellow commandos, and with the able guidance of his guru, Rudra embarks on a quest that takes him from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the seas of Rameshwaram, hunting the clues that will lead him to the brahmastra. On the way, he meets the Chiranjivis, ancient beings tasked with divine duties, and learns the secrets behind his own birth and his mysterious powers.

But Rudra must be careful, for not all enemies were dispersed with the death of the mighty Alexander. Treachery lurks in the home, and when Rudra is framed for the attempted murder of his sovereign, he must pull every trick at his disposal to reveal the enemy, and save his kingdom from plunging, once more, into bloodshed and chaos.

A historical, mythological adventure story, The Indus Challenge is sure to appeal to readers interested in the storied past of India and the legends woven into its soil.



Read an excerpt of The Indus Challenge here:

Prologue
330 bc
The Macedonians and Greeks came with Alexander the Great to the Hindu Kush range. They were mesmerized by the land of the gods, snow-covered, forested mountains higher than Olympus. The sun rising and setting among the glistening peaks painted a breathtaking picture. They were entranced by the stories of the magical kingdoms of the air; of the heavens; of Vishnu and Shiva; of cities in the sky inhabited by sky demons. They were fascinated by the story of Surya, the sun god, who galloped across the sky each day in his golden chariot, pulled by the five horses, while down below in the dark bowels of the earth were giant serpents, red-eyed, flesh-eating demons and other creatures of the underworld.
It was at this time that the people of Bharat were looking inwards, while the Macedonians aggressively explored outwards and wanted to conquer the world. The kingdoms of Bharat were threatened by the aggressive Macedonians. No king or kingdom was free from the aggressor’s attack. Fragmented kingdoms, disunity and distrust among the rulers made these kingdoms an easy target for the Macedonians.
During this period, several events are shrouded in mystery—what brought Alexander to India? How did he die at such a young age? What were the origins of Chandragupta Maurya? How did a young lad of humble origins take on a mighty king? How did a poor Brahmin pundit help a poor young man rise to power from nowhere? What extraordinary powers did Chandragupta possess that made him so successful? Who were his key generals? Who won wars for him? The questions are endless.
There are several seemingly unconnected dots, as the history of this time is shrouded in deep mystery. Rudra effortlessly unlocks the ancient secrets and aligns the unconnected dots. Mystery unravelled; secrets decoded…
In the second avatar (Janam Two) as Rudra during the tumultuous times of Alexander and Chanakya, he offers stunning clues and revelations. His decrypting skills leave a trail that answers several mysteries in our rich history.
At last, Rudra, heading the Nine Unknown Men Army (NUM), has arrived to decode the secrets to save humanity from cataclysm and extinction.
1
Parthiva year, 306 bc, Kartika (November) month, Friday evening.
The Massaga fort in the Hindu Kush had surrendered to Rudra, the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan army. He was taking stock of the situation. At this hour, a cry hit his ears. ‘Meri raksha karo! (Please save me from the barbarians!’) A woman’s shrieking voice reverberated against the mountains.
‘Why does this lady cry so?’ asked Rudra, looking curiously at his companion. He turned in the direction from where the voice was coming. To his surprise, he saw two cages in which two persons stood, chained. There was a young woman around twenty-two years old, and in the other cage was a bright young lad.
Rudra looked at the cage closely. The woman was gorgeous, seductive, shapely. Her hair was kohl-black, and cascaded over her shoulders. She had thin eyebrows, velvety eyelashes, sea-nymph ears, a sharp nose, shiny white teeth, almond-shaped eyes and glossy skin.
She was wasp-waisted, and her pouting, luscious lips conveyed her displeasure. Her hips and bust were almost of equal size. Her perfect shape reminded him of many icons of beauty he had seen. Her fleshy rounded back attracted his attention.
Rudra realized that he was going overboard ogling at the young women. But in spite of her beautiful features, she seemed to be a fading flower, possibly due to her weakness and exhaustion.
He turned his head towards the surrendered commander of the opposing army, Dharma Sena.
‘Dharma Sena, who are these caged persons?’ asked Rudra.
‘Forget these idiots, Commander. Let me take you round the fort.’ Dharma Sena said, ‘This is Massaga, the great fort city of the Asvakas, the tribe of horsemen. To the south and west are gigantic rocks which defy climbing. To the east is the swift-flowing mountain torrent, the Masakavati river. This famous fort is situated on a hill 6,000 feet high and has a circumference of twelve miles. At the top of the fort, there is arable land requiring a thousand men to cultivate it. This land is capable of feeding more than 30,000 men indefinitely. There are also perennial springs and reservoirs. Every hill here is a natural fort, Commander. Every man here is a horse soldier, Commander. A mighty rampart of stone, brick and timber surrounds the fort, which also has a moat on three sides and the river on the fourth.
‘Commander, “Masika” means “serpent’s hole”, a name indicating the supposed impregnability of the fort and the valour of its defender.’
‘I realize how impregnable your fort is, Dharma Sena. I had to use my best skills to tame you and your fort. By the way, I am impressed by the seven gates leading to the citadel. Can you give me an overview of your fort, Dharma Sena?’
‘You have sharp eyes, Commander. You noticed our seven gates? I am impressed. Let me show you around.’



