Book Review:- Private India

When I saw a book; a thriller nonetheless, co authored by Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson in the pre-order section of Flipkart, I was excited. Then when I saw that the same book was up for review under BlogAdda’s Book Review Program, I jumped at the chance and signed up for it. I got selected for the first time to review a book under BlogAdda’s Book Review Program!!! Yayy!! Though I read the book within the stipulated time, the review got delayed due to my hectic work life. Sigh!! That deserves a post in itself. Anyway so here goes the review.

 Book Details :-
Author: Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson

ISBN: 9781780891736

Publisher: Random House

Price: Rs. 350 (Rs 193 On Amazon)

Genre: Crime and Thriller

The Book Blurb:-

In Mumbai seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses. For Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again. In a city of over thirteen million, hed have his work cut out at the best of times but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest ganglord and a godman who isn’t all he seems and then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India. Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens.

19186402I have never read any work of either Ashwin Sanghi or James Patterson and hence I am unfamiliar with their individual writing styles. Also I am unaware of the “Private” series set in other countries. So my review is, you can say, my first impression.

My review:-

The serial killings begin with the murder of a lady doctor from Thailand. She had been strangled using a yellow scarf and small, strange and seemingly unrelated objects had been placed around the body. There is a flower on one hand, and a fork on the other. There is also a small, Viking toy helmet tied to one of her toes. After that, many such killings follow and the Mumbai Police seeks the assistance from the Indian branch of the world’s finest detective agency. Mr. Santosh Wagh and his team from “Private India” join the investigation and the chase to catch the killer begins.

The protagonist, Santosh Wagh, reminded me of Dr. House of the famous series House M.D. because of the cane and drinking habit portrayal of the character. He has a troubled past that haunts him. But I think this “troubled past-addict-brilliant-sharp-fighting inner demon protagonist” characterization has been done to death and readers need a change.

All the characters have been given their respective background stories and are well developed, making the reader relate to their present behaviour. The description of the killer’s own haunting past is good. The story takes the reader all around Mumbai’s famous places from Dharavi to Haji Ali. I guess that is for the benefit of International readers. Again for their knowledge of India (and then we complain about Hollywood movies stereotyping India), I assume, there is Indian history, mythology, Mumbai underworld (gangsters), poverty, godmen, corruption, religion, child abuse, sex, prostitution, transgender sexuality, human trafficking, politics, beggars, begging racket, Bollywood, Mumbai local trains, terrorists, Pakistan’s ISI, match fixing, status of forensic labs in India and of course crime!!! Did the author miss mentioning the famous dabbawallas in there somewhere? I don’t seem to remember :-) It seemed as if this is the last work of Ashwin Sanghi so he has tried to put everything in it. Too many subplots have spoiled the story! If you want to write a murder mystery stick to murder and if you want to write a terrorist story stick to that. Moreover,

The plot gives the reader few red herrings which after having watched so many episodes of CSI, CSI NY, Criminal Minds, Castle etc seem pretty obvious as red herrings. Apparently, Ashwin Sanghi is famous for mythological references in his writings. His famous touch is evident in Private India, where we come across insights into an ancient Indian cult “The Thuggees” (which kind of reminded me of that Indiana Jones movie), the Navratri festival and even nine form of Goddess Durga. But there is a slackening in the storyline as the investigation progresses. The final connection between the reason behind the murders and the modus operandi of the killer seems very implausible and not that impressive. The reason behind the killings, the psychology/mindset of the killer and the choices the killer made for his/her identity should have been delved into deeper and should have been better weaved together with the concept of nine forms of Durga and hatred of women. The build up of the suspense to the profile of the killer falls flat somehow near the climax. And when you think the story is over, its not. There is a second parallel plot still remaining to be completed, which makes one think “shouldn’t the side story finish before the main story”?

All the CID and Criminal Minds stuff keep coming in mind while reading the book, especially with the description of high tech gadgets and techniques. Also I wondered does a serial killer actually kill so many people within a week? If a killer is on such a killing spree, can he/she be so calm and normal in appearance and behaviour? Then there is the writing style and the language. Despite the excellent cover, the language gives the book away as not of being of international standard….as being one of common novels that keep releasing in India every month. Maybe the author wanted to keep things simple for all grades of readers. Missing punctuations, inappropriate sentence structures and grammatical mistakes (for example look instead looked in page 98) point towards the need for better proof reading. Excellent proof reading is something I find lacking in Indian paperbacks. This should not have been an issue when there are two authors!

