Monday, December 12, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
When you are asked to review a book by one of your favourite authors, and that too, on a subject that you have been passionate about ever since you have been a little kid, then the task at hand can only be a pleasant one. Well, that is exactly what reviewing Devdutt Pattanaik’s “7 Secrets of Vishnu” was for me. I have been an avid mythology buff ever since I can remember and the passion has only intensified with time.
I have been reading Devdutt Pattanaik’s work for quite a while now. Not just me, in fact, but my eight-year-old son as well, who is a fan of Pattanaik’s “Adventures in Devlok” series.
The Hindu trinity, as we all know, comprises of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. The symbols and rituals connected to Each One are markedly different. And why not? It stands to reason as They represent different levels of consciousness. They do not look like Each Other, nor do They behave similarly and They perform different duties. Pattanaik’s “7 Secrets of Vishnu” attempts to help the reader decipher the symbology and unlock the secrets behind the stories and rituals associated with Lord Vishnu.
Through the stories of Vishnu, complex Hindu ideologies and philosophies have been communicated in an easy to read manner. Issues that we have always wondered about have been addressed beautifully by the author. Like, for example, why are the Devas and Asuras, both the offspring of Brahma, always at war? The saga of the never-ending battles between the Devas and the Asuras bring to light the emotional turmoil faced by both; the Devas also represent insecurity while the Asuras embody ambition and thus the constant state of unrest.
The book takes us through the various avatars assumed by Him on Earth. Divided into seven chapters, each one helps us in understanding key concepts and in delving into the mysteries of the Divine. I learnt so many new things from each of these chapters, which is always very exciting. For example, I learnt about Alakshmi, the Sister of Lakshmi who accompanies her Sister wherever She goes and She represents strife. The entire passage about how Lakshmi arose from amrit and Alakshmi from halahala – brilliant! Also the gem about how Shukracharya, guru to the Asuras, lost an eye when Vishnu descended to Earth as Vamana, the Brahmin dwarf, was a new story for me to imbibe and marvel over. The absolute crowning jewel for me was how Pattanaik beautifully explained that Luv-Kush’s victory over their father showed that dharma rests with Sita and not Ayodhya! Brilliant! As one who has always been furious over the treatment meted out to Sita in the epic, this one statement was a fist-pumping hurrah! moment. Yes, it has been explained time and again that Ram put his kingly duties above his personal needs, but that only serves to make him the Perfect King, not the Perfect Man.
The photographs of ancient artwork and temple sculptures help bring the book alive, especially with their little bubbles of explanation. Colour photography would have been greatly appreciated, of course, but that’s nitpicking. An index would also have been of great use, and I strongly suggest the publishers think of adding one in the next edition.
All in all, a great read and one I would urge all mythology buffs to immediately indulge in!
This review is a part of the http://blog.blogadda.com
Thursday, November 10, 2011
EO: Naa. Tumi aabaar biyey koro. (No. You get married again.)
Oh how I laughed!
The YO then pulled at my sleeve and said he wanted to see the slide show again. I got comfy next to him and kept going 'oooh!' and 'aaaah!' and 'oh so sweet!' I finally said, "Oooof! Just look at my little babies! How sweet they were! Now they've grown sooooo big! Who will be my baby now?"
My adorable little boy just looked at me and said, "Sorry, Mamma."
I think I almost fell off the bed. I looked at him and simply (and stupidly, I might add) asked, "But why, my shona."
And he just simply and sweetly replied, "For growing up and becoming shooooo big. That'sh why."
Monday, October 17, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
The invite that went out, read like this:
- Once upon a time, in a far away land, you've never heard of
- there lived a gross, stinky and very fat
- Her name was Pukerella!
- All day long she did disgusting things!
- I can't even tell you because you'll faint and then wake up with your brains all scrambled!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Well, since I've begun with a line from a song, I may as well start off with music and you. Last year, your Dida gave you a guitar for your birthday and it's been a year since you've started taking lessons. I have blogged about your latent musical talents before, and this passing year has only scratched the surface of what I believe to be a reservoir of creative energy and spirit. Your enthusiasm in all things musical is manna to my soul. Your taste is eclectic...you still love Jon Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson; a good Prem Joshua or Bickram Ghosh number will have you listening to it on endless loop, and you have some patent favourites from Kabiguru's treasure trove as well. There were times I wondered whether you really had 'music in you' or whether it was something of rote that we were forcing upon you. Well, a few months ago, you unknowingly put that doubt to rest; we were in Shantiniketan and we'd carried your guitar along so that you could practice. Well, during one of your practice sessions in the evening, the lights went out, but that didn't stop you...you just continued playing. That's when I knew... Of course you sealed the deal when you wanted to try making up original tunes and when you declared that you wanted to start a rock group when you grew up. You'd even thought of the name -- Vampire Rock! As long as it's not related to death metal and goth, I think I can live with that name :-)Your guitar teacher thinks you are very talented and says it every chance he gets. I just smile, but inside my heart starts beating like a hummingbird on a high!