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About the author


A consistent Top Rank holder and a Gold Medallist throughout his academics, Mr. Durgadoss has had a career spanning 30 years comprising of depth from industry and width from management consultancy as highlights. He has held various senior management positions in top notch companies. Having travelled extensively on consulting assignments, he has interacted with prominent International Bodies like the UNIDO, Investment Bankers and companies held by Professors of Harvard Business School. He has a rare exposure to multiple cultures namely, MNCs, Home grown large groups, family concerns and public sector undertakings during his career. He is blessed with 360 degree analytical skills, which in turn emanates from his all round experience as a Functional head, General manager, Entrepreneur and a Board director. He is an advisor on the board of Directors of several companies benefiting the organizations with his remarkable cross functional skills and his up to date knowledge. Currently he is the Group Director – Finance and Strategy, House of S.T.Bhatia, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition he is the chief mentor, coach and Co – Promoter of Icon Management Services (IMS), UAE. Unceasing ‘Value Addition’ and not just ‘Validation’ is the mantra of success for IMS, a multi – disciplinary management consultancy organisation. He has multi-sectoral / cultural/ territorial/ functional exposure with proven track record of success. He is a PhD on Corporate Governance which involves CSR dimensions. He has delivered several lectures in various forums on Character, Competence and Consciousness (3Cs) towards the society and also has several articles to his credit.

Track travelled...

Raising the altitude from a functional entrant to a functional champion, extending his width as a management consultant of a Big 4 firm, he took up the profit centre head position, with a challenging revival assignment in the mid nineties.

Then he moved up to the entrepreneurial mode by taking up the role of a Managing Director of a new venture. Due to several macro economic factors, the venture went into deep trouble. He faced the worst disaster of his life on this venture, losing money, peace and friends, who invested along with him. From the brink of bankruptcy, he fought back to reach the basin of wisdom & wealth in the current assignment as the Director of a large group based in Dubai. The turbulence he went through during this phase tested his character & confidence. Now, along with Dr. Yerram Raju, his co-author, he has penned down this book on Character driven Competence, which elucidates practical ways of ‘Winning without Sinning’. He always says ‘Momentum leaders don’t wait for the waves; instead they build their waves and ride on them’.

After having fought the greatest wars in the deep chambers of his soul, he came triumphant, obtained his PHD in Corporate Governance and now presents the book with the worldly wisdom, gained by him during his career. 

‘Experience is the greatest from of Education’ says Dr. Durgadoss.


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review : Finding The Angel


Shefali is a young lady accomplished in the task of restoring artifacts. And she is elated when she gets to list the well known antiques of the royal Ranaut dynasty.

And she has been warned by her aunt to stay away from the immensely charming Aryan Ranuat,the young scion of the dynsaty. Aryan is known to be a playboy. And Shefali just cannot stop herself from thinking about Aryan from the time she first meets him.

And then, she suddenly leaves her task of listing the antiques & rushes home. And is followed by Aryan who lands at her house soon thereafter. Shefali knows, it cannot be love ? Or is it love & she had not seen it in the eyes of the dashing prince, Aryan.

 Aryan tells her that the most famous artifact has gone missing. Shefali is shocked.Shefali is whisked away to trace back the antique. Aryan is in two minds. He trusts Shefali & yet keeps questioning her .Shefali cannot help falling for the charms of the prince despite all the hurt.

