The Archers’ Revenge – Book Review

The_Archers_RevengeEverybody has their own way of solving a problem but some people take it to a different level altogether. There was a guy who was searching for his girl friend and he ended up creating Orkut. Here is a professional blogger who wrote a book because he found it difficult explaining his job to people.  I am talking about Rajesh Kollu whose online persona is destination infinity. He is a professional blogger who lives in Chennai. He was forced to become an author as people kept pestering him with ‘What do you do?’ and they didn’t understand the answer. He blogs at http://www.destinationinfinity.org

‘The Archers Revenge’ is his self-published book. But this is unlike most self-published books you will find. For starters it has a story and good one. A believable one. Fiction, unlike reality, has to be believable. Don’t believe me. Try writing a book. It is copy-edited well. The language is very lucid and the flow very coherent. It keeps the reader engaged.

It is a story of two youngsters(Aryan & Divya) who are on a mission to avenge their respective fathers death by a politician ‘Guru’. I found the unconventional plot interesting and also his idea of naming the chapters starting from negative numbers after prologue till the start of the actual story. The plot gets interesting with every page. After all who would have thought of using bows and arrows to fight in this era of modern weapons. And that too fighting a rival who is very powerful owing to his position as a Union Minister. Read the book for a more interesting twist to the story.

A very good attempt and doesn’t sound like a first book at all. I will look forward to all the future books by destination infinity.

My Verdict: 9/10

Catching the Departed – Book Review

Kulpreet-Yadav-Catching-the-Departed

Catching the Departed is a book by Kulpreet Yadav. He is the founder and co-editor of Open Road Review, a literary journal. He also co-edits Under the Banyan Tree, an online forum of true stories. In 2011, Kulpreet’s short fiction won a special commendation in the competition ‘The Best Short Writing in the World’, by Fleeting magazine. This novel was shortlisted by Hachette India & DNA in their contest ‘Hunt for the Next Bestseller’.

The novel is first in the series of thriller novels on the protagonist Andy Karan, an investigative journalist. The story starts in a quaint, sleepy village on the outskirts of Delhi. When I started reading the book, I was in a pretty similar mood, sleepy, sick, bored and unable to go out or see any sunshine due to the incessant rains. Probably it was my mood that influenced the expectation. I didn’t expect much. Just expected the “hero” to solve a few mysteries and fall in love and the story ends just like a Bollywood movie.

And the story progressed in pretty much the same way but after a few pages the story took a turn and it indeed was a very good turn. As I turned the pages, the story got more and more interesting and by the time I finished I was impressed. I am not elaborating more on the story as I don’t want to give away the plot. Read it yourself for a thrilling reading experience.

The language is fairly simple and doesn’t distract you from the story with you wanting to run for a dictionary or lose the plot trying to decipher the meaning. From the description of the places, it is clear the author is very well-acquainted with the landscape and people around Delhi. The story has same focus as Andy has for his mission, no unnecessary details or characters. I, personally, like that. It manages to keep the story going with no dull moments.

What I would have liked to see better is a stronger motivation for the villains’ mission and more powerful accomplices as it was a pretty dangerous mission and a more intriguing political angle to make it more interesting. Nonetheless, I loved reading the novel and I will look forward to the next books in the series eagerly.  Go Andy!

My Verdict: 8/10

Thoughts in the Air – Book Review

Thoughts in the Air

Thoughts in the Air

Thoughts in the Air is a collection of Radio talks by Dr. Mallikarjun Patil. The author is an Associate Professor and HOD at the Department of English, Karnatak University, Dharwad. He has given talks at the AIR Gulbarga, Dharwad and Hyderabad right from his graduate days. Apart from giving talks he has also organized radio discussions, translated AIR plays for competitions. This collection aims at inspiring and enriching young minds.