You LOVE the spotlight! You are born to entertain. The stage is pretty much your most favourite place in the world and you are very, very comfortable on it. Last year, soon after your birthday, you made your debut in the pada'r natok'er stage (neighbourhood play) for Durga Pujo. It was a dramatised rendition of one of Tagore's well-known, much-loved, epic poems -- "Birpurush". And you my son, were Birpurush. You enthralled everyone...including me. You remembered cues, didn't lose balance when others goofed up, delivered your lines in loud, clear tones and you covered every inch of the stage while acting. You took my breath away and I had to blink back tears of pride when the cheers and thunderous clapping started. That's why I started you off in an after school theatre class run by a good friend of mine. Thankfully, you are loving it and they are loving you. This year, Durga Pujo is two weeks away and rehearsals are on in full swing. The play...a dramatised production of one of Kobiguru's short stories, "Ichchaapuron" (yes, the same genius again...seriously, where would we be without the man? Well, that's a debate I look forward to having with you in the near future). Now, while you do have one of the leads, I have to remind you every now and then to not get too ahead of yourself, to not direct/correct your peers, to not be so full of yourself. So even though you are doing a wonderful job, I don't say it to you too often, because the last thing I want is for you to grow a swollen head. Vanity is such an unattractive quality...
When you grow up, you'll probably look back on your childhood and think that I was a Tiger Mom of the Amy Chua variety...well, maybe not that demonic, but somewhere in her vicinity. I know I'm kind of hard on you and your brother, but it's mainly where discipline and food are concerned. I hate the very thought of food being wasted (the thought of starving children just numbs me to the core) which is why I prefer you taking smaller helpings and not throwing anything away, rather than piling food onto your plate in heaps and then throwing away half of it. And good manners...yes, I'm a bit of a monster in that department, I'm afraid. The thing is, I hate indiscipline. A friend of mine even called me out on it when we went dining out. "You expect a lot [of good behaviour] from your boys, don't you?" I unapologetically said yes. But later I felt guilty...am I too hard on you two? But then, whenever someone compliments me on how delightful you two are, or how well-behaved, or what lovely manners you have, or how well I've brought you up...my god, I just swell up with immeasurable pride! I need no greater validation or certification. Now I know these words may well come back to bite me in the butt, but right now, as of this moment, I have to say it -- you are quite the little gemtleman!
You're quite the gourmand, my child! You love experimenting with your palate and are game for new restaurants, new cuisines and new dishes. You still love my pasta to the point that you would rather have that than go out for a meal, but I love the way you enjoy new tastes and experiences. You are eager to help me around the kitchen and sometimes, you even think that you'll be a chef when you grow up.
Books are a firm love. You would rather read than go out in the evenings and kick a football around. Mythology is your favourite genre, but right now, you are also hooked on the Geronimo Stilton series. You read extensively and that's why your vocabulary and language skills are more than pretty darn good. You won 1st place in the inter-class English Elocution competition and I was ready to distribute laddoos! You ask me the meanings of big words and try to use them in sentences which I think is very good, but I also hope it doesn't make you seem precocious to other adults and a show-off to your peers. Sigh...it's sad, but that is the way that some people will see you and it breaks my heart.
You've discovered a new passion for quizzing and thanks to your bookwormish nature, GK seems to be a subject you're pretty good at. The recently concluded inter-house competition also bears testimony to that.
Of course, it's not all sunshine and laughter with you. You have some flaws which you really need to work on. You can dish it out, but you can't take it. You're a terribly sore loser and you really, really need to learn what the sporting spirit is all about. You have to learn how to play fair and you can't always get your way.
I'm there to guide you into becoming the very best that you can be. You have such a sunshiney spirit and sensitive soul, that I would hate to see you be disliked or unpopular because of your bullish streak. I also worry, very often, that you might be a loner, because I've seen you quite content in your own company. You hear the songs and whispers of hidden voices and I see you lost in your own thoughts, often playing by yourself even when in a playground or room full of your friends, because you have a head full of characters and conversations that have your time and attention. I've been there most of my life sweetheart, and loneliness is a crippling feeling. Embrace life, embrace the people around you, embrace the world...but never let go of your unique individuality. I love your poetic soul and nature...it speaks directly to my own soul, from where I dreamed you up and breathed life into you!
To end with a line from another song, you beautiful boy...you make my heart sing!
I love you endlessly!
Happy birthday, my big boy!
Monday, August 22, 2011
No, we're not related even though we do share a surname. And no, I didn't choose this book because we share that surname.
I chose it because it's a book of poetry. And I love poetry.