 And next, Aryan stuns all that he is getting married to Shefali.The atmosphere gets too festive for comfort. Is it a mock wedding or a real one ? What about the lost artifact ? Is Shefali able to trace it ? Who stole it ? And why ? And does Aryan love Shefali or is she just another girl for the prince |?

All this makes for very interesting reading ! The passion between the two characters is described very intensely. I was able to complete the book in just one sitting.It is so readable that I just could not put it down , once I started reading it.


FINDING THE ANGEL
by
Rubina Ramesh



Blurb

All She wanted was love...

Shefali is a die-hard romantic. Having lost her parents at a very tender age, she is in search of a place which she can call home. Her passion for Art lands her a job as an art curator to the famous artifacts of the Ranaut Dynasty. When she meets the scion, Aryan Ranaut, she feels that her dream might come true until…

All He wanted was to trust…

Living the life of a modern day Prince is no easy task for the young and dashing Aryan Ranaut. Having lost his father to a rapacious woman, Aryan has severe trust issues. But upon meeting Shefali, he feels he could let down his guard. Until…

All They need is to find The Angel…

Just as Aryan realizes his love for Shefali, one of the most precious artifacts, The Angel, goes missing from the Ranaut collection. All fingers point towards Shefali—more so because she leaves the palace without telling anyone on the very night of the theft. 

Finding the Angel is a story where duty clashes with love and lack of trust overrides passion. Under these circumstances, can The Angel bring the star-crossed lovers together?

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About the author

Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer, and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time. She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona. Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Review : The Princess of a Whorehouse

Aparajita's mom was left fending for herself & Aparajita when her hubby was killed in a mine.She tried several jobs before a friend pushes her into the flesh trade.She abhors it & knows that there is no escape.Still, she wants her daughter Aparajita to go to a school.She succeeds though it is all short lived. An admirer ,Raj is ready to fight it out for Aparajita & her mom. Will he succeed in the ruthless world of trafficking ? Danger is too near as even Aparajita may be lost to trafficking . Very soon, three are family. Soon thereafter, Aparajita is seeking admission in a prestigious school .Though , it is certain that she will breeze through the entrance test, it is doubtful if her past will allow her to become a student in that school.Seldom does society, take kindly to women, the society itself ,has wronged.

Yet ,Aparajita is unfazed.She is a student soon in the school .She befriends classmates & is an excellent student. One day , her buddy asks her about her past. Aparajita is hurt that her past should cast its shadow time & again.Yet, she reveals it.And is accepted with the same warmth as before.

Aparajita is a student of a prestigious college. And she dreams of flying in a plane piloted by herself.Does she succeed? Or do her parents marry her off as it may be difficult later on ? Does Aparajita get hooked ? And who is her fiance ? What about her dream of becoming a pilot ? Does her past cast its shadow once again on her pilot's dream  ? And what next for Aparajita ? Does she keep flying planes ?  Does she feel empathy for children of women, who are pushed into the flesh trade ? Aparajita is a fighter ...does her fight bring succor to others  of her kind ? All these questions are answered in the tale & how !

 An empowering read indeed !


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THE PRINCESS OF A WHOREHOUSE: THE STORY OF A 
SWAMP LOTUS
by
Mayank Sharma



Blurb

Aparajita is a tenacious go-getter. Her name means unconquerable in Sanskrit, and she lives up to its meaning. 

Just like any other ambitious girl, she desires to fulfil her dreams and become an independent individual. Far and wide, the shadow of her melancholy past chases her passage. The fact that her widowed mother is a former sex worker irks the community. Nonetheless, she is not ashamed to reveal her mother's past. 

Will she lose hope, or will she defy an enigma that is centuries-old? Will she ever conquer the hearts of a prestige-obsessed community? 

See the world through Aparajita's prism in a tale stirred by some real life events.

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About the author


Mayank Sharma is a computer engineering graduate with post-graduation in business management. He works with a leading technology multinational in Delhi. He has authored a number of articles and white papers on software technology and processes. For the first time in April 2014, his article was featured in Better Software magazine published in Florida, USA. Writing has become Mayank's greatest passion when he observed how it can trigger the winds of change. He is gradually transforming from a “left-brained” writer to a “right-brained” writer. Besides writing, he is passionate about sketching, painting, and making sculptures since childhood.

