Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review: Lost in Pattaya by Kishore Modak

Lost in Pattaya is the second book by Kishore Modak, an author based in Singapore. It is published by Grapevine India. It is a short book with just 215 pages. I read it within two evenings after I received it for review. The book is set in Thailand and Singapore and deals mostly with the flesh trade that forms the economic backbone of Thailand. It also tries to sketch the abuse of alcohol and mind altering drugs, without being judgmental on the issue.

Palash Mitra is grief stricken after his daughter Li Ya gets kidnapped in Pattaya. He was there with his Chinese wife, Fang Wei and daughter on a vacation. What adds to his sorrow is that the girl was kidnapped due to him being distracted by his weakness for drugs. His marriage, which was still surviving only due to the kid, crumbled after his wife blamed him totally for their loss. His professional life as an auditor too started disintegrating after he decided to take a stand that could affect the business of his firm. Jobless and divorced, Palash soon gets engulfed in grief and turns to alcohol and drugs for survival. A meeting with a similar fated lady made jhim take a decision that altered his life- he decided to go and search for his daughter in Pattaya, where he believed she has fallen into the traps of child prostitution. His search in Pattaya lead him to Thuy Binh, the much revered and feared lady boss, who controlled the entire sex mafia in Pattaya and Miho her deadly companion. Will he be able to rescue his daughter? Will it be too late by then? 

Lost in Pattaya is narrated from the view point of Palash, as a flashback. Only in the end it is revealed his true situation. The narrative is a bit loose and staggered and gives a feeling that it is told by a man still in the depths of the effects of drugs- a very effective technique that enriches the reading experience. It helped me to relate to the lead character, someone who is very unlikable and even abhorring at times. The plot is disturbing and violent, but the writer manages to breeze the reader through the tough subject due to his gripping narration and pacing. The language of the book is very different from any of the recent Indian writing that I happened to read. It turns coarse sometimes, poetical at some point, emotional or matter-of -fact otherwise. 

I especially loved the fact that though the blurb in the back page seems to reveal almost the whole plot, the actual story turns out surprisingly different with its fresh approach. I hope to read more from Kishore Modak. 
The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Write Well, Live Well...


How many of you write for your livelihood? Very few, I know. How many of you would like to write for your livelihood? At least quite a few, I know. But even if most of you doesn't earn by writing, I am sure you all might have felt the need to improve your skill to write without spelling or grammatical errors and with proper punctuation.

Good writing skill can be a strong tool to take forward your career, education and even your social standing. Drafting a good letter or writing a proper report can make careers. Better performance in exams can be achieved by good written communication skills. Writing skills can earn you good contacts, improve your relations and can be your way to the top of the social ladder.

To clear any doubts on the assumption that the people who write better can earn better, Grammarly, a website that offer Grammar Checker solutions, has conducted a study and made their findings into this interesting infographic. They conducted the study by inspecting the writings of 448 freelance professionals- rated by their employers from 4 to 5 stars, in eight catagories on Elance, the online staffing platform.

If we check the results, it is evident that the writers who are better with thir grammer, spelling and punctuation are the ones at the top of the ladder. Huffington Post was quick to acknowledge their effort. I hope these findings will motivate you all to improve your writing skills. Better writing skills can be the ace up your sleeve.


My thanks to Grammarly, for sharing this infographic with me and for their offer to donate $10 on my behalf to Reading is Fundamental, the charity that promotes literacy, for this blog post.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Eating Competition

I went with my giant friend to have tea. At the tea shop, he took one pazham pori and started eating. I too took one and ate.

He took one more and ate. I followed him and had one too.

Then he took a puffs and devoured it. I grabbed one for myself.

He claimed that the combination will be right with one more pazham pori and had one. I agreed and took one for myself.

He ordered a strong tea with more milk. I too ordered for same.

After both of us finished our tea, he slowly got up walked to the counter and declared all that he needed now was a sweet lemon soda. I surrendered.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bring Back the Touch

Anand was feeling miserable. Every evening it was the same feeling from last many years. The same job, the same pressure of deadlines, the same terrorizing boss. Still, leaving the workplace after a long day's work made him miserable. It was the cold evening and the long night that was awaiting him at home.

Home.. A word that had all the affection and passion in the world associated with it. These were exactly the same things that were missing from his home. His home used to be beautiful, lovely and an oasis of his barren life. Those were times, times of pure love and romance, times of spurts of happiness and playfulness, times that were lost forever. Forever...? It was that word, the hopelessness of which that hurt him the most. Everybody who is anybody in their life had tried for a reconciliation. But nothing worked. Or, is it more correct to say that they never allowed these attempts to work?