Shreya's poetry is mostly an outpouring of her feelings. Now I am all for offerings of these outpourings, because I believe that it is quite central to good poetry. However, having said that, much of Shreya’s work seems to be like a first draft; the feelings that must have gushed within and found an expression in words must have been hurriedly caught and put down on paper before disappearing altogether, for we know how ephemeral a thought can be. But once the thought has been captured, it must be prodded, teased, fretted over and had hair-torn-out-in-clumps until perfection is attained. I know how easy it is to get too close to one's own work and that chopping a word here or slicing a verse there feels like we are butchering a small part of ourselves, but this kind of attachment does not make for good writing. It makes us too sensitive and it makes us stupidly stubborn.
Yes, I identified with many of her thoughts and feelings, after all, poetry is universal and that's what binds us. Some of her insights into the world around us as well as into her own soul are poignant and thought-provoking. You understand what she is trying to say and where she is coming from and you can’t help but smile a little wistfully. What I loved most about this collection is the little foot-notes that she added to some of her poems, giving us a peek into the inspiration behind the poem. Poetry is, after all, very personal, so it's a privilege to be given an insight into what thought, word, picture or moment gave birth to the idea of a poem.
That Shreya has a giant love for poetry is obvious. Unfortunately, that is not enough. She needs to nurture it like a mother nurtures her child and she can't give into it's stubborn, wilful tantrums. She must deal with her poems with a firm but loving hand and do what's best for them. So if words and whole verses need to be dropped, scratched and rewritten, then so it must be, for only then will the end results make us cry with pride.
Shreya has a long way to go, but she has started upon the journey bravely and boldly. Some of the poems written by this Wanderer do show remarkable promise, there’s no denying that. Had she worked on her craft a bit more and had her work fallen into the hands of an editor who understands the craft of poetry, and, more importantly, cares about poetry, this collection would have been far more impressive.
This review is a part of the "http://blog.blogadda.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
the cherry on top of the cake.
and those tears flow like rivers,
that you can physically
feel your poor heart break.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
This woman, who was once a calendar girl in her Shanti-Niketan-Bosonto-Utsob regalia; who her nephews and nieces still remember as being the most beautiful woman they'd ever seen when she stepped in as a new bride in my grandparent's home; whom I used to look at with awe whenever she dressed up in a Benarasi silk sari, was glowing.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Thursday, 12th May 2011, the day London was cancelled.
This summer, the MIM, the boys and I were planning a trip to the Queen's country. Yes, the land of Shakespeare and Wordsworth and Roald Dahl; of the stiff upper lip, the cockney accent and the lilting drawl; the batter fried fish, tea & scones, shortbread and what, even curry; the London Bridge, the Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace, Globe Theatre and the Westend -- oh the Westend, where plans were being made for 'The Lion King', 'Love Never Dies' and 'End of the Rainbow'.
Visas had been applied for; interviews given; warm clothes taken out, sunned and packed; gifts bought for relatives and friends; and tickets booked for Saturday the 14th.
Our visas never came. Repeated internet checks and phone calls to the consulate resulted in the same answer being done to death -- Yours applications are under process.
!2th evening, with a birthday party for The Nephew raging in the background, the MIM and I took the painful decision of cancelling our tickets so that we could get back the maximum refund possible -- less than 24 hours meant 50% would have been deducted. We called the helpline in Delhi one more time and they very rudely told us not to expect anything before the middle of next week. That cememnted our decision.
Now we had more than two weeks of vacation time on our hands with nowhere to go. Instantly, I said "Himachal." The MIM had been clamouring to go to the hills for a long, long time and now was our chance.
We knew we wouldn't be getting the best deals; after all, not only was this trip last minute, it was also at peak season. Hours spent over the Net and we finally zeroed in on our route : Delhi -- Amrtisar -- Dalhousie -- Dharamshala -- Palampur -- Amritsar -- Delhi. This was after a lot of permuatations and combinations were checked out.
Next, the hotels in Himachal. In Dalhousie, we got a cottage in a beautiful, recently opened resort called "Amode". Not strictly in Dalhousie town, 7 kms further up. In Dharamshala, we got acco in The Grace Hotel while in Palampur, we got another cottage at a tea estate. Like idiots, we didn't factor in any extra time for Amritsar, otherwise we could have done the Golden Temple and Wagah Border as well. I guess we had to leave something for next time.
So, with the Big Ben, Globe Theatre and the Westend waving a sad goodbye to me in my mind's eye, I readied myself in the heat of Calcutta summers with sweaters and woolens.
And after all that? Midnight between 13th and 14th May, after we got back from a friend's birthday party, the MIM decided to check out the visa status 'just like that.' Guess what?
They'd been approved on the 13th.
So much for paying extra for SMS alerts. Anybody I can write to about this?!?!