India is the fifth-largest economy in the world with the Gross Domestic Product growth at 7.1 percent. Contrary, India ranks 118 out of 157 countries in the happiness index. The fact seized Mayank’s attention towards social problems affecting social support, freedom of choices, and generosity, to name a few. Having travelled across continents and associated with people with diverse beliefs and values, he became more curious about the social riddles curtailing liberties across societies. He penned his debut novel, The Princess of a Whorehouse, when he came across some real life incidents that quivered his soul.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The beauty in kindness.

Hello Dear,

I have not written to you in a long time now.

I know , you are young & want to take on the world. And you want all to like you. Yes, whenever we go to any place, there's feeling of insecurity which creeps in .That which makes us feel judged & scrutinized. I know that feeling. Believe me, when I say this.It persists even now. This feeling of the need to be accepted & admired.

You feel, that you should look gorgeous every time. Agreed , you should.And yet , make up is no solution to looking your best ! And cosmetic changes, the worst.

And we all know , you are intrinsically beautiful. You are kind & have a way with words which makes you witty. You are adored by so many ! And yet, you need cosmetics?


I have been reading & telling you that make up spoils your skin. I am alarmed that you spend hours on make up .Your dad does not have the heart to refuse his princess, what she  demands. So ,I am left with the unenviable job of having to correct you .I trust, that you, will listen with an open mind.

Make up is harmful in more ways than one. The type of ingredients that are used are being utilized in industrial products.Obviously , they are rough & harsh.And should be never used on skin.They are carcinogenic as well.And the ingredients can cause allergies. Many people who used make up have learnt this, the hard way.

You argue that you are using branded products. And yet, the best brands can cheat in the most subtle fashions ever  that would make the worst  brands seem like saints.And you, will end up feeling betrayed .

And yes, many brands use animals for testing the efficacy of the cosmetics that they produce.This is  beauty at its worst.Harming innocent lives so that humans look beautiful.And yet, beauty is only skin deep.And yes, please think & reflect on the media campaigns which run hyping the facts that no animals were harmed in the production of the stated products. Let us not be so naive & foolish.


Remember, beauty is in being kind to  yourself & others.Be kind to yourself & your body.And remain happy.That will reflect on your face.And you will look all the more beautiful.Without make up.As the tag line for a brand went , make up that does not look made up !

I have always known, that you are pretty. And I keep falling in love with you, whenever , you treat the most ordinary people in your own special way. You talk to them in natural manner, you hug them & smile at them,.And make them feel that they are on the wavelength as you. That is, what makes them feel wanted ! And .their feelings get reflected on your face.And makes you look radiant. This radiance lasts for ever.And gets better as you age. I am sure, you will exude more radiance , as you step into youth as you will become increasingly  kinder towards yourself & others.


Remember, that day when the maid servant 's tiny tot of a daughter visited us? You overwhelmed that tiny kid .And she was thrilled ! That was the umpteenth time ,I felt proud of you ! As you recall, I told you that day, that anyone who had seen you with the kid would have immediately fallen in love with you, not just once, but over & over again ! I still vividly recall, that moment of bliss !

I trust , you will use make up with the care & caution that your body deserves ! And make your world, a better place by being more affectionate towards others, even strangers ! And that will make you stay beautifully young  in the eyes &  minds of all !

Much Love,

Your mom.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The third child.

Her maid was expecting .Vrinda thought to herself , why was this known all along  ? Well, her maid had been telling her time &  again that she was under tremendous stress to bear a male child. Vrinda had tried to make her see reason that a boy or a girl will make a  dent into the already stretched finances of her maid .Her maid seemed to have agreed that time .And yet, now she was pregnant. With the anticipation, that it was a male child .Was it ? No doctor can say with certainty  that the foetus was a male one. And anyways, it was too early to predict.

Vrinda was aghast that her maid,Anjana  was carrying her third child.She already had two daughters, one of three  years & another of six  years. Thank God, that, there was a gap of three years between the siblings.The maid had followed  family planning to some extent. Vrinda had argued with her maid that a male child will suffer just like her  husband.Her maid,Anjana's hubby had three sisters.All three sisters were married .They always looked up to their only brother, Anjana's hubby for finances. .Recently, when one of his sister's daughter delivered a child, the naamkaran ceremony & other rituals were funded by the brother & Anjana from their meagre funds .Obviously, the funds fell short & they borrowed.Need less to add, the interest rates  were exorbitant !