The story is a page turner, without any doubt. But towards the end even if you skip 1-2 pages, you don’t miss much. The short chapters (112 chapters!!) and the large font size help along with the speed of reading making the book a easy breezy read.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5

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

Food at Doorstep

So Masterchef Australia has started on Star World Premiere HD [which by the way I nagged D to subscribe as top up channel to our current subscription :-D] There was only one Indian participant, Deepali Mistry, who had cooked dhokla and some potatoes with chutney to get selected in the top 24. Then once she cooked “Gujarati Chicken Curry” as she called it. Gujarati chicken curry??? really?? Gujarati food culture and chicken don’t go together. It is an oxymoron isn’t it? But apparently I am wrong. Google god informed me there are bloggers who have written the recipe for Murghanu Shaak or Gujarati Chicken Curry. Hmmmm!! My food knowledge increased.

masterchefau

Anyway so this business of cooking..I love doing it and I am even thinking of starting a food blog; but the moment it becomes a daily affair…a monotonous chore…. I dislike it. Thankfully D is a wonderful partner and cook!! Hats off and deep respect to my older generation – my mother, my MIL etc who cooked daily and that too so much variety. I am amazed at the women of my generation who do that with other family responsibilities and jobs…but then the reasons are many. Two of my colleagues don’t own a refrigerator (unbelievable in modern world….reason unknown) and they cook daily after reaching home at 6.30 pm from job. Some other women say their husbands like freshly cooked food daily and some say mother in law wants freshly prepared food daily. Some grumble about it and some don’t.

prisoner-of-the-kitchen

But I simply can’t do that!! Daily cooking myself with job and home ..it seems impossible!! Not only I find it boring, but also restricting and exhausting. Thankfully D and I have the same opinion on this!! We have a fridge and we use it. :-) Thankfully MIL also doesn’t support being stuck in the kitchen all day everyday. The only difference in opinion is that MIL strongly disapproves of eating outside. :-D

Some days after a tiring day at work, when we don’t feel like stepping into the kitchen; we tend to go out for dinner. But some days we are just too tired to even go out and wish to get food delivered to our doorstep. There are limited options for ordering food to home…Dominos or Pizza Hut ..that too in my locality only Dominos or Ammi’s Biryani. Other options of food are not available. For such occasions, an online food ordering website like Foodpanda proves to be a blessing! All we have to do is select our place, then choose a restaurant and place our order. The restaurant delivers to our home and we can pay cash on delivery or online!!

foodpandalogo

That is such a big rescue and time saver for people like us. Dining out means missing TV serials too!! If I get food delivered to home using Foodpanda I can eat peacefully while watching my favorite show Masterchef Australia at 9.00 pm!! And they have many discounts too at their website for different cities.

In other news I finally got a smart phone. Till now I was a poor Nokia Symbian owner. D gifted me Moto E as a birthday gift in advance. :-) So among one of the apps that I installed [One of the first being Candy Crush ;-)], I installed the Foodpanda app.

Anyway so inspite of my reluctance in cooking daily and laziness to blog, I have decided to launch a food blog because that is a new thing I have not tried yet. I have a regular though dormant blog, a travel blog and a photo blog. So why not a food blog?  Any suggestions for a good name? Apparently Undomestic Goddess and Reluctant Cook are taken. :-( But I think to write exact measurements and stuff in the beginning of a food blog is not my cup of tea. I think my food blog will be more casual type. Hmmmm….

That’s it for now. Hope to post again soon as the academic session has ended at work and now I will get some free and relaxed time till August.

P.S. This is a promotional post for Foodpanda.

Movie Review – Shaadi Ke Side/Effects

The sort of prequel to this movie “Pyaar Ke Side Effects” starring Rahul Bose and (shudder) Mallika Sherawat (who surprisingly actually acted and did it well) is one of our (D and I) favorite movies. We love the song “Jaane Kya Chahe Mann” from that movie!! So it was only natural that when the sequel Shaadi ke Side/Effects was announced, we were very eager to watch it. We went to watch it on 1st March and here is the review.

ImageThe Story:- Sid (now played by Farhan Akhtar) and Trisha (now played by Vidya Balan) are a modern happily (and newly?) married couple. Soon after a drunken night of love-making where Sid forgets to use protection, Trisha discovers that she is pregnant. Though she wants to have the baby, Sid does not and they agree for an abortion. But Sid changes his mind and they decide to become parents. Thus begins the story of a young couple and more importantly that of a young husband’s journey in becoming a father.