Sthiti was once an epitome of everything that he revered. They were meant to be a couple from the first sight of each other during their college days. They were together during every day of their studies. In the evenings, they were always on a date- hanging around on beach, movies, cafes or theaters. On weekends they went for short trips on his old bike, returned back exhausted and crashed on his couch watching movies on TV. Then there was the wedding. A wedding that everyone of their friends and family could never forget. The color, the warmth, the enjoyment they radiated together, their parents feared of bad eyes. 

And bad eyes did cast their spell. Soon they were having issues within them. Every day, every night turned into a battle and their much envied home, into a battle field. Anand and Sthiti were on the verge of a divorce, a separation that only a miracle could prevent. But miracles do happen. Don't they?

So that day Anand reached home, carrying with him all the ills of a bored husband, ready for a fresh battle. He found the door not latched, as usual and strolled in. He threw his bag on the couch and walked towards kitchen for some cold water. He could sense an unusual brightness in kitchen. He sensed movement through the closed door. He quickly pushed it open. Flames were licking the switchboard above the refrigerator and were on the way towards gas stove. Sthiti was there armed with a blanket, trying to force down its path. Anand ran out towards main switch and threw it off. He ran into kitchen to find Sthiti beating the flames to a defeat. 

She was quivering and sweating profusely. He himself was terrified. She fell on him, tears gushing out of her eyes. Her touch made him forget the ordeal. He was remembering all that he was trying to suppress in his subconscious mind. He embraced her tight. "Damn faulty electricals", was all he could mutter, while he sensed a return of all the lost beautiful times. 

This post is made for the Happy Hour initiative of in partnership with Parachute Advanced Body Lotion. Follow the hashtag #BringBackTheTouch. Check out the video were Nimrat and Parambrata #BringBackTheTouch

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Relighting the Home...

"She doesn't eat anything."

My sister complained on phone. She was telling about her daughter, my niece. For a five year old my niece is quite intelligent, active, very playful and very very naughty. I used to tell my sister that it was good for kids to be naughty. I hate it when people try to suppress kids. Its like you are switching off a bright light in a beautifully set room and plunging the room into darkness.

At the same time I realise how hard it is on my sister, to balance the kid and her full time job. When she called me, my niece was sick. With proper treatment her fever came down, but health did not show much improvement. Doctor had advised sister to try stuffing her up and increasing her weight by next few days. If there is no progress she has to be hospitalized.

"The only way left to try is using a funnel to force feed her." My sister continued. "When I call her to the table she never turn up. She run away when I approach her with food. I know she needs her nutrients, but she doesn't like any thing that I prepare for her."

"You try to find out what she like."

"I tried it. She doesn't like anything!"

Then I remembered my childhood. I never used to like food then. Milk, rise, iddli, dosa, sambar, chutney... my hate list used to be endless. I remembered one day when my father tried to feed me rice with some daal curry.

"I cannot eat daal. I don't like it." I declared.

"You love Dhara Singh, don't you?"

Dhara Singh used to play Hanuman in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana, which was running in Doordarshan at that time. Father had told me before that Singh used to be a wrestler who has won many fights.

"Do you know how they get such power?" Father cooked up a story. "By eating daal. They eat lot of it."

I was hooked and daal became my favorite from then, with rice, chapatti, in sambar or rasam- for close to 15 years, everyday I demanded it in my diet.

Now the time has come for payback. I asked sister, "What do you have right now with you?"


"Ok, give phone to her." She handed over the phone to my niece.

"What did Doctor uncle do today?"

"He gave me an injection." Obviously she was not pleased by it.

"You know, there is one thing which if you eat, the next time when he does it, his needle will break."

"What's that?"

"Pomegranate. If you drink its juice everyday with milk, he cannot take an injection next time."

I disconnected the call after I heard her shouting to her mother to make her pomegranate juice immediately.

Months later when I saw her, her mother was serving her pomegranate juice and she seriously informed me, "Did you know, pomegranate juice can make injection needle break...!!!"

This post is part of Happy hours by sponsored by Dabur based on the theme A happy child make a happy home. Go here for more information.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: 7 Secrets Of Goddess by Devdutt Pattanaik

Some time back I had got a chance to review Business Sutra by mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. It was about conducting business using ancient Indian principles of yagna. The book had a great concept and was mind blowing. So when Blogadda offered a chance to review his latest book, 7 Secrets of Goddesses, I was eager. This book is part of Pattanaik's 7 Secrets series and is the forth entry of it. The book tries to find out the gender definition in Indian mythology by analysing the important role that the Goddesses play in it. It deals with prominent goddesses recurring in mythology, what functions they perform in the bigger context and how history has constantly played a role in changing these aspects according to the social norms.