Anjana was  so thin.She must be barely 40 kilos.And one of her daughters was in village with her mom in law .She went to school in the village.Her younger daughter had been sent to village as well.And she refused to stay & study in school there & returned to stay with Anjana , within a few months.So all the money that was pent on her school admission in her village went down the drain. Anjana's  younger daughter's admission had made them poorer by 10000 bucks . And now, they again have to secure admission for her. Anjana's husband was a mason . Yet ,in a metro like the financial capital of the country, a decent salary was  inadequate. And sometimes, he remained absent because of having to visit his village to run some errands as he lost his father recently. His mom was  unable to manage alone though she tugged  along somehow. And when he skipped work, he lost his wages for those days.All this made it more & more difficult to make ends meet.And in spite of all this, they went ahead & Anjana got pregnant !

Vrinda recalled that perhaps the younger daughter who stayed with Anjana earlier ( and was back now )  was sent away to village so that hubby &  Anjana could have some privacy for begetting the third child, a boy. So , they had planned.Yet, had they ? Was Anjana's hubby , the father ? Vrinda chided herself for doubting Anjana. Vrinda had heard that Anjana had started working in more households .Vrinda figured because, Anjana needed more money.It seemed, that was not the reason. Anjana was visiting some God man, daily after her work on the way home. Vrinda felt disgusted.Was the pregnancy, due to the blessings of the Baba ? Or maybe he had seduced Anjana ? It was futile to ask Anjana. Because Anjana may be in the dark, about what Baba was up to ? She may have been seduced by the Baba  either willingly or maybe, when she was put to sleep or made unconscious.The possibilities were endless. Vrinda wondered if Anjana's hubby knew, that she was visiting that fraud of a God man . And if he knew , whether he approved of it,And then Vrinda came to the conclusion that perhaps, Anjana's husband only took her to visit the baba so that baba could do the needful . Of course, Vrinda had no chance of confirming if Anjana visited any baba as was rumoured. And anyway, what was the point now , as the deed was already done by husband, by baba or some one else ? Vrinda's heart went out to Anjana. This was just a case of sexual assault or maybe, multiple  sexual assaults.

Vrinda asked Anjana, "Why did you agree for another child ? "Anjana replied, "What to do ? I was going to be thrown out of home.My nanads ( hubby's sisters )  &  others were suspecting that I was taking contraceptive pills on the sly. Vrinda Bhabhi ,I have not been taking anything. I do not want another child.This time, my hubby said, why not try & see.I said, if I get another girl , then what.My hubby said, lets see what is in your fate ."Vrinda enquired, "What is the guarantee that once you get a boy, your husband will not leave you ? Men slip away very easily.They can fall for another woman ,many times , just to bed another ."Vrinda mocked, " Your husband does it ( sex )  to you ,almost forces it on you & you say it is  fate ? "Anjana said ,"God is there .He will take care  ".Vrinda screamed, "How is  God responsible if you both have sex ? And then leaves you, if you get a boy or a girl  ?  "Vrinda thought to herself, even God must be wondering how he comes into the picture ?

Not only was Anjana under tremendous pressure to deliver a boy, she was under lots of financial stress as well.She was forced to leave her daughter with her hubby's sister's family as she went to work as a maid in households.The lady who used to baby sit her daughter had doubled her charges & Anjana couldn't afford to pay that sum. And when anyone obliges another, it is understood that the obliged party must pay up .And since, Anjana had not paid anything towards baby sitting to her hubby's sister, Anjana & husband had to keep financing some expenses or the other of hubby's sister's family. Vrinda sighed , we live in such  an age,  wherein , money dominates each & every aspect....eclipsing all , even the closest of relationships. And Vrinda knew that Anjana's sister in law was no way better off than Anjana. Her husband was a lazy fellow who stayed home, skipping work most of the times,  week after week.And he used to drink as well. Vrinda wondered , how do they manage to eat two square meals daily ? Perhaps they don't.Maybe , they remain hungry most of the time.And hunger makes you a parasite.A parasite sucks on the host plant .And Anjana's sister in law  was just  doing that, because she had no choice.It was a question of survival .