The Review:- To begin with, the movie is almost entirely from the husband’s point of view. So maybe the husbands could relate and maybe the wives could take some jokes on themselves and open their eyes; but the way life changes for a woman, how overwhelming everything becomes for a mother and wife is just done away with a dialogue which upon hearing after the movie has started to stretch and become a bore, becomes negligible and lost on the audience.

The lead pair is brilliant in their acting but it is the story that fails. The first half is witty and hilarious and reminds us of the prequel but since we have seen some of the humorous dialogues in trailers on TV, they fail to induce laughter again. The intuitiveness is lacking in the script. The writer has missed out on so many small things of a married couple which could have spiced up the depiction of the side effects!! For example – whether to keep the ceiling fan on or off during the night because in most of couples, one partner feels hot whereas the other one feels cold. Right? :) The only example of a lie is NOT when a wife asks “am I looking fat in this dress” and the husband replies “no dear”. There could have been better examples.

The second half is just like a story moving without direction and purpose.  Too many new characters are introduced with no meaningful contribution to the story be it Sid’s stoned room-mate played by Vir Das or the governess played by Ila Arun. Its sort of confused and exaggerated and doesn’t work towards culminating into a good climax and a superb ending. The crispness of the screenplay is gone. But yes the climax is a bit surprising but not in a pleasant way.

The songs don’t leave an impression in the mind to make us hum later. [After watching Lego the movie I kept singing “Everything Is Awesome” the whole way back home :D] Nothing worth downloading and listening to over and over.

Overall just a one time watch for married couples with or without children.

P.S. # The dialogue “Biwi apne pati ke bina reh sakti hai, bai ke bina nahi” [ A wife can live without her husband but not without her house-help woman] is kinda stolen from ME!!! I always say that to my friends and even tweeted it. I should have copyrighted it!! :D

# They have tried to show 2 major side effects of a marriage – child and maid. But they missed out the first one which comes in the marriage even before a child does. So as I tweeted, the movie Shaadi ke side/effects is like a dish which lacks salt because they have missed out on the most important side effect – as many of my female readers will agree – the Mother in Law!!! :D :D ;)

Please Encourage Me!!

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

I love going on trips and visiting places. I am more of a tourist and sightseeing kind of person so when I visit any travel website I like to get complete and practical information about xyz place..not only the places to see but also how they are really, what are the do’s and dont’s, the timings, where to eat etc. I found many travel websites and blogs lacking in that. Some just hyped up few things about a place whereas in reality it was not so cool! Some blogs would focus more on experience and photos and not real useful information! So I decided to mix my hobby of traveling with another passion – blogging! Thus the travel blog “Ghumakkar Chronicles” came into existence where I began writing my travelogues of all the places I have visited.

What is WIN 2014?

WIN 2014 is the first ever Bloggers’ conference which will see a mix of Bloggers, Industry Specialists & Influencers hosted by BlogAdda.  Write. Inspire. Network – The three core elements around which the day long event will revolve. WIN 2014 promises to have something for everyone: Sessions & workshops which will highlight the various aspects of writing for the bloggers. Icons from the blogosphere and renowned speakers who will inspire the budding author in every individual attending the conference. An evening where every blogger, writer, reader, listener, learner will get an opportunity to network with the best of speaker, bloggers & brands. We aim to provide a physical platform to bring together all the knowledge and learning about blogging followed by an evening of recognizing and honouring the best of the blogs that won the hearts of thousands of readers and the esteemed Jury of BlogAdda Blog Awards.

For the contest part of the event, Blogadda’s jury comprising of Shobhaa De, Dilip Cherian, Simi Garewal,Krishna Prasad, Mukul Deva, Ashwin Sanghi, Gayatri Iyer, Vasundhara Das, Arjun Ravi, Pranav Bhasin, Malishka, Jessie Paul, Karl Gomes, Shradha Sharma, Paroma Roy Chowdhury, Ekalavya Bhattacharya and Sabyasachi Gorai have shortlisted blogs in various categories like Arts Crafts and Design, Humor & Satire, Personal, Parenting, Food & Drinks etc

jury

And my blog “Ghumakkar Chronicles” has been shortlisted by the jury for the Blog Adda awards WIN 2014 in the travel and living category!!! Yayyyy!!!

I was utterly shocked and so happy when I received the notification email from Blogadda. My blog among so many seasoned bloggers!! :) :)  Nothing like such news to renew the blogging spirit and faith!! :)

Public voting is being done by liking and tweeting!

So please please please my dear readers and visitors go over and vote for me!!!! Click the Facebook like button or tweet, to vote, by clicking on the icon below or by going to the page here. You can also leave an encouraging comment on the page to make sure my blog wins!

