Nov 7, 2012

Book Review: The Bankster

Title: The Bankster
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre: Crime Fiction

Ravi Subramanian is the author of four successful books about the banking industry and the recipient of the Golden Quill Book award. Being called 'the John Grisham of Banking' by The Wall Street Journal is no mean feat and that raised my expectations about the book.

The Plot

A CIA agent exchanges weapons for diamonds - in Angola, South Africa. 
An old man protests against the commissioning of a nuclear plant - in Devikulam, Kerala
A series of employee deaths shatter the peace in an international bank - in Mumbai

What is the link between these three seemingly unrelated events? That is what 'The Bankster' is all about.  

Oct 28, 2012

The Road to Healthy Hair

The monsoon and winter seasons can wreak havoc on your hair. In these cold months, dry and lifeless hair is a common complaint cited by many.

Dry hair can result from external factors, such as exposure to harsh chemicals, or from internal causes, such as an illness.

How to care for your hair

Follow these simple tips to have soft and shiny hair:

Cover your hair

Always wear a scarf, hat or cap when you step out, to protect your hair from the cold. Make sure that it's not so tight that it will restrict circulation in your scalp.

Treat your hair

Opt for an oil massage thrice a week, to nourish your hair. Massaging warm oil on to the scalp will help avoid dryness in the scalp. Similarly, a hair spa can also do wonders to your hair- it has the dual benefit of pampering your hair and making you stress free!

Oct 14, 2012

The Worm in the Chicken: The KFC issue

A KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) outlet near Pulimood junction in Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala was temporarily shut down on Monday (8th October 2012) after a family reportedly found worms in their fried chicken pieces.

Shiju Abdul Basheer had gone to the restaurant to dine with his family. When his wife cut a piece of fiery chicken to feed their daughter, she found live worms wriggling in it. The restaurant staff apologized and offered to replace the dish. But when Basheer refused, they tried to take it away forcibly. The other customers came to his aid and alerted the police as well as the Food Safety Authority. 


On inspection, the Food Safety Authority found that the outlet did not maintain adequate sanitation guidelines and some seized chicken pieces were allegedly as much as five months old. 

Oct 7, 2012

Veshti - A Unique Garment

Nothing can match the elegance of a man in a spotless white veshti and angavastram. He may wear it ironed, let it rumple or fold it above his knees, but a man always takes pride in his veshti. This unstitched traditional garment is something men still love to wear. 

“It is the traditional attire of South Indians, especially Tamilians and Keralites. Care and effort have to be taken to preserve the traditional garment, but equal efforts have to be made to keep the veshti from falling from the hips,” said Muralidharan (53), a marketing manager. He added that he continued to wear the veshti because he found it airy and convenient.

Not just older men, but even today’s youngsters like the veshti for its multifaceted nature.
Balasubramaniyan (24), a student, felt that the veshti was the most comfortable garment for men.  “It has many uses. Sometimes when I have to walk in slush, I fold it up to my knees and ensure that it doesn’t get soiled. When I feel cold at night, I use my veshti as a porvai (blanket) too,” he added.

The Veshti

Sep 26, 2012

A Legacy of Passion

It was the break of dawn; a time of rest and slumber for the people in the small town.  But not for the lone young woman who was in the throes of pain. Labour pains had begun more than twelve hours ago, but had yet to cease. Beads of sweat lined the forehead of the gynaecologist in charge. This was not just another delivery, for it was her daughter who lay on the operation table. She prayed for the umpteenth time and chided herself for daring to oversee her own daughter’s delivery. Her fear for her delicate daughter’s well being had made her take that decision but now she regretted it. Waiting outside the operation theatre would have been a better and rational choice.

Finally at 4:30 am, the event occurred. A bawling, red faced infant came out of the struggling mother.  All that the woman saw was a head full of hair, before she fainted. As the proud grandmother nestled the baby in her arms, she heaved a sigh of relief. And that was how I entered the world.

Sep 16, 2012

Borra Caves : Magnificent and Mysterious

At a distance of 100 kms from the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, lie the magnificent million - year old Borra caves. They are located in the Araku valley of the Ananthagiri hills in the Eastern Ghats of India. Nestled among gentle, sloping hills, at an elevation of 2313 feet, Borra caves are a picture of mystery and beauty. Measuring up to 100 m horizontally and 75 m vertically at the entrance, these are few of the largest and deepest caves in India. The caves stretch for about 200 m into the hills.