 Anjana was so fed up of being under pressure that she had given in to the demands & got pregnant .There was danger to her fragile health. And yet, Vrinda helped the only way, she could.She would get less work done by Anjana. And she would always ask Anjana if she wanted tea or a snack like a  paratha or a slice of bread or a banana. Anjana was feeling nauseous most of the times & she would politely refuse the offers.This worried Vrinda more & more. And then ,Anjana said her tummy used to ache all the time.The pain was not alarming & yet it was there. And Vrinda hoped all was well, with Anajna's pregnancy.   Vrinda hoped that Anjana would survive it & deliver a healthy child. Vrinda said a silent prayer towards that.And yet, Vrinda  wondered if delivering a male child would end all the miseries for Anjana or mark  the beginning of a fresh cycle of misery & poverty ?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review : The Doppelganger

This is a tale of amnesia, lost & found, violence, drama, brutality , death & revenge.Its a complete package.

The story starts with a person who is trying to understand how he landed in a bus. He has no idea how he got into the bus.He does not know where the bus is headed. After the bus reaches Manali, he  travels to  a hotel .And then land as a job as a staff .And yet he cannot remember who he is.He has nightmares & nothing to talk about with others. He makes friends .And then there is a murder.And yet except him, nobody knows about it.

Mr. Gupta is not the same anymore.What has made him like what he is  today ? He is not even a faint shadow of his earlier self. The tragedy that stuck years ago has caused irreparable loss .Is Mr. Gupta mixed up with some sinister characters & if so , why ?

A painting is to be stolen by fraud & deceit. Is the plan brought to fruition ? A police officer goes missing .Entire staff is butchered & nobody knows where & why ? Who is the perpetrator & why ?

The story is full of twists & turns.It is a thriller which keeps the reader turning page after page to unravel the story.

The feelings of loss of memory are described so vividly that one feels empathy with the character.And do siblings read minds of each other ? And are there no limits which can stop anybody from protecting another ? And what is the extent to which a person will travel to seek revenge? And what about collateral damage ?

Manali seems to the perfect setting as the storms signify the turmoil in the minds of the characters.And dark clouds symbolise the darkness in the tale.

All in all , a superb read !

THE DOPPELGANGER
by
Prateek Yadav



BLURB

The perfect plan for the perfect heist-a team of con-men, foolproof disguise and a painting worth millions, nothing could have gone wrong. But something did... A man fnds himself on a bus to Manali with nothing but some cash and severe memory loss . Embarking on a frantic hunt for his identity, he begins to discover that his presence in Manali isn't an accident. The closer he gets to the truth, the more elusive it becomes. Ghosts from his past haunt him as he finds himself trapped between his doppelganger, the police, a sadistic gangster and his own dwindling sanity. The journey of the search for his identity ends up being a race for survival.

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About the author


Prateek Yadav was born and raised in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He graduated in economics at IIT Kanpur, and is currently working at Cognizant, Bangalore. He is an avid fiction reader with a keen inclination towards mystery and thrillers. Besides writing he also enjoys sketching and painting. The Doppelganger is his first published novel. 

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review : Open Eyed Meditations

This book is the brainchild of Shubha Vilas, an Engineer with a degree in Patent law. He is a a motivational speaker, life coach & a story teller of repute ! He has authored the series of books on Ramayana-Game of Life which has become a bestseller !



 The cover of "Open Eyed Meditations "depicts the side view of a human face with neck with various colors in circular pattern as if they are the colours of the aura .There is purple, blue, green, yellow & in the centre as if signifying the eye or the deep mind, , it is red. Towards the neck, it is orange. The cover is very much in keeping with the title of the book symbolizes , the human mind which will benefit by meditating on goodness of others.

 The book begins with Acknowledgements to various people whom the author considers to be his gurus...namely, the founder of ISKON & H.H.Radhanath Swamy among others. Next is the introduction wherein the author says that this book is a compilation of wealth collected from Epics on Vedas.Though , it is inspired by Vedas, it is molded to reflect & solve problems of the world in its present state.

 The book lists problems that we encounter in todays' age in our places of work, at home, etc. It gives superb insight & ways to deal with it. Many stories from Ramayana & Mahabharata are narrated connecting the present day situations to the tales. This makes the book very interesting. Many of these tales , may have been heard & yet , when portrayed in today's  context, carry deep insight & lessons for us. The author writes that sometimes analyzing too much can bring grief & paralyse us. Our talents may sometimes isolate us & make us unlikable. He also talks about letting go & not holding on. He speaks about how X factor can influence success or mar it in spite of hard work, talent etc. He has penned a chapter on Valentine's day & the happiness quotient,both very current topics. He also talks about friendship, & how to keep it blooming in these times .One tale is about how though Jatayu  failed in rescuing Sita, he was happy. This was because the muhurta had changed as a result of Jatayu’s fight with Ravana. This  was  the beginning of Ravana’s annihilation & Sita’s return to Rama. Hence, success & failure can be misleading

 He narrates all points with tales of Krishna & Rama & how their life stories can inspire us to lead a fulfilling life ! The book is divided into  64 chapters spread over 279 pages. Short chapters goad the reader to read faster ,The synopsis at the end of each chapter summarize the ideas beautifully.The book is published by FiNGERPRINT! BEL!EF.