Make My Blog WIN for BlogAdda Awards

And do share this link with your friends who may like my blog. Thank you for your time!

Voting open till 31st Jan 2014.

Note – In case you can’t see voting options in Firefox, please open the link in Chrome or Internet Explorer.

Thanks once again!!

Giving Surprises

Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.
That’s what Jane Austen said. But I am a person who loves surprises but only the pleasant ones :D I like giving and receiving surprises. I love to see the expression of the person whom I surprised, the way his/her face lights up and the way he/she bursts into smiles. :)
Smileysurprised

2013 in review

So the year 2013 ended at last and that too with a bad news as usual; the news being the announcement of a lousy increment in salary at work. I was so sad that I cried at home. I cried at the unfairness and the unappreciative attitude for my work and dedication. I am highly unmotivated now and have decided not to be much proactive at work now. :( Reminded me of the quote:-

“Make no mistake: Your salary is held to the same standards your grades were held to in the educational system, where you couldn’t surpass a 100 no matter how hard you worked or how intelligent you were.” ― Carlos Roche

Sigh!! Anyway moving on…so a new year has started!! 2014!! Time just flies! Let me take a stock of the last year….

# Travel – travel is the first word that pops in my mind when I think about 2013. Kolkata in January, Talakadu in February, Kanyakumari – Poovar in March, Shillong – Cherapunjee in May, Krishnagiri – Shivanasamudram in July, Erode in August, Dharmasthala – Malpe in September and my hometown in November. Phew!! :) :) Travel wise 2013 was awesome!!

# Work – Work place has been exciting, challenging, frustrating, surprising and annoying in the last year. Some old colleagues went and some new colleagues joined. Old students moved to 3rd semester and new students came in. Old groups broke and new groups formed. Got a new job offer with good increase in salary but refused it. Participated in Antakshari competition at work and lost by just one mark!! Participated in a quiz event and got second place :)

# Home – D and I continue to be happy with the usual crazy stuff and usual married life stuff thrown in :D We booked an apartment at last after much speculation and now we are formally under home loan debt. And the price of real estate in Bangalore…phew!! So wish us luck in this arduous journey of buying a home in a metro city. Fingers crossed!

home Loan-Cartoon

# Family – On the family front 2013 has been not that good. In July, my sister’s bag containing two laptops, one tablet, one mobile and two pen drives was stolen in a professional way from the inside of the airport building at Copenhagen. :( All the important data, passport, resident card, research work, photos..everything was gone. But I think after that my sister has attained a new level of detachment from worldly materialistic possessions. :D :P All “moh maya” gone :) Then, my in-laws had come towards June end and were planning to stay till November.But in September, after receiving late night call from neighbors about an attempted robbery at home by a gang of robbers, they had to leave hurriedly by that morning flight. It was a very stressful time for all of us.

So now as 2014 starts, one resolution I would definitely like to make is about my blogging habit. I will definitely be more active in blogging, reading and commenting this year. I will write more often. I will try to take part in all these blogging contests that keep happening every month!! Fingers crossed!!

I started to blog in December thinking I will do a daily post challenge but I didn’t go ahead after one post. December was a hectic month at work but January is going to be a relaxed one because of semester break. So I wanted to post this post on January 1 and take up a daily posting challenge this month but by the time I completed the post , clock had already struck 12 and now it is showing Jan 2. Sigh!! Is that a sign?? :(

Anyway here is wishing all my readers and visitors a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!!

happy-new-year

“Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”
― William Arthur Ward

Windows shopping

I start browsing the internet and open bluestone – the jewellery website.  After a while, with a sigh, I close it and open flipkart. Then in various tabs I open various categories of stuff. I also open Zansaar and Fabfurnish in tabs – furniture (specifically the chest of drawers I have been dreaming of), kitchen tools, decor and what not. I keep closing and opening tab after tab.

D who was sitting beside me with his own laptop struggling to learn python programming, had been seeing my screen from the corner of his eyes apparently and unable to hold his curiosity any more says – “What is going on? What are you trying to buy? You are surfing from jewellery to kitchen stuff to shoes to god knows what! !”

Me – ” I am doing nayansukh (treating my eyes to delights) just like men surf p***. This is the new Windows Shopping because I am doing it on Windows OS” ;) ;) :D :D

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I have been one of the worst bloggers both in writing and reading blogs. Last post was in July when I had taken up daily blogging challenge. After that I got so tired that I again disappeared :P :P Not done at all!! So I have decided to do one more daily posting challenge in the month of December. The blogging marathon begins!!Posted from WordPress for Android

Posted from WordPress for Android