The book is divided into seven chapters, each one detailing the mythology of one Goddess. The first chapter Gaia's Secret, is about Greek earth mother who, though respected, slowly gets marginalized. This is explained by the lose of freedom that women experienced due to a shift to patriarchal system. Several other myths from other parts of the world tells a similar story. Also important to note is the decline in the sexual choice of women due to the concept of ownership of women by men. Kali's Secret portrays Kali as the raw nature that is indifferent to the man's attempt to conquer it. Third chapter Gauri's Secret is about culture that happen due to human interference in raw nature.

Durga stand in between nature and culture, ensuring the balance. Durga's Secret is about this ferocious but kind Goddess who create fear  in man so as to prevent exploitation of nature and at the same time protect men from the punishment of nature. Lakshmi's Secret is about the Goddess of wealth who is essential to liberate men from perils of poverty. Saraswati's Secret is about the Goddess of knowledge and language. She is mostly shown aloof, calm and composed. She is responsible for the expansion of human imagination. The last chapter Vitthai's Secret is about a form of Krishna that is feminine. In this chapter author tries to analyse several instances in Indian mythology were the boundaries of gender is obliterated. It asserts that worship of God without Goddess is impossible, but Goddess can be worshipped alone.

7 Secrets of Goddess is an important book that brings to forefront the role of Goddess in otherwise male dominated mythology. The book grab eyeballs due to a wealth of picures- calendar arts, paintings, photographs of sculptures and idols, which help the reader to comprehend a explanation rich narrative. What is fantastic is that instead of literally or metaphorically assessing Indian mythology, like Islamic invaders or British colonists or several recent Indologists (who by the way cannot think an inch beyond sex when confronted with a phallus symbol or a naked goddess), Pattanaik goes for a deeper psychological approach. To his credit, he comes out with a convincing portrayal of a culture that had no inhibition in acknowledging the presence of suffering in the world, a culture that could accomodate light and darkness, pleasure and suffering, good and bad, equally.

This review is a part of the biggest <a href="" target="_blank"> Book Review Program </a> for <a href="" target="_blank">Indian Bloggers.</a> Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book Review: God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

While reviewing his novel The Bankster some time back, I had written that the distance between Indian and international thrillers is rapidly getting reduced and Ravi Subramanian has had an integral role in it. Even his next novel The Bankerupt (will post on it some other time) confirmed my belief. So when BlogAdda offered a chance to review his latest novel, God is a Gamer, I gladly jumped in. Another factor that piqued my interest about the book was the fact that it is the first thriller about bitcoins- an online form of money that is untraceable and so has a huge risk of getting misused.

The novel starts by giving us certain basic information on the rise of bitcoins when major services like MasterCard and Visa blocked payments to WikiLeaks. Within months bitcoins were accepted as a means to donate for the whistle blower site and attained immense popularity. Bitcoins, the value of which was determined totally by demand for it, can be transferred digitally between individuals without the need of any intervention of banks or governments. It gave the additional benefit that the users cannot be tracked in any way. This anonymity caused the usage of bitcoins in several shady deals including purchase of illegal substances and services.

An influential US senator, a close aid of President is killed in Washington DC. In Mumbai Aditya, founder of Indiscape Gaming Corporation, meet his estranged son Varun after decades and takes him in his folds. Aditya's financial firm eTIOS is facing a dire situation as it is facing security charges from its prime customer NYIB, a new generation bank based in US because millions were siphoned off from many ATMs using an ingenious fraud. Meanwhile Varun, with his gaming skills helps Indiscape scale new heights. He has an affair with Tanya, daughter of Malavika, Indian head of NYIB. When Malavika is mysteriously killed, implicating the hand of none other than the Finance Minister, all hell break loose. Two FBI agents investigating senator's murder find out about a new fraud involving bitcoins, gaming, bankers, politicians and terrorists. How the dots are connected forms the rest of the story...

First, let me thank Ravi Subramanian for sending the autographed copy. I have received signed copies before but along with the personal message, I loved what he did with the book title.

With God is a Gamer, the author has managed to cover the gap that I was mentioning in first para- the one
between Indian and international thrillers. Its the best thriller written by an Indian that I have read. The writing is faultless. The story is very elaborate and cover a lot of ground. The concept behind bitcoin is explained really well. Also how online gaming is packaged through social media to get maximum visibility is explained. Commendable research is evidently done on these. And I never felt bogged down by explanations because Ravi has embedded them with his main plot masterfully.

The narration happens in bits and pieces. Within first fifty pages the reader acquaints with many characters and several subplots that are seemingly unrelated. Yet by the end, like a complex jig saw puzzle, every bit is fitted in its place with a neat climatic twist to top it off. The pace of the narrative can be described in one word- frantic. I loved the fact that instead of wounding the story around a single heroic character, as is the norms, Ravi chose his book to be a plot driven one. We get lots of great characters in different shades, major or minor, each of them integral to the big picture. There are a couple of typos and minor grammatical errors, which I am mentioning because, with Penguin as publisher, even these are unacceptable.

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