As the author states in the introduction , " Its definitely not a one time read but surely warrants a meditative one ."We will need to come back to the ideas in the book time & again to gain wisdom & up our happiness quotient.And thereby peace for all.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Haldi Kumkum

 It was the end of Sankranti season. Sankranti begins generally by 14-15th of January & continues for a fortnight ending with RathaSaptami. Rathsaptami had gone by & Sankranti was over.

In Maharashtra where I stay, Sankranti is celebrated by Hindu women inviting each other for Haldi Kumkum. And gifts are exchanged. Basically, small gifts are given though as status rises, gifts have got bigger & bigger. Nowadays, in large communities across the state, ladies collect money & go in for a community haldi kumkum .And gifts, therefore, are bigger. This helps in giving them a
feeling of togetherness. Ladies, who are mostly housewives have their brief spell of fun & frolic.And the best part, is they pool money to  buy things for their homes or themselves which they may be unable to buy if they brought it alone.Things are brought in  from wholesale markets & bulk  discounts make things affordable.

I asked my maid, the other day , about  the community Sankranti gift received by her, this time. And she said, that they had haldi kumkum the night before.I said ,"And how is that  Sankranti haldi kumkum ? Because Rathsaptami just got over. "My maid clarified, "It was an  election haldi kumkum."Then, she went on to explain, that a particular party candidate standing for the Municipal elections in their area is a woman.She had got a stage set up in their community area. She gifted  steel bowls to ladies.My maid continued  that ladies had  come from all far flung areas in the city, simply for the purpose of collecting bowls.She further added that ladies would collect bowls on behalf of all female members in the family.My maid collected three bowls- one each, for   her daughter, for her mom in law  &  for herself.And they came with one til ladoo each to signify sweetness ( the bitter pill of election was thus sugar coated ). And to think, that  for one  steel bowl with an added til ladoo, people are expected to vote for a particular candidate is just too simplistic . Is the vote of a  citizen so cheap ? Maybe, the electorate is more smarter than anyone can give it credit for.

My maid went on to say that there were some games as well.She won the musical chairs game.And what was the prize, I was curious. My maid laughed heartily & said, 'I was told that Paithani saree is the prize.I waited for prize distribution till 10.30 pm.The madam, sorry the female candidate was to come after 10.30 to do prize distribution & urge people to vote for her ."I asked ,"How can Paithani saree be given as prize ?'Paithani saree is made of silk & woven with gold & silver.And genuine Paithani sarees cost  a few thousands.

Paithan in Maharashtra is famous for its famed Paithani sarees.Thesea re made of silk with silver & gold woven into them.And each saree takes  long paintstaking weaving time of the skilled weavers to turn into the alluring sarees which are coveted by all !

My maid  said, 'Of course, its affordable ..it will be a  semi Paithani saree ( silk & some other fabric woven together bringing down the cost  of the saree...& no silver or gold woven into it  ) ".My maid said that she waited in that awful windy cold weather for the prized Paithani saree.Because she felt, if she left, without waiting for the prize, somebody else would take it away. If one is not vigilant , one's vote would be snatched away & bogus voting would result.And her patience paid off & she got her prize.And no , it was not a Paithani saree .It was just a polyester saree in blue colour !

I laughed . She laughed as well.Perhaps, its symbolic of what the electorate votes for, looking at the manifestos & then gets nothing after the party comes to power. This happens election after election.Every five years, someone or the other, fools us to vote for them .And thereafter, refuses to deliver on promises made.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Book Blitz : A Way Back Into Love






Blurb

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love…well, that makes everything complicated. And when you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned. 

Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life gets turned upside-down when she realizes she's in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home...to the man she left behind? 

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About the author


Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. 

When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them. She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!

Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it. 

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