Discovered in 1807 by a British geologist, William King, these natural caves were supposedly formed by the pressure exerted by the Gosthani river on the hills. The river now flows through the caves.

I pay a visit to the caves in the humid month of May, and am told that the ideal months for the trip are November and December. Yet, the place is swarming with tourists.

An arched entrance greets me as I make my way slowly into the colossal caves.

Sep 9, 2012

The Old Photograph

This post is the last in the series Fiction.  It is a descriptive piece about an old photograph.

Year : 2100

As I frantically searched for my old books in the attic, I stumbled upon a small wooden box. Strangely enough, I hadn't noticed it before. Curiosity got the better of me and I dusted the box lightly before I pried it open. It contained a single photograph placed on a velvet cloth. I picked it up to get a better look.

Yellow with age, the photograph was reminiscent of good old times. As it nestled in my palms, I couldn't help but stare at the people in it. What struck me was the happiness that radiated from within them.The family of six stood huddled in a semi circle of sorts as they posed for a picture. Misty mountains and green forests could be seen in the backdrop, which added beauty to the scene.

Sep 2, 2012

A Busy Street

This post is the third one in the series Fiction

The rooster crowed loudly, indicating the onset of morning. This was a cue for the residents of the neighbourhood, who were instantly up and about. The sound of suprabathams soon filled the air and beautiful kolams decorated the street. A bright, sunny day dawned.

In a short while, motorists were battling for space with pedestrians as there was no pavement. Moreover, roadside vendors occupied most of the space in the narrow street. Women in cotton sarees and flowers in their hair could be seen bargaining with the vegetable vendors. Men in formals sped away on their motorbikes. School children chatted nineteen to a dozen as they waited for the bus. Noise, chaos and commotion prevailed everywhere. The scene on the busy street was a sight to behold.

As the hours ticked away, darkness descended and street lights sprang to life.

Aug 26, 2012

The Train Journey

This post is the second one in the series Fiction

The train sped away towards its destination. It carried numerous passengers bound on their daily commute. The general compartment of the train was nearly full as people of different heights,shapes, and sizes filled the place.

Each person was preoccupied with something or the other. A middle aged man was leaning on the rails of the window, as he watched the sights and sounds of the city outside. A group of boys were ogling at an attractively dressed girl, who chose to ignore them. A young woman, wearing a burkha, seemed to be lost in thought. Another woman, dressed in a saree was chatting away on her mobile phone. A bespectacled young man, had earphones on as he observed everyone in the compartment. A frail old man sat in a corner with his head between his hands. All of them were strangers, yet huddled together in a single compartment as one, united in their journey.

Aug 19, 2012

A Lonely Stretch of Road

This post is the first one in the new series Fiction

The clock struck twelve and I shivered involuntarily, regretting my decision to take the shortcut home. The deserted, narrow, winding path seemed to stretch on for eternity. The trees that lined it were dark and forbidding and there was not a soul in sight. The street lights, which were few and dim, only added to the gloom.

A gentle breeze blew, making the leaves on the trees rustle. The sight looked eerie in the semi-darkness. The sudden hooting of an owl startled me and I felt lonely and frightened. The strange sounds made by the insects made my heart beat madly in my chest.

Aug 12, 2012

Fiction - A New Series

This series will include small write ups on different topics. It is a small attempt on my part to write short stories. The topics are:

A lonely stretch of road

The train journey

A busy street

The old photograph

Aug 5, 2012

A Journo in the Making

June 9, 2012 was one of the happiest days of my life - the day I secured admission in ACJ, one of  the top journalism colleges in India. I always wanted to be a writer and was interested in pursuing journalism, but it was only this year that I finally got to realize my dream.

Be it for a class assignment or as a hobby, writing is something I have always loved. I enjoy writing in my journal and make it a point to do so as frequently as my schedule permits. I'm also in the process of writing a novel. I have just begun and am trying to find my way around the story. But nonetheless, I'm happy to have atleast started! Occasionally I write small articles too and sometimes even post them in my blog. I was lucky enough to have a couple of my articles and/or reviews published in a regional newspaper, but that's just about how far I have come in this field.

Jul 21, 2012

Dream on..

"It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi "

The above excerpt from Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone talks of a strange inscription on a mirror. When you first read it, the sentence doesn't make sense. But when read backwards, the message it conveys is simple: I show not your face but your heart's desire.