The thoughts over air have settled in print in three sections:

  • Generalia
  • Indian Literature and Thoughts
  • Western Literature and Thoughts

Together they cover a broad range of topics including some important topics that haven’t been getting their share of attention like the topics on travel literature, the one on Basava, the social reformer, on the women writers like Toru Dutt and the controversial writings of Salman Rushdie.

The Generalia talks about what is literature and kinds of literature. The Indian and Western literature talks about different authors, genres, literature from different periods of time and from different schools of thinking. It is aimed at casual readers and experts alike. As pointed by the author, the talks have been a product of constant discussions with colleagues and students and hence the content is largely familiar to students of literature. But anybody with interest in language and literature stands to gain by reading the book.

The readers stand to gain not only from the knowledge but also from the insightful analysis. And as we all know reading literature and history isn’t only about stories, facts or accounts but it is peeking into the a culture and society. In that sense here we get to peek into Indian and Western cultures  from the Mythological ages to the modern World. Thanks to Dr.Patil for the insightful ride through time and space.

Stay Safe

Yesterday was one of the rare weekdays when I was home and the bell rang in the afternoon at around 2 pm. I was wondering who would have come at this hour and opened the door gingerly. There was a man standing who asked “Saab nahi hai?” A line that would work in almost all cases. All the houses have atleast one saab, no? He then said “The Saab” has asked him to do some repair work in the bathroom. For a second I was relieved that finally we managed to find a repairman for the pending work since weeks. But wait I hadn’t seen this repairman in any repairs that we had gotten done at our place and our owner clearly stated many times earlier our house problems while we are staying are our own and they can’t be of much help so he wont be sending any men for repair. Then it striked he was a conman!

On me saying I don’t know of any such repair to be done at our place, he tried many things like

  • I have come all the way from Alandi. Insert any far off place. It will work
  • Isn’t it A sir’s house. How difficult is it to get the owner’s name against the flat number from the society board
  • He then pretended to call the saab. Asked me if the number was starting with 987… Again common starting number for Pune numbers.
  • Fortunately I had the sense to not leave the door open and rush to get my cell and call.
  • He then asked me if the owner is from Rajasthan. I can guess that too from the surname.
  • And he finally left after that when I closed the door shut properly.
  • A call to our owner confirmed my suspicion

I thought he was a conman because this reminded me of a similar incident with my Mom when we were kids. My mom didn’t fall for this because my Dad has always been communicative. He would have informed my Mom for sure if she was to expect to any repairman.

Just the same day when I read the news in the evening I read of three people losing gold in Pune to gold-polishing conmen. The oldest trick in the book for stealing gold and yet people fall for it(just like the Nigerian scam).  Roof repair scams are pretty common too.

We need to be more careful who we let into our houses even if it is for repair. I know this sounds like a Savdhaan India/Crime Patrol tagline but I am going to saying it anyway

Stay Alert! Stay Safe!

Tangy and Tasty

What sets Indian cuisine apart from a lot of others is the spices. In fact, it is for these spices, the traders from all over the world came to India. Spices is what makes the Indian cuisine special. All the same you just don’t douse the food with spices. Which spice to add and how much is the essence of Indian cooking.

For the poor souls like me who don’t know all the spice proportions or don’t have time to prepare fresh spices every time, there is still hope. Unlike Vasco da Gama or those European traders we don’t have to cross the seven seas. Just go around the corner to the nearby store. In my case I simply had to reply to a review request for spice mixes by Eastern Condiments. And the spices landed at my door step.

Spices

Spices

Puliyogare/ಪುಳಿಯೋಗರೆ/tamarind rice is a traditional South-Indian recipe. The mixture can be prepared and stored for a long time and mixed with rice while eating. And if you don’t know how to prepare the mixture. Here is a super-quick way to make it.

  • Heat about 2 & 1/2 tablespoons of cooking oil.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of Eastern Puliogare.
  • Stir for about 2 mins.
  • Add about 600 gms of rice and mix thoroughly.
Puliogare/Tamarind Rice

Puliogare/Tamarind Rice

You may or may not relish brinjal but Vangi Bhath/Brinjal Rice is surely a dish you will relish. Again the method is simple.