This sentence got me thinking. I realized that by using that sentence, the author J.K Rowling teaches us motivation. We should not dwell on dreams alone, but strive hard to achieve our heart's desire. As Dumbledore (in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) says, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

Jul 14, 2012

Of Generalizations, Assumptions and Mediocrity

Change is the only thing that is constant in our world today. We have been experiencing change in all spheres of our lives and will continue to do so; thanks to various factors.

But there are certain things that haven’t really changed yet. And one of them is the tendency to stereotype.

As we all know, a stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Contrary to popular belief, stereotyping does not happen because of aggressive or unkind thoughts. It is more often a simplification to speed conversation. We use stereotypes to simplify our social world, since they reduce the amount of processing we have to do when we meet a new person. We also form stereotypes because of ignorance and misconception.

We are all live in the internet age, where information is just a click away. But it is quite surprising that generalizations and preconceived notions still exist in our world today.

Stereotypes about Indians 

We Indians are constantly stereotyped about various things ranging from our skin colour to our economic stature. Is there some truth to these generalizations and assumptions, or are they totally baseless? This is a debatable topic.

Jul 7, 2012

Book Review : Poor Little Rich Slum

Title: Poor Little Rich Slum
Authors: Rashmi Bansal, Deepak Gandhi
Photos: Dee Gandhi
Genre: Non fiction - Entrepreneurship

"Why would anyone write a book about a slum?," was the first thought that popped into my head when I came across this book in BlogAdda's book reviews program. I was hardly interested in reading the book. But sometime later, it was out of sheer curiosity that I Googled Rashmi Bansal. I learnt that she is the author of three bestsellers, with 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish' being the most popular of them all.Critics were all praise for her and I was intrigued. I was eager to know what all the fuss was about. I immediately applied for the book in BlogAdda.

And after reading it, I am happy to say that I've become a fan of Rashmi Bansal! I've also learnt two lessons:
  1. Never judge a book based on its genre
  2. Do not be prejudiced
"Dharavi is an elephant of an issue with blind men scrambling all over it. Each sees a small part of the picture and considers it to be a whole." 

This is how 'Poor Little Rich Slum' begins. It is Rashmi Bansal's fourth book- an extraordinary take on an extraordinary slum!

Jun 17, 2012

Something Called 'facebook'

Year: 2009 

"Do you know? The latest trend on the internet is something called facebook. Have you joined it? It is amazing," my friend told me. I was curious and decided to check out the website. I joined it and the rest is history. Things have never quite been the same since then.

Year: 2012

'facebook' hardly needs an introduction. It is currently the most popular social networking website on the internet. Every Ram, Rahul and Rahim is on facebook. We are all hooked to the website and not a day is spent without logging in to 'check for updates'. Our parents and relatives are out there too. Will you accept their friend requests or face the music for being secretive? The choice is yours..

facebook helps you connect with the people in your life. But it doesn't end there. There are a lot of ways in which people use facebook, also lovingly referred to as fb or FB:

Jun 10, 2012

A Shopaholic Speaks...

“I love shopping. There is a little bit of magic found in buying something new. It is instant gratification, a quick fix.”
-Rebecca Bloom, Girl Anatomy: A Novel

Shopping is an activity I enjoy; be it window shopping or actual shopping at  brick and mortar stores. Online shopping doesn't really interest me because I need to touch and feel my potential purchase beforehand. A day at the mall is sure to give me a high! And by shopping, I do not mean shopping for clothes alone, but any kind of shopping- right from buying books to furniture. Yet I don't deny that it is shopping for clothes and accessories that I love the most.

When I step into a garment store, I am wooed by the various mannequins that flaunt their clothes- whether trendy or traditional. The lure of owning a shiny, new pair of shoes is something I can hardly resist; especially when there is a sale or when I have a gift voucher in hand. Handbags in every shape and size entice me so much that I simply have to buy one!

Moving to the topic of books, I just love the smell of a new book. Curling up with an interesting book and a cup of coffee during the monsoons- Ah bliss! I enjoy browsing for books and end up staying for hours on end at bookstores.

Jun 3, 2012

Brad Pitt, Shah Rukh Khan or Rajinikanth???

When faced with such a  question, what would be your answer? Here's what prompted this post-

Date : A year ago
Time: 11:00 am
Venue : Office of XYZ Pvt Ltd
Event: A writing test for the post of content writer
Applicants: A room full of people, including me

The test paper intended to test my writing skills and creativity, but I guess the prospective employers wanted to know my likes and dislikes too..Most of the questions were bizarre, funny and demanded lengthy answers. But one particular question caught my attention-

Question: If you had a chance to marry one among three- either Brad Pitt, SRK or Rajinikanth, whom would you choose and why?

Well, what a question! I found it interesting and yet I was stumped- two good looking hotties and one popular superstar to choose from-hmm..After a few moments, I penned down my answer-

May 31, 2012

World No-Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed around the world every year on May 31.
This annual event informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

Tobacco industry interference is the theme of WNTD 2012, with the aim to expose and counter the tobacco industry's brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine global tobacco control efforts. 

About World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day  was created in 1987 by the member states of WHO. It encourages a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe.

Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke.Unless we act, it will kill up to 8 million people by 2030, of which more than 80% will live in low- and middle-income countries. 

May 21, 2012

A Life Full of Sunshine

Note: This is a work of fiction and characters portrayed are also fictitious, any resemblance to real person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

This is a short story which gives you a glimpse of one day in Ken's life. The story is narrated from the point of view of Ken and his wife.

Ken's point of view:

5:00 a.m
'That's the way You make me feel, Better than I've ever known it ..Better than It's ever been...,'
 my favourite track by Ronan Keating played on my mobile; awakening me from my slumber. My hands fumbled on the bedside table before turning off the alarm. I turned to look at her and admire her beauty, but she wasn't beside me. My heart almost stopped for a moment, before I touched the sheets on the bed. They were quite warm, indicating that she must have woken up a few minutes ago.
My thoughts flashed back to last night...

"I would love to go for an early morning walk at the beach. Can we go tomorrow?," she had asked. I had been more than happy to agree. After all, how could I say no to Kyra, my sweet wife?

The bathroom door opened, bringing me back to the present. My wife stepped out and I gasped. With a peachy complexion, an attractive figure,dressed in a simple sundress and wearing flowers in her hair, Kyra was the epitome of beauty and perfection. I couldn't stop staring at my gorgeous wife. "Good morning dear," she said as she kissed me. I wished her back and thanked my lucky stars for bringing  Kyra into my life...

May 16, 2012

How Mobile Internet Changed My World

Before talking about how internet on mobile changed my world, I would like to present the two phases of my life:

1. Before Mobile Internet (BMI) - Not to be confused with Body Mass Index * those on a diet beware*, this phase of my life was characterized by :
  • dependence on a large desktop computer for my internet needs 
  • browsing only when my mom or dad weren't using the computer and only when they allowed me to
  • long periods of restlessness while waiting for my slow dial up connection to connect me to the internet
  • followed by long periods of sitting on an uncomfortable chair while browsing broadband internet
  • which eventually and drastically reduced the time I spent online because it lead to back pain
  • me at the receiving end of regular scoldings from mom and dad as I browsed late into the night
  • restarting the computer and waiting impatiently just because I forgot to reply to an email

May 10, 2012

Book Review : The Devotion of Suspect X

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Translated by : Alexander O. Smith
Genre: Crime Fiction

How far would you go to protect your love? Suspect X (Ishigami) proves that one can go to any lengths for the sake of love.

The Plot

"Which is harder:devising an unsolvable problem, or solving that problem?". This quote from the book pretty much summarizes the plot.

Ishigami, a genius mathematician, is a teacher at a local school and harbors a secret love for his neighbour Yasuko Hanaoka, a single mother. She works in a Japanese lunch box shop and raises her teenage daughter Misato with the income. On day, her violent ex-husband Shinji Togashi turns up at her door and harasses her for money. A struggle follows, during which Yasuko and Misato end up killing Togashi.

May 6, 2012

Back After a Long Hiatus..

The last time I posted on my blog was way back in March 2011. Fourteen months later, a wiser, older and healthier version of me is back!

I haven't blogged in a while because a lot of things transpired, right from a change in my single status to the loss of loved ones.

                                         I'm lost in thought as I stand at the sea shore..

Here is a lowdown of the year that was:
  •  I lost my paternal grandmother in March 2011 and my maternal grandmother in April this year. Their deaths caused a major blow to our family and we are still grieving. Hope their souls rest in peace.Amen. 
  •  I fell sick and had a host of health problems back to back from February to April this year.
  •  I got married in September 2011! :)
It opened up a whole new world for me..I had to learn to manage my home, in laws and yet continue with my job.

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