  • Fry Brinjal and other vegetables of your choice with a pinch of turmeric in cooking oil and keep aside.
  • For the tempering, to heated cooking oil add mustard seeds, gram dal, green chilli, hing and cashew nuts.
  • To this add and stir fry about 3 & 1/2 teaspoons of Eastern Vangi Bhath powder, tamarind extract, shredded coconut(optional) , salt and jaggery.
  • Add the veggies and brinjal.
  • Add uncooked rice and mix them well.
  • Now add required amount of water for rice and let the rice cook.
Vangi Bhath/ Brinjal Rice

Vangi Bhath/ Brinjal Rice

While neither of these need any side-dishes, you can eat it with some nice hot papad or pickle. My mom prefers it with thin Majjige Saaru and I like it with thin coconut chutney.

Hope you try them out and love the dishes too :) Thanks to Eastern Condiments for the spices. Made my long weekend at home a tasty one!

Take It Easy

Sapna:

Phrases from everyday life – “Like a girl” and “Man up”. Do we know what they mean and what effect they have when we say it?

Originally posted on CEREBRATION:

Came across this video – ‘Always #LikeAGirl.’ Liked it. Thought of sharing it here. It’s been viewed over thirteen million times and has gone viral. The makers of the video say,”Boys and girls are told different things growing up, but the overriding message is clear: ideological masculinity is to be aimed for, and ideological femininity (AKA acting ‘like a girl’) is to be avoided at all costs.” This is exactly why a video like this is important. It shouts out loud that the words ,”Like a Girl” are not an insult because being a girl is not an insult in the first place. High time people get that.

Interesting thing is that just when i was wondering if i could somehow access another video , made with the same sentiment but with respect to boys, i found another one entitled – ‘The Mask You Live In.’ This video makes us…

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Tuppahirekai/Ghosale/Gilki/Sponge Gourd bhajji

Dhamargava/Tuppahirekai/ತುಪ್ಪಹೀರೇಕಾಯಿ/Sponge Gourd or what is referred to as tirprikai in colloquial Kannada is a vegetable that belongs to ridge gourd family. Looks like a ridge gourd but it is without ridges. Since it is slightly unheard of for most people I spoke to, I am giving the names in different languages from web. Plus the pic is there to see and recognize :)

Marathi – Ghosale
Kannada – Tuppahirekai
Hindi – Ghiatorui/Gilki

Tuppahirekayi

Tuppahirekayi

The subzi can be made very similar to a Turai subzi but the interesting twist here is this is used to make a bhajji/pakoda. Monsoons are just beginning and what better way to enjoy a rainy evening. So here goes the recipe

Ingredients:

  • Besan/chickpea flour – 1/2 cup
  • Sponge-gourd – 1 medium(peeled and cut into round slices)
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Soda – If you wish to. I don’t add any
  • Ajwain – as per taste
  • Jeera/cumin – as per taste
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Red Chilli powder – as per taste
  • White sesame seeds – as per taste
  • Turmeric – a pinch
  • Coriander – finely chopped – again as per taste
  • Oil for frying and a tsp in the mix/batter
  • Water for preparing the mix

Method:

  • Peel, wash, dry and cut the sponge-gourd into round slices. Keep aside.
  • Add all the other above dry ingredients and mix.
  • Add a tsp of oil to the mixture.
  • Now gradually add water to the mixture to prepare the batter. Caution: Do not make the batter thin. Since sponge-gourd is high in water content if not coated properly oil splutters.
  • Heat oil for frying.
  • Now take a slice of the veggie, coat it with batter and deep fry to get nice bhajiyas :)
Tiprikai bhajji

Tiprikai bhajji

  • Eat it with any chutney/sauce you like.

I didn’t know how this is going to turn out but the moment I tasted the pakoras I knew I was